Arafat’s remains to be exhumed Nov. 26

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The remains of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed Nov. 26, a Western diplomat said Monday, as investigators began determining how best to dig up the grave and extract samples.

A Swiss team, one of two groups set to conduct parallel probes into Arafat’s 2004 death, arrived in the West Bank and spent an hour inspecting the grave, located in a mausoleum outside Palestinian government headquarters in Ramallah. The Western diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Tawfik Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian committee investigating the death, said Monday’s visit was meant “to check the place” ahead of the exhumation. The Swiss team is expected to return to the grave at the end of the month with the French investigators to exhume the body, and will be allowed only one chance to withdraw samples from the remains.

The two teams are acting separately on behalf of Arafat’s widow Suha Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, who each had misgivings about the other’s investigation. Suha Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have a history of rocky relations, and Palestinian officials have complained that they felt Suha Arafat was forcing an investigation on them.

The new probes into Arafat’s death come after a Swiss lab recently discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on clothes said to be his, which sparked new accusations that he was poisoned.

Arafat’s death in a French hospital in November 2004 has remained a mystery for many. While the immediate cause of death was a stroke, the underlying source of an illness he suffered in his final weeks has never been clear, leading to persistent, unproven conspiracy theories that he had cancer, AIDS or was poisoned.

Many in the Arab world believe Arafat, the face of the Palestinian independence struggle for four decades, was killed by Israel. Israel, which saw Arafat as an obstacle to peace, vehemently denies the charge.

It is not clear whether the exhumation will solve the mystery. Polonium-210 is known to rapidly decompose, and experts are divided over whether any remaining samples will be sufficient for testing.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Most Read