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Yasser Arafat’s body will likely be exhumed to investigate whether the Palestinian leader was murdered, possibly through polonium poisoning. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said through a spokesman he sees no reason why the late leader’s body should not be examined following an Al Jazeera investigation that found his belongings contained high levels of polonium-210. If the name of the radioactive isotope sounds familiar it’s likely because it was the substance used to assassinate Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London, explains the Guardian.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, gave Al Jazeera the personal effects and the Qatar-based news channel took them to a lab in Switzerland for examination. In the interview, Suha never explains why she decided to have his belongings examined so many years after Arafat’s 2004 death, when she vehemently refused an autopsy at the time, points out the Associated Press. The claims that polonium were detected in Arafat’s belongings appears to contradict the medical report produced after his death that was leaked to the New York Times in 2005. At the time, the paper said that the report “suggests that poisoning was highly unlikely.”
Although no date was set for the exhumation, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) tells Reuters it could take place in “a matter of days.” Israel quickly denied involvement and emphasized it is up to the Palestinians to investigate the issue.