Palestinians commemorate Yasser Arafat

Eleven years after late Palestinian leader’s death, Palestinians gather to commemorate his memory

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Palestinians light candles near the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during a rally before the 11th anniversary of Arafat's death, in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 10, 2015.

After 11 years, Palestinians gather in Ramallah to commemorate the memory of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, with planned marches across the city.

Young Palestinians laid flowers wreaths on his tomb on Wednesday and lit candles.

Arafat or ‘Abu Ammar’ as he was nicknamed, died on November 11 2004, and was the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian political group Fatah. Abu Ammar remains to be widely idolised among Palestinians of different political backgrounds.

The late leader used to be perpetually attired in military uniform and the traditional Palestinian headwear, contrary to the current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who wears a normal suit and tie.

The cause of death for Arafat remains disputed until this day, with many speculations revolving around the possibility of him being assassinated. Arafat lived for two years under pseudo house arrest in his home in Ramallah, the Israeli army had effectively confined him in his home.

Cause of death

At 75 years of age, in a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, Arafat was hospitalised following a rapid deterioration in his health.

The official cause of death announced at the time was a massive stroke. However, the lack of issuance of the indictment, the investigation will no longer proceed.

The three judges assigned to carry out the investigation in Paris, since August 2012. Following a lawsuit filed by Suha Arafat -late leader's widow - citing unknown substance, later found to be radioactive “polonium -210” of high toxicity in her husband's personal belongings.

A number of Palestinian leaders believe that Israel deliberately poisoned Arafat, after cooperating with some of the late leader’s companions.

Yasser Arafat shakes hands with Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2001

Although Arafat received a Nobel Prize for peace in 1994 with fellow Oslo negotiators on the Israeli side Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin. Peres was quoted In November 2013, saying that when he was president of Israel, it was "easier" to assassinate him dead with actual bullets, referring to rumours about Israeli involvement in the matter.

Case closed

French judges investigating claims that late Palestinian leader was assassinated closed the case on September 3, without bringing any charges, a prosecutor said.

"At the end of the investigation ... it has not been demonstrated that Mr Yasser Arafat was murdered by polonium-210 poisoning," the three judges ruled, according to the prosecutor at Nanterre Court near Paris.

Lawyers of Arafat's widow Suha Arafat labelled the court ruling as biased, and intend to appeal against the ruling.

An investigative report by Al Jazeera in 2013 proved the presence of radioactive polonium in Arafat's clothes, prompting the Palestinian authorities to agree to re-open the tomb of Arafat and obtain samples of his remains, investigated by Russian, Swiss and French medical teams.

According to Jerusalem Post, the investigative teams did not find radioactive traces in Arafat’s remains, however traces were heavily found in his clothes. According to Al Jazeera, the radioactive traces that was found on his cloths were in huge quantities.

TRTWorld and agencies