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P.A. Military Compound, Ramallah, post-Operation Defensive Shield, October, 2002
R. Hall

P.A. Military Compound, post-Operation Defensive Shield, October, 2002
R. Hall

P.A. Police Authority Building, post-Operation Defensive Shield, October, 2002
R. Hall

Remains of vehicle outside P.A. Military Compound, Ramallah, post-Operation Defensive Shield, October, 2002
R. Hall

2012: Arafat Mystery Deepens Still Further- Was his death the result of the active participation someone within his inner circle ?

Lausanne, Switzerland Lab Confirmation of Polonium 210 Presence Gives Basis for Exhuming Body

by Raymond Hall, November 25, 2012


[Editor's note: Raymond Hall visited Ramallah in October, 2002 shortly after the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield. His photos in this article and his previous  background  article have never before been published. To read his previous article BACKROUNDER TO ARAFAT EXHUMATION, go to:,_Arafat_Isolated_Politically_and_Physically_By_Operation_Defensive_Shield .]

2012: Arafat Mystery Deepens Still Further

Lausanne, Switzerland Lab Confirmation of Polonium 210 Presence Gives Basis for Exhuming Body

by Raymond Hall,Nov 25, 2012

During the final two weeks of Yasser Arafat’s life, doctors at the French military hospital where he was hospitalized undertook dozens of immunology and toxicology tests, including tests related to nuclear radiation poisoning, in their attempt to find the cause of his illness and the continuing decline in his physical condition.  All the tests came back negative, leaving them to conclude that the cause of his sickness was “unknown.”

It was only several years later, after the 2006 murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London, England, that suspicions began to arise about the possibility that Yasser Arafat had been poisoned by the administration of Polonium-210. Why was this potential cause not explored by the French authorities in 2002 or shortly thereafter?

First, subsequent to obtaining the results of the numerous toxicology tests that were conducted, nobody asked the French authorities to open a criminal investigation into his death.  Second, prior to the Litvinenko murder, Polonium-210 poisoning was simply not on the radar as a probable cause of sickness and/or death—it was simply not in the consciousness of those close to the issue.  This fact stems partly from two critical factors. 

First, limited supply of the isotope.  Polonium-210 is produced primarily for heat generation in extreme cold environments, such as in communication satellites. For example, it was used in the Moon Rover.  There are only a handful of known sources of the deadly isotope, and only 100g of the product is produced each year, the majority of which is produced in Russia. It is produced only in a nuclear facility through the bombardment of uranium with neutrons.  Although it is approximately 250,000 times as toxic as potassium cyanide—a lethal dosage weighs about the same as a speck of dust—it is simply not easily obtainable.

Second, its use as an assassin’s weapon was simply not suspected in 2002.  Although there had been many suspected deaths resulting from mishandling the element, its use for the untimely dispatch of political foes was virtually unknown prior to 2006.

It was only after the characteristics of the illness and death resulting from Polonium poisoning came into the public consciousness in 2006 that suspicions began to arise regarding the Arafat death.  Curiously, those suspicions did not arise within the Palestinian West Bank community itself.  Apparently, no effort was expended by the Palestinian Authority to engage in a thorough investigation of the circumstances of Arafat’s death.  Ironically, it was not the successors to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, but rather an outside organization that set in motion the critical steps that would lead to this week’s exhumation and the solving of another piece in the puzzle. It was Al Jazeera, the Arab media network, in conjunction with Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, that expended the funds necessary and undertook the extensive scientific investigations required to unfold the mystery.

Although the Palestinian Authority was provided a complete copy of Arafat’s entire medical file by the French Military Hospital, it was the duplicate copy of the file given to Suha Arafat, combined with the clothing that Yasser Arafat wore in the hospital, carefully preserved by Suha Arafat, that would lead to forensic tests confirming the presence of Polonium-210 in Arafat’s body specimens, including hair strands and blood and urine stains in his hat and underwear respectively.

How much Polonium?  Lots.  Polonium-210, being a radioactive isotope, decays with a half-life of 138.4 days.  Given that it has now been 8 years (approximately 21 half-life cycles) since Arafat’s death, the amount of radioactive particles remaining in the body specimens provided to the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland are therefore now only 1 over 2 to the 21st power, or approximately one 2 millionth of the amount present at the time they were deposited. Nevertheless, the scientists at the Institut not only confirmed the presence of the element, but expressed surprise at the levels of the element still present.

Given that it is virtually impossible to be naturally exposed to that level of contamination of that particular isotope, the results of the tests give probable cause to the creation of a criminal investigation into the death. 

Follow-up requests from Suha Arafat to the French authorities for retrieval of the remaining frozen samples of Arafat’s body fluids (blood, urine) were made recently, however she was informed that because there was no request made for a criminal investigation into his death, the body specimens were destroyed in 2008. Hence, the need to exhume his remains in order to complete the forensic analysis necessary to confirm the peripheral scientific findings with concrete proof.

The legal and religious procedures required in order to exhume a Muslim body, of course, are not unproblematic—at a minimum, a Fatwa (juristic ruling) is required. In addition, legal and scientific precautions must be carefully designed and scrupulously adhered to, in order to preserve the sanctity and integrity of the religious and scientific process.


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