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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:

http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=3107&sec=1&title=Backgrounder_to_Arafat_Exhumation:_2002,_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.

Nevertheless, given the overwhelming and conclusive scientific evidence made available so far, the outcome of the forensic analysis would appear to be obvious, which then again, of course, will leave more questions than answers. Although the question posed by Al Jezeera in its recent series, “What Killed Arafat?” will likely be answered, the logical next question is, “Who Killed Arafat?” which then places the case into the realm of a spy thriller, or a Warren Commission inquiry, should those in authority decide to pursue the question with any vigour.  In the circumstances, that eventuality is anything but assured.

More Questions Than Answers

On October 4, 2004, four hours after eating his dinner, Arafat became violently ill, with severe stomach pains and vomiting. Over the course of the next two weeks, his blood platelet count nosedived and he began experiencing severe diarrhea. Doctors were summoned first from Egypt, then from Jordan, then once again from Egypt, when he failed to recover. On October 28th, after his health continued to deteriorate, he was airlifted to Paris, France, where he was diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation (“DIC”) (multiple blood clots within the veins), however there was no apparent cause of the problem. Some progress and improvement was made following plasma transfusions, but he later relapsed, and on November 3rd fell into a coma. He succumbed on the morning of November 11th.

As the media have already noted, at the time of Arafat’s demise, there was no shortage of individuals or political entities who were more than pleased to see him finally removed from the political equation. Additionally, despite the satisfaction with having him out of the picture, and despite the preceding desire to have him out of the picture, actually taking the successful steps required to have him removed from the equation was obviously anything but simple, regardless of whoever actually was responsible.

Notwithstanding the speculation as to the obvious suspects, it is arguable that the difficulties in accomplishing that task could only be overcome with the successful subversion and active participation of at least one person within his inner circle.

 

BACKGROUNDER TO ARAFAT EXHUMATION: 2002, Arafat Isolated Politically and Physically By Operation Defensive Shield

by Raymond Hall, Nov 25, 2012

 

It has now been exactly eight years since November, 2004 when Yasser Arafat succumbed to a mysterious illness that went undiagnosed for years. Recent forensic analysis undertaken by the Al Jazeera media network with the full cooperation of Arafat's widow, Suha, has resulted in the confirmation by reputable sources of high levels of the radioactive isotope Polonium 210 in Arafat's blood, urine and hair samples retrieved from the clothing he wore during the last weeks of his life.

This radiation confamination has given French authorities cause to open a criminal investigation into his death, and will lead to the exhumation of his body on Tuesday, November 27th, to obtain further specimens for testing.If, as expected, the testing discloses a high concentration of Polonium 210 in the body samples, the events leading to his death will take on a new significance. Was he poisoned? If so, by whom, and with the assistance of which member or members of his inner sanctum?

Although the mainstream media will undoubtedly pursue this issue with vigour, I would like to provide some background information concerning some of the events occcuring prior to his death in 2004, based upon my own recollections as well as first-hand observations of some of those events, supplemented by my own heretofore unpublished photographs taken in Ramallah shortly after the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield.

Eight years is a long time in Israeli life, given the number of events that transpire almost daily. Consequently, it is easy to overlook the circumstances surrounding some past events. Case in point: Yasser Arafat spent the last two years of his life as a virtual prisoner of his own making holed up in his Muqata compound in Ramallah.

The seeds of his disenfranchisement both with the international community and with his own people were sown largely in the year 2000, following his refusal to commit, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, to what many outside observers viewed as reasonable options placed before him during the Camp David Summit organized by U.S. President Bill Clinton, and participated in by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
The failure of the Camp David Summit to produce any tangible progress on the peace process was followed very shortly by the election of more right-wing leaders of the United States and Israel: George W. Bush took office in January, 2001 and Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February, 2001. Following upon the more hard-line leadership of both countries, and particularly, Israeli response to continued terror attacks of the Second Intifada throughout 2001 and early 2002, Arafat’s movements became very restricted.
On March 29, 2002, two days after the Passover Massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, an attack that killed 30 and wounded 140 others, the majority of whom were senior citizens, Ariel Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield, invading Arafat’s Muqata headquarters in Ramallah, destroying all but two buildings, the hospital and a small segment of the Palestinian Authority Headquarters building (see accompanying photos, taken October 8, 2002).
Operation Defensive Shield also destroyed the Ramallah military base 2 Km to the west of the Muqata, as well as the headquarters building of the Palestinian Authority Police (see photos in the succeeding article). The IDF forces, according to my source, drove their tanks and armoured D9R bulldozers up to each building, issued a verbal warning to the occupants (in Arabic) to vacate the buildings within a specified very short period of time, then shortly thereafter proceeded to demolish the premises and all adjacent vehicles, using various means, as illustrated in the photos.
The raid on the Muqata proceeded slightly differently. The IDF apparently believed that Arafat was providing refuge inside the building to a number of terrorists, including the alleged assassins of Tourism Minister and former distinguished General Rehavam (Gandi) Ze’evi (murdered October 17, 2001). Prior to destroying some of the Muqata buildings, the IDF conducted raids, obtaining documentary evidence that would implicate Arafat in providing financial support to terrorist groups. For whatever reason, portions of the Headquarters building were left intact amid the total devastation of the remaining portions of the compound surrounding that building.
As a result, Arafat continued to reside in the building, conduct meetings in its offices and receiving visitors, including foreign diplomats, right up until his final illness in October, 2004, notwithstanding that he was isolated by his enemies and abandoned by many of his friends.
Ariel Sharon made no secret of his desire to isolate Yasser Arafat, both physically and politically, during and subsequent to 2002.
Arafat Becomes Sick, Then Dies
On October 4, 2004, four hours after eating his dinner, Arafat became violently ill, with severe stomach pains and vomiting. Over the course of the next two weeks, his blood platelet count nosedived and he began experiencing severe diarrhea. Doctors were summoned first from Egypt, then from Jordan, then once again from Egypt, when he failed to recover. On October 28th, after his health continued to deteriorate, he was airlifted to Paris, France, where he was diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation (“DIC”) (multiple blood clots within the veins), however there was no apparent cause of the problem. Some progress and improvement was made following plasma transfusions, but he later relapsed, and on November 3rd fell into a coma. He succumbed on the morning of November 11th.
French medical authorities performed dozens of tests, attempting to determine the cause of the illness onset, including tests for HIV, all known common debilitating diseases, and toxicology of several known poisons, all of which came back negative.
No autopsy was performed. His remains were airlifted back to Ramallah, with a stop in Egypt, and he was buried in a temporary mausoleum in Ramallah the following day. Samples of his blood and urine were kept by the French authorities until 2008, and then disposed of, given that there was no criminal investigation opened into his death.

 

 
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