Ramallah, West Bank — The body of former Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed Tuesday, November 27, to be tested for poison as part of an inquiry into his death.
Forensic experts from Switzerland, Russia, and France will take their own samples for independent analysis, said Tawfiq Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Investigation committee.
The tomb will be closed back up the same day, Tirawi said.
Arafat will then be reburied with a military ceremony.
Tirawi said Tuesday “will be one of the most difficult days of my life because of many personal, national and symbolic considerations. But I consider it a painful necessity. This is necessary to reach the truth in the death of President Yasser Arafat.”
Palestinian officials are hoping the exhumation will answer questions about whether Arafat’s death in 2004 was the result of poisoning by the radioactive element polonium.
The Palestinian Authority is convinced Israel is behind Arafat’s death and possible poisoning.
French authorities opened a murder inquiry into Arafat’s death this year when high levels of polonium were found on some of his personal belongings by a Swiss doctor.
Director of the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, Francois Bochud, said his researches found high levels of polonium-210 after testing Arafat’s clothing, toothbrush, and keffiyeh, the black-and-white headscarf he often wore.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, lodged a formal legal complaint for murder, and said she wanted her husband’s body to be exhumed “to make sure 100 percent of the existence of polonium.”
The use of polonium-210 made national headlines in 2006 when Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who came to Britain in 2000, died from the substance. On his deathbad, Litvinenko blamed Vladimir Putin, which the Russian president has denied.