RAMALLAH – Palestinians expressed a wide spectrum of opinions about Al Jazeera’s
latest investigative report suggesting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may
have been killed by the radioactive element polonium- 210.
There has been
no accepted explanation for his death in a French military hospital eight years
ago, although Palestinians have not excluded a conspiracy.
that poison killed Arafat but lack the required evidence.
Most of those
The Jerusalem Post interviewed in the main streets of Ramallah on Thursday
pointed their finger at Israel, basing their accusations on the fact that Israel
considered Arafat a main obstacle to peace in the Middle
Palestinians interviewed also thought then-prime minister Ariel
Sharon gave the order to kill Arafat after the collapse of the Camp David
negotiations in the summer of 2000, which he blamed on the Palestinian
“It’s [exhuming Arafat’s body] accepted, politically, religiously
and socially, and I think it’s our right to know who did it,” said public
employee Samia Theeb, 35.
The engineer believes leading Palestinian
figures who were close to Arafat while he was besieged in his Ramallah compound
poisoned him. “I think Israel killed him through them,” she said.
Tha’er Ramadan, 38, said the truth had to be revealed and people needed to know
who killed their leader. “He sacrificed on behalf of us, and so we shouldn’t
abandon him now.
You can say that we owe it to him,” she
Ramadan said that if it were her father or brother, she would have
asked to exhume his body.
“He is a public figure and so we all have the
right to the truth,” she said.
Riad, in his 30s, suspects that the French
authorities are hiding something, asking: “Why did they [French hospital
officials] discard Arafat’s urine and blood samples early?” “Is Al Jazeera a
detective drama channel to do all these investigations? It would be better if
they leave us alone,” said 23-year-old Hasan Daraghmeh.
His view was
widely shared among Palestinians who support the Palestinian Authority and think
that Al Jazeera is against it.
The news channel has become a source of
contention among Palestinians. Many people became suspicious of its agenda after
the channel released confidential papers in January 2011 from meetings and
communications between Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders and
The PA said the papers were distorted; many people said the
PA was compromising Palestinian rights.
Daraghmeh, an X-ray technician
who is affiliated with Fatah, said the timing of the report was suspicious. “We
saw the recent protests, and the [PA] security campaign [against Hamas] in
Jenin; the current situation can’t handle much more pressure,” he
Daraghmeh had no doubt that Israel killed Arafat, saying that “he
was bad for them, and he refused to let go of the right of
Hadeel, a 40-year-old public employee, said it was too late to
exhume the body. “It might be decomposed by now, why do we need to know this
now?” she asked, adding that she did not think many people cared about this
Hassan Ras, from Jerusalem, said Palestinian people needed to
know the truth, but that they now worried about other things.
the occupation and the salaries to focus on. We care about such information and
follow it, but I think that our daily concerns are more important,” Ras said, as
he held a teddy bear and stood by his wife and two young daughters in
He said such an investigation should have taken place when
Arafat died in 2004.
Not many of those interviewed by the Post expressed
concerns about public anger or uprising if the investigation goes
“There will be no more drama, enough, we’re fed up,” Umm Ahmed,
a vendor in the city’s vegetable market, said.
Observers believe that the
PA will see the case through until an international investigation unveils the
mystery behind Arafat’s death.
The public’s nonchalant reaction to this
case might be because of the state of economic hardship in the West Bank, or
because the investigation has been eight years in the making, they said.
However, reopening this file might push further away any peace talks between
Israel and the Palestinians, which have been stalled since October 2010.