The high levels of the radioactive poison polonium reportedly found on the
belongings of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat indicate that the toxin
was planted on them long after his death, a senior counterterrorism analyst told
The Jerusalem Post Thursday.
Dr. Ely Karmon, of the Interdisciplinary
Center, Herzliya’s Institute for Counterterrorism, is a specialist in chemical,
biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism.
Responding to an Al
Jazeera report published Wednesday – which said that researchers at the Institut
de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, discovered abnormally high levels of
polonium on Arafat’s belongings – Karmon said that the half-life of the
substance would make it impossible for polonium to have been discovered at such
high levels if it had been used to kill Arafat eight years ago.
to the Al Jazeera report, polonium has a half-life of 138 days, “meaning that
half of the substance decays roughly every four-and-a-half months.”
yet, eight years after Arafat’s death, the Swiss scientists reported finding
polonium levels of 54 millibecquerels (mBq) and 180 millibecquerels on his
belonging, considered to be high levels.
“If it had been used for
poisoning, minimal levels should be seen now. Yet much higher levels were found.
Someone planted the polonium much later,” Karmon said.
“Because of the
half-life of the substance, the conclusion is that the polonium is much more
fresh,” he added.
Karmon added that the Al Jazeera report raised
additional unanswered questions. Referring to the fact that Arafat’s widow,
Suha, provided the researchers with Arafat’s belongings, Karmon asked: “If Suha
Arafat safeguarded these contaminated materials, why, after seven years, was she
not poisoned too? She touched these things and Arafat in hospital.”
2006, ex-Russian spy turned dissident Alexander Litvinenko died after being
poisoned with polonium, according to a British investigation. British
authorities analyzed a restaurant, a cab and a hotel used by Litvinenko to trace
“Did Al Jazeera check the home of Suha Arafat in Paris and
Malta where she kept the items for traces of polonium, as the British did in
their investigation?” Karmon asked.
Karmon also cited an article
published Wednesday by the French daily Le Figaro which, he said, reported that
the symptoms found in Arafat’s French medical file do not fit a polonium
After Arafat’s death, “why did neither Suha nor the PA agree
to release the French hospital’s medical file?” he asked.