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Remains of Arafat Exhumed in West Bank

  • VOA News

Woman passes near section of Israel's separation barrier depicting Yasser Arafat near the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 8, 2012.

Woman passes near section of Israel's separation barrier depicting Yasser Arafat near the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 8, 2012.

Palestinian officials say international experts have reburied the remains of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after exhuming his body in order to search for additional clues to his death.

Officials said the experts exhumed Arafat's remains early Tuesday from the massive mausoleum in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Samples from the remains were handed over to French, Swiss, Russian and Palestinian experts who will examine them in their home countries.

Polonium-210

  • highly radioactive
  • toxic if it enters the body by eating, breathing or through a wound
  • occurs naturally and is present in the environment in low concentrations
  • releases a great deal of energy
  • was discovered by Marie Sklodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie in 1898

Source: IAEA
French officials ordered an investigation into Arafat's death earlier this year after the discovery of polonium, a lethal radioactive substance, on clothing of Arafat's that was supplied by his widow.

Polonium decomposes rapidly, however, and some experts say it is not clear whether any remaining samples will be sufficient for testing.

Arafat died in France in 2004 shortly after catching a mysterious illness.

There is persistent speculation in the Arab world that Israel poisoned him, but Israel has denied these allegations.

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