Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, gave Al Jazeera her husband’s old clothing and toothbrush (why does she still have his eight-year-old toothbrush?), which the network gave to the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland for testing. Al Jazeera quotes the director of the institute as saying, “I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids.”
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who had defected against the government and wrote two books accusing the Russian government of wrong-doing, was poisoned with polonium-210 in 2006. The institute’s report claims that Arafat’s symptoms before his death were similar to Litvinenko’s, but many diseases could have caused Arafat’s symptoms of severe diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. Naturally, many Palestinians are now accusing the Israeli government of poisoning Arafat.
The evidence, however, suggests that the polonium-210 was planted on Arafat’s belongings long after his death. Polonium’s half-life is 138 days, or approximately four-and-a-half months. If polonium was indeed the cause of death, then the polonium would have decayed by half roughly 21 times in the 93 months since Arafat died in November 2004. The Swiss scientists found 54 millibecquerels (mBq) and 180 millibecquerels on Arafat’s clothing and toothbrush.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Dr. Ely Karmon, a specialist in biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism, “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 . . . Because of the half-life of the substance, the conclusion is that the polonium is much more fresh.” In other words, so much polonium remains on Arafat’s clothing and toothbrush that only a vast amount of polonium could have caused his death eight years ago. Try multiplying 54 mBq by two, then take that number and multiply by two again, and then 19 more times.
Karmon also pointed out that if Suha Arafat had really been exposed to polonium for close to eight years, since she presumably touched her husband’s clothes, then she should have been poisoned too.
It’s also unclear whether Israel would have considered it in its best interest to kill Arafat. The Israeli government might not have trusted him, but it certainly preferred him to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
There are far too many problems with the Al Jazeera narrative of Arafat’s death to take it seriously.