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Palestine: Documentary About Arafat's Death Prompts Questions

On 3 July, 2012 the news channel Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary that investigated the mysterious death of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. He died in Paris on 11 November, 2004 and the documentary alleges that rather than dying of natural causes, Arafat was poisoned with polonium.

Both during and after the airing of the documentary, many Palestinian Twitter users tweeted their thoughts and reactions regarding the evidence presented in it. The majority were not surprised by the allegations that Arafat was poisoned, something that has long been claimed by many. However the allegation that polonium was used was a new detail.

Yasser Arafat at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2001. Image by Remy Steinegger (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Twitter user This Is Gaza tweeted:

@ThisIsGaZa:الجزيرة تكشف حقائق جديدة عن وفاة عرفات عثر تحقيق للجزيرة استمر تسعة أشهر على مستويات عالية من مادة البولونيوم السام في مقتنيات للرئيس عرفات
Al Jazeera reveals new facts about Arafat's death after a nine-month investigation found high levels of the poisonous element polonium in the belongings of [late] president Arafat.

And I commented:

@olanan: هلأ الكل يتساءل عن الجديد الذي قدمه وثائقي الجزيرة ‘والشعب كله كان عارف انو مات مسموم'. الجديد هو الادلة المادية.. بالأول كان اشاعات فقط!
Everyone is now wondering what new information was given in the Al Jazeera documentary, when the whole nation knew he was poisoned. What's new is that evidence is provided, when at first there were just rumours.

Many Palestinians questioned why the documentary was being broadcast now, and resorted to conspiracy theories as an explanation. Twitter user Majd responded:

@majds: قمة الوقاحة: ان يتواطؤا ل 8 سنوات باخفاء حقيقة اغتيال الشهيد ياسر عرفات، وبعدها عندما يأتي من يكشف الحقائق بمهنية، يقولون له: توقيتك مشبوه!!
It is galling when those who have conspired for eight years to hide the truth of Yasser Arafat's assassination, then say when someone comes to reveal the truth, “Your timing is suspicious!”

Yasser Arafat's mausoleum. Image by Mary-Katherine Ream (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nour Abed did not hide her bad opinion of Al Jazeera and the media in general, but she did praise it for the documetary:

@NourGaza: كلنا يعلم أن قناة الجزيرة كغيرها مجرد إعلام موجه له أسبابه وأهدافه وراء كل طرح جديد, ولكن هذا لا ينفي أنها كشفت معلومات جديدة عن موت ‎‫#عرفات‬!
We all know that Al Jazeera like any other channel has an agenda, with its reasons and aims behind every new action, but you cannot deny that it has revealed new information about Arafat's death.

Diana Alzeer was looking forward to even more answers:

‏@ManaraRam: The next question I want an answer for is “Who killed Arafat?”

Ismaeil Mohaisen tweeted some accusations against the Palestinian Authority:

@IsmaeilFadel: لا زلنا بإنتظار تعليق من السلطة..! خصوصاً وأن الوثائقى أشار ببعض أصابع حتى ولو بشكل غير مُباشر! هناك أشخاص متورطين، لا شك فى ذلك! ‎‪#Arafat‬
We are still waiting for a comment from the Palestinian Authority. Especially because the documentary implied the involvement of certain people. There is no doubt of that!

In a similar vein, Rami Khrais tweeted:

‏@Abuelrim: أهم ضربة للسلطة الفلسطينية بخلاف طلب سهى استخراج جثة زوجها للتحقق من التسمّم، هو إشارة التقرير أن أي تحقيق لم يجر منذ وفاته.
The biggest blow to the Palestinian Authority – besides Suha Arafat's request for an examination for poison in her husband's remains – is the report pointing out that no [official] investigation took place after his death.

The documentary ended with Yasser Arafat's widow Suha Arafat requesting that the Palestinian Authority exhume her late husband’s body so the investigation could be continued. President Mahmoud Abbas made a statement saying that the Palestinian Authority “saw no reason” why the body should not be exhumed. We are now waiting to see what will happen next.

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