The Fateh movement is memorializing the late President Arafat two years
after his death. Near his tomb in Ramallah's Presidential Offices,
formerly known as Al Muqata, President Arafat's Fateh party members are
holding a rally in his memory Saturday. Israeli forces occupying the
West Bank blocked thousands of Palestinians from entering Ramallah for
The Muqata is the same place that Israeli tanks besieged for months, but now the destroyed cars and demolished buildings are gone, with only a fraction of the original offices remaining.
Two years after his death, the cause remains uncertain. But several sources concur that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned US President Bush and asked for help in terminating President Arafat's life. There is no official investigation underway, said Fateh Bloc spokesperson Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, only an internal follow-up committee.
Although the specifics are unclear, what is held as a certainty to many is that the President consumed poison through his food or drink, as was the newly sited agreement between Sharon and Bush. But it cannot be ruled out that our President died as human beings do, because he was old or because he was ill. What is clear that being held under siege, with the Israeli government making clear President Arafat would be killed if he left, contributed in some way to his death.
A friend of the late President, Bassam Abu Sharif, said, “Both verbally and in writing it was expressed that Arafat needed to be cautious of visitors, that someone would put poison in the food.”
President Arafat became ill during Ramadan and quickly died in a French hospital on 11 November 2004 just before the Eid Al Fitr. His Ramallah funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people on the second to last day of Ramadan.
Abu Sharif said, “I sent a letter in which I told him that potential killers want to poison any food or drink, so do not consume anything. Send a trusted person to purchase food and water.”
An advisor to the late President and former spokesperson for the Fateh movment, Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, said, “We have welcomed visitors throughout the month of September, including over a hundred foreigners who came to show their solidarity. Every visitor who approached him could have transferred germs.”
President Arafat died amid mysterious circumstances with the focus of the follow-up committee being on who had access to poison him with food or drink.
The Jordanian private doctor Ashraf Kurdi accompanied the President to France. At the time he issued a statement, “President Arafat experiences an unprecedented feeling of fatigue and poor digestion, and loss of weight and appetite.” He pointed out that these symptoms may be the result of a slow acting poison administered over time. The late President's wife, Suha Arafat, made the unusual request that Dr. Kurdi accompany him to to the French Percy Military Hospital where he died. After President Arafat's death, the French President said that he respected President Arafat's courage and conviction.
Many believe that Palestine has yet to recover from the loss.
Current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech during the memorial saying that Israel continues to commit massacres unabated and there can be no peace while 10,000 Palestinians, including elected officials, are in Israeli jails. He also called for a more thorough investigation into the death of the late President.