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Palestinians mark 10 years since death of Yasser Arafat


RAMALLAH – A report from Ramallah said the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians were on Tuesday marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat.

Arafat, for decades, led the course of the Palestinians for an independent state.

He said the 75 year old Arafat, was being remembered at a wreath laying ceremony at his tomb in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

He said that a large rally scheduled for Gaza was cancelled following a series of explosions on Friday targeting the site of the event, and the property and cars of officials of Abbas’ Fatah party, which was founded by Arafat.

Arafat became the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), an umbrella group in which Fatah is the leading faction, in 1969.

Initially operating against Israel from exile in Arab countries, he returned to the West Bank following the 1993 interim Oslo peace accords.

But violence and stalemate derailed the peace process and Arafat spent the last phase of his life under siege at his Ramallah headquarters, with Israeli tanks outside.

Israel had declared him an “obstacle to peace” because of his dual support for armed attacks and peace negotiations.

Arafat was later transferred to a hospital near Paris, where he died on Nov. 11, 2004 of a brain hemorrhage caused by complications from a bowel infection.

In November 2013, a Swiss study of exhumed samples of Arafat’s remains found high levels of polonium, which “moderately” supported a hypothesis that he could have been poisoned with the radioactive material,  an allegation put forward by his widow Suha.

But separate French and Russian studies concluded he died of natural causes.

The Swiss study also acknowledged that the polonium could have been naturally occurring in air pockets or soil around Arafat’s decomposing remains.

Nonetheless a theory that Arafat was poisoned by Israel was still believed by many Palestinians. (Reuters/NAN)

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