JERUSALEM (JTA) — The body of former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was exhumed to test whether he died of radioactive poisoning.
The body was exhumed Tuesday and samples were taken by a Palestinian doctor under the supervision of Swiss, Russian and French experts. The body then was reburied, according to reports.
Analysis of the samples reportedly will take several months before there are any results.
French prosecutors in August opened a murder inquiry into the death of Arafat.
Arafat’s wife, Suha, had filed legal action in July asking French authorities to look into claims that he was poisoned. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on Arafat’s belongings. Polonium is a highly toxic substance that is rarely found outside military and scientific circles.
Arafat led the Palestine Liberation Organization for 35 years and became the first president of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. He fell violently ill in October 2004 and died two weeks later, at the age of 75, in a Paris military hospital.
The medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play; some have contended that Arafat died of AIDS.
Many Palestinians continue to believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an obstacle to peace. Israel has denied any involvement.
Direct relatives of Arafat objected to the exhumation.