An Israeli official dismissed reports that deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been poisoned by polonium, Chinese state-run news service Xinhua reported Thursday.
The statements came in the wake of an Al-Jazeera report on Tuesday that tests had found the deadly radioactive element on clothes that Arafat’s wife, Suha, had provided for testing at the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“All of a sudden, Suha’s checking her wash basket and discovered clothes that weren’t washed for eight years,” deputy foreign ministry spokesperson Paul Hirschson told Xinhua. “Suddenly, out of nowhere a couple of garments turn up; we test them, and presto! There’s polonium.”
According to the Xinhua report, a spokesman for the laboratory that did the tests told Israel Army Radio that “There may not have been polonium on the clothing eight years ago, when he died.”
Arafat died in 2004 at a French military hospital after suffering from a series of rapidly deteriorating health issues.
Hirschson suggested that it is Arafat’s widow who holds the answer as to what killed him.
“She’s got the medical files; why doesn’t she just publish them? ” he asked, “I think the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve to know the truth.”
Palestinian leaders are calling for further investigation including exhuming Arafat’s body from his tomb in Ramallah.