Why did Jewish doctor treat Arafat at deathbed ?

Published December 21st, 2004 - 06:02 GMT

After 40 days of mourning for Yasser Arafat have ended, and as Palestinians are still trying to come to terms with their leader's tragic death, a report recently revealed that one of the doctors who treated the Palestinian President was… Jewish.

According to an Israeli daily, quoting a senior French government official, a French Jewish doctor was one of the top physicians who treated Arafat, 75, while he was admitted at the military hospital in Paris.

The report said that the doctor was updated about Arafat’s condition even when the Palestinian leader was still at the Mukata compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He was also one of the doctors who were summoned to Arafat’s bed in the night when the Palestinian president dove into an irreversible coma.

“He was called to treat Arafat because of his qualifications, as every different specialist made his own diagnosis”, the senior source told the Ma’Ariv newspaper. “However, it is a sensitive matter that should not be discussed at length”.

The doctor asked not to be identified, close associates of the doctor said. They added that in spite of his Jewish identity, loyalty to Israel and wish to assist Israel in any way, he refused to disclose any information on Arafat’s condition to Israeli officials.

It should be mentioned that there had been wide spread rumors throughout the Arab world during Arafat’s mysterious illness, claiming the Palestinian leader had been poisoned by Israeli agents. Some officials said it seems Israel poisoned the Palestinian president with an “undetectable toxin”.


Earlier this week, the late Palestinian leader's cabinet secretary was quoted as saying Arafat had been poisoned over a year ago when he received a delegation of supposed supporters in his Ramallah headquarters.


 "Something strange happened to Arafat around a year ago. It was on September 25, 2003...," Ahmed Abdelrahman told the London-based Al-Hayat.


"The president shook hands with around 30 people before leaving to vomit. It was from that moment that the president's health started slowly deteriorating," he explained.

The poisoning speculation was raised due to the the lack of concrete information regarding the specific reasons for Arafat's demise.

In early November, Arafat’s doctor Ashraf al Kurdi was quoted as saying, "Arafat's health condition makes poisoning a strong possibility."

Kurdi’s assumption came after medics ruled out leukemia, but still could not name the reason for the President's sharply deteriorating health. Unwilling to accept the official explanation that Arafat died of an illness, many had appeared to favor the explanation that Israel, with help from a senior Arafat aide, poisoned him, a charge Israelis have strongly denied and many others have dismissed, including Palestinian officials.

"In the Western media, you think this is paranoid conspiracy theories, but here in the Arab world, that is not the case at all," Hishad Ahmed, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying a week after Arafat’s death. "If people found that Yasser Arafat was poisoned, it would be a volcano here - a big earthquake."

"I strongly believe" Arafat was poisoned, he said, adding "most likely it was done by Israel, but it would have to have been executed by those around Arafat."

As proof, he cited previous assassination attempts by Israel against Palestinian leaders, Israel's threats against Arafat, the demand by Arafat's doctor for an autopsy, his treatment at a military hospital that was not likely to reveal secrets and the "campaign of disruption Palestinian officials engaged in for two weeks" during Arafat's hospitalization, according to the Post’s November 17 report. 

Yasser Arafat's nephew said in mid-December that the lack of a clear reason for his uncle's death raised suspicions the Palestinian symbol died of "unnatural" causes.


The comments by Nasser al-Kidwa, after he handed over the 558-page medical dossier to Palestinian officials in Ramallah, were certain to fuel speculation that Arafat was indeed poisoned.

Al-Kidwa repeated his statement from last month that the French doctors were unable to rule out the possibility that Arafat had been poisoned, although they said they had not found traces of "any poison known to them."

"Examinations of X-rays and all imaginable tests ... are still with the same results, the inability of reaching a clear diagnosis," Al-Kidwa said.

"That is precisely the reason why suspicions are there, because without a reason you cannot escape the other possibility ... that there is unnatural cause for the death," he said.

Al-Kidwa said Palestinian officials would pursue their investigation until they reach a clear conclusion, and vowed to make the diagnosis public. "This file should remain open until the Palestinian people find out the truth," he said.


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