Xinhua (Interview)
November 26, 2012 - 1:00am


The heart of Khadija Arafat, sister of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was full of sadness, just hours before international experts will dig up the remains of her brother from his tomb in the West Bank city of Ramallah to know the reasons behind his death.

The 80-year-old younger sister of Arafat lives lonely in an apartment in Gaza city with only her assistant as companion. In an interview with Xinhua, she said that she strongly opposes the opening of her brother's tomb and taking samples of his remains.

"Opposing the whole issue is not only my opinion, or the opinion of the family, but also so many Palestinians in the Palestinian territories and abroad who are opposing the opening of Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat)'s grave," she said with a sad voice and tears on her cheeks.

"Now he is resting in peace in his grave, so please let him rest in peace," referring to the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA)'s decision to open his tomb on Tuesday to examine samples of his remains and to know the reasons behind his death eight years ago.

Several international experts from France, Switzerland and Russia arrived in Ramallah to dig up remains of Arafat. But Khadija, who sounded outraged, said "No one had asked my permission to open my brother's grave and take samples of his remains."

"No one in the Palestinian leadership or in the Palestinian Authority has contacted me in any of the issues that are related to Yasser Arafat," said Khadija. But she said some individuals in the PNA contact me personally "and brief me on what is going on and to ask about my health."

Asked if Suha Arafat, the widow of Arafat, who went to a court in France asking to investigate the reasons behind her husband's death, had contacted her, Khadija said "Since he (Arafat) died in 2004, Suha never contacted me and I only hear about her from the mass media only."

Nasser al-Qedwa (Arafat), nephew of the late Palestinian leader, had earlier told Xinhua that, in principle, he was against opening his uncle's grave as he doubted if the action would be beneficial eight years after he died. "I doubt that they will find the evidence," he said.

"What the family really wants is not to find the reasons behind his death or to know what was the kind of the poison used to kill him, but the most important action is to prepare all the legal measures to hold Israel responsible for assassinating Arafat directly," said al-Qedwa, who is a former UN diplomat.

A court in Paris had decided to send experts to Ramallah to investigate the circumstances of Arafat's death.

Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of the Palestinian Committee to probe Arafat's death, said at a press conference that his committee agreed with the French team of inspectors that they do not have the right to investigate any Palestinian under the Palestinian jurisdictions.

"The committee let the French legal delegation to attend the sessions of investigations held by the Palestinian attorney to take testimonies, and if they want to ask a question, they must present it written to the Palestinian side, and then the Palestinian inspector answers them," said Tirawi.

Khadija asked whether opening her brother's grave and taking body samples would be beneficial.

"And really they will know who did it. Are they going to take him or her to court and are they going to say that this person killed Yasser Arafat?"

The debates on the reason behind Arafat's death were renewed after the Qatari al-Jazeera news channel videoed a report in July saying that Arafat's clothes were tested and amounts of radiated Plutonium were discovered.

Arafat died of a mysterious disease in a French Hospital on Nov. 11, 2004 without being able to find one single evidence saying that he was poisoned.

Khadija insists that the Palestinian people "must live their present and look for their future by working and by production," adding "I quote Yasser Arafat here as saying 'If the Palestinian people don't love each other and unite, there will be nothing called Palestine in the future.'"


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