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Arafat's Remains Exhumed, Tested for Poison

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(RAMALLAH, West Bank) -- The remains of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were exhumed Tuesday morning to examine the cause of his 2004 death.  French, Swiss, and Russian experts will run tests on samples from his body to determine whether he may have been poisoned.

The calls for exhumation reached their peak this summer, when Al-Jazeera reported “significant” traces of radioactive material were found on Arafat’s clothing.  His widow publicly asked for his remains to be tested further.

His body was removed from its tomb in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and examined out of sight from the public. His remains were only touched by Muslim doctors, in accordance with Islamic tradition.  He was reburied hours later.

Arafat became ill in 2004, and died in a French military hospital just a month later.  The cause of death was initially deemed a stroke, but circumstances were murky and arguments abounded.  Many Palestinians are convinced he was poisoned by operatives of Israel.

No timeline for the test results was announced Tuesday, but Palestinian officials said it would be at least three months before any evidence would be available.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio