- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2005

JERUSALEM — The death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last year, when AIDS and poisoning widely were mooted as the cause, remained a mystery yesterday after the publication of the medical findings from the French hospital where he died.

Mr. Arafat’s medical records from the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris were obtained by two Israeli journalists who asked Israeli specialists to review them.

The journalists also made the records available to the New York Times, which turned to its own specialists for analysis.

The journalists, Avi Isacharoff and Amos Harel, plan to include the report in a new edition of “The Seventh War,” their book on the Palestinian intifada or uprising.

The records show that Mr. Arafat, 75, died of a stroke that resulted from a blood disorder caused by an unknown infection. The Times’ medical specialists said the pattern of Mr. Arafat’s illness made both poisoning and complications from AIDS unlikely as the cause of death.

The French medical report, drawn up by Dr. Bruno Pats, made no mention of an AIDS test, an omission that the outside specialists found curious. An Israeli infectious-disease specialist told the Times that the swift onset of Mr. Arafat’s intestinal troubles, four hours after he had eaten dinner, make complications from AIDS unlikely as the cause of death. Other specialists agreed.

The French doctors had laboratories conduct standard toxicological tests to detect poisons, but no traces were found.

The Tel Aviv newspaper, Ha’aretz, which also published the hospital’s findings yesterday, said Mr. Arafat’s personal physician, Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, claims that French doctors had found the AIDS virus in Mr. Arafat’s blood.

The medical records include no such statement. Dr. al-Kurdi said Mr. Arafat died of poisoning but that the AIDS virus had been inserted into his blood to blur the traces of poisoning.

A senior Israeli physician who read the report told Ha’aretz that the death appeared connected to something Mr. Arafat ate just before becoming ill.

“It is a classic case of food poisoning that is taught at medical school,” he said.

The Palestinian leader’s doctors in Ramallah apparently did not recognize that Mr. Arafat was suffering from a blood disorder known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, which the records show led to his death.

They diagnosed his illness as the flu and did not administer antibiotics until 15 days after its onset. Mr. Arafat was flown to France two days later, when it was too late to save him.

No autopsy was conducted because Mr. Arafat’s wife objected to one.

Senior Palestinian officials have insisted that Mr. Arafat was poisoned, hinting broadly that Israel was the culprit. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office dismissed such accusations as “absolute nonsense.”

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