Arafat's Death Still A Mystery

Palestinian boys place a picture of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a the metal barrier that lies on the Palestinian side of the border between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt in the outskirts of the town of Rafah Wednesday Oct. 12, 2005 during a demonstration to demand the removal of the barrier. AP

The official investigation into the death of Yasser Arafat failed to determine what killed the longtime Palestinian leader, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in a sweep through West Bank towns, Israeli forces, some disguised as vegetable vendors and others using an alleged terrorist's mother to draw the man out, arrested six Palestinians.

The army said those arrested included a 14-year-old boy allegedly coerced by militants into becoming a suicide bomber and a senior Hamas fugitive who has been on the run for eight years.

Israel security forces were on high alert for Thursday's Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, when borders close, streets empty of traffic and Jews fast, pray and ask for forgiveness.

Qureia said the special committee that led the investigation would publish the results, along with a report by the French doctors who treated Arafat.

"French and Palestinian doctors who treated the martyred brother found that medicine could not find the disease which infected Arafat, neither viruses, nor germs, nor AIDS, nor bacteria," Qureia said.

He said the file would remain open for further investigation.

Arafat died in a French hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, after a two-week illness. His wife, Suha, refused an autopsy.

Rumors have swirled that Arafat died of AIDS or was poisoned by Israel. Israel denies the allegation.

Arafat's medical records were leaked to reporters last month. An investigation of these records by independent doctors also was inconclusive.

The records showed that Arafat died of a massive stroke after suffering intestinal inflammation, jaundice and a blood condition.

But the records were inconclusive about the causes of the blood condition, known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC. The condition has numerous causes ranging from infections to colitis to liver disease.

In one of the West Bank arrests, in the Hebron-area town of Dahariya, troops brought a fugitive's mother to call on him to surrender. When he came out of his hideout, he was forced to strip to show he hadn't strapped explosives to his body.

The Israeli army said Wednesday it had arrested a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who told his interrogators that militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades — a militant group with ties to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement — pressured him to carry out a suicide bombing after he quarreled with his father.

The teenager said the militants threatened to kill him and distribute a statement claiming he was a collaborator with Israel if he didn't carry out their orders, the army said.

Jamal Tirawi, an Al Aqsa commander who allegedly recruited the boy, disputed the Israeli account.

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