The remains of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed Tuesday as part of a renewed investigation into his death, a Palestinian investigator said Saturday.
Arafat died in November 2004 in a French military hospital, a month after suddenly falling ill. Palestinian officials claim he was poisoned by Israel, but have not presented evidence. Israel has denied such allegations.
Earlier this year, the detection of a lethal radioactive substance in biological traces on Arafat's clothing sparked a new investigation. Tests were inconclusive, and experts said they need to check his remains to learn more.
On Tuesday, Swiss, French and Russian experts will take samples from Arafat's bones, said Tawfik Tirawi, who heads the Palestinian team investigating the death. They will examine the samples in their home countries.
Arafat will be reburied the same day with military honours, but the ceremony will be closed to the public, Tirawi told a news conference.
He did not specify when results would be announced but said the probe could take months.
Earlier this month, workers began prying open the concrete-encased tomb in Arafat's former government headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in the West Bank, had hesitated before agreeing to exhume the remains, in part because of cultural and religious sensitivities.
Since mid-November, the gravesite has been surrounded with a blue tarpaulin and roads leading to the Arafat mausoleum were closed. Arafat is still widely revered in the Palestinian territories, and Palestinian officials said they don't want the process observed by media and others.
The new probe into his death began this summer, after a Swiss lab discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on clothes said to be Arafat's. The clothes were provided by Arafat's widow, Suha, and given to the lab by the Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera. Separately, Mrs. Arafat asked the French government to investigate, while the Palestinian Authority called in Russian experts.
Arafat's death has remained a mystery for many. While the immediate cause of death was a stroke, the underlying source of an illness he suffered in his final weeks has never been clear, leading to persistent conspiracy theories that he had cancer, AIDS or was poisoned.
Many in the Arab world believe Arafat, the face of the Palestinian independence struggle for four decades, was killed by Israel. Israel, which saw Arafat as an obstacle to peace, vehemently denies the charge.
There is no guarantee the exhumation will solve the mystery. Polonium-210 is known to rapidly decompose, and experts are divided over whether any remaining samples will be sufficient for testing.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel secured an agreement to stop the persistent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel without launching a ground invasion into Gaza or losing the support of its international allies. Netanyahu's bid for re-election in January could be vastly strengthened by the operation and by the killing of Hamas militant leader Ahmed Jabari on the first day of fighting. Netanyahu got the backing of President Barack Obama during the fighting, a significant achievement after their already shaky relationship grew colder when Netanyahu was perceived to favor Republican nominee Mitt Romney during the recent U.S. election. Israel also secured a commitment from the U.S. to help stop weapons smuggling into Gaza. Caption: <em>Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a visit to the national police headquarters on November 22, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel.</em> (Gali Tibbon-Pool/Getty Images)
The Islamic militant group that rules Gaza gained significant international credibility, with Arab and Turkish diplomats pouring into the Palestinian territory to show support. Though it has been branded a terror group by Israel and the United States, it was treated as an equal partner with Israel during indirect cease-fire talks in Egypt. In those talks, it secured a commitment for the freer movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Hamas also proved its ability to fire rockets as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem despite being battered with airstrikes. As the Arab Spring brings Islamists to power across the region, Hamas' influence is on the rise. Caption: <em>A Hamas militant talks during a press conference in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.</em> (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah
Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas five years ago, might be the biggest loser. He had no seat in the cease-fire negotiations and was largely sidelined during the crisis. Hamas' ability to stand up to Israel and survive could also diminish Palestinians' patience with their president's so far fruitless efforts to push for a negotiated solution to the conflict with Israel. Abbas' Western-backed government only rules in the West Bank, and his dreams of reconciling the rival Palestinian territories seems more elusive than ever. Caption: <em>Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. </em>(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: The former Muslim Brotherhood leading figure emerged from his first major international crisis with enhanced prestige and proved his government can mediate between the two sworn enemies, something the United States cannot do because it considers Hamas a terrorist organization and doesn't allow contacts between its members and American officials. Egypt's sponsorship of the cease-fire ensures Morsi a central role in the future of the region. Caption: <em>In this Friday, July 13, 2012 photo, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks to reporters during a joint news conference with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, unseen, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt.</em> (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
The United States
While the Obama administration has sought to refocus its foreign policy on Asia, the Gaza fighting forced it to turn back to a conflict it has sought to move past. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's last-minute shuttle diplomacy might have strengthened a U.S.-Egyptian partnership that has been strained in the 21 months since Egyptians toppled autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak. After a first term characterized by repeated failures in forging Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. role in supporting the cease-fire could signal renewed American engagement in the region. A U.S. commitment to help stop arms smuggling to Gaza may also help repair Obama's strained relationship with Netanyahu. Caption: <em>U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wave as they arrive at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, on Air Force One, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.</em> (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)