Arafat's Last Days? - 'Something
Bad Happening To Him'
© 2003

Amid reports of rapidly deteriorating health, four ambulances were seen this afternoon entering the compound of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
A spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, dismissed reports Arafat, 74, had been taken to a hospital, but another senior official said he has seen the Palestinian leader's health slide over the past two weeks, according to the Jerusalem Post.
"I don't think it's the flu as some people say," the senior official said. "The president hasn't been feeling well for some time, and his health seems to be worsening."
Abu Rudeineh insisted Arafat merely was exhausted and was recovering, and the senior official said he possibly could have picked up viruses from all the people with whom he has shaken hands and exchanged kisses lately. Thousands have come to his compound since Israel announced its decision to "remove" him.
But Palestinians say they never have seen Arafat look as ill as he did Sunday when he met with new PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.
"You can see that he's very ill," said someone who attended the meeting, according to the Post. "He can hardly speak. Something bad is happening to him."
The decision to bar reporters and visitors from Arafat's compound this evening added fuel to the speculation, the Jerusalem paper said.
Last week, after a team of doctors was summoned from Jordan to examine him, a journalist in Ramallah quoted a senior PA official as saying that "Arafat's days are numbered," the Post reported.
The doctors were called in after Arafat complained of severe abdominal pain and had been vomiting for several days. Aides suspected he had been poisoned. The Jordanian medical team concluded he was only mildly ill and needed rest.
Citing a close aide to the Palestinian leader, the Guardian reports Arafat suffered a mild heart attack last week, but the news was not made public for fear it would "create panic."
"Although he has had a slight heart attack, the doctors say he will make a full recovery. He is in full control. There is nothing to worry about," the aide, who did not wish to be named, told the London-based paper.
Asked why it had not been made public at the time, the official said that the news would "have created panic at a critical time when the Israelis are threatening Arafat's life."
The Jerusalem daily, citing PA officials, said Arafat's illness could be linked to his decision to declare a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"It's possible that he doesn't want to leave a vacuum behind," said one PA official, the Post reported. "He must have discussed the issue with Abu Ala [Qureia]."



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