The eyes of Palestinians saw but could not believe that Yasser Arafat – their president, leader, father, resolute fighter, and historic rebel – could be in such a fragile condition. No, Palestinians could not fathom that their beloved Abu Ammar could possibly be so unwell.
As the late poet Mahmoud Darwish observed, Palestinians saw Yasser Arafat as the “Master of Survival.” Arafat had prevailed through dozens of assassination attempts, including artillery and aerial attacks, and airplane and car crash. Never did pressure, siege or targeting weaken or constrain him.
Arafat was now quite ill, however. His illness was dangerous and mysterious. It was suspected that he has been poisoned. Reports were contradictory. Nevertheless, the people believed that he would survive this time, too. They always saw him smiling and confident, with his well-known expression– full of love, hope and determination.
Arafat left Ramallah after obtaining assurances that he would return to his homeland. However, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was looking for an opportunity to remove Yasser Arafat – to expel him from Palestine, from political life, and from life itself. And he did indeed return, in a coffin.
Below are excerpts of recordings of the bleak moments of Yasser Arafat’s departure from Ramallah and the state and public farewells in Paris, Cairo, and Ramallah after he was martyred.
The Funeral - France
The Funeral - Egypt
The Funeral - Ramallah