Biography

• “Mohammed Yasser” Abdul Ra’ouf Arafat al Qudwah al Husseini was born in Jerusalem on 4 August 1929. 

• After his mother, Zahwah, died in 1933, Yasser Arafat and his brother Fat’hi left their family house in Cairo for Jerusalem, where they stayed with their uncle Saleem Abu al Su’oud until 1937. Then, Yasser and Fat’hi moved to live with their father and family. Yasser joined a school called "Egypt School". 

• In Spring 1948, Arafat travelled to Palestine and fought against the Zionist militias in southern Palestine. Then, he joined the “Sacred Jihad Army”, established by Abdul Qader al Husseini. Arafat was appointed as Intelligence Officer in the Army. 

• In 1949, he joined the Faculty of Engineering at the Fuad I University in Cairo. 

• Together with a number of Palestinian students, Arafat established the Association of Palestinian Students in 1950. He was also elected Chairman of the Association. 

• In 1952, Arafat was elected Chairman of the Students Association at the Cairo University. He maintained this position towards his graduation in 1955.
 
• After he graduated in 1955, Arafat founded the Association of Palestinian Graduates. 

• In 1956-57, Arafat worked as an engineer at the Egyptian Cement Company in Al Mahalla al Kubra. 

• As soon as the Suez War (Tripartite Aggression) broke out on 28 October 1956, Arafat joined the Egyptian Army as a reserve officer. He served at the Engineering Unit based in Port Said.

• In late 1957, Arafat travelled to Kuwait and worked as an engineer at the Ministry of Public Works. Later, he incorporated a construction company. Meantime, Arafat devoted much of his time to secret political activity.  
• Along with several Palestinian activists, including Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad), Arafat established the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) in Kuwait in late 1957. 
• With Abu Jihad, Arafat established the Falastinuna: Appeal for Life monthly journal in 1959. 

• Also with Abu Jihad, Arafat established the first Fatah Office in 1963. Then, he established the second Fatah Office in Damascus in 1964. |

• As a representative of Palestinians in Kuwait, Arafat participated in the Constituent Conference of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Jerusalem in 1964. 

• In 1964, Arafat was arrested in Syria while he was transporting dynamite from Lebanon to Jordan. 

• Together companions of his path, Arafat launched armed struggle against Israel with the first military operation Eilabun Tunnel in the evening of 31 December 1964. 

• In July 1967, Arafat gained access across the River Jordan to the occupied Palestinian territory one month after it had been occupied. There, Arafat supervised the progress of armed struggle operations against the Israeli occupying forces. 

• Arafat led the Palestinian Revolution Forces in the confrontation against the Israeli occupying authorities in the Al Karamah Battle of 21 March 1968. Meanwhile, Arafat survived an Israeli attempt to assassinate him. 

• On 14 April 1968, Arafat was appointed Fatah spokesman. In early August 1968, he was also appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Fatah Armed Forces – Al ‘Assifah [Storm]. 

• In the 5th Term of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), which was held in Cairo in February 1969, Arafat was elected Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee. In successive PNC terms, Arafat was elected to hold this position until he was martyred. 

• In late 1969, the "Time" magazine selected Arafat as the Man of the Year. He was also chosen Man of the Year in later years. 

• In December 1969, Arafat took part in the 5th Arab Summit Conference in Rabat, Morocco, after his status had been consolidated as the leader of Palestinians. For the first time, the seat of the Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee was placed in the first row on an equal footing with Kings and Presidents of Arab states. The PLO was also granted the right to vote in Arab Summit Conferences. 

• During the September 1970 incidents in Jordan, Arafat survived death in an aerial attack. 

• In July 1971, Arafat moved to Lebanon after the armed Palestinian presence in Jordan had been effectively terminated.
 
• In his capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, Arafat participated in the 4th Summit Conference of the Non-aligned Movement, held in Algeria in 1973. The Conference decided to recognise the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Arafat was also elected Permanent Deputy Chairman of the Non-aligned Movement. 

• In February 1974, Arafat participated in the Islamic Summit Conference in Lahore, Pakistan. The Conference declared that the PLO was as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Arafat was also elected Permanent Deputy Chairman of the Islamic Conference Organisation.

• On the Arab level, the PLO status was further consolidated in the 6th Arab Summit Conference, held in Rabat on 28 October 1974. In the Conference, Arab countries recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. 

• On 13 November 1974, Arafat crowned political successes achieved by the Palestinian Revolution when he delivered a historic address at the United Nations General Assembly. In the end of the address, Arafat pronounced his famous words: “I have come with an olive branch in one hand and with the rebel’s rifle in the other. Do not drop the olive branch from my hand.” 

• After the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, Arafat led battles to defend the Palestinian Revolution. Then, Arafat established an alliance with national and progressive forces in Lebanon. 

• In July 1981, the Israeli occupying forces attempted to extra-judicially kill Arafat when they shelled and completely destroyed his headquarters in the Al Fakhani area in Beirut. Several Palestinians were martyred under rubble of the building. 

• On 30 August 1982, Arafat departed Lebanon onboard the Greek Atlantis ship. After he stayed for one day in Greece, Arafat left for Tunisia – the new headquarters of the PLO in exile. 

• In 1983, Arafat confronted the dissident movement led by a number of former Fatah members with support and guidance from the Syrian government. On 20 September 1983, Arafat secretly returned to Tripoli in northern Lebanon by sea and led the Palestinian forces. Having been besieged in Tripoli, Arafat left 19 December 1983 for Cairo, putting an end to the Arab boycott of Egypt.
 
• During its 1984 meeting in Amman, the PNC renewed trust in Arafat and re-elected him as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee. 

• On 1 October 1985, Arafat survived an assassination attempt after eight Israeli fighters shelled and destroyed his headquarters in the Hammam al-Shatt area in Tunisia. 

• On 15 November 1988,  Arafat declared the independence of the State of Palestine during the 9th PNC meeting in Algiers. 

• On 13 December 1988, Arafat delivered an address before the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva. In this unprecedented procedure, the General Assembly had to move the meeting from New York in order to hear Arafat’s address after the United States had refused to grant Arafat an entry visa to New York. 

• On 14 December 1988, Arafat announced in Geneva that the PLO decided to recognize the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and renounce terrorism. Consequently, The US President Ronald Reagan launched a dialogue with the PLO in late 1988. 

• On 30 April 1989, the Palestinian Central Council elected Arafat as President of the State of Palestine. 

• On 17 July 1990, Arafat was married to Suha al-Tawil in Tunis.
 
• On 7 April 1992, Arafat survived certain death after his aeroplane crashed in the Libyan Desert during a flight from Khartoum. 

• On 13 September 1993, Arafat attended the ceremony of signing the Oslo Accords between the PLO and Government of Israel at the White House in Washington DC. 

• On 12 October 1993, the Palestinian Central Council elected Arafat as President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). 

• Jointly with the then Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Perez, Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. In the same year, Arafat was also awarded the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, Ronald Wilson Reagan Prize for Peace, and Prince of Asturias Award. Over his lifetime and leadership of the Palestinian people, Arafat also received several other awards and honorary doctorate degrees from various countries and universities. 

• On 4 May 1994, Arafat signed the Cairo Agreement with the then Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Accordingly, the occupied Palestinian territory in Gaza and Jericho were transferred to the PNA. 

• Following 27 years of forcible absence, Arafat returned to his homeland for the first time on 1 July 1994. He made a first visit to Gaza and Jericho. On 12 July 1994, Arafat finally settled in Gaza. From his Al Muntada headquarters, Arafat launched the frocess of building the PNA and its institutions. 

• On 24 July 1995, Arafat's only child, was born. 

• Arafat was elected President of the PNA after he won 88.1% of votes in the first Presidential Elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The elections were held on 20 January 1996. 

• Arafat engaged in the Tripartite Summit Conference in Camp David in the United States of America in July 2000. Talks failed after Arafat rejected attempts which imposed Israeli solutions on the final status issues. After Ariel Sharon visited the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on 28 September 2000, the second Palestinian popular Intifada (Uprising) broke out. 

• With the US support, Sharon intrigued a plot in 2001 against Arafat, accusing him of committing acts of terrorism. 

• On 8 December 2001, Israel prevented Arafat from leaving the city of Ramallah except on permission. Thereby, Arafat was effectively besieged in Ramallah.

• Arafat did not take part in the Arab Summit Conference in Beirut on 26 March 2002 because Sharon threatened that Arafat would not be allowed to return to the Palestinian territory one he had left it. 

• In the morning of 29 March 2002, the Israeli occupying forces besieged Arafat in the Presidential Compound (Al Muqata’ah) together with 480 Palestinians. Israeli troops opened fire and fired mortars in all directions. Having destroyed all buildings, the Israeli army withdrew from the Al Muqata’ah in the evening of 21 May 2002. The siege on Arafat was not lifted completely, however. Sharon prevented Arafat from leaving Ramallah unless he decided not to return to the Palestinian territory. 

• On 5 June 2002, the Israeli army launched a savage attack on Arafat’s headquarters. Fire was opened on Arafat’s room, but he was not hurt. Arafat’s bodyguard was martyred and seven citizens were injured. 

• On 24 May 2002, Arafat found himself at war with US President George W. Bush. In his address, Bush demanded that a new, different Palestinian leadership be established, calling for Arafat to leave his position as Leader of the Palestinian people. 

• On 19 September 2002, the Israeli army attacked Arafat’s headquarters once again. Israeli troops occupied the Al Muqata’ah for six days, during which they fired artillery shells towards the late President’s Office. 

• In late 2002, Arafat was targeted by a US-Israeli campaign to remove him from power. The campaign was designed to make Arafat a President with limited powers. 

• In its meeting on 13 September 2003, Israel’s mini-cabinet decided to “remove” Arafat. Later, the Government of Israel launched a campaign and issued statements aimed at getting rid of Arafat, by murdering, deporting, imprisoning or removing him. 

• On 22 May 2004, Arafat was prevented from leaving the Palestinian territory and participating in the Arab Summit Conference in Tunis. Therefore, Arafat took part in the Conference via a televised address. 

• On Tuesday, 12 October 2004, first symptoms of a deteriorated health condition were manifest on Arafat. Then, he was reported to have suffered from a disease in the digestive system. 

• On Wednesday, 27 October 2004, Arafat’s health condition deteriorated rapidly. Then, he consented to physicians’ decision to transport him to France for medical treatment. Arafat departed to France after he had received US and Israeli assurances that he would be free to return to his homeland. 

• On 29 October 2004, Arafat was admitted to the Percy military Hospital in Clamart, near Paris. While it was increasingly rumoured that he had been poisoned, Arafat’s health condition deteriorated further. 

• Arafat fought his last illness until he passed away at 4:30 am on Thursday, 11 November 2004. 

• On 11 November 2004, French President Jacques Chirac bid farewell to Arafat’s body outside Percy Hospital. Then, France organised in an official, solemn funeral procession for Arafat. A French governmental aeroplane transported Arafat’s body to Cairo. On the next day, 12 November 2011, a solemn military funeral procession was organised in presence of a significant number of Kings and Presidents of Arab, Islamic and foreign countries as well as official delegations from 61 countries. 

• On Friday, 12 November 2004, an Egyptian military helicopter transported Arafat’s body to Ramallah. About 250,000 Palestinian citizens waited for Arafat’s last journey. His body was placed in a special mausoleum in the Al Muqata’ah, where it was buried temporarily. In his will, Arafat stated he wanted to be buried on the grounds of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. When it is liberated, Arafat’s body will be relocated to Jerusalem. 

 
 
 
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