Official: Yasser Arafat in a comma
11/4/2004 10:28:00 AM GMT
Arafatís health has been deteriorating over the past two weeks
The Palestinian leader's top aide reported on Thursday that Arafat was in a coma and in critical condition in the intensive care unit at a French military hospital after his health suddenly deteriorated on Wednesday.
The officials, who demanded anonymity, said the Palestinian leader's health has seriously deteriorated Wednesday and he was rushed into intensive care at the French military hospital where heís undergoing treatment.
Doctors have been carrying out tests on Arafat since he arrived in France last Friday, yet havenít determined what caused the blood and digestive disorders, despite ruling out leukemia.
"He is in serious condition and in the intensive care unit where he was moved on Wednesday at around 5 p.m. (11 a.m. EST)," a senior Arafat aide said on Thursday.
"New tests have been carried out including an endoscopy (visual internal examination). Nothing was found out from those tests."
Israeli media said that Arafat is suffering organ failure and that he had lost consciousness several times. The Maariv daily said Arafat's condition was "very critical."
French hospital and military officials declined to comment on the Israeli media report.
"These unfounded reports are not coming from French medical teams, these are leaks from the Israeli side," said Mohammed Dahlan, a former Palestinian security chief.
"Leaking such rumors will only complicate things and also complicate the situation within the Palestinian public," he told reporters in Paris.
Early Thursday Khaled Salem, Arafat's top aide, said that the medical analysis was "deepening a little bit", yet he said that he was sure Arafat would recover.
"There are no setbacks," he told reporters outside the hospital. "It's no secret he's ill, that's why he's in France, but there is no threat, there is no danger, no serious degradation."
On the other hand, top Israeli security officials are meeting Thursday to discuss how the situation in the Middle East would be like in case the Palestinian leader died, said Israeli officials speaking on condition of anonymity.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon are to attend Thursdayís meeting, the officials said.
Speculation in Israel has ranged from a viral infection to stomach cancer.
Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy to France who has been serving as Arafat's official spokeswoman in Paris couldnít be reached for further comment.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel is tracking Arafat's health "very carefully.
"Our goal is to prepare for the day after, if and when he dies," he told Israel Radio.
Last weekend, the ailing Palestinian leader flew France, to get the needed medical treatment at a French Army teaching hospital southwest of Paris, specialized in blood disorders and trauma care.
Arafatís health has been deteriorating over the past two weeks, his aids reported that he was suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. But last Wednesday he started briefly losing consciousness.
At first, low blood platelet count raised fears of leukemia, but Palestinian officials said that doctors have ruled out all forms of cancer.