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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 20:01 GMT
Arafat: End of a charmed life
Yasser Arafat in Beirut in 1982
Where war failed, age and illness won out
The burial of Yasser Arafat draws a line under a quasi-mythical life of daring, if not downright lucky, escapes from death.

Car and plane crashes, bomb and bullet - he escaped them all, only to meet his end in a French hospital at 75.

Just a few weeks before doctors confirmed his decease, the Palestinian leader seemed to have confounded the merchants of gloom again.

Appearing for the cameras at his compound in Ramallah, he smiled cheerfully in the teeth of reports that he was gravely ill.

Dressed in a blue tracksuit, he even had on a woolly hat, giving him a playful look much removed from the chequered headscarf he had made synonymous with the Palestinian cause.

With Yasser Arafat never to wind the famous keffiyeh around his head again, some might say he had lost his lucky scarf.

Certainly, the life which ended on 11 November was only the last of nine - at the very least.

Bullet and bomb

Hani al-Hassan, a former aide, said in May 2003 that he personally had witnessed 13 assassination attempts on Mr Arafat's life, dating back to his years on the run as PLO leader.

CLOSE SHAVES
1970: "Black September" government offensive against PLO in Jordan
1973: Israeli commando raid on PLO leaders in Beirut
1982: Reportedly spared by Israeli sniper in Beirut
1985: Israeli bomb in Tunis which killed 73
1992: Lethal air crash in Sahara
2001: Israeli assault on Ramallah compound
Two car crashes

Mr Arafat himself reportedly claimed to have survived 40 attacks.

What is known for sure is that he narrowly escaped an Israeli air strike on his headquarters in Tunisia in 1985. He had just gone out jogging when the bombers swooped, killing 73 people.

Israeli bombers also reportedly came close to killing him at least once in Lebanon in the early 1980s, as did a commando party which landed in Beirut in 1973.

His most dramatic escape appears to have been from an Israeli sniper in Beirut in 1982, who took his photo rather than open fire because he was under orders not to harm him.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - then defence minister - said 20 years afterwards that he regretted not "liquidating" the PLO chairman.

In December 2001, Mr Arafat's guards rushed him to safety in a bunker just before Israeli helicopters bombarded his compound in Ramallah with rockets.

Survivor

Yasser Arafat also came under threat from nominal Arab allies during the PLO's years of travelling around the Middle East in search of a safe haven.

Yasser Arafat and aides in Ramallah before leaving for Paris
Doctors have cast doubt on claims of a final Israeli poison plot
In 1970, it was Jordan which cracked down - later came the turn of Lebanon as it disintegrated into civil war, and Syria and Libya.

At least two reported car accidents - one between Damascus and Beirut and the other between Amman and Baghdad - also saw Mr Arafat walking away without serious injury.

However, it is his escape from a plane crash in the Libyan desert in 1992 which particularly sticks out.

The crew were all killed when the aircraft came down in a sandstorm.

"I knew I would survive this crash... to redeem the sacrifices of all our martyrs," he said afterwards.




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