Then, a huge cheer as the helicopter carrying Arafat's coffin landed.
"Welcome, welcome Abu Ammar! [Arafat]," the crowd shouted. "Welcome, old man!"
Then, chaos, as mourners quickly surrounded the helicopter.
Palestinian leaders appeared at the door of the aircraft, pleading for the crowd to move back to allow the coffin to be brought out.
Security guards fired into the air to keep the crowds back. Finally, after nearly half an hour, another cheer, as the coffin was brought out and placed on a vehicle.
Police climbed on top and held on tightly, as the coffin was carried through a dense crowd of mourners toward the grave site: "God is great! God is great!"
The chaotic, emotional scenes forced organizers to cancel a brief lying-in-state ceremony they had planned before the burial.
Arafat was buried ahead of time, his casket lowered into a marble-and-stone grave as a Muslim cleric said prayers and poured soil from Jerusalem over the coffin.
The commotion was in stark contrast to Arafat's military funeral earlier in the day in Cairo.
That ceremony drew presidents, royalty, and other dignitaries from around the world. But it was closed to the public, apparently for fear that too many people would come out to show their respect:
Arafat had spent his final three years confined to his Ramallah headquarters, only leaving when he fell seriously ill two weeks ago and was flown to France for treatment. The exact cause of his illness has still not been disclosed.
Since he died in Paris yesterday, Palestinians have named a collective leadership comprised mainly of veteran moderates in Arafat's circle.
There are hopes the Palestinian leader's passing will revive the peacemaking that Israel had ruled out as long as Arafat was in charge.
To the end, many of Arafat's critics -- and not just Israelis -- reviled him as a terrorist.
But today's outpouring of grief showed how much Arafat was revered by Palestinians as the man who embodied their aspirations for a homeland.
(news agencies/Kathleen Moore)