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Intelligence Official: Mossad Behind Syrian Scientist's Death

By Reuters
A senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency told The New York Times on Monday that the Israeli Mossad was behind the death of Syrian scientist Aziz Asbar, one of Syria's most important rocket scientists who was killed by a car bomb on Saturday. The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New York Times his agency had been informed about the operation. Asbar reportedly had free access to the highest levels of the Syrian and Iranian governments, and his own security detail. He led a top-secret weapons-development unit called Sector 4 and was hard at work building an underground weapons factory to replace one destroyed by Israel last year, according to the newspaper. The attack took place in Masyaf, where Syria's military research organization maintains one of its most important weapons-development facilities. In September of 2017, an advanced missiles factory in the research center was targeted in an air strike. The Syrian army claimed that Israel was responsible for the attack, but Israel did not comment on the reports and has also not commented on Asbar's death. The Middle Eastern intelligence official told the newspaper that the Mossad had been tracking Asbar for a long time. The Israelis believed that Asbar led the secret unit known as Sector 4 at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. He was said to have free access to the presidential palace in Damascus and had been collaborating with Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, and other Iranians to begin production of precision-guided missiles in Syria by retrofitting heavy Syrian SM600 Tishreen rockets. An official from Syria and Iran's alliance, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to Western journalists, said he believed Israel had wanted to kill Asbar because of the prominent role he played in Syria's missile program even before the current conflict broke out in 2011. Spokesmen for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not respond to requests for comment. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Israeli outlet Hadashot Monday that he was not surprised that Syria was blaming Israel. "Whenever something happens, they blame us. There are hundreds of explosions taking place every day in the Middle East, as well as other forms of score-settling. So we don't take it too seriously," he said. Earlier on Monday, the Hizbullah terrorist organization accused Israel of being responsible for Asbar's death. The claim was made in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is affiliated with the terrorist group. According to the report, the assassination is part of Israel's war aimed at preventing Syria and its allies from rehabilitating their military capabilities following the devastating Syrian civil war- with an emphasis on preventing the development of precision weapons.

PA Demands Full Authority in Gaza

By Reuters
The Palestinian Authority cabinet headed by Rami Hamdallah, which convened in Ramallah on Tuesday, called on Hamas to abandon its stance against unity and end its control over Gaza. The cabinet also urged Hamas to refrain from negotiating Palestinian national principles in exchange for humanitarian aid at the expense of the Palestinian people and to transfer all the governmental powers in Gaza to the hands of the PA. Hamdallah noted that the PA had not imposed any punitive measures against the Gaza Strip as had been reported. He explained that the measures are temporary and include the deduction of wages from some public sector employees. He added that the PA invested $96 million in Gaza in July. The announcement by the PA cabinet confirms in practice that no agreement has yet been reached in the reconciliation talks between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Hamas and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction have been at odds since 2007 when Hamas violently took over Gaza from Fatah in a bloody coup. Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last October, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December 1. That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and had later reportedly hit "obstacles."

Kuwait Airways Pays Damages to Israeli Barred from Flight

Kuwait Airways agreed to compensate Israeli citizen Mandy Blumenthal after she was barred from boarding a flight at Heathrow Airport in London over her nationality. Blumenthal sued Kuwait Airways with the help of UK Lawyers for Israel after she was not allowed to buy a return ticket to Bangkok at a Kuwait Airways desk last November. At first, the sales representatives agreed to sell her a ticket, but the moment they saw that she was carrying an Israeli passport, they changed their taste. The sales clerk repeatedly explained: "Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways." According to the British-based Jewish News, the airline has agreed to pay a substantial amount in damages plus cost to Blumenthal. Attorney David Berens of Fuglers Solicitors said: "The law is clear: direct discrimination on the grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal. Ms Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways' illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.'" Blumenthal said after the airline agreed to compensate her: "It is horrible to be singled out, to be told you are not allowed to do something because of who you are. Having someone telling me that he is following instructions, that it is a rule, a policy gave me a sinking feeling inside. In my mind, it is an anti-Semitic policy to single out the only Jewish State to boycott."

Harry Potter is Buried in Israel

By Atlas Obscura
A total of 3,888 identified casualties are buried in the British Commonwealth's Ramleh War Cemetery[DC1]. But one grave attracts a disproportionate share of visitors. It belongs to Private Harry Potter, number 5251351 in the Worcestershire Regiment, who was killed while serving in British Mandatory Palestine in 1939. Potter lied about his age so he could join the British Army before turning 17. His regiment was sent to Palestine in September 1938 to counter anti-colonial Palestinian resistance. While overseas, Potter worked in his battalion as a driver and came to be known as "Crash Harry," though it's not clear whether he was ever involved in a crash. He even signed his final letter home—which arrived after his death—with that nickname. Now, of course, his name conjures other associations and draws tourists who may not have otherwise visited the cemetery. Potter was killed in Hebron in July 1939, toward the end of the Palestinian rebellion that began in 1936. More than 5,000 Arabs, 300 Jews, and some 262 Brits were killed during this period. The vast majority of graves in the Ramleh Cemetery, however, date from World War I, when in 1917 an Australian brigade occupied the town. Of the casualties either buried or memorialized in the cemetery, more than 1,000 are unidentified.


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