Newsletter : 18fx0808.txt
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Intelligence Official: Mossad Behind Syrian Scientist's Death
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
PA Demands Full Authority in Gaza
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
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 homewhich arrived after his deathwith 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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