In brief: Israel acknowledges assassinating Wazir
Jerusalem – More than 24 years after Palestinian military leader Khalil Ibrahim Wazir was assassinated in Tunisia, Israel has acknowledged for the first time that its spy agency Mossad carried out the killing.
Wazir, one of the founders of the Fatah Party and a top aide to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was viewed by Israel as a terrorist and by Palestinians as a freedom fighter.
After refusing for years to confirm publicly Israel’s role in the April 16, 1988, assassination, the nation’s military censors on Thursday permitted the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot to publish an interview with the commander who led the secret mission. The article had reportedly been suppressed by censors for more than a decade.
Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, was believed to have been behind numerous strikes against Israelis, including a 1978 bus-hijacking attack that killed 38 Israelis, and to have helped organize the 1987 Palestinian uprising known as the first Intifada from his base in Tunisia.
The killing was condemned by the United States and international community and was widely believed to have been carried out by Israel.
Sanctions eased to allow medicine sales
Washington – The Obama administration has quietly eased restrictions on the sale of medicine to Iran amid signs that concern over the suffering of ordinary citizens could complicate an international campaign to punish Iran for its disputed nuclear program.
Though U.S. rules have always permitted American firms to sell medicine and medical supplies to Iran, exporters have been required to apply for special licenses. Last month, the Treasury Department changed the rules to provide what amounts to a “standing authorization” for sales of certain foods and medicines to ease the paperwork burden, a spokesman for the department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control said.
“The goal is not for the sanctions to obstruct this kind of trade,” said the spokesman.
Air New Zealand improves safety video
Wellington, New Zealand – Perhaps hairy-footed hobbits can teach us all something about safety.
Most regular travelers pay little attention to those snooze-inducing inflight safety videos. But Air New Zealand has found some magic by celebrating the upcoming premiere of the first in the “Hobbit” movie trilogy.
The airline’s four-minute safety video featuring the character Gollum and film director Peter Jackson got more than 2 million hits on YouTube within a day of being posted Thursday. The carrier calls itself “the airline of Middle-earth” and cabin staff appear in the clip as film characters.