"Most of us were ultimately able to grab hold of rocks or barriers ... and await the rescue teams to get to us. Unfortunately, not all of us were so lucky"
Conditions in central Damascus, with its relaxed nightlife and bustling business district, seem a world away from the hardship of eastern Ghouta.
"There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up," the official said.
Israel's right-wing government is helping to crack down on the practice, though some critics question its real motives in doing so.
The late physicist's daughter said the sale gave "admirers of his work the chance to acquire a memento of our father's extraordinary life."