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Hamas Executes Leader
By Micah Halpern

Monday February 8, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has executed one of their senior leaders. His name is Mahmoud Eshtewi and he was convicted of unnamed "moral and behavioral violations." A Hamas tweet said that Eshtewi confessed to spying for Israel since 2007.

They later said that he was executed for various crimes.

Mahmoud Eshtewi disappeared from his family last year. He was arrested and interrogated and confessed. He came from a very prominent family and the family protested outside the home of Ismail Haniyah, the head of Hamas in Gaza, to find out where Eshtewi was being held. Security services threatened the family and dispersed them.

Hamas has executed dozens of people for collaborating with Israel. In this case, Hamas believed that Eshtewi gave Israel the location of Mohammed Deif the Hamas strategic mastermind. Israel attempted to target Deif at least four times.

Hamas could not tolerate even the thought that one of their senior leaders gave Israel the most secret location of their most treasured symbolic military leader. He needed to be executed and everyone needs to know that.

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Did Israel Destory Gaza Tunnels
By Micah Halpern

Sunday February 7, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Does Israel have a secret weapon that can make tunnels in Gaza collapse?

Over the past two weeks nine Palestinians, including at least two high level Hamas commanders, have been buried alive in two or three tunnel collapses.

There is no doubt that Hamas has been rebuilding their tunnel infrastructure and hopes, once again, to attack Israel using this secret underground weapon. And it has been reported that Israel is fast at work developing new technology to combat the tunnels.

So did Israel cause the collapse of the tunnels?
The best answer is - maybe.

Yes, Israel is developing and testing new weapons and yes, they may have done the deed. Israel will never take credit for the sabotage, but Israel did warn Gazans to stay far away from the tunnels.

Israelis may be playing into a conspiracy that Israel has these great powers but sometime the conspiracy theories are actually true.

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Good News & Bad News w ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Friday February 5, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that the number of ISIS fighters has not increased over the past year. The bad news is that the number of ISIS fighters has not decreased over the past year.

That is the official report by the US military.
The United States puts the number of ISIS fighters at somewhere between 19,000 and 35,000. I would say that the number is between 30,000 and 40,000.

The worst news is that this handful of ISIS fighters is turning the region and the world upside down. Billions of dollars are being spent in order to confront this group and they still remain the same in numerical strength and in capabilities.

The region and the world have been dedicated fighting ISIS - and they have not yet been able to degrade their strength.

I can only hope that next year we will be able to say with conviction that ISIS numbers have been seriously reduced.

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CBS Distorts Headline
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 4, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

When three terrorists attack two female soldiers in Jerusalem, murdering one of the soldiers, a nineteen year old named Hadar Cohen, and injuring the other woman - that should be news, even international news.

But when the three terrorists who attacked these female soldiers were killed, that became the headline news headline - not the terror and not the murder of the female soldier.

CBS news website plastered a headline that read: "Three Palestinians Killed as Daily Violence Grinds On."
Excuse me!

That was a perversion of the truth that does not follow the story line and, moreover, is simply not true.

The Palestinians were terrorists. Two of them had guns, the third had a knife. They had already shot and stabbed the soldiers and were continuing on their way when they were stopped. You do not stop terrorists by asking them to put down their weapons. You neutralize them. You stop them from murdering more innocent victims. Yes, they died -- but hardly in the fashion described in the CBS headline.
CBS later changed the headline to: "Palestinians Kill Israeli Officer, Wound Another Before Being Killed."

We have come to expect sensationalism of this type from Al Jazeera. Their online English website ran the headline: "Three Palestinians Shot and Killed by Israeli Police At Damascus Gate in Occupied East Jerusalem. More Soon..."

The Israeli Government Press Office is considering rescinding press credentials of the CBS staffers responsible for the headline. This is, they maintain, much more than shoddy or amateurish journalism or amateurish. This is a blatant rewrite of the facts. And that is reprehensible.

The person or persons responsible for this slanted portrayal of the news should at least be disciplined, perhaps even lose their job.

Journalists have a responsibility - they must present that facts and tell the truth in an unbiased way.

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Russia Ousting Saudis As Oil Seller to China
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday February 3, 2016

I've Been Thinking:

Russia is now ousting Saudi Arabia as the main supplier of oil to China.

This is a major move and it is critical in understanding the power of one country and its influence on the world.

If Russia is now out playing Saudi Arabia in oil in China, it is not only getting more cash in its coffers, but it is also seen on the world stage as upstaging Saudi Arabia at its own game.

That translates back to important issues in the Middle East where Russia, along with Iran, is supporting Assad in Syria and Saudi Arabia is doing everything in order to oust Assad and harm Iran and Russia.

In 2010, Russia was only providing 7% of Chinese oil while the Saudis supplied 20%. Now it looks like they are both somewhere between 13% and 14%. And for several months last year Russia won the oil export game.

Russia is making a serious move and the Saudis are trying to fight back.

Yes, they all can use the money given the drop in the price of oil. But more than money - what they really need is influence and prestige.


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Iran & Their Newfound $Billions
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday February 2,2016

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has announced through their media that all $100 billion of frozen assets are now unfrozen.

Most of the money was kept in banks in China, South Korea, Turkey, India and Japan. It sat and earned interest.

The Iranians are now accessing those assets.

Iran is now reconnected to SWIFT, a Belgian-based cooperative that transfers monies from bank to bank. For years no foreign banks were located in Iran so all funds needed to be transferred through SWIFT.

Much of the money will remain abroad. This is telling. It tells us that the Iranians are nor fearful that their funds will be frozen again in the future.

Keeping the money abroad makes it very simple for Iran to transfer dollars after they purchase the many, much needed, goods - like planes from France, that Iran needs and Rouhani plans to procure.

Watching how Iranian leadership conducts itself now that the sanctions against them have been lifted is an important key in understanding how Iran views the future.

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