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Hamas Creating Buffer w Egypt
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 29, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas leadership in Gaza is creating a buffer zone between them and Egypt. The Hamas Interior Ministry has begun construction on the zone.

The objective of the buffer zone is to make certain that no one and nothing is smuggled from Gaza into Egypt or from Egypt into Gaza.

The buffer zone is going to be 100 meters wide. Anything that might possibly obscure someone or something from being seen or allow something or someone to hide is being bulldozed. Everything is being knocked down.

The decision to build this buffer zone came about as a result of a meeting between Hamas leaders and Egyptian intelligence chiefs. It is part of an agreement. Leadership in Gaza needs to control its border and prevent ISIS and weapons from coming into Egypt.

In return for securing the border and keeping ISIS out of Egypt, Gaza will get relief. Egypt will provide electricity to the strip which has been having difficulty providing electricity - Gazans receive only three hours of electricity a day.

Egypt has also promised to open their border crossings on a more scheduled and regular basis.

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Iran Now Selling Gas to Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 28, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now exporting natural gas to Iraq. The Iranians are moving 7 million cubic meters of natural gas to Iraq per day. They hope to slowly increase to 35 million over the next few months.

Iran began sending the gas on Wednesday. It travels through a pipeline that goes directly from Basra, in southern Iran, to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. Iraq really needs the gas because their electric grid has been so devastated by the years of conflict.

"The long-awaited project finally went on stream after four years of delay due to the challenging security situation in war-torn Iraq" explained Amir Hussein Zamaninia, the deputy at the National Iranian oil company. The quote was reported in the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, which is the official news agency of Iran.

Until yesterday, Turkey was the only country receiving natural gas from Iran. Now Iran has two important clients.

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Israel US Cyber Terror Pact
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 27, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel and the US have signed a cyber security pact. The pact was signed during a cyber security conference.

Present at the conference was Tom Bossert, President Trump's adviser on Homeland Security. Bossert explained the importance of partnering in order to curb cyber terror. He said their intention was "stopping adversaries in networks and identifying ways to hold bad actors responsible for [their cyber terror activity]."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the conference saying that one fifth of the world's investment in cyber security is invested in Israel. He said that Israel is home to tens of companies that deal with cyber security.

Everyday Israel is attacked by 10's of thousands of cyber threats. The country is well equipped to repel those attacks.

Participation in this conference signals a serious step forward in global coordination against cyber terror.

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Iran Defends Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 26, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a public defense of Qatar.

Rouhani explained that Qatar has unfairly been isolated. He said the "siege of Qatar is unacceptable." This was reported on IRNA, an official media arm of the Iranian establishment.

This is what he said: "Tehran stands with the Qatari nation and government ... We believe that if there is a conflict between regional countries, pressure, threats or sanctions are not the right way to resolve differences." IRNA quoted Rouhani as giving over this message to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in a telephone call.

The president also told the emir, "The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us ... The airspace, land and sea of our country will always be open to Qatar as a brotherly and neighboring country."

This should not be a surprise. Qatar has upset the apple cart. They have come out in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas and are suggesting that Iran be taken seriously as a regional power.

Now Iran is now coming to their defense.

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Assad Visits Leaves Enclave for Hama
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

President Bashar Assad of Syria has been ensconced in his capital stronghold for years.

Assad seldom leaves his palace. Since 2011 when the civil conflict erupted, the Syrian dictator has wisely remained in the most secure and safe haven he has to avoid assassination.

But today Assad ventured to Hama, a large city in South West of Syria.
Hama was host to some of the largest protests against Assad at the beginning of conflict that has embroiled Syria for the past 6 years.

The Syrian president ventured to Hama for the final prayers of Ramadan and the beginning of the three day festival of Eid al Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

This is a telling and important move.

The choice of Hama, above all other Syrian cities, illustrates that Assad feels he is in control of the symbol of the revolt. The decision to leave his enclave means that Bashar Assad believes that the tide of the conflict has shifted enough for him to be safe in the focal point of the rebellion against him.

This may indeed be the beginning of the end of the conflict and the return of Assad to the undisputed leader of Syria.

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PA Justifies Paying Terrrorists
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 23, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Palestinian Authority continues to pay families of terrorists. They pay more to the families of those killed in the act than those in prison, but everyone gets paid.

This is a major bone of contention for the United States. President Trump has told the PA to put a stop to the payments and Abbas said that they had stopped - but they really haven't.

Now spokespeople of the PA are claiming that they cannot stop. Yesterday, Nabil Shaat, the official PA spokesman of PA President Abbas said that Palestinians have a "social responsibility" to pay the families of prisoners in Israeli jails because they are "political prisoners," and that the payouts are the PA's way of "look(ing) after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones as a result of the military occupation."

We have reached an impasse.

According to Palestinian logic, the PA must pay terrorists and the terror is to be blamed on Israel. The rest of us know that this is ridiculous. It's Israel's fault that Palestinians blow themselves up? It's Israel's fault that they try to blow up, or stab, or ram into and run down Israelis? Come on now.

There is no excuse for murder.

It seems clear that the PA is excusing and justifying their payments to terrorists by justifying the mass murder of innocent Israelis.

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Israel to Evacuate 100,000's of Lebanese
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel is gearing up for a new conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

We have already heard that that Israel will now be able to accomplish in only two days what they accomplished in 34 days during the last conflict with Hezbollah.

Israeli generals are saying that they have great surprises for Hezbollah.

Israel's IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said that, in the event of conflict, Israel will need to evacuate hundreds of thousands of civilians. He said, "The moment we know the enemy goes into urban terrain, it becomes a matter of morals and values. There are hundreds of thousands in the civilian population. We'll need to evacuate them ... and we'll have to do that as quickly as possible. We need to preserve legitimacy while fighting."

Each time an Israeli IDF general talks about the conflict, I am struck by two things - improved Israeli technology and the conviction that evacuating innocents in order to avoid as much "collateral damage" as possible holds a priority position in Israel's plan.

Israel already has the evacuation plan in place. It is a practical plan based on the moral conviction that civilians not become "collateral damage" in a conflict with Hezbollah.

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