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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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Why Israel Saves Syrians
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Since the conflict began in Syria, at least 3000 if not 10,000 Syrians have been brought into Israeli hospitals for treatment.

Why would Israel accept Syrians and why would Syrians want to go to Israel. After all, Israel is their sworn enemy.

This is how a fighter for the Free Syrian Army, a fighter named Ramadan, who was shot and badly wounded and went to Israel for help describes the situation:

"All the world is killing us, all the world." "All my life I was told Israel is my enemy. I grew up like that, to believe that Israel is the devil. But all the world is against us, and only Israel is our friend. The world is killing us. Israel is saving us."

"One of my team had a friend from a village near the Israeli border, so they took me there right away. They put me on a donkey. The donkey carried me up to the Israeli border. And then the Israeli soldiers brought me here."

Imagine the situation. Sworn enemies - and yet Israel is saving their lives.


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Iran Explains Missiles & Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has explained their missile attack into Syria. Missile were launched from Iran they flew over Iraq and hit Syria.

The adviser to the Iranian foreign minister explained the attack by saying that "the presence of Americans in the region is illegal; the US should leave Syria sooner or later."

He continued, "The Saudis and Americans are the main recipients of this message."

The adviser explained that Israel "is the main enemy" of Iran, despite the attack targeting militant groups who Iran blames for the Tehran attacks, and adding that Israel now "has to worry about (its actions)."

He further explained that Israel must understand that Iran can - and actually will, hit Israel. He said. "I think (Israel) understood rockets' messages well." He added, "We are targeting terrorists only, and the countries that support them must know what it means when we use these missiles."

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Iran & China Conduct War Games
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

It is commonplace for countries to perform joint military exercises. It is a way of demonstrating that allies can operate together and work together to achieve military goals.

It is also a way of signaling alliances. Sometimes, rather than being reassuring, that becomes an alarming event.

China and Iran are now involved in joint naval exercises. I learned about their war games from the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), an official Iranian news agency.

This is a very dramatic military move. It is no secret that tensions are very high between the United States and Iran and that there are heightened tensions with China.

I monitor the war games of nations very carefully. These games are telling us that the links between China and Iran are very strong.

From Iran's point of view, China is an important friend to have. On the international stage, having China in your corner brings about a huge power boost.

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BBC False Headline Doesn't Say Terror
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The BBC publicly issued a statement of regret -- regret, not apology -- for a horrific headline that neglected to mention 'terror by Palestinians' or the 'murder of an Israeli border patrolwoman' in East Jerusalem.

The false headline read: "Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem."

The BBC responded to outrage and outcry from around the world, including a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. about how false the news was, by issuing the following statement: "We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it. Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offense caused."

The story line is upside down.

According to the BBC headline, the most important element in the story is that three Palestinians were killed. Missing is the fact that the three Palestinians were terrorists and they were killed in the midst of a terror attack perpetrated by them during which they murdered a young female Israeli soldier.

Donald Trump Jr. Tweeted, "You mean after they stabbed a female Israeli police officer to death... right? This is as close to being misleading as possible."

The BBC merely accepted the critique and regretted an offense. They did not deem it appropriate or necessary to issue an apology. As unacceptable as that is, the worst part of their non-apologetic statement is the assertion that they did not intend to mislead. There is no other possible motivation for the false headline than to be misleading.

The BBC intended to reshape the story and deflect responsibility from the murdering terrorist Palestinians and lay it at the foot of Israelis.

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ISIS on Israel's Border
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is losing their strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Israel sees these ISIS losses as a significant threat to their borders. ISIS fighters are being forced to flee and are relocating in areas closer and closer to Israel - like the Golan Heights.

Israel is running cross border exercises into Syria. As they run their exercises, Israel is gathering more information and active intel on ISIS and the several dozen other fighters that are now gathering in the South eastern part of the Syrian Golan Heights.

This area is the nexus of the border between Jordan, Israel and Syria. It is at the Yabuk River which is where the Biblical patriarch Jacob wrestled with the angel.

An elite unit of the Israeli Givati Brigade is in the Golan. The Givati unit is involved in the cross border activity. Normally, Givati is headquartered in the south and specializes in the Gaza Strip. But they also train up north in the Golan to help out in the event that they may be needed there.

In an unusual move, the IDF invited a journalist to observe Givati in the Golan and report on their activity.

Israel is preparing for infiltration or attacks by ISIS. Israel knows that they must be prepared.

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Remember Tora Bora
By Micah Halpern

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Remember Tora Bora?

Tora Bora was Osama bin Laden's hideout, located in the mountains of Afghanistan. It sits nestled in a labyrinth of caves and tunnels.

ISIS is now attempting to conquer Tora Bora and turn it into their own headquarters.

But the location is not up for grabs. Actually, for certain nefarious groups it is the equivalent of prime real estate.
ISIS is locked in a fierce and deadly battle with the Taliban in the area of Tora Bora.

If ISIS successfully wrestles the bastion from the Taliban, they will not only have a nearly impervious hideaway - just as bin Laden had, but they will have scored a colossal symbolic victory - because bin laden was ensconced there.

ISIS will have out al Qaedad al Qaeda.
Even in the world of terrorists, it's all about location, location, location.

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Indonesia Admits ISIS is All Over
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Indonesia is the country with more Muslims that any other country in the world. Over 240 million Muslims live in Indonesia.

The head of Indonesia's defense said that ISIS has sleeper cells in every single province. General Gatot Nurmantyo gave a press conference yesterday in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

He said: "After observation, we see that in almost every province ... there are already ISIS cells, but they are sleeper cells." Nurmantyo also said that "These sleeper cells can easily join up with other radical cells."

Indonesia is joining forces with Malaysia and the Philippines to fight ISIS. They have come to the realization that they must stand up and root out ISIS. If they do not stop them, ISIS will continue to attack their home-front.

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Hamas in Egypt Mending Ties
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Hamas sent a delegation to Egypt to discuss security in Gaza and Egypt.

The delegation was lead by the new head of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. The group met with intelligence leaders in Cairo.

Hamas is trying to mend fences with Egypt. Egypt has closed the border with Gaza and clamped down on the smuggling of people and goods in and out of Gaza into Egypt.

Egypt has traced the arrival of weapons and terrorists from Gaza into the Sinai Desert where they attacked Egyptian civilians and soldiers and made their way to Cairo where they targeted civilians.

Hamas leadership also met with Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan was one of Arafat's strongmen in Gaza. Today he is a rival of PA President Abbas and has been convicted, in absentia, of offending Abbas.

Not too very long ago, Hamas also saw Dahlan as an arch enemy and he had to run for his life after Hamas took power in Gaza in a coup.

This meeting is an attempt to bridge that gap too.

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Hamas is Pushing For Escalation
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 12, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A special series of circumstances is stimulating Hamas and other Gaza leaders to go all out in an effort to escalate acts of terror against Israel.

The leadership is pushing hard, sparing no cost to stimulate terror attacks primarily in the West Bank but also in the entirety of Israel.

And it is happening right now.

The situation in Gaza - especially issues with electricity and fresh water and joblessness is reaching a peak. As the summer heat increases, the sense of defeat, frustration and desperation increases.

Now, add Qatar to the equation. Qatar, the most significant of all of Gaza's sponsors, is under pressure. The Qataris have been given notice to stop their support of terror by other Gulf nations as well as by the Sunni and Western world .

And then finally, Israel has begun to build an underground security wall in order to put a final end to the tunneling from Gaza into Israel.

A new leader has assumed leadership of Hamas, His name is Yahyah Sanwar. This is the first real test of his leadership abilities. Sanwar's rhetoric is more radical than the rhetoric of his predecessors. He is known as a firebrand and he is pushing for big, bold, game changing terror attacks against Israel.

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Confilcting Messages from Palestinians
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Mahmoud Habash is the adviser on religious affairs for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In his Friday sermon Habash made it very clear that the Western Wall must always remain in Muslim control.

Habash said "It is an Islamic endowment that absolutely cannot belong to non-Muslims." "It is our property and endowment. It is impossible to concede one millimeter of it."

This is a huge issue.

These statements contradict statements made just last week by another Abbas adviser, Jabril Rajoub who spoke on Channel 2 Israel News. Rajoub said that the Western Wall will stay under Jewish control in any agreement with Israel.

This is a classic move by the Palestinians.

Leaders and advisers often say whatever they need to say. It all depends on the audience they are addressing. To the mosque it is one message, to Israelis it is a very different message.

The big question remains. Which one will it be?
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Cobryn Justifes Terror
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Jeremy Cobryn, leader of the Labour Party, who scored a huge victory in yesterday's election, has justified the actions of terrorists who create websites to raise money for terror acts.

Two terrorists admitted to creating websites with the purpose of raising money for the exclusive purpose terror attacks. They were extradited to the United States and were convicted of terror.

In October of 2012 Cobryn said on the Islam Channel that the two terrorists had "done nothing wrong." Cobryn asserted that these two were protected under the concept of freedom of speech. That it was wrong to arrest, extradite and convict them.

Watching him defend the terrorists is simply shocking. It is no wonder that the Labour party is failing and that so many Jews have left the party.

The party must throw Cobryn out... and then they must rebuild.

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Kurds To Vote on Statehood in Sept
By Micah Halpern

Thursday June 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Kurds of Iraq have announced that in September they will vote on seceding from Iraq and creating an independent Kurdish state in the current independent Kurdish region.

This is a huge move.

Marsoud Barzini, president of the Kurdish regional government, made the announcement on his twitter feed.

About 5 million Kurds live in the region. They have been relatively autonomous since the establishment of the new Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are very productive and they have great oil reserves.

Tensions emerged when the national government tried to lay claim to the oil revenues. But since the rise of ISIS, the national government has been hands-off the Kurdish region, freeing them to fight ISIS and allowing them to use their oil profits to fight ISIS.

The tide might be turning.

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Israeli Police Raid Bomb Factory
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday June 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Just in case you thought that a real sense of calm had settled over Jerusalem and that terror was a thing of the past - here's a reality check.

Israeli Border Police arrested two bomb makers in a midnight raid.

The raid took place in a home located in an Arab village that abuts Jerusalem.

The police confiscated bomb making materials. They assert that, since January, these bomb makers built thirty bombs that were used in acts of terror. Most of the bombs were thrown at Israelis.

The two bomb makers were arrested for making bombs and for exploding them.

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Oil Prices Slip
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday June 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The price of oil dropped 39 cents by the end of the day yesterday. Those watching the market are expecting the price to continue to fall.

This happened on the same day that OPEC decided to continue to drop output.

Conventional wisdom would say - when OPEC reduces output, the price of oil should shoot up.

So why has it dropped?

Two reasons.

First, there has been a surge of output from elsewhere in the world filling the gap that is created by OPEC. The US, for example, has increased production by over 10% over the last year. Second, instability in the Middle East is telling the market that OPEC members will not hold to the restrictions on output.

Both of these reasons telegraph a message to the market. This is how we predict markets.

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Russia & Saudis Agree on Oil deal
By Micah Halpern

Monday June 5, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A very special meeting took place recently in Saudi Arabia. Head of the Russia oil company Rosneft Igor, Sechin met with his counterpart Amin Nasser, the head of Saudi oil company Aramco.

This was their very first official meeting. In the past these two powerhouses of oil have spoken - because they were often at the conferences and meetings together, but this was different.

They met in order to develop a working plan to provide oil to Asian markets, especially Indonesia and India.

The idea is that these two mega oil producers work together and not compete to deliver energy to an area of the world in dire need of oil.

It will be a very good investment for them and, because the demand is so high in that part of the world, it will insulate them both from damage should the price of oil drop.

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ISIS Calls for Terror During Ramadan
By Micah Halpern

Sunday June 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has been calling for vehicle attacks for several years. They are not alone.

Terrorist leaders across the globe - especially in Gaza and the West Bank, have called for using vehicles as a weapon for a long time.

Even Imams preach about the use of cars, trucks and knives to attack innocent people.

Now that Ramadan has begun ISIS has picked up their messaging.
ISIS has posted videos and other messages - including a poster sized message posted across the internet, imploring people to "kill the citizens of the Crusaders."

The message written in black, also reads "run over them with vehicles." In yellow, in parenthesis, they added (Gain Benefit from Ramadan).

Under that slogan there are pictures of a gun, a knife and a truck with the English words, written in red, next to each item.

At the very bottom of the poster is a translation of all the slogans into Arabic.

ISIS is calling for more terror - take them at their word and expect more, especially in Western Europe.

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A/S in Mt Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Friday June 2, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The pine cones spelled out words "KILL THE JEWS". And then there was a swastika for added emphasis.

This hateful message was laid out on the retaining wall at a school crosswalk for everyone to see in the beautiful, picturesque, affluent, Pittsburgh suburb of Mt Lebanon.

It was not the first or the second incident of this nature in that neighborhood. A few months ago the girls' bathroom in a local high school was defaced with a similar graffiti message and swastika and the same thing happened at a local playground.

The corner on which the pine cones were arranged is a popular spot for messages. The school crossing often arranges pleasant messages for the children going to school. "HAVE A NICE DAY" is the most common message --- not one of hate.

The house on the corner is up for sale and, for now, no one is living there. The message was discovered at 6:30 AM. After snapping a picture and calling the police, someone transformed the word KILL to LOVE.

This anti-Semitic sentiment is certainly not shared by everyone in the neighborhood. The vast majority of the residents do not, in any way, subscribe to it. The problem is that some hateful person or group of teens in Mt Lebanon is scrawling messages of hate for all to see.

The culprit or culprits need to be apprehended and punished.

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