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Russia Strikes ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 22, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This will give you a sense of what Russia is doing in Syria.

The Russian ministry of defense announced on Monday that they successfully intercepted an ISIS convoy and destroyed it killing 200 ISIS fighters.

The Russian ministry of defense said that the Russian air force attacked and destroyed a large column of ISIS fighters.

The ISIS fighters were moving from Raqqa to the city of Deir al Zor. They were hoping to secure their move and created a large convoy in the hope of protecting themselves from attack.

But the larger the convoy, the easier it is to hit from the air. And that is exactly what the Russian air force did. In addition to killing the ISIS fighters, Russia emphasized that they also destroyed ISIS' weapons, hardware and equipment.

This was a very impressive strike and is a huge loss for ISIS. Kudos to Russia.

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Israel Prefers Good Terms Won't Critique Trump
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There has been critique of Israeli leadership for not criticizing Donald Trump's comments - or lack of comments, about white nationalists.

It should be abundantly clear that this was an obvious decision, not an oversight. Israel came to the conclusion that preserving their relationship with the Trump White House is more important than calling out anti-Semites.

President Trump is not, I believe, an anti-Semite - but he is giving them cover. When Trump failed to criticize white nationalists he empowered them.

Israel should have explained this to Trump. They should have gone public and clearly explained that these people are evil.

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ISIS Celebrates Terror in Barcelona
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

ISIS is celebrating the attacks in Spain. The celebration is taking place not just on official ISIS websites, but also by supporters of ISIS in the Western world.

Amaq, the ISIS news agency, has an explanation for the deadly terror attack that has rocked Barcelona. This is what Amaq had to say: "The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states."

Twitter lit up after the Barcelona attacks. There was an entire group who supported ISIS and the attacks against innocent Spaniards and tourists. They said that this terror was coming to them for being part of the US coalition and intervening in the Middle East to fight ISIS.

"To all Spanish people, the time has now come to pay for everything that your government has done to innocent people in our countries."

Another twitter writer wrote to Christians around the wolrd: "The worshipers of the Cross no longer feel safe and secure in their homes, individual wolves are still watching and waiting for the right time to cover your heads and shed your blood."

The hashtag #thecrucifixionofthecrusaders collected much of these comments. The hashtag itself means "to kill Christians".

This is dangerous stuff.

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ISIS Attack Hamas in Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Early Thursday morning at Rafah, the crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas security forces went to arrest two suspicious people.

As the two were being arrested they blew themselves up together with the Hamas border police.

ISIS along with their Salafi affiliates in Gaza took responsibility for the attack against Hamas. The announcement said the attack "was done in response to Hamas activity against Salafist jihadists ... which includes the destruction of mosques belonging to the organization, the arrest of its members, and their persecution."

The terrorists were probably wearing explosive suicide vests.

It should be noted that both ISIS and Hamas are terror groups. They are both on the same side in Syria both, trying to oust Assad. But in Gaza - in Gaza, Hamas and ISIS are arch enemies.

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Hamas Warns Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 17, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yahya Sinwar has been the leader of Hamas for the past 6 months. He has not been a very public - until yesterday when he held a press briefing.

Sinwar warned Israel not to escalate tensions or attack Gaza. He asserted that Hamas is much more powerful than they were during the last conflict with Israel.

Sinwar said: "Hamas is not seeking a confrontation, but if such a confrontation should arise, Hamas will pummel Israel."

Sinwar warned Israel against "taking stupid steps against the Gaza Strip" and claimed that "the Palestinian resistance has the ability to respond to that."

There is no doubt that tensions wax and wane between Israel and Hamas.

Tensions will certainly rise to a level that will require a response - and that response may very well lead to an all out conflict, something approaching war war.

Hamas is saying that, should it come to another conflict, they will respond and, in the end, Israel will be hurt.

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Abbas Sends Blessing to Kim Jon Un
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 16, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did it again ... only this time with North Korea.

Abbas sent Kim Jong Un a telegram wishing him and the North Korean people congratulations on the celebration of Liberation Day, the day that celebrates their liberation from Japan.

Abbas thanked Kim Jong for his support of the Palestinian people and for North Korea's investment and trade as well as for their close friendship.

WAFA, the official Palestinian media, published a copy of the telegram.

Abbas wrote that Kim Jong Un "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor."

He wrote that he hopes that the "historical friendly relations between Palestine and North Korea and their two peoples will continue to develop and grow" and then he wished Kim "all health and happiness."

What is Abbas thinking? How many other countries wished North Korean well on this day? Reaching out to Kim Jong Un is a destructive move that will only further alienate Abbas and Palestinians from the West.

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Convicted For Defrauding ISIS
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A German court convicted a Syrian of attempting to defraud several ISIS terrorists.

The Syrian is referred to only as "Hassan A.". He asked the ISIS members for 180,000 Euros which is equivalent to $212,400. In return for the money Hassan agreed to plan and perpetrate a terror attack in Germany.

In the end no money was transferred - but Hassan A. was sentenced to two years of prison for trying to defraud ISIS.

Hassan A., a 39 year old a hairdresser, was found not guilty of planning a terror attack. He never planned on creating an attack - he was just trying to steal money from ISIS.

One has to laugh at the entire story. Should ISIS be protected from fraud and a flimflam? I'm not certain ... Should an illegal enterprise be protected from fraud? What do you think?

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US Kills More ISIS Leaders
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 14, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The United States has killed several major ISIS leaders in Afghanistan.
The US targeted the ISIS leaders in an airstrike on Thursday. The top leader killed in the strike is Abdul Rahman, ISIS leader in the Kunar Province. The ISIS group was called ISIS-K.

Three other ISIS leaders were also killed in the strike. US General John Nicholson, senior US commander in Afghanistan, confirmed that the strike and the successful targeting of the SIS leaders.

"The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K."

ISIS is on the ropes in the Far East and in the Middle East. Pressure against ISIS is continuing to build. The final destruction of ISIS is in sight.


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Iran May Be Forced Out of World Cup
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 13, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

International sports are supposed to be above politics. In fact, the rules of international sports competition dictates that no politics be a part of any decisions.

Some participants and organizers even harbor the hope - perhaps, the dream - that during competitions warring states will be seen as parties that can compete even when they disagree.

But hopes and dreams do not always come true. Two Iranian players for the Greek soccer club Panionios decided not to play in their away game against Israel, in Israel, even though they were pressured and fined by the club. When Israel traveled to Greece, however, to play Panionios at home, some same two Iranian players for the Greek club played.

Playing in their "home" stadium was considered a huge act of defiance by Iran. Iranian political leadership saw the player's participation as a betrayal, even a crime.

In the end the two Iranians who played for the Greek team were dropped from the Iranian national soccer team. Social media in Iran overwhelmingly defended the athletes' decision to play. But in this case, politicians had the last word.

Now FIFA, the international soccer body that supervises the soccer worldwide, has stepped in and asked for clarification. FIFA bylaws say there can be no external/political influence in decision making. If it is determined that the political powers exerted any influence Iran would be removed from all international competition.

This would be very costly and painful for Iran. Not simply because they would not be permitted to compete in club games, but because Iran qualified for the World Cup which is a great national honor and they would not be permitted to participate.

This is an example of emotions getting the better of them. The Iranians did not think things through.

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ISIS Threatens Iran w/ More Terror in Tehran
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 11, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday ISIS released another video in Farsi, the language of Iran.

The ISIS speaker, holding an AK-47 and sitting between two other ISIS members, called on followers in Iran to resume making bombs and blowing things up in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

They called it Jihad.

In June ISIS successfully carried out simultaneous attacks in Tehran. They struck the burial tomb of the founder of the Islamic state, the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, at the same time as they attacked the Iranian parliament.

The speaker in the video said: "The same way we are cutting the necks of your dogs in Iraq and Syria we will cut your necks in the center of Tehran."

ISIS means business.

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Israel Extradited Jewish Murderer of Arab
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 10, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

This is a remarkable story.

Yehoshua Elitzur has been extradited from Brazil to Israel.

Elitzur, who lived in the settlement of Itamar, was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Israel for the 2004 murder of Sael Jabara al-Shatiya who lived in the Arab village of Shalem.

To reiterate - Israel has successfully returned a Jewish Israeli murderer who killed a Palestinian Arab in 2004. He is returning to serve his sentence. The process of extradition was long and it was expensive. Elitzur was arrested in Brazil in 2015. The Brazilians did not want to release him to Israel.

Now Yehoshua Elitzur will pay his debt to society in an Israeli prison.

Israeli justice is interested in bringing all people who flaunt the law to justice. The dictate cuts across the board. In the view of Israeli justice, Arab lives are just as important as Jewish lives.

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Pushing ISIS out of Syria & Lebanon
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 9, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Lebanese army, together with Hezbollah, is planning to uproot ISIS from both sides of their borders. Assad's Syrian army will also be involved in rooting out ISIS - but the Lebanese say they are not coordinating directly with Assad.

The United States is supporting Lebanon's army. The US has provided Lebanon with weapons, helicopters and drones.

There are about 400 ISIS fighters in Lebanon - across the border there are probably about another 700 ISIS fighters. Hezbollah's leaders took to the airwaves and warned ISIS fighters that they will either die or be imprisoned.

This will be a coordinated force striking out against ISIS. There will be Lebanese losses, but the Lebanese will succeed.

But that's not all good news. ISIS will be dislodged, and after ISIS is dislodged, the vacuum will be filled by Hezbollah. Hezbollah will be on both sides of the border - they will be on both the Lebanese side and the Syrian side.

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Hamas Drones
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday August 8, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Another Hamas drone fell in Israel. It was not shot down -- it fell from the sky. The IDF found it and they are investigating and evaluating the drone.

There have been numerous Hamas drones that Israel either shot down or tracked down after they fell on Israeli soil. As a rule, Israel permits drones to fly over Gaza = but in principle, they will target a drone when the drone crosses over the Gaza border into Israel.

Hamas uses the drones as a tool to monitor Israeli movements, fortifications and even security features on fences and border crossings.

These drones are very small and inexpensive. They can even be bought on Amazon. They are outfitted with cameras that relay their pictures back to a computer in Gaza. These small drones fly low so they are hard to intercept. Larger drones, on the other hand, are targeted by helicopters or planes.

No doubt about it, Hamas is getting more and more sophisticated in how they collect intel.

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Hamas in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday August 7, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

A senior Hamas delegation arrived in Iran on Friday.

This is gigantic step in Iran/Hamas relations. Iran has been supporting President Assad of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict while Hamas has sided with those Sunnis trying to overthrow Assad.

As a result of this parting of the ways between Iran and Hamas over Syria, monies and the support for Hamas from Iran dwindled these past few years. But last week, during a visit to London, a high ranking Hamas member met the Iranian deputy foreign minister in charge of Arab affairs.

Now, with the push of Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations to isolate Qatar and Iran and create informal and public interaction with Israel, Iran sees how important it is to bring their natural allies - like Hamas, closer to their bosom.

So Hamas is now in Iran. Hamas leaders officially came to Iran to celebrate the inauguration of newly re-elected President Rouhani.

While there, Hamas leaders will have many meetings and extract many promises for support and assistance from Iran. In other words, they will come away with a lot of money.

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Iranian Granted Asylum from Israel
By Micah Halpern

Sunday August 6, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Neda Amin, an Iranian blogger/journalist for the Times of Israel, has been granted a special circumstances visa to enter Israel.

Amin left Iran in 2015 and has been living in Turkey. Now she is spending her time in a court battle, fighting a demand from Iran to repatriate her and bring her back to Iran - where she will certainly stand trial for the crime of blogging.

Neda Amin received UN refugee status in 2015 and she is appealing to other nations to take her in.

As a rule, Israel does not give visas to Iranians unless they are Jewish. But Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has made an exception. He said that Amin's life is in danger because she writes for Israel. The situation was brought to his attention when the Israel Journalists Federation appealed to Deri on behalf of Amin.

Deri responded immediately saying "This is a journalist whose life is in real danger." He continued --- "Given the clear humanitarian circumstances, I authorized her entry without delay."

We hope that Turkey will permit her to leave. Given that there have already been several Iranian hit squads that have executed Iranian expats in Istanbul, time is of the essence.

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Shin Bet Finds Hamas $ Trail
By Micah Halpern

Friday August 4, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Israel's internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, together with Israeli police uncovered evidence that Turkey is helping Hamas launder money through Ramallah, the capital city of the Palestinian Authority.

The investigation has uncovered what is most probably only the tip of a major money laundering scheme.

The Shin Bet found that $200,000 was moved into Ramallah from Hamas headquarters in Turkey and then sent to Gaza.

There is no question that Hamas is getting money into Gaza. It is being smuggled in and schlepped in. Some of the money is coming from Iran and some is coming from Qatar. This method is more direct.

Qatar can deposit money in Hamas' account in Istanbul, Turkey as a way into Gaza. In that way Hamas avoids the international bank restrictions imposed on support for Hamas.

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70% of Israelis Want Death Penalty for Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Thursday August 3, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

The Israel Democracy Institute recently conducted a survey asking Israelis if they support the death penalty for terrorists who murder Israelis.

70% of Israelis say that they would support executing terrorists found guilty of murdering Israelis.

This week a bill will be brought to the Knesset to change the current law and allow capital punishment for terrorists.

Since Israel's birth in 1948, only one person has been executed - Adolf Eichmann the mastermind behind the transporting of Jews to their deaths during the Nazi Final Solution. And even then the Knesset had to pass a special exception in order to execute Eichmann.

The debate going on now is intense.

Until now terrorists knew that should they remain alive after the attack, they may one day return home as part of a negotiated trade deal. But with the rise of suicide terrorists and ISIS, there are very different options available for Israelis and for the terrorists. Today's terrorists almost always assume that they will die in the operation.

It is too soon to tell what the result of this very heated debate will be. We will, however, soon have our answer.

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There is No Solution
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday August 2, 2017
I've Been Thinking:

People are up-in-arms that special adviser and lead Mideast point man Jared Kushner said "there may be no solution" the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Kushner's comments were leaked from an off-the-record briefing on the Middle East with congressional interns. The interns were warned not to leak anything from the briefing.

Actually, Kushner's insight is refreshing.

Most serious analysts have said, at one time or another, that there may not be a solution to the conflict. They have come to the conclusion that the best that can happen is a slow improvement towards a better situation and a better status quo.

The idea that a magic wand can bring the parties together is nothing short of insane.

One of the most important goals must be to improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. And that can be achieved without a real political resolution.


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