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Hamas Mails Weapons to Gaza
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 23, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Israel has, twice in one week intercepted weapons, components and other tools of war headed for Gaza.

The materials were confiscated at Erez Crossing going into Gaza. All the items were being delivered through the mail. They were all ordered online for delivery to Gaza - and then they were stopped.

In total 372 packages were intercepted. On Tuesday 200 packages were intercepted and on Thursday 172 were intercepted.

Look at this list, this is what the Israelis found and confiscated: multi-rotors, tasers, weapons, balaclavas (ski masks), lasers, air-bag mechanisms, field phones, laser-making lathes, navigation equipment, telescopic sights and military-issue shoes.

Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza are trying very hard to arm themselves.

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Israeli Lands in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday May 22, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

An Israeli backpacker named Bar Azoulay spent over four hours in Teheran.

Azoulay was flying from India to Bucharest, Romania for his brother's prenuptial celebration. On the way, someone on his plane had a heart attack and the plane was forced to land at the nearest airport - and that meant Tehran, Iran.

Azoulay was lucky. Throughout the four plus hour emergency delay he was on the ground. The Israeli fully expected Iranian authorities to demand that he deplane and that would be the end.

Instead, in the end, more than four tense hours later, the plane took off for Istanbul.

Speaking about the medical emergency and the plane's diversion to Teheran, Azoulay said: "After we landed, a medical crew boarded the plane, and I just sat there hoping they won't take us off. I promised myself that if I have to leave, it definitely won't be alone."

Once the medical crew stabilized the patient and he was removed from the plane, "we waited another four hours - and that's it."

Wow!


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US Has Low Expectations for the Peace Deal
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday May 21, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

The Deal of the Century is getting a huge amount of press coverage lately.

President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said the "challenge of reaching a peace deal is extraordinary". He predicted that the great deal will be greeted with criticism. Well of course.

"What we hope is a full, comprehensive peace agreement," Greenblatt said while addressing the World Jewish Congress' annual meeting on Wednesday in Ottawa. "If that can't be achieved, then positive steps forward to help both Palestinians and Israelis and the region would be very good as well."

There should be no doubt that the peace deal will be met with mixed feelings from sides. But the Palestinians have an automatic "no". And that will be what stops the deal in its tracks.

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Tensions Btw US and Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday May 20, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Rhetoric is extremely high between Iran and the US. US President Trump says the Iran will "face its end" if it attacks the US. This comes after a missile lands too close to the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said over the past few days that they do not want war but - "there is no power that can confront us."

Israel added that it will not enter any conflict unless it is attacked.
Of course there is a fear that a skirmish might be sparked by accident.

There is a long history of this in war.

The possibility that some underling somewhere, manning a weapons position will take the rhetoric seriously and push the wrong button in response to something is very possible

But discipline is very important. Middle level military leadership is essential. This is where training is so important.

Rhetoric is simply rhetoric. Neither Iran nor the US want to engage they not should escalate based on rhetoric. They need to walk back the tensions.

We need to watch this carefully over the next few days.

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Jordan is in Trouble
By Micah Halpern

Sunday May 19, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Jordan's King Abdullah II is in a very precarious situation. Abdullah, who was never a very strong leader, is in a more weakened position than ever. He is in danger of becoming even weaker and he is certainly in danger of being overthrown.

Countries in the region see Jordan's king as irrelevant. They have no interest and no need for Jordan. Abdullah is not looped into any talks, strategy conversations or meetings. Washington barely speaks to him and even when he travels to DC he gets little respect and even less information.

King Abdullah II of Jordan has gotten no details of the famous peace plan.

Israel barely bothers to speak to the Jordanian king. And yet, Jordan needs Israel just like it needs backing from Washington and regional leaders like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Jordan needs their economic aid and needs a commitment to protect and defend the monarchy - his monarchy. But that aid has been dwindling. Leaders do not see the value of Jordan.

Jordan is petrified of neighboring country Syria, petrified by Assad, ISIS, Hezbollah and Iran. On Jordan's other border, Iraq is teaming up with Iran. Jordan has been the magnet for refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq. With those refugees come extremists from ISIS and al Qaeda as well as Iranian agents.

But Israel has not forsaken Jordan, not throwing Abdullah to his neighboring wolves. Israel is helping secure Jordan and it is probably Israel that leaked intelligence to an Arabic media outlet that there was a plot to assassinate key players in the Jordanian government.

Once upon a time Jordan was an important ally to Israel and in the region. Today the Hashemite Kingdom is no longer essential. The problem is that the alternative to Jordan is far worse. Despite their current status, for the sake of a stable region, Jordan and King Abdullah II must be reinvigorated and revitalized.

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Understanding Qatar
By Micah Halpern

Friday May 17, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Understanding Qatar requires clear insight and a watchful eye.
Qatar is emerging as a significant player in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Palestinians. Of late, Qatar is even exerting influence on Hamas and on Islamic Jihad.

At the same time - Qatar is siding with Iran against other Sunni nations. So much so that Saudi Arabia and their minions are united against Qatar.

The best example of their influence in the Middle East is the $480 million that Qatar gave to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to solidify a ceasefire with Israel. Egypt was not able to broker the agreement. The PA was not even in the room. The UN was irrelevant. Islamic Jihad, despite recently seeming to emerge as a force, was non-existent.

Qatar procured a ceasefire.

There's more. Turkey and Qatar have developed a very good relationship and that relationship, too, will be leveraged exponentially to propel Qatar into the role of regional influencer.

We need to keep a better watch on the Qataris.
Qatar may be isolated from their fellow Sunnis, but they have become remarkably successful at relationship building and power broking and have even begun to encroach on the role of Saudi Arabia as the region's great influencer.

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The Griffons Were Poisoned
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 16, 2019

I've Been Thinking:

Eight griffon vultures were found dead in the Golan Heights. They were poisoned. Two others were poisoned and have been taken to an Israeli wildlife clinic. This was not terror -- it was the dastardly act of selfish people.

The Israeli authorities are investigating.

These birds of prey are huge - 9 feet wingspan 4 feet in length. They are so strong that they can literally pick up a baby calf or goat. The primary suspects are cattle owners who have poisoned griffons in the past.

These 10 birds are more than half of the entire griffon population in the region. What makes the timing of the mass killing even worse is that this is nesting season. Nesting is when the eggs are laid and they sit in the nest. The eggs need to be protected in order to hatch.

The eggs will probably not survive, creating yet another blow to the griffon population.

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