October 13, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
On the morning of October 7th, a group of Hamas militants from Gaza attacked more than 20 bordertowns in Israel, killing at least 1,300 people, injuring over 3,000, and taking at least 150 hostages back into Gaza. The attack was unprecedented, not only in its brutality but also because of its completely surprising nature. Israelis were left shocked and questioning how their military and intelligence services, considered among the best in the world, could have been so unprepared for the complex assault. Israel has responded with a series of airstrikes on Gaza over the last 6 days, and Israeli authorities have said they plan on engaging in a “complete siege” of the region in order to completely destroy the Hamas fighters responsible for the attack. Israel has also formed an emergency wartime unity government and war cabinet that includes the leader of the main opposition party. After cutting off Gaza’s access to fuel, water, and food throughout the week, Israeli officials on Friday ordered for 1.1 million civilians to relocate from Gaza’s north to the south in 24 hours to avoid Israel’s plans to “operate significantly in Gaza City” in the coming days, creating fears of an extreme humanitarian disaster. Those in Gaza administering humanitarian aid have said there is no possibility that that many people could evacuate safely in such a short amount of time. Since the beginning of the airstrikes, the death toll in Gaza has climbed past 1,500, thousands more are injured, and over 400,000 people have been displaced.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy made a surprise trip to NATO headquarters in Brussels, making a personal pitch to over 50 defense leaders for continued military aid and to maintain their support in the war against Russia. This was his first visit to the headquarters since the beginning of the war. His visit comes amid waning political support in the United States for continued aid, particularly among Republicans, and new pressure on allies to send weapons to Israel to bolster the nation’s war with Hamas. Following the meetings in Brussels on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyed Austin announced a new $200 million military assistance package to Ukraine, including air defense and rocket ammunition. Austin also said at the NATO meeting that the US had the capacity to support both Israel and Ukraine.
A series of powerful earthquakes struck the western region of Afghanistan near the city of Herat, first on Saturday and then Wednesday. While the death toll for Saturday’s quake initially was recorded to be over 2,000, Afghan authorities on Wednesday lowered it to about 1,000, citing double counting by rescue organizations and logistical difficulties had created confusion. Hundreds more are injured, and the UN and several nations pledged to provide support.
In the wake of the unprecedented Hamas assault on Israel, questions have arisen as to the extent of Iranian involvement. On the day after the initial attack, Iranian President Ebrahim Riasi spoke with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders by phone according to Iran’s official state-run news outlet, IRNA. Prior to the attacks, Iran had been in close contact with Hamas leaders, hosting talks in Iran in April. Around the same time, Esmail Qaani, the head of the notorious Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, held secret meetings in Lebanon and Syria with the heads of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah where he supposedly discussed the need for greater attacks on Israel.
A Wall Street Journal report published on October 8th, claimed that Iran directly helped plot the attack while the Revolutionary Guard Corp gave the final green light in a meeting in Beirut on Monday, October 2nd. Mahmoud Mirdawi, a senior Hamas official, argued that the attack was “a Palestinian and Hamas decision.” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations did blame Iran for the attacks, even if their support was indirect, arguing that “the proxies of Iran in [their] region, they tried to be coordinated as much as possible with Iran.” Hamas received 70 million worth of military aid from Iran in 2022. Later in the week, new intelligencepublished by American sources suggested that Iranian leaders were surprised by the attack on Sunday, casting further doubt onto direct Iranian involvement.
Following the election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2018, in what many Western observers believed to be a sham election, sanction campaigns against Venezuela were ramped up. Negotiations between Maduro’s representatives and the U.S. are currently taking place in Doha to discuss the state of Western sanctions and the upcoming 2024 election. There remain significant oil reserves under the oversight of the U.S. that are being released as debt repayment to ease the crippled Venezuelan economy. In the wake of a rising number of Venezuelan refugees arriving at the southern U.S. border, President Biden announced that he would recommence deportations to Venezuela after granting a temporary protected status to Venezuelans who arrived before July. The deportation agreement between Venezuela and the U.S. comes amidst progress in U.S. – Venezuelan talks in Doha.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited Georgia from October 10 to October 13. He met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. They discussed the economic cooperation between the two countries, the Black Sea strategic submarine electricity cable project and Georgia’s possible accession to the European Union (EU). Regarding the last topic, both Prime Ministers expressed support for one another in this process and complemented each other on safeguarding traditional values and traditions. The European Commission makes a decision about Georgia’s possible candidate status later this year. Hungary supports Georgia’s accession.
At least 29 people, 13 of which being children, have been killed in an artillery strike on a displaced persons camp in north-east Myanmar. The camp is located in a region controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization, an insurgent group which has fought for independence for decades. The attack is one of the deadliest in the region, and responsibility has yet to be claimed.
Over 14,000 civilians have been evacuated as a result of extreme floods. Myanmar’s Bago and Kyaikto townships were heavily affected by the floods, which disrupted traffic and public transport throughout the southern region. The flooding, caused by heavy monsoon rains, broke rainfall records in Bago, which recorded 7.87 inches (200 millimeters) of rainfall. Civilians are taking refuge in dozens of relief camps set up in the cities until further notice.
At least 20 Thai nationals have been killed in the Hamas attack on Israel that began on Sunday according to Thailand’s foreign ministry. Spokeswoman for the ministry, Kanchana Patarachoke, also claimed that 14 Thai nationals had been taken captive by Hamas fighters and are being held hostage in Gaza. In August of 2023, there had been at least 4,500 Thai nationals in Israel, most working as farm laborers with many located in the south close to the border with Gaza.
15 Members of Parliament belonging to the main opposition party have been suspended from parliamentary sessions. The Citizens Coalition for Change’s Secretary General was falsely represented by an unknown entity, and a letter penned by him was submitted to the Speaker, declaring that all 15 MPs were no longer affiliated with the CCC party. When the validity of the letter came into question, the ZANU-PF party leader declared that the seats will remain vacant. This action has been criticized heavily, as the ZANU-PF party has been accused of nepotism and alleged electoral fraud within the last month.