Monday 9 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 9/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Palestinians inspect a mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes in the southern Gaza Strip

Image: Reuters

Affairs / Yossi Mekelberg

Trouble ahead

Early Saturday morning, Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip infiltrated Israel, killing hundreds of Israelis. Amid the shock and anger, and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls for revenge, the country has declared war and embarked on a retaliation campaign, giving the green light for “significant military steps” against Hamas. One of the militants’ main reasons for embarking on this deadly assault might have been to halt the process of normalising relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel – but it may find that it has achieved the opposite result.

According to defence officials, Hamas militants perceive Israel as weakened by ongoing political divisions, including the contentious judicial-overhaul plan pursued by Netanyahu’s government. The Gaza Strip has lived under an Israeli-led blockade for just under 17 years, causing immense, long-term suffering to the Gazan people but there has been apathy in the international community. However, whatever their reasoning, this murderous attack cannot be justified; it will only cause more suffering and bloodshed.

The reaction to the conflict emphasised the demarcation lines between regional powers and Iran, which publicly congratulated Hamas for its attack on Israel. And while other countries have expressed sympathy with Palestinians’ predicament, they have condemned the massacre and expressed concern about the role of Islamic fundamentalism in destabilising the region.

These are early days in this phase of the conflict and the forthcoming days, are likely to involve further escalation of the war in Gaza. However, the main task is preventing it from spreading to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Hezbollah from joining in on firing further rockets and missiles into Israel. If this happens, the prospect of quickly bringing an end to the violence would be unlikely.

Yossi Mekelberg is an associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. For all the latest updates on the ongoing conflict tune in to Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz (on right) at the 2023 Nato Summit

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Germany & France

Getting the bond back together

The words “team-building retreat” usually elicit a groan among those unfortunate enough to participate in one. But when the French and German governments meet in Hamburg today and tomorrow for such an exercise, diplomacy dictates that any rancour be of the silent variety. That said, as team-building activities go, the one organised by the German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s crew does sound quite fun.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, along with ministers from Paris and Berlin, will take part in what German companies call a klausur, a retreat involving no formal negotiations, meetings or communiques. Rather, they will go on a boat trip, drink together and visit a fish market. The reasons for this two-day jolly are multifarious but are mostly concerned with mending what has become an increasingly fractious relationship, as the EU’s two largest powers disagree on things such as military aid to Ukraine. While a trip to a Hamburg fish market might not be the exact thing that mends the Franco-German relationship, it’s good to see those in power thinking of inventive ways to increase diplomatic bonhomie.

Tourism / Thailand

Reputation to build

You may know Phuket as one of Thailand’s top beach destinations where tourists flock every year to bathe in the pristine waters and white sandy beaches of the Andaman coast. While the region’s economy has suffered ever since the coronavirus pandemic as a result of low tourism turnout, heavily congested highways and poor transport connections, an ambitious transit project is on the horizon in a bid to upgrade the province. The forthcoming developments include new motorways to relieve traffic, a light rail system and an expansion of Phuket International Airport, as well as the construction of a new airport on the south end of the island, at a cost of THB148bn (€3.8bn). Constructions are already underway, with most projects expected to be completed by 2026. Here’s hoping that improved infrastructure will boost visitor numbers and enhance the quality of life for locals.

Architecture / Mexico

In with the old

In recent years, Mexico City has experienced a boom in architectural projects focused on retrofitting and reusing the city’s centuries-old structures. A case in point is the continued expansion of Laguna, a former textile factory built in the 1920s, which continues to welcome new residents. The structure was renovated by local architecture studio Productora (which also calls the former industrial complex home) in an approach that left much of the exterior untouched and opened up two internal courtyards for the 20 or so artists and designers who now work there.

Image: Arturo Arrieta
Image: Arturo Arrieta
Image: Arturo Arrieta

The result is a commercial structure that has been sensitively reimagined, preserving the city’s strong mid-century identity while also ensuring that such buildings are relevant for contemporary use. Chilangos will be pleased that more of the same can be expected, with the Mexico City government offering a host of incentives to developers looking to adapt spaces to be more environmentally friendly – a process that will protect the existing building stock and make it greener too.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Affairs

The art of persuasion

As war rages in Europe and tensions rise across the Asia-Pacific region, diplomacy’s long-established pillars are being tested. In Monocle’s October issue, we speak to some of the world’s top diplomats to gauge where their profession is heading.

Subscribe to read the full article here or log in to your account if you are already a subscriber.

Observers listening to a UN Security Council debate on Ukraine

Image: Jason Koxvold

Ambassador Zhang Jun of China

Image: Jason Koxvold

Ukrainian human rights lawyer briefing the council

Image: Jason Koxvold
Image: Gignoux photos

Monocle Radio / On Design


We head to London’s Design Museum, where a new interactive display aims to challenge our understanding of furniture design.


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