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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Pentagon Deploys 2nd Aircraft Carrier Strike Group To Israel; State Dept. Says American Death Toll Rises To 29 In Israel; U.N. Criticizes Israel's Evacuation Order, Calling It "Impossible" For More Than A Million To Flee In Time. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 14, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, and thanks for watching CNN's special coverage of Israel at war. I'm Anderson Cooper live in Tel Aviv. At this hour, my colleague John Berman is in New York. We will have the news and perspective from the ground here in Israel, as the nation promises a new phase in its war on Hamas is coming.
That phase presumably Military ground operation, as more Israeli troops gather near the border with Gaza. Israeli firepower pounded the Gaza Strip today again from the air. Officials say a Hamas commander who played a key part in last Saturday's attack was killed, while UN officials are warning the evacuation of more than a million people from northern Gaza during a siege would lead to disaster.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: And tonight, we are learning that more U.S. Military power is heading to the Middle East. A second U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier, is sailing that way in a show of support for Israel, and to send a message to Iran and its proxies. The State Department says the number of U.S. citizens killed in last week's attacks, that has climbed to 29 dead and 15 Americans are still unaccounted for. Anderson.
COOPER: We're going to start with this new carrier strike group heading toward the Middle East. CNN's Oren Liebermann is live at the Pentagon for us with the latest. So, Oren, these are two of the Navy's most powerful warships. What's the plan?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is, broadly speaking, a message of deterrence, as the Biden administration watches very closely whether the fighting that's right now contained to Israel and Gaza could or would spread beyond those borders. Here, sending both of these carrier strike groups into the region, the USS Gerald R. Ford, which arrived earlier this week, and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which just deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, yesterday, and will arrive in about two weeks, sending them both to the Eastern Med is first a sign of how seriously the Biden administration views the situation, but also a strong message of deterrence not only to Iran, but perhaps more importantly to Iranian proxies in the region, specifically Lebanese Hezbollah, just on Israel's northern border. There have been some call them skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah on that northern border. But, it hasn't escalated beyond that point, and so far at least looks to be contained. But, everyone knows how delicate and volatile that situation can become. So, that's part of the reason of having not only the carriers themselves, but also the destroyers and the cruisers that come with them as a message to Iran, hey, stay out of this one.
COOPER: What's the latest in U.S. efforts to get Americans out of Gaza?
LIEBERMANN: This is an ongoing effort, but it's a very, very difficult one. The State Department put out a message to Americans in Gaza, essentially telling them move as close as you can to Rafah. That's the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. But, even the State Department message didn't say the border will be open at these hours. It only said, if the border opens, it may not be open that long. So, it'll help to be as close to it as possible. And there you can see some of the images of those waiting at the Rafah border crossing.
The problem here is you need Egypt, Hamas, and Israel, all to either explicitly or tacitly agree in some way to this. Egypt, so far, according to reports there, hasn't opened the border because it wants Israel to send humanitarian aid in first. And there are also the concerns about how many people will just flow into Sinai. Hamas needs to open its side of the border, and it's unclear under what circumstances that happen, would happen. And then, Israel needs to have some sort of tacit understanding that it won't carry out any strikes in that area, as people are trying to get out of the Gaza Strip. Anderson.
COOPER: Oren Liebermann, thanks. Retired Major General "Spider" Marks joins me now. What do you make, first of all, General Marks, on this second strike group joining the Gerald Ford.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think -- excuse me, Oren stated it quite frankly, which is it's a show of force, and it's clearly the message is intended for Tehran, which is stay clear. We've got significant firepower and capabilities. When you dig inside what one of those carrier battle groups has, look, you've got destroyers. You got frigates. I mean, it is a carrier battle group subsurface, lots of air capability and linkage into air defense and strike capabilities coordinating with the Israelis.
COOPER: In terms of this new phase, as Israel is calling it, I mean, beyond a ground incursion that we've been talking about for days now, what else could that entail?
MARKS: Well, clearly, what I think is going to happen is when the Israelis make the decision, let's just assume they're going to go into Gaza, when that decision is made, you will see a simultaneous penetration from the north down to probably the Wadi Gaza, which really kind of bisects Gaza, and then from the east to the west of penetration as well to the Mediterranean.
[20:05:00] So, you'll have Israeli forces and those Israeli forces coming and joining each other as quickly as possible. When you penetrate, you want to penetrate deeply. You want to penetrate quickly. You have to secure your flanks. You know you're going to be shot at. But, when you link up with friendly forces, you then can secure that area, and then you begin the removal of Hamas targets from the south to the north. That's kind of what I would say the primary objective. Clearly, that leaves the southern part of Gaza out of the fight, at least initially, is what I would assume. You'd want to hold in one area, and then try to attract (ph) and conduct your Military operations going north.
COOPER: If Hamas allowed it, which they are not, they are encouraging their citizens to move to the south for their safety, they want their civilians in Gaza, in Gaza City, to make it difficult, obviously, for Israeli forces to fight. From a Military standpoint, let alone a humanitarian standpoint, how much better would it be for Israeli forces if those civilians were down in the south, down by the Egyptian border?
MARKS: The fewer number of civilians that are interwoven with Hamas fighters, the better certainly for what the Israelis are trying to achieve. And let's be frank. The Israelis are going to do the collateral damage assessments. They're going to try to use precise targeting. They want to separate. They do not want to target Palestinians. They want to go after Military targets. And what Hamas is doing is against international law, creating human shields, which is clearly what they're trying to do. And Israel, oh, by the way, Israel has lawyers to set the conditions for engagement, that engagement criteria, in every level of their units. It's not dissimilar from the U.S. Military.
When I went to war, I had lawyers side by side that would say, look, here is some go/no-go kind of criteria. You got to be careful before you pull the trigger. The Israelis do the same thing.
COOPER: I've been getting a lot of messages from people asking, why wouldn't Egypt open up the border to allow Palestinian civilians to seek safety in the Sinai? Just from a, again, from a security standpoint, Egypt is already -- has already had proper security issues in the Sinai. They would be concerned, I assume, of hundreds of thousands of young Palestinians moving into the Sinai and potential -- for who knows how long and the potential that that could create.
MARKS: Well, clearly, Egypt has always, over the course of the last 30 years, Egypt has really brokered the peace that's been necessary when Israel and Hamas and Hezbollah have flared up. Clearly since 1982, that's happened about a dozen times. So, you have some fighting and then Egypt steps in, establishes the conditions, and then everybody goes back to the situation anti. I'm not certain why Israeli -- Israel -- I mean, I'm sorry, I'm not certain why Egypt doesn't step up and say, look, we can record this migration of folks across from Rafah. We can make sure that we get a handle on them. We've got identification. If they truly want to be a peacemaker, if they truly want to try to help our priority, not having to have a whole bunch of things break, then that would be the motivation. I can't get beyond trying to -- I cannot figure out why they wouldn't want to try to do that. Of course, it would be painful for them. Of course, they would accept some challenging risks, but also they would really provide some tremendous peacemaking efforts in advance as opposed to separation of warring parties.
COOPER: How long -- I mean, if the goal for Israeli forces is the elimination of Hamas as a fighting force, maybe the elimination of Hamas total, how long an operation is this? Obviously, there is a lot of factors involved, international pressure and the like light, which in the past, we have seen builds very quickly for some sort of ceasefire. But, how long an operation would you see?
MARKS: This would be -- this would -- I couldn't put a timeframe on it, Anderson. This is the question. Israel has indicated that they want to change the dynamic. They want to alter the dynamic in the Middle East, which means we want to eliminate the existence of Hamas. That's an incredibly high bar. I don't know how you measure the success going forward, and when you've met that objective?
When do you say we're finished? We're done. I am convinced that Hamas will get bloodied tremendously. I think, going forward, Israel knows, the IDF knows that they will be bloodied as well going forward. But, when they think they can stop because they've met that objective, I don't know how you would determine that. I think Hamas will be tremendously bloodied, but I don't think that they will be eliminated entirely.
COOPER: General "Spider" Marks, appreciate your time. Thank you.
We heard from --
MARKS: Thank you.
COOPER: -- President Biden a short time ago speaking at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner in Washington. He addressed the terror attacks on Israel and anti-semitism. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. What did the President say?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, to your point, Anderson, the resounding message was ending hate in all forms. And he took a moment in those remarks to talk about the attacks in Israel and also the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A week ago, we saw hate manifested another way, with the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 1,300 innocent lives lost in Israel, including at least 27 Americans. Children, and grandparents alike kidnapped, held hostage by Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALVAREZ: Now, he went on there to talk about, again, that humanitarian crisis in Gaza and innocent Palestinians who are put in danger by Hamas. He also, in those remarks, went on, and in his calls today, went on to send that message to other leaders. He had a call today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That was the fifth call they've had since last Saturday, and also with the Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Now, in both of those calls, Anderson, the humanitarian situation came up, but also not allowing this conflict to spread anymore and to widen. That was really the message that was sent in those calls that the President had today.
Of course, as you were earlier talking about that second carrier that is going to the region, the United States, they're again showing that deterrence and show of force. But, all of these calls have the same through line, which is that the United States does not want to see this conflict widen anymore or escalate.
COOPER: On the top of everyone's minds in Israel is the fate of unaccounted for people, of missing people, people who are known to have been kidnapped and are potentially being held hostage. The President, I know, spoke with families of American hostages yesterday. Do you know much about those conversations?
ALVAREZ: A source described those calls as emotional. He did take the time to talk to families, the families of 14 Americans that are unaccounted for. That number has since gone up, Anderson. We learned today it's up 15, as well as a lawful permanent resident. Now, the U.S. has been working feverishly behind the scenes to try to wrap their arms around the situation and get more information about those Americans who are unaccounted for. When they characterize though how many are held hostage by Hamas, Americans specifically, they say it is a very small number. And reporters have been pressing officials here for more information and details about those hostages.
But, the reality that they say they're facing is that this is an active war zone that Hamas operates in subgroups. They're consisted of subgroups, and they sometimes move hostages to different locations. It's unclear if they're even in the same location. And they also couldn't really describe what the condition is of these hostages. So, still a lot of questions.
But, when the President has talked about this, he too has made clear that they are working around the clock on this issue. And there is frankly some information they just cannot provide publicly, but Anderson, that is certainly a priority here, is trying to understand more about those Americans who are unaccounted for, and those that are being held hostage by Hamas.
COOPER: Yes. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much. So many people here are still waiting for answers, waiting for answers about their loved ones. Coming up, I'm going to speak to an Israeli woman who has not seen or heard from her sister since Hamas launched that terror attack at the music -- the Nova -- Supernova Music Festival on Saturday, what she is hearing about efforts to find and rescue her, ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:15:00]
COOPER: There are many families here in Israel who are in agony. Some are praying and pleading for the safe return of loved ones taken hostage by Hamas. Others are just desperate for any information about their loved ones who are missing, who have -- are now unaccounted for.
I want you to meet Dr. Adva Gutman, whose sister has been missing since the terrorists struck last Saturday. Adva was at the Supernova music festival. I know that was the last time you heard from her, so last Saturday.
DR. ADVA GUTMAN, SISTER MISSING FROM SUPERNOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL: Yes.
COOPER: How you've gotten through this week?
GUTMAN: It was very hard. At the beginning, we're starting looking for her. And because I'm a doctor, I was talking to every hospital in Israel and to all my friends. And when I saw that it's not enough, I went to the hospitals. I went to Soraka. That is the main hospital that came -- all the ones that came in. And I just went from patient to patient and ask if they saw her, and what -- and if you know where she is.
COOPER: That's one of the things. There is so little information that -- I mean, it's up to families --
COOPER: -- in the last week to really go around and just talk to as many people and look at awful videos looking for people.
GUTMAN: Yes. I couldn't do that.
GUTMAN: My husband did it for me, because I saw one video and --
COOPER: People are looking literally at jihadist videos --
COOPER: -- to see things.
GUTMAN: And it was so hard to watch.
COOPER: It's sickening.
GUTMAN: I couldn't. Yes. It's sickening.
COOPER: You talked to other -- when she was at the festival for about an hour on the phone, the attack started at 6:30. I think --
COOPER: -- you were saying you talked to her until about 7:30? GUTMAN: 7:30. Yes. I actually woke up to one alarm, missile alarm, and went to the safe room in our house. And then, the first thing that I thought about is to send a message on WhatsApp what's going on with you.
GUTMAN: Are you going home? And she said that she cannot go home because there are terror attack on the road. And they told her -- they told everybody at the festival to stay --
COOPER: Stay there.
GUTMAN: -- in place. Yes. And they told her, OK, but you have to check where you are going.
You have to open them up in your phone and see where you are and when -- where you can go if the terror come toward the festival.
COOPER: We now know that Hamas attack from the west and the north and the south, and your sister, you believe, was able to get into a vehicle and drive a little bit. But, that's where the last you heard.
GUTMAN: Yes. That was the last we heard of her, and her phone was found near the road. So, we believe that she probably went out of the car and the phone fell down. And since then, we don't know what happened. She actually wrote a message that we didn't get.
COOPER: That wasn't -- she wasn't able to send it or --
GUTMAN: She was -- yes.
COOPER: What did she say?
GUTMAN: She said that she is heading home. And --
COOPER: There were some 3,000 people at that music festival. I assume you were still hoping that somebody there knows something about what may have happened.
GUTMAN: Yes. We did -- as far as at Saturday morning, there was list of people that came to other kibbutzim, and they were listed, and we always check the list and I didn't saw her name. So, we understand that she may be hiding, maybe kidnapped, because we already knew that they kidnapped people or maybe worse.
COOPER: What do you want people to know what's tomorrow like? She was studying to be a lawyer. She is.
GUTMAN: Yes. She started -- it's her second year in law school. She actually was a very caring person. She was in the family.
COOPER: She was the family caregiver? GUTMAN: Yes, caregiver. She always thought about others. Day before the festival happened, it was a holiday in Israel. And my mother was -- my mother and two sister was bored. And she was angry about them, because she said you left father alone, and she went to my father and cook him a meal. And then, I was at home studying to my board exams. And she came to my place and gave me --
GUTMAN: -- a meal. Yes.
COOPER: She feeds everybody.
GUTMAN: Yes. She likes to cook and she likes to bake. And then, she went to the festival. She was such a caring person. She had a dog that she is loved so much. And now, she is seeking for her all the time. And --
COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know or --
GUTMAN: I want people to know that the people that were murdered there and -- were civilians, was good civilians, who are peaceful people. And it was a massacre. And they did such a horrible thing that people cannot put in words. It's -- I want the world to know that this is -- I think it's one of the most -- I don't have word for that --
GUTMAN: -- terrible terror attack that I think that 21st century I saw.
COOPER: Did you ever imagine something like this could happen?
GUTMAN: No. No. I don't think that a normal person can imagine the things that they did to the people there. It's -- they didn't just shoot. They beheaded people, and they rape women and they burn children, and I don't think that a normal person can imagine something like that can happen.
COOPER: I hope you get word soon. And please listen, we will continue to stay in touch with you. But, I know there are many families waiting for word, and I can't imagine the pain and the agony. Thank you for talking with us.
GUTMAN: Thank you very much.
COOPER: I wish you the best.
An entire family of six is among the missing, a mom and dad, baby a toddler, grandparents. We heard please today from their relatives as well.
YIFAT ZAILER, SIX FAMILY MEMBERS AMONG THE MISSING: Shiri, my cousin, was abducted from her home with her two babies, Kfir, nine-months-old, and Ariel, four-years-old, along with her husband and my aunt and uncle, Yossi Margit Silberman, both in their late 60s. You've all seen her photos holding her two redhead babies, his nine-months-old baby being held captive underground somewhere.
I don't know if he got his food, his formula. He doesn't eat food in his bottle. My cousin and I gave birth two months apart. I have a seven-month-old at home. I put him to bed every night thinking about -- my aunt suffers from Parkinson's disease. She is 63. Every day without her medication, is torture. She is being tortured. We don't know how long it's going to take. You need to understand this can take a long time. Those are innocent civilians. Those are innocent civilians. They have rights. This is Hamas. It's a terror organization. You need to put the pressure on the right people, on all the organizations on Turkey, on Egypt. Please. They need to help the Red Cross enter.
Those people lives are so important to us. We need to bring them back home alive. They were kidnapped alive and they will be back alive. I'll do everything I can, and then we need your help.
COOPER: That's Yifat Zailer talking about the half of her family which is now missing. Hamas is holding an estimated 150 people hostage. We will take you back live to northern Israel next, as thousands of Palestinians are trying to find a way to safety with few places to go. There are harrowing stories in Gaza, just ahead.
COOPER: We're coming to you live tonight from Tel Aviv. Israel promising a new phase of its way in Hamas is coming as it continues to amass troops on the Gaza border. To the north, the IDF exchanged fire today with a Lebanese group Hezbollah on a disputed piece of territory. CNN's Matthew Chance is in northern Israel for us now. So, talk about the situation on the northern border.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson. Yes. Well, the situation is very tense. I mean, as the country braces itself for that land invasion in Gaza to the south, 250 miles away approximately up here in northern Israel, there is the potential of a second front opening. And so, there is a great deal of tension around here. And you can see there is a lot of Israeli troops that have been concentrated up on this northern border, close to Lebanon, a short distance from here, close to Syria as well. There has already been some exchanges of fire, mortar attacks from across the Lebanese side, artillery fired in the other direction by the Israelis.
It's also been, according to local Israeli forces that were spoken to here, rocket attacks from Syria, and there has also been an Israeli response to that as well. But, none of those attacks or exchanges have in the words of Israeli officials reached the point of an escalation. It's just sort of haven't -- hasn't got to the point yet where we're looking at a sort of broad wide scale attack by forces, for instance of the Hezbollah militia across in Lebanon, on the territory over here in northern Israel.
But, of course, that's the big concern. That's why there are so many troops concentrated up here. And that's what local commanders on the ground say they are preparing for. Take a listen to one of the company commanders Major Dor that we spoke to earlier.
MAJOR DOR, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: So, we have mobilized our troops here --
DOR: -- our reserves to be prepared for any scenario that might happen or open up in the northern borders.
CHANCE: But, when you say any scenario, you mean whether this area is hit by rockets from Hezbollah, or is that what you're worried about?
DOR: That is one of the scenarios.
DOR: It could be a similar scenario which happened in the Gaza Strip. It could happen here as well. So, we are here to be joined. It could be a very direct specific event. We don't know. We are here to prepare the regular troops. We mobilize and we are here.
CHANCE: It seems that the Israeli Military down south near Gaza were not ready. Are you going to make the same mistake here?
DOR: We're here now. So, we're not making the same mistake.
CHANCE: Anderson, what that kind of saying is it could be a missile attack. It could be a ground attack as well, like we saw in Gaza. But, whatever it is, Israeli forces say they're ready for it, and they're prepared.
COOPER: We've been reporting that the U.S. has ordered a second carrier strike group to the Mediterranean. Part of that is sending a message to other countries in the region, other groups like Hezbollah.
CHANCE: That's right. This will be a carrier strike group in the eastern Mediterranean from the United States. And the White House has said that that's there as a deterrent to make sure that other players in the region and other groups in the region don't enter the war in Israel, as it's poised to embark on that land invasion. But, the fact that the U.S. is now sending a second carrier group underlines just how nervous they are, just how tense the region is. It doubles up on the deterrence. But, it also doubles up on the amount of resources that the United States will have at its disposal in the eastern Mediterranean, should it need to intervene, kind of carry out airstrikes, for instance, in southern Lebanon against other players in the region if one of those players or countries were to take the decision to cross that red line and enter the war in northern Israel.
It's something that is -- we haven't got there yet, but it's definitely a threat, and it's a threat that both the U.S. and Israel are braced for.
COOPER: Matthew, you and I both spent a lot of time in 2006, weeks, covering the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. That was a difficult fight. That was a tough fight for Israeli forces, and there were certainly a lot of rockets coming into all those towns up along the border, Kiryat Shmona and elsewhere. This fear -- I mean, if this does open up as a second front, that would be -- that would make what's going on here, I mean, exponentially harder.
CHANCE: It would. It's the real threat actually to peace in the region. If a front opens up here in northern Israel, it would be a game changer. Now, of course, you say we were both up here in 2006. It was a very dangerous situation back then. But, the missile arsenal of Hezbollah has now got much bigger. The weapons are more powerful. There is the possibility that they could use drone strikes to carry out attacks in Israel. Drone strikes didn't really exist, to a very great extent or at least to the extent they do now, back in 2006. That's new technology that has transformed the battlefield.
Now, Israel has new tech as well. It didn't have an Iron Dome or not much of one to speak of back in 2006. It's got one now. And that facility, those weaponry, those anti-missile systems are really in place here and bolstered and ready for what could be a massive onslaught. By the way, the Israelis say that if Hezbollah does cross that line and attack northern Israel, it would lead potentially to the destruction of Lebanon. So, they're issuing very stark warnings about what retaliation would be going to Lebanon if Hezbollah was to take the step and to launch strikes against northern Israel.
COOPER: Obviously, the situation in Lebanon is already chaotic. There has been, I mean, economic collapse. It's -- Hezbollah is contending with a lot going on in Beirut and elsewhere.
CHANCE: It is. It's bad. It's the bad economic situation. The political situation is unstable. But, things could get worse. I mean, if Hezbollah is ordered by Iran, or takes a decision on itself, to strike over here into Israel, we're going to be seeing, I think, a sort of massive onslaught by the Israeli Air Force, possibly joined by the United States as well. And as I said, the Israelis say that could lead to the destruction of Lebanon. I mean, I think the message that's being put across both our U.S. diplomats and by the Israelis as well is that Israel is in no mood right now to be messed with. They've had this traumatic event that has really shaken the country last weekend with the deaths of so many Israeli citizens. They're poised to embark on what they believe will be a game changing intervention in Gaza.
And I think they're braced as well for the possibility of a broader regional war if they're forced into that situation. And so, that's the message that I think is being broadcast loud and clear to the region. But, we will see whether Hezbollah, whether Iran, whether other countries in the region pay heed.
COOPER: Matthew Chance, thank you, reporting from northern Israel tonight.
Now, to the civilians trying to get out of Gaza before Israel's war against Hamas intensifies. Israel is telling them to flee south, away from the main population centers. Hamas is telling them to stay where they are. Some who've tried to leave had become casualties themselves. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the escalating humanitarian crisis. And we want to warn you that some of the images you're about to see are graphic.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what running for your life looks like in Gaza, an ambulance with a young girl and wounded woman inside, rocked by explosions, as they attempt to flee. It is unclear what happened to the pair. But, they're among the tens of thousands of people on the move, after Israel's Military called on nearly half of Gaza's population, some 1.1 million people to get south in a matter of hours.
But, along the safe passages specified by the IDF, utter horror. You're looking at the carnage and chaos on Salahuddin Street, one of the designated evacuation routes, in the aftermath of explosions, families killed amid their belongings. CNN has geo-located this video and four other clips from the horrifying scene. The UN calls Israel's evacuation advisory "impossible and a violation of the rules of war". And Palestinian officials accused the idea of bombing civilians even as they fled. Dozens of evacuees were killed or wounded by Israeli airstrikes, according to Hamas. CNN has reached out to the Israeli Military for comment.
The victims are flooding into Gaza's overwhelmed hospitals. And again, it's the youngest caught in the crossfire. Nearly half of Gaza's population is children. What did the children do to deserve this? This woman says, did they fight you? Did they fire rockets? My niece and her whole family are dead.
The only survivor is a two-year-old girl. The healthcare system is on the brink, a complete siege, making it impossible to get aid into the enclave. And already, there is a shortage of everything, even space in the morgue.
Well, keeping the dead in ice cream trucks so the bodies don't rock, this doctor says. Gaza is in crisis. Gaza needs help. For those still able to move south, this is one of the neighborhoods families are expected to flee towards (inaudible), where Israeli airstrikes have wreaked havoc. This is a genocide, not a war. It is genocide, this man says, and it's an attempt to force all Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip. Finding refuge is proving dangerous and deadly. And for the many families desperate for shelter, the fear is there may be no safe places left. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
COOPER: We'll be right back with more from Tel Aviv.
BERMAN: We'll go back to Anderson in Tel Aviv in just a moment. First, though, new drama in the battle to be the next Speaker of the House if there ever will be the next Speaker of the House. Congressman Jim Jordan became the second Republican in a single week to get nominated by the Republican conference. But, he does not have the support of the full conference, and not enough votes as of tonight to win on the full House floor, despite what he told our Manu Raju.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think we'll get 217 votes.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But, you will only keep running if you get 217 votes?
JORDAN: I think we'll get -- I think we'll -- watch you step, watch your step, I think we'll get 217 votes.
RAJU: Would you be open to empowering Patrick McHenry if you don't?
JORDAN: I think we're going to get to 217 votes. That's a quickest way to get to the unifying (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Jordan is now spending the weekend trying to flip enough vote polled out so he can win the speakership.
With me now is Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Larry, great to see you. I'm old enough to remember when Steve Scalise had the votes in the conference, but not enough votes to get through on the House floor. When that happened, you wrote -- when he dropped out, you wrote the Republicans should change their name basically to the Cantankerous Crazy Clown Car Conference. What do you mean?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I did. I did. I actually left out the word "chaos". I think that should have fit in there someplace. Basically, there is nobody that seems to be able to get the 217 votes needed, at least in the Republican caucus, because virtually, everybody is associated with one faction or another, and they all hate one another. So, maybe a miracle will happen. It would be a real miracle for Jordan if he could manage to lose only
four votes on the floor from the Republicans. And there is zero chance of any Democrat voting for Jim Jordan for Speaker. Then, what do they do if it's not Jordan? Well, all kinds of names are being floated.
But, as I said, it's hard to see any of them not losing at least four votes. Some of them would lose dozens of votes. Democrats are hoping that somehow a small group of moderate conservative Republicans, I would say mainstream conservatives, I don't think there are many moderate conservatives left in their caucus, if any, they will go to the Democrats and say we're going to make a Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker if you agree to A, B, C, D. Of course, that's not going to happen either. That's fantasy. And we can go on from there. The odds of one of these scenarios happening is about the same as the odds that you or I would have won that billion dollar pot in the lottery.
BERMAN: So, what does happen? I mean, how does this end? The West Wing version of this would be that some Democrats get together with some Republicans and they pick some Republican who can get enough votes. That's something that most people have scoffed at up until now. But, is it becoming more possible?
SABATO: Well, I tend to think the West Wing was written by idealists. So, I don't think there is a whole lot of hope that that will happen. However, I will say this. When it happens at the state level, there are plenty of precedents for doing that. In fact, in Alaska right now, both houses of the Alaska legislature are run by a bipartisan coalition. This even happened in Texas a few years back when a few moderate Republicans approached the Democrats, and they managed to overturn the preferences of the majority very conservative Republican Caucus there in Texas, and they got a moderate conservative in as Speaker, and he lasted five terms. And it's happened in some other states.
So, it's not impossible, but you have to be willing to do it. You have to be willing to try and then to actually do it. And I failed to see where people are really trying and really want to do it.
BERMAN: What impact do you think this has -- your crystal ball, you're the crystal ball man, what impact might this have on Republicans in their efforts to keep the House in 2024?
SABATO: You never know how long the electorate is going to remember anything. And let's be honest, we all have short memories, and the electorate certainly has a short memory. But, this has gone on long enough, and has embarrassed the Republicans so many times already. And again, we'll probably continue to do so for a while that I think some of it will rub off on their candidates in 2024. A lot depends on who wins the presidency and where the coattail lives. But, in those really close districts where more moderate conservative Republicans have been elected, like in New York or California, this is a really sorry story they have to defend. So, I think it will hurt some Republicans. Yes.
BERMAN: And remember, there are such major events happening around the world that Congress needs to take action on. This as having a real impact. Larry Sabato, great to speak with you tonight. Thanks so much for being with us.
SABATO: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: We'll get back to the breaking news in Israel.
The very personal decisions that some Americans are making to return and join the fight, CNN speaks to some of those army reservists, next.
COOPER: Some Israelis living in the U.S. are heading back home to fight in the war against Hamas. CNN's Stephanie Elam was at the airport in Los Angeles when a charter flight carrying at least 150 people took off for Israel earlier today. Stephanie, talk about what you saw.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it was very early in the morning. Many of these people had not slept. And this whole flight came together very quickly by Israel Friends, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that was just created. And starting Monday, according to the founder, Jordan Fried, they were able to start working on this charter flight that took off very early this morning. And obviously, as you would expect, there was a gamut of emotions there. Many of these 150 people showing up with family members, hugging, talking to them, up until it was time for them to go beyond security.
But, for the people who decided to make this decision, like Dorel Meiri, he felt that there was no other option, born and raised here, but he already did fight for IDF and he wanted to get back. He said he was numb and just knew he needed to go. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOREL MEIRI, ISRAELI-AMERICAN VOLUNTEERING FOR WAR: I'm an American- Israeli. It's very simple. So, my home is here and my home is there. So, I feel obligated and almost a desire and more so a need to go to -- go right now. So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, you don't feel like you could just say. That's not an option for you.
MEIRI: It's not an option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And for others, they fled the drama that was unfurling the tragedy, the scariness that they saw, and wanted to get their families out, like David Frankel. He fled with his family to Southern California after the war broke out with his two young sons and his wife, and he is leaving them -- left them here, in fact, wished (ph) his two sons goodbye in the darkness at night as he left to catch this flight. This is what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FRANKEL, ISRAELI ARMY RESERVIST: I'm obviously nervous. I mean, I want to come home safely to my family. I want to see my boys grow up. But, you have to put that aside and stop the madness that's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And what was noteworthy is that energy, Anderson, inside the terminal, as these group of people, as they came together. Most did not know anybody else there, but it was a sense of camaraderie, and a unified sense of what they were going to do even though many of them don't know when they'll be home, or when or if they'll see their loved ones again. Anderson.
COOPER: Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.
Right now, a planeload of humanitarian supplies is sitting just across the border from Gaza. The World Health Organization is still waiting for clearance to get them to the civilians who need them. I am going to speak live with someone from the WHO, just ahead.