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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jordan Fails To Win Speakership On First House Vote; Palestinians: 200-300 Dead After Strike On Gaza Hospital; Today: Biden Departs For High-Stakes Visit To Israel; Palestinians: Hundreds Dead After Strike On Gaza Hospital; Officials: Gaza "Desperate", With Limited Water, Civilians Trapped. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 16:00   ET



LT. COLONEL JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: Yeah, listen, this has been going on in every conflict, and anybody who has been following our fighting with Hamas knows that in every time that there's rocket fire towards Israel, let's say they fire a few thousand rockets, there are hundreds of misfires. In this conflict alone, there's been more than 400 misfires in this conflict alone, and in the last conflict in May '21, we had the same amount, roughly the same amount of rockets fired and rockets that landed short inside the Gaza Strip.

I remember clearly an event that was reported live on Fox by Trey Yingst where he was standing inside Gaza and the reports that came out was of an Israeli strike which is the knee jerk response around the world. But then he reported that he saw with his own eyes a strike that land a rocket that misfired and landed in northern Gaza. I think it was Jabalia and caused casualties and the death of a Palestinian family.

So this is not unprecedented. It has happened many times in the past and it is documented, and for those willing to listen and not to automatically blame Israel for it, there is ample truth of the fact that this has happened many times before, granted, not a hospital and not so many casualties, but the fact of the matter is that rockets misfire and land in Gaza and they have been doing so for years.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yeah, we have been careful about our reporting and certainly what we know and what we do not know. We wanted to have you on to talk about what you know.

Lieutenant Colonel, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

CONRICUS: Thank you.


Stay with CNN.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Two massive stories today. The Israeli Defense Forces today just a few minutes ago said that it was actually a misfired missile by Islamic Jihad, a group in Gaza that is the reason why 200 at least were killed in a hospital strike in Gaza. In the hospital doctors and nurses were treating hundreds of already wounded Palestinians.

CNN reports thousands of others were taking shelter at the hospital at the center of Gaza City. The Palestinian Health Ministry which is controlled by Hamas blamed the incident on an Israeli air strike and just seconds ago on its Telegram channel announced that the strike was caused by this misfired missile from Islamic jihad. CNN has not independently confirmed this. We're going to have much more on all of that in a moment.

But first, here in Washington, D.C., weeks of Republican dysfunction, House Republican dysfunction crippling the legislative branch of the U.S. government. Today we saw a new chapter in this chaos here in D.C. as House Republicans tried and failed to elect Republican Representative Jim Jordan speaker of the house. That is the position second in line, third in line goes president and vice president and then speaker of the House for the presidency, includes Oval Office meetings and photo-ops with world leaders and real power.

You should know who Congressman Jim Jordan is, according to the January 6th Select Committee. He was a significant player in then president Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. He met repeatedly with Trump staffers, with Rudy Giuliani and others to create, quote, strategies for challenging the election.

Chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud. Four days before the January 6th insurrection, Congressman Jordan led a call with Trump and others about ways to delay the legal certification of the election and discussed how to use social media to encourage Trump supporters to come to the Capitol that fateful day.

On January 5th, Jordan texted then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to push him to say that Vice President Pence should, quote, call out all of the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional and say that there are no electoral votes at all which, of course, is not in the power of the vice presidency.

Jim Jordan according to the January 6th committee also spoke with Donald Trump at least twice on January 6th as the deadly insurrection was unfolding. We do not know what they discussed because Congressman Jim Jordan refused to comply with a subpoena and Congressman Jordan has not offered up any clear answers publicly.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I spoke to him on January 6th. I mean, I talk with President Trump all of the time.

INTERVIEWER: On January 6th, did you speak with him before, during or after the Capitol was attacked? JORDAN: I'd have to go -- I -- I spoke with him that day after. I

think after. I don't know if I spoke with him in the morning or not, I just don't know.


I would have to go back -- I mean, I don't -- I don't know that -- when those conversations happened.


TAPPER: So again, Congressman Jim Jordan refused to comply with a congressional subpoena, a subpoena issued by the very body that he now wants to lead.

In response to the idea of Congressman Jim Jordan possibly becoming leader, speaker of the House, this is what former congresswoman and vice chair of the January 6 committee, Liz Cheney, had to say.


LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: If the Republicans decide that Jim Jordan should be the speaker of the house, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution.


TAPPER: So that's where we are right now and the chaos continues after 20 Republicans voted against Jordan becoming the speaker of the house, sending the House into recess with no clear path forward at the moment, all of this as this brutal war plays out in the Middle East. We're going to have much more on the war, including more personal stories in the hours ahead.

Let's go to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Manu, Jordan's people, his supporters, are predicting a second try at the speakership, another ballot that they want to force at some point today. Does he have enough votes for the second ballot?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the moment he does not, Jake, which is why right behind the scenes right now, Jim Jordan is in the Republican whip's office Tom Emmer, meeting with some top Republicans, including key committee chairmen in an attempt to assuage those concerns, win over some of those holdouts, talk about things that they want to try to bring them over to the Jordan side.

But we are told from Jordan allies that there is a real fear that if this drags out into multiple ballots that perhaps the opposition can actually grow and it could completely undermine his speakership bid. Before this first vote today, there was an expectation from Jordan allies that he would do better than Levin McCarthy did when he failed on the first ballot and he ultimately became speaker on the 15th ballot back in January. But in that first ballot, McCarthy lost 19 votes. Today, Jordan lost

20 Republican votes. That is a major concern. They tried to close the gap.

I talked to McCarthy about this earlier and given the fact that some of those Republicans voted for McCarthy on the floor and whether he believes Jordan should drop out. He is giving advice to Jordan and he's urging him stay in the race potentially for multiple more rounds of balloting.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Jordan has just as many votes as I had on the first round. I think the difference is we have rules and we can sit down, talk to the other members and be able to move forward.


RAJU: And I asked Jordan himself whether he would continue beyond the second ballot if he falls short of 217 votes some time tonight, would he go to a third ballot? He would not answer that directly other than saying we need to elect a speaker. We need to get House moving because in the aftermath of that historic and unprecedented ouster of Kevin McCarthy, two weeks ago, nothing could get done here in the U.S.

But it was that very reason that the ouster of McCarthy that has led to several of those people who voted against Jordan to not support him here. They simply do not want to reward, in their view, the hardliners who oust McCarthy and are now trying to elevate Jordan, which really speaks to the tension that still persists within the House GOP, unclear who can actually put this badly divided conference back together and leave this House and bring it out of the state of paralysis.

But at the moment, Jim Jordan is not able to get there. The question is, how much longer will he continue on with multiple rounds, will any of those Republicans flip to his side, or will he decide it's time to bow out -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much.

With us right now here in studio, Colorado Republican Congressman Ken Buck.

Congressman, good to see you. Thank you so much for being here.

One thing, I don't know if you heard that we've been praising you on this show. I hope that doesn't hurt you at home.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): It will.

TAPPER: I hope it doesn't hurt you at home. You're a very conservative Republican. It's very important to you that whoever is the next speaker of the House acknowledge the fact that Joe Biden won the presidency and it's just a fact that he did and you want the next speaker to acknowledge that. BUCK: I want the next speaker to acknowledge it. I also want to make sure that we don't have somebody who was involved in the activities surrounding January 6th. And I think that if we have a presidential candidate who right now is leading, who denies that he lost the election and was obviously behind what happened on January 6th, and we have a speaker in a similar situation, we have 20 Republicans sitting in Joe Biden districts right now, Biden -- districts that Joe Biden won in 2020, and those 20 Republicans are going to be at risk.

There is no way we win the majority if the message we send to the American people is that we believe that the election was stolen. And we believe that January 6th was okay. It was a tour of the Capitol.

TAPPER: And I think that there -- I mean, this is probably one of the reasons why Republicans have had trouble winning elections in 2018, in 2000 -- I'm sorry, in 2022, right?


I mean, like all the other -- the midterms in 2018, in 2020, and then in 2022, right? I mean, all of those other midterm elections have had problems, because there are a lot of suburban voters who might like some of the things that Republicans are offering, but they like democracy, too.

BUCK: Well, I think one of the messages is that we underperformed. Republicans in the House underperformed. The expectation was that we would have a 30-vote majority, a 25 vote majority. We in fact have a four vote majority right now. And so, part of the dysfunction that you see is the fact we don't have a large enough majority. And that I tribute to the fact of the message to the American people is muddled.

It isn't that where the party of the rule of law, because obviously, we don't believe in the rule of law if we are willing to say that the election results were accurate.

TAPPER: You're the only one speaking up about it like this, the only one that I can hear. I mean, even Congressman Bacon, who I would think -- I mean, he didn't -- he voted the same way you did, to uphold the election, et cetera. But he is not saying things like this.

BUCK: Well, Jake, I am not running for speaker, but I appreciate your kind words. I think that more Republicans need to admit what's going on, and we need to move beyond the narrative that is out there.

TAPPER: But do other Republicans feel the same way you do? They're just not willing to say it out loud?

BUCK: Absolutely. I have talked to a number of people who have come up to me and almost whispered thank you. And I know --

TAPPER: Whispered?

BUCK: Yes. No, there is --

TAPPER: Why are they so -- I don't understand. What are they afraid of?

BUCK: Well, Republicans who are going to vote against Jim Jordan on the second ballot, which will be more Republicans --


BUCK: More. Absolutely -- want the cover of saying that I voted for Jim Jordan, but now it's time to move on. The problem is that they're afraid of the primary. The calls that are coming in a ridiculous, they're in the hundreds if not thousands that are coming into every office right now. The grassroots campaign is a very strong for Jim Jordan.

TAPPER: And that's because of the far-right activists that are pushing this, the political operatives like Hannity, et cetera?

BUCK: I would say right, not far-right, being on the right.


BUCK: Yes -- I would say yes, there are conservative activist groups that are calling in across the country.

TAPPER: So you and I are old enough to remember when Tom DeLay was a very effective majority leader, but there was always the push that if you became speaker, he was just -- he was just too toxic. It would be bad for the House.

I feel like he even understood that, that he was just to radioactive. Jordan might be kind of in that vein, but maybe he doesn't understand that?

BUCK: Well, you know, Jim Jordan has talked about defunding the FBI. He's talked about some things that are fairly radical to most Americans. The folks in the middle, who we need to win if we're going to win elections.

So yes, I think -- I think that he may not realize that. He may want to back off some of those statements if he does become speaker. But right now, those are the statements that he's made.

TAPPER: You voted for Tom Emmer, but you don't like Tom Emmer? First of all, I thought he was like a nice guy. He's not a nice guy?

BUCK: No, he's my friend, and I was trying to make a joke.

TAPPER: Make, a joke, okay, okay.

BUCK: And it didn't go over very much.

TAPPER: Who do you think would actually be speaker? How about somebody like Tom Cole, Tom Emmer, Steve Womack, is there somebody that's conservative Republican and just kind of like a statesman-type character?

BUCK: Yeah, I think -- I think that the next move that was discussed in conference a little bit last night was to have a 30-day speaker. If a supplemental comes over from --

TAPPER: That's like a 30-day fiance show.

BUCK: I'm not going to go there. But if something comes over from the White House, supplemental comes over from the White House, were able to vote on it. We have 30 days to go in conference and hash this out, it's sort of a pause but it allows the host to operate.

TAPPER: Yeah, 30 days. That's messy, man. You guys need to get -- what about you? No?

BUCK: No, but thanks.

TAPPER: All right, don't say I didn't do anything for you.

All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Buck. Good to see you.

Let's talk with my panel right here.

Kevin, how are you doing, buddy?


TAPPER: So, you -- you've worked for these fellows on Capitol Hill. First of all, just like, what do you make of this?

MADDEN: Well, you know, the thing -- when I worked up on Capitol Hill, you always had a sense of -- that there was a trend line operating in the right direction and something would happen, whether it was a bill on the floor or a leadership decision.

Right now, I'm at a loss to see how this thing ends. Like, I just do not see somebody or enough leverage by the leadership to drive towards 217 votes for one candidate. And so I think this drags on a lot longer than we think.

TAPPER: What happen, Jamie? I mean, there are just like an objectionable House Republican leaders like I just mentioned, like Tom Womack, I mean, Steve Womack --

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: How can you ask that question?

TAPPER: -- Tom Cole, Tom Emmer, these are just good House Republican leader types, like, I don't even understand.

GANGEL: Remember 15 rounds, remember that Kevin McCarthy --

TAPPER: But that was an objection of Kevin McCarthy because they didn't think he was trustworthy. I understand that.

GANGEL: I think two things. One is that I think Congressman Buck might be the bravest member of the Republican conference right now, to come out and say -- I'm very sorry to say this, but you sound like Liz --

(CROSSTALK) [16:15:04]

TAPPER: We're going to hurt him. We're going to hurt him in his reelection.

GANGEL: You sound like Liz Cheney right now.

TAPPER: Oh my god. Now we're really doing it.

GANGEL: But the reality is, what the congressman is saying is common sense. The problem is, you're the only one we're hearing it from. I am hearing from other Republican members, though, about something you mentioned, Congressman, and that is the notion of letting this speaker pro tem Patrick McHenry be empowered to go forwards 30 days, 45 days, maybe be extended.

TAPPER: As long as the congressman hasn't been secretly was whipped out.

Let me just -- what do you think of that idea? We have congressman -- I think he was on the show earlier saying this. The idea of giving McHenry some powers just so we can do supplemental bills, just so we can do -- what you make of that idea?

BUCK: I think it's a good idea, for a number of reasons. One, we're getting beat up right now. So it would pause that.

Two, there's a very serious world situation in Israel, Ukraine. We would allow the Congress to function. We haven't gotten a supplemental from the White House, but it would still allow us to function.

And third, it would give us time to get into conference behind closed doors, and find that person to lead us for one year. We also have time running out on the clock for the shutdown, if we don't fund the government.

TAPPER: Yeah. Until you guys sneak him out like Taylor Swift, we are going to keep doing that. Just a warning, just a warning.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Jake, you know, listening to you talk about it, isn't there some conventional conservative Republican that --


CHALIAN: There were some of those. Eric Cantor was one. He lost in the primary. John Boehner was one. He was ousted by a conference with a Jim Jordan-inspired Freedom Caucus on the rise.

Kevin McCarthy may have been seen as one for many Republicans at one point. He was just vacated from his job.

The reason is, the Republican Party has moved.

TAPPER: Right. CHALIAN: And so what is sort of a conventional conservative establishment, or Republican that can unify that way is no longer so for the critical swap of the Republican Party that is driving a lot of the energy inside of it.

MADDEN: I think the key to understanding this is not to think rationally, but you think in a very non linear way. But one of the questions I have for the congressman, if I may, is what about the legality of problems that you might have with giving, empowering an acting speaker? And also, this is still an institution that operates on precedents. The president that you would set if you were to give an acting speaker authority, does that not cause some concerns that the conference has on not?

BUCK: There's no precedent for vacating a speaker. This is the first time that's ever happened. So, right now, there's no president forgiving powers on a limited basis.

I think what you probably have to do is just trust Patrick that he would give up power in 30 days. So he is the speaker, there's just an agreement that in 30 days, we would have a new speaker, or 45, or whatever.

CHALIAN: And he has said that he doesn't want the job, right?

BUCK: He has -- he has been. Well, he said that he didn't want to be nominated by the Democrats for the job. If it were a Republican, and one Republican has said he will file the motion. That's a little different.

TAPPER: So he needs to go vote. So, we're going to let him go.

We're going to take a commercial break. Thank you one and all for being here.

When we -- when we come back, we're going to keep covering these two massive stories. The United States of America legislative branch does not have a speaker of the House, and, of course, there is some horrible bloodshed going on in the Middle East.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We're back with today's other top story. Right now, an explosion of violence in the Middle East after a massive strike at a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds, according to Palestinian officials. All as President Biden prepares to head to Israel, an extraordinary wartime trip.

We're going to get to CNN's Clarissa Ward on the ground in Israel in a moment, but let's bring in CNN's MJ Lee at the White House.

MJ, the Gaza hospital strike is already impacting President Biden's trip to Israel, even before he's left Washington.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. The president was supposed to be -- within a number of hours, but already his itinerary has been affected. The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pulling out of what was supposed to be his meeting with President Biden. That was supposed to take place in Jordan, with a number of other regional leaders.

Obviously, as these horrific images and scenes and reports of hundreds of casualties and deaths pouring out of this hospital in Gaza and so far, Jake, I can tell you that White House officials, U.S. officials that we have been reaching out to, we've really been met with radio silence. Nothing yet officially from the U.S. side in terms of a reaction to this deadly strike in Gaza. This hospital strike, also nothing in terms of any kind of reaction, any changes potentially to the president's trip. Again, that was supposed to commence in just a number of hours.

Jake, I think it goes without saying that all of this just happens to so vividly and unfortunately capture just what an extremely volatile situation this is that the president is walking into, both physically and diplomatically. Obviously, one of the key issues that the president planned to address and tried to sort of make progress on was supposed to be the diplomacy side of this. Trying to also stress minimizing civilian casualties as much as possible, and now we have a situation just on the eve of the president making this trip, a situation where the different sides are giving conflicting reports of who is even responsible for this deadly strike.

The IDF is saying that it wasn't the Israelis. This was a failed rocket launch, and obviously, Hamas has been saying that this is the hands of the Israelis. So even before the president has physically made this trip, has gone to the region, we are seeing just what an incredibly volatile and complicated situation he is walking into.

Again, Jake, I think the fact that we have yet to hear anything official from the White House and U.S. officials goes to show they are scrambling right now to try to gather as much intelligence as possible, so that they can put something out addressing the strike itself, and then obviously trying to figure out what all of this means for his trip, because again, a part of his agenda has already been affected.


He is no longer going to be meeting with one of the key players that he was going to be meeting with in Jordan.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee at the White House, thank you so much.

Let's go now to CNN's Clarissa Ward who was on the ground in Ashkelon, Israel, which is a few miles north of the Gaza border on the Mediterranean Sea.

Clarissa, what do we know for sure about this hospital strike? CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we

know for sure that there is been an astonishing loss of life here. Just horrific scenes and the videos that are starting to come in. We've been hearing from Palestinian Authorities 200 to 300 killed. But Hamas is now saying on their official Telegram channel that they believe 500 people were killed. Obviously, it's very difficult to know exactly those numbers, as they will be going through the rubble, through the night, trying to find how many people were killed in the attack.

We do know that thousands of people were taking shelter in the al-Ahli Baptist hospital. This is a hospital in Gaza City. This is in the northern part of Gaza. That is part of the enclave that IDF had asked people to evacuate, back on Friday, but many people, Jake, including many who we've spoken to, simply were not able to evacuate. Either because they could not find somewhere to go, or they didn't have a proper means of transportation.

There was also heavy Israeli strikes along the border, the southern border this morning, which then of course makes people afraid to leave their homes.

So, for the moment, what we know is that there is a huge amount of anguish and rage on behalf of people living in Gaza, and in the West Bank, and frankly, all across the region, a sense of just disbelief that a hospital could be targeted, the IDF as you mentioned saying that they were not responsible. That it was potentially on misfired rockets from a group known as the Islamic jihad inside Gaza.

Palestinian officials categorically denying that, saying that this was an Israeli strike. But what we certainly know, Jake, is that this is a hideous and very bloody inflection point in this conflict. It raises the specter of much more violence, not just in Gaza, but potentially in other flash points as well, and indeed, throughout the region. Israel has already come out and urged its citizens to leave Turkey, and all of this happening, as you just heard from MJ, as President Biden appears to make his visit here, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Clarissa, you just mentioned the West Bank. We've seen violent protests there in the wake of the hospital strike.

WARD: That's right. We saw them in the hours after it became clear just how many people had died in this hospital strike. You've heard Hamas call on people throughout the world, basically, to go out and do whatever they could to give voice to their rage and anguish. Clearly, that call has been met by many, even those who don't necessarily support Hamas but to feel that this is a completely unjustifiable act of hideous violence.

And so, you saw those clashes taking place in the West Bank. You saw as well Mahmoud Abbas saying that he will not meet with President Joe Biden, canceling that meeting. They have declared a state of mourning for three days. Flags are to be flown at half mast.

We have also seen reports of violence outside the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, and certainly the expectation is that it's only going to get worse, potentially, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa, stay with me.

We're going to have more in just a moment about this devastating hospital strike. But, we're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We're back with more on that awful hospital strike in Gaza.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is still with me.

Clarissa, this obviously is awful, whomever is responsible. How does it complicate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza? Beyond the obvious death and destruction of what happened?

WARD: Well, I think it remains to be seen what the impact will be, Jake. But the assumption is that you will have all parties now retracting from previous agreements to kind of come together in a sense and work to create a mechanism that would allow aid to go into Gaza, that would allow foreign nationals to leave, potentially, also some of the most seriously wounded to leave. The U.N. says that 600,000 people have left their homes in the northern part of Gaza are currently in the south, they don't have water.

Our own CNN producer has described having to boil water from the toilet, to give to his family. They don't have electricity. According to the U.N. they have about six days worth of food left in the stores, and after that, people who are already hungry will potentially not have anything to eat at all.


And it has been very difficult at the best of times, during this conflict. And the really haven't been any best times. But it has been difficult to get Egypt and Israel and Hamas and the U.S., and all of these parties to come together and try to create this humanitarian corridor. One can only assume now that many people will want to simply walk away from it altogether, despite that flurry and intensification of diplomatic efforts.

And so, it's one of the sort of oldest cliches of war, but it happens to be very true that it is the civilians who will suffer incredibly as a result of this. Already, those people who had fled their homes, who had been told to leave the north and go to the south have found that they have arrived in the south of Gaza and there have been strikes in Khan Younis, and there have been strikes near the Rafah border crossing.

And so, for those who stayed in the north, they say -- I spoke to one family today saying that we're not going to leave because, A, there's nowhere to go and there's nowhere that's safe. So, certainly, I think that given that President Biden is arriving

here tomorrow and that we heard from Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday talking about this plan that had tentatively be agreed on to create some sort of humanitarian zone, there will be a massive intensification now of efforts to try to keep that plan in motion, but obviously very real concerns that it will be completely severed by this atrocity, and by the followed and the backlash and the violence that will almost certainly ensue as a result of it, Jake.

TAPPER: So, I don't know if you had a chance to look at it, but the Israeli government has posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, some videos that they say show that it was a misfire of rockets by Islamic Jihad, which they classify as a terrorist group, that is the reason this atrocity happened at the hospital.

I am not an expert on figuring out what's a misfired missile versus a rocket, but you have much more experience in war zones. I don't even know if you have Wi-Fi where you are. But have you had a chance to look at this?

WARD: We do have Wi-Fi. What I would say is this is an information war, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, absolutely.

WARD: And as journalists, we do our best to try to walk the line and we have many different actors telling us all different sorts of things. We have an incredible open source investigative unit that is pouring over that video, and many other videos as well, trying to work out exactly what happened here. And as soon as we get a fuller picture, we will obviously bring it to our viewers.

TAPPER: Yeah, no question about it. It's just, as you know, everybody has the narrative that they want to push and then they're of course the facts, and we want to bring the facts as soon as we can.

Clarissa Ward in Israel doing a yeoman's job over there, thank you so much for everything you're doing for our viewers. Really appreciate it.

At the border of Gaza and Egypt, the Rafah crossing, thousands desperate to escape. But not allowed to escape, trapped, as war rages on a lot around them. We're going to bring them their stories, next.



TAPPER: Israeli officials say that the Rafah crossing, the one and only passage for civilians to get out of Gaza currently, remains closed, which means that the thousands of Palestinians waiting along the Egyptian border are stuck, trapped, in an area that Palestinian officials say that is under constant bombardment from Israeli airstrikes.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz shows us the dire humanitarian crisis on the ground, and a warning, some viewers may find this report disturbing.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This city should be the way out of the war zone. But it too is caught in the crosshairs of Israel's relentless air assault. You are looking at the aftermath of airstrikes on Rafah. Thousands have flocked here in recent days, seeking safe passage, only to find more death.

My children, oh, God, please find my children. This man pleads. They are under the rubble. Please pull them out.

It is unclear if his children survived. Israeli bombardment has killed dozens here in recent days, according to Palestinian officials.

The city, which sits on the Egyptian border, is home to Gaza's only possible humanitarian corridor. A corridor that is now in operable and unsafe, the WHO says, because of Israeli bombardment.

And at the border crossing, footage shows smoke billowing from multiple airstrikes nearby on Tuesday. Desperate families gathered here for hours a day, praying authorities will allow their exit. So far, a diplomatic standoff keeping this crucial quarter shots. Cairo is reluctant to take in refugees, and says it wants to see aid allowed into the enclave.

Israel's government has imposed a complete siege of Gaza, after Hamas terror attacks killed some 1,400 people. It says it aims to wipe out Hamas.

LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESMAN: We continue to operate and strike Hamas targets, as we have to find before. And we try to do that according to the law of conflict and, of course, to minimize civilian casualties.

ABDELAZIZ: Intensive efforts by the U.S. and the U.N. are yet to resolve the logjam, leaving countless people, like this Michigan resident, stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the war, I can't sleep, a lot of bombs. (INAUDIBLE) it's not right.

ABDELAZIZ: On the Egyptian side of the border, lifesaving aid is piling up.


And with more than 10,000 wounded Palestinians in a health care system on the brink, every hour counts.

DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WHO SPOKESWOMAN: That's why it's critical to get there. This is for people like pregnant women. We know that there are 84,000 pregnant women, and many of them are delivering every day, babies don't care about bombs. They come when they come.

ABDELAZIZ: Gaza is in a stranglehold, rights groups say, under siege and under attack, with innocent civilians desperate to escape the growing hellscape.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Salma Abdelaziz for that report. It's been ten days since Hamas launched its terrorist attack, and the horrors of what those terrorists did are still coming to light, and we're going to bring you some of those details, next.



TAPPER: We're still learning about we are still learning about the savagery from that unprecedented terrorist attack by Hamas, two Saturdays ago in Israel. Today's search and rescue volunteers, who were first -- the first responders on team, held a press conference to share their firsthand accounts of what they saw, on that horrific day.

What is going on the Middle East right now is a direct result of what happened, on that horrific day, so it is important for us to remember what happened.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live in Jerusalem for us.

It's a gut wrenching story, Jeremy, I'm sorry that you had to go through it. We want to tell our viewers, be careful this story is difficult. But bearing witness is important.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, Jake. Listen, Yossi Landau is a 30-year veteran of the Zaka search and rescue group. He has been to the scene of terrorist attacks and national disasters around the world, for decades now, but he says that he has never seen anything like he did, two Saturdays ago.

We should note that CNN has not independently verified some of his testimony, although we do have evidence of similar atrocities committed by Hamas. And I also want to warn our viewers once again, that the testimony you are about to hear, is very graphic.


DIAMOND (voice-over): Ten days after Hamas carried out its attack in southern Israel, Yossi Landau is still discovering fresh horrors from that day.

YOSSI LANDAU, SOUTHERN COMMANDER, ZAKA: We were going to clean up, to pick up the terrorist, there was like all of the houses in the back were, the field there. And, there was one terrorist body of the dead over there, and we went and just right next to him, was a body, of this 14, 15-year-old. Her head chopped off. We were looking around for the head, we couldn't find it.

DIAMOND: Landau is a 30-year veteran of Zaka, a search and rescue group that specializes in recovery of the victims of mass casualty events. But he has never seen anything, like the horrors of October 7th.

On your way to kibbutz Be'eri, you came across a shelter. You found 20 people inside, and they were burned alive?

LANDAU: I first came into that place, I saw there were hugging, they were trying to escape, and to defend themselves.

DIAMOND: When people are burned alive like that.

LANDAU: They suffer. They suffer until they burn, they suffer.

DIAMOND: For hours, Landau and his team of 30 volunteers worked painstakingly to pry friends, relatives, and perhaps even lovers from each other's arms.

LANDAU: We have to take out each and every one, and take them apart, while they were burnt. Only this took us about four to five hours.

DIAMOND: At kibbutz Be'eri, Landau and his team found a family of four around the dining room table. On one hand side, the parents, on the other, a boy and a girl, about six or seven, all with their hands tied behind their backs.

You said that the bodies that day, they spoke to you, they told you stories. When you got kibbutz Be'eri, what was the story that you found in that first house?

LANDAU: The terrorists were having a ball, eating the food that was on the -- over there that was prepared for the holiday. Tough.

DIAMOND: Landau set all four had a bullet hole in the back of their heads, signs of torture.

LANDAU: And I saw the father. He was fresh, it wasn't something that was suffering to be missing an eye, he was missing an eye. Sat next to the children, the children were screaming. I'm sure.

DIAMOND: In another house, Landau found a pregnant woman, shot from behind, and stabbed in her stomach.

LANDAU: A knife, stabbed, and the baby.


And the mother, lying on her stomach, big pile of blood, and shot in the back.

The same thing came up, question, who was first? And we had the baby. Are we going to use two bags or one bag? We decided we're going to use one bag.

We are not the evil people to separate the infant from the mother. No, we're not going to do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DIAMOND (on camera): And that was an absolutely gut wrenching decision, that -- and his colleagues had to make. And you know is so striking to me in speaking with him, he kept talk about this notion that he felt like the bodies of these people were speaking to him, and screaming out for him to tell their stories, to tell the story of how they died.

He also told me that he has woken up in the middle of the night now, not only by the smell of the dead flesh in his nose that still sticks, but also by the faces of those you saw in that burned out shelter, despite having never seen their actual faces, because of how disfigured they were, he says he can see their faces as clear as day -- Jake

TAPPER: Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem, thank you so much for that report.

Coming up, the latest developments on the breaking news, this hospital in Gaza that was struck, killing hundreds. In just moments, we're going to talk to a top advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we're going to ask exactly what happened.

Stay with us.