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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Now: Flares, Explosions In Gaza; Jewish Cemetery In Vienna Set On Fire, Desecrated With Swastikas; Israel Reservists Turn From Protesting Netanyahu's Judicial Reforms To Joining The Fight Against Hamas. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And that's where A.I. comes in. It was used to isolate Lennon's voice for a demo track for a 2021 docuseries, and voila, a new Beatles track was born. In my humble opinion --

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: We'd like to know it.

SANCHEZ: Maybe best left on the cutting room floor. What do you think?

DEAN: It is slow.


DEAN: It does not have a fast pace. But that's okay.

SANCHEZ: It does not, it does not.

DEAN: Yeah, the only -- I feel like we keep getting new music.


DEAN: As the technology improves.

SANCHEZ: And we'll likely see much more of it coming soon.

Jessica, thanks so much for being with us this week.

DEAN: Thanks for having me.

SANCHEZ: You'll be back tomorrow, right?

DEAN: OK, yeah.

SANCHEZ: All right. We'll see you then.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington, D.C. in for Jake Tapper. WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel.

It's now 26 days after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, and tonight, the Israeli military says it is now surrounding inside very significant areas of Gaza City, and the bombardment continues to take a devastating toll on people inside of Gaza. Aid workers say Gaza hospitals cannot keep up with the amount of sick and injured patients.

We're told at least 9,000 people have been killed in Israel attacks in Gaza, that according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.

Right now U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to Israel, here where I am in Tel Aviv to make a second wartime visit, saying he will discuss, quote, concrete steps to minimize civilian casualties.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Israel has not only the right, but the obligation to defend itself. And also to take steps to try to make sure that this never happens again. We've also said very clearly and repeatedly that how Israel does this matters.


BLITZER: All right, right now, I want to go to some breaking news, major news. Look at these live pictures coming in, our cameras in Sderot, Israel, not far from Gaza. You see what's going on over there right now.

Nic Robertson is on the scene for us.

Nic, explain what we're seeing, what we're hearing. It looks like a major development unfolding. A lot of bombs are coming in.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, a significant development that begun about five minutes ago. It's significant number of flares being dropped over Gaza. What you are looking at right now is looking into the urban areas in Gaza. You're looking at rockets coming down as well into -- falling from the sky there into Gaza.

These flares in the sky are illuminating the ground because there are ground forces, IDF ground forces in Gaza, around the city of Gaza City, surrounding it now the IDF says. With small arms fire all day, have a good machine fire --



BLITZER: -- this activity that we're now seeing from your camera in Sderot, not far from Gaza, how does this activity we're seeing compared to what we've seen over the past few nights?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, the past few nights, it's not been as intense as this, we haven't seen this level of illumination. We've occasionally seen flares. We've heard heavy detonations. But as I look there, another missile, not sure what sort of missile it was, it was literally right raining down from the sky, and impact on the ground a bright flash coming up, from it.

These seem to be slightly smaller missiles.


But the area here that's being illuminated by the flares is much bigger than we've seen recently. You just saw a flash come out there, I just saw on other missile come down and impact on the ground, possibly the way that the trajectory of that missile is possibly coming from a helicopter, it's just not possible for us to say precisely at the moment.

But there is a clear focus of fire here, this firepower and the illumination being brought it appears on the edge of what I would estimate to be Gaza City. I believe I just saw a rocket actually fly to the right out of Gaza. We'll watch the right towards Ashkelon and Ashdod, see if there's any interceptions from Iron Dome, but there's a red tracer fire literally flew from Gaza to the right, which is normally from our experience here been as rocket coming out of Gaza.

I don't see any interceptions -- I'm hearing interceptions, I'm seeing the flashes from interception to missiles being fired out. So, while this is going on, here it is clear to me from where I stand right now that Hamas, or one of the other groups is firing rockets out of Gaza even while they run this heavy fire right now. I heard at least two detonations from the Iron Dome interceptor missile shield from systems that are slightly to the north of us here, intercepting those rockets flying out of the city.

What this tells us right now is the battle is having an intense moment, as the troops are trying to engage with Hamas, as they try to have illumination,, they try to use this light to get their way more safely into combat with Hamas.

Hamas, of course, and the IDF commander speak about this, Hamas is fighting on its own territory, it has set traps. It knows where its tunnels are, it knows how it can try to lead IDF troops, entice them into a certain neighborhood so that they can bring fire to bear on them.

All of this illumination here will give the IDF troops on the ground, better visibility of the threats that await them. It won't mitigate against them fully, but it is an attempt for them it appears to be able to at this moment penetrate some neighborhoods that until 15 minutes ago were in complete darkness.

You're just seeing another flash of light on the ground there as something has detonated. I'm watching another rocket system in multiple parts of second one coming down there into the city. It is -- this fire that is very concentrated -- another rocket just came down, I'm seeing the arc of the tracers after it there.

This is a very intense amount of firepower that's going down on this confined location here, Wolf. Surprising, almost surprising that Hamas was able to fire out a rocket there. I'm seeing flashes off to the north which is a hint to me, that interceptors have been fired from Iron Dome up there again, possibly another -- intercepting another rocket.

But you're seeing the flares. This oftentimes when we're watching flares that are dropped over Gaza, you will see one flare drop, two flares maybe, maybe three -- and they'll drop and it will go to darkness.

This is different. This is flare after flare after flare, illuminating this area now for, we're looking at perhaps 15 minutes now, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, it's -- just to remind our viewers of what we're seeing, this is our camera in Sderot, just outside of Gaza. We're seeing these live cameras, a massive Israeli airstrike campaign underway right now towards various targets in northern Gaza, as we can see right there.

You see all the smoke. You see the rockets coming down. This is a major new development. And we also saw some rockets coming in from Gaza towards Israel that appear to have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system. But, we are seeing this very intense system.

Nic, standby for a minute. You're not too far away from all this drama that's unfolding. It seems like a major new chapter in Israel's air campaign against Hamas targets in Gaza.

Ben Wedeman, you know Gaza well. You've been there. I've been there as well. But tell us a little. I know you're in Beirut right now, when you see these live pictures coming in of this massive Israeli airstrike assault on northern Gaza right now, what do you think?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I'm thinking is I'm -- from looking at the pictures, Nic is in Sderot, which overlooks a fairly open area that goes to the edge of the populated parts of northern Gaza. That seems to be where much of this fire, the flares, are being focused.

Now, obviously, they are trying to make sure that those areas are clear. But after those areas, you start getting into the very crowded urban parts of the Gaza Strip, the suburbs of Gaza City.


And that's where there's going to be a real danger of high civilian casualties. Now, Nic was quoting the Israeli authorities, talking about precision strikes, precise information. But what we know is that oftentimes, it's not as precise as it could be or should be.

And already, what we've seen is the death toll in Gaza well over 9,000 at this point. So, as they move forward into this populated areas, the death toll is likely to soar. Not just that, what we've seen is in the days since the ground incursion began on Friday, is that Hamas is using maximum advantage its knowledge of the terrain, its tunnels that it has been built, and booby traps, and whatnot. And therefore, this is going to be a very bloody fight all around, for

civilians, for the Israeli military, for Hamas and this is probably going to be a very long and difficult battle, street by street, house by house, perhaps even room by room.

But clearly, just looking at these pictures, they are laying down smoke, flares, there's incoming -- looks like artillery. I'm just looking at the pictures now. Artillery, rockets, and obviously there are ground troops in there as well.

So, certainly, in all of my time of watching Israeli military action going into Gaza, this looks like the most intense I've ever seen, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, you're making a very important point. This is a very intense Israeli air assault on northern Gaza right now not far away from Sderot, Israel, where Nic Robertson is just north of Israel right now.

You see these rockets coming in, pounding and pounding. Clearly, in the past when Israel has undertaken a massive air assault like this, it sets the stage for a ground invasion, that's about to come in, I suspect that's what's going to happen in this part of Gaza as well as Israeli ground troops, tanks, artillery will move in after this area is pounded with these heavy airstrikes that are ongoing right now.

We're showing our viewers live pictures of what's going on in Gaza. It is really, really intense.

Let's go back to Nic Robertson.

You are there in Sderot, Nic. You have a much better sense of what's going on. And you say you've not seen anything along these lines. Here comes some more rockets into Gaza from, presumably, Israeli planes flying overhead.

But go ahead and give us your sense of the enormity of this development right now.

ROBERTSON: Wolf, I'm standing right next to our cameraman, John Torigoe, who is filming this. We have a high vantage point overlooking Gaza.

And it looks to us as if this is on the northern edge, towards Gaza City. As Ben said, there is open ground from the border fence that you saw, or you're about to see, because I'm seeing it in real time. There's a delay. A big flash coming out from the epicenter of that smoke.

This is the biggest, most sustained use of flares. It appears, smoke as well on the ground. We have seen, in recent days, at the beginning of the incursion, how the IDF used heavy smoke to blanket the area. This is a military tactic so that they can move in unseen. We are seeing it again now.

We are seeing big flashes at the southern end of that smoke. And what the IDF is describing, this evening, is a very new situation for them, a much stronger situation for them, whereby they say they have encircled entirely Gaza City.

If they have encircled Gaza City, as they say, potentially cut the north off, the north of Gaza Strip off from the south of Gaza Strip. Potentially, meaning the Israelis now are blocking any Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip from escaping to the south.

So, you are now watching a battle, in some, ways one of the team here was just talking about it. In some ways, it is sort of medieval in that it is surrounding a city. You are seeing the smoke, and the flares, and the flash is all coming from an area that is now constrained and contained within IDF Forces.

And as Ben was saying, the civilian casualties on the ground, people have been told to get out of the way, they don't know how to get out of the way. They are stuck in their houses, they are stuck in their homes. And they are getting caught up and killed, in high numbers, during this operation.

But what we are witnessing now, our efforts by the IDF to mitigate against casualties for their own forces because they are operating in Hamas territory, territory that the Hamas troops, Hamas fighters, have been able to potentially lay booby traps, have been able to set areas where they want to draw the Israeli troops into, so that they can use these armored piercing rocket propelled grenades that they've been using effectively, against Israeli armored tanks, and armored fighting vehicles.


So, this is -- this battle, really, that we are seeing now, kicked off 20 minutes ago now, 20, 25 minutes ago. And it is intense in this area around Gaza City.

You're continuing to see the rockets come in from above, the flashes at the southern end of the city. Underneath this, we don't know how many IDF forces are actually on the ground.

The boom that you are hearing, that's artillery going off behind me as well. It's probably what is causing the flashes that you may be seeing on the left of your picture. I saw another flash there at the northern end of Gaza Strip just now.

But these -- that looks like something coming up out of Gaza. A rocket that didn't go far, perhaps it fell short. But anything that comes up from the ground is most likely, from a center, that's mostly fired up by Hamas or another group inside of Gaza. Anything that is coming out of the sky like this, rocket right now, that will be coming down from Israeli aircraft. Or, potentially, from artillery fired in, Wolf.

BLITZER: And this helps explain why the Israelis have been telling people in northern Gaza, get out of there, go to the south because that northern Gaza area is going to be a major target, and we see right now an enormous Israeli airstrike against various targets right now in northern Gaza, not far from the Israeli border, not far from Sderot, where Nic Robertson is standing by.

I want to get some analysis right now. These are very dramatic pictures. You see all these rockets come in in northern Gaza, right now they are about to hit. We'll just watch this for another second now. You can see the flames coming up after these rockets hit the ground.

Vali Nasr is joining us right now. He's a professor of Middle East studies and international affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., my alma mater.

Professor, thanks so much for joining us.

As we always say, I wish we were meeting under different circumstances. What's your reaction? You see these pictures. You see what's going on. It's truly extraordinary, this new phase in this war that's going on between Israel, and Hamas.

You're an expert on the area. Give us your analysis.

VALI NASR, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EAST STUDIEST, JOHNS HOPKINS: So, militarily, you've described it very well. It's a major operation, it's perhaps the next phase in this war that Israel is actually encircling Gaza City and is preparing for taking over the city, and fighting and flushing Hamas out of it.

But interestingly, it's coming at a time when President Biden called for a pause, and Secretary Blinken has said that he's going to Israel to seek humanitarian pause in this conflict, and it's difficult to look at these pictures and at this stage that the fighting is to see how that pause can happen. I mean, Israel is obviously escalating right now, it's unlikely to back down until the job is done.

And it's difficult to see that if they now entered the face of capturing Gaza, how that pause can come about, which means that the humanitarian sets of issues, and the pressures that the United States is facing in terms of how to manage this conflict and the fallout around the region is going to be all that much more difficult.

BLITZER: You, know it's interesting, Professor, and you're a real scholar, you know this area well. My own sense when I see the intensity of this Israeli air assault on northern Gaza right now, I think it's also designed not only to set the stage for a ground assault into Gaza by Israel, but it's also designed to send a powerful message potentially to Hezbollah in Lebanon and even to Iran right now. You guys start up from there, what Hamas is doing in Gaza, Israel is going to do to you in Lebanon right now. And to give them some second third or fourth thoughts about expanding this war.

What's -- what's your sense of that?

NASR: That's absolutely true, I think for the very beginning, particularly because the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence were caught off guard by the attack on October 7th, Israel has been very determined to send a message to the region that it's still strong, and it's willing to inflict a great deal of pain if it is attacked.

However, this, the Israeli military campaign has also had a tremendous amount of impact in terms of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza civilian deaths, which is playing out in the Arab streets in a very, very big way. It's very difficult to appreciate from far away the degree of anger and anguish in the region, and that in itself is a concern for the United States, and also the United States allies because it could destabilize governments in Egypt, in Jordan, across the region.


And right now, it looks like the humanitarian catastrophe is perhaps the greatest reason why this conflict may actually escalate. So, whether the United States and Israel are trying to warn everybody in the region not to escalate, on the other hand, the pressure on the region for escalation including with Hezbollah and Iran, but also across the Arab world comes from the pictures that are playing out among the public. So, you know, that's part of the complexity.

That's why the United States feels that's too prevents escalation of this conflict in the region, it has to come to Israel and try to seek some kind of humanitarian pause because the two pictures we have our seen are conflicting to one another. It's very difficult to maintain peace in this region, prevent the escalation if the cost of Israeli destruction of Hamas is going to be thousands of Palestinians that are killed, because that is really inflaming the region in ways that it can get out of control.

BLITZER: This is a nonstop Israeli air assault on various targets in northern Gaza that we're seeing live here on CNN. This is our camera showing the world what's going on, and this camera is in southern Israel, not far from Gaza in Sderot, where Nic Robertson is.

Professor Vali Nasr, I want you to stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN military analyst, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton, for some analysis from him as well.

You see these pictures, Colonel, do you think? I mean, this is a pretty dramatic development. It looks like a whole new phase in what's going on in this war.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, that's potentially right, Wolf, and what you're seeing is something that would be possible when you have the beginning of an air campaign. Now, in this particular case, we've had a lot of activity from the Israelis through the last week or so, and this is an escalation of that.

As far as the type of weapons that they are using, you know, it looks like they are using various types of precision guided munitions. Potentially there is also potentially some artillery there, but Nic Robertson has a closer view obviously than I do. As we're looking at, this there's some very key elements that seem to be part of the air campaign, Wolf, and that air campaign is clearly designed to not only soften up the target, but in this case really make it impossible for the Hamas fighters to stay in their positions. It seems to be part of the effort to encircle Gaza City which seems to

be the Israeli plan right now.

BLITZER: And very quickly, Colonel, my recollection from covering the Iraq war was before the U.S. sent ground troops in, and they would launch a very detailed, very intense air assault to set the stage, whether in Fallujah, whether in Mosul or other places. Is that what we're seeing now, what Israel's doing, setting the stage for an intense ground assault on various targets in northern Gaza?

LEIGHTON: That is highly likely. In fact I think that's exactly what we're seeing right now. It reminds me a bit of what happened in Baghdad when we did the shock and awe phase of the Second Iraq War, this is very similar to that. It might be a little bit less than, scale but still pretty intense when you are on the ground in an area like that, you definitely realize that you are enveloped by a lot of firepower at that point.

BLITZER: Yeah, certainly is a lot of firepower right now, live pictures that we are showing our viewers in northern Gaza right now, an intense amount of air assault against various targets in northern Gaza.

Everybody, standby. Vali Nasr, standby. Nic Robertson, Ben Wedeman, Colonel Leighton -- everybody, standby. We're going to continue to cover the breaking news, a major new development that's unfolding right now. We'll have more for live breaking news coverage right after this.



BLITZER: We're back live here in Israel.

We are watching all of the breaking news unfold, very dramatic, dramatic and powerful images. You can see major explosions and flares seen over northern Gaza right now. Israel's air assault is nonstop. It's been going on for over half an hour.

CNN's Nic Robertson is on the ground for us in Sderot, Israel, very close to Gaza. It's our camera from where you are Nic that's showing the world what's going on right there. For viewers who may just be tuning in, walk us through what we are all seeing now.

ROBERTSON: Yes, Wolf, this is our cameraman John Torigoe, he makes filming into Gaza into Hamas-controlled area in Gaza. We believe that this is the town of Beit Hanoun, it's about two and a half miles from where we are standing right now, and what appears to be happening is that the IDF has been on the outside of this very dense urban environment, it appears to be making some kind of assault on it. It's been on the relatively heavy air assault for the past three weeks, but now we have witnessed a lot of layers coming down for about half an hour.

Those flares we have seen coming down now we have not witnessed a number of players illuminating the area like this for such a sustained period in the almost for weeks now that we have been here in Sderot, watching the IDF forces in action in Gaza. So, this is different, there appears to be a smokescreen on the ground as well. It all appears to indicate that the IDF is trying to sort of move forces in and around Beit Hanoun.

Earlier this evening, the IDF said that they had now surrounded the larger nearby city of Gaza City. That's about six and a half miles from where we're standing. That's a little bit to the south of Beit Hanoun, that they had surrounded that, indicating almost that they have potentially cut off the northern part of Gaza Strip from the southern part of Gaza Strip.

That the activity has eased off now, but we've been watching not only flares, not only smokescreens on the ground. I'm hearing fighter jets. We're still seeing huge flashes and illuminations.

So if I'm hearing a fighter jets, we'll probably hear the explosions momentarily from those flashes. That's very likely missiles that are being dropped in and around that area right now. We've been hearing artillery fire, booming coming from positions around, them behind us landing in Gaza City.

We've also seen in the midst of all of this, Wolf, we have seen Hamas fire rockets out of Gaza City. We've heard the Iron Dome, and seeing them interceptors take it down what appeared to be two rockets being fired out of Gaza.

What is happening precisely on the ground right now, we do not know. But the IDF has described this area is the enemies stronghold, that the Hamas there has effectively been using armor piercing rocket propelled grenades, fired at tank crews and infantry troops in armored fighting vehicles, the IDF by the day's been slowly notching up the death toll of troops. This is a very, very dangerous conflict. Not just for the IDF, let's remember, Wolf, there are many civilians in there right now, in fear, suffering, as they have been caught unfortunately, as the IDF would say, collateral damage in this ongoing offensive against Hamas.

BLITZER: Yes, that is very important development indeed, and we did see some rockets missiles and whatever coming towards wherever you are in Israel, from Gaza, presumably Hamas trying to send some as well, but these were intercepted by the Iron Dome once they got close to Israel. We can show some pictures of that is well if we want.

These are dramatic pictures. You see the Israeli air assault and Gaza still continuing. Take a look at this. This is just a few moments ago, what was going on on the ground in northern Gaza, these are pictures coming in from our camera in Sderot where Nic Robertson is.

Ben Wedeman, you know this area, well you know Gaza, well you know northern Gaza while. Give us your sense of these dramatic images that we are all seeing.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's important to point out that this is Beit Hanoun, which as Nic mentioned is the first town on your left-hand side when you're driving towards Gaza City. Now, this is oftentimes a town that's very much in the front line and oftentimes, early on when there's a flare up between Israel and Gaza, many of the people lead that town because it's very dangerous.

But, nonetheless, it's really, if you take into account the difficulty as an invading force of going through this town because there's a lot more ahead of you before you actually get to Gaza City. So, this is really just the first step and what is going to be a very bloody and difficult battle for the Israelis, but let's not forget the civilians who are really caught in the middle, and watching what's going on, hearing that the Israelis have encircled Gaza City, I'm reminded of what happened here in Beirut in 1982.

Israeli surrounded west Beirut, they had control of the sea and air and all the entrance and exits to the city. But they were very hesitant to go inside because of the difficulty of urban warfare, where your advantage in terms of armor for instance is oftentimes reduced because of the difficulty of maneuvering, and narrow streets, refugee camps particularly here in Beirut in 1982.

So it's difficult to say how far the Israelis are going to go, how far they're going to want to go given the problems they -- the challenges they can encounter as they go in to really build up areas. Beit Hanoun compared to other parts of Gaza is relatively un-crowded, and therefore this is really just the first step in 1,000-mile journey -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And while I have you, Ben, because you're over there in Lebanon watching all of this unfold, you know the region, you know the area, a lot of experience. I had a briefing today with the senior Israeli military officer who made it clear that Israel is watching very closely, Hezbollah in Lebanon right now backed by Iran to see if they're going to try to launch a second front against Israel right now, the first being Israel-Hamas.


If they do that, the Israelis are making it very, very clear, they're going to pound those targets in Lebanon like they're pounding Gaza right now. We expect a major speech from the leader of Hezbollah tomorrow, right?

WEDEMAN: Yes, at 3:00 local, 3:00 p.m. local time tomorrow, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, is going to give a much anticipated speech. He has not spoken at all until now. And the expectation is looking at images like this, it's that perhaps this is going to be a speech that's going to be coming down hard, and will really give an indication of where this conflict is going as far as Lebanon is concerned -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, and the Israelis are making it clear that if they start up second front from Lebanon, Israel is going to do to them what they're doing to Hamas right now. They're sending a very powerful message that we're watching right now. Everyone, stand by. We're going to stay on top of the breaking news.

We're going to continue our special coverage. Much more right after this.



BLITZER: We're back live here in Israel where, in the past half hour or so, we've seen extremely dramatic images of major explosions and flares over Gaza. They continue for about half an hour. These are picture of from just a little while ago.

We're following all these major developments that are unfolding, it comes at a time when Egyptian border officials say more than 340 foreign nationals actually entered Egypt from southern Gaza earlier today.

President Biden says that includes 74 U.S. citizens. Two of them you have come to know here on the lead over the past few weeks. We're watching all of this -- we're watching all of this unfold very dramatic developments.

We followed these two -- they were desperate to try to get out of Gaza. Abood Okal, his wife Wafa, and their one year old son Yousef are now in Egypt, presumably about to make their way back to the United States. Abood's sister, Haneen Okal, and her three children are also fortunately out of Gaza. Finally, they were so desperate to get out.

While hundreds of foreign nationals are making their way out of Gaza, millions of folks in Gaza simply can't leave, including the 242 hostages these really defense forces say are there, taken by Hamas during the terrorist strike against Israel.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more what we saw earlier today inside of Gaza before sundown. Watch.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The victims of Jabalia, victimized yet again. Some of the survivors of Israel's bombardment took shelter here, a U.N. school, home to be cut down, desperate moments after in Israeli strike nearby showed on social media.

This is one of four schools and Gaza impacted by strikes in the 24- hour period, the U.N. said, in total, housing some 20,000 displaced people. Many of them frightened young children. What did we do, this boy cries, we did nothing wrong.

The living conditions in these shelters are unbearable, but families come here for safety. That too is gone.

Bring me my son, bring me my son, this father screams. It's unclear if his child is dead or alive. Three straight days of airstrikes in Jabalia have brought horror and

bloodshed. CNN has reached out to the idea for comment on the latest attacks. Israel says it is targeting Hamas infrastructure in this densely populated residential area. And it says it killed a senior Hamas commander with the strike on Tuesday.

But with scores of civilians believed, killed the U.N. Human Rights Council warns what you see here are disproportionate attacks that could amount to a war crime. Gazans don't understand why the world can't stop this.

We keep pulling out bodies, small children, women. It is a catastrophe, this man says. If the countries of the world had any shame, we would not be in the situation.

And more suffering is all but certain. Israeli troops are inching closer, and as ground forces backed by near constant air raids move towards central Gaza, the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians hang in the balance.

The IDF has warned all residents in the north of the strip to leave, an order deemed inhumane and impossible by the United Nations, so many remain in the crossfire.

Where is the world? This woman screams. Her children are being torn up before our eyes. And with the death toll mounting, pressure is growing on the U.S. and Israel to stem the violence.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


BLITZER: Salma, thank you very much for that report.

I want to go back to Washington right now. Pamela Brown is going to pick up our coverage.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Yeah, thank you for that, Wolf.

Just ahead, a rare moment of unity today between Jews, Christians and Muslims as the war between Hamas and Israel starts ugly moments of hate.



BROWN: A moment of unity today in Atlanta between three faith groups, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. They called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Unity is fleeting elsewhere in the U.S., and around the world, though.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is in Vienna. So, Fred, what more can you tell us about this recent rise of antisemitism in Europe?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things that we're seeing here, Pamela, is that the Jewish communities around Europe, but especially here in the central part of the Europe, they certainly feel increasingly vulnerable as they put it, after a string of antisemitic incidents and antisemitic attacks.

And I'm here in Vienna right now, because there was another one at a cemetery which is the Jewish part of the central cemetery here in Vienna where the cemetery was desecrated, but there was also an arson attack that destroyed a ceremonial hall, and destroyed some really important scriptures.

I spoke to the chief rabbi here. Here's what he had to say.



JARON ENGELMAYER, CHIEF RABBI: I think it takes up an aspect to times where the books were burned and it is an attack on the spiritual values of the religion and of humanity, which happened here. It goes into the antisemitism of our times here. This room was burned last time in '38, by the Nazis. One week from now on, and we have the 9th of November, the day where the synagogues were burning down all over Germany and Austria, and this takes us back to darkest times.


PLEITGEN: So, some pretty troubling events that unfolded here in Austria. In fact, the Austrian Jewish community is very small, it's only about 10,000 to 13,000 people. But they say that they've seen a 300 percent increase in antisemitic incidents, Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.

Up next, a group of former soldiers uniting to protest reforms by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Jake Tapper shows us how their actions have stepped up after the Hamas attacks on October 7th.



BROWN: One group of former soldiers in Israel initially formed to protest Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, claiming it was too right-wing and a danger to national security. And they even vowed not to serve in the Israeli reserves. Well, that was until October 7th.

As Jake Tapper reports from his time in Israel, they are emerging as a key relief organization.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": It was a campaign largely led by the nonprofit organization Brothers in Arms, formed by members of the Israeli army reserves, including this man, special forces veteran Ayel Nave. They were convinced Netanyahu was threatening Israel's very democracy.

In addition to acts of protest and civil disobedience, Brothers in Arms got around 10,000 members of the reserves to pledge to stop serving.

And then, came October 7th.

The reservists reported for duty. And on a dime, Brothers in Arms became one of the biggest nonprofits in Israel, helping those in need.

This is Lee Moser, Ayel's partner and a tech investor.

LEE MOSER, VOLUNTEER, BROTHERS IN ARMS: We have a few hundreds here, and about 15,000 people on the fields, from the place of the evacuating people in El'ad, in the Dead Sea, in Netanya, in Tel Aviv. You have more than 150,000 people, that are evacuated from their homes, and soldiers on the field, that need help, that need food, that their clothes to be washed.

TAPPER: The organization has grown so big, in fact, the today it is moving through this much bigger office, where individual teams are assigned to address every need that arises, an epicenter of aid, coordinating logistics, communications, the deployment of volunteer teams, and much more.

MOSER: And you see, you see people that are religious and nonreligious, left, right, all working together.

TAPPER: All while donations continue to roll into this expansive, underground garage, safe from Hamas rockets.

Spokeswoman Gili Brenner walk us through.

GILI BRENNER, SPOKESPERSON, BROTHERS IN ARMS: This is the light, that we can contribute, against the darkness of Hamas. This is really the beautiful side of this nightmare, of this really dark period we are in.

TAPPER: Moser is reluctant to engage in the politics of it all.

And a lot of people were warning at the time, that Netanyahu was getting so distracted with what he was trying to do, with the judiciary, that he was taking his eye off the ball from his number one task, which was keeping the country safe.

MOSER: What we feel is right for our country, is to focus on the present, helping the people, helping the IDF to win. And believe me, there will be time that we'll gather again, and speak about the future change, and how we want our country to look like, from a different perspective and from, you know, a citizens perspective. TAPPER: But Ronen Koehler, a 40-year veteran of the Israeli navy,

submariner, and one of the original members of Brothers at Arms -- well, he has no such issue.

What you are doing now is obviously different. Are you still's fighting for Israel, just in a different way?

RONEN KOEHLER, MEMBER, BROTHERS IN ARMS: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that, the interesting thing is that -- you would never imagine that this would be kind of the -- the disruptive event that would make us continue, and building, or rebuilding, or re-fixing the Israeli society. I think the key here is that the whole -- the whole social infrastructure was already in place

TAPPER: To Koehler, every single thing about October 7th, and since illustrates the failures of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the righteousness of brothers in arms, including what they see as the Israeli government's inability to care for its own people, a void of brothers in arms is trying to fill by helping people find jobs.

KOEHLER: Pretty much, all of his decisions are proven wrong. Even his kind of his neo-liberal, economical approach, is now showing this total miscalculation, because, we don't have governmental offices who can support, you know, the south because everything was somehow privatized.

The market would take the place of -- would do its job. It's not. And so we have tens of thousands of people that we are not supporting.


TAPPER (on camera): So, are these efforts by Brothers in Arms getting under Prime Minister Netanyahu's skin? Well, the chief of staff to the prime minister's wife was suspended for 14 days this week for some rather nasty Facebook posts she made, against Brothers in Arms, and some other groups. Quite frankly, how could Netanyahu not see Brothers in Arms as a serious threat?

Jake Tapper, CNN, Tel Aviv.

BROWN: Our coverage picks up now with Wolf in "THE SITUATION ROOM" live from Tel Aviv.