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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Hundreds Believed Dead In Gaza Hospital Blast; Biden En Route To Israel As Tensions Rise Over Hospital Blast; Protests Break Out Across Mideast After Gaza Hospital Blast; Journalists Carl Bernstein And Rula Jebreal Weigh In On How Leaders Deal With The War Situation In Israel; Congressman Jim Jordan Scrambles For Votes After 20 Republican Defections Jeopardized His Bid To Become House Speaker; Former Ohio State University Wrestler Will Knight Comments On Congressman's Jim Jordan's Character. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: CNN's coverage from Israel continues. CNN Newsnight with Abby Phillip starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: The horror of war takes a dramatic turn that suddenly changes the American president's trip to a dangerous and unpredictable war zone. That's tonight on Newsnight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip. We begin with another tipping point in an already volatile crisis in the Middle East. Hundreds are reported dead after a hospital was bombed in Gaza. The number of casualties is not yet clear and neither is responsibility. Hamas and Palestinian officials accuse Israel of carrying out an airstrike. The Israelis, though, say that they have evidence to prove that it was a misfired rocket from a terror group.

I'm going to take a moment to show you the video from the scene. It is extremely graphic, but it's important to see the reality on the ground.

As fingers point, what's clear is that innocent civilians and children, you saw them there, are caught in this crossfire of a conflict that we have to remind you began with a devastating attack on Israelis.

Now, again, the images that I'm about to show you of this scene at that hospital today are extremely graphic. A toddler here, bloodied, being carried in a man's arms, a group of adults urgently caring for someone on the ground behind him, another little boy, also bloodied in bandages, being rushed through the crowd, seeking help. A teenager, wounded, blood splattered along the walls behind him. It's, of course, unclear if that blood belongs to him. And young girls traumatized in the middle of a chaotic triage scene, one with Minnie Mouse on her T- shirt.

President Biden tonight says that he is outraged by these scenes. He is right now on his way to Israel for a high-stakes trip in the middle of this war. But due to this hospital strike, his plans are now falling apart. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled his meeting with Biden and Jordan has as well. The next few minutes and hours will be critical in what may be another turning point for this region.

My CNN colleagues are standing by all around the world in Israel, in Jordan, one of the places where protests are erupting tonight and at the White House.

I want to start first, though, with CNN's Anderson Cooper who is on the ground in Tel Aviv. Anderson, we're seeing this horrific video tonight of that deadly hospital blast. Hundreds of people are believed to be dead, countless others injured. What do we know about what happened there and what are Israeli officials saying tonight?

COOPER: Yes, I mean, as you were showing, what occurred there in that blast is horrific. Children, toddlers, women, men, hundreds are believed dead. Many more may still be buried in rubble at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.

Now according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry, we should point out the hospital not only had patients and doctors and nurses inside, but thousands of displaced people outside in the surrounding areas outside compounding the loss of life. And, again, we do not know how many people were killed.

One photojournalist who has covered -- who has witnessed many moments like this, one telling The New York Times tonight that, quote, there were so many bodies that I couldn't even photograph, the journalist said.


Many more of the wounded were taken to Al-Shifa Hospital nearby, which as you know, Abby, is a hospital which is already at capacity and operating under very difficult circumstances.

Now, the number of dead and wounded was so great, there was reportedly almost no room for the medics at that hospital.

Another reporter who witnessed the initial wave of casualties telling The New York Times, and I'm quoting, that their bodies are now in the courtyard, the morgue freezer is full, the morgue extension is full, and now they're actually storing the bodies in the area designated for journalists.

Now, Hamas officials, they are blaming Israel for the blast. Israel categorically denies that they had anything to do with it. They are saying a failed rocket launched by the group Islamic Jihad fell short landing by the hospital. They say they have evidence that multiple rockets were being fired by Islamic Jihad over the hospital, one of them fell.

An IDF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, who I just talked to in the last hour, says that the IDF has intelligence to that, that backs up that claim. We just learned the IDF is going to have a press conference at 9:00 A.M. local time here in Israel. That's about 4 hours and 15 minutes from now.

But in these early morning hours, there's a question of what difference that might make, even if the IDF presents evidence that is convincing, what difference it may make in this region. Massive protests have already erupted in Beirut, in Amman, in Baghdad, and in the West Bank.

Obviously, we're watching also the border with Lebanon and the possibility there of attacks from Hezbollah. Ben Wedeman is there for us tonight.

So, there's a lot of moving parts to this, and a lot of information that we frankly do not have answers to, but what we do know are the pictures that you showed and that just the horrible loss of life and just the sickening casualties that we're seeing.

PHILLIP: Yes, I think that's exactly right that we really don't know it. And to your point about these protests, this is a situation where the fog of war could really light a fire on an already smoldering tinderbox here in the Middle East.

What do you think is the risk here that incidents like this one could have really catastrophic impacts for the coming days and weeks in the region?

COOPER: Look, it's already derailed President Biden's plan to meet in Jordan with the Egyptian president, El-Sisi, with the King of Jordan, with Mahmoud Abbass from the Palestinian Authority. So, it has derailed a key part of the president's trip. Obviously, a big part of his trip is coming to Israel, expressing support for Israel, sending a message of support that the White House clearly wants heard in Tehran and among others in the region, Hezbollah and others.

But it's already -- you know, the IDF has said to have -- or Israeli authorities have presented evidence. Our Oren Liebermann was reporting earlier to U.S. intelligence. More evidence is supposed to be presented to President Biden, I believe, when he gets here on the ground. But as I said, there's going to be that press conference. There's no telling what the ripple effects of this may be, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes, the press conference, just to underscore what you just said, in just a few hours, potentially where Israel says it will present this evidence that it has.

Anderson, thank you so much.

And as Anderson mentioned, there are ongoing anti-Israel protests across the Middle East tonight, people angrily taking to the streets in Lebanon, in Iran, in Jordan and in Iraq, and in other countries as well, condemning the Gaza hospital blasts and laying the blame squarely on Israel and on the West.

CNN's Nada Bashir is in Amman, Jordan, right now. Nada, the protests that are exploding all across the Arab world after this hospital, including where you are in Amman, really, potentially a big source of concern. What do we know about what's happening right now?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Abby, from the outset of this war, we have seen this protest taking place in solidarity with the Palestinian people and Palestinians in Gaza across the globe, not just in the Middle East. But what we have seen tonight is a real outpouring of outrage and condemnation across this region, people taking to the streets across the region, not only in solidarity with the Palestinian people, but also, of course, outrage at that attack at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.

As you mentioned there, the blame being squarely placed on Israel for these protesters and for many Arab leaders who have accused Israel of carrying out yet another attack, in their words, on Palestinian civilians inside the besieged Gaza Strip.


Now, as you mentioned, we have seen protests taking place here in Amman, where we are. There were huge, huge crowds in this city gathering towards the Israeli embassy in Amman. In fact, some protesters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy at one point, although there was a heavy security presence, reports of tear gas being used to disperse these crowds.

But we've seen these protests taking place on an almost daily basis here in Jordan. And as you mentioned, we have seen similar protests across the region, in Lebanon, in Tunisia, in, of course, Baghdad, across Iraq and other cities, and also, in the occupied West Bank, in Ramallah, where we have seen these protests taking place. And this is going to mark a huge shift as we continue to see these movements intensify and gain in scale and in size. And, of course, as Israel's aerial bombardment of Gaza continues, as we continue to see the civilian death toll in Gaza mounting, these protests are only going to get larger.

And I cannot overstate the prevalence, the significance that the Palestinian cause holds here amongst the Arab population in a broader sense across the Middle East. So, this is a mark of concern, certainly, to see so many people taking to the streets. Whether this translates to policy amongst Arab leaders, that remains to be seen.

But as Anderson mentioned, we've already seen tomorrow's summit, which was set to be held here in Amman between King Abdullah of Jordan, President Biden, President Sisi of Egypt, and, of course, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. That has been cancelled now.

We've heard from the Jordanian foreign minister who has said that the singular focus of that meeting for Jordan was to bring an end to the war, to bring some respite and relief to Palestinians in Gaza who have been under intense, relentless aerial bombardment for and they do not feel that they're in international partners, namely Israel and the U.S., are on the same page.

Now, of course, the question is whether we continue to see protests and we are anticipating that these will continue, particularly here in Jordan, where there are already calls for a huge march on Friday. Abby?

PHILLIP: It is, Nada, 5:00 A.M. where you are. Stand by for us. We will be back with you as things develop and as dawn approaches where you are.

For a deeper dive on all of this and what it means for the tensions in the region, I want to bring in CNN Military Analyst, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General Hertling, this Al-Ahli Hospital is in the heart, it looks like, of Gaza City. Tell us about this location. This is obviously where Israel has said to civilians to evacuate. But that hospital, as we saw in those images, was chalk-full. What do we know?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, it's in the center of the most populous area of Gaza, right in the middle of Gaza City, the northernmost city. It's also, unfortunately, a place where we know Hamas has had headquarters underground in those tunnels we've been talking about for so long.

The initial strike has been horrific, the injuries, the deaths that are involved with it. But what we don't know yet, Abby, is what happened. And, immediately, the information went out on the Arab street. We're seeing the results, the strategic results in several countries that has already dismantled, potentially, President Biden's trip to try and bring a little bit of calm to the region, but it's already exploded. It is the power of information on the internet in the Arab world.

PHILLIP: I think the key thing in the hours and days ahead is to get a little closer into this map and see really what happened. Where did this rocket even come from?

I just want to show, as well, some images of the scene here of this blast. The Israelis say they have evidence that this was not their rocket. How difficult or easy is it, perhaps, to do a kind of forensic analysis of where this rocket came from and what happened at that scene?

HERTLING: Well, depending on what evidence they have, the Israelis claim they have an overhead drone film of a rocket being launched and then landing near the hospital. But you can also do what's called crater analysis, what exploded and where. And then once you do that crater analysis to see how it affected a building, a crater being from either a missile or a bomb or a rocket, you can then look for pieces of that device.

PHILLIP: Can you do that without physically being on the site?

HERTLING: No, you cannot. You can see the film from above, and I think Israel's going to show that, but they also depend on what happens with the crater and what happens with the pieces of rocket or missile that landed there.

PHILLIP: So, as we've been discussing, part of the story that is developing now is these protests. Here is Lebanon. This is where you're seeing just massive amounts of people in the streets, a tinderbox, really, for the region.


What is the risk here that an incident like this could inflame tensions? And this is the broader conflict concern that we've been talking about for days now.

HERTLING: Yes, it already has inflamed. Various region, as she just said, it's in Baghdad, it's in Tunis, it's in Lebanon, and all of those have effects that might influence the operation. They can certainly -- and especially in Lebanon, when you're talking about South Lebanon and the effect that it may have on Hezbollah.

But the other thing that's important is it is derailing President Biden's trip. It's derailing the Israeli and what they -- Israelis, what they might attempt to do, but it's also meeting the political objectives of Hamas. They have two major political objectives, and that is, number one, to kill Jews and to kill as many as they can, and number two, to discredit Israel on the world stage, to eliminate their allies, to eliminate their support. This alone is already starting to do that. You're seeing millions of people on the street throwing bombs, throwing rocks, and that's the unfortunate part of the information.

PHILLIP: Unfortunately, confusion alone works to Hamas' benefit.

HERTLING: It certainly does.

PHILLIP: General Hertling, thank you.

And stand by for us. We're going to go straight to the White House now for new reaction from President Biden on this bombing, as his trip gets thrown into chaos.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



PHILLIP: More on our breaking news tonight. President Biden right now is on his way to a region on edge just hours after the bombing of a hospital in Gaza. The trip is changing dramatically at this hour as leaders drop out as tensions rise.

I want to bring in CNN's Senior White House Correspondent M.J. Lee over at the White House for us tonight. M.J., we're already seeing the implications from this blast, including part of President Biden's trip to Jordan just being canceled. What impact are you hearing this is going to have on the diplomatic objectives that he has going into this trip?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, first of all, Abby, the president was traveling to a war zone. He and his advisers were very aware, of course, of what a volatile situation they were heading into, that events on the ground could shift very quickly. But we heard the president saying in a statement earlier this evening that he is directing his national security team to continue gathering information about that hospital blast. And we also heard National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby telling reporters on Air Force One en route to Israel that they are at least taking into account Israel's staunch denials that they were involved, that they were responsible for that deadly blast.

But you are absolutely right that this event has had the effect of really altering the president's trip to the region even before he had arrived there. The cancelation of this summit of President Biden and Arab leaders, that is a huge setback for this administration because what it effectively means is that the president is no longer going to be meeting in person, face-to-face with some of these key Arab leaders.

The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, he is not going to be seeing him in person. He's certainly not going to be seeing the president of Egypt. And we know from our reporting over the last several days just how much emphasis the president himself had placed in trying to meet with these leaders and talk to these leaders face- to-face to talk about these incredibly sensitive and complicated issues.

And I think, Abby, what this hospital blast has also done is very much sort of clarified what some of the president's top priorities are heading into this trip. For one, there's obviously the issue of trying to minimize the civilian casualties.

Very interesting that Kirby said to reporters on Air Force One that the president planned to ask some tough questions to his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And we know that he has been urging the prime minister, both in private but also in his public statements, that it is incredibly important that the Israelis adhere year to the rules of war and also just the urgency of getting humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Now, we have a situation where there are hundreds and hundreds of people desperately needing medical help when this was already a community that wasn't able to access basic necessities like food, like water, like electricity.

So, just getting this vivid and just awful visual, as the president is headed to the region, of how much is at stake and the fact that civilians are getting caught in the crossfire as the president really hopes to make some progress on these top priorities, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely. I mean, it is so critical for this White House to keep the lines of communication with the Arab world open, and tonight that has at least been postponed.

M.J. Lee, thank you.

I want to bring in now Palestinian Journalist and Foreign Policy Analyst Rula Jebreal, as well as Journalist and Author Carl Bernstein. He's covered Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But, Rula, I do want to start with you. This is a really tricky situation, but one that we should all be prepared for, right? It's going to happen again, where we don't know what happened and we may not know for some time.

But in the meantime, if there's evidence, as the Israelis say, that this was an errant terrorist rocket headed for Israel that landed in this hospital parking lot, does that even matter at this point given how it seems like the narrative has already been set?

RULA JEBREAL, JOURNALIST AND FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: I think it matters. I think they should release the information as soon as possible. But what matter is what happened, the cancelation of the meetings with King Abdullah of Jordan, with Sisi of Egypt, these are two recipients of American aid. Sisi receives $1.8 billion. This is the second recipient. The fact that three, basically, presidents decided to cancel a meeting jointly, it's not only because of the protest or what happened in Gaza, because they feel they were not heard, they feel that the president and this administration basically doesn't have a plan, and the whole plan is manage the conflict.


They've been advocating, this administration, and the Israelis privately and publicly to solve the conflict, meaning why don't you join basically with the whole Arab community and go back to the 2002 Arab initiative, which tells Israel, we are willing all jointly, willing to recognize you on one condition, basically to give Palestinians their freedoms. That initiative basically was sidelined and rejected by the Israelis, and now they decided to do with multiple Arab leaders, but not everybody.

And one of the things that Sisi actually, and it stunned me when Sisi received Blinken last week and released that video, basically, schooling Blinken, this is when I realized that even Sisi, who's very close to the Israelis, very close to the Americans, he feels the pressure. He feels that he is under stress, that his regime is threatened by this conflict.

PHILLIP: It's such an important point, because this is the challenge now for the Israelis. Arab leaders like Sisi are feeling an intense amount of pressure. It's exacerbated when things like the hospital attack happen. It's exacerbated when Israel says we might cut off food, water, et cetera. Does Israel recognize that that is an impediment to their objectives in this war?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's the right question. And today, people I talk to who are close to the White House, as well as people who have worked in this part of the world as diplomats for many, many years, they're saying that the tectonic plates have shifted today because of the event at the hospital, whoever is responsible.

And the situation now is that the leaders of the Arab world, who you were just referring to, they're now under enormous pressure, because they don't want these demonstrations. The demonstrations until now have been modest in size, that's where we left off you and I on Friday, I said watch these demonstrations. And now they don't want to put down these demonstrations of their own people.

And so now this is all loose. It has been loosened, unleashed by what happened today, whoever the responsibility is, but already there was a building humanitarian catastrophe visible to anyone of any political belief could watch on television and see this land, this tight landmass with 2 million people and nowhere to go.

So, now, the tectonic plates, as it was said to me today, they've shifted and it also means that Biden has to come up with a different agenda for his trip. And that's the next question. I know a little bit about what's happening.

PHILLIP: I do wonder, though, I mean, watching the White House navigate this, they are treading extremely carefully. They have the evidence that Israel says it has. And yet on Air Force One, Kirby didn't really touch it. What do you make of how they've approached dealing with this particular bombing that is the potential lighter on top of the fire?

JEBREAL: Look, the White House understands that last week alone, Israel dropped 6,000 bombs, understands that this is the amount of bombs that America dropped in Afghanistan or in Raqqa in one year. So, they understand that when you basically -- they understand that Israelis are emotional in this moment and maybe traumatized and they're being led by their anger and fear. And in that volatile situation, there might be evidence that actually it might be Israel. But also --

BERNSTEIN: The trauma is real and justified.

JEBREAL: Trauma and anger, of course, nobody's denying that. And the pain, I mean, they understand that. In the same time, they also understand, and in the past, Israel committed certain crimes and denied them, (INAUDIBLE) last year in 2009, when they bombed basically Lebanon, they denied it and evidence suggested that they did it. But also, we remember the three children walking on in Gaza, on the beach. They strike them with a missile. We had a journalist, an American journalist that filmed it. They denied and then they admitted.

So, you know, they don't trust completely. I think, you know, that this cannot turn out to be an Israeli strike. For now, we don't know because we have no eyes on the grounds. We have nobody to confirm anything.

PHILLIP: You were talking about, Carl, the American objective, the Biden objective for this trip, but just in general, shifting here. Where do you think it stands tonight?

BERNSTEIN: First of all, I don't think we're here to adjudicate the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

It's been ongoing since early in the 20th century and even farther back than that. But we've got a situation today in which the world as we know it, in this crucial part of the world is in danger of blowing up.


And we have certain players, especially President Biden, especially Netanyahu, especially the Arab leaders who are all trying in their different way to deal with this situation. And in terms of what Biden had intended, people I talked to today who are very close to the White House, he had intended to go with a strong message to Netanyahu of restraint in terms of the military campaign. Get in, get out as quickly as possible. It's going to be terrible.

But the idea of trying to keep the Israelis from going into Gaza, that was not really going to be on the table, according to the people. Well, that's tonight. So, tonight I talked to some of the same people I've been talking to all along. And they're saying, look, they don't know. They haven't talked to the President about it in the last 12 hours. But the agenda has got to change.

And is it a far-off fantasy of perhaps changing the order of things to try and achieve a ceasefire first? Is that a possibility? People I think are looking at it. And also, there's a change in the journalism in Israel.

That there are a lot of journalists in Israel, at "Haaretz", other places, that are saying we need to come up with a ceasefire. There's a piece in "The New Yorker" by the editor David Remnick that puts this whole situation in a different humane context. So, things are moving.

JEBREAL: It will not be enough, Carl. I'm sorry to say that.

BERSNSTEIN: No, I'm not saying that it would be.

JEBREAL: What "The Arab Street" is telling you today --


JEBREAL: -- that even a ceasefire will not be enough. Only a political solution, because there's no military solution.

BERNSTEIN: I think every sentient person believes there has to be a political solution in the long run and --

JEBREAL: Not in the long run. Now. Because to go back to the status quo, that's why we are here. We had the five wars. We had endless, you know, 17-year siege. We had basically one attack after one attack.

BERNSTEIN: You have to have a ceasefire first. You can't have this discussion.

JEBREAL: But the objective will have to be a solution, I hope.

PHILLIP: Neither of you. I mean, I just -- to note, the Israelis are talking almost exclusively about eradicating Hamas.

BERNSTEIN: That's exactly right.

PHILLIP: Both of you are having actually a different conversation.

BERNSTEIN: Well, what I'm suggesting is that there are some people close to this who are wondering whether the conversation might change because of these tectonic plates that have shifted and people are in the streets in a way that the Arab leaders in particular now have to pay attention to for their own objectives.

PHILLIP: Yeah, it's a really interesting point. We have to leave it there. Carl Bernstein and Rula Jebreal, thank you both very much. A really important conversation that we will continue. But ahead for us, FBI Director Christopher Wray is vowing tonight to protect American citizens as violence engulfs the Middle East and as protesters take to the streets across the region. They're blaming Israel and the West for the deadly Gaza hospital blast.




CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are all following very closely the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the numerous tragedies that have unfolded there and we remain laser focused on protecting the citizens of all our countries.


PHILLIP: That's FBI Director Christopher Wray moments ago stressing that intelligence agencies are keeping a close eye on the rising tensions in the Middle East as anti-Israel protests spread in response to the horrific, hospital blast in Gaza earlier today. Joining me now is CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe.

He's the former Deputy Director of the FBI. Andrew, thanks for being here. We've been talking all night about these demonstrations and the concern that they're causing, not just in the region, but here in the United States. What are U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring right now?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Abby, here in the homeland, our intelligence or domestic intelligence agency, so that's the FBI and DHS, are very closely monitoring streams of intelligence to try to stay ahead of threats that might develop here.

And that could be folks who are affiliated with or inspired by Hamas or other terrorist organizations who desire to strike out here in the United States to -- in, you know, unity with what they see is happening overseas.

It could be people who are striking back against Muslims in some sort of an effort to make a stand for, against what's happened to the Israelis. And so, there's a very toxic kind of mixture of emotions and motivations that goes behind that. And so, the Bureau is watching that very closely. At the same time, they're trying to ensure that they have strong

connections into the local faith-based communities to understand what sort of things folks are seeing on the ground and to let them know about threats that they might see in the community. And that's just here in the homeland. What's happening overseas is an entirely separate story.

PHILLIP: Yeah, we're also learning tonight that the NYPD is ordering all of its officers to report in uniform and be prepared for deployment. They're anticipating potential demonstrations in New York City. In these major cities, but especially in New York, what do you think is happening right now?

MCCABE: You know, Abby, people are reacting to what they're seeing and depending on where they are on that spectrum of ideology and religious faith, they are reacting in different ways. You know, obviously, we have a long tradition in this country of people gathering together and speaking their minds and exercising their first amendment rights.


So, institutions like the NYPD and other major city police departments have a responsibility to ensure that those acts of First Amendment expression are able to take place, but in a way that's safe and doesn't create a danger to the community.

That's really not so much of an FBI responsibility, but the Bureau watches the development of those activities very closely to understand if people that they're already aware of, who are already on their radar, people who might be subjects of investigation for other reasons, might be present in those peaceful demonstrations and have a desire to turn things violent or to start the sorts of problems that our NYPD colleagues are there to solve.

PHILLIP: Yeah, no question that tonight everyone seems to be on edge as the story develops. Andrew McCabe, thank you for joining us tonight.

MCCABE: Thanks.

PHILLIP: And just in, new satellite imagery that shows what it looked like before the explosion at the hospital in Gaza. Stand by for that.



PHILLIP: Tensions are high across the Middle East following the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital. Hundreds of people are believed to be dead. And tonight, we have new satellite images showing this hospital before that blast.

Back with me is CNN Military Analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hurtling, here is the Al-Ali compound before the blast. And we believe that over here in this area is where the hospital was. HERTLING: Right. Well, and the indicators are what we are told, Abby, right now is this is the hospital, not sure of that yet, and I'm not an overhead imagery specialist. But allegedly, whatever hit that caused the explosion hit in the parking lot. That tells you a lot.

Depending on what you believe, if it was a rocket that went awry, if the rocket motor failed, and there are indicators that the Israelis have evidence of that. The rocket would travel a little bit further and then not have any kind of guidance system, so it just drops out of the sky. And that happens a lot with some of the Iranian rockets that Hamas has been firing.

If it was an Israeli bomb, it was probably a precision weapon, so it would have struck the target it hit at and not at a parking lot beside it. But again, part of the crater analysis, what you can tell by a hole in the ground, what kind of explosives cause things, damage in to the hospital and the blast would all be important at that point.

PHILLIP: That's fascinating. And that parking lot right there becomes critically important. That is where the Israelis say the bomb dropped. We'll find out more potentially when we see some of that evidence that they say is coming. General Mark Hertling, thank you.

And up next for us, as Jim Jordan faces a second round of voting tomorrow in his fight for the speakership, Republicans are touting his credentials as a wrestling coach. A former Ohio State wrestler says Jordan ignored abuse allegations against the team's doctor, and he is my guest, next.



PHILLIP: Tonight, Congressman Jim Jordan is scrambling for votes after 20 Republican defections jeopardized his bid to become House Speaker. Now, while nominating Jordan for the job, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik's remarks prompted an audible response from some members of Congress. Listen.


ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY), REPRESENTATIVE: Whether on a wrestling match or in a committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough, and principled. He is a mentor, a worker, and above all, he is a fighter. And the American people know, we know, that Jim Jordan is a winner on behalf of the American people.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is former Ohio State University wrestler Will Knight. He's one of multiple former OSU wrestlers who have accused Jim Jordan of ignoring. molestation allegations against the team's Dr. Richard Strauss when Jordan was the team's assistant coach.

Now, Knight came forward with his allegations to the team's coaching staff a year after Jordan left the university. Congressman Jordan's office says in a statement, quote, "Chairman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse and if he had, he would have dealt with it."

Thank you for joining us, Will. At first, I want to just get your reaction to what we just played from Congresswoman Stefanik. His past wrestling coach credentials being cited in a nominating speech on the House floor.

WILL KNIGHT, FORMER OHIO STATE WRESTLER: Well, thanks for having me, Abby. The funny thing is that when people always call Jim Jordan a fighter, and I always wonder who he's fighting for, because he had a real opportunity to fight for us and the people that he coached and the people that he recruited at the Ohio State.

And all he's done is just turned his back on us. So, I don't know what the fighter thing is. I know he used to be a fighter. I know he used to be a good wrestler, but he's not a good fighter for anyone else that I know of.

PHILLIP: You spent a lot of time with Jim Jordan throughout your college wrestling career. He recruited you. Why do you believe that he is not the right person to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives?

Well, all I know is he's just a different person. I was a tryout walk- on at the Ohio State, and he was the guy who kind of did well this tournament. He said, I'm going to talk to the head coach for you. I'm going to give you an opportunity. And they gave me an opportunity to get onto the team. I was a walk-on. And he's changed since.

He was -- I understood his Christian values at the time. I understood his conservative values, and I was on a different end of the spectrum with him, but we still could agree to disagree. We could talk about things. We could debate things. And he's lost that. Like he -- and I don't know where that's come from.

But it's pretty sad because all he has become is divisive. And it shows with our lawsuit and our group because he's done nothing but help divide our group as well from teammates who, you know, haven't come forward or people who, you know, still believe that he's a fighter or they don't want to turn on him. And it's just quite unfortunate what he's become.

PHILLIP: What do you say to his colleagues, Jim Jordan's colleagues on Capitol Hill, who might say, look, first of all, these are allegations that have not been proven or substantiated. And what does this have to do with his ability to function on Capitol Hill? What would you say to them if they asked you those questions?

KNIGHT: Well, it's quite comical, but it's also sad because the common person just sees the little clips of him and me being in Ohio and coaching in Ohio. It's tough here because there's people who believe in him and there's people who believe in the BSA spewing and how he presents himself.

And you know, I guess if you want to fool people and if that's what they do up on the Hill, he's, you know, I guess that's what he's good at. Like I said, it's just disappointing because he still has an opportunity to do right by us.

He has an opportunity to help us out, to help us remedy this thing with Ohio State, and he chooses not to do it with hundreds of athletes that he was associated with that as a coach you're just supposed to help protect and mentor into manhood. I just don't understand where this guy has come from.

PHILLIP: All right, Will Knight, thank you very much for joining us. Thanks for having me, O.H. (ph).

PHILLIP: And up next, more on our breaking news out of the Middle East, as President Biden is just hours away from arriving in the war zone.



PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "News Night". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Laura, tough day in the news, a tense moment for the Middle East and the story continues. I know you'll be covering all the different angles of it on your show in the next hour.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: It's really unbelievable, Abby. I mean, it seems like every single hour, we are all waiting at the edge of our seats for what is coming next and waiting for all the answers. I know you brought a lot tonight, so thank you so much. I'll see you right back here tomorrow, okay?

PHILLIP: See you soon.

COATES: A deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza City the day before a presidential visit to Israel. All tonight on "Laura Coates Live".