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Civilians Flee Northern Gaza During 6-Hour Evacuation Window Today; American Diplomats Privately Warn White House Of Growing Fury Against U.S. In Arab World; Manchin Retirement Fuels New Talk About 2024 Bid. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 13:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Secretary of State Antony Blinken says far too many Palestinian civilians have been killed in Gaza. His sharpest rebuke yet of Israel's attacks. It comes as the Biden administration is warning American diplomats about the anger boiling in the Arab world.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And election offices are targeted with suspicious letters. More than a dozen had been sent across the country, one confirmed to be laced with fentanyl. The latest on the federal investigation and whether officials believe these letters are connected just ahead.

And also wherever you go, it seems that screen is flipped around and you're faced with some pressing math questions. Has tipping gone too far? We'll have new polling on that just ahead.

We're following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN News Central.

SANCHEZ: Israel's war on Hamas intensifying on the streets of Gaza. Before we show you some new footage, we want to warn you some of these images are disturbing. This new video shows people trapped under rubble. Buildings collapsed by Israeli barrages on Thursday, victims being pulled out of the rubble in a desperate search for survivors. And today gunfire sent Palestinian civilians near one hospital in northern Gaza, scrambling for safety.

It comes amid reports that Israeli airstrikes have damaged several hospitals. The head of Al-Nasr Hospital says that Israeli tanks surrounded his facilities. Keep in mind the IDF has maintained that it exclusively targets areas with ties to Hamas and that any civilian losses are unintended. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which draws its figures from the Hamas controlled territory, 11,000 Palestinians have died since October 7th.

Meantime thousands more fled Gaza -- fled south toward -- fled south in Gaza today, as Israeli forces opened a six-hour evacuation corridor. There are growing international demands to further address the dire humanitarian crisis. As all of this is unfolding, speaking today after meetings in India, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave one of his most direct condemnations yet of the mounting death toll. Watch this.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Much more needs to be done to protect civilians and to make sure that humanitarian assistance reaches them. Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many has suffered these past weeks.


SANCHEZ: Soon as Nic Robertson is live for us in Sderot, Israel. And Nic, the damage to these hospitals is concerning. What can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding these attacks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the International Committee for the Red Cross says that the state of the hospitals and health care system in Gaza now has reached a point of no return. The figures that are being released by the Hamas controlled Ministry of Information saying, for example, 198 health care workers have been killed.

And while Israel is surrounding it appears several hospitals in Gaza at the moment because it believes they're connected to Hamas operations. They say that under some of those hospitals, there are bunker and tunnel networks belonging to Hamas. Health officials at those hospitals deny any knowledge of those systems say they don't exist.

The health care system in Gaza, when you look at the humanitarian situation, does seem to be by the statistics that are given by, again, the Hamas-led Health Authority there, dire, 21 of 35 hospitals are now out of service, 51 of 72 health care clinics are now out of service.

So the humanitarian situation while the corridor has been open and perhaps open for its longest period, today, and many thousands of people were seeing flee in the north of Gaza to the south of Gaza to clear the area in the north that the IDF calls a battlefield zone. The toll that it's taking on the infrastructure and the ability of people in Gaza to be able to treat themselves is escalating. It mounts day by day by day.

The IDF say that they have now targeted 15,000 different terrorist sites. They've rounded up so far 6,000 different weapons. They've discovered Hamas weapons making facilities inside domestic homes right next to the bedrooms of children. There are tunnel networks that have now been demolished and destroyed indeed.

Tonight as I stand here, I can still hear the detonations explosions continuing to come from Gaza as they have done throughout the day. So the military operation continues. The humanitarian operation continues. The dire medical situation, like so much else in Gaza, does seem to be getting worse.

[13:05:16] SANCHEZ: Nic Robertson live for us from Sderot, thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: At the same time, CNN is learning that American diplomats are warning the Biden administration of growing fury in the Arab world against the U.S. for its strong support of Israel's deadly military campaign in Gaza. We have CNN's Natasha Bertrand here with more on this. And Natasha, CNN has actually obtained this diplomatic cable that spells out the concern. What does it say?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, this is a cable that was obtained by our colleague, Priscilla Alvarez. And it's written by the second highest U.S. official in the embassy in Oman. And what it says is, it's essentially a warning based on conversations that they're having with people in the region about how the Arab world is looking at to the U.S.'s ongoing support for Israel amid this massive bombardment of Gaza. And what it says is that it warns the White House, the FBI and the CIA, that the U.S. is losing U.S.-Arab public for a generation, it says, and it also says that U.S. support for Israel is being seen as, quote, material and moral culpability in what they consider to be possible war crimes.

Now, this is a message that has been communicated directly to the Secretary of State, to the U.S. administration by the U.S.'s Arab partners, including Jordan, Egypt, all people that -- all countries that the Secretary of State met with in the last few weeks to try to discuss the path forward here. And what those Arab countries are asking for is a ceasefire. They say that they want to see the fighting stopped completely. They want to see Palestinian civilians be able to get out of Gaza.

But of course, the U.S. has stopped short of that. They are not supporting a ceasefire at this point. Instead, what they're saying is they support these temporary pauses. And they are pushing for a three day pause. President Biden has said that he wants it to be even longer than that. But right now, that seems to be kind of the contours of the deal that is taking shape in order to allow not only civilians to get out, but also hostages.

But look, this is really what the administration is grappling with. They are having to tow this very delicate line between of course, supporting Israel, and its right to defend itself against the Hamas attack. But also, you know, calibrating that in a way that expresses that they do not support the way Israel is carrying out their campaign.

KEILAR: Yes. And these civilian deaths, they may say they're unintentional, but they are astronomical as we look at them. Natasha, thank you so much. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Let's dig deeper on all of this now, joining us is CNN national security analyst and former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Beth Sanner. Also with us is Hagar Chemali, who is a former spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She's also the former director for Syria and Lebanon on the National Security Council. Ladies, thank you both for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

Hagar to you, the Secretary of State one month ago said that U.S. support for Israel is iron clad. That to me seems different than what we heard today, when he said quote, too many Palestinians have died. Do you think it's fair to say that the scenes coming out of Gaza have forced the U.S. to shift its tone?

HAGAR CHEMALI, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, not entirely, because Israel is has been a non-NATO ally since 1987. And so that support is ironclad, for many reasons, it's a relationship that is both give and take. We both usually benefit from that relationship. But that doesn't mean as you have with any kind of ally, by the way, we have many allies all over the world where we've had to have difficult conversations or press on certain issues or use the leverage that we have.

And with Israel, for example, obviously, U.S. leverage does weigh heavily, it doesn't always work. But it does weigh heavily. And so that doesn't mean that we're not able to use that leverage, because either there's a national security objective that we want to achieve. Or in this case, in particular, we believe that a high civilian death toll undermines Israel's broader cause of a more secure Israel and that is the U.S. view.

So I wouldn't view it as fraying at the relationship or anything like that. But a shift in public messaging or and private messaging is to be expected even when it's an ally.

SANCHEZ: Beth he also said much more needs to be done to protect civilians. This is one day after the White House announced that Israel had formalized plans for these hours long pauses in fighting. But the U.N. human rights chief expresses doubt as to how effective these safe zones are, are they effective? What more do you think should be done?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that there's a gap between our rhetoric and what people are seeing on the ground. And that's not necessarily our fault. I mean, there's only so much we can do in terms of trying to persuade and pressure Israel on these matters. But, you know, I think that that's the problem is that, you know, the Arab populations do see us as not actually delivering on our promises.


And I would say that one thing that we could absolutely do is maybe turn our eyes and be a little bit more direct about what is happening in the West Bank. We have to look ahead, and what is happening in the West Bank with the extremist settlers that are being supported by the IDF in many, many instances, or a blind eye in other cases, but Palestinians are being pushed out of their homes.

If we really actually want to support a two-state solution, we have to insist that this stop. And so there are things that are happening, that we could actually make a difference on in Gaza and in the West Bank. And we have to do a better job. SANCHEZ: The question of the extremist settlers, as you describe them as something that the Secretary of State said he would bring up multiple times with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Beth, staying with something that you mentioned about perception across the region in the Arab world, your reaction to this cable, this diplomatic cable that effectively says the U.S. is losing a generation diplomatically?

SANNER: Well, yes, and no, I feel that in some ways, we've already lost the youth generation in the Arab countries. I mean, very reputable polls, air barometer shows only 15 percent, 15 percent of Palestinians view the United States favorably. And that is because over the past five or six years in particular, we haven't been able to make progress on a two-state solution. And part of that is because the Israelis don't want to make progress on that at least the government in charge.

But you know, across the Arab world, fewer than majorities support the United States. And when you look at the youth, one poll says that, you know, over 50 percent of Arab youth see the United States as an enemy. That poll was taken a year ago. And so we have a problem here. We talk about, we heard President Biden talk about the United States being the light on the hill, the beacon of hope. But we have to recognize that part of that is mythology. And we have to work harder as a country if we really want to be that.

SANCHEZ: Hagar, simultaneously you have U.S. forces in the region. They've been targeted at least four times since U.S. airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday. How long do you think these attacks can continue against the U.S. before the U.S. military finds itself more involved in this war, worsening the situation that Beth described?

CHEMALI: Sure. Well, I have a saying that when the storms gather in the Middle East, it storms everywhere. And that's usually because when you have instability in one certain region, especially if the U.S. is involved some way you're going to have other nefarious actors, Iran- backed militant groups, terrorist groups, so on, try to take advantage of that situation and pursue whatever kind of goals or attacks they want there. And they're going to try to do. So in this case you've got, like you said, you've had attacks against U.S. bases in the region. And I expect that to continue, and it's something that the U.S. expected as well.

It's something that while, I'm not trying to diminish at all the threat, it is unfortunate. It's something that the U.S. government is used to, and generally prepared for. Now that could escalate further, which is why the U.S. based military assets additional military assets, these aircrafts tried carrier groups in the Mediterranean, in the Red Sea and in the Gulf, and they have already been useful in both intercepting actual rockets.

You've had rockets they've intercepted from Iran-backed Houthi militants against Israel. And you also have their ability to kind of use -- to be used as a deterrent, and to prevent things from escalating further. At the end of the day, based on how Iran is behaving and their rhetoric where they have threatened to act when Israel invaded Gaza. Well, they've already invaded Gaza and now -- and Hezbollah's rhetoric.

From what it appears, it appears also that, number one, Iran doesn't want to full scale war, they would prefer that their proxies to handle it for them. But not all the proxies are involved. Houthi -- the Houthis are Hamas's perhaps themselves in the West Bank. But Hezbollah doesn't actually seem that interested in an all scale -- in a full scale war. And I think that that will be a continuing theme for the next few months or as violence continues in Gaza, where you're going to have these actors take advantage in these limited strikes and clashes. But I don't expect it to unravel into something more major.

SANCHEZ: To your point about Hezbollah and not wanting a full scale war, we have seen more cross border skirmishes between Hezbollah and IDF troops around Israel's border with Lebanon. And Beth I'm wondering if you think Hezbollah is hesitant to go further partly because of what they've seen in Gaza or do you think they would be emboldened perhaps to take a more aggressive approach if Israel then reduces some of its -- if it slows its attacks in Gaza?


SANNER: I think that Hezbollah right now, Nasrallah was made it very clear in his speech that he doesn't want this full scale war, right? And but he has to show his, basically his base, and the whole Arab community that Hezbollah, which is seen as the anchor of the axis of resistance, that that's what they are. And so they have to have these cross border, you know, firings and, you know, continue this pressure on Israel, in order to show that they're doing that, whether they want to take advantage of that down the road, I agree completely that I don't think they do right now.

I think the question really depends on, you know, what happens on the ground in Gaza? Does it -- is it going to get worse? If it gets -- if the Israelis tune it back, yes, I think eventually it will slow down. But if it ratchets it up, Hezbollah will probably have to do more. And the real danger there is just whether things get out of control, not that they intend to do something, perhaps, but whether it gets out of control.

But at some point, you know, maybe rationality goes by the wayside as well. So that danger still is there. But I agree that at this point, it's, you know, not at the front burner.

SANCHEZ: Hagar, last question to you. Is there a sense that the U.S. may soon have to expand its presence in the region? Has the presence there been effective? So far, some 60 U.S. service members have already been injured?

CHEMALI: Yes. I -- the one thing that I don't expect the U.S. to do is to limit its presence or back down in any way and or remove troops because it would send the wrong message, it would send this message that this type of behavior, violence, terrorist attacks, militant attacks against bases and so on, that it would work, that it would push the U.S. out of the region. And that is exactly what Iran and these Iran-backed militants want. And so that's the last thing I expect them to do on that part, whether they increase, I could see additional military assets in the waters, right, in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Red Sea and in the Gulf, for sure. That is -- that's not new for the U.S. Anytime there have been tensions that increase in the region, whether they've been in the Gulf or in Lebanon and so on, you often see carrier strike groups go to the area to try and send this message to show support for whoever it might be, in this case, obviously, Israel and for our own bases, and to send a strong message of deterrence.

And you've heard that over and over again from President Biden, from Secretary of Defense Austin, where they've said, if you even think about doing something, don't. And I would take that as a very credible threat coming from the United States. The -- it would take a lot for the U.S. to get involved in an actual war. By the way, even though Israel is a non-NATO ally, it doesn't necessarily mean that the U.S. would send troops into a war, but I don't even see that scenario playing out anyway.

SANCHEZ: Hagar Chemali, Beth Sanner, thank you both so much for the time.

SANNER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

Still to come on News Central, Donald Trump is famous or infamous for giving his rivals unflattering nicknames. But now President Biden is trying one out on him. We'll explain.

Plus, from West Virginia to the White House Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he's not running for reelection. So does that mean he's running for an even higher office?


And later a long journey home, how the three giant jet lag pandas are doing after their flight from here in D.C. all the way to China. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Vice President Kamala Harris making it official today, filing paperwork to put Joe Biden on the 2024 presidential ballot in South Carolina. That state will lead off the Democratic primary. And it's part of the reason that Joe Biden won the nomination in 2020. It comes as the President takes a victory lap over Democrats successes in elections this week and as he takes a jab at the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Biden saying at a fundraiser, quote, we haven't stopped winning and he hasn't stopped losing. The truth is the guy can't get tired of losing. Biden also downplay the CNN and New York Times polls that show him trailing Trump in a hypothetical rematch. Let's discuss with CNN's Jeff Zeleny. So Jeff, what else did the President have to say about the polls and about the former president? JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Of course, it almost feels like it's general election time. We're not quite there yet. But what President Biden is clearly trying to do is show a little muscle and a little aggression here going directly after the former president who's his likely opponent, but we don't know that yet. The Republican primary hasn't started. But he really drilled down into those Tuesday night election defeats in Virginia, in a Kentucky obviously, and an Ohio. And he was talking about the jobs record under the former president as well.

He kind of coined a bit of a new nickname. He called him Donald Hoover Trump, of course, referring to President Hoover, who was presiding in office during the Great Depression. Nevermind the pandemic, I'm not sure that is going to stick. But the reality here is, this is what President Biden is trying to do. He's trying to remind people that there is going to be a choice, he won't be running alone. And they are trying to make this a referendum not a choice between him and Trump not a referendum on his presidency.

So the bottom line to all of this is, the White House is on its heels a little bit after all these bad poll numbers. They're just trying to muscle up a little bit. But the -- in South Carolina today, that's really what they would like to remember because those were some heady days when he won the primary there. After some rough weeks, so when he talked about advisors, they say don't count him out, there's a long time between now and November. But the bottom line here is they're trying to say that look this isn't a referendum on Biden. It's a choice between Biden and Trump should it get there.


SANCHEZ: Yes. The Biden campaign didn't look great after Iowa and New Hampshire in 2020. South Carolina --

ZELENY: Fourth place and fifth place.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Hoover Trump. I'm not sure that's going to stick.

ZELENY: It's like a vacuum cleaner, no, it's actually the president great depression.

SANCHEZ: Not the most effective insult for a guy who's trying to seem young, it's a bit of a dated reference or younger than he is, we should say. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: Well, it has been less than 24 hours since Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he is not seeking reelection, but Inquiring minds want to know, will he run perhaps for something else? His plans to travel the nation and, quote, mobilize the middle? Well, that sure sounds like a campaign strategy. So let's ask someone who knows a thing or two about the Mountain State and its politics. Hoppy Kercheval is the longtime host of MetroNews Talkline on West Virginia Radio. Thank you so much for being with us Hoppy. And I also want to mention that Manchin actually canceled a scheduled radio interview with you this morning. Have you had a chance to talk to him? HOPPY KERCHEVAL, HOST, METRONEWS "TALKLINE" ON WEST VIRGINIA RADIO: I did. I talked to him this morning for a little while, and I don't read anything more into the cancellation. He was at an event in Atlanta. I think the event was going to run along. So I don't I don't think there's anything nefarious about that. I hope to get him on the show early next week.

KEILAR: What do you talk about? Can you share that?

KERCHEVAL: Yes. I just wanted to pick his brain a little bit. And what is interesting maybe about politicians is the kinds of things he told me is what he said in his statement is that look, I've known Manchin since he was in the West Virginia legislature since he was governor, and of course, since he was a senator. And he's the same guy. I mean, he's always wanted to tackle problems by finding common ground and getting people together around a literal or figurative table and hammering things out.

He's never been terribly political, one way or another. And then he got to Washington. And he's really been turned off by the extreme politics that exists in Washington. And so I think he's really over that and been over that for a long time. And now he's kind of on this quest to see if there is another way to see if there is a great middle way out there.

KEILAR: So I wonder what you think because in his announcement video, he talks about, you know, he said public service has and continues to drive me every day. That's the vow that I made to my father over 40 years ago. And I intend to keep that vow until my dying day. Until his dying day, what does that mean do you think besides traveling the country mobilizing a middle ground as he said he would?

KERCHEVAL: Well, it means that Manchin is always going to be around. I mean, look, his attention span is kind of like this, you know, I mean, he's not going to just go quietly into the night. If he doesn't run for president, he'll do something. I think he's going to be energized by this new quest. I think he's going to travel the country. I think he's going to see if there is this middle out there. And if it can be mobilized and monetized and if it can, I then I think he would consider a run for as an independent or third party for president.

I can tell you this, Brianna, that one thing he does not want to be, and that is the guy who gets Donald Trump elected. So at some point in this running to see if he's going to run at some point, there'll be an evaluation to see if it's a legitimate chance for him, or is it just going to be a spoiler roll where Donald Trump gets elected. He does not want to do that.

KEILAR: Yes. He said he doesn't want to be a spoiler. So let's take a look at the political landscape in West Virginia. I know you're very familiar with this, but Manchin won his last reelection in 2018 by just 20,000 votes. It was quite close. And that race was sandwiched between Trump winning all 55 counties of West Virginia in 2016 and 2020 and by a huge margin, 40 points both times. He barely won in his state, Joe Manchin. So, you know, it's a bit of a bad word he is for many Democrats across the country. How does he look at these numbers and say, yes, maybe I will run for president.

KERCHEVAL: Well, Brianna, first of all, you know your West Virginia politics pretty well. He did win in 2018 by only three points. So and now he would have probably been matched up against Jim Justice, the current West Virginia Republican governor who's likely going to win the Republican nomination. But, you know, if you're asking what is he looking for out there? I mean, I just look, Manchin is, he really believes when he says that he thinks a lot of people in the country think like he does.

And I'm going to tell you on the talk show today. And we get a lot of critics from Manchin calling in because this is a Trump state. A lot of people were calling into my show saying, yes, there should be another way. These -- the partisanship is terrible. And Manchin might be a good guy to sort of appeal to this middle and not be far left or far right. So, you know, there might be something out there for him.

There might be something that he can tap into, you know, in the next couple of months.