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IDF Raids Gaza's Largest Hospital in "Targeted Operation"; No Place to Move 40 Incubators Outside Al-Shifa Hospital; Capitol Chaos. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 09:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I will be unreachable during that period of time. Can I just say after a bunch of white dudes covered themselves in glory on Capitol Hill yesterday, I really appreciate --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What St. Paul is doing?

MATTINGLY: -- yes, very much.

HARLOW: Give women some power, see what happens.

MATTINGLY: Maybe. I'm just saying, perhaps, based on anecdotal evidence, one day on Capitol Hill, not a terrible idea.

HARLOW: Because of that, I'm going to root for Ohio for you.

MATTINGLY: Ohio State.

HARLOW: I'll watch the game.

I'm sorry; Ohio State.

Thanks for joining us. See you here tomorrow. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" is now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New reporting and new pictures just in as Israeli troops raid Gaza's largest hospital. The IDF calls it a precise and targeted operation against Hamas as the search for hostages intensifies.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An elbow to the kidneys, a challenge to a fistfight and a Smurf insult. No, it's not middle school, it's Congress. They did manage to do some work, however, passing a major hurdle to avoid a government shutdown.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping, face-to-face today, the first time they have talked in a year and so much has happened since then. What the hopes are will come of this chat today.

I'm Kate Bolduan with Sara Sidner and John Berman. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


BERMAN: At this moment, we're waiting to get more information on the Israeli operation in and around the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. You can see where it is right there.

Israeli forces are inside in what the IDF is calling a precise and targeted operation against Hamas. I can show you a map of the hospital compound here. It's not just one building, it's several buildings.

Now Israeli tanks and army vehicles are said now to be on the ground. We've seen video of that. There are said to be patients and staff, hundreds still inside the buildings. And in addition to that, thousands of people are sheltering in these different areas you can see right there.

Doctors say Israeli troops are questioning and searching people inside. We have new video from inside the hospital itself, where you can see some of the damage said to have taken place after the Israeli troops entered.


Now the IDF has released this video, which shows its troops delivering medical supplies, food. They say they're delivering incubators because we have seen pictures of babies in the hospital over the last several days.

It's crucial to note that Israel and the United States say there's a Hamas command center underneath the hospital and uses the people inside the hospital as human shields.

Now remember, the Geneva Conventions say that civilian hospitals are entitled to protection but they lose that protection, they say, under no circumstances can they be used for non-medical purposes.

What does that mean?

Well, that includes things like sheltering able-bodied combatants, storing arm and munitions, as a shield for military action. That's the situation that's taking place. We're waiting to get visibility on what's happening here. CNN's Oren Liebermann is tracking all of this from Tel Aviv.

What's the latest?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The operation on the ground on the part of the Israeli military in Al-Shifa Hospital has been going on for 14 or 15 hours. It started early this morning and we have been tracking it since.

Israel says they're operating in a very specific part of the hospital. But if you'll show that map once again, you can see the size of the complex. And they haven't been any more precise or specific about where their

operation is happening, simply saying it's away from the hundreds of patients who are there, the doctors, the staff and civilians who are seeking shelter there.

The patients inside, increasingly dire conditions they have been facing over the course of the past several days. Several babies in the neonatal intensive care unit have died when their incubators could no longer be powered by the generators.

We'll show the video of the IDF put out. This is them bringing incubators in, in an attempt perhaps to get the babies evacuated from the hospital. But the director of the hospital says they're in grave danger and warns that it may be impossible to evacuate them, given the fighting on the street.

With that picture of how dangerous the situation is and how dire the condition is inside, as they have run out of fuel, water, electricity, here's a look at one of those inside the hospital. Listen to this.


DR. AHMED EL MOKHALLALATI, SENIOR PLASTIC SURGEON, AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL: We can't look through the windows or doors. We don't know what's happening.


MOKHALLALATI: We have tanks moving within the hospital. You can hear continuous shooting. You can hear it now.

But again it's a totally scary situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what are these sounds, Doctor?

I'm hearing sounds.

MOKHALLALATI: It's continuous shooting from the tanks.


LIEBERMANN: Now the IDF says there are no tanks inside the complex of the hospital, though we have certainly seen videos where they're pretty much every side of the hospital. They also say there have been no shootings or firefights inside the complex of the hospital. We'll check that against the reports we have heard.

They say they have evidence that Hamas used the hospital itself, as they have claimed for a long time now, as terror infrastructure but they haven't released it yet, nor have they given us a description of what that is.

Just a few moments ago, Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly asked the IDF international spokesperson on what they found and what they released.

I want to read a short statement. "We understand there is a substantial Hamas infrastructure in the

area, in the vicinity of the hospital, potentially under the hospital and it's something we're working on. It will take us time."

The fact that he says potentially now raises serious questions about what the IDF knew in advance and what they thought they knew. They have long claimed there is Hamas infrastructure under the hospital itself, going so far as to release a digital video graphic several days or weeks ago, showing Hamas tunnels underneath the hospital.

If that is only potential, that's a serious question the IDF has to answer, as we wait for them to release this evidence they say shows Hamas used the hospital.

BERMAN: They, the IDF have been talking about Al-Shifa Hospital for years and very specifically since the October 7th terror attacks. Israel has made clear that this site is one of the areas they wanted to get into. Keep us posted as to what they hear. Oren Liebermann, thank you.

SIDNER: About 14 hours into the raid at Al-Shifa Hospital, the World Health Organization says it has lost touch with the staff inside the hospital. The Red Cross says reports coming from inside are extremely worrying.

But doctors are continuing their work, some of them after suffering unimaginable losses themselves. You're taking a look of some video. This doctor here, he's been forced to bring both of his sons to the hospital with him after their mother was killed while he was working in the intensive care unit.

We also know there are 3 dozen newborns inside the hospital. Egyptian officials are working to get them out. But some babies have died this week because of the power outages and lack of medical supplies. CNN's Nada Bashir is in Jerusalem.

Can you give us some sense of what efforts underway to save some of the patients, including those 36 babies, that no one can get the image of their head, from the NICU?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have been hearing from doctors and medical officials both inside the Al-Shifa Hospital and across Gaza, who have described the situation around the hospital as being extremely challenging and, of course, life threatening.

When it comes to any proposal, any suggestion of patient and medical staff as well as other civilians sheltering at the complex to evacuate southwards, as per the orders of the IDF, as we know, there have been calls for evacuations.

The Israeli military says it has established a safe evacuation -- rather allowed for a safe evacuation from the eastern side of the hospital. But as we know, the hospital has been nearly entirely encircled by tanks and fighting on the ground between the IDF and Hamas as well, as continuous strikes are moving closer to the hospital complex. In some areas even striking the hospital complex, according to doctors on the ground. So the idea that hundreds of patients, around 700, according to officials there, can be evacuated in a secure matter has raised alarm bells among doctors and international humanitarian groups.

We have been hearing from Doctors without Borders and the World Health Organization and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, always in concern around the situation outside of the hospital.

Many have been unable to reach their teams on the ground. We have heard reports of live fire going on around the Al-Shifa Hospital. One doctor speaking to CNN in the early hours of the morning, saying that some parts of the building had been targeted by live fire.

So as you can imagine, until there are those clear guarantees of a way, a safe way, to evacuate these hundreds of patients, many doctors are reluctant. They say they'll stand beside their patients to continue to provide that urgent care.

But of course it's not just about the safety and security outside on the military front. Of course, many of these patients require specialist medical evacuations, just like those premature and newborn babies, who require incubators.

They require specialist care when it comes to making the journey from northern to southern Gaza. As we have seen, some people have died on the route. Many people have traveled injured, loved ones pushing relatives in wheelchairs and on hospital beds, along the long distance to southern Gaza.


BASHIR: As we know, the situation in southern Gaza isn't a guarantee of safety. We have heard from the U.N. humanitarian chief describing the situation across the Gaza Strip as being insecure.

We have seen airstrikes continuing across southern Gaza. And for many patients who are being told that they need to evacuate southwards, for them it feels like there is no hope of finding safety in southern Gaza. The hospitals across the Gaza Strip are overrun and, as we know, only one hospital in northern Gaza left operational.

SIDNER: We are looking at these disturbing pictures from Tuesday at just how overrun the hospitals actually are. Thank you so much for your reporting will out of Jerusalem -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Joining us now for more is foreign policy reporter with Axios, Barak Ravid.

IDF is remaining tightlipped on the goal of the specific operation at Al-Shifa Hospital. We have heard that. And ever since this operation got underway yesterday, what are you now hearing more than 12 hours in?

Are you getting a better sense of the goal, the mission, the target? BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL AND FOREIGN POLICY CORRESPONDENT, "AXIOS": Hi, good morning, Kate.

Yes, again, I think I have a better understanding. I'm not sure what I know is all the details. I'm not sure they, the Israelis, are telling us everything they really know about what's going on right now at the hospital.

But the senior Israeli official told me like an hour ago that the goal of this operation, the raid into the Al-Shifa Hospital, was not to try and rescue hostages. They were not looking for hostages.

They were looking for a, according to this Israeli official, they were looking for a tunnel hub in one of the buildings inside the compound of the hospital that, according to this Israeli official, those tunnels led to different other parts of the Gaza Strip and were used by Hamas to move weapons, to move operatives. This is what they're working on.

BOLDUAN: So kind of like a central transportation hub underneath the hospital. Because we know one of the main goals is to take out the tunnel system. So that's what they're pointing to, like this is a central point of transport that they believe they're looking for under the hospital.

RAVID: Yes, again, that's what they claim. We don't have any way to, you know, confirm it other than what the Israelis are saying.

But I think it coincides with what we heard yesterday from the White House on the record, when John Kirby from the National Security Council said that the U.S. has its own independent intelligence, that Hamas is using Al-Shifa Hospital as a command and control center. And maybe the two things connect.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you, timing; there's often not a lot of coincidence in timing when we see things like this. And I wanted to get a sense if you heard from the administration or from the Israeli side of, when Kirby coming out to say, we have heard him suggest this before.

But to say yesterday that intel suggests that Hamas has a command center in or under Al-Shifa Hospital, that was something.

In addition to -- do you -- do you -- are you getting the sense those two things are connected?

RAVID: So I asked several Biden administration officials. And they all denied that Kirby said what he said, because the U.S. knew that something was going to happen. And it was sort of like putting forward this alibi or this justification for this thing. They totally deny that.

But what I do hear from both Israeli and U.S. officials is that the fact that the U.S. supports the Israeli position on Hamas using Al- Shifa Hospital and the fact that the Biden administration, the White House said this on the record yesterday, no doubt, helps Israel in justifying its military action there.

BOLDUAN: Because the other side of this coin, if you will -- and I wanted to ask you -- is do you sense that Israeli -- from Israeli official sources, that they understand what a focal point Al-Shifa has become in terms of global public opinion?

And does that impact their decision making?

RAVID: I'm not sure. I think we passed that point. I think we're, you know, they're trying to reach Hamas leadership. They think that would help them in reaching Hamas leadership.

And by the way, if, indeed, they will find under the hospital a Hamas command and control center, then I'm sure it will help them to buy more time for their ground operation in Gaza, because then they will say, you see, we told you so.

If they're not going to find anything, then the Israeli military is going to be in a very big problem explaining why it raided the hospital.


BOLDUAN: To that point Oren Liebermann, flagged us, one of the spokespersons for the IDF, he was on "CNN THIS MORNING" and was asked about it. And his wording -- I want to read his wording to you in responding to this.

"We understand," he says, "there's a substantial Hamas infrastructure in the area, in the vicinity of the hospital, potentially under the hospital. It's something we are working on."

From your long experience with speaking with the IDF and knowing, you know, how they communicate, does that sound like they're couching now?

Does that sound like -- does that suggest at all to you that they are concerned the intel they had going in isn't what they're finding while they're in?

RAVID: Well, I don't know. What I can tell you is that, yesterday, last night, another IDF spokesperson, Peter Lerner, told CNN that one of the reasons for the raid is a rescue of hostages. And this morning we learned that this is not the reason.

So I think there's sort of a developing version there. But at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. If the IDF will be able to present, today, tomorrow, in the coming days, real evidence that Hamas operated under hospital, then I think it will be clear to a lot of people around the world that this raid was justified.

If not, the Israeli government and the Israeli military will be in a huge problem, not only about this raid but about the other stages of this operation.

BOLDUAN: Great point. Always great to see you. Thank you for coming in, Barak -- John. BERMAN: All right, kidney punches, name calling and threats of

violence, just as the Founding Fathers intended.

So who has hit whom on Capitol Hill so far today?

A high stakes summit, new reporting on U.S. plans to both confront and calm tensions with China.





BOLDUAN: The House has spoken and now it's up to the Senate to keep the government open and avoid another shutdown. The House passed a short-term funding bill yesterday.

And as that was happening, the strain and stress of it all, it seems, to be showing and leading to a true boiling point for some on Capitol Hill. Alleged kidney shots, lawmakers cursing and calling each other names in one committee hearing. And a senator challenging a witness at another committee hearing to a fight.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill with the very latest.

Lauren, you add all of this up, you wonder what it shows. But as John was asking just before we went to break, the sad statement is, you could ask the question, has anyone hit anybody on Capitol Hill yet today? And it's not even -- it's just a -- it's like a sad joke but it's a real question.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a relief so far up here on Capitol Hill. But, yes, yesterday was really chaotic, Kate. And that's because the day kind of started after the Republican conference to discuss the spending bill.

Tim Burchett, who is a Republican from Tennessee; he talks to the press a lot. He said he was talking to a reporter and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy came up behind him and elbowed him in what he described as a shot to the kidneys.

Later in the day, Kevin McCarthy gaggled with reporters, denied that this had happened, said that if he had meant to hurt someone, they would know about it basically. And Burchett said there he was still standing by his allegation, saying that there was a reporter there who witnessed him lunge forward.

And here's what Burchett said on our air this morning.


REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): We were just standing out there after conference. And I always talk to the press. And she was interviewing me and, you know, I fell forward after Kevin popped me in the back.

And, you know and then he just kept walking with his security detail. Really, it's just a sad commentary on him and his spiraling out of leadership. I've moved on. I've got no vengeance toward him. I prayed for him this morning, as a matter of fact, because I know he's hurting.


FOX: But, Kate, that wasn't the only thing we saw yesterday. Then in a hearing in the Senate, in the Health Committee, you had Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Oklahoma, a sitting United States senator, who challenged one of the witnesses to a fight.

Now there's a little bit of a backstory with the witness criticizing Mullin on what is now known as X.

But Mullin stood up and essentially said, should we fight now?

And the witness said, you know, they could go now. Then you had Bernie Sanders, who's the chairman of that committee, having to interject and say, hey, you are a sitting United States senator. This is not the time or place for this.

But obviously a lot happening up here on Capitol Hill. And I should note that the House has been in session for 10 weeks, Kate. Clearly it is time for members to go home for Thanksgiving. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I've also been working for 10 weeks, I think it's also time for a break for me. It's good to see you, Lauren, working 10 weeks. You work like 360 weeks a year. So thank you. It's great to see you.

BERMAN: Yes, in Congress, they call it a recess; in my house, we call it a time-out.


BERMAN: All right. With us now, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Boston Globe," the paper of record, Jackie Kucinich.

Jackie, great to see you. We'll get to the actual votes in a second.

But what did we just learn about the current atmosphere on Capitol Hill?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's some real Charles Sumner energy up there right now. Everyone is -- really, Lauren said it; everyone is pretty done with each other. And there just is this animosity. It hasn't been dealt with since the ousting of speaker McCarthy.

The Republican Party has just been caught in this doom loop of infighting.


KUCINICH: Will time and space help them?

That remains to be seen because, on the other end of this, there's still a spending fight right in the middle of January and going to Groundhog Day, seriously, February 2nd. So they may have pushed this off past the holidays and maybe some turkey will do them some good.

But the fractures still remain, the problems still remain and they're still -- they still got to keep the government funded going into next year.

BERMAN: So you talked about the actual vote they cast yesterday, in addition to the kidney punches and the Smurf calling and things like that. They voted, the House basically pushed off the idea of a government shutdown, voted to, until January and February.

But there were more Democrats who voted for this bill than Republicans.

How is that not embarrassing to this new speaker?

KUCINICH: This new speaker did exactly what Kevin McCarthy did when he was able to lift the debt ceiling. He banded with Democrats to make that happen. Johnson has a lot more trust of the conservative wing of the party, so his job is fine.

But it seems like he is using the time. This has been a learning on the job for him. The conservative members that ousted McCarthy are willing to give him a chance. But the honeymoon is over.

Going into the next year, you can expect the fights to continue and the presidential race and their own elections are getting closer and closer.

So if you want to show that you can govern and get stuff done, they've got a big challenge going into 2024 to get that, you know, all the families, as they used to talk about them during Kevin McCarthy's tenure, together, singing from the same hymnal.

BERMAN: So no shutdown under the tree for Christmas. But we could be seeing one in January, February.

Is there any sign that they'll get around that?

KUCINICH: I've learned with this Congress not to make predictions. But there's now a standard. They have empowered this Democratic minority. There isn't going to be, that we know of, any sort of -- the ratio is not going to change.

So the ability to work with Democrats is not something that speaker Johnson is going to be advertising but that's how they're managing to keep the government funded at this point. And it doesn't seem like that's going to end up changing going into the new year.

BERMAN: We will see where they vote and if they can keep their hands to themselves. Jackie Kucinich, thank you very much for being with us -- Sara.

SIDNER: A good lesson, keep your hands to yourself.

Up next, a critical summit on the West Coast. President Biden and Chinese President Xi will meet face to face for the first time in one year. We'll go live to San Francisco ahead of their sit-down.

Plus FBI director Christopher Wray is testifying on Capitol Hill this morning in just a bit. What he is saying about the Israeli-Hamas war and what it means for the U.S. and potential terror threats. That's ahead.