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Israel Says, Concrete Evidence Found That Hamas Terrorists Used Al-Shifa Hospital as Headquarters; Biden Faces a Warning Sign from Young Voters. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 10:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Israel says it's found, quote, concrete evidence of Hamas terror headquarters inside Gaza's largest hospital and Hamas just acknowledged that hospital, Al-Shifa, is now under the control of Israeli forces.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A heightened threat of a terror attack on Americans, that new warning being delivered by the FBI director at this very moment.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Plus a high-stakes sit-down nearly one year in the making is about to begin. President Biden, China's President Xi meet face-to-face.

I'm Sara Sidner with John Berman and Kate Bolduan. This is CNN News Central.

BERMAN: We are getting new information on the Israeli raid at the Al- Shifa Hospital inside Northern Gaza. This is the largest hospital in Gaza. A short time ago, Israeli military officials said that they have uncovered concrete evidence of a Hamas terror presence, a headquarters inside this hospital compound.

You can see this aerial view of the compound. It's not just one building. It's several buildings. Doctors, patients, staff inside the various buildings, also several areas where civilians, maybe thousands of civilians are sheltering.

Now, Israeli forces say, again, concrete evidence of a terror presence. They have not released what that evidence is at this point.

The IDF says that its tanks are not on the hospital grounds itself, but they released this video, you can see of tanks and its forces going right up to the edge of the compound and operating very close to it. Obviously, troops have now moved inside.

Hospital staff says that Israeli troops have entered and have begun interrogating or questioning some people inside.

Now, remember, and this is very important, the Geneva Conventions protect hospitals. They are entitled to protection, but they may not, under any circumstances, be used for non-medical purposes. What does that include? That includes sheltering able-bodied combatants, also to store munitions or as a shield for military action.

And, again, Israel moments ago said they've uncovered concrete evidence of a Hamas terror presence inside that hospital compound. We are waiting to see what evidence that is.

In the meantime, let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera who is in Tel Aviv with the very latest. Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. As you mentioned, the importance of what is unfolding there at the Al-Shifa Hospital inside of Gaza is crucial, not just from a military perspective but also from a public relations and credibility standpoint, as Israel is engaged in this military offensive inside there of Gaza. And what is found there will ultimately go a long way in determining how people feel about how exactly all of this has unfolded there inside of Gaza.

As you mentioned, Israeli Defense Forces saying that they have found concrete evidence of Hamas military fighters using that area around and underneath specifically the hospital grounds, and that is the massive area that you're talking around there, there in the heart of Gaza City. And we also know that these military officials say they will release this information later today.

This military offensive inside of the hospital started early this morning, so it's been going on for more than 13, 14 hours at this point here in Israel and in Gaza, a lot of attention being focused on this.


We had heard from one Palestinian journalist inside the hospital who described Israeli soldiers that entered the hospital and were engaged in firefights, but an Israeli Defense Force spokesperson denies that claim.


LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: There was fire exchange before we went into the hospital. We engaged with enemy before we entered. And since we were in the hospital, there was no engagement whatsoever inside the hospital at this moment with the patients or anyone else.


LAVANDERA: John, and, of course, at this moment, a great deal of concern about the hostages that remain in Gaza. So far, Israeli military officials say that they have not found any evidence or any signs of hostages there. If they do have that information, they have not shared it yet.

But the headline here today as we are awaiting more information on what the Israeli military is saying is concrete evidence of this Hamas military structure and these organizations inside and underneath this prominent hospital there in Gaza. John?

BERMAN: And you talked about the public-facing nature of this. Israel has talked about this hospital for years as being a shield for terrorist operations. And since October 7th, they've made clear this is one of their goals in their invasion of Gaza. And even over the last 24 hours, they've been very public with what they have been doing there.

This doesn't appear to be something that Israel is trying to conceal from the eyes of the world, albeit, they don't have cameras there, we don't have reporters on the ground there at this time.

LAVANDERA: That's true. And Israel is clearly aware of the public sentiment around the world that has been very critical of the way the Israeli military has engaged in these operations inside of Gaza. But Israeli military and government officials here have been steadfast in that they are here to dismantle the Hamas military operations.

They say, and have said for quite some time that they believe this organization uses the areas underneath these hospitals to protect themselves, to use civilians as shields from protecting themselves from military strikes. They are described as a very cynical operation by Hamas to operate this way.

And, clearly, the world and those who have been very critical, especially in the operations here around the Al-Shifa hospital, Jordan, for example, said it was appalled by the actions that the Israeli military was engaging in the areas around that hospital.

So, there's been a great deal of criticism about it. Israel very aware of that criticism around the world, as well.

BERMAN: All right. Ed Lavandera for us in Tel Aviv, keep us posted as to what you hear. Thank you. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Now, Egypt's minister of health now says that they are trying to coordinate the transfer of neonatal babies from Al-Shifa hospital. Upon evacuating the hospital, Gaza's director of hospitals tells Al Jazeera that there is no place to move 40 incubators outside the hospital right now and that these babies are in severe danger.

Israel put out video this morning, and John was talking about it, that it says shows the IDF delivering medical supplies today. CNN can't independently verify this as we are not on the ground and haven't been able to reach the hospital for confirmation.

Let's get over to CNN's Nada Bashir. She's in Jerusalem for us. Nada, Hamas now acknowledges that the hospital is now under Israeli control. So, what are you hearing about the conditions at the hospital?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Kate, there is a huge amount of concern for the safety and security of patient, of medical staff and of other civilians who have taken to the Al-Shifa hospital in search of shelter. As you know, there have been fears, bombardment around the hospital complex as well as on the ground fighting, which has impacted the hospital buildings directly over the last few days, but, of course, a huge amount of concern over this raid, which took place in the early hours of the morning.

As we know, the IDF, the Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas infrastructure and believes and says it has gathered evidence of a Hamas command center beneath the Al-Shifa hospital. But, again, this has been denied by Hamas. The military presence has been denied and rejected by doctors on the ground inside Al-Shifa.

And, of course, these doctors are now working under some of the most challenging, most difficult circumstances now, not only with the ongoing bombardment, not only with this raid, which many have feared, but also, of course, because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

We heard in the early hours of the morning from a doctor who was inside in Al-Shifa as this raid was ongoing. Take a listen to what he had to say.


DR. AHMED EL MOKHALLALATI, HEAD OF PEDIATRIC DEPARTMENT, AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL: We can't look out the windows or doors. We don't know what's happening. Tanks are 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 those sounds, Doctor? I'm hearing sounds.

MOKHALLALATI: It's continuous shooting from the tanks.


BASHIR: And, of course, as we know, the Israeli military has allowed for safe evacuations routes from the hospital. But what we are hearing from doctors and health officials on the ground is that it simply isn't safe enough outside to evacuate patients and civilians as well as medical staff. And for many of these patients, including those premature and newborn babies from the neonatal unit at the Al-Shifa Hospital, they require a specialist medical evacuation. The situation, the circumstances around the hospital right now simply do not allow for that. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Nada, thank you so much. Sara? SIDNER: All right. Let's discuss this now with Democratic Congressman Jared Moskowitz of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

You just returned from Israel with a bipartisan group that went there to talk with Netanyahu, to talk with some of those whose loved ones had been kidnapped and are hostages in Gaza. Let me first talk to you about what's happening at the hospital because we have this new information. The troops are now in, Israeli troops are now in Gaza's largest hospital and hospital complex, saying Hamas has been using it as a command center, which Hamas is still denying. The IDF is now saying it has some concrete evidence of that.

But today, the specifics were a bit fuzzy when one of the members of the Israeli military spoke with our morning show, CNN This Morning. Just listen to what the Israeli military spokesman told us this morning.


HECHT: We find certain things. That's all I can say at this stage. We understand that there's a substantial Hamas infrastructure in the area, in the vicinity of the hospital, potentially under the hospital, and it's something we're working. It will take us time.

This war is a complex war. We went in and taking very, very cautious actions and, again, into a very specific area inside the hospital.


SIDNER: I think what got a lot of people's attention is that were potentially the tunnels under the hospital, which Israel has again and again said that they exist somewhere in that complex.

We've also heard from another spokesperson who said the hospital -- they went in, in part because of hostages, and another spokesman said, no, that's not why they went in. So, are you a little bit concerned about the differing stories that are coming out? Obviously, they're in the middle of an operation, which gets very complicated, but do you have any concerns about the different stories that you're hearing from the IDF?

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): Well, first of all, U.S. intelligence has also confirmed that they believe that there is a Hamas infrastructure below that hospital. So, it's not just the Israelis. With that said, look, I'm deeply worried about civilians that are in the hospital that Hamas wouldn't let leave and, obviously, I'm worried about these unborn babies needing the medical tools, incubators, things that they need. I know the Israeli government is trying to send those things and try to get them out of that hospital.

But we've got to stop listening to Hamas. Why are we listening to Hamas propaganda that they continue to put out?

SIDNER: This wasn't Hamas. This was just a differing of some of the IDF military.

MOSKOWITZ: No. But we mentioned that Hamas denies that they have an infrastructure below the hospital. Why are we listening to them? What do you think? They're going to come out and say, yes, our infrastructure is below the hospital? I mean, the Israelis wouldn't be there, right? There wouldn't be all of this focus on the hospital if they didn't have evidence that they're being looking for, if they didn't have access to tunnels, if they didn't have the technology to see below. They are there for a reason. That's why there is a continued focus on the hospital.

This idea that Israel is just picking on a hospital trying to hurt people is the Hamas propaganda that they want. Hamas could have let those people leave weeks ago, right? They could have let them leave, but they held them at gunpoint. Because what Hamas wants is Hamas wants to use the Palestinians, the innocent Palestinians, as propaganda. They want them to die and then they want to put those images all over television.

Israel doesn't need to just protect Israel from Hamas. Israel needs to protect the innocent Palestinians from Hamas, right? The only way we're going to get peace in this region and get to this two-state solution is to get the innocent Palestinian people away from Hamas.

SIDNER: You talked about that and Hamas has also not been truthful in some of the things that it's done, for sure, and you talk about the two-state solution. We just heard from the king of Jordan, who has basically said, he thinks that because of the way in which Israel has responded to this terror attack that happened on its soil on October 7th, that he doesn't see that a two-state solution is even possible at this point. Do you think a two-state solution is possible?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, it's not possible tomorrow, right? But, look, the king of Jordan has been committed to trying to stabilize the region. He's been a partner with Israel. I'm sure they're having disagreements right now over how things are going. But, no, I am hopeful that there can be a two-state solution on the horizon.


It's hard to see that now, obviously. But, look, when this phase is finished and they have eliminated Hamas' military infrastructure, when they have gotten the Palestinian people away from Hamas, when they feel like Israel is secure from the Hamas attacks, my hope is that the Arab world, along with the United States, along with Israel, will figure out a way to link the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state.

SIDNER: All right. Let me ask you about your trip. You went to Israel. You met with some of the families who have hostages there. There are some 239 people all wondering and waiting and in fear for their loved ones, including children, including grandparents. What did you hear that stood out to you?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, I mean, while we're all focused obviously on this war between Hamas and Israel, and obviously the innocent Palestinians that are caught in the middle, the families of the hostages are also caught in the middle, and that was clear to me.

Obviously, they support Israel defending itself, and they're deeply worried about where their loved ones are. Are they in the tunnels? Are they not in the tunnels? Are they spread out? Are they alive? Are they okay? And this uncertainty that exists and how Hamas is using it for propaganda, by killing a hostage or sending videos of a hostage or misinformation, I mean, they are torturing these families. And these are -- the overwhelming majority of these are not soldiers. These are innocent civilians. Some of them are kids. One of them was a pregnant woman. One of them was a Holocaust survivor. I mean, they took people that were just indiscriminately. They took peace advocates. They took people who were fighting for rights of Palestinians. They didn't care if you were a Jew, they took you.

And so, I mean, these families are just deeply worried. They'll do anything for some positive information. I know there're negotiations going on, I can't comment on that, but I am hopeful that the Qatari government figures out a way to get some of these hostages released.

SIDNER: Yes. I think all of the families and all of the people in the world want to see that happen. These are innocent civilians who were taken through no -- absolutely no fault of their own.

I do want to talk to you quickly about what is happening in Congress. You had a bit of a spat, if you will, and I hate to go from something that is so serious to something that seems trivial, but there is work to be done in Congress. I want to just quickly play what Representative Comer and you were talking about yesterday during a committee.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): That is bullshit. You look like a Smurf here just going around in all this stuff.

MOSKOWITZ: You're doing stuff with your brother. The American public had the same questions. Why should they believe you?

COMER: You've already been proven a liar.

MOSKOWITZ: Who has proven me a liar? You?



SIDNER: It was a very uncomfortable exchange. I don't think I've ever heard used the word Smurf on the floor there. What the heck happened here and how will you ever be able to work together to find solutions for the American people?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, look, I think the chairman and I are becoming fast friends and -- I mean, look, I work with Republicans all of the time. I worked in a Republican administration. I know how to be a bipartisan guy. But, unfortunately, what the chairman has done for the last several months is he's gone on television trying to paint this idea that Joe Biden, when he was not in office, who did -- along with his brother, did something wrong, and he has no evidence to show that.

And all I was trying to do was to treat the chairman with the same rules, right, which is he did business with his brother. I'm not saying the chairman did anything wrong, maybe he did, maybe he didn't, perhaps, if, innuendos. And that's what the chairman has been doing every night on Fox News.

And so I just wanted to point out to the American people the hypocrisy. Obviously, the chairman clearly needs a mental health day, so I hope he gets that. But, yes, how he reacted, in my opinion, has shown the chaos that Republicans have been in for the last ten months. I mean, they removed one of their speakers, they can't pass bills, they can't keep the government open without Democrats, they can't fix the debt ceiling without the Democrats, they can't pass any aid to Ukraine or Israel without the Democrats. And so you are seeing this just pent-up frustration on the Republican side.

And so, look, I think, as far as I'm concerned, I'll work across the aisle, I'll work with my Republican colleagues wherever I can for the betterment of the American people, but at the same time, I'm going to call them out when they're misleading the American people and manipulating the information for political gains because of Donald Trump has given them instructions that they want to try to hurt Joe Biden for electoral purposes.

SIDNER: You certainly did that to Representative Comer. Congressman Moskowitz, thank you so much for joining us this morning and giving us all your different analysis and ideas on what is happening with the Israeli-Hamas War and what is happening in Congress. I appreciate your time.

MOSKOWITZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Moments ago, the FBI director warning of a heightened terror threat against Americans.


So, what is he basing this on?

And with less than a year ago, a year to go until the 2024 election, President Biden faces an uphill battle with a key group of voters.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, President Biden is facing a warning sign in younger voters. They were critical in helping him win the White House in 2020 but now they're telling CNN's Jeff Zeleny, maybe not so much.


KERRY SINGLETON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: People may not vote because they all say, well, this happened under the Biden-Harris administration.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Kerry Singleton looks ahead to the next presidential election, he's thinking back to the promises he heard President Biden and Vice President Harris deliver on a visit to Atlanta.

[10:25:05] JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass it now.

ZELENY: On that winter day, the president was closing in on his first year in office. Hopes were high for Singleton and other students on the grounds of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College. Since then, voting rights legislation stalled. The Supreme Court rejected a student loan forgiveness plan and high prices from food to housing are fueling economic anxieties.

SINGLETON: I do think that everyone is willing to hold the administration accountable for some of those promises that were made. And if they don't happen, I think it's going to be a scary election.

ZELENY: For all of the warning signs facing the president a year before the election, the skepticism and apathy of young voters rank high.

STATE SEN. NABILAH ISLAM PARKES (D-GA): Folks just feel poorer right now than they did two years ago. There is going to have to be a lot of conversations about how we feel like our issues are being heard.

ZELENY: Nabilah Islam Parkes is the young woman to win a seat in the Georgia Senate. In 2020, she went door-to-door in the Atlanta suburbs, joining a coalition to help Biden turn the state blue. That coalition, she said, could fracture by the president's handling of the Israel- Hamas War.

PARKES: I think that young voters recognize you can't bomb your way to peace and security. And so we do feel uncomfortable with that.

ZELENY: Rachael Carroll's first vote for president went to Biden. She said she doesn't regret it given the alternative, but finds herself disappointed by some priorities of the White House.

RACHAEL CARROLL, GEORGIA VOTER: If they can fund a war, they can fund the money to pay off our student loans.

ZELENY: Young voters were a critical component of the president's victory, particularly here in Georgia, where Biden defeated Donald Trump by only 11,779 votes out of nearly 5 million cast. Exit polls in 2020 show that voters 18 to 29 made up 20 percent of the Georgia electorate, the only state of the top six battlegrounds where the percentage of young voters exceeded the national share of 17 percent.

Biden won young Georgia voters by 13 polls, according to exit polls. But now, a year before the 2024 election, surveys show a far closer race with voters under the age of 30 here in Georgia split 46 percent for Trump and 44 percent for Biden, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.

AYLON GIBSON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: The excitement is not as high as it was last time.

ZELENY: Aylon Gibson and some of his classmates wish they had more inspirational and generational choices.

GIBSON: We have to pick between two different people who are very, very old and up in age.

PAUL SPROWL, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: We would like to see Biden pass the baton.

ZELENY: The vice president, whose college tour brought her back on campus this fall, resonates more.

CHRISTOPHER LAMBRY, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: I think she sparks that energy. When she came to Morehouse, it was fun. I felt her passion.

ZELENY: But with Biden at the top of the ticket, potentially facing a rematch of the 2020 race, voters say the burden rests on him to deliver on his promises and not take their support for granted.

SINGLETON: Just as well as we hold Trump accountable, we have to hold Biden accountable.


ZELENY (on camera): So, John, the margin clearly is very key. Again, the president carried Georgia by just 11,779 votes. So, every coalition is important, particularly younger voters who expressed to us concerns about the economy, student debt and more.

The Biden campaign says, look, they are aware of this. Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for the campaign told me this. He said, next year's election is deeply consequential for young people and we're working hard to highlight how an extreme MAGA agenda would devastate the financial security, safety and freedom of young people. We will meet younger voters where they are and earn their votes.

John, one thing that's clear from talking to so many younger voters here, they have their work cut out for them, no doubt. The Biden campaign, though, is hoping for that contrast if Trump wins the nomination to go again against President Biden. John?

BERMAN: One year to go. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for that report. Kate?

BOLDUAN: A warning from FBI Director Chris Wray that the Israel-Hamas War has, in his words, raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level. What he's still telling Congress this morning about the potential new terror threats to the United States and also what the FBI is monitoring in terms of investigations as this war continues.

We'll be right back.