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Hostage Found Dead In Israel-Hamas Conflict; Leaflet Drop In Southern Gaza; Intelligence On Hamas Command Hub; APEC Summit In San Francisco. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 16, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar with Pamela Brown here in Washington. And we are waiting on President Biden to speak. Any moment, he is expected to announce major U.S. investments in Asia as he is promoting workers' rights globally. But we're going to begin the hour with some breaking news coming out of the Israel- Hamas war. The Israeli army revealing soldiers have just located the body of another hostage.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: She is one of about 240 people Hamas terrorists kidnapped on October 7th. The body was located near Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest, which Israeli defense forces just raided yesterday. That raid is ongoing. They're claiming that Hamas was using tunnels beneath it as a command center. Let's get to CNN's Nic Robertson in Sderot, Israel. So, Nick, what do you know about this hostage found dead by the IDF?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. She's a 65- year-old lady, a grandmother, Yehudit Weiss. Her husband, Shmuel, was actually killed on October 7th. The IDF isn't giving any details of the condition of her body or the condition of the structure that she was in. So, we don't understand at the moment how she may have died, the circumstance specifically of the discovery of her body. But we are being told that her body was discovered in a structure close to the Al-Shifa Hospital. So, it does appear that the discovery of her body is connected to the ongoing military operation, the IDF operation at the Al-Shifa Hospital.
Obviously, the families of all the hostages are desperate to get information and knowledge about their loved ones. And there's been a concern among many of them that because of Israel's heavy bombardment and because Hamas has been using potentially some of the hostages, as effectively human shields, there was always that worry that some could be killed in these ongoing IDF against Hamas military operations. It's not clear precisely what happened here, but that has been a concern.
And Hamas, in their own propaganda that the Israeli government says is in essence just trying to play on the psychological emotions of Israelis, has claimed that a number of hostages have died over the past few weeks. And they blame it on Israel's bombing. There's no evidence to substantiate that. But, of course, this is a terrible, terrible day for Yehudit Weiss's family.
KEILAR: Yeah, no, it is awful. Nic, also tell us about this leaflet drop in southern Gaza and what this means.
ROBERTSON: It really seems to indicate that Israel does intend, the IDF does intend to move south of the sort of demarcation line that they, that they advised Gazans to get south of and get away from the north of Gaza. It does appear as if the IDF will go south of that line now and conduct military operations because they dropped leaflets over Khan Yunus, which is perhaps the biggest population center in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Now, obviously, it has much denser population because so many hundreds of thousands of people have moved from the north. And the leaflets are telling people to move. They're telling people to move towards known safe places in the south of the Gaza Strip. And Israel has been designating an area, relatively small area compared to the size of the Gaza Strip, close to the Mediterranean Sea on the western, southwestern side of Gaza as a humanitarian zone. It's not clear if any international aid agencies have been able to provide any provisions in that humanitarian zone. They, at the moment, say they can barely move around because they don't have enough fuel.
So quite the location that the IDF would like the civilians to move to and what security they may find there isn't clear. But the very fact they're being told to move out of Khan Yunus indicates the IDF intends to go there.
BROWN: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much.
KEILAR: And let's talk about this further now with CNN Global Affairs analyst Kim Dozier. Kim, first, the IDF saying that soldiers near the hospital, the Al-Shifa Hospital, have found the body of an Israeli hospital have found the body of an Israeli hostage from October 7th. What does this mean? What questions does this raise for you?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The most horrible news for the family who's been hoping that their grandmother had survived. But it lends credence to Israel's claims that the area under the Shifa Hospital and around had been used by Hamas as some sort of an operational centre, possibly also to hold hostages. The IDF has reported to us that they found a laptop with information on it related to the hostages. Israeli media have been reporting that that's included photos of them.
And the search continues within the hospital compound itself to find proof of this underground operation centre that Israel and the White House have been trying to find. The White House has said exists. And further bolstering that are the reports that back in the '80s, Israel actually built, when Israel was in control of the area, built a bunker, a bomb shelter underneath the hospital. So, I guess that's what they're looking for. One Israeli military official tells me they have found signs that Hamas tried to erase that it had been there. BROWN: But they have released video showing military equipment. But as you point out, the raid is still ongoing. We have some new reporting coming in that the U.S. has intelligence, signals intelligence, meaning they picked up communications between Hamas militants talking about a command hub underneath that hospital. But so far, we have yet to see the concrete proof that it exists. So, does that tell you that while there is that intelligence and they have found some of this military equipment, that they're still looking for that concrete proof that, yes, there was a whole Hamas operation underneath the hospital?
DOZIER: It could be very, very easy. It could simply be that the entrances to what they're looking for have been collapsed by Hamas. Israel's been doing the same thing when it finds a tunnel structure rather than sending troops into it. It sets explosive charges that explode the whole area and it maps whatever got exploded. Israel and the U.S. have for years been working on technology to map the tunnel system that Hamas was using. It's bragged about having a tunnel system. It's not just a tunnel system that runs all over Gaza.
This also explains why you see Israel moving to another location, Khan Yunis, because they said they're going to root out Hamas. Hamas is everywhere in Gaza. So they're not just going to do northern Gaza.
BROWN: Well, they're beyond Gaza, right? I mean, but yes, they're everywhere in Gaza. But just to follow up on what you said, what is the importance of releasing evidence showing that, yes, there was a command hub underneath this hospital?
DOZIER: Right now, one of the ways that Israel has tried to deflect the international censure of its actions is by saying there is a legitimate military objective. And under the laws of war, if there truly was a command centre proven to be under Shifa Hospital, then that negates the area in terms of it being a medical centre and therefore off limits for military operations. That still, though, doesn't relieve Israel from the responsibility to try to protect civilians as it prosecutes the situation.
KEILAR: What kind of limb has President Biden gone out on as he's insisting that absolutely he believes intelligence he's seen about this?
DOZIER: You know, when you hear the word absolutely, you're like, show me. So right now, the pressure is really on Israel to show the world that it's not just the handful of the dozens or so of weapons and the single laptop that they've shown the media so far. They've really got to show some something that looks to the world like a place that Hamas, was controlling and running this operation.
KEILAR: Kim, as you see this expansion possibly into the South, I mean, that's what you would think with a leaflet drop. Certainly, it raises questions about more collateral damage. I mean, these Palestinians who are moving out of the north, ultimately, where do they go? There's so little space. But also, what does it say to you about the Israeli strategy and how they are prioritizing the elimination of Hamas and the recovery of hostages? DOZIER: It has felt, you know, it's been a very, very long time since the Israeli government has been in power. And it's felt, at least to the families of the hostages, that eliminating Hamas is more important to the current Israeli government, the way some of these attacks and the bunker busters that they've been using seem to be dropped without reference to the fact that hostages might be hiding there. We don't know. But if -- with this Khan Yunis leaflet drop, what this seems to indicate is this is preparing the battleground. Remember when they did this before, it was several days before they then encircled the next location. They're doing this very deliberately, and they're trying to do it by giving the civilians time to get out of the way. Where they go, we don't know.
KEILAR: Really at this uncertain time, so many questions right now up in the air. Kim, we appreciate you helping us wade through them. Thank you so much. And now let's go to San Francisco, where we are about to hear from President Biden at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference. We understand this is imminent, so this should be happening here any moment.
Always kind of a little bit of a guess, but there you have it, the presidential seal on the podium. This happening one day after his kind of tense, certainly high stakes sit down with China's President Xi.
BROWN: Yeah, absolutely. Biden and Xi came out of that meeting vowing to reopen high-level military channels and to combat the fentanyl trade. There are modest signs that the U.S. and China can cooperate and compete amid these rising tensions, but those tensions, they were on full display after the summit. When Biden described Xi as a dictator for the second time this year, provoking quite the response from China.
KEILAR: Yes, and maybe he is a dictator, but maybe in the world of diplomacy, not the time that you say it, right? You got to choose your time and your place. Let's go to CNN Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee, who is there at APEC. Lots of sensitivities around this, MJ. What could we be hearing from President Biden here shortly?
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam and Brianna, now that the Xi summit is behind us, the president, is really focused today on this APEC summit taking place in San Francisco. Any minute now, we should be hearing him deliver remarks to a group of CEOs. And the White House is saying that there should be new announcements being made about investments that the United States is making in some of these APEC countries. You know, this coming on the heels of the Biden- Xi summit is a really interesting contrast, actually, because it really does sort of represent the ongoing efforts that the Biden administration has been making over the years to really try to nurture and strengthen these alliances that they have with a number of Asian and Indo-Pacific nations.
And U.S. officials have been pretty clear all along that those efforts that they are making have a lot and everything really to do with trying to contain China and remain competitive with Beijing. So, at the same time that we are seeing this huge effort to try to, you know, ease tensions between U.S. and China, we are also seeing on this parallel track the Biden administration continuing to make these efforts to remain competitive with China. And we had been told before the summit by U.S. officials that this is something that Chinese officials had been sensitive to, cognizant of basically this reality of a changing competitive landscape.
BROWN: Yeah, she made it clear in his comments yesterday that he did not at least want to view the relationship with the U.S. as competitive. He viewed that as a potential source of conflict. So, the question now after this meeting and as we await for President Biden to take the podium there, what comes next for these two leaders besides a potential exchange of pandas from China?
LEE: So, I do think this is worth talking about because is there sort of a better issue for diplomacy than pandas? In all seriousness, though, a lot of attention being given to, the comments that President Xi made yesterday when he seemed to suggest that it was very possible that China may send additional pandas to the United States. If you are a panda fan, you will know that last month, 3 of the pandas that were housed in the Washington, D.C. zoo, they were sent back to China. And now there are only 4 pandas that remain in the United States.
This is what Xi said about pandas. He said they were envoys of friendship, friendship between the Chinese and American people. And the White House today taking this question seriously, they said, look, we would welcome that development were that to happen. If Beijing were to decide to send additional pandas to the United States, White House spokesman John Kirby saying at the same time, we respect the sovereign decision that China made to remove some of those pandas earlier this year.
KEILAR: Look, diplomacy takes all forms. Sometimes it's in zoo animals. Pandas are popular, but they're also a barometer. So, it's definitely worth talking about. M.J. Lee live for us in San Francisco. Thank you so much. And of course, we are standing by for these remarks. We are told that they will be happening at any moment. So, bear with us here. Also following West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He's not ruling out leaving the Democratic Party as we are weighing as -- pardon -- we are not. I don't have an announcement to make. Do you, Pam?
BROWN: I don't.
KEILAR: He is weighing a presidential run. Plus, it's one of the busiest days of the year. It's Starbucks. And yet thousands of workers are on strike. We'll have more on what they're demanding. And an arrest has been made after a Jewish man died at dueling Israel- Palestinian protests in California. We'll have more details on that investigation coming up.
KEILAR: All right, you were looking there at a live picture in San Francisco, and you see the presidential seal. We're awaiting President Biden. He has been speaking to CEOs at this APEC summit, and we are going to be hearing a remark from him. We're going to be hearing a remark from him any time soon, or very soon, we are told.
But this can always expand, as we know. It's supposed to be here very soon. I want to bring Kim Dozier back in. This is coming on the heels of him saying that the Chinese president, and this followed their meeting yesterday, is a dictator. Now, that's true. But maybe, you know, in the world of diplomacy, you don't say it or you choose your time of when to say it. He's trying to restore relations. So just explain that to us. Yes, he's speaking the truth. What's the matter with speaking the truth in this instance?
DOZIER: Oh, my gosh. I can imagine that the Secretary of State, the other officials, the press officials were like, phew, we got through this. And then he says that. And they're all probably screaming, use your inside voice. But, yeah, he said it out loud, which, interestingly, the Chinese foreign office said that was the wrong thing to say.
But the Chinese media have been pretty quiet about it, the state- controlled Chinese media. So, it seems like they don't want to make a big deal about this. They're trying to keep this positive. And they also know that President Biden is facing a tough election year, where he is likely to face criticism from Republicans about getting too close to China at a time when China is a major vote-getter for most in the national security world.
So maybe Xi is going to give him a pass on this, because it also fits in with that, hey, we're -- we're allowing each nation to be who they are, competitively. We're not being competitive. We're going to be the success, the competitors, but not fighting each other.
BROWN: Right. You heard Xi say that the earth is big enough for two countries to operate the way we want to. Here we see President Biden going up to the podium. Let's listen to what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning. Please have a seat. Welcome to San Francisco. Moscone Center is about as big as my state. This is a city of synonymous with innovation, and breaking barriers, where collaboration and coming together have always been key to unlocking our potential. It's a city that has been shaped by centuries of deep ties to the Asian Pacific region by contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Island heritage.
So, San Francisco is a natural place to gather, innovate, and collaborate for the 2023 APEC Summit, the CEO Summit, and all the events that are taking place this week. I want to thank everyone who has made this week possible, especially those serving in APEC Executive Secretariat, AFIC Business Advisory Council, the National Centre for APEC, and so many others. Today, 21 AFIC economies make up more than 60 percent of the global GDP. We're almost half the global trade. The Asian Pacific is projected to be the largest contributor to global growth over the next 30 years.
So, the vision we pursue for the economic future of our region will rebound far beyond the Asian Pacific. The choices we make are going to matter, it's not hyperbole to suggest, for the entire world. It's up to us to harness the dynamism of our economies and tap the entrepreneurial spirit of our people and unleash the potential, the unlimited potential of our partnerships in order to realize a future that will benefit people not only in the Asian Pacific region, but the whole world. And I mean that sincerely. People everywhere.
A future where prosperity is shared and is inclusive, where workers are empowered and their rights are respected, our economies are sustainable and resilient, and the bridges that connect our people open a golden gate of opportunity to create lives of hope. Just lives of hope. Most people are just, -- just hope. You know, it's been my approach here in the United States from the moment my administration took office. We're building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up. Trickle-down economy worked okay sometimes, but not a whole lot trickled down on my dad's kitchen table.
But we're building an economy. And when the middle class does well, the poor have a chance and the wealthy still do very well. Because what happens, the poor have a ladder up, the middle class and the wealthy still do well. Folks, we're already seeing the results. The last quarter, the American economy grew 4.9 percent, the highest growth rate in 2 years. More people in the United States, --because of many of you sitting here, the CEOs, -- are in the workforce today than any time in American history. Let's give credit where it's due. More people in the United States are in the workforce today than any time in American history. Our unemployment has been under 4 percent for 21 straight months. Inflation has come down by 65 percent. More to do.
We now have the lowest inflation of any -- the lowest inflation rate of any advanced economy in the world. Meanwhile, we have the lowest inflation rate in the world. Meaning household wealth has grown by 37 percent in real terms since before the pandemic.
I acknowledge there's a disconnect between the numbers and how people feel about their place in the world right now. We can deal with the second part as well. We still have work to do, but our model for growing is delivering real results for all Americans. Significant black unemployment, Latino unemployment, etc. The strength of our economy is driving growth and spurring investment throughout our region. Again, because of the many of you sitting in front of me made those judgments.
And it's drawing investments to the United States, especially from Asian Pacific economies. Since the start of my administration, companies from across the Asian Pacific have invested over $200 billion in the United States. These are historic investments, creating literally tens of thousands of good paying jobs. We're 14 million created just since we came to office. All across America and industries that are going to shape the future of this globe. Semiconductors, electric vehicles, batteries, critical materials, hydrogen hubs, and other critical emerging technologies.
I've long said, it's never been a good bet to bet against the American people. Never. No, I mean it. Think about it. It's never been a good bet. And we're proving it once more. So, my message to all of you here today is leaders of government and industry encountering the United States. We're delivering on our promises and we're doubling down on our progress. We'll soon--- will soon be your strong and steady partner as we continue working together to realize the Asian Pacific region is free and open, prosperous and secure, resilient and connected.
By the way, twice since I've been president, I've had the leaders of the Asian Pacific Islands come and meet with the United States. They're all part of it. I thought when I left the G20 and Vietnam desperately wanted to see me and raise the relationship, it brought me back when I stood in front of that monument to John McCain. All my days growing up, I never thought that would ever occur. Today, I'd like to talk a little about the work we've done in the region to get there and how we're going to go about seeing this road forward.
I've said for a long time. The United States is a Pacific power. I had that brief discussion yesterday with President Xi. He had asked me before, I reminded him, why we're so engaged in the Pacific. It's because we're a Pacific nation. And because of us, there's been peace and security in the region, allowing you to grow. He didn't disagree. By the way, it was a very good, straightforward meeting.
We're not going anywhere. For decades, America's enduring commitment to the region has been a springboard that's enabled growth, transformative growth, ensured the open flow of commerce, lifted millions of people out of poverty. Today, that relationship goes both ways. The United States remains vital to the future of the region, and the region is more vital than ever to the United States of America. This is when my administration is going to be the most important. We have today had a very different outlook from day one, and we have clearly laid out our approach with our Indo-Pacific strategy.
We're delivering across the board, including when it comes to our shared economic agenda. The United States has deep ties with our fellow APEC economies. More than 60% of U.S. exports go to fellow APEC economies. Robust two-way investment between the United States and the APEC. We have a very close relationship with the United States. country supports good jobs and new opportunities all across the region, and American businesses significantly represented here in this auditorium, are the largest source of foreign direct investment in the APEC economies.
In fact, if we take just the U.S. companies represented here at this summit and look at their new investments in APIC economies in the calendar year, it totalled more than $50 billion so far. Investments announced today from companies like Amazon, United, Delta, Microsoft, to make sure our region is more inclusive and interconnected.