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Hamas Demands Israel To Stop Flying Surveillance Drones; Israeli Troops Find Body Of Another Hostage; Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza Hospitals; UN Calls For Investigation At Al-Shifa Hospital; President Biden's Tougher Tone On Trump; Department Of Education Investigates Schools. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 14:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Hamas makes a big demand and talks with Israel as Israeli troops find the body of another hostage. Details on that just ahead.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, President Biden ramping up his attacks on his predecessor. He's calling Donald Trump a traitor. He's calling Donald Trump a traitor. He's calling Donald Trump a loser and a danger to the country. But will the tougher tone help Biden in the polls? And hate on campus. The Department of Education has launched investigations into 7 schools over complaints of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN News Central.

BROWN: Sources tell CNN today that Hamas is now demanding that Israel stop flying surveillance drones. Over Gaza as a condition for freeing hostages held by the terrorist group. It's part of Hamas's push for Israel to pause its military operations in exchange for people it's holding captive. And it comes after the IDF says 2 hostages were found dead near Al-Shifa Hospital. Israel said today the body of 19-year-old Noah Marciano, a corporal in the Israeli military, has now been returned to Israeli territory.

All of this unfolding as conditions inside Gaza hospitals continue to worsen. The Palestinian Ministry of Health, which is Hamas-controlled, says 41 patients, including 3 premature babies, have died in recent days due to a lack of electricity at that hospital. CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from Tel Aviv. So, Oren, what more can you tell us about this drone demand and how Israel views this?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, as is obvious at this point, there has been no hostage exchange agreement put in place that would include the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a pause in the fighting. I've learned, according to 2 Israeli sources and a source familiar with the negotiations, that during the negotiations over potential parameters of such an agreement, Hamas tried to demand that Israel wouldn't fly its drones over Gaza during a pause in the fighting. Now, that's something Israel would be incredibly unlikely to accept. While we were in Gaza several days ago and standing on the border, we heard the constant presence of drones overhead. Those drones are one of the keyways for Israel to surveil the battlefield, see where its own troops are, identify potential threats, and also keep an eye on Hamas movements. To remove the drones from the battlefield means, at least from Israel's perspective, that Hamas would have a much easier time relocating and preparing for the end of the pause in fighting and potentially moving hostages around where Israel can't see them.

That, too, obviously, finding those hostages is a key goal of Israel, which is why Israel is almost certainly to reject any such proposal put on the table. Now, what's unclear at this point is if that Hamas demand remains on the table or has already been taken from the negotiations as simply unworkable from Israel's perspective. But it was one of the elements Hamas was trying to demand as those hostage negotiations moved forward.

Pam, at this point, we've heard all sorts of reports and rumors about where those negotiations stand, whether they're imminent, not going to happen. What's clear now is that those negotiations have not come to fruition.

BROWN: Yeah, and it's so hard that these families wait and hope to see their loved ones again. Meantime, the UN is also calling on Israel to grant access to Gaza to investigate claims that the IDF found operational Hamas tunnels at the Al-Shifa hospital complex. What can you tell us about that?


LIEBERMANN: After Israel released video of what it said was an operational Hamas tunnel within the Al-Shifa complex, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights came out and said they need access to that site so they can conduct an independent investigation since they say we can't rely simply on one side or the other to tell us what's underneath. We haven't heard an official Israeli response, but it's unlikely Israel will approve that request, at least in the short term, partially because of the deep distrust Israel has for the U.N.

Meanwhile, the burden is still on Israel to prove that the tunnel that we did geolocate to the complex itself is indeed part of Hamas's network and that there is what they have labelled terror infrastructure under the hospital itself. It's worth noting, Pam, that it's not just Israel's credibility that is at stake here. The U.S. has thrown their weight behind that claim, saying they have independent intelligence on that. So, it's the U.S. here as well.

BROWN: All right, Oren Lieberman, thank you so much for that. Well, too dangerous to stay. And given only 30 minutes to leave, CNN's Jomana Karachi has the heroine story of one family and the other. And their desperate escape from northern Gaza. A warning for you, some of the images and content we are about to show you are extremely graphic, but we think it's important for you to see what is happening on the ground there.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gaza City. Two-year-old Walid, distracted through his family's most difficult night of the war so far. With daybreak, the Israeli military calls with an order. You have 30 minutes to get out. It was 9.30. It was 9.30 a.m. on November the 10th. With makeshift white flags, they say the military told them to hold up. They prepare to move.

RAMI ABOU-JAMUS, JOURNALIST: We stay together, we don't rush. If there are strikes or shooting, its not at us. We walk together slowly. Slowly together. No rush. The [Israeli] army knows and I am recording because the army knows.

KARADSHEH: With the little they can carry, they head out and into the unknown. Some too frail to walk. Journalist Rami Abou-Jamus is filming the forced evacuation of his family, along with more than 30 of their neighbors. His phone in his right hand, and in the other, his son Walid. He speaks French with his son, looking for his wife ahead. While waiting for other elderly neighbors struggling to catch up.

ABOU-JAMUS: Carry him, Eyad. Put him on your back. Don't be scared. Stay on the right. Don't be scared. Be careful around this spot.

KARADSHEH: That constant buzz you hear is Israeli drones overhead. It's been the soundtrack of Gaza for years. As they get to the other side of the street, Rami spots his neighbor, Abu Ahmed. Something's not right.

ABOU-JAMUS: What's wrong, Abu Ahmed? What's wrong? It's all in God's hands.

ABU AHMED: My son Ahmed!

ABOU-JAMUS: It's all in God's hands. It's all in God's hands. It's all in God's hands.

AHMED: I told you, lets stay home, my son! I told him lets stay at home.

ABOU-JAMUS: Let's carry him. Let's carry him.

AHMED: I told you, lets stay home, my son! Lets stay at home, my son.

ABOU-JAMUS: Let's go. Let's go.

AHMED: If only we had stayed home, God! Ahmad? Ahmad? Are you breathing my son?

ABOU-JAMUS: Yes, he's breathing. He's breathing.

AHMED: Breathing?

ABOU-JAMUS: Let's carry him. Yes. Yes. Carry him. Pray to God! Pray to God! He is still alive. There's breathing. KARADSHEH: Ahmed was shot in the head. He didn't make it. And around

the corner, 2 others, a man and a woman, also shot. It's uncertain who opened fire on the group. CNN geolocated these videos and traced this deadly journey out of central Gaza City. We provided the Israeli military with details of this incident but they did not respond to our request for comment.


KARADSHEH: Hello, Rami. We reached Rami, now in the south.

ABOU-JAMS: There were no ambulances.

KARADSHEH: Like most here, they were on their own. They got to Shifa Hospital, but so did the war.

ABOU-JAMUS: Look at the dead bodies. Not even a morgue. Gaza has fallen.

KARADSHEH: Witness to it all, 2-year-old Walid. I kept trying to make sure he's not scared and make him feel like what he's seeing around us is a circus or an amusement park. I don't know if I succeeded. Even the journey of humiliation where you take a donkey here and a horse there,


ABOU-JAMUS: I kept trying to make sure he's not scared and make him feel like what he's seeing around us is a circus or an amusement park. I don't know if I succeeded. Even the journey of humiliation where you take a donkey here and a horse there, I was trying to make that entertaining for him.

KARADSHEH: I asked Rami why he decided to film.

ABOU-JAMUS: I just want this to get to the world, so they know the injustice that we're facing. They cast doubt on everything we do. They're stronger in every way. Not just militarily, but with the information that comes out, the narrative that comes out, the news that comes out. What they say is the truth and our words are lies. Please, just deliver our message. I don't want anything else. I don't want all those who have been killed to have died in vain.

KARADSHEH: Rami doesn't know what they'll do now, but says he will only leave his homeland forced at gunpoint. Or dead. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


BROWN: A 2-year-old. Jamana, thank you very much for that reporting. Well, Israel says it has tried to call people in Gaza to evacuate areas where military operations are underway to minimize civilian casualties. But there has been worldwide criticism on the number of deaths in Gaza. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health says more than 11,400 people have been killed, including about 4,700. Some of them are children. Brianna. KEILAR: It is hard to watch. It is so important to watch as we see

what is happening there on the ground. And we are joined now by Adil Haque. He is a law professor at Rutgers University, focusing on the laws of armed conflict. Obviously, the attention shifting now to al- Shifa Hospital. We saw their professor in this story.

If Hamas was using this facility as a staging ground for military operations, which let's just be clear, it's not a staging ground. clear. We do not know that for sure. Israel has not provided definite evidence of that. They've shown evidence of some kind of tunnel shaft, but there's obviously a lot of information we do not know about that tunnel shaft. Well, then that would be a clear war crime. But has Israel responded, in your opinion, with its own war crimes?

ADIL HAQUE, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Thanks, Brianna. Yes, in my view, the Israeli defense forces have violated international humanitarian law in a variety of ways. The first and most obvious is by impeding humanitarian relief from reaching Gaza and civilians. It's a clear violation of international humanitarian law that has been essentially universally condemned. I also think that the operations against hospitals need to be understood not in terms of 1 rule of law, but several. International humanitarian law provides several rules of law that are protected. And there are several layers of protection for hospitals.

The first basic layer is the same layer of protection that applies to all civilians, to doctors, to nurses, to patients. Those individuals retain their protection no matter what happens to the building in which they happen to be. The second level of protection is the protection that is specific to hospitals. They may not be the object of attack, and their humanitarian functions may not be impeded. Now, it is true that if a particular building is being used either in whole or in part, not for medical purposes, but for military purposes, that building loses that top layer of protection, but that other layer is still in place.

So, the building may not be protected, but all the human beings inside, the doctors, the paramedics, the patients themselves, they are still protected. And so, Israel must take all feasible measures to limit harm, harm to them. They must call off attacks or operations that would inflict disproportionate harm on them. And Israel has a general obligation to take constant care to spare civilians from unnecessary harm. And that itself requires allowing hospitals to do their life-saving work to the maximum extent possible and not preventing medicine and other essential goods from entering the hospitals.

KEILAR: Adil, there are so many things interacting here. I mean, we look at what happened on October 7th. The U.N. says that is a war crime. Taking hostages back to Gaza, that is a war crime. You're talking about this issue of proportionality, which is very complex. And then there's also this responsibility incumbent in Israel to weigh the civilian casualties, the consequences against any military advantage that it may have. Talk a little bit more about that, especially in the context of this is Hamas, who is promising more and more attacks, whose founding charter is actually based in the genocide of Israelis and the destruction of the Israeli state. I mean, how do you wade through all that?


HAQUE: Yeah. So, there are actually two proportionality rules in international law that apply here. One applies to specific attacks, like the airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp that killed over 100 people, including around 69 children, according to Air Wars. In that context, what the IDF should have done is consider the expected harm to civilians and wade that against the military advantage anticipated from, according to them, eliminating a kind of local or regional Hamas commander.

In that context, that attack strikes many, including me, is clearly disproportionate for two reasons. First, the extent of foreseeable civilian harm is so out of step with what other advanced law is doing. And so, in that context, what the IDF should have done is consider the expected harm to civilians and wade that against the military advantage. And so, in that context, militaries would ever even consider in other conflicts. If you look at the U.S.-led fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, there was never an airstrike in which the U.S. knew that an airstrike would cause this level of civilian harm and went ahead with it anyway, even though ISIS, like Hamas, was an extremely dangerous and capable adversary. But the U.S. never considered this kind of civilian harm to be proportionate.

And on the other side, the military advantage side, the fact is that Hamas, according to all reports, has a deep bench of mid-level commanders. So, taking out one local or regional commander is not going to change the course of the war. It's not going to bring you that much closer to your goals. That person is probably going to be replaced, and it's not really going to make a decisive impact on the battlefield. So, given that imbalance, that disproportionate between civilian harm and military advantage, that attack strikes me as well as many others. And so, in that context, Hamas is probably going to be replaced, and it's going to make a decisive impact on the battlefield. So, given that imbalance, that disproportionate between civilian harm and military advantage, that attack strikes me as well as many other international lawyers is clearly disproportionate.

KEILAR: And, Adil, just real quick, as you're looking at this and you have people on both sides saying war crimes, war crimes, how do you referee a situation like this where you arguably have war crimes coming from different sides and it's a matter of degree?

HAQUE: Yeah, so I think that's the reason, the imperative for an independent and impartial investigation. I would like to see the International Criminal Court really supported and the prosecutor really supported in their investigation because that would look into both sides, Hamas and the IDF, and you would have an independent, objective look at what is really going on and really get down to the facts and an impartial application of the law, which is what we desperately need right now.

KEILAR: Desperately. Professor Adil Haque, we so appreciate your insights here. Thank you. HAQUE: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: And still to come this hour, with the election just a year away, President Biden is revving up the attacks on former president Trump. We have new CNN reporting next. Plus, fresh polling reflects just how close a hypothetical matchup between Biden and Trump could be and which candidate Biden is trialling. And it's been 100 days since a devastating fire ravaged Maui. CNN talked to the task force who is working to find people who are still missing.



BROWN: Well, the gloves are coming off with election 2024 fast approaching campaign. Officials say President Biden is sharpening his attacks against Donald Trump, casting him as a loser and much more. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House with this brand-new reporting. So, Arlette, what are you learning?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Pamela, President Biden has really increasingly sharpened his attacks against former President Donald Trump as the 2 men head towards a possible matchup, a rematch, 1 year away from this month. Now, the president has been making these comments in some of his official speeches, but mostly in those off-camera private fundraisers. And an advisor I spoke with said that the president in particular really wanted to push back on former President Donald Trump for his recent comments, likening, using Trump as the president and a San Francisco fundraiser this week said that that kind of language is, quote, you heard in Nazi Germany in the '30s.

And he added, there's a lot of reasons to be against Donald Trump, but damn, he shouldn't be president. Now, this all comes as the president has faced this polling that has worried some Democrats as these hypothetical head-to-head matchups, including 1 from CNN, have shown former President Trump leading Biden very narrowly. And there has been some pushback from allies who have wanted to see the president and his team take a more forceful approach with Trump.

One Democratic fundraiser told me bluntly, quote, quote, Joe's going to take the gloves off and start to engage with facts instead of BS. They've got to be more forceful, a little bit more in the electorate's face, and take these guys on.

KEILAR: And then, you know, so much of this, as you mentioned, it's off-camera, right? I mean, when is this going to be something you see actually coming out of Biden's mouth? It really does make a difference, Arlette, when you actually see him on camera saying these things just in public.

SAENZ: Yeah. These fundraisers are really the president's only overtly political events right now. That is why you are seeing some of these more fiery comments coming behind closed doors. But advisers say that that's part of the evolution of the campaign, that the president will be picking up active campaigning later next year. But in the meantime, his campaign is also trying to find other ways to really sharpen these contrasts. This week, they've launched a messaging push, really trying to bring attention to some of the policy platforms that President Trump would adopt if he were to put to seek a second term.

One of those things they've been pointing to is Trump's plans to kind of expand the hardline immigration policies of his first administration. But it's clear, as you see over the course of the weeks, as this campaign develops, that the president is becoming more eager to take on his predecessor as they could head towards that potential rematch.

KEILAR: Yep, we are looking toward that as well. Arlette, thank you. And joining us now with more on the 2024 race, we have CNN political director David Chalian. And that's the thing, is that Donald Trump is giving Biden a lot to work with in terms of what he envisions for his second term. But when you see this become the public fight, what is that going to do to the race?


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think as Americans tune into the race in the months ahead, it will crystallize the options. And when I would talk to Biden advisors at the very beginning of this year, sort of heading into election season, eight months ago or so, it was very clear they believed their entire approach to the 2024 re- elect was to make sure this was not going to be a referendum on Biden but make it a real choice. And that the contrast with who they believe was going to be the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, and they still believe that couldn't be clearer for them. And they are going to continue to lean into that.

So yes, Arlette's reporting, of course, they're stepping this up now. And you're hearing more from the president behind the scenes on this. But this is not a changed plan. This has been the plan because they believe that's their best argument for success to compare Biden to Trump.

BROWN: And when you look at the polls coming in, they can illuminate maybe what voters are thinking. And one is when it comes to Biden's physical and mental fitness, he got a poor assessment out of New Hampshire, 58 percent. And that was the one where when he stacked up against Trump, he did worse, right?

CHALIAN: In fact, the quality that we tested where Donald Trump outperformed Joe Biden. And this is clear everywhere. In that same poll out from CNN and University of New Hampshire today, you see a majority of Democratic primary voters, likely Democratic primary voters, say age, the president's age is their biggest concern about his candidacy. Nothing, nothing about his policies or not nothing, but fewer, much smaller groups saying his policies, or he can't unite the country.

It's his age. And that gets to the fitness piece as well. And in comparison, to Trump, at least in this case, he's got a poor assessment of his fitness as well. And in comparison, to Trump, in New Hampshire, Trump scores better. KEILAR: In Nikki Haley, Joe Biden face off would appear from the polls

to bring a very different result. Of course, that would be if there was a large Republican appetite with her compared to Trump, which there does not appear to be. But this is still a pretty interesting trend here.

CHALIAN: Yeah, I mean, this is a trend that we've been seeing, Brianna, since the end of August, beginning of September. We had a poll out right at the end of summer that showed Nikki Haley posting up against Joe Biden better than any other Republican running, including Trump. She is -- she is the one who for several months now has consistently had a lead in the polls. Now, these are polls about an election that is still a year away or a little less than a year away. So, let's not put so much stock. This is going to become an engaged campaign.

But for the the pertinence of that poll finding is that that is now a credential that Nikki Haley sells on the campaign trail, that she is the one to Republicans that can most easily defeat Joe Biden. And that's their number one goal next year. So, the problem for her is that Donald Trump, who is such a commanding lead in the primaries, is also very competitive with Joe Biden in this year out polling right now.

BROWN: Right. But there's no clear front runner, right, between Biden and Trump.

CHALIAN: No, most of the polls. I mean, in our recent poll, he had a narrow lead. Trump did in other polls that have come out there within the margin of error. Haley consistently is outside the margin of error with a with a significant lead over Biden.

BROWN: Right. All right. David Chalian, very interesting. Thank you so much. Well, authorities in Ventura County, California, just gave an update on an arrest. Link to the death of a Jewish protester. We're going to have more on that just ahead. Plus, a CNN exclusive. The Department of Education is investigating several schools over allegations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Our Rene Marsh is going to bring us the latest on that.