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UN: Gaza Being "Strangled" By Siege, Airstrikes; Netanyahu: The World Must Unite To Defeat Hamas; US President Biden To Visit Israel On Wednesday; Humanitarian Crisis Continues To Mount In Gaza; Israel Prepares For Next Stage Of War Against Hamas; Hamas Released Video Of 21-Year-Old French-Israeli Woman; Families Of Hamas Hostages Call For Peace Amid Conflict; U.S. Marine Rapid Response Force Heads to Waters Off Israel; IDF Strikes Hezbollah Targets in Lebanon; CNN Journalist Flees Gaza with Family Amid Airstrikes; Muslim Victim: Attacker Blamed Me for Israel Violence. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm John Vause. US President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday in a dramatic show of support which comes at a crucial moment.

More than a week after a surprise attack by Hamas militants who murdered more than 1400 civilians in Israel, an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza is now believed to be imminent, as well as Israeli airstrikes that left Gaza facing a humanitarian crisis like never before, and White House officials fear this conflict could spiral into a wider regional confrontation.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the president's visit. He's been on a marathon diplomatic mission across the Middle East. Blinken also says the US and Israel have agreed to develop a plan for humanitarian aid from donations to reach civilians in Gaza. UN experts warn the territory is being strangled by Israel's weeklong siege and aerial bombardment.

The Palestinian prime minister says that more than 2800 people have been killed in Gaza. An Israeli ground offensive into Gaza was expected to start at any moment. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu says the country will not stop until it has destroyed the military and government capabilities of Hamas. More now from CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley, and a warning, his report contains some graphic video.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At stake, a widening war in the Middle East. A humanitarian horror and floods of refugees. The conundrum Israel faces is self-defense versus collective punishment. Still reeling from the October seventh Hamas attacks, in which at least 1400 people were killed, and most of them civilians, Israel's prime minister has pledged to destroy Hamas and called for international support.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): He said, just like the world united to destroy the Nazis and destroy ISIS, now the world must unite in order to defeat Hamas.

KILEY (voice-over): But at what cost? The US secretary of state embarked on a frantic round of talks with Israel ahead of a widely anticipated ground assault on Gaza.

ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: You know our deep commitment to Israel's right, and indeed it's obligation, to defend itself and to defend its people.

KILEY (voice-over): But there's also been a warning from the White House.

JOE BIDEN, US PRESIDENT: I think it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.

KILEY (voice-over): Hamas is blamed for mounting civilian casualties in Gaza by Israel and the UK's foreign secretary.

JAMES CLEVERLY, UK FOREIGN SECRETARY: Of course we want to minimize Palestinian casualties, we want to minimize Israeli casualties, we want everybody to respect civilians. But the real clear distinction is Israel are trying to get civilians out of danger, Hamas are trying to put civilians into danger.

KILEY (voice-over): Gaza has no power, no freshwater, it's besieged by Israel, and its Egyptian border sealed. Half its two million population has been told to leave the north of the enclave amid continued Israeli airstrikes. More than half a million are on the move.

ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Egypt's president said I believe that the ongoing retaliation goes beyond the right of self-defense for Israel, and amounts to the collective punishment of the Gaza strip.

KILEY (voice-over): Egypt further insists that the Palestinians should not leave their territory and face permanent displacement. China, meanwhile, is sending a special envoy to the region next week and calling for calm as around the world, revulsion of Hamas' recent atrocities risks being eclipsed by protests against Israel's operation in Gaza. And along the Israel Lebanon border, Iran backed Hezbollah and Israel have been skirmish-ing.


Israel evacuated 28 villages along the frontier in case of outright war, an invasion of Gaza could trigger just that. Once again, in the Middle East, there's global division over what the problem is and fear of some of the solutions. Sam Kiley, CNN.


VAUSE: Live now to London, CNN's Katie Polglase is following developments for us. Okay so what more do we know about Biden's visit? This is his second trip to an active war zone this year, it comes at some personal risk to the president, but also a trip he obviously feels like he needs to do.

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Morning John, absolutely. And that is clearly very evident from the decision here for Biden to go and visit Israel. There is a clear security risk, the White House have said that they have done their homework before deciding that Biden will visit, clearly there have been some considerable preparations before this decision was made.

But it also shows how seriously Biden's administration think this issue is and how pressing it is to ensure that there is some de- escalation. Now, if you look at his Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit recently, all of this shuttle diplomacy that we've been talking about. The number of different state actors, the number of different countries Blinken met with really shows how many different countries are involved and how much concern there is about this conflict spreading, broadening out into a wider regional conflict beyond just Israel and the Palestinian territories.

And that is really part of why Biden is deciding to make this visit arriving tomorrow. And clearly there was also the question of whether there will be US military involvement as well. We're hearing just this morning that the US head of central command is in Israel talking to the Israel chief of staff, the army's chief of staff about potential help from the US military.

Clearly a statement there that the US is considering some kind of form of support for Israel. But, amid all of this discussion about potential shuffle diplomacy, states potentially getting involved in this conflict, there is the continued concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. As mentioned there in Sam's package, and also, as we've seen from Blinken's statements about this in the recent report that the US and Israel are now making a plan for humanitarian aid to enter into Gaza, this is a pressing humanitarian need on a very, very dire scale.

And clearly we're looking at the Rafah border, that is the only border that there is potential access to the Gaza strip, that is with Egypt. There have been many discussions, President Biden yesterday calling the Egyptian president regarding this crossing. We don't know if they discussed this crossing, but clearly that is the main topic of discussion. Also we know that Biden's Secretary of State Blinken also discussed with Sisi the potential opening of the Rafah crossing.

This is crucial for enabling aid into Gaza and one of the main reasons why the Gaza strip has not had any humanitarian aid at all since this conflict began. So, again, likely to be on the table as Biden arrives tomorrow. And really, as we are seeing, there are two things to discuss. The humanitarian aid, as we're talking about, but also any US involvement as this conflict clearly, there is a very major concern about it escalating, broadening out from Israel and involving many other states as well, John.

VAUSE: Katie, thank you. Katie Polglase there, live for us in London. Well, aid groups have been warning of an imminent public health crisis in Gaza if supplies of water and fuel remain cut off. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the growing desperation inside Gaza. And a warning, some images in her report are graphic.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what life looks like in places Israel told families to flee towards for their safety. Where constant bombardment has reduced homes to rubble and wiped out entire families. Survivors say, I lost all my relatives, 15 people, this man says. We were not on the frontline or anything, we were just sitting at home.

What have we done wrong? The UN warns there are no safe places. About half a million people fled here to southern Gaza, after an evacuation order by the Israeli military. But families, desperate for refuge, are still trapped in the war zone. The dead and injured, flooding a health care system on the brink. Civilians are caught in the crossfire. With the death toll mounting, just over a quarter of those killed are children, according to Palestinian officials.

And a weeklong siege is strangling the enclave, the UN says. Amid fears food, fuel, water, and medical supplies may soon run out. Some two million people are crammed into this 140 square mile territory. Now many of them, pushing to an even smaller corner of the enclave. About half the population are children. There are not enough shelters to house the sheer number of civilians. And even those who do find spaces in overwhelmed schools turned refugee centers, it is little comfort to the youngest victims.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's no one to protect us, this little girl says. There is no one to come save us. How are we supposed to live, how? Answer me.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to annihilate Hamas after a terror attack by the group left 1400 killed in Israel. But with Hamas so deeply embedded within Gaza's population, rights groups fear a bloodbath.

LYNNE HASTINGS, UN RESIDENT COORDINATOR FOR OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: What we're seeing right now, the direction that Israel is going in, they have said they want to destroy Hamas, but their current trajectory is going to destroy Gaza.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Hamas does not answer to the people of Gaza. No elections have been held here since the group seized power in 2007. Still, it is these residents that will pay the price. And with the potential ground incursion expected, that cost is unfathomable. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Joining me now from Tel Aviv is Jonathan Conricus, international spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Colonel, good to see you, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: It's a pleasure, sir. I'm wondering if you can just comment on a report we've just received from Palestinian sources within Gaza that there were Israeli airstrikes around the Rafah crossing in the south, killing at least 28 people, also airstrikes in the region of Khan Yunis, which as you know is in the center of Gaza. These are all areas which the Israelis urged the Palestinians to head towards to be out of danger for Israeli operations that were taking place in the north. So what more can you tell us about those airstrikes in the south?

CONRICUS: Yes, the combat operations continue. We continue to hunt Hamas operatives, to attempt to degrade their military capabilities, whereabouts, locations, tunnels, rocket launchers, and of course other things that are part of this war that has been forced upon us. I am not aware of any strikes specifically in those areas, but they could have happened. And anyhow, we continue to operate and strike Hamas targets as we have defined before and we try to do that according to the law of armed conflict and of course to minimize civilian casualties.

VAUSE: And just as we have you talking about Rafah, what is the situation there as far as you know, with regards to that border crossing actually being opened so that all the trucks on the Egyptian side of the border, trucks filled with humanitarian assistance will be allowed into Gaza, because right now people's lives are counting on that aid being delivered?

CONRICUS: Yes, I know that an attempt -- first of all I am aware of lots of discussions, reports and quite a lot of conflicting information about it. And sorry to say I don't have clarity myself. The only thing I can say is that the last attempt that I am aware of, that we were involved in, was three days ago when there was an attempt to evacuate foreign nationals, Americans and others, which failed because Hamas refused to open the gate.

Other than that, I don't have any update on the situation. We understand the complexity. And perhaps there will be news later in the day about Rafah and about other issues pertaining to humanitarian aid.

VAUSE: Confusion in war I guess comes with the territory sir, but we appreciate whatever you can do to clarify. We've just heard the news as well on Monday that the US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday. There is an imminent ground operation in Gaza. Does the president's visit to Israel complicate or delay that ground incursion in any way?

CONRICUS: Not as far as I understand, and I think, what I understand from public statements, the statement made by Secretary Blinken, the president is here to show his support for Israel and that he stands with Israel, our right to defend ourselves and, of course, any enhancement of our operations is part of our right to defend ourselves.

I think the president also said that Hamas needs to be destroyed and that is exactly our military aim. We want to dismantle Hamas and make sure that, never again, will any terrorist organization in Gaza have the ability to perform the atrocities that Hamas did on the seventh of October.

VAUSE: With regards to the military operations in the exodus from the north of Gaza to the south that we were just talking about moments ago, that did send a fairly clear message to Hamas that a big operation was on its way. Can you say how long and specifically where those operations will take place in the north around the Gaza city? And what are the risks facing those who stay in that area? And is there a danger here of telegraphing your punches, if you like, to Hamas militants of what is coming down the line?


CONRICUS: Yeah, three good questions in one. Listen, it is generally not wise for a military to be advertising its intelligence. And we are aware of the fact that we have just advertised our intelligence by telling civilians in northern Gaza to go south. Why have we done that? Because we want civilians out of fighting and we don't want them to be killed.

So there is a balance here between achieving a military objective and minimizing civilian damage, and, in this case, which is very evident and you cannot argue with it, we have chosen to, you know -- that the sanctity of life and helping Palestinian civilians to go south and not be stuck in an area that there will be significant combat activities.

There is a risk and we will have to mitigate this risk with the tactics, the weapons, and the time that we use when and if we'll operate. There is tremendous desire in Israel to see Hamas defeated, to see the scourge and the terror gone from Gaza. But Israelis, of course, also want the IDF to operate smartly and in a way that doesn't expose our troops to undue danger in an environment that already is amongst the most dangerous on any battlefield.

VAUSE: And very quickly, one of the other reasons why President Biden is coming to the region, coming to Israel, and the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been there is concern that this conflict with Hamas in Gaza could spread and erupt into a much bigger regional confrontation with actors for Iran, in particular, warning of if there are any more Palestinian civilians who are killed, if this continues, that there will be consequences for Israel. What's your response to that?

CONRICUS: Well, I read it the same way. I mean I see that President Biden and Secretary Blinken and many American statements are made exactly in order to prevent a regional escalation. The common denominator of, let's say, the region, or the power that could escalate the Middle East into regional escalation is Iran.

They have their tentacles, they have their proxy organizations around Israel, Hezbollah in the north, Hamas Islamic Jihad in the south, and lots of proxies in Syria and Iraq, and if they decide so then maybe they will want to throw more of their proxies towards Israel. That would be unwise and definitely not something that would serve the interest of the people of the region. Maybe it would serve Iranian interest, but definitely not the people of the region.

And I think that's a very strong message that the US is delivering to Iran. If you're thinking about doing it, don't. What we are saying is we are prepared, along our northern border, in the south, whoever threatens us and whoever challenges our safety and security of our civilians, we will defend and we will make sure that they don't have the ability to do so.

VAUSE: Colonel Conricus, thanks so much for being with us, we appreciate your time.

CONRICUS: Thank you, good morning.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break, when we come back, Hamas has released the first hostage video of a woman who was taken prisoner from Israel. We'll have her family's reaction when they saw her. That's just ahead.



VAUSE: Hamas has released the first hostage video. A 21 year old woman by the name of Mia Schem. CNN has made the decision not to air that video, but we have seen it and Schem was talking about an arm injury and that she was taken to gaza. It's not known when the video was recorded or if Schem is still alive. Her mother says that she is grateful for that video, here's what she told CNN's Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN REPORTER: How does your daughter look to you?

KEREN SCHARF SCHEM, DAUGHTER TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: We see that she has been through pain -- she's in pain. And she is injured, and she looks a bit terrified. But she is alive and stable.

COOPER: Does it help to see her?

SCHEM: Of course, because until now I didn't know if she's dead or alive.


VAUSE: CNN spoke with Israeli families of others who are missing and they are pushing for the government to show more urgency in bringing home Hamas hostages. More details now from CNN's Clarissa Ward.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For days they have sat outside the military headquarters in Tel Aviv, holding vigil for their loved ones. Among many family members of those held in Gaza there is anger at the Israeli government's handling of the crisis. Growing cries to make a deal for the hostages' release. Shay and her family are looking for her sister Ligie Albag, a 19 year old soldier, who disappeared at Nahal Oz kibbutz.

SHAY ALBAG, SISTER TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: We don't know where she is, if she eats, sleeps, where they keep her, we do not know anything.

WARD: And so tell me why are you here?

ALBAG: Because I wanted someone to look at me, look at all of us.

WARD (voice-over): Earlier today the government confirmed they believe another 50 hostages are being held in Gaza, bringing the total close to two hundred. Among them is 74 year old Vivian Silver, a peace activist and Canadian citizen who lived in the Be'eri kibbutz. Be'eri was the site of some of the darkest bloodshed during the October seventh attack. Vivian's son Yonatan was on the phone with her throughout the morning, as the horror unfolded.

YONATAN ZEIGEN, MOTHER TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: I heard a lot of gunshots outside the window. And we decided to stop talking, because she was hiding. But at some point she wrote me that they are inside the house.

WARD: Her house?

ZEIGEN: Yeah. And that was it, I wrote her I am with you. She said that I feel you, and that was the last message.


WARD (voice-over): For nine agonizing days he has shuttled between optimism and despair, as Israel's leaders steal its citizens for an invasion of Gaza.

WARD: When you look at more than three hundred thousand reservists being called up, huge amounts of weaponry and military personnel amassing at the border, a lot of anticipation about a ground offensive, how does that make you feel?

ZEIGEN: It makes me anxious. I didn't want war before, I don't want war now. I don't think we can cure dead babies with more dead babies.

WARD: Do you think in Israel that most people agree with you? Do you think people here want war?

ZEIGEN: Nobody wants war, but I think people are willing to accept war. Because you'll hurt anyone to stop the pain. So you see a demon in front of you and you want to vanquish it. I don't think it's realistic, whatever we do to Gaza now it would come back.

WARD (voice-over): A plea to break the endless cycle of violence and to prioritize rescuing the living over avenging the dead. But in this moment of raw anguish, it's the calls for invasion that are growing louder.


VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN, it's not just the US president heading to Israel. The US military is sending a rapid response force to the waters of Israel's coast. More on that in a moment.



VAUSE: U.S. Marine rapid response force has been deployed to Israel, part of a show of force intended to bolster U.S. presence in the Middle East.


CNN's Oren Liebermann reports now from the Pentagon.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A Marine rapid response force is headed towards the waters off the coast of Israel, according to a U.S. defense official familiar with the plans, as the U.S. commits a growing number of military assets to the region that are converging near Israel, even as the Biden administration is trying to avoid becoming directly involved militarily in a very hot conflict.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently on the U.S.S. Baton, an amphibious assault ship, in the Gulf of Oman, according to U.S. officials.

But according to that U.S. defense official, it's moving towards Israel. It's unclear if it will join other Navy assets in the Eastern, Bexar or Maine in the Red Sea off the coast of Southern Israel.

But again, there are a growing number of military assets. The U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group is already in the Eastern Mad, and the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike ground will arrive in that same area within just a couple of weeks here.

It's already moving that way, according to CNN reporting from over the weekend.

The key here is that, as the U.S. is trying to show support for Israel and offer a strong message of deterrence for Iran and Iranian proxies in the region, in particular, Hezbollah and Lebanon, the U.S. is still trying not to become directly involved in this conflict, trying to walk a very fine line here.

At the same time on Sunday night, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued orders for a group of about 2,000 troops to prepare for the possibility of deployment directly to Israel, offering another option for President Joe Biden as he considers how much support, how to offer that support, and whether the U.S. should become directly more involved.

Now, it's crucial to note here that those 2,000 troops that might be preparing for the possibility of deployment to Israel would not be combat troops. Instead, they'd be support.

So, logistics, planning, as well as perhaps medical assistance. We're looking for more details from the Pentagon here in the coming days there.

But all of this, as the U.S. becomes more and more involved here in a conflict as Israel promises a prolonged and perhaps difficult campaign and the next stage of Israel's operations expected here with a growing -- growing force on the border of Gaza.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


VAUSE: CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton is with us now from Washington. It's good to see you, sir.


VAUSE: OK, so the Israeli response so far, just over the weekend, looks very familiar to previous conflicts with Hamas and Gaza. A high number of Palestinian civilians, especially children, are being killed by the Israeli airstrikes, which have targeted Hamas infrastructure, as well. Residential areas have been shattered, destroyed.

This time, though, when the air strikes stop, that won't be the end of the military operation, as it has been in the past. Next comes its ground incursion, or expected ground incursion.

So what have the Israelis been doing from the air for the last week or so with regards to that looming ground offensive? And what's your sense of timing here? How much will that air campaign last before they're going in on the ground?

LEIGHTON: Yes, John, those are great questions. The -- really, what's happening is they're softening up the target, as we would say, in the military.

And what the Israelis are doing with their air campaign as it currently stands is creating instances in this zone where they believe they can move their infantry forces and special operations forces into certain areas to, in essence, clean them out.

And also, to use them as staging areas for further operations, perhaps operations into other areas of Gaza City, or underground, which of course, is where we believe most of the hostages, if not all the hostages, are being held right now.

So the first phase is a softening up base. The second phase would be to use ground troops, either for special operations purposes, or for the seizing of territory, at least temporarily. And then moving into areas where they can then take care of their main objective, which they say is to decapitate the Hamas leadership, in other words, take it out and destroy Hamas as a viable political and military entity. VAUSE: You know, the Israeli military has always warned that a major

ground offensive into Gaza was fraught with risk, could quickly become a quagmire. And here's one reason why.

These narrow streets are typical across many parts of Gaza. They are refugee camps, which over time, become these narrow, winding streets with cement and cinder block and buildings, and sort of permanent structures there, if you like.


You know, kids grow up in Gaza, a lot of them, anyway, knowing almost every inch of those alleyways. Israeli soldiers do not. And then there's a system of Hamas underground tunnels, as well as booby traps.

So, in the big picture here, could Israel be giving Hamas a fight which they want, which is going to be bloody, drawn-out, and possibly without a foreseeable end?

LEIGHTON: Yes, it's definitely possible, John. And one of the key problems that the Israelis have is the -- everything that you cited. They don't really know the area as well as the Gaza -- Gaza kids do.

And as soon as you get into the enemy's home turf, that becomes a real problem. Because if you don't know the territory as well as your enemy, you're at an autonomic disadvantage.

And when you go into a place like this where a possibility of ambushes is, you know, absolutely almost 100 percent, possibly you have IEDs. All those things are really hallmarks of a very bloody campaign that is, in essence, going to be fought on Hamas's terms.

VAUSE: Well, the last Israeli ground incursion into Israel was almost a decade ago. Operation Protective Edge, again, began with the Israeli airstrikes which were followed by a ground operation, with the idea of looking for and destroying Hamas tunnels.




VAUSE: And here's how the Rand Corporation described that operation: "Although IDF forces pushed only a few kilometers into Gaza to find and destroy Hamas's extensive cross-border tunnels, the IDF sporadically encountered fierce pockets of resistance in such places as Shuja'iya, where the IDF Golani Brigade fought one the most intense battles of the war."

That was 2014. Hamas fighters are now better trained. They're better equipped. They've had almost a decade to prepare for this moment. As you said, they'll be fighting on their home turf. So given all of that, all the downside, all the risk, and this is Israel's only option here? LEIGHTON: Yes, I think they've really not thought this through very

much, because you're going to have another battle of Shuja'iya or something similar to that in this next phase unless you do something very different in terms of, you know, perhaps surrounding them in a different place or finding the leadership first and taking it out.

Now, the one thing that, of course, is a bit different is the fact that there are hostages. And if the idea is to grab the hostages, first, release them. Let's say negotiations to release the hostages or obtain their freedom are not successful, then a military option would be next in line.

That might change the order of things and might change the way in which the Israelis would do things. But right now, it seems like it's a rehash of 2014, and a rehash of 2014 is definitely not what you want to do in 2023.

VAUSE: Colonel Leighton, as always, good to see you, sir. Thank you.

LEIGHTON: Thank you, John. Good to be with you.

VAUSE: When we come back here on CNN, a closer look at what has been for many Palestinians right now in Gaza their darkest hour.




VAUSE: Our own CNN journalist who joined that mass exodus from Northern Gaza to the South, his first-hand report on trying to keep his family alive on a dangerous and harrowing journey.



VAUSE: To the North of Israel, the IDF confirms ongoing strikes on terror targets in Lebanon, belonging to the Iran-backed group, Hezbollah. With an Israeli ground offensive intended to wipe out Hamas from Gaza now believed to be imminent, fears are growing of a wider multi-front conflict.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports now from the Israel-Lebanon border.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're bracing for a dangerous second front. But we gained exclusive access to Israel's tense Northern frontier.

CHANCE: Well, the Israeli army have now sealed off, as a security zone, some of the areas close to the Lebanese border because of the threat being posed. But they're taking us now to the closest period, closest place they can that they say is safe to see the lay of the land.

CHANCE (voice-over): And that land is hostile. None of the Israeli soldiers here wanted their faces shown, to hide their identities from Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia with a vast arsenal, trained on these positions from across the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready. If they choose to come, they'll make a huge mistake.

CHANCE (voice-over): War with Hezbollah would be brutal, said this senior Israeli commander, who asked not to be identified. But it is now also necessary, he told me.

CHANCE: Do you believe there will be a second front open here, or are you hopeful, still, that Hezbollah will stay out of this war?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope there will be another front. We need to destroy Hezbollah.

CHANCE: You hope there will be another front?


CHANCE: You want the war?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Hamas did in Gaza, it didn't come from nowhere, it came from Hezbollah. It came from Iran. And in order for us to stop what happened from Hamas, we need to stop them also.

CHANCE: All right. Well, this is as close as the Israeli military say we can go. Just across there is territory of Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia.

And Israeli soldiers in this position in Israel tell us over the past few days there have been multiple attempts by Hezbollah fighters to penetrate the fence and to come into Israel, but they've been fought back.

If there is going to be a second front in this war in Israel, the likelihood is that it's going to start here.


CHANCE (voice-over): Already there have been exchanges of fire, forcing local Israelis to flee, terrified what happened in Israel's South could happen here, too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A terrorist attack at this scale has never happened.

CHANCE: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm scared that I live on the border.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's to stop them from doing it here? And I want to be strong, and I want to come back and live here, but -- but I need to think about my kids first.

CHANCE (voice-over): Back from the border, Israel is bolstering its forces with some of the 360,000 troops mobilized after the Hamas attacks last week.

If war in the North is coming, Israel seems ready, even bristling to fight.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Northern Israel.


VAUSE: Sometimes for those reporting the stories, it just gets personal. And so it's been for a member of our CNN family.

Ibrahim Dahman is a CNN journalist living with his family, a wife and two young boys, in Northern Gaza. And like hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians, he made that journey to the South and hopefully to safety. He takes us along now with that journey, that exodus from their home.



GRAPHIC: I'm with my family fleeing airstrikes in Gaza.




GRAPHIC: My son is terrified.



GRAPHIC: I tell him, don't be afraid, son. But the truth is, I'm afraid, too.

My name is Ibrahim Dahman and I am a CNN journalist. For years, I have covered the stories of people in Gaza. I never thought that I would become part of the story.

Last week I was in Gaza City when I was told to evacuate.


GRAPHIC: I don't know where to go. Where?

But where do I go? My home, my family and my life are here. Like so many others, I don't have anywhere else to go.

We reach a nearby hotel. There are journalists, families and people on their own. We're now among the displaced, 1.1 million people told to evacuate Northern Gaza.


GRAPHIC: They don't strike hotels, right?


GRAPHIC: They don't strike hotels, no.

I know deep down no building is safe. We watch airstrikes, and the sound of explosions keeps us awake at night.



GRAPHIC: On our third day, a nearby building is hit. This man was injured in the explosion. He is my father's cousin. Thankfully, he only suffered minor injuries.

I must get away from the hotel. The situation is very difficult. We load our car and head South to Khan Yunis.

Seconds after we left the hotel, they fired a rocket that heavily damaged the entire area.

Now we're in Khan Yunis. There are still airstrikes, but it is safer here.

It's only a matter of time until we flee again. I hope one day we can return home.


VAUSE: An update now: Ibrahim, his wife, two boys, they're alive. They're clearly worried about their own safety, and they're terrified about the future.

We'll take a short break. Back in a moment.



VAUSE: Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing just hours ago to meet with his dear friend, Xi Jinping. Officially, the Russian president is there for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The visit is also seen as a showcase of the leaders' no-limits

partnership amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

Court documents reveal new details about a stabbing attack near Chicago which left a 6-year-old Muslim boy dead and his mother seriously wounded. She told police their landlord, Joseph Czuba, told her he was angry with her about the situation in Israel.

When she responded, "Let's pray for peace," she says Czuba attacked her and her son with a knife. Authorities are prosecuting the attack as a hate crime.

More details now from CNN's Whitney Wild.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 6- year-old boy, Wadea al-Fayoume, laid to rest today.

YOUSEF HANNON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: He's a very kind kid. He likes to jump up and down. When he was dead, his last words to his mom: "Mom, I'm fine." You know what? He was fine. He's in a better place.

WILD (voice-over): Police say Wadea was brutally stabbed to death by his landlord just outside of Chicago, allegedly for being Muslim.

OUSSAMA JAMMAL, FORMER PRESIDENT, MOSQUE FOUNDATION: Their landlord, in an act of hate, shouted threats and unleashed violence.

WILD (voice-over): The boy's mother, Hanaan Shahin, was also stabbed more than a dozen times and is still being treated in the hospital. She was unable to attend her son's funeral today.


The landlord, 71-year-old Joseph Czuba, appearing in court today. Czuba allegedly entered the room he rented to Shahin and her son Saturday morning, stabbing the 6-year-old 26 times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The female is claiming that the landlord has the child in another room and apparently is either stabbing or has stabbed the child.

WILD (voice-over): Authorities have now opened a federal hate crimes investigation. The local sheriff saying in a statement, "Both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis."

Outrage erupting over the brutal crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He paid the price for the atmosphere of hate.

WILD (voice-over): Illustrating why federal officials are worried about growing threats aimed at American Muslims and American Jews since the Hamas terror attack in Israel. CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR (via phone): Countering terrorism

remains the FBI's No. 1 priority. And we will not tolerate violence motivated by hate and extremism. And we're going to continue to do everything in our power to protect the American people.

WILD (voice-over): A 6-year-old's funeral, more evidence that threat is all too real.

His father said the conflict in the Middle East should cause no violence on American soil, saying, quote, "I hope that my son will be the bullet that will resolve this issue."

WILD: Czuba was ordered to be held without bond today. His next court appearance is October 30.

Whitney Wild, CNN, Bridgeview, Illinois.


VAUSE: I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Please stay with us, I'll be back with more news after a very short break. You're watching CNN.