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Top U.S. Diplomat: Biden To Visit Israel On Wednesday; U.S. And Israel To Develop Gaza Humanitarian Aid Plan; Netanyahu: Israel Won't Stop Until Hamas Is Destroyed; Israel-Hamas War Rages As Crisis In Gaza Deepens. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world as we continue our coverage of Israel at war. I'm Rosemary Church. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is preparing for his biggest show of support for Israel since the Hamas terror attacks, which killed at least 1400 people. He will travel to Israel on Wednesday to reaffirm U.S. solidarity and its ironclad commitment to the country's security.

That announcement came from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who is on a marathon diplomatic mission across the Middle East. Blinken also says the U.S. and Israel have agreed to develop a plan for humanitarian aid from donations to reach civilians in Gaza.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: It is critical that aid begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible. We share Israel's concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid entering Gaza or otherwise preventing it from reaching the people who need it. If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian assistance from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we'll be the first to condemn it. And we will work to prevent it from happening again.


CHURCH: We are also hearing reports of an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah early Tuesday. The Palestinian Interior Ministry says at least 28 people were killed. The city is home to the border crossing where many Palestinian civilians have been gathering to try to enter Egypt. U.N. experts warn Gaza is being strangled by Israel's week-long siege and aerial bombardment. Before the most recent strike, the Palestinian Prime Minister said more than 2800 people had been killed in Gaza.

And Israeli ground offensive into Gaza is widely expected to start at any time. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel won't stop until it destroys the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas.

More now from CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley. And a warning his report contains some graphic video.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): 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 7th 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.

He said, just like the world unite it to destroy the Nazis and destroy ISIS, now the world must unite in order to defeat Hamas.

But at what cost? The U.S. Secretary of State embarked on a frantic round of talks with Israel ahead of a widely anticipated ground assault on Gaza.

BLINKEN: You know, our deep commitment to Israel's right, indeed its obligation to defend itself and to defend its people.

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

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that it would be a mistake to -- for Israel to occupy Gaza again.

KILEY (voiceover): Hamas is blamed for mounting civilian casualties in Gaza by Israel and the U.K.'s foreign secretary.

JAMES CLEVERLY, U.K. 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 (voiceover): Gaza has no power, no fresh water. It's besieged by Israel, and its Egyptian borders 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. 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. 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 at 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 skirmishing. 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.


CHURCH: And CNN's Katie Polglase is following developments for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Katie. So, President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday and a high-stakes risky trip but what might be achieved in terms of the release of hostages establishing a humanitarian corridor and of course preventing this war from expanding?

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Morning, Rosemary. Well, one of the main things it's going to achieve is just the strong message it sends. And that is that the Biden administration are making, as you mentioned, a very risky decision to send the American President into Israel at this very unstable time. And that message sends the clear signal that the American people, particularly this Biden administration are very focused on deescalating this conflict, ensuring that what is happening in Israel and the surrounding Palestinian territories does not spread into a wider regional conflict, as it seems at risk of doing so.

And that was mentioned earlier in Sam's package about the 28 areas in the north of Israel that have now been evacuated because of skirmishes with Hezbollah, the militant Arab region in Lebanon. That is one of the concerns for the American ministration, that there are surrounding neighboring states that are going to become involved in this conflict. And that would escalate it further.

And ahead of Biden's visit, Secretary State Antony Blinken warned of effectively this message. He said that this visit by Biden will underscore our crystal-clear message to any actor, state or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel, don't. That is what he said. It's a very firm message from him. But also, the same kind of wording we will expect to see from Biden when he arrives.

The U.S. is warning those around Israel not to escalate to this conflict. And we're seeing as well with the reports now this morning, that the head of U.S. CENTCOM, the central command is also in Israel, talking to the head of the Israeli military as well, that this is something that the American military is gearing up to support and prepare for that if Israel is going to be engaging in a wider regional conflict, there may well be assistance from the Americans as well. And that is clearly something that Biden will be reiterating in this trip.

CHURCH: And, Katie, we know that humanitarian aid is currently sitting on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting for a humanitarian corridor to be established to then allow aid groups to deliver those supplies to desperate Palestinians. Time is clearly running out. So, what more are you learning about those efforts?

POLGLASE: Well, we know, Rosemary that that is again, something that is going to be on the agenda for Biden's visit. We know that Blinken, just yesterday was talking to the Egyptian President Sisi about this trying to reopen this crossing the Rafah crossing. That is the crossing between Egypt and Gaza where not only these humanitarian supplies that you mentioned, could get into Gaza.

But also, people in Gaza could get out. Many people are swarming around the Gazan side of that border desperately trying to get out because of this besiege of Israeli airstrikes and the many desperate shortages of food, medical supplies, among other things. We know that we've seen this morning there are some reports from Egyptian state media that the humanitarian convoy is moving towards the border.

Now, we don't know whether that means the border is opening. But that may be an indication that something has changed. But clearly there has been a pileup of humanitarian supply just sitting there, just 45 kilometers, that's about 28 miles from this border. And there is quite considerable support that has arrived, not just from neighboring countries, but also the E.U. has set up a humanitarian corridor. They're beginning flights into Egypt, to enable the supply to get to the ground.

The issue is getting it across that border. Getting it from Egypt into Gaza. And as you say, time is desperately running out. And so, we may see with Biden's visit that this is something in particular that they need to reach an agreement on this thing. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Let's hope that happens. Katie Polglase joining us live from London. Many thanks. I want to bring in Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner from Tel Aviv now. He is a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Appreciate you joining us.


CHURCH: So, the Palestinian interior ministry reports Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 28 people at the Rafah border in southern Gaza early Tuesday. Why would Israel bomb the very place it's telling Palestinians to go?


LERNER: Hamas' interior ministry, that is part of Hamas' war machine. That is precisely what they want you to ask, Rosemary. The reason why we are here is because Hamas opened a war against Israel. Israel is now responding in kind, and I would say, and then some in an intention to change the game. When Hamas butchered and abducted our civilians, they have put themselves in jeopardy and they have basically intended in order to bring in the civilians of the Gaza Strip as their human shield.

From our perspective, Hamas is responsible for everything that is going on. The deaths and the civilian reality on the ground is a responsibility of Hamas that did not do anything except cause death and destruction for their own people. Our responsibility is to restore safety and security to the people of Israel and make sure that the Gaza Strip, Rosemary, can never ever be used as the staging grounds to butcher massacre and abduct Israelis. CHURCH: So, can I just clarify? Was there an Israeli airstrike at the Rafah border that killed these 28 people?

LERNER: I can't confirm that there was a death of 28 people. No, I cannot. I can confirm that the IDF will continue to strike Hamas wherever they hide, and especially if they are trying to take advantage of the discussions that are taking place this -- over these last few days about Rafah.


CHURCH: Sorry, sorry. If I could just -- if I could just get some clarification on that though. Are you saying that Hamas were hiding in the crowds there at the Rafah border? Is that what you're saying?

LERNER: No, I'm saying that they will do everything to abuse any routes that they can in order to create strife, destruction and death, even at the sacrifice of their own people. Our role is to make sure that they cannot cause any more damage. And that is what we are trying to do. I can't confirm this strike on -- that you -- you're indicating about Rafah but I can say that we will operate against Hamas.

you know, just over the last 24 hours, we have killed three of their senior leaders that were -- that are involved in the implementation planning and guidance of the terrorist attack on the 7th of October. We will seek them out. We cannot be expected not to protect the civilians of Israel of Israel because Hamas is hiding behind this.

CHURCH: I do want to get back to the Rafah border because obviously we want to talk about this effort to establish a humanitarian corridor because there's all of that aid that is piling up but on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing and it needs to get across to desperate Palestinians. What are you able to tell us about efforts to open up that border crossing?

LERNER: So, we've heard that the discussions are ongoing on the diplomatic level, and they say we are the warfighters. We are the warriors. The IDF is very much focused on destroying and taking apart Hamas' apparatus, its leadership and its terrorists. We'll leave the diplomacy for the diplomats. And indeed, if the IDF is instructed to enable a humanitarian corridor, then we know how to implement that.

This is currently the state of affairs on this issue. And we are aware from our interlocutors in the international humanitarian community operating in Gaza that there are foodstuff, medication and water in the south of Gaza Strip. So, there is shelter in order to cater for some of those needs, of course, the huge influx of people that have listened to us when we instructed them to go south, because we intend on striking Hamas in the north is increasing the needs.

And we will be following that over the next few days. But we will continue our operation against Hamas.

CHURCH: And of course, we have had confirmation that U.S. President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel on Wednesday, but with a war raging and of course, a ground incursion likely, what will be the security risks and how might a U.S. presidential visit complicate the situation there already?

LERNER: Well, we are, of course, very, very grateful for the support and solidarity that the U.S. administration under the leadership of President Biden is being expressed towards Israel. We are listening very closely to our allies. And of course, we will continue our operation in order to destroy Hamas. There are two things that actually work in tandem together because the U.S. and I would say every decent person looks at what Hamas did and realize that this cannot be the new norm of terrorism around the world.

We are seeing attacks against students, against others around the world just because of the sake of hate and destruction and this cannot be the new norm.


CHURCH: We can't accept it as the new norm. And Hamas, they are, you know, when Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Hamas as ISIS, when they distribute a video of one of the hostages last night, May Shem (ph) they are exactly doing the type of terror --- psychological terror that ISIS was -- had done.

So, we need to understand united in alliances against these evil people, this evil organization. We need to continue our effort -- efforts as the IDF to differentiate between the civilian population, the non-combatants and the terror organization and its institutions of terror. And that is where we are going.

CHURCH: Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

LERNER: Good morning.

CHURCH: Coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM. Growing concerns that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could widen with the IDF striking targets in Lebanon.

Plus, the Pentagon is moving more military assets toward Israel. Details on the latest U.S. show of force in the region. We're back with that more in just a moment.


CHURCH: Through the north of Israel, the IDF confirms ongoing strikes on terror targets Lebanon belonging to the Hezbollah militant group which is backed by Iran.


With an Israeli ground offensive intended to wipe out Hamas from Gaza now believed to be imminent. Fears are growing of the conflict spreading throughout the region. Iran has warned of consequences if the situation in Gaza continues to escalate while the U.S. and France are working to keep Iran from getting directly involved.

And this morning the IDF says they are striking Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon as skirmishes with the group become more common at the border. Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTENATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A guided missile makes a direct hit on an Israeli tank. The video released by Hezbollah's media wing underscores the dangerous and sometimes deadly standoff between the group's fighters and Israeli forces on the tense border between Lebanon and Israel. Since Hamas' surprise attack on Israel a week and a half ago, sporadic strikes and counter strikes have flared along the rugged mountainous frontier.

There have been deaths on both sides, combatants and civilians. The tensions have been enough to rattle nerves and prompt Israel to impose a four-kilometer-deep closed military zone on its side of the border. But still not enough violence, perhaps to precipitate an all-out war so far.

Hezbollah fought in more than a month-long war with Israel in 2006. And since then, with Iran's health has grown only stronger.

In the southern town of Cana, the group supporters staged a small rally in support of Gaza. Repeating the usual slogans of death to Israel to America.

Our history shows slogans aren't enough for us, Hezbollah parliament member Hussien Jeshi (ph) of St. Jesse, tells me. We have plenty of experience with the Zionist enemy. They know our power well.

Iran, Hezbollah's backer and ally has warned if Israel continues with what it calls its aggression on Gaza, the conflict could expand.

United Nations peacekeepers and picked up their patrols along the border, but they can only do so much.

Hezbollah Monday put out more videos showing their men shooting out Israeli surveillance cameras. There isn't a no man's land along the border. In some places, there's a wall but in others you can peer right down into Israeli towns like Metula. Clearly visible are Israeli troops running from house to house.

WEDEMAN (on camera): For years and unwritten understanding was in place whereby a certain amount of cross border fire between Hezbollah and Israel was tolerated. But with the war in Gaza about to enter perhaps its bloodiest phase yet that understanding starting to erode.

Ben Wedeman CNN, Southern Lebanon.


CHURCH: The head of U.S. Central Command has arrived in Tel Aviv to meet with the Israeli military's Chief of Staff. And a U.S. Marine Rapid Response Force is heading to the waters off the Israeli coast to help bolster the U.S. presence in the Middle East and keep the war from escalating into a regional conflict.

CNN's Oren Lieberman has details. 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 USS baton, an amphibious assault ship in the Gulf of Oman, according to Navy officials, but according to that U.S. defense official, it's moving towards Israel. It's unclear if it'll join other Navy assets in the eastern med or if it'll remain in the Red Sea off the coast of southern Israel. But again, there are a growing number of military assets there.

USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is already in the eastern Med and the USS Dwight, the Eisenhower carrier strike group 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 in Lebanon, the U.S. is still trying not to become directly involved in this conflict, triangle walk a very fine line there.

At the same time on Sunday night, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued orders for a group of about 2000 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 2000 troops that might be preparing for the possibility of deployment in 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 perhaps difficult campaign and the next stage of Israel's operations expected here with a growing force on the border of Gaza.

Oren Lieberman, CNN in the Pentagon.

CHURCH: And we'll be right back.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The U.S. president is expected to make a high stakes wartime visit to Israel this week.

[02:30:00] The US secretary of state says Joe Biden will arrive Wednesday in a show of American support. an Israeli military spokesperson says President Biden's planned visit will not complicate or delay any ground invasion of Gaza. Meanwhile, the UN's Palestinian human rights official is warning of a, quote, "Mass ethnic cleansing" by Israel.

She says Palestinians have no safe place anywhere in Gaza and humanitarian concerns are mounting. Egyptian state media reports aid convoys have been moving towards the Rafah border crossing in Gaza, but there is no indication it will open anytime soon. And the Palestinian interior ministry says new airstrikes on Rafah have killed at least 28 people this Tuesday.

It is estimated that a half million Gaza residents have fled the north following Israel's evacuation order and devastating airstrikes. And now we are going to share the harrowing story of one of our own CNN family members. Ibrahim Dahman is a CNN journalist who lives in Northern Gaza with his wife Rashah. Now they have two boys and Rashah is pregnant with their third child, but Ibrahim and his family, like so many others, was forced to leave on a dangerous journey south.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (through translator): I'm with my family fleeing airstrikes in Gaza. My son is terrified.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.

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.

DAHMAN'S SON (through translator): They don't strike hotels, right?

DAHMAN (through translator): They don't strike hotels, no.

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


CHURCH: That very personal report from our CNN journalist, Ibrahim Dahman. The deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza is especially dire for children with supplies of basic necessities like water and medicine dwindling, and many families are seeking shelter at schools and other UN buildings. Aid organizations are urging officials to take action, saying children in Gaza need lifesaving support and every minute counts.


Well joining me now from Amman, Jordan, is UNICEF spokesperson James Elder. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: And of course, the UN says Gaza is being strangled by Israel's siege that's cutting off water, food, and electricity, and of course the airstrike are adding to that agony. Your focus is on the plight of the children. What is happening to them in Gaza right now?

ELDER: In the most blunt and heartbreaking sense, Rosemary, they are being killed. We have seen hundreds and hundreds of children killed in this very short space of time, in eight or nine days, as you just heard there, the bombardments have not let up at all.

You are asking a million people to move from one part of a very congested area to another, whilst these bombardments continue. It's hard to understand, Rosemary, how much worse it must get for children, how much worse it must get for their families, how many more must die, what sort of suffering and trauma.

And yet, for UNICEF, it has been too much since it started. You know, a child is a child, in Israel or in Gaza, wherever they are. It doesn't seem that way right now despite that being the heart and soul of UNICEF. But as you say, water, electricity, power, babies are being born under bomb shed. Children are running under bomb shed, Rosemary. Mothers are mourning as these bombs fall.

CHURCH: Yeah, it is a horrifying situation and humanitarian aid is, of course, currently sitting at the Rafah border crossing on the Egyptian side waiting for word that a humanitarian corridor can be established. What's causing the delay exactly with that and when do you expect supplies to get to Northern Gaza once they eventually get through the Rafah crossing?

ELDER: Indeed, this is the question of so many children being killed by bombs, but so many more children, if you can believe it, at risk now because they haven't got access to water or medicines. How many more children must die with all that aid sitting there. So, from day one, Rosemary, UNICEF has been saying a cease-fire, people must be able to move safely. A cease-fire and humanitarian access, get that corridor.

And yet here you and I are, more than a week later, a hundred or more trucks lined up there. Now, UNICEF, because we have brave colleagues like you just showed with your CNN colleague, brave colleagues still trying to deliver medical supplies, purification tablets, in Gaza, but our supplies are dwindling. Hospitals are at breaking point, children are on the floors in hospitals when they can reach those places. So those life saving supplies have to get in, but they have been there now for days and days, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And, of course, children make up half of Gaza's population and so many of them, as you mentioned, have been killed, wounded, or been emotionally or physically scarred by this war, so what needs to happen next to improve their plight? What needs to be the next move here? What should the international community be doing right now?

ELDER: Yeah it's a great question and so frequently we're looking at the next day or three and not the hope of a -- the only solution, of course, for this part of a world is a long term political solution, a military solution will simply not work. It is nonsensical. And Gaza has such a young population of children, and as any demographer will tell you, Rosemary, that can be an amazing demographic dividend.

Educate those children and in 10 years you have a vibrant, active, tax base, the envy of some of the aging parts of the world. On the other hand, destroy their schools, traumatize them, and you have a very, very different scenario. And those schools are being destroyed, as are so many buildings. I think one of the things people aren't talking about right now is the reports of hundreds and hundreds of people still stuck under the rubble.

That's both humanitarian, we can get some of those people out, some of those children who are still alive. Some of them have been dead for such a long time, Rosemary, that the decomposing in a city with almost no water will add another health crisis on top of the many crises that we are speaking of.

CHURCH: It is a nightmare scenario. James Elder, thank you for all you're doing and for sharing your insights on this very delicate issue. We appreciate it. And coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, a closely watched visit to Beijing as Vladimir Putin makes a rare international trip to meet with his dear friend, Xi Jinping.



CHURCH: Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Kremlin says they discussed the growing conflict in Gaza with Putin, offering to help end it peacefully through diplomacy. And, just a few hours ago, the Russian president arrived in Beijing to meet with his dear friend, Xi Jinping. Officially, Putin is there for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, but the visit is also seen as a showcase that the leaders' no-limits partnership amid rising tensions in the Middle East. And for more on this we want to bring in CNN's Beijing bureau chief, Steven Jiang. Good to see you, Steven. So, what's the likely goal of this visit to China by Russia's President Putin, coming at a time when, of course, both leaders have criticized Israel's military response to the Hamas attacks?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Rosemary. You know, as you mentioned, this visit by Putin is under such global scrutiny because it's so rare for him to travel outside of Russia these days, especially after that arrest warrant was issued for him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.


And as you also touched on, this is also happening against this backdrop of geopolitical faultlines, really hardening around the world. Remember, the last time Putin came here was right before the 2022 Beijing Olympics where he and Xi cement that no-limits partnership you just mentioned. But that was also just a few weeks before he launched that brutal invasion against Ukraine. A lot has happened since then, including this latest conflict in the Middle East.

But, if anything, all of these major events have pushed these two staw man leaders even closer together because a lot of these events have really reinforced this notion on their minds that the US is really the problem, the culprit. And reinforcing their desire, their willingness to reshape a world order long dominated by the US and its Western allies. And the translation of that kind of notion, of course, is much closer economic ties between the two sides.

For example, seeing bilateral trade and investment soaring in the past three years because Moscow is still under severe Western sanctions. But, also we have seen them really coordinate a lot more closely on foreign policy fronts on global messaging, including on this latest conflict involving Israel and Hamas. Both sides have very much focused on highlighting Palestinian suffering after the Israeli counterattacks, but not naming Hamas, being the ones that really launched the initial, brutal, heinous act against Israeli civilians.

And also, of course, you have seen, strategically, both sides, according to analysts, may see this as an opportunity for them to actually get some breathing room as this conflict in the Middle East diverted US attention and resources. Not to mention for Xi Jinping, this is another perfect opportunity to present this alternative image of the Chinese bringing the world peace and development as you mentioned because the forum being held here, while according to officials and state media here, the US is fanning the flames of war in the Middle East, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Alright. Our thanks to Steven Jiang, bringing us that live report from Beijing. Well Republican US Congressman Jim Jordan is picking up more support in his quest to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, but it remains to be seen if he can get enough votes for a planned floor vote in the coming hours. The speaker needs a majority of the full House to be elected and Jordan can only afford to lose four Republicans if every member votes.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We will go to the floor tomorrow. It is not about pressuring anybody, it's just about we have got to have a speaker. You can't open the House and do the work of the American people, and help our dearest and closest friend Israel, if you don't have a speaker.


CHURCH: Jordan's allies believe if they can get the holdouts down to twenty or fewer members of Congress, then they can grind it out on the floor just like Kevin McCarthy did when he won the speakership after a history making 15 rounds of voting. If Jordan ultimately loses, Republicans will be back at square one on their 14th day without a speaker. A six-year-old Muslim boy stabbed dozens of times in his home near Chicago. His last words, mom, I'm fine. What his mother claims her landlord said before attacking the family, that's next here on CNN.



CHURCH: Court documents reveal new details about a stabbing attack near Chicago which left a six-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 said Czuba attacked her and her son with a knife. Authorities are prosecuting the attack as a hate crime. CNN's Whitney Wild has details.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A six-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, he was 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: The landlord, in an act of hate, shouted the threats and unleashed violence.

WILD (vibe-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 sons 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 six 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: You pay 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: Countering terrorism remains the FBI's number one 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 six-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 30th. Whitney Wild, CNN, Bridgeview, Illinois.


CHURCH: The US Secret Services says more than 30 people protesting Israel's war in Gaza were arrested Monday near the White House. Authorities say those arrested were trying to get past barriers and blocking entrances. The organization behind the protest, a Jewish- American group called If Not Now is asking President Biden to force a cease fire between Israel and Hamas.

And next hour I will speak with a spokesperson for that group about Monday's protest and what they tried to do. Thank you so much for your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. Do stay with us.