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CNN's Continuing Coverage on the War in Israel on its 11th Day. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN 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 will leave later today for an extraordinary wartime visit to Israel. It's a strong show of support for the longtime American ally. The announcement came from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been on a marathon mission across the Middle East. The top U.S. diplomat says Mr. Biden will underscore Israel's right to defend itself and to prevent future terrorist attacks.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He's coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world. The president will reaffirm the United States' solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security. The president will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs.


CHURCH: We're also following major developments from southern Gaza. The Palestinian Interior Ministry reports Israeli airstrikes killed at least 21 people in Khan Yunus early today. And it says another 28 were killed in Rafah. That is home to the border crossing where many Palestinian civilians have been gathering to try to enter Egypt. An IDF spokesperson says he is not aware of any specific strikes in that area.

CNN's Katie Polglase is following developments for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you again, Katie. So President Joe Biden will visit Israel Wednesday. What might be achieved in terms of the release of hostages, establishing a humanitarian corridor, and of course preventing this war from expanding beyond Israel's borders?

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Good Morning, Rosemary. Well, clearly being on the ground, talking with leaders, meeting with Netanyahu himself will be a clear way for Biden to try and see if there is an option for de-escalation here. That is the major concern from the U.S., that they are witnessing a conflict that could potentially spread across the entire region.

And so just by making this visit, by making this announcement that the U.S. president during a war will be going to Israel is a very significant step. It indicates how important this is given the security risk of such a high-profile figure going into Israel at this point. It shows how urgent this is for the Biden administration.

Now, he will be meeting with various leaders. And one of the main things will be to discuss this concern around escalation. We've been seeing reports just yesterday that Israel has evacuated 28 areas in the north of Israel because of fire exchange with Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon.

This is the concern that other actors outside of Israel are going to become embroiled, involved in this conflict. And one of the statements that Blinken made while announcing that Biden will be coming to Israel was very clear about this. He said that this visit will underscore the U.S.'s crystal clear message to any actor state or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel. Don't.

And that is very clearly what the U.S. message is here. Let's not escalate this conflict further than it already has got to. And clearly, as we've been seeing as well, reporting on what's happening inside Gaza, the humanitarian cost of this crisis, as it unfolds, as we're seeing more reports of potentially even the U.S. military getting involved with Israel, as this unfolds, the humanitarian cost of this crisis is all too clear. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yeah, and as you and I discussed last hour, of course, humanitarian aid is sitting on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, waiting for a humanitarian corridor to be approved to get that aid to desperate Palestinians. So what more are you learning about those efforts?

POLGLASE: Well we're seeing, as you say, videos of these trucks sitting on this side of the border, so close to Gaza, and yet still out of reach from these civilians that desperately need it. And we're hearing a lot of different finger-pointing of blame at different authorities as to why this has not happened, why this border crossing that so desperately needs to be opened has not opened.

We heard just this morning from a spokesperson for the World Health Organization that said just on the show this morning that they had an agreement with the Egyptian government to open this crossing, but they couldn't open it because the Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian side had made the path effectively inoperable.


That is the concern here that the Israeli strikes have made this too damaging, too destructive to effectively get through. Of course there are other fingers being pointed as well, some accusing Hamas of not letting people leave, others as well accusing Egypt of not opening this border, potentially cement blockades on the Egyptian side. We know that there are a lot of officials working on the ground,

including U.S. officials, working on the Egyptian side, trying to get this to be open. And clearly when it does, that aid will be desperately needed. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed it will. Katie Polglase, joining us live from London. Many thanks.

And earlier I pressed an Israeli military spokesperson about reports of deadly Israeli airstrikes at the Rafah border earlier today and the Palestinian Interior Ministry says at least 28 people were killed. Take a listen to the response.


LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: 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 over these last few days about Rafah. Now, we have to be very, very cautious. (inaudible)

CHURCH: So -- sorry, sorry. 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 route 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 that you're indicating about Rafah, but I can say that we will operate against Hamas.


CHURCH: The United Nations is condemning the ongoing bombing of Gaza, saying the situation is especially dire for women and children.


JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: The bombardments have not left 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's been too much since it started. You know, a child is a child in Israel or in Gaza, wherever they are.


CHURCH: Aid groups are warning of an imminent public health crisis if water and fuel are not allowed to enter Gaza soon. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the desperate situation there, but we want to warn you, some of the videos in her story are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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, these survivors say.

I lost all my relatives, 15 people, this man says. We were not on the front line or anything, we were just sitting at home. What have we done wrong?

The U.N. 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 healthcare 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 week-long siege is strangling the enclave, the U.N. 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 pushed into 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.

There is 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.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to annihilate Hamas after a terror attack by the group left 1,400 killed in Israel. But with Hamas so deeply embedded within Gaza's population, rights groups fear a bloodbath.

LYNNE HASTINGS, U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATOR FOR OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: What we're seeing right now, the direction that Israel is going to, 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 a potential ground incursion expected, that cost is unfathomable.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Hamas has released new video of a young woman identified as 21-year-old Mia Schem. CNN has decided not to show the video, but in it, Schem says she has an arm injury and was taken to Gaza. This is the first hostage video Hamas has released of their nearly 200 hostages. It's unclear when the video was taken or if she's still alive. Schem's mother says she is grateful for the video and here's part of her conversation with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


KEREN SCHARF SCHEM, DAUGHTER TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: She's in pain. She's injured. She looks a bit terrified, but she is alive and stable.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC360: Does it help to see her?

K. SCHEM: Of course, because until now I didn't know if she's dead or alive. I mean it's been 10 days until Saturday she was missing and on Saturday they said that maybe she's been kidnapped. That's all. So I didn't know if she's alive or dead.

We are begging the world to bring my baby home. She's only 21 years old. She just went to a festival party after months that she didn't go anywhere. She had medical problems. She just wanted to have some fun and she shouldn't be there. So we are begging the world to interfere and to bring her home.

And all the others, we have like 200 more hostages, children, babies, old people, Holocaust survivors that we don't know what's going on with them. We don't know if they're alive, if they're dead, if they give them food. We don't know what condition they are.

COOPER: Is there anything you would want her to know if for some reason she could see this?

K. SCHEM: Yeah. I want her to be strong, and I want her to be sure that the world will do everything to bring her home.

ELI SCHEM, SISTER TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: Mia, if you can see us, we want to tell you from all the family and all the people in Israel, we love you and we're waiting for you.

K. SCHEM: We love you. We're waiting for you to bring you home.

E. SCHEM: We're gonna do anything to bring you home.

K. SCHEM: We will never stop. And after you will be here, we will continue until all the 200 hostages will be home too. We never stop and the world is with us, I'm sure, because it's not our world.


CHURCH: CNN's Anderson Cooper speaking there to the family of Miechem shown in the first Hamas hostage video since their surprise attacks on Israel just over a week ago.

Well, as Israel pledges to fight until Hamas is completely destroyed, some fear the battle will cost Palestinian people everything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EVA BORGWARDT, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, IF NOT NOW: What happens if they raise Gaza to the ground? What then?


CHURCH: Why some in the American Jewish community are coming together to oppose Israel's war. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.

Plus, Israel braces for a potential second front on the Lebanon border. Here, why one senior IDF commander tells CNN he hopes for war with Hezbollah.




CHURCH: The suspected gunman in what's being called a terror attack in the Belgian capital has been neutralized, according to public broadcaster RTBF. He had been at large since the shooting that killed two Swedish nationals in Brussels on Monday. The suspect was reportedly shot in the chest and taken by ambulance. His identity has yet to be confirmed.

And CNN's Scott McLean is in London with the latest. He joins us now live. So Scott, what more are you learning about this attack, and of course the apprehension of the suspect?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it is remarkable that now we're talking about more than 12 hours since this shooting actually took place where this apprehension of the shooting of the potential suspect, again, identity yet to be verified, is taking place. And it's all happening in a very small radius.

We're talking about between where the shooting took place and where this arrest being made, just a handful of kilometers, maybe five, six, seven kilometers or so.

This all happened last night, about an hour and a half or so before the international football soccer match between Sweden and Belgium was set to take place in Brussels. And so this was well before the match, the first half of the match went underway as if nothing had happened.


But then the match was suspended at halftime, clearly when authorities realized that this attack may have been motivated by the fact that these two victims who were killed were supporters of the Swedish side. Obviously, there were a lot of Swedes in Brussels who were there to watch their game. There was a third person who was also shot, a taxi driver. He is expected to survive.

The Belgian prime minister called this extreme brutality. He called it terrorism as well. And the public broadcaster, as you said, have now said that the suspected attacker has been neutralized. We also know from the prosecutor's office yesterday that there was a video that the prosecutor's office referenced circulating on social media where the person identifying himself as the assailant pledged his support to ISIS and mentioned specifically the nationality of these two victims. And so that is why there was such high alert for people who were still in that soccer stadium.

It actually took more than an hour. They were told to stay there. Fans were told to stay there until authorities were confident that they were able to safely get them out of the stadium, safely take them out and make sure that they could get home. Because of course, we were talking about a suspect on the loose all night, and now just this morning, some measure of good news. Just quickly, Rosemary, as well.

The Prime Minister had said last night in a press conference that the suspect was of Tunisian origin, who was staying in the country. Illegally, the neighborhood where the arrest was made was the Schaerbeek neighborhood, if that rings any bells. It was in the spotlight in 2016 after the terror attacks in Brussels.

And of course, Sweden. Why anyone would be targeted because they're Swedish. Well, we don't know. precisely, but Sweden of course has been in the news recently because of Quran burnings carried out by one man in Sweden that have raised huge concerns across the Arab world, or across the Muslim world. Protests, in fact, it was in Baghdad where protesters actually managed to break into the Swedish embassy at one point demanding the expulsion of the ambassador. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. I Appreciate your reporting on this breaking news. Scott McLean, joining us live from London.

Protesters gathered around the White House on Monday, calling for an end to the attacks on Gaza amid Israel's war on Hamas.


Holding signs reading Jews say ceasefire now they urged U.S. President Joe Biden to listen to the American Jewish community and work to restrain Israeli aggression. The protest comes as Israel is preparing for a ground incursion aimed at annihilating Hamas in Gaza.

Joining me now is Eva Borgwardt, the national spokesperson for If Not Now, a Jewish American organization that's protesting Israel's actions in Gaza. Thank you so much for talking with us.

BORGWARDT: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: So your organization condemns the Hamas attacks in Israel, but at the same time represents American Jews trying to end U.S. support for what you call Israel's apartheid system in Gaza and you're demanding equality and justice. So how do you see that being achieved in the region, particularly in the wake of those Hamas attacks and now Israel's military response in Gaza? What is the political path forward in that sort of environment?

BORGWARDT: Well, Rosemary, thanks for the question. We, today, thousands of American Jews were at every entrance to the White House calling on President Biden to exercise leadership in this moment in a way that only he can, to call for a ceasefire, a de-escalation, immediate release of the Israeli hostages. Again, some of our loved ones are among them.

And to address the root causes of this violence, which is, again, a system of apartheid and occupation and the assumption by successive Israeli governments that they can cage people indefinitely and brutalize them when they try to non-violently resist and not expect disaster to happen to their own citizens. And a large portion of the Israeli public is also clear on this.

And we are there in solidarity with the Israelis and Palestinians that we love, again, many of whom we are. We are grieving this week. And we are there to call on President Biden to exercise leadership in this moment because it is desperately needed. It is quite literally life or death.

CHURCH: So that's your message to you as President Joe Biden. What's your message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu right now as he prepares to send Israeli troops into Gaza in an apparent ground incursion?


BORGWARDT: What we have heard from this Israeli government is that there is no strategy. What happens if they raise Gaza to the ground? What then?

They have made clear, Netanyahu has made clear that he is willing to capitulate to the fascist ministers, and I do not use that word lightly, in his government who are determined to annihilate the Palestinian people even at the expense of their own citizens. And what I have to say to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I barely have words, but where is your respect for basic human life?

CHURCH: And I think given that message, I do want to ask how much support your organization has from other American Jews and how difficult it's been taking this stand on an issue in the wake of the Hamas attacks in Israel because a lot of Israelis are feeling the world is turning against them and has more sympathy for the Palestinians than for what happened to the Israelis.

BORGWARDT: We are trying to model for our community, for our country, for the world. Again, as American Jews, so many of whom are grieving. I mean, I have coworkers who had friends who were murdered along with their children this week in Israel. It's horrific.

And we are here to demonstrate leadership and to say that even through that grief, we are so clear that the memories of our loved ones would be in vain if that violence were to be inflicted on anyone else. And so again, this is what brought us to the doors of the White House, is to say that supporting this Israeli government, which has made its genocidal intent, again, do not use that word lightly, clear, when it comes to the Palestinian people, is atrocious, and it will not make the Jewish people safer. It will not make Israelis safer. Obviously, it will have devastating consequences for Palestinians. And

beyond that, it would very likely destabilize the entire region in ways that will be devastating and horrific in ways that we can only imagine.

CHURCH: And while this war rages on and even before it, we have been seeing a rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim threats and attacks here in the United States, sometimes with deadly consequences. What is your reaction to that situation here in the U.S., but also in other parts of the world?

BORGWARDT: Yes, there was, as we know, there was a 6-year-old Palestinian boy who was stabbed over 20 times. I cannot imagine. I have no words.

I know and as an American Jew, I know people whose communities have been devastated by, again, deadly anti-Semitic violence in recent years. The Pittsburgh Tree of Life massacre, massacres at other synagogues across the country. I mean, It's horrific.

And that's exactly why we need President Biden to exercise leadership, because I am terrified. We are terrified. All of us are terrified of what will happen in this country as well. If President Biden does not exercise his leadership right now in demanding a ceasefire, a de- escalation release of all the hostages and addressing the underlying conditions that led us to this nightmare.

CHURCH: Eva Borgwardt, thank you so much for joining us. I Appreciate it.

BORGWARDT: Thank you.

CHURCH: Powerful words there. And still to come, it is not just the U.S. president heading to Israel, well, the U.S. military is beefing up its presence in the region. Back with that in just a moment.




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. president is expected to make a high-stakes wartime visit to Israel this week. The U.S. 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 Israel Defense Forces say they've been striking Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon today. And Iran's foreign minister warns the war's possible spread to other fronts could soon become unavoidable if Israel does not stop the bombardment.

Well to the north of Israel, the IDF confirms ongoing strikes on terror targets in 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. the conflict spreading throughout the region. CNN's Matthew Chance reports from the Israel-Lebanon border.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Embracing for a dangerous second front when we gained exclusive access to Israel's tents northern front here.

(on-camera): 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, the closest place they can do that they say is safe to see the lay of the land.


(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.

LT. COL. M.K., ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: 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.

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

M.K.: I hope there will be another front. We need to destroy Hezbollah.

CHANCE (on-camera): You hope there will be another front?

M.K.: Yes.

CHANCE (on-camera): You want the war?

M.K.: Yes.

CHANCE (on-camera): Why?

M.K.: 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 (on-camera): 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 that tell us that 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 it's going to start here.

CHURCH (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.

NOGA, RESIDENT OF KIBBUTZ MISGAV AM: A terrorist attack at this scale has never happened and I'm scared that I live on the border, what's to stop them from doing it here? I want to be strong and I want to come back and live here 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.


CHURCH: The head of U.S. Central Command has arrived in Tel Aviv to meet with the Israeli military's chief of staff to better understand Israel's defense requirements and outline U.S. support during the conflict. CENTCOM is the division of the US military that defends American interests in the Middle East as well as Central and South Asia.

Multiple officials tell CNN US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered roughly 2000 American troops to repair for potential deployment to the Middle East. CNN's Kaitlan Collins spoke with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul about the move.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don't want to see troops on the ground here but actually what the administration is doing in this case I fully support and that is deterrence. I think Iran needs to see this and most importantly Hezbollah and Lebanon needs to see us showing us a force by the United States, both in terms of the destroyer ships, the two aircraft carriers.

And now, we're sending special operators to train, not boots on the ground, but to train the IDF as they go into the second phase of the military operation, which will be going door to door to liberate hostages and eliminate the terrorists. I think it's important that we show that force.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Well, my colleague, Oren Liebermann, over at the Pentagon is also reporting that Secretary Austin is preparing for the possibility of deploying 2,000 troops to Israel. We are told these would be in support roles, medical assistance, logistics. Are you okay with that move? Do you think it requires congressional approval?

MCCAUL: No, congressional approval would only apply if we are sending troops into combat. Now, I'm very cognizant of what's going on. I had a briefing in the situation room with the National Security Council about this very issue and what would trigger a response from the Congress about, you know, a use of military force.

My committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, is a committee that is responsible for either declaring war or an authorized use of military force. So actually, I'm currently preparing a draft of that in the event it is called upon and is necessary supported by the American people.



CHURCH: Breaking news, India's Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of upholding LGBTQ rights, but stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage. It's still considered a partial victory after months of activists formally challenging the law. Same-sex marriage and intercourse were outlawed in the country in the 1800s, though the latter was overturned in 2018. The court has directed India's federal and state governments to ensure the gay community is not discriminated against.

And we will have more CNN NEWSROOM after a short break. Do stay with us.


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. Meanwhile, the Russian President arrived in Beijing earlier to meet with his dear friend Xi Jinping.

For more on this, want to bring in CNN's Beijing Bureau Chief Steven Jiang. Good to see you, Steven. So, What is the likely goal of this visit to China by Russia's president coming at a time when both leaders have criticized Israel's military response to the Hamas attacks?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Rosemary, you know, the current crisis in the Middle East is, but the latest example of how the two sides, the Russians and Chinese, are increasingly in sync when it comes to major policies, but as well as their global messaging.

You know, strategically speaking, many analysts have also pointed out this conflict in the Middle East may be beneficial to both sides, may potentially divert U.S. attention and resources away from Ukraine, as well as the Indo- Pacific region where of course tensions have been rising between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

But you know, let's remember the last time Putin came here was before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics where he and Xi announced that no- limits partnership between the two sides but that was also a few weeks before he launched that brutal invasion against Ukraine.

But you know, despite China's claim on neutrality in that war, we have seen bilateral ties really grow much deeper and more robust and more substantive in the past few years. Bilateral trade, of course, soaring to new levels, but also you've seen them increasingly coordinated on many policy fronts militarily, politically and economically as well.

That is because the two men are really bonded over their shared grievances against the U.S. They're really, you know, all of that has happened in the past few years reinforcing their desire, their willingness to reshape this current world order led by the U.S. and dominated by Western powers.

So in that sense, the current conflict in the Middle East is presenting Xi Jinping with a perfect backdrop to compare and contrast, to present an alternative vision and narrative exemplified by his Belt and Road global infrastructure investment scheme. And that's why we have seen headlines from Chinese state media that while the U.S. fans the flame of war, China exports peace and development.

That's something obviously Putin is very much on board, praising the Chinese quote-unquote "unique approach in dealing with other countries, not through coercion and imposition, but by providing opportunities to other countries." Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, our thanks to Steven Jiang for that live report from Beijing.

And we'll be right back.




CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. In the days since Israel declared war on Hamas and launched strikes on Gaza, close to 60 Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank. CNN's Becky Anderson has details.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, CONNECT THE WORLD (voice-over): 12 year old Abdulrahman can't sleep at night. His sister Rabia says he's too scared to be alone. His home in the village of Qusra, just south of Nablus, was attacked by Jewish settlers. You can see them here in this video, lobbing rocks and firing at the property, shattering the windows. Inside, the floor littered with glass, scars of bullets scraping the walls, a bleak emptiness.

Four local Palestinians were killed in this attack. On the way to their funeral the following day, two other locals, Ibrahim and his son Ahmadwadi, also shot dead. Images of the lost plaster the walls in Qusra. Hani Odeh is the mayor

here. His community lives in fear, he says, constantly attacked by Jewish settlers. And he says it's getting worse.

HANI ODEH, QUSRA MAYOR (through translator): The situation is so, so bad. You can't even describe it. We're living in a devastating psychological state. None of us can sleep.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Torched cars, water pumps, electricity lines, ransacked. Hani tells me settlers roam freely here, often under the protection of the Israeli police. Their aim, he insists, to drive Palestinians from their homes and ultimately from the occupied West Bank.

In Israel's current government, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a former settler leader himself, previously convicted of supporting terrorism and inciting anti-Arab racism, others denying Palestinians' very existence.

(on-camera): While you and I have been talking, I'm just getting an urgent update on my phone here: local sources, settlers storm Mount Al-Ama in the town of Beita, protected by the occupation forces.

ODEH (through translator): The policy is clear. It's no secret. They want to displace this area. We just have to defend ourselves and defend our land. We will die here. Where else will we go?

ANDERSON (voice-over): A short drive away and in full view of an encroaching settlement, we meet Ibrahim and Ahmed's family. Wives, daughters and sisters mourning their loss, yet stoic and proud.

KHITAM WADI, HUSBAND AND SON KILLED IN SETTLER ATTACK (through translator): My husband loved his land. He defended his land. And we will continue to do that so long as we are alive.


ANDERSON (on-camera): Tell me about Ahmed.

K. WADI (through translator): Ahmed was just like his dad, a hero, a brave man with a strong heart.

ASSEL WADI, FATHER AND BROTHER KILLED IN SETTLER ATTACK (through translator): As long as there's someone like Ben-Gvir supporting you and encouraging you to carry out attacks, of course violence is going to increase.

ANDERSON (voice-over): In the shadow of that violence, life goes on. For some, like these women, intimidation making them more intent on staying. But for others, like Rabia and little Abdulrahman, this time it's too much.

RABIA, FORMER OCCUPANT IN A HOME IN QUSRA: I feel so bad. I want to cry but what can we do?

ANDERSON (voice-over): They moved to Khosra six years ago, escaping settler violence that took away their father's life. Now being driven out of their home again.

Becky Anderson, CNN.


CHURCH: An IDF spokesman, when asked whether the Israeli military would reinforce in light of settler attacks, said the IDF was fully deployed in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a call with President Joe Biden, demanded an end to attacks by settlers and extremist incursions, expressing his rejection of actions harming civilians on both sides.

I do want to thank you for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo, next.