Return to Transcripts main page
Three-Year-Old American Among Hamas' Hostages; Outcry Grows over Gaza as Conflict Rages On; Biden, Xi to Meet on Sidelines of APEC Summit in California; Crossfire Intensifies on Israel's Border with Lebanon; U.S., Japan, South Korea Discuss Ways to Counter North Korea Threats; State of Emergency in Iceland Due to Quakes, Magma Threat. Aired 12-12:45a ET
Aired November 13, 2023 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. Coming to you live from Studio 4 in the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Michael Holmes. I appreciate your company.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the Israeli military says it is moving deeper into Gaza City, as Gaza's health system crumbles.
Israel's prime minister facing growing pressure to bring home hostages and take responsibility for the October 7th attacks. We'll hear his response.
Plus tremors and tension in Iceland as it appears a volcanic eruption could be coming.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.
HOLMES: And we begin in the Middle East, of course, where the medical situation in Gaza is growing even more dire by the hour, as Israel steps up its war on Hamas.
Israel said it went deeper into Gaza City on Sunday, reaching the outskirts of the al-Shati refugee camp and conducting raids in multiple areas.
The IDF says it has arrested 20 alleged Hamas members, including some accused of taking part in the October 7 attacks in Israel.
Meanwhile, multiple hospitals in Gaza are closing, due to airstrikes and lack of fuel and supplies. Health officials and aid agencies say patients, staff, and thousands of displaced civilians, are trapped inside Gaza's biggest hospital, al-Shifa, due to fighting nearby.
The Israeli military says it put 300 liters of fuel at the entrance to the al-Shifa Hospital complex on Sunday, providing this video of the fuel being carried by soldiers. CNN cannot independently verify the contents of that video, though.
The IDF says Hamas blocked the hospital from receiving the fuel, but the director of the Shifa hospital says staff have been too scared to go out and get it. He also said the fuel would have provided power to run the generators for only 15 to 30 minutes.
Nada Bashir has more on the dire situation in Gaza hospitals. The usual warning: some of the videos you're about to see are graphic.
NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the sounds of the final gasps from Gaza's collapsing health care system. Medical staff in Gaza City, working under near relentless Israeli bombardment, for over a month.
But now, this chorus of frantic voices, seen here working under torchlight, tells its own gut-wrenching story.
The al-Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza, has now collapsed. The hospital is no longer operational, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
But these scenes are all too familiar across the besieged Gaza Strip. The vast majority of hospitals here are already completely out of service, the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah says, and those remaining now on a cliff edge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a direct injury in the head. Internal bleeding. And we can't do surgeries. No surgeries, no oxygen, no electricity. We work manually. We are using a manual resuscitator. It is a clear injury. It needs an urgent surgery, a lifesaving one. He's less than a year old.
BASHIR (voice-over): Remarkably, this baby survived, but his father, who was in the very same building when an Israeli airstrike hit, did not.
At Gaza's largest hospital, al-Shifa, officials say newborn babies had to be moved, and that at least three babies in the neonatal unit died after a generator powering incubators was damaged in an Israeli strike. CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment.
The IDF regularly says it is targeting Hamas. But doctors here say the hospital is now completely surrounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation of power (ph) is difficult. According to our colleague there, there is no electricity. They cannot communicate between each other. There is a lot of targeting around the hospital.
BASHIR (voice-over): Under a near-constant barrage of airstrikes, it is impossible for both patients and staff to safely evacuate. Doctors are overwhelmed. Morgues now long beyond capacity. [00:05:02]
And with communications frequently cut off, contact between medical teams on the ground and with the outside world, is growing increasingly difficult.
Hospital officials say thousands of displaced civilians are still thought to be in the compound, taking shelter in what once was thought to be a sanctuary, in the midst of this seemingly unending nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We thought the hospital was a safe place, but it wasn't. If we had stayed another five minutes, we would have been killed. They started to bomb us, and we ran away from al-Shifa.
BASHIR (voice-over): The Israeli military says it is now enabling passage from three hospitals in Northern Gaza, with an additional route said to have been opened to allow civilians to evacuate Southwards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is another form of torture. We have about six kilometers to go, no less. She got a stroke that caused her brain damage. She can't speak and is paralyzed.
BASHIR (voice-over): But the United Nations itself has raised doubts over the so-called safe zones outlined by Israel, warning that nowhere inside Gaza is safe for civilians anymore.
And for those too injured, too sick, evacuation is impossible. Many doctors on the ground, vowing to stay beside their patients, no matter what.
Nada Bashir, CNN, in Jerusalem.
HOLMES: Israel says they've opened an evacuation corridor outside of al-Shifa Hospital on Saturday, but the Red Cross says it cannot confirm whether anyone was actually able to leave through it.
CNN's Dana Bash asked the Israel prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, about the situation. Mr. Netanyahu says the hospital is being used as a Hamas command center. And that Israel is willing to help civilians evacuate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We have called to evacuate all the patients from that hospital. And in fact, 100 or so have already been evacuated. I've called for field hospitals. The French president is sending a floating hospital ship. I've asked the Emirates to send a field hospital.
Other countries have done the same. I expect the U.N. to go there (ph) soon. There's no reason why we just can't take the patients out of there, instead of letting Hamas use it as a command center for terrorism, for the rockets that they fire against Israel, for the terror tunnels that they use to kill Israeli civilians.
We're obviously treading carefully when it comes to hospitals, but we're not giving immunity to the terrorists. And so far, even though Hamas has tried to prevent the civilians from leaving, hundreds of thousands have left, sometimes having to go through Hamas gun points, and gunfire, that wants to keep them in harm's way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: The White House says one of the hostages Hamas is holding is a three-year-old American toddler whose parents were killed on October 7th. That news arose from the readout of a phone call between the U.S. president, Joe Biden, and the emir of Qatar.
CNN's Kevin Liptak with details.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is revealing new information about one of the American hostages being held at that Hamas assault on Israel. It's a three-year-old toddler whose parents were killed by Hamas during the attack on October 7th.
And we're learning about this American in a read-out of a phone call that President Biden held with the emir of Qatar. You remember that Qatar is playing broker in these talks, to try and release some of these hostages.
Certainly, the information that one of those hostages is a three-year- old American will only increase pressure on the parties to try and come up with some kind of agreement, to secure the release of that three-year-old. But also, the 200-plus other hostages that are being held.
And certainly, President Biden and other American officials have been in active discussions about some sort of agreement that would include a pause in the fighting to allow those hostages to come out.
President Biden has been pressuring the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on a longer pause that would allow for the release of more hostages.
But certainly, the fighting has not decreased at all. It certainly has been ramping up around the largest hospital in Gaza. We did hear from the American national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, who did say that it is in Hamas's playbook to use hospitals as staging grounds for weapons and for fighters.
But, he did also issue a message of caution to Israel. Listen to what he said.
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The bottom line for the United States is that we do not want to see fire fights in a hospital. We do not want to see innocent patients, who are sick or wounded, be injured or killed in the crossfire.
So, that is how we look at this issue. And that is how we are communicating with our Israeli counterpart.
LIPTAK: Now, Jake Sullivan was asked in that interview with Dana Bash, whether Israel was adhering to the rules of war. And he said he didn't want to play judge, or jury, on that question.
So certainly, the U.S. still standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel, while issuing these messages of caution, urging Israel to protect civilian life.
Now, on Monday at the White House, President Biden will meet with the Indonesian president, the leader of the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world.
But President Joko Widodo is coming to the White House from Saudi Arabia, where he was attending a meeting of other Arab and Muslim leaders. The calls there were for a ceasefire, and that is certainly a message and a topic that will arise in the Oval Office on Monday.
Kevin Liptak, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.
HOLMES: The families of the hostages in Gaza are demanding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do more to secure their loved ones' release. CNN's Dana Bash asked him if he is, in fact, doing enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETANYAHU: We're doing everything we can, around the clock, and I can't, you know, talk about it. I've personally met with the hostage families, families of hostages several times, and it -- it just tears your heart out.
But yes, we're doing everything, and many things that I can't say here, obviously. But this is one of our two war goals. I mean, one is to destroy Hamas, and the second is to bring back our hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Mr. Netanyahu and his government are also facing harsh criticism for failing to foresee the October 7th terror attack beforehand. The deadliest, of course, in Israel since the country was founded in 1948. Dana Bash asked him about that, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: I know you've been asked this several times, but I have had multiple people inside Israel reach out to me, knowing that I was going to interview you.
And so the one thing they want to hear from you is that you take personal responsibility for failing to prevent the October 7th attacks and protecting your people. I know you say the time for that will come after the war. Why won't you take responsibility now? NETANYAHU: I've already addressed that many times, and I said this
whole question will be addressed after the war.
BASH: Why not now?
NETANYAHU: Just as people would ask -- Well, did people ask Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor that question? Did people ask George Bush, after the surprise attack of November [SIC] 11th? Look, it's a question that needs to be asked.
BASH: I think those questions were asked.
NETANYAHU: And those questions will be asked. And I've said -- and I've said -- I've said that one thing that is important, and I've said we're going to answer all these questions, including I'm going to be asked tough questions. Right now, I think what we have to do is unite the country for one purpose, one purpose alone. That is to achieve victory.
HOLMES: And joining me now from Tel Aviv, Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Haaretz newspaper, former adviser to Shimon Perez, who of course, is the former prime minister of Israel.
Gideon, it's always good to see you. You wrote in Haaretz -- and I'll just quote one line, you said that the chance for real soul-searching after the war is diminishing.
In fact, the headline for the piece is, "If Israel resists examining its own failures, another war awaits us." And just briefly explain what you meant by that?
GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, "HAARETZ" NEWSPAPER: I did not mean just this strategic surprise, or the fact that the army wasn't ready for such an attack. And it took hours until the army woke up.
I think Israel needs to rethink about its old way of existing, of living. Are we going to live on our sword forever? Are we going to live from one war to the other? I mean, the whole way of thinking must change, because we are reaching such dangerous stages that we have to realize something went wrong.
And we have to get to the depths of it and find out. I have my own answers, which are not most of the Israelis' ones. But at least we have to start to realize that this cannot go on like this from year to year, from war to war.
HOLMES: Obviously, the focus of Israelis is on the hostages; mourning those, you know, brutally murdered by Hamas, of course. But -- but how much are Israelis even seeing about what's happening in Gaza, in terms of the humanitarian situation, as opposed to the military campaign? Is there much mainstream coverage of the civilians of Gaza?
LEVY: It's a very good question, and the answer is very clear. They see nothing. And that's one of the betrayals of Israeli media, that it doesn't show Gaza. Not in times of so-called peace; and for sure, not in times of war.
What your viewers are exposed to, most average Israelis have never seen. And the fact that we live in this terrible denial -- yes, we faced a barbaric attack on Israel, but this does not mean that we shouldn't know what we are doing to the other side.
You might even justify what we are doing in Gaza, but at least you have to face it. You have to see the children. You have to see the screaming fathers. You have to see the hospitals, the people dying on the -- on the grounds of the hospital. You show it.
Israeli TV haven't shown it, because the viewers don't want to see it. And, you know, the journalists are playing along the lines of what the viewers are expecting. We are all busy with our own agony, which is in agony and mourning. But what about the other side? Shouldn't we at least know? Shouldn't we at least see it, if it's worsened, if we have the legitimacy for this. Nothing of it.
HOLMES: That is -- that is fascinating, and a little worrying. I mean, the other thing I wanted to ask you, because I've been noticing that there have been numerous cases of people being arrested, or detained in Israel, merely for expressing sympathy or empathy, with Palestinian civilians on social media. Israelis being detained.
What do you make of that? How unprecedented is that sort of crackdown on free speech?
LEVY: In times of war, always fascism, nationalism, militarism, lack of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It all gets crazy.
And we faced it in the past, but this -- this time, I think it reaches new stages that we have never saw before. Also because the attack on us was an unprecedented one.
But maybe, Arab citizens, but also Jews, I must say, including a teacher who was still in arrest for a few days, who dare to pay any kind of empathy, as you say, with the suffer of the Palestinian people is immediately labeled as a pro-Hamas activist, and immediately labeled as a traitor.
Now, this is very dangerous for the long run. Because, we have this reform that all Israel was stalled (ph) about. The damages to Israel's democracy now, are much bigger.
And by the way, the test of Israeli democracy in times like this. Now it's the time to be open enough to hear, and to listen to any points of view, and not only to one. And right now Israelis are talking in one voice, and Israeli to hear only one opinion. That's very dangerous.
HOLMES: Yes. We're almost out of time, but I did want to ask you that, because it goes to what you were just talking about. Netanyahu on Saturday said, understandably, Hamas will never govern
Gaza again. But he also said the Palestinian Authority couldn't govern either, or alluded to that.
Who would be acceptable to Israel? And how important is it that there will be Palestinian determination over who governs?
LEVY: I guess Netanyahu means that the Zionist Federation of New York will run -- will run Gaza. Only Palestinians can run Gaza. And among the Palestinians, there's either Hamas, or the P.A. We can like it, or we can not like it.
But that's the immediate (ph) effect. And -- and looking now for some mystery organ who can run Gaza, finally leads me to the very worried conclusion that Netanyahu doesn't mean to leave Gaza. In other words, we are re-conquering Gaza.
I hope this is not true. But what alternative is there? So we stay in Gaza another decade, another two decades. I mean, it's endless. I hope there will be enough real wisdom and the American administration will push hard enough, to get the P.A. in. It's very problematic, but it's right now the only organ that can really try to run this beaten, bleeding place.
HOLMES: Gideon Levy, always good to get your thoughts, my friend. Thank you so much, there in Tel Aviv for us.
LEVY: Thank you.
HOLMES: An Egyptian border official says more than 800 foreign nationals were evacuated from Gaza, through the Rafah border crossing on Saturday. It is the first time foreign nationals have been allowed into Egypt since Thursday and the most that have passed through Rafah in a single day, since evacuations began.
A crowd of people in cars, draped in different flags, welcomed the evacuees on the other side. Nine Palestinians needed medical treatment arrived in Egypt on Sunday. They include children with cancer, and residents injured in the conflict, according to an Egyptian official. Here's one of those patients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were transferred here to Egypt to get treated. God willing, hopefully, I will get artificial limbs implanted so I can walk. God willing, I will return to Gaza. There's nothing for this country anyway (ph). Whatever God has written for us will happen. I'm satisfied with whatever God has in store. Thank God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, by CNN's count, that brings the total number of Palestinians transferred to Egypt for medical treatment to almost 130. That is, of course, a tiny fraction of the wounded in the Gaza Strip.
Still to come here on CNN, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon travel to the U.S. where he's set to meet with the U.S. president, Joe Biden. We'll take a look at what's at stake for the two leaders, next on CNN.
HOLMES: As many as 40 workers are trapped in Northern India after a tunnel that's being built partially collapsed on Sunday.
Authorities say they've been communicating with those workers and that they are OK. Food, water and oxygen being sent to them. Police say it could take another day or so to clear through the debris to reach the workers.
The tunnel is part of a government highway project.
For the first time in more than six years, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon be back in the United States. He is expected to meet with the president, Joe Biden, this week on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, their first meeting since last year's G-20 summit in Bali.
The two leaders are looking to stabilize relations in the midst of growing geopolitical conflicts.
CNN's Beijing bureau chief, Steven Jiang, joins me now to tell us more.
China's vice president was saying that Beijing is ready to improve relations with the U.S. So what might we expect, or hope for from this meeting?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yes Michael, once again I think expectations are low, while challenges and obstacles are aplenty.
Remember, when the two men last met in Bali, that was also after relations plunged to an historic low after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
So things were looking up after that meeting. Then, of course, the suspected Chinese spy balloon popped up, freezing everything again until very recently.
I think that's why a lot of analysts say this is a big deal for them to meet. But they also say the biggest deliverable may just be the resumption of communications that were cut off in the past few years.
That, of course, includes government-to-government communications, including very senior levels. But also, people to people.
And we have seen some positive signs on that front in terms of this, quote unquote, flying, with more nonstop flights between the two countries, being added back, for example. And more American cultural and academic delegations coming to visit China in recent weeks and months.
But the problem here is, whatever comes out of San Francisco, many experts say it can best be described as, quote unquote, "a tactical stabilization" in this relationship. Because fundamentally, how each side views their own strengths and the other's intentions have not changed.
As you know, in Washington, China is perhaps the only bipartisan consensus, in terms of being America's most menacing strategic competitor.
But also Jinping himself has said explicitly that America is out to contain China's global rise, to suppress China's interests. That's why China needs to fight back, and that has translated into policy measures, including a growing emphasis on self-reliance in key economic sectors, especially in tech.
But also in terms of lightening counterespionage campaigns, that has now affected for business operations here, not to mention these frequencies of military close encounters in this region, with both sides accusing each other of being the culprit.
But these tensions are not going away, just because this meeting is happening. The economic winds that Xi Jinping is facing economically, may give him more incentive to soften his tones.
He's still going to raise the issue of Taiwan and all these other so- called core interests of Beijing, but he's also going to be on a fence (ph) of delivering a speech to business leaders and meeting his old American friends from his time as local officials.
And Michael, as many have suggested that if Jinping really wants to win American hearts and minds, just send another pair of pandas -- Michael.
HOLMES: Yes. I think they're right out of pandas in the U.S. now. Steven Jiang in Beijing, great wrap-up there. Pandas. OK.
All right there. Israel warns that it could do in Beirut, what it's doing in Gaza, as the conflict with Hezbollah escalates at the border with Lebanon. We'll have details on that after the break.
HOLMES: Welcome back. Israel's army moving deeper into Gaza City. The IDF says conducting raids and, they say, finding long-range rocket launchers. That's according to an IDF spokesperson.
He says that the Israeli forces are destroying more tunnels, anti-tank launchpads, and other Hamas military infrastructure. He also says some 20 alleged Hamas members have been arrested and brought back to Israel for questioning, including they say, some who were directly involved in the October 7th terror attacks.
And the Israeli Defense Forces say its fighter jets attacked several Hezbollah targets within Lebanon on Sunday, responding to attacks by that militant group in Northern Israel.
It's the latest in an escalating crisis at that Northern border, one that is threatening to turn into full-scale war. Ben Wedeman with details.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In May of this year, Hezbollah put on a show for the media. Acting out, perhaps, a future operation, leaving no doubt who the foe would be. That was then. This is now.
Hezbollah posts almost daily videos of their attacks on Israeli positions along the border.
From the day after Hamas's surprise attack on Israel, a low-intensity war has been raging between Israel and Hezbollah, as well as other factions operating in South Lebanon.
With Israeli forces battling Hamas inside Gaza, Houthi rebels launching missiles from Yemen, and the Lebanese-Israeli border area seeing daily, and sometimes fatal, exchanges, it's a multi-front war.
Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed that the region's 75-year struggle with Israel has reached a turning point.
"Regardless of what the Zionists do," he said, "after October 7th, Israel is a different Israel. Existentially, strategically, historically, and in terms of security."
The day he made the speech saw the heaviest cross-border exchanges yet, the weapons both sides are using ever more deadly, reaching ever deeper into one another's territory.
Speaking with troops near the border, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, warned, "What we're doing in Gaza, we can also do in Beirut."
It's a slow burn for now, but it could, at any moment, explode into something much bigger.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Tyre, South Lebanon.
HOLMES: More than 180,000 people marched against antisemitism across France this weekend.
The demonstration in Paris is reportedly the largest such protest march since the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in France, more than 30 years ago. A hundred and five thousand took to the streets of the capital, and nearly 3,000 police officers were on hand to keep them safe.
The demonstrations came as tensions have been flaring in France, especially Paris, over the Israel-Hamas war. And there has been a spike in antisemitic incidents.
French President Emmanuel Macron posting on social media, quote, "A France, where our fellow Jewish citizens are afraid, is not France.
Top defense officials from the U.S., Japan, and South Korea have agreed on a plan for real-time data sharing, on North Korean missile launches, starting next month. That's according to South Korea's defense ministry.
The agreement came during annual security talks in Seoul, which Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin is attending. The talks have largely focused on ways the three countries can counter threats from North Korea, including a strategy in which the U.S. will use its military and nuclear assets to deter Pyongyang and defend allies.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is standing by for us in Seoul, South Korea. Good to see you, Paula. Any security talks between the U.S. and South Korea do not go down well in North Korea.
Tell us more about the talks and the North's likely reaction to them.
HANCOCKS: Well, Michael, the one tangible change that we have seen so far did happen on Sunday. And that was when the defense minister of the U.S., South Korea, and Japan spoke to each other, and they agreed that they would go ahead with this real-time data sharing, when it comes to anything about North Korean missiles.
It is something that the three leaders of those countries have decided should go ahead, when they met in Camp David back in August. It is really the military catch-up, to make sure that the system works.
Now, we understand the system is undergoing its final testing, and it should be fully operational by the end of December. So it will be able to have real-time data sharing when it comes to any launch from North Korea between these three countries.
Now when it comes to today, this Monday, the annual security talks, as you say, between the U.S. and South Korea, we are expecting the two leaders to be speaking publicly in a press conference any moment now.
But what they are focusing on, inevitably, it is North Korea. But not just North Korea. They are going to outline this extended deterrence strategy that they have been working on for a couple of years.
This is effectively the U.S. confirming once again that it will use whatever capabilities it has, including nuclear, if necessary, if any of its allies came under attack.
Something that South Korea has really been pushing for more tangible results, and proof that the U.S. will come to its aid, should it need it.
And then, of course, there is also the issue of the two wars that are happening in the rest of the world.
On Sunday night, Lloyd Austin, the secretary of defense, was invited to the South Korean president's house. And during that time, Yoon Suk Yeol pointed out that North Korea is actually directly, or indirectly, linked to both of those wars.
The Israel-Hamas war, for example, we know North Korea has been vocally supportive of North Korea [SIC]. Also, evidence that they have been sending weapons to that region for many decades now.
And when it comes to Russia-Ukraine, there are great concerns about what North Korea is giving to Russia at this point, as part of this increasing security arrangement that the two countries have.
According to the spy agency here in Seoul, just earlier this month, they said that they believe North Korea has exported over 1 million shells to Russia, just since early August.
They believe there's been ten separate shipments. That's something that greatly concerns the U.S. and South Korea and others in the region.
And of course, the question is what does North Korea get the other way? What is the payment? Is it, as the U.S. suspects, help with its nuclear, its missile program, and potentially its -- its satellite launches. Two of those satellite launches so far this year, which have not been successful. We are expecting it to carry out a third effort, at any time -- Michael.
HOLMES: Only happening there. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks in Seoul.
Still to come here on the program, officials in Iceland have declared a state of emergency, following a wave of earthquakes and the threat of possible volcanic eruptions. We'll have that after the break.
HOLMES: Welcome back. In Spain, thousands protested on Sunday against plans to offer amnesty to Catalan separators who tried to break away from the country.
The government made an agreement on Thursday with the Catalan separatist political party, Junts. It called for a passage of a controversial law, granting amnesty for those convicted over the Catalonia region's 2017 attempt to secede from Spain.
The plan has sparked several large demonstrations in recent weeks. Protesters say acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez is using the deal to win support for another term in office.
Iceland is under a state of emergency, due to the threat of volcanic corruptions. It is coming after an intense wave of earthquakes in a region well-known for seismic activity. And reports of a magma tunnel forming near one fishing town.
Authorities say it's unclear whether the magma will break through to the surface, but they are watching it very closely.
HOLMES (voice-over): Alarming signs in Iceland, where waves of tremors are shaking and splintering parts of the country. Experts say the seismic activity there is likely to get worse.
Thousands of earthquakes have struck Iceland's Southwestern peninsula in the last few days. Geologists say it's related to an underground corridor of magma that's shifting, and could soon lead to a volcanic eruption.
In the town of Grindavik, some 50 kilometers away from the capital of Reykjavik, the ground has also split open in places because of the volatility under the earth's crust.
More than 3,000 residents were evacuated Saturday, with a few allowed back Sunday, to retrieve pets and essential items from their home.
Experts say the magma corridor, which stretches about 15 kilometers near Grindavik, could cause an eruption, and possibly destroy much of town.
VLDIR REYNISSON, ICELAND'S CIVIL PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: The magma is now a shallow, very shallow depth, so we're expecting an eruption within a couple of hours. The shortest part, at least within a couple of days. Anyway, around that fissure, we can see an eruption could happen.
HOLMES (voice-over): Iceland has declared a state of emergency, and as a precaution, closed the Blue Lagoon, a popular geothermal spa located near Grindavik.
The area near Grindavik is prone to volcanic activity with three eruptions in the past two and a half years.
In 2021, a fissure measuring as big as 750 meters long spewed fountains of lava into the sky, attracting tourists to the unpopulated hot spot.
This time around, with an entire town potentially at risk, officials warn this eruption could have far more dangerous consequences.
HOLMES: And before we go, a seaside town near Rome can breathe a little easier, now that a lion is no longer roaming around the streets.
The circus lion, you can see him just sort of walking around the streets, going for a bit of a passa dyata (ph) on Saturday. Police are investigating whether the animal was let out on purpose, after an employee reportedly found a broken lock and saw three people running from the lion's cage.
The local mayor announced on Facebook the lion had been recaptured and returned to the circus, after being on the loose for five hours. After thanking police and volunteers, the mayor added that he hopes the episode can put an end to the exploitation of animals in circuses.
That will do it for me. I'm Michael Holmes. WORLD SPORT up next.