Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Israeli Army Conducts Raids Deeper In Gaza City; 3-Year-Old American Among Hostages Still Held by Hamas; More than 180,000 Join Marches Against Anti-Semitism In France; U.S., South Korea Revise Deterrence Strategy, Boost Drills Over North Korea Threat; Biden And Xi To Meet In California Next Week; U.S. Medical Aid Groups Rush to Support Gaza Hospitals; Israel Blames Lebanon, Hezbollah for Increased Fighting; U.S. Lawmakers Up Against Friday Funding Deadline; State of Emergency in Iceland Due to Quakes, Magma Threat. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 01:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. I'm Laila Harrak. Ahead on CNN Newsroom. Time is running out for patients in Gaza's hospitals as life-saving equipment is shut down due to critical fuel shortages. And as the humanitarian crisis grows, Israeli leaders doubling down on their goal to eliminate Hamas.

Plus, the U.S. and Chinese presidents will meet on the sidelines of a major summit in San Francisco this week. We'll discuss what's at stake as Xi Jinping makes his first visit to the United States in years.

We begin in the Middle East, where the medical situation in Gaza is growing even more dire by the hour as Israel steps up its war against Hamas.

Israeli forces say they 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's arrested 20 alleged Hamas members, including some accused of taking part in the October 7 attacks on Israel.

In the meantime, multiple hospitals in Gaza closing due to airstrikes and lack of fuel. Health officials and aid agencies say patients, staff and thousands of displaced civilians 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 the video.

The IDF says Hamas blocked the hospital from receiving the fuel, but the director of the Al-Shifa Hospital says the staff had been too scared to go out to get it. And he also said the fuel would have provided power to run the generators for only about 30 minutes.

Nada Bashir has more on the dire situation in Gaza hospitals and a warning some of the video you're about to see is graphic.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): These are the sounds of the final gasps from Gaza's collapsing healthcare 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 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 is 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 life-saving one. He is less than a year old.

BASHIR: 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.

MOHAMED KANDIL, DOCTOR: The situation overall is difficult, according to our colleague there. There is no water, no electricity. They cannot communicate between each other. There is a lot of targeting around the hospital.

BASHIR: 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 and with communications frequently cut off, contact between medical team 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: The Israeli military says it is now enabling passage from three hospitals in northern Gaza, with an additional route said to have been open to allow civilians to evacuate southwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): This is another form of torture. We have about 6 kilometers go, no less. She got a stroke that caused her brain damage. She can't speak and is paralyzed.

BASHIR: 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.


HARRAK: Israel says it opened an evacuation corridor outside Al-Shifa Hospital on Sunday, but the Red Cross says it can't confirm whether anyone actually left through it. CNN's Dana Bash asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the situation.

Mr. Netanyahu said the hospital is being used as a Hamas command center and that Israel is willing to help civilians evacuate.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've 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 has sent a floating hospital ship. I've asked the Emirates to send a field hospital. They have and other countries have done the same.

I expect the U.N. to build this. So 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 also not going to give 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 gunpoints and gunfire that wants to keep them in harm's way.


HARAK: Dana Bash also spoke to U. S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. He says Israel is facing an added difficulty in trying to eliminate Hamas as the militants conceal themselves among the civilian population.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What Israel is facing is a terrorist enemy who hides among civilians, who uses civilians as human shields and so it has an added burden of trying to prosecute this campaign against that terrorist group while distinguishing between terrorists and innocent civilians.

That doesn't lessen its responsibility to operate according to the rules of war. And we have continued to make that point both publicly and privately, and we will continue to do so as we go forward.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Is Israel operating according to the rules of war?

SULLIVAN: Well, Dana, I'm not going to sit here and play judge or jury on that question. What I'm going to do is state the principle of the United States on this issue, which is straightforward. Israel has a right, indeed a responsibility to defend itself against a terrorist group that just in the last couple of weeks has come out and said that it would like to repeat October 7 over and over again until Israel no longer exists.

A Hamas spokesman on the front page of the New York Times said the entire objective of the group is permanent state of war with Israel. And so that is what Israel is up against. At the same time, as I have said and as President Biden and Secretary Blinken have said, we are democracies.

And as democracies, we have to be different and we have to abide by the rules of war. We have to do our utmost to protect innocent civilians, and that means being targeted and careful in military operations to try to reduce and to try to avoid any loss of civilian life.


HARRAK: The White House says one of the hostages Hamas is holding is a three-year-old American toddler whose parents were killed on October 7. Well, that news arose from the readout of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and the Emir of Qatar.

It said the two leaders talked about the war in Gaza, including Qatari brokered efforts to free the hostages. Mr. Biden said he hopes for a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side, but he added that, quote, Hamas has long been an impediment to that outcome.

And on Sunday, hundreds of foreign nationals made it through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the most in a single day since the evacuations from Gaza began.


CNN's Eleni Giokos is in Cairo following the latest updates.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): 826 foreign nationals were evacuated out of Gaza into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. The border was closed since Thursday and this is the largest number of foreign nationals that have been evacuated.

There were also four injured Palestinians that were sent to Egyptian hospitals. And we spoke to one patient that only had one wish to be able to walk again like he did before, both his legs were amputated. And it just gives you a sense of the scale and the intensity of some of the injuries that Gaza's hospitals have to deal with. So many of the hospitals have already been shut down and the doctors there described very grim and catastrophic conditions that they're dealing with.

There were also five cancer patients, children that went into Egypt not because they were injured, but because they couldn't continue to get care in Gaza because of the continued bombardment. Now, 129 injured Palestinians have already been evacuated into Egypt. The Egyptians are deploying resources at the border, ambulances to get people into hospitals.

But this number is just a small fraction of the over 26,000 injured Palestinians right now in Gaza. In terms of foreign nationals, the only way you can get out of the Gaza Strip is if your name is on a registered list. And one diplomatic source here in Egypt tells me that it's an untransparent, long and arduous process to get foreign nationals on this list.

Once it's approved by embassies, those names are then sent to Israel, and Israel has the final say. They vet and process those names.

So, a diplomatic source also tells me that it's clear that they're using a political metric to get people out of Gaza, that if any country has spoken ill or spoken against Israel's actions in Gaza, that they're probably at the bottom of the list.

The Israeli foreign ministry tells me that they have no objection to foreign nationals leaving Gaza as long as they're not linked to any terrorist group.

Now, this was a very important deal that was brokered by the Qataris with the assistance of the Egyptians, a deal that included Hamas, Israel and the United States to get people out of Gaza. This has been in place for over a week and a half. We've seen foreign nationals evacuated. We've seen injured Palestinians getting out of Gaza as well.

But it's a very delicate process and it has been delayed after intense strikes, for example, in Gaza, specifically one on a convoy of ambulances that were destined for the Rafah border crossing and we have seen a few delays, but it's all about getting foreign nationals on that important list so they can find a way back home. Eleni Giokos, CNN, Cairo.


HARRAK: Well, more than 180,000 people marched against antisemitism across France this weekend. Sunday's demonstration in Paris is reportedly the largest such protest march since the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in France more than 30 years ago.

105,000 took to the streets of the capital city and nearly 3,000 police officers were on hand to help keep them safe.

The demonstrations come as tensions have been flaring in France, especially in Paris, over the Israel-Hamas war and there's been a spike in antisemitic incidents. French President Emerald Macron posted on social media a France where our Jewish fellow citizens are afraid is not France.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon travel to the United States where he's set to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden. A look at what's at stake for the two leaders, next on CNN.

Plus, the U.S. defense secretary travels to Seoul where newer agreements have been signed with South Korea and Japan on countering missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.



HARRAK: The Pentagon says the loss of at least five U.S. service members after their helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean during a training flight was not related to the fighting in the Middle East.

U. S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin paid tribute to the troops and their service as he visited a war memorial in South Korea on Sunday. Officials say they are continuing to gather more information about the deadly crash.

Mr. Austin and top defense officials from 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 Austin has been attending.

They've largely focused on ways the three countries can counter threats from North Korea, including a strategy in which the United States will use its military and nuclear assets to deter Pyongyang and defend allies.

While Austin and his South Korean counterparts also signed documents updating their country's bilateral deterrence strategy. And for the first time in more than six years, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon be back in the United States.

He's expected to meet with President Joe Biden this week on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco, their first meeting since last year's G20 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. Steven, a much anticipated meeting and a carefully stage managed meeting.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BIEJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Laila. But once again, expectations are low while challenges and obstacles are plenty.


Remember when the two men met last time in Bali, it was also when relations plunged to a historic low after then U. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. But then things were looking up after that meeting. But of course, then, of course, the Chinese spy balloon popped up and freezing up everything again until very recently. So that's why a lot of analysts say it is a big deal for them to meet in San Francisco. But that's also why they say the biggest deliverable out of that meeting may just be the resumption of communications, government to government, including at senior levels, but also people to people exchanges.

We have seen some recent positive signs on that front, with the resumption of more non-stop flights between the two sides and also more American academic and cultural delegations visiting China.

But the problem here is whatever comes out of San Francisco can only best described as tactical stabilization, according to many experts, because fundamentally, how each side views their own strengths and the other's intentions have now changed in Washington. China perhaps is still the only bipartisan consensus and being viewed as America's most menacing strategic competitor.

And here Xi Jinping, of course, has said explicitly. America is out to contain China's global rise to suppress Chinese interests. That's why China needs to fight back. And that has translated into policy measures, including growing emphasis on self-reliance in key economic sectors, especially in tech, but also widening counter espionage campaigns. Now, that's affecting American and other foreign businesses, operations and confidence here.

Not to mention, of course, growing close encounters between the two militaries in this region, with each side, of course, accusing the other of being the culprit. But that, in a way, points to the importance of resuming mail to mail communications which were cut off by the Chinese after the Pelosi visit. And that could be part of the deliverables. Indeed.

But at the end of the day, just because this meeting is taking place doesn't make all these tensions go away. And the strong economic headwinds Xi Jinping is facing domestically may give him more incentive to soften his stance and hit the brakes on some of the more confrontational measures.

So he is expected to deliver a major speech to business leaders, meeting his old American friends from the time when he was a local official and perhaps, Laila, as many have suggested, if he really wants to win American hearts and minds, just send another pair of pandas. Laila.

HARRAK: I think they just went home. Steven Jiang in Beijing, thank you so much. Greatly appreciate your reporting.

Now, joining me from Taipei, Taiwan, is Bethany Allen, China reporter for Axios and author of "Beijing Rules, How China Weaponized its Economy to Confront the World." So good to have you with us, Bethany. The

American and Chinese president is due to talk for the first time in more than a year, and it's been a very tense year. What will you be watching for?

BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN, AXIOS CHINA REPORTER: Well, first of all, I will be watching to see if they do indeed announce that there will be a resumption of military to military communications. This is something that, according to our reporting at Axios, that both leaders are preparing to launch if they're able to come to that consensus.

Now, the reason this is so important is that this is the top issue between the U.S. and China. This is the money issue. Will these two countries come be embroiled in a military conflict? And one of the best ways to prevent that from happening is to have stronger ties and communication between the militaries.

We've seen that this year, earlier this year with the spy balloon incident and the refusal of the Chinese side to pick up a phone call from the U.S. Defense secretary. We've seen that in recent weeks, as there have been some dangerous maneuvers over the South China Sea between the Chinese Air force and the U.S. side.

What analysts repeat over and over is that the risks of an unintentional military conflict are one of the biggest things that two sides can resolve. Second is I would look for some other kinds of deliverable on climate cooperation. This is something that the U.S. has maintained that they are very interested in. working with China on.

The climate envoy John Kerry has continued to meet his Chinese counterpart, and there may be some chance that the Chinese side would also agree to work with the U.S. on trying to prevent Chinese made fentanyl from coming into the US. This is also something that the Chinese side.

Last year, after Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, they cut off a working group on fentanyl. So I would be looking at that. Is this going to fundamentally reset the U.S.-China relationship? No.

HARRAK: No, exactly, because just too many friction points still that need to be resolved.


ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN: That's right. And Taiwan is perhaps that greatest and most fundamental difference. The Chinese side under Xi Jinping has become more and more aggressive in cutting Taiwan off from the rest of the world. I live in Taipei. Over the past year since Nancy Pelosi visited the Chinese People's Liberation Army incursions across the Taiwan Strait are now occurring almost every single day. And the U.S. side, on the other hand, is not going to give up its

legal positions, its assurances on having a strong and robust unofficial relationship with Taiwan and helping Taiwan defend itself. So this issue of Taiwan is something that is pretty intractable between the Chinese side and the U.S. side, but it can always get worse. And I think that a meeting like this is intended to help prevent it from getting worse. And what to watch on that really is the upcoming election in Taiwan about two months from now.

HARRAK: And the upcoming elections here in the United States, of course. So it's going to be another really crucial year.

I want to ask you just in, you know, obviously President Biden's foreign policy strategy from the get go has been to focus on China, rally the world's support for Ukraine and pivot away from the Mideast. Now, of course, we're living through this moment where the world's eyes are on the conflict in the Mideast.

And there are many accusations in the global south about U.S. double standards. I'm wondering, does China stand to benefit from this moment, for lack of a better terminology? Does it strengthen its position in the global South?

ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN: I think that's a very nuanced answer, but if we want to speak somewhat simply, I think yes, especially when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict, because many countries and many populations in the global south do feel a sense of solidarity with the people in Gaza.

And to see that the U.S. is supporting Israel, you know, despite the large tonnage of bombs that Israel is dropping on the Gaza Strip, I think to global south audiences it can feel like another redux of a U.S. backed imperialistic war.

Now, of course, to be clear, Hamas as a terrorist organization committed a massacre in Israel. And I don't think that's certainly popular in China, you know, there's no animosity in China towards Israel.

But this sense that Beijing's leaders have presenting an alternative pole, another sort of strength source of power in the world that can offer an alternative to what the U.S. offers and has traditionally offered in the Middle East is very appealing.

And even to speak, you know, less broadly than the global south among Arab populations that the Chinese government has already been targeting through the Belt and Road Initiative and other such initiatives.

Certainly this has great appeal to see that Beijing is not taking Hamas' side, but has refused to condemn Hamas and has criticized Israel and the U.S. for what Beijing says is going beyond the measures that would have been appropriate in such a case.

HARRAK: Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, thank you so much for joining us. Greatly appreciate it. ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN: Thank you for having me.

HARRAK: And coming up, hospital patients in Gaza struggling to survive the war, and so are their doctors and nurses according to our upcoming guest. We'll take a look at the catastrophic state of healthcare in the territory.



LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City says the facility is in a dire strait from lack of electricity with all operating rooms now out of service.

Hospital staff already have been trying to keep premature babies alive after the incubator's oxygen supply ran out. The World Health Organization says the complex is not functioning as a hospital anymore having been without electricity, water and poor Internet for three days.

Well Israel's military says it has offered 300 liters of fuel to the complex, but it claims Hamas blocked the hospital from receiving it. This video comes from the Israel Defense Forces and CNN cannot independently verify it.

The hospital's director says while Israeli officials did offer fuel, it was only enough to run the generators for about 30 minutes. And the staff was too scared to go get it.

Well, with Gaza's health care facilities and hospitals in dire straits, Israel is defending itself, saying Hamas is using those facilities and the patients inside as human shields.

A senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is not targeting the hospitals.


MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, we are. We're making a maximum effort to protect the hospitals and that's why we allowed fuel to go to the al-Shifa hospital. That's why we have offered to evacuate all the patients and those that need evacuating in ambulances we are ready to facilitate that as well.

But Hamas is not allowing that to happen. And Hamas is using the hospital system in Gaza as part of its military machine.


HARRAK: Medical groups in the U.S. are scrambling to offer support to their Palestinian colleagues. One nonprofit, the Palestinian-American Medical Association says it has raised more than $2 million to purchase critical supplies, including anesthetics, antibiotics and other medications to send to Gaza. However, getting those supplies to Gaza is another difficult task.

Joining me now is Dr. Mustafa Musleh. He is the president and cofounder of Palestinian-American Medical Association. Thank you so much for joining us, Doctor.

Deeply distressing scenes that the world is witnessing from hospitals across Gaza. Are you in touch with Gaza's medical community? Are you able to get through? What are they telling you right now?



DR. MUSLEY: We have been in touch until probably a couple of days ago where we pretty much were disconnected. A lot of the physicians are struggling to survive right now with the current situation.

So as you know, the health care system in Gaza has already collapsed unfortunately. 35 hospitals, half of them already shut down a while ago. And the remaining are functioning more as (INAUDIBLE) ERs unfortunately.

They are flooded with patients. The doctors are struggling to do their jobs with no tools, no medications and under fire and rocket attacks, unfortunately. And I can just imagine the horror that the doctors and the patients have to endure during those difficult conditions.

Some doctors are finding kids and families coming to the hospital killed while on duty. It's just beyond imaginable. I don't see any justification for what is happening right now.

HARRAK: So what is the goal of the Palestinian American Medical Association right now? What are you trying to do? I mean hospitals, as you know, have become a focal point in this war. Are you able to find a way to deliver medical aid and reach out to the medical community there?

DR. MUSLEY: You know, Laila, unfortunately at this time nothing is happening. Nothing can be done. The supplies to the Gaza strip has been just dribbling and, they're barely -- they're not making even any dents in the current situation.

Earlier in the month, we were able to procure a lot of medical supplies within the Gaza Strip. And we are able to support some of the hospitals with some basic needs and medical supplies and medications from the local suppliers in Gaza.

But those depleted very quickly, and as you know, the needs are tenfold more than what they need in a normal situation.

HARRAK: Doctors are describing desperate situations in hospitals. You know, hospitals being in crisis just as you outlined, and the complete collapse of the health care system. What do you think it will take to get health facilities running again

in a manner that allows them to provide critical care?

DR. MUSLEY: Well, I mean we need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. This cannot continue like this, and then we need an open unconditional corridor for humanitarian supplies for multiple accesses. We need a lot of medications, food, fuel to the hospitals.

It is just, you know, beyond imaginable what is going on and even if things open right now, it's still a catastrophe. But things cannot continue like that. One child is killed in Gaza every ten minutes now, and there's just no justification of that.

The need is just for the world to move to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and unconditional and a very quick, swift entrance of all the aid that is waiting at the borders to at least make a small relief of the people suffering there.

HARRAK: I guess that's the most difficult part of it, isn't it? I mean there is aid very close by, but the problem is how to get it into the enclave.

In conclusion, how have people responded to your efforts to, you know, provide relief to people in Gaza and to your efforts to raise funds for people in Gaza?

DR. MUSLEH: Yes, we have been conducting, you know, fund raising efforts here and we are as we speak, we are working on multiple fronts. We are preparing medical teams, we have about 1,500 physicians from the U.S. who are ready to go on standby to help and to do medical care for the patients there in surgeries.

We are also procuring as we speak a lot of medical supplies from across the border from Egypt. We have multiple containers that are ready to be shipped.

Unfortunately, the logistics and everything is backed up. Everything is backed up on Egypt's side too. We were hoping things to open a long time ago but every day the situations become grimmer. The catastrophe and the human toll is worse, and this is just unbelievable what is happening right now.

HARRAK: Dr. Musleh, thank you so much for your time.

DR. MUSLEH: Thank you very much for having me.

HARRAK: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN he's working around the clock to free the hostages Hamas is holding. He also reiterated that the only way Israel would agree to a cease-fire is if all of the hostages are released.



NETANYAHU: This is one of our two war goals. I mean one is to destroy Hamas. And the second is to bring back our hostages and we'll do everything we can.

And we think the entire world should join us demand from the Red Cross that it demand visits to the hostages. Demand the unconditional release of the hostages. Say that this is barbarism that is unaccepted -- unacceptable.

I'd like to see the U.N. -- I'd like to see the U.N. Secretary General who basically laid the blame on Israel. Lay the blame on these savages to demand that they obey international law because Israel's fighting according to international law. The Israeli army is doing an exemplary job trying to minimize civilian casualties, and maximize the terrorist casualties.

But we need the international community not to give succor, support -- moral support and legitimacy to sheer evil that Hamas represents. Support Israel, attack Hamas.


HARRAK: Well, Hamas is holding more than 200 hostages in Gaza according to Israeli authorities.

And as Israel focuses on Hamas and Gaza, the conflict with Hezbollah is escalating at the border with Lebanon. And Israel says it holds the Lebanese government and the militant group responsible for the increased fighting.

Ben Wedeman has more.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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 are seeing daily, and sometimes fatal exchanges. It is 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 are doing in Gaza, we can also do in Beirut.

It is a slow burn for now, but it could at any moment explode into something much bigger.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Tyre, South Lebanon.


HARRAK: The U.S. has conducted its third round of strikes within the last three weeks against Iran related targets in the Middle East. The U.S. Defense Secretary says a safe house and a training facility were hit in eastern Syria. The U.S. says Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and their proxies have been targeting American troops in Syria and Iran.

Washington is trying to send a message of deterrence without escalating the situation.

The new U.S. House Speaker is facing a challenge as a government funding deadline looms just around the corner and lawmakers show little sign, they are willing to work together. Details ahead.



HARRAK: Chris Christie promises to share the atrocities he saw after visiting Israel. He's the first Republican presidential candidate in the U.S. to go to Israel since the Hamas attacks on October 7th. Christie met with families of hostages and toured a kibbutz where he said he could quote "smell the death" still a month later. He insists the U.S. must continue giving Israel what it needs to defeat Hamas.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The most important thing is for us to provide financial assistance and military hardware to the Israelis so they can do what they need to do in Gaza regarding the terrorists who attacked them and killed over 1,200 of their civilians.


HARRAK: While Christie warned that if the U.S. doesn't support allies like Israel, it leaves an opening for China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, what he calls the "Evil Foursome".

While back at home, Christie's Republican rival Tim Scott says he is suspending his campaign for president. We are told his announcement Sunday night caught many of his aides and donors by surprise, even though he was facing an uphill battle against Donald Trump, the clear front runner in the party.

Scott says he won't endorse another candidate. Right now the senator from South Carolina now plans to continue serving out his term in Congress which runs until 2028. And members of Congress are working against the clock with a Friday

deadline to keep the government up and running. The new speaker of the house is pushing an unconventional plan that would provide staggered funding into the new year. But it remains to be seen if lawmakers will approve it.

CNN's Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Mike Johnson, in his first test as Speaker, unveiling a plan to keep the government open with just a handful of days before the end-of-the-week deadline. But already facing fire from his right flank, members of the House Freedom Caucus in particular, concerned about the lack of spending cuts in this plan.

Democrats didn't want any spending cuts and said they would vote against it. However, Democrats are concerned that it does not have aid to Israel and aid to Ukraine and they're criticizing the unconventional approach taken by Speaker Johnson.

Some federal agencies would be funded up until mid-January, others until early February. This is an unusual type of an approach but one in which Johnson believes can help achieve their legislative objectives.

But nevertheless, the question is how many folks on the right will push back, will try to push him out because of the lack of spending cuts and whether they will actually try to push him out. Recall that just not too long ago, Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker, lost his job because a major part here because he advanced a bill to keep the government open through Democratic support that did not have spending cuts.


RAJU: I asked McCarthy himself whether or not he's concerned or whether he believes Johnson's job could be at risk by taking a similar approach.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No. Look, you get a honeymoon, and they can't go through it again. I mean think about how long it took last time. So do you think they would do that again?

RAJU: So even if he goes and relies on Democratic votes the way you had to do it, you think that he would be safe and not be pushed down from speakership?

MCCARTHY: Oh, yes.

I don't think anybody can make a motion to vacate for the rest of this term. I think he's safe regardless.

RAJU: Democrats are still weighing exactly how they'll proceed. They're still watching how Republicans are dealing with this. I'm told from House Democratic sources it's still uncertain whether they will carry this across the finish line and how many votes Johnson will ultimately need from Democrats.

But there is hardly any time left as Senate Democratic leaders have signaled that they could be open to this. The White House has criticized this approach. House Democrats are remaining mum. And a lot of questions as we head into yet another week of shutdown fears on Capitol Hill.

Manu Raju, CNN -- Washington.


HARRAK: And we will be right back.



HARRAK: Iceland is under a state of emergency due to the threats of volcanic eruptions. This comes amid an intense wave earthquakes in a region well known for seismic activity.

CNN's Allison Chinchar has the latest.


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: There has been a lot of seismic activity in just the last 72 hours, most of that focused on the southwestern portion of Iceland. You can see all of these dots here indicating an earthquake that has happened.

Now, one thing to note, the vast majority of this earthquake activity has been incredibly shallow. We are talking depths of about ten kilometers at absolute best. What that usually signifies is movement of magma underneath the ground.

Now it doesn't guarantee a volcanic eruption but the key thing to notice is this particular area is one of the most seismically active areas on the planet. It's that link between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates. Now because of the flurry of earthquake activity on that southwestern side, Iceland did declare a state of emergency, evacuating the town of Grindavik, again in anticipation that something may or may not happen in the coming hours and the days.

Now, one thing that is going to be looked at and kept a close eye on not only now but over the next few days because we have seen this in the past.

If it does trigger some type of volcanic eruption, the concern becomes all of those particulates going up into the air and any impacts it may have on air travel.

Right now we've got two different systems out over the Atlantic. Storm Debbie, which is making its way towards the U.K. and a secondary low- pressure system. Both of those systems as they continue to slide the next couple of days are going to keep most of the winds around Iceland pushing down towards the west and southwest.

Which means if there was some type of eruption, it's going to keep those particulates away from mainland Europe. However, a lot of that can change and it also depends if and when there even is some type of eruption. So certainly something we will have to keep a close eye on in the coming days.


HARRAK: And that wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Laila Harrak.

Rosemary Church will bring you more of today's latest headlines after this short break.

I'll see you next time.