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Israeli Forces Entered Gaza's Largest Hospital; Chinese and U.S. Presidents to Meet in a High-Stakes Visit at the APEC Summit; Human Rights Watch Report Finds Israel's Attacks on Healthcare Facilities Should Be Investigated; Iceland's Grindavik Residents Prompted Evacuation Following an Increase in Sulfur Dioxide of a Volcano; New York's Buffalo City is a Climate Refuge City; New Zealand's Puteketeke is chosen as the Bird of the Century, thanks to the global influence, and even made popular by HBO's John Oliver. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Israel says its troops have entered Gaza's largest hospital, which it claims is hiding a Hamas command center. But for thousands of Palestinians, the hospital is also a refuge from the conflict.

Face to face for the first time in a year, Joe Biden set to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the hours ahead.

And we will show you the U.S. city that's calling itself a refuge from the climate crisis.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. A dramatic battle is unfolding in the heart of Gaza that could have huge ramifications for the Israel-Hamas war.

The Israel Defense Forces say they are carrying out a precise and targeted operation in a specific area of the Al Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest, after accusing Hamas of hiding its headquarters underneath the building. A local journalist says Israeli troops are now conducting search and interrogation operations inside the buildings. He says there's intense gunfire and the Israeli army is calling on young men to come out with their hands up and surrender.

Al Shifa doctors and Hamas have strongly denied that the militant group operates out of the hospital but the White House says its intelligence also shows a Hamas presence there. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We have information that confirms that Hamas is using that particular hospital for a command-and-control note. That is a war crime.


CHURCH: Many people have been sheltering inside the Al-Shifa hospital in conditions described as catastrophic. A warning, we are about to air a video that is graphic and disturbing.

A Palestinian journalist says those who did not survive at the hospital are set to be buried in a mass grave in the yard of the complex. He says that 100 bodies have already been laying in the yard for five days and 70 others have been stored in freezers. He says the smell is unbearable and most of the bodies are of women and children. On Tuesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry, which gets its data from offices controlled by Hamas, said more than 100,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza as a result of the Israeli attacks.

Well, those who can are fleeing the hospital to find safety elsewhere, like this grandmother carrying her newborn granddaughter. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says almost 1.6 million people have been displaced since the Hamas terror attacks.

And CNN's Clare Sebastian is covering all of this live for us from London. She joins us now. Good morning again to you, Clare. So what are you learning about what Israel is calling a precise and targeted operation at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Good morning, Rosemary. A couple of updates to bring you from the last hour. Now, earlier in the beginning of this operation, the IDF had told us that they think that there might have been hostages in the hospital, so this would have been an operation looking to essentially fulfill both of Israel's war aims, to destroy Hamas, and to try to get those more than 200 hostages out.

We're now hearing from Israeli radio that is reporting that so far the army has found no indications that hostages are inside the Shifa hospital. Now this operation is ongoing, a major caveat there, so that doesn't mean they're not going to find any indication of this, but as of now that is what we're hearing from Israeli radio.

Now the IDF had also said that they are operating at a specific location in that very sprawling hospital complex that you see that we're hearing an update as you pointed out from a journalist with the Wafa News Agency a Palestinian journalist at the hospital who seems to suggest that they are at more than one location he said that Israeli tanks and military vehicles are inside the courtyard, but they're also in the buildings and departments he said conducting such an interrogation operations essentially trying to bring the young men out of the building. This is part of what that work involves to try, they say, to

distinguish between civilians and Hamas operatives, hence why this operation has to be so precise and targeted.


Now the IDF has also tried to maintain throughout this that also as part of the operation they are doing their very best to protect those civilians. Their forces include Arabic speakers, medical teams, and they did tell us that they warned the hospital that they were coming. Take a listen.


LT. COL. PETER LERNER, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: When approaching the hospital, we indeed informed the administrators to keep away from the windows, to make sure that the patients and civilians inside the complex keep away from the windows and take cover because we intend on conducting our military operation in order to differentiate and distinguish between the civilians and the terrorists.


SEBASTIAN: So that more or less backs up what we heard from a doctor at the hospital that they were given 30 minutes warning, although Israel maintains that they've been sort of building up to this, warning the hospital, trying to evacuate patients for several weeks, of course, accelerating in the past few days.

A furious response from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah calling this a new crime against humanity. Medical staff and patients. Hamas also put out a statement, perhaps seizing the opportunity to sort of build on the backlash that's been ramping up against the United States for its support of Israel. They accused the U.S. of giving Israel a green light to commit more massacres against civilians, a reference perhaps to the fact that the White House had confirmed in the hours leading up to this that they also believe that Hamas has a command node at this hospital, something that Hamas denies.

But this, a very significant moment in this conflict so far. Rosemary, as I say, Israel has been building up to this, but we also do know that from Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza that they believe some 7,000 displaced people, some 1,500 doctors and medical staff. And we heard on Monday that around 700 patients -- vulnerable patients remain in the hospital. We don't know if that 700, all of them are still there, but it's clear that this hospital is far from empty. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yeah, indeed. Clare Sebastian, bring us that live report from London. Many thanks.

As Israeli forces push deeper into Gaza, young children and other civilians are facing injury, death and trauma. Doctors at Al Shifa say they are taking desperate measures to protect patients and keep newborns alive. CNN's Nada Bashir has more on the dire situation there. And a warning, her report contains some graphic images.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): How do you begin to explain the nightmares of this war to these children? Injured, distraught, now grieving.

The lifeless body of little Hamoud, cradled in the arms of his father, killed in a strike on the northern Jabalia camp.

In the central region of Deir el-Balah, yet more goodbyes, yet more children killed. The wounded rushed to a hospital already on the brink of collapse.

Struck, they say, as they attempted to evacuate southwards.

HASAN BAKER, INJURED RESIDENT (through translator): What did our children do to deserve this? Were they carrying weapons? Were they confronting the tanks? No, we are civilians. We were trying to move from one place to another. We were following the orders of the occupation forces.

BASHIR (voice-over): In the north, there is now just one hospital left operational. The rest, paralyzed by shortages in fuel, medication and essential supplies.

With each passing day at the Al Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest, there are more bodies. But there is no more space in the hospital's morgues.

DR. AHMED EL MOKHALLALTI, SR. PLASTIC SURGEON AT AL SHIFA HOSPITAL (on the phone): Today there was an initiative by the civilians within the hospital that the situation is horrible and they started digging in the within the hospital to vary the bodies on their own responsibilities without any arrangements by the Israeli side.

BASHIR (voice-over): With no oxygen supplies left in the hospital, doctors at Al-Shifa have been forced to remove premature babies from their incubators.

The cries of Gaza's most vulnerable huddled together, wrapped in foil and blankets to keep them warm. The Israeli military says it has offered to provide Al Shifa with more incubators and support with evacuating children. But no details have been shared as to how an evacuation plan could proceed.

DR. MUHAMMAD QANDIL, AL NASSER HOSPITAL DIRECTOR FOR EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT: So basic requirement for Shifa hospital, Indonesian hospital operation, like fuel, medical supply, safe inlet and exit are urgently required.

BASHIR (voice-over): Israel has long held that Hamas has positioned a command-and-control center beneath the Al Shifa hospital, a claim now echoed by U.S. officials. CNN is unable to verify this allegation, which has been staunchly denied by both Hamas and medical officials on the ground, many doctors expressing alarm over suggestions that hospitals could now be considered targets. [03:10:07]

Medical staff from Doctors Without Borders saying Tuesday that bullets were fired into one of three MSF premises near Al Shifa, with intense fighting in the vicinity. The Israeli military says it has allowed an evacuation route from the hospital.

But medical staff say it is near impossible to safely evacuate patients and civilians amid ongoing bombardment.

NEBAL FARSAKH, SPOKESPERSON, PALESTINIAN RED CRESCENT SOCIETY: We have received hundreds of calls for people's crying while they are trapped in their homes in Gaza City and the north, they are unable to evacuate their homes because the whole area is, there is a military operation and simply anyone who tried to go out will be a target for Israeli militaries.

BASHIR (voice-over): Many patients are simply too sick to embark on the long and dangerous walk to southern Gaza. Some like this toddler even dying on the way. But even in the south, in areas outlined as so- called safe zones by the Israeli military, deadly airstrikes continue.

Family members and medical staff standing shoulder to shoulder for funeral prayers. For many in Gaza, now a daily ritual.

Nada Bashir, CNN, in Jerusalem.


CHURCH: Joining me now from Cairo is Dr. Richard Brennan. He is the Regional Emergency Director for the World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean Office. Appreciate you joining us. Of course, those images are harrowing to watch and of course impossible for those who are experiencing this. And we know that conditions are being described as catastrophic in some Gaza hospitals. What more are you learning about what patients and medical staff are facing in most of these medical facilities across the territory?

DR. RICHARD BRENNAN, REGIONAL EMERGENCY DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION-EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN OFFICE: Well, Rosemary, I don't use the word catastrophic for many humanitarian crises, but we are certainly applying it in the instance of Gaza and actually we're also applying it to the crisis in Sudan right now.

But as you rightly say, the situation is beyond dire, absolutely critical across the whole health system of Gaza. Prior to the conflict, we estimate there were around 3,500 hospital beds available to the people of Gaza. Right now, we estimate there's probably only 1,000. And so we've had this precipitous decline in the availability of healthcare, while healthcare needs are absolutely soaring. You're probably familiar with the figures that people keep repeating: 11,500 trauma deaths, over 29,000 injured patients, 180 women delivering babies every day, 9,000 cancer patients, 1,000 patients requiring hemodialysis.

So our ability to provide healthcare to the people of Gaza as their health needs skyrocket is plummeting and it's absolutely critical.

CHURCH: Yeah, and Israel is currently carrying out what it calls a precise and targeted operation at Gaza's largest hospital, Al Shifa, claiming it's operating as a Hamas command center. What is your reaction to that?

BRENNAN: Well, we cannot comment on reports that have not been independently verified. Of course, any military incursion into a hospital, you know, we have huge reservations and concerns about that. Our primary concern, of course, is for the safety and security of the staff.

As we understand, the allegations are about military installations below. Below the hospital, we haven't heard of any allegations related to the hospital buildings themselves. So, of course, we have grave reservations. The hospital was already functioning well below capacity.

Your report has already given details of the 36 babies in incubators, the 27 patients in intensive care, the 600 other in-patients, the 280 staff, the between 5,000 7,000 displaced persons that have taken refuge in the hospital.

So this operation really has to protect these individuals. We have grave concerns about this and we're following as closely as we can. We're not aware of any organized evacuation process for patients or for the displaced to other hospitals. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which would normally help to coordinate such an evacuation they're overwhelmed themselves trying to evacuate Al Quds hospital. So as far as we know, most of the patients are stuck there. They have nowhere to go.


We're having conversations and discussions today about options for further evacuations. But it's a critical, it's a dire situation right now.

CHURCH: And of course, this war is ongoing. But what will happen to Gaza's health care system once the war does come to an end? What will be left?

BRENNAN: Well, it's a very serious, very important question to ask. Of course, we're looking at a number of scenarios right now. We hope and pray that the medical infrastructure remains.

But again, there's been over 130 attacks on health since the start of the conflict. We've seen a lot of damage to health facilities. The demands on the health system, as I mentioned, are skyrocketing and yet its capacities have declined so precipitously. So we're looking at different options to address that. We're looking at ways to expand the capacity of the existing health facilities.

We're looking at options for getting the displaced doctors from the north because most of the hospital beds and most of the hospitals in the north have stopped functioning. Now, 75 percent of the hospitals are non-functioning across Gaza. Many of the health staff have been displaced to the south. So we're trying to identify them, match them with the health facilities that are still functioning, expand those capacity by bringing in perhaps tented facilities.

Also, we're looking at scaling up the medical evacuations of patients into Egypt to lessen the burden on the health system. And there is the option of bringing a small number of field hospitals as well and we're exploring that option. So we're trying to do a more detailed analysis of the needs and how we may be able to meet those needs over the coming days.

But we're incredibly constrained by the lack of fuel. Aid vehicles cannot move around right now. The aid is still only trickling in. So our plans may be well developed over the coming days, but then we need the access, we need the resources, we need the space to be able to move and expand. humanitarian operation.

CHURCH: Yeah. So many challenges. Dr Richard Brennan, joining us from Cairo. Many thanks. I Appreciate it.

BRENNAN: Thank you. Thanks very much.

CHURCH: Israel's foreign minister is criticizing the United Nations Secretary General for his comments about the war in Gaza. U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said last week that the number of civilian deaths in the war meant that something is, quote, "clearly wrong with Israel's military operation." He has been calling for an immediate ceasefire in, quote, "the name of humanity."

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says he wishes Guterres would point his criticism at Hamas and says they are worse than ISIS.


ELI COHEN, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Guterres is not deserve to be the head of the United Nation. Guterres did not promote any peace process in the region.


CHURCH: U.S. lawmakers of both political parties are showing support for Israel along with tens of thousands of people.


The march for Israel Tuesday drew an enormous crowd in Washington, D.C., people there denounced anti-Semitism and the deaths of civilians in Gaza. One woman whose six cousins are being held hostage by Hamas told the crowd that people can support Israeli families torn apart by the October 7 attacks while also abhorring the suffering of Palestinians. She says sharing grief does not need to be political.

The highest-ranking Jewish U.S. elected official, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, spoke as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: And today all of you are here showing we will not hide in the face of adversity in America and in Israel. Am Yisrael Chai.


CHURCH: Meantime in Israel, the calls are growing louder to secure the release of hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7th attacks.


Families of those being held captive kicked off a five-day march in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, demanding that the government do more to bring their loved ones home. They plan to march to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem.


And coming up next, China's Xi Jinping is set to meet with Joe Biden in the coming hours. What the U.S. President is hoping to achieve from that summit. Back with that and more in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well the U.S. and Chinese presidents are set to meet in the coming hours in a high-stakes summit that follows months of tensions. Xi Jinping arrived in San Francisco Tuesday ahead of his meeting with Joe Biden in the Bay Area where they are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

This is Xi's first visit to the U.S. in more than six years. President Biden says he's looking to improve ties with China. during their sit- down and get the two countries communicating more regularly again. The U.S. has been working to restore military communications with China since last year after Beijing cut off contact following a visit to Taiwan by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REPORTER: How would you define success with your meeting with President Xi?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up a phone and talk to one another if there's a crisis, being able to make sure our military still have contact with one another. We can't take -- as I told you, we're not trying to decouple from China. But what we're trying to do is change the relationship for the better.


CHURCH: Xi's last visit to the U.S. came at a much different point in the two countries' relations. CNN's David Culver has more now from San Francisco.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SR. U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sharing a sofa and a smile at Mar-a-Lago.

Serenaded by former President Donald Trump's grandkids. Singing in Chinese for a visiting President Xi Jinping. The blossoming, it seemed, of a new friendship, and with it, closer ties between the U.S. and China.

DONALD TRUMP, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: I think long-term, we're going to have a very, very great relationship, and I look very much forward to it.

CULVER (voice-over): Not quite how the story played out. In the six years since Xi's last visit to the U.S., U.S.-China relations have plummeted to all-time lows.

BIDEN: They must play by the rules.

CULVER (voice-over): The issues? Where to begin?

A bruising trade war, a devastating pandemic.

TRUMP: It came out of China?

CULVER (voice-over): Rising tensions in the South China Sea, growing threats from Beijing over its goal of unifying with Taiwan.

And amidst Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, an alarmingly cozy Xi and Putin relationship.

In the war between Israel and Hamas, China refusing to condemn Hamas.


President Xi's first trip to the US was 1985 as a local Communist Party official taking in the sights.

Today, he's China's most powerful ruler since Mao, demanding near total control over a population of 1.4 billion people.

Xi now returns to an increasingly divided United States, something Chinese state media repeatedly highlights in its propaganda. But if there is one topic that consistently unites Washington, it's being tough on China, a sentiment bolstered by the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this year.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): They're testing us. They're mocking us. They're trying to embarrass us.

CULVER (voice-over): China has its own issues. After years of record growth, the world's second largest economy is struggling. Its housing market in crisis. Youth unemployment at record highs.

And for the first time in 25 years, a deficit in foreign direct investment. International companies increasingly uneasy putting money into China, in part because of Beijing's unpredictable crackdowns.

The U.S.' reputation has also taken a hit in China, fueled by state media's anti-West messaging and nationalistic posts on China's tightly-controlled social media. Ahead of the summit, rising skepticism towards U.S. intentions. One Weibo user posting that this is a U.S. delaying tactic. Its strategy of containing China won't change, but only intensify.

Another posting, anyone who thinks that China-U.S. relations will become better is simply naive. It's just your wishful thinking.

Many in China supporting Xi's proposed New World Order, one that's not led by the U.S. The U.S. now hosting this high-stakes West Coast meetup with low expectations on the outcome.

No more loveseat for the leaders of two superpowers. Instead, both on a hot seat, with the world watching if they can tamp down tensions.

(on-camera): And to give you a sense of just how polarizing the relationship is right now between the U.S. and China, a House select committee chairman is demanding the names of the businesses and the people involved in a welcome dinner for President Xi, in which companies are reportedly paying up to $40,000 for a seat at the table with the Chinese president, the lawmaker calling it unconscionable.

David Culver, CNN, San Francisco.


CHURCH: And last hour, I spoke with Bert Hoffman, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. And I asked him what concrete progress could potentially be achieved when Presidents Biden and Xi meet later today.


BERT HOFMAN, DIRECTOR OF EAST ASIAN INSTITUTE, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE: I think there is an agreement on the fentanyl issue in the making, which is very important for the United States and easy to meet from the Chinese side. The second is the military-to-military dialogue. One issue that stood in the way was that the United States sanctioned the previous minister of defense.

The Chinese said, well, you first got to lift those sanctions before we start talking. Now due to different reasons, Li Xiangfu, the defense minister is no longer defense minister. He's a former defense minister. So in a way that opens up the road for more military-to- military communication, which is important because there's lots of risky situations that have been taking place around Taiwan in the South China Sea.

So you don't want those accidents to escalate into something bigger. And for that communication is absolutely key.

On a third area, I think the Middle East is going to be quite central to the talks. There's, if you want, a comparative advantage for the U.S. to influence Israel and for China to influence especially Iran.

So to try and tone down the support of Iran for Hamas and Hezbollah, and then the U.S. could maybe take actions on Israel to stabilize the situation there.

I think the Chinese are specifically interested in the economic issues, the export controls, the economic sanctions, the technological sanctions, is a hindrance for their economic success and they want to see that out of the way. That won't happen, but maybe there are some smaller actions from the United States that might give China something. Because if you look at the other issues, if you want that would be wins for the United States, this could be a win for China.

CHURCH: So the two leaders will of course try to repair and diffuse tensions between the U.S. and China. But how can that be achieved given the competition between the two nations and of course, the polar opposite approaches they each have to foreign policy and so many other issues, including the two current wars raging in Ukraine and in Gaza that put these two leaders at odds?

HOFMAN: Well, so Rosemary, I mean, you're right that there's lots of issues that where they -- where they do not agree.


But I'm not sure about the two conflicts going on at this point in time.

China wants to be seen to be, if you want, at least one of the poles in a bipolar system in the world. And for that, they also need to be seen to be contributing to achieving peace or maintaining peace or returning to peace around the world, a role that the United States, no matter how imperfect, but has played over the past decade. So I think there is an interest from the Chinese side to minimize conflict and to remove conflict if and when it happens.

There are issues that are in reconcilable, if you want. Taiwan is one of these very big issues that where the two sides don't seem to agree, where parts of the United States, not the administration, but parts of the United States on a much more pro-independence course from the United States, which is very toxic for China.

So those are very difficult issues. But nevertheless, I mean, that they are meeting is very important and is very significant. It will be much more difficult next year because next year there are two important elections. One is actually the elections on Taiwan, which always bring tensions along with them.

And second, of course, there is elections in the United States, which makes it very hard. to do any kind of trade, any kind of concessions towards China, because that seems to be working very negatively for the electoral prospects of Biden.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And of course, as we mentioned and discussed at the start, expectations are being kept low so that there won't be any disappointment, but perhaps at the very least they will walk away with military communication restored. But what do each of these two leaders hope to walk away with after this meeting, do you think, at the very least?

HOFMAN: Well, I think for the US, the military-to-military dialogue, and frankly, that's also in China's interest, so maybe both can name that a win. The second is indeed the fentanyl issue, which is very important for the United States. There's more than 70,000 people dying last year of fentanyl, and China does know it plays a role, and it can stop the exports of precursor drugs. And I believe that is at least, it's not fully in the books yet, but I think that is entirely feasible. Those are really two very significant achievements and that's good enough for one summit.

CHURCH: All right, we shall be watching very carefully as you will, I'm sure. Bert Hofman, joining us live from Beijing, many thanks.


Israel is ramping up its ground incursion and a major operation is unfolding at Gaza's largest hospital. We will have the latest details after this short break. Stay with us.




CHURCH: An update on the fighting at Gaza's largest hospital, a Palestinian journalist told CNN that Israeli forces are now inside the buildings at the Al Shifa complex. He says there's been violent gunfire and troops have been carrying out search and interrogation operations while ordering young men to come out with their hands up and surrender.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of operating a command and control center under the hospital. which doctors and the militant group both deny. Earlier, Hamas released a statement blaming the U.S. for the siege. It reads, the White House and the Pentagon's adoption of the false narrative claiming that the resistance is using Al Shifa Medical Complex for military purposes was a green light for the occupation to commit more massacres against civilians.

Well meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to the U.N. says the current phase of the war against Hamas could end in a matter of weeks. And the IDF says it's now in control of northern Gaza. CNN's Jeremy Diamond picks up this story.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Israeli forces say they have seized key areas in northern Gaza. After block- by-block battles, the Israeli military claiming operational control of the congested Shati refugee camp and key Hamas government buildings in Gaza City, including Hamas' parliament, where troops posed with Israeli flags. The U.N. says all but one of northern Gaza's hospitals have now

effectively shut down due to a lack of power, water, and medical supplies.

DR. AHMED AL-MANDHARI, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN: Nowadays every minute, every hour, we are hearing that either full hospital or departments in a hospital is closing its services.

DIAMOND (voice-over): At Al-Shifa Hospital, doctors desperately trying to save premature babies after a strike knocked out power to the hospital's neonatal unit.

ISRAELI OFFICER (translated): We'll even provide you with an incubator.

DIAMOND (voice-over): The Israeli military now says it is preparing to send these mobile incubators to the hospital releasing audio of an alleged conversation with a hospital manager.

ISRAELI OFFICER (translated): I'll put it at the gate of the hospital. Does that help?

AL SHIFA HOSPITAL MANAGER (translated): Yes it helps.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Meanwhile, new confidence from President Biden in a potential deal to free some of the estimated 239 hostages held in Gaza.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm talking with the people involved every single day, I believe it's going to happen, but I don't want to give any detail.

DIAMOND (voice-over): As hostage families begin a five-day march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a senior U.S. official telling CNN, Israel and Hamas are inching closer to a deal.

The broad strokes, Hamas frees dozens of women and children in exchange for as long as a five-day ceasefire and the release of some Palestinian prisoners.

As families continue to plead for the release of their loved ones, the official cautioning a deal is closer. But it's not done.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Sderot, Israel.


CHURCH: A new report by Human Rights Watch says Israel's repeated attacks on Gaza's medical facilities are destroying the enclave's healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes. The agency says, quote, "the strikes on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and put many patients at grave risk because they're unable to receive proper medical care."

The group is also urging the Israeli government to end attacks on hospitals. The World Health Organization says it has recorded at least 137 attacks on health care facilities in Gaza, resulting in more than 520 deaths, including medical workers, since the conflict started.

Joining me now from the West Bank is Sari Bashi, Program Director for Human Rights Watch. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So this latest report from your organization says Israel's repeated attacks on Gaza's hospitals are destroying the territory's healthcare system. Your organization calls this war crimes, but Israel says the biggest hospital, Al Shifa, is a terrorist hub housing a Hamas command center and therefore does not get the protection it would otherwise receive as a health facility. And we know of course that Israel is carrying out what it calls a precise and targeted operation at that Al Shifa hospital right now in fact. What is your response to all of this?


BASHI: Look, the allegations that hospitals are being put to military use are alarming and raise grave concerns for the safety of civilians. The combatants must avoid putting civilians at risk by locating military installations in or near hospitals. We have not been able to verify the claims made about Al Shifa Hospital. If true, they would be unlawful.

But hospitals retain special protections under the laws of war that recognize the critical role they play in keeping people alive. Even if personnel are unlawfully present in hospitals, active combatants. The hospital can only be attacked if it's used to commit acts harmful to the enemy and only after effective warning is issued.

One of our concerns about the warnings the Israeli military has issued is that they're impossible to comply with. Telling people to leave when there's no safe place to go and no reliably safe way to get there is not effective.

CHURCH: And U.S. President Joe Biden continues to support Prime Minister Netanyahu's mission to destroy Hamas in the wake of the October 7th attacks by the militant group on Israeli civilians. He has also called for restraint though on the part of Israel and for more protection to be given to Palestinian civilians. Clearly that's problematic in light of what we have been witnessing. What do you say to that?

BASHI: The United States government is backing Israel to the tune of $4 billion of military aid annually and now is sending additional weapons. It must ensure that its actions do not risk complicity with war crimes being committed by the Israeli military. The Israeli military has drained Gaza of the life-saving supplies that hospitals and other humanitarian institutions need in order to survive.

The Israeli government continues to block fuel from entering Gaza, which is life-saving for generators, and it's also not allowing the distribution of aid in northern Gaza, where people are the most under fire. That's a war crime.

If the United States government cares about civilians in Gaza, it must insist that the Israeli military allow supplies. Even before the attack on Shifa this morning, it had ceased functioning as a hospital. because it didn't have any more fuel for generators. And there are growing reports of patients dying because ventilators, life support machines, and incubators are not working.

CHURCH: And what is the position of Human Rights Watch when it comes to the more than 200 hostages currently being held by Hamas in Gaza, and of course, the attacks that Hamas militants pulled off on October 7th?

BASHI: Human Rights Watch takes a consistent position that civilians must be protected and attacks on civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, are unlawful. The Hamas-led attacks on October 7th massacred Israeli civilians, taking more than 200 hostage or war crimes.

All civilian hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally, not as bargaining chips. The Israeli military cannot use war crimes committed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israeli civilians as reasons to justify war crimes committed against Palestinian civilians.

Draining the Gaza Strip of lifesaving supplies that civilians need to survive is unlawful. We have also documented specific unlawful attacks on ambulances and hospitals within the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military failed to take the required precautions to protect hospitals and civilians. Everybody needs to respect the laws of war. Everybody needs to protect civilians.

CHURCH: Sari Bashi, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

BASHI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Sacked British Home Secretary Suella Braverman is speaking out and lashing out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accusing him of failing to deliver on key policies. This comes one day after Mr. Sunak fired Braverman following her inflammatory remarks or comments about the policing of pro-Palestinian protests in London.

Braverman has now penned a letter to the Prime Minister, which she posted on X saying in part, I agree to support you because of the firm assurances you gave me on key policy priorities. You have manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver on every single one of these key policies. Either your distinctive style of government means you are in capable of doing so, or as I must surely conclude now, you never had any intention of keeping your promises.

Well, one of the issues that Braverman slammed Rishi Sunak over in that letter was a proposed scheme to send some asylum seekers from the U.K. to Rwanda. Very soon, the U.K. Supreme Court will make a ruling on the lawfulness of the plan and whether or not it can go ahead.

[03:45:06] The hugely-controversial policy, which Suella Braverman has been a major advocate for, has been under legal review for around 18 months. So far, no deportations to Rwanda have been carried out. The first planned removal set for last year was stopped last minute, with lawyers citing a breach of human rights.

And coming up, a new U.N. report says the world is wildly off-track in its goals of reducing and mitigating climate change. But one U.S. city is calling itself a refuge from that and we'll show you why.


CHURCH: A new U.N. report says the world is not doing nearly enough or moving quickly enough to keep a life-threatening level of climate change at bay. The report finds that even if countries stick exactly to their climate pledges, in 2030 we'll still see 9 percent more planet-heating pollution than in 2010. It says the current goals are not nearly enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the U.S. has just given its own assessment a sweeping new report warns that even though the U.S. is slowly decreasing its planet-warming pollution, it's not happening quickly enough to meet the country's targets. And it says the effects of climate change are visible in every part of the country.

Well, despite the extreme weather and rising temperatures across the U.S., one city is calling itself a climate refuge. CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, tells us why Buffalo, New York, the city synonymous with snowstorms, is the new climate haven.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's an old joke that tells us there are only two seasons in Buffalo, winter and the fourth of July.

But in the age of global warming, the city wants you to know that now their weather is going from punchline to lifeline. Thanks to its Goldilocks location amid the Great Lakes, Buffalo has never reached 100 degrees.

STEPHEN VERMETTE, PROFESSOR AND CLIMATE SCIENTIST, BUFFALO STATE UNIVERSITY: You get, on average, about three days in the summer get to be 90 degrees or higher. I mean, if you're in Phoenix, you're looking at that and saying, what the heck are you calling that, a heat wave?

WEIR (voice-over): And when Professor Steven Vermette did a deep-dive of the records, the Buffalo State climatologist was shocked to find no increase in droughts or floods.

(on-camera): There was this epic snowstorm last winter.


WEIR (on-camera): Really deadly and destructive.

VERMETTE: Blizzard of '22. WEIR (on-camera): But that's not an indication that those are going to

get worse?

VERMETTE: No, because, you know, we had the Blizzard of '77, the Blizzard of '85, '81, Blizzard of '36. I'm not saying that our severe weather is going to disappear. It's still there.

WEIR (on-camera): Yeah.

VERMETTE: In fact, snow amounts have remained steady in all of this. Doesn't seem to be getting worse.


And that's the key here. We're still going to have severe weather, like the wind and everything else. But it's not going to get worse.

WEIR (on-camera): I got to say, it's pretty ironic. the world we now live in, that a place sort of associated with cold jokes, and Super Bowl losses could be a huge winner relative on a hotter planet.

BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK MAYOR: That's the way we look at it as well. There was a professor from Harvard that was talking about the effects of climate change and listed some cities that would be considered climate refuges in the future and Buffalo of the cities on the list and so we just leaned into it. We are going to not only call ourselves a climate refuge city but do the kinds of things that are required to be welcoming with migration, with new Americans coming here, with seeing the first population growth in the city since the 1950 census.

WEIR (voice-over): After Hurricane Maria, 3,000 Puerto Ricans became permanent Buffalonians.

ANTHONY MATTEI, TEACHER'S AIDE: It was hard. When the hurricane started, what we do, we move from the second floor, we move to the first floor.

WEIR (voice-over): Including Anthony Mattei, who is now a teacher's assistant.

MATTEI: I remember when I moved here, people told me, oh, you know where you're going? Because in Puerto Rico it's always warm. It's hot. And I said, no, and I moved here like in winter. But I like it, it's good.

WEIR (on-camera): Did you consider other spots or what was it about this place that appealed to you the most?

HOLLY JEAN BUCK, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO: The Great Lakes, the fresh water, the projections of climate change look like Buffalo might have a climate more like New York, Philadelphia towards the end of the century.

WEIR (voice-over): Wildfire smoke helped drive Holly Jean Buck and her family out of Southern California. And as a climate scientist, she says she was welcomed with open arms and employment.

BUCK: But really the energy of the people, people who are really forward thinking in Western New York and New York State about what opportunities there might be in clean energy and clean tech, and how to build those solutions in ways that are good for communities.

WEIR (on-camera): So it's not just the latitude, it's the attitude.

BUCK: Yeah, exactly.

WEIR (on-camera): Right? And the welcoming spirit of a place, I suppose.

BUCK: The city of good neighbors, they call it.

WEIR (on-camera): Oh, nice.

BUCK: Yeah.

WEIR (on-camera): Nice. And you found that to be the case?

BUCK: I have, totally. Yeah.

WEIR (on-camera): Yeah.

Among the other selling points for Western New York are abundant fresh water. 20 percent of the world's freshwater is in the Great Lakes. And as it rushes over Niagara Falls, it provides bountiful hydroelectricity, sustainable energy. You know, they used to say that the three rules of real estate are location, location, location. And that is especially true in the age of climate change.

Bill Weir, CNN, Niagara Falls.


CHURCH: Coming up, one of New Zealand's most fabulous native birds gets a popularity boost with a little help from abroad, we'll explain.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. With a volcanic eruption possibly imminent in Iceland, officials have again ordered people to evacuate the town of Grindavak on the country's southern peninsula.


Local authorities insist it's not an emergency evacuation but that increased levels of sulfur dioxide are being detected in the air. Grindavak had already been ordered to evacuate on Saturday but on Monday some residents were allowed to return to gather belongings.


UNKNOWN: A lot of panic, a lot of emotional distress. So people didn't think really much about what they needed or just wanted to get out of there.

UNKNOWN: They survived three volcanoes, three earthquakes before, and this is the biggest one. So as you can see.

UNKNOWN: Are you scared of the eruption?

UNKNOWN: Yeah, of course. That's why we escaped from our town.


CHURCH: Authorities say they are preparing to build a protective trench around a geothermal power plant close to the site of the possible volcanic eruption. The plant provides power and hot water to around 30,000 people in the area.

New Zealand has chosen its latest bird of the century with the help of some significant foreign influence. Every year the environmental organization Forest and Bird holds a contest where New Zealanders vote for their favorite local bird.

But it turns out anyone from anywhere can vote and this year the Puteketeke and its bizarre behaviors grabbed hold of the world's attention after it first caught the eye of HBO's John Oliver. He decided he wanted to crown a new king.


JOHN OLIVER, HOST, "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER": To campaign for it, we put up ads in New Zealand, Paris, Mumbai, Tokyo and London. We flew a banner over Ipanema Beach in Brazil and naturally put up a billboard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. And it seems our promotion worked.


CHURCH: According to Forrest and Bird's chief executive, the winner is known for its quote, "unique looks, adorable parenting style and propensity for puking." That's probably what won the heart of John Oliver, whose show is owned by CNN's parent company, by the way, Warner Brothers Discovery.

And thank you so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues next with Max Foster.