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CNN International: Israel Targeted Operation at Al-Shifa Hospital; House Passes Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown; Biden and China's Xi to Meet at High-Stakes Summit Today; Thousands at "March for Israel" Rally in Washington. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London, Bianca off this week, but just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israeli forces say they have seized key areas in northern Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our operation that was launched in the early hours of this morning in the area of Al-Shifa Hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House has voted on a plan to avoid a government shutdown on Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a very important first step to get us to the next stage so that we can change how Washington works.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the San Francisco Bay Area.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not trying to decouple from China. What we're trying to do is change the relationship for the better.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: Well, it's Wednesday, November the 15th, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 11 a.m. in Gaza, where there's an ongoing operation at the enclave's largest hospital. So far, we're hearing the Israeli army has found no sign of the hostages that Israel said might have been held at the Al-Shifa complex. But troops are still searching. A local journalist says Israeli troops are also conducting interrogation operations inside the buildings. He says there's violent gunfire and the Israeli army is calling on young men to come out with their hands up and surrender. Israel and U.S. officials have accused Hamas of hiding a command

center below the hospital, acclaim Hamas and doctors there deny. The Palestinian health minister, based in Ramallah, calls the Israeli raid on Al-Shifa a new crime against humanity. The hospital has no power or supplies and is no longer operational.

Clare Sebastian closely following developments for us. We're trying to work out what's going on because they're inside the hospital when they always claim the issue was beneath the hospital, didn't they?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think to get to whatever is beneath there obviously have to go through the hospital. They have said, the IDF, that they're working at a specified specific location within this hospital. It's a very sprawling complex. We don't know exactly which part that is. The account that we've just had from a Palestinian reporter, from the Rafah news agency there suggests that they might be in more than one location. He said that the soldiers are in buildings and departments. They're conducting search and interrogations, trying to bring out young men, essentially part of the work here. The IDF said is to try to distinguish, obviously, Hamas from civilians.

Now the IDF is at pains, given the pressure they're under to do more, particularly from the U.S. now to protect civilians, to specify to be very -- to emphasize that they are doing their very best. They say they've called in medical teams, Arabic speakers and they did tell us that they warned the hospital that they were coming. Take a listen to the spokesperson.


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 is what they're trying to do. They say now Hamas has seized on it, even blaming the U.S., saying that the U.S. had given Israel a green light, they say to commit more massacres against civilians. A reference most likely to the fact that the White House had confirmed in the hours leading up to this -- according to their intelligence -- they also believe there is a Hamas command control nod at the hospital. Something that, as he said, Hamas is denying. Although it's hard to imagine the circumstance where they would actually confirm that.

But meanwhile, of course this is not empty -- this hospital. There are thousands of civilians. The estimate from the Hamas controlled health authorities earlier this week was 7,000 displaced peoples and 1,500 medical staff. And on Monday we heard that about 700 patients were still there, including some of the most vulnerable. So this is going to be a major test, a major point in this conflict and a test, as I said, of, of Israel's commitment to do more to protect civilians.

FOSTER: Clare, thank you. Let's bring in Francesca Albanese, U.N. Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. She's with us from the Australian capital. Thank you so much for joining us.


FOSTER: There's obviously a huge amount of debate and concern about this incursion into the hospital. What do you understand the rules and international law to be around that? Because hospitals are protected, aren't they?


But if the Israelis can argue that it's being used for military reasons, they would have a case, wouldn't they, for going in.

ALBANESE: Max, let me put things in context before I answer your question. More than 11,000 people have been killed, 5,000 of them are children. There has been no care and no attention and no precaution to prevent civilian loss. I'm sorry, the context is horrific, horrific. And let's go to your question.

Hospitals are civilian objects protected under humanitarian law. When there is a threat, when there is evidence that is to be provided that the hospital is being used for military purposes, in that case the hospital loses its civilian status -- it's protected status. And at the same time the nurses, the doctors, the 700 patients, the 7,000 civilians who have sought shelter in this hospital have to be protected. This is not happening. The level of terror among the civilian population in Gaza is unspeakable. It's incredible that international community has not called for a ceasefire now. Israel is not capable, is not capable to protect civilians. This is clear. The rest is just condescending and enabling -- enabling this massacre of civilians in Gaza.

FOSTER: And local journalists telling us that Israeli troops are also conducting interrogation operations inside the building. So you would assume they're speaking to medical staff and patients. Is that appropriate do you think?

ALBANESE: But do we realize that these people have been bombed every second without respite for 37 plus days and are incredibly exhausted? I don't even imagine what an interrogation can be. Look, there is the need -- it's urgent to have an massive multilateral international intervention to stop Israel from what it's doing. This is not self- defense. Self-defense under international law cannot be invoked against the population kept under belligerent occupation and under the extreme circumstances that the people in Gaza have been forced to live and operate in. I mean this is beyond what words can describe.

FOSTER: The Israelis saying that they're providing incubators for the babies that we've been reporting on. Also trying to find a way to give them passage out of the hospital. They seem to be, you know, what do you make of that and their efforts to protect the civilians that obviously you and everyone else are so concerned about.

ALBANESE: Look, there is only one way to protect the civilians. It is to end -- to end the occupation, to end the killing that is being perpetrated under the fog of war. We need a ceasefire. This is the only thing that is going to protect civilians. And I've said it from the very first hours of this military operation, which is not the first one. I mean this is the sixth war that Israel wages against the people in Gaza, the occupied, that besieged people in Gaza. There is no way that Israel is going to protect civilians.

And again, I mean you're talking of -- you're asking me about babies taking into incubators away. I don't have this information. But babies have already died because they were taken out of the incubators because there was no fuel. There was no fuel. There has been no essential supplies allowed into Gaza while Gaza was being bombed. This is a crime because preventing essential supplies, preventing humanitarian aid from entering a conflict zone is a crime.

FOSTER: Francesca Albanese really appreciate your time today. Thank you for joining us.

ALBANESE: Thank you, Max.

FOSTER: The White House says President Biden is ready to sign a funding bill approved by the House if it passes the Senate. House lawmakers passed the bill on Tuesday to keep the government running and avoid a shutdown at the end of the week, CNN's Melanie Zanona has more from Washington now.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: While the House has voted on a plan to avoid a government shutdown on Friday, Speaker Mike Johnson had to rely on Democratic votes to do it. In the end the vote breakdown was 209 Democrats and 107 Republicans voted for this plan to keep the government open. And that was far more Democratic support than Republican support. And it's almost an identical vote tally to the one that got former speaker Kevin McCarthy booted from the speakership.


So now this bill will head over to the Senate, where we are expecting it to easily pass before the Friday deadline. But one of the big questions looming over the House vote was whether or not Speaker Mike Johnson was going to suffer the same fate as Kevin McCarthy, who also put a stopgap spending bill on the floor that did not include spending cuts and that also relied heavily on Democratic support to get it passed.

But the Conservatives that we've been talking to say they are willing to give Mike Johnson a pass here and that has caused some of McCarthy's allies to charge them with hypocrisy. Let's listen.

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): Mike's got trust. We trust what he's doing. He came and met with us last night and laid out -- He, in his opinion, had no other choice. We got a three vote, two vote majority.

REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Let's be clear. Kevin McCarthy was not thrown out because of the stopgap funding measure. That was the excuse people used. There were people fixing for a fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, hypocrisy in Washington is nothing new.

ZANONA: So Johnson has managed to avoid a right-wing rebellion, at least for now. But there are signs of challenges to come. And that is because the new speaker has promised that this will be the last stopgap spending bill that he puts on the floor. So all eyes are on those next government funding deadlines early next year.

Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: Just as the House passes a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown, tensions flared among some Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. A senator from Oklahoma says he doesn't regret challenging a witness at a hearing to a fistfight. And in the House, one member accused former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the back. CNN's Sunlen Sarfaty reports on Capitol Hill.


SANDERS: No, no, sit down. You're a United States senator. Sit down, please.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A breakdown in decorum today on Capitol Hill.

SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): I want to expose this thug -- to who he is.

SEAN M. O'BRIEN, TEAMSTERS GENERAL PRESIDENT: Do not point at me. That's disrespectful.

MULLIN: I don't care about respecting you at all. I respect --

O'BRIEN: I don't respect you at all.

SERFATY (voice-over): Senator Markwayne Mullin bringing a congressional hearing to a halt, standing up and challenging the witness to a fist fight in the middle of the hearing.

MULLIN: Sir, this is a time, this is a place. If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.

O'BRIEN: OK, that's fine, perfect.

MULLIN: Do you want to do it right now?

O'BRIEN: I'd love to do it right now.

MULLIN: Well, stand your butt up then.

O'BRIEN: You stand your butt up, big guy.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Hold -- stop it!

SERFATY (voice-over): The tense moment escalating quickly after the senator read tweets that Teamsters general president Sean O'Brien wrote in the past being critical of the senator.

MULLIN: What a clown, fraud, always has been, always will be. Quit the tough guy act in these Senate hearings. You know where to find me, any place, any time, cowboy.

SERFATY (voice-over): Leading to numerous attempts by the chairman of the committee to break up the altercation that ensued.

SANDERS: Hold it. No, excuse me --

MULLIN: I will say -- I will say --

SANDERS: Senator Mullin, I have the mic. If you have any questions on economic issues, anything that's like, go for it. We're not here to talk about physical abuse.

SERFATY (voice-over): Afterwards, Mullin said he didn't regret it.

MULLIN: I didn't start it. I didn't tweet at him. I didn't go after him. I have no beef with the guy. I mean, I don't even know the last time I've gotten in a street fight.

SERFATY (voice-over): Meantime over in the House today, Republican Congressman Tim Burchett says former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy elbowed him in the back.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): It was a clean shot to the kidneys. And I turned back and there was -- there was Kevin.

SERFATY (voice-over): McCarthy denying it, saying they were in a narrow hallway intimating he only brushed past him.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If I kidney punched him, he'd be on the ground.

SERFATY (voice-over): Burchett maintaining it was intentional.

BURCHETT: There are 435 congressmen, I was one of eight that voted against him. That hallway was -- there's plenty of room. You can walk four side-by-side. He chose to do what he did.

SERFATY (voice-over): Elsewhere on Capitol Hill --

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): That is bullshit.

SERFATY (voice-over): Tensions also boiling over, and an oversight hearing. REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): Scared you and stalled, I mean, your brother -- the American public have the same questions. Why should they believe you? Why should they believe you?

COMER: (CROSSTALK) investigation.

MOSKOWITZ: Why should they believe you? There's a difference --

SERFATY (voice-over): Devolving into name-calling between Chairman Comer and freshman Congressman Jared Moskowitz.

COMER: You look like a Smurf here, just going around and all this stuff.


FOSTER: Well, one historian says the tension that's boiling over in the Republican Party is the result of the party's dysfunction and the unravelling of its structure and its traditional unity. Take a listen.


JOANNE FREEMAN, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND AMERICAN STUDIES, YALE UNIVERSITY: What we're seeing is reflective of the state of affairs in Congress today in the Republican Party and the state of the nation. And by that, I mean, if you think about what political parties typically can do. One of the things that they can do in one way or another is enforce discipline of some kind -- party discipline. Keeping the members in line, keeping them from perhaps punching each other, or maybe shoving them in a hallway or throwing out names in a hearing.


Another thing that political parties typically can do is they have an agenda or a mission, or a policy that draws them together and unites them and enables them to work together. And again, tamps down some of the kind of behavior that we saw today. So part of what went through my mind is a historian is, what we're looking at the impact of a party that is not a functional party. And without all of the things that a party does, all of the control that it can enforce. We're seeing all of this sort of flying off at all sides as to uncontrolled behavior in Congress.


FOSTER: Historian Joanne Freeman there.

Now new economic data shows inflation continues to cool in the U.S., and that news sent the markets soaring on Tuesday. The Dow jumped almost 500 points. And the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both had their best days since April. Now the gains on Wall Street came after the Consumer Price Index fell to 3.2 percent in October, after rising in the previous two months. Investors are hopeful that the Federal Reserve can now avoid more interest rate hikes whilst continuing to bring consumer prices down. California's governor says the closed portion of the major freeway in

Los Angeles, which was ravaged by a massive fire over the weekend, will be repaired and reopened in three to five weeks. Investigators believe the fire was set intentionally and are working to determine who's responsible. More than 300,000 drivers used this particular stretch of Interstate 10 every day, and the closure means that traffic nightmare for commuters and those living in the area who know it,

Chinas president now in California ahead of his highly anticipated meeting with Joe Biden, just their second sit down in three years. We'll have a preview of what we can expect.

Plus, with less than a year to go until the 2024 election, the U.S. President is facing an uphill battle with a key group that helped put him into office. We'll hear from young voters with their thoughts on the race for the White House.



FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden says he's looking to improve ties with China during his face-to-face summit with President Xi Jinping in the hours ahead. China's leader arrived in San Francisco Tuesday ahead of his meeting with Mr. Biden in the Bay Area, where they're attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. It is Xi's first visit to the U.S. in more than six years. President Biden says he wants to get the two countries communicating more regularly again after months of tension. 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.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong. I mean, we're not going to get a big communique or anything out of this. But the -- I mean, in large part, isn't it about body language and just making sure the two don't increase tensions and just calm things down a bit.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Max. It is about just their presence, the fact that you have leader to leader engagement taking place soon between these two powers and the meeting is a clear sign that both Biden and Xi want to manage this complicated relationship.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will soon be meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the San Francisco Bay Area. Xi arrived on Tuesday, and he was greeted on the tarmac at the airport in San Francisco by the California State governor, also by the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, as well as China's ambassador to the United States.

Ahead of the summit, both China and the U.S. announced an agreement to tackle global warming by ramping up renewables, and that was a positive note of collaboration to tee up the big leadership meeting. And today we just heard from Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The spokesperson said that the key to improving relations is working together with, quote, mutual respect. Now on Tuesday, we heard from the U.S. President Joe Biden. He said

that he's looking to normalize communication. He also said that the U.S. doesn't want to decouple from China. It wants to improve the economic relationship. But he also added that China's economy, quote, has real problems.

Now Xi is expected to wine and dine with U.S. business execs in the Bay Area on Wednesday evening. Now a top agenda item for Biden and Xi is restoring military communication at the highest level, which was cutoff after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.

The U.S. is also seeking action on fentanyl. On fentanyl precursor chemicals have been traced to companies based in China. And over the last year, tensions have flared over these issues, over the Chinese spy balloon, fentanyl, Taiwan, the South China Sea, as well as economic issues like trade, like access to sensitive technology.

Now when they meet U.S. officials also say global issues will also loom large, Max, including Israel, Hamas, including Ukraine and North Korea -- back to you.

FOSTER: OK, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Thank you. We'll be watching.

Now to Ukraine with the chief of staff of the country's president says Ukrainian troops have made a key advancement in the southern Kherson region, securing a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, which is a key frontline between Russia and Ukraine. It's the first time a senior official has acknowledged that Ukrainian troops have been able to sustain a presence there. Russia withdrew its forces from the west side of the river a year ago in a major set back for the Kremlin. But until now Ukraine's counteroffensive has only made incremental gains.

Still to come, thousands of people marched in the U.S. capital to show solidarity with Israel. Details of what they're saying just coming up.

Plus, the Fulton County District Attorney is giving new details about just how long the states election subversion case against Donald Trump could last.



FOSTER: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

The U.S. House passes a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown and now the bill moves to the Senate. But a recent string of altercations on Capitol Hill underscores just how high tensions remain amongst members of Congress.

And Israel's military says its operation at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza is ongoing. But Israeli radio reports that the army has not yet found any indication the hostages are inside the hospital.

Meanwhile, in Israel, causes are growing louder to -- calls are growing louder to secure the release of hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7th attacks.

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

And this was the scene in Washington as a large crowd of people descended on the National Mall to show solidarity with Israel. CNN's Brian Todd was there and has this report.



CROWD: With Israel!

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A show of support drawing tens of thousands in Washington, including lawmakers from both parties.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The survival of the state of Israel and her people unites us together and it unites all Americans.

TODD (voice-over): A rally to support Israel in a time of war.

ERIC FINGERHUT, JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA: We support Israel's fight to rid itself of the terror threat and restore safety and security to its people.


TODD (voice-over): And to push for the release of hostages held by Hamas. The mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin pressing for action.

RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON WAS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Why is the world accepting that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries have been stolen and buried alive?

TODD (voice-over): Shaked Haran has seven family members who have been kidnapped, including a 3-year-old niece.

SHAKED HARAN, SEVEN FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: I don't know if anyone is holding her hand, is keeping her warm. We don't know anything.

TODD (voice-over): She came here from Israel, worried that the public's attention is focusing elsewhere.

HARAN: People are talking about a cease-fire, about a pause. But they're not talking about the hostages.

TODD (voice-over): The rally also focused on countering antisemitism amid a spike in incidents at college campuses and elsewhere.

TOVAH FELDSHUH, ACTRESS: College and university presidents, if you remain weak, if you remain silent, you are complicit.

TODD (voice-over): Political graffiti against Israel was found at the rally site this morning.

ARI MOSKOWITZ, RALLY ATTENDEE: What scares me now is what I'm seeing. The antisemitism I'm seeing in the U.S. Seeing that out in the open is really terrifying. So it's also good to be here with people in solidarity.

TODD (voice-over): At the rally, calls for action against hate.

DEBRA MESSING, ACTRESS: Like our ancestors who for 3,000 years looked hate straight in the eyes. We too will prevail.

TODD (voice-over): Tight security in D.C. with roadblocks and checkpoints, with rallies to support Israel dueling with rallies to support Palestinians in a battle to win over public opinion.

MOSKOWITZ: I support everybody's right to protest. I just wish that people would come at it from a perspective of peace and coexistence.

TODD: Several people we spoke to here said they hoped there was an understanding that a rally in support of Israel was not a rally against Palestinians. One of the speakers, Alana Zaitchik (ph), who's related to six hostages being held by Hamas, told the crowd that the simple fact is that you don't have to choose. That you can abhor the suffering of Palestinian families and abhor the suffering of Israeli families like hers.

Brian, Todd, CNN, Washington.