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CNN International: Growing Condemnation Over Raid on Gaza's Largest Hospital; No Evidence Offered Yet of Any Tunnel Network under Hospital; Acting Spanish PM Sanchez to Form a New Government; New British Foreign Secretary Visits Ukraine. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 08:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNNI HOST: Hello, you're watching CNN "Newsroom". I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead the latest on the fighting in the Middle East where Israel says it struck the residence of Hamas's Leader in Gaza. Then new British Foreign Secretary David Cameron makes a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Vowing the U.K. is ongoing support to Ukraine amid the conflict in the Middle East. And U.S. President Joe Biden calls China's Xi Jinping a dictator again -- we'll go live in Beijing with reaction.

Despite growing condemnation, a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for urgent humanitarian pauses, Israel is pressing on with this operation into Gaza. The IDF claims this operation at Gaza's largest hospital has yielded concrete evidence that Hamas used the facility as, "A terror headquarters".

On Wednesday, the IDF published video what it says was combat equipment inside the hospital. CNN can't independently verify those findings. Gaza's Hamas-run Government Media Office accuses Israel of fabricating that evidence. Meanwhile, the U.S. President says he's confident that Hamas was running a command center under the hospital calling it a war crime. Joe Biden also discussed negotiations to free Israeli hostages held by Hamas.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have been deeply involved in moving on the hostage negotiation. I don't want to get ahead of myself here because I don't know what's happened in the last four hours. But I have gotten great cooperation from Qataris. I am mildly hopeful.


FOSTER: CNN's Ed Lavandera tracking developments for us in Tel Aviv, and he joins us now so much focus on the hospital hasn't that, Ed and now the focus on the evidence to see whether or not that raid was justified?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, you know, this is a crucial moment in this military operation inside of Gaza. As we have reported for days and weeks. The Israeli military has really said that this area around the Al-Shifa hospital is one of the crucial areas that from where the Hamas military authority kind of runs its operations out of it.

They describe the area in and around and under this particular hospital in the heart of Gaza City as the command and control structure of the Hamas military operation. And because of that, that's why they say despite, you know, widespread condemnation from around the world as to how Israel has managed the ground operations inside of Gaza.

They felt that is militarily it was a justified attack on this area because they were going after Hamas military structures and command area so that's why this has been such a focal point of this military ground operation inside of Gaza. Yesterday afternoon, Israeli military released of some images from an -- where MRIs were conducted, where they say they found weaponry and military equipment, computers and that sort of thing.

But so far, there has not been any revelation of some massive command and control area that they have discovered or so far released. Now a Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that more and more information will come to light as this operation, military operations and fighting goes on and continues around the Al-Shifa hospital.

But so far, they have just released a little bit. Israeli officials say that more information that they say will prove that concrete evidence in their words, that this kind of military apparatus exists within Hamas around that hospital there, Max.

FOSTER: Ed, thank you. A security checkpoint South of Jerusalem turned into the site of a shootout. Police say 6 Israeli Security Personnel were wounded when three attackers opened fire on them after driving up to the checkpoint or three of the suspects were killed.

And Israeli police photo showed handguns and assault rifle they say were used in the attack -- more now, on the hospital in Gaza City that Ed was talking about the center of attention in recent days, getting information out of Al-Shifa hospital very difficult right now. Communications with hospital officials have been challenging since Israeli forces moved in and began occupying parts of the sprawling hospital facility you see there.

Now Israel has released photos or videos rather of weapons and equipment that it says prove that Hamas was using Al-Shifa hospital as a base for its military operations. CNN can't verify those findings in the Hamas-run Government Media Office in Gaza accuses Israel of lying about what they actually did find.


Here's what the Israeli military is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESPERSON: These weapons have absolutely no business being inside the hospital. The only reason they're here is because Hamas put them here because they use this place like many other hospitals and ambulances and sensitive facilities inside the Gaza Strip for their illicit military purposes.


FOSTER: Nada Bashir tracking developments at the hospital. She joins us now live from Jerusalem. What would the Israelis have to show us and give evidence of to justify this raid or hospital which in ordinary times would be seen as illegal under humanitarian rules?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look Max, there has been widespread condemnation of this raid on the Al-Shifa hospital as we know there are hundreds of patients still in the hospital, there are hundreds of medical staff still in the hospital. And while the Israeli military has said it is targeting Hamas positions that he believes there is a Hamas command and control center beneath the Al-Shifa hospital.

Crucially, of course, as Ed mentioned there in his reporting, that hasn't been part of the evidence so far released by the Israeli Defense Force. There is still widespread concern about civilians who are being caught up in this raid and then the ongoing bombardment taking place around the Al-Shifa hospital and of course around other hospitals, in and around Northern Gaza, as well.

Of course, we've heard from the World Health Organization Chief warning that there are concerns of its civilians, patients and of course medical staff on the ground Al-Shifa that they have lost contact with their teams. There we ourselves have been finding it extremely difficult to try and gather information from within the hospital because of difficulties.

With communications around Northern Gaza doctors are unable to share the realities of what they all facing at this current point in time. We did hear from one doctor speaking during the initial hours of the raid in the early hours of Wednesday morning describing the terrifying situation that patients and medical staff were facing.

You could hear the gunfire and shelling, as described by the doctor in the background of his -- of course, we've been hearing from a Palestinian journalist inside the edge of a complex describing the walls of the hospital is shaking from the weight and power of the shelling in the vicinity of the complex.

Now, of course, CNN hasn't been given independent access to the Al- Shifa hospital. We cannot verify the claims put out by the Israel Defense Force nor the claims put out by Hamas who have said they believe this evidence provided has been in there was a lie from the Israel Defense Forces.

But again, we are hearing those testimonies from people on the ground, civilians on the ground, as well as international humanitarian organizations who have been reiterating the message that the priority here needs to be the protection of civilian life and that message has been reiterated for days if not weeks, we are seeing the civilian death toll mounting as we know about one of Gaza's hospitals, Northern Gaza's hospitals rather are now in operation.

That means civilians in search of or rather needing urgent medical care are facing horrifying circumstances. We're hearing from doctors saying that they are carrying out surgeries without anesthetic. And of course, as we know, as you heard there and Ed's reporting, that raid is said to be ongoing. This isn't a one day operation. And as this continues, that concern for civilian life is only mounting, Max.

FOSTER: Nada in Jerusalem, thank you. Military communications between the world's top two superpowers is set to improve this after the Presidents of the U.S. and China met near San Francisco on Wednesday. Joe Biden says he and Xi Jinping made progress on slowing the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. and restoring communication between their two militaries.


BIDEN: We're resuming military to military contact direct contacts, as a lot of you press know follow this that's been cut off and it's been very worrisome. And that's how accidents happen, misunderstandings. So we're back to direct, open, clear, direct communications on a direct basis.


FOSTER: Therefore, our meeting happened near San Francisco as I say where other World Leaders have gathered for the APEC Summit. For his part, President Xi says China is willing to be a partner and a friend of the U.S. He was speaking on Wednesday to American CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Tesla's Elon Musk.

Mr. Xi is trying to reverse a downturn in foreign investment in China. And he added China and the U.S. should not be a zero-sum game, where one side wins at the expense of the other.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT: Whatever stage of development it may reach. China will never pursue hegemony or expansion, and will never impose its will on others. China does not seek spheres of influence, and will not fight a cold war or a hot war with anyone.


FOSTER: MJ Lee in San Francisco with the latest on the high level diplomacy there and there was some progress wasn't particularly between the two militaries.


Now speaking directly, but there was also a comment that came after the meeting where President Biden describe President Xi as a dictator, which went down very badly as understand it in Beijing. MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And keep in mind, there were months of intricate planning that went into setting up the summit, which both Washington and Beijing hoped would serve as a reset of sorts in U.S.-China relations after their meeting that lasted some four hours here in the San Francisco Bay Area, President Biden and President Xi making two notable announcements.

One, as you noted, is the restoration of military to military communications between the two countries was which Beijing had severed earlier about a year ago, because there were tensions over the issue of Taiwan and then this major announcement on China agreeing to crack down on substances that are used to make fentanyl this has been a high priority for both countries.

Yes. And the agreement that we heard in general from both leaders was that they understand and agree that there has to be diplomacy, there has to be open lines of communication to try to avoid any kinds of unnecessary conflict or misunderstandings. Now, there was that interesting moment at the end of President Biden's press conference, where I asked him, does he still consider President Xi to be a dictator?

This was a reference to a comment he had made earlier this year. And he answered in the affirmative, saying he does still consider him a dictator, which you reference, was not taken well by the Chinese, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, saying overnight that those comments were extremely erroneous, and an irresponsible political maneuver.

So just gives you a sense of how sensitive Chinese officials are to that label and that description. FOSTER: MJ, thank you. Developing News as Spain in the past, our Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has won enough votes in Parliament to form a new government. He was all but assured of becoming Prime Minister after he cut the deal with the Catalan separatist party to give an amnesty to Catalans who took part in the 2017 attempt to secede from Spain.

Still to come, we are taking a closer look at the meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. And the comment from President Biden that MJ was talking about there may have tainted and otherwise fruitful summit.


FOSTER: Russia confirming that Ukrainian forces are holding on to their foothold on the occupied Eastern side of the Dnipro River. A Russian installed Governor says small groups of Ukrainians are operating northeast of Kherson that is being subjected to "fiery hell". He said Ukrainian fighters are suffering heavy losses.


Meanwhile in Southeast Ukraine Officials say at least two emergency workers were killed in Russian attacks on Wednesday night. Britain's Foreign Secretary arrived in Kyiv on Thursday on his first overseas trips as taking the job, which was just earlier this week. David Cameron met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital. Cameron said Britain will keep providing Ukraine with military and other support for as long as it takes. CNN's Anna Coren in Kyiv joins us now -- President Zelenskyy clearly appreciative of the fact that attention is now turning back to Ukraine after all the coverage that the Israel-Hamas war has been taking.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Max. I mean, this is a very difficult point in the war. We are approaching the 21 month mark that is next week. And as you say, the West has been very distracted by what has been happening in the Middle East, and people here in Ukraine feel that the world is losing interest.

And we've seen support waning, that there is genuine fatigue, you know, and the counter offensive, which has been going on now for four months, it has not yielded the results or delivered the breakthroughs that the West was hoping for. So David Cameron, visiting, you know, at this point is very, very important.

You know, when he met with President Zelenskyy, this morning, he said he wanted this to be his first official trip. Let's have a listen to that exchange between President Zelenskyy and David Cameron.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Thank you for coming. It is very important. Now, you know the world is not focused on this situation, on our battlefield and in Ukraine and this dividing focus it really doesn't help and we are thankful that you came, always supported Ukraine.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Thank you. I wanted this to be one -- personally -- frustrate -- we only pay the people. And what I want to say by being here is that we will continue to give moral support, the diplomatic support, the economic -- the military support, you need not just this year and next year, but however long it takes.


COREN: And Max, this is going to be a long war. You know, this is not going to be over by the end of next year, you speak to the experts, and they say this is years and years long. Hence, the West needs to give that long term commitment to ammunition, weapons, arms production on and industrial scale to compete with Russia.

And we've heard very recently from the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces here in Ukraine General Zaluzhny. And he said that Ukraine needs technologically advanced weapons. They need technological superiority to defeat Russia and so far they do not have it.

And Max, you know, just to give you a bit of an anecdote yesterday, we visited one of Ukraine's largest drone distributors, they also trained civilians on how to make drones that are then used on the battlefield and one volunteer said to us, we need to innovate or we die. It's that simple.

FOSTER: Anna Coren in Kyiv, thank you. U.S. President Joe Biden and China's Leader Xi Jinping appeared confident on Wednesday about improving relations between the two countries. They agreed to restore military communications. And according to Mr. Biden pick up the phone and talk during periods of disagreements.

The U.S. President called the talks one of the most constructive and productive discussions that ever had. But despite the achievements, the U.S. President said he still considers Xi Jinping a dictator.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Mr. President, after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term that you used earlier this year.

BIDEN: Well look, he is. I mean he's a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government that is totally different than ours.


FOSTER: Mr. Biden had previously compared President Xi to dictators during a campaign event in California in June. China's Foreign Ministry called the latest comments extremely erroneous, as MJ was telling us a bit earlier on.

CNN's Marc Stewart joins us now from Beijing for a closer look, because a lot of people in America perhaps would look at those comments and not think they were too severe. But just explain to us why this has caused so much offense in China?

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Max, let me just be blunt. This is not a description this term in particular is not a phrase that the Chinese government likes to describe Xi Jinping. In fact, right now, I believe that our signal at least has been temporarily blocked out here in China. It's not a phrase they like, there's no other way to put it. You heard the response, the phrase extremely erroneous.


It is something though that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did address, it was brought up yesterday, obviously in the United States, let's have a listen out to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning.


MAO NING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY: This kind of speech is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation. China firmly opposes it.


STEWART: -- very blunt, there's dissatisfaction about that. But I also think this is not something that Beijing at least for the moment is going to dwell on. There is the rest of APEC. There has been some success in these talks. So I think from the Chinese perspective, it was said, and for the moment, it's not going to be talked about anymore, at least this immediate moment, perhaps long term, but it's not something the government really likes to talk about, Max.

FOSTER: We know that a huge amount of work went into this behind the scenes, all the optics were very important, weren't they to China? So how do you think the rest of the trip has been perceived in the domestic market, which is obviously high on Xi's consideration --

STEWART: Well, we are looking at state media, which is essentially the method of delivery for the Chinese government for its messaging. Right now, Xi Jinping is getting a lot of praise. All the focus is pretty much on Xi Jinping not so much Joe Biden.

At a time, when, as you mentioned, China is dealing with some pretty severe and serious internal struggles, there has been a change of leadership within the government with some Xi Jinping's closest advisors departing. The Chinese economy is slow growing, there's a youth unemployment issue, very difficult for young people to find jobs, there's a housing crisis.

So the one thing that Xi Jinping needs to do is to let the rest of the world know that China is open for business. And that's a big reason why he's at APEC. Last night, he was at a dinner where several prominent American business leaders were there, including Tim Cook of Apple and Elon Musk.

And in fact, let me just read a direct quote, he said China is willing to be a partner and friend of the United States. China wants international dollars. China wants foreign investment that includes from the United States.

So the fact that he was able to make that message very clear in front of a room of very influential people is something that Xi Jinping wanted to accomplish in the Chinese government as a whole. We'll have to see how that transpires. But that was a big point of interest for Xi Jinping.

FOSTER: OK Marc Stewart, thank you so much for joining us with that insight. Now, coming up CNN's new travel series explores Japan, as you've probably never seen it before. Stay with us.


FOSTER: Well, this week we are exploring Japan off the beaten path as part of our new travel series "Next Big Trip". Today we'll show you a stream so hot. You can boil an egg in it. CNN's Will Ripley actually takes tip finds out why anyone would go swimming --


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cutting through the picturesque town of Tamatsukuri, a stream with some very ancient historical and spiritual significance.


We hear that this nice, relaxing sound of a stream trickling through town beautiful blue sky day almost feels like a great day to jump in and go for a swim except look at that sign right there warning us the water. It's hotter than your bathtub 64 degrees Celsius when it comes out.

But this water is so special here in Japan people have been coming to bath -- these hot springs for more than 1000 years. I am very tempted to jump in but this is not the right attire and we're not in the right place, but I do know where we can go.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Japan is a land of plenty of hot springs or Onsen as they call them. Wherever there's an Onsen chances are you'll find out real con traditional Japanese in. And I'm off to soak in one of the most upscale real cons in this region. Naomasa Ukai is the manager here at the Hoshino Resort. He and his enviably chiseled torso have offered to join me for a soak.

RIPLEY: We should say normally, you're not going to wear a towel when you get in here but for your sake for the sake of our viewers, we'll spare you the full -- should we sit? OK. You seem very relaxed, because that's what on -- this is community and friendship.



UKAI: -- that took about a level since.

RIPLEY (voice-over): It's incredible to think the water we're sitting in is heated naturally. The name Tamatsukuri Onsen literally means a good making hot springs because the water is hot enough, to soft boil an egg. The alkaline in the water is believed to remove dirt and cleanse your skin while the sulfate moisturizes.

The waters are even believed to improve conditions like rheumatism. Some visitors buy the water to bring home with them to use in their daily skincare routine, which means -- taking a pit shop at the gift shop. But first, it's time for a very deep and contented sleep. Will Ripley CNN, Shimane Prefecture, Japan.


FOSTER: Good night to Will. Thanks for joining me here on CNN "Newsroom". I'm Max Foster in London. "World Sport" with Andy Scholes is up next.