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More Than 360 Killed in Israel at October 7 Music Festival;; Kyiv's New "Foothold" in the South; Volcano Fears Forces Iceland Town to Evacuate. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2023 - 03:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world, I am Laila Harrak.

On CNN NEWSROOM, supplies, running low and Gaza, creating an even more desperate situation as CNN crews see heavy IDF activity in Gaza overnight.

What is humanitarian law and how does it apply in Gaza?

We will talk to an expert.

And Russia steps up its deadly strikes on Kherson, we will go live to Kyiv for a report on the war in Ukraine.


HARRAK: It has been exactly six weeks since the terrorist attacks in southern Israel that led the country to declare war on Hamas. The site of the Nova music festival became ground zero for thousands of unsuspecting people, who were there on the morning of October 7th.

Israeli media, now reporting that many more people died there than was previously reported, citing an Israeli police report. The death toll now stands at 364. That is up from 270; 17 of those killed, reportedly were police officers. About 40 people at the event were taken hostage.

Israeli authorities do not believe that the terrorists knew about the festival beforehand. Three weeks into the IDF's ground incursion into northern Gaza, CNN crews in nearby Israel reported seeing heavy IDF activity during the night.

Hamas officials now putting the Palestinian death toll in Gaza at more than 12,000 people, including more than 5,000 children. Eleni Giokos joins us from Cairo, Egypt.

Eleni, thank you so much for being there for us. Give us a sense of what is the view from Egypt on the ever deepening crisis in Gaza.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: That death toll, 12,000 people killed, most of those numbers women and children, which is hair raising. You look at the overall injuries and we're talking about 30,000 people who are suffering through war injuries. That is what we need to wrap our head around.

Along with the fact that the hospitals that are out of service in Gaza, talking about running out of fuel and food and medical supplies, having to amputate without anesthesia, making tough decisions.

We know what is going on at Al-Shifa with the IDF operation there. That making it all the more difficult to save patients.

From the Egyptian side, they say they want to take as many patients as possible but, of course, getting them to the Rafah border, which is the only lifeline for injured Palestinians right, now is very difficult.

With the continued and incessant airstrikes, it just makes the trip very, very tough. We know the IDF is taking a lot more of an aggressive stance, specifically in the northern parts of Gaza.

The other thing we need to remember about Al-Shifa Hospital -- and we spoke to doctors within the hospital who say, maybe ICU patients have now died. There is just no electricity. There are also 36 neonatal babies.

And we've been talking to the Egyptians about how they've been waiting for them for almost a week now. They worry, as time passes, that number may change. But I want you to listen to what the Egyptian health minister had to say.


DR. KHALED ABDEL GHAFFAR, EGYPTIAN HEALTH AND POPULATION MINISTER: You know, there are the neonates that need ventilators. They are out of electricity, they are out of gas, they are out of medication. They told me they are trying to put three neonates in one incubator.

Can you believe that?

They sent me photos of them because they don't have anything else to do. So they put the kids, three of them, in one incubator, because they don't have enough energy to support.

Even though they stopped losing those newborns and they want to get them out, how do you call that?

How do you name that?


GIOKOS: It's very difficult to get your head around what is the fate of those babies. The Egyptians are on standby and alert.

Martin Griffiths, during the General Assembly, said "In many respects, international humanitarian law appears to have been turned on its head. We are not asking for the moon. We are asking for basic measures that are --


GIOKOS: -- "required to move central needs of the civilian population and stem the cause of this crisis."

The words we are hearing from the international community, from organizations for some kind of pause for the potential of a cease- fire, not only to get hostages out but to bring some relief to the people that have been left in Gaza is going to be absolutely vital.

This is a conversation that is happening right now. We know 60,000 liters of fuel into Gaza yesterday went to UNRWA, which is an international organization on the ground. So limited use but mostly for desalination plants to try and get water to people who desperately need it.

But efforts are ongoing, negotiations are ongoing between the Qataris, as well as Israel, Hamas, the Egyptians and the U.S. to negotiate a way to get hostages out, as well as to suggest a cease-fire and a pause to make that happen. But also, to alleviate what we are seeing on the ground.

HARRAK: Eleni Giokos, reporting from Cairo. Thank you for your continued coverage.

The crippling fuel shortage that Eleni was reporting on and the damage from Israeli bombardments have forced dozens of hospitals and clinics to close. This is according to the Palestinian Authority's ministry of health in Ramallah, citing medical sources from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

CNN's Nada Bashir has a closer look now at how people with nowhere to go are forced to live in the rooms of their bombed-out homes. A warning: her report does contain graphic images.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: In the central Gazan city of Deir al Balah, heavily bombarded by Israeli airstrikes for weeks now, the Naji (ph) family is forced to live amid the ruins of what once was their home. Khalid (ph) and his wife were rescued from beneath the rubble. Miraculously, they survived.

But now, with nowhere to go, this family must make do with what little they have left.

When we saw the catastrophe before us, we try to find shelter at a school or anywhere safe. But it was already too crowded, Khalid says. There wasn't anywhere safe to go here. As you can see, it has been raining and there is no aid getting in. I just want somewhere to shelter my family, my children.

The U.N. has warned that some 70 percent of people in Gaza are now forced to drink contaminated water. Raw sewage is said to be flowing through the streets in some areas. And while the Israeli government says it will now allow to fuel tankers a day to enter Gaza to support water and sewage systems, the entire strip is said to be facing the immediate possibility of starvation, according to the U.N. World Food Programme.

There is no electricity and no running water here. As temperatures drop, this family has no choice but to sleep in the cold.

Khalid's daughter says she put this sheet of nylon to protect her from the wind and rain at night. These blankets, all the family has left to keep them warm. The rest of their belongings tangled and buried amidst scorched, Blackened rubble.

Across northern and central Gaza, scenes of destruction are all that remain. Civilians told to evacuate southwards, the Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas and allowing for evacuation corridors. But even in the south, there is no escape from this punishing war.

The ruins you see here are homes in the southern city of Khan Younis. Amid the destruction, members of the Abu Zanad (ph) family standing helpless. Loved ones, still buried under the rubble.

Every second of every minute, there's another massacre, Khani (ph) says.

Where are the humanitarian ceasefires?

Displaced people, women and children, our family members, are here, buried underneath this home.

They escape the massacres and war in northern Gaza. They told us the south would be safe. On the grounds of southern Gaza's Nasr Hospital, another funeral prayer is held, closed with a message of peace amid unfathomable loss.

With fears growing of an expanded ground incursion, said to be targeting Hamas in the south, after Israeli forces dropped leaflets near Khan Younis, warning people to move to known shelters on Thursday. But with some 1.5 million people already displaced, there is nowhere safe to turn.

And as each hour takes by, there is only more uncertainty and more tragedy.

The wounded rushed to the hospitals crowded halls. Children, battered and bloody, sharing whatever space is left in this panic filled emergency room but as doctors in the south race to rescue the wounded, survivors further north --


BASHIR (voice-over): -- just like Khalid and his family, struggled to come to terms with this now shattered reality.

Khalid says neighbors thought he was dead when they pulled him from the rubble. Now he says, he wishes he too had been killed in the airstrike. In Gaza, only the dead are at peace -- Nada Bashir, CNN, Jerusalem.



HARRAK: I'm joined by Adil Haque. He's a law professor at Rutgers University, who focuses on the international law of armed conflict and the philosophy of international law. He joins me from New York.

Professor, a warm welcome, good to have you with us.

Can I get your thoughts, first, on the current situation, from a law of armed conflict perspective?

ADIL HAQUE, LAW PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Thanks. Unfortunately, I think what we see is a paradigm case of a war that is being conducted illegally on both sides. Both Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces are violating basic rules of international humanitarian law in a variety of ways.

So Hamas, obviously, committed a number of atrocities on October 7th. They continue to hold over 200 hostages. They are firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian populations and using Palestinians as human shields.

At the same time, the Israeli Defense Forces have prevented humanitarian relief from reaching Gaza civilians for weeks now. It is a clear and indefensible violation of humanitarian law.

We also see the IDF engaged in targeting and attacks that seem indiscriminate and disproportionate. And we are all, of course, very concerned with the increasing military operations in and around hospitals.

This is making it even more difficult for doctors, nurses and paramedics, to provide lifesaving care. So it's an extremely disturbing situation in which the law is not being followed by either side.

HARRAK: What role, Professor, does the law of war play?

Why do these rules exist and what are they designed for?

HAQUE: So there are really two laws of war, the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law regulates the conduct of hostilities, the treatment of prisoners, the protection of hospitals and the provision of humanitarian relief.

For the purpose of IHL, it is to protect civilians and other vulnerable people to the greatest extent practically possible in war. Now international law also prohibits the use of armed force, except as a necessary and proportionate means of self-defense.

That body of law exists to prevent war in the first place and to bring war to an end when it no longer serves a legitimate purpose or comes at too great a human cost. HARRAK: And what does the law say about care for civilians in harm's


HAQUE: Sure. So there are a number of rules that exist to protect civilians. First, of course, there is a prohibition on deliberate or intentional attacks on civilians. There is also a requirement to take reasonable precautions to avoid harm to civilians by choosing weapons and tactics less likely to harm civilians or at least likely to harm fewer civilians.

Finally, there is a prohibition on the infliction of disproportionate harm, where the foreseeable harm to civilians is excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

HARRAK: And what are the rules regarding hostages held captive in an active war zone, as is the case right now?

HAQUE: Sure. So taking hostages is categorically illegal. It is never lawful to detain someone and threaten them with violence or with continued captivity unless some demand is met. So hostages, simply, should be released unconditionally and immediately, except for maybe arrangements for their safe return.

HARRAK: It is good to have these rules in place but I guess what this conflict has also exposed is that it is impossible to enforce them.

I mean, how do you get the warring parties to comply by these rules, is that realistic?

HAQUE: I think it is realistic to mitigate the violence of war. I think it is possible for the United States and other countries with influence over Israel and its military to influence its behavior. So I think that international law can provide a framework or baseline for motivating third parties to influence the behavior of the IDF.

I think it is much harder to influence the behavior of Hamas. They really show no regard to international law or to basic ethical norms, either.


HAQUE: And there, I think, the best we can do, is try to provide some accountability after the fact either through an international investigation and perhaps the prosecution before the International Criminal Court.

That investigation is already underway, focusing both on Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces. Hopefully, the prosecutor gets the support they need to bring that prosecution to a successful conclusion.

HARRAK: Adil Haque, we have to leave it there, thank you so much for sharing your insights with us.

HAQUE: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRAK: The first plane carrying children from Gaza, who need urgent medical care, has arrived in Abu Dhabi, according to the UAE's state run news agency. The children are suffering from severe injuries, burns and cancer.

They were accompanied by their families. And the UAE president is planning to provide medical treatment to 1,000 children from the Gaza Strip.


HARRAK (voice-over): The Ukrainian city of Kherson takes on heavy Russian shelling as Ukraine claims gains across the Dnipro River. Details, ahead.



HARRAK: Ukraine says Russia launched a wave of drone attacks overnight in multiple regions, including Kyiv. One person was reported wounded in the Odessa region. This comes as the southern city of Kherson faces repeated Russian shelling.

Russia has ramped up artillery attacks as Ukrainian forces claim to have gained a foothold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. Former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Nathan Hodge, joins me now from Kyiv.

Nathan, good to have you with us.

What more can you tell us?

NATHAN HODGE, CNN SENIOR EDITOR: Ukraine has been locked in a grinding war of attrition on the front lines against Russian forces in the country's south and east with a much anticipated counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces, failing to yield much more than really incremental gains.

So the news this week, first disclosed publicly by Ukrainian senior officials, that Ukrainian forces had, indeed, gained some toeholds on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, comes as a sort of piece of very good news, a very welcome piece of news for Ukraine.

It has been concerned about both wavering support in Western capitals and worries about the possibility that the focus of policymakers, internationally, has been distracted, essentially, or diverted to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

So what we know, thus far, is that foothold across the Dnipro River, still, is tenuous. The Russians do say that they are counterattacking. But Ukrainian Marines are there, in action.


HODGE: In recent weeks they have been staging raids. Now they seem to have established something of a more firm bridgehead.

Why is this important?

Because just over a year ago, Ukraine liberated the southern city of Kherson from Russian control, with Russian forces retreating back across the river. But the city, still, remains within artillery range.

Every day, the city has come under bombardment, authorities in Kherson telling us that, since the liberation of the city last year, over 400 people have been killed in these routine bombardments.

Generally speaking, there is a concern that we could have a repeat with, winter approaching, of the situation last winter in which Russia targeted Ukraine's civilian infrastructures, its energy and power grid, in an effort to cripple the country's economy and to demoralize the population.

We just saw, overnight here in the Kyiv region and around the country, a wave of drone strikes, which Ukrainians say they have been able to counter. But really, this has driven home for Ukrainians the message that they have been hammering on, which is that they need more and better equipment, particularly air defenses.

But most importantly of all, they have been saying they really need ammunition for a long and ongoing war with Russia.

HARRAK: Nathan Hodge, reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine, thank you so much, Nathan.

The U.N. says renewed fighting between Myanmar's military and a rebel group has displaced more than 26,000 people since Monday. Some have fled across the border to neighboring India and Bangladesh.

The U.N. estimates 90,000 people are internally displaced since the conflict erupted; 11 have been killed and more than 30 injured since an informal cease-fire fell apart on Monday. Most humanitarian efforts have been suspended due to the resurgence of the conflict with many roads and waterways blocked.

We will be right back.




HARRAK: Settlements have been reached in the federal lawsuit, filed just a day go, against music mogul Shawn Diddy Combs. His former girlfriend, Cassandra Ventura, accused him of rape and years of abuse.

In separate statements, obtained by CNN, the R&B singer who goes by Cassie, thanked her family, fans and lawyers for their unwavering support, writing, quote, "I've decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control." Sean Combs issuing a statement, saying, quote, "We have decided to

resolve this matter amicably. I wish Cassie and her family all the best. Love."

Scientists in southwestern Iceland say the high likelihood of a volcanic eruption continues and that a river of underground magma could explode anytime. Residents from an entire town have left their homes as the Earth rumbles beneath them. As Michael Holmes reports, they say it is an unnerving situation of wait and see.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A town on edge, steam seeps through large --


HOLMES (voice-over): -- cracks in what used to be a main street in Grindavik, Iceland. Residents say it's a hellish sight, the ground hot and unstable. And there is a deserted and eerie feel since the town was evacuated a week ago.

STEFAN VELEMIR, GRINDAVIK POLICE OFFICER: There is some volcanic activity going on, very high activity. So we had to take measures and evacuate the whole town. The town of Grindavik is 3,800 people. And now there's no one living here, from 3,800 to zero.

HOLMES (voice-over): Police have closed off the roads to the town. Geologists say a 15-kilometer river of underground magma is making its way toward the sea and could erupt at any time.

Residents are lining up outside the barricades. No eruption yet means there's still time to retrieve a few belongings. Authorities are allowing a handful of people back in at a time for just five minutes in their homes, precious moments as the wait for what comes next stretches on.

PILOT EINAR DAGBJARTSSON, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: It's like sleeping in a very boring movie but you're stuck there. You can't get out. It's unreal. It's hard to digest.

HOLMES (voice-over): Experts say the area around Grindavik is still experiencing hundreds of earthquakes a day. That's a slight decrease from the thousands of daily tremors in recent days. But seismologists say the threat is still imminent.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON, GEOPHYSICIST: There is still a flow of new magma into this crack and it is widening. And this is causing ground deformation on the surface, both widening of a few centimeters per day but also subsidence on vertical movements in the town of Grindavik, causing a possibility for fractures.

HOLMES (voice-over): And it's somewhere along that fissure, geologists say, a volcanic eruption could do extreme damage, with Grindavik at risk of being completely destroyed. But for some residents, waiting to retrieve their valuables, waiting for whatever the lava will do next, the damage is already done.

ASGEIR ORN EMILSSON, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: Yes, honest, I'm not that excited to go back there because I don't think we'll ever feel safe after knowing what has happened there.

HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN.


HARRAK: Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. I am Laila Harrak. "AFRICAN VOICES: CHANGEMAKERS" up next. Stay with us for more CNN NEWSROOM with my colleague, Kim Brunhuber, in about 30 minutes' time. See you next time.