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CNN International: Medical Crews Recovering Bodies Scattered Around Al-Shifa Hospital; Iran Blames Israel for Strike on Consulate in Syria; Some Israelis Choosing Jail Over Military Service; Trump Media and Technology Group Discloses $58 Million Loss in 2023; Oppenheimer Opens in Japan After Eight-Month Delay; Caitlin Clark and Iowa Return to Women's Final Four. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 04:30   ET




NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As dawn breaks over Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital, the full extent of this latest nightmare becomes clear. Buildings scorched, some still ablaze, others riddled with bullet holes or completely destroyed. Below, bodies lay crushed and decomposing.

Under torchlight, limbs are found tangled amid earth and rubble. This is the aftermath of the Israeli military's 14-day siege on what once was Gaza's largest hospital.

Please, God, enough, this woman screams. How much more can Gaza's civilians be forced to endure?

Medical crews tell CNN they arrived on Monday morning to find hundreds of bodies scattered around the complex. Others have been left wounded, starving and desperate for help.

We spent days without food or water until the military gave us a few food cans, but they were not enough to feed all the patients, Jana says. They would give each patient just a quarter of a water bottle each day. The bombardment and shooting was constant.

The scale of the destruction wrought by the Israeli military here seems impossible to quantify. In the surrounding area, entire families were trapped in their homes for two weeks under near constant bombardment.

Upon the Israeli military's withdrawal, Arafat al-Lulu was finally able to return home, only to find that his wife and seven children had been killed.

The Israeli military has described the siege on al-Shifa as a precise operation targeting Hamas militants, some 200 of which they say were killed, though CNN is unable to verify this figure.

Weapons and intelligence documents are also said to have been found on the complex, which had been housing hundreds of civilians when the siege began. The IDF maintains that soldiers distinguish between militants and civilians, but such claims stand in stark contrast to the troubling testimonies and videos CNN has received from countless civilians and medical staff who were trapped in and around the hospital.

We can't estimate the number of medical staff who were targeted in what we can only call executions, this medical official says.

In earlier testimonies shared with CNN, civilians described being stripped, bound and blindfolded in the cold before facing interrogations by Israeli soldiers. Reports of beatings are also widespread. For days, medical staff within the hospital told CNN they couldn't even move between buildings on the complex for fear of being targeted by Israeli snipers.

Every day a patient would die, nurse Mousa says. The occupation soldiers used us as human shields inside the hospital.

More than 300 bodies have so far been recovered, according to authorities in Gaza, but that figure will likely only rise. Warnings that al-Shifa could soon be turned into a graveyard, now a gut- wrenching reality.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has reached out to the IDF for comments.

If you'd like to have information on how you can help with humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza as well as Israel, please go to and you'll find a list of vetted organizations providing assistance. That's at

South Korea has accused North Korea of test firing a suspected medium- range ballistic missile today. The Japanese defense ministry says the projectile stayed airborne for about nine minutes before falling east of the Korean peninsula. No comment from North Korea. Now the launch comes a little more than a week before South Korea's elections, which will gauge support for the South Korean president who has taken a hard line against the North.

Plus, some young Israelis are choosing to go to jail instead of serving in the military. One of them explains why ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be back right after this.



GIOKOS: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Eleni Giokos. If you're just joining us, here are some of today's top stories.

At least seven World Central kitchen workers in Gaza have been killed in an Israeli military strike. The organization says a convoy was hit leaving a warehouse where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is temporarily shutting down Al Jazeera's operations in Israel on Monday. The parliament approved a law allowing the government to shut down foreign networks deemed a threat to national security. Israel has claimed the network played a role in the October 7th attacks. Al Jazeera disputes this claim.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Paris today for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. The two are expected to discuss continued U.S. support for Ukraine as well as the Israel-Hamas war.

Iran is vowing a decisive response after what it says was an Israeli missile attack on its consulate in Damascus in Syria. Two top Iranian military commanders are among the seven people killed. More now from CNN national security correspondent Natasha Bertrand.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Iran says its consulate in Damascus, Syria was attacked by Israel on Monday leaving at least seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials dead including two senior commander.

Now Iran's ambassador to Syria said the building was targeted with six missiles from Israeli F-35 warplanes but the Israelis have neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the strike which has raised fears of an escalation in the region as Iran has vowed to respond decisively.

Now a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told CNN that he would not comment on the attack other than to say that according to Israeli intelligence the building that was hit was actually a military building being used by the IRGC rather than a civilian consulate.

CNN cannot independently verify either Iran or Israel's claims but State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. has been in touch with regional partners to determine what happened here and he reiterated that the U.S. does not want to see the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalate beyond Gaza.

But it remains to be seen whether and how Iran will retaliate here. Iran backed proxy militias who were attacking U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq almost daily up until February have not launched any new attacks in nearly two months.

But the concern now of course is that that could change now that Iran is vowing revenge.

Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


GIOKOS: Pressure is mounting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Jerusalem again on Monday calling for his resignation and demanding new elections.

They blame Netanyahu and his government for failing to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. It is one of the largest protests the country has seen since the start of the war.

Dozens of demonstrators were also camped outside the Israeli parliament or Knesset and they're planning to stay there until Wednesday when the spring recess begins.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not concerned about what happens in the country and with the people. They are concerned about maintaining their position in the government. They work for themselves, not for the people. That's as simple as that.



GIOKOS: Meantime, some Israelis say they're so upset about what they've seen and heard of the IDF actions in Gaza that they would rather go to jail than go to war. CNN's Melissa Bell spoke to one man on his final day of freedom.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Israel too, there are those who object to their government's handling of the war in Gaza. Among them, Ben Arad, who as an 18-year-old is due to enlist this week for his mandatory military service. Instead, he tells the crowd he's choosing to go to jail.

We caught up with him in Tel Aviv on his very last day of freedom.

BEN ARAD, ISRAELI REFUSING TO GO TO WAR: I don't refuse because I'm afraid of being hurt or killed in military action. I have a very, very deep disgust of the things that I'm seeing happening.

BELL (voice-over): Things, he says, that Israeli media doesn't dwell on, but that he seeks out on international networks and online.

ARAD: I think something that really broke my heart was the flour massacre. So, seeing people trample each other to get food. I mean, you just can't deny at that point that there is a famine going on and people are hungry.

BELL (voice-over): So, on Monday, Ben will hand himself in, becoming one of only a handful of so-called refuseniks to make their decisions public since the war began.

In a country where military service marks the start of every Israeli's grown-up life, aside from those exempt on religious grounds, the war has made avoiding it a political act. ARAD: I've been called a traitor. I've been told that I need to be deported or I've been asked why I don't just move. I mean, but it's not such terrible stuff. I haven't gotten that yet. Like, I'll get that when I go to jail.

BELL (voice-over): Yet Ben says he's determined to give up his freedom in order to remain free of a war that he simply doesn't believe in.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Tel Aviv.


GIOKOS: Shares of the Trump Media and Technology Group plummeted on Monday after the company disclosed losses of more than $58 million last year. That, in turn, caused Donald Trump's personal net worth to fall by more than a billion dollars.

CNN's Matt Egan breaks it down for us.


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: We knew that this stock would be volatile, but wow, this has already been quite the rollercoaster ride. Trump Media disclosing it lost $58 million in 2023 generated very little revenue, just over $4 million.

Some context, Twitter generated more than 100 times as much revenue in 2013, the year it went public. This is why some experts say the multi- billion dollar valuation on Trump Media defies logic. One professor told me that this stock is a bubble. Another called it a meme stock.

But Trump Media's losses are so severe that accountants warn the red ink raises, quote, substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. Now, that's Wall Street code for we might not be able to survive.

We should note, though, that that warning, that likely predated last week's blockbuster merger, a deal that allowed Trump Media to receive an influx of $300 million in cash. Matthew Kennedy from Renaissance Capital, he told me that this cash infusion, that should remove the going concern risk here. Still, though, Trump Media's troubles, they've continued in recent months.

Monthly active U.S. users on iOS and Android, they plunged 51 percent year over year in February to 494,000. That's well shy of the 75 million users on X, the company formerly known as Twitter. Even Threads has 10 times as many users as Truth Social.

Investors should fasten their seatbelts because the wild ride here, it's likely just getting started.


GIOKOS: All right, still to come, "Oppenheimer" premieres in Japan months after the rest of the world was able to see it. And we'll show you how residents are reacting to the film. And why emergency officials in a famous corner of Canada are declaring a state of emergency just ahead of the eclipse next week. We'll bring you up to speed on these stories after this.



GIOKOS: Japanese moviegoers can finally watch last year's summer blockbuster "Oppenheimer" after an eight-month wait.

Universal Pictures decided against showing the film in Japan initially out of concern over its reception by the only country to have experienced the horrors of nuclear war. CNN's Hanako Montgomery has the details for us.


HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After months of delay, the father of the atomic bomb's life story finally took to the big screens in Japan, the very country where his invention wreaked terrifying devastation.

The film, highly praised globally, was met with favorable reaction from some Japanese viewers.

KUMIKO FUKUDA, TOKYO RESIDENT (through translator): I was interested in this movie because it shows expressions and emotions hidden behind the eyes of both Americans and Japanese who saw the atomic bombs. It doesn't just show the tragic story, which I think is easier to depict.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): But left others with a bitter aftertaste.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course, this is an amazing film, which deserves to win the Academy Awards in the United States. But the film also depicts the atomic bomb in a way that seems to praise it. And as a person with roots in Hiroshima, I found it difficult to watch. I'm not sure this is a movie that Japanese people should make a special effort to watch.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Omitting images of the ghastly wreckage caused to Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombs, lethal weapons that killed over 200,000 people, was a conscious decision from director Christopher Nolan.

MONTGOMERY: At a New York film screening, Nolan said that he didn't include those images because Oppenheimer himself didn't fully see how his invention incinerated whole neighborhoods and people.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): The film took eight months to release in Japan amid controversy over an unofficial marketing campaign that critics said trivialized the 1945 nuclear attacks. But the criticism hasn't deterred viewers entirely. During opening weekend in Japan, the movie grossed 2.5 million U.S. dollars.

Abroad, the highly lauded film won seven Oscars this year, including the coveted Best Picture and Best Actor awards. Christopher Nolan, who also took home Best Director, will receive a knighthood in Britain for his services to film.

But despite the film's global accolades, Japanese viewers tread lightly, wary of how the West remembers and depicts history from 78 years ago, a past far from forgotten in Japan.

Hanako Montgomery, CNN, Tokyo.


GIOKOS: Officials in Canada's Niagara region are declaring a state of emergency ahead of Monday's total solar eclipse. Thousands of visitors are expected to pour into Niagara Falls to catch the rare event.

The region is on the path of totality, where for a few minutes, the moon will block out the sun entirely. CNN's Paula Newton has the story.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Niagara Falls is known for its stunning views. The number of people expected to visit the famous waterfalls may soon become a spectacle in itself.


It's a prime viewing site for the solar eclipse on April 8th as it crosses North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

JIM DIODATI, MAYOR OF NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA: Even though we get 14 million people every year, it's over the year. It's not all at one time. To get 1 million at one time would be by far the biggest crowd that we've ever had.

NEWTON (voice-over): Canada's Niagara region has declared a state of emergency so that emergency services can prepare for the influx of people. Hotels, stores and restaurants are gearing up for the visitors, which are estimated to outnumber the locals. Ontario's Niagara region has a population of nearly half a million people, but some business owners say they're looking forward to some extra company.

GABRIEL GABRIE PIZZERIA OWNER: We're expecting to have a full house for the first time in a long time. We're coming up for the winter season, so it's an exciting time.

NEWTON (voice-over): By the time the eclipse is fully visible over Niagara Falls at approximately 3:18 p.m. Eastern time, it will be nearing the end of its trek across the continent, which happens when it passes over the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It will be the first total eclipse in Canada since 1979 and the last time the contiguous U.S. will see one until 2044. So it's a sight many people say they don't want to miss. JASON HARLOW, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: Having that collective feeling

of, oh, the sun's gone and seeing something that's so rare and so beautiful to see the stars come out in the day. Yes, it's something that my kids will remember their whole lives.

NEWTON (voice-over): Paul Newton, CNN.


GIOKOS: Right, very exciting. And of course, you can join us next Monday for the solar eclipse as it travels from Mexico across America and into Canada. Special coverage starts at 1 p.m. Eastern. Something you don't want to miss.

Women's basketball star Caitlin Clark puts on a clinic to lead her Iowa Hawkeyes into the final four. The story on that just ahead.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. Iowa and Caitlin Clark in the women's basketball final four. They defeated last year's champion LSU ninety four to eighty seven. The game was a rematch of last year's championship game. But Clark refused to lose this time. She had forty one points and twelve assists in the win.


CAITLIN CLARK, IOWA GUARD: It's amazing to be back in the final four. It's so hard to get there, especially with this region and how low to this region was. But, you know, we told ourself for the one seed for a reason. You know, we've earned this. We deserve to be in these moments. We're prepared for these moments.

LISA BLUDER, IOWA HEAD COACH: Their distant shots were amazing tonight. Her logo threes were incredible. You know, I mean, I just -- how do you defend that? Right. It's like it is nearly impossible.

KIM MULKEY, LSU HEAD COACH: She's just a generational player. And she just makes everybody around her better. That's what the great ones do.


GIOKOS: Well, CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on Iowa's big win.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iowa and Caitlin Clark headed to the final four in Cleveland.


It was an incredible game and everybody was comparing it to last year's national championship game between these two teams. And it felt exactly like that with the pacing. With the fact that there was just scoring on both ends. And, of course, the rivalry. I mean, let me tell you, Angel Reese actually put a crown on the bench while Caitlin Clark was warming up. And Caitlin Clark would hit a three. She would stare at Angel Reese in the face. It had all of those hallmarks, all of the drama. And in the end, of course, Iowa beat LSU, clinching their spot in the NCAA final four.

And I got to say, Caitlin Clark really brought it. 41 points in this game. And when I tell you that this place erupted any time that ball was in her hands. And when she hit those threes, it really did. It was just incredible to watch. She made an NCAA all-time record for three pointers made in a career.

And let me tell you, she is a role model. If you could see all the young girls and boys who waited after this game to get her autograph, it was just incredible to see. It just shows you how much not only Caitlin Clark, not only Angel Reese, but other women basketball players have changed this sport for the better.

In Albany, I'm Brynn Gingras, CNN.


GIOKOS: Iowa will face the University of Connecticut and its star Paige Beckers on Friday night. UConn made its way into the final four by knocking off number one seed Southern California 80-73 on Monday.

The other women's final four teams are Texas and North Carolina State.

All right, I want to bring you some other stories in the spotlight this hour.

Iraqi Assyrians in bright, traditional clothing flooded the streets on Monday, singing and dancing in celebration of Akitu, the Assyrian New Year. From April 1st to the 12th, people will gather in the northern city of Duhok to celebrate the beginning of the Assyrian year, which is the year 6,774 in this tradition.

And finally, the Powerball jackpot is still up for grabs after no one claimed the grand prize in Monday's drawing. The top prize now climbs to nearly, get this, $1.1 billion. That is the fourth largest in Powerball history. Your next chance to win, so you better get playing, I guess, is this Wednesday. So good luck to all of you.

Well, thank you so much for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Eleni Giokos. CNN "THIS MORNING" is up after this quick break. Have a great day.