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Officials Say Hamas is Keeping women from Talking; Mustafa Barghouti is Interviewed about the Situation in Gaza. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 05, 2023 - 08:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If - if you get kidnapped and go into Gaza there's - it's just known that Hamas terrorists - you have a shot - you know, there's a not - there's a chance that you will be raped by Hamas terrorists, because they're terrorists and that's what they do. So, we do not know that that is what's happening with these teenagers and women in their 20s and 30s, but that is, obviously, the fear.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I am so glad you read all their names, Jake, and showed all their pictures. We need to keep doing that.

Let's bring into the conversation our senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga.

Bianna, like Jake you have been covering this, being a voice to it when many of us, I should have done, a lot of us should have done a better job, the media writ large, people in power and Congress talking about it. Now what happens after that session at the U.N.? What's the impact? What changes?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the fact that it took eight weeks for an event to be held, the fact that it took seven weeks for U.N. Women to put out the bare minimum statement and acknowledging, acknowledging that there are these allegations and condemning

Hamas speaks volumes to the silence that Israeli women, that Israeli investigators, that experts in women's rights that have been affiliated with women's groups at the U.N. feel that they've been silenced and that they have been ignored. And this speaks to the larger issue of why. And the use of rape as a weapon of war and all of the evidence leading up to this suggesting that it wasn't a one-off by a terrorist here or there. The evidence that they have gathered, this expert told me, suggests that this was premeditated. And that is a crime against humanity. And so that is what they are trying to pursue.

It is difficult to listen to these testimonies. It is heartbreaking. But now, as we've seen in Jake's piece, as we've seen in a lot of other reporting, thanks to the launch of Jake's piece here at CNN, how much more do we need to listen to? I'm sorry that these victims are no longer, many of them, alive because they were murdered by terrorists. But there is a lengthy list of evidence now that's been accumulated, that's been documented around the world. And the question is, will these communities who say that our purpose is to defend women's rights no matter where they are, no matter who they are, no matter what religion they are, will they step up now? Because this is not only a shame for Israeli women, it really represents women around the world. And it could set a dangerous precedent.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Women around the world who face this in other places than just this conflict. And it has always been something that people at the U.N. wanted to talk about and focus on.

To track back, and you can correct me if I'm wrong on this, my sense of things was, it was your interview and the lack of answer in an interview you had with a U.N. official that led to, at least in part, them finally releasing a very belated statement. Is that fair? Do you know what happened behind the scenes there?

GOLODRYGA: Well, Jake had his incredible piece.


GOLODRYGA: A week later I began - or a few days later I began covering it as well. And we booked the head of one of the officials that U.N. Women to talk about it. It was a nine-minute piece. So there was a 30- second portion that got a lot of attention where I specifically asked her, why have you not yet condemned Hamas given the lengthy list of evidence that's been accumulated. And her answer was really a non- answer. It was a word salad. And I gave her plenty of opportunities to address that issue directly and speak out against Hamas. And then it was two or three days later that U.N. Women finally issued the bare minimum statement which was just acknowledging, and I think -- I don't know, that's the video there, but just acknowledging what had been reported. And the most heartbreaking part of this is, Ruth Halperin- Kaddari, who is the expert that I've been speaking with --

HARLOW: We have that. Should we listen to it?

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Yes. Please.

HARLOW: Listen to what she told Bianna.


GOLODRYGA: Is there a reason, though, Sarah, that you can't specifically call out Hamas and the mounting evidence now over seven weeks that Israeli investigators have collected that we've shown our viewers about the atrocities they committed, specifically on October 7th, because I think that's the crux of the issue here. It's not just condemning sexual violence against women and in any war in general. It's specifically what occurred on October 7th perpetrated by Hamas.

SARAH HENDRIKS, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.N. WOMEN: Indeed. U.N. Women always supports impartial, independent investigations into any serious allegations of gender-based or sexual violence. And within the U.N. family, these investigators are led by the office of the high commissioner of human rights.


GOLODRYGA: So, I heard words but none of them addressing the question that I asked her directly. Speaking about Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, who had been affiliated - was actually the vice president of the U.N. committee on the elimination of discrimination against women, she said she was heartbroken because on October 9th, remember, this was one of the most well documented crimes.


These terrorists came in with GoPros. They had Facetime videos that they were, you know, showing family members in real time.


GOLODRYGA: So, even two days later there had been enough alarming evidence to suggest and sound the alarm to women's groups, like the U.N. Women and other affiliates there to say an investigation is warranted. It looks like we have something that amounts to a war crime here, and that is the rape of women and use of rape as a war crime. She heard nothing. No responses. And she said that was heartbreaking for her.

And one of the reasons why she said it's so important to sound the alarm is because -- and we'll play the clip -- in her view it almost legitimatizes what took place.

I believe we have that video, too.


RUTH HALPERIN-KADDARI, INTERNATIONAL WOMENS RIGHTS ADVOCATE: By not acknowledging this, by dismissing, by ignoring, they are, in fact, almost, I would say, legitimatizing the existence of these atrocities.


GOLODRYGA: So, what happens next? We'll see. I mean it took eight weeks to just get people to pay attention to this and gather together at the U.N. We'll see if things can be expedited going forward. There are a lot of women who deserve justice and a lot of attention and shame should be cast on those who were - who were quiet through this period, or equivocating.

MATTINGLY: Jake, last question to you.

TAPPER: But if I could - if I could say something?

MATTINGLY: Yes. No, please.

TAPPER: Yes, go ahead.

MATTINGLY: No, no, no, please.

TAPPER: Well, first of all I was going to say the -- the - the U.N. event, we should note, this is not the United Nations doing this event. This is the Israel embassy, the Israeli mission to the United Nations hosting this event. This is not the secretary general, Guterres, finally having a change of heart and finally recognizing what's happening. This is not the U.N. Commission on Women finally recognizing what's happening. This is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, him hosting this event with Hillary Clinton, Senator Gillibrand and Sheryl Sandberg and others. So, we shouldn't give the U.N. credit here. You know, they were the site of this event, but they did not host the event.

Second of all, it was Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that first got rape as a weapon of war recognized. And this is -- had to do with the conflict in Yugoslavia, the conflict in the - in Congo, the conflict in Rwanda. And nobody had to take a position on the politics of those conflicts. Nobody had to side with the Kroats (ph) or the Serbs or the Houthis or the - I mean nobody had -- you didn't have to take a position and to the conflict to condemn rape as a weapon of war. And I think one of the things going on here, and there are certainly other things going on here, but one of the things going on here is I think that there are people who feel that to condemn what Hamas did is to side with Benjamin Netanyahu, and it's not. It is to side with humanity. You don't have to agree with what the IDF is doing in Gaza to condemn Hamas raping women and girls on October 7th.

And third of all, Israelis are like any other human being. And raping them is just as vile as raping any other human being on this planet.

MATTINGLY: Jake Tapper, Bianna Golodryga, you guys have helped drive this over the course of the last several weeks. Thank you for the great reporting. Please keep us posted on more reporting.

HARLOW: Thank you both very much.

The United States, also this, has passed a very grim milestone. The record number of mass killings by guns, that's ahead.

MATTINGLY: And apocalyptic. That's how the United Nations is describing life in Gaza. We're going to speak to someone with firsthand knowledge of the situation on the ground.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: Well, there is sadly a grim new milestone that has been reached in America. The United States has now hit a record number of mass killings with guns already this year according to analysis by "The Washington Post." On Sunday, in Dallas, police say a 21-year-old man shot five people inside a home, killing a toddler and three adults, before fleeing the scene and fatally shooting himself. And then in Washington state this weekend, authorities say five family members were killed in an apparent murder-suicide. Those marked the 37th and 38th shootings this year where four or more victims were killed. The highest number of mass killings with guns since "The Post" started tracking these shooting in 2006. MATTINGLY: Now, according to the data, at least 26 of the mass

killings occurred in private homes. Ten happened in public places, including this year's deadliest shooting when 18 people were killed at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine. Other targets this year included an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, a sweet 16 party in Dadeville, Alabama, a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, and a Christian school in Nashville where six people were killed, including three nine-year-olds.

HARLOW: And according to "The Washington Post," only three of those 38 shootings were known or thought to be related to robberies, gang conflicts or drug-related crimes.

And these mass shootings represent a small portion of everyday gun violence. Last year 49,000 people died from gunshot wounds according to the CDC. That averages to 132 deaths a day. More than half of those were suicides.

And consider these statistics. In April a survey showed 19 percent of U.S. adults say a family member was killed by a gun, including homicides and suicides, 21 percent say they have personally been threatened by a gun and 17 percent say they have witnessed someone being shot. That is gun violence in America today.

MATTINGLY: It's reality.

Meanwhile, the conditions in Gaza growing more and more dire with no place save for civilians to seek shelter.

HARLOW: Also, in just two hours, a House committee will directly confront growing anti-Semitism on college campuses. Multiple university presidents will testify. Those details ahead.



MATTINGLY: Well, happening right now, there are sirens sounding over Tel Aviv. CNN's team on the ground has heard at least eight rocket interceptions. This morning the United Nations is warning that the situation in Gaza is, quote, apocalyptic. The U.N. warning more than 80 percent of Gaza's population has been displaced. Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians are arriving in Rafah, traveling as far south as possible given Israel's expanding ground invasion. The U.N.'s aid director, Thomas White, said in a post on X, quote, "even in Rafah, w here people are being forced to flee, the sound of airstrikes punctuates the day. People are pleading for advice on where to find safety. We have nothing to tell them."

Joining us now is Palestinian legislator and leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.

We appreciate your time, sir.

I want to start with, you speak regularly with organizations, medical organizations, on the ground. You're in contact with them. What are they telling you about the situation as the Israeli offensive has ramped up once again?

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: Yes, we communicate. We have 25 medical teams working there. And we communicate with them. But frequently there are no communications. They are disrupted by Israeli airstrikes.

They tell us that the situation is horrible. It's intolerable. And what you see here is a combination of Israeli bombardment, of airstrikes, as well as artillery strikes, as well as tanker bombardment. Not less it's safe there.

Up to now we've lost no less than 15,000 Palestinians killed and 7,000 children. If the people from under the rubble are removed, you will be talking about no less than 22,000 people killed, including 9,000 Palestinian children.


The total number of people killed or injured is around 64,000. That is about 3 percent of the total population of Gaza. If this happened in the United States, you would be talking about 10 million people killed or injured in less than 11 (ph) weeks. That is not unacceptable by any means.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you, sir.

BARGHOUTI: Yes, please.

MATTINGLY: To that point, in terms of the casualties, the number of killed, it was striking last night, a spokesman for the IDF, Jonathan Conricus, said that the ratio of militants killed versus civilians killed is basically 2-1. And he called that tremendously positive.


MATTINGLY: He said it was tremendously positive that that ratio was the case from their calculations.

BARGHOUTI: Really? So - so -- you can't be serious and accept that.

MATTINGLY: No, no, that's why I'm asking you.

BARGHOUTI: OK, are you going to tell me that the 9,000 children are militants. Or most -- all of the people who are - who are -- most of the people who are killed or injured are civilians. We see them. I mean we know them. I mean we have their names. We have their IDs. It's not true. What the Israelis are telling you is pure propaganda. And I tell you, there is a lot of black propaganda coming from the Israeli side to justify three war crimes that are committed now in Gaza in (INAUDIBLE). The war crime of genocide, the war crime of ethnic cleansing, and the war crime of collective punishment.

People are left with no place to be in. They are in the streets. They have no place to hide in. They have nothing. They don't have food. They don't have fuel. They don't have electricity. They don't have medications. Hospitals are incapable of coping with all these injured people. I received today videos from Gaza. People are on the ground. They're -- and the doctors cannot provide support to them because there isn't enough medications and there is not -- no - no beds for them. The most they can do is only first aid. And the -- our doctors told me they had to operate on people without anesthesia. They had even to amputate the leg of a man without anesthesia. As a medical doctor, I never thought that in the 21st century this could happen.

And Israel must stop this terrible bombardment. They must stop these war crimes and allow Palestinians to have an immediate and complete and permanent cease-fire. This is what we need immediately.

MATTINGLY: Doctor, it's difficult to think about the long term, I think, in a moment like this. I think that's the case for everybody, all the parties involved here. But U.S. officials have been trying to figure out kind of the day after the Israeli operation would look like.

You have long been an advocate of non-violence. You've long been a leader inside Palestinian politics. Do you see any possibility of a two-state solution like -- that President Biden advocates for, or any type of peace process after this?

BARGHOUTI: Unfortunately, because of the lack of efforts from the side in particular of the United States, we've lost 30 years when we could have had peace long time ago when (INAUDIBLE) agreement was signed. But nobody stopped the Israelis from building illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Yes, we can have two-state solution only in one condition, if Israel removes all its illegal settlers from the West Bank. And if Israel allow us, the Palestinians, to elect our own leadership in a democratic matter. Had we had democratic elections in 2021, we would not have this war. We would have a pluralistic system.

MATTINGLY: Do you - can I ask you - can I ask -

BARGHOUTI: Yes, please.

MATTINGLY: Just given the fact that the United States' Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pointed to the Palestinian Authority as kind of the entity that - that would be the one that could lead on this, do you think that's plausible given the views on the PA inside the West Bank?

BARGHOUTI: The problem is that Netanyahu -- I think the Palestinian Authority should be subjected to democratic free elections. And we should have the right to elect our leaders, democratically, like all countries do in the world. But the reality is that Netanyahu is saying he's not going to allow any Palestinian authority in Gaza. His plan is to occupy Gaza completely and ethnically cleanse Palestinians to Egypt. That's what he's saying.

Some of the members of his party are even calling for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan. This is a government that has fascists in it, like (INAUDIBLE), who say - who calls himself a fascist homophobe. MATTINGLY: Right.

BARGHOUTI: And who says that they should fill the West Bank with settlers so that Palestinians would lose any hope of a state of their own, and then Palestinians would have one of three options, either to emigrate, which is ethnic cleansing, or accept the lives of subjugation, which is apartheid, or die, which is exactly what they are doing now.

MATTINGLY: It is the - it is the very complicating factor of the current government. It's why the U.S. has repeatedly said there cannot be displacement into other nations.


And U.S. allies in the region have made that abundantly clear as well.

Dr. Barghouti, we appreciate your time, as always, sir. Thank you.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

HARLOW: A really important conversation.

Also this, happening today in just a couple hours, House lawmakers will begin a hearing on combatting anti-Semitism on college campuses. They will hear testimony from the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. Harvard, in particular, has been a focus in terms of struggling to contain hate speech, protests, and unrest on their campus. At Cornell, anti-Semitic messages were painted on sidewalks on the campus and a student was arrested for making online threats, you'll remember, to that school's Jewish community.

At George Washington University, these anti-Israel messages were beamed on a library building on campus. And at Tulane, this fight broke out where protesters assaulted a Jewish student, breaking his nose (ph).

Meantime, the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into both of these incidents and into anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at several schools. Those include Harvard, UPenn, Columbia and Cornell. We will monitor that hearing throughout the day.

MATTINGLY: And "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" will begin right after this break.