Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Egypt Will Help Evacuate 7,000 Foreign Nationals From Gaza; Hamas Defensive Lines In Northern Gaza Continue To Collapse; Dispatch From Gaza "No Place To Go"; U.S. House Speaker First Formal News Conference. Aired 10-10:40a ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 10:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Eleni Giokos, in Abu Dhabi, with our continuing coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. We are

covering the story from every angle. We have reporters on the ground joining me this hour.

We've got Melissa Bell in Cairo, watching the evacuation of dual nationals from Gaza. We have Jim Sciutto, who is in the Golan Heights, keeping an eye

on the unrelenting air and ground assault on Gaza.

And also Salma Abdelaziz in London will be taking us through a look at the Jabalya refugee camp strikes and what is occurring on the ground.

First, I would like to get in to Melissa Bell, getting out of Gaza; several Hungarian nationals and two Palestinian family members have left Gaza

through the Rafah crossing, among at least 400 expected to cross over in the coming hours.

Egypt now says it is preparing for the eventual evacuation of 7,000 foreign nationals.


GIOKOS (voice-over): This is a look at the crossing hours ago. Well, 60 people who are injured are also expected to be evacuated. Ambulances are

lined up waiting to take them to hospitals in Egypt. This is day two of the operation. Hundreds of foreign nationals and some 45 wounded Palestinians

left Gaza on Wednesday.


GIOKOS: We've got Melissa ball in Cairo, standing by, where we are getting word that thousands could be leaving Gaza soon, at least over the next few

days. The operation went largely smoothly yesterday. The second round of evacuations occurring today.

Take us through what we've been seeing, Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is, of, course great news for the families of those foreign dual nationals who have been stuck

in Gaza ever since they heard that the Rafah crossing might be opening for them.

At the very beginning of this conflict, they are finally able to make their way out. The trouble is, this is extremely fraught. What you're talking

about here are lists published every day with several hundred names on them.

Those names are the people who are going to be allowed through on that day. All Egyptian authorities have confirmed is that 7,000 foreign dual

nationals will be making their way out.

But your name has to be on the list so you can get out on any given day. The problem is, for instance, yesterday, they had the blackout for several

hours. The internet communications were down. There was no way to reach anybody inside the Gaza Strip or getting any information from one place to


What we're hearing from family members who are outside, hoping to get their loved ones out, is they fear their loved ones may not even know that their

name is on the list for that day.

So given the difficulty of the situation inside, I think it's important to bear in mind, however good this news is for those able to make their way

out, the process remains extremely fraught.

What other people are finding, Eleni, is that, when they get to the crossing, their name is on the list but their spouse's is not. So they are

refusing to leave until that can be remedied. So fairly chaotic situation, logistically very difficult.


BELL: Not only because of the ability to get these people through the Rafah crossing and on to their home countries but because of the situation

of Gaza right now.

One of the other things we are hearing from those getting out is getting a clearer picture of how things are inside. An American doctor, who made it

to Cairo just a few hours ago, one of the first to get through the crossing, he's been speaking to us.

He's saying that we spent two weeks on a car park right next to the crossing. No food, no water, people are getting sick because of the state

of sanitation or the lack of sanitation inside the Gaza Strip.

This, of, course is under the relentless bombing of the IDF. This has been going on now for 25 days. Speaking of the desperate situation, this

particular doctor said that no one is safe inside of Gaza.

So from the lucky few who are able to be allowed out at this stage, we are beginning to hear about aid workers who have been working closely with

Palestinians over the course of the last few weeks.

A much clearer picture of the real horror of what is going on inside Gaza. Still, we hope, we expect several more hundred will make their way out

today. That process should continue over the coming days until all 7,000 foreign and dual nationals have made their way through the Rafah crossing.

GIOKOS: And also, of, course injured Palestinians heading out into Egypt to those field hospitals. As we get more information on that evacuation of,

course we will bring it to you. Melissa Bell, thank you.

The Israeli military says its ground incursion in northern Gaza continues to make progress. It says Hamas' defensive lines are collapsing and that

its troops have reached, quote, "the gates of Gaza City."

The Israeli Defense Forces says one of its soldiers was killed earlier Thursday and 18 Israeli troops have now died in recent fighting with Hamas.

The IDF continues to target areas in and around Gaza City, from the air as well.

Eyewitnesses say airstrikes were ongoing near the Al-Quds Hospital Thursday morning, where many displaced Palestinians are sheltering. Jim Sciutto

joins us now from the Golan Heights.

Jim, I know you've been witnessing many military exercises in the Golan Heights. Take us through what you've been seeing and how the IDF are

preparing for a potential threat from the area.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Eleni, just a few minutes ago, a live fire exercise ended here. You can see the

forces up here, basically having a postmortem of that live exercise.

These are IDF Special Forces, Israeli Special Forces, doing a combined forces training exercise here with a tank unit.

And this shows the seriousness with which Israel is taking the potential threat of this war expanding from Gaza in the south, to the possibility of

Syria on one side, Lebanon up here due north, where there are also Iranian- backed proxies.

The focus in particular is on Hezbollah fighters. Since we've been up in the north for the past week, we have seen repeated engagements back and

forth between Israeli forces on this side, Hezbollah and other fighters on the Lebanese side, as well as fire coming from Syria as well.

They have been limited in scope. I think you can describe it as a slow burn -- artillery fire, rocket fire from Hezbollah; then Israeli strikes back;

artillery fire, mortar fire, sometimes airstrikes hitting Hezbollah targets as well.

There have also been attempted ground incursions by small groups of Hezbollah fighters.

What this training exercise is doing is preparing for something bigger, the possibility of something bigger. That helps you understand why Israel has

now deployed some 70,000 forces to the northern part of this country as a defense against the expansion of this war.

And the Special Forces here, live fire exercises, it is a sign of how seriously they are taking that threat.

Also, I think, given that we are in sight of Syria, where we, are Eleni, right now you could consider this as well a show of force to Syria, to

Lebanon, to Iran-backed proxies in each of those places that Israel is watching.

It is training and it is ready, in effect, that being part of the message, they are ready for the possible expansion.

Final point I will note is there is a lot of attention focused tomorrow, when Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is going to speak, 3 o'clock local

time, for the first time since those October 7th attacks. A lot of anticipation as to what he will announce in that speech.

Will it just be a general expression of support for Hamas?

Or will it be something more specific, announcing that Hezbollah is joining this war in a more forceful way?

We won't know until tomorrow. I can tell you, eyes here in Israel, very much focused with some anticipation, some nervousness --


SCIUTTO: -- on that speech by Nasrallah tomorrow -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, clearly ahead of that speech by Nasrallah tomorrow, as you said, the IDF clearly prepared or seemingly prepared with that show a force

that you described.

You mentioned 70,000 troops are now being deployed to the area where you are right now.

What is the sense on the IDF?

Is there an active fear of some kind of escalation or some kind of change happening in terms of where this could go?

SCIUTTO: They are certainly on alert for it. Of course, they don't know what Nasrallah will order tomorrow. But there is great alert.

We went to one of the border towns just a few days ago, Metula. And there, so, first of, all the town is under mandatory evacuation. So as far as

civilians are concerned, residents, they have been pushed back many miles from the border as a precaution.

The soldiers that remain behind, they take the threat very seriously. You do not cross the streets slowly; you cross the street knowing that that is,

in the town of Metula, part of the line of fire. You could be under threat from snipers, rockets, mortar fire.

So they take it very seriously. There is even some discussion here in the north of what you do next.

What would make it safe enough for residents to return?

You speak to some residents, they speak of Israeli forces going into Lebanon again. That, of, course is the subject of great debate because that

would be an even broader expansion of this war. But you have a lot of unanswered questions now as to what the endgame is.

What is next?

GIOKOS: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

Just in to CNN, Palestinian officials, health officials say more than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. More than 22,000 have

been injured. Israel has confirmed its warplanes hit the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza for the second day running on Wednesday.

The IDF says that a Hamas command center was the target of the latest strike. They say they killed a Hamas commander in the previous day's attack

on the camp. The bombing did catastrophic damage and killed a large number of people, according to the medics in the enclave.

Meanwhile, the nearest medical facility to Jabalya, the Indonesian hospital, was damaged during strikes in northern Gaza. The hospital's main

generator has stopped working. Large numbers of wounded people from the refugee camp were rushed there for treatment.

Joining me now, Salma Abdelaziz, she's been keeping a close watch on the impact on Jabalya refugee camp.

So many questions about the actual death toll there. We've seen images of the shared destruction. Of course, the second strike, Salma, one can only

imagine what it means for civilians caught in the middle of all of this. Take us through what you've been hearing.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only thing that is really certain here, Eleni, is the suffering of civilians.

Israeli troops, as you heard from Jim Sciutto, they are advancing very carefully but very slowly toward Gaza City. Their main focus of operations

is the north of the Gaza Strip. That is exactly where Jabalya is.

The Israeli military maintains that it does not target civilians and called the loss of life a tragedy of war. But the U.N. has another term for it.

The United Nations says that what took place in Jabalya described it as disproportionate and potentially a violation of the rules of war.

But on the ground, that suffering, that anguish, that anger is just palpable. Here is our story from Jabalya. I want to warn our viewers, some

of the images are graphic.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Dust and debris fill the air after an Israeli airstrike.

"Ambulance, ambulance!" calls the man carrying the child.

These are the moments after the Israeli military's attack on the Jabalya camp in Gaza. Everyone is disoriented and terrified.

And this is the result. Several city blocks leveled in an instant. The scene is apocalyptic. Survivors desperately dig for their loved ones with

their hands. Israel says it was targeting a Hamas commander hiding in this densely populated residential area.

An IDF spokesperson called the death of innocent civilians a "tragedy of war."

That tragedy is tearing apart this community. No one yet knows how many still lie under the ruins. Shortly after the bombs fell, comms in the

enclave were mostly severed but one Palestinian cameraman was among those able to post on social media.

The anguish is heartwrenching. The victims, small and afraid. Moms and dads will bury their children.


"All three of my children are dead," this father screams, "all three."

Entire families are wiped out.

This man holds up the name of 15 relatives killed in the airstrike.

"My whole family, innocent people are dead," he says, "total destruction. Our whole building is gone, 20 stories. This is a massacre."

At a nearby hospital, the carnage is on display. The bodies keep piling up. With her dead children at her feet, this mother prays for strength. Many in

this forsaken enclave feel they have no one but God left.


ABDELAZIZ: Eleni, images like these and what's taking place in Jabalya and across the Gaza Strip is adding to this growing chorus of condemnation,

growing calls for a cease-fire.

We've seen a lot of diplomatic activity against Israel's actions in Jabalya. All of this, of course, this mounting pressure coming ahead of a

state visit from the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, tomorrow in Israel.

So you can expect that he will be having his feet put to the fire about the civilian casualties, about the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip.

GIOKOS: Certainly images that we have just seen, stories like yours that you put together, they are resonating with so many people around the world

in terms of what this war means for average people, for little children.

As it continues, I, mean we've seen the Indonesian hospital in the northern border as well now running out of fuel. We have seen the generators

shutting off which means that this hospital can't operate any longer.

What does it mean, realistically, for the people there?

ABDELAZIZ: You hear this over and over again from rights groups, Eleni, that the hospital system is really on the brink. Already several medical

facilities have had to shut down due to a lack of fuel or medical supplies.

It is really the entire enclave that is essentially in collapse right now. We've seen the breakdown of civil order, with people really, really

desperate, struggling to get just basic supplies, going into warehouses and taking what they can.

We have heard from doctors who say they are operating on people on the floors of these hospitals with no painkillers, nothing to provide.

Ambulances are overwhelmed. You have to remember the comms are often down. So wounded people can't even call those ambulances.

The fate of 2 million people, 2 million people, half of them children, now caught in a war zone. It absolutely has the world's eyes on, it Eleni.

GIOKOS: It definitely does. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much for that story.

We will have more news after this short break.





GIOKOS: As Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, there are countless civilians, aid workers and journalists caught in the crosshairs and unable

to evacuate safely, including our CNN colleague, Ibrahim Dahman, along with his wife and their two young sons.

Ibrahim brings us this report from the U.N. refugee camp in Khan Younis, where he says there are more than 20,000 people crammed together, hungry,

afraid and sleeping on the ground.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (from captions): We were at the UNRWA shelter camp west of Khan Younis. The shelter has more than 20,000 people

who were displaced from northern Gaza.

Everyone here has physical and mental exhaustion. Food arrives irregularly and the water is not suitable for drinking. The food is very bad. Every 2-3

days they deliver canned food.

The place is very crowded. We talked to several families living in tents, many of them sleep on the floor. And if it rains, they will have nowhere to

go and will get wet.

There are more than 20,000 people here, it's a very large place.


GIOKOS: The president of Israel's top institutes of higher learning have written an open letter to university leaders around the world. The letter

warns, those institutions against giving anti-Semitism a foothold and to avoid false equivalency.

It says, in, part, "It is ironic that the very halls of enlightenment in America and, Europe ostensibly, the bastions of intellectual and

progressive thought that are your campuses, have adopted Hamas as the cause celebre while Israel is demonized. Let's be, clear Hamas shares no values

with any Western academic institution."

It comes at a time when university students and the U.S. and Europe are protesting Israel's airstrikes on Gaza. Many accuse Israel of targeting

civilians. Israel denies, that saying Hamas is the target of bombing.

And universities around the world are also reporting an uptick of anti- Semitic threats. College campuses in the U.S. have a long history of being hives of political activism, especially during times of conflict.

CNN's Elle Reeve spoke to students at three universities to find out how they feel about on-campus protests in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the river to the sea --

STUDENTS: From the river to the sea --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Palestine will be free.

MALAK ABUHASHIM, STUDENT, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I'm Palestinian. I have family in Reza (ph). So this has been an issue that's affected me my entire

life. Like, I'm calling them and there's bombs in the background. They need to go somewhere safe.

ZOE BERNSTEIN, STUDENT, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I have a lot of family and friends in Israel just having so much hate thrown at and so much

misinformation as well about what's going on just shared on campus and on social media has been challenging.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's tension at hundreds of colleges across the U.S.

At Tulane, a fight broke out after someone tried to burn an Israeli flag. At Harvard and Columbia, a doxing truck showed up on campus naming students

who allegedly belonged to organizations that released an anti-Israel statement.

EVE M. TROUTT POWELL, MIDDLE EAST HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: I'm shocked at the temperature on campus. I could never have

imagined it would be like this. There's a level of -- I don't want to say hatred but anger and fear.

BENI ROMM, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: The AEPi, the Jewish fraternity, was hit with a graffiti attack of "The Jews are Nazis" earlier

this weekend.

REEVE (voice-over): CNN visited three campuses where the response to the war has had major consequences -- the University of Pennsylvania and

Drexel, where students were part of a --


GIOKOS: All right. We'd like to now bring you the Speaker of the U.S. House, Mike Johnson. He's giving his first formal news conference. Let's go

straight to Capitol Hill.






GIOKOS: All, right as you can see that is the new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, in his first formal press conference reiterating that Israel

does not need a cease-fire, that it needs aid to defend itself.

In terms of funding for Israel, that likely there would have to be spending cuts in the U.S. in terms of being able to fund Israel with all its needs.

He also reiterated the biggest threat to the United States is actually its national, debt.

That's why spending cuts will be part of what he'll be looking at.

Going to a very short break, we'll be back right after. This stay with CNN.




GIOKOS: I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi.

Now an exodus of foreign nationals from Gaza is currently underway. Nearly 600 people were told to report to the Rafah border crossing. That is after

the border opened just a crack yesterday, allowing a limited number of foreigners and badly injured Palestinians to leave Gaza for the first time

since the war with Israel and Hamas began.

Egypt says it stands ready to help 7,000 foreign citizens get. Out, meanwhile on the battlefield --


GIOKOS (voice-over): Israel's military says its campaign against Hamas is progressing. The IDF says Hamas lines in northern Gaza continue to collapse

and, in every confrontation, Israeli forces have had the upper hand.


GIOKOS: The Israeli military says 18 of its soldiers have died since the start of the conflict with Hamas. CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now with

more from Israel.

Jeremy, we've been seeing the IDF going in further. It is significantly into Gaza. We've been seeing the devastation on the ground, specifically at

the Jabalya refugee camp. The IDF says that this is going to continue, that what they are doing is going to get a lot more intense over the next few


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right. And we just heard, in, fact the from the IDF's chief of staff that the IDF forces have

been operating inside of Gaza City for the past several days.

They are surrounding the city from several directions, deepening their operations, saying they are operating in, quote, "very significant areas"

in Gaza City.

This, as we heard a brigadier general commander yesterday saying his forces were at the gates of Gaza City.

But even as Israeli forces are operating inside of Gaza City and as the Israeli military says it has broken down several of Hamas' northernmost

offensive (ph) lines, what you are seeing behind me is still some very active fighting in the northeastern most part of Gaza.

You can see the smoke emerging here from several explosions in near the city of Beit Hanoun, which is the northeastern most city in Gaza. We have

been listening all afternoon here to mortar fire, artillery fire and small arms fire as well, indicating there are very active battles happening.

We also saw barrages of rockets being fired from Gaza out toward Israel. Moments ago we also had a show of force from the Israeli air force. At

least nine jets, what appeared to be jets, flying overhead above Gaza, above Gaza. Not clear exactly what they were doing. We didn't see any

immediate airstrike impacts after they were flying overhead.

But this just gives you a sense of the very dynamic situation in terms of the fighting. We know, even as IDF forces are operating inside Gaza City,

they are getting ambushed. Overnight, we were told that IDF forces operating in the northern part of Gaza were ambushed by Hamas fighters.

That tells you everything you need to know about the dangers that these tunnels represent for those Israeli forces inside of Gaza. They can pop up

and they can go into the tunnels to evade advancing Israeli forces.

They can also pop up behind them and then ambush them. And that is exactly what appears to have happened last night. Again, a very dynamic situation

here on the border with Gaza.

GIOKOS: Yes. And we can see the smoke behind you. We can hear artillery as well. You were talking about the show of force and you are talking about

the difficulties in terms of logistically what the IDF faces on the ground.

But the IDF said that, every time they have had a confrontation, they have the upper hand.

It is an interesting scenario playing out, because, as you say, the tunnel systems, the ability for Hamas operatives to be able to understand their

ground better than the IDF, what challenges does that bring?

DIAMOND: It poses enormous challenges. In the days ahead of the ground offensive that Israeli forces launched last Friday, one of the major

focuses of the airstrikes in the days before was targeting those underground tunnels.

We still see them in recent days also targeting those tunnels. When you talk about what happened in Jabalya, there is, on the one hand, the

humanitarian considerations and the really serious allegations that Israel may have committed war crimes, according to the United Nations' human

rights office, given the number of civilian casualties there.

But Israel said that, in both of those instances, on Tuesday and Wednesday, when they targeted that densely populated Jabalya refugee camp, they said

they were targeting underground complexes.

In one, case a senior Hamas commander, they, say was hiding and where he was killed. And yesterday they said they were targeting a command and

control center below ground, below residential neighborhoods.

So these are the major considerations that the IDF is dealing with. At the same time, of, course they are facing some very serious questions, very

serious allegations about whether or not they are doing enough to minimize civilian casualties.

GIOKOS: And of, course those questions are coming through from international organizations. We have been watching those images, Jeremy, in

terms of what is going on in Jabalya. Great to see, you, Jeremy Diamond there for. Us we appreciate it.

We are going to go to a short break and we will be right back.





GIOKOS: Just before we go, another recap of a main story. Our coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. Egypt says it plans to receive nearly 7,000 foreign

nationals from the besieged enclave. We don't have information on when exactly that will happen.

But a Palestinian official tells CNN, at least 400 foreign nationals and 60 injured people are expected to leave Gaza today. Ambulances are waiting on

the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing. The first group entered Egypt on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military confirms it carried out two airstrikes in two days on the Jabalya refugee camp, Gaza's biggest.

That's it for the show, thank you so very much for watching. I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. "WORLD SPORT" with Andy Scholes is up next.