Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Hezbollah Leader Makes First Public Speech Since War Started; Antony Blinken in Israel to Push for Protection of Civilians in Gaza; Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Grows More Dire by the Day; 36 Journalists Killed Since Start of Conflict on October 7th; Israeli Forces Advances in Gaza. Aired 10-10:44a ET

Aired November 03, 2023 - 10:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, I'm Becky Anderson, in Doha, in Qatar, with our continuing coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

And we've just heard from the U.S. secretary of state who warned against another front opening up in the war. The head of Hezbollah says Hamas's

attacks on Israel October the 7th where 100 percent Palestinian planned and executed. Hassan Nasrallah still speaking. He is addressing crowds in a

recorded speech live in Beirut, or certainly being broadcast live in Beirut by video.

These are his first comments since the Israel-Hamas war started, addressing speculation about whether the Iran-backed faction was involved in these

attacks. This speech being watched very closely amid fears that the stepped-up skirmishes that we are seeing between Israel and militants along

the Lebanese border could turn into a new front.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has been listening in from Beirut.

There are crowds of people around this region watching in squares, waiting to hear what Hassan Nasrallah has to say. He is still speaking, Ben. To

date, what has he said that was notable, and perhaps, what has he not said at this point?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, first of all what he has not said is any concrete steps regarding what Hezbollah is

going to do from Lebanon. Really he's gone through a long sort of review of the historical background of the Palestinian cause and basically what led

to up it. But what he did say is that until the 7th of October the world community, international organizations, even the Arab League, had largely

forgotten the Palestinian cause.

He said now it is front and center. He said that the attacks of the 7th of October were a political, security, military, psychological earthquake that

has shaken Israel. And he called, for instance, for Arab states that have relations with Israel to withdraw their ambassadors. For Arab states that

currently have trade relations with Israel to cut that trade. He also stressed that as you mentioned at the top that the operate -- the attack by

Hamas on the 7th of October was 100 percent Palestinian Hamas operation.

He said that it was conducted or rather it was planned under complete secrecy. That the other Palestinian factions in Gaza were aware of it nor

the other so-called members of the axis of resistance, in other words, Iran, Hezbollah, various groups in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.


Now right when he started speaking an hour and about five minutes ago, what we heard was a massive amount of celebratory gunfire here in Central

Beirut. Now this speech, which is still ongoing by the looks of it, is being broadcast in public squares in many parts of the country. Most of

them the -- where there's a predominantly Shia majority. From the looks of it, it actually is a live speech. It doesn't look like it's been edited.

He still, as I said, Becky, hasn't yet said what the next step is for Hezbollah and for Lebanon. But certainly everybody is waiting for some sort

of indication. The expectation is that even if he doesn't say it, that perhaps Hezbollah will broaden the so-called rules of engagement. Those are

the unwritten understandings between Israel and Hezbollah, that a certain amount of cross border fire will be tolerated by both sides as long as it

does not go too far in or focus on civilians.

Until now what we've seen is the fatalities on both sides have been largely military. We have seen Hezbollah and Israel are basically focusing on one

another's military infrastructure. And by and large avoiding, as much as possible, civilian fatalities -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Fascinating, Ben. You have listened to many a speech of Hassan Nasrallah in the past. We'll get more from you in about 30 minutes

time. Get back and listen to this speech. I'm interested to hear what you think of the tone of the speech as well, so we'll catch up with you a

little later in the show. Thank you, Ben.

Well, more now on the U.S. secretary of state's visit to Israel. Antony Blinken addressing reporters just moments ago after meeting with Israeli

leaders. He emphasized Israel's right to defend itself while describing in vivid detail images he's seen today provided by Israel's government of the

Hamas massacre of October the 7th that showed terrorists killing an Israeli father as his young children looked on. Blinken also says Israel must do

more to keep civilians and Gaza safe.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians. We have been clear that as Israel conducts this

campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters. It matters because it's the right and lawful thing to do. It matters because failure to do so plays

into the hands of Hamas and other terror groups.

There will be no partners for peace if they are consumed by humanitarian catastrophe and alienated by any perceived indifference to their plight.


ANDERSON: Well, after visiting Israel, Blinken will head to Jordan as the U.S. tries to prevent this war from expanding into a wider Middle East

conflict. That's a real risk and concern here around the region. A diplomatic source says Jordan's foreign minister will demand an immediate

cease fire.

Well, inside Gaza, another night of intense aerial bombardments. Israel's military says its ground forces are destroying Hamas infrastructure above

and below ground, and have encircled Gaza City.

And the slow but steady evacuation of foreign nationals from Gaza continues to the south. An Egyptian border official tells us more than 350 have

arrived in Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing. Today it feels like about 400 is capacity at this point. Of course we will continue to see

those evacuations in the days to come.

CNN correspondent Gustavo Valdes is in Tel Aviv.

Let's concentrate on what we've heard from Antony Blinken today. He's got two messages, reaffirming support for Israel's right to self-defense and a

warning about how it goes about that. We also know he'll push Israel for a pause in airstrikes in Gaza to allow for mediation. What have we heard from

Blinken and the Israelis in response to that message?

GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So certainly Blinken seemed to be walking a fine line. That message from the American government, that they

stand behind the Israelis trying to defend themselves.


But really highlighting that how the response is being seen outside the region. He warns that if Israel does not do something to help the civilian

population in Gaza public opinion can turn quickly. He called for this pause in the attacks. But the Israeli Defense Forces are saying that they

will not consider any pause if this action is not followed, does not include the release of the hostages being held by Hamas.

It's not clear how this pause would be executed, however Blinken in the press conference said that between the Israeli government in the U.S. they

have found some ways to at least try to get some aid to the hospitals in Gaza and try to assist the civilians there. So clearly Blinken trying to

make sure that Israeli knows that there is support for their actions. But also warning them that they have to do something to help the civilian

population. He said this is something that the world needs to see and to make sure that people don't forget the horrors of October 7th.

ANDERSON: Gustavo, good to have you.

And let's just be quite clear what we understand to be going on as far as this pause -- this call for a pause is concerned. Diplomatic sources

telling me earlier on the call will be for a period of pause during which the mediators working on negotiating the release of these prisoners can

work through a process that might get those talks across the line.

This is about a period of pause, military pause, to try and affect the release of these hostages followed, as I understand, by a further pause if

indeed they can get these hostages out. Of course any pause in military action will help enormously. On the ground, as far as humanitarian supplies

and access is concerned.

Thank, you sir.

And Emirati official has called for diplomatic efforts and cooperation to be stepped up to try to make sure the Israel-Hamas war does not spread to

other countries. That is a message which is being echoed around this region.

Noura Al-Kaabi, a UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told a conference in Abu Dhabi extremists could take advantage of the conflict,

potentially leading to more violence.


NOURA AL-KAABI, UAE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The risk of regional spillover and further escalation is real, as is the risk that

extremist groups will take advantage of the situation to advance ideologies that will keep us locked in cycles of violence.


ANDERSON: To underscore, Blinken is in Israel today. He goes on to Jordan where King Abdullah as understand it will call again for an immediate

ceasefire. We've heard that from the Foreign Minister and indeed from King Abdullah throughout this conflict. And those calls will be heard again by

Anthony Blinken when he gets to Jordan.

Well, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza remains dire. A doctor at Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital says low fuel stocks have plunged wards into darkness and

cut off major basic functions like oxygen generation. Another doctor says the hospital will turn into a mass grave without more electricity.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent reports at least 21 people, mostly women and children were injured from shattered glass and falling ceilings

when Israeli airstrikes hit near the Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City. This facility provides shelter to 14,000 displaced people, according to the

hospital's director. CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment.

I want to bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz now from London -- Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, and you just spoke about that hospital that is, of course, caught in the crossfire. Very much in the

battle zone now that Israeli troops say they have completed their encirclement of Gaza City. Also, in the battle zone are U.N. shelters, U.N.

schools that are being used for displaced people to house them. The U.N. saying that at least 50 of its facilities have been impacted by Israeli

firepower. And more than 20 people killed.

Take a look at the story of just a couple of those schools that have been impacted, Becky.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The victims of Jabalya victimized yet again. Some of the survivors of Israel's bombardment took shelter here, a U.N. school,

only to be cut down.


Desperate moments after an Israeli strike nearby, shown on social media. This is one of four schools in Gaza impacted by strikes in a 24-hour

period, the U.N. said. In total, housing some 20,000 displaced people. Many of them frightened young children.

What did we do, this boy cries. We did nothing wrong.

The living conditions in these shelters are unbearable. But families come here for safety. That too is gone.

Bring me my son, bring me my son, this father screams. It's unclear if his child is dead or alive.

Three straight days of airstrikes in Jabalya have wrought horror and bloodshed. CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on the latest

attacks. Israel says it is targeting Hamas infrastructure in this densely populated residential area, and says it killed a senior Hamas commander

with its strike on Tuesday.

But with scores of civilians believed killed, the U.N. Human Rights Council warns what you see here are disproportionate attacks that could amount to a

war crime. Gazans don't understand why the world can't stop this.

We keep pulling out bodies. Small children, women. It is a catastrophe, this man says. If the countries of the world had any shame we wouldn't be

in this situation.

And more suffering is all but certain. Israeli troops are inching closer and as ground forces backed by near constant air raids move towards central

Gaza, the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians hang in the balance.

The IDF has warned all residents in the north of the strip to leave, an order deemed inhumane and impossible by the United Nations. So many remain

in the crossfire.

Where's the world, this woman screams. Our children are being torn up before our eyes.

And with the death toll mounting, pressure is growing on the U.S. and Israel to stem the violence.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, Becky, the U.N. estimates there is some 300,000 to 400,000 civilians that are inside Gaza City. As I mentioned, the Israeli military

has completed its encirclement of that city. That's one of the issues, of course, that's at the top of the agenda for Secretary of State Antony

Blinken's meetings today. He is going to be sure to raise the issue of the growing humanitarian crisis on the ground.

But the fear is that for these many, many families, as these airstrikes, the intensifying ground assault continues that only more death and

suffering is certain -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you, Salma.

We have a lot more news after this short break, folks. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: A correspondent for Palestine TV was killed along with 11 members of his family in southern Gaza on Thursday. According to the Palestinian

Authority-run network, they died as a result of an Israeli airstrike. Mohammad Abu Hattab had been reporting live outside a hospital in Gaza. The

network says the attack that killed him and his family came 30 minutes later after he had gone home.

And there's been no comment from the Israeli Defense Forces and CNN was not able to independently confirm the source of the blast. Palestinian TV has

not released any evidence linking it directly to the Israeli military.

Since the start of the current conflict, though, 36 journalists have lost their lives. A statement by the Committee to Protect Journalists says 31 of

them were Palestinian, four Israelis, and one Lebanese.

Jodie Ginsberg joins me now. She is the president of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

And Jodie, thank you for joining us. The Israel-Gaza war, as I understand, it has become the deadliest period for journalists covering conflicts since

CPJ began documenting fatalities. And that was back in 1992. That really says a lot, doesn't it?

JODIE GINSBERG, PRESIDENT, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: Yes. This is absolutely unprecedented. We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, as

you say, have been documenting attacks on journalists for more than 30 years, and we have never seen anything like this. Just for context, last

year we documented 68 deaths of journalists and media workers globally in 12 months.

In less than four weeks, we have seen 36 deaths of journalists. It's an absolutely impossible situation for journalists trying to report out of


ANDERSON: As I understand it, now that Israeli forces are, what, a week into their ground offensive into Gaza, they have told news agencies that

they cannot guarantee the safety of journalists working there. Is that correct?

GINSBERG: That's correct. So a number of news agencies, including Reuters and AFP wrote to the Israeli Defense Force asking how they could guarantee

the safety of journalists and the response was that was not possible, that it was up to the news agencies to do that. But as you heard earlier in the

report, the U.N. has said that the orders for people to leave is essentially impossible to fulfill.

It means that there's literally nowhere for journalists or anyone else to escape to a place of safety. And that puts all of those trying to cover the

conflict at great risk.

ANDERSON: What are you calling for at this point?

GINSBERG: Well, the key thing I think that's important to understand is that journalists are civilians, and should be treated as such in any

conflict. And that we need to see their safety guaranteed. We want to make sure that journalists can report safely, and also we don't see any

censorship of news outlets that have been proposed emergency regulations for example in Israel that would allow the Israeli government to shut down

for news outlets it was suspected of broadcasting anything threaten the national security.

It's really important in this moment where we have huge amounts of mis and disinformation on the war proliferated, that we are able to have

journalistic media reporting on what's happening.

ANDERSON: How far does an organization like yours go in seeking some sort of accountability for these deaths?

GINSBERG: So that's something we will be seeking. Obviously, in the heat of war, it's very difficult to identify what's happening. We've called for

investigations into killings. It's a pattern that we've seen, unfortunately, over the past two decades in this region. We've seen a high

number of journalist deaths, 22 killings by Israeli Defense Forces over the past 20 years. And there's been no accountability in any one of those


So certainly we will be looking for full investigation into these killings and for those responsible to be held accountable.

ANDERSON: I think it's important, just to also point out, that while this death toll is awful, any death of any civilian of course is awful be it

journalist or anybody of any profession. So I don't want to -- I'm talking to you specifically about journalists because, you know, I don't want to

identify those as any more important to a certain extent. I think that's important. But this deadly toll, as I understand it, is also coupled with

harassment, detentions, and other reporting obstructions.


And this isn't just in Gaza. This is across the West Bank and other parts of Israel and beyond. Correct?

GINSBERG: Yes. You're absolutely right. And you're right to say that any death is a tragedy. This is a terrible, terrible situation. Journalists

play a key role in any conflict. We always say the first casualty of war is these journalists play a really key role in helping us understand what's

happening and clarify what's happening, and that's why they play a key role just as doctors or anyone else does in this kind of conflict.

But, yes, you're right, we're seeing harassment of journalists online, when people consider them to be taking a particular position, simply for stating

what's happening. We're seeing arrests in places like the West Bank, harassment of journalists, even in Israel we've seen police approach and

take out at gunpoint the journalists from the BBC Arabic Service. So there's certainly heightened tensions outside of Gaza, and a huge number of

threats to journalists for doing their jobs.

ANDERSON: We are seeing harassment online at a pace and in a scope that we simply have never seen before. We know that social media, you know, is

incredibly polarizing. We know that it is a very deep black hole at times. What is your organization doing to try and mitigate that? Because after

all, the amplification of content on social is massive.

GINSBERG: Yes, absolutely. And this is now on a scale like we've never seen before. I mean, over the past certainly decade we've seen a rapid

escalation in the amount of harassment of journalists online in all sorts of situations, including in democracies of political journalists, sports

journalists, of weather reporters. But this particular conflict, it's escalated at a scale we haven't really seen it before.

What we can do is continue to stress the importance of journalism and why it matters. We offer additional security and safety advice to journalists

who come to us asking for that kind of support, and those are things that we can do to try and at least keep journalists safe in this environment.

ANDERSON: Good to have you. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

I'm Becky Anderson in Doha, in Qatar. We'll have more news after this short break. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Doha. More now on our top story.

The U.S. secretary of state back in Israel pressing the Netanyahu government to protect civilians in Gaza. Antony Blinken restated the U.S.

position that Israel has an obligation to defend itself, but a source tells CNN Blinken is pushing Israel for a pause in airstrikes on Gaza.

We've also been monitoring a speech by the Hezbollah secretary general. Hassan Nasrallah has just finished speaking, talking for nearly 90 minutes.

He said the possibility of the Lebanese front escalating into broad bottle is a realistic option. Meantime, the Israeli prime minister came out and

warned against an escalation to the north.

For more on both of these developments, let's go back to senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman in Beirut.

Ben, what do you make of what you just heard in the first instance from the Hezbollah chief?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we heard was a very long speech. But he did not actually lay out concrete plans or steps that Hezbollah is going to take.

He sort of in general said that what they hope for, their goals are an end to the war in Gaza. But also to ensure that the -- what he calls the

resistance, Hamas, and the other groups in Gaza, emerge victorious.

He had a lot to say about the Americans who he held directly responsible for Israel's war on Gaza because of their political, military and

diplomatic support for Israel. But he mentioned, for instance, the two U.S. carrier groups in the Eastern Mediterranean that have been deployed there

since the 7th of October. And he said they don't scare us now and they never scared us in the past.

He called upon Arab countries that have relations with Israel to withdraw their ambassadors, to stop trading with Israel, to cut off all ties. But in

terms of concrete steps, no, he remains -- he's talking about options. But that has sort of been the discourse we've been hearing from others in the

so-called axis of resistance.

We've heard, for instance, the Iranian foreign minister talking about maybe they will do something if red lines will be crossed. So at this point,

we're sort of where we were when we started, at the beginning of this speech. Still waiting to see what Hezbollah's next steps we'll be.

Now, the speech began with a volley of celebratory gunfire and it ended with a volley of celebratory gunfire. But now it's quiet again. Just,

Alessandro Gentile, my cameraman, sticking the camera out the window. As you can see, not a lot of people in the streets. But by and large it's gone

back to Beirut, as it might be on a normal Friday evening, though somewhat more subdued.

Many people here were very worried about what this -- what would come with the speech. I know many Lebanese have actually left the country before it

happened, just to be out of the way. Others have gone up into the mountains to safer places. Others have stored up food and water in the event that

something bad will follow the speech. But at this point, I think, as I said, we're back to where we started -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, and he described the October 7th massacre by Hamas as 100 percent Palestinian. Somewhat distancing himself perhaps from what happened

on October the 7th. I mean, we've heard the same sort of rhetoric from the Iranians of course. I am really interested, just briefly, in what you

thought of the tone of the Hezbollah chief's speech?

WEDEMAN: It was typical of his tone, a sort of -- he did get fairly animated at times. But he's accustomed to these sorts of speeches, and he's

very well aware that it's not just here in Lebanon that people are watching this speech.


Everywhere, everyone in the Middle East is watching this speech including the Israelis. And he was very clear that, you know, he was sending messages

to the Israelis, that, you know, we don't know what his next plan is, but he wanted to make sure that all of those who listened understood that

Hezbollah is playing a part in this war. That we've seen yesterday they've claimed 19 strikes. They've lost 57 of their fighters.

He claimed that as a result of Hezbollah's actions on the border, it's essentially tied down a third of the Israeli army along Israel's northern

border in anticipation of possible military action by Hezbollah. So it was a sort of classic Nasrallah speech, and we will have to simply see what

comes out of it in terms of any changes on the situation on the border between Israel and Lebanon.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Ben, good to have you. Thank you.

And we'll have more news after this short break. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Israel says its military is advancing in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces say ground troops are destroying Hamas infrastructure and have

surrounded Gaza City. Well, the IDF stresses its goal is to locate and destroy Hamas tunnels. Israel says 35 -- sorry, 25 of its soldiers have

died in the Gaza operation.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is near the Gaza border in the Israeli city of Sderot. He joins us now live.

And, Jeremy, we know the Secretary of State Antony Blinken was coming to Israel to press for a pause in military operations. He said, in order to

allow, as we understand it and through diplomatic sources, you know, an opportunity for mediation to get these hostages released and, indeed, for

more humanitarian supplies and protection of civilians.

Benjamin Netanyahu said that's not going to happen unless the hostages are released immediately and the defense minister has echoed Benjamin

Netanyahu's words. So can we expect anytime soon to see a pause?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, for now at least it appears that those appeals by the U.S. secretary of state have been rejected by the

Israeli wartime cabinets including the Israeli prime minister, who as you just mentioned said moments ago that Israel is, quote, "objecting to a

temporary cease-fire which does not include freeing all of our hostages."

And so it seems clear that at least from the Israeli point of view, for the moment, again, this could all change, but for the moment at least the

Israeli perspective is that a pause in hostilities, a cease-fire, whatever you want to call it, is not going to happen unless Israeli hostages are

released from the Gaza Strip.


Now as you know very well, Becky, because you've been reporting on this very closely for days now, those efforts are very much ongoing. But they

are also very complex and very fraught with the possibility of them effectively being thwarted.

We know that those talks have been ongoing for some time now, but they are very complex discussions, and even when it appears that they are on the

brink of some kind of a deal, we have watched in the past that those talks have fallen apart completely in the past. So we will see how it works

moving forward.

But the secretary of state made very clear that he is still pushing the Israelis to allow for some kind of humanitarian pause to allow for more

humanitarian aid to get into Gaza. He also pressed the Israelis on allowing fuel to go into Gaza, in particular for those hospitals in Gaza who say

that they have -- they are running out of fuel. Some of those hospitals have already had to cease operations because of a lack of fuel to power

their generators.

The Israeli position for now, though, again, appears to be rejecting those efforts. We will see if that changes at some point in time.

Meanwhile, Becky, Israeli forces are very much pressing forward with their operation. As you mentioned, they say that they have encircled Gaza City.

But at the same time, even as they say that they are entering Gaza City, they are also still fighting very much actively behind me right now in the

northeastern most city of Beit Hanoun in Gaza, which tells us that even as Israeli forces move deeper into the Gaza Strip, into Hamas's stronghold of

Gaza City, they are also still very much dealing with Hamas militants north of that city, where Israeli forces made their initial entry six days ago --


ANDERSON: Jeremy Diamond, it's right on the border there in Sderot, in Israel. It's good to have you, sir.

So just the bottom line to round this out, the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken coming with a message, pause, in order to get this mediation, this

period of calm for mediation, to get these hostages released. Pushing for more fuel to be brought in, pushing for more humanitarian supplies. But at

this point, the Israeli prime minister and indeed the defense minister have said no pause without the release of those hostages. So we'll see how

things progress.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel, at present he will go on to Jordan where he will be told once again by the king there, King Abdullah of

Jordan, that they are demanding an immediate ceasefire in this conflict.

Thank you for watching. "WORLD SPORT" with Andy Scholes is up next.