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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Heads To Israel As Tensions Rise Over Gaza Hospital Blast; Protests Break Out Across Mideast After Gaza Hospital Blast; OutFront At Israeli Military Base Filled With Seized Hamas Weapons; Hamas Social Media Following Skyrockets Since Attack. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, live from Israel, President Biden now on his way here, stepping into a tinderbox growing more volatile by the hour. Hundreds feared dead after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza and protests already immediately overnight here tonight spilling out into the street across the region.

Plus, dispatches from Gaza. The brave CNN journalist sending his daily updates to us. Well, he and his family have fled northern Gaza and are now desperate for clean water. You'll see that.

And Hamas' arsenal. I'm going to show you firsthand the massive amounts of weapons that Hamas used to pull off the deadly attack in Israel. You'll see for yourself.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. I'm Erin Burnett live from Tel Aviv tonight.

And we begin with the breaking news. President Biden right now is in the air on his way to Israel and his entire trip is now in flux. A high-stakes crucial meeting with Arab leaders canceled. The reason is this horrific scene, the situation here in the Middle East at a possible dangerous tipping point after hundreds of people were killed in a strike at a hospital in Gaza.

Now, those numbers are according to the Palestinian heath ministry. And no matter what the true toll is, this is a horrific loss of human life.

The hospital was being used to shelter thousands of families who had been fleeing from the north to the south of Gaza. And already 11:00, 12:00 p.m. -- a.m., 1:00 a.m. 2:00 a.m. now, protests across the region, this was the scene in the West Bank where police were forced to use tear gas to break up the crowds.

And our Ben Wedeman reporting just now that hundreds of protesters are in Beirut. This is at 1:30 a.m. they hear about this happening an hour or two before and gather in the streets there in a square that leads towards the U.S. embassy. Ben reports that they've been trying to break through security gates.

A canceled summit, protests, blame being cast no matter what the facts turn out to be. And at this hour, it is still unclear who is responsible for that explosion at the hospital.

The Palestinian foreign ministry points the finger at Israel, calling it a, quote, cold-blooded massacre. But Israel categorically denies it's responsible, tonight putting out a video they say shows it was a failed rocket launch by another terror group, not Hamas, one called the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. IDF, in fact, says 450 rockets by this particular group at Israel have actually landed within the Gaza Strip since this war began ten days ago.

What we do know is that hundreds of innocent lives were lost, and we have new images coming in right now from that strike's aftermath. These are graphic, they are horrible. It's a disgusting loss of human life, bloodied bodies, people who were seeking refuge. Some who appear to be children. It would make sense. This was a place families sought refuge as they were moving to the south of Gaza.

This attack adding to the humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the Gaza Strip. Food, fuel, water dwindling fast. You'll hear from our producer Ibrahim in just a moment about that. Doctors inside the 25- mile-long strip tell CNN that they're having now, do operations without painkillers because they simply do not have them.

Now, remember, this latest violence comes after Hamas fighters stormed Israel's border two Saturdays ago, two Saturdays ago already since this all began, slaughtering 1,400 people and taking 200 people hostage.

I went to an Israeli base to see what they found, what Hamas weapons soldiers found from that attack. And it was antitank mines, grenades, shoulder-fired rockets and so much more.


BURNETT: It just seems like it's everywhere.

IDF SOLDIER: It's just everywhere. It's like a horror movie. You can go around the Gaza Strip. Our villages looks like the battlefield. You can see grenades and rockets all over the place.


BURNETT: We're going to have much more of what we saw at that base in just a moment. But, first, our reporters are standing by in these early hours of Wednesday morning with the breaking developments tonight. Sara Sidner is here with me in Tel Aviv. Nic Robertson is live along the Israel Gaza border.

And Matthew Chance is in northern Israel tonight along that Lebanon border.


I want to begin here with Sara Sidner.

And, Sara, as just proof of how delicate the situation is, how on edge a hospital is hit, and this entire region immediately erupted in protests.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and, of course, it did because if this is deliberate, it's a war crime. And if it is an accident, it is the worst tragedy that we have seen so far in Gaza of all the things that have happened of the hundreds of people that have already been killed.

A hospital is to all people everywhere, a sacred place, a place where you're supposed to be healed and to be in that hospital and end up losing your life because of a strike is something that is, for most people, unfathomable, although we see it in war all the time, unfortunately.

There is something people refer to as the fog of war. Immediately, the response from Hamas who is governing Gaza blamed Israeli airstrikes, and almost immediately after that, Israel said, look, this is not us, this was actually not the Hamas fighters, the Al Aqsa brigade, but indeed the Islamic Jihad fighters who are linked and backed by Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, generally speaking, and some folks in Syria have backed Islamic Jihad.

I spent in time with them years ago, and they feel the same way as Hamas. They do not think that Israel should exist. They think that this should be an Islamic state. They do not follow the Oslo Peace Accord and don't want to see them come to fruition.

So, at this point in time, they are being blamed by Israel. Israel says, look, we have video proof. At one point, they tweeted out the video, but then the IDF took it down. An ambassador tweeted the video and then they took it down. But Israel, we're hearing from now, the IDF saying we have proof, you'll have that in your inbox very shortly, we will wait for that.

But in the meantime, it doesn't matter right now to the families who did this, it matters that their loved ones had been killed at a hospital, which, by the way, the Palestinians are saying was also being used as a center for evacuees because it's in Gaza where people were trying to get to safety so they went to the hospital to find safety, and here this horrible thing happened. It is blown to pieces.

BURNETT: It is just horrible and whatever facts come out, of course, many will believe what they believe, but, of course, Sara, you have spent so much time in Gaza. Sara has spent an extraordinary amount of time there over the years.

I want to go to Nic Robertson in Sderot, which is near the Gaza border.

And, Nic, I know a house right next door to you was struck today in these ongoing rocket attacks. What happened?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. There were still rocket attacks coming in on Sderot coming from Gaza. There were a number in the afternoon. These came in just after dusk I think it was. There were two impacts further away, and then that impact that was very, very loud, and we realize that it was quite close to our location.

Now, we went to see the house, the destruction you can see that the rocket had punched all the way through one wall, out through another wall, the tailfin of the rocket was sort of lying outside in a hallway. You could see the windows, the doors were blown open. Huge destruction inside of this house.

Fortunately, no one in the house at that time, you just heard that explosion there, that was an airstrike, I think. In Gaza I hear the fighter jet flying away. We've been hearing those in the last couple of minutes. What we're beginning to see is that the rockets sort of coming from Gaza are able to land here in Sderot.

Most of the civilian population has left. There's about only about 4,000 people left here out of an original 40,000. So, a lot of people have gone. But there were still people here in danger, and those rockets are really a reminder for them that they are effectively almost on the front line of this war.

BURNETT: Well, they are, and you are, Nic, and, of course I know the story is not about the reporters, but you are there taking incredible risk, and that is so close and it gives people a sense of just the randomness and the possibility of a loss of human life.

So, Nic Robertson, thank you very much. We are so glad that you are safe tonight.

And a retired Israeli general, amid the growing tensions here, who was the head of operations for the IDF, I had a chance to speak to him. He says the blast at the hospital doesn't slow anything down when it comes to Israel's war planning, that it will not affect that.

I first spoke to General Israel Ziv last week when we told you about his incredible story. He directly took on Hamas terrorists during the surprise attacks, armed only with a pistol, the one that you see him showing me right there in this video.


Just moments ago I asked him about the explosion at that Gaza hospital that reportedly has left hundreds dead.


ISRAEL ZIV, RETIRED GENERAL, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: What I've just heard two minutes ago that after a very clear and very deep check, the IDF spokesman said that it was a failure of a jihad rocket that was aimed to go to Israel and failed and blown in that hospital.

It's not the first time that it happens to them. Maybe it's first time in a hospital. But, as you know, we have on our radar every launch of every rocket. So we can check it. It's not something that we cannot rely on or assist them that we need

to guess. It's a clear one that we didn't shot the target. So we know that. But it's showing us, again, that both the Hamas and the Jihad, they don't care about their own civilians. And for them, you know, it was an opportunity to blame Israel, which now is proved as a fake news, of course. It's not going to stop Israel operation or war plan ahead.

BURNETT: General Ziv, the IDF's intelligence chief today made this significant statement, acknowledging that the Hamas attack and the hours and hours, of course, that it went on, was a, quote, intelligence failure. The head of Shin Bet, the domestic security service here in Israel took responsibility himself for the failure. He said the responsibility is on me. Is that enough?

ZIV: Look. I know very well and I know the Shin Bet. They're extremely serious people, very professional, and courageous people. Standing up and saying what he said, it's not simple, but the failure is a failure. There's no way to excuse that. It's absolutely failure. We'll have to investigate it.

BURNETT: And, on the war, obviously we are now ten days into this war. And there still has not been a mass ground invasion into Gaza. I was very interested today, General, earlier this morning, an IDF spokesperson said today that, quote, everybody's talking about the ground offensive. It might be something different.

Now, it sounds as if the IDF may be opening itself to alternatives. Do you see it that way, and do you think that there is a way for Israel to resolve this, to eliminate Hamas, which has been stated as the goal, the end goal, to do that without a mass ground invasion of Gaza?

ZIV: The simple answer is no. With a little bit more explanatory, first of all, we should not be in a hurry. We need to take the time. We don't have all the time maybe in the world, but we don't need to make any fast decision and act like this ground maneuverability.

What we are learning now is that they are preparing the ground, we are hitting more and more relevant targets. We still have the issue with the kidnapped people that we want to be more clear where they are, and to prepare better the forces to getting in.

It will not be anything like we have done in the past. And, first of all, we are not going to maneuver between streets or an urban area. We intend to demolish most of the areas, of course, after evacuating the population.

We are not intending to go into Hamas traps because it was preparing the ground for us. So we are not going to play to his hand. And we have our way with a lot of fire, a lot of fire, to do the job of demolish and erase every remnant of infrastructure of the Hamas.


That's the goal. BURNETT: All right, General Ziv, thank you very much. I appreciate

your time tonight, sir.

ZIV: Thank you, Erin.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Seth Jones. He served as an adviser to the commanding general of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan.

Chuck Pfarrer is also with me, former SEAL Team Six squadron leader who handled hostage rescues around the world.

Thank you both very much.

You know, Seth, I just want to emphasize to people here to give the exact time. I'm looking 2:15 a.m. here in Israel and in much of the region, even 3:15 a.m. in some places. And we are seeing protests ever since this hospital was struck, the protests started to gather. They started in Ramallah in the West Bank.

In Beirut, our Ben Wedeman reports that there are masses of grounds gathering near the -- and trying to break through security fences in a square that would lead towards the U.S. embassy.

What do you think all of this adds up to, Seth? In the context that the president of the United States is now in a plane coming over here, supposedly to meet with Israelis and Arab leaders, all of whom have dropped the summit, the Arab summit is over because of what's happening now at the hospital and on these streets.


One is that the environment that the operations are happening is an urban environment. There will be these kinds of civilian casualties. All one has to do is look at the operations in Mosul in Iraq or Fallujah or Grozny or even recently in some of the Ukrainian villages, where we've seen it. So, there's likely to be this.

But, second, overseeing all of that, we have significant tension between -- among a range of Arab populations as well. So we've got the prospects of potential spillover in Lebanon and Syria. We've seen demonstrations in Iraq. So, this is more than just an urban combat operation in Gaza. There's a lot of animosity that we're seeing. And I just spoke recently to senior U.S. FBI counterterrorism officials in the U.S. who are concerned about the second and third-order impacts in U.S. cities as well.

BURNETT: And, Chuck, we are now seeing these protests. We're cycling through some of the videos that we have, because, again, this strike on the hospital happened very late in the evening. When you might think people were in bed and people went out into the streets in Ramallah and also in Amman, Jordan, which is of course where the president of the United States was going to go tomorrow afternoon after visiting Israel for that summit with King Abdullah as well as the leaders of the Palestinians and Egypt.

How much does this complicate things, and how does this -- how does this tamp down at all?

CHUCK PFARRER, FORMER SEAL TEAM SIX MEMBER: (AUDIO GAP) proves otherwise. And I think that maybe the case. I've had a chance to look at the available video of the hospital. I can say that the explosion is not consistent with JDAM or a JDAM (AUDIO GAP). JDAM having a 2,000-pound explosive. JDAM ER, 250 pounds. The characteristics of the explosion, they weren't that big.

There was also a secondary burn after the explosion. Now, we had -- firing missiles over the hospital. What I'm comfortable saying with now is I do not think this was a precision strike munition that did that. Nevertheless, that's what's sticking now.

BURNETT: But just to be clear, it is what's sticking now, and, as you point out, the facts later may not matter. But when you say it was not precision, is that the same as saying you do not believe it was the IDF?

PFARRER: I am not willing to say it was the IDF at this point. And again, I'm basing that on the characteristics of the explosion and also if you have a precision strike weapon, why would you hit a hospital while the president of the United States was in the air to come to a meeting? Those are the things that don't add up.

BURNETT: And that -- right, it doesn't. And there would be no reason. There would be no fathomable reason why anybody would do such a thing.

Seth, you just heard General Ziv there, former operations commander for the IDF. And he said that this hospital explosion is not going to affect the timing or the speed of the Israeli plans of what's coming next, whatever that may entail. He believes it does entail a ground invasion. He also says there's no rush to do it.

What do you read into that?


JONES: Yeah. I think that's generally true. I think the Israelis have to be careful about the planning of this operation. This is a difficult operation, as he noted. But I do think it's important to look at some of the Israeli operations including in Gaza over the last several years, Operation Protective Edge or Cast -- Operation Cast Led.

These are all operations that were nowhere near as large as what the Israelis are planning right now. But these ones involved some type of boot on the ground, boots on the ground.

What we don't know right now is whether the Israelis are going to focus mostly on special operations types forces, how long are they going to focus mostly on northern parts of Gaza. But they have to go on the ground if they are going to do what the military objective, which is what they've said, is to destroy Hamas. You can not do that from the air.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Chuck, Seth, I appreciate your time tonight.

And our breaking news continues with these developments tonight. We are monitoring those protests, which have broken out across the Middle East after the explosion at the hospital in Gaza. Next, we are going to go live to southern Lebanon where we are seeing some of those.

Plus, we're going to go to an Israeli military base where we had access to the massive amount of Hamas weapons that were seized by Israeli forces after the deadly attack.


IDF SOLDIER: This is also based on a RPG29 warhead. We found those attached to our private vehicles, inside our village.

BURNETT: Like peoples' cars?

IDF SOLDIER: Yes, peoples' cars.


BURNETT: And Hamas is banned from most social media platforms, but there is one where its presence is well known and established and its popularity is surging. Now almost 700,000 followers.

This is an OUTFRONT special report, ahead.



BURNETT: We are back with breaking news tonight live from Tel Aviv. There are widespread protests breaking out across the Middle East right now after that deadly hospital blast in Gaza that we understand that hundreds are dead. We do not yet have a death toll.

This is what it looks like in Baghdad tonight. Baghdad, Iraq, a massive crowd, they are chanting anti-Israel slogans. And in Jordan, where security forces had to push hundreds of protesters away from the Israeli embassy. Jordan, of course, is where President Biden was going to go for a summit, canceled because of this strike.

In Lebanon, hundreds of protesters outside the U.S. embassy north of Beirut, and that is where Ben Wedeman is OUTFRONT. He is live from southern Lebanon.

Ben, you're seeing what's going on in Beirut right now. What is happening?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, shortly after the strike happened, or the incident happened at the hospital in Gaza, hundreds of people started to head in the direction of the American embassy, which is north of Beirut. And they gathered in a square at the bottom of the hill that leads to the American embassy, which is quite a ways up the hill.

But these Lebanese security forces set up barriers, as they often do when there are protests there. The crowd is being kept at the bottom of the hill. But they are trying to break through this barrier, the Lebanese security forces are trying to keep them back. They're firing tear gas at them. And this is ongoing.

At the same time, Hezbollah has called for a massive protest in Beirut tomorrow against what they say was an Israeli strike on the hospital in Gaza. In Ramallah, we're seeing scenes of protests as well and clashes with Palestinian security forces. People are obviously angry about what has happened and is happening in Gaza.

But they're also angry at the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who many consider ineffectual, passive during the current war in Gaza. And some of these are essentially collaborators with Israelis, they are calling for his downfall.

It's important to keep in mind just how fragile some of these Arab regimes are. And when you have a shock like what is going on in Gaza, many of these regimes feel shaken as well -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much.

And, as Ben said, all those crowds in Ramallah were gathering outside the residence of Mahmoud Abbas, he was the first to pull out of the summit that President Biden was going to go to in Amman. That was of course followed by King Abdullah and President El-Sisi.

These widespread protests are underway, President Biden is literally in the air on his way here walking into an extremely volatile situation.

Kayla Tausche is OUTFRONT. She is live tonight from the White House.

And, Kayla, what are you hearing about concerns for the president during this trip, especially given that while they would try to anticipate everything, they did not know that they would be dealing with widespread protests around the region because of a hospital strike and a summit that got called off as a result?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are always risks, Erin, which is one of the reasons why information around presidential travel to war zones, be it Ukraine or Israel, is always very tightly guarded. But they are calculated risks and members of the president's team made a decision last night that it was worth that calculated risk for him to travel to the region in a show of personal support for that personal diplomatic touch that, for the president, is so important.

And they made that decision knowing that something like this was a risk. Of course, the president making a decision late this afternoon, huddling with his national security team, his secretary of state, as they tried to assess information about that hospital blast. I am told from my sources that there has been no internal assessment about who is responsible for that and that it's simply impossible to know. One person telling me that there's simply fog of war, and that they

have to go on with this trip because it is so important for the president on several levels to show his support for Israel and for Israeli officials to assess on the ground exactly what the country needs before it makes its -- before the U.S. makes its supplemental request, and to keep a second front from opening up in this war, Erin, which is so incredibly important for stability in the region.


And, finally, to figure out any information they can about Americans who are trying to leave Gaza or Americans who are currently being held hostage by Hamas. John Kirby, the NSC spokesman, said earlier today that that was going to be one of the administration's key priorities as well.

BURNETT: All right. Kayla, thank you very much. And when you talk about those hostages, as President Biden heads here, there are Americans whose relatives are being held hostage by Hamas right now in Gaza. To think about what this strike means for them, they are awaiting any word on their loved ones.

And OUTFRONT now is Ben Raanan, whose 17-year-old sister Natalie, along with his stepmother Judith, were taken hostage while they were visiting family in Israel. They're from Chicago. Natalie and Judith are both American citizens.

And, Ben, I'm very sorry to be speaking with you under such circumstances. I do know your sister was here to celebrate. It was her recent graduation from high school. It was her grandmother's birthday. That's when the kibbutz Nahal Oz where they were came under attack around 6:00 a.m. two Saturdays ago.

Do you have any new information tonight about where they are?


Currently, we don't have any new information. It has been confirmed through both the Israeli government as well as the United States government that Natalie and Judith were taken from the guest house in Nahal Oz under gunpoint and transported somewhere. But, as of yet, we've received no actual idea of where they are as well as their condition.

BURNETT: I know that's got to be hard every day. You're just wondering and hoping and praying and perhaps swinging between hope and despair. Ben, I know the one thing you do have is that you know they were taken and you know that Natalie texted your dad during the attack, said she was hearing explosions and gunfire. But you know she was engaging with him at that time, that she had locked herself inside that house.

What more do you know about what actually happened that morning to them?

RAANAN: Unfortunately, that's all we know. We received a text from Natalie, my sister who I'm very pleased to say has the most amazing of heads on her.

And she communicated with my father in Hebrew that she was okay for the moment. She was locking herself in the guest house, I believe, with my step stepmother Judith. They were hearing guns and explosions and they were going to try to remain as quiet as possible.

From there, once the Israeli army was able to take back the city, there was broken glass on the inside of the guest house and both Natalie and Judith were missing at that point.

BURNETT: So, you've shared a picture with us of your sister ten years ago from the day she moved back to the United States from Israel, she had lived for some time there when she was a young child. And I know her birthday. I believe it's her 18th birthday is about a week from today. And we can just hope against hope that you will be back with her at that time, that this is not prolonged. But, of course, we have no idea.

Can you just tell us a little bit more about your sister, maybe something you would want her to hear, either now or one day later as you are reunited, as we pray you will be, to know you told her?

RAANAN: Yeah. You know, my sister is 17 years old. She just graduated from a suburb of Chicago high school, the current conversation within our family was what's the future going to hold, she knew she wanted to do something in art, whether that was fashion design or interior design or tattoo artistry.

And I think the real key thing is she's lived in America for a long, long time now. She's not a political person. She's not a soldier or a politician.

You know, the thing she cares about more than anything are her nails. I'm always telling her she has these ridiculous 9-inch nails. And I keep telling her that's a ban, that's not actually -- you don't actually have 9-inch nails.

And she's addicted to her phone and she's just a normal teen. And, in this moment, all we can do is pray and we can hope. And I guess my message to her is we're all here for you.


And I truly cannot wait until I hug you again and we can go on this journey of recovery with me, my father, my aunt, my uncle, your boyfriend, your sister, my autistic brother who doesn't even know what's happening now but loves my sister so dearly. I just can't wait to be with her and help her recover through this intense trauma.

BURNETT: And it will be.

Ben, thank you very much. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

RAANAN: Thank you. BURNETT: And, next, Hezbollah now calling for a, quote, day of

unprecedented rage. This one has been called a day of unprecedented rage against Israel as a militant group about to join a fight in Gaza. We have a special report, next, first here.

Plus, also this hour, we're going to get an up-close look at the arsenal that Hamas used during its assault.


IDF SOLDIER: This is a wire command operation system with a timer fuse. You can just power it up, the IED, the rocket, the mortar, whatever they want.


BURNETT: Breaking news, there are hundreds of protesters taking to the streets in Lebanon after 2:30 this morning clashing with security forces and trying to break through security barriers near the U.S. embassy north of Beirut. The protests coming just after a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza that happened late tonight, which Israel blames on a terror group called Islamic Jihad based in Gaza. But Hamas says Israel is responsible for.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah meantime is calling for a day of unprecedented rage against Israel.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.

And, Matthew, these protests appear to be a clear sign that Hezbollah's call is being heard. There are a lot of people who are eager to hear it.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, in the region generally, not just in Lebanon but in the countries surrounding Israel and in the greater Middle East. There's going to be a lot of anger, there's already a lot of anger being expressed by what's happened.

I suppose the big question from our point of view here in northern Israel is what impact is that day of rage going to have here where the security situation and tensions are already dangerously high.


CHANCE (voice-over): This is the mayhem on Israel's northern border, not yet a full-scale war with Hezbollah and Lebanon, but it's on the brink.


So far, exchanges have been limited. Hezbollah firing several antitank missiles like this one across the valley towards Israeli positions.

Israeli officials focused on destroying Hamas in the south, say they will also target Hezbollah if the Iranian-backed militia further intervenes.

We'll make sure we fin every confrontation, Israel's top military commander tells troops on a visit to the north. If Hezbollah makes this mistake and strikes us, he says, it will be destroyed.

The Israeli military says it's already killed four people, trying to infiltrate its northern border from Lebanon to plant explosives. Although, Israeli officials keen to avoid the second frontier, say the points of escalation has not yet been reached.

But Iran, which supports Hezbollah, says it won't stand by forever, as Israel pounds the Gaza Strip. We're not looking for an expansion of the war, says the Iranian foreign minister, but you can't tell Hezbollah to show restraint while allowing Israel to commit whatever crimes you like against civilians, he says.

It's hardly an assurance. And Israeli forces are evacuating border villages and bolstering northern defenses, acknowledging they face a powerful threat from a Lebanese militia with a vast arsenal of missiles, but ready to fight if necessary, they say, on two fronts.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, the latest casualty toll in that hospital blast, according to the Palestinian health ministry, which is, of course, controlled by Hamas, is that hundreds of people have died. And, again, the question tonight here in northern Israel is what the impact will be on the security situation here.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance, up along the northern Israel/Lebanon border.

And OUTFRONT now, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for Israel's Defense Forces. Colonel, of course, we meet again here, as we do almost every night. You've made it very clear that the IDF says this is a failed rocket launch by Islamic jihad that's responsible for the Gaza hospital strike, a strike in which, of course, hundreds appear to have died. Hamas, of course, claims Israel.

So, I know that you've said you shared information about the blast with the United States. Can you tell us what that evidence entails, at least what type of evidence it is, why you are so confident you can prove that this was Islamic jihad?

LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: Yes, good evening, or good night, Erin. Because of the magnitude and the sensitivity, and because what we see that our enemies are trying to do with this fake event, we did a thorough investigation, and it was the information was approved, was seen and personally approved by the highest levels of command in the IDF.

Now, what we have and what we are going to share, and this will happen momentarily, I suppose, in a few but within the hour, I hope, information will be out which shows two things. Both footage of the event from an Israeli UAV, and, very tellingly, a conversation between Hamas terrorists which was intercepted by us where they discussed the fact that, oh, there appears to have been a malfunction or an explosion by a rocket, which landed short inside the Gaza Strip. And that is, of course, very authentic and very telling of exactly what happened.

We also, to be on the safe side, cross-checked all our systems, first and foremost, to make sure that we did not fire in the area. And then we looked at the radar which tracks enemy incoming fire. And we saw that there was a barrage of rockets that was fired from mid- or northern Gaza Strip towards Israel, exactly at the time or a little bit before the explosion reportedly happened, which was caught in our systems, and perfectly corresponds with the information that we have.

BURNETT: All right. So you said you're going to be putting all that, as you said, hopefully in the next hour or so. And, of course, the world will be looking at that. The reality, of course, as you and I know, know that protests started in Ramallah, started in Amman, they started in Baghdad, they started in Beirut.


The summit was President Biden was supposed to have tomorrow with the crucial Arab countries involved was canceled.

How concerned are you about these protests and the fact that they may grow as they already have been called to by Hezbollah?

CONRICUS: Isn't it amazing how fast fake news spread and how much they're leveraged. Yes, it is concerning because we find ourselves, unfortunately, in a combustible situation where we have armed enemies all around us who appear to be extremely aggressive, and they want a confrontation. Gaza, Hamas, the organization that governs the Gaza Strip started it. And we are now in the early stages of defeating Hamas, which will be done eventually. And it appears that other terrorist organizations that are also under the Iranian umbrella want to do the same.

That is, of course, very dangerous for the region. We have made it very clear that this wasn't a war that we wanted, but it is a war that we intend to finish with the complete dismantling of Hamas as a military entity. And we have also said to Hezbollah and anybody else that we strongly encourage them not to attack.

And, today, the state of Lebanon and perhaps more so since these so- called demonstrations have erupted, they have to make a decision if they want to sacrifice their own country and security and safety for the sake of Hamas terrorists.

BURNETT: Colonel Conricus, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And, of course, we and the world await what he says Israel will soon be providing with that footage of intelligence interception.

Also tonight, food, water, power supplies dangerously low in Gaza. Humanitarian aid yet to arrive. Doctors saying they are operating without painkillers. Israel's national security minister says that no aid shall enter Gaza until Hamas releases the 199 known hostages in its custody. It comes as OUTFRONT has gotten an up close look at the vast arsenal

that Hamas deployed in its attack. Here's what I saw.


IDF SOLDIER: This is an RPG homemade by Hamas, RPG 7VR. This is homemade. You can see the symbol of Hamas over here. (INAUDIBLE) which means the troops of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.

BURNETT: Qassam brigades.

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah, Qassam Brigades. You have the engine of RPG-7 and the warheads of RPG-29. This is homemade in their factories in Hamas factories.



BURNETT: But everything here came from the attacks?

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah. All this was found inside our villages and bases inside Israel. We found these in private houses, in vehicles. We found IEDs attached to private vehicles, to tanks inside our bases all around the Gaza border.

BURNETT: And, grenades?

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah. This is grenades. Also, we can see the Islamic year 1437. Kataeb Qassam, again --

BURNETT: Qassam brigades, yeah.

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah, Qassam brigades.

BURNETT: And these -- some of these --

IDF SOLDIER: All of these are --

BURNETT: These were thrown into --

IDF SOLDIER: Into houses. You can see houses with fragmentation (INAUDIBLE). You can see --

BURNETT: And shelters where people have gathered, some of these --

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah. In some of the shelters when they managed to open only one window, they just threw grenades inside.


BURNETT: It's still striking to see the weapons, right? To see just the amount of the arsenal, and to learn about where and when they came from. You know, some dated back to the Soviet Union, but others recently from Iran.


IDF SOLDIER: You can see here Claymore (ph), which is anti-person IED. Shape charge, IED against tanks, land mines.

BURNETT: These are antitank?

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah. This is antitank land mines, which can you see TC- 6.

BURNETT: Some of this comes from other places?

IDF SOLDIER: Those RPGs are very old from the Soviet Union, like years ago. But most of the stuff came from Gaza Strip, factories. We also found last night --

BURNETT: Last night?

IDF SOLDIER: Just last night we found these mortars, 60-millimeter mortars made by Iran. You can see there's no symbol of Hamas over here. You can see, no symbol of Hamas. Everything else has the symbol of Hamas. This is 60-millimeter mortar. This is Iranian mortar. We know it.


BURNETT: And how do you know?

IDF SOLDIER: This is called AZ111 (ph), this is Iranian, I know it. This one is 60-millimeter mortar of Iran.

BURNETT: Of Iran. And this one you have last night --

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah, just last night. Yeah, (INAUDIBLE). It's called (INAUDIBLE), right near Be'eri, we found like 15 vehicles there, with dead bodies of terrorists.

BURNETT: Hamas vehicles?

IDF SOLDIER: Hamas vehicles they brought inside Israel. It has like hundreds of IEDs, rockets, mortars, weapons, AK-47, all around. And we found about 20 of these.

BURNETT: Are you able to tell from those when they were -- are you able to tell when they were manufactured? Trying to understand, anything that about when they came from Iran?

IDF SOLDIER: Yeah. I saw you can see it was 2018.

BURNETT: 2018? Yep. I see it. May 25, 2018. That would be the manufacture date?



BURNETT: Well, it was striking to see that. Just to give you a sense of the assault here. It wasn't just ragtag. We have been told that, but that is where you see it and feel at how planned it was.

And now, Hamas is banned from social media platforms but it's following on one app, Telegram, had surged. And Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT with that.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization in the United States, is banned by major tech companies like Meta and Google. But on telegram, the group is thriving, especially since the October 7 attack on Israel. One account jumping from 200,000 followers to almost 700,000 followers. Another from 160,000 to more than 400,000.

CAITLIN CHIN-ROTHMANN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Telegram has marketed itself as a platform for free speech where they don't take down content, which means that extremist organizations like Hamas are able to post messages on Telegram with very little fear of retribution.

O'SULLIVAN: Hamas has been using it for terror propaganda.

GRAHAM BROOKIE, ATLANTA COUNCIL: Their social media strategy especially on Telegram is very sophisticated. Things like calling for further violence, things like justifying their actions, including attacking a music festival of civilians. It also includes things like hostage videos.

O'SULLIVAN: If you live in the United States, chances are you never heard of Telegram, but it's a massive social media chat app with more than 800 million users globally. It's run by Pavel Durov.

BROOKIE: Pavel Durov, who is referred to as the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia.

O'SULLIVAN: Durov ran a popular social media platform but was forced out a decade ago when he wouldn't comply with Russian censorship requests, including refusing to shut down the page of Russian opposition Alexey Navalny.

PAVEL DUROV, ENTREPRENEUR: So, eventually, I had to step down as the CEO of the company and leave Russia.

O'SULLIVAN: Durov moved to Dubai where he now runs Telegram. Indeed, Telegram lacks rules and private encrypted messaging had made it attractive to terrorist and extremist groups around the world.

DUROV: We are not happy about ISIS or other extremist forces using Telegram. At the same time, we think that providing this kind of secure private means of communication for the masses for like 99.999 percent of people who have nothing to do with terrorism, means more than the threat that terrorists will always find the means of secure communication.

O'SULLIVAN: Telegram took some steps to remove ISIS content in the past, but after Hamas used Telegram last week to warn people about a missile strike, Durov wrote: Would shutting down the channel would it help save lives or would it endanger more lives?

On very step of this conflict since October 7 --


O'SULLIVAN: -- Hamas has used Telegram --


O'SULLIVAN: To tell this story.

CHIN-ROTHMAN: Yes, exactly. Telegram has allowed them to shape a narrative that's allowed them to spread messaging to very large audiences, not just Gaza, the audiences of the entire world.


O'SULLIVAN: And, Erin, really all the experts, observers we have been speaking to have pointed out just how much, how big the information war online especially around this conflict. It's really hard, especially if you open up a lot of your social media apps to figure out what is fact and what is fiction.

BURNETT: Amazing. Donie, thank you very much.

And next an update on the American pediatrician in Gaza who witnessed explosions firsthand. We've been telling you about her. Her husband, will be back with us next.



BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, drinking water meant for toilets. That is what our producer in Gaza is telling us. Ibrahim Dahman who bravely documented his evacuation to South Gaza for us, and an extraordinary piece that we aired last night, tonight telling us that the little water they have is not drinkable.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (translated): This water that we fill is for toilets, we don't have any drinkable water. There is no drinkable water in Gaza. We drink toilet water. Our children drink toilet water.


BURNETT: Unbelievable. He is enduring that with his young children, 7 and 11, and his wife.

This comes as there are so many people suffering like that in Gaza. American pediatrician Dr. Barbara Zind is one of them. She is stuck in Gaza at this hour, five miles from the border with Egypt waiting, hoping that border will open. Of course, you know we have spoken with her several times as she

attempts to flee Gaza, trapped there now. This is the 12th day that it has begun.

OUTFRONT now, her husband, Paul Preston.

And, Paul, speaking with you again here tonight, I know that I spoke with you last night. Get updates from her as you can. You got one today. And I know that it's getting dire with the water supply as well. Can you tell me what she told you?


Things are getting worse. She last texted me about 24 hours ago. At that time she said that there was no water for the toilets. But the U.N. compound is now rationing water. It's one liter per person per day, and they expect the water to last about three days.

BURNETT: Wow. I mean, just the clock -- the clock that is ticking. I don't know if you just heard our journalist, Ibrahim Dahman, who's also there. He compared the water to drinking water from a toilet, the water that they were able to get.

How concerned are you about this now, Paul?

PRESTON: Well, I am extremely concerned and frustrated. You know, a couple days ago, Secretary Blinken said that the border was going to open, which it did not, of course, and we haven't heard anything since from the State Department.

And the situation is only getting worse. I am thinking about my wife, how bad I feel for her. There is hundreds of American citizens in Gaza by the border, and my wife's situation is better than most of them. We haven't heard a thing from the State Department.

BURNETT: Paul, I can only imagine how frustrating that is. And I know you've talked about her resilience, her fortitude, and yet this is -- it is scary. You have to -- you know, be incredibly worried.

I am amazed you hasn't heard anything from the State Department. Have you heard anything from the U.N.? She has taken shelter there near that Rafah border crossing.

PRESTON: No, we have not. And the last that I heard was that, you know, there is all these different, you know, like Egypt, Israel, you know, Hamas, you know, fighting about the border. You know, in 2006 during the Lebanese-Hezbollah-Israel confrontation, people were evacuated by the marines and there were 2,000 or 3,000 of them, as I recall.

At some point, you might think, maybe send in the marines and evacuate them, the Americans, because everything is at an impasse right now.

BURNETT: Impasse. I know -- it just imagine your concern for your wife. Again, I know her fortitude. This is a dire moment and time really matters. My thoughts are with you, Paul. I hope you will hear from her son, and that we will all be getting some better news on that border despite, despite the expectations out there. Thank you.

PRESTON: My pleasure.

BURNETT: Thanks very much to all of you for joining us again for our special coverage.

"AC360" begins now.