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Israel Calls on Civilians in Gaza City to Leave Their Homes, Move 'Southwards" Today; Hamas Tells Gaza Civilians to Stay, Israel Orders Evacuation; Israel's Netanyahu: Hamas is Worse Than ISIS. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired October 13, 2023 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good day to our viewers in the United States, and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Friday, October 13th, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, and it is noon in Gaza, where we begin with breaking news.
Israel's military is warning all civilians in Gaza City to leave their homes and head south. It is a sure sign yet that the IDF plans to intensify its military operations inside Gaza after Hamas attacks on Israel left to 1,300 people dead, 27 of them Americans, and took more than 150 people hostage.
Hamas militants are telling Palestinians not to leave their homes. The U.N. calls a mass evacuation an impossible task. And the Palestinian health ministry says more than 1,500 people have died so far in Gaza after days of Israeli airstrikes and a total blockade without fuel, food or water.
Right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his way to Qatar after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan earlier. He spent Thursday in Israel as the U.S. pushes diplomacy to prevent the conflicts from widening, whilst trying to secure the release of hostages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it's difficult. The value that we placed on human life and human dignity, that's what makes this who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And moments from now, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. Meantime, police and cities across the U.S. are on high alert today after a former Hamas chief called for a global day of rage and support of Palestinians in Gaza.
Let's bring in CNN's Becky Anderson. She is standing by live in Jerusalem. And I do believe there may be a bit of a delay here, I just want to
warn our viewers about that. Becky, the U.N. says an evacuation which is impossible in a strip of land with this many people up to 1 million people being asked to move here. What's the motive behind the call and what happens next?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, what happens next is really the unanswered question, isn't it? And we spoke to the U.N. yesterday, in Gaza, who told us that in their facilities, they are now sheltering some 300,000 people. I mean, and it goes on.
So, if you consider that there are already displaced within Gaza, some quarter of the population, a population just over 2 million, you get a sense of the enormity of what is going on. Now we are hearing for the population to move south, quite frankly, people -- people here will, what -- where are they going? Where are they supposed to go?
There is much effort now about opening humanitarian corridors, way for people to travel out of the country, however that might happened and however that might be arranged by the international community, and indeed to get humanitarian aid in because, of course, there is a shortage of, and will soon be no fuel electricity, food and water because of the total siege, of Gaza, and lockdown by Israeli authorities.
So what is going on in the besieged compound, and the besieged enclave at present is absolutely dire. An d the reports we are hearing substantiate that.
And the next question, really what does this look like? What will any ground incursion look like, and what price will be paid by civilians. Let's remember again, there are hostages being held by Hamas militants in and around Gaza, 100 to 150 hostages.
So, you know, whatever the Israelis decide to do next, we have had numerous conversations now, with Israeli officials, this is an incredibly complicated situation for them to try. And effectively denigrate Hamas's infrastructure, and headquarters there whilst ensuring that both the hostages, wherever they are being held, are safe and indeed trying to ensure that there isn't the sort of collateral damage as it's often called, but let's call it as it is, civilian death isn't, you know, swinging in all of this.
A very difficult situation as we wake up to what is day seven of this conflict.
HUNT: Calling it impossible as we said.
Becky, can you tell us a bit about what we are anticipating today in terms of this expected day of protest or day of rage?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah. So, let me just establish where I am. I am in Jerusalem overlooking the old city here. And this is the Temple Mount, or Haram al Sharif, and I'm just going to walk away from my camera man can give you a sense of what we are seeing here.
This is the most contentious site in Jerusalem, and really, at the heart of this conflict. It is midday here, Friday prayers here at the al Aqsa mosque here on this side, which is Islam's third holiest site, will begin shortly. It is, of course, also, the holiest site in Judaism and revered by Christians.
Now, this site was captured by the Israelis in 1967, from Jordan and since then, there has been this delicate status quo about who can visit this site, or who can access the site. Anybody can visit, but only Muslims can pray here. And so, the question is today, that will give you more context of this, but this hour the question is, who will be allowed by Israeli authorities, by Israeli soldiers to actually access this site.
In the past, there has been for, example, an age restriction, any man over the age of 45 not able to access it. So we are being told it is selective access today. But we just need to wait to see how this develops.
So let me just give you a little bit of context for this. There are reports that settlers came on this compound during the Sukkot holidays. Also in the recent years, the Israeli army stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque, leading to clashes in this compound. And this really, if you talk to Palestinians, is at the absolute sort of heart of this conflict.
It is the cause for their grievances in the West Bank and in Gaza. So, clearly, an incredibly important site here, what goes on here has a huge impact in what happens around this wider region. Hamas at the beginning of this monstrous attack a week ago name-checked Al Aqsa. They said it is amongst other, things it is a desecration, as I described it, of Al Aqsa, which lies behind the reason for their subsequent actions -- Kasie.
HUNT: Well, anyone who visits that side can absolutely feel the tension, even in times of peace. And right now, obviously, we are so far from that.
Becky Anderson, thank you very much for starting us off today. I really appreciate it.
And coming up here, Israel's new narrative on Hamas after the terror attacks last weekend. Plus, House Republicans are back to square one in their search for a speaker. We'll tell you what happened last night.
HUNT: Welcome back.
Hamas is telling Palestinians to stay in their homes after Israel issued a sweeping evacuation order four 1.1 million people, that is the entire population of the northern part of the Gaza Strip. It comes as signs are growing of Israel's massive mobilization for a potential ground invasion of Gaza, highway aligned with military vehicles, and more than 300,000 reservists are amassing along Israel's southern border.
Let's bring in retired U.S. Army general officer, Dana Pittard.
General, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
We saw some pictures there and we outline on what's going on here. What are these evacuation orders say about what's coming?
MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Good morning, Kasie. I think what it shows is that the Israeli army is ready to move in soon, with the attack against Gaza and Gaza City. It also shows that the Israeli army wants to separate Hamas from the populace that they're hiding behind. Hamas, of course, would like the population to stay, because they're using them with human shields in many ways.
So that's where we stand right now.
HUNT: Yes, it's a very, very tough situation. I mean, we spent a lot of time talking to our viewers about the urban nature of a terrain, the tunnels, the potential booby traps that have been set up for any of these routes into Gaza.
What do you think is realistic in terms of moving these people out of Gaza? I mean, the U.N. is calling it impossible. But, at the end of the day, honestly, it's choosing between two bad options for these people.
PITTARD: Yes, in many ways, it's certainly wickedly complex. I have been to Gaza a couple times over the years, and Gaza City in particular, and it will be difficult. But I would not say impossible. The movement of civilians to the south, and Egypt, to Rafah is certainly a possibility, is Egypt prepared for that? The answer is no.
Will it be a catastrophe as far as humanitarian support? Could be. But it is probably better than having the populace exposed to Israeli gunfire as they go through and move through Gaza city.
HUNT: Yeah, and that's a very fair point. So we know that the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who I understand you served with, or under, is about to address the media during his trip to the region. He is, we're looking at the podiums there where he's expected to appear with the Israeli Defense Minister Gallant. What do you think the mission is for him? Obviously, Antony Blinken, secretary of state, was there with a slightly different mission just yesterday, as we prepare for this assault, or likely assault I should say?
PITTARD: Well, again, Secretary Austin certainly has a lot of experience in the region back when he was a CentCom commander, and when he was a ground commander in Iraq, the initial fight against ISIS in 2014.
What Secretary Austin is going to be doing is really putting behind what Secretary Blinken said, and that is that America's got Israel's back and to ensure that the region understands that. So that will take some show of power, the movement of one carrier strike group, as a second one, coming to the area is a part of that, but there would be other movements like that.
Also facilitating logistically resupplies to the Israeli defense force, other things like that. That is what I believe Secretary Austin will be doing.
HUNT: All right. Retired U.S. Army Major General Dana Pittard, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.
PITTARD: Thank you, Kasie.
HUNT: All right. Just ahead, what would Gaza look like without Hamas? That's next.
HUNT: It's Israel's new narrative about Hamas after the surprise attacks last weekend, Hamas is worse than ISIS.
Here is CNN's Sam Kiley.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas is ISIS and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Benjamin Netanyahu has long compared Hamas to the vicious regime of ISIS that established obedience through mass murder, lavishly filmed to spread maximum terror. The Israeli prime minister's office published graphic teachers of dead babies on social media and bloodied crib following the Hamas invasion of civilian kibbutzim.
His outrage is harnessed to galvanize international support.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The brutality of Hamas, this blood thirstiness brings to mind the worst -- the worst rampages of ISIS.
KILEY: Israeli forces are poised to invade Gaza, ahead of ongoing air strikes that have killed at least 1,400 Palestinians already.
And the U.S. has an aircraft carrier standing by off the Israeli coast. More than 1,200 people killed by Hamas in last weekend's assault from Gaza, more than 200 were Israeli soldiers, the rest were civilians, many of them children, toddlers, and babies, inevitably inviting comparison with the reign of the so-called Islamic State. But Hamas has all long history of targeting the innocent, including
women and small children in suicide bombs especially. But it has no pretensions to an Islamic caliphate like ISIS.
How can you explain why Hamas even by the standards of Hamas, killed so many civilians, so many children, so many toddlers? Is there something that is a surprise?
MKHAIMAR ABUSADA, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AT AL AZHAR UNIVERSITY, GAZA: What happened now, killing civilians and killing children, I don't know why it happened even though that is not even compatible with Sunni Islam.
KILEY: Hamas, unlike ISIS, hasn't turned its atrocities into propaganda videos but it has threatened to execute hostages on television.
The movement is supported by Iran but many other governments in the region have banned the Hamas brand of political Islam.
In online press conference, a Hamas official attempted to disown the atrocities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were clear instructions from the top commander of al-Qassam brigades to avoid targeting civilians or killing them.
KARIN VON HIPPEL, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF RUSI: I'm not sure about the ISIS comparison, I think it's too early right now. But it's certainly the case that they may have been planning this for years, and thinking through what they can do because everything else they have tried hasn't worked. But, certainly, this is not going to work either. I think this will spell the end of Hamas.
KILEY: That's Israel's intent, but it's a prediction that's been wrong before.
Sam Kiley, CNN.
HUNT: All right. Let's talk now about what happens in that long contested region, the Gaza Strip, if Hamas is taken out.
CNN's Max Foster joins us live from London.
Max, good morning. Thank you for being here.
You know, I think that some people may not understand the way that this relationship works, or how -- I mean, Hamas is functionally the government in Gaza. We saw some government officials talking about their military arm, trying to claim that were some sort of disconnect. But the reality is they are kind of one and the same.
And we have a bit of news that just across from our Jeremy Diamond who says that the IDF is accusing Hamas of hiding behind other people of Gaza, and refusing, or telling them not to leave.
This is a dire governance situation for these people. And can you help explain how we got here?
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, Hamas is a militant group, but it's also political group with widespread support as a political group amongst Palestinians.
So that's what you have here. You also have a situation where Israel isn't just trying to suppress Hamas. It's trying to destroy it. If it is successful, it will be destroyed and, you know, you look at what's going to happen over the next days or weeks, it's going to be horrendous I think frankly for Palestinians.
But what happens if you do destroy Hamas. Well, you know, there is that added, isn't there, you destroy or kill one militant, and you create another one, and they maybe even more militant. And I think, frankly, at that point, it will be a moment for the soul searching for Palestinians, about what sort of governance they want going forward. There will be an alternative on the table to whatever comes out of the ashes of Hamas if there is another group that reflects it and is more militant, and that alternative will be created frankly at the negotiating table. America will be there, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, perhaps Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian authority, they will create an alternative version of a government for Gaza and Palestinians are going to have to choose, do they want what comes out of the ashes, or do they want that internationally recognized order that will come out of it.
It's -- you know, I'm not going to predict what's going to happen, but I think that's the process.
HUNT: Right. No, that's fair. I mean, it's extraordinarily helpful to me able to wrap your head around. I mean, one of the things here, too, that I keep going back to, part of why Israel was so surprised here was because they assumed basically that Hamas wouldn't do this. And part of what was raked into that assumption is all of the things we are talking about right now, Israel controls access to everything for the Gaza Strip.
So, fundamentally, if Hamas were to do something like this, they would face dire -- extraordinarily dire consequences.
Now this is what we have. I mean, what -- how do you think Israel, you know, made that miscalculation?
FOSTER: Well, we talked a bit, didn't we, about the intelligence failures, and I think, you know, Iran's always playing in the background here, and that's what everyone sort of concern about obviously as well about Iran getting further and further involved. And that's where we're sort of looking through right now.
But the intelligence failures were stark, and there are images of rehearsals for this attack, this horrendous attacking Israel in open sight, and, you know, has been a big disaster. Whenever we ask them -- the IDF, why there is this intelligence failure, that's -- they always say that's a debate for further down the line. They're focusing on this evacuation today. And I have to say, I wonder how it is going to work.
If you imagine someone in a hospital in Gaza City trying to get out, I don't know if they are going to get there, Hamas meanwhile saying, stay put. So I just -- you know, my heart sinks about what's going to happen over next couple days.
HUNT: It is -- it is an absolutely devastating standoff with thousands, if not a million plus lives hanging in the balance. And it's just really, really awful to contemplate.
Max Foster, thank you very much. I would enjoy the weekend, but I think we are all --
FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie. Have a good weekend.
HUNT: Yes, it's a tough time.
FOSTER: Exhausting week.
HUNT: Exactly. Thanks, Max.
All right. Hamas telling Gaza citizens to stay home as Israel tells them to get out. What are they going to do and where would they go?