Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Israel Launches Ground Operation in Gaza; Mike Pence Drops Out of 2024 Race; "Friends" Star Matthew Perry Dead at 54. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 30, 2023 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Right now on EARLY START, Israel's next stage of the war has begun, as its ground operation expands inside Gaza. The 2024 field just got a little less crowded. Why Mike Pence suspended his campaign, and who could be next?

And authorities are working to determine the cause of Matthew Perry's death, as the world says farewell to the beloved actor and friend.


DAVID SCHWIMMER, ACTOR: But we had our best friend's interests at heart.

MATTHEW PERRY, LATE ACTOR: Could I be more sorry?



HUNT: Beloved for a reason. Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Kasie Hunt, it's Monday, October 30th, 5:00 a.m. here in the east, 11:00 a.m. in Gaza where Israel's incursion has entered a second phase. We have new video from the Israel Defense Forces expanding operations, the IDF saying overnight, their troops killed dozens of Hamas operatives who had barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health says the death toll has now passed 8,000 people. Its data sources in Hamas-controlled Gaza say an additional 20,000 people have been injured. The Palestinian Red Crescent says Israeli airstrikes heavily damaged the Al-Quds Hospital. It says Israel warned Sunday to evacuate the hospital, which the World Health Organization says would be impossible without endangering patients' lives.

The Red Crescent also says they received ten aid trucks by the Rafah Border Crossing from Egypt. But as fast as that aid is coming in, some of it is being looted from U.N. warehouses. The U.N. says thousands of people broke in and took flour, hygiene supplies and other necessities as quote, "hunger and desperation grows." The White House says President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday about ensuring the continued flow of aid and about protecting Gaza's civilians. President Biden's National Security adviser warning Sunday there's an elevated risk of a wider regional conflict that could require a U.S. response.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: And we, of course, are taking every measure necessary to protect our forces, to increase our vigilance, and to work with other countries in the region to try to keep this conflict that is currently in Israel and Gaza from spinning out into a regional conflict, but the risk is real.


HUNT: CNN's Rafael Romo joins us live from Tel Aviv. Rafael, good morning to you. What more do we know about the fighting overnight in Gaza?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Kasie, good morning. Over the last several days now, we have seen signs that instead of an all-out ground invasion, the Israel Defense Forces may have chosen to do targeted raids into Gaza, followed by a gradual incursion of troops. And yes, in the last few minutes, the IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said that additional forces entered the Strip, and about the activity will only intensify in the coming hours and days.

The Israeli military had previously said that over the last few days, they have targeted over 600 terror targets, including weapons, weapon depots and dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions as well as hideouts and staging grounds used by Hamas. Israeli troops have advanced more than 2 miles, about 3 kilometers into Gaza, in their expanding grounds operation according to a CNN analysis.

Something that continued overnight. The IDF said that they killed dozens of terrorists who had barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels, and who at points tried to attack Israeli soldiers in charge of the offensive. And just to give you an idea, Kasie, about how the offensive is being carried out on the ground, the Israel Defense Forces says air-cop guided by troops on land struck a staging post with over 20 Hamas militants inside and did the same thing at Israa University in Gaza.

Where according to the IDF, the militant Islamist organization had an anti-tank missile launching post. A big concern here in the Middle East is that, this conflict may boil over earlier today. The Israeli military said that its aircraft struck military infrastructure in Syrian territory in response to launches towards Israel coming from the country.

And now, we have learned that the U.S. is also sending a Marine unit to be on alert in case there's more activity in Lebanon. Kasie?

[05:05:00] HUNT: Right, Rafael Romo for us in Israel, thank you very much for

that. Let's bring in Major General Dana Pittard to help us understand more about what's going on. General, it's always good to see you, thank you for being with us this morning. Can you help us understand what does the second phase mean exactly?

DANA PITTARD, RETIRED U.S. ARMY GENERAL: Good morning, Kasie. Obviously, the first phase was preparation phase going against Hamas, command control modes, trying to cut off the head of Hamas, intelligence operations, cyber attacks, psychological operations. Now this phase, the ground phase which I truly believe has begun is a deliberate phase where the IDF is moving from the north, and possibly in the northeast, again, very deliberately because of the terrain.

The urban terrain densely populated, ambushes, really at every turn, block-by-block, street-by-street, building-by-building, subterranean, because of the tunnels of Hamas, as well as above-ground, and of course, on high rises very difficult. So that part of it has begun. There is a chance that others like Hezbollah and Syria are trying to pin down Israeli forces to the north. Israel has responded. But there is a serious concern that this could be a wider conflict at some point.

HUNT: Yes, let me ask you about the connectivity in the region because we saw when this began, that, that was one of the first things that happened. Internet connectivity had been degrading, but it was cut off, cellphone usage in particular was cut off, you can only reach people in Gaza who had some other way, some foreign-registered satellite phone or something along those lines.

The U.S. seems to be applying pressure to -- you know, on the Israelis to put that back. Can you help us understand why they cut it, and what those negotiations might look like?

PITTARD: Sure, you know, operationally, from the military side, that's something that Israel probably wanted to do to avoid the command and control of Hamas forces by Hamas leadership. That's a part of it. They use cellphones. So it's understandable from a military standpoint. Unfortunately, that also hampered humanitarian assistance for the Gazan and Palestinian people.

So what the administration wanted was for Israel to allow some level of connectivity. There's still -- I assume going to still do targeted connectivity breaks and a cellphone coverage, where they're actually operating.

HUNT: So, when you mentioned the potential for this to become wider as well, the Vice President spoke to "CBS" "60 Minutes" over the weekend about the possibility that this could become a wider conflict. Take a look at what she said.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have absolutely no intention nor do we have any plans to send combat troops into Israel or Gaza. Period. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: What do you make of her statement there, especially considering that they're sending in Marine expeditionary force?

PITTARD: Well, I think what she's saying is, in helping out with the fight against Hamas, specifically in Gaza, and/or the fight against Hezbollah in northern Israel, however, the 26 new or Marine expeditionary unit, which is being deployed to the area, and I've worked with the 26 unit certainly in the past, there's a lot of capability, it's 2,200 Marines. It's got air capability.

It's got land and sea capability, certainly. And it will give the U.S. options in the area. The concern from the U.S., and that's one reason why you're seeing even more military resources, U.S. military resources being sent to the area is to avoid this becoming a wider conflict. And becoming a wider conflict centers around really one country. And it's Iran, which is supporting Hezbollah, which in some ways is pulling -- in some ways is pushing Syria, and certainly is funding Hamas. So, it's Iran that needs to get that message from the U.S.

HUNT: All right, Major General Dana Pittard, thank you very much for joining us, as always, I really appreciate your time, sir.

PITTARD: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, coming up here, a shocking video out of Russia, as a mob of anti-Israel protesters breaks into an airport following the arrival of a flight from Tel Aviv. And mixed warning signs ahead of that deadly shooting rampage in Maine. Police were sent to the gunman's home weeks ago after concerns that he would, quote, "snap" and commit a mass shooting.


Plus, why authorities are still working to determine the cause of Matthew Perry's death. We'll have new details ahead.


HUNT: Welcome back. Disturbing new video from the southern Russian Republic of Dagestan, Russian authorities say a crowd, some waving Palestinian flags forced their way into an airport after a flight from Tel Aviv landed. Russian state media says the crowd was protesting the Israel-Hamas war. The clashes left at least ten people injured. Let's bring in CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. Fred, good morning to you, thanks for being here. What happened?


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kasie. Well, I think that this certainly was a lot more than a protest. What unfolded there certainly seems to have been a manhunt against Jews that took place at that airport, against Jews and Israelis. Essentially, what happened was that a flight from Tel Aviv landed at

that airport in the capital of the Dagestan region called Makhachkala, and a crowd, an angry crowd had gathered there, and they did indeed force their way onto the airport area where the planes were parked, and then tried to storm that plane. They were there, overwhelmed the security forces, charged the area and were then searching that plane to see if they could find Israelis or Jews in it.

A search in the terminal building as well. Obviously, a really angry crowd, they were confronted by security forces, but it seemed as though the security forces were essentially caught off guard and a lot of people did make it inside the terminal building. Now, there's some pretty troubling scenes that we've seen on various social media and media channels from inside Russia of crowds of large people confronting folks who apparently were on that plane from Tel Aviv, taking people's passports away and making them prove that they are not Jews.

So, obviously, a lot of anger unfolding there, and certainly, some pretty troubling signs for the people who were on that plane, and also for people who were on other planes that arrived at that airport as well. There was one passenger on another flight that had come in from Dubai, who talked about the fact that they were stranded on their plane hours after it landed, because it was simply unsafe to leave the aircraft.

Now, there has been some condemnation of what took place there last night, the mufti of that area, the religious leader of Dagestan, he came out and he told the people that it was wrong to act in that way. There is also an investigation that is under way, and the latest numbers that have just come into us is that the Russian authorities are now saying that 20 people were injured in those clashes. It's unclear whether any of them are Israeli or are Jewish, and that 60 people have been detained, Kasie.

HUNT: Just very disturbing on so many levels. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much for your report this morning, I really appreciate it. And up next for us, the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal election subversion case has reinstated a gag order. How Trump is now responding. And troubling new details about the gunman accused of murdering 18 people in Maine. Why glaring warning signs were missed.



HUNT: Welcome back. Quick hits across America now. The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal election subversion case has reinstated the gag order that prohibits Trump from making statements targeting the special counsel's team or potential witnesses. Trump responded on social media, claiming his right to free speech is being infringed.

Right, less than six weeks before the Maine mass shootings, police were asked to check on Robert Card after a fellow National Guardsman expressed concern that he would snap and commit a mass shooting. Card was found dead, Friday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was discovered inside a boxed trailer, belonging to a recycling facility that he had recently been fired from.

Officials say they also found a note he left for his family. They say it doesn't read as a suicide note, but lists pass codes to his phone and bank account. And the Los Angeles medical examiner says more steps are required before they can reach a conclusion about actor Matthew Perry's cause of death. Police say that no foul play is suspected after Perry's body was found unresponsive Saturday in his hot tub.

And now to weather, 79 million people under a freeze warning today, and 33,000 under a Winter storm warning. Meanwhile, trick-or-treaters in the central and eastern U.S. set to face temperatures significantly below average this Halloween. Let's go to meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, I don't know --

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kasie --

HUNT: I don't know about this, of course, it's been so nice this weekend, suddenly tomorrow when we're finally going trick or treating, it's going to get cold.

VAN DAM: Yes, I told my wife -- she's a jazzercise instructor for Halloween this year, I said you've got to bring next two pair of leggings, maybe a couple of extra Neon, you know, sweatpants to keep yourself warm --

HUNT: Leg warmers, yes, leg warmers --

VAN DAM: Yes, leg warmers, OK, not the same thing as -- all right, got it. Leggings, leg warmers, got it. They -- you need to bundle up this weekend, because what we felt this past weekend will not be what we experienced on Halloween night, completely different weather shaping up for much of the eastern half of the country. And you talked about almost 80 million Americans under freeze alerts, where here it is.

And this really paints the picture because we have freeze alerts that extend over 1,600 miles across the eastern U.S. It's basically equivalent from traveling from Denver all the way to New York City, and this cold air is on the move, because of this very spooky cold front that's going to impact your trick-or-treat forecast. Look at the difference, let's play a little game here. Meteorology game, find the cold front, right?

Well, you don't need to be a weather man or a weather woman to understand where is, that set distinct line there, the temperature difference between today's forecast versus tomorrow, the nation's capital, for example, 77 today, a chilly 55 in time for the end of October, of course, being Halloween. There's the cold front, it's bringing some rainfall to the northeast.

It's a kind of a misty, rainy start to your day, your work week for, let's say, New York City and into Philadelphia this morning. But here's a look at Halloween forecast, significantly cooler weather, Louisville, Kentucky, only 46. The good news is, the rain should come to an end for most locations. We do have a chance of a shower or two for Chicago.


And then over the western U.S., significantly different Halloween forecast for Tuesday into Los Angeles, temperatures in the lower 80s for L.A. But there's the rainfall today, the bulk of that, thanks to the cold front, but that will starve itself of the moisture as it moves eastward, you can see, even into Atlanta. Not really anticipating any rain for Halloween night, so we'll bank on that one. We'll just --

HUNT: Knock-on wood. Yes, all right, Derek Van Dam, thank you very much, I really appreciate it --

VAN DAM: All right --

HUNT: We'll see you tomorrow my friend --


HUNT: All right, Israeli troops advancing across Gaza in a second phase of the war. We have brand new video. And Israel's Prime Minister, he's been blaming the country's Intelligence agencies. His rare apology, that's ahead.


HUNT: Good morning. Happy to have you up early with us, I'm Kasie Hunt, our top story here at the bottom of the hour, it's just before 5:30 on the east coast. The Israel Defense Forces releasing new video overnight of their troops advancing ground operations in Gaza. The IDF says dozens of Hamas operatives who had barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels were killed overnight.

It says an Israeli aircraft guided by ground troops hit a Hamas- staging posts with more than 20 militants inside.