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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

IDF Expands Ground Combat to Entire Gaza Strip; Head of Israeli Intelligence Agency Shin Bet Says They'll Eliminate Hamas Worldwide; U.S. Military: Iran-Backed Houthis Attacked Vessels in the Red Sea. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 04, 2023 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Right now on EARLY START, a wider war. Israel is expanding operations in Gaza after the collapse of the truce. Plus, talks at a dead end. No negotiations between Israel and Hamas this morning with each blaming the other for the breakdown.

And the dire warning from former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Why she says America is sleep-walking into a dictatorship. Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Kasie Hunt, it's Monday, December 4th, it's 5:00 a.m. here in Washington and it's noon in Gaza where the Israeli military says they have expanded ground combat operations to the entire territory north and south, following the collapse last week of the truce between Israel and Hamas.

The IDF saying this morning it has now hit about 200 Hamas targets in Gaza from the air. Israel now warning civilians to leave large parts of Gaza, including neighborhoods in the south.


JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: We warned two weeks ahead of time that people in northern Gaza need to evacuate towards the south because we're going to operate. And you know what UNICEF said, they said that it's not possible to do so, and UNRWA said it's not possible, and there were people throwing words around like war crimes and other things when we were trying to evacuate people into relative safety.

And now we're seeing kind of a repeat of that same practice where we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't.


HUNT: The renewed Israeli operations include strikes on the Jabalia Refugee Camp, which you can see in these social media videos that have been verified by CNN. The IDF says that they've destroyed about 500 tunnels and located more than 800 tunnel shafts, claiming many were located in civilian areas.

The head of Israel's internal security agency, Shin Bet, says they determined -- they are determined to eliminate Hamas around the world. He said, this is our Munich. Reporter Elliott Gotkine is following developments and joins us live from London. Elliott, good morning. Always great to see you. Can you help us understand this Munich reference and what they mean by that?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Sure, Kasie. So, it refers to the 1972 Munich Olympics where 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed by members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist group. Now, a couple of them were killed in the initial attack, the rest were killed during a botched rescue effort by the west German authorities.

And in the wake of that, Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized what was called Operation Wrath of God. Authorizing Israeli operatives to hunt down Black September operatives and masterminds responsible for that attack wherever they were in the world. Now, it was shelved after a year or so after a case of mistaken identity led to Israel mistakenly killing an innocent man in Norway.

But that is what the head of the Shin Bet; Israel's equivalent of the FBI is getting at. Of course, Munich also made into a Steven Spielberg film in 2005 based on those events. But that is what the head of the Shin Bet is getting at, saying that Israel will hunt down those responsible for the October the 7th terrorist attacks wherever they are, saying and citing Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar, and particular, interesting, of course, that Qatar being mentioned, not because we don't know that, that is where some of the Hamas political wing is based.

But because, of course, Qatar very much involved in negotiations and mediations to try to get those 137 hostages that remain in captivity, in the Gaza strip, who were abducted during that murderous rampage of October the 7th, remain. And Israel, of course, very keen to see them freed. Kasie?

HUNT: Indeed, they are. All right, Elliott Gotkine for us, thank you very much for that report. The U.S. militarily is saying Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched attacks on commercial ships in the south Red Sea on Sunday. The USS Carney says it shot down at least three drones in self-defense and responded to a commercial vessel reporting a ballistic missile attack.

Yemeni Armed Forces claimed responsibility, saying Israeli ships had ignored an earlier warning from them. In the meantime, IDF and Hezbollah trading fire across the Lebanese border for a fourth day. CNN's Ivan Watson joins us live now from southern Lebanon.


Ivan, good morning. Do these latest skirmishes between the IDF and Hezbollah heighten fears of a wider regional conflict?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's the constant concern, is that whatever kind of red lines the Israeli military and Hezbollah have established for this ongoing border conflict, that it could escalate. For now, it does seem to be a bit of an artillery duel across the border. So, those mountains over here, this is Lebanon, and we've been within

the last hour watching Israeli shell strikes in kind of the hills and valleys in the distance there. Puffs of smoke coming up, and it's kind of a constant sound in this region of impacting Israeli artillery, thudding in the hills and valleys around here.

And something that people have been living with really for a month and a half. Now Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for a number of strikes across the border in the last 24 hours. The Israeli military has said that three Israeli soldiers were in fact, as they put it, likely injured and evacuated after mortar fire in Shtula on the Israeli side of the border.

That's one of the areas that the Hezbollah militant said that they targeted at around 1:00 a.m. local time. Hezbollah says that at least, three of its fighters were killed on Friday and Saturday by Israeli strikes. There is not -- you don't see the level of the intensity of the violence and the death that we've seen in Gaza. Which is such a densely-populated area.

Many of the civilians in both the Israeli and the Lebanese side of the border in these border communities have evacuated. They have places they can go to, unlike in Gaza, where people are fenced in and there's nowhere, really they can run to. But one of the consequences in this town, for example, Marjaayoun, which is predominantly Christian, the schools have been closed for more than a month and a half.

So, you have the teachers who are working as Red Cross volunteers right now, and everybody is really on a war footing. They're living with this reality right now, but of course, worried that this could blow up into something much bigger. We have not seen the levels of violence that Hezbollah and Israel were engaged in, in 2006, which left much of southern Lebanon and southern neighborhoods of Beirut in ruins from much more powerful weapons in Israeli airstrikes. Kasie?

HUNT: All right, Ivan Watson for us in Lebanon. Thank you very much for that report. Right now, no talks underway between Israel and Hamas in Qatar. Why negotiations broke down, that's next. Plus, Liz Cheney sounding an alarm about what Trump's re-election could mean for the country.

And who thought Obamacare would be an issue in the 2024 Republican race? What Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are promising to do.



HUNT: Welcome back. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. And the death toll is expected to rapidly increase with the renewed Israeli airstrikes and ground operations. A warning, the images you're about to see in this report are disturbing. CNN's Ben Wedeman has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look around, this is Gaza city's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital where the wounded are treated in the open on wooden pallets. The emergency ward is already jammed. The courtyard is full of body bags, dozens were killed in a series of Israeli strikes Saturday, many more still under the rubble.


Israel claims one of those strikes killed a senior Hamas commander who helped plan the 7 October attacks. He was perhaps one dead among many others. This woman lost her daughter and grandchildren and names them all.


WEDEMAN: "And may God judge those watching us die", she cries. It's a similar scene in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, more wounded, many of them children, many more dead, many of them children. "They bombed an entire street", says Saud(ph), he pulled his brother Mohamed(ph) from under the rubble. "But his brother Mohamed(ph) was dead", said Saud(ph), "let me say good-bye to him."

"My father has been killed", cries this boy after a strike on the Jabalia Refugee Camp, Sunday. The seven-day truce seems like the distant past. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


HUNT: Our thanks to Ben for that very difficult report. All right, now to the geopolitics here. There are no negotiations between Israel and Hamas taking place in Qatar this morning. Israel recalled its team over the weekend after it said talks reached a quote, "dead end". CNN's Bianca Nobilo is live for us in London. Bianca, good morning, it's always great to see you. What led to the breakdown in these talks?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Great to see you, too, Kasie. Well, as you might expect, Israel and Hamas are blaming each other for the failure of this ceasefire and its truce continuing.


So, Israel had sent in Mossad operatives to act as negotiators for this talks in Qatar. They were withdrawn on Saturday because talks had quote, "reached a dead-end", according to the Israelis. Now, we understand that the talks were intended to explore potential new categories of hostages. So the emphasis so far has been on women and children.

But there is hope that this could be opened up to men as well. And we also understand from our sources that there may have been parameter shifts in what Hamas was asking for in order for any more hostages to be released. But Israel also blamed Hamas, saying that they haven't lived up to their end of the bargain. They said that the women and children that had been promised to be released were not.

That they'd supplied Hamas with a list of names which had been approved, but those hostages haven't been released. Hamas had a very different story. They said that they had offered to release hostages and also the bodies of those that they allege to have been killed in Israel airstrikes.

Back to Israel, but they said that those offers had been refused by Israel. And now, an even more intractable position because Israel is saying that there will be no ceasefire until more hostages are released. Whereas Hamas is saying that there must be a ceasefire before they'll release any hostages. So we have the breakdown.

HUNT: Of course, so what could persuade both sides to come back to the table, at least?

NOBILO: Dexterous diplomacy, pressure from the international community who want to extend -- or want to revive the ceasefire because they want to get more aid into Gaza. This is an increasing concern. We know that's the case from the Arab nations, and we've also heard a decisive shift in rhetoric from the White House, and we've heard from Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the COP 28 Summit in Dubai, emphasizing yet again the importance of protecting civilians now that the war has resumed and Israel has started its bombardments in Gaza once again.

So pressure from the international community, pressure from the U.S. on Israel. And of course, if there's any go-between channels which can suggest that there could be movement from either side. Israel offering Hamas or Hamas offering Israel perhaps a little bit of leverage on their strategic objectives and immediate goals here.

But it's going to take a concerted, holistic effort and all of those things coming together, because right now, they're on such different pages. Kasie.

HUNT: Indeed they are. All right, Bianca Nobilo, thank you very much for that. We'll see you tomorrow, I hope. And just ahead here, snow! Where it's happening and where you'll see it next. And there's already a George Santos movie in the works. What to expect, next.



HUNT: Quick hits across America now. The head of Florida's Republican Party rejecting Governor Ron DeSantis' call for him to step down. Christian Ziegler is facing a sexual assault investigation. He says the allegations are false. The Supreme Court will hear arguments today over a $6 billion Purdue Pharma settlement. It would shield Purdue's owners and Sackler family from civil lawsuits over the toll taken by opioids.

A movie about expelled Congressman George Santos is in the works of HBO films. It's being described as a forensic and darkly comic look at the race that got Santos elected. That did not take long. All right, now to weather, blizzard-like conditions shut down several Colorado highways along mountain passes. It's part of the atmospheric river family in the Pacific northwest that has brought waves of heavy rains, snow and winds to the region. Let's get straight to our weatherman, Derek Van Dam.

Derek, you and I have had a number of conversations about atmosphere rivers, I have to admit that I was not aware of what they were until you and I started doing this every morning. What do we got this time?

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Well, I mean, can we take the positive side of an atmospheric river, and I mean, just stare at this time-laps of what's been happening in the state of Washington. This is a result of that continuous plume of moisture in the upper levels of the atmosphere, it's just that this one over the weekend was cold enough to produce snow in a Winter wonderland.

This is coming out of Leavenworth and Lowell. They're clearing the streets there, but take note of those beautiful Christmas lights, just absolutely fantastic. And of course, that snow trickles down the entire spine of the Rockies, and throughout this entire atmospheric river event, we saw some impressive snowfall totals as far south as Colorado -- I've been to Rabbit Ears Pass, that place is absolutely phenomenal, right along the continental divide, 40-plus inches within this past couple of days.

So, this is the first storm system, here's the Pacific northwest, there's California, Oregon and Washington. That's a secondary storm system, and it's very important to note where it is originating from. So, as it lines up to take aim on the Pacific northwest, it's got moisture feed all the way from Hawaii. So this is going to be a significantly warmer system, and I'll show you the impacts on that.

We do follow the severity of this, and this is a level 4 of 5. And you can see that it's really pointed at the coastline of Oregon. That's where they will feel the brunt of this next storm system, but the whole Pacific northwest will certainly feel heavy rain and a potential force some extreme high elevation snowfall. But the majority of this will see high snowfall perimeters in terms of the altitude.

But look at the difference here, so the rainfall is going to fall over the mountains, and so that will melt the recent snow that has fallen and unfortunately, we have a flood threat across parts of Washington and Oregon. So, there's your little explainer for the atmospheric river, but I hope you enjoyed the video as well.


HUNT: I love it. Now, and you know what? I -- early December -- but I'm big into holiday decorations. So --

VAN DAM: Me too --

HUNT: It's really nice when nature does it in the way that, you know, you certainly can't do yourself. Our weatherman --

VAN DAM: Great -- HUNT: Derek Van Dam, thank you very much, I'll see you tomorrow --

VAN DAM: All right --

HUNT: My friend.

VAN DAM: Yes, take care.

HUNT: Up next, four attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday with a U.S. destroyer shooting down drones heading in its direction. We'll have details ahead. And an ominous warning about Trump from former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Listen to what she has to say.


HUNT: Good morning, thanks for getting up early with us, I'm Kasie Hunt. Just a handful of seconds before 5:30 here on the east coast, 2:30 out west. And this morning, the Israeli military has expanded ground combat to all of Gaza after talks between Israel and Hamas collapsed last week.

Israel is now warning civilians to evacuate large areas of Gaza including parts of southern Gaza.