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Israel Expands Assault, Slamming Gaza From Air And Ground; 26 Aid Trucks Arrive In Gaza From Egyptian Side Of Rafah Crossing; Anti- Israel Mob Storms Russian Airport As Tel Aviv Flight Lands; Police Investigating Threats Against Jewish Students At Cornell; At Least 3 Assaulted Following Protest Near Tulane University; ADL: Antisemitic Incidents In U.S. Increase 388 Percent In Wake Of Hamas Attack. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 30, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, a rapid escalation of war. Israeli troops push deeper into Gaza as the ground assault intensifies. They say, they've killed dozens of terrorists who were barricaded in tunnels and buildings. But what is this mean for the more than 230 people believed to be held hostage by Hamas?

Plus, hunting for Jews? A mob at a Russian airport storms the tarmac searching for Israelis on a flight arriving from Tel Aviv. This as antisemitic incidents surge globally and right here in the United States. And then there were eight. Mike Pence is out of the 2024 race as a new poll shows Trump more than doubling the support of his nearest rival in Iowa. Nikki Haley is gaining ground, but can she or anyone else catch up?

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We begin with Israel's war against Hamas terrorists. A new round of airstrikes lighting up the sky in Gaza as the IDF says it's stepping up operations on the ground and sending more troops in. CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Sderot. Nic, what's the latest on the ground there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. The IDF says it's increasing its activity in Gaza itself. We've seen troops actually on the ground in Gaza city, the biggest city in the north of Gaza Strip, the most -- one of the most densely populated areas. Last night, we were aware that the troops, IDF troops were had at least established a base head on the coastline. And we're relatively speaking outside of densely populated civilian areas that has changed today.

The IDF has been dropping flyers over Gaza, telling people there that they are now in a battlefield that they need to move south, out of the northern Gaza area, out of the central Gaza area and go to a humanitarian zone in the south. Even one Al Jazeera journalist said, her husband at their home in Gaza city received a phone call that was from the ADF telling them that they needed to leave. So, this does seem to be an extensive effort to warn the population that there are troops on the ground, that they are coming that the area is no longer safe. But much more military activity and the way the IDF is fighting on the ground, they say the troops are identifying where the terrorists are and then they're bringing in airstrikes on those locations.

Now we've heard those airstrikes through the day, we've been hearing and can hear now the fighter jets in the sky. You can see the contrails earlier on. The jets literally flying big lazy loops just outside of Gaza, waiting for those calls from the troops on the ground to target a specific location and that's the way the battle is moving now. Dana?

BASH: OK, Nic, thank you so much for that reporting. Now to the humanitarian crisis inside Gaza. CNN just learned that 26 aid trucks passed inspection and made their way to Gaza from Egypt. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is near Israel's border with Gaza. Jeremy, first, what are you hearing about these aid trucks?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does appear that more aid trucks are going to begin to go into Gaza. And that follows significant pressure from the United States on Israel to ramp up inspections of those humanitarian aid trucks to let more into Gaza. We know that 75 aid trucks are apparently waiting to cross from Egypt into Gaza, according to Egyptian officials.

But you know, really what we have seen is that this is likely going to start to ramp up. Expectations are that there could be as many as 100 trucks per day soon going into Gaza. But the reality is that U.N. officials say that that is just not even nearly enough compared to the extensive humanitarian need inside of Gaza. Before the war, 455 trucks used to enter Gaza daily with food, medication and fuel.

And as of now, the discussions are only about letting in food and medication right now. Fuel is still something that Israeli officials are not willing to let in. And there's no question that as this ground invasion continues to advance, we are continuing to see the costs for civilians inside of Gaza, continuing to mount as Hamas militants and Israeli troops battle inside the Gaza Strip.


BASH: Meanwhile, I want to ask about something going on internally inside Israel, which is that the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He's under a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism over a social media post which he ended up deleting. What can you tell us about that?

DIAMOND: Yes. That's exactly right, Dana. And the Israeli prime minister has really faced a lot of questions over the last three weeks since that October 7, Hamas terrorist attacks. Because you have watched as security officials and intelligence officials, high ranking officials inside the Israeli government have all turned by turn taking responsibility for the massive intelligence failure that happened before that October 7 attack. And yet the Israeli prime minister has not taken any responsibility. And instead, what he did over the weekend, is cast blame on that intelligence community, writing in a tweet, "at no point was a warning given to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Hamas's intention to start a war. On the contrary, all the defense officials, including the heads of the intelligence directorate and the Shin Bet, assess that Hamas was deterred."

Now, the Israeli prime minister actually deleted that tweet nine hours later, and issued a rare apology saying that he was wrong for that tweet and asserting that he stands behind the security and intelligence apparatus here in Israel. All of that, of course, as this ground invasion advanced, as you can see behind me, Dana, these flares that are going up as Israeli troops continue to operate, even in the dark on this fourth day of this expanded ground operation. Dana?

BASH: Jeremy, thank you. Glad you're wearing your helmet there, appreciate it. And now we want to go to a terrifying scene that forced a Russian airport to shut down.


What you're looking at is a mob that broken and charged the tarmac after a flight from Tel Aviv had just arrived. Some have characterized this as a protest. But to be clear, this was not an antiwar protest. This was an antisemitic hunt for Jews. Videos verified by CNN show them holding signs that read, we are against Jewish refugees, and there was no place for child killers and Dagestan.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Berlin. Fred, what are you learning about this incident, this horrifying incident that played out?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Dana. I think first of all, I think you're absolutely right. I think what that crowd was doing was on the face of it at the beginning, at least protesting, but it did then turn into essentially, then trying to hunt down Jews inside that airport on the tarmac and outside of that airport as well.

And I think it really was a multifaceted thing, which really looks quite chilling. When you see some of the video that was out there. You're absolutely right, that there was a flight that came in from Tel Aviv into the capital of the Dagestan region of Russia, which is a Muslim majority region in the country.

And as that plane was landing, was when these protesters started, and they forced their way onto the tarmac and actually made it all the way to that plane. And I was looking at some of the videos that came out of them were some of the handlers there, some of the passengers had already left. But the crowd then moved on to other planes, forcing the passengers of those planes back onto those aircraft.

Now, some of the other scenes that we witnessed there as well, certainly extremely troubling because you could see then some of these groups of protesters in circling, some of the folks who apparently were passengers on that flight from Tel Aviv and checking whether or not these people were Jews.

There was one specific incident with a man who said that he was Uzbek but couldn't speak Uzbek language because obviously he's been living in Russia for a very long time. And they accused him of lying and demanded to see his passport and in the end wanted to check the man's phone as well. There was also a bus that was stopped. There were some terrified families inside of who were saying that they simply wanted to get medical attention to some of the children who were on that bus as well.

So certainly, some pretty troubling scenes and it did seem as though the Russian authorities on the ground, Dana, were quite surprised that this was going on and it took them helicoptering in police units to disperse the crowd, definitely an incident that certainly is causing a lot of concern. I just really want to point out real quickly that the Kremlin was asked about this incident earlier today, and they blamed the incitement as they put it on external interference of the Kremlin said, Dana.

BASH: Not really sure what that means. But it's nice that the police were -- that they got in there quickly. But again, it is terrifying to see this in 2023. Again, just a pure hunt for Jews. Thank you so much, Fred. Appreciate it. BASH: I want to follow up on our reporting from Israel with a spokesperson for the Israeli military Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner with the Israeli Defense Forces. Thank you so much for joining me.

I want to ask about this so-called new phase of the military response. It appears slower and more targeted than an all-out ground incursion that many inspected -- expected, I should say. What is the military objective and strategy right now?


LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Dana, we are now on day 24 of our military operation in a war that was forced on us by Hamas, when they launched a brutal massacre in Israel. We are currently operating escalating every day, broadening and expanding our operations in the air, on the ground, and at sea. In order to achieve our goal, to destroy and dismantle Hamas, we say step-by-step, strike-by-strike.

BASH: And how much of this current phase is about trying to push Hamas to release hostages? Obviously, I understand that you are going after as much as you can, the leadership of Hamas, the leadership of that terrorist organization. But how much of it is also trying to convince them, they need to release civilian hostages?

LERNER: But of course, the issue of hostages is a top priority, I'd say, a national priority for us. Now, Hamas chose to embark on a brutal massacre, raping, burning, murdering and executing, but also a reduction. And now we're up to 239 Israelis. And I don't know if you've seen, if you've broadcasted Hamas distributed a video just a few hours ago, of three hostages in a really blatant breach of humanitarian law, you know, basic human decency.

And so of course, there is a concern, and we are utilizing all of our abilities in just to bring them home, and they need to be released, they need to be released now. We have demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross have access to them, but they need to be brought home now safe and sound.

BASH: And we as a network are choosing not to broadcast those hostage videos from Hamas at this point. I don't need to tell you. Well, first of all, let me just preface this by saying that it, we need to underscore that Hamas historically and right now uses their own civilians as human shields. And that is something that they have done and they're doing as we speak.

Having said that, knowing that that is their manipulative strategy. How truly targeted can you be and are you going to be as the Israeli forces move in and trying to avoid civilians? I recognize this as difficult. But how much of a priority is that for you right now?

LERNER: Indeed, it's obviously extremely difficult, and you know, it is a challenge for any military in the world, operating in such circumstances. Unfortunately, indeed, as you rightly pointed out, Hamas have extensively embedded all of that terrorists' capabilities in the residential areas, in houses, in high rise buildings, beneath mosques, next to U.N. facilities.

They are putting the people of Gaza at severe risk. They are holding 239 Israelis and foreign nationals hostage. They're also holding 2 million Palestinians hostage. So, our role is to try and differentiate to distinguish between those, but we are going to destroy and dismantle Hamas. Nevertheless, we have to do our best. We've designated the humanitarian zone down in south Gaza. We distributed again, today calling on people to go towards the south and to go towards the areas, the Mawasi area, which is a safe zone, a humanitarian zone where goods will be supplied.

And indeed, it is a huge challenge. And every, every life lost in this war is a result of Hamas's aggression against Israel. This is where (inaudible) when we see the images of the three hostages early released by Hamas today, this is a stark reminder why we are here and what needs to change, and the paradigm needs to change. Hamas has no longer have the ability in the state of government.

BASH: Yes, if I may -- no, no, and I understand. And we are staying focused on the origin of this war. But the reality is, you just said that there are 2 million Palestinians being held hostage, so to speak, inside Gaza by Hamas.

And so, I want to ask about fuel. It is crucial to keeping the hospitals open and making it so that those civilians can get drinkable water, that they can be in hospitals that are working. Some fuel has gotten into Gaza, but really not enough. Even the Biden White House is saying more has to be allowed in. Will you allow fuel into Gaza to help stem the humanitarian crisis?


LERNER: So, there is fuel in Gaza, and Hamas is holding that fuel hostage as well. They're distributing it to the hospitals as they see fit. They are the governing authority of the Gaza Strip -- -

BASH: But are there not U.N. --


BASH: Are there not U.N. and NGOs who can help to make sure that it gets to civilians?

LERNER: Well, we've seen that, what happened to U.N. facilities when people, mostly young men, as you pointed out on earlier reports on CNN today. We don't know who these people are that are taking, breaking into U.N. facilities, taking out their goods. We don't know who they are. In the week before last, Hamas came -- Hamas came into U.N. compound and took fuel and took medical supplies.

So, Hamas has the ability, and we've seen throughout the last three weeks now, over three weeks, unfortunately, that Hamas has been -- is able to manage the dimmer on the amount of fuel that it distributes. The reason they are distributing fuel actually to the hospitals is because as we reported earlier, we know what's going on beneath those hospitals with Hamas operatives, command and control centers beneath them. They're actually utilizing those hospitals, but this is the reality.

BASH: Yes. It is incredibly complicated. But meanwhile, there are, as you know, a lot of civilians suffering at the hands of Hamas and even more so now that there is a war that Hamas caused. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.

And ahead, the Biden administration announces new actions today aimed at combating a dangerous rise in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. on college campuses, in particular across the country. We'll talk about that next.




BASH: There was a dangerous uptick in antisemitic incidents right here in the U.S., many on college campuses. At Cornell University images like this one surfaced on campus, but it was much worse, targeting not just Israel, but Jewish students, blatant raw antisemitism, online threats, including calls to shoot Jewish students and threats to the Cornell kosher dining hall.

Authorities are investigating and warning students to stay away from a building that specifically was named in those threats, which houses that kosher dining hall. In a statement, the school's president says in part. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate. This cannot be what defines us at Cornell. And this is just one example of countless incidents at college campuses that have made Jewish students downright scared. Joining me now to discuss this is Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, there's antiwar, there's anti-Israel and there is antisemitism. Your organization, the ADL says that incidents like I just described to Cornell have increased 388 percent just in the last month since the October 7 attack in Israel. What are you seeing?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Yes. Well, Dana, thanks for covering this. And I also want to just thank you for the prior segment. When you clarify on the air something that the BBC and these other networks can't get right. What happened in Dagestan was not a protest, it was a would-be pogrom. These are not people complaining about policy, these are people looking to find and kill Jews. And that clarity of language has never mattered more.

Now, in terms of the context here in the United States, the ADL, indeed tracks antisemitic incidents. And let's keep in mind that prior to October 7, we had already seen the highest number of anti-Jewish acts in America, that the ADL had ever tracked in the last, you know, 45 years. So, prior to October 7, it was already terribly frightening. And then as you said, we've seen hundreds and hundreds of horrible acts of harassment, vandalism and violence in just the last three weeks, this almost 400 percent increase.

And let me actually put the data to explain it a little bit and in even deeper relief. So, we saw it right here in Washington, D.C. last week, letters projected -- words projected onto the library, Glory to the martyrs, celebrating the individuals who were murdered and massacred Israeli civilians at Tulane in New Orleans, Jewish students were assaulted.

BASH: And Jon, I'm just going to interrupt you because I want our viewers to know we're going to play some of the video that happened at two-lane where things escalated. Please continue?

GREENBLATT: Yes. At the Cooper Union College in New York City, the security barricaded the students in the library to keep the Jewish students away from enraged mob, that when they learned the kids were in the building. They pounded on the door, Dana, and chanted globalize the intifada, so that your viewers know the intifada was a violent set of terrorist acts, committed against innocent Israelis where they blew up buses, blew up discotheques, murdered people with their bare hands.

So, this is not about protest. This is literally antisemitism right. And you know, already Jews are the most targeted religious minority in the country by a wide margin. What we're seeing now appropriately has Jews all over America deeply, deeply, deeply concerned and worried, worried about what's going to happen to us right here in this country.

BASH: Jonathan, you and I spoke for a special that we did last year on growing antisemitism in America. And you described the extremism on the right as like, like a hurricane or tornado and some kind of event that happens very quickly. And you can see it and the antisemitism on the left, more like climate change, which is slow and growing. How would you describe it now? And do you think that this is a left right issue at this point? [12:25:00]

GREENBLATT: Look, it's clear that the hardened anti-Zionists are on the -- from the far left are the photo inverse of the white supremacist from the far right. And I mean, there is no argument any more than anti-Zionism is antisemitism. I mean, that is as plain as day. And to think that extremism only comes from one side of the spectrum is a joke.

So, when I used to say that heart, that the antisemitism from the left, Dana, was like climate change, getting worse and worse, and it could create the conditions in which storms can happen. This is that category five hurricane. When Jewish people are being told to avoid kosher dining halls because other students want to, "slit their throat."

Look, Dana, this is a moment of accountability, not just for universities, which by the way, are failing the test. This is a moment of accountability for America. No one should think that it is permissible because you don't like policies in the middle east to threaten violence and incite hate against your Jewish neighbors, your Jewish friends, your Jewish classmates.

I have got to say, this is a moment -- this is not a moment just for Jews. This is a moment for everyone in America to say timeout, this is totally wrong. And I think, you know, I'm meeting with the secretary of education in a few minutes. I'm glad what President Biden has said. We're going to hold the administration to account to make sure they're keeping our Jewish kids safe.

BASH: Jonathan Greenblatt, thank you so much for coming on. Appreciate it.

GREENBLATT: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Up next, brand-new polling out of Iowa. On the political front here, has Donald Trump may maintain his seismic lead and who surged into a tie for second place. We're going to talk about 2024 politics again after a short break.