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Isa Soares Tonight
Republican Jim Jordan Loses Second Vote To Become Speaker; After Blast Kills Hundreds At Gaza Hospital, Israel And Hamas Trade Blame As Rage Spreads In The Region; Jordan Cancels Summit With Biden. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 18, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CO-HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, and welcome to our continuing coverage of the war in Israel, I'm Israel Soares coming to you
JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington D.C., we're going to bring you the latest on Gaza and Israel in just a few
moments. But first, some key developments here in the U.S. and the house speakership race. Republican Jim Jordan has fallen short in the second
round of voting.
It comes after the Ohio Republican lost the first vote a day earlier, it means house leadership remains in limbo yet again unable to pass any
legislation including the possibility of aid to Israel. We're going to bring you more on this later in this program.
SOARES: Well, now, to the devastating hospital blast in Gaza that's triggering angry protests right across the Arab as well as Muslim world
just as U.S. President Joe Biden made a high stakes trip, of course, to Israel. The Hamas-controlled Palestinian health ministry now says at least
471 people were killed in the blast. One doctor who was on the scene says more than half of the casualties, half are children.
Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike caused the carnage, but Israel denies that, blaming a failed rocket-launch by Islamic Jihad. And
it's important to note that CNN cannot independently verify what caused the explosion nor the extent of the casualties. A spokesman for Gaza Civil
Defense told CNN it was, quote, "a massacre".
And we do have to warn you, his description is graphic and indeed very disturbing. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD SABER BASAL, SPOKESPERSON, GAZA CIVIL DEFENSE (through translator): We were here in the first moments after the bombing, and honestly, we found
this place full of dead, burned bodies and bodies torn to pieces. Bodies without heads, heads over there, hands and legs over here. A massacre that
we have never seen in our lives.
We started with first aid and removing the bodies from the area. But the event was horrible. Hundreds of civilians were transferred for healing. The
ambulance can only handle carrying one person. But this disaster was severe and horrible. We had to put 3 to 4 people in the ambulance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Just horrific. Well, the U.S. government says it believes Israel is not responsible based on imagery intercepts and open source information.
Mr. Biden spoke about the blast during his brief trip to Israel. An extraordinary show of solidarity during a time of war. This is what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza. Based on the
information we have seen today, it appears a result of a rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza. The United States unequivocally stands for the
protection of civilian life during conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, despite Israel's denials of responsibility, angry protesters, as you can see on your screen have erupted across the Middle East and
beyond. Jordan, also canceled a planned summit today with Mr. Biden, Egypt's president and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. I want
to get more on all of this, put it all into perspective for us is our Becky Anderson who is live for us in Tel Aviv.
And Becky, good to see you. As we've just laid out there, the U.S. believes that Israel is not responsible for the blast at Al-Ahli Hospital. Has that
evidence that the IDF has presented convinced regional leaders that you've been speaking to?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer, Isa, is no. A heinous massacre committed by Israel against innocent, injured and
sick civilians, not mincing his words is how King Abdullah of Jordan described that blast at the Gaza hospital. That statement released in the
wake of that blast. I spoke to Jordan's Foreign Minister earlier, and I asked him whether Jordan still believes the Israelis were behind it, given
the intelligence the IDF says it refutably shows it wasn't them. This is what Jordan's Foreign Minister told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN SAFADI, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, JORDAN: I'm not an intelligence expert, Becky. I'm just telling you that nobody in this part of the world
is going to believe intelligence based on Israeli intelligence. If Israel is ready to have an independent international investigation inquiry into
this, let it do that.
And if that independent evidence points otherwise, then we'll deal with that then. But by now, no matter what Israel says, no matter what
intelligence it produces, I'm just telling you that in the whole Arab- Muslim world, nobody will believe that based on previous experiences and based on previous attempt -- cases in which Israel first denied and then --
when investigations were allowed, a different story emerged.
ANDERSON: All right, Foreign Minister, Jordan canceled a summit that Joe Biden; the U.S. President was supposed to attend. That was, as I understand
it, a cancellation in the wake of that attack. But can you explain exactly why Jordan canceled that summit, and is there any regret about the
opportunity it would have afforded Jordan and others to sit face-to-face with the U.S. President?
SAFADI: Actually Becky, the decision not to convene the summit today will save an opportunity. Let there be no mistake on how strong Jordan-U.S.
relations are on how much esteem his majesty has for the president. We acted within circumstances right after the news of the attack of the -- on
the hospital, we just made an assessment in coordination with the Palestinian, with the Israelis.
Abbas had decided to leave. We had a thorough long discussion with the Americans, and we came to the conclusion that the presidential card, the
office of the president is very important. The U.S. plays a key role, not just in managing and dealing with the current catastrophe, but for later.
So I think everybody reached the conclusion that it is better not to have the president under these circumstances.
Because what people were expecting was a decision to end the war. That decision was not obviously forthcoming. And again, after consultation and
discussion with Egypt and the Palestinians, and after a thorough discussion with the U.S., we made the decision to not to convene the summit. Now the
Americans understood that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, King Abdullah of Jordan has been echoing increasing concerns along with Ayman Safadi; the Foreign Minister, increasing concerns
in the Middle East that this entire region is on the brink of an abyss. And King Abdullah has been absolutely explicit that Jordan will not be drawn in
particularly when it comes to Palestinians who may try and flee this conflict. I discussed that with Jordan's Foreign Minister. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: You and I spoke a couple of days ago, and you said effectively, Jordan has a red line when it comes to Palestinians looking for an exit
through Rafah into either Egypt or Jordan. I mean, there's always this fear in Jordan that the United States and indeed Israel might try to make Jordan
the alternative homeland for the Palestinian people, known as al-Watan al- Malik in Arabic rather than to allow an actual Palestinian state to form.
In line of what we are seeing with the displacement of Palestinians right now and the pressure that has been exerted on you to accept Palestinians
through that Rafah Border Crossing. Is that a concern for Jordan at this point?
SAFADI: Becky, this is an old narrative that keeps emerging, and our position is fair on that. We will never allow another population transfer.
Which by the way is by international law a war crime by the Geneva Convention and its protocol of 1977, a war crime. So that's something that
just we will not accept.
We will not allow Israel to transfer the crisis to Jordan. If there is any real attempt to do that, Palestinians don't want it, Jordanians don't want
it. So what it will do is, let me be honest, it will be just another war in the region. It will be expanding the area of conflict. It will not bring
peace. So again, make no mistake, when it comes to that, our position is unwavering.
We will never allow a population transfer from Palestine into Jordan, and that would just take the conflict into a whole new dimension that would be
dangerous and disastrous for the whole area. So, no, that will not happen. Palestinian homeland is on their national soil. The two-state solution is
the only way to go forward. Israel has to understand that. The world has to understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So, the -- prior, the Foreign Minister, Isa, of Jordan being very clear. There is such a concern here about how this will spill out.
And we've -- and you've seen and the world has seen these demonstrations, these protests across the Arab Strait at this point, really demonstrating
against any further escalation in this conflict. But I'm afraid, you know, it does feel as if that escalation will continue.
We are still yet to find out how Israel's next moves will shape out. They are clearly readying themselves for the next stage in this conflict. Isa?
SOARES: And much of the rage, Becky, and correct me if I'm wrong, is because of the humanitarian crisis inside of Gaza. We've heard or we've
heard today that Israel had agreed to some sort of humanitarian assistance to move from Egypt to Gaza. Do we know, Becky, when that will happen? Do we
have more clarity? And what guarantees Israel --
ANDERSON: Right --
SOARES: Is looking for here, critically?
ANDERSON: Yes, I mean, what that looks like is really important, isn't it? Look, I mean, it was clear that President Biden came in with at least two
priorities. One of which was to try and get that humanitarian corridor open. And President Biden may believe that he's achieved that here.
He certainly exerted significant pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to concede to allowing humanitarian aid in through that Rafah Crossing. We know just
how important that is and how much aid is built up on the Egypt side of that crossing. But here is the rub. Israel has been absolutely emphatic,
saying that no aid will get into Gaza through Israel, through any of the Israeli border around the enclave.
And that is until the hostages they say are released. Now, it's important to note that Qatar continues mediating those efforts according to my
diplomatic sources, to get those hostages out. They are in touch with Hamas, as we know, the U.S. and Israel. And they have been effectively
calling for a temporary ceasefire to try and get those hostages out.
Now, it's clearly not something we are hearing, as being signed up to on the part of the Israelis. Not something they will agree to, certainly not
in northern Gaza. So you know, your question is, what does this humanitarian aid opportunity now look like? From the south, it is unclear,
we understand how much pressure there is for it and how important it is for those who have fled south.
We also understand just how important it would be to get humanitarian aid into northern Gaza. And at this point, that would only be through Israeli
borders. And that, the Israelis say, is not going to happen unless those hostages are released. Isa?
SOARES: Becky for us there in Tel Aviv. We'll touch base with you in about 20 minutes or so. Thanks very much, Becky. Jim, back to you.
SCIUTTO: Well, the U.S. President Joe Biden had an emphatic message of support for Israel, both in his visit there, but also his words while he
was on the ground as he wrapped up his trip to Tel Aviv. In his first public remarks since that Gaza hospital blast, Mr. Biden said that he was
confident Israel was not responsible. He blamed a terrorist group inside of Gaza, said this was based on data provided by the U.S. Department of
The president is now on his way back to Washington, though, we should be clear here, departing earlier than planned. Next leg of his trip or what
was meant to be the next leg, including face-to-face meetings with regional leaders, now, the Jordanian leader, the Egyptian leader, that was called
off after that hospital blast, dashing hopes of reaching some sort of agreement, in particular on getting that aid into Gaza and quickly.
I want to speak now to CNN's MJ Lee at the White House. MJ, this clearly did not go as planned. The president was going to go to Tel Aviv, then he
was going to have this summit of sorts in Amman, the Gaza hospital blast caused the cancellation of that Amman leg of the trip. As he returns home,
what are White House officials telling you that he accomplished there?
MIN JUNG LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, the president, first and foremost ended up making really big news upon his arrival in Israel,
saying that based on the information that U.S. officials had examined that it was an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza that was
responsible for this deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza.
You might recall that it was just hours ago as the president was preparing to leave the White House to travel to Israel, that these scenes were
starting to come out of that hospital blast. And initially, the White House was incredibly careful, actually waiting a number of hours before even
weighing in at all. And the initial statement that we got from the White House was certainly condemning the attack, period.
Condemning the loss of life. But basically saying that the president had instructed his national security team to gather as much information as
possible. But by the time the president had landed in Israel, and was sitting there before his counterpart in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu
and reporters in the room, he felt confident enough to say that this was not the doing of the Israelis.
So that was incredibly significant, given how extraordinarily sensitive the situation is, and given the conflicting claims that we have been hearing
from Hamas, from the IDF. But you are right that the president is now headed back to Washington D.C. from a trip that had essentially been cut
down by half. The second leg of the trip, this visit, this summit that was supposed to take place in Jordan where President Biden was set to meet with
a number of Arab leaders, that ended up being scrapped altogether because of this hospital blast.
And that was certainly a disappointing setback for this administration and for this White House. There was a lot riding on some of those conversations
as we have talked about a lot. This is a president that very much believes in sort of that in-person diplomacy. And there were important conversations
that we know he very much wanted to have with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Certainly, the leader of Egypt was also supposed to be there. So at the end of the day, as the president is returning back to the U.S., look, we know
that he certainly was able to show that sort of unwavering solidarity that he has been talking about to the government and people of Israel. He says
that Israel has agreed to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.
But we'll see exactly how that plays out. But just in terms of the other diplomatic efforts that have been top priority --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
LEE: For him, including trying to get the hostages out, not as much progress has been made on that front though, we are still waiting to see
what other information U.S. officials are willing to share. So, yes, all in all, this was at best sort of a mixed bag and certainly not the kind of
trip that President Biden and officials around him had expected and hoped for even a day ago.
SCIUTTO: Yes, it appeared that the intention was to show some balance. He was meeting with the Israeli leader, he's meeting with key U.S.-Arab allies
in the region, and that second piece did not happen. A specific question on the issue of aid into Gaza, he is leaving there with that unresolved -- did
he get any commitments from Israel?
Which as we were noting earlier has refused to allow any aid to go from Israeli territory into Gaza. That of course leaves the --
LEE: Right --
SCIUTTO: Egyptian border. Have they specified what the plan is and the timeline is going forward?
LEE: The answer is simply, no. I mean, the language that we have heard from the White House is that the Israelis had agreed to allow humanitarian aid
to enter Israel. However, as Becky was talking about earlier, there is a huge caveat. And that caveat is that there is no agreement to allow aid to
flow in through any Israeli-Gaza border.
That means that we are really probably talking about the Rafah Crossing. And you know better than anyone, Jim, that, that -- the situation on the
ground there has been incredibly complicated to the point that even when there were situations and days where people in Gaza believed that the
border was supposed to be open, and we are talking about foreigners as well, they would actually go to that border crossing and realize that at
that corridor was not open.
So needless to say, this has been an incredibly tough situation for the Biden administration to try to navigate. So we'll just have to see whether
this actually ends up being fruitful in the sense that we see physically the kind of aid that we have been talking about, food, water, electricity.
That aid actually physically begins to move from the Egypt side into Gaza because we know very well that there are so many people in the community
that are saying they are really in dire straits, that they really need this help, and so far, that help has not reached them.
SCIUTTO: Yes, there have been even eyewitness accounts of some airstrikes along that border crossing area, not safe there, either. MJ Lee at the
White House, thanks so much. And still to come, what Jim Jordan's failed second vote for the speakership means for the house, means for the running
of Congress here in the U.S., we're going to have a live report from Capitol Hill coming up.
SOARES: We want to bring you up-to-speed on the latest news out of Israel. Eyewitnesses of the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, according
to scenes, truly undescribable. Palestinian officials say the death toll is more than 400 people, and doctors and rescue workers are warning that those
numbers will rise.
SCIUTTO: On his visit to Tel Aviv, the U.S. President Joe Biden said he does not believe Israel was responsible for the blast. That, the result of
a U.S. Intelligence assessment, including overhead imagery. This would be satellite imagery, perhaps from drones as well, intercepted communications
as well as open-source information, including pictures from the blast site.
Mr. Biden, instead pointed the finger at militants from the Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad. Palestinian officials maintain that Israel was
responsible for the blast. The belief that Israel is responsible has been fueling mass protests across the Middle East and North Africa. You're
seeing images here from Casablanca in Morocco right now live.
We're going to have more for you on this fast-moving story in just a moment. Right now, we do want to move to events here in politics. The
chaotic race for U.S. House Speaker, house members have now wrapped up a second round of voting for the Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, he failed again
to win enough votes, doing even worse than he did in the first round which was on Tuesday.
That means the house remains essentially paralyzed, unable to pass legislation including on a questionable number of members have said it's a
priority for them, and that is additional aid for Israel. Republicans are now considering a possible resolution to empower the interim speaker,
Patrick McHenry, this has never happened before.
The house is supposed to elect speakers, that's what the majority party is supposed to do. CNN's Melanie Zanona is live on the Hill. Melanie, I
understand Jim Jordan is saying he's going to keep at it, he's not going to give up even though he's lost votes on the second round. Is that what
you're hearing? And does that mean another vote perhaps, tonight, tomorrow? Do we even know?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jim, it's unclear one other vote would happen. But he is making it clear that he plans to stick
this thing out and wants to continue fighting. But I can tell you, Jim, that the desperation inside the GOP is growing right now. They want to put
an end to this chaos. They are stuck in this very familiar holding pattern.
And we're told that they might once again go to a conference meeting huddled behind closed doors and try to figure things out. But as you also
mentioned, there's this other idea gaining steam right now.
And that is to empower interim Speaker Patrick McHenry to have some temporary power so that he could do more than what he's doing right now.
Right now he only has the authority to oversee floor votes for speaker. But they want to be able to empower him to pass legislation. This is an idea
that's being talked about between Democrats and Republicans.
There is an effort to potentially force a floor vote on a resolution like that, potentially as early as today. But I am told that Jim Jordan's team
is actively trying to discourage people from supporting it. They are trying to kill this resolution. They want to show that he is the only solution in
town right now, and they want to continue to build momentum for his speakership.
But as is right now, he does not have the votes. In fact, he lost more supporters on the second round. So, his opposition is only growing, which
is a huge problem for him and his speakership. He wanted to be able to show some progress, he was not able to do that. So we'll see if there's pressure
for him to drop out of this race. But as of right now, Jim, he is saying he is going to stand firm and that he's going to continue to stick this thing
SCIUTTO: Well, Kevin McCarthy had 15 rounds, but notably, McCarthy gained votes as he went along, he didn't lose them. Melanie Zanona on the Hill,
thanks so much. And there is still much more from Israel and Gaza to come in the aftermath of that deadly hospital explosion. Our Isa Soares has been
covering this from London.
SOARES: Thanks very much, Jim. Let's bring you up-to-date now on the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gaza's Civil Defense says fuel
shortages are preventing them from reaching the victims of Tuesday's hospital blast, and that the situation is only expected to get worse. I
want to bring in Najla Shawa; she's Oxfam Regional Country Relations Manager based in Gaza.
Najla, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. Let me first get your reaction to that horrific attack at the hospital, Al-Ahli
Hospital. How worried are you for your teams on the ground, clearly, no place is safe right now.
NAJLA SHAWA. REGIONAL COUNTRY RELATIONS MANAGER, OXFAM: Absolutely, first of all, thanks for having me. Indeed, we received this news with really a
great fear and great anger. It's extremely sad and just horrific, the least to say. And also, I'm a resident of Gaza, I'm Palestinian and I'm from
here, and this also we've received this information, this news while we are displaced with a group of families, from friends and relatives.
So, it just -- unfortunately, it makes me -- it makes us all worry and feel that we're again being failed. Again, being -- as Palestinians, are being
treated with double standards while some are refusing to accept how human lives matter on the Palestinian side just as it is -- it is on the Israeli
side. Now, when it comes to the current situation, I mean, it's good to also have this in perspective from before this attack, Israel has been also
conducting attacks on civilian homes.
And we have come to know from those around me, relatives and friends, who have lost entire families. So even before that strike on Al-Ahli.
Unfortunately, this is not new to Gaza.
SOARES: Not new to Gaza, but like you said, you are a Gaza resident, you're also a mother of two. Just put this all in perspective to our viewers right
around the world, paint us a picture of the situation. I mean, do you have access to water, Najla? Do you have access to food, fuel? Where are you
staying as well? This is important because obviously so many people have been asked to move from the north and Gaza city south.
SHAWA: Yes, unfortunately, I left my house, and when I left my house, I was already -- that was not the first time. It was the second time. The first
time I left for about five-six hours where I had to sleep outside my home because of the bombings that was directed at a building across from my
street. I was already with another -- about 15 people, from relatives and friends who came to our house, homes, were damaged and were also
So, we've been like from every day moving from place to another, my friends have been displaced. In fact, they are on the move, leaving their home
already the third or the fourth time. Now in central Gaza after that big announcement of moving to south, we're lucky because we have the only small
cottage in the central Gaza, and we are receiving and hosting more people.
Now, we are about 60 people in this place. We are really struggling by the day to find water. Until now, we are -- and managing with a lot of -- I
mean, just really being very rational about how -- conservative about using water. We're --
SOARES: Yes --
SHAWA: Taking baths or even cleaning or washing and cooking for entire group. We have 20 children here, among them, two infants. We have about
five or six elderly, it's very challenging. And you can double even that with the inability for humanitarian teams also to actually function --
SOARES: Yes --
SHAWA: And operate because of the severity of the attacks and the airstrikes. And also, the overwhelming humanitarian situation in other
shelters in the formal and much bigger shelters where they have thousands and thousands of people with very minimum water --
SOARES: Can I just ask Najla, how much water do you have for how many more days? How much water do you have left?
SHAWA: One day. One day.
SOARES: What are you going to do after that?
SHAWA: Tomorrow -- no, that's how it has been because where I am, we're not connected to a public network. And it's relied on the water well, and the
way to get it from the well, we need some fuel. And so, we secured --
SOARES: Yes --
SHAWA: Some fuel just for another day, and that's how it works. The water that we drink -- because the water well is not suitable for drinking, and
that's, if you know Gaza, you know this by now that it's already in a crisis. Water is one of -- one of the areas where Gaza has been suffering
from. The 96 percent of this water is unfit for human consumption.
So we drink water from a private vendor which we -- when we are lucky, we get, you know, the water tanker from the street or from the neighborhood
nearby and ask them to bring us -- bring us some water. And of course, we're talking about water prices doubled. It's much more scarce than
before. It's very risky for them to move. I'm in an area where it's still reasonably OK to move around.
But in other areas where there is like continuous airstrikes, people were actually directed to in the south in Khan Yunis, where there's like heavy
airstrikes and attacks. So I mean, you would imagine how there's like no guarantee for another day of having --
SOARES: Yes --
SHAWA: Water, for example.
SOARES: Najla, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, let's stay in contact. I think it's so important that we keep up to date with
you. Really dire picture that she just painted right there for us from Gaza, center of Gaza right there. We're going to take a short break, we're
back after this.
SCIUTTO: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of Israel at war. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says the explosion at a hospital in Gaza on
Tuesday has killed hundreds of people. A survivor of the blast told CNN, the devastation that followed was, quote, "beyond normal". Anger brought
protesters to the streets across the region in places from Iran to Iraq to Lebanon.
SOARES: And Gaza officials say an Israeli airstrike is to blame, while the IDF says it was misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. Now, CNN cannot
independently verify what caused the blast near Tel Aviv. On a visit, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. is backing Israel's version of events. I
want to go back to our Becky Anderson, joins us from Tel Aviv.
And Becky, I want to focus, if I could, on the humanitarian situation, which is something that you and I have been focusing on for the past
several days. I had a conversation just now in the last few minutes, just before our break, to a lady, Najla, who is in Gaza city, who works for
Oxfam. She just told us, she is staying in a house with 60 people, she has water for 24 hours.
And she will be considered one of the lucky ones. Just talk to the challenge, that spiraling humanitarian situation on the ground.
ANDERSON: I think -- let's just concentrate on what President Biden's objectives were here, and what he actually achieved. I mean, his objectives
were rather unclear on this trip. And what is clear is that his commitment once again was to prove America's steadfast support. And that is driving a
perception that the U.S. is picking a side in this conflict against the Arab world.
And that was a concern which was voiced by Jordan's Foreign Minister when I spoke to him a couple of hours ago -- let me just play you this, and then
I'll get to that humanitarian situation because absolutely crucial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAFADI: The growing perception on the street as they see this unequivocal iron-clad support for Israel in this war, it is a growing perception that
this is a western-Arab Muslim war. That's a place we don't want to get to. That's a place that we should all work to prevent getting into. And that's
why the guns must go silent, common sense must come back, reason, rationalism must come back and we figure out a way out of this darkness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And this darkness here is, in the first instance, what is going on in Gaza at present? And then, of course, the Jordanian Foreign Minister
was talking about the spillover into the wider region. Let's concentrate on Gaza. If the U.S. President did achieve anything, it was pressuring Israel
to allow humanitarian aid in safely through that Rafah border in southern Gaza. And you are absolutely right to point out, Isa, that aid could not
come quickly enough.
ANDERSON (voice-over): This is where international aid should be flowing into Gaza. But it's been eerily quiet. Vital life-sustaining humanitarian
aid has been piling up, stuck in no man's land on the wrong side of the border while agencies sound the alarm on an accelerating humanitarian
crisis. Now there are signs of a breakthrough.
On Wednesday, hours after a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza, U.S. President Joe Biden landed on his wartime visit to Israel, hours later, he
delivered these remarks.
BIDEN: I asked the Israeli cabinet whom I met with for some time this morning, to agree to delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance to
civilians in Gaza. Basing the understanding that there will be inspections. Now, the aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas. Israel agreed the
humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza.
ANDERSON: But in a statement Wednesday, Israel said it will not allow any aid into Gaza from its own territory until all hostages held by Hamas are
released. Following the announcement, I asked the Jordanian Foreign Minister for his reaction.
SAFADI: We're all working for a ceasefire that would allow the delivery of the humanitarian supplies to Gaza. And so talk of ceasefire is continuing.
Talk of allowing supplies is continuing. Talk of a decision to end the war is continuing. So we're all working towards that. And any --
ANDERSON: Yes --
SAFADI: Statement in that direction is definitely a welcome step.
ANDERSON: President Biden now says he is working with the U.N. to get aid trucks moving as quickly as possible. But even when that flow of aid can
begin, its route has been badly damaged by Israeli airstrikes.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, FOREIGN MINISTER, EGYPT: Well, currently, there's a long, miles-long convoy of humanitarian assistance between Al Arish and Rafah
with trucks on the side of the road awaiting the possibility of entering Gaza. The Rafah Crossing over the last days has been bombed four times.
TOM POTOKAR, CHIEF SURGEON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: There is a lot of infrastructure that has been destroyed. Obviously, the lack of
fuel, the lack of water, the lack of food is going to compound the situation. The difficulties with moving around due to security, but also
just the blockages from rubble, et cetera and unexploded ammunitions.
ANDERSON: For Gaza citizens, the deadly waiting game means lifelines are fast running out. The Palestinian Health Ministry says hospitals are
collapsing without fuel. And the World Food Program warns that shops in Gaza will run out of food in mere days.
YAD KHALIL, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): There is no water. There is no water at all. Medicines for children, food, drinking, there are no
supplies at all in the Gaza Strip. It's not just me, all of the Gaza Strip is suffering. All of the families in Gaza are suffering.
ANDERSON: And Isa, you've been speaking to me, but I've been hearing similar stories, 50 people in one small home in southern Gaza. A number of
families who traveled to get out of Gaza city, of those 50, in a very small cabin, apparently 20 of those are children. You can only imagine the trauma
that those kids are going through as their parents try --
SOARES: Yes --
ANDERSON: And distract them from what is going on with sort of -- you know, even over southern Gaza with the F16s flying in the air and the sound of
bombing around. We've been told anecdotally that people are resorting to drinking water from systems in lose -- and brackish water. This aid
couldn't get in quickly enough.
SOARES: Yes --
ANDERSON: But at this point -- despite the fact that we -- you know, the good news is we've heard that Israel has conceded to allowing now aid in
from that Rafah Border Crossing, not through Israel, but through the Egyptian border. But what that looks like at this stage, given, you know,
those you heard in my report there, suggesting the roads are difficult to use.
You know, there's still concern about bombing there. I mean, it's very difficult to know what that -- what that aid convoy, what that aid
opportunity is going to look like at this point.
SOARES: Yes --
SOARES: Everyone wants to hold on to a glimmer of hope, of course, we're waiting for that. Becky, thank you very much. And still to come right here,
the U.S. is still without a speaker for the House of Representatives. What may be next for candidate Jim Jordan? We'll be back after this.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. We do continue tracking the race to be the next U.S. House Speaker in Washington. It's been 15 days without a speaker. Here are
live looks at the Capitol where a second vote took place earlier on Wednesday, and Jim Jordan; the Republican from Ohio failed for a second
time to get enough votes.
And this time, 22 of his fellow Republicans voted against him, that's more than Tuesday when it was 20. Joining me now, Leigh Ann Caldwell from "The
Washington Post". Leigh Ann, listen, we're hearing a whole bunch of scenarios now. Jim Jordan says he's not out of this, he's going to keep
trying, but you have some of his own Republican colleagues saying we've got to move on to plan -- I mean, we've got to be on plan F by now considering
how many iterations of this we've been through.
What's the most likely next step? Another vote for Jordan or this alternative plan of empowering the temporary speaker with each -- with at
least some basic -- some basic roles and responsibilities?
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Jim, we just don't know yet. And that's the thing. This conference is extremely divided. There is hurt
feelings, there's revenge, people are barely talking to each other in some instances. A lot of backstabbing behind the scenes as well. And the path
forward is just simply not clear.
Even Congressman Representative Jordan told me today that he's not sure if he's made a decision on whether to go forward with a third round.
Meanwhile, his own spokesperson Russell Dye says that they absolutely will go forward. So they're not even in agreement. But in this background, there
are these conversations among some moderate, more centrist Republicans about just simply giving the temporary Speaker, Patrick McHenry, some
additional powers to allow the house do some of its work.
But Republicans are divided on that to. And so, we're day 15 without a speaker, and I don't see any end at any point that soon, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Can you help me understand this other plan of empowering the temporary speaker? Because for more than 200 years, as I understand the
history, a majority in the house votes to select the speaker, that's worked, and now they can't get to that majority, so they're just going to
empower someone else to do it? How is that doable, legal constitutional possible?
CALDWELL: Yes, I mean, that hasn't been done before, and so it is literally unprecedented. I know we use that term a lot, but it is. And so, former
parliamentarian and house staff who really know the rules here, they say that it is -- it is possible to do it. To bring up what's called a
privileged resolution to force this vote in order to give Patrick McHenry some more powers to at least put legislation on the floor.
But there is a debate, a constitutional debate, if that's possible, and that's what some Republicans are saying why they don't support this option
because it's not constitutional. It hasn't been done before. They don't want to set a new precedent. But they've been without a speaker for 15
days, and so there are going to have to be some decisions that are going to have to be made on how to move forward.
But you know, this idea to empower McHenry is going to only be successful if Democrats come on board. Democrats like the idea, but there's still just
no cohesion in a way to move forward.
SCIUTTO: And the trouble with that, of course, is working with Democrats is what helped sink the previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy, right? I mean, it's a
risk for any Republican I imagine who takes part in such a plan.
CALDWELL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, there are some Republicans who don't care about the risk anymore. They are from swing --
SCIUTTO: Right --
CALDWELL: Districts, they are worried about their own re-election, and a house in chaos, and a Republican Party that is not able to govern is as
more threatening to them than working with Democrats to move things along. But that's not a majority of the Republican Party, and you're absolutely
right that Kevin McCarthy lost his job because he worked with Democrats.
And so, what Republicans are saying is that we have to hit rock bottom. We need to exhaust all options before we move forward with that. I don't know
how much worse it can get --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
CALDWELL: Before they hit rock bottom. But that's what some of these more conservative members are saying, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, if it's worse than this rock-bottom, I'm not sure I want to see that either. Leigh Caldwell, thanks so much for joining.
And still to come this hour, has U.S. President Joe Biden's trip to the Middle East been successful? Did he accomplish what he intended? We're
going to discuss after the break.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We'll bring you up to date now on the protests that have been spreading beyond the Middle East today. Violent
anti-Israel protests have erupted in Lebanon in response to the Gaza Hospital blast. These were the dramatic scenes in Beirut earlier on today.
Video shows police using water cannons on pro-Palestinian demonstrators, police also fired tear gas. Our Ben Wedeman is in southern Lebanon, keeping
an eye on everything. And Ben, the atmosphere as we've just shown there, we've been showing throughout the whole day here on CNN is clearly very
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes --
SOARES: Plenty of rage on the street. Just talk to the concerns here that this could escalate and broad within the region.
WEDEMAN: Yes, I mean, this is the second time within 24 hours that we've had these protests outside the American Embassy. But sort of -- if you look
along the entire region, there have been protests, Amman, Baghdad, Istanbul, Cairo, Yemen, Morocco, there really is a wave of anger of just
going through the region. And of course, let's keep in mind, that anger has been mounting since the Israeli attack on Gaza has intensified and the
death toll has mounted.
So it's not surprising that many people have been coming out into the streets within the last 24 hours in the aftermath of that strike on the
hospital in Gaza. And of course, this sense of insecurity is certainly starting to be felt elsewhere in terms of governments. The United States
government has informed American citizens not to travel to Lebanon, and is told that family members of embassy staff, as well non-emergency staff, can
now leave the country.
Saudi Arabia came out and told all of its nationals currently in Lebanon to leave immediately. France and the U.K. are advising against any except the
most necessary travel to Lebanon. Many are worried that at some point, the front between Lebanon and Israel could explode, and this war in Gaza could
become a regional war.
SOARES: Yes, and that's the --
SOARES: Fear, really. Ben Wedeman for us there in southern Lebanon, thanks very much, Ben. Well, the hospital explosion we told you at the top of the
show in Gaza loomed over U.S. President Joe Biden's Israel trip. Mr. Biden expressed support for Israel and its assessment that Palestinian rocket
fire actually caused the blast. But was his mission successful? I want to go to Jim.
Jim, let me get your perspective from the scene, what you have been seeing. Clearly, we saw the president there show solidarity to the people of
Israel, but this was also a tough diplomatic mission that grew more difficult and more complicated as the hours unfolded.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
SOARES: Did he achieve, Jim, what he set out to do?
SCIUTTO: Listen, he didn't achieve his initial itinerary, right? Which was to go to Israel --
SOARES: Yes --
SCIUTTO: And then go to Amman and meet with Arab leaders as well. And that was deliberate, that was deliberate to connect with U.S. allies in the
region, both Israel, but Arab leaders as well. And because of events at the hospital, the Jordanian king canceled that summit there, saying -- and we
heard the foreign minister speaking to Becky, say this is just not the time to do it, maybe later, but not now.
So he leaves the region, having in effect visited one side and not the other in this, and I, like you, have been speaking to contacts in the
region and from Arab countries. What I hear is that he didn't speak to us, right? And --
SOARES: Yes --
SCIUTTO: He -- the perception, therefore, is bias and you've covered this region as well. You understand that's a familiar -- that's a familiar point
of view. But in terms of the president's intentions, this trip was not what he was hoping for. And by the way, he was hoping for other agreements
including on getting aid in there, progress with Arab allies on negotiations for the hostages release doesn't mean it won't happen, but it
didn't happen on this trip.
SOARES: Yes, which begs the question that really, Ben Wedeman just laid out. The fear, the concerns over regional conflict here, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yes, no question. And there are genuine concerns about escalation from U.S. military officials, intelligence officials I speak to as well.
There's Hezbollah in the north, Iran-backed Hezbollah, each domino there, you know, gives great pause to folks on this side of the Atlantic as well.
SOARES: Yes, and if the pictures like this right now, imagine if there's -- if and when there is that incursion, that is the concern. Jim, great, thank
you very much --
SCIUTTO: Thank you --
SOARES: That does it for watching, do stay right here, will be back after a short break with more of our continuing coverage.