Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Director Of Al-Shifa Hospital In Gaza Says All Essential Units Have Collapsed; Hostages' Families Ramp Up Pressure On Israeli Government; Former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron Appointed Foreign Secretary Of The U.K.; New Exchanges Of Fire At Israeli-Lebanese Border; U.S. Again Strikes Iranian Proxies In Eastern Syria, Responding To Recent Attacks On American Troops. 2-3p ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, all essential units have collapsed. That

is the stark warning coming from the director of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. In a moment, I will be speaking to one of the surgeons inside that

hospital for much more. Then, growing pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring home the hostages taken by Hamas on October the


We'll have the very latest for you from Tel Aviv. Plus, a dramatic government reshuffle in the U.K., and the return -- as you can see there of

a familiar face. We'll have much more on that later in the program. But we begin this hour at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza where all essential units

have now collapsed. That is according to the hospital director.

The facility, if you remember, is in the north of Gaza. And that's an area that's seen continuous Israeli strikes over the last few weeks. Despite an

IDF evacuation warning, doctors at the hospital say they are refusing to leave around 700 at-risk patients, fearing they could die if they are


Among those in critical need, premature babies, who you can see there, being wrapped up in foil and placed next to a hot water to keep them alive

as fuel reserves dry up. On Sunday, the Israeli military said they had put 300 liters of fuel at the entrance to the hospital complex, but that Hamas

blocked the hospital from receiving it.

A U.S. official says Hamas has a command node under the Al-Shifa Hospital, and regularly clusters around it. In other developments for you, the IDF

say they have killed a group of Hamas fighters who were quote, "embedded among civilians outside a different health facility", that's at Al-Quds

Hospital in Gaza. They say around 21 alleged terror suspects were killed with no casualties on the Israeli side.

Now, CNN cannot confirm if any civilians were harmed. And the Palestinian Red Crescent is disputing these claims by the Israelis, saying there are no

armed individuals in the hospital, and shots weren't fired from inside the facility. Well, the ongoing violence is putting unprecedented pressure on

Gaza's already stretched healthcare system. Nada Bashir has more on that, and a warning, her report contains graphic as well as distressing images.



NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): These are the sounds of the final gasp from Gaza's collapsing healthcare system. Medical staff in Gaza city

working under near relentless Israeli bombardment for over a month. But now, this chorus of frantic voices seen here working under torchlight tells

its own gut-wrenching story.

The Al-Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza has now collapsed. It is one of many hospitals in Gaza that are completely out of service, according

to officials. Those remaining now on a cliff edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is a direct injury in the head, internal bleeding. And we can't do surgeries, no surgeries, no

oxygen, no electricity. We work manually. We are using a manual resuscitator. It is a clear injury that needs an urgent surgery, a life-

saving one. He is less than a year old.

BASHIR: Remarkably, this baby survived. But his father, who was in the very same building when an Israeli airstrike hit, did not. At Gaza's largest

hospital, Al-Shifa, officials say three babies in the Neonatal Unit died after a generator powering incubators was damaged in an Israeli strike.

CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment. The IDF regularly says it has targeted Hamas, but doctors here say the hospital is now

completely surrounded.

MOHAMED KANDIL, PHYSICIAN: The situation overall is difficult, according to our colleague there. There is no water, no electricity, they cannot

communicate between each other, there's a lot of targeting around the hospital.

BASHIR: The Israeli military said Sunday, it has sent 300 liters of fuel to the entrance of the Al-Shifa Hospital, said to only be enough to power the

hospital's generators for 30 minutes. But the IDF says Hamas blocked the hospital from receiving it.


Hospital officials, however, say staff were too afraid by surrounding Israeli tanks to collect the fuel. Inside the hospital, doctors are

overwhelmed, morgues now long beyond capacity. And with communications frequently cut off, contact between medical teams on the ground and with

the outside world is growing increasingly difficult.

Hospital officials say thousands of displaced civilians are still thought to be in the compound. Taking shelter in what once was thought to be a

sanctuary in the midst of this seemingly unending nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We thought the hospital was a safe place, but it wasn't. If we had stayed another five minutes, we would

have been killed. They started to bomb us, and we ran away from Al-Shifa.

BASHIR: The Israeli military says it is now enabling passage from three hospitals in northern Gaza. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

telling CNN on Sunday that there is no reason why patients can't be evacuated from Al-Shifa. But doctors on the ground say a near-constant

barrage of airstrikes has made it impossible for patients and staff to safely evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is another form of torture. We have about 6 kilometers to go, no less. She got a stroke that caused her

brain damage. She can't speak and is paralyzed.

BASHIR: Israel says additional routes have been opened to allow civilians to evacuate southwards. But the United Nations itself has raised doubts

over the so-called safe zones outlined by Israel, warning that nowhere inside Gaza is safe for civilians anymore. And for those too injured, too

sick, evacuation is impossible. Many doctors on the ground vowing to stay beside their patients no matter what. Nada Bashir, CNN in Jerusalem.


SOARES: Jeremy Diamond is in Sderot, Israel, close to Gaza's northern border, he has the reaction from there. And Jeremy, as you saw that piece

there from Nada Bashir, what we have been hearing from NGOs says the situation, specifically Al-Shifa Hospital is dire and it is perilous. What

is the IDF saying is happening there?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, It has been described as catastrophic by the people on the ground. The Israeli military says that

it is trying to facilitate the evacuation of that facility, including those newborn babies. They said that they would provide all the assistance that

would be needed. It's unclear exactly what that is beyond establishing those evacuation corridors where the Israeli military says that it will not

be operating militarily in those areas.

We know that yesterday, as well as today, they did establish those evacuation corridors for a number of hours to allow people from Al-Shifa as

well as from other parts of northern Gaza to be able to flee south. But what we do know is that some of the doctors at Al-Shifa Hospital, they are

refusing to leave at this time and, in fact, the director of the -- director-general of the Hamas-run Ministry of Health said that the reason

the doctors aren't leaving is because they are concerned about the patients in those hospitals.

Saying if they are left behind, they will die of those 700-some at-risk patients inside that hospital. Now, we know that the Israeli military has

really been telegraphing for weeks now that they plan to target Al-Shifa Hospital, alleging that Hamas operates one of its largest commanding

control centers below ground, below that hospital.

They have also shown what they are claiming is evidence that we can't exactly verify in many of these cases, that Hamas is operating out of

several other hospitals in the Gaza Strip as well. But Al-Shifa hospital has certainly appeared to be one of the number one targets for the Israeli

military, that they have been building towards in recent weeks.

And now it appears that their forces are surrounding that hospital and are actively fighting with Hamas militants in the vicinity of that hospital,

very much -- all of this very much putting patients and hospital staff at risk. Some hospital staff have said that they are afraid to go out, to get

that fuel, for example, that the Israeli military said it was willing to provide for Al-Shifa Hospital, because they were afraid of being shot or

being shelled.

We know that there have been airstrikes and shelling in the very near vicinity of that hospital as well. So a very dire and precarious situation

for those remaining in that hospital, not only including the patients, the doctors, but also, you know, that there are civilians who have been

sheltering there after they were displaced from their homes.

SOARES: Yes, and what I've been hearing, Jeremy, and I'm sure you've heard this too, is also regarding the safe corridors, is where would they go in

terms of health facilities getting them out, and then is there infrastructure in place to help, for example, those young -- those newborn

babies that we've been showing viewers. That's a huge concern.


DIAMOND: Yes, exactly, and we know that evacuations out of Gaza into Egypt have been extremely limited. Some patients have been able to get out via

that Rafah Crossing, but certainly not enough. And we also know that we heard earlier today from a doctor in a hospital in southern Gaza, who say

that they are also dealing with major shortages of medical equipment and being able to operate their hospital fully, and they're also dealing with

a new influx of people who are flowing in from northern Gaza.

So, I think it's clear whether you listen to the doctors on the ground or some of these international organizations who are expressing concern about

the situation, that there simply is not enough in terms of medical facilities, in terms of medical equipment and in terms of fuel to keep all

of these hospitals going, given the scale of the humanitarian disaster that is happening in Gaza right now.

SOARES: Jeremy for us there in Sderot, Israel. Thank you very much. And we have been trying -- we're still trying to connect with Dr. Ghassan Abu-

Sittah who is a surgeon at Al-Shifa Hospital, a doctor we have spoken to before. It's important we try to hear from him and get a sense of what is

happening on the ground. We've been trying for the past 10 minutes, but we have been unable to connect.

As you know, electricity is a problem, connectivity is a problem and communications also been very precarious. So, we'll try to connect for the

remainder of the hour because I think it's important that we get a sense of what is happening inside from this surgeon. In the meantime, earlier, my

colleague Becky Anderson spoke to the commissioner general of the U.N. Palestinian Refugee Agency about the situation in Gaza.

And she asked Philippe Lazzarini about any kind of humanitarian pause or even a ceasefire in Gaza. Have a listen to this.


BECKY ANDERSON, ANCHOR, CONNECT THE WORLD: But Philippe, the problem is at this point, I hear your words. You have had the opportunity to brief so

many key stakeholders, and yet, we still don't have a humanitarian pause, let alone a cessation of violence or a ceasefire. I know how difficult that

is for you, how confident are you that anytime soon, that will be the eventuality? How optimistic are you at this point?

PHILIPPE LAZZARINI, COMMISSIONER-GENERAL, UNRWA: This is -- this is deeply frustrating. I'm also trying to convey the message that we need to express

empathy, what's unfolding under our watch is just unbearable. And I really hope that we are now reaching the threshold where we say enough is enough.

And I do believe that today, we have more and more leaders who are genuinely calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

ANDERSON: You genuinely think that -- why is it -- why is it that you have that confidence? A lot of people will say that they simply don't see that

as a reality in the air or on the ground at this point.

LAZZARINI: I don't have the confidence that there will be a ceasefire anytime soon, but I am seeing a shift in the narrative with a certain

number of leaders who recently were still reluctant to call for a humanitarian ceasefire, and now seeing the death toll in the Gaza Strip,

saying there is no other avenue than to lead to this. So, I'm still hoping that all those with influence will succeed to, you know, impact the

decision for a ceasefire. But as you say, unfortunately, we are not yet there.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, thousands of Israelis take to the streets demanding their government do more to help bring the hostages home.

And then later, government shake-up in the U.K. Former Prime Minister David Cameron is back, we'll take a closer look at why, and what this means

politically. Those stories after this break. You are watching CNN.



SOARES: Here in the U.K., a dramatic government reshuffle, and a surprise appointment, and it's linked to the Middle East conflict, partly is. Former

British Prime Minister David Cameron is back in frontline politics, this time as a new U.K. Foreign Secretary, and Suella Braverman is out as Home


She has been under fire as you well know and as we've told you here on the show in part over comments she made about the -- about the policing of pro-

Palestinian demonstrators that we have been seeing here in London. Our Clare Sebastian takes us through the new moves in Downing Street. Have a

look at this.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A relaxed stroll that belied the drama of this moment. A shock return for a British Prime

Minister who seven years earlier left Downing Street after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

DAVID CAMERON, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN, COMMONWEALTH & DEVELOPMENT AFFAIRS: It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as

prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as leader of my party for almost 11 years.


SEBASTIAN: David Cameron who had led the campaign to remain in the EU resigned from government after the 2016 Brexit referendum. Now he's back on

the political stage as Foreign Secretary tasked with managing the country's relationships abroad. His appointment coming amid a cabinet reshuffle,

which ousted hard-line Home Secretary Suella Braverman, accused of fanning social tensions and undermining the police ahead of a pro-Palestinian

demonstration in London this weekend. That proved the final straw.



It's the guardian-reading, tofu-eating, wokerati, dare I say, the anti- growth coalition.

SEBASTIAN: Her tenure already marked by confrontational rhetoric towards migrants, protesters, even the homeless had sparked more rift in the

already fractured Conservative Party, which has seen a recent revolving door of prime ministers and an array of outrage including a lobbying

scandal that embroiled both Cameron and the current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.


Amid plummeting approval rating, Sunak had attempted to break with the past.

RISHI SUNAK, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: We've had 30 years of a political system which incentivizes the easy decision, not the right one.

SEBASTIAN: And although Sunak and Cameron had publicly disagreed, not least on Brexit, Cameron attempted Monday to move beyond that, saying he is ready

to work together on quote, "a daunting set of international challenges", including supporting Sunak's efforts in the war in Ukraine and the crisis

in the Middle East.

SUNAK: Well, Prime Minister, thank you for your warm words, and for welcoming me to Israel.

SEBASTIAN: To while some are welcoming the return of an experienced hand, others see it as more evidence Britain's ruling party is heading on shaky

grounds towards another general election. Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


SOARES: And joining me now is Simon Fraser; he's the former Permanent Secretary of the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a well-known face

here on the show. Simon, great to have you on the show.


SOARES: What a blast from the past that was. I have to say it took me a bit by surprise. Not Suella Braverman going --


SOARES: But David Cameron. What do you make of it?

FRASER: Well, it's true. The reshuffle was expected because Suella Braverman really had to go after the positions that she's been taking, it's

rather extreme positions recently. I don't think anybody or certainly very few people saw David Cameron coming back into the picture. This is a new

lease of life for him --

SOARES: Yes --

FRASER: Very unexpected --

SOARES: What would -- first of all, why would you think he would do it?


Why would he take it?

FRASER: Well, I think he -- well, he hasn't been doing a lot since he was - -

SOARES: Yes --

FRASER: Prime Minister, and I think he's probably looking for a role. He says he has a sense of service, and I'm sure he has. Obviously, been

foreign secretary is a very interesting and challenging job. And as he has said, there's a lot going on.

SOARES: There's definitely a lot -- a lot going -- a lot going on, and we can talk about where he stands on some of these -- on foreign policy in --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: Just a moment. But I'm keen to tap into Rishi Sunak here. Him picking David Cameron, what does that say, Simon, in your view about the

kind of government he wants --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: To create? Is it more center? Or the kind of message he wants to put out to voters.

FRASER: Well, I think there are a number of interesting things. The first is, I mean, it's surprising that he's felt he's had to go back to a former

prime minister to get some new talent into his cabinet --

SOARES: That's pretty bad.

FRASER: It does say something about where the party is after so many years in power. So I think that's a question. But of course, David Cameron does

have status and heft, so he's a serious figure. I think the interesting thing is that by replacing Suella Braverman first of all with James

Cleverly, the former foreign secretary and then bringing in David Cameron.

Sunak as well, shifting the balance of his cabinet towards the center, that's sort of center-left of the Conservative Party, which I find

surprising because he spent recent months it seems, trying to please the rights of his party in rolling back on net zero, tough learn on

immigration. Suddenly, he now seems to be addressing more traditional conservative hard-liners --

SOARES: Why is that? How do you read that?

FRASER: I don't know, whether it's a -- whether it's just a lack of cohesion and coherence in policy or whether he's decided that actually he

is not going to win on the right, and he's got to try and woo back disaffected centrist conservative voters who are moving towards labor and

the liberal Democrats in the run-up to the election next year.

SOARES: And was that -- because I know in terms of points, he was about 20 points or so behind --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: Labor in --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: Polling, right? So --

FRASER: He's a long way behind --

SOARES: The concerns, perhaps were kind of justified. But in terms of Suella Braverman, this is interesting, because just explain to our viewers

just around the world --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: What has caused her so much trouble in recent weeks, in terms of the language we've heard from her?

FRASER: Well, Suella Braverman has always been a controversial figure on the right of the party. And she's given to making sort of quite extreme

comments on different things. And most recently, it's been about the role of the police, and in particular the policing of the pro-Palestinian

demonstrations in London.

SOARES: Yes --

FRASER: And last week, she made what was considered a very provocative statement about them, which actually was seen by some to have in a way

encouraged counter demonstrations which became violent.

SOARES: Yes --


FRASER: So she was seen --

SOARES: Yes --

FRASER: As being sort of provoking that. But that -- she's taken a very tough line, for example, immigration issues, it's not the first time, and I

think her position just became untenable. She was obviously alienating people on the left in this country, but she began to alienate too many

people in her own party. And I think that was -- that's really what pushed Sunak now to move.

SOARES: It's -- but she still has huge support, does she not?

FRASER: Well, she does, and I think what she's doing is positioning herself in the expectation that the Conservatives are going to lose the next

election next year, to be the candidate of the right.

SOARES: More populist.

FRASER: For the more populist right, for the succession to Rishi Sunak, and that is quite a sort of interesting, and I would say worrying message about

where the Conservative Party may go if they lose the election.

SOARES: Yes, the friction that we are seeing in the Conservative Party, in terms of David Cameron being new foreign policy -- I mean, you know, be in

charge of foreign policy --

FRASER: Yes --

SOARES: What are we expected to see? I mean, how risky is this first of all for Sunak, this position?

FRASER: Well, it's not -- it's not risky, really, because Cameron has nothing, you know, he's there just to do this job. He's not a rival, and

obviously, he's very experienced, he's got fantastic international networks, and he's got a lot of, you know, knowledge of the big issues.

So I don't think that's risky, I think there are some issues on which he has taken different view, obviously on Brexit, he was in support of staying

in the European Union which Sunak wasn't. The other big question is China, very interesting. I mean, Cameron ran a very open policy towards China when

he was prime minister. The position has shifted now, so where is he going to position himself on China policy?

And how is he going to help the U.K. maintain relations while having a tougher position? Very interesting challenge.

SOARES: Do we know where he stands on the current conflict with Israel and Hamas?

FRASER: Well, I think on that, he will take the same position as -- I don't think he'll challenge the government's position, which has been to allow to

support Israel, taking measures of self-defense. But I think he will be sensitive to the humanitarian problem with the Palestinians. I think he

will be looking for diplomatic opportunities there.

And of course, one very interesting other thing is he didn't support the dramatic reduction of the U.K. aid budget by this government. And that

actually has some relevance in the context of the future policy towards Palestinians.

SOARES: So, what are you hearing, in terms within the government? As he being welcome with open arms here, David Cameron?

FRASER: Well --

SOARES: What is the mood?

FRASER: I think -- I think people have been surprised. He will be welcomed in the Conservative Party overall, at least, officially.

SOARES: Yes --

FRASER: But I think on the right of the party, there will be concerns here. Because as I said, it's not only him.


If you look at the other appointments that have been made today, both in the cabinet and below the cabinet, they seem to have tilted the balance of

the ministerial team towards the center, towards the left of the party, so the interesting thing to watch will be how does the right-wing of the

party, a very divided party, how do they react? And how much pressure do they put on Sunak now?

SOARES: Simon, really appreciate it, thank you very much, thanks for coming in --

FRASER: Thank you --

SOARES: Good to see you. Thank you --

FRASER: Thanks --

SOARES: And still to come tonight, bring them home. That is the message from the families of hostages taken by Hamas as pressure mounts on the

Israeli government to secure the release of the captives. And the fighting intensifies between Israeli military and Hezbollah on Israel's border with

Lebanon. Could it spark a much broader conflict across the region? We are live for you in Lebanon, next.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. In Israel, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring home the hostages taken by Hamas.

Thousands of people, including the families of the hostages, as you can see there, rallied in Tel Aviv over the weekend. They say the Israeli

government isn't doing enough to bring home the more than 200 people who were kidnapped on October the 7th. The Israeli Prime Minister talked about

it on CNN. Have a listen to this.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Yes, we're doing everything and many things that I can't say here, obviously. But this is one of our two

war goals. I mean, one is to destroy Hamas, and the second is to bring back our hostages.


SOARES: And more protests are expected, being told this week.


Our Pentagon correspondent, Oren Liebermann joins us now. And Oren, this is not, as you all know, the first protest we have been seeing led by the

families of the 239 hostages being held by Hamas. Just talk to the mood right now. How is this playing domestically for Netanyahu?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the families of the hostages, of course, have a tremendous amount of power and influence here,

as well as a tremendous amount of media coverage. This is a big issue that's incredibly close to the heart of so many Israelis, both the families

of the hostages and much more broadly across the entire country.

Tomorrow, it won't just be a protest in one place. They'll begin a to try to pressure the government to make some sort of deal or hostage exchange

between the 239 held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held in Israel to try to force the government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to make

some sort of exchange. They'll start marching from Tel Aviv, from hostage square, and head up towards Jerusalem over the course of several days,

arriving at the Prime Minister's office on Saturday.

Now, this has a tremendous amount of history behind it. Many years ago, when Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was held in Gaza for five years, one

of the big elements that put a tremendous amount of pressure on Netanyahu to make a deal for his release was when Shalit's family marched all the way

from northern Israel to the Prime Minister's office. And by the time they arrived in Jerusalem, they had thousands of families with them and

thousands of people. So, there is a tremendous groundswell of support, broadly speaking, for the families of the hostages and the feeling of a

need to get them out as quickly as possible.

The military so far has been unable to do that. There's been only four or so that have been released since the beginning of this since October 7th.

And it's not clear that the Israelis know exactly where the hostages are. So, the sense perhaps growing here, that a hostage exchange is certainly

the best and fastest way to bring them home.

SOARES: Yes. And I was speaking, Oren, to Magen Inon whose parents were killed by Hamas on October 7th. And he said he wants Netanyahu to resign.

He -- I've written this down. "Netanyahu betrayed its people." This is what he said, "betrayed my parents because he allowed Hamas to get so strong.

Netanyahu totally failed the leaders and generals of the IDF. And now, they're trying to get a photo op that will never come.

Talk to the pressure politically. Is this also being felt politically for Netanyahu? Because you are a Jerusalem correspondent from some time. How do

you see this moment, Oren, for Netanyahu?

LIEBERMANN: I will tell you that Magen Inon is not the only one who feels that about Netanyahu or about his whole coalition or all of the members of

the Knesset for that matter. There is a tremendous amount of anger at Netanyahu specifically and at his coalition more broadly. It's also worth

noting that one thing Netanyahu has so far been incapable of saying is I am responsible. Those words have not left his mouth in the number of

interviews he's done with the foreign media. He has not yet sat down with the Israeli media for a one on one interview despite numerous rounds of

interview with CNN and with many others. And that, too, truly angers the Israeli public.

The expectation here is that the government may very well collapse when this war is over. And if that's the case, then Netanyahu's political future

relies on whatever happens in this war. So, he may keep this going and -- until he can get an accomplishment that he claims his victory for some sort

of political campaign that may very well follow this. And that's what's everyone's tracking here as according to surveys and polls here. His

popularity is plummeting and many hold him responsible.

And I'll point out one more thing, Isa, when Israel started sending millions of dollars of country money into Gaza, and that was back in 2018,

Netanyahu was the prime minister, the defense minister and the foreign minister. And that's part of why many people view him as responsible for

what happened on October 7th.

SOARES: Very important context there, political context from our Oren Liebermann. Thanks, Oren.

Well, the Israeli military says two mortars launched from Lebanon landed in northern Israel today. No one appears to have been heard by those mortars.

But those attacks follow a number of missile attacks on Sunday, which Israel says left several Israelis injured. The IDF say they're striking

back at Hezbollah targets with fighter jets and artillery.

And as the fighting on his rose border with Lebanon grows more intense, fears of a multi-front war, as well as a wider conflict throughout the

Middle East, grow more pronounced.

Our Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman, joins us now from southern Lebanon.

And Ben, we have been seeing a ratcheting in our tensions at the border for some time. We've also had the Lebanese state news agency saying Israeli

military has expanded the area of those strikes. What more can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, just in the last few minutes, we're hearing some loud thuds coming from the border,

which is about 20 kilometers south of here. Earlier today, we saw a very large blast also down near the coast along the border.


What we are seeing is a definite increase in the intensity and indeed in the range of the firing inside one another's territories.

Now, today, there were fatalities on the Lebanese side. There was an Israeli strike on a house which killed two civilians on the Lebanese side.

There was an Israeli strike on a house which killed two civilians and injured several others. The house they were in apparently was completely


There was also a strike on a large group of journalists who were on a road right next to the border with Israel. They fortunately escaped unharmed,

but it really does underscore just how volatile the situation here is becoming. And certainly we're seeing on both sides, there is talk of war

and there is preparation for war.


WEDEMAN (voiceover): In May of this year, Hezbollah put on a show for the media, acting out perhaps a future operation, leaving no doubt who the foe

would be. That was then, this is now. Hezbollah posts almost daily videos of their attacks on Israeli positions along the border.

From the day after Hamas's surprise attack on Israel, a low intensity war has been raging between Israel and Hezbollah, as well as other factions

operating in South Lebanon. With Israeli forces battling Hamas inside Gaza, Houthi rebels launching missiles from Yemen and the Lebanese-Israeli border

area seen daily and sometimes fatal exchanges, it's a multi-front war.

Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed that the region's 75-year struggle with Israel has reached a turning point. "Regardless of

what the Zionists do," he said, "after October 7th, Israel is a different Israel, existentially, strategically, historically, and in terms of


The day he made the speech saw the heaviest cross-border exchanges yet. The weapons both sides are using, ever more deadly, reaching ever deeper into

one another's territory. Speaking with troops near the border, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned what we're doing in Gaza, we can also

do it in Beirut. It's a slow burn for now, but it could, at any moment, explode into something much bigger.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And that moment could be approaching this afternoon or rather this evening. We heard from the chief of staff of the Israeli army

who said this. I'll read it. "We are preparing the operational plans for the north. Our mission is to bring security. The security situation will

not remain such that the civilians of the north do not feel safe returning to their homes."

So certainly, all of these factors seem to be coming together. The fire on the border, the growing death toll, we may indeed see the northern front,

so to speak, opening up, Isa.

SOARES: Yes. And then, you are in southern Lebanon. I know you were in Beirut a couple of weeks ago for us as well. Just give us a sense of the

mood in the country. I mean, what would be the red line here for Hezbollah, as you say, as we see this ratcheting in upper tensions from both sides.

WEDEMAN: Well, we've heard from analysts that they believe the red line for Hezbollah is if Hamas's leadership, if Hamas as an organization is

destroyed as a result of the Israeli war in Gaza.

However, if Israel initiates a major counteroffensives or so, or counterattack on Lebanon, that may change the situation completely. And, of

course, I have to underscore people here are very alarmed at the prospect of another war with Israel. I was here reporting live from this very spot

in July 2006 during that war between Hezbollah and Israel. And I can tell you the amount of destruction we witnessed, the death toll we witnessed

here, not only in the south, but in Beirut itself, where much of the southern suburbs of the city, where many supporters of Hezbollah live, were

absolutely flattened. People don't want to see that again.

And also, keep in mind, the Lebanese economy, unlike 2006, is in a state of collapse. So, this is a country that can't afford for so many reasons yet

another massive war with Israel.



SOARES: Ben Wedeman there for us in southern Lebanon. Thanks very much, Ben. Appreciate it.

And adding to the wider regional concerns, the U.S. says it carried out another set of strikes in eastern Syria responding to continued attacks on

American forces. The Pentagon blames Iranian proxies for repeatedly targeting U.S. troops in the region in recent weeks. A U.S. official tells

CNN they have been forced such attacks since Sunda.

Our chief U.S. national security correspondent, Alex Marquardt, is tracking all this from us from Washington. So, Alex, what more do we know about

these latest airstrikes and how concerned are U.S. officials here?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, they are clearly very concerned about the prospect of this war in Israel

and Gaza getting larger and to Ben's point, other groups that are backed by Iran from getting involved. And so the goal of these airstrikes by the

U.S., and this is the third set that we have seen in three weeks, is to send that message of deterrence to Iran, to send a message of deterrence to

the groups that are backed by Iran, to try to get them from stopping -- to stop from attacking U.S. forces across the region and to go after the very

weapons that are being used to attack U.S. forces across the region.

So, Sunday night, local time in eastern Syria, U.S. forces struck a training facility and a safe house connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

This was, again, the third set of strikes in around three weeks, but at the same time, Isa, it really raises questions about whether this message of

deterrence is being received, because we have now seen more than 50 strikes since October 17th against U.S. forces in both Iraq and in Syria.

Here's a little bit of what the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had to say earlier today. Take a listen.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: These strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the freedom of action and capabilities of these groups,

which are directly responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. These attacks must stop. And if they don't stop, then we won't

hesitate to do what's necessary again to protect our troops.


MARQUARDT: So, Isa, despite this message of deterrence that the U.S. is trying to send, those attacks do continue according to the Pentagon. Some

56 U.S. service members have been injured in these more than 50 attacks. And then after last night's U.S. strikes, Isa, there were four more attacks

on U.S. forces Sunday night in Syria, and then again Monday morning in Syria by these Iran-backed groups using a combination of both missiles and


So, Isa, it does not appear that these groups are backing down despite these repeated, now, three strikes by U.S. forces against them, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and you heard what Ben Wedeman was saying there, Alex, in southern Lebanon, the concerns, of course, over the tit for tat, the

escalating tit for tat between Lebanon, Hezbollah there, and the IDF. How concerned is the U.S. State Department? How concerned is the U.S.

government about an escalating and opening another front here, what this may mean for the region?

MARQUARDT: Yes, the question about other fronts, I think, really is the main concern. I certainly don't want to downplay what we're seeing against

U.S. forces across the region. It is of paramount importance to the Pentagon to defend U.S. personnel. But, Isa, there is a significant

concern. There has been, for the past month since this war broke out of another front opening, whether it is Hezbollah attacking Israel from the


We have seen escalating both rhetoric and actions by the Houthis in Yemen. These are two major Iran-backed groups that have significantly more

capabilities and weapons than the various Iran-backed groups that we're talking about in Iraq and Syria. And so what the U.S. has been trying to do

is send a combination of vocal messages and military messages with carrier strike groups in the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, with a guided

missile submarine in the region to send that message of deterrence to Iran, but also communicating directly with Iran and with its allies that they and

their proxies should not get involved in this fight. This is a major concern for the Biden administration, Isa.

SOARES: Thanks for breaking it all down for us, Alex. Appreciate it. We'll have much more after this short break. Do stay right here with CNN.



SOARES: Well, all this week, we are exploring Japan off the beaten path in our new travel series Next Big Trip. Today, a mountain top temple many

consider to be among the country's most beautiful tourist attractions and yet one of the most difficult to reach as CNN's Will Ripley finds out for



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Where we're headed is known as Japan's most dangerous national treasure. Our guide, Toshi Mifune, is

taking me to explore some temples and I need his help. The sites are perched on cliff faces, high up Mount Mitoku, climbers forbidden from going

it alone. You even have to have your footwear assessed for safety before you're allowed up.


RIPLEY: OK. Thank you. Because, hold on. Come here. Take a look at this. If my shoes were not OK, I would have to wear these and that's a big no for

me. So, I'm glad I have the right shoes.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Next up, accessorizing in the form of a pair of white gloves.

RIPLEY: I'm getting all decked out here.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The climb up, tough going. As we reach the top, these gloves are really beginning to make sense.

RIPLEY: Oh, my gosh. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I am awestruck by this view.

RIPLEY: Sitting on a rock face, Monju-do Hall is one of several sites that punctuate the skyline.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Why do people do this? Why do people come here?

TOSHI MIFUNE, GUIDE (through translator): Firstly, it's a place of religion to visit the gods. The second is curiosity. Thrill seeker. But I wasn't

expecting the thrill to be mixed with so much spiritual power. More than any other shrine I've ever visited, you feel a sense of achievement when

you get up here. It's really powerful.

RIPLEY (voice-over): I've climbed up here more than 120 times but I still get an energy from this mountain every time. Pilgrims have been visiting

Mount Mitoku for 1,300 years. Here in Japan, people practice mountain worship. While some people talk of conquering a mountain for adventure or

fitness, here, they are places to be revered and respected. One thing I can respect, how did someone build this up here?

Nageiredo Hall is Japan's most dangerous national treasure built around the 12th century.

RIPLEY: This bronze bell, almost 900 years old.


It weighs two tons and they, to this day, have no idea who brought it up or how the heck they got it all the way up here. It's extraordinary.

RIPLEY: The beauty and the feeling of this place will stick with me for a long time. Will Ripley, CNN, Tottori Prefecture, Japan.


SOARES: Well, moments ago, U.S. President Biden addressed the Israeli-Hamas war at the White House, specifically the situation at the inside Gaza,

which, as we've described this hour, indeed in crisis. This is what the President said. Have a listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I have not been reluctant in expressing my concerns going on. And it's my hope and

expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital in contact and with the Israelis.

Also there is an effort to take this pause to deal with the release of prisoners. And that's being negotiated as well with the Qataris engaged in

it. So, I remain somewhat hopeful but the hospital must be protected.

SOARES: Hospital must be protected. The President is speaking there, saying on Israeli the -- calling for less entry for action and effort to take --

make this pause to deal with the release of prisoners, 239 hostages, as you all know, captured by Hamas. President there saying this negotiation is

being led by the Qataris.

And this just coming in to CNN, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court is adopting a new code of conduct. The move comes after recent reports that

some justices allegedly receive free trips and gifts. The statement signed by the justices says the code comes from the existing code of conduct that

applies to lower courts. The justices did not acknowledge any ethical lapses. It's not clear, though, how the code exactly will be enforced.

Let's get more from CNN's Senior Supreme Court Analyst, Joan Biskupic. And Joan, great to see you.


SOARES: How exactly will this code -- how exactly will it change? Do we know?

BISKUPIC: Well, it's a first step to at least acknowledging that they should have a formal code. In the past, what they've said is that they

abide by what lower court judges do. They talked about it in terms of seeking guidance from ethics rules that are in place for lower court

judges. But this time, they're saying they're actually going to adopt it.

But, you know, there's a lot of questions here about how it will be enforced and exactly what the particulars are. Even the justices themselves

say that there's more to be worked out. But from the public's point of view here, and certainly from congressional Democrats' point of view, it's, you

know, they want to see details. They want to see how --


-- if someone has a complaint about, for example, the justices' lack of financial disclosures or a trip, as you referenced in the introduction,

just who do they bring that to? Who do people bring their concerns to and how can they be resolved? There's already a mechanism in place for those

who people bring their concerns to and how can they be resolved. There's already a mechanism in place for those kinds of complaints to be channeled

for lower court judges, but there's nothing in this to say how any kinds of issues would then be aired and resolved.

But I do have to say they've been under a lot of public pressure following news investigative reports of some of these wealthy conservatives giving

trips and other financial benefits, primarily to Clarence Thomas, a little bit to Samuel Alito. But now we're seeing at least all nine justices

subscribe to the idea that they need to promulgate a code, not just to say that they rely on what lower court judges follow.

SOARES: Joan, really appreciate you breaking it all down for us. Thank you very much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

SOARES: Someone there has a very jazzy tone for their phone. Appreciate your company. Thank you very much for watching. Do stay right here. QUEST

MEANS BUSINESS up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.