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Isa Soares Tonight

World Health Organization Says Gaza Is Like A "Horror Movie" After Resumption Of War; UNICEF Spokesperson Blasts "War On Children" In Gaza; Ukrainian Commander Says War Is At A Stalemate; Jordan Strongly Condemns Resumption Of "Aggression"; Fighting Resumes In Israel-Hamas Conflict As Truce Ends. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 01, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and welcome everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the World Health Organization says the situation in Gaza

is like a horror movie today, except a deadly consequences are all too real. Israel is unleashing airstrikes on densely-populated areas after

efforts to extend a week-old truce with Hamas collapsed.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 400 people -- than a 100 people, pardon me, have been killed in the new attacks. Many Palestinians

heeded earlier warnings to flee south, but now parts of southern Gaza are coming under fierce bombardment including Khan Yunis. Israel calls the

major city a fighting zone, telling residents to evacuate immediately.

It is dropping leaflets, but people must have internet access and a charged phone to actually scan that QR code you're seeing on your screen, and then

retrieve a map of so-called evacuation zones. The leaflets urging people to head further south to Rafah, that's near Egypt.

Yet, Rafah, worth bearing in mind is also coming under fierce attack. Each side blames the other for the resumption of war. Listen to one IDF

spokesman, told CNN. Have a listen to this.


PETER LERNER, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: Since Hamas decided to cancel the ceasefire by not releasing women and children, we have

instructed -- being instructed to engage. Before we conducted any sort of activities, Hamas had already fired rockets from southern Gaza before 6:00

a.m. this morning here in Israel. They had been firing, and they had been firing throughout the day at Israel. So yes, we are engaging, we are

seeking out Hamas wherever they are.


SOARES: Let's get more now from our Oren Liebermann, who joins us now from Tel Aviv. Oren, good to see you. So, it's clear truce collapsed, the war

clearly has returned to Gaza. What do we know at this stage, Oren, about the IDF operations in Gaza, and in particular, in the south of the Strip?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That it appears is where Israel is conducting most of its operations, according to an IDF statement

a short time ago, Israel has carried out more than 200 strikes -- or struck more than 200, what it calls, terror targets in Khan Yunis and Rafah. But

Isa, as you pointed out, southern Gaza is where Israel told Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate to.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken who was just here yesterday said before Israel begins the next phase of its war, it has to have a concrete plan in

place to protect civilians and avoid the number of civilian casualties we saw before the truce. Now, Israel as you pointed out had dropped some

leaflets, warning it's an active war zone, and trying to put out this QR code that then leads to a map with very specific detailed parcels.

The problem is to access that, you need electricity and you need internet connectivity, and neither of those have been guarantees. Israel promised in

advance its campaign, if the fighting resumes, it will be even stronger and we're seeing that play out. Israel says it's carrying out those strikes

from the sea, the land and the air.

Meanwhile, Hamas also said it was ready for the continuation of the war and we have seen that firsthand in Tel Aviv. It was in fact one hour ago as we

were standing right here that we saw a number of Iron Dome interceptors launched at a barrage here. It was the second barrage launched in the last

several hours.

And that's the first time we've seen rockets on Tel Aviv since probably about two weeks ago. So both sides here amping up their war efforts.

SOARES: Yes --

LIEBERMANN: Israel committed to destroying Hamas, and we have seen the devastating results of many of those strikes on southern Gaza, as there are

ongoing negotiation efforts to try to get back to a truce.

SOARES: And Oren, the U.N. -- and I'm going by U.N. estimates here, that at least 946,000 internally-displaced Gazans are currently in the south, in

southern Gaza. So I suppose -- I wonder what the IDF is saying, is where they expect Gazans to go?


LIEBERMANN: They have tried to set up what they've called humanitarian safe zones. The problem is these are very small in area. And then you also need

to tell people to get there before you start --

SOARES: Yes --

LIEBERMANN: Carrying out strikes. This has been a major concern. More than 80 percent of Gazans are internally displaced, trying to get away from what

was before the truce, an active war zone in the north, and now it's an active war zone in the south.

Gaza's largest functioning hospital which is in southern Gaza is at more than 200 percent capacity. The strikes today forcing them to take more in

even when they're out of beds, space, and then there's already a crushing humanitarian shortage of the supplies needed to run hospitals. It's also

worth noting, Isa, on that point, that according to one of our eyewitnesses we've spoken with in Rafah, no humanitarian aid trucks --

SOARES: Yes --

LIEBERMANN: Have gone through. That too, stopped with the truce. Even as Blinken when he was here said that has to continue.

SOARES: Very important context there from our Oren Liebermann. Thanks very much, Oren. Well, even though, fighting is raging, Hamas and Israel are

still indirectly negotiating about hostages. That is according to U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who left Israel

just as the war resumed. The official says the U.S. believes another pause could happen as soon as today.

CNN's M.J. Lee is following this part of the story for us from the White House. And M.J., as you heard Oren say there, it's been a day it seems of

heavy fighting in Gaza, and each side clearly blaming the other for the end of the truce. So realistically, what are the prospects here MJ, or the

likelihood of the truce being revised?

M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, obviously, the seven-day truce has now come to an end with the fighting resuming overnight. But what sources are

telling CNN is that, the negotiations between Israel and Hamas, of course, mediated by other parties like the Qataris. The U.S., of course, has been

involved as well, that those talks over the release of potentially more hostages are continuing.

The focus -- our understanding is still on women hostages, and that if and when Hamas is able to produce a list of hostages to be released that is

acceptable to Israel, then the pause would potentially come back. And then at that point, we are told the negotiations would then move on to other

categories of people among the hostages that are believed to be held by Hamas right now, including civilian men and then soldiers, though of

course, as our previous reporting has shown, that category of people, the soldiers that are being held hostage, are believed to be the most difficult

people to be negotiated out of Gaza.

Now, yesterday's negotiations, we are told were particularly fraught over the issue of whether some of the women being held by Hamas were considered

soldiers. This is something that Israel is rejecting. But again, we have seen over and over again, over the last seven days just how challenging,

and fraught and difficult these negotiations have been between Israel and Hamas, as each day, Hamas has had to produce an acceptable list of


So, we are seeing that at play, once again, except the big difference this time, of course, is that they weren't able to meet the deadline of the

truce expiring. So the fighting has resumed, but again, our sources are telling us that those talks, those negotiations are still ongoing.

SOARES: It's a good sign that at least they're still talking. But let me ask you this, MJ, I mean, as the war clearly is starting again in Gaza, I

wonder what the U.S. response has been to the IDF's operations in the south of the Strip, because in the last few weeks -- and you can correct me if

I'm wrong here, we have seen U.S. been pushing Israel to take what they call a more targeted approach to their military operations. Does the U.S.

believe that Israel is listening?

LEE: Yes, really interesting that you ask that. The White House spokesperson, John Kirby, was just holding a briefing with reporters, and

the question I asked him was whether he believes that Israel is sort of taking a different approach, even since the fighting resumed just in the

last, you know, 12 hours or so. And he said look, it's only been a number of hours, it's really not possible for us to make that assessment right


But you make a really important point. This has been an emphasis that we have been seeing from the Biden administration, urging their Israeli

counterparts both in public but also in private, that they have to conduct themselves differently when it comes to their military operations than they

did earlier on in the war.

We saw a massive air campaign up in northern Gaza earlier on in the conflict, and U.S. officials have made very clear to their Israeli

counterparts, that they do not want to see those kinds of operations that led to mass casualties to widespread destruction in northern Gaza

replicated in the south.

But changing that conduct is obviously going to be incredibly difficult, and also, there is the question of what do you do with the civilians, by

the thousands who have already fled to southern Gaza?


One idea we reported on that's being discussed is actually removing those people who had fled south, back up to the north. This is an incredibly

different -- difficult humanitarian challenge, given that, as we have talked about so much, so much of that northern Gaza area --

SOARES: Yes --

LEE: Has been completely decimated.

SOARES: Yes, so much of it as we've seen, as we've heard from NGOs, it's been completely flattened. So, that's a very good point.

LEE: Right --

SOARES: M.J. Lee, appreciate it, thank you very much. Well, one consequence of the truce expiring is there's no more desperate-needed aid getting into

Gaza. You heard from Oren at the top of the hour talking exactly about this. Trucks remain lined up at the border unable to cross. But the

humanitarian situation inside of Gaza, well, that remains dire.

Food and water scarce. And the World Health Organization reports disease is spreading due to a lack of proper health care. Earlier, the IRC warned that

a restart to the fighting in Gaza would be catastrophic and further endanger civilians. And while politicians negotiate aid and ceasefires, one

official is urging people to remember those caught up in the war.

James Elder works for United Nations Children's Fund, he says the chaos he sees in Gaza has children more than anyone else. Have a listen to this.


JAMES ELDER, SPOKESPERSON, UNICEF: We cannot see more children with the wounds of war, with the burns, with the shrapnel littering their body with

the broken bones. Inaction by those with influence is allowing the killing of children. This is a war on children.


SOARES: Well, joining us now from Gaza is James Elder; he's a spokesperson for UNICEF. James, great to see you. I heard your clip earlier on social

media, I know you were on the ground as that bombardment resumed in Gaza. Just tell us what you and your team have been seeing in the hours since the

truce ended what? At 7:00 a.m. this morning.

ELDER: Look, it's just absolutely chilling to be honest. It's horrifying, Isa. And as you probably heard me say, as soon as they're literally -- at

the first, obviously saying then you could hear -- I'm not a military man, and whether it was missiles coming from the air, coming from the land,

coming from the sea, it was immediate, it was devastating.

And very quickly, I was at the hospital. I've been seeing children in that hospital all week. I wanted to see how they were doing. I've been hoping

this would -- they were slowly getting a little bit of their challenge, their challenge, back on fear and fear has returned in abundance. And very

quickly, there was a strike near the hospital, we had to move quickly.

Often, there's a second strike, and then at the hospital again to see, you know, twice as many people as there are beds, to people seeking refuge, few

taking place, ambulances racing in with wounded and bloody people. It's the war zone that we feared. It's overwhelming. The hospitals are overwhelmed,


This has been our grave concern. Hospitals are on life support. Half of them aren't functioning, half of them are not fit to deal with this. And

all of them have just got too many people, too many children with the wounds of war.

SOARES: Yes, and you said the fear has returned in abundance. And we've heard also from the IDF today, James, saying that they've been dropping

leaflets from the sky, warning residents in the south in Khan Yunis to evacuate immediately, saying the city is now a fighting zone. Where can

people go?

ELDER: Nowhere. There is nowhere to go. These two things I've tried so hard to capture, Isa, that there's nowhere safe. When I was at the hospital,

there was a big hit very nearby and people saying, you know, in my earpiece, go somewhere safe. The children in the hospital aren't safe, I

wasn't safe there, I'm not safe here. Constant noise, the hundreds of thousands sleeping out tonight are not safe.

Nowhere is safe. Those people who were in their homes when they were hit in the north of Gaza and family members died, they went to centers, to

refuges, they were often hit. They came south, and now the same is happening. It's really important to know that there's no bunkers, so

nowhere is safe. And when they're told to move again, you're talking about sometimes an area called Al-Mawasi, which is 14 square kilometers.

This is the size of Long Beach, the size of LAX, Long Beach I think has 40,000 people, we're talking 2.1 million. I think it gets dangerous when

we're told to get to move here and move there. That's not possible. They can't. The only way, the only way they can be saved is for the attacks to


SOARES: And if the war then cannot -- you know, if the truce, I should say cannot be revived, if the war does not stop, what will this mean for

civilians? Because last time you and I spoke, James, you said it's not just bombs threatening them, you told me it was also the threat of disease.

ELDER: Yes, this is what the United Nations has worked on so hard, well, for seven weeks, but this last week, we had a moment -- food, water,

medicine, they (INAUDIBLE) across northern (INAUDIBLE) aren't getting their maternity kits because women are giving birth in this horror show.


You got emergency kits, vitamins for children, tents, blankets, water, but it can never be enough, not in seven days, not when --

SOARES: Yes --

ELDER: Nothing is coming to these people, where normally 500 trucks would come in and we had 50, 100 and it's been blocked. So, our grave concern is

lack of water, is lack of food, as the World Health Organization said (INAUDIBLE), there are huge --

SOARES: Unfortunately, we seem to have a connection problem with James Elder. He is connecting us -- with us from Gaza, as you can imagine,

connectivity has been a problem. We're very grateful for him for taking the time of his busy schedule, of course, to speak to us. But you get a sense

of how desperate the need is, and how much of course, they want the truce to be revived in order to continue to bring in that medicine, the much-

needed medicine, water for the children there in Gaza.

We'll try to reconnect with him, but you're getting a sense really of the desperation, and James Elder has been in the north as well of Gaza, and is

currently in the south. Well, as negotiations for a new truce go on, the world has witnessed emotional scenes many times over this past week, with

dozens of Israeli families reunited with their loved ones. CNN's Jeremy Diamond was there for one of those reunions.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hen Avigdori waited 50 days for this moment, embracing his wife and 12-year-old daughter now freed from

Hamas captivity.

HEN AVIGDORI, WIFE & DAUGHTER KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: I can easily say, it was the happiest moment of my life. The depth and the aptitude of the happiness

and the emotion was almost unbearable in a good way.

DIAMOND: Waking up the next day brought a new flood of emotions.

H. AVIGDORI: And I was the first one to wake up, and I just woke up and counted, one wife, two kids, and it was so -- it's supposed to be obvious

that you wake up alongside with your family. But for me, it wasn't obvious for the last 50 days.

DIAMOND (on camera): Tell us how they're doing, Sharon(ph) and Noam(ph) --

H. AVIGDORI: I didn't see anything that is abnormal to this point. They're sleeping well, they're eating well, they're making -- they're laughing a

lot. Most of the humor comes from Noam(ph) actually. She's giving me a hard time, she's busting my ass with humor all the time. You're too old --

DIAMOND: Already?

H. AVIGDORI: You're too old. You are not updated. You don't know fashion. You don't know anything.

DIAMOND (voice-over): For now, the Avigdori family isn't sharing much about Sharon(ph) and Noam's(ph)captivity.

H. AVIGDORI: They tell me a lot, I can share nothing. This is a matter of privacy and national security.

DIAMOND: Or the moment they were kidnapped from Kibbutz Be'eri.

(on camera): Until a few days ago, you didn't know exactly what happened to them. What have they told you about that moment? It must have been

absolutely terrifying.

H. AVIGDORI: It was absolutely terrifying. And again, I don't speak about what happened to them.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Avigdori did share that his wife and daughter were held alongside four other relatives, where Noam(ph) took on the role of big

sister to three-year-old Yael(ph), and eight-year-old Nave(ph).

H. AVIGDORI: She's kind of a surrogate old sister for them. And she kept this job all during her captivity. And now the girls are at home. They're

adjusting slowly, but surely.

DIAMOND: For Hen's wife, that also means fresh grief.

H. AVIGDORI: Her brother was killed on the 7th of October. She didn't do -- knew what happened. She took it well. It will take time.


DIAMOND: They are also adjusting to this, realizing that people across Israel know their faces and their story.

(on camera): I'm Jeremy.

(voice-over): Noam's(ph) brother meanwhile is savoring the little moments.

OMER AVIGDORI, MOTHER & SISTER WERE KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: It's like when we eat -- when we eat dinner and my mom brings like a bunch of food that make

-- most of us won't eat. But she brings it anyway. Like little things that you didn't realize how much we missed them until they actually happened


DIAMOND: Those little moments followed seven weeks of relentless advocacy. But even with his wife and daughter home, Hen Avigdori says his work isn't

done yet.

H. AVIGDORI: Because I tasted the happy end, I know that my country should be -- should do anything to give this experience to all the other members

of the kidnapped and as soon as possible.

DIAMOND: Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Hod Hasharon, Israel.



SOARES: Lovely to see smiles again. And still to come tonight, world leaders are making a plea for action on climate change. More on the

reaction at COP 28. That is next. Plus, why some experts say Ukrainian forces are in for a hard Winter and a difficult year ahead. Both those

stories after this very short break. You are watching CNN.


SOARES: There was a glimmer of hope during the first full day of the climate conference in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates announcing a $30

billion green investment fund to help developing nations go green. But the atmosphere still is one of doom and gloom, with several world leaders

sounding the alarm to take action and slash fossil fuels.


CHARLES PHILIP ARTHUR GEORGE, KING OF ENGLAND: Some important progress has been made. But it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off


ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: We cannot save a burning planet, you have fire holes of fossil fuels. We must accelerate at

just optimum transition to renewables. The science is clear. The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels.


SOARES: Meantime, western and U.S. military officials tell CNN that Ukrainian forces are facing a tough Winter and difficult year ahead. Those

same officials say they do not expect significant movement on the frontlines in the coming months. Western intelligence, agencies, expect

Russia to expand its tax this Winter on civilian infrastructure, including electrical facilities.

And one factor slowing Ukraine's counteroffensive is its lack of air power. CNN's Anna Coren has that part of the story for you from Kyiv.



ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a harsh Winter begins to set in, Ukraine's war is becoming more difficult, painful and

exhausting. As this conflict grinds towards the end of its second year. A stalemate is how General Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief for the Ukrainian

Armed Forces labeled the war, making international headlines while upsetting President Zelenskyy, who projects a far more upbeat assessment.

But in a rare interview, Zaluzhnyi senior adviser, General Nazarov tells me his boss stands by those controversial comments.

(on camera): General Zaluzhnyi was just giving an honest assessment of the war, which was a wake-up call I think to the West.


VIKTOR NAZAROV, SENIOR ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES COMMANDER: Yes, I agree with you. It was some kind of message and some kind of alarm signal

to -- for some politicians and for western society. But we are ready to fight this -- our enemy. But we need help, we need support.


COREN (voice-over): Equipment is what Ukraine desperately needs, artillery pieces, ammunition, long-range missile systems, specifically ATACMs,

drones, electronic warfare, an air defense systems. Last weekend, Kyiv experienced how vital those air defense systems are at protecting the

population. When Russia launched what local officials called an unprecedented number of attack drones on the capital.

The general fears if Ukraine doesn't receive advanced weaponry, his country faces a very difficult 2024.

(on camera): General, is there one specific weapon that would be a game- changer in this war?

NAZAROV: I don't think so. But importance of F-16 is the -- I believe that will help us to change the situation concerning the Russian air superiority

on the frontline.

COREN (voice-over): The problem however is that Ukraine needs those F-16s now, not in Spring of next year when they're due to arrive. But as Russia

steps up its military production on an industrial scale, General Nazarov's biggest fear is whether the West has the patience for what is turning out

to be a much longer war.

(on camera): There are concerns that the West is losing interest in this war, and the support is waning, especially in the U.S. amongst Republicans.

What is your message to those Republicans?

NAZAROV: American support is vital for Ukraine, really vital. It's very important for us. What I want to say to Republicans, we need to understand

that now we have a problem to conduct this war. But if we don't manage to win this war, in future we'll have more problems not only for our country,

for my country, for our population, but only for Europe as a whole. It will be a problem for United States also.

COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, Kyiv.


SOARES: Well, over in the U.S., Donald Trump's attorney in the election subversion case unfolding in Georgia are defending their client in a

courtroom for the first time today. They're trying to get the felony charges against the former U.S. President dismissed on First Amendment

grounds, arguing that what he said around January the 6th was protected speech under the U.S. constitution.

The judge in the case has yet to set a trial date which could prove important as the 2024 presidential election gets closer, and Trump

continues to hold a firm lead for the Republican nomination. Well, in a historic vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has expelled Republican

George Santos from Congress. He is now the first house member that hasn't been convicted of a crime to be thrown out.

More than 100 Republicans were among those who voted to expel him. A house committee report said there was a substantial evidence that Santos used

campaign funds for personal spending. Separately, the now former congressman pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including wire fraud

as well as identity theft. We're going to take a short break, we'll be back after this. Do stay right here with CNN.




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. With the truce with Hamas now ended, Israel is ramping up military operations back up in Gaza as regional neighbors

call for another stop to the fighting. In the last few minutes in fact, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza tells CNN at least 178 people had been

killed since Israel resumed its operations and hundreds more wounded.

Jordan, meanwhile, is calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, condemning what it calls a resumption of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza


Qatar, meanwhile, said the continued Israeli bombing of Gaza complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe there.

Israel says it is targeting only Hamas, blaming the terror group for using civilian infrastructure as a shield. But the diplomatic challenge remains

as neighbors in the region grow more critical of the war.

Keeping an eye on all of this for us and across the region is Ben Wedeman, who joins us now from Jerusalem. And Ben, we have already seen so far today

a day of heavy fighting in Gaza and the devastating impact of course is having on civilians on the ground.

Meantime, aid's not getting in, so just bring us up-to-date with the very latest.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation in Gaza, which was bad before, has gotten dramatically worse since the

resumption of war there. No aids is getting in. And what we know is that hundreds of thousands, in fact a million people, at least according to the

U.N., are taking shelters in schools, many of them in southern Gaza where the humanitarian situation was already catastrophic, according to sources

there, that the -- because of the lack of sanitation, there's a fear that disease is going to spread.

I heard one person saying that in some of these schools, there are about 600 people for every single toilet. And already we knew that it was

difficult enough to get things like cooking gas, food, medicines, and very short supply. Now that aid is essentially cut off to Gaza, it's only going

to get worse.

And when we look at the regional picture, you see, for instance, countries like Jordan and Egypt who have condemned the re -- the beginning of war

again are impotent when it comes to stopping Israel from carrying out its campaign against Hamas. And this has a knock-on effect. These autocracies

already have dubious legitimacy in front of many of their people. But when they see the images again.


Now we're seeing more. In fact, I spent hours this afternoon looking at images shot by our cameraman in Gaza, and these images are now spreading

throughout the Arab world again, and this is going to make the situation for those regimes ever more difficult, but nothing compared to what the

people of Gaza are going through at the moment, Isa.

SOARES: Indeed. Indeed. Ben Wedeman for us there in Jerusalem. Thanks very much, Ben.

Well, about 200 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Israeli hostages over the past week. A majority of them were held in Israel without

ever being charged. Diana Buttu is a human rights attorney and a former legal advisor for the PLO, and she joins us down.

Diana, great to see you. Thank you very much for coming on. Let me first get your reaction, Diana, to the collapse of this truce and the bombardment

that we've already seen, resuming today. I'm sure you heard Secretary Blinken say that the pause came to an end because of Hamas. The PA is

blaming the U.S. for Israel's resumption of attacks on Gaza. Your thoughts.

DIANA BUTTU, HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, this is, in fact, the reason that the Israelis have continued to bomb is because they've been given the green

light, in fact, the greenest of green lights from the United States and from other countries around the world. And I think it's very important for

people to keep in mind that what Israel is bombing is effectively a very large refugee camp. Eighty percent of the population of the Gaza Strip are

refugees were made refugees because of Israel back in 1948 and 50% of them are children.

And so the idea that we couldn't even get the world community to exert pressure on Israel to stop the bombing of a refugee camp shows you the

state of disarray of the world and of this notion of international law. It's really a pity. And I would have expected that the United States step

forward and demand that Israel stop rather than given the green light to resume.

SOARES: Can I ask you now? And I mean you know what -- you know exactly what the IDF would say, they're going after Hamas. They want to break the

back of Hamas, eliminate Hamas, and that the Hamas hides among civilians. On the truce, though, do you think that it can be revived?

BUTTU: Look, this idea that somehow they want to break Hamas is code for break Gaza. In Israeli speak, Hamas equals Gaza. And this has played itself

out in the way that Israel has carried out his bombing campaign. We've seen that close to 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's eight-week

bombing campaign. And the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip has been devastated, untold trauma to children generation after generation.

In terms of the truce, a truce can be put into place, but it actually requires that Israel accept that Palestinians have a right to live and that

they have a right to live in their homeland. But instead, what Israel said that it wants to do is make the Gaza Strip smaller in size and thin out the

population. In other words, what they're talking about is ethnic cleansing and nobody's going to accept that program.

SOARES: On the very, you know, wording of what we heard from the IDF, I think it was even today they were saying that once again they're out to

destroy Hamas. Just that sentence in itself, I mean, can Hamas be, in your opinion here, going to be eliminated? How -- I mean, how do you defeat an


BUTTI: That's precisely the issue is that they can't and they know that they can't. But what they're trying to do is they're trying to use this as

code for destroying Gaza. That's why we saw that they went after hospitals, went and destroyed much of the --of the hospitals that were in Gaza,

claiming that these were command and control centers, and then suddenly it turned out to be nothing. And so the idea that they can defeat an ideology

is one that they know that they can never win, but their intent is not to defeat Hamas, it's to destroy Palestinians and to get rid of us.

SOARES: And the reason, Diana, I asked you this is because what we are hearing more and more, at least I've been picking up across Western press,

I should say, and you can tell me if I'm wrong here, is that the support of Hamas is growing, it seems from what I've been reading in the West Bank as

Palestinian prisoners and detainees are released. I'm going to read you a chunk of what New York Times said. Have a listen to this.

"For some Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, the freed prisoners have become a potent symbol of Hamas's ability to

achieve tangible results and its willingness to fight for the Palestinian cause. Each night in Ramallah, as new batches of prisoners were released,

one refrain echoed across the crowds, 'the people want Hamas, the people want Hamas.'" So then do the people want Hamas?

BUTTU: The people want freedom and their -- and the problem is that it's taken to this -- to this point. And the only way that we've managed to get

Palestinian political prisoners released is through this type of mechanism, either it was done through the peace process in the '90s, and that of

course failed.


Or it's been the result of a prisoner exchange. And that's the problem. Why is it that we still have a system in the West Bank that in which children

can be thrown into jail in the middle of the night, interrogated and convicted under torture, or held without change, without trial for up to

six months, and renewed indefinitely? This is the problem is that -- is that Palestinians are looking for freedom. And they are looking for anybody

who's going to guarantee their freedom. All Palestinians are united in that.

SOARES: So would you say, Diana, would you say that the support for Hamas has grown in the West Bank as -- of course as we see these prisoners, thse

detainees returning home?

BUTTU: I think it's a little bit more complicated than that. We're united around the idea that we want to see our freedom and people do want to see a

pushback. We've seen that this Palestinian AUTHORITY has stayed late and done absolutely nothing and so they will be backing any political movement,

any political party that is demanding freedom, but it is of course a little bit more complicated than that.

SOARES: So let's talk about the violence if we can in the West Bank, more than 260 Palestinians have been attained by Israeli forces in the West Bank

and that's during the period just of the truce by the way, 3,400 arrested since the horrific attacks on October the 7 and that is important to point

out to our viewers that is according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society. Why are we seeing, in your view, Diana, an increase in arrests here?

BUTTU: Again, because Israel can. Israel has -- since 1967, Israel set up a system of military courts that can convict Palestinians for violating any

of the more than 1,700 military orders. These military orders include things like membership in a political movement. They include anything from

the vague idea of somehow threatening security without any real -- without any real definition of what that means.

And so because nobody has ever put pressure on Israel to end this system, and remember there is a system in which Palestinians have picked up, thrown

into prison without charge, without trial for six months and then have that renewed indefinitely, because they can do that and nobody has stopped them,

Israel has used this period to pick up more and more and more Palestinians in the hopes that somehow they will use as bargaining chips.

And that's the problem, is that if we go down the path of simply allowing Israel to be above international law and somehow view the Palestinians are

not -- they're not even worthy of being (INAUDIBLE) to them, then it's the wrong system and this is what needs to be changed.

SOARES: Diana Buttu, always great to get your insight. Thank you very much, Diana.

And that does it for me for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. I'm Isa Soares in London. Connecting Africa is up next. Have a

wonderful weekend. I shall see you next week. Bye-bye.