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Isa Soares Tonight

Israel Expands Ground War Into Southern Gaza; COP28 Summit Host Defends His Commitment To Science; Russian Police Raid Gay Venues In Moscow; Israel Expands War Into Southern Gaza; Yemen's Houthi Forces Attack Multiple Ships In Red Sea. Aired 2-2:45p ET

Aired December 04, 2023 - 14:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Israel is expanding

its ground operations into southern Gaza as the humanitarian situation there grows worse by the day. We'll have the very latest on the conflict.

Then, COP28 leader feeling the heat as he defends comments that alarmed scientists and sent shockwaves through the climate summit. We'll explain.

Plus, Russian media reports police raiding gay venues across Moscow over the weekend after the country's top court ruled to ban the international

LGBTQ-plus movement. That story ahead.

Well, Israel is intensifying its war on Hamas, sending tanks rolling into southern Gaza as it expands ground operations to every corner of the tiny

Strip. It's also escalating airstrikes in the south. Densely-populated areas like the city of Khan Yunis are under heavy bombardment, so is Rafah

near the Egyptian border where people have been urged to flee.

Many civilians are crowding into U.N.-run schools that have been turned into shelters. But the U.N. spokesman tells CNN nowhere is safe.


THOMAS WHITE, DIRECTOR, UNRWA AFFAIRS GAZA: Sheltering with UNRWA should mean that you are safe, but the reality is, UNRWA schools continue to

suffer damage and be hit during the conflict. This -- in the last hour or so here in Rafah in the south, there have been dozens and dozens of

airstrikes into the city where there are hundreds of thousands of people seeking shelter.


KINKADE: Well, the U.N. says nearly 2 million people in Gaza have fled their homes. But now, even the main south, north-south road that was used

as a humanitarian corridor is off limits after Israel declared it a battlefield. A Hamas-run Health Ministry says nearly 16,000 people have

been killed, mostly women and children.

Well, let's get more now from CNN's Jeremy Diamond who joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Good to see you, Jeremy. So, there are still hostages in

Gaza, and despite that, we are hearing heavy bombardment, even a school bombed. What is the U.S. doing to urge Israel to take a more restrained

approach to its campaign in the south?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the U.S., officials in the last week have effectively communicated to Israel that its military operations

in the south cannot look like the carnage that we saw in much of the northern Gaza Strip, saying that its operations should be much more

targeted and much more focused on trying to protect and minimize civilian casualties.

But -- and Israel has taken some steps, it appears, in that direction, dropping leaflets on the city of Khan Yunis, saying that this will be an

active and dangerous combat zone, dropping leaflets that include that QR code to a map that effectively divides Gaza into hundreds of smaller zones.

But the practicality of those measures remains in question, especially with those zones being very small zones in cities, in southern Gaza, and the

ability of residents to be able to flee on a minutes' notice remains in question. And at the same time, Israel has also made clear that it is going

to continue to go after Hamas in southern Gaza with the same strength that it targeted Hamas operatives in northern Gaza as well.

And we all know that, that did result in significant civilian casualties. The Israeli military is continuing to push forward into southern Gaza, not

only with aerial bombardments, but also moving its ground forces and tanks into southern Gaza as well. We will -- the question remains, really, as to

how much more Israel looks to protect civilian life in southern Gaza right now, that very much remains in question, especially as we are seeing images

of some of those recent strikes.


But there's no question, Lynda, that United States pressure on Israel is certainly mounting, and is going to continue to remain fierce as Israel

carries out its campaign over the coming weeks.

KINKADE: And Jeremy, the U.S. Secretary of State spoke with the Qataris, which of course have been key to these hostage negotiations. What more can

you tell us about those discussions?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. The Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaking with Qatar's prime minister, to talk about the status of those

negotiations, which really have stalled in recent days. There have effectively been no more negotiations since Friday, when both the United

States and Israel as well as the Qataris were seeking to try and revive those talks after that temporary pause in fighting ended on Friday morning.

But it appears that they are stalled over the same impasse that ended those negotiations on Friday, which is the saddest of the remaining women in

custody who were held hostage in Gaza by Hamas and other militant groups. It appears that Hamas is unwilling to release those young women who they

argue, are reservists because they are of that age when they could be called up by the Israeli military.

The United States and Israel find that unacceptable, deeming them to be civilians. And Israel at this part -- point is unwilling to move forward in

the negotiations to begin talking about that next category, which would be the men being held hostage in Gaza until Hamas releases all of the women

that it still holds in its custody.

And so, for now, it appears very unlikely that we will see another pause in fighting, and instead, Israel and Hamas are both turning to their military

operations against one another. We have watched as Hamas has really ramped up its rocket barrages directed at Israeli cities over the last couple of

days, and the Israeli military, of course, who we were just discussing has ramped up not only its bombardment, but also its ground operations in

southern Gaza.

KINKADE: All right, Jeremy Diamond, we'll leave it there for now, but great to get that update from you on the ground. Thank you. Well, the

humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dire, and the situation is likely to get worse, as Israel expands its ground incursion in the south. Food and

medicine are already scarce, and the spread of disease is a major concern.

I want to go to Jerusalem now where our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is standing by. Ben, Israel's war as we've been discussing is

expanding now into the south of Gaza, which is where they told people to shelter. Where they said that would be safe. Two months into the war, it

really seems like nowhere is safe right now.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, there is nowhere that's safe in Gaza. And I think that should be pretty obvious to everyone.

Philippe Lazzarini; who is the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that takes care of Palestinian refugees just put out a statement

within the last hour.

And he said, "the resumption of the military operations and its expansion in southern Gaza is repeating the horrors of the past weeks." In that

statement, he said that news that the Israelis are now going to be focusing in on the south has spread panic, fear and anxiety among the hundreds of

thousands of people who are already sheltering in the U.N. schools, in areas where they now think -- believe they have to leave.

And what we're seeing is that it's not just the southern part of Gaza that's really been suffering, even in the north, over the weekend, there

were some intense airstrikes, basically obliterating entire blocks. And of course, even though many people have fled to the south, there are still

many people in the north, and they are suffering too.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Look around, this is Gaza city's Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital where the wounded are treated in the open on wooden pallets. The

emergency ward is already jammed. The courtyard is full of body bags, dozens were killed in a series of Israeli strikes Saturday, many more still

under the rubble.


Israel claims one of those strikes killed a senior Hamas commander who helped plan the 7 October attacks. He was perhaps one dead among many

others. This woman lost her daughter and grandchildren and names them all.


WEDEMAN: "And may God judge those watching us die", she cries. It's a similar scene in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, more wounded,

many of them children, many more dead, many of them children.


"They bombed an entire street", says Saud(ph), he pulled his brother Mohamed(ph) from under the rubble. But his brother Mohamed(ph) was dead,

said Saud(ph), "let me say good-bye to him."

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


WEDEMAN: And the expectation is that as Israel focused its fury on the southern part of the Gaza Strip, that the combat, the fighting will be

intense. In fact, Yoav Gallant; the Israeli Defense Minister warned that the fate of Hamas fighters in southern Gaza will be the same as the fate of

those in the north. Lynda?

KINKADE: And Ben, I mean, obviously, so much trauma right throughout Gaza, but some heartbreaking news for one of our CNN producers who was working in

Gaza for us, Ibrahim Dahman, who you know really well, his family, many of his relatives killed in an airstrike which hit their home.

WEDEMAN: Yes, this happened over the weekend in northern Gaza. And Ibrahim, who I've known for many years, worked very closely with, he found out that

nine members of his extended family, including his aunt and his uncle were killed in an Israeli airstrike. And he said that even before that, they

were in desperate straits. They were searching for food, searching for clean water, but obviously, all of us extend our condolences to Ibrahim and

his family.

KINKADE: Yes, we really do, and we appreciate your reporting, Ben Wedeman, our thanks to you and your team. Well, a new warning from the World Health

Organization about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It cautions that the war between Israel and Hamas could increase the risk of disease and


The head of the W.H.O. even says more people could die from a lack of food, water, basic hygiene and healthcare more than bombs. Well, the destruction

of civilian infrastructure also poses a risk for the spread of gastrointestinal and contagious respiratory disorders. Well, joining us now

for more is Dr. Rick Brennan, the Regional Emergency Director for the Eastern Mediterranean at the World Health Organization. Dr. Rick Brennan,

thanks so much for your time.


KINKADE: So this war has now been going on for over two months. The death toll in Gaza according to the local health ministry is close to 16,000. But

the W.H.O. fears the disease could kill more people than bombs. Is that right?

BRENNAN: Yes, it's true, and we have -- really running out of terms to describe this conflict. We've been using the term catastrophic for a number

of weeks now. And I don't know what else we can -- what other terms we can use. But you're absolutely right. We've had close to 16,000 deaths, violent

injuries. But at the same time, we have got this increasing risk of preventable deaths due to the spread of infectious diseases, and due to the

failure to treat other common chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes and kidney failure and so on.

The health system has been massively degraded across Gaza. From 36 functioning hospitals, we're down to 18. Most of them are just partially

functioning right now. The entire southern part of Gaza now depending on three hospitals that are incredibly overwhelmed. And we just cannot afford

any further degradation of the health system, we can't have any more attacks on healthcare. We must ensure the supply lines for fuel, water and

medicines for the health systems more broadly.

KINKADE: And Dr. Rick, we know according to the United Nations that over 80 percent of the population in Gaza is displaced. What can you tell us about

the current types and the rates of infection there right now?

BRENNAN: Yes, so, as you're rightly saying now, I'm sure the viewers are familiar with the fact that many of the displaced, if not most, are now

crammed into these overcrowded UNRWA schools and other collective centers.


The living conditions there are just appalling, the shelter is poor, lack of access to clean water, we're hearing, you know, 1 to 2 liters of clean

water, of drinking water available for each person per day. We're hearing 200 people sharing one toilet. So, you know, with toilets overflowing, open

defecation, these kinds of conditions are ripe for the spread of disease.

And we're seeing increased numbers of respiratory infections, of diarrhea. We've had over 1,100 cases of jaundice, which would make us concerned about

the spread of hepatitis as well as terrible skin infections, scabies and head lice and so on. And the risk of major outbreaks is increasing every


We will be very fortunate indeed if we don't have a major outbreak. And there are steps we can take to avoid, but we just don't have the access, we

just don't have the resources right now.

KINKADE: And so, what are those steps, and what sort of access do you need right now?

BRENNAN: Well, the first thing is to decongest those completely overcrowded schools and collective centers. They have been designed to accept displaced

people in emergencies. But they're -- you know, hosting now 4 to 6 times the numbers required. So, we need to decongest them, we need to be able to

provide more shelters.

We need to bring in appropriate levels of clean water in an emergency, the absolute minimum you would expect would be 7.5 liters of water per person

per day. There are clear standards around humanitarian action. Toilets, just bringing in toilets and hand-washing stations. But we would need at

least, at the most, 20 people sharing a toilet.

Right now, as I said, in most -- in many of these settings, it's 200 toilets per -- sorry, 200 people are using one toilet. So, we know what --

we know the standards, but we need the security. We need a ceasefire, frankly. I mean, we all know that. We all know what the answer is here, and

we cannot get on top of the problems without a ceasefire.

KINKADE: Dr. Rick, during the so-called pause in fighting, how much aid got in, and do you have any indication as to when the trucks, the next round of

trucks could gain access?

BRENNAN: So if you look at the numbers, you know, prior -- we've been saying all along, we need 500 trucks going in per day, and during the

pause, the numbers went up, went up to around 220 from the baseline, which is around a 100. So, that still well short over that one week period.

We were still 2,000 trucks short of what was required. But of course, with the renewal of the offensive, no trucks went in for a couple of days, we've

had more trucks going over the last 24 to 48 hours, but it's falling well short. The Rafah Crossing is insufficient to meet the needs. We need at

least one other crossing, and the humanitarian action itself cannot meet the massive needs of the population.

We need the commercial sector again revitalized. Without those -- without the commercial sector, we'd have at least one other crossing, we will see a

significant decline in the humanitarian situation even if we have another pause.

KINKADE: Dr. Rick Brennan, we appreciate your time and we appreciate the work that you do and those at the W.H.O., thanks so much.

BRENNAN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight, the president of COP28 is responding to critics. We'll have more on why he's defending his commitment to




KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade, good to have you with us. Well, the leader of the COP28 Summit was back in front of the mic today, once

again trying to calm his critics. Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber is now reasserting his commitment to science. He says he was misrepresented over recent

comments, such as quote, "there is no science behind requiring an end to fossil fuels to limit global warning." CNN's David McKenzie is in Dubai and

filed this report.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, these comments that have come to light from the COP president are certain to add

to the controversy surrounding these critical climate change meetings. It was already a controversial set of meetings here in Dubai, because it's

hosted in an oil rich nation, and presided over by a man who is also the head of the state-owned oil enterprise.

And now, Sultan Al-Jaber, the COP president hit back at the allegations and said that in fact he was taken out of context. He said that everything they

do here is underpinned by the science, and that it's inevitable that there will be a transition away from fossil fuels.


undermine the task at hand. We understand fully the urgency and we understand the responsibility that we have taken on board.

MCKENZIE: I spoke to the head of the Green Peace delegation, they said it's now game on. They're hoping in the next week or so that they will be firm

language on phasing out or phasing down from fossil fuels to help our boiling planet. David McKenzie, CNN, Dubai.


KINKADE: Well, catastrophic flooding caused by the El Nino weather event has killed hundreds of people across East Africa in recent weeks. As a real

world example of climate change, El Nino impacts ocean surface temperature causing higher than average rainfall. The intense rains have wreaked havoc,

forcing people from their homes.


KINKADE (voice-over): Trapped and submerged by water, this was the scene in recent weeks as heavy rains inundated the horn of Africa causing

unprecedented flooding and landslides. Hundreds of people have been killed, more than 1 million now without homes. Displaced, many saw their

possessions swept away in seconds. A trail of devastation left behind. After the floodwaters swallowed her home, one resident returned, recalling

the horror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The waters have ruined everything, my house and the toilet. It rained from the morning until the

evening. By 8:00 p.m., we had to pack and flee.

KINKADE: The heavy rains in East Africa follow the worst drought in four decades. And whilst there's been some respite in parts of Somalia where the

water has begun to recede, displaced families and others are still facing the risk of disease after floods destroyed toilets and drinking wells.

Speaking at COP28 in Dubai, Somalia's president says climate change is a reality they have to deal with every day.

HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, PRESIDENT, SOMALIA: I must note that today's victims of this devastating flood are sadly the survivors of yesterday's droughts.


Only a year ago, Somalia barely averted famine, following consecutive failing rainy seasons. What's transpiring in my country today is not unique

to us.

KINKADE: With vast areas of farmland decimated by the floods and livelihoods wiped away, there seems to be no break as meteorologists say

parts of Kenya will experience rain into the new year.


KINKADE: Well, the White House is warning lawmakers of the consequences if Ukraine is not given additional aid. In October, President Joe Biden

requested an additional $61 billion in funding for Ukraine, but that request hasn't been approved. On Monday, an official told Congress that

the U.S. will soon run out of resources to help Ukraine without that additional immediate aid.

The letter to Congress said not giving further aid increase the quote, "likelihood of Russian military victory". The U.S. Congress is battling

over the aid requests being bundled with aid to Israel and security on the U.S.-Mexico border. Russian media report that police have raided gay venues

throughout Moscow over the weekend. It comes after the country's top court banned the quote, "international LGBTQ movement last week."

Two news outlets say police went to the venues and took pictures of people's passports, but did not detain anyone. Well, joining us now for

more is CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, good to see you, Fred. So 48 hours after Russia's top court referred to the global

LGBTQ+ community as an extremist organization. We saw police raid all sorts of venues across Moscow. How did that unfold?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Lynda. Well, first of all, I think this is having a chilling effect on the LGBTQ

community there in Russia. It's still -- it is also something by the way that a lot of folks that we've been speaking to out of that community

really saw coming. They believe that something like that was going to happen.

Now, it was on the night from Friday into Saturday that a lot of these raids took place. Three raids specifically in the town of Moscow, and

that's a little less than 48 hours after that verdict came down from the country's Supreme Court where several venues were raided. Now, it's not

clear whether these were actually gay bars or clubs, but it certainly seems as though they were gay entertainment venues, as was said.

We're seeing some of the video there on our screen right now, of past parades that took place, that were also then broken up by the police. But

now, of course, that crackdown has very much intensified -- and you're absolutely right to point out that the authorities say that these were

regular drug raids as they put it, now, they just checked the identities of these people.

And certainly, from what we're hearing on the ground, nobody was indeed detained, but not only were identities checked and people frisked and

searched, but also their documents were photographed as well. And that certainly is something that has a lot of folks from the gay and lesbian

community very much concerned in Russia, as they believe there could be repercussions in the future.

And of course, it is also part of a crackdown that really has been going on for several years, but has certainly once again intensified and gained in

steam really, since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In fact, about a year ago, almost to the day the Russians put in place what they call the gay and

lesbian propaganda law, essentially making it illegal to display any sorts of signs of being gay in public.

So certainly, now declaring the LGBT movement to be extremist, declaring those who are part as they put it, of that movement, extremist as well, is

definitely something that certainly intensifies that once again. Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly does. All right, Frederik Pleitgen, we'll leave it there for now, thanks for joining us from Berlin. Well, still to come

tonight, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joins me with his analysis of Israel's expanded operations in Gaza. Plus, Yemen's Houthi rebels launch

attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. How a U.S. warship is responding.



KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Good to have you with us. I want to recap our top story. Israel expanding its ground operations to all of

Gaza. That includes southern Gaza where Palestinians were initially told to take shelter. Explosions and rocket fire were seen around the city of Khan

Yunis earlier today. Senior Israeli officer says the military objective in northern Gaza is nearly complete. Israel is renewing cause for Palestinians

to evacuate. But with Gaza virtually sealed off, many find they have nowhere to go.

For more I'm joined by retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He is a CNN Military Analyst who served as a commanding general of the U.S. Army,

Europe and the U.S. Seventh Army. Good to see you.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good to see you, Lynda. Thanks for having me.

KINKADE: So, Israel claims to have hit more Hamas targets overnight. But in the process, they've wiped out more civilian infrastructure, including at

least one school. The IDF is calling this a new phase of the war as it expands into the South. How do you see this unfolding?

What I've said from the beginning, Lynda, is I believe we're going to see the expansion in both the central and the southern areas of the Gaza Strip.

That's primarily because the Israeli Defense Forces have intelligence that shows those tunnels that we've been talking about since the beginning of

the conflict are expansive. And they go into the entire Strip and are particularly located among all the three -- well, actually four major

cities of Gaza City where they've been for the first two months of the campaign, Deir al Balah, which is in the central part of Gaza, Khan Yunis,

which is in the south-central, and then even into Rafah.

So, as the war has continued, as the conflict has continued, Hamas has moved from one to another. They started in the north. You're showing rocket

fire right now coming out of Gaza. And the reason they started in the north is because that's where the primary points of origin are from rockets

attacked from Hamas into Israel, both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But as the -- as the Israelis have gone into that northern part, and there was the pause

in the operation, Hamas has moved to the center in the south. And I anticipated this happening and I think that's part of the Israeli campaign.


By the way, they have done this before in 2021 and 2014 and two operations there where they started in the north and then pushed south.

KINKADE: And they have, of course, said in the past that their operations in the north are nearly complete. They are saying that again. Do you expect

that they will keep forces there in the north as they launch this offensive in the south?

HERTLING: Yes, Lynda, I'm skeptical that the operations are complete in the north and I think they will keep forces there. Again, this is -- this is a

maneuver requirement. Hamas is going to move and fire where they are attacked. We've seen them use those tunnels in the past conflicts and in

this one, so it is a back-and-forth. And it gives Hamas, it gives this terrorist group the capability to move from one location to another to use

more infrastructure that Israel will target.

And like you just said, a school was hit in Khan Yunis, as I believe, that was reported. That's again to generate a great deal of trauma on the world

stage that people will see wounded Palestinians and the fact that a school was hit and they will say, isn't that horrible that Israel is doing that?

But it's Hamas's attempt to use different infrastructure to pull Israel in and to generate this kind of disgust on the world stage that will harm

Israel's operations.

So, there's actually a method to their madness in doing this. Hamas as any terrorist group wants to bring international displeasure upon their enemy,

which in this case is Israel.

KINKADE: Lieutenant General, the U.S. like most of the world doesn't want to see this conflict expand into a regional war. So, what's your take on

the fact that we've seen these Iranian-backed militia attacking a commercial vessels, U.S. assets in the Red Sea? And what more can the U.S.

do to deter them?

HERTLING: Well, I think they're doing it now, Lynda. The attacks against the commercial shipping that occurred over the weekend that were countered

by, in this case, the USS Carney, which happened to be in a position in the Red Sea and near the Gulf of Aden where the attacks occurred, is exactly

what the deterrence is supposed to be about.

When rockets or missiles or drone strikes are prevented, in many cases, not only against shipping, but against U.S. forces in the area, that in and of

itself is a deterrent. But I think you'll also see in the near future the United States conducting more operations, more strikes against Houthi

rebels, against these points of origin from where the rockets and missiles and drones occurred. But I think that's going to take time. And there's a

waiting game to occur to find out and get more intelligence on where those things are being launched from so they can be attacked. That in and of

itself is deterrence.

KINKADE: Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, always good to get your perspective. Thanks so much for joining us.

HERTLING: Thank you, Lynda. I appreciate it.

KINKADE: Well, in Lebanon, state media report Israeli artillery strikes are hitting inside Lebanese territory. Video shows smoke rising from the hills

in the south of Lebanon. They're also being Israeli airstrikes over the past two days. Israel and militants like the Lebanese Hezbollah have been

trading shots for weeks. The Israelis have released this video showing a strike on what they say is a Hezbollah weapons facility. Israel said over

the weekend that several of its soldiers were wounded by cross-border fire.

Well, now to the growing dangers in the Red Sea and warnings for commercial vessels there. Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, as we were just

discussing, have carried out multiple attacks against quite a few ships on Sunday claiming the vessels were Israeli. The IDF says those ships are not

affiliated with Israel. The U.S. military says an American warship, the USS Carney, shot down at least three Houthi drones and responded to a distress

call from a commercial vessel under fire.

Our Natasha Bertrand is our security reporter and joins us now live from Washington. Good to have you with us, Natasha. So, what more can you tell

us about these attacks which included a ballistic missile in the Southern Red Sea?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Lynda, this was a pretty dramatic escalation yesterday in the Southern Red Sea where the USS

Carney was dispatched essentially to respond to a series of missile attacks targeting three commercial vessels in the Red Sea, one of which was a

ballistic missile. And the U.S. Central Command said in a statement that they believe that these missiles were launched by these Iran-backed Houthi

rebels who also launched, I should note, three separate drones that were heading towards the U.S. destroyer and that the U.S. ultimately decided to

shoot down.


So, clearly, this is something that the Houthis believe could actually hinder, of course, the operation of these vessels in the Red Sea. And they

say that they are doing it because they believe these ships are linked to Israel. Well, interestingly, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, he

just spoke to reporters and he said that in fact these vessels are not believed to have ties to Israel and that this just shows that these Houthi

rebels are kind of just launching these attacks at these ships in order to simply disrupt the maritime activity there, something that he said is not


But look, these did not come in a vacuum, these attacks. These are part of a much larger series of attacks by these Iran-backed groups on U.S. and

allied and partnered nations in the region in response to, according to these groups, the U.S.'s support for Israel in the Israel-Hamas War. And

so, the question now becomes how is the U.S. going to respond?

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, he said that the U.S. is in talks with a number of countries about a potential maritime task force that

could ensure the safe passage of some of these commercial vessels through this area. But short of that, there is also the military response, of

course, something that the U.S. has done before. They have launched airstrikes against these Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria over the last

several weeks. But the attacks in those instances have not been deterred.

And so, the question now is, will they try the same strategy against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen? That remains to be seen. And Central Command

in a statement said that they are currently reviewing all of their options for potential response, and of course will do so at a time and place of

their choosing. Lynda?

KINKADE: Yes, Natasha, as you point out, these are running-backed groups are showing neuroscience and deterrence. So, what more is the U.S. -- we've

got to leave it there right now. I'm just getting the wrap in my ear. Running out of time but Natasha Bertrand, god to have you with us on the

story from the Pentagon. Thanks so much.

We will continue with much more news at the top of the hour. Thanks so much for watching. I'm Lynda Kincaid. Still on CNN, 'QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER" is