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Isa Soares Tonight
IDF Renews Airstrikes In Southern Gaza As It Expands Ground Operations; Lebanon Says One Of Its Soldiers Was Killed In An Israeli Attack; Zelenskyy Cancels Address To U.S. Senators; IDF Troops Now Encircling Khan Yunis In Southern Gaza. Aired 2-2:45p ET
Aired December 05, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, the Israeli military are now encircling
Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza as the U.N. warns nowhere is safe for civilians. We'll have the very latest for you.
Then fears of regional escalation as Lebanon says one of its soldiers has been killed in an Israeli attack, we are live in southern Lebanon with
more. Plus, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy will address U.S. senators in the coming hours, just a day after the White House warned aid may soon run out.
That story, just ahead in the show.
But first, Israel says it is the heaviest day of fighting since the ground war in Gaza began. It's reporting fierce battle today, including face-to-
face combat with Hamas militants, saying Israeli forces are striking from the land, air and the sea. Israeli troops say they're now operating the
heart of Khan Yunis, a major city in the south as well as Jabalia Refugee Camp.
As you remember, that is in the north. Well, in central Gaza, dozens of casualties are reporting Deir al Balah after an airstrike destroyed a
multi-story building. You can see men here digging, you can see right there with bare hands trying to rescue any survivors.
Well, the vast majority of Gaza's population is now displaced. But U.N. officials stressed there's nowhere safe to go, warning of apocalyptic
conditions. Palestinian civilians are not only fleeing for their lives, they're also scouring for food and water amid a wasteland of rubble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I fled with my brother-in-law and brothers from Gaza. We suffered from the war cannons, so we ran away from
it to the starvation wall. Now, we cannot find food. We make food by ourselves. We divide one tomato between all of us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We spent all night hearing rockets and bombing. We are living between life and death. We may die at
any moment. It may be our turn and our kids' turn to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, let's bring in CNN's Alex Marquardt for much more, he joins us this hour from Tel Aviv. Alex, good to see you. As the IDF intensifies
its attacks in the south and as it expands its offensive as we've been showing viewers here, U.N. official also warning of this apocalyptic
situation as we've been saying in Gaza. What are you hearing from the IDF regarding its operations?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, they have said that they are expanding their operation from the north into the
south. And we have seen clear evidence of that. And we have just got an update from the IDF, they say that over the course of this operation that
started after the October 7th attacks, that they have carried out some 20,000 strikes.
Now, the IDF making clear that they are focusing on Khan Yunis. They're continuing operations in the north and central parts of Gaza, but there is
a major focus on Khan Yunis, because they do believe that Hamas leadership has gone into that city. It is the biggest city in the southern part of the
The IDF says that they are operating at the center of it, the most senior general in the Israeli military says that they are encircling it. We have
seen airstrikes like the ones that we are showing on the screen there. The complication, of course, is that so many hundreds of thousands of Gazans
were told to go to the south.
SOARES: Yes --
MARQUARDT: Many of them did go to Khan Yunis for refuge, and now they're being told to go even farther south. United Nations says that there is not
enough shelter for everybody. There's not enough aid for everybody. And Gazans telling us that really nowhere is safe. And now, Isa, tonight, we're
expecting the weather to turn, heavy rain to fall.
There have been flash flood warnings. So -- and already horrible situation is expected to turn even worse, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and as civilian casualties mount, Alex, the spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces have been telling CNN, the ratio of two
Palestinian civilians killed for every Hamas militant is -- and I'm quoting him here, tremendously positive, given the challenges of urban combat. How
are those words being received? Just put -- add more context here, Alex.
MARQUARDT: Well, certainly, lots of anger on the Palestinian side. Many of whom believe that the ratio is even higher. That there are far more
civilians killed for every Hamas militant.
The point that Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus was trying to make here is that, Israel believes that the ratio is actually quite low for fighting
in a dense urban area where they accuse Hamas of hiding behind civilians. And so, the two civilians killed for every Hamas militant would be
And that ratio is what he called tremendously positive. And of course, that raised a lot of eyebrows, because there's nothing about the scenes that we
are seeing in Gaza or the death toll that we are seeing is, you know, anywhere -- you would never use the words --
SOARES: Yes --
MARQUARDT: Tremendously positive to describe anything that we are seeing in Gaza. Now, Conricus is walking some of this back. He says that he chose his
words poorly, he should have been more careful. But he is not walking back the fact that it does appear to be -- it does appear that a ratio of two
civilians for every Hamas militant would be acceptable in this Israeli operation. Isa.
SOARES: Alex Marquardt there for us with the very latest, thanks very much, Alex. Well, one aid group that operates inside of Gaza, the Norwegian
Refugee Council is slamming Israel's military operations, saying, quote, "the pulverizing of Gaza ranks amongst the worst assault on any civilian
population in our time and age."
Our Ben Wedeman shows us the sheer desperation of some Palestinians as they struggle to stay alive. Have a look at this.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperate times call for desperate measures. And in Gaza, if that means looting the
local bakery destroyed overnight by an Israeli airstrike, so be it. "Look at the people", says Icramari(ph), "they're doing this out of hunger". It
was the Baraka(ph) Bakery, Baraka(ph) is Arabic for blessing.
But now Gaza is under the curse of war. It was the last functioning bakery in Deir al Balah. People's basic needs, striking it is a kind of terrorism.
Once the sun came up Monday, people of all ages descended upon the bakery, taking away bags of flour, cooking oil, scraps of wood to use for cooking
and heating, and just about anything else they could carry away.
This man describes it in one word, "chaos". The World Food Program's Abeer Etafa warns that people of Gaza are reaching the breaking point.
ABEER ETAFA, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: When you have civil order breaking down completely because people are becoming desperate, hopeless, hungry by the
moment. This is, of course, bound to happen.
WEDEMAN: And with Israeli ground forces now operating in southern Gaza, the hundreds of thousands who fled the north in search of safety are now even
more than before in the line of fire. Gaza after almost two months of war has come to this. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.
SOARES: U.N. officials are warning of an even more hellish scenario if more desperate and needed aid doesn't enter Gaza. Egypt says at least, 50 trucks
loaded with humanitarian aid entered through the Rafah Crossing on Tuesday. Two of those trucks were carrying fuel, according to United Nations before
October the 7th, about 455 aid trucks were crossing each day.
We are hoping to connect to MSF, Medecins Sans Frontieres to get the very latest as to what's happening inside Gaza, particularly in the south. As
soon as we've connected with MSF, we will of course, bring that to you. In the meantime, the Lebanese army says one of its soldiers has been killed in
an Israeli attack and three others wounded.
This appears to be the first death of a Lebanese soldier due to the fighting in the region sparked by Hamas attack on October the 7th. Groups
like Hezbollah are also firing projectiles and cross-border fire between Israel militants and Lebanon has been happening as you know, as we've been
reporting here on the show for weeks.
A CNN team witnessed that, appeared to be -- what appeared to be Israeli interceptors, you can see there, hitting some of the outgoing rockets from
Lebanon earlier today. For the very latest, our Ivan Watson is live in southern Lebanon. So, Ivan, what has been the reaction then to one of --
one of these Lebanese soldiers being killed? Because we've also -- I know we've also heard from the Lebanese Prime Minister today.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, Hezbollah has said that it carried out cross-border strikes in retaliation for the death
of that Lebanese army soldier earlier today, in what the Lebanese military said was an Israeli artillery strike.
So, the cycle of violence along this border continues with the Israeli military exchanging a long-range fire with Hezbollah and other armed groups
on the ground. To date, not with the Lebanese military. The Lebanese state as the caretaker prime minister has put it, is trying to remain neutral in
this conflict which has gone on now for the better part of two months.
We've seen a good -- we've gotten a good look at what it can look like at times. A couple of hours ago, I witnessed perhaps a salvo of around five
rockets coming from southern Lebanon in the direction of the Israeli border town of Metula.
And then we saw at least two of the interceptors go up and appeared to hit some of these projectiles. And that's just an example of kind of what it
looks like. But the end result is that the communities here in the border region on both sides of the border are living day and night with the sound
of these explosions, with the threat that something could crash into their communities here on the Lebanese side of the border.
For example, schools have been closed now for nearly two months. School children having to study remotely the way they did during the COVID
pandemic. Businesses suffering, and just a morale at a -- I think an all- time low as people have no control over their future, they are at the whims of these two warring parties and have no say into whether or not this
conflict will continue through the new year.
SOARES: Ivan Watson there with the very latest, thanks very much, Ivan. Well, I promised you that we would try to connect, of course, with MSF,
Medecins Sans Frontieres' Leo Cans from the Medecins Sans Frontieres Mission head for Palestine joins us now in Jerusalem.
Leo, welcome back to the show. I want to ask you first of all because we had a report at the top of this show, giving us a sense of what is
happening in the south of the Strip. I want to hear from you, though, and from your colleagues on the ground, your teams and your colleagues on the
ground. What are they telling you?
I know you have two hospitals, right? The MSF is working in two hospitals in southern Gaza. The Nasr Hospital as well the Al-Aqsa. What are they
LEO CANS, HEAD OF MISSION FOR PALESTINE, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: It's catastrophic. It's catastrophic, and all of us in the hospital, we see big
influx of patients, hundreds of patients arriving in Al-Aqsa Hospital as well as Nasr Hospitals, and the doctors are completely overwhelmed. As we
saw in the north, we are taking care of patients on the floor, operating patients on the floor, and we have way too much patients that we can
handle. So the situation is catastrophic.
SOARES: Situation is catastrophic, and as you well know, because you and I spoke what? At the end of October. You know, Gazans at that time, they were
-- they were in the north, they were told to move to south, and now they're in Khan Yunis, and they've been told to move away from the fighting.
The question I keep asking my guests, because I think it's an important question, is a question that many people are asking, stay with me for just
a second, Prime Minister Netanyahu is talking. Bear with me, Leo, let's listen in.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): They ask - - then they are fighting bravely and with determination. And today, as then, we will pray together for their safety and for the safety of the
country, for the country. Citizens of Israel, I and the other members of the cabinet met the hostage families today who -- those that have already
come home and those that we are fighting to get home.
I have heard stories which broke my heart on the torture, both mental and physical. Those that are still afraid because of the safety of their loved
ones. I heard, and you also heard the sexual abuse and rape as none before, that I have to say that until a few days ago, I hadn't heard the rights of
any organizations for human rights about women in the United Nations.
I didn't hear their cries, and I said, where are you? You are keeping quiet because they're talking about Jewish women. I want to say this in a
language which all of us understand.
(NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN ENGLISH)
You've heard of the rape of Israeli women, horrible atrocities, sexual muralation. Where the hell are you? I expect all civilized leaders,
governments, nations to speak up against this atrocity.
(NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
I am full partner for the concern of the families having their loved ones in Gaza. I understand the unbelievable fight that they're going through to
bring all of our hostages home, it's one of the three main aims of this fight, of this war. We check every piece of information, every piece of
intelligence, there is many intelligence people who are dealing only with this in order to bring all of our hostages home safely. And I mean
Soldiers, female and male, citizens male and female, old people, young people, everybody. The hostages are at the forefront of our minds, and we
are doing the right thing. I saw today, Amelia Aloni, the little one, six years old, going back to the kindergarten.
The kindergarten teacher hugged her, her friends hugged her. And in these dark days, a heart filled with happiness, it's very few these days. We will
have 110 people, hostages who come back with the strength of -- the political strength which we are continuing.
All of the hostages who are still in captivity will be brought back. We are obliged to do so. Hamas has tried to destroy us. We are destroying them.
Many of the terrorists came from Ajay -- at the beginning of the week, we eliminated the commander of Ajay, the one who was in charge of what
happened on the 7th of October.
So far, we have eliminated half of the commanders. Everyone who attacked, who cooperated, who attacked, who raped, who burned, and we won't forget
and we won't forgive. The fighters will continue, the fighters of the IDF will continue the war, and will take apart Hamas everywhere in the Gaza
Yesterday, there was a tremendous fight. The earth trembled in Khan Yunis, in Jabalia it trembled. There is no place which we don't get to. We got --
we attacked the main base of Hamas. They are fighting face-to-face and meeting many terrorists around the clock and every fight we are on top, we
will fight until the end, until absolute victory.
Our fighters have shown the determination of the whole country. But all of this, there is a heavy price. Every fallen soldier hurts our heart, Ben
Zuzman(ph) fell in Gaza, in the engineering unit. He was a hero of Israel, of the country, a fantastic sportsman. And together with him, another four
people from the -- from his school in Jerusalem near Shapira, who, after he -- we also -- Aye Wright(ph), his friend also we lost from the tanks.
Anon Freedman(ph) also from tanks, and Bill Safali(ph) also from the tank battalion. Ben Ariel(ph), Shaha(ph), I speak to the families, and their
families, your dearest ones did not fall for nothing. We will destroy Hamas. We will fight until victory, until we have completed all of our --
what we set out to do. That Hamas will not exist anymore.
That Gaza will not ever again be a threat to Israel. And I want to say a further word about the day after Hamas. Gaza has to be separated, and in
order to do so, there is only one strength that can do that, and that is the IDF.
No other international force can be responsible for that. I've seen that they brought out the international forces to maintain this, but I don't
rely on them. And I say from here, I say from here to our friends in the world, that who are trying to pressurize to end this war quickly, the only
way that we will stop this quickly is to put tremendous strength on Hamas to eliminate them.
If our friends want to assist in order to shorten it, so that it's also their war against the barbarians which are circulating in the world, and I
say in English or any --
(NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN ENGLISH)
Stand with Israel. Stand with civilization.
(NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
Citizens of Israel, from my visits to the field, I see the fighters, our heroes of the IDF, of the security forces, of the police, and one of them,
Ariel(ph), his name, from the tanks, in his tank and other tanks in the area, they sit together, a religious and a religious Jewish and not Jewish,
from the left, from the right, and they all fight together. They all have a tremendous friendship.
SOARES: You've been listening there to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again making some remarks there. I'm going to give you a bit of -
- tell you about what he said. He said that he's been hearing stories, he said that broke his heart. Both mental and physical stories from those
hostages, of course, who have been released.
Those hostages who were brutally held by Hamas for some seven weeks or so. He also heard about sexual abuse and rape, and he said -- I'm going to
quote him here, "until a few days ago, I hadn't heard any organizations of human rights organizations", he said, "to talk about their rights." And he
then -- if you heard, spoke in English.
"You heard the rape of those horrible atrocities where" -- and I'm going to quote him here, "where the hell are you?" So blaming U.N., blaming other
NGOs for not speaking out about the rape of the women and men, I should say, faced, according to Israelis at the hands of Hamas.
He went on to say he expects all leaders, he said, to speak up about these atrocities. And he went on to mention that the aim of this war is still to
bring the hostages home. That is still the aim, of course, everyone home. And we know there are 138 hostages being held in Gaza, we've heard that
today from the prime minister's office, 118 males, 20 females.
He went on to talk about the mission, of course, which is also as you well know, to destroy Hamas. Gaza, he said, will never again be a threat to
Israel. He mentioned that so far they have -- they had eliminated half of commanders. And he said -- commanders who attacked, who raped and who
So pretty much giving us a brief update on the stories he had heard from many of those hostages. Some of those have been meeting with cabinet
members. So important there to hear from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Before we went to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I was speaking to MSF,
to Leo Cans.
Leo, thank you very much, thank you for waiting for us. I was asking you -- you were telling me before we heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there
about the conditions, the dire conditions that the hospitals that your team are working under, the fact that they're overwhelmed.
My question to you before we went to Netanyahu was, you know, we've seen -- we've seen Gazans having to move from the north to the south. And now
they're being told again to move because move away from the fighting. My question is, this is the question I've been asking a lot of viewers is, I
mean, where are they going?
This is what people want to know. What kind of facilities -- what is there to host what? Eighty percent of Gaza's populations that's been displaced?
CANS: You know, they just don't know where to go. They're asking us, they don't know where to go, because there is nowhere safe. And people are
moving and then they're being bombed in the place they have been moving. So I think it's important to take the whole scope of what is going on now in
We have seen in the north, not attack on Heskiya(ph). We have seen the whole destruction of the health system. The whole destruction of the health
system on the north of Gaza. And now, the system, the health system in the south is collapsing. It's a destruction of the health system, it's almost a
destruction of the society that is going on right now.
People are panicking. We have call -- phone call from people on the ground, they don't know where to go, they don't know where to take refuge. All the
refuges are fully packed with people, it's overwhelmed with people --
SOARES: Yes --
CANS: There is lack of food, lack of drinking water, lack of medicine, lack of everything.
SOARES: Lack of everything. And not only of course, with so many people displaced, you know, 80 percent of Gaza's population according to the U.N.
now being displaced. What impact, Leo, does that have, kind of the health consequences on this kind of high density population?
CANS: Well, you know, we see the -- of course, the high mortality rate. We see that we are very concerned about the spread of epidemic --
SOARES: Yes --
CANS: Things like diarrhea, like measles, like -- and there are a lot of people in these refuges like vulnerable people, like pregnant women, like
newborn, they don't have access to healthcare. Nothing, zero. Because they cannot move because of the bombing, and because all of the primary
healthcare is closed.
So, all of these people have zero access to healthcare. You know, it's really an attack on humanity that is going on right now in Gaza. And I'm
talking about the humanity of all of us. All of us who are watching, the world is watching what is happening there and nothing is moving. And I'm
wondering where the international community, where are they to stop this indiscriminate and disproportionate bombing that is going on now in Gaza
SOARES: I'm glad you brought this up, Leo, because the last time you and I spoke, and I'm not sure if you remember, because it was end of October, you
were somehow, and I hope you don't mind me saying this, you were somehow frustrated at a lack of diplomatic solution of intervention. You told me,
you know, enough is enough, the bombing has to stop.
In the last 24 hours, I saw a tweet, I think my team have it, they can bring it up from the MSF page. And I want to show -- do we have this tweet,
Anna(ph), to bring up? Bring -- it's coming up now, just bear with us. But it speaks to that frustration, perhaps, that we have. And it was from the
MSF. And it's talking from a doctor -- as a doctor, MSF doctor who had died and written -- made a comment and written on the white board, right? I
don't know if you've seen this --
CANS: Yes --
CANS: Of course, yes --
SOARES: If we've got it now, it says "we did what we could, remember us." Those are the words from MSF doctor, Mahmoud Abu Nujaila who was killed in
a hospital strike, so what he wrote on a white board. And then it says, at U.N. Security Council, "when the guns fall silent, the scale of devastation
is revealed. Will you be able to say the same?"
I mean, how disappointed on that vein that we -- just telling us now, Leo, how disappointed, how frustrated are you that it's come to this?
CANS: Yes, you know, it's not only disappointing. It's outrage.
CANS: It's -- we are outraged about what is going on right now. And you know, humanitarian actors, we're not magicians, we cannot work because we
don't have supply. If we don't have people who can get in, we cannot work in a full bombing when there's indiscriminate bombing. I remind you, you
know that we lost three of our colleagues in the beginning of the war.
And two of them were working -- were on the team when they were killed during the war. So, we cannot do -- we cannot do more that -- we need the
basic principle of humanity to apply in Gaza. I'm outraged. We are -- MSF, outraged by the fact that humanitarian aid is conditioned to military
negotiation, there's no justification to say we are blocking food, we are blocking water, we are blocking medicine to enter the Gaza Strip.
What is the justification for that? We don't hear. What is the justification for preventing population to have access to food and water
without -- which are just essential food. And I don't think we are making rocket with flour. So there is no justification for that.
The world is standing by, and this has to stop. We can -- it has to be said, you know, right now in the Gaza Strip, MSF is doing only 1 percent of
what we could do if we had --
SOARES: Wow --
CANS: The supply coming in and the basic security, only 1 percent of what we could do.
SOARES: Leo Cans --
CANS: And this is a political decision.
SOARES: Really appreciate, Leo, as always, you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much, Leo. Leo Cans there from MSF --
CANS: Thank you. Thank you very much.
SOARES: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has now canceled his address to U.S. senators. It was supposed to be part of his push for
additional U.S. funding to Ukraine, but Zelenskyy said he was unable to attend a classified briefing due to a quick last-minute matter. His
cancellation comes as Russian missiles and drones have recently targeted Ukrainian infrastructure facilities.
President Biden has warned the U.S. must lead and give more aid to Ukraine that's being held up in Congress where some lawmakers want to tie it to
border security funding. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): But any warning from this administration goes on deaf ears. They are the ones that caused it. They are the ones that --
MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Caused the war in Ukraine?
NORMAN: No, they're the ones that caused the border security, the insecurity, they are the ones that -- you know, it's too little, too late
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get more on all this. CNN Politics senior reporter Stephen Collinson joins us now.
Stephen, this address now being canceled, we don't know the reasons why. But the address to start off with spoke, I believe, to the concern, of
course, that those $60 billion may not be approved and they may dwindle.
But remember, only a few weeks ago, we saw Lloyd Austin traveling to Kyiv, saying we will remain with you for the long haul.
Do those who oppose this funding, do they see the long term concerns here, that this may be favorable to Putin?
How do they square this?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the particular conditions in the treacherous torrents of U.S. politics mean it is very
difficult for the United States to give that assurance and live up to it now.
But it will be there for the long haul. What we are seeing in Washington is part of the real mess, if you, like in American politics, being projected
and affecting American foreign policy and its leadership on the world stage.
Specifically, hardline Republican politicians want to condition this Ukraine aid on implementing some of former president Trump's most hardline
immigration policies at the border, which are unacceptable to Democrats in the House -- in the Senate, who run the Senate and the White House. So
you've got this massive impasse.
And a lot of that is due to the changes and the transformation in the Republican Party, which has moved away from its internationalist past and
now is very much an America first party in the image of Donald Trump, which doesn't really care that much about the unity of the West, the independence
of Ukraine and foreign democracies.
So we are having a philosophical clash in the United States that is really having great consequences around the world.
SOARES: Indeed. Stephen, appreciate it. We are keeping it short today. Really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Stephen Collinson there.
Still to come tonight. Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights joins me to discuss Israel's war effort
in Gaza. That is after this break. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back.
The U.N.'s COP28 climate summit has issued the first draft of a deal that includes calls to phase out fossil fuels. But there is still plenty of room
for negotiators in Dubai to water down the language in the final text.
The summit has been controversial from the very start. The UAE relies heavily on petroleum. It's accused of using the event to sign new oil and
gas deals. And the oil executive leading the summit has had to defend comments he made, downplaying the need to phase out fossil fuels.
And this all comes as the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization says that the decade ending in 2020 was the hottest on record. Climate change
has been blamed for making extreme weather even worse.
Right now, southern India is reeling from a major storm, Cyclone Michaung made landfall earlier today. The region was already being battered with
heavy wind, rain and flooding. Thousands have been evacuated; at least six people are reported dead. Rescue efforts are underway.
Israel is expanding its ground operations, as we told you at the top of the, show into southern Gaza, now encircling the city of Khan Yunis. The
United Nations warning of what they call an apocalyptic situation for civilians with nowhere left to flee.
The Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, is calling on governments to review and put conditions on military aid to
Israel, in light of the country's ongoing war against Hamas.
They issued a statement last Monday, which reads in part, I will read, to "Israel's disproportionate response to the horrendous terror attacks by
Hamas on 7 October, which The Elders unequivocally condemned, has reached a level of inhumanity toward Palestinians in Gaza that is intolerable."
Mary Robinson chairs The Elders after serving as the first female president of Ireland. She is also the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
and she joins us now from Geneva.
Mary, great to see you. Thank you very much for taking the time to be with us this evening. Let me start with that statement we just had, part of a
statement, I should say. It's a lengthy statement from The Elders.
Reading, not holding, back calling Israel's response disproportionate and a level of inhumanity in Gaza tolerable. Give us your assessment, Mary, of
the last seven weeks here and the manner in which Israel has been conducting these operations.
MARY ROBINSON, UNITED NATIONS' HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: The problem is that we are seeing on our televisions, as human beings, so many
men, women and children, particularly women and children, being bombarded with heavy bombs. Their houses destroyed. Their hospitals destroyed, their
And being told to move in a very congested area, which I know, I've been to Gaza a couple of times as part of The Elders. So and then the Biden
administration has rightly called for a proportionate response for restraint at the level of killing and -- of innocent civilians, as Kamala
Harris said in Dubai.
It's not acceptable. We all agree with that. But words aren't enough anymore. So we as Elders, are asking that countries that provide military
aid, notably the United States to Israel, now have to urgently review military assistance and place conditions for any future provision.
SOARES: As you well know, Mary, the U.S. is one of Israel's staunchest allies.
Do you think there will be questioning or considering any military assistance, realistically, politically?
ROBINSON: I think it is really necessary. I'll tell you why. If this doesn't happen, then the United States owns the problem. And that is not
good for the United States, that the United States would be identified with so much killing. I mean 15,000 plus, maybe 16,000 by the time the day ends.
ROBINSON: Two thirds of this is women and children. These are not Hamas terrorists. These are civilians. And they are caught up. And the U.N. is
urging, the U.N. High Commissioner that you and I met today, here in Geneva, is urging, we are all urging restraint.
But words aren't enough. And those who have power to restrain must now restrain. And that in particular is the United States.
SOARES: In the last few hours, Mary, the Biden administration has begun, this is from our White House team, begun to stress publicly that U.S.
efforts to shape Israel's military operations, they want to be more surgical and kind of deliberate, to try and limit, like you were saying,
the civilian casualties in Gaza.
They say they have been fruitful, that's what the language has been. We have had the WHO meanwhile saying the situation in Gaza is deteriorating by
So what kind of pressure can be applied here realistically, not just on Israel, by the way, but also on Hamas, to release the hostages?
ROBINSON: Yes, I would love the hostages to be released. We've talked them. There's two, some of the hostages and families of the hostages, some of
whom lost family members, were killed and was taken.
And of course, we would very much welcome their full release. But words of restraint, when we don't see that restraint, when we see that what is
happening all over, there is no safe place now.
And then that is on top of the human conditions, which are truly appalling -- not enough food, not enough water, not enough sanitation. Hospitals
being bombed that were trying to deal with badly wounded children. The world is really very caught up in this.
And that's why the United States has to use its power to restrain and to review and to say we will not accept that our military arsenal is being
used in this way. They haven't said that explicitly. They should.
SOARES: Yes. And your statement, we are running out of time unfortunately, but in your statement, it says, "If the world can watch this scale of
brutality and suffering and not prevent, it we've lost our common humanity."
Very briefly, Mary, have we lost our humanity?
ROBINSON: Well, that is the danger. And then we are seeing it also in the West Bank. There is a surge of even more settler violence.
When Duncan Moon (ph) and I visited in June, we were shocked at the settler incursion in a most illegal way on Palestinian land, making the two states
more and more difficult. And now since the 7th of October, there's almost a license to settlers.
The Defense Forces don't seem to pay any attention when they kill, when they drive families and communities out of their villages. That again,
there needs to be sanctions on settlers.
President Biden has talked about. It is time to do it. It is time to sanction settlers and to sanction government ministers who encourage this
Jewish supremacy approach to the West Bank.
SOARES: Mary Robinson, always great to have you on the show. Thank you very much for taking the time. Really appreciate it.
That does it for us for this evening. Thank you very much for watching us tonight. Do stay right here. "QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER" is up next. I shall
see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful evening.