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Isa Soares Tonight

Rafah on the Brink As Israeli Offensive Moves Forward; Biden: U.S. Won't Supply Weapons for Rafah Invasion; Israel-Hamas War; "Gaza Ward" Survivors Find it Difficult to Go Forward; Significant Response to Biden's Remarks Seen from Israeli Officials. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 09, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome, everyone, I'm Isa Soares in London. Tonight, we are following the situation in Rafah where

medical services on the brink of disaster as tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington tracking the developments in Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial. Quite a day

today, the woman at the center of the case, Stormy Daniels has now finished sharing details on the stand about what she says happened behind closed

doors with the former president. It has been a day again of quite explicit testimony as well as feisty cross-examination of the witness. We're going

to have much more on this in the next ten minutes or so.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Jim. But first, despair, desperation and paying. Three words being used to describe the increasingly hopeless as well as

chaotic situation in Rafah. Proper medical care is becoming difficult to come by. A UNICEF staffer in Rafah tells CNN, when fuel runs out, life

support in hospitals stop.

The Gaza Health Ministry says the only dialysis center had to shut down due to the Israeli military operation there. Satellite imagery that we're about

to show you obtained by CNN, as you can see there, show the IDF expanding from airstrikes to ground operations.

And those images bear really a striking resemblance to what the IDF's initial ground invasion conducted last October if you remember, look like.

Meanwhile, the U.N. says nearly 79,000 people have fled the region since Monday when the IDF ordered Rafah residents to leave the area immediately

ahead of a major military offensive. And that's led to a dire humanitarian situation that left tens of thousands without anywhere left to turn.


SUMAYA SHAABAN, DISPLACED PALESTINIAN FROM EASTERN RAFAH (through translator): The year was overcrowded with people even before the displaced

of people from Rafah. When we left from Rafah, we added to this. There is no place for us. No one is taking us in, no one is receiving us. We cannot

find an empty piece of land to stay in.

For three days, my things have been piled up, me and my children are sleeping out in the open as you can see.


SOARES: Well, for a first-hand look at the situation in Rafah, we welcome in Sam Rose; he's Director of Planning for UNRWA and is in Rafah. Sam,

really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. What were you hearing and have been, if you're hearing in fact, all this week from many NGOs on

the ground is of -- really a fast deteriorating situation in Rafah, not just deteriorating, but like the U.N. is saying, hanging on the edge of a

precipice. Just tell us what the last 48 hours have been like in Rafah.

SAM ROSE, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, UNRWA: Absolutely, thanks for having me. On the last 48 hours have been desperate in so many ways, it's been constant

bombardment, shelling, artillery fire, people on the move, people, many of whom -- you know, up to 100,000 we believe now, have already been displaced

multiple times.

These are people who are fearful, helpless, they're living in the most humiliating, degrading conditions and they have been for the past seven

months, and they're forced to be on the move again in the latest horrific chapter of this bloody brutal war. It's been a really difficult couple of

days and --

SOARES: Yes, brutal couple of days, and you know, the U.N. we've heard nearly 79,000 have fled to the region six months, Monday, and worth

reminding viewers, of course, that they've been displaced multiple times, right? Sam, I mean, where are they going? Just to explain that.

When they come up to you because many I assume have been staying and sheltering at UNRWA's facility in Rafah. Where are they going to go now?

How are they making that journey, Sam?

ROSE: Yes, Isa, I mean, these are impossible conditions. We had seven shelters inside this evacuation zone of 100,000 people. All those shelters

have now been evacuated. So, people who have already been displaced or being displaced again, sometimes they're moving into other parts of Rafah,

western Rafah.


But what we've seen over the past 24 hours is bombardment in some of these areas as well. So, people on the move, again, highly vulnerable people,

lots of children, lots of elderly people, and they're essentially being pushed into two areas. One is an area of sand dunes along the coast where

conditions are very squalid.

Another area is Khan Yunis, which was Gaza's largest, second largest city, excuse me, before the war. And it has been pulverized over the past several

weeks. So, they're essentially being pushed back into the ruins of destroyed buildings.

SOARES: And let me ask you this, Sam, we're looking at the map now because you said something is -- we initially, we were told they were advised to

move from the east, right? From east of Rafah. Are you saying now that you're seeing strikes and targeted areas outside of this area? Is that what

you're saying? Let me just clarify this.

ROSE: Yes, absolutely, we saw a lot of strikes over the past 24 hours in downtown Rafah, which is a couple of miles to the west of the declared

evacuation zones. So, bombardments going way beyond the evacuation zone, indeed.

SOARES: And with that, no doubt, the fear of the anxiety. Where do they go? And like you said, what are conditions like when they get there? Sanitation

is a huge concern, of course, the other aspect of this is aid. What is happening Sam at Kerem Shalom? Because in the last what?

Twenty minutes, we've heard the State Department saying that some trucks have gone through Kerem Shalom, though, earlier in the day, we had said,

you know, this is a fourth consecutive day that this had been close. What are you -- what's your understanding? Is any aid getting through?

ROSE: I mean, I have not heard this news from the State Department in the last 20 minutes. Certainly, before then, we were seeing that the statements

that aid was getting in the Kerem Shalom was open, those statements coming from Israel, but the crossing wasn't functional.

We weren't as the humanitarian community, as UNRWA able to access that aid, and that's for a couple of reasons. One is because it is inactive military

zone, it's unsafe, it's dangerous, very difficult to get to. But the other perhaps more worrying reason right now, and it comes back to your earlier

point, is there's no fuel getting in, and there's --

SOARES: Yes --

ROSE: No fuel getting in, we can't distribute the aid. We can't get the trucks there, but we also can't provide water. We can't provide sanitation.

And this is why we're seeing the hospital shutting down because the generators are collapsing without that fuel.

SOARES: And we had heard, Sam, I think two days or so ago, the U.N. say, you know, they had fuel, I think I believe for three days. What is -- I

mean, what is the current situation when it comes to fuel?

ROSE: We think the stocks will run out by Saturday if no more fuel comes in. There is already heavy rationing of what's available. We're down to the

last drops. I mean, Gaza is used to living on a hand-to-mouth existence, the amount of goods coming in have been carefully calibrated over the past

several years since the blockade came in.

So, there are no reservoirs of supplies available to the humanitarian community. So, we're down to the last couple of days and certain services,

water, healthcare --

SOARES: Yes --

ROSE: Communications will start shutting down unless that aid -- that fuel is able to get in.

SOARES: And look, you are the director of Planning for UNRWA, so, from operational perspective, what do you do?

ROSE: It's very difficult in these circumstances. What we are doing is redeploying some of our supplies to areas that people are being displaced

to. We've got to be very careful not to have those serve as a pull-factor because in that sense --

SOARES: Yes --

ROSE: We could be contributing to force displacement, but it's very difficult unless we can get the aid in, and we are staying for now. We are

not evacuating, but that becomes more and more of a conundrum if we're unable to get the materials and the supplies in, and if the conflicts and

the operation pushes further west into the areas where we are right now.

So, we're taking whatever opportunities we can, but it's becoming increasingly difficult. We're getting increasingly squeezed.

SOARES: Sam Rose, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, Sam, we'll stay in contact with you and the team, thank you very much. And

later on in the show, we'll bring you stories of survival. Closer look at some of the war's most severely injured patients whose lives have been

changed forever.

We'll bring you that story from our Jomana Karadsheh and team in about 20 minutes or so. Well, in an exclusive interview, U.S. President Joe Biden

tells CNN, the U.S. could hold more weapons shipments to Israel. That strong warning could really become a reality if Israeli forces launched a

full-scale ground invasion into Rafah.

The president also acknowledged that some weapons have already been used to kill civilians in Gaza. Mr. Biden spoke to CNN's Erin Burnett. Have a




ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I know that you have paused, Mr. President, shipments of 2,000-pound U.S. bombs to Israel due to concern that they

could be used in any offensive on Rafah. Have those bombs, those powerful 2,000-pound bombs, been used to kill civilians in Gaza?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after

population centers. I made it clear that if they go into Rafah, they haven't gone in Rafah yet.

If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities that deal with

that problem. We're going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks like came out in

-- at least, recently. But it's just wrong.


SOARES: Well, our team is covering the story from all angles that you would expect. Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Jerusalem. Alex Marquardt is live

for us in Washington. Jeremy, to you first, I wonder if you could just break down for us what some of the reaction has been from the Netanyahu

camp to these comments by President Biden.

Can this pressure from the U.S. change the bad and perhaps in which Netanyahu is conducting this war.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, as of now, there is no indication from either the Israeli Prime Minister or his allies in the

government, that these comments by President Biden, this threat to withhold further ammunitions if Israel moves into central Rafah, that it will change

the course of Israel's military campaign or convince Israel to reconsider a major military offensive in Rafah.

The Israeli Prime Minister moments ago saying, if we have to stand alone, we will stand alone, saying that Israel will fight tooth and nail if

needed. Another translation of that is to say, Israel will fight with its fingernails if needed, just to give you a sense of him, you know, how he is

responding to these comments from President Biden.

The Israeli military for its part says that it has the weapons needed for the missions. It is planning -- including for the missions. It is planning

in Rafah, so, as of now, this is kind of full steam ahead from the Israeli government. So, it could be bluster at this stage, but as of this moment,

there's no indication that the Israeli government is going to be cowed by President Biden's comments or choosing to reconsider its future actions.

Instead, it is vowing to continue fighting in Rafah, and that was also, I'm told, part of the response from the Israeli government today in Cairo from

that Israeli delegation that has been there for several days, responding to Hamas' latest proposal, giving its feedback on what it views as several key

points of that latest framework, which are unacceptable to Israel.

And also saying in that same breath that it will continue the fight in Rafah, that Israeli delegation has now returned to Israel. And as of now,

there's no indication of exactly when the Israeli military will press on with a more significant ground offensive in Rafah. But they are saying that

it will come.

SOARES: And in the last few minutes, we heard from the State Department spokesman Matthew Miller saying that the developments on the battle fields

and the civilian death toll in the war in Gaza have guided administration's position on Rafah.

Alex, to you. We heard in the last half-hour or so, that there is now a pause in these ceasefire talks. I remember, you and I talking what? Two

days ago, perhaps talking -- there were some optimism over the progress of these talks. What's happened?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It really is a change in total, so, you're absolutely right. The White House was saying a

couple of days ago that they believed that the gaps that existed between Israel and Hamas could be closed today.

They are recognizing that, that is not the case, or at least, that has not been able to be accomplished by the CIA Director Bill Burns over the course

of the past week as he has traveled all across the region. So, what I've been told by two U.S. officials is that the talks are essentially on a

pause, and that is because of Israel's military operation in Rafah, as Israel ratchets up that operation in Rafah.

So, essentially, those talks had been taking place for the past few days in Cairo have been dismantled. Burns is on his way back here to Washington

D.C., the Israeli and the Hamas delegations have gone home. We understand from the White House that the mediators do continue to talk, but it is

clear that the parties are going back to their corners.

The White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said just moments ago that it's going to take some leadership on both sides, it's going to

take moral courage on both sides. But he said it is quite remarkable to hear these U.S. officials say that squarely, that it is because of that

military operation in Rafah that these talks are now on a pause.

That adds to the pressure that is already growing from the U.S. side of the wake of those President Biden comments to see it end yesterday.


Indeed, Alex, appreciate it, and thanks to Jeremy Diamond also in Jerusalem. I want to turn now to my colleague, Jim Sciutto, who is tracking

Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial in New York or where it has been a day of very explicit testimony. Jim.

SCIUTTO: No, question. Another day of explicit testimony. Court is about to resume any moment now after taking a brief lunch break. On the witness

stand, now former Trump Organization bookkeeper, her testimony focused on signed checks crucial to this case.

But before that, the woman who is very much at the heart of this case on the stand for another day, Trump's lawyers cross-examined Stormy Daniels

for nearly two hours in what was some of the most heated and contentious exchanges, yet during this hush money trial, defense lawyers hammered

Daniels on her credibility, inconsistencies in her story going back years as well as her motivation.

She pushed back sometimes hard on several points. Joining us now, special counsel in Donald Trump's first impeachment trial, CNN legal analyst Norm

Eisen, who has been following events from inside the courtroom. And Norm, you and I have talked about this, the defense attorney's job it seemed was

to question Stormy Daniels' credibility.

How do you think they pursued that goal today? And in your view, did they go too far, and seeming to have at times badger the witness to some degree.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, they intensified what had already been a laser-focus cross-examination of Ms. Daniels on Tuesday afternoon? We

won't know until we get a verdict in this case if they went too far, but I do believe that there were several moments where the very capable Susan

Necheles, who was doing the examination for Mr. Trump pushed beyond where she should have gone and got backlash from Stormy Daniels that ended up

perhaps rehabilitating that witness more than it hurt her and costing Mr. Trump's defense points.

SCIUTTO: And listen, this is a natural and normal defense strategy to question the credibility of a key witness here. I wonder, on the other

side, did prosecutors gain in your view what they needed from Stormy Daniels for their broader criminal case against the former president?

EISEN: I think they moved the ball forward. She was a more complicated witness than the prosecution or the defense might have liked. She gave both

bouquets and thorns to each side. But on the whole, one exchange today was very telling to me on why I think the prosecution came out ahead.

Necheles, Trump's lawyer was questioning Daniels about how as an adult film actress, she's appeared in over 150 of those productions. She could have

been startled or shocked when she came out of the bedroom in Trump's hotel room on the 2006 evening of their sexual encounter and saw that he was

clothed only in his underwear.

And Daniels replied that she sees her husband naked all the time. But if a stranger who was twice her age and larger than her was unclothed in her

home, that would be startling. And I think it underlined a narrative about the power dynamic in that encounter.

Whatever the details may have been, I think it's credible that, that encounter happened, and that is what prosecutors needed to establish here.

And just to tell the jury, look, if this whole messy story had come out after the Access Hollywood tape, that would have harmed the Trump campaign.

I think they fundamentally accomplished that objective, although it was more complicated than they undoubtedly would have liked.

SCIUTTO: Now, with the witness, the next witness of Trump Organization account. We're back to the more than nuts and bolts of the case who signed

the checks, where the checks are, that of course, leaves open the next -- perhaps, the final star witness of this, Michael Cohen.

How close do you think we are to his testimony and therefore, how close do you believe we are at the end of the prosecution's case?

EISEN: Right before the lunch break, the judge addressed the jurors, and he said the case is on schedule, and indeed may even be ahead of schedule. So,

given that the prosecution had laid out a calendar, that would bring us to a conclusion of the case, perhaps next week, perhaps the following week.


I think we are coming close to Cohen's testimony. I don't expect that we'll get it this week. The prosecution is alternating the two parts of the case,

Jim, one is the alleged campaign finance conspiracy, the election-related alleged illegalities in 2016 to avoid this story coming out about Stormy

Daniels, and the other is those documents and the 2017 cover up, you need both for a felony conviction.

I think we've switched now from Daniels' testimony underlying the account that had to be hidden with the hush money over to the documents. And I

expect we'll have the rest of this week focused on documentary issues and then get Cohen early next week.

SCIUTTO: And then perhaps, we see the end of this, the light at the end of the tunnel. Norm Eisen outside the courthouse there, thanks so much. And

still to come tonight, people in Brazil impacted by just intense flooding. They're told not to go home. What forecasters say could happen next. We're

going to have a live report from the region.


SOARES: Well, more rain is expected in southern Brazil after more than a week of deadly flooding. At least, 100 people have lost their lives and

more than 160,000 others are now without homes. Dozens of people remain missing, and the heavy rain is interrupting as you can imagine, rescue

efforts officials are urging those who have been pulled from the floodwaters not to return to their homes.

They are still in the danger area. There's some very large really areas that are covered in water. CNN correspondent Dario Klein is on his way to

the hard-hit State of Rio Grande do Sul, he joins us now. He's now in the State of Santa Catarina. Just give us a sense of what you are seeing on the

ground there, Dario.

DARIO KLEIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Isa, yes, right. We are in the middle of the road. This is the only road, the BR 101 is the only road that can

get to Rio Grande do Sul. Actually, I got from the other side, from Uruguay, but it was impossible to get that way, everything is flooded


And what I can see you, luckily enough, we stopped here in the middle of the road to do this live, and we found these people, and this is like the

other side of this story, is not only, you know, the flood, the dead, the people that's losing everything.


There's only people like -- what's your name? (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)


KLEIN: Can you show me -- (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). He's going to show me because -- this is -- he was telling me this is a group of friends

that they didn't have no organization, they just got together and they got all these water, all these food, all these clothing to take to Rio Grande

do Sul, in a moment that water is lacking. There is no water in Rio Grande do Sul. No drinking water.

There is a lot of water in this -- on the --- on the -- in every place of the state, but no water to drink. So, everybody is taking water for them to

drink, and they're taking clothing because it's getting cold. And the worst part now is that the weather forecast is saying that its' going to get more

rain for the next two days.

And so, everybody is getting the sense of what can come next. People are not still coming back, and everybody that can is going away. It's going to

other cities or they check and stay in the shelters where they are receiving all the help they can, and where we are receiving, we couldn't

confirm lots of reports that lots of abuse and different types of stealing, rape, and other --

SOARES: Yes --

KLEIN: Stuff is going on in those places. So. right now, the cars going that way are only trucks and few cars, and every edge going the other way,

getting out of Rio Grande do Sul, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, very dire situation for so many, of course, who many as I was speaking to a friend of mine, don't want to leave their homes for fear of

exactly of what you're talking about. That their properties may be robbed, their goods taken, very concerning, of course, devastating floods and

expecting more rain. Dario, really appreciate it there for us, stopping the car and talking to us and getting a sense of what is happening there in

Sangao in Brazil. Appreciate it.

Well, the U.S. is in the middle of a devastating tornado streak, reporting at least one every day for two weeks straight. In fact, more than 300

tornadoes have been reported during that period. Deadly thunderstorms hit the central as well as southern parts of the country on Wednesday.

And this tornado was shot in Spring Hill in Tennessee just yesterday. The severe weather is expected to continue today and more than 60 million

people are being warned about the risk. And still to come tonight, they made it out of Gaza, but their lives have changed forever.

The heartbreaking stories of survivors inside the Gaza wing of one hospital. Plus, U.S. President Joe Biden says he would hold some weapons

shipments to Israel if its forces invade Rafah. The Israeli reaction to his comments, that's next. Both those stories after this short break. You are

watching CNN.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

The pain will never go away. The words of one survivor of an Israeli airstrike evacuated from Gaza. CNN gained rare access to Hamad Hospital in

Doha, which is treating some of the most severely injured. Jomana Karadsheh was there to document their stories. And we want to warn you, some of the

images in her report are graphic.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind every door is a story of what war has taken and what it has left, shattered

lives, broken bodies, and tortured souls. This is the Gaza ward at Qatar's Hamad Hospital, where you find just some of this war's countless critically

injured. Some would say they're the lucky ones who barely escaped death, and the hellhole Gaza and its hospitals have become.

HASAN ABUHEJLEH, CONSULTANT ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: Hamad had a very severe injury. From the injury, he had an above knee amputation on one side, and a

below knee amputation on the other side.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Most patients spent months with open wounds and arrived here with drug resistant infections making their cases even harder

to treat.

ABUHEJLEH: I've been working in orthopedics around 20, 21 years. And the kind of injuries, the severity of the injuries, the types of bone loss and

infections we faced with the Gaza patients are beyond whatever I've seen before.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): But even those who have lost so much have found solace in having their children safe and by their side. Raneem sits alone

in her hospital bed. No one by her side. The vacant look in the eyes of a woman who's seen death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

KARADSHEH (voice-over): It was on October 24th as Khan Younis was under Israeli bombardment. Raneem then eight months pregnant was in bed, cradling

her 1-year-old son, Azus (ph) to sleep.

RANEEM HIJAZI, CRITICALLY INJURED IN GAZA (through translator): I had a feeling something bad was going to happen, so I held him tighter. Whatever

happens to me happens to him. You don't feel the strike itself. You just open your eyes and you're under the rubble.

I woke up screaming. I was feeling around to find my son. Suddenly my mother-in-law came screaming, Azus (ph). She found him over my belly. She

picked him up. His body was in her hands, and his head dropped onto my belly.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): When Raneem got to hospital, they thought she was dead. Her baby girl was delivered by C-section.

HIJAZI (through translator): They delivered her, and as she took her first breath, I came back to life.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): With an amputated arm and serious injuries to her legs. Raneem couldn't even hold her baby girl before she was evacuated out

of Gaza. Her daughter is now in Egypt. She's watched her grow in photos. Baby Meriem (ph) now is as old as this war. Raneem says most days, not even

her daughter is giving her the will to live anymore.

HIJAZI (through translator): It's over. Life has ended. There's no more joy. I shut my eyes, and all the memories overwhelm me. I saw the baby

formula I used for my son, and I felt I was dying. And it was just baby formula. You can only imagine what happens when I see his picture, or

videos, or his toys, or his clothes. The pain will never go away.


We give birth only to lose them.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Every woman we spoke to in this ward has lost a child. Some more. Shahed married the love of her life, Ali, a 26-year-old

university professor. When the war started, she was seven months pregnant with their first child.

SHAHED ALQUTATI, CRITICALLY INJURED IN GAZA: A week before the war, we bought everything for the baby, every clothes, every single t-shirts, pink,

pink, pink, pink.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): On October 11th, a blast hit their home. Ali and Shahed found themselves on the street. Shahed lost her leg. Ali both legs

and his arm. They called out each other's names before they were rushed to a hospital, but Ali didn't make it. Two days later, their baby girl they

had named Sham (ph) arrived into this world, lifeless.

ALQUTATI: It's really hard, very hard, because this is like, my everything, you know, my everything. This is my everything. Suddenly disappeared.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Shahed's nightmare didn't end here. She was one of hundreds of patients trapped in Shifa Hospital when it came under Israeli

siege. Like other patients forced out, her father had to push her on a wheelchair for hours to get to Rafah.

ALQUTATI: When we reach Rafah, like my injury was all infections, like the hospitals is not too clean to go in it. If I want to go to the hospital, it

will -- I will die.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Despite everything she's gone through, a resilient Shahed somehow still smiles.

ALQUTATI: No one will feel the pain here. Like I'm -- with my -- with the people strong, happy, like laughing. But when I'm, like, alone, I feel

something painful here. I cannot be healed from that.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): In every corner of this ward, a story of pain and grief. Too many for us to tell. The journey to recovery for the few who

make it out begins here. But how does anyone ever heal from this?

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.


SOARES: No words for that. Thanks to Jomana and her team. Just absolutely devastating.

Well, right now, all eyes are on those who have been left behind in Rafah. Pressure is growing on Israel to hold back from an all-out assault on the

Southern Gaza City. And the country's strongest supporter, U.S. President Joe Biden, is joining the call.

The president says, the U.S. will hold some weapons shipments if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a major ground invasion. It's his first

kind of red line on Israel aid conditions. The Israeli war, as well as security cabinets, as we told you at the top of the hour, are set to

discuss these comments. But some politicians in Israel have already made their stance on the matter very clear.

Israel's far right minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, posted this, really, on Twitter. You do not need a translation. Hamas loves Biden. The defense

minister, Yoav Gallant, says his country, "Cannot be subdued." This public linking of supplying American weapons to Israel's conduct could widen a

rift between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu, whose relationship, until now, as you remember, as you know, has been ironclad.

Well, the president of the U.S.-Middle East Project, Daniel Levy, joins me now. Daniel, appreciate you being with us. Let's -- there's so much -- so

many threads for us to talk about. Let's talk first of all about this decision from President Biden that came just late last night.

You know, President Biden made it clear that an assault on Rafah would be a red line. Now, he's put a pause on these weapon shipments. There's talk

potentially that they may consider others. Is this, in your view, is just a tactic, a pressure campaign, or is this a policy shift?


2,000 bombs? Why was that kind of munition being sent months after the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the world, made its

designation, provisional measures, plausible contraventions of the Genocide Convention? Did the President just acknowledge war crimes are being

committed last night? Did he just acknowledge that you need an arms embargo to stop this?

But the important thing, if one steps back from that, is that the President set out this position. Not all arms, some of the arms. The question now is,

because this was never going to be about, you click your finger and Netanyahu says, oh, OK, you've got me. I'll stop. I'll step back now.

SOARES: I'll step back and about.

LEVY: The question is, can President Biden sustain a standoff with the Israeli prime minister?

SOARES: That's how you see it going?


LEVY: Well, unfortunately, I'm not at all sure that's the case. But it's a bit of a strange question in the first place, Isa, because America's the

superpower here, right?


LEVY: But the way I'm questioning is, can Biden sustain this standoff? I don't think Prime Minister Netanyahu has ever seen their relationship that

way. And I think Prime Minister Netanyahu, we have seen this over the last 24 hours since the CNN interview, has been saying, I'm going to test you.

I'm going to set my attack dogs on you.

We've seen a flow of criticism of the president. He cornered himself, President Biden, with the way he's handled this. By the way, before October

the 7th, the way the administration handled this file, since October the 7th. Now, if he pulls back, he will look weak, even weaker.

SOARES: And given what we've just heard some of the comments from some of the more, OK, far right members of Netanyahu's party, it doesn't seem that

-- I mean, it seems to me that Biden will be -- Netanyahu, pardon me, will be under pressure to see it through, right? So, in these war cabinet

meetings, the conversation may be along those lines. How far do we push it until the U.S. actually detaches?

I mean, talk to that pressure because we also have these negotiations that were ongoing. They now seemed to be paused. How do you frame this all? Is -

- I mean, are those negotiations over now, you think? They're talking about a pause.

LEVY: So, you have the domestic situation inside Israel.


LEVY: You have Netanyahu saying, what threatens me more? My domestic politics, because I want this war to continue, that's part of my staying in

power ticket. The domestic politics or the external pressure? If the external pressure cannot be sustained, then he defaults to where he's been

all along, sustaining that may well take several weeks.

But if you want to get the deal now linking it to the news we had at the weekend, Hamas accepting a proposal that would see the hostages, let's not

forget that's the only way --


LEVY: --- those who are still alive are going to get out.

SOARES: Seemed to surprise Netanyahu, yes.

LEVY: And Netanyahu made clear that he's going to do Rafah. There is room in a deal for some ambiguity.


LEVY: But if one party is determined to quite literally drive a tank through the ambiguity, then you can't sustain it. And this is what

Netanyahu seems ready to do. By the way, Biden has the backing of the American public. Polls show --

SOARES: We've seen those polls just yesterday on this show.

LEVY: The majority want a ceasefire. Now, the majority don't want the weapons. There's a poll by Data for Progress and there's a tale which shows

39 to 38, they think a genocide is being committed, 56 to 42 amongst Democrats. He is not going to look good if he now caves to Natenyahu.

SOARES: And you're talking about the domestic pressures. And I just want to show if we can bring up some of the editorials across some of the

newspapers in Israel. That thing speaks to that. As you can see, Betrayal of allies: U.S. pauses munitions. From one old Likudnuk to another: Bibi,

it's time for you to go.

So, variation here. You say, Daniel, that Biden has now cornered himself. What does he have -- What leverage does the United States have right now if

Netanyahu does go for a full-scale, really, operation of Gaza? This -- what's left for Biden here? What leverage does he have?

LEVY: I would argue that President Biden has started to maneuver himself out of the corner that he placed himself in pre-October 7th, since October

7th, with this actual threat, this actual withholding of some of the weapons. He is going to have to keep that going, if he wants.

SOARES: But that's -- if that doesn't move the needle, then what?

LEVY: No, I would argue that if it's sustained, it moves the needle.


LEVY: Why does it move the needle today? Today, you hear the Israeli say, we've got the weapons for Rafah. That doesn't hold. If this carries on,

then you see people in the security establishment saying Mr. Prime Minister, there's Hezbollah in the north. This isn't the only thing we're

dealing with. We would not have been able to fight this war without American weapons. And if this is a serious threat, Mr. Prime Minister, we

have to tell you, there's a problem here.

That shifts the public dynamics. That shifts some of the internal political dynamics. It's not simple. But then Netanyahu's calculation looks

different. But it's not an overnight thing. That's why the American president will need to sustain this or we will see Rafah suffer the same

consequences everywhere else in Gaza. More children dead, more people dead, more devastation.

SOARES: One word, very quickly, U.S.-Israel relations, where does this lead?

LEVY: I think this shows that you have an Israel that is ready to place the U.S. in an impossible situation to continue to play domestic politics. And

I think what you have today that is new is a real division inside U.S. public opinion and inside the Jewish community because many people were

very upset when the president has come out and said anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Jews have never been a monolith.


LEVY: And certainly not today

SOARES: Daniel, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

LEVY: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come on the show tonight, a bookkeeper for the Trump organization took the stand today. We'll tell you what she's saying about

the former president's finances. Jim Sciutto will have that very latest for you next.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A bookkeeper for the Trump Organization has just wrapped up testimony on the

stand in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial.

Rebecca Manochio's testimony, believed to be central to the charges the former president faces of falsifying business records. Her testimony

followed the conclusion of testimony by, really, one of the star witnesses of the trial, that, the adult film star Stormy Daniels, which was, at times

today, contentious. Daniels was on the stand for a little over six hours in total over the course of two days. Tough cross-examination by defense


Joining us now from just outside the courthouse is criminal defense attorney, Former New York Prosecutor Bernarda Villalona. Good to have you

on again.


SCIUTTO: You have defended clients in court, and it's part of a defense attorney's job to call into question the credibility of a witness for the

prosecution, and that appeared to be Trump's lawyer's goal here with Stormy Daniels. But I wonder, given that the testimony got quite contentious, and

you might say quite brutal at times for her. Recounting -- the defense attorney's recounting how many adult films she was in. I just wonder,

before a jury, do you think they accomplished their job or went too far?

VILLALONA: I think they went too far. The defense went too far because in the end, Stormy Daniels is a female. I feel like the defense was pretty

much shaming her for her activities in the past for who she was. And I think it turned off the jury a bit. Again, it only takes for them to just

turn off one juror for it to actually just spread amongst the jury.

Because in the end, did they accomplish much? Did they discredit her? It doesn't go to the charges. All they're truly -- really trying to discredit

is whether she had sex with Donald Trump or not, which doesn't go to proving the falsifying business records. So, they didn't create any doubt,

that's the elements of the crime in shaming Stormy Daniels.

SCIUTTO: So, on that point of fact here, right, which is them establishing that this sexual encounter took place, did they accomplish that over the

course of the -- these two days, really, it was several hours over two days of testimony?

VILLALONA: I think the prosecution was able to prove, yes, that the sexual encounter did take place. But again, it doesn't go to the charges.



VILLALONA: It was a win-win situation for the prosecution because one, they're putting forth Stormy Daniels there. So, you get to see what was the

what as to what was trying to be hidden from the campaign, from the election itself. And also, took away the argument from the defense at

closing arguments that you didn't hear from Stormy Daniels.

So, whether Stormy Daniels, whether they like them or don't like her at all, the prosecution can argue, you know, you saw her demeanor on the

stand. Yes, she's a hothead. Yes, you know, she's explosive. She's a firecracker. And that's the exact reason why Donald Trump had to shut that

story down because it didn't matter whether they believe her or not. Just her pure identity, her story, the way she would have delivered would have

been fatal for the election.

SCIUTTO: And timing is key, and that speaks to the witness on the stand right now, Madeleine Westerhout, who was a Former Director of Oval Office

Operations, as you can see on the side of the screen there. She's being asked by prosecutors about that moment following the release of the "Access

Hollywood" tape, when, she says, it was rattling the White House.

The tape was -- the prosecutor's allegation is that because of that, Trump and his allies felt the need to kill the Stormy Daniels story. How central

is that to establishing the criminality portion of this case?

VILLALONA: Yes, so that's huge. Timing is huge in this case. Everything that happened when you're putting it so close to the election, it goes to

the charge of having to conceal the crime itself for the purposes of benefiting the campaign, of benefiting the election.

So, that's why the prosecution is going through a great ordeal and bringing these witnesses to testify about the "Access Hollywood" tape, about the

timing of it. Hope Hicks coming in to testify that said that they went into complete crisis mode and that they pretty much thought that Donald Trump's

chances of winning the election was little too close to none. And that's why any little story that would have came out was so crucial for them to go

into slash and kill any story that took place.

So, timing is everything. And the prosecution is going to argue the timing of it all goes to the intent, the mental state of Donald Trump doing that

time of what he wanted to do and gets us closer to the falsifying business records, for the benefit of trying to help the campaign itself.

SCIUTTO: Well, now we'll look to see how close we are to the end of the prosecutor's case. Bernarda Villalona, thanks so much for joining again.

VILLALONA: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: We are now going to take a quick break. Much more just ahead.



SOARES: And happening now, we are continuing our coverage of the pro- Palestinian protests. And this time in Malmo, Sweden, around the Eurovision Song Contest. Today is the second semifinal. Thousands of demonstrators

have been protesting Israel's military efforts in Gaza. There is also a smaller group rallying in support of Israel. And police have also been

bracing for possible unrest there. Here's what one protester had to say.


MATILDA VARATTA, PROTESTER: What we expect and what we would like to see is that they disqualify Israel like they did with Russia when Russia invaded

Ukraine. Because that's -- is not true, that the Eurovision is not political. It has always been political and it will always be. So, it's

just a failed excuse.


SOARES: Of course, we will be sure to keep an eye on any more of this process -- protests, as well as any developments.

Thank you for your company here tonight. Do stay right here. "Newsroom with Jim Sciutto" is up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful day.