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Laura Coates Live

Hundreds Believed Dead In Gaza Hospital Blast; Biden's Major Summit With Arab Leaders Is Cancelled; Rep. Jim Jordan Loses First Round Speaker Vote. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: A deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza City the day before a presidential visit to Israel. All tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

So, as you and I are having this conversation tonight, President Joe Biden is in the air right now, and he's about to land in Israel in the middle of the fog of war. This is his planned summit with Jordan's King, Egyptian president, and the Palestinian authority president has suddenly been cancelled.

Cancelled, of course, in the wake of yet another shocking tragedy. This time, a massive blast at a Gaza hospital, of all places, killing hundreds of people. Now, we are trying to get a straight answer as to who exactly is responsible. And as you can imagine, the finger pointing has begun, and there is a whole lot at stake.

Now, Palestinian officials blame -- they blame this on the Israeli airstrikes, but the Israel Defense Forces have categorically -- that's their words -- denied any involvement, blaming and said what they call a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which is a rival Islamist militant group in Gaza.

Now, we're told by a spokesperson for the IDF that they will release evidence of this being the errant rocket they claim and not at all an Israeli airstrike, and that spokesperson is hoping that people will see that very footage whenever they do release it and draw only one conclusion. Of course, many of us wonder if consensus is even possible on days like this.

Well, with the American president in route, the U.S. working feverishly to analyze Israeli intelligence, to try to understand exactly what happened at the hospital.

But the protesters who were on the ground, they're not waiting for some kind of military readout or for some bureaucratic process to play out. They are angry and they have taken to the streets in Jordan, in Baghdad, Tehran. And as the protests grow, so is the concern that this war could spread.

Now, the stakes are increasing now for President Biden in an already high-stakes diplomatic mission. And frankly, with all that is at stake, the real question tonight is, can diplomacy even still work? And if President Biden is not to be the one who can possibly broker peace there, who will or which country will be able to, and what will be the cost of that?

Here with me tonight, two people who are uniquely qualified to answer some of these questions, CNN's Jerusalem correspondent Hadas Gold and chief national security correspondent Alex Marquardt.

Now tonight, we also have some new and disturbing video shot inside the hospital after the explosion. I'm going to warn you, it is graphic, but it's also an important and sad reality of this war.


COATES: The scene that's unfolding there looks truly chaotic as people, as you see, are screaming for help. I see a child there as well. CNN's Nic Robertson has our report from Israel. Nic, what's happening?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Laura, this is already a very contentious and absolutely horrific loss of life. Palestinian health authority officials say that hundreds of people have been killed. They say the people were sheltering in the grounds of the hospital when they say an Israeli missile struck the hospital.

Now, the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, say it wasn't one of their missiles. They say it was an errant rocket fired by Islamic Jihad, another one of the Islamist groups like Hamas inside of Gaza. It was one of their missiles, they say, that was fired out of Gaza, but it got misdirected, misfired, and crashed and hit into the hospital.

The loss of life there is quite staggering. So many people had gone to that hospital in Gaza City seeking shelter. So many people moving out of the north of Gaza trying to head to the south thinking that they would be safe in the hospital.

And, of course, this will have consequences for President Biden's visit here. His meeting that he was going to have late Wednesday with the Arab leaders, King Abdullah in Jordan, President Sissi from Egypt was going to be there, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was also going to be there, that meeting is now not going to happen.

Indeed, the Palestinian Authority president has called for three days of mourning here. President Biden, therefore, only meeting, it seems at this time, as far as we know, with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with other Israeli leaders. A hugely important meeting for Israelis.


President Biden has been very outspoken in his support for Israel and the fact that he has said that Israel has the right to self-defense, the right to strike back at Hamas. But in the environment right now, with both sides having a different narrative, it is perceptions on the ground that are going to take over, and the perceptions inside Gaza tonight will be that this was an Israeli missile, irrespective of the fact that the IDF is scouring its databases, looking for evidence and information to support the details that they're already laying out, that this was an errant rocket fired by Islamic Jihad.

It's the perceptions that are going to make it so difficult for President Biden to make any kind of broad diplomatic headway in the region at the moment and really stoking tensions across the region again because of those perceptions. It is really a time that has put this region on edge, Laura.

COATES: Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Here with me now is CNN Jerusalem correspondent Hadas Gold. Also here, chief national security correspondent Alexander Marquardt. You know, what we're seeing unfold really in real time, we don't have information as to who is responsible. There are competing statements that are being made. President Biden is in route. We don't have all the answers. He won't touch down likely with all the answers.

We look at the intelligence that now is looking to figure out whether Israel's explanation of this errant rocket is right, is truthful. What are you learning?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, so much of the intelligence that comes out of Gaza and is about Hamas comes from the Israelis to the Americans but, of course, the Americans have their own collection abilities as well.

When we first learned about this strike, Hamas was very quick, as you might expect, to blame this on Israel. It took a beat for Israel to then turn around and say, in fact, this was an errant rocket from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and we are waiting, we have been waiting for several hours now for them to present this evidence.

What we do know is that Israeli intelligence has sent some of what they have to bolster their case to American counterparts, specifically signals intelligence, which means intercepts. It can also include drone footage. Those are two of the things that the Israelis have actually mentioned.

And so, this is something that the U.S. intelligence is looking at right now, but they have not made any kind of decisive assessment as to whether what Israel is saying about this Palestinian rocket is true.

COATES: So, Hadas, I mean, as Alex mentioned, it has been hours. There's a lot at stake. One would think you'd want to get the information out there right away, say this was not us, we did not do this. There are hundreds of people who are dead. Why is there a delay, you think?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, because I think they want to have a complete lock on the information. And we do expect the Israelis to go public with this information, potentially in the next few hours, because they have to. Morally, they have to. But also, on the international stage, they have to.

But even if this information comes out and the Americans are convinced, President Biden is convinced and even says, you know, I believe this was an errant rocket that caused this.

The damage is already done. Look at just the media coverage over the last few hours. Look at what's happening on the streets in these cities all around the world. Israelis are being warned to immediately leave places like Turkey. Like at this moment, if you're vacationing in Turkey, get on a plane, get out now.

So even if it turns out that the Israelis are correct, that President Biden agrees with their assessment this was an errant rocket, the damage is done.

We've seen the summit that has been canceled is supposed to help with this humanitarian situation. President Biden's trip is being changed dramatically. The damage for the Israelis on the international stage is already completely done.

COATES: So, what is the intelligence you're looking for then? I mean, in terms of -- not you personally, Alex, but of course what the president will look for to figure out and make these assessments because if the damage is done and perception is king, what happens?

MARQUARDT: Well, I completely agree, first of all, with Hadas, that the horse is bolted. There is certainly a sense on the Arab street that the Israelis are responsible for this and there's probably no turning that back.

What the Americans are going to be looking at is what the Israelis are certainly going to be offering up. So, what we're hearing from the Israelis, and again, we haven't seen this yet, is that they're going to offer before and after drone videos and images. They're going to be offering intercepts that they claim show Palestinians talking about how this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

COATES: But wait, why would the before and after drone videos be sufficient as opposed to -- is there not a real time as it's happening? What's the discrepancy?

MARQUARDT: So, the U.S. Intelligence Community isn't going to tell us exactly what they have right now, but what the Israelis are saying is that the before and after are going to show that the impact on the hospital is not what you would expect from an Israeli rocket.


What we've heard earlier tonight from the IDF is that if this were an Israeli rocket dropped from one of their planes, you'd see this huge crater and a lot more damage. What they're saying that we're going to see in a couple hours' time is not that. But the U.S. is treading extremely carefully here because they want to make sure that they have their own assessment with their own assets, of course, taking into consideration what the Israelis have. But no doubt, it has completely changed the game. It has cut short President Biden's trip.

We've seen these massive protests, which in addition to what you're talking about in Turkey, the State Department tonight said that Americans should not travel to Lebanon. We saw huge protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. They've also said that some American diplomatic families and non-essential staffers can go home.

So, the temperature is rising significantly and we're watching very closely to see if because of this event that left hundreds of Palestinians dead, whether that will cause other groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon to get involved.

COATES: Now, that's interesting that you say not Americans can travel or shouldn't go, not just Israelis. Is the thought that President Biden being in this area, is there some blame attribution to the United States as well and compromising safety abroad?

GOLD: Well, I mean, it's a huge show of support for the Israelis that President Biden is showing up. It's the first time an American president has landed on Israeli soil during an active conflict or war that Israel is engaging in. So just his presence alone shows a huge amount of support. And the fact that he is still choosing to land in Israel, despite some of the questions around what happened and despite the summit being canceled, still showing a huge amount of support.

And keep in mind, the region is already boiling. Israel hasn't even started its ground incursion yet. We do expect that to happen. Region is already boiling. Just imagine what happens when there's Israeli boots on the ground.

MARQUARDT: There is no -- of course, there's no Israeli embassy in Lebanon. The two countries are still officially at war. So, what the Lebanese are doing, these protesters that we saw tonight, they're directing their anger at the United States.

And that's what we're going see more and more because the U.S., by its own admission, what we've heard is that they are showing their ironclad support for Israel. So, a lot of the blame, again from the Arab street to use that term, is going to be directed at the United States.

We heard from the Pentagon today saying that they will continue supplying Israel with everything that they need. So, that's certainly going to be seen as an accomplice to Israel and what Israel is planning next.

COATES: Stick around, both of you. I need to really lean in your expertise and what you know about this area.

I want to go now, though, to CNN's Nada Bashir. She is live in Amman, Jordan. Nada, we are working through all this domestically and trying to figure out what's happening here. This tragedy has had both political and social consequences. There's a very high-stakes summit that was supposed to happen. It has now been canceled. There are protests. Biden is almost now arriving in Israel. Bring us up to speed on what you're seeing.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, it is certainly high stakes over here. And as you mentioned there, we have seen protests. This isn't the first time we have seen protests here in Jordan on an almost daily basis since the outset of this war. In fact, we have seen protests taking place across the Middle East, across the globe.

And what we have seen last night is real outpouring of both outrage and condemnation across multiple Arab nations, people taking to the streets in the hundreds, both in solidarity with the Palestinian people but also, of course, in opposition to Israel's continued and relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Now here in Amman, we saw huge crowds turning up, heading towards the Israeli embassy last night, some protesters even attempting to storm the Israeli embassy at one point. And you have to understand that there is a huge focus on the Palestinian issue here in Jordan. Of course, a huge portion of the population are Palestinian refugees or descendants of Palestinian refugees.

I cannot overstate how significant, how prevalent the Palestinian cause is in the general shared psyche of the Arab world. This is a huge issue for the Arab population. But, of course, it remains to be seen how that translates into action by Arab leaders.

And we've seen protests across other countries as well. Lebanon, as Alex mentioned, in Tunisia, in Baghdad, we have seen people taking to the streets. And, of course, the occupied West Bank in Ramallah, we saw significant protests and even some clashes last night.

And, of course, what we have seen here in Jordan is this is translating into having an impact on the political and diplomatic front. That summit that was set to be held tomorrow between King Abdullah of Jordan, President Sissi of Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and, of course, U.S. President Joe Biden, that summit has now been cancelled.


We heard from the Jordanian foreign minister speaking yesterday. He said that the singular focus for Jordan for hosting this summit was to bring an end to the war, to bring respite and relief and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, to bring an end to the suffering the Palestinian people have faced over more than a week now since this war began.

But clearly, the message that we're hearing from Jordan is that they do not believe their international partners, namely the United States and Israel, are on the same page in terms of that focus.

And as we continue to see that bombardment ramping up, as we continue to see the civilian death toll in Gaza mounting to dizzying heights, and these horrific attacks across the Gaza Strip, we are going to continue to see these protesters taken to the streets.

COATES: Nada Bashir, thank you so much for bringing us the information that we need. I appreciate it.

I'm going to go back with my panel here. It occurs to me that when we're talking about all these different terms and all the players involved, the learning curve has been very steep for people who are not deeply knowledgeable about this region, and it's difficult to scale and then to know all the details. I just want to ask a very basic question here. How does the Islamic Jihad differ from Hamas specifically in this conflict?

GOLD: So, both are militant groups recognized as terrorist organizations. Both are backed by Iran. But Palestinian Islamic Jihad is more of a purely militant armed group than Hamas.

You have to keep in mind, Hamas was elected in Gaza after Israel pulled out and is both the -- you know, operates Gaza in terms of the government, in terms of the day to day life, and also is a militant wing. Islamic Jihad is much more focused on just militant activity. They often act on their own, but they do also act in concert with Hamas.

There have been several conflicts between Israel and, specifically, Islamic Jihad that have kept Hamas sort of out of the situation, they have their own arsenal of rockets.

And also keep in mind, they say they are holding 30 of those Israeli hostages. So, they are definitely a player in this. They're not the main player, but they are definitely a big player in this.

COATES: Alex, really quick, in thinking about the fact that this summit has been canceled before we know all the information about intelligence, before all the answers are out there, what does that say about the willingness to have Biden even present and productive?

MARQUARDT: Well, it means that Biden is probably going to leave the region with no real tangible result, with no deliverable. He will have gone there to Israel and only to Israel and shown his support, but he likely won't be coming away with any kind of agreement in terms of the aid, how to get aid into Gaza, how to help the hundreds of thousands of people who have had to flee their homes, who don't have enough water, who don't have enough medicine, who don't have fuel.

They won't likely have established these safe zones within Gaza. So that was what Biden was trying to accomplish in Jordan. So, certainly, it won't be nearly as much of a success as he had hoped, as the White House had hoped.

COATES: There's so much more information that we need to get to. Thank you both. Stay around, please.

And coming up, I'm going to talk to a man who has been to the hospital where the blast actually happened and knows people who work there. He says this is not the first time that violence actually hit what supposed to be, obviously, a place of healing.



COATES: There are now hundreds of people who were dead at a hospital in Gaza after a devastating blast that took place there, many of whom were sheltering, already displaced by the violence in the area. It only worsens the trauma for the sick and the wounded inside of Gaza where you've seen medical supplies have dwindled.

Now, I'm joined by somebody who has a personal connection to the hospital. Bishop Gregory Rickel is the board chair of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and has supported the Al-Ahli Hospital for more than 30 years. Bishop, thank you so much for being here this evening. You know, you know people who work at this hospital. Have you been in touch with anyone in the hours that have happened?

BISHOP GREGORY RICKEL, BOARD CHAIR, AMERICAN FRIENDS OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF JERUSALEM: Yes, we were in touch with quite a few people early on, but in the last 24 to 48 hours, it has been very difficult to talk to anyone. We did reach Suhaila, who is the administrator of the hospital, last night. We had a brief conversation with her. She was down near the Rafah border, sheltering in place. And since then, we have heard from no one else.

But you are absolutely correct. Um, this has been a horrific tragedy and um, a day of mourning for me. Uh, I walked those halls in 2016 and knew many of the people who were working there. They've -- they've always been heroes. Uh, they were being heroic in these last hours. And, uh, we have very little information just like you, uh, do, but, um, we are hoping for the best. But --


RICKEL: -- looking at the images, it looks sad.

COATES: You know, a hospital in any community serves a crucial purpose. But in this community in particular, it had even an exponentially crucial impact. Tell me about that.

RICKEL: Absolutely. You so wisely said earlier that so few people in the U.S. really understand this region. It's difficult to understand. Gaza Strip has two million people. In 2016, when I was there, it actually hit that mark, two million people living there. Two million in a very tiny spot. They're very underserved medically. Al-Ahli Hospital is known as the People's Hospital because it was completely open. There were no barriers based on finances, on faith, on race, on religion, anything.


And it was a hospital that welcomed all. And they were doing that even when this tragedy happened by sheltering people in the hospital. When I was there in 2016, it was something for me to learn that one of the greatest injuries in Gaza are burns, mostly from cooking, because people in Gaza, uh, electricity is cut off on a regular basis every day, and cooking is done by cook stoves like camp stoves. And many times, especially children, pull the pots off those stoves and it'd get burned.


RICKEL: But, you know, people of all ages do. And I was -- when I was there, I just saw literally, you know, hundreds of people in there for burns.

The other, uh, amazing thing, and I was there in 2016 to celebrate with them, getting a mammography machine. It was the only -- the second one in Gaza for two million people. Breast cancer is highly prevalent in Gaza more than in most places in the world. And so, we were there to celebrate the second mammography unit in all of Gaza. And looking at the horrific images that you're showing, I believe it's probably gone.

So, this hospital is vital to the northern part of Gaza and it's just devastating in so many ways. Of course, first and foremost, the loss of lives.


RICKEL: A certain people that I knew and saw and have known are no longer with us. And they are just absolute heroes. Our organization, I do want to thank the many donors because in our organization, we've raised almost $300,000 for the hospital since this war began, and we will continue to do that and continue to do everything we can to bring it back to service.

COATES: Bishop, thank you so much for giving that context and just thinking about what this hospital did, who it welcomed. And I think for a lot of people in a country like ours, where we're seeing the pink ribbons everywhere throughout our world, the second mammography machine in a country or area that has two million people, just thinking about the reach and what could happen now. Thank you so much.

RICKEL: Right.

COATES: Unbelievable.

RICKEL: Yeah. Thank you very much. Thank you to CNN, too.

COATES: Thank you. That context is so important to understand this region and understand the devastation that we're talking about. President Biden's summit with Arab leaders was abruptly canceled just hours before he is set to land in Israel. So, what does John Bolton, the former national security advisor under President Trump, just think about all the prospects now for peace? That's next.


[23:32:33] COATES: Well, as President Biden heads to Israel aboard Air Force One, the situation on the ground is getting even more volatile. Israel is facing mass protests in the West Bank. And in cities across neighboring countries, an outrage stemming from the deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza, where hundreds of civilians were believed to be killed.

Now, I want to bring in former Trump national security advisor, Ambassador John Bolton. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. This is a very fluid situation that's unfolding before all of us. This hospital bombing happening on the eve of President Biden's arrival. And again, there's a lot that we don't know, but is this the kind of catastrophe that could truly upend all of Biden's diplomatic efforts?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think at least as far as we can tell, it has already ended up part of them. First, the head of the Palestine Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, decided not to attend a previously scheduled meeting in Amman, Jordan after President Biden meets with the Israelis, then the meeting itself was canceled.

So, it looks now as though Biden will meet with Israeli officials and then come back without a chance, at least for now, to talk to the Arabs. It was a high-risk proposition and part of the high risk of him taking this trip. At least that part of it is backfired already.

COATES: On that point, that meeting with leaders of Jordan and Egypt and the Palestinian Authority would have been quite crucial to trying to at least address, if not try to begin to maybe work out the humanitarian crisis that is continuing to unfold now that it's canceled. So, without that particular meeting, who has the power to broker peace in the region?

BOLTON: Well, I don't think anybody does. I think Israel is going to respond to this terrorist attack, which they have every right to do. And, you know, they don't have to respond in an equal fashion. They don't have to live under the continuing threat of terror. They can eliminate the threat, and that appears to be their stated objective.

COATES: Now, as you know, in Gaza, the humanitarian crisis, I mean, it is truly deteriorating by the day, really by the hour in some instances. You've got civilians who are trapped. They've got no safe route out. So many people are looking at this and wondering if civilian casualties can be avoided.

BOLTON: Well, I don't think they can be avoided. I think that's a great tragedy.


It's too bad that Egypt, which was sovereign over the Gaza Strip until the 1967 war, hasn't opened its border so at least you could set up refugee camps in Egyptian territory. They don't want the Palestinians either because they understand that the dominance of Hamas in Gaza for 16 or 17 years would constitute a threat to Egypt as well. COATES: So, you think the reason they won't open their borders is because they would not be able to discern a civilian from somebody who is a part of Hamas?

BOLTON: Sure. I mean, if you're a 15-year-old kid, you don't wear a uniform, you could still wear a suicide vest. Same if you're a mother. Terrorists don't come with a scarlet T on their forehead. And I think that the Egyptians are very worried. And I think, frankly, a lot of remaining high-ranking Hamas officials still in Gaza would love the borders to open so they can get away.

COATES: Of course. Hearing that and just thinking about all the people who have been impacted, the children we're seeing, those who've been victims of Hamas's attacks, of Hamas's reign really in Gaza and beyond, it is startling to think that there would be no way out based on that proposition.

And I want to just address because the IDF is saying that when it comes to this hospital attack, that Islamic Jihad is actually behind the hospital attack. What if this is true?

BOLTON: Well, I think they're behind. The argument is that maybe one of their rockets that hit this hospital. But there's no doubt it was Hamas that carried out the bulk of the assault on October the 7th. And therefore, it's Hamas that's responsible for starting.

But there is a higher authority, and that is the government of Iran, which equipped and trained and financed Hamas and Hezbollah while we're on it, and I think unmistakably directed this attack to occur. So, if you want somebody to take responsibility, I'd look to the mullahs in Tehran.

COATES: Well, when it comes to Iran, of course, we've heard from President Biden, right? He has said that there is no clear evidence at this point of Iran behind the terror attacks.

John Kirby, Admiral Kirby said to reporters this last week, and I'm quoting, "We have not seen any evidence, specific evidence, that Iran was directly involved with these specific sets of attacks." The book is not closed on it, he did say.

We're going to keep looking at that, but that's just where we are right now. Really important to hear your insight today. Thank you so much for taking the time, Ambassador Bolton. I appreciate it.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

COATES: Let's get some more perspective from CNN national security analyst and former deputy director of National Intelligence, Beth Sanner. Also, here, CNN military analyst Major General James "Spider" Marks, who has been over 30 years in the U.S. Army.

Now, of course, you saw Ambassador Bolton sort of incredulously maybe chuckling at the idea of what Admiral Kirby and President Biden said about not having specific evidence about Iran. I wonder what your reaction is more broadly, though, to what you're seeing right now, the attack on the hospital, the cancellation of the summit. What strikes you?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that, you know, as Ambassador Bolton started off by saying, is that already, the plan for this trip has started to -- has fallen apart, right? That Biden had these objectives of standing with Israel, you know, but also meeting with the Arab leaders, the key Arab leaders, to start dealing with the humanitarian crisis. And now, that part is essentially off the table.

So, you know, where we are right now is in a pretty terrible place because, you know, um, I think the geopolitics of this are just not really in our favor as we go forward. And we need to really remember that, yes, this is about Israel, but it's also increasingly about U.S. interests. If this war expands, this brings us in and we have our own interests that we have to worry about.

COATES: And yet we know because of the canceled summit. I mean, there probably will likely be some form of talks, but the actual summit won't be taking place. And this is on the backdrop now. While the president is flying, you've got finger pointing happening about who is responsible. How does this muddy the waters in terms of the military approach, the diplomatic efforts?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL: Well, it really does. When you look at it, it really does muddy the waters. I think that's a description that's incredibly appropriate. What we don't know, however, let's be clear, we don't know who conducted the strike at the hospital. That's still trying to be determined.

Israel has done an investigation. And at the end of the day, if I had to listen to Israel's explanation or Hamas's explanation, I'd listen to Israel's. And they've said that was done by the Islamic Jihad or maybe even Hamas, and it was a misfire. The Israelis do not target hospitals.


They are going after -- this is a -- this is a professional military and they're going after military targets. And also, let's be clear- eyed, there will be civilian casualties.

This has always been a finger-pointing type of an engagement. And the narrative is only going to get worse, as it has every time that Israel engages with the Palestinians, and in this particular case, Hamas, not the Palestinian people. The narrative will continue to get worse for Israel going forward because they will continue to go after legitimate targets and there will be casualties on the civilian side as a result.

COATES: That's devastating to consider. And you talked about engagement. Just to stick here on this point, you are alluding to there being rules of engagement. We were talking about a military operation. You know this quite well, far better than I. Do these rules apply in the wake of a terror attack?

MARKS: Of course, they do. Rules of engagement are always front and center. In every Israeli unit, not dissimilar from the military that I grew up in, I had a lawyer next to me providing a priori what the decision criteria and the engagement criteria was so that before we engaged with the target, whether you wanted to secure it or you wanted to break it, lawyers were there telling you, I can defend the action that you're about to take. And they gave you limits. They gave you boundaries.

This is a professional force. Will there be mistakes? Of course, there are always mistakes and there are sadly, tragically, will be casualties, civilian casualties, as a result.

COATES: Beth, when you look at this and, of course, the intelligence aspects comes into play here fully, and you've got Israel trying to convince not only the public that they were not the ones to have done this act, but also you've got the U.S., you've got Jordan, you've got Egypt, you've got likely, you know, Tehran and others who are looking at all these things to see what they will say about all this, how does the intelligence come into play for you?

SANNER: Well, I mean, at this point, I think that it's almost a sideline because the perception is the reality on the ground. And so, I think that the United States could come out tomorrow and say, oh, absolutely, Israel is right, this was a Pidge rocket that went off course. You know, it's not an unbelievable idea since they do that all the time.

But you've already had Saudi Arabia and UAE publicly come out and condemn this attack and blame Israel. You have Al Jazeera making that claim. You have the Arab street who is being fed this idea by many leaders, and certainly in the mosques, they're going to be hearing this and they want to hear this. It's reinforcing a narrative that is something that they have felt for many, many decades, that the Palestinians are the aggrieved party.

And so, you know, we're pushing against something now that has been unleashed, and I think we really need to understand what a potential watershed moment this is. The next 24 to 48 hours are going to tell us whether the West Bank is going to explode, whether Hezbollah decides to remain restrained, whether the Arab populations push these countries and these actors into actions that they don't necessarily want. I personally do not believe that Iran wants a full-up war with the United States, right?

So -- but, you know, we are getting to the point now where people feel, leaders feel that they may have to act in order to stand up against Israel for these grievances that we're seeing erupt on the ground.

COATES: I know our time is limited on that point, but I want -- can you address this, too? Iran comes up, obviously, all the time in conversations around Hamas and the backing. They have said that they did not specifically engage in this be -- in the attack on October 7th.

MARKS: Of course, they did.

COATES: They have said this.

MARKS: Of course, they did.

COATES: What is your reaction?

MARKS: They absolutely were involved. I mean, I think it's --

COATES: Even without having the concrete evidence that President Biden and Admiral Kirby allude to?

MARKS: Of course. As we've learned in our world in the intelligence community, I'll paraphrase it in-artfully, I'm sure --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MARKS: -- but Iran is willing to die as long -- Iran will stand up as long as Hamas and Hezbollah are willing to die for them. I mean, this is the narrative that's in place. This is the arrangement that's in place. They want this. Iran wants this conflagration for the very reasons that Beth described. The Arab street is enraged. The vitriol will increase. As Israel increases and starts to begin its ground assault, it will accelerate.

And we should absolutely expect that, which is important, which is incredibly important for the president to be there and say, look, we've got to try to moderate as best we can, but we're not going to get in the way of Israel's right to defend itself and to take out as much of Hamas as you can.


But the problem with that is Hamas is an idea. How do you eliminate an idea? If you eliminated all the command and control element within Hamas over the course of the next 96 hours, wonderful. There's some 12-year-old boy who lost his father or his uncle who's going to grow up. Hamas will be regenerated at some point. We need to understand that. There's got to be some discussion about what happens next.

SANNER: Absolutely. But if we do not figure out how to somehow relieve the agony of the Palestinian civilians in this, we are not going to be winning at all in terms of this battle.

MARKS: Completely agree.

SANNER: We could lose the war when it comes to geopolitics and influence.

MARKS: And the fight is not against the Palestinians.

COATES: Right. And really important points. Obviously, we have not resolved anything in this conversation, but you have moved the needle forward for the information. And for that, I appreciate you both. Thank you. Thank you so much, Beth Sanner, Major General Spider Marks.

Well, here at home, Congressman Jim Jordan is desperately trying to rein in his conference over the next vote for the speaker of the House. He's got until, well, tomorrow, about 12 hours from now, at 11 a.m.



COATES: Republican Congressman Jim Jordan failing to get enough votes to win the speakership today. But the Ohio Republicans securing 200 votes, falling short, of course, of the needed 217. And to add insult to injury, 20 Republicans voted against him which, of course, he only had four that he could actually lose.

Joining me now to discuss, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. Glad you're here. So, take me behind the scenes here. Everyone has been wondering how he was able to close the gap from Friday to even now, but he's still falling short. What's happening behind closed doors?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, tomorrow, they're going to have another vote, and I suspect that Jim Jordan will probably bleed a little bit more support tomorrow. Some people committed the vote on the first ballot, but not necessarily the second. I think that they are anticipating that this would be much closer than it was.

This is revenge of the appropriators. The chair of the Appropriations Committee, Kay Granger, and several other members of the Appropriations Committee voted against Jim Jordan as did several members of New York delegation. This opposition was spread throughout the country and many had different reasons.

I think that Jim Jordan's bid for the speakership is in deep trouble. And I think right now, they're talking about empowering Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry on a longer-term basis. So, I think that's the plan B that you could see something quickly after this second vote tomorrow.

COATES: What, through November 17th likely, which is the government shutdown deadline?

DENT: Yeah. I think it's unclear how long they would want McHenry to serve, but I think at least through November 17th. But I think that's a plan B that is actively being discussed.

COATES: So, what's it going to take for him to be able to close that gap? He's got less than 24 hours. And by the way, the pressure is on given the president is heading to Israel and we do need a speaker of the House.

DENT: Well, I'll tell you what, there's one big problem, I think, that Jordan has. Many of his allies are applying pressure tactics on many of these members. That seems to be backfiring. Using these outside groups, getting the Sean Hannity's and the Steve Bannon's of the world, you know, to try to intimidate through their voices these members who have real reasons to vote the way they did, this is not helping Jim Jordan's cause.

This is an inside the family fight. When you bring in outsiders, it really antagonizes folks. But I've been hearing some pretty nasty stories about, you know, threats, implicit threats, some more overt against some of these members, and it's not going over well. So, I think this Jordan speaker bid is going to probably -- it could end tomorrow.

COATES: Less than 12 hours away now. Charlie Dent, thank you so much for being here. We have a lot more of our continuing live coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas. That's coming up.



COATES: You know, the news coming out of the Middle East can leave a lot of us feeling helpless. But, you know, there are things that you can do. And for more information about how you can help humanitarian efforts in Israel and also in Gaza, go to or text RELIEF to 707070. That's 707070 to donate.

Thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues after this short break.