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One World with Zain Asher
CNN Continues Its Coverage On The War In Israel; President Joe Biden Says America Stands With Israel; U.S. Sends Weapons To Israel; Relatives Of Hamas' Victims Share Their Painful Stories. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 11, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, coming to you live from New York, I'm Zain Asher.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. Our breaking news coverage continues. Israel announced the formation of an
emergency coalition government and a special cabinet to conduct the fight against Hamas.
The leadership shakeup announced a short time ago, days after the brutal attack, that Israel's Prime Minister describes as savagery not seen since
the Holocaust. Some of the details emerging are beyond gut-wrenching.
This, as there are now reports of sirens and activity in northern Israel at its border with Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. We'll have the
latest developments for you this hour.
ASHER: And Israeli troops and tanks are amassing on the border with Gaza. These are images from moments ago. Even as airstrikes pound the densely
populated strip, the military is saying its force is 3000 strong.
Meantime, in Gaza, scenes of ruin, of devastation. Power is out. Hospitals are overwhelmed. You're seeing these images, buildings completely reduced
to rubble. Civilians there, let me tell you, are facing a desperate crisis. Right now, as I speak, the U.N. says more than 260,000 people are
Washington, obviously aware of what's happening in Gaza, obviously aware of the situation there. It says that it's talking with Israel. It's talking to
Egypt as well about the safe passage for Americans and for civilians from other countries, too. But President Joe Biden was very clear about one
thing when he spoke yesterday that his support for Israel is unwavering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The brutality of Hamas, his bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst -- the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism.
So, in this moment, we must be crystal clear. We stand with Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right, our colleague Becky Anderson is in Tel Aviv for us. Becky, the U.S. president there saying, listen, make no mistake, the U.S.
of course stands with Israel, but if you play out this game of chess, if you will, of course it is the Palestinian civilians that are going to be
suffering the most.
What more do we know about whether or not Egypt is going to be helping out here in terms of possibly opening up the Rafah crossing, the border between
Egypt and Gaza, just to help the civilians who are, of course, in a dire situation right now?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Yeah, we've got very little detail on that. As we understand it, there isn't an enormous amount of appetite
from the Egyptians to open the border, to allow people to leave. What they are looking at is opening the border potentially to allow in humanitarian
aid. So, that's pretty complicated.
And, you know, it sort of speaks to what is going on here. And the enormity of the task ahead, both for Israel and for the International Community who
is understandably, whilst supporting Israel in what has been this horrific time, very focused on what is going on and could potentially happen in
Gaza, where there are two -- two and a half million people in this incredibly congested area who are at real risk at the moment.
Let's just step back and see where we are at. Each passing day is unveiling more horrific examples of the brutality of these Hamas attacks. A spokesman
for Israel's Prime Minister says babies and toddlers are, of course, included in all of this. Let me just give you a sense of where we are
before we go to Nic Robertson's piece on the carnage that he has seen -- the evidence of the carnage that he has seen in one village.
I just want to step back for a moment. This emergency war cabinet has been announced five days into this war. And this is an agreement that's been
reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity Party and the former defense minister, of course.
And this is about forming an emergency government with a war cabinet separate to the regular security cabinet. Negotiations have been ongoing
since the attack on Saturday morning. The government, we are told now, will not pass any laws or make any decisions that are not with concern, not
about the conduct of this war.
So, nothing else will be dealt with apart from this war. They are fully focused on that. That's what they've announced. That implies, of course,
that the controversial judicial overhaul will not move forward while all of this emergency government is in place.
In the first instance, this is a cabinet of seasoned defense and security officials tasked to oversee what is this unprecedented position that we are
in at this point. I mean, the Israelis are looking at a very, very complex operation next.
What the Israelis do in Gaza as we've been saying, will have huge consequences, but for both the hostages there and for the Palestinians
living there -- 1200 Israelis dead. Let's remind ourselves today, close to 3000 injured.
In Gaza, over 100 dead and over 5000 injured. The sole power station now out of fuel, and while some Palestinians have generators, the blockade, of
course, will mean that fuel for those will not be available and electricity will run out, frankly, within a week.
Seven hospitals bombed, 10 paramedics killed, 14 U.N. facilities damaged, nine U.N. workers killed, close to 300,000 displaced. That's the situation
in Gaza. And we know how important this all is as we move forward.
So, I've given you the situation in Gaza. To my right here, as I look up the coastline to northern Israel, there is an awful lot of activity there.
But I want to start just for the moment with CNN's Nic Robertson, who as I say, saw the evidence of carnage in one village on the Israeli side of the
Gaza border. And we warn you, his report contains graphic content.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The drive into Kfar Azar is chilling. Evidence of Hamas' butchery everywhere. This Israel
Defense Force general shocked at what he found.
ITAI VERUV, MAJOR GENERAL, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I thought about the -- General Eisenhower that come to the death camp in Europe and the first
thing that he said is bring the press.
ROBERTSON: He did the same, inviting about 50 journalists.
VERUV: You will see. It's a big massacre, big disaster.
ROBERTSON: Have you ever seen anything like this in your career before?
VERUV: Never, never.
ROBERTSON: Less than a mile from Gaza, 70 Hamas fighters stormed in here early Saturday, some even flying. They're telling us this is one of the
paragliders that flew in here. You can see the engine here, the propellers here made of carbon fiber, the fuel tank up here, and the frame of it and
the seat at the front.
The IDF in control now after a two-day battle. Hamas lie where they fell. Only now the extremes of their barbarity becoming apparent. Seven hundred
plus civilians lived here. How many were killed still unclear. How they died, brutally apparent. Some decapitated, they say.
VERUV: They killed babies in front of their parents and then killed their parents. They killed parents and we found babies between the dogs and the
family that killed before him. They cut the head of the people.
ROBERTSON: Each body bag, silent sentinel to the intelligence failure that allowed Kfar Azar and other communities near Gaza to be overrun and
motivation for troops, too.
VERUV: We wait to switch ourselves from the defense to the attack. Because, you know, we defend our people and till now we collect the body.
ROBERTSON: And when you say you're going to attack, will you be going into Gaza? So, if we can see it here, look at the horizon.
VERUV: I look to the next hundred yards.
ROBERSTON: You take care of the next hundred yards?
VERUV: Next hundred yards and I fight to the next hundred yards and then look forward.
ROBERTSON: Forward to a possible showdown with Hamas. How and when, still to be determined. Nic Robertson, CNN, Kfar Azar, Israel.
ANDERSON: Well, Israel's new emergency government and its war cabinet will need to move urgently to free some 150 hostages being held by Hamas.
Innocent women and children and citizens of other countries are among them.
Aaron Cohen, a veteran of Israel's special forces, says that Israeli intelligence is gathering massive amounts of information about where the
hostages are located. He says any rescue operation would be unlike anything Israel has undertaken before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON COHEN, ISRAELI SPECIAL OPERAIONS VETERAN: We need to get those hostages and if you ask me how it could be done, I believe that the smoke
screen of the counter-offensive, which is being planned by the Givati Brigade in the south, the 300th Reservist that's been called up, the Givati
Brigade is Israel's equivalent to the Marines.
I think there's going to be a smoke screen there and an opportunity to use the chaos of that incursion or counter-offensive to mount multiple hostage
rescue takedowns. It's going to be dangerous. It's going to be high intensity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Meantime, diplomatic sources confirming to me in the past couple of hours that the Qataris are in touch with both the Israelis and Hamas on
mediating the release of these hostages. This is very much focused on women and children, and my understanding is that Hamas is bent on an exchange,
Israeli women and children being held in Gaza for women and teenagers held in Israeli jails.
Now, I've been told that an exchange certainly hasn't been rejected by either side. Any exchange of course would have precedence, not least when
the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalip was released in 2011 in exchange for a thousand prisoners from Israeli prisons. His release coming five and a half
years after Shalip was captured in southern Israel along the Gaza Strip.
And let's -- again for contact -- for context, remember here, the Qataris were the key interlocutors in the recent U.S.-Iran prisoner exchange. They
have an open line of communication with Hamas since the mid-2000s. This was at the behest of the Bush administration. And we know in the past
conflicts, not least 2021, alongside the Egyptians, Qatar helped secure a ceasefire.
Bringing all of the sort of strings for you here in what we understand to be going on because there's so much for the families of these hostages of
course held in Gaza. These are desperate hours as they await news about their loved ones. Salma Abdelaziz joining me now from London. Salma.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that information that you got from your sources there, Becky, does provide a glimmer of hope, the mediation
efforts that are being undertaken by Qatar right now. But as you mentioned, these mediation efforts in the past, in case of Lajlit (ph) have taken
many, many years and they have required in exchange for a single Israeli, hundreds more Palestinians.
And it's those early days, these early moments where families are still clinging on to hope, still looking for information that they're absolutely
desperate for answers. I have a few of their stories.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): They are festival goers, little children, sons and daughters, old and young. An estimated 150 Israelis now held hostage by
Hamas. Social media video of some of the abductions has gone viral, but the stories of these victims are still coming to light.
This is nine-month-old Kfir and his brother, three-year-old Ariel, believed abducted from their home in Kibbutz-Nur-Oz, along with their mother Sherry,
their dad and two other family members. This horrifying video of their capture, Sheree clearly terrified, is the last time the family was seen
alive. Yifat Zailer, a relative, told our Anderson Cooper she is in agony.
YIFAT ZAILER, RELATIVE OF HOSTAGES: I want my family back. I want my family back.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Also, among the hostages, several Americans. Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 23-year-old Chicago native is being described as a hero
for his actions inside a bomb shelter during Hamas' rampage.
JON POLIN, FATHER OF HERSH POLIN-GOLDBERG: Several people, independent of each other, said, your son and his friend, Aner, saved our lives. Anybody
who's alive, because as grenades were being thrown in, they were tossing them back out.
His parents say he sustained a critical injury and was later kidnapped by Hamas militants. Yoni Asher is pleading for the release of his family, too,
after seeing this video showing a scarf placed on his wife's head by militants. She was believed abducted with their two daughters, ages five
YONI ASHER, RELATIVE OF HOSTAGES: When my wife was me on the phone, she told me the terrorists of Hamas entered the house. Later on, I managed to
track her mobile phone, and I saw that the location is in Gaza Strip.
ABDELAZIZ, (voice-over): Hamas says the hostages are spread out across the Gaza Strip, Israel fears to be used as human shields. And in a chilling
warning, the group threatened to execute hostages if Israel continues its assault of the enclave.
The hostage horror complicates Netanyahu's mission to obliterate Hamas. But on the Israel-Gaza border, the country's defense minister is refusing to
YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (voice-over): I released all restraints. We attack everything. The gloves are off. Hamas will no longer
exist. We will destroy everything.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): So far, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than a thousand Palestinians, including children, according to officials in Gaza.
But for the hostages, no indication of rescue efforts yet. And as Israel intensifies its attacks on Gaza and prepares for a potential ground
offensive, desperate families fear their loved ones could be caught in the crossfire.
ANDERSON: Salma Abdelaziz reporting. Salma, thank you very much indeed. Well, this news just coming into CNN. Israel is reporting a suspected
infiltration from Lebanon into Israeli airspace. It is not clear if it involves aircraft, drones, gliders, balloons or people. CNN's Hadas Gold is
in Jerusalem and she joins us now. What more do we know at this point Hadas?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first indication that something was going on was when sirens started going off all across the
north. And I mean, when you look at the map, it is completely blanketed. All of the north was receiving sirens for people to go into a protected
Now, the Israeli military is saying that they have a suspected infiltration into Israeli airspace. And we are seeing some reports in Israeli media.
This could be something like paragliders. It could be drones.
It's not clear exactly what this is, and it's not clear how many, because you can imagine if a drone or a paraglider is flying through the skies of
the north, it could set off these radar alarms in several different areas.
So, it's not clear if it's just a few that have just kind of flown down or if it's a mass of something. It's not clear what it is. Biggest fear, of
course, is that these are manned aircraft of some kind, similar to the paragliders that we saw in the south coming in from Gaza.
GOLD: And of course, these paragliders will have, you know, militants.
GOLD: Go ahead.
ANDERSON: I'm going to stop you there and I'm going to come back to you because what you're reporting is enormously important. I do want to go to
the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres who is speaking now.
(LIVE COVERAGE BEGINS)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.S. SECRETARY GENERAL: About 220,000 Palestinians are now sheltered in 92 UNRWA facilities across Gaza. U.N. premises and all
hospitals, schools and clinics must never be targeted. U.N. staff are working around the clock to support the people of Gaza and I deeply regret
that some of my colleagues have already paid the ultimate price.
Crucial life-saving supplies, including fuel, food and water, must be allowed into Gaza. We need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now. I
want to thank Egypt for its constructive engagement to facilitate humanitarian access through the Rafah crossing and to make the Al-Arish
airport available for critical assistance. There is no time to lose. Every moment counts. Thank you.
ANDERSON: Well, that was the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres clearly, you know, incredibly difficult times for the United Nations having
lost people on the ground. It is a real mess in Gaza and it is increasingly getting very busy on the northern border with Lebanon as well.
Hadas, I want to bring you back in because what you were talking about there was fantastically important and it was also important that we got to
hear from the U.N. Secretary General given the loss of li of U.N. workers in Gaza.
Hadas, you were reporting on what we understand to be happening to the north. I mean, as I sit here, you know, I look up the coastline and I
listen to what has been going on here in the skies above us today, well, certainly across this part of Israel. It's been very, very noisy. Hadas.
GOLD: Yeah, and it's going to -- it looks like -- it's also been noisy up in the north that so far has had a few instances of things going off --
missiles, mortars being launched. There was a skirmish with potential infiltrate -- with infiltrators who made their way from southern Lebanon
into northern Israel.
But it hadn't yet exploded into what we've seen in the south. And that is the really the biggest fear is that a new front another front will open up
in this war and that Hezbollah will join in.
Now, so far, most -- like most of the skirmishes have been attributed to others, although you know, Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon and they
have been involved and some of their fighters have already been killed in some of this back and forth across the border. But this infiltration from
the north, whether it be drones, whether it be paragliders, this is considered an escalation.
Now, even if it's just to frighten the population in the north, even if it's just unarmed drones, they just sent a bunch of them into the air to
get these sirens to go off. That -- it will warrant something. Israel will probably try to respond in some way. And there's always the fear here in
the north that Hezbollah will get involved, that even if, you know, both sides say they don't want to escalate, they don't want to get involved, all
it takes is one mistake.
All it takes is one thing happening to trigger something so much bigger. And when Hezbollah gets involved, this will turn this war into a completely
different situation. That USS carrier that's sitting in the Mediterranean waters right now, it's not there for Hamas, it's there for groups like
ANDERSON: Hadas, your reporting and insight analysis is so important. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Hadas Gold is of course in Jerusalem.
And I am here in Tel Aviv. I'll be back a little later this hour with more of our breaking news coverage from Israel. Right now, I want to hand it
back to the capable hands of my colleagues Zain and Bianna in New York. Guys.
GOLODRYGA: All right, Becky, clearly a lot going on in just the last few hours. We should note, given what has been reported in the North of Israel.
John Kirby from the White House just said that they are watching developments on the Israel-Lebanon border closely and describe it as
worrisome. So, we will continue to follow that news there.
Meantime, coming up for us, she dedicated nearly five decades to pushing for peace. Well, now an Israeli activist is among those missing. Her family
shares her last and horrifying messages, up next.
ASHER: And in a show of support, U.S. is sending its top diplomat to Israel one day after it sent a large shipment of weapons. There, we'll have the
latest on that, up ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word. Don't. Don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: That was President Biden speaking yesterday. Meantime, leaders from the U.K. and the U.S. are making their way to Israel to show their
unwavering support with the Israeli people. British Foreign Minister James Cleverly arrived earlier today. Cleverly will be meeting with survivors of
the Hamas attacks and senior Israeli leaders.
ASHER: And the U.S.' top diplomat, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, also set to travel to Israel on Thursday. He's going to be meeting with Israeli
leaders, finding out what they need, how the U.S. can help in this situation and how the U.S. can really support them. The IDF says that, late
Tuesday, a shipment of weapons arrived from the U.S.
And we are hearing the death toll meantime in Gaza is rising steadily. Palestinian officials are saying that more than 1000 people have been
killed. And of course, a massive humanitarian crisis is swiftly unfolding there.
GOLODRYGA: And as we have been reporting, Israeli airstrikes are hitting hundreds of targets in the Palestinian enclave, reducing neighborhoods to
rubble. A Gazan journalist was in the middle of filming the situation in her neighborhood earlier in the week when this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PLESTIA ALAQAD, GAZAN JOURNALIST: And here is the family. They're gathering all together, also in a place far away from the window. I was trying to
explain things, but I think you can hear them now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Those sounds are no doubt going to be the new normal in all of this in the weeks and months ahead. And at the heart of all this, you will find
one constant, regardless of size, parents who are desperately trying to keep their children safe. Take a look at this father in Gaza. They are
about to show you -- have a look at what he says to his children as he tries to keep them safe from airstrikes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: That father was trying to calm his young daughter, saying, don't be scared. Israel Defense Minister is warning that the price Gaza would pay
for the Hamas attacks will, quote, "change reality for generations".
ASHER: And now there is a new warning from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. It says that conditions, specifically in Gaza's hospitals, are
going to be absolutely catastrophic. And that's because they're going to be running out of fuel for their generators in less than a day. Of course,
that means little to no electricity.
Doctors Without Borders has already warned that even before this crisis, Gaza's hospitals were completely overwhelmed and were already running short
of everything from drugs to other medical supplies.
GOLODRYGA: So, let's speak now to a surgeon who is trapped in Gaza. Dr. Abdel Kader Hamad, who joins us now. Doctor, thank you so much for joining
us. This is sadly something that had been anticipating, and yet it is still heartbreaking to see these numbers. There are reports of 1100 Palestinians
killed, 5300 wounded. Tell us what you are seeing now.
ABDELQADER HAMMAD, SURGEON TRAPPED IN GAZA: Okay. I am a transplant surgeon in the U.K. and I come here to visit Gaza every three -- four months to do
kidney transplants, to change the lives of children and adults who are on kidney dialysis machines.
And you know, each visit, I come here and I do three, four, five operations, make life-saving operations for patients. And then
unfortunately, in a couple of days, hundreds of children and civilians are killed. So, the situation is really very bad. I mean, the shelling, the
airstrikes, explosions all the time, continuous, day and night, and the destruction is unimaginable really in most Gaza.
And when I talk to my colleagues in Al-Shifa hospital, which is the biggest hospital in Gaza where I do my operation, they are overwhelmed with the
number of casualties they are receiving at the hospital.
The corridors are full of wounded people, the theaters are having difficulty to make space for more operations. The intensive care beds, they
are running out of space. And dialysis patients also have difficulty in getting to hospitals to get dialysis.
So, the situation is really disastrous and what makes it worse that the fuel is running out. Now, the hospital is running on generations and they
are running out of fuel in about three, four days. And all ventilators, all theaters, all the other machines run on electricity. So, the situation is a
medical disaster at the moment.
ASHER: I mean, first of all, doctor, I have to say it is -- before I get to my question, it is a beautiful thing what you're doing. You know, risking
your own life to help civilians who are trapped in Gaza. And obviously, before the war, you said you were traveling to Gaza every few months.
But when you think about what's happening on the ground now, what you're really up against. I mean, I imagine, based on the images I've seen, you
know, buildings left and right are reduced to rubble. You don't know which building is going to be hit next.
You think about what's happening in the hospitals. The fact that there's limited supplies. There's not enough fuel. There's limited electricity in
these hospitals. Just explain to us how, in that kind of environment, how are you actually, effectively able to help? And also, how do you keep your
own self safe when there really is no place safe in Gaza right now?
HAMMAD: Yeah, that's absolutely correct. There is no safe place, although I am sheltering at the moment in a U.N. facility, which is hopefully,
relatively safe. But also, my colleagues who don't have the privilege of getting into a facility, because I am a foreign national, so I have this
privilege of being here.
But from my colleagues, I know many of my colleagues, the doctors, the nurses in the hospital who lost their homes and they don't know what's
happening to their families while they are working in the hospital.
Supplies, medical supplies, I mean patients, for instance those patients who are close to my heart, the kidney failure patients and they need
dialysis and they are running out of fluids, solutions which are necessary for dialysis.
And at the end of the day, the problem is that a lot of children are involved in this because of the age distribution in Gaza. Fifty percent of
the population is below the age of 15. And unfortunately, because of that, a lot of these wounded are children. And it's sad.
GOLODRYGA: That is always the hardest part to factor in. According to the Gaza and Health Ministry, 60 percent of the wounded are children and
elderly. Dr. Abdel Hammad, please keep us posted. And thank you for joining us. We appreciate your time.
HAMMAD: I'll do.
ASHER: Thank you so much.
ASHER: Just that lingering sense of fear, because you have no idea. He's there to help, of course, but no idea when or where the next attack is
going to be. We're grateful for all the work that he is doing.
All right, still ahead. Israel calls out more than 300,000 reservists to fight as it continues to amass ground forces along its southern border.
Becky Anderson is going to be joining us live now from Tel Aviv.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson live in Tel Aviv in Israel for you. Resetting what is going on and staying with our coverage of breaking
news from the Middle East. Israel is reporting a suspected infiltration from Lebanon into Israeli airspace and rocket fire. Sirens have been
This, as Israel is hammering Gaza with air strikes as the death toll on both sides continues to rise. Israel reporting at least 1200 people dead.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than a thousand people have been killed in Gaza. And we are learning more about Hamas' atrocities on the
Israeli border communities. The Israel Defense Forces says militants slaughtered children, women and the elderly.
Hundreds of thousands of people are now displaced in Gaza. U.S. officials say they are in talks with Egypt and Israel about ensuring safe passage for
Americans and other civilians out of Gaza. But that is -- those are just discussions at present. Nothing concrete at this point.
Meanwhile, 300,000 Israeli military reservists have been called up and the first shipment of weapons has arrived from Washington for Israel. The Prime
Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been speaking to U.S. President Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We were struck Saturday by an attack whose savagery I can say we have not seen since the Holocaust. I
mean, we had hundreds massacred, families wiped out in their beds in their homes, women brutally raped and murdered, over a hundred kidnapped,
including children. They're even worse than ISIS, and we need to treat them as such.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, that was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone to Joe Biden and we are just getting this update. At least 22 U.S. citizens
have now died in Israel, according to a State Department spokesman. Previously, President Biden had said 14 U.S. citizens had been killed.
Well, the United Nations has confirmed that 11 of its staff members working with the U.N. Palestinian Refugee Agency have been killed in the airstrikes
on Gaza since Saturday. Let's bring in Tamara Alrifai, who's spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
She is joining me live from Amman in Jordan. It's good to have you. Condolences on the loss of the lives of so many of your colleagues in Gaza.
Just tell us what you understand to be going on at present.
TAMARA ALRIFAI, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, UNRWA: There's a lot of fear going on at present in the UNRWA schools. Many of them turned
shelters. We already have over 218,000 displaced people. My colleagues in UNRWA and Gaza are doing all they can, working around the clock to make
sure that people in our schools have access to food, to water, and to their basic supplies.
But all these supplies are running very, very low. There's going to be a shortage soon of clean drinking water, of fuel, of food, of mattresses.
This is a huge displacement that happened in a very short time. So, we are extremely busy, we are extremely worried and, of course, we're extremely
sad at the loss of colleagues and the loss of 30 children who went to UNRWA schools.
ANDERSON: And let's just explain to our viewers that it is the U.N. schools, the U.N. medical centers that are oft times the only place where
Palestinians in Gaza can seek refuge. This is not, of course, the first time that there have been strikes on the community there, but this time the
intensity of these strikes is so powerful.
Just explain how important it is that the U.N. facilities are functioning and the point that you're making is that this total siege as described by
the defense minister of Israel on Gaza is going to prevent any further fuel, food, electricity, water supplies getting into the besieged area.
ALRIFAI: Exactly, Becky. If you recall, you and I had a similar interview in 2021. This is to speak of the multiple conflicts that Gaza had to go
through. Sadly, this being one of the most densely populated places on Earth, 2.2 million people live on the strip -- on the Gaza Strip, 1.7
million of them are considered Palestine refugees.
This is why UNRWA, the U.N agency for Palestinian refugees, the agency I work for, is very, very heavily present in Gaza with a network of over 180
schools and 25 health centers.
So, it is in these buildings that people in Gaza seek shelter and a safe haven when Gaza is undergoing the kind of bombing and shelling that it is
right now. And this why when they see a blue fly, many of them run toward our schools.
Now, the challenge we are facing is that we had around 50 schools prepared to become shelters. You know, for a regular school to become a shelter for
over 2000 people, we need mobile toilets and mobile showers and repositioning of water and food and cleaning utensils, et cetera.
We only have 50 of those ready, and people are now in over 90 of our schools. They're actually even in our health centers which is obstructing
the work of our health workers. So, there's a lot of chaos and there's a lot of distress, to say the least.
ANDERSON: And Tamara, just finally, there must be an awful lot of fear, not only for those residents, those civilians in Gaza who will be relying on
U.N. facilities, but from your colleagues themselves. Just explain how this compares to any conflict in the past and how worried are people about what
is to come because it's not clear what happens next, how bad things are going to get is it?
ALRIFAI: Things can get very, very bad if the sealing of Gaza continues. This is unlike anything we have seen before, even though UNRWA has
accompanied Palestine refugees throughout several conflicts since 2008. My colleagues are extremely worried, and I want to say a word here for my
colleagues -- in support of my colleagues in Gaza.
There are around 5000 people running these shelters. Most of my colleagues are Palestine refugees themselves. So, many of them are themselves
displaced into these same schools and they fear for their safety and the safety of their families. My international colleagues are managing the
operation, making sure that there are enough supplies, but this can turn very, very dangerous because there aren't enough supplies.
ANDERSON: Tamara, it's good to have you on. These are such difficult times and you're right. You and I spoke back in 2021, and this feels so much
worse, and it was bad enough at the time. Tamara Alrifai, spokesperson for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Thank you. Zain
and Bianna will pick things up after this short break. Stay with us.
ASHER: A Canadian-born mother, grandmother and lifelong peace activist is among the missing in Israel. And her family fears she was taken hostage or
possibly worse by Hamas fighters. Just the unimaginable 74-year-old Vivian Silver, pictured here in the blue hat, took shelter in her home after
Hamas' surprise attack on her kibbutz near the Gaza Strip Saturday.
She had been talking to one of her sons about the rockets and gunfire happening right outside her home. But as the violence intensified, she hid
in a closet and switched to texting, describing the sounds of shooting and screaming getting closer. And in one last harrowing message, she said the
militants were coming inside. That's the last time anyone heard from her.
Chen Zeigen joins us live now from Connecticut. He's Vivian Silver's son. Hen, thank you so much for being with us. I have to say before I begin
speaking about Saturday and what happened, everything I've read about your mom, she is an inspiration, okay? She is an inspiration.
Just the amount of work that she did tirelessly to help Palestinians, to help Israelis and Arabs live peacefully side by side is inspirational to
me. God knows what you're going through. Just explain to us what you have heard from anybody else on the kibbutz.
Have you spoken to anybody else who was there, who may have seen something, who may have witnessed? What happened? Have you gotten any clarity about
what happened over the weekend?
CHEN ZEIGEN, SON OF MISSING PEACE ACTIVIST: We've spoken to some people. No one has had any indication of what happened to my mom. We're just hearing
about the devastation and reports are just coming out in the news right now from inside vary and the horrifying devastation of the community.
We have not had any communication from officials in the government regarding any information about my mom.
GOLODRYGA: Chen, I just want you to know that we are thinking of you, and we are so sorry that you are having to talk to us under these
circumstances. I can't even begin to imagine what the last few days have been like for you and your family.
But we do want to tell our viewers about your mom and her constant fight for justice. And just three days before these heinous attacks, she was
marching in Jerusalem side by side with other women, other Jewish women, other Arab women. Tell us about her constant fight for equality and her
ZEIGEN: You know, that was my mom -- that -- she devoted her life to women's equality, women's rights, social equality for Arabs living in
Israel, peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I remember as a 13-year-old, she took us with a group of guests.
I remember as a 13-year-old, she took us with a group of guests to my Bar Mitzvah, to a tour of Gaza with one of her friends. Recently, after she
retired, she devoted most of her time to Women Wage Peace, which is an organization of women calling for diplomatic solutions for our conflict.
She volunteered in an organization where she would drive sick children from Gaza to get treatment in Israeli hospitals. We just heard, yeah. Sorry.
ASHER: No, I was just going to say, I mean, you know, again, everything that I've read about her, you know, she sounds incredible, you know. She
sounds incredible. And it is my deepest hope and prayer that you are reunited with your mother.
I was listening to an interview that your brother, Yonaton, gave where he was saying, look, the only way to solve this is through diplomacy.
Obviously, if she is being held hostage by Hamas, the only way forward, according to your brother, is really some kind of negotiation.
I mean, obviously, when you think about Israel's history, the country has gone to extreme lengths to ensure that hostages have been released in the
past. I mean, what are you hoping for, and what are you hoping to hear from Israeli authorities on that front?
ZEIGEN: First of all, we're hoping to hear any word of -- any news regarding whether her house was scanned, whether she's been viewed in any
videos, any indication to her whereabouts or what happened to her.
We indeed urge the government and also, the Canadian government, she was a Canadian citizen, to work to find a solution for all the hostages.
I can't stop thinking of all the children that were taken along with them. I have a child myself. Every time, hug him. I can't stop thinking.
GOLODRYGA: We hope that your grandson will be reunited with his grandmother, with your mother. And again, our thoughts are with you always.
Thank you for joining us and telling us a bit about your incredible mother. And we will continue covering her story, as well as all of those others who
have been abducted, as well. Thank you for your time. And give your son an extra hug from us.
ASHER: Thank you, Chen.
ZEIGEN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: We'll be right back.
GOLODRYGA: The broken-hearted mourners in Israel have turned out in force for two funerals today. This was a service for a young soldier with the
Israel Defense Forces. He was killed in the Hamas attacks on Saturday.
ASHER: And the second funeral was for a young woman who died in the Hamas massacre at a weekend music festival. Israel's Supernova Festival descended
into utter carnage on Saturday after Hamas gunmen stormed the desert event, killing hundreds of partygoers. We're going to continue to follow the story
live on CNN. I'm Zain Asher.
GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. Our breaking news coverage continues next with Amanpour.