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One World with Zain Asher
CNN Continues Its Coverage On The War In Israel; U.S. In Solidarity With Israel In Dealing With Hamas Terrorism; U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Holds A Press Conference In Israel. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 12, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, live from New York, I'm Bianna Golodryga.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zain Asher. Our breaking news coverage of the war in Israel continues at this hour.
GOLODRYGA: Hamas is inhumane. Hamas is ISIS. That is what we are hearing from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning strongly condemning the brutality and humanity -- and inhumanity of Hamas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In a litany of brutality and inhumanity that, yes, brings to mind the worst of ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: The Secretary of State also confirmed that at least 25 Americans were killed in Saturday's terror attack. Later, he got a very emotional
welcome as he met some survivors of the massacre. The crowd at the donation site cheered. They sang. They told him of their stories of survival, as
Blinken assured them of America's unwavering support. I want to play you what one survivor who Blinken is speaking to there had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIOR GELBAUM, SURVIVOR OF THE MUSIC FESTIVAL ATTACK: And if there's any way to help like first priority -- first priority -- our friends and family
that are now in Gaza. We're strong here, we're powerful here --
BLINKEN: I feel that.
GELBAUM: -- in this place, now with Tel Aviv and everywhere. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Quite a stunning and emotional moment there as survivors were meeting with the Secretary of State, other Israelis singing the national
anthem. You could also hear chants of USA, USA. This, as the full scale of the horror unfolds. Israel says supplies to the Palestinian territory will
remain cut off until all the hostages being held by Hamas are freed.
Israel says it will pull the plug on Gaza as it intensifies its war on Hamas. The International Committee of the Red Cross says Gaza has enough
fuel for only a few more hours that is needed for powering hospitals.
ASHER: And we also want to talk about some really extremely disturbing images coming out of Israel just in the past hour or so. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu's office has released what it is describing as horrifying photos -- horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by
We're going to warn you before we show you these images that they are extremely graphic. If you want to turn away from the screen, please do so
now. They're really difficult to take in. But it is important to show you the human cost of what Hamas did and really the brutality of this war.
GOLODRYGA: The inhumanity just speaks volumes. It shows the body of a blood-stained infant. We are not showing you some of the other photos also
released by the prime minister's office because they are, it's hard to believe, but even more difficult to watch. There are no words.
Our colleague Becky Anderson is in Tel Aviv, and Becky, just in response to these photos being posted now and released by the prime minister's office,
it had been important for the Israeli officials to release these photos. There had been some back and forth.
Listen, murder is murder is murder, but there had been some question about the extent of the harm done and the brutality. Talk to us what you're
hearing about what you're hearing from Israeli officials about why they released these photos now.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: We know that young children died on Saturday. We know because we've spoken to members of families who lost children
alongside their other kids, teenagers. adults, grandmothers. We know that happened because we have spoken to those who have lost their loved ones.
This was the massacre, of course, on Saturday at the area that houses about 250 kibbutzis on the southern border with Gaza. So, we knew and we know
that there has been an enormous amount of brutality. It's horrific.
And the Prime Minister's Office releasing these three photographs today of what they say are babies mutilated and burned by Hamas militants during
that massacre on Saturday. We can't independently verify that these images were, where these images were taken or when.
And but clearly these are images that the Prime Minister's Office here, you know, thought were important to release. And the other two images that we
are not showing, we're not showing them for all the right reasons quite frankly and -- but I'll describe them because it's important that our
viewers hear that these are bodies so badly burned that they are unrecognizable, but clearly bodies of small babies.
That's the extent of our, you know, factual reporting on this. It is also important to remember, because there may be people watching this who say,
well, Palestinians have lost children in what has been these ongoing conflicts with Israel for years, and that is also a fact. But that doesn't
take away from the enormity of what we've seen today released by the Prime Minister's office. It's horrific.
And the Prime Minister said that these were three images that were amongst a number of images shown to the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who is
here in Israel standing in solidarity with the Prime Minister and meeting with Israeli victims of this terrible, horrific massacre.
The Secretary of State traveling through the region to meet with the Prime Minister. meet with other leaders to try and avoid further escalation. We
know that. He also spoke today with the Israeli President. And I was with the Israeli President earlier on. But before we get to that, let me just
give you a sense of what the prime minister said standing shoulder to shoulder with Antony Blinken at a press conference earlier. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: President Biden was absolutely correct in calling this sheer evil. Hamas is ISIS. And just as ISIS was
crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of
nations. No leader should meet them. No country should harbor them. And those that do should be sanctioned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Antony Blinken also met with Israel's President Isaac Herzog as I said, his questions about now about what this war against Hamas will look
like and the price that will be paid. The President of Israel gave no indication to those of us who were gathered for this press conference
earlier of when a ground incursion might start. He was only prepared to say that this will be a quote, "long and drawn-out campaign against Hamas".
Now, I think it's really important to point out here that the U.S. has warned Israel to uphold the laws of war as two million Gazans under total
siege face the prospect of a massive assault by Israeli forces earlier today.
The United Nations deploring what it describes as the collective punishment reprisal strikes against Gaza. The President addressing questions about the
possibility of international support waning the longer this goes on and the higher the death toll in Gaza.
He was clearly frustrated, very agitated today. President Herzog said that Israel is working to adhere to the rules of war, but he said we are at war.
He said, quote, "The plan is to ensure that Hamas will never be able to commit these atrocities again."
And he posed a rhetorical question to those who were in the room. He said, are we accommodating terror or are we fighting terror? He also said this
should be a region of peace. These were the words of the Israeli President.
He said, we must not let this train of inclusion and peace be derailed. So, what is at this point being done to try and de-escalate things by players
around the region? There certainly is some activity. This is my report.
ANDERSON: The war between Israel and Hamas kicking off a flurry of diplomatic activity across the Middle East.
BLINKEN: Sorry, it's under these circumstances.
ANDERSON: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Tel Aviv on Thursday to show Washington's solidarity with Israel.
BLINKEN: The message that I bring to Israel is this. You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you
will never ever have to. We will always be there by your side.
ANDERSON: The Secretary of State also trying to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas, working with allies such as Qatar to strike a deal
for the release of Israeli women and children for Palestinian women and teenagers, according to a diplomatic source. But Hamas says it will not
negotiate as long as it remains under attack from Israel.
And Israel says it has cut off water, electricity and fuel as long as those hostages are held in Gaza. With a worsening humanitarian crisis in the
besieged enclave, the U.S. has warned Israel it must follow the laws of war, amid talk of a massive ground assault. Elsewhere talks underway with
Egypt to allow civilians to exit Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. So far, no concrete deal there.
Meanwhile, the crisis paving the way for the first ever phone call between Iran's President and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
stressing Saudi Arabia's efforts to halt any escalation and civilian targeting as well as support for the Palestinian cause.
And that risks Riyadh's much-awaited normalization deal with Israel. Jordan's King Abdullah, one of the first Arab states to strike a peace deal
with Israel, renewing calls to establish a Palestinian state.
KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN (through translator): What the Palestinian territories are witnessing currently is evidence that again emphasizes that
our area will not obtain peace and stability without achieving a comprehensive and just peace on the basis of the two-state solution, so
that the Palestinian people can receive its independent country with sovereignty.
ANDERSON (voice-over): While Blinken is in region, he'll reportedly meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday. But despite the
diplomatic pressure, peace in the region seems further away than ever.
ANDERSON (on-camera): Well, our Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is tracking the humanitarian situation inside Gaza and he joins us
now and I'm sure as you listen to that report you are probably thinking, well that's an understatement.
Ben, you're in Beirut, Lebanon today. Just update us on what you know about what is going on specifically in Gaza then we'll talk to what you're
hearing on what is going on in the northern border from where I am.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually, we're in southern Lebanon, not far from the border. But regarding the situation in
Gaza, it just continues to get worse. There has been almost constant Israeli air and sea and land bombardment on the strip. The death toll --
the latest death toll, and of course, it goes up on a regular basis.
More than 1400 people dead. More than 6200 wounded. According to the U.N., 340,000 people have been displaced, many of them taking refuge in U.N.
schools that have been converted into shelters and of course, that number is several hours old. So, we expect those numbers to increase.
The hospital system, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, is in a state of collapse. We've seen that basically they're bringing people into
the hospital. If you can walk in, you will soon walk out. Afterwards, those who can't, many of them are simply lying on the floor. The ministry says
that the operating theaters are at full capacity. Their ability to function is increasingly hampered by the fact that the fuel running the generators
in those hospitals is quickly running out.
Yesterday afternoon at 2 P.M., the only power plant in Gaza stopped functioning because it had run out of fuel. It only produced 16 percent of
the electricity in Gaza. The rest was supplied by Israel. But not anymore because Gaza is now under a total siege. No food, no fuel, no electricity,
and it appears no water, as well.
And yet again, let's keep in mind, two million people in Gaza -- more than two million people and most of them are civilians. And as usual, as is so
often the case, it's the civilians, the non-combatants who pay the highest price.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABU YOUSSEF SHAMIYA, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): We are civilians who have no connection to political organizations. We returned here to find
that our house had become rubble, and the entire area had been destroyed. We have now become homeless and have nothing but the clothes we wear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: And going back to those comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Hamas is ISIS. Let's keep in mind that most
people in Gaza haven't participated in an election since 2006. Hamas, I can tell you from my personal experience, is not popular.
In fact, many people, when these rounds of violence happen, there isn't a lot of celebration. Most people are just terrified about what comes next
and people I've spoken with in Gaza, they are more terrified right now than at any other time I've ever seen in all the incursions and wars between
Gaza and Israel I've experienced. Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah, and for you to suggest that they are more terrified now than in the past when the past has been so awful for them is really saying
something. Arab foreign ministers have urged Israel to meet its international obligations as an occupying power. They've also urged a
return to negotiations on a future for Palestinians. We'll see where that goes.
Maybe, you know, the can being kicked down the road at this point as far as any sort of, you know, solution to this is concerned through diplomacy
because we are in a full-on war at this point. And that war, the Israelis believe, certainly could lurch as it were or slip out to their northern
border, the southern border of Lebanon. What's going on where you are?
WEDEMAN: Well, today until this evening and until dusk, it was quiet, no incidents. But we did hear several, over the course of about 45 minutes,
several explosions in the direction of the Israeli border. They looked like interceptions -- the ones we could see according to the official Lebanese
news agency, they were interceptions by the Patriot missile system that has been supplied by the United States to Israel.
Throughout this week, so far, what we've seen is there have been flare-ups along the border between not only Hezbollah but also Palestinian Islamic
Jihad militants here in Lebanon and Israeli forces. So far, Hezbollah has conceded that three of its fighters were killed and Israel has conceded
that three of its soldiers have been killed.
Yesterday, there was an incident, or at least Hezbollah put out a video of an Israeli position being targeted by a guided missile. It appeared that it
was a direct hit on a position where there were several Israeli soldiers, but until now we haven't heard any comment from the Israeli military.
But certainly, this border, if it really flares up, if we see something along the lines of what happened in July 2006 when there was a full-on war
between Israel and Hezbollah, it could be of a far greater order of what we're seeing going on between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Becky.
ANDERSON: Absolutely. Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon. Ben, your analysis and insight, your experience of this region, so, so important as we
continue to report on what is happening now and assessing what may happen next. Thank you. I'll be back a little later this hour with more from Tel
Aviv and Israel. Right now, I want to hand you back to New York and CNN's - - my colleagues Zain and Bianna.
ASHER: Becky, thank you. And one of the lingering questions here is the fate of the hostages who are trapped in Gaza right now. The family of some
150 people taken hostage by Hamas militants are enduring an agonizing wait for news of their loved ones.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, earlier two London-based Israeli citizens told the media that they had yet to receive any updates from the British or Israeli
governments on the whereabouts or condition of their parents. Sharon Lifshitz's (ph) parents were taken from their home on Saturday. Noam Sagi's
mother was also pulled from her house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOAM SAGI, SON OF ISRAELI HOSTAGE: There is no place for politics. This is peace-loving people that fought all their life for co-existence and for
good neighboring relationships. Can you -- someone remind me why she is a hostage for being a Jewish living in her own home in Israel?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So hard to hear these families speak about their missing loved ones. Sharon and Noam grew up in one of Israel's kibbutz that borders the
brunt of Hamas' ground assault.
ASHER: All right, still to come here on ONE WORLD, the U.S. and its allies are warning the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to stay out of Israel's
war with Hamas. We'll have that, next.
GOLODRYGA: We are looking at flares lighting up in the sky in Israel near the Lebanese border. Israel has identified a number of launches from
Lebanese territory towards Israel this week.
ASHER: And it's not clear if this video is showing another launch. However, sources are saying that the U.S. and its allies are -- okay, we're
just being told that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is speaking. Let's go there.
(LIVE COVERAGE BEGINS)
BLINKEN: Tomorrow. Every day. In my meetings with the Prime Minister, with President Herzog, with the ministers in Israel's newly formed national
emergency government, we discussed in detail what Israel needs to defend itself, its people, and how the United States can help to meet those needs.
We're delivering on those needs as we speak, and we will work closely and swiftly with Congress to meet them as they evolve.
This afternoon, I met with families of American citizens that Hamas has killed or taken hostage. The enormity of their anguish, their loss, is
immeasurable. For the families of the missing, there's an unrelenting agony of not knowing the fate of their loved ones, something that I don't think
most of us can truly understand, truly contemplate if you're not in their shoes. No one should have to endure what they're going through.
There are so many families like them. The United States is one of more than 30 countries where family members, friends, entire communities are being
forced to go through this wrenching experience because of Hamas' disdain for human life and basic human dignity.
We're doing everything we can to secure the release of the hostages, working closely with our Israeli partners. I brought with me to Israel our
Deputy Special Representative for Hostage Affairs, Steve Gillen, who joined my meetings with the families and will stay on the ground here to support
the efforts to free their loved ones.
Deputy Special Representative for Hostage Affairs, Steve Gillen who joined my meetings with the families and will stay on the ground here to support
the efforts to free their loved ones.
I also had a chance to see up close the genuinely inspiring solidarity of the Israeli people in the wake of Hamas' attacks when I visited one of the
many sites where citizens have swiftly organized efforts to collect, to sort, to distribute donations to those in need, including many families who
have been displaced from the South.
I had a chance to meet with some of the volunteers. Several of them dual U.S.-Israeli citizens. One young couple told me how they narrowly escaped
with their own lives when Hamas terrorists attacked the Supernova Music Festival. They told me about their friends who were not fortunate, who were
killed at that festival. Others taken hostage or still missing.
In our time here in Israel, everywhere we've gone, we've met people who've been touched in one way or another by Hamas's bloody hand. A loved one, a
friend, a classmate, a neighbor, a colleague, killed, maimed, missing.
We encountered a nation knit together by grief, but also a nation united in resolve. The United States shares that resolve and we stand shoulder to
shoulder with the people of Israel.
From here, I'll go on to Jordan, where I'll meet with His Majesty King Abdullah and with Palestinian Authority President Abbas. And then over the
coming days, we'll visit with leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Qatar.
Across each of these engagements, we'll continue pressing countries to help prevent the conflict from spreading and to use their leverage with Hamas to
immediately and unconditionally release the hostages.
We'll also discuss how we can continue to make real our affirmative vision for a region that's more peaceful, more prosperous, more secure, more
integrated. And in fact, that is the choice. And the choice in some ways has been made even more stark by the actions of Hamas on Saturday.
One path forward is a region that comes together. Integrated, normalized relations among its countries, people working in common purpose, to common
benefit, more peaceful, more stable.
Then there's the path that Hamas has shown in stark, clear light. Terror. Destruction. Nihilism. The choice could not be more clear. We know the
choice that we're making, our partners are making. We have work to do to carry it through.
In all that I did today, I was supported by an exceptional team here in Israel. It's been doing crucial work in incredibly difficult conditions,
led by remarkable Charg d' Affaires, Stephanie Hallet. Stephanie is doing an extraordinary job. We also look forward to welcoming our future
Ambassador, Jack Lew, to Israel.
As many here know, Hamas launched this attack on Simchat Torah. This is the day that Jews celebrate finishing the reading of the Torah. This Saturday,
Jews around the world will chant the first words of the book of Genesis. They'll read that in the beginning there was darkness, and then there was
light. That the first person was alone until a partner joined them.
I'm standing here today alongside our Israeli friends and all those who reject terror to help find the glimmers of light even in this moment of
deep darkness and to make clear that as long as there's the United States, Israel will never be alone. With that, happy to take some questions.
UNKNOWN: First question goes to Shaun Tandon with "AFP".
SHAUN TANDON, "AFP": Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Good evening.
TANDON: Can I just ask you to begin with Prime Minister Netanyahu who has shared what are very gruesome photos. He said that he shared them with you.
TANDON: I know they're very disturbing to look at but I wanted to see, first of all, what your reaction was to those. If I may, well understanding
and acknowledging the great suffering that's been experienced by Israelis.
There was a lot of concern in some quarters about the situation in Gaza, as well. People looking for food in light of the cutoff. Was that discussed at
all in terms of the humanitarian situation in Gaza?
Was there any call for easing some of these conditions or for restraint as we expect a ground offensive? And if you'll allow me just one thing that's
been reported just recently, call for easing some of these conditions or for restraint as we expect a ground offensive.
And if you'll allow me just one thing that's been reported just recently, there was a report in "The Washington Post" that the United States and
Qatar have decided to slow down or suspend the access that Iran has to the $6 billion that's been put in this special account. Could you say if this
is accurate and if it is, could you explain whether this is a slowdown or something more formal than that? Thanks very much.
BLINKEN: Great. Thanks, Shaun. So, we did see photographs, videos that the Israeli government shared with us. Some I think has actually already been
seen in public media. Others were new to me and I think new to our team.
It's hard to find the right words. It's beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine much less actually see and God forbid, experience. A baby, an
infant, riddled with bullets. Soldiers beheaded. Young people burned alive in their cars or in their highway rooms. I could go on, but it's simply
depravity in the worst, unimaginable way.
It almost defies comprehension. And as I've been saying, to me, it, in the most immediate future, harkens back to ISIS and some of the very things we
saw when it was on its rampage that thankfully was stopped.
So, I think for any human being to see this, it's really beyond almost anything that we can comprehend, digest. And I just add that when you see
this, you try to imagine, maybe not try, you can't help but imagine yourself, your family, your loved ones, your friends in that situation, in
And maybe the best word for it for me is overwhelming. I think what it's done is, as I said, united a country in profound grief, but also united a
country in resolve. And it's imperative that the rest of us share that resolve.
I said this earlier. This is a moment for moral clarity. This is a moment where everyone needs to make clear that there is revulsion, disgust, and a
determination -- a determination not to allow this to go forward. So, images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million.
On the humanitarian situation in Gaza, I think it's first important to remember a fundamental issue that makes this complicated. Hamas continues
to use civilians as human shields, something that's not new, something that they've always done, intentionally putting civilians in harm's way to
protect them, to try to protect themselves or protect their infrastructure or protect their weapons. So, that's one of the basic facts that Israel has
to deal with.
And of course, civilians should not be used in any way as the targets of military operations. They are not the target of Israel's operations. We did
discuss ways to address the humanitarian needs of people living in Gaza, to protect them from harm while Israel conducts its legitimate security
operations to defend itself from terrorism and to try to ensure that this never happens again.
We also talked about possibilities for safe passage for civilians who want to leave or get out of the way in Gaza, and that's a conversation to
discussion that we will pursue in the coming days, including with some of the countries that we'll be visiting.
So, this is important, and this is an area for focus. With regard to the $6 billion, first, again, it's always worth repeating the facts because,
unfortunately, the facts get lost along the way. The money that Iran accrued in bank accounts, in this case in South Korea, for the sale of its
oil was done pursuant to an arrangement established by the previous administration -- the Trump administration.
None of the funds that have now gone to Qatar have actually been spent or accessed in any way. By Iran, indeed, funds from that account are overseen
by the Treasury Department, can only be dispensed for humanitarian goods, food, medicine, medical equipment, and never touch Iranian hands. We have
strict oversight of the funds, and we retain the right to freeze them.
UNKNOWN: Next question goes to Gil Tamary with Channel 13.
GIL TAMARI, CHANNEL 13: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Gil Tamari, Channel 13, as well. The President compared rightfully Hamas' horrendous
massacre to ISIS. Can you provide assurance to Israel that the Biden administration will not attempt to halt Israel's effort until the goal of
eliminating Hamas from Gaza is completely achieved, regardless of how long it may take?
And with your permission, second question. If Hezbollah opens a second front in the north, can we expect that if needed, the U.S. will use its
military assets in the region to fight against Hezbollah together with the IDF?
BLINKEN: Okay, thank you. With regard to the first question, the President's been very clear, I've been very clear, we stand with Israel. We
stand with Israel in its determination to defend its people, defend its country.
We stand with Israel in its determination to do everything possible to ensure that what happened on Saturday never happens again. And in that
determination, we are, of course, as you know, providing assistance as requested by Israel for its efforts -- that will continue and we're working
closely with Congress to make sure that Israel has what it needs to do what it must.
With regard to the second front, as I mentioned earlier, it's our determination and that of Israel, as well, that there not be a second front
or a third front. And we are working as hard as we can, working with other partners in the region to try to ensure that that's the case. The president
has also been very clear -- President Biden.
He's been very clear that no one, state or non-state actor, should try to take advantage of this moment. And he's backed up that warning with the
deployment of our largest carrier group, the Gerald R. Ford, as well as, again, making sure that Israel has what it needs and that we also have
appropriate assets in place. Beyond that, I'm not going to speculate on future events.
UNKNOWN: For the next question, Ed Wong with "The New York Times".
ED WONG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I thank you, Secretary. Many people have likened the horrendous violence by Hamas to the attacks of 9-11 in the U.S.
As you know, the U.S. earned lots of goodwill after those attacks and there were many expressions of solidarity for the U.S. from around the world.
But soon afterwards, the U.S. squandered that goodwill when it began its invasion of Iraq. And now, decades onward in retrospect, many people think
that the most lasting consequences of 9-11 were the two wars that many Americans deemed were disasters in hindsight.
And so, I wonder what lessons might you have for Israel -- as a friend of Israel, looking back at the aftermath of 9-11? Second, I wonder whether
your team has an assessment of what Hamas' goals were in carrying out the attacks and whether it has gotten any closer to those goals with these
BLINKEN: Thanks, Ed. First, let me say this with regard to 9-11. If you look at this in proportion to the size of Israel's population, this is the
equivalent of 10 -- 9-11s. That's how big and how devastating this attack has been. And of course, each of these situations is very different. And
it's important to keep that in mind.
Of course, we're always trying to draw the lessons from past experience, as they may or may not be applicable to what we or our partners are doing now.
And of course, we are in very close conversation with Israel about the work it's undertaking, as I said, to make sure it can defend itself, defend its
citizens, and to the best of its ability ensure that this doesn't happen again. Those are the objectives.
And again, I'll leave the operational details to Israel and simply say again that as we have these discussions, we're looking at past experiences,
including many past experiences more immediate to this challenge, including in Gaza and including in the region.
With regard to the goals of Hamas, I think that is a question mostly on which I could speculate but not give you any kind of clear definitive
answer. There are a number of possible explanations. We have not heard from them what their goals are. And I have to tell you that in many ways, the
simplest explanation may be the most compelling. This is pure evil.
There may be second or third order interests. For example, I've noted this before, we've been engaged, as you know, in trying to support and advance
the possibility of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia and other countries that do not yet have normalized relations with Israel. Something
that is very challenging, very difficult, but also very possible.
And something that would have a profound effect on the region, on the countries in question, and on the region -- a region that's been in turmoil
for so many decades that through normalization, through greater integration, then has a path to much greater stability, much greater peace,
much greater opportunity for everyone in the region. Now, who opposes normalization? Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. I think that speaks volumes, as
UNKNOWN: And the final question goes to Christine Renawi with "Al-RB News" (ph).
CHRISTINE RENAWI, REPORTER: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, did you discuss with Netanyahu the need for Israel to commit to international law on their war
in Gaza, and any more details about the humanitarian corridors in Gaza?
And following on my colleague's question. The spokesperson of the White House retracted President Biden's claim of seeing pictures of beheaded
children. But today, you mentioned in your press conference about the babies slaughtered and the woman raped. Did you see the evidence of that?
BLINKEN: Thank you. To the first part of your question, I think you heard the President address this. I've also addressed it in different ways which
is to say this. For democracies like the United States, like Israel, it's vitally important that we respect and follow international law,
humanitarian law, the law of war as applicable, and it's a standard that we hold ourselves to, and it's a standard that we look to, including if and
when we fall short of it.
So, this is something that motivates both of us. And of course, it's what distinguishes us and other democracies around the world from terrorist
organizations like Hamas, which have absolutely no regard for the rule of law, for humanitarian rules and rights, for any basic standards of human
On the contrary, as we were discussing just a few minutes ago, they quite literally and deliberately target civilians, and not just target civilians,
target them in the most inhumane ways possible. And at the same time, use them as human shields. So that's a profound distinction between our
countries and a group like Hamas.
When it comes to the photographs, the videos, I describe what I saw today. That doesn't mean it's the entire universe. We had an opportunity to see
some of the photographs and videos. Unfortunately, there are many, many others. And every day, the world is seeing new evidence of the depravity
and the inhumanity of Hamas.
Depravity and inhumanity directed at babies, at small children, at young adults, at elderly people, at people with disabilities. The list goes on
and on a basic human level, how anyone cannot be revolted and cannot reject what they've seen and what the world has seen, it's beyond me. Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Thank you all.
(LIVE COVERAGE ENDS)
GOLODRYGA: We've been listening to a press conference by Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he departs Tel Aviv for regional visits with other
leaders there in the region. Departing first to Jordan, ending by stating once again the depravity and the horrific images and attacks by Hamas
against innocent civilians, saying, "The world is seeing inhumanity and depravity of Hamas every day," -- said it's a moment for clarity, for the
world to unite, and the United States once again reiterates its support for Israel and its fight against Hamas and shares its resolve.
Also said the two countries share a mutual respect for laws of war. Quite emotional there. Once again, the Secretary of State confirming some of the
photos that we have shown you today and many more that he says he has yet to see.
ASHER: And also, Iran coming up a few times in that press conference warning Hezbollah not to even think about opening up another front in this
war in terms of the northern border with Israel and Lebanon. I want to go now to Israeli author, journalist, and intelligence expert Yossi Melman.
Yossi, thank you so much for being with us. Iran came up just sort of as a theme a number of times in that press conference. Secretary Blinken
touching on the fact that, you know, in terms of the $6 billion that Iran now has access to after the American hostages were freed, that -- making it
clear that the U.S. can freeze those funds at any point in time. Iran hasn't actually accessed those funds yet.
Just in terms of Iran's overall involvement in this particularly brutal attack, no U.S. official has come out outright yet and said, yes,
absolutely, 100 percent, we have confirmed that Iran was involved, that they perhaps planned, helped plan and coordinate these attacks. No U.S.
official has said that yet. But it does seem as though Iran's fingerprints are all over this.
Just walk us through what you know, what you're hearing. And a lot of people are saying, listen, if the U.S. does come out and say that Iran is
involved, it would really force their hand in terms of having to respond in some way, shape or form. Give us your take on that, Yossi.
YOSSI MELMAN, INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY EXPERT: We can reach conclusions from the past precedent. Iran is operating via its Revolutionary Guards
Corp and via its elite unit of Al-Quds which the United States killed its leader, General Soleimani, a few years ago. Hamani is operating via proxies
in Yemen, in Lebanon, together with Hezbollah.
And Iran is very cautious. They don't -- they try to hide and conceal their direct involvement, but there is no doubt that Iran has been supporting
Hamas financially with weapons smuggled via Egypt and through the tunnels to Sinai and Gaza. Hamas has been supported financially, armed by Iran.
It is coordinated -- its operations with Hamas and Hezbollah. We saw meetings in recent weeks and even recent days between Hamas commanders and
leaders in Lebanon, with representatives of Iran and Hezbollah. So -- and Iran was actively calling these organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to hit Israel. So, this is the evidence.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah. Yossi, it has been nine years since Israel's last incursion into Gaza. Back then, the mission for the IDF was to weaken Gaza.
Now, we are hearing from Israeli leaders, including the prime minister and the minister of defense that the mission is to destroy Hamas. How do you go
about destroying Hamas without destroying Gaza? And to that matter, you also have 150, at least, hostages that are held there, as well.
MELMAN: Well, this is a tough question. The situation is very delicate. The Israeli's strategic goal, as declared by Prime Minister Netanyahu in
our defense establishment is simply to demolish the military power of Hamas. Is it possible to do it without destroying, toppling the government
of Hamas, which is by the way, illegal government. It came to power in Gaza 16 years -- 15 years ago, or about by a military coup d'etat.
Hamas is illegitimate force. It is not accepted by the Palestinian authorities. So, it's almost impossible to destroy Hamas without toppling
the government. But this is the Israeli aim. And as you mentioned, and rightly so, there is the question of the hostages.
How can we deal with the hostage situation, which are already being used or will be used as a human shield? It's really problematic, and Israel would
have to navigate through all these obstacles and barriers. I don't know what will be the end results of it.
ASHER: All right, Yossi Melman, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your perspective. I want to bring in our colleague Becky
Anderson in Tel Aviv. Becky, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a major issue here.
ANDERSON: Yeah, and it's one of the sort of three priorities that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has on his trip here -- hostages,
humanitarian corridors, and then what happens next in this offensive, this potentially massive assault on Gaza?
Let's talk about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Zain, because it's absolutely front and center here. The U.N.'s World Food Programme is
pleading for humanitarian corridors, calling Gaza's situation dire.
Samer AbdulJaber is country director of the World Food Programme Palestine, joining me live from Jerusalem. We know these conversations are going on at
present, Samer, frankly, and unfortunately my source is telling me that these conversations about humanitarian corridors aren't going very far at
this point. What are you hearing and just how important are they?
SAMER ABDULJABER, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME PALESTINE: Thank you, Becky. The situation is devastating, to be honest, at least we can
say. At the moment, there are more than 338,000 people that have been displaced. And the shelters are already overcrowded.
We've been supporting 220,000 people inside the shelter, so far, since the crisis began. We've been supporting around 300,000 people. And our --
basically -- resources are depleting, as well.
So, I think earlier, you had the report on the fuel and the fuel is having a major catastrophic implication on the bakeries, on the mills, on the
shops. So, the whole market systems are not functioning anymore.
So, it's really a very, very sad situation that is ongoing and we're doing everything we can to make sure that people are basically, we're able to
meet their needs and we're working with everyone trying to secure access to be able to get food in. That's our priority for now.
ANDERSON: Right. Samer, the numbers here are staggering. You are helping shelter more than a quarter of a million people. I think that we just need
to let that sink in for a moment. So, what do you hope this sort of diplomatic flurry that's going on behind the scenes will achieve? What
would those humanitarian corridors look like, Samer?
ABDULJABER: So, to us, I think getting food into Gaza is needed. What's available locally is not sufficient. People have been going to the markets
when it was functioning and emptied everything. And of course, with the people losing their houses, seeking shelter, all those food items that they
sourced were left behind.
So, they're going to shelters, we're able to source them with bread. The bakeries that we've been working with are stopping, either because of lack
of wheat flour or because of lacking fuel basically that is needed.
As you know, electricity is down at the moment in Gaza. Of course, there is water issues, there is water shortage, clean water shortage. And so, we --
systems that are not functioning, so that's getting to water wells and other systems.
ANDERSON: Right. So, I mean, the priority for you at this point is opening humanitarian corridors to get stuff in, to help feed and keep alive that
quarter of a million people that you are providing shelter for. That is the bottom line here.
Samer AbdulJaber, it's good to have you on, Sir. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Live from Tel Aviv, I'm Becky Anderson. Our breaking news
coverage continues with "AMANPOUR", up next.