Return to Transcripts main page
One World with Zain Asher
CNN's Breaking News Coverage Of Israel At War Continues; U.S. Helps Americans Evacuate By Sea As The War Rages On Israel; Israel's Head of Domestic Security Agency Takes Responsibility For Intelligence Failures. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 16, 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 now says that it believes there
are 199 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, far more than the 150 reported earlier.
ASHER: Right. The Israeli military basically saying that women, children, and the elderly being used as human shields against an Israeli invasion.
Finding them will be likely a crucial task for Israeli troops that appear ready to march into Gaza at any point in time.
You see those tanks building up there, Israel of course continuing to pound the area with airstrikes. Tremendous destruction awaits those soldiers as
they move in. Take a look at this video. This video actually surfaced on social media of mass graves --mass graves inside Gaza. I want to point out
though that CNN has not been able to confirm when or where this video was taken. Nevertheless.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and while we wait to find out if or when Israeli troops will move in, we also wonder when Palestinian civilians can get out. These
are pictures from the Rafah border crossing, the only way out of Gaza right now.
It has been closed for almost a week following Israeli airstrikes in the area, but there was a dose of good news just a short time ago. As CNN saw -
- U.N. saw U.N. aid trucks rolled off a crossing, bringing badly needed fuel to southern Gaza.
ASHER: Against that backdrop, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to Israel today. He's met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, also
other Israeli officials, too, after touring several Arab nations. Blinken has a long list of things that he really needs to accomplish with all of
these trips, but perhaps the highest priority and maybe the most important right now is heading off an expansion of this conflict.
Earlier today, Israel announced that it was evacuating 28 villages near the border with Lebanon out of concerns that the fighting could break out
there. That there could be another front in this war. U.S. President Joe Biden says that he's worried most of all that this could even expand
outside of the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, "60 MINUTES" CORRESPONDENT: Because of what we're seeing in the Middle East, is the threat of terrorism in the United States increased?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right, I want to bring in our colleague, Becky Anderson in Tel Aviv. So, Becky, we just got word, some of our crews, CNN crews on the
ground there outside the Rafah crossing said that they have seen five U.N. fuel trucks make its way from Egypt into Gaza. But, of course, the big
question is, what happens to civilians?
There are a lot of civilians at the Rafah crossing in Gaza desperate to get out, given what's about to happen with an Israeli ground invasion. What
more do we know from Egyptian officials in terms of when or if at all those civilians will likely be able to make it to the other side?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It is absolutely not clear at the moment. There is certainly mounting pressure on Egypt to open that border
crossing to allow out of Gaza all those who are trying to leave. On the U.S. side, that would be U.S. citizens, five to 600 U.S. and Canadian
citizens, as we understand it, who are waiting to get out of Gaza.
And then, of course, you know, the half a million Gazans who we are told reportedly have already fled northern Gaza down into the south. I mean, you
know, from Gaza City, it's not a very long way, you know, into the Gaza Valley.
I've just been speaking to a chap who's there. He left at 3 o'clock in the morning four days ago. He's got 50 friends and family staying in a small
cabin in the Gaza Valley at present. Twenty of those are children, and they are running very, very low, he told me live on air, on fuel, on food. There
is no electricity.
So, the sense of trying to get humanitarian supplies, medical supplies, fuel, food in through that crossing is one thing.
Then the idea of opening to ensure that people can get out is absolutely critical at this moment. Let me be quite clear about where Egypt stands on
this and we've heard this from the Jordanians, as well.
Egypt sees opening that crossing to Palestinians fleeing what is going on in northern Gaza, a complete red line at this point. They see it as a
national security issue. They are struggling with their own economy.
Jordan says the same thing. This is a red line. This is a country, Jordan, that already hosts over a million refugees. In fact, an awful lot more than
that, millions of refugees.
So, this issue that this border crossing, you know, is contentious at present, I mean, I think everybody understands, but the pressure is there
on the Egyptians at present. They are calling this forced sort of evacuation tantamount to a war crime at this point, and that's where they
stand on things. So that's the latest from the ground.
On the ground in the north, to the north of that border crossing, of course, Israeli troops training for the next stage in their war against
Hamas and expected ground offensive. CNN's Nic Robertson has the details for you.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Close to Gaza, preparations underway for a much-anticipated ground offensive. Troops
from different units training together. There is an urgency here. They have to be ready fast.
ROBERTSON (on-camera): Right now, this is a rehearsal. If and when there's an incursion, these troops could be at the front of it. Tanks or for this
practice, model ones right now, followed by infantry and combat engineers, a combined force spearheading an incursion.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): If they do, Major Ofek will be near the front.
OFEK, MAJOR, IDF TROOP COMMANDER (through translator): We expect to go to war. We expect to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas, kill its
government and kill every last terrorist. That's what we plan to do and that's how it will be.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The last time the IDF went into Gaza targeting Hamas' leaders was 2014. Ariel Bernstein was 21 in the special forces, one
of the first to cross the border.
ARIEL BERNSTEIN, FORMER IDF SOLDIER: You're just afraid that there is something waiting for you at every corner.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): But his experiences then have left him questioning the tactics today. Back then, he says, the IDF warned civilians to leave,
and Hamas told them to stay, just as is happening now. But some had stayed. His orders, he says, assume the civilians had left.
BERNSTEIN: Whoever you see is basically engaged in fighting or is involved in fighting, and therefore, we call it engaging with fire with any home you
enter, with any kind of shape of a person that you see from afar.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): In many ways, Israel's actions are playing out just as they have in the past -- 2021 gun positions freshly dug back in use. And
in Gaza, the civilian death toll, according to Palestinian health officials, already higher than in 2014. And like then, Israel is already
facing huge international pressure to avoid more civilian casualties.
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What we are doing is saying privately what we've said publicly, which is that all military operations
should be conducted consistent with the law of war, that civilians should be protected.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The problem the IDF says it faces, just like 2014, Hamas will be hiding among civilians.
DORON SPIELMAN, IDF SPOKESPERSON: The whole situation we're talking about with Gaza and civilians forcibly embedded is another element of Hamas.
Hamas has to be fully defeated.
ROBERTSON: So, the responsibility is on them and not you?
SPIELMAN: The responsibility is on Hamas for their own civilians. Our responsibility is to eliminate Hamas' capabilities completely.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Major Ofek, pausing during training in a mocked up Palestinian town, says they don't hurt innocents, only terrorists, but
admits if he is sent into Gaza, avoiding civilian deaths won't be easy.
ROBERTSON: Do you think it's possible though to fight Hamas without civilians getting injured?
OFEK (through translator): We're concerned with overthrowing the Hamas regime and killing the terrorists who are currently in Gaza. If it will be
difficult, it will be difficult. Not easy.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Outside the camp gates, as Israel's military ponder their next move, troops are saying their fond farewells.
ROBERTSON (on-camera): So, Ariel Bernstein who's been through this before back in 2014, his real concern for the troops going in is that they may be
told the same thing to him, which was, all the civilians are gone, all you're going to see there are Hamas terrorists.
And his concern is, if that's the instruction they get, as we got back in 2014, it's as likely to be as wrong in 2014 as it is now, because, as we
know, only half a million civilians have left the northern end of Gaza, there's a population that estimated 1.1 million.
So, potentially, half a million civilians left in some of these neighborhoods. And he says that he witnessed with his own eyes civilian
And he spoke about the mental impact and trauma that had on him. But also, the difficulty of fighting in that environment where you're not expecting
civilians, then you do find civilians and civilians getting caught in the crossfire and not because the troops wanted it but because they weren't
expecting it and have been told not to expect it.
ANDERSON: Nic reporting there on the preparations. We are clearly not privy to, you know, Israel's military plans at this point, but it is absolutely
clear there that preparations are in place for the next phase, or certainly building for the next phase in all of this. Nic, thank you.
I think it's just important to point out, Zain and Bianna, that as those soldiers get ready, there's 300,000 of them saturating that border, they
will be aware as we are today that the number of hostages has now been increased.
The actual total number of hostages has been increased by the Israeli authorities today to 199 from 155. That is an absolute national priority to
get those hostages out safely. And at the same time, the IDF released numbers on soldiers killed since this conflict began, what, 10 days ago,
and it's 291 already.
So, those sort of numbers will be resonating. They don't help this collective sort of sense of trauma that all Israelis are feeling at
present. I've spoken to a lot of people who totally understand the concern about, you know, trying to protect civilians in Gaza. They also understand
the Israeli position, which is that Hamas needs to be taken out completely. And they support that.
ANDERSON: Most Israelis you speak to knows a wife, a daughter, a husband, brother, a sister who is down on that border now as a reservist, ready for
whatever happens next.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and those hostages, not just Israeli citizens, I mean, they're dual nationals from dozens of other countries around the world. And
the frustration and the real challenge for Israeli forces is to be able to find where these hostages are.
And so far, from all reports, there has not been much communication with Hamas in terms of any sort of prisoner exchanges or even locating where
they are right now. All right, Becky Anderson, thank you so much.
ASHER: And worth noting that collective sense of bereavement, because, of course, given the 300,000 reservists at the border, a lot of Israeli
families who have sent their loved ones to fight know that there is a realistic possibility that they may never see their loved ones again as
they head into Gaza.
All right, the U.S. is helping Americans evacuate by sea as the war rages on. Earlier today, a cruise ship carrying U.S. nationals departed Haifa and
is now on its way to Cyprus.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, travel will take about 10 to 12 hours aboard a commercial ship. The U.S. government has chartered. Once the cruise ship reaches
Cyprus, citizens will be required to book their own travel onward from there. For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand at the
Natasha, we should just note how unprecedented this time really is to see a ship provided by the United States to transport Americans leaving Israel at
this moment, just unprecedented in our lifetimes.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yeah. And look, this is the U.S. trying, of course, to assist U.S. citizens who want to leave
Israel. So far, they have not gotten a huge demand signal from dual U.S.- Israeli citizens, just U.S. citizens who are in Israel, to stage some kind of big military evacuation, right?
This is not like what we saw in Afghanistan, for example, where the U.S. military poured in assets to try to get a large number of Americans out of
the country. This is the U.S. assisting those American citizens who want to leave, not necessarily in large numbers, but still, it requires a cruise
ship and that is really significant here.
Now the people who do leave, if they can't for some reason book their own onward travel, then the U.S. is also going to be chartering flights out of
Cyprus to get them to their final destination here.
But you know, the U.S. is prepared to stage some kind of large-scale operation if it needs to -- large-scale evacuation operation. And we
reported earlier this weekend that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is a unit made up of over 2000 Marines and sailors, essentially has
been put on standby and is preparing for the possibility that they get an order to deploy closer to Israel to support a large-scale evacuation.
Now, that order has not come yet, but the U.S. of course has not taken anything off the table. Still though, there are a number of questions, of
course, about the U.S. citizens who remain in Gaza who are trying to get out.
As of this morning we are told it's about 253 American citizens, as well as over a hundred of their family members who are trying to get out of Gaza
and that of course is not as simple as just pulling a cruise ship up next to Gaza and allowing those citizens to evacuate. There's the whole issue of
course with the border crossing which remains closed at this point.
So, the U.S. doing everything it can to assist the citizens that it has actual access to. But at this point, of course, no huge demand signal for a
military-led evacuation, though, of course, here at the Pentagon, they do plan for pretty much everything, guys.
GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and Secretary of State Blinken back in Israel just days after being there with Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying that one of his
main focuses is getting these Americans who are trapped in Gaza, out as well. Natasha Bertrand, thank you.
ASHER: All right, still to come, Israel's closest ally has a message for the Netanyahu government. We will get reaction from an Israeli military
expert. We will have that and more after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMRAN ABU ASSI, BRITISH PASSPORT HOLDER LIVING IN GAZA: My name is Omran. I have a British passport. I used to be living in Britain, but I've been in
Gaza for a year now, and wow, it has been a very, very interesting year.
ASHER: Gosh, 13-year-old Omran is just one of the children trapped in this deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas. Nearly half of Gaza's population
is under 18. That's roughly one million children caught in the middle of this.
GOLODRYGA: Wise beyond his years to only imagine what he has seen in his short life. Omran only came back to Gaza last year but now, he's uprooted
His family has traveled to Gaza South, hoping to find safety from Israel's attacks. Omran, though, says that he's still worried that the bombs will
not stop falling and that might help -- that help might not come soon enough.
Well, U.S. President Biden is warning Israel against occupying Gaza. As it gears up for the next stages of its war with Hamas, it is being viewed as
one of President Biden's most notable public calls for restraint. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: What happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it
would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: For a reaction to this, I want to bring in retired IDF Colonel Miri Eisin. She has a background in military intelligence and heads up the
International Institute for Counterterrorism at Israel's Reichman University. Miri, thank you so much for joining us. So, in response to
those comments from the president to 60 Minutes, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. said that Israel has no plans of occupying Gaza.
So, if that's the case, once Israel does deem its mission to uproot Hamas successful, what follows if it's not Israel that controls and governs Gaza,
then what is a palatable alternative? Because the Palestinian Authority, as we know, is corrupt, it's old, it's feckless. It's hard enough for them to
even maintain control over the West Bank right now.
MIRI EISIN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM REICHMAN UNIVERSITY: The framing that you're talking about right now means
that you're asking me about something which is a bit too far in the future.
I greatly appreciate the question itself, but right now we're in a war, a war that is unprecedented. It's not like any other. So, I find it really
hard right now as an academic, as a Colonel to try to say what's the day after.
I can say what we can't have, we cannot have a terror-horrific organization like Hamas that is both controlling the Gaza Strip and that enormous
amassment of weaponry, of capabilities, of cruelty that we saw over the last 10 days.
So, that I don't know what's instead. I do know what we can't have there. That doesn't make it any easier, but that's our challenge.
ASHER: Miri, Zain here. It's always been part of Israel's folklore, Israel's collective consciousness, this idea of beating the odds, this idea
of, you know, being surrounded by enemies, overcoming them and being able to live to see another day.
You know, we saw that in the Arab Israeli war in 1948. We saw it during the Six-Day War in '67. This idea of beating the odds is a big part of Israel's
This time feels different, though. I mean, this idea of being able to go in there, free 199 hostages and defeat Hamas and have minimal losses on the
IDF side, it's just sort of unrealistic. Just talk us through what awaits - - what awaits the IDF when they get to the other side of that border. Just walk us through what they're up against here.
EISIN: So, Zain, I have an enormous respect and understanding of Israeli resilience, but let's talk about what Hamas are preparing. And when I say
Hamas, as you said before, this isn't all the Palestinians and half the population there is under the age of 18. But I'm talking about what Hamas
Hamas has built over the last 15 years, they violently took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. They've built a subterranean
arena. Think of it as the subway system under New York City as the subway system under D.C. Only this doesn't have trains.
This is for cache of weapons. What type of weapons? We're talking about the enormous amount of weapons that Israel has shown that they brought into
Israel on Saturday to continue to use to butcher and to kill. And they have an enormous amount still inside the Gaza Strip.
We're talking about command and control, but when we go in as a ground operation, what they will try to do is to drag us on their terms. They are
going to booby trap the tunnels. They are going to put in IEDs, different explosives.
I foresee, and it's horrific to think of, that they are going to, I call it, it's called, oh my God, I can't even say it on TV, but what they would
have no qualms about doing with the Israeli hostages, with a nine-month baby or with an 85-year-old holocaust survivor, using them as part of their
terror element to stop us from doing, going in to try to get to their cache of weapons. And that's where they're going to be holding the hostages.
So, it's going in, and you can expect anti-tank weapons, suicide drones, explosives, IEDs. And you said before, Zain, that we're past the stage of a
war where there are no casualties.
Of course, there will be casualties. That's why this is so hard. It's hard for all sides. But what else can we do? We've all seen what they pre-
planned and executed over this Saturday. And this is something that they planned and trained for, including horrific descriptions of how they want
to torture and mutilate, how they want to. How they did, they booby-trapped bodies. And that they did on Saturday, so that we need to get in there, and
it will be harsh, but it will be done.
GOLODRYGA: It is absolutely heinous, you're right, that we should note the terror inflicted upon innocent Israelis last week. Miri, just in terms of
preparation and training, the last time that the IDF went into Gaza, as we noted, was in 2014.
I'm just curious whether, in your expertise or from what you know still covering this arena, is the IDF prepared or is there training for a
scenario of this scale in terms of not only following and protecting a country after such a mass scale attack, but also knowing that you have
nearly 200 hostages whose whereabouts are unknown at this point.
EISIN: So, as you've just said in that sense, we are in an unprecedented war. We have to stop comparing this. We're in an unprecedented, it's not a
terror attack. This was something so big, so strong. We're at a loss of words. We're going to have to invent the words both in the media, both for
all of us to understand it.
I absolutely think that the IDF has the capacity. I do not think that there is any military in the world that has ever had to train for this kind of
event, both in the defense of what they did, coming in in that butchering manner and in are going to the offensive both to try to reach the hostages
and to try to destroy this Hamas infrastructure.
You train, you do ideas, you try to be innovative. This is the way that you go about it, but I'm going to be clear. There are going to be casualties,
certainly because Hamas use their own people as human shields, as they have done, not only over the last 10 days, but for years, but also the
casualties on the Israeli side. And that still means that you go in, you build your strength to do so.
ASHER: All right, Miri, thank you so much. Retired IDF Colonel Miri Eisin, thank you so much. You bring up such an important point in one of your
answers. This idea that given how diligently Hamas planned these attacks inside southern Israel, you have to know that they are obviously planning
Israel's response, as well. And they are certainly ready for IDF forces. Miri, thank you so much for being with us. You are watching CNN. Our
breaking news coverage continues with Becky Anderson after this quick break.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. Live from Tel Aviv, I'm Becky Anderson. Our breaking news coverage continues. And Blinken -- Anthony Blinken is hearing
around the region here, very real concerns of escalation, not just in Gaza, and we await to find out what happens next there, but to the West Bank and
beyond. And we are already seeing evidence of that escalation.
Since Israel declared its war on Hamas and launched strikes on Gaza, close to 60 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank, many by
Jewish settlers. I went to one village there where residents just in the past couple of days have been caught in the deadly crosshairs.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Twelve-year-old Abdulrahman can't sleep at night. His sister Rabia says he's too scared to be alone. His home in the village
of Khizra just south of Nablus was attacked by Jewish settlers. You can see them here in this video lobbing rocks and firing at the property,
Shattering the windows.
Inside, the floor littered with glass. Scars of bullets scraping the walls, a bleak emptiness. Four local Palestinians were killed in this attack. On
the way to their funeral the following day, two other locals, Ibrahim and his son, Ahmad Wadi, also shot dead. Images of the lost plaster the walls
Hani Odeh is the mayor here. His community lives in fear he says, constantly attacked by Jewish settlers. And he says it's getting worse.
HANI ODEH, QUSRA MAYOR (through translator): The situation is so, so bad. You can't even describe it. We're living in a devastating psychological
state. None of us can sleep.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Torched cars, water pumps, electricity lines, ransacked. Hani tells me settlers roam freely here, often under the
protection of the Israeli police. Their aim, he insists, to drive Palestinians from their homes and ultimately from the occupied West Bank.
In Israel's current government, far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a former settler leader himself, previously convicted of
supporting terrorism and inciting anti-Arab racism. Others denying Palestinians' very existence.
While you and I have been talking, I'm just getting an urgent update on my phone here, local sources, settlers storm Mount Al-Ama in the town of
Beita, protected by the occupation forces.
UNKNOWN (through translator): The policy is clear. It's no secret. They want to displace this area. We just have to defend ourselves and defend our
land. We will die here. Where else will we go?
ANDERSON (voice-over): A short drive away and in full view of an encroaching settlement, we meet Ibrahim and Ahmed's family. Wives,
daughters and sisters mourning their loss, yet stoic and proud.
KHITAM WADI, HUSBAND AND SON KILLED IN SETTLER ATTACK (through translator): My husband loved his land, he defended his land and we will continue to do
that so long as we are alive.
ANDERSON: Tell me about Ahmed.
WADI (through translator): Ahmed was just like his dad, a hero, a brave man with a strong heart. As long as there's someone like Ben-Gvir supporting
you and encouraging you to carry out attacks, of course violence is going to increase.
ANDERSON (voice-over): In the shadow of that violence, life goes on. For some, like these women, intimidation making them more intent on staying.
But for others, like Rabia and little Abdulrahman, this time it's too much.
RABIA: It's so bad, I want to carry this, what can we do?
ANDERSON (voice-over): They moved to Khizra six years ago, escaping settler violence that took away their father's life. Now, being driven out of their
ANDERSON (on-camera): Well, an IDF spokesman when asked whether the Israeli military would reinforce in light of settler attacks, he said that the IDF
was, and I quote here, fully deployed in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a call with President Joe Biden,
demanded an end to attacks by settlers and extremist incursions, expressing his rejection of actions harming civilians on both sides.
Well, look, I've been covering this conflict for 20 years and I can tell you the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation is at the heart
of the problems of conflict here and in the past 10 months, we've seen signs that we are on the edge of an abyss here especially with settler
violence in the West Bank and indeed with Gaza, an enclave that has been under siege for nearly two decades.
Israel though, had sort of placed the Palestinian issue on the back burner suggesting it was a matter of lip service to an outdated cause. But after
Hamas' unprecedented attack, it became quite clear that it can't be ignored.
And in my time spent in the West Bank, the mayor of the village that you met in my report told me himself, young Palestinians are very, very angry.
He said what they -- we are seeing in Gaza can be connected to what's happening in the West Bank just in the past 10 days and in the months
We're reaching a stage, he told me, where people would rather die in combat than be humiliated and killed in their own homes. Well, Tor Wennesland is
the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and he joins me now live from Jerusalem. And what I have just suggested is something all
too familiar with you.
You and I have had this conversation. Now, for months and months, you've been warning that things are on the brink here. Let's start with Gaza if we
can and then let's sort of step back to the wider story of escalation. What's your assessment on what's happening in Gaza and what might happen
next at this point? What are we seeing here?
TOR WENNESLAND, U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR, MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: Thank you, Becky, for having me on. Well, what we are seeing is the following.
We are seeing a huge number in hundred thousands of civilians being moved from the northern part of Gaza to the southern part of Gaza, presumably out
of the worst expected fighting zones. So, they leave their house and whatever they have to move to a place where it's considered not to be as
The problem we have at the moment now is that all these moves and all these dynamics is happening with the people that are running out of supplies
completely. They're running out of water. They're running out of food and medicine and health services.
WENNESLAND: Health service system has collapsed. And the dynamics, if it continues with no supplies in, is horrific.
ANDERSON: You're absolutely right. Let's concentrate briefly on the Rafah border. We have witnessed through the eyes of the lens of a CNN cameraman
today, trucks coming in with either fuel or water.
At least we know that that border crossing has been open for some U.N. vehicles with supplies, but there's been a real fight going on, let's call
it that, between Israel, the U.S., Egypt, on whether that border crossing would be open for people to evacuate through. Clearly the Egyptians have
They've called it a red line, so has Jordan, about the sort of a flood of Palestinians leaving through that border. Do you share their concerns?
Certainly, Joe Biden has talked about or warned Israel not to try and reoccupy Gaza at this point. I mean, is that your concern? And if we see a
flood of refugees, were Egypt to open that gate? You know, what's the impact, Sir?
WENNESLAND: Well, let me start. I was in Cairo Wednesday last week to obtain from the Egyptians a final assurance that they would provide for
access of humanitarian goods through Sinai. What the Egyptians have done is a lot.
They've rigged up Al Arish Airport in the northern part of Sinai close to Gaza for receiving humanitarian supply. These supply lines are now working
and we are having a capacity -- we have a capacity to bring supplies into Gaza on very short notice -- on very short notice --
WENNESLAND: --if Rafah border crossing is open. But let me be clear on one thing. There is a clear line, and it's a historic line, and it has always
been there, that Egypt will not allow for a huge number of people to go out of Gaza and settle in the northern part of Sinai, whether it is short-term
or long-term. That line is a red line. And Egypt has full support for this policy, both among Palestinians and regional, when it comes to countries.
I will say that the nightmare for Egypt is if that line is broken down by people who walk out. And I cannot say this will happen, but I can say it is
less likely to happen if we get the border crossing opened as soon as possible.
ANDERSON: Tor, can I ask you, I mean, Anthony Blinken has heard some very, very strong words from regional leaders about their concerns for de-
escalation -- for escalation. They talk about de-escalation, calm this thing down, stop the military attacks.
They talk about a policy of forced displacement of people being tantamount to war crimes, and we're hearing terms of collective punishment. Is that
what you are witnessing here?
WENNESLAND: What we are witnessing is that people are moved in high numbers. What we are witnessing is that people are not getting their
supplies. What we are witnessing is a massive humanitarian disaster in making in front of our eyes. That is what we are seeing.
WENNESLAND: And we are also seeing that fighting is continuing. That is what we are seeing.
ANDERSON: Okay, Tor, I just have to press you very briefly then. You've been warning for months and months that this region is on the brink. Is it?
How concerned are you?
WENNESLAND: I'm superbly concerned, and I'm particularly concerned after my recent visit to Beirut and meeting the parties there. I would put it like
this, that it only takes one mistake somewhere to unleash something that is definitively worse. And I have not been conflicted by my meetings in Beirut
as to the fact that we are moving on in a escalatory trajectory, though not very fast. But here, anything can happen. As if I said, if something very
unexpected is turning up, or I would say the longer the conflict inside Gaza is lasting, the more chance there is for this conflict also to go
ANDERSON: And I'm sure you share others' concerns about what is going on in the West Bank. And I just filed a report on exactly that. We are seeing an
uptick in settler violence there. The Palestinians' plight, of course, as we remind people, at the absolute heart of this decades-long conflict.
And Hamas, frankly, being given ammunition at this point, if there isn't some sort of solution on a sort of independence and sovereignty nature for
Palestinians. Hamas, you know, empowered, you could argue, in their actions. It's horrific, they're a horrific attack on the south of Israel
last week. I mean, just the sort of touch, lighting the touch paper once again. And, you know, we await both Zain and Bianna to see what happens
next. But real, real concerns as you see at this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Well, more funerals were held in Jerusalem on Sunday for the people killed in Hamas' horrific attack on Israel nine days ago. Israel
says the death toll from that single day, October 7th, is now more than 1400 people, for a small nation of only nine million.
Israel, as we've been reporting, has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the Islamic militant group who controls Gaza. Palestinian officials and aid groups in
Gaza meantime are warning that the enclave is on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe after more than a week of Israeli strikes.
ASHER: And U.N. fuel is now making its way through the Rafah crossing, which remains pretty much the only viable way in or out of Gaza from the
south right now. This comes after a widespread appeal to allow in much- needed aid into the territory. Joining me live now is the Outreach Associate for Just Vision in Gaza, Fadi Abu Shammalah.
Fadi, thank you so much for being with us. I cannot tell you how crushed I am to see some of the images coming out of Gaza right now. I can only
imagine what it's like to actually live through it. We're talking about just under 3000 people dead. People struggling with a lack of electricity,
a lack of water, a lack of food.
People in hospitals, by the way, in northern Gaza talking about being surprised at the fact that they're still alive at this point. Gaza is being
pummeled right now, and I hate to say it, but do people understand that it's likely going to get a whole lot worse? How are people bracing
themselves what is about to come their way?
FADI ABU SHAMMALAH, OUTREACH ASSOCIATE, JUST VISION: Thank you so much for having me in this interview. Exactly as you have said, we have like 2800
civilian Palestinians were killed in Gaza Strip. The majority of them, like 64 to 65 percent of them are children and women.
More than 10,000 are injured and around 10,500 housing units are completely damaged. Some of these homes were demolished over their families, witnesses
told me over the phone that they could hear the voices of the people who are asking for this. But unfortunately, they were escaping from death and
they were running to the south of the city.
It's horrible what is going on here, and especially when the Palestinian people themselves know that they are acting and dealing with genocide
countries. The -- under the post of the commission, they don't respect the human rights and the international and the people of the Gaza Strip know
exactly that they are dealing with the --.
And I want to quote the what the Israeli minister of -- genocide, not the Israeli Minister of Defense, what he said exactly, we are losing a complete
siege, a complete siege on Gaza, no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals. Mr. Gallant is
considering the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip as a human.
This is the way that they are dealing with us. This is the way that the Palestinians themselves know exactly how their enemy are acting with them.
Thousands, actually millions of Palestinian people are now displaced in the very closed and narrow area in the Gaza City, especially in the south of
Gaza City. Majority of them are from this the eastern side Gala City and north of Gaza City.
According to a hospital's spokesperson said that around 40,000 of this now inside the hospital now. Palestinians also are feeling disgusting (ph) with
the one-sided dealing with us and the double standard that we have been and we have seen actually among the Western countries themselves according to
People are scared, are afraid, are horrified from the, not the future. They are horrified and they are afraid and scared from the current. Now you can,
if you come to the south of Gaza, you will see a lot of people are sleeping in the streets. People were running from the south to -- from the north to
the south without taking their stuff, their basic, their people.
Also, just to answer your question again, and according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, it said that between
2010 and 2019, around 3,600 people were killed. Persian people are being killed since 1948. There is no one day, there is no one single day that
Palestinians were not killed by the horrific occupation that we had.
This is the first time I do think so, that this is the first time that in the history of the human being that around half a million of people have to
evacuate their homes in less than eight hours. We have shortage in everything. In electricity, we don't have electricity. We don't have drink
water, we don't have water itself, we don't have food. This is a long line of waiting to buy -- people in Gaza say the guns are bread and then
GOLODRYGA: Yeah. Fadi, Fadi,
SHAMMALAH: We can't support also the civilian people. Yes.
GOLODRYGA: Fadi, I'm sorry, your connection, understandably, given the circumstances, is coming in and out, but what you are describing is once
again just horrific living conditions. You know, one could argue.
And this is not the format for this conversation right now, about where that blame lies and Hamas's role in all of this, but of course it is
civilians and it is children. I know you're the father of three young children as well. I can't imagine what this past week has been like for
GOLODRYGA: --and for them. And best of luck in staying safe. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.
ASHER: We're keeping you in our thoughts, Fadi. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, especially under the circumstances. And thank you
so much for really painting a picture of what Palestinian civilians are experiencing right now. Fadi Abu Shamallah, thank you. We'll be right back.
GOLODRYGA: We want to bring you this news just in to CNN. The head of Israel's domestic security agency has taken responsibility for the
intelligence failures that may have prevented the Hamas attack nine days ago. The government has vowed to investigate this all further.
Well, that is it for us for today. A very busy Monday afternoon. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York.
ASHER: And I'm Zain Asher. Our breaking news coverage of Israel at war continues with my colleague Christiane Amanpour. Next.