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One World with Zain Asher
CNN Continues Its Breaking News Coverage On Israel At War; Capitol Hill Members Of The House Vote On A New Speaker For The Second Time This Week. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 18, 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 ANCHOR: All right, coming to you live from New York, I'm Zain Asher.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. Our coverage of Israel at war continues. U.S. President Joe Biden has just left
Israel. His one-day trip, both a show of solidarity and an attempt at high- stakes diplomacy. This as rage spread throughout the region and beyond, following the shocking blast at a hospital in Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: You hear the explosion there and the hospital pretty much engulfed in flames. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says that 471 people, many of
them taking shelter inside the hospital were killed on Tuesday, hundreds more wounded.
One doctor claims that more than half of the casualties we're talking about here were children, both sides in terms of Israel and Gaza, both sides
blaming the other officials in Gaza, blaming Israel. But Israel is saying that this explosion was a result of a failed rocket launch by Palestinian
The IDF also releasing a video that it claims proves the blast was not an Israeli airstrike, citing the absence of any visible craters. It also
released audio of Hamas operatives allegedly talking about a misfired rocket. It's important to note that CNN cannot independently verify what
exactly caused the explosion or the number of casualties at this point in time.
GOLODRYGA: But we should note that President said data shown to him by the U.S. Defense Department backs up Israel's claim that the IDF was not
responsible. He spent part of the day meeting with Israel's Prime Minister and its new war cabinet. And he had these words of warning to any parties
that might try to spread the conflict.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: My message to any state or any other hostile actor, thinking about attacking Israel remains the same as it was a week
ago. Don't. Don't. Don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Now, while the violence refuses to die down in the Mideast, back here in the U.S., all eyes are once again on Capitol Hill where members of
the House are voting soon to elect a speaker. This is their second vote.
ASHER: Yes, and these are live pictures of the House floor. Nominated speeches are underway. The vote is set to start after that. It's unclear at
this point if Republican Jim Jordan will get the 217 votes he needs. That is the magic number, 217. That is what he needs to end up taking the gavel.
I just want to remind our viewers he actually failed to get over the line yesterday on Tuesday when 20 members of his own party voted against him.
Sources are saying the opposition to him is actually growing today. It's moving in the other direction.
GOLODRYGA: And the consequences of this? Well, business in the chamber is paralyzed until a new speaker is in place. Lawmakers can't pass
legislation, not even an aid package for Israel.
ASHER: And two sources tell CNN that if Jordan loses again, the Republicans may bring forward a resolution to expand the powers of the Interim Speaker,
Patrick McHenry. We'll keep you covered on this story. But we do want to bring in our colleague now, Becky Anderson, who is in Tel Aviv.
And Becky, a lot of news today. President Biden announcing that the U.S. would provide $100 million in funding for Palestinians both in Gaza and the
West Bank. And also, and this is the notable part, saying that Israel has agreed to allow the supply of humanitarian assistance through Egypt into
Gaza. He also warned of consequences, though, if Hamas diverted or steals any of that aid. What more are you hearing in response to this?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: And it's important because we know that there has been an awful lot of pressure on Israel to ensure the effective
delivery of humanitarian aid through that Egypt-Gaza crossing. It's called the Rafah crossing.
And we know on the Egypt side, there is an enormous amount of aid building up medical supplies, fuel, food, and we've been talking about this for days
now and it was refusal on Israel's part to ensure that that border crossing on the Gaza side was open and that they would ensure that this was a safe
corridor for humanitarian aid coming in.
So, we've heard today that if President Biden came with any priority, that was certainly one of them, and that looks as if that's a bit of a win, it
has to be said. And this is what comes from the Israeli side, and I think the language is really important.
"In light of U.S. President Joe Biden's demand, Israel will not block humanitarian aid deliveries as long as they consist of water, food and
drugs for the civilian population. And as long as the aid doesn't reach Hamas."
It went on to say -- the statement adding that Israel will not allow any aid from its territory into the Gaza Strip until -- and I quote here, "all
hostages held by Hamas are released".
The situation in Gaza remains critical, nigh on catastrophic at this point. I mean, Biden's high stakes meeting in Israel comes on the heels of that
horrific hospital blast in Gaza on Tuesday evening. Al Ali Baptist Hospital packed with the wounded from Israeli attacks, but also an unknown number of
civilians who had come to seek shelter.
Palestinian officials continue to blame Israeli forces, while the IDF says the hospital was hit by a misfiring rocket launched by Islamic Jihad. My
colleague, CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports now on the events of what was a tragic day, and we have to warn you, you may, very likely will find some of
the images in her report disturbing.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A gruesome scene. Gazans searching for pieces of their loved ones. We're looking for feet, toes,
anything, this man says. Just give me some space to look. The blast so powerful. My father, I just want to see him. He says, oh God, he was
sitting right here. Leaving little of its victims behind. There was an old man where that wheelchair is, the man says, we tried to pick up his body.
The corpses here were all mangled.
These are the grounds of an Al-Ahli hospital. Countless innocents were camped out here, certain it was safe. We suddenly felt there was a fire and
chunks of things were falling on us. It was dark, we were looking for each other. The survivor says, I can't explain it. I can't describe it. It was a
In the night, the refuge was ripped apart by a powerful explosion. A place of healing turned into a place of carnage. Hundreds killed where they hoped
to be saved. Condemnation and accusation came pouring in before the dead could be counted.
Israel denied responsibility, blaming a Palestinian militant group and adding the lack of structural damage ruled out the possibility of an
airstrike. The IDF released audio, allegedly capturing two Hamas operatives discussing the misfiring of an Islamic Jihad rocket onto a Gaza hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL HAGARI, REAR ADMIRAL, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Intelligence from few sources that we have in our hands indicates that the Islamic Jihad is
responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But Palestinian officials and Arab leaders rejected Israel's denial, accusing its military of intentionally targeting the
medical facility. CNN cannot verify what caused the explosion.
Fury across the region sparked demonstrations across several Arab states as fears of a wider conflict grow. President Biden landing in Israel during
this watershed moment. Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority canceled planned meets prior to his arrival.
BIDEN: I was deeply sad and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday and based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was
done by the other team, not you.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Hours after the attack and surrounded by the dead, Gaza's health ministry blamed Israel and said the facility was hit by IDF
rockets days prior as a warning.
ABU AL-RISH, UNDERSECRETARY, HEALTH MINISTRY, GAZA (through translator): The next morning, the Israeli military called the hospital chief and said,
we have warned you with two rockets, so why have you not evacuated the hospital immediately?
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Gaza's hospital system was on the brink even before this attack. The humanitarian crisis is now spiraling out of control,
rights groups say. About two million people, half of them children, are trapped in an urban war zone.
A complete siege imposed by Israel after a Hamas terror attack killed 1400 people, sealed borders and cut off food, water, fuel, the basics. There
will be a time for investigations and perhaps clear answers. But that does little for those suffering and mourning in Gaza now. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN,
ANDERSON: Well, this was the scene just hours ago in Beirut, in Lebanon, as police used tear gas and water cannons to drive back protesters near the
U.S. Embassy there. The U.S. had advised the Americans to avoid the area. All across the Middle East, there have been angry protests in the wake of
that hospital bombing.
Well, in the wake of that attack, Jordan's King Abdullah squarely pointing the finger of blame at Israel, calling it a, quote, heinous war crime that
cannot be tolerated, calling on Israel to immediately, quote, stop its brutal aggression against Gaza.
Well, the U.S. Embassy in Amman, among those issuing a security warning, this follows Jordan canceling that summit between the U.S. President and
the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders. Let's bring in Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi.
Good to have you, Sir. King Abdullah's statement in the wake of that blast at the hospital squarely pointing the finger of blame at Israel. Does
Jordan still believe the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike?
AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Good evening, Becky. This strike, as you said, it's a heinous crime. It's a crime of war. Everybody here
believes that Israel is responsible for it. The Israeli army is saying it's not. But to be honest, try and find anybody who's going to believe it in
this part of the world. People are used to this kind of denying things and then admitting them.
We all remember the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, where the first Israeli response was it was Palestinians who killed her and then they ended up
admitting that was an Israeli soldier. I think nobody's going to buy that story. People are outraged that he just reported.
I think, Israel willing to have an independent international investigation into the crime. Until it does so, nobody in the region would believe that
it was not Israel, given the fact that we've seen the thousands of missiles coming out from Gaza into Israel, and none of them was capable of producing
any damage, even near the humongous damage that we saw last night. So, people simply are not buying this.
ANDERSON: Foreign Minister, let me put this to you. Reports do suggest that U.S. intelligence now also believes Tuesday's attack was caused by a
Palestinian militant group. You stand by what you've said, that nobody believes that this was anything but an Israeli strike, correct?
SAFADI: I'm not an intelligence expert, Becky. I'm just telling you that nobody in this part of the world is going to believe intelligence based on
Israeli intelligence. If Israel is ready to have an independent international investigation inquiry into this, let it do that. And if that
independent evidence points otherwise, then we'll deal with that then.
But by now, no matter what Israel says, no matter what intelligence it produces, I'm just telling you that in the whole Arab Muslim world, nobody
will believe that, based on previous experiences and based on previous cases in which Israel first denied and then when investigations were
allowed, a different story emerged.
ANDERSON: Right. Foreign Minister, Jordan cancelled a summit that Joe Biden, the U.S. President, was supposed to attend. That was, as I
understand it, a cancellation in the wake of that attack. But can you explain exactly why Jordan cancelled that summit? And is there any regret
about the opportunity it would have afforded Jordan and others to sit face to face with the U.S. President?
SAFADI: Actually, Becky, the decision not to convene the summit today saved an opportunity. Let there be no mistake on how strong Jordan-U.S. relations
are on how much esteem His Majesty has for the President. We acted within circumstances right after the news of the attack on the hospital.
We just made an assessment in coordination with the Palestinians, with the Israelis. Abbas had decided to leave. We had a thorough, long discussion
with the Americans and we came to the conclusion that the presidential card, the office of the president, is very important. The U.S. plays a key
role not just in managing the -- and dealing with the current catastrophe, but for later.
So, I think everybody reached the conclusion that it is better not to have the President under these circumstances because what people were expecting
was a decision to end the war. That decision was not obviously forthcoming. And again, after consultation and discussion with Egypt and the
And after a thorough discussion with the U.S., we made the decision to not to convene the summit now. The Americans understood that and now we're
working. And contacts have continued and are continuing between us and the U.S. to make sure that we create an opportunity where -- when the presence
is in the region.
He's able to deliver the news that everybody here is waiting for, which is ending this war, saving the civilians, and start looking at how we can make
together, how we can start building for a better Middle East.
ANDERSON: Let -- right.
SAFADI: And the key role of the U.S. is just indispensable, and its leading role is the key role.
ANDERSON: Okay. I want to talk to you about how you suggest that this war, you know, might end or there might be a sort of temporary pause at this
point. But I have to ask you, we've seen protesters on the streets of Jordan outside the Israeli embassy. I mean, the pictures are there.
We're seeing them across the region. It's getting pretty messy from what we understand from the team on the ground, police using tear gas to disperse
people. Just how concerned are you that Jordan now faces this serious national security threat?
SAFADI: Becky, people are outraged. Everybody is outraged. Eleven Palestinian civilians are killed every hour by the Israelis. Five children
are killed every hour by the Israelis. Two women are killed every hour by the Israelis. The casualties in this war is higher than the casualties in
the 2014 war, which lasted for 50 days.
So, people are angry. However, people know that Jordan is not the enemy, that Jordan is doing everything it can to stop this war. That said, the
amount of anger, not just in Jordan, everywhere else, including on the West Bank, including in Egypt, is mounting. And unless we're able to stop this
catastrophe, that anger is going to mount. And I think all of us will pay a price.
SAFADI: Look at the economic impact. Look at the interest rates going through the sky. So, it is serious, and people want to hear one thing, and
one thing only, a decision to stop the war.
ANDERSON: Yeah, you clearly do say this is a national security threat for your country and beyond. I need to ask you, what do you make of the news
that we've had in just the past hour of Israel's agreement to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt?
Is this, as far as you can tell, and perhaps you can -- you've been having conversations behind the scenes and you can confirm this. Is it a tacit
agreement by the Israelis for a temporary ceasefire? Is that what this means at this point?
SAFADI: Becky, I mean, all of us are working to find any glimpse of hope in this darkness. We're all working for a ceasefire that would allow the
delivery of humanitarian supplies to Gazans.
We're looking for a humanitarian corridor that will bring medicine, food, other supplies to Gazans. We have a hospital operating in Gaza since 2009.
Within a week, it will run out of supplies and it will not be able to operate.
So, we haven't seen that happen. If it happens, that's a first step to minimize what is a war crime by denying people access to food and water.
We're all behind that. We're all behind the ceasefire.
We all need to pause and say, enough. How many people are going to have to die before we all realize that war will not solve the problem, that war
will not guarantee Israel security or Palestinian security or our security, that only peace will do that.
SAFADI: So, talk of ceasefire is continuing. Talk of allowing supplies is continuing. Talk of a decision to end the war is continuing. So, we're all
working towards that.
SAFADI: And any step in that direction is definitely a welcome step. It will have an impact, a real impact in terms of saving people's lives.
ANDERSON: Right. Let me -- let me -- you and I spoke a couple of days ago and you said effectively, Jordan has a red line when it comes to any
Palestinians looking for an exit through Rafah into either Egypt and Jordan.
I mean, there's always this fear in Jordan that the United States and indeed Israel might try to make Jordan the alternative homeland for the
Palestinian people known as Watan al-Malil in Arabic, rather than to allow an actual Palestinian state to form.
In light of what we are seeing with the displacement of Palestinians right now and the pressure that has been exerted on you to accept Palestinians
through that Rafah border crossing, is that a concern for Jordan at this point?
SAFADI: Becky, this is an old narrative that keeps emerging, and our position is firm on that. We will never allow another population transfer,
which, by the way, is by international law a war crime, by the Geneva Convention and Protocol of 1977, a war crime.
So, that's something that just we will not accept. We will not allow Israel to transfer the crisis to Jordan. If there is any real attempt to do that,
Palestinians don't want it, Jordanians don't want it. So, what it will do is, let me be honest, it will be just another war in the region. It will be
expanding the area of conflict. It will not bring peace.
So again, make no mistake, when it comes to that, our position is unwavering. We will never allow a population transfer from Palestine into
Jordan, and that will just take the conflict into a whole new dimension that will be dangerous and disastrous for the whole area.
So, no. That will not happen. Palestinian homeland is on their national soil. The two-state solution is the only way to go forward. Israel has to
understand that. The world has to understand that. It is enough.
And let me warn of something here, Becky, and we say it as a country that you know has tremendous good relations with all our Western friends and
allies. The growing perception on the street, as they see this unequivocal iron clad support for Israel in this war -- it is a growing perception that
this is a Western Arab-Muslim war.
That's a place we don't want to get to. That's a place that we should all work to prevent getting into, and that's why the guns must go silent,
common sense must come back, reason, rationalism must come back, and we figure out a way out of this darkness.
We took a clear stand in condemning the killing of civilians. The world needs to do so, otherwise it is risking being equated with the crimes that
are being committed.
We do that because we care about peace, because we've all worked about peace. That is His Majesty's mission that is non-stop. We keep trying to
work for peace. It's time we listen. Trying to shift the conflict will just make it worse.
SAFADI: The risk of this war expanding into the West Bank, into other parts of the region, are real. We've got to stop that before it's too late for
all of us.
ANDERSON: Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi, not mincing your words and understandably so we thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Well, still to come on CNN, how fallout from that deadly Gaza hospital blast is complicating President Joe Biden's diplomatic efforts in the
Plus, Republican Jim Jordan's bid for the top job in the U.S. House is in peril. He's facing a second speaker vote after losing round one. More after
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. We are keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill where members of the House are voting on a new speaker for the second time this
week. Voting starting just a short time ago and Republican Jim Jordan failed to secure enough votes to win the gavel on Tuesday after 20
Republicans voted against him. Out of today's vote, sources said opposition to him was growing. Of course, we will have much more on this developing
story later on for you this hour.
ASHER: All right now, back to our top story, though. Tensions of course flaring across the Middle East. U.S. President Joe Biden just wrapped up
his trip to Israel. And I think it's fair to say it's pretty much one of the most complicated diplomatic trips of his presidency. He has so much to
juggle at this point in time.
He has the difficult task of walking a fine line between supporting Israel in its war with Hamas, while also keeping violence in the Middle East from
spiraling out of control -- from spiraling into a wider military conflict. That was one of the things the President discussed when he met with Israeli
GOLODRYGA: And we know that Biden plans to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Fattah El-Sisi on his flight
Biden had been scheduled to meet them in person before his visit was abruptly canceled on Tuesday following that deadly hospital attack in Gaza.
The White House cited a period of mourning announced by Abbas for the change in plans.
Well, for more on this, let's bring in Michael Oren in Tel Aviv. He served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013. He is also a
former IDF officer and has served as a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown. Ambassador, it's great to see you.
So, first of all, it's important to note that the U.S. assessment behind the attack on that hospital seems to corroborate with Israeli intelligence
and that it did not come from Israel. That having been said, the President also today had noted that there are a lot of people, quote, "out there who
are not sure".
So, we've got to overcome a lot of things. And we are seeing all of those people in nations, we should note, that have normalized relations with
Israel. We're talking Egypt. We're talking UAE, Turkey, Jordan, where we are seeing increase in protests.
And we just heard from the Jordanian foreign minister when he was confronted with the analysis from the U.S. by Becky, saying, quote, "try
and find someone who believes that it was Israel". So, how do you quell this bubbling tension now?
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Great question. And I just want to say before I begin that this was not just the most difficult and
complicated diplomatic mission of President Biden's administration.
I think it's probably the most complicated mission of any president. Maybe going back to John F. Kennedy when he flew to Berlin during the Berlin
crisis in 1963. I can't recall anything as complicated than this.
Not an easy wire to walk at all. And it's important to note here that the - - that President Biden's declaration that the attack on the hospital last night was not committed by the United States, by Israel, but by a falling
Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket was confirmed not just by Israeli sources, but by independent American sources. His own Pentagon and intelligence
sources confirmed that.
So, President Biden is going to have to come out and say, listen, these are the facts. We understand you have political -- you and the Arab world have
public opinion. We want to stay on the same page.
And we are going to -- we in the United States are going to ask the Israelis to make certain concessions, which we, which will make my job as
president easier and actually make my job helping Israel be easier.
And what are those concessions? One would be to open this corridor for humanitarian aid to the displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip.
And the images of Palestinians in open fields, without shelter, without food, maybe without water, is certainly inflaming passions around the
world. But I think it's also inflaming passions of -- segments of the American population. And so that is important.
I think the Israeli government is going to yield to that request. Not an easy lift, by the way. The Israeli population here is not particularly in
favor of that, you should know. They don't view the Palestinians, civilians, as particularly, you know, innocent bystanders in this. They
were deep supporters of Hamas.
Also, the President wants to know what's Israel's long game? What's our end game? What's our plan for the day after? Israel enters Gaza and uproots
Hamas. Who's going to be left holding the keys to Gaza, the President wants to know.
ASHER: And I think that so many people just do not know the answer to that question. It's certainly a difficult one. Just in terms of a point you made
just a second ago about the U.S. opening up or helping open up a humanitarian corridor and focusing on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in
Gaza right now.
How does the U.S. -- go ahead, Ambassador.
OREN: What's that? Did you hear that? We're under a rocket fire. That's the -- did you hear it? Maybe. Hold on.
ASHER: Yeah, I heard it.
OREN: You want to you want to see rockets going off my back of my window?
GOLODRYGA: Can you show us?
ASHER: Can you show us?
OREN: Right here. We have a ring side seat.
ASHER: Ambassador your video froze, unfortunately, but we heard the sound. We did hear the sound. Your video froze. Can you hear us, Ambassador? Can
you hear us? Okay, it looks as though we lost the Ambassador.
GOLODRYGA: We'll try to get him back on. It's interesting because I heard something in the background and I thought it was just somebody in his house
GOLODRYGA: But it's clear, I mean, this is the daily reality --
ASHER: Right. Right.
GOLODRYGA: -- for folks in Israel.
ASHER: And he's in Tel Aviv and he was just about to show us out the window or allow us to hear the sounds of sirens going off. All right, coming up on
this hour of "One World", there is plenty of finger-pointing as the question, who is responsible, hangs over that deadly Gaza hospital blast?
We'll be talking live with a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Next.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back everyone, live from New York, I'm Bianna Golodryga.
ASHER: And I'm Zain Asher. Our coverage of Israel at war continues. Urgent questions this hour after hundreds of civilians were killed in an explosion
at a Gaza hospital.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health puts the death toll right now at 471 people who have lost their lives. They're also saying that number could go
even higher. You're looking at video geolocated by CNN showing the moment of this deadly blast.
You see the building there in the distance engulfed in flames after you hear an eruption, some kind of blast sound there. Authorities in Gaza are
pointing the finger of blame squarely at Israel. But Israel, their military is saying it was a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
GOLODRYGA: And for his part, U.S. President Joe Biden, who just left Israel, had been telling the country's war cabinet that America will
continue to have Israel's back, and corroborated with his own Defense Department that the blast was not directed from Israel.
Now, this, of course, comes as angry protests erupt across the Middle East. And just a bit earlier, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had
canceled his meeting with President Biden, saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): What happened tonight is a huge tragedy and more ugly massacre that cannot be
tolerated or allowed to pass without accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: The Israel Defense Forces Wednesday releasing what it calls irrefutable evidence that it was not responsible for the deadly blast at
the hospital in Gaza that we just talked about there. The evidence includes a map showing Israel, what Israel describes as a trajectory of Hamas-linked
rockets being fired near the hospital at the time.
GOLODRYGA: The IDF also released an audio recording that it claims has intercepted communications from Hamas operatives soon after the explosion
linking them to misfired rockets that hit the hospital. CNN cannot independently verify the audio. We want you to take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMAS OPERATIVE-2 (through translator): But God bless, it couldn't have found another place to explode?
HAMAS OPERATIVE-1 (through translator): Never mind, yes -- they shot it from the cemetery behind the hospital.
HAMAS OPERATIVE-2 (through translator): What?
HAMAS OPERATIVE-1 (through translator): They shot it coming from the cemetery behind the Al-Ma'amadani Hospital and it misfired ad fell on them.
HAMAS OPERATIVE-2 (through translator): There's a cemetery behind that?
HAMAS OPERATIVE-1 (through translator): Yes, Al-Ma'amadani is exactly in the compound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: And President Biden saying that he's confident that Israel was not behind the attack because of information given to him by U.S. defense
officials. For its part, the Hamas-linked Islamic Jihad continues to insist that it also was not responsible for the blast either.
Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Doron Spielman joins us live now from Tel Aviv. Thank you so much for being with us. As I just mentioned, the IDF
has put out evidence, several pieces of evidence showing that Israel was not responsible for this blast.
But I do want to start by saying, regardless of who is responsible, what happened to this hospital is catastrophic. I mean, it is awful. And some of
the images coming out are gruesome, really difficult to process for anybody watching or reading about this story.
We're talking about hundreds of people dead, 50 percent of them apparently children. Israel coming out and saying, they're not responsible. The idea
has put forward, as I mentioned, several pieces of evidence, as well.
Joe Biden saying that he agrees with the Israeli assessment. But as you well know, there are always going to be skeptics. There are always going to
be people who, regardless of what the IDF says, people who believe that Israel was responsible. Obviously, public perception is important here.
Given some of the images that are coming out of Gaza, both yesterday and before yesterday, do you feel that perhaps you are losing the war of public
opinion, of public perception? And how does that change Israel's strategy going forward?
DORON SPIELMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: So, first of all, thank you for the question. I think it's a very good one. With this
respect, as you mentioned, I think you laid it out very clearly. We have not -- we're not pointing fingers at Hamas.
We've provided evidence that clearly shows and is corroborated by Pentagon officials as well that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, shot that rocket
that killed their own civilians. We have to understand, that rocket was intended to kill Israeli civilians.
Michael Oren, who is just on, is located in Tel Aviv. I'm also in Tel Aviv. Sirens are sounding. Every rocket that is fired from the Gaza Strip is a
human rights violation. Those are aimed at civilians. In this case, we see it misfired and it killed Gazan civilians.
And so, public perception, while it's very, very important, needs to adhere to the facts. And here, unfortunately, there was something that took place,
which I think is the responsibility of the media. When this happened, and this was reported, within seconds, Hamas issued a response blaming Israel.
Now, there is no way, when an explosion happens, that somebody can understand exactly what happened. To my enormous sorrow, the international
media community immediately ran the reports as if Hamas is a reliable source. They wrote Hamas reports that Israel had a rocket attack on Gaza.
Who is Hamas? We only have to go back 14 days ago to understand who Hamas is. We can see the mourning mothers and fathers, the babies that have no
parents, the mutilated bodies and prisoners, and the people that are now stuck as hostages in Gaza. That is Hamas, and it's a tragedy that the media
ran the story, only now is the media trying to correct it.
So, to answer your question, public perception needs to adhere to the facts. If they want the facts, Hamas is not a source. Israel is a source.
It will take us time. But stay tuned if you want to know the truth. We speak the truth.
ASHER: Listen, Hamas is obviously not a credible source, but just given, you know, the importance of public perception here, a lot of people are
calling for an independent investigation, an independent assessment beyond what the U.S. is saying. Do you support that?
SPIELMAN: Any assessment, all investigations will be conducted. We'll find out at the end of the day exactly what we're saying now. We know the
trajectory of the rockets. We see that they were fired by Islamic Jihad. We have two Hamas terrorists that are actually speaking about this.
We know there was no Israeli activity in the area. And what do we see? If this was Israel, which it is not, we would take responsibility. We know
that Hamas that have no problem -- no moral problem whatsoever in slaughtering innocent Israeli civilians, have no moral problem in lying to
And this is right off their playbook. It's an ISIS playbook. Massacre innocent civilians, flee back into Gaza, go underground, wait for Israel to
attack. Some civilians will unfortunately be killed, blame Israel. The International Community will stop Israel. And then Hamas regroups and
carries out another massacre. This is Hamas' cycle of violence, and it rests upon deceiving the world.
So, I hope the world now is wise enough to see through because we are going to go out and not only disable, we are going to destroy Hamas. And when we
do so, the world needs to stick to the truth, not to Hamas' lies.
GOLODRYGA: So, let me pick up on that and move this conversation forward in terms of your continued fight against Hamas, because you have laid out your
evidence. We have the United States basically corroborating that with the President saying he's had his own independent assessment provided to him by
the Defense Department showing that it was not Israel that launched the attack against the hospital.
Moving forward now, we are 11 days after that horrible, horrific attack massacre of innocent Israelis. And there had been a lot of speculation as
to why you have not seen a massive invasion by the Israelis into Gaza yet, after you had amassed some 350,000 reservists.
I want to play for you sound from President Biden today on what many interpret to be Israel's next operation and get you to respond to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: After 9-11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: How do you interpret that in terms of what we heard from the President based on mistakes he said the U.S. made out of rightful anger and
rage after 9-11? And he reportedly had some very tough conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu on this topic as well today.
SPIELMAN: First of all, I want to take this opportunity not only to thank President Biden, but to thank the American people. Only America knows how
to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. We share the same moral victory, the same moral essence that makes up our two countries.
And I think what President Biden was pointing to is something very, very real. We are enormously pained. We're a very small country. As he
mentioned, this is like 19 or 20 9-11s for Israel. We feel the pain. And I think what President Biden is saying, we shouldn't go out in terms of rage.
And I don't believe that's what Israel is doing.
Israel is going out and approaching this, not in a state of rage. Israel is approaching this in a state of what it's going to take to protect our
civilians. We have no qualms whatsoever with the Gazan civilian population. We have only one qualm. It is called Hamas. And when we defeat Hamas, I
think what we're going to see is not only a better life for Israelis. We're going to see a better life for Gazans.
I think we're taking care of a problem that is a global problem. Hamas is part of a global terror network. We may be the first in line. We're only a
couple miles away. But as we can see, by the riots that have erupted throughout the Middle East, it's a problem for Israel, a problem for
America, a problem for Denmark. It's the same madness. By stopping them here, we're going to provide the world a better place.
GOLODRYGA: Now, quickly, now that the President has left the region, can we expect to see a large-scale offensive imminently?
SPIELMAN: I think, as most people in Israel think, we've been mobilizing our troops. I was just down south. All our troops have been practicing. We
have to understand we're used to Israel engaging with Gaza, responding to Gaza in a very quick and short operation. This as our prime minister, as
the minister of defense, as the chief of staff have said, this is a war against Hamas.
This is going to take time. Therefore, our troops need to be trained well. We need to carry out and make sure that our operations are ready and that's
where we are. And when we get the order from up above, we're able to carry out that mission to destroy Hamas. They began this. We are going to finish
GOLODRYGA: All right. Thank you so much, Doron Spielman for the time today -- a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces. We appreciate it.
SPIELMAN: Thank you.
ASHER: All right, we'll be right back.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Tel Aviv. Western governments are urging their citizens to avoid the tinderbox, that is the Middle East.
Both France and the United States are warning again against travel to Lebanon right now. These are scenes of bitter protests near the U.S.
Embassy in Beirut in Lebanon just hours ago.
In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah's military wing says it carried out an attack on an Israeli tank. Skirmishes between the Iranian-backed militants
and Israeli forces have been going on now for several days.
Well, during this conflict, a key target for Israel is Yahya Al-Sinwar. He is the leader of Hamas in Gaza. CNN's Senior International Correspondent
Sam Kiley takes a closer look at his rise to power.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israel wants this man dead. Yahya Al-Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza.
RICHARD HECHT, LIEUTENANT COLONEL, IDF SPOKESPERSON: In the face of evil, in the end, is Yahya Sinwar. That man is in our sights, all his team are,
and we'll get to them.
KILEY (voice-over): He was first convicted in 1988 for the murder of two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians suspected of collaboration with
Israel and he spent two decades in an Israeli prison studying his enemy.
The founder of Hamas Internal Security Force, he had hunted alleged collaborators with zeal and was among the movement's biggest prizes when
over a thousand Palestinian prisoners were released in 2011 for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage in Gaza for five years. He said,
there is no doubt that this is a nationalistic moment par excellence. It is one of the big, strategic monuments in the history of our cause.
He quickly became head of Hamas' military wing and on election to the Gaza leadership in 2017, effectively abolished its civilian branch. Ostracized
by Egypt over its support for political Islam, he repaired friendships with Cairo and built regional relationships that entrenched Hamas' power.
MOUIN RABBANI, INSTITUTE FOR PALESTINE STUDIES: It really needed to have also good relations with the key Arab state that also shares the only Arab
border with the Gaza Strip and with Iran that could supply Hamas with military and logistical support.
KILEY (voice-over): Iran has poured military support into Hamas under him, and Qatar has been a major backer of civilian projects. He was soon in
Israel's crosshairs, quite literally. The IDF tried to kill him in May 2021. Ten days later, he laid out his strategy.
He said, if the world doesn't take action to stop it, meaning Israel, there will be a religious war in the region. And he soon appeared in Gaza
alongside Egypt's intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel.
The U.S. is now relying on Egypt and Qatar as key players to try to secure the safe release of Hamas' 200 captives. Their main point of contact is
likely Sinwar, unless Israel fulfills its promise to kill him. Sam Kiley, CNN.
ANDERSON: I'm taking a very short break. Back after this.
GOLODRYGA: We'll take you to Capitol Hill now where voting is underway for a new House speaker. Republican Jim Jordan failed to secure the votes
needed to win the gavel on Tuesday after 20 Republicans voted against him. And it appears he does not have enough votes yet again today. Business in
the chamber is paralyzed until a new speaker is in place.
ASHER: CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean joins us live now from Washington. So, second time, Jessica certainly is not lucky for Jim Jordan.
As you mentioned, he does not appear to have the votes. What happens next at this point?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so now, Republicans have to decide how they want to move forward. And what is particularly
interesting about this moment in time is that even Republicans and Republican leadership are confused and don't know exactly what comes next.
So just to remind everyone, right now they have a Speaker Pro Tempore, Patrick McHenry, who all he has the authority to do is what he's doing
right now, which is essentially facilitate a speaker's race.
So, there is talk among some Republicans, even some Democrats, about coming together and expanding his power in that role, perhaps to allow them to
bring things like an aid package for Israel, for Ukraine. We're going to have another budget issue. They're going to be looking at trying to fund
the government here in the next several weeks.
These are big issues that the bulk of Democrats and some Republicans also would like to see. It has widespread support on the floor, especially those
aid packages. But right now, as you mentioned, it is simply paralyzed. And we're now two weeks without a speaker of the House.
And just to remind everyone, that is the person who is third in line to the presidency of the United States, when there are so many crises ongoing in
the world right now, most specifically in Israel and Gaza, and what's going on there right now.
So, that is what remains, or where everything is kind of laid out at the moment there on the floor of the House.
At this point, we are waiting to see how they will move forward. And the key question is, will a consensus candidate emerge on Republican side to
run for speaker? Will they try to expand the powers of Patrick McHenry? That's where we look next. But don't expect this to come to a quick
resolution anytime soon.
ASHER: So, who would -- just quickly, Jessica, who could a consensus candidate possibly be at this point?
DEAN: I think that's the million-dollar question, because the problem is they can't seem to find anyone who can get all the votes. Remember, Steve
Scalise has already tried and failed to get this done. Now they've had, he didn't even get to a floor vote.
Now, they've had Jim Jordan go two rounds of a floor vote and fail. There are some names that have floated around, somebody like Tom Cole that could
potentially be this. But at this point, it's kind of, the floodgates could open. It could be a number of people that could take a stab at this, but
the math simply does not line up for any one person.
And that is the issue. And then just to remind everyone, it only takes one person to file that motion to vacate, to do this all over again. Yeah.
ASHER: Yeah, which is what brought us here. That was part of the problem in terms of bringing us here in the first place.
GOLODRYGA: It is a doomsday rule and obviously a lot that it could impact. We are just days away from a potential another government shutdown and more
aid needed to both Ukraine and Israel. Jessica Dean, thank you.
DEAN: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And we want to thank you so much for watching. I'm Bianna Golodryga.
ASHER: And I'm Zain Asher. Our coverage continues with Amanpour. Next.