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One World with Zain Asher

Israel Military Conducts Targeted Raids For A Second Night Inside Gaza; Maine Shooting Suspect Still On The Loose. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 27, 2023 - 12:00   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: There's a new glimmer of hope for the families of hostages in Gaza. Coming up this hour, negotiations in Qatar. A

source tells CNN that, quote, "We have a breakthrough on a potential hostage release but issues remain." Also, for a second night, Israel's

military says it has conducted targeted raids inside Gaza. All this as Israel prepares for a ground incursion.

And an urgent manhunt in Maine for the suspect in a mass shooting that left 18 dead. Investigators are now sending divers into a river to search for

him. Live from New York, I'm Bianna Golodryga. Zain is off today. Welcome to ONE WORLD.

There are potential signs of progress out of the Middle East today in what is being described as significant progress made towards getting the Israeli

hostages back from Hamas. For weeks, the world has wondered about the fate of more than 200 Israelis including, women, children and the elderly who

were kidnapped by Hamas fighters on October 7th.

In recent days, four of them have been freed largely through the work of Qatar's government which has a close relationship with Hamas. Now,

diplomatic sources tell CNN that negotiations to release many more of the hostages are going well, and that there may be a breakthrough.

Our colleague, Becky Anderson, has been tracking these negotiations for us. She is in Qatar, live. And Becky, a U.S. official telling CNN that there

has been progress made. I know you are reporting the same. But of course, this is still very touch and go. What are you hearing?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this is one diplomatic source who is very familiar with the talks, telling me that there are still issues

outstanding, but to quote him here, "talks are ongoing and we remain hopeful". The talk is, of course, that this will be a significant number of

hostages released. What we know is the following.

There are more than 220 hostages, foreign nationals and Israeli citizens been held by -- being held in Gaza according to Israeli officials. It's not

clear how many of those were actually being held by Hamas and how many may be being held by other groups. But we are talking about over 220 hostages

at this point.

As we understand it, there are a number of parameters, clearly, demands on both sides. The reports suggest that Hamas is looking for a ceasefire

upwards of five days once the border crossing at Rafah open for civilians, possibly to injured civilians -- to get treatment in Egypt, and also allow

more medical aid and very specifically, fuel, in through that border.

And there is talk about who would be released in return for that pause in the fighting, and the

increase in humanitarian aid. Is this all the civilians being held, Israelis and foreign nationals? Is this just foreign nationals? Is this

Israelis who are women, children, and the elderly.

For example, the four that we have seen released to date through Qatar-led negotiations, with two Americans, an American mother, and her 17-year-old

daughter last Friday, of course. And then the two elderly Israeli female citizens who were released on Tuesday.

So, the good news is there does seem to be progress -- significant progress over the past couple of days in these negotiations. It does appear that

Egypt is also involved, given that one of the parameters appears to be that border crossing in Rafah.

But these talks have been described by one of the senior negotiators here in Qatar as very, very difficult. The mediators said that the mediators

need a period of calm to ensure that they can get these negotiations over the line.

So, there is a sense of caution here in calling this a significant breakthrough. But the term breakthrough has been used by a diplomatic

source to me. So, we wait to see what this looks like in the hours to come. One source did say to me, we are talking about hours, certainly not days

and weeks. But again, you know, these things are incredibly difficult. These talks are extremely difficult, as I say, as described by one of the

senior negotiators.


So, you know, we pause and caveat this -- that this is, of course, touch and go as described by one U.S. official to us. But it does appear to be

there certainly is progress in what could be the release of a significant number of hostages.

What that number is at this point, well, we've heard talk this could be 50 or more in one go, but how they're released, how many are released, who

Hamas, as I say, is actually holding onto at this point, all very, very unclear at this point. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, that would be significant if you say up to 50, because as of now, we've only had four hostages released, and that's two at a time.

And as you note from your sources, we're talking possibly within hours, not days. Becky Anderson, you're going to stay on top of this for us. Thank you

so much. Keep us posted.

Well, for the second night in a row, Israeli troops have carried out what they're calling targeted raids inside Gaza ahead of an expected full-scale

ground invasion. Video released by the IDF shows tanks and armored vehicles on the move. Israel says the raid focused on Hamas infrastructure with

strikes on buildings and open areas. And it comes one day after the country's defense minister warned that Israel was preparing for the next

phases of war.

Hamas, meanwhile, is claiming responsibility for a rocket strike in Tel Aviv earlier that injured least three people. CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins me

live now from Ashkelon, Israel. And Jeremy, once again, a reminder, as effective as the Iron Dome is, some of these missiles still make it

through, and this is coming at a time where we're hearing increased attacks in Gaza again. What's the latest that you're hearing?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's certainly the case, Bianna. Earlier today, we had not only direct impacts in Tel Aviv in

the center of Israel, which is pretty rare, but also here in Ashkelon, at least two rockets making impact. We went to the site of one of those that

hit the ninth floor of an apartment building, shattering the balcony there.

There were no casualties, though. But what we are hearing tonight now in the wake of that intense barrage of rocket fire towards central and

southern Israel is perhaps the most intense bombardment of Gaza that I have heard in the nearly three weeks since this war began. Very, very intense,

loud booms all the way here -- heard all the way here in Ashkelon, which is about 10 kilometers or so from the border with Gaza.

And it's notable, of course, that this is happening right now, especially when you consider what we just heard from Becky, the reports that there is

progress in these talks for hostages, and yet at the same time you couple that with the fact that we are hearing again, what I believe to be the most

intense bombardment of Gaza, certainly in terms of what we can hear from our position here in Ashkelon.

Now, as the IDF has said, they have made clear that in recent days, they would be intensifying airstrikes of Gaza and also increasingly carrying out

these various raids into the Gaza Strip. And that is exactly what we have seen in recent days, not only infantry troops, but tanks going into Gaza.

And last night also, we had a raid carried out by the Israel's equivalent of the Navy SEALs going in by sea onto land and carrying out strikes in

southern Gaza. All of these moves intended to try and take out the tunnel infrastructure that Hamas has as well as other command centers. They are

gathering intelligence. And really, what they are doing overall in the bigger picture here, Bianna, is that they are laying the groundwork for

this ground invasion.

They are preparing the terrain. They are seeing how Hamas responds to these various raids and they are also in particular focusing on that tunnel

infrastructure which Israeli military officials have made clear will be a significant challenge for a ground force going in just because of the way

in which it would allow Hamas fighters to potentially evade troops, but also ambush them, as well.

GOLODRYGA: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you. And we will return later in the show to our coverage of Israel at war. But right now, we want to

take you to the U.S. where hundreds of law enforcement officials are desperately searching for the suspect in two mass shootings that killed 18

people in Maine.

Investigators say it's not even clear yet if 40-year-old Robert Card is still alive following Wednesday's massacre. Investigators plan to send dive

teams into the Androscoggin River to look for evidence and possibly Card's body near a boat launch where his vehicle was found. Here's more on that



MIKE SAUSCHUCK, COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: They could be dragging a diver behind them literally while that diver is

checking for evidence, checking for potential bodies. And I would also say that while this is going to look like a major focus today with a lot of

people, we have a lot of other irons in the fire. So, I'm not seer saying that the suspect -- we know the suspect is in the water and this is what

we're doing.


GOLODRYGA: We've also learned authorities are still days away from processing both crime scenes and are following up all over on 500 tips

related to the mass shooting.


Meantime, fear continues to grip. Lewiston and other small cities in Maine as authorities search for Card. Officials are telling residents to stay

vigilant, remain inside and to lock their doors. For more on this, let's turn to CNN's Omar Jimenez, who is in Lewiston, Maine. Omar, what more are

we hearing specifically from the press conference this morning?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, so the press conference answered a lot of questions as far as details go, but also left people watching with a

lot of questions, as well. Mainly, this is the second day of the shelter in place order for much of this Lewiston area. Again, as a precaution,

considering that police do not have this suspect in custody.

But at the same time, they even acknowledged in the press conference that they are trying to evaluate on the daily, almost hourly basis, how to

actually go about maybe ending that at some point so that people can actually get out into their communities and even grieve in some cases, have

vigils things that you would normally see unfortunately as we have seen become habit too many times across this country.

That said, as far as what we did learn, you laid out a little bit of what we are expecting to see from police but they also explained some of what we

have seen. So, last night in particular there was a lot of law enforcement outside of one of the last known addresses for the suspect. FBI, other

police were saying over a loudspeaker come out with your hands up as they had a spotlight trained on the house.

Well, it turns out the suspect was not there and police even said that was more of their standard protocol for executing a search warrant. They say we

are going to see more of that in the coming days, especially as they comb through and try to eliminate places where this person may be.

We also heard, as you led -- as you mentioned, that divers will be in the river here that runs through the area, trying to see what they can find.

But also, interestingly, that they've worked with the companies that run the dams here to lower the flow of the river to make it easier for these

folks to search.

And look, it's a multifaceted search from the air, from water, as I've mentioned, on the ground as well, at both the federal levels, from the FBI

to the Coast Guard, and of course the local police, as well.

Another question that was asked was is the family of the suspect, 40-year- old Robert Card -- is the family cooperating with investigators? And they said as a whole, yes, and we actually got a statement from the sister-in-

law of the suspect who basically said, "We are absolutely heartbroken. This is beyond belief. We are doing all we can with law enforcement giving all

information that we can."

Because, of course, while the manhunt is one thing, there is also another plane of investigations here and that is what caused this, what was the

motive here. But also, what actually happened in the two venues where these shootings unfolded.

One of them is just past the caution tape that's behind me here. This is the bowling alley, the first of two places where the mass shootings

occurred. And police said they are still days away from processing everything in these places. They want to go through every square inch. They

also got over 70 witness statements across these two places.

So, a lot of things that they're trying to get into one digestible format to understand what happened and why. But then of course, on top of it all,

trying to find this person as quickly as possible.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and this as so many communities are virtually in a standstill on lockdown. Schools, businesses closed. As you noted, Omar,

communities can't even grieve at this moment. Day two now for the search for this suspect. Omar Jimenez, thank you.

For more context surrounding the manhunt, let's turn to retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Daniel Brunner. Daniel, thank you for joining us.

First of all, let me just get your take professionally. How would you assess how investigators are handling this hunt and search and the overall

case thus far?

DANIEL BRUNNER, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you, Bianna. The -- what's really important is that they -- law enforcement trains for

events like this. So, it is not uncommon to know exactly what's going to happen when multiple agencies come together. You have FBI, HSI, ATF,

including states and local law enforcements. They all come together to create an incident command center on the ICS.

Typically, the person who's in charge of ICS is the one who is -- best knows the area. So, my conclusion of having the superintendent or the

colonel of the Maine State Police is absolutely the best idea.

And then everybody, regardless of badge falls under that person who's in command of the entire operation. Moving in all these assets is very

difficult moving in assets from Washington, D.C. from Quantico, the laboratory evidence text coming up from the Boston division.


Boston division of FBI covers Maine. They have two resident agencies, but a lot of the assets evidence response, the computer analysts, the tactical

operations specialists, they all come from the Boston division most likely. So, there's a lot of, it takes a lot of time to move those assets into

position. And that was yesterday.

So, yesterday was the pre-positioning, getting everybody into place. You have hundreds of investigators who are ready to go. What makes this more

complex of an investigation is that typically, with an incident like this, unfortunately, the shooter will be taken out by law enforcement.

Here, it's a lot more complex because now you have two faceted. You have one team which is conducting the investigation into figuring out what the

motivation was, why he was doing, why he did what he did, and collecting all the evidence at multiple scenes. And then you also have a more complex

situation of figuring out not only the history of the fugitive, but where he is now.

So, it's double complex and making it extremely difficult. And as soon as they start developing leads and the public provides leads, they're going to

look at his cell phone. They're going to look at all the activity that he did prior to the event. And then hopefully that'll establish a pattern of


They'll look at his cell phone that they recovered. That cell phone provides pings to the cell phone provider. They are going to look what his

pattern of life is for the last two years.

They're going to look back at everything he did, what stores did he go to, and then they're going to go visit those stores. Who did he talk to? And

they're going to go interview those people. So, there's a lot of things that go into this investigation and also leading to where he currently is.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, you mentioned that FBI agents are trained for scenarios like this, but here you have a trifecta of details that seem to work at

their disadvantage in this fact that this is a suspect who has military training.

You live in a state that's 80 percent wooded and you're surrounded by water, as well, as we saw that there are now divers searching the water

near where he left his car. How much more does this complicate this investigation?

Listen, everything complicates the situation depending obviously on the rural situation of Maine. You have lots of woods which he is familiar with.

I think back to Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympic bomber in 1998 when he became a fugitive from the FBI, 10 most wanted.

He was on the run for five years in the woods of North Carolina. Very similar situation. He was adept to his environment. He knew the situation.

He knew those woods. He remained on the loose for five years until a patrol officer just happened to run into him while he was digging through garbage.

This situation is difficult.

I don't think that the scenario of him going out into the open ocean is a very viable one because he needs gas to fuel his boat. And if he stops for

gas, someone's going to see him and he knows this.

I think also the dive teams looking for a body that he could have committed suicide, that's also very low on my belief factor but they have to cover

those leads and say, okay, we washed that out. We know he did not commit suicide at the dock which I just don't buy that is possible, but it is

still a lead that needs to be run out so that we could say, okay that's not a possibility.

So, let's start focusing on the woods or possibly downriver or even worse, he got into another car and is now thousands of miles away.

GOLODRYGA: Which means he may have another car that was planned waiting for him or may have accomplice, as well. It's interesting to note that you

believe that he is still alive. Daniel Brunner, we, of course, will continue to cover this search at CNN. Thank you so much for your time.

BRUNNER: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, still to come. The U.S. is now responding to what it says are Iranian attacks on American troops in the Middle East. The implications

of those two nations trading blows, just ahead.




GOLODRYGA: Well, two lawmakers in Maine are calling for action to be taken on gun control. That's after 18 people were killed when a man went on a

shooting rampage in the state on Wednesday, as we've been covering.

Democratic Congressman Jared Golden has dropped his opposition to a ban on assault weapons. We've been hearing from him and from Republican Senator

Susan Collins. Here's what they said.


JARED GOLDEN, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime. I now

call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles.

SUSAN COLLINS, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: I think it is more important that we ban very high-capacity magazines. There's always more that we can do.


GOLODRYGA: Well, as officials search for the suspect, we're learning more about the victims. The father and his 14-year-old son are among the 18

people killed, according to "Reuters". CNN's Jason Carroll has their stories.


JANET MILLS, MAINE GOVERNOR: This city did not deserve this terrible assault on its citizens, on its peace of mind, on its sense of security. No

city does, no state, no people.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The magnitude of what happened last night coming into focus as authorities removed the

bodies of some of those who perished in the shooting at the Schemenhgee's Bar and Grille restaurant. Police say of those who were killed, eight died

at the bar, including Leroy Walker's son, Joseph. His father says his son died when he tried to stop the shooter.

LEROY WALKER, SR., FATHER OF JOEY WALKER: My son actually, because he's manager of the bar and everything else, picked up a butcher knife and went

after the gunman to try to stop him from killing other people. And that's when he shot my son to death, trying to save some more lives that he ended

up losing his life.

CARROLL (voice-over): Forty-year-old Brian MacFarlane also identified as one of the victims. His sister says he was deaf and he was there for a

regular Wednesday night gathering of members of the deaf community and a cornhole tournament. His sister, who was also deaf, says their loss is

deeply felt from her family and the community.

KERI BROOKS, VICTIM'S SISTER (through translator): I want people to know how big this has impacted the deaf community that you know we've lost four

community members, not only just Brian, but we've lost three other friends, as well, from this tragic incident in this community. It's a huge loss.

CARROLL (voice-over): Minutes away from the bar, more victims and more tragedy. Police say seven were killed at Just-in-Time Recreation Center, a

bowling alley in Lewiston, including 53-year-old Tricia Asselin. Her brother says she was calling 911 when she was killed. He told CNN she

wasn't going to run, she was going to try and help.

Just-In-Time recreation released a statement which sums up the feelings of many in the community. "There are no words to fix this or make it better.

We are praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrific tragedy. We love you all and hold you close in our hearts."

An unidentified employee of Bates College was one of 13 people injured during the mass shootings. In a statement, Bates' president says that the

employee is expected to make a full recovery, adding, "No matter how many times something like this happens, I find myself at a loss for words, and

this time it happened so close to home."


Some of the injured are being treated at Central Maine Health Care Hospital in Lewiston.

MILLS: This is a dark day for Maine. I know it's hard for us to think about healing when our hearts are broken. But I want every person in Maine

to know that we will heal together.

CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


GOLODRYGA: Families just in sorrow. Well, coming up, an emotional rebuke of top tier soccer for their stance on Israel. And it's coming from inside

the sport. Hear what an Israeli coach has to say about it. That's next.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome back to ONE WORLD. I'm Bianna Golodryga. Well, the U.S. struck two targets linked to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria on

Thursday. Those airstrikes come in response to a series of drone and rocket attacks against American forces in the region.

The Pentagon is making clear that these strikes are a separate issue from the ongoing war in Gaza. However, with growing fears over a wider conflict

in the Middle East, even isolated incidents like these are raising concerns. CNN's Chief U.S. Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto joins me now

from the Golan Heights near the Syrian border.


And Jim, this strike authorized by President Biden last night is really the first response to a number of attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities

in the region over the past two weeks. What is the reaction to it thus far?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it shows how serious the U.S. is taking these attacks on its forces in both Iraq and

Syria, which it blames on Iran, because these are Iranian-backed forces here.

In fact, taking it so seriously, Bianna, that this is a base not just used by Iranian-backed proxies, but used by Iranians, members of the Islamic

Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, which Secretary Austin's referenced in his statement, that those personnel may very well have been present at the

base as these two U.S. F-16s struck those bases in Eastern Syria.

I should note, as I'm speaking to you, Syria lies just about a half mile behind me there beyond those lights, which is the U.N. base. That shows the

seriousness of the U.S. reaction, but it also shows the danger of escalation, because you have these two powers, in effect, taking shots at

each other, and not just there, because Lebanon is over here, just to the north, and Hezbollah, backed by Iran, it is regularly firing into Israel.

And just a few seconds ago, we heard Israel firing artillery back and that has led to the evacuation of communities along that northern border in

Israel. We visited one of those communities yesterday and found it abandoned.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Main Street, Metula, Israel. Normally, the busy center of town, now abandoned. Metula's 2000 residents fled in the wake of

the October 7th attacks. Part of a mandatory evacuation of communities too close to Israel's border with Lebanon and too close to Hezbollah.

UNKNOWN: The problem is that from too many windows we are under threats.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Now, based here are hundreds of IDF soldiers. We don't identify them due to security.

UNKNOWN: Every few hours we are under attack here or in other places in the area. So, we need to keep ourselves under cover to make sure that we

won't be exposed.

SCIUTTO: Metula is surrounded on three sides by Lebanon, by territory controlled by Hezbollah and that is why the town has been evacuated because

of that threat and soldiers based here now say they face three threats from Hezbollah. Sniper fire, rocket fire but also the possibility of ground

incursions. One happened here several days ago and they're on constant alert for the possibility of the next one.

The town's mayor has the job now of relocating residents to safer areas further south and keeping Matula ready for residents to return, the when is

far from clear. What is clear is that the old status quo is no longer sustainable for those living this far north, not with Hezbollah fighters on

their doorstep.

DAVID AZULI, MAYOR OF METULA: We don't want a war. We just want to end the current status quo and move Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. We can

either make a peace deal through the Americans and Iranians or if not, we will have war.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Israeli military does not comment on its plans for the north. For now, this is an operation designed to defend and deter

and the threat is real. We are advised not to linger too long in Hezbollah's line of fire.

UNKNOWN: You can find more than 400 soldiers looking at you.

SCIUTTO: For the soldiers their job now is to make sure that someday, Metula can come alive again. Do you believe people will be able to come

back to a town like Mutula again or is it just too close to Lebanon, to Hezbollah?

UNKNOWN: I know that we will do everything to make them feel protected, to make them feel safe. I saw someone who packed his last luggage with tears

in his eyes and I asked him why and he told me I don't know if I will return here.


SCIUTTO (on-camera): The concern now as Israel prepares for what appears to be greater ground military action in Gaza, that there will be

retaliation up here in the north. That Iran will order Hezbollah or Hezbollah will choose of its own designs to retaliate by striking further

in northern Israel. And that's why the forces we meet here, Bianna, they're taking that threat very seriously.

GOLODRYGA: One thing is clear, Jim, as you note in your piece, the status quo is just not sustainable with such a large number of residents there

being evacuated. You know, how long is that possible for those areas to just be empty and for life not to be able to go on? So, many implications.

Jim Sciutto, on the ground for us in the Golan Heights, thank you so much.

In a programming note for you, I just spoke to Iran's foreign minister in New York in an in-depth interview surrounding his country's response to

this crisis and whether Iran had a role, direct or indirect, in the October 7th attacks.


My exclusive conversation with Iran's foreign minister airs on this Sunday on Fareed Zakaria GPS that is 10 A.M. in New York, 2 P.M. in London. And

we'll be back with more.


GOLODRYGA: Well, as the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza deepens, with each passing hour, the U.N. warns hunger and disease are rapidly becoming a

major issue. A top official says food and water are running out and the last remaining public services are collapsing. And he calls current aid

levels quote, "nothing more than crumbs".

Well, more aid trucks are expected to enter Gaza today, but Israel is blocking any fuel deliveries, saying that Hamas is stealing it, which is

forcing some hospitals in Gaza to completely shut down.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has responded to U.S. President Joe Biden's public questioning of the reliability of Palestinian

casualty figures in the conflict with Israel by publishing the names of what it says are thousands killed since the start of this conflict.

In the wake of the October 7th attacks by Hamas that killed at least 1400 people in Israel, the Israel defense forces have launched an air campaign

against the militant group and imposed a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel says the strike will continue until more than 200 hostages are


CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is here reporting on the controversy around the death toll. But we must warn you, some of these images are graphic.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Families are mourning and counting their dead. A near endless stream of funerals echoes throughout Gaza. And

as Palestinians bury their loved ones, doubt is cast by the U.S. and Israel on the death toll being released by Hamas.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. No elections have been held since. The militant group is the political and military power here. It controls

the government and therefore all ministries, including the health ministry. President Biden says that's why he has no confidence in the reported Gaza

death toll.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I'm sure innocents have

been killed and it's a price of waging a war.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): This is how the Hamas-run health ministry responded, publishing this document, a 212-page report listing the I.D.

numbers, names, sex and age of more than 6700 Palestinians it says have been killed since October 7th.

Among them nearly 3000 children. The total figure is expected to be even higher because of hundreds of unidentified bodies, it says. The ministry

says it is committed to accuracy. It accused some of dehumanizing Palestinian victims. "Our people are not anonymous entities that can be

ignored," it said. The Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, also hit back.

MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER: There are certain leaders who don't want to see reality. The numbers are correct. They are our

numbers. These numbers are fed to us from the hospitals of Gaza every single day that are received by our Ministry of Health.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Skepticism over the death toll spiked after the explosion at Gaza City's Al Ahli Hospital. Within hours, the Hamas-run

health ministry said at least 471 were killed. The U.S. gave the more conservative estimate of 100 to 300 killed.

JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NSC: It was at least a couple of hundred and that's terrible and that's atrocious and that's sad

and we all obviously grieve with the families and loved ones who are affected by that. But the numbers are not reliable.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): News outlets, U.N. agencies, rights groups and even the U.S. State Department have cited the Hamas run Ministry of Health

in the past. But the U.S. now says recent statements and figures from Hamas are unreliable. Human Rights Watch, an independent body, responded.

OMAR SHAKIR, ISRAELI AND PALESTINE DIRECTOR HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We've done research during multiple rounds of escalations and we've always found the

Ministry of Health data to be generally reliable. The conversation should focus on how world leaders can stop further mass atrocities and not

nitpicking whether a number that's generally proven to be accurate may be a little bit off.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): And access is limited. Foreign media has been denied entry into Gaza. And for local journalists, conditions on the ground

make reporting difficult. CNN and other news outlets cannot independently verify the figures. And while some argue over the death toll, bodies keep

piling up. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


GOLODRYGA: And our thanks to Salma for that report. Well, you don't have to be a fan of soccer to realize its power to bring people together. Time

and time again the game has shown its ability to unite and for the clubs and their players to take a stand on the big issues whether it's against

racism, sexism or homophobia within society.

But I want you to listen to the disappointment and frustration from an Israeli-born soccer coach who called out a lack of solidarity from UEFA and

some of its top-tier clubs after the Hamas attacks on Israel. Barak Bachar, who coaches the Serbian side red star Belgrade, was speaking at a press

conference before a Champions League match against Leipzig.


BARAK BACHAR, COACH, RED STAR BELGRADE: They say that football connects between nations, races, people. In football, all the time speak about peace

and respect. And I really ask, where is the respect for those 1400 people that murder? Innocent young men and women that just want to go to celebrate

in a peace party and slaughtered one by one. Entire families burned alive. And they're home.


GOLODRYGA: Now, on top of that, a video released by Israel's football association highlighted the plight of kidnapped Israeli children held in

Gaza. Here's a clip.



GOLODRYGA: Clip showing football players not having children's hands to hold on to. Time now for the exchange. Joining me now are Sally Abed and

Alon Lee Green. They are members of the national leadership of "Standing Together", an organization that tries to bridge the gap between

Palestinians and Jews in Israel.

Thank you so much for joining us. Alon, let me start with you because that video from the Israeli football team really addresses the trauma that

Israelis felt and still feel about what happened on October 7th specifically when it comes to children being massacred and abducted.


Can you tell us how Israelis are still trying to cope with this tragedy?

ALON-LEE GREEN, NATIONAL LEADERSHIP MEMBER, "STANDING TOGETHER": Well, since October 7th, we are still in a lot of pain, in a lot of trauma. It is

just, you know, very often that you just turn on your Instagram or your Facebook and you see the pictures of those that have been abducted or been

murdered by Hamas. And the feeling is just a feeling of collective sadness and, you know, confusion.

Where do we go next? What do we need to do right now? And next to all the sad feeling and the tough feelings, it's also very sad to see that so many

people in our administration, in our leadership, are telling us that what we need right now is not reconciliation or not, you know, turning to a

better path from here, but actually to turn into more violence and more death and more blood. And it makes us very, very worried here.

GOLODRYGA: Sally, it comes as we've seen from Salma's reporting and a lot of our other reporting, just the tragic plight specifically of Palestinian

children as well in Gaza right now, the injuries, the deaths. I know from your work with this organization, you're constantly in touch with

Palestinian families. I'm wondering if that's even possible to get hold of them in Gaza at this point.

SALLY ABED, NATIONAL LEADERSHIP MEMBER, "STANDING TOGETHER": It's been increasingly difficult for me personally to speak about this. Our humanity,

you know, for Palestinians here in Israel has been criminalized. Any expression of solidarity, of grief, of loss for the unfathomable

catastrophic humanitarian crisis that is happening in Gaza right now is being criminalized right now here.

So, I'm grateful for to be able to speak about it in English, but it's not enough. The families, you know, in Gaza they have very, very little power,

water, food, nonetheless internet to be able to connect. And the whole conversation about the numbers is just so out of touch of humanity, so out

of touch and so heartbreaking to see the conversation being about numbers. Is it true? Is it not true? Is it 6000? Is it 10,000? It's just absolutely


GOLODRYGA: Alon, tell us more about your organization, which was formed eight years ago. It's been working to bring peace among Israelis and

Palestinians. I mean, it goes without saying, how much of a setback is the tragedy and the terror of October 7th and then everything that's unfolded

had on your team?

ALON: Well, on normal days, we work together, Jewish and Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, to try and fight for peace and equality and social

justice. And as Sally just said, since October 7, this had become much, much more challenging. You could see a widening phenomenon right now in

Israel where people can, of course, our Palestinian citizens in Israel can like a post on Instagram and get arrested for that or get fired from their

work from because of that.

And this public atmosphere and the real policies of our government right now to point fingers and to try and portray the entire Arab society in

Israel, 20 percent of our citizens, as people that are siding with Hamas or like traitors from within, this is something that is creating another

violent front in our society.

And believe us, we do not need more fronts right now. We have enough violence. We have enough death. And this is a very dangerous path this

government is leading us to.

And our government -- our movement right now, "Standing Together" is trying to create a space where we can be in this moment together. Understand that

we are both victims of this reality. We're both suffering from this terrible moment.

You know, people died in the 7th of October, both Jewish are and Palestinian citizens of Israel. People got abducted together. They fought

together and we are suffering in this moment together. And yes, we are trying to remain humane right now together.


Talking about people dying on the other side that are innocent does not make us traitors, it just makes us more human.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Alon Lee-Green and Sally Abed, thank you for joining us today. One thing is clear, there is just way too much suffering going on

all around and we appreciate your time.

ABED: Do I have one moment to say something?

GOLODRYGA: I'm so sorry. We have breaking news that we have to get to, otherwise we would, but we'd love to stay in touch and have you back on. I

appreciate the time. Well, we want to take you now to live images that we're seeing over Gaza, explosions there.

You're seeing in the images right now, or I believe we have, but I know we have, Jim Sciutto, who is back with us near the Golan Heights, near the

Syrian border. Jim, what are you hearing? What is being reported?

SCIUTTO: One thing is clear is that the level, the degree, the frequency of airstrikes over northern Gaza right now, as well as artillery fire, is

on a greater scale than our reporters on the ground there have seen really since October 7th going back. And typically, you've had an elevation in the

pace of the fire into Gaza before ground operations.

Now to date, as you know, the ground operations we've seen have been temporary ones. Short operations in and then out, some targets, some armor

going in, infantry, and then leaving not to date a large-scale offensive that remains on the ground inside Gaza for some time.

Now, does this increase in the pace of the airstrikes and the artillery strikes indicate that something greater, more lasting is in the offing?

It's not clear, but there certainly has been quite public debate here about exactly that, and it's not been clear that the government has made a

decision to do so. And there seems to have been some disagreement in the government on what scale to do so.

And we also know that the advice from U.S. military officials and commanders who've been advising the Israelis, they're not involved, but

they have been advising, has been to at least take a pause before you consider something on a grand scale, drawing on the U.S.' own experience in

places such as Fallujah, that large scale ground operations inside urban landscapes is difficult and it's deadly. So, it's not clear what decision

Israeli leaders have made, but certainly the level of airstrikes is greater than we've seen to date since the start of this latest conflict.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, and it's important to note for our viewers who may not see much happening as we have this live shot over Gaza City, why it is

crucial that we have reporters like you and our Nic Robertson there on the ground to relay to us what they are seeing and hearing up close.

And I'd like to read what our Nic Robertson is reporting, and that is "a large series of explosions", which he is saying is" unusual, intense and

sustained, outgoing tank fire, as well as military activity for the past couple of hours". All of this, Jim, just intensifies the situation because

we are expecting some sort of ground invasion by the Israelis imminently.

SCIUTTO: True, but it's not clear on what scale, right?


SCIUTTO: Because there's been an enormous amount of speculation as to how long, how great, how significant. And there does appear to be some debate

as to whether a full-scale invasion, even discussion of a reoccupation of Gaza, right, a debate as to whether that's a good idea, whether the

leadership is fully behind that.

So, it is possible that we see something short of, smaller than some of those predictions and perhaps more temporary, we don't know. To date, all

we've seen have been temporary in and out operations, and it's possible that you see a collection of those as opposed to a full-scale invasion, but

we don't know.

We do know, certainly, that this country has mobilized more than 300,000 reservists. We do know that they have massed a great deal of armor, tanks,

artillery, armored personnel carriers, as well as personnel along the border with Gaza. At least to give them the option to do so, right, Bianna.

Then the question becomes really not just a military decision, but a political decision. Are Israeli military and political leaders behind a

full-scale invasion, something short of that, a collection of smaller operations? We don't know yet. But to Nic's reporting, the intensity of

those strikes, which typically come before a ground operation, is greater than anything we've seen so far.

GOLODRYGA: And we do see some blasts now in this live camera footage over Gaza City. And Jim, you know, we heard from the Israeli Defense Minister

yesterday, there's a lot of theories about why there is a delay in whatever the next phase of this war will be.


Whether it's because Israelis may be waiting for additional backup reinforcements from the United States into the region. Perhaps their

reservists need a bit more training, or perhaps they are working all of this out in real time. We know that a three-star general has just arrived

to help officials there, as well.

SCIUTTO: True and it may be right that they are contemplating not going in for at least a full-scale ground invasion. We know that there's been some

debate and we know, as I was saying earlier, that there's been some advice from U.S. military commanders.

One, to pause or delay to allow for more chances to negotiate the release of the hostages, but also to consider the costs and danger -- the cost and

danger of a full-scale ground invasion based in part on U.S. experience attempting the same in places such as Fallujah.

GOLODRYGA: All right, Jim. Well, stay safe and keep us posted on anything that you are seeing and hearing there.

SCIUTTO: Will do.

GOLODRYGA: Of course, we'll continue to cover it here at CNN, as well. Thank you so much for watching ONE WORLD on a busy Friday. I'm Bianna

Golodryga and I will be right back here with Amanpour after a short break.