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Quest Means Business

Multi-Story Building In Gaza Collapses After An Israeli Airstrike; Inflation Concerns Rattle U.S. Markets; U.S. House Republicans Oust Liz Cheney from Leadership; Israel-Gaza Tensions Escalate With More Rockets, Airstrikes; Ethiopian And Eritrean Troops Expand Siege Of Central Tigray. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 12, 2021 - 16:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNNI HOST: Good evening, I'm Hala Gorani in London. A special extended edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight as we track violence in

the Middle East and an incredibly tense situation across Israel. Tonight, despite condemnation from around the world and calls for de-escalation, the

worst violence in years between Israelis and Palestinians risk of spiraling out of control.

Well, this was the scene in Gaza just a few hours ago. A 14-story high rise reduced to rubble. The Al Sharuk tower collapsed after an Israeli

airstrike. The idea of claims that this building housed a mosque military intelligence offices.

It is the third high rise structure destroyed by the Israelis this week in the densely-packed city. The death toll in Gaza now climbs to 65 people,

hundreds more are wounded, children have been killed as well because some brigades, the military wing of Hamas is responding with a barrage of rocket


Now, they say they've launched more than 130 rockets at the Israeli cities near Gaza, and we know in fact that a 6-year-old Israeli boy was killed in

Sderot today after a rocket struck a residential building. The death toll on the Israeli side now stands at seven people. And there is violence in

mixed cities across Israel as well. There are so many crisis going on at the same time.

Ben Wedeman is live in Jerusalem. First, with the very latest on what's going on in Gaza, because Benjamin Netanyahu seems to indicate right now

that this will not stop any time soon, the Israeli operation in Gaza.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, all indications are hollow that this operation will continue. And the same indications are

being received from Gaza, from Hamas itself, and the Islamic Jihad and other factions that they intend to continue the missile barrages in Israel

as we saw this evening with the collapsing of that 14-story building in downtown Gaza is intensifying its tactics.

We -- I've seen many times in the past when the Israelis if they knew that somebody they wanted to kill was in apartment 3A on the seventh floor, they

could send a missile right in there and kill that individual and leave the rest of the building unharmed.

Now, they're bringing down entire buildings, which is -- one might think is the Israeli version of shock and awe from Baghdad 2003. And if you just

look at the numbers, for instance, in 2014, over seven weeks, the factions in Gaza fired 4,000 rockets in the last 72 hours alone, they've fired

1,000. But perhaps the most worrying development on the ground here is within Israel proper.

We are seeing this evening a wave of incidents between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel. We've seen one very graphic

video of an Israeli mob lynching a Palestinian-Israeli motorist who was pulled out of his car and severely beaten.

And there have been other incidents similar to that of mobs breaking into and smashing Arab-run businesses. And we did hear the Israeli Prime

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will try to reimpose order if need be with an iron fist in the town of Lod, which is a mixed Palestinian and

Jewish town near Tel Aviv.

They have imposed an 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. overnight curfew and deployed units of the border police from the West Bank to that town. So there's sort

of multiple flashpoints here, Gaza, Jerusalem, and within Israel itself which amounted to a very severe crisis. Hala?

GORANI: Right. And Hamas obviously at least according to Palestinians demonstrating against forced evictions where Arabs and Jews and mixed-town

fighting has essentially hijacked the narrative. And most of the coverage now is on the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.


When you have all these other overlapping and extremely worrying crisis including the violence between Arab and Jewish residents of the same towns

and the demonstrations against the evictions in east Jerusalem neighborhoods like Shaykh Jarrah. So, because it's so widespread, these

crisis one after the other and one overlapping on top of the other, one has to wonder where are we going with this? This is probably one of the most

serious moments in Israel for years.

WEDEMAN: Well, for instance, I was here in September of 2000, October of 2000, at the beginning of the second -- when there was also mass protests

by Palestinian citizens of Israel, more than a dozen were killed in protests by Israeli security forces. But that quickly passed, and really

the focus was more on the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem.

But this is a sort of a series -- and the intensity of it is something that I don't think was anticipated in a sense what the crisis we're seeing is

inevitable, given that you have had mounting tensions and resentment between the -- among the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West

Bank, and also among the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

And this has been building for years. And as we've seen so many times in the past, there have been periods of relative calm, relative calm, followed

by these outbursts, but certainly this is the biggest outburst of multiple crisis, violence and protests that we've seen in quite some time. Hala?

GORANI: Yes, all right, and Benjamin Netanyahu there promising more action and promising an iron fist, unclear how that's going to in any way resolve

some of the other issues across Israel. Thanks very much, Ben Wedeman. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dispatched a top department

official -- State Department official to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and urge de-escalation. Blinken described the scenes as harrowing.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States remains committed to a two-state solution. This violence takes us further away from that goal.

We fully support Israel's legitimate right to defend itself. We've condemned, and I condemn again, the rocket attacks in the strongest

possible terms. We believe Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live with safety and security.


GORANI: All right. Daniel Kurtzer was U.S. Ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush. He's now professor of Middle East Policy Studies at

Princeton University and joins me now live from Washington. You know, Arabs, when they heard Antony Blinken over the last several days

essentially say Israel has a right to defend itself, they don't believe -- many of them that the U.S. is being, you know, a neutral mediator, if

they're seeing really both sides of the situation.

They believe that they are standing with Israel and that they are showing no sympathy for Palestinians who will be evicted from their homes, for

others who feel they've been victimized in mixed Arab and Jewish towns across the country. Do you believe the Palestinians have a point to express

frustration with the U.S.?

DANIEL KURTZER, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EAST POLICY STUDIES, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think they do. The administration's statements until now have

actually been a little bit tougher than we've seen in past crisis. But they definitely don't address the underlying issue. As Ben Wedeman just

reported, this whole thing started as a result of efforts by Israeli extremists to dispossess Palestinians in their neighborhood, and

essentially the Israeli government turned a blind eye to it until it was too late.

And the escalation now is being seen as the problem rather than the reason that it started. And I think the administration therefore needs to

rebalance both its statements and its actions to send a much tougher message to Israel that basically says, look, you have to get a hold of this

thing, and there are going to be consequences for you and for the region and for American interests.

I think the dispatch of Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary is a good first step, but as good as it's going to be for him to be out there, we

don't have an ambassador, we don't have a consulate general, we don't have an assistant secretary of state.

GORANI: Yes --


KURTZER: I think the United States is going to have to activate a much more significant level of diplomatic activity, particularly telling the Israelis

to put this back in the box.

GORANI: But the U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars every year in military aid. So, you would think that the U.S. has a lot of leverage with

Israel, yet, Israel is essentially telling America to butt out. Why is the U.S. not exercising more pressure on Israeli politicians to calm things


KURTZER: Well, Hala, after the initial provocation by the extremists, when the Hamas rockets started to fall all over Israel towards Jerusalem,

closing down the airport, American politicians and the administration of course would repeat the mantra that Israel has the right to defend itself,

because it does. There's no excuse for those rockets to be launched with no precision that are going to kill people and destroy things.

But that's treating a secondary symptom of the problem. The core of the problem, as your correspondent mentioned and as we've said for years, is

how do you get the Israelis and Palestinians to take the hard decisions to end the conflict and allowing extremists, whether they are on the Israeli

side in Jerusalem or on the Palestinian side in Gaza to define what happens is only going to make things worse in the period ahead.

GORANI: Now, Arabs, and I don't have to tell you this, you were an ambassador in Arab countries for many years. We'll say to that, you know,

you're presenting this as a conflict of equals. But here you have a much stronger occupying force, you know, and then you have -- and no one's

arguing Hamas is doing the right thing, they are an extremist terrorist group.

They've launched these rockets, they've killed civilians. And it's terrible what's happened. But this is not a conflict of equals. And so therefore

that it is up to Israel to modify its behavior. This is like -- this is what Arabs would respond to American officials who say the two sides have

to de-escalate. What is your reaction to that?

KURTZER: Sure. I heard that for many years when we were negotiating the Madrid Peace Conference and during the period of Oslo. And there's no

question that there's a disproportionate relationship in terms of power. But the two sides are equal in terms of aspirations and in terms of their


Both have the right to live in peace and security. Both have the right to exercise self-determination and to establish the kind of political system

that they want. And that's what the peace process has been all about. The role of a third party, if we were to play that role effectively, would be

to figure out a way to deal with the asymmetry of power.

And that was one of the great challenges for the last 30 years. Would Israel find itself in a position where it could yield territory to the

Palestinians to create a state, and yet be secure in that outcome, and would Palestinians be satisfied with the kind of state that would emerge,

understanding that it's not going to fulfill all of their aspirations? So - -

GORANI: I was -- yes --

KURTZER: You know, the equality issue is correct. But one needs to see it in the perspective of trying to reach a solution here.

GORANI: Just a quick last one on Benjamin Netanyahu. I was speaking with the editor-in-chief of "The Jerusalem Post" Yaakov Katz, and I asked him,

do you think Benjamin Netanyahu, who, if he's not able to form a government, loses his premiership, will face tremendous legal issues after

he leaves office. Do you think he's stirring up, I asked him, these nationalist forces to benefit himself politically?

And he told me the fact that you're even asking this question and that we're even wondering if our own prime minister might be doing this is very

concerning. What is your answer to that question? Do you think Benjamin Netanyahu is partly responsible for what's happening on the streets of

cities across Israel?

KURTZER: I do not think he is responsible for its recent activity. No Israeli Prime Minister, no Palestinian president wants to be responsible

for taking their people to war. He certainly benefits from it. The coalition negotiations that could end up throwing him out of office have

essentially stalled.

But if you look back just a few days, Hala, neither Israel nor the Palestinian authority, nor Hamas wanted a war at this time. And so there's

just been an absence of leadership, an absence of judgment on the part of everybody that's gotten us into this mess.

GORANI: Daniel Kurtzer, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate your time. And of course, you're coming from at this -- from

years of experience -- diplomatic experience in the region. So we really appreciate having you on the program on CNN. Thank you.


We will be revisiting this story a little bit later. But first inflation concerns deflated U.S. markets for a second day in a row. The Dow lost

nearly 700 points, it's off nearly 1,200 points this week and it's only Wednesday. We'll be right back.


GORANI: A tough day on Wall Street after the latest U.S. inflation numbers showed prices rising faster than expected. The Dow closed down nearly 700

points as investors took in April's consumer price index report, essentially showing a rise in consumer prices. It says U.S. prices rose 4.2

percent year-on-year in April. Federal Reserve official say the spike is likely temporary, but that's the hope.

It could be that it's not temporary. And then there is big concern, a huge amount of concern for the U.S. economy. CNN business reporter Paul La

Monica joins us now live via Skype because that's the question we were discussing last hour, Paul, which is if this is not temporary, and we keep

seeing bigger-than-expected increases in consumer good prices, that could mean that the Federal Reserve would have no choice but to increase interest

rates. And that could be a concern for the economy.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: That would be a very big concern, Hala, because clearly right now, investors are not expecting the Fed to

raise rates any time soon. Jerome Powell has gone out of his way even when his predecessor Janet Yellen who's now Treasury Secretary made comments not

that long ago suggesting that maybe the Fed would have to raise rates or that long-term bond yields would have to tick up a little bit more if

inflation does come roaring back.

And the CPI number clearly is alarming because it's on top of wage growth that is accelerating based on what we saw in last week's jobs report. And

some people are, you know, trying to dismiss the wage increase numbers as being reflective of the fact that there are shortages in a lot of

industries right now.

So that's a reason why wages are going up, and many people in lower-paying services jobs still haven't completely gone back to full-time work as well.

But if these trends continue over the next couple of months, it's going to be a lot harder to just brush them off as transitory.


GORANI: And what are some of the worst-hit sectors here?

LA MONICA: Yes, today, you clearly saw consumer sectors getting hit very hard. The two biggest losers in the S&P 500 are actually two recent

additions to that index, casino companies, Penn National and Caesars, they were the largest decliners in the index. But you also saw retailer Gap

getting hit hard. And a lot of home builders also, because if yields are starting to creep higher, that likely means mortgage rates go up as well.

Maybe this great housing boom finally starts to cool off, too.

GORANI: All right, Paul La Monica, thanks very much. Cancel culture is coming for Liz Cheney. Republicans voted today to oust the Wyoming

congresswoman from house leadership over her criticism of Donald Trump and his false claims about the 2020 election. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin

said the votes showed Americans where the Republican Party is today.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): What a sad day for the American Republican Party. It was an act of pure cowardice for them to remove her from leadership, and

then to do it by a secret voice vote. I mean, that just tells the whole story as far as I am concerned. Donald Trump owns the soul of the

Republican Party of America, and it was proved today in the House of Representatives.


GORANI: CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles joins me now live from Washington D.C. Why is the Republican Party -- sorry --


The Republican Party still so beholden to Donald Trump at this stage?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's a great question, Hala. And the simple answer is because the former president still

enjoys, you know, an enormous amount of popularity within the base of the Republican Party. And what we're talking about here is a conversation

amongst house Republicans in Liz Cheney who's now the former conference chair, she's still a member of Congress, but she spoke out against the

former president.

And when you look at these districts across the country where Republicans have won elections, those are districts that tend to be very supportive of

Donald Trump. So, a lot of these members of Congress do not want to step outside of any kind of criticism of Donald Trump because if he starts to

speak out against them, it could lead to a primary challenge, it could lead to them losing their seat.

So the calculation that not just the rank-and-file members of the house Republican Party made, but also their leadership, Kevin McCarthy, Steve

Scalise who is the number two ranking house Republican was that if Cheney were to continue speaking out against them, it would hurt their chances of

winning back the majority in 2022.

So that meant continuing to embrace the former president and by extension the things that he has said about the 2020 election that, Hala, simply, are

just not true.

GORANI: But it's interesting because the president lost the election -- the ex-President Donald Trump lost the election. And there were many Donald

Trump supporters in races even in southern states in Georgia, for instance, that lost also their bid for election. So I wonder what calculation are the

Republicans making for 2022, especially when you have some members of the Republican Party who were essentially threatening to break off and create

an entirely new party that would weaken them, wouldn't it?

NOBLES: Hala, you're right about those election results that you talked about. They lost the presidency. They lost a couple of key Senate races,

especially in states where they've been successful before like Georgia. But the Republican Party did gain seats in the House of Representatives in the

2020 election despite the fact that they lost the presidency.

So, the issue that a lot of Republicans are dealing with right now, those are elected Republicans, is that it is very difficult to win a primary

without Donald Trump's support, and it's also almost impossible to win a general election without his supporters supporting you in addition to

bringing in a coalition of voters that might not necessarily like the former president.

So, again, the calculation is much different if you're a member of the House of Representatives, you know, representing a relatively narrow swath

of voters as compared to what a senator would represent in an entire state and certainly what the president of the United States represents.

So, it is a calculation they're making, we will not know whether or not it is the smart calculation until the 2022 midterms. But it is one that they

believe is their only path to victory. And we should point out, when you talk about that group of Republicans that are speaking out against the

former president, some that are even flirting with forming their own party, it's a very narrow minority. It's a very --

GORANI: Right --

NOBLES: Small group in terms of the entire Republican Party, and it certainly doesn't represent the rank-and-file voter and the base of support

that exists there. So, it's really just a zero-sum question for Republicans. It's the difference between in their mind winning and losing.

And as I said before we're not going to know the answer to that until the midterm elections.


GORANI: All right, thanks for that. Great explainer Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill. Thank you very much. Colombia's president says the country

will engage with its young people after weeks of violent protests which started as demonstrations against tax reforms have turned into a widespread


The government has already agreed to some concessions including the student groups, two student groups who are unhappy with tuition fees. President

Ivan Duque spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour a few hours ago, he insisted that he was supportive of peaceful protests and would look into claims of

police brutality.


IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, PRESIDENT, COLOMBIA: I want to be very clear that I have always been a defender of the right to specific protests in our

democracy. I have been a defender and I have trusted always in democracy. We have been dealing with cases of violence that are specific cases with

all the protocols of the use of force. Any accusation over wrongdoing of an individual that is a member of the police bodies have been investigated,

will be investigated, and we are going to work closely with the attorney general's office.


MARQUEZ: The attorney general's office is doing the investigations with vigorously in order to determine what were the causes of people that have

died in interactions or fights with the police bodies. And that is very clear from my side. We have to get to the bottom of the investigations.

We have also have to move forward very closely with the investigations that are related to acts of violence against police bodies. But you mentioned

something very important, Christiane. You mentioned that peaceful protests -- have said that we have to engage in a dialogue. We have opened that

dialogue, and we know that we have people that have been badly affected by the political, economic, and social effects of the pandemic.

And we know that we have to embrace many social causes in a rapid way. Because we know that youngsters, for example, have been the most affected

in terms of employment by the pandemic. And we want to be able to put all the public policy to respond to those sectors of the population.

But you mentioned something else, what do I want my legacy to be? At this moment, Christiane, I think the most important thing is that we have to

attend the people that have been badly affected economically and socially by the pandemic.

And we are engaging into dialogues with young people throughout the country. And we want to build a national pact so that we can attend to the

employment needs, their education needs, and also to promote their leadership to have political participation and representation.


GORANI: All right. Next, more on our coverage of the hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza as fears of all-out war intensify.



GORANI: A reminder of our breaking news this hour, Israel is vowing to step up its campaign against Hamas despite a warning from the U.N. that further

violence could lead to a full-scale war. Palestinian officials say at least 65 people have been killed in Gaza.

While at least seven people have been killed on the Israeli side, including we're learning today is six-year-old little boy who died when a rocket hit

a residential building in Sderot close to Gaza. Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem with more on where we are now and the fears for the future. Hadas?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, air raid sirens have continued to wail across Israel today, including in Tel Aviv. More than 1,000 rockets have

been fired into Israel since Monday, according to the Israeli military. And in Gaza, the Israeli military says it is conducting hundreds of operations

strikes against what it says are militant targets in Gaza.

They say they have killed more than 30 Gaza militants, including top Hamas operatives, they'll say they have leveled three buildings there, which it

said hosted key Hamas offices. But the violence is increasing. And there doesn't seem to be any sense of calm coming anytime soon.

GORANI: So and by the way, we are just hearing that the U.S. President has spoken with the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. I wonder, what is the

expectation of the Israeli government for what the United States should or shouldn't do in this case, because Arab countries are asking the United

States to act more as a mediator to put some pressure on the government of the country to try to stop or put a stop at -- within the cycle of

violence? What are you hearing where you are?

GOLD: Well, we -- what we do know that the U.S. Secretary of State Blinken is sending the person in charge of the Israeli and Palestinian Affairs to

try to send them to the region in order to try and mediate or work on so they speak to both sides. But Hala, there doesn't seem to be a lot of

optimism here that anything can be done in the immediate sense in order to calm the tensions and quell this violence.


GOLD (voice-over): It's a pattern that shouldn't be familiar. Yet already is. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, rockets streaking across the sky from Gaza,

sirens ringing out, warning Israelis to take cover.

The Iron Dome intercepting as many incoming projectiles as possible, the punishing retaliation of an air assault on Gaza targets by Israeli forces,

pushing the casualty count higher with each cycle, deeming the hopes for de escalation of violence and exposing the harsh reality of a long standing

conflict boiling over into rage once again.

What started as a flashpoint over threatened evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and clashes

at the Al-Aqsa Mosque is now a conflict that the U.N. special envoy to the Middle East says is escalating towards an all-out war, Israel calling up

reservist and moving tanks and heavy artillery to the Gaza border, refusing to rule out a ground offensive.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz making clear, Israel has no intention of backing down.

BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): In hundreds of strikes, weapons, production sites, tunnels, and towers that have been

serving terror organizations have crumbled, and they will keep crumbling. There are many more targets. This is just the beginning.

GOLD (voice-over): Hamas confirming some leaders of their armed wing killed in the latest round of airstrikes while vowing that nothing will stop their

battle. Hamas spokesmen calling for Palestinians to march in Jerusalem to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, saying your alarm towards Al-Aqsa is a pledge

of loyalty to the blood of the righteous martyrs in Gaza with honor and an affirmation of continuing the path of liberation.

Anger now spilling beyond Jerusalem into other cities, the city of Lod becoming the latest powder keg, a state of emergency and curfew now in

effect, after an Arab Israeli man was shot dead and rioters towards synagogues, cars, and businesses there.

In the meantime, civilians continue to pay the heaviest price as Gaza citizens try to salvage what's left of bombed out buildings, all while

mourning and burying their dead with scores killed and several hundred injured, while in Israel with every siren, a warning that another missile

might make it through a several have already claimed lives.



GOLD: And Hala, one of the most worrying developments, obviously, there's a lot of attention on what's happening in Gaza and with the Israeli military,

but is the communal violence that we are seeing between Jewish and Arab residents in some of these mixed towns, we're seeing some really horrifying

videos of mobs beating both Jews and Arabs. That is one of the key worrying developments that is really happening beyond of course what we're seeing in

Gaza. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Hadas Gold, thanks very much. And one video that is making the rounds is of an Arab man dragged out of his car and essentially

lynched by Jewish residents around him. We'll try to bring you that.

When we have -- what we do have now is the U.S. President Joe Biden, he's just been speaking about what's going on, listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My national security staff and defense staff has been in constant contact with their counterparts in the

Middle East, not just with the Israelis, but also with everyone from the Egyptians of the Saudis to the Emirates, et cetera. And I had a

conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago. I'll be putting out a statement very shortly on that.

My expectation hope is that, so it'll be closing down sooner than later. But Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets

flying in your territory. But I had a conversation for a while with the Prime Minister of Israel. And I think that, my hope is that we'll see this

coming to conclusion sooner than later. Thank you.


GORANI: The U.S. President Joe Biden there, addressing the situation in Israel, and what's happening with the Palestinian territory of Gaza, saying

that he had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu, he called him. Israel has a right to defend itself when you have rockets flying towards you, is what

the U.S. president said that he'd be putting out readout of that phone call with the Israeli Prime Minister.

No mention at least in this 54 second sound bite of the Palestinians. So we'll see if in the wider readout, there is a mention of Palestinians in

the statement that will be issued by the White House in Washington.

We're going to take a quick break. You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.



GORANI: The worst COVID outbreak in the world right now has just recorded its deadliest day. India reported a new daily record in COVID deaths with

more than 4,200 fatalities. With that the overall death toll there has topped a quarter million, the third highest in the world.

Despite this, the Prime Minister is still refusing to implement a full national lockdown. But at this point, almost every state and territory has

imposed some level of restriction. They did this on their own, hoping they can contain the deadly surge.

And in neighboring Nepal which is in the middle of managing the country's worsening outbreak, the government there is on the brink of collapse. So

that is adding misery to residents of that country. Anna Coren has more on two crises that Nepal is facing.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the second wave of COVID wreaks havoc in the impoverished Himalayan country of Nepal, Human Rights Watch is warning

of a looming catastrophe. Deadly infections and deaths are reaching record highs with much of the country now under lockdown.

The nation's under resourced hospitals are at breaking point. Patients are being turned away due to a lack of beds and an acute shortage of oxygen.

Doctors there are warning of an oxygen crisis.

Nepal Supreme Court has issued an interim order for authorities to set up a national task force to ensure the coordination of oxygen and medical

supplies. Previously, India was its main supplier, but now it's being forced to look elsewhere for help. China is sending in 20,000 oxygen

cylinders and 100 ventilators but it's a drop in the ocean considering the amount of medical aid required to counter this devastating second wave.

Only 1.2 percent of Nepal's population has been fully inoculated which only adds to the crisis. Health officials say the positivity rate is nearly 50

percent, meaning one in every two people is testing positive for COVID. This national emergency comes at a time of political crisis in the country,

after the Prime Minister lost a vote of confidence on Monday, following his comments that the COVID situation was quote under control.

The opposition now has until Thursday night to form a government. If unsuccessful, Sharma Oli only will remain caretaker Prime Minister until

elections can be held the earliest by the end of the year.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.

GORANI: All right thanks Anna.

Desperately needed humanitarian aid turned away in our exclusive report. We'll show you how Ethiopian and Eritrean troops are keeping the Tigray

region cut off from the rest of the world. We'll be right back.



GORANI: Despite promises to withdraw troops back in April, Eritrean forces coordinating with Ethiopian troops have once again closed off a key aid

route and Ethiopia's Tigray region. The U.N. has warned that over 5 million people are at risk of famine. Desperately needed aid and supplies are being

blocked. As Ethiopian and Eritrean troops roam freely, some committing atrocities.

It took courage by CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir and her crew to bring you this exclusive report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A show of force by Ethiopia's National Defense Force in its Tigray region, a

government visibly flexing control. We traveled outside of the Capitol Mekelle across the region to see if the Ethiopian government has kept its

promises to the world, unimpeded aid access and the withdrawal of their Eritrean allies.

The conflict for control of Tigray blazes on. Days earlier, these two grand forces fighting for regional autonomy pushed out Eritrean troops from this

town. As we arrive one young man Kassa (ph) wants to show us where his father, brother, and cousin were taken and executed just days ago. The

blood is still visible. It stains the ground.

They didn't want to wash away his blood, he says. They wanted to leave it there. The body they took to the graveyard but the blood, the place, where

his father was executed, he -- the family still wants that place marked.

Just a few meters from where Kassa's (ph) father died, his brother and cousin were executed. Murdered, he says, by Eritreans, the same Eritreans

who were supposed to have withdrawn. We return with Kassa (ph) to his family. In total, just this one family lost seven loved ones less than a

week ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): All of us have to run and hide when they come, even the women. They rape the women and been killed them.

May God bring mercy on us because we don't know what we can do.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The Eritreans are not only still here, but a day into our journey and we've already found evidence of fresh atrocities. We hear

that the holy city of Axum to the west has been sealed off by Eritrean soldiers for 12 days. We need to see for ourselves. So we head out towards

Axum but don't get very far. Something is not right. The team car behind us radios in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locals said there was shooting up ahead.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): There's a car coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's just wait.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): A U.N. driver flashes as a warning but we decide to press on.

Hello. Salam. Can we go ahead? We're going to go.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Thank you.

But the road head is blocked. We get out of the car with our hands up and identify ourselves to the Ethiopian soldiers.

(on camera): Hey, hey, hello, hello, hello. CNN, CNN. We're CNN, journalists. We are journalists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's impossible.

ELBAGIR (on camera): We are journalists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's impossible.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Sir, just tell us --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before, ask our commander.

ELBAGIR (on camera): We spoke --

(voice-over): The soldier spots our camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

ELBAGIR (voice-over): They're incredible tensed.

(on camera): Sir, sir, it's OK. It's OK. We were --

(voice-over): The soldiers close in on us.

(on camera): We did. We ask there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't asking our commander?

ELBAGIR (on camera): Sir, sir, we asked.

(voice-over): As we're pulled to one side, we turn on our covert camera.

(on camera): Are we detained? Unless we are detained, we're not giving them the camera. We'll only go to the administration, the civilian

administration. If you want to have detained a CNN team, then that's what's happened now because we're not going to the camp willingly.

They have now said, that we are allowed to go and meet the general in a civilian location but it is still against our will but we're going.

(voice-over): On our way to the headquarters were able to hide our footage. And we are later released.

At the local hospital we find out why the soldiers didn't want us to film.

What happened? Yes, it's OK. It's OK. You're clearly in shock. Just take a moment to breathe. And then tell us what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were in the bus station when the shooting started. We were running, trying to get away. And that's when

it happened.

ELBAGIR (on camera): This girl is so scared, she's covering her face. But she wants to tell us what happened, which is that a grenade detonated in

front of a group of soldiers. And she says they started randomly opening fire on civilians. She is clearly not a soldier. She's a teenage girl. And

she says that she was shot through the leg.

(voice-over): This is the main route to Axum. It's a vital supply artery. But for 12 days now nothing has been able to pass. First checkpoint

Ethiopian soldiers led us through. Ahead we've been warned by senior Ethiopian military sources, we'll find Eritrean soldiers. As we crest the

hill, before we reach the second checkpoint, we turn on our covert cameras.

Hello, sir. Can I show you our papers, we're CNN, journalists. We have permission to travel. These are Eritrean troops captured here for the first

time on camera. A ragtag army in their distinctive light-colored fatigues. Some are also wearing a previously retired Ethiopian army uniform, a clear

bit to sow confusion as to whether they're Ethiopian or Eritrean.

(on camera): Eritrean soldiers are telling us that we don't have permission to travel, even though the Ethiopian soldiers waved us through. The other

thing is Eritrean soldiers are supposed to have begun withdrawing, but here they are, manning a checkpoint and blocking us from going forward.

Hello, sir, selamat. How are you, journalists? We have permission. You're asking us to turn back? OK. We've been sent back.

(voice-over): Both Eritrea and Ethiopia promised these troops would withdraw weeks ago. Yet this foreign force is still here, and occupying

obstructing a key supply route with impunity. After calling the interim government, military contacts and others on our fourth attempt, we make it


Three days after setting off we finally arrive in Axum, a UNESCO heritage site, the holiest city in Ethiopia and a place of pilgrimage. But even the

act of worship here is a dangerous one. The war is never far away.

At a local health facility, we see firsthand the consequences of this almost two weeks siege. Two-month-old Yohanne's (ph) life has been hanging

in the balance. His mother risked her life and his to get him past the soldiers in circling the city so that he can receive lifesaving oxygen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When he first got ill, it was a hard time so I couldn't bring him. There was an act of war. He got weaker,

but I couldn't find transport. I had to travel difficult roads alone to get him here.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): He's not out of danger yet. The hospital electricity flickers on and off. And they are still waiting to get more cylinders of


In the almost two weeks that Axum has been cut off from the outside world, violence has spiked. We find this 24-year-old teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

ELBAGIR (on camera): Do you know who did this to you?


ELBAGIR (on camera): Oh, Eritrean soldiers did this. I'm so sorry. This is just one case that we are able to catch up because we're here but it's

impossible to know how many more women this was done to while the city was closed off from the outside world.

(voice-over): Another health facility, Axum Referral Hospital, soldiers walk in and out of the hospital with impunity. One spots the camera and

runs off. They run out of blood here. Doctors and medical students are donating their own but it's still not enough. People who could have been

saved are dying. Every patient you see here, the old, the young, the helpless, or injured in this conflict.

Our journey here has brought into focus the hollowness of Ethiopia's promises. As we leave Axum, a line of soldiers in circles the hospital.

There is no respite.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Axum, Ethiopia.



GORANI: Well, we want to bring you back to our breaking news story this hour. The American President Joe Biden says he has spoken to the Israeli

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and believes violence between Israelis and Palestinians will end soon.

Israel is threatening to step up its assault against Hamas even though the U.N. warns that escalating the violence further could cause a full-scale

war. Palestinian officials say at least 65 people have been killed in Gaza.

Now a short while ago, Israeli forces struck a 14-story building in Gaza City reducing it to rubble. You can see there that over the city of Gaza,

the plumes of smoke, were lingering for a good part of the day.

All right, that's going to do it for me for now. I'm Hala Gorani in London. We will continue to follow of course, our top story violence in the Middle

East and our coverage of this and other big stories continues with Jake Tapper in "THE LEAD."