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Quest Means Business
Palestinian Officials: Nearly 3K Killed In Gaza; Israel: Preparing For Combined, Coordinated Strikes; UNRWA: One Million People Displaced Within Gaza; E.U. Says It's Opening Air Corridor To Get Aid Into Gaza; White House Wants Rafah Crossing Open For Aid; Gaza's Hospitals To Run Out Of Fuel In 24 Hours. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 16, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: You are looking at pictures there out of Gaza City. The night sky over Gaza where it's just gone 10:00 PM where
UN workers say one million people have now being displaced.
This hour, we are tracking the desperate rush to give aid in and people out.
A very warm welcome to the show everyone. I'm Isa Soares.
Tonight, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is deepening as Israel steps up airstrikes. New drone footage shows the extent of that destruction.
Palestinian authorities say nearly 3,000 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands are trying to flee.
The UN says there has been no progress on a full opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. You can see there at the bottom of your
screen, the White House, said it hopes it will be open for aid today.
Meanwhile, the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon says it is targeting positions in Northern Israel. Israel is ordering people in several Israeli
villages near the border with Lebanon to evacuate. The IDF has exchanged fire with Hezbollah, as it builds up forces in the region.
Nic Robertson is in Sderot for us this evening, and Nic, in the last, I think, 10 minutes or so, we saw rockets out of Gaza flying over, I think
Give us a sense of what you're seeing on the ground.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we saw rockets, a number of rockets flying up, actually. The sirens went off here, but there
were no intercepts out of here. And I think what was different with the rockets that we saw going out just now or very recently, is that they were
just in groups of one, two, or three, and they seem to be going or not intercepted immediately.
But they seem to be going to the north and that seems to be at the central Israel and that seems to be borne out with what we've heard here. They were
potentially going into the east of Israel over our heads here as well, but it was a very small number of missiles.
Meanwhile, the troops around here, this is now a militarized zone. The troops here are preparing to go with for the possibility of going into
Gaza, but past experience from former IDF soldiers who have been in 2014 with that incursion, despite the fact that the IDF is asking civilians to
move and despite the fact many civilians, hundreds of thousands that have moved towards the south of the Gaza Strip, there's a real likelihood and a
reality that when troops do cross in, they may well face civilians who haven't moved on.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Close to Gaza, preparations underway for a much anticipated ground offensive. Troops from different units training
There is an urgency here: They have to be ready fast.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Right now, this is a rehearsal. If and when there's an incursion, these troops could be at the front of it. Tanks, or for this
practice, model ones right now, followed by infantry and combat engineers, a combined force, spearheading an incursion.
ROBERTSON (voice over): If they do, Major Ofek will be near the front.
MAJOR OFEK, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE TROOP COMMANDER (through translator): We expect to go to war. We expect to destroy the terrorist organization,
Hamas; kill its governments and kill every last terrorist. That's what we plan to do and that's how it will be.
ROBERTSON (voice over): The last time the IDF went into Gaza targeting Hamas's leaders was 2014.
Ariel Bernstein was 21 in the Special Forces, one of the first to cross the border.
ARIEL BERNSTEIN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE: Well, you're just afraid that there is something waiting for you at every corner.
ROBERTSON (voice over): But his experiences then have left them questioning the tactics today. Back then, like now, the IDF wants civilians to leave
and Hamas told them to stay. Bernstein says when he went in, there were civilians, but says he was told only Hamas remained.
BERNSTEIN: Or whoever you see, is basically engaged in fighting or is involved in fighting and therefore, you don't need to make a difference
anymore between civilians and Hamas operatives.
ROBERTSON (voice over):In many ways, Israel's actions are playing out just as they have in the past: 2021 gun positions freshly dug back in use, and
in Gaza. the civilian death toll according to Palestinian health officials, already higher than in 2014. And like then, Israel is already facing huge
international pressure to avoid more civilian casualties.
JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What we are doing is saying privately what we've said publicly, which is that all military
operations should be conducted consistent with law of war, that civilians should be protected.
ROBERTSON (voice over): The problem the IDF says it faces just like 2014, Hamas will be hiding among civilians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole situation we're talking about with Gazan civilians, forcibly embedded is another element of Hamas. Hamas has to be
ROBERTSON (on camera): So the responsibility is on them and not you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The responsibility is on Hamas for their own civilians, our responsibility is to eliminate Hamas' capabilities completely.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Major Ofek pausing during training in a mocked up Palestinian town says they don't hurt innocents, only terrorists, but
admits if he is sent into Gaza, avoiding civilian deaths would be easy.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Do you think it's possible there to fight Hamas without civilians getting injured?
MAJOR OFEK (through translator): We are concerned with overthrowing the Hamas regime and killing the terrorists who are currently in Gaza, if it
will be difficult, it will be difficult, not easy.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Bernstein worries past mistakes are being repeated, and Hamas will survive.
BERNSTEIN: As we get used to these rounds of violence in Gaza and the doctrine that says, the more force we use, the less they'll mess with us,
which I want to say, has not been proven in any way so far, because it just makes Hamas stronger in my opinion.
ROBERTSON (voice over): For Israelis, it's a catch 22. The harder you hit Hamas, the more innocent civilians die and the greater the international
pressure to stop the attacks, leaving Hamas to fight another day.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Where it is on the decision or where the government is right now on making that decision for an incursion isn't clear and we've
seen today the real efforts, the real efforts to try to get diplomacy, but we've also seen running -- but we've also seen how hard it is trying to get
some additional aid in through that Rafah Crossing has been apparently impossible to achieve. Today, trying to get those dual national citizens,
American-Palestinians and others out through that crossing appears to have been impossible.
We have no sense of where the negotiations are or if there are any meaningful negotiations about the 199 hostages that are being held and
where the decision for an incursion fits into all of that isn't clear.
What we can see at this point where we stand right now is that the strikes into Gaza continue or albeit at a slightly lower level today -- Isa.
SOARES: And like you say, Nic, there does seem to be at least in the last 48 hours pressure -- growing pressure on Israelis to delay or pause and
this sort of ground incursion. I'm thinking here of what we heard from Secretary Blinken, I think it was two days ago.
He said: Israel has the right, indeed the obligation to defend itself. The way that Israel does this matters.
There is the fact then that an incursion hasn't happened. Does this suggest to you, Nic, that Israel is listening here?
ROBERTSON: Look, I think the biggest causes of concern for Israel right now are the are being ready for an incursion and agreeing what is necessary to
achieve in that incursion. Also, the plight of the hostages is very high on the priority list.
But I don't get the sense that Israel is backing away from the idea of an incursion, the vast majority of people here are incredibly distraught,
upset, angry, incensed about what Hamas did last week and the view really is the majority, that the only way to stop Hamas is to hold them back
through physical force. There is a huge political pressure internally on the prime minister to follow through, not everyone, but a big pressure
And then the international pressure we heard from the Iranian leadership again today coming from the Foreign Ministry, saying, you know, if Israel
essentially escalates against Gaza, then expect Iran and its proxies to escalate against Israel, which potentially means Syria, which potentially
means Hezbollah, which means many things.
So I think that all of these pressures are on Israel at the moment, but I don't get the sense that any one of them at the moment cancels out this
visceral and historically intellectual security driven sense and need on the part of the government to take a military security solution into Hamas'
court caught and go after Hamas. I don't sense that that's diminishing.
SOARES: Very important context there. Nic, appreciate it. Nic Robertson for us there in Sderot, in Israel.
Well, the United States is pushing to reopen, as Nic was saying, the border between Egypt and Gaza. The Rafah Crossing is the only checkpoint that
doesn't border Israel itself. The UN and others view it as a way to get aid into Gaza and really to get civilians out.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel today after meeting with the Egyptian president on Sunday, and he says the urgent diplomacy is
making progress. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: Rafah will be opened. We are putting in place with the United Nations, with Egypt, with Israel, with others, the
mechanism by which to get the assistance in and to get it to people who need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, the White House confirms that President Biden has been invited to Israel, a sign of course of the importance being placed right
now on face-to-face diplomacy.
Francis Ricciardone is the former US ambassador to both Turkey and Egypt. He was also president of the American University in Cairo.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us this evening. I want, if possible to tap in really, to your expertise as former
US ambassador to Egypt. There seems to be some confusion as you would have seen about the Rafah Crossing, it remains closed. No way -- there is no one
coming out. What is your understanding? How do you read what is happening right now?
FRANCIS J. RICCIARDONE, JR., FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO BOTH TURKEY AND EGYPT: It sounds as if what is happening right now is that the Egyptians and
Americans are working together to find a way to have a controlled opening of the borders so that people -- desperate people can get out in manageable
numbers without giving Hamas a way out and without resulting in a massive, massive flow of refugees across that border.
It's a security nightmare for Egypt, and it has been all these years, much as it has been a nightmare for the Israelis.
SOARES: And the pressure is mounting as we have seen the last 24 hours or so on Egypt, the country's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, placed
basically the blame for the continued closure of the crossing on Israel. How do you read the Egyptian position?
And just explain to our viewers, Ambassador, why the Egyptians have been so cautious from the get go for an opening of the border crossing here.
RICCIARDONE: There is a long and complicated history of Egypt, Gaza, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority and then the sort of breakaway of
Hamas over many years. This is not something that just developed.
The Egyptians have always rejected, as the other Arab states have, the notion that Egypt is an alternative place for the Palestinians of Gaza to
live, just as Jordan has rejected the idea that Jordan is where Palestinians should have their state.
So it goes way back over many decades from the founding of the state of Israel on forward into the many wars. It is complicated.
The Egyptians see that Gaza's main borders and connectivity to the world had been through the land border with Israel, and indeed the sea that is
blockaded by the IDF and of course, Gazan airspace has been closed.
The Egyptians really don't like the idea that the land border with Egypt is the only alternative for getting aid in or letting suffering people out.
They do recognize, however, that as a practical matter, it is the only real alternative while the Israelis are at war with Hamas.
They certainly feel the pressure to help, they feel just genuine compassion, I know with genuine compassion for the people of Gaza, but they
are also very wary of a threat to their security emanating from Hamas from Gaza.
SOARES: On that front, then, given what you've just laid down, Ambassador, what assurances would they be looking for from Secretary Blinken here?
RICCIARDONE: I think what they want is full American understanding for their perspective on that. I don't think they'd be looking so much more
practical. And other than I should think they don't want to be left footing the entire bill. I don't mean the financial bill, I mean getting aid in and
being stuck with a long-term refugee problem on their border.
In other words, translating the Gazan problem, long-term Gazan problem into an Egyptian problem they don't need or want anymore.
SOARES: And as you've been seeing, as we've been showing our viewers, the huge humanitarian concerns right now in Gaza, dual nationals waiting to get
out, hostages being held. We have seen the shuttle diplomacy by Secretary Blinken meeting something like six leaders in four days.
He's just returned from Egypt. He is now in Israel. Talk to the importance of this diplomatic push, as Israel, as we heard our Nic Robertson say
there, prepares for a ground incursion here.
RICCIARDONE: Certainly, well, neither the United States or Israel, as far as I'm aware, have any way of communicating directly with Hamas or people
inside of Gaza. I'm not sure what several of these other key states have, but Egypt historically has had security and intelligence means of
communication with Hamas and the authorities inside Gaza, if only to warn them about what not to do in terms of threatening Egypt's interest.
The Turks have had such lines of communication at times, what they have currently, I don't know. The Qataris presumably have found such lines with
Hamas in times like this when there's a conflict, and it doesn't appear that one side can simply push a button in any acceptable terms, having some
kind of communication, authoritative, effective communication with the other party to this conflict has to be invaluable and that is where the
Egyptians come in.
They also have the physical communications of course that no other state has, in terms of moving people out and at some point, presumably, food,
SOARES: Yes and I'm sure part of the of the conversation, Ambassador will also be not just aid, hostages, dual nationals, but also trying to avoid
this conflict from escalating as well.
The IDF telling Hezbollah I think in the last 24 hours to watch very closely what is happening to a Hamas. How worried are you about a second
front, a potentially second front opening here with Hezbollah in the north? And what role do the Gulf and Arab nations play in trying to contain this?
RICCIARDONE: It is a worrisome possibility. It's obviously worrisome one, and that's why the United States and so many of its partners and allies in
the region are focusing on that.
I can't speak to how much influence other states and Iran and Syria, of course the Damascus regime have on Hezbollah in Lebanon. I certainly hope
they will take to heart the American warning from President Biden which has been pointed and clear and sharp, but it has been echoed to one degree or
another publicly by other states and I have to hope and expect that any channels that do exist from Gulf Arabs, for that matter, the Turks if there
are any channels are being lit up as I'm sure Secretary Blinken is urging to warn them, do not even think about opening another front there.
SOARES: Ambassador Ricciardone -- Francis Ricciardone, we appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, sir.
Well, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is growing more dire by the hour and few places are bearing the brunt worse than Gaza's main hospital. I'll
be speaking to a doctor who left London to help Palestinian patients after this very short break.
You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.
The UN agency that provides aid and protection for Palestinian refugees says one million people have been displaced within Gaza. Aid workers are
describing the situation as a complete catastrophe.
Palestinians are desperately trying to flee south, many hoping to leave via the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, which is currently blocked, and you can see
the extensive damage from Israeli airstrikes at the crossing here on the Gaza side. The UN says no fuel trucks have entered into the enclave since
before Hamas attacked Israel nine days ago.
Our Salma Abdelaziz has more on the dire conditions inside.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is what life looks like in places Israel told families to flee towards for their safety where
constant bombardment has reduced homes to rubble and wiped out entire families, these survivors say.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "I've lost all my relatives, 15 people," this man says. "We were not on the frontline or anything, we were just sitting at
home. What have we done wrong?"
The UN warns there are no safe places. About half a million people fled here to Southern Gaza after an evacuation order by the Israeli military.
But families desperate for refuge are still trapped in the war zone.
The dead and injured flooding a healthcare system on the brink. Civilians are caught in the crossfire with the death toll mounting just over a
quarter of those killed are children, according to Palestinian officials.
And a week long siege is strangling the enclave, the UN says amid fears food, fuel, water, and medical supplies may soon run out.
Some two million people are crammed into this 140 square mile territory. Now many of them pushed into an even smaller corner of the enclave, about
half the population are children.
There are not enough shelters to house the sheer number of civilians, and even those who do find spaces in overwhelmed schools turned refugee
centers, it is little comfort to the youngest victims.
(UNIDENTIFIED GIRL speaking in foreign language.)
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): "There is no one to protect us," this little girl says. "There is no one to come save us. How are we supposed to live? How?
Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to annihilate Hamas, after a terror attack by the group left 1,400 killed in Israel, but with Hamas so deeply
embedded within Gaza's population, rights groups fear a bloodbath.
LYNN HASTINGS, UN RESIDENT COORDINATOR FOR THE OCCUPIED PALESTINE TERRITORY: What we're seeing right now, the direction that Israel is going
to -- is going in, they have said they want to destroy Hamas, but their current trajectory is going to destroy Gaza.
ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Hamas does not answer to the people of Gaza. No elections have been held here since the group seized power in 2007. Still,
it is these residents that will pay the price and with a potential ground incursion expected, that cost is unfathomable.
Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
SOARES: Very, very dire indeed.
Well, 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza are facing what's been called a double nightmare. The UN Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, the UNFPA is
sounding the alarm. They say women in their hour of greatest need are currently unable to access essential services as Gaza's health centers and
clinics come under attack.
The UN warns many will be unable to move south to escape bombardment. I want to bring in Dominic Allen, the UNFPA's representative for the State of
Palestine for more. He joins me from Jerusalem.
Dominic, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. I mean, there are real worries as you heard in that piece there from our Salma
Abdelaziz and concerns about the spiraling as well as deteriorating conditions inside Gaza.
Just give us a sense of what you're hearing, your teams on the ground, what they hear and what they're seeing.
DOMINIC ALLEN, UNFPA REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE STATE OF PALESTINE: Well, thank you. Since Saturday, it's been a horrifying week.
I think the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza is truly catastrophic. We're deeply concerned about the one million women and girls in Gaza, and
as your report just noted, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, even under more under duress, and for UNFPA and I, we are deeply
concerned about the 50,000 pregnant Gazan women who can't access maternal health, and they're facing a double nightmare.
And we see this as a broader challenge of the healthcare system, which was already under significant duress. The health care system, which is
crippled, it's under attack, and it's on the brink of collapse and these pregnant women, 50,000 pregnant women have nowhere to go. So they are
really facing unthinkable challenges.
SOARES: So given what you've just told us there, Dominic, I mean, with no water, electricity, lack of food, medicines running out, potentially, how
do you help these 50,000 women, the thousands of pregnant women, how do you safeguard them and their children?
ALLEN: Well, there's a really important point to your question, which is around safeguarding and I think this is where the Secretary General has
been very clear in terms of respect for international humanitarian law, civilians, including those pregnant women and healthcare facilities, they
are not a target, and we call for their protection.
The violence has to end, the siege has to end, the humanitarian aid must be allowed in, and every one -- every one -- every party to this conflict must
respect international humanitarian law.
All Gazans and the pregnant women of Gaza, as well have rights -- have their rights and should access -- have the right to access hospitals and
health care facilities.
SOARES: We've been reporting that Israel has asked people in the north and in the city of Gaza to move south, but I know some healthcare facilities
telling CNN they just can't comply, otherwise, it would be a death sentence for patients.
What are women telling you? I mean, are women making the journey? Are they unable to make the journey? These are really crucial and hard decisions not
just for themselves, but for their children.
ALLEN: And the unborn children as well.
ALLEN: The testimonies of pregnant women that our team has heard from UNFPA, part of a much bigger team of the UN on the ground, but the stories
we hear, just to give you one quote, if I make quote one of the pregnant women that we've heard from, "But I couldn't help but think about how my
baby was feeling with every explosion." And this was a pregnant woman from the north of Gaza who is part of this displacement as you described
earlier, feeling those bomb blasts and she was gathered in one of these designated emergency shelters, after their home was destroyed and they are
they're seeing the chaos all around them.
They are on these cold floors without mattresses. As you mentioned, not much food, water, electricity with fuel and medical supplies are getting in
and she is worried about what's going to happen next? Where is she going to go when she's approaching her final trimester, where we know complications
with birth will happen and even more at risk now, when they can't access those healthcare facilities.
We've also spoken with midwives and doctors on the ground, those who which we support. There's a midwife in the Al Shifa Hospital who are part of this
-- one of the many healthcare facilities that are under significant duress, saying that since the start of the escalation, they themselves, these
midwives have been separated from their own families, trying to work tirelessly with limited resources under major security challenges and risks
trying to support those pregnant women again.
So this is a major catastrophe on the ground.
SOARES: Dominic, I really appreciate you giving us some insight and really telling us the stories of the women on the ground, just the situation
around incredibly dire and you raise a very important point in terms of safeguarding those 50,000 pregnant women, the importance of that.
Dominic Allen, really appreciate it. Thank you very much. Keep us posted on any developments, Dominic.
When we come back after this short break, the EU says it's going to try to help people in Gaza by flying planes full of supplies to Egypt. We have
that story next.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. The E.U. says it establishing an air corridor to get aid into Gaza. President Ursula von der Leyen says two
planes will bring humanitarian supplies to Egypt this week. From there, they'll try to get it into Gaza.
On the ground, the U.N. says there's been no progress on a full reopening of the Rafah crossing. A radio station affiliated to Hamas as it was
shelled by Israeli forces, the White House as it hopes it will be open for a few hours today.
Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem for the very latest. And Jeremy, good to see you. What I've been hearing from the guests on the show from family members
of those waiting that the border is a sense really of desperation, mixed messages. What are you hearing? What's your sense of what's happening that
Rafa crossing and why this is taking so long?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa. This is now the third straight day that American citizens in particular in Gaza have been
told to expect that Rafah crossing to opened and yet it is the third day in a row that the Rafah crossing has remained closed. There's been conflicting
reports over the last several days about the possibility of that crossing opening.
U.S. officials including the Secretary of State in the last couple of days indicating that that crossing would open to allow for the flow of
humanitarian aid into Gaza and to allow American citizens and perhaps others to head southward into Egypt. But as of yet, we have not actually
seen that take place. We know that there are a lot of humanitarian convoys. Trucks loaded up with goods waiting on the Egyptian side to go in but as of
yet they have not been allowed to enter.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is warning that there is a "imminent public health crisis facing the Gaza Strip." ANRA, the U.N.
agency charged with distributing relief to Palestinians has said that it is now unable to operate within the Gaza Strip going forward.
So, there are massive human rights concerns right now. Yesterday, Israeli officials said that they had turned on water access again to the southern
part of the Gaza Strip. But as of yet, human rights officials as well as Palestinian officials in Gaza have been unable to confirm that. Amid all of
this, the Secretary of State Tony Blinken, he has been here in Israel today for a series of meetings following shuttle diplomacy that he has been
engaged in over the last week meeting with other Arab countries in the Middle East.
So, we'll see when he concludes his visit here. Whether there is able to be any kind of substantial progress on that humanitarian front. That, of
course, is just one of several issues that the Secretary of State is focused on here. As Israel prepares to mount its ground invasion. The
Secretary of State has been meeting with the Israeli prime minister at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv over the last three hours.
And of course, there is also that very, very delicate issue of hostages, 199 of whom are believed to be held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, at least 20
of whom are believed to be American citizens.
SOARES: Yes. On the ground incursion, Jeremy, what is your sense of whether this is a pause? Are they waiting for some sort of diplomatic solution from
Secretary Blinken? He's been like you said, shuttle diplomacy, six countries in four days. How do you read the moment?
DIAMOND: I think there's -- it does feel like there has been a little bit of a lull in activity. Although today we saw rocket strike from Hamas,
targeting areas that they don't target every single day. Central Israel, Tel Aviv, for example, here in Jerusalem as well, sending members of the
Israeli Parliament's into bomb shelters. But -- and I also think it's clear that the Secretary of State is not aiming to prevent Israel from going into
the Gaza Strip.
He once again laid out that kind of clear no daylight strategy between the U.S. and Israel. What he is trying to prevent us from this becoming a
broader conflict. And once again, we heard from the Israeli Defense Minister today making clear that this is going to be a long war. So, if
anything, it seems that Israeli officials are really trying to be deliberate, trying to be strategic about how and when they proceed with
that ground invasion.
But really, there's no sense as of yet, that this lull that we seem to be seeing in Israeli activity is indicative of any kind of 180-degree turn. I
think they're very much still going to proceed with that ground operation. I think it's just a question of how much longer they want to build up their
forces before they move forward with --
SOARES: Yes. And as you -- and as you've just laid out, what is, you know, what have you been hearing today, there's so much uncertainty, so much
volatility in Israel. Thank you very much. Jeremy Diamond for us there in Jerusalem.
Well, medics are warning that the situation in Gaza's hospitals is a human catastrophe. They are overcrowded, desperately low on medicines. And now
doctors say they will run out of fuel in the next 24 hours. The enclave's only major hospital is actually in the north. But medics say moving
patients to south would be tantamount to a death sentence.
Ghassan Abu-Sittah is a British Palestinian surgeon who traveled from London to Gaza to help in the crisis. He joins me now from Al-Shifa
Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza located in the north of the enclave. Ghassan, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Just give us
a sense of what you are seeing Gaza City and what conditions are like.
GHASSAN ABU-SITTAH, SURGEON, AL-SHARIF HOSPITAL, GAZA (via telephone): So today is just to kind of showed that the fact that the health system has
actually started to disintegrate. We were told that the water pressure in the hospital is no longer sufficient to run the sterilization equipment
that we use for surgical equipment. And we were given governance of chemical disinfectants that was being used in the 70s and 80s to start
using it to disinfect surgical instruments before we use them on other patients.
The hospital is just completely overwhelmed with patients there. You know, it has a bed capacity of 700. But there are now patients in -- sleeping on
the floors in the corridors on mattresses in the emergency department. And the fatigue, both emotional and physical has already started to have an
effect -- started to have an effect of the staff. They are no longer able to come in the same numbers as they did before.
You know. we've had 14 doctors killed, 30 nurses killed and a lot of my colleagues have lost family, they've lost their home. And so, it's just
absolutely impossible to kind of keep, you know, keep on top of the number of wounded coming in.
SOARES: And you said you're starting to disintegrate. You said there's about 700 capacity, Ghassan. What's your estimate of how many people now
ABU-SITTAH: I think there's double the number of patients as there are beds. I'm in the burns unit and we have patients sitting in -- sleeping on
mattresses in the corridors. You know, some of them children, in addition to full bed capacity of the wards and we, you know, we have patients there.
The emergency department is turned half of itself to into a kind of ward where patients are either on trolleys or on the floor.
And the operative capacity, you know, the operating room capacity is dwindling, because of a loss and lack of material and exhaustion of the
SOARES: Yes. Exhaustion and also not being able to do your job. Let me ask you about water. You said that you are now, you know, in terms of
sterilizing equipment, you're using chemical disinfectant. Israel had said, Ghassan, that water had been restored to two parts of Gaza. I think -- but
Gaza officials said they will not be able to confirm this. I mean, what is the situation in terms of water where you are in Al-Shifa?
ABU-SITTAH: So, we -- yesterday I had a walk around the perimeter of the hospital. There are queues of people standing in front of water faucets.
The quality of the water coming into the taps that we use for personal use has changed so you can kind of, you know, it's a salty water, which means
that they're relying more on the welds rather than on the water supply that used to come in before.
So, it's obvious that the water is dwindling and the densities consternation about the water pressure affecting the sterilization
equipment kind of confirms what we've been seeing and feeling in the last couple of days.
SOARES: And, Ghassan, I know that Israel had asked people in the north and in the city of Gaza to move south. Some healthcare facilities say they
can't comply, saying it's a -- it's basically a death sentence. Are the -- those who can, are they moving? What about -- what about the rest? What can
you do for those who cannot move? How concerned are you?
ABU-SITTAH: I mean, Gaza, you know, as you well know, Gaza is world's most densely populated place. And the land invasion will lead to absolute
carnage. I mean, there's no way around this decision to invade Gaza is a decision to create civilian casualties on a scale not seen in the Middle
East before. Anybody who's been to Gaza who'd seen the overpopulation in Gaza and assessed to that.
And certainly, the hospitals will not be evacuating. You know, as health professionals, our commitment is to our patients, first and foremost. We
are here to advocate for them. We are here to defend their rights to life. And we will certainly not be evacuating because most of our patients cannot
evacuate. Draft injuries induce multiple injuries in multiple systems. Even the less wounded ones have multiple fractures in a lot of their limbs.
SOARES: It's a very, incredibly dire picture. Catastrophic picture you are painting. Can I ask very briefly, Ghassan, how you're doing? How you're
ABU-SITTAH: Just tired. We're on kind of four or five hours sleep. We finished operating just 2:00 in the morning. We've been going -- since this
morning we still have one surgery to do. We've already done 10 cases. And it's like that and it's unending. And it's -- and we, you know, even as a
one department in a lot of surgical hospital, we have over 100 patients that are still waiting for surgery.
And we are operating at maximum capacity and we're still haven't been able to do that. And what we've noticing now is that delay in getting patients
to surgery means that humans are showing up infected, touring with (INAUDIBLE) distinguishes last injuring wounds is the amount of
contamination there is. That's why they -- these patients needs to be getting to surgery to be cleaned in the bridle and properly treated.
And that's just not happening. You know, the limited capacity in the operating rooms is going to deal with life-threatening injury.
SOARES: Ghassan, stay safe. Thank you for all your work. Thank you for all you do. We'll keep in touch with you. Ghassan Abu-Sittah there, surgeon at
Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza painting the incredibly dire picture of what is happening inside that hospital.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be back after this.
SOARES: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending a warning to Israel's enemies not to escalate tensions along the border with Lebanon. As you can
see, the area fighting at the top of this map right there in response to mounting skirmishes on Monday, Israel ordered the evacuation of 28 Israeli
villages in a zone up to two kilometers from the Lebanese border as Israel prepares for a possible second warfront.
CNN's Matthew Chance rode along with the force of Israeli soldiers who say they're ready for that what -- for what may come.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): They're bracing for a dangerous second front but we gained exclusive access to
Israel's tense northern front.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, the Israeli army have now sealed off a security zone -- some of the areas close to the Lebanese border because of the
threat being posed. But they're taking us now to the closest period -- the closest place they can do that they say is safe to see the lay of the land.
CHANCE (voiceover): And that land is hostile. None of the Israeli soldiers here wanted their faces shown to hide their identities from Hezbollah, the
powerful Lebanese militia with a vast arsenal, trained on these positions from across the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready. If they choose to come, they'll make a huge mistake.
CHANCE (voiceover): War with Hezbollah would be brutal said this senior Israeli commander who asked not to be identified. But is now also
necessary, he told me.
CHANCE (on camera): Do you believe there will be a second front open here or are you hopeful still that Hezbollah will stay out of this war?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope there will be another front. We need to destroy Hezbollah.
CHANCE (on camera): You hope there will be another front?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CHANCE (on camera): You want the war?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CHANCE (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Hamas did in Gaza, it didn't come from nowhere. It came from Hezbollah. It came from Iran. And in order for us to stop what
happened from Hamas we need to stop them also.
CHANCE (on camera): All right. Well, this is as close as the Israeli military say we can go.
Just across there is territory of Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia. And Israeli soldiers in this position in Israel tell us
over the past few days. There have been multiple attempts by Hezbollah fighters to penetrate the fence and to come into Israel but they've been
fought back. If there is going to be a second front in this war in Israel the likelihood is it's going to start here.
CHANCE (voiceover): Already, there have been exchanges of fire forcing local Israelis to flee, terrified what happened in Israel's south could
happen here, too.
NOGA, RESIDENT OF KIBBUTZ MISGAV AM: A terrorist attack of this scale has never happened --
CHANCE (on camera): Yes.
NOGA: And I'm scared that I live on the border.
CHANCE (on camera): Yes.
NOGA: What's to stop them from doing it here? And I want to be strong and I want to come back and live here but I need to think about my kids first.
CHANCE (voiceover): Back from the border, Israel is bolstering its forces with some of the 360,000 troops mobilized after the Hamas attacks last
week. If war in the north is coming, Israel seems ready -- even bristling to fight.
Matthew Chance, CNN, northern Israel.
SOARES: And coming up right here. Poland appears on the brink of a major political shift. While the right-wing ruling party lose power after eight
years. We'll look at the implications of Sunday's election results.
SOARES: And this just into CNN. You're looking at live pictures there from Brussels where the time is almost five minutes, six minutes or so to 10:00.
According to the Belgian public broadcaster, two people with Swedish nationality were shot and killed in central Brussels just hours ago. Media
reports, so the suspect has not been caught and the motive of the shooting is not clear.
The shooting comes as Belgian hosts Sweden in a euro 2024 qualifying match. We are tracking of course the story.
We'll bring the lead details as we get them but these are live images coming to us from Brussels where according to the public broadcaster, the
Belgian public broadcaster, two people with Swedish nationality was shot and killed. We heard now that police services are mobilizing to guarantee
safety in around the Capitol. This is what we've been told from the city's mayor Philippe Close. We'll keep on top of this breaking news as soon as
there any more developments of course, we will bring them to you.
I want to stay in Europe. A Poland populous ruling party is on the brink of losing power. Exit polls from Sunday's vote suggests three opposition
parties in coalition have a better chance of forming their next government. The Pro E.U. opposition bloc is led by former prime minister and European
Council President well-known face, Donald Tusk. You can see him there.
Joining me now from Warsaw, Michael Schneider. He's a senior anchor at CNN's sister network in Poland. TVN24. Michael, great to see you. So, it
looks like so far a win for Poland's opposition party. But can, Michael, can they find politically a path to govern?
MICHAEL SCHNEIDER, TVN24 SENIOR ANCHOR: Good evening, Isa. Thank you very much for having me. I have just received word that that votes from 98
percent of the electoral districts in Poland have been counted. And as things stand right now, law and justice which has been in power for the
last eight years seems to have received the largest share of the votes. But it also seems that that is not enough for them to enjoy a majority in the
parliament and remain in power.
Theoretically, the still ruling party could form some sort of coalition but their only potential partner, the far-right confederation, Konfederacja has
suffered a massively poor performance. Well below their own expectations. And that means that law and justice might simply be out of options. And on
the other hand, to your question that democratic opposition as it is often called in Poland is more than willing to take over.
Their combined support gives them more than enough seats in parliament to form a coalition and a new government. During the political campaign,
during the election campaign, my assessment is that the relations between those Democratic Parties was quite cordial. They did not attack each other.
They did seem focused on finding common ground and they did seem focused to send this message that they are more than willing and more than ready to
cooperate if they do have that majority.
So, what they do want, they want Poland to once again become a full-fledged member of the European Union and the European Community after Poland being
in a state of constant conflict with Brussels and pretty much having only one ally, Viktor Orban in Hungary. They want to see E.U. recovery funds
released so that the Polish people can take advantage of that money. They want to restore the rule of law as they say they want as they say, to
restore stronger judiciary.
Remove polling from international isolation, restore women's rights and restore fairness and balance in state-owned media outlets.
SOARES: Michael, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much. And that does it for us. I'm Isa Soares. CNN special
coverage of Israel's war on Hamas continues the next hour. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper is up next. Have a good evening.