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Palestinian Government Estimates 200 To 300 Dead In Strike On Gaza Hospital; Protests In Ramallah After Strike On Gaza Hospital; Palestinian Govt.: 200-300 Dead In Strike On Gaza Hospital; Abbas Cancels Meeting With Biden After Hospital Strike; Humanitarian Crisis Continues To Mount In Gaza. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 17, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, I'm Julia Chatterley, and we begin with breaking news out of Gaza.
Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike has killed hundreds of people at a hospital in Gaza. We warn you, some of the pictures we're about
to show you are graphic scenes of utter destruction.
The Palestinian Health Ministry estimates 200 to 300 people were killed. It says many are still trapped beneath the rubble.
And these are new videos coming into CNN, paramedics on the scenes trying to help survivors. Palestinian officials say the hospital sheltered
thousands of people displaced by the war. The Israel Defense Forces say it is looking into these reports.
And news of the strikes sparking a protest in the West Bank, too. This footage taken in the last hour in Ramallah. Hundreds of Palestinians are
voicing their anger and then are marching in the streets.
As we await more details, let's get to Nic Robertson who's in Sderot for as at this moment.
Nic, a horrific attack, whatever the details and of course, we need more information. What facts do we have about what happened at this stage?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, what we know from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza is they believe there are about
200 to 300 people killed at the hospital. They say that the strike was within the hospital grounds where they say thousands of Palestinians were
sheltering, sheltering from the possibility of missile strike when this impact occurred.
They say that they are still going through the rubble, that they don't have an accurate tally of the number of dead, that they don't have an accurate
tally yet of the number of wounded and casualties there.
This is obviously impacting right at the hospital, right where the medical services are located. They just cannot, because of the magnitude of it at
the moment, get accurate figures.
They are saying that they had been told in the past few days by the Israeli Defense Forces that they needed to evacuate the hospital and they had very
publicly, they say said that they weren't going to evacuate. We know that's the case for a number of hospitals in Northern Gaza that they said that
they wouldn't evacuate when the IDF said that they should, partly because of the 3,000 hospital beds in total in the Gaza Strip, more than half of
them were in the north and the concern was that some elderly patients couldn't leave, that they believe -- the doctors believe they have a duty
of care to the citizens in their health districts, and that's why they weren't going to leave.
So at the moment, the details are unclear, as we wait further information from Palestinian health authorities, and obviously, try to seek clarity
from the Israeli Defense Force. I have to say that through the day-to-day, there has perhaps been less missile strikes on Gaza than we have witnessed
recently. That said, we've been able to watch with our own eyes impacts, smoke coming up from some of the built up areas within Gaza, following
So absolutely, they have been ongoing through the day. We're just looking for more details at the moment on this particular strike.
CHATTERLEY: And, Nic, as you've pointed out, we're still trying to work out who carried out this strike, what presence if any Hamas represents either
there or in the region surrounding this, which is always the difficulty when we see these attacks.
We should also point out it's taken place on the eve of President Biden's visit and it just raises the stake for the conversation surrounding
humanitarian efforts, greater aid in the region, and of course, the diplomatic efforts more broadly, particularly from the Arab leaders that
we've seen in recent days, too. This makes those conversations that much more difficult.
ROBERTSON: And I was speaking with a member of the Knesset today, who was down in this town close to the border with Gaza. It was a member of the
Likud Party, the prime minister's party, Prime Minister Netanyahu is party and he -- and I was asking him about what they want President Biden to do,
and one of the points that he stressed is you know, he made this point that the moral standing if you will of the Israeli military is high, that they
don't target innocents, they only target Hamas, that they will continue to target Hamas.
But he also said, we're not going to embarrass the president of the United States and on the eve of his arrival, this is, if it is what it appears to
be. And as you say, we are seeking clarification from the IDF about what this explosion, what may have triggered this explosion this afternoon, that
if the events appear as they are now or even remain complicated and uncertain, it is going to put President Biden in a very, very difficult
position to come here and stand next to Prime Minister Netanyahu and continue to pledge the unwavering support.
We know that there had been very clear messages coming from President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, other US leaders that there is
complete support for Israel, that it has a right to defend itself and its people, however, they've also been clear that Israel should not be having -
- should not be in a position where civilians are becoming casualties that, you know, terrorists behave one way. This is what the Secretary of State
Antony Blinken, I think, said when he was standing side by side with Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier in the week that nations like Israel and the
United States have a moral standing that they set themselves, aside from terror groups, by their humanity and their respect of international law.
So for President Biden to be here standing next to Prime Minister Netanyahu saying potentially those same things, again, if it appears that the Israeli
Defense Force were responsible for this strike, it's going to be very awkward, in that room alone in that setting for President Biden to do that.
And as you say, it will be even harder for President Biden to walk in and have meaningful meetings with Palestinian and Arab leaders in the region.
It is, in many ways, if it's what it appears to be, it's the worst of all preludes to President Biden's visit here and would seem to diminish
potentially, what he would hope to achieve.
At the moment, again, we just need to look for clarification on what's happened, but it is the worst of all events on the eve of President Biden's
visit it would seem.
CHATTERLEY: And even if and when we get that clarification, Nic, it doesn't change the fact that civilians are paying the price. This is the face of
war. What we saw here too, sparked a protest in the West Bank as I mentioned earlier in the show.
I just want to quickly show our viewers, some of those pictures from Ramallah taken just a few moments ago, hundreds of Palestinians now out on
the streets voicing their anger.
Nic, President Biden is also going to bear witness to this, too and it goes back to exactly what the two of us are saying, the challenges, the ongoing
challenges this represents when civilians are paying the price for what we've seen in the last eight days.
ROBERTSON: Well, and as President Biden comes here with the intention of standing side by side with Prime Minister Netanyahu and sending a message
to other groups in the region, be it Hezbollah, be it Iran, bet it President Assad in Syria, to the many, if you will, enemies that Israel
has, not to enter the fight, which has been the message from the United States. This only makes that message, potentially weaker, potentially more
We've heard from various Iranian senior officials saying in essence, that if there are continued civilian casualties as a result of Israel's actions
in Gaza, then this, in essence, was going to mean that they would get involved in their own way.
So this augurs awfully for the possibility of an escalation of situation. And when we say that, of course, that that can only mean that President
Biden's involvement in whatever he is able to do here is potentially a good thing, but he will also be way weighing up his position, on one would
imagine, coming into this environment here, figuring out how he can best stop the situation unraveling and escalating further because it is already
potentially the events of tonight again, if they are as bad as is feared, then there's a real potential that this could lead to further escalation
and that anger and frustration that you're showing there on the streets of the West Bank, this would only be, I think, a taste and a foreshadow of
what's to come.
And potentially, this is something that will test Israel on many fronts. Again, we look for details and clarifications about what happened, but I
think when we say that, the reality here is that perceptions will already be set.
I don't think there will be many people in Gaza tonight who've been under so many missile strikes. It was a couple of days ago, I think, six days or
three days ago, when Israel said it had already launched 6,000 missile strikes on Gaza. I don't think there will be many people in Gaza tonight,
that would doubt that Israel was responsible for that strike, whatever is said publicly, whatever clarifications emerge, perceptions will already be
set. And those perceptions are going to drive people's reactions and statements from politicians, and also, potentially from Israel's military,
potentially, you know, raising doubts putting out potentially valid questions about the explosion tonight at the hospital.
The perceptions are already going to be set. This is such a divided situation, such a situation where passions on both sides. The Israelis were
hit by Hamas so hard last weekend, like never before. It's something that has shaken their perceptions of their own security and safety and they
believe that there needs to be a radical change in dealing with that, which means confronting Hamas head on.
These feelings on both sides are deep and that was the challenge of President Biden coming in here to try to lower the tensions. This will have
raised the tension, this will make his job harder.
CHATTERLEY: What we're showing our viewers there, the rescue efforts here in Gaza City in light of that strike on that hospital here. Before that, we
were showing where it's just past 10:00 PM, the confrontation, the protests that were taking place too in the West Bank and the military responders
Look, I'm showing you those live pictures there. Now, as you can see, in the far distance there, the protesters, then you've got this gap between
them, a military buildup there. They're holding their shields there, as you can see, that's increasingly contentious as well.
Nic, I want to get back to what you were saying about the challenges here and the efforts of the Israelis in light of what happened on October 7th
and the decision to confront Hamas, but the increasing difficulty and we know it well, of doing that, to your point about the differing and
conflicting challenges here, even went up to Netanyahu and the Israeli government here.
Do you think what we've seen in the last few hours, changes the calculus for them in terms of their decision to confront Hamas? There is still
challenge with getting those hostages back, of course, Netanyahu faces the challenge of restoring confidence among the Israeli people here too, but
does what we're seeing now, and look, we're seeing this getting increasingly concerning in the West Bank, change the calculus of what
Netanyahu does, whether it's a ground offensive or not.
ROBERTSON: Israel's military is fully aware of the potential for escalation in the West Bank, and we know that they've gone on to a war footing, the
prime minister has made that very clear.
Will they have enough troops to handle a massive outbreak of tensions in the West Bank as well as do an incursion here? I think perhaps the question
at the moment is, and this is the one that Israel knows it's facing in its face, every time it has confronted Hamas, whether it was an incursion back
in 2014, or just missile and artillery strikes back in 2021, for example, it faces a huge international backlash and pressure when the civilian death
toll in Gaza goes up.
It has already been the 2014 conflict, which lasted 50-plus days, the death toll now in the past 10 days of civilians in Gaza, people in Gaza has
already surpassed that number, at least the figures that we have from the Palestinian Health Authority there have surpassed that already.
That in 2014 was a significant amount of pressure that was put on Israel from the international community to stop its military action, so it is hard
to see when you would add in an event like tonight on top of the figures that already existed. This morning, we understood more than 2,700 civilians
in Gaza killed and the number has been rising, plus whatever the toll will be tonight.
It is hard to see that the international reaction outside of staunch allies, like the United States and others, that international reaction is
really going to circumscribe what Israel can do. But again, I go back to -- I've had conversations with Israeli politicians today, with community
representatives, with people, you know, Israelis living here. They all, the ones I spoke today, all feel passionate, and very strongly that despite
whatever pressure comes from the United States and the international community, the only way forward is to have a military confrontation with
Hamas and decimate, destroy Hamas.
Now, there are others I've spoken to over the past few days, you know, one former soldier, Special Forces, one of the first into Gaza during the
incursion back in 2014. And he said, look, we faced a situation similar today, where there were civilians, and we were told only to expect Hamas
and that put civilians in the line of fire and that's something that he has had to reflect on, over the past nine years.
His sense, and there are others that feel this way here, but they're in the minority, is that Israel needs to take a different approach with Hamas,
because you can never fully go after them and get them because the civilian death toll is too high, international pressure is there to stop, you can
never if you will finish the job. There's never really a military solution to taking down Hamas, and therefore, the situation that Israel has arrived
at now, while Hamas has got more sophisticated, has found intelligence weaknesses and perpetrated an attack on a scale that it hasn't done before.
His point, this former combat veteran of the 2014 war with Hamas is quite simply, we need a different formula. More and more military pressure
doesn't work, we need to find another solution. I said to him, well, what's the solution? And he said, you know, I don't have that. Passions are so
And this is somebody who's had friends killed last weekend. He was going to a funeral of friends who were killed by Hamas last weekend. He is not
dispassionate about the situation. He himself couldn't find it within himself to talk to Hamas, for example, he told me, yet he believes the
politicians in Israel have got to find another solution.
That's just nowhere near on the table at the moment. That's the reality. And again, this is what compounds the complexity and difficulty of what
President Biden will be arriving in here to tomorrow.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, and we've just been sharing our viewers on the screens, the violence that's now taking place in the West Bank, the dispersion of
protests that have come out in light of that attack that we've been discussing, Nic, on that hospital in Gaza, and tensions remain incredibly
Thank you, once again, for your wisdom. We're going to come back to that. But for now, we're going to take a quick break.
More coverage after this. Stay with CNN.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president is calling the strike on the hospital, genocide. Egypt's Foreign Ministry denounced it in the
strongest terms and also called on the international community to intervene and stop such "violations."
Across the Atlantic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was quote horrific and unacceptable. The IDF says they are looking at whether
this was an Israeli strike or a failed Hamas rocket launch.
As we await more details of just what happened at that hospital in Gaza City, it's highly likely health care workers too, are among the dead.
Tragically, casualties among medical staff are piling up, too.
And earlier in the day, the Health Ministry in Gaza said 37 members of health care teams had been killed since last Saturday, including doctors,
nurses, and paramedics.
I want to bring in Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, who is in Cairo, Egypt. He is the World Health Organization's Regional Director for the Eastern
Doctor, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. You're incredibly busy at this moment.
Can I ask first, if you have any more information for us about that hospital attack in Gaza City?
DR. AHMED AL-MANDHARI, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Thank you very much, Julia, for inviting me and
giving me this opportunity. And in fact, I'm very sorry now to see that one of the biggest hospitals in the north of Gaza have been attacked and as we
have seen in the reports, you know, there are hundreds of people's there, healthcare workers, patients, relatives, and as well as families who have
been, you know, sheltering themselves in what you know, they were thinking it is a safe place.
And to us, as you know, I mean, whomever has done that sort of barbaric action, it is a very clear violation of the international humanitarian
principles, values, law -- you name it.
So there are hundreds of people that have been reported in new deaths. So many hundreds, you know, have been reported to be injured, and many of them
are children and women.
CHATTERLEY: So you were already saying that their hospital situation in Gaza was already approaching "actual collapse." Are you at the stage where
you're talking to doctors and nurses that are actually making impossible decisions over who lives and dies at this stage and who they treat, and who
AL-MANDHARI: It is a very critical situation, Julia, you know, I must say that, you know, each second, we are losing people in these hospitals.
Doctors and health care teams are in a situation now that they need to prioritize who to save life urgently and whom to just let them die on spot
in the hospital.
There is a very severe, severe shortage of medical supplies, trauma kits, blood, and blood products. There is you know, a shortage of water and
electricity. Hospitals are beyond their capacities.
You know, there are hundreds of people crowded in a very, very small hospitals. Beds are fully utilized beyond the hospital capacities.
CHATTERLEY: The deeply frustrating thing for you, sir, must be that you're saying that you're absolutely desperate for medical supplies. But we know
plenty of supplies are waiting just across the border in Egypt to flow across. Are you hearing anything about when and if those supplies might be
able to cross the border into Gaza?
AL-MANDHARI: Exactly. I mean, our supplies as well as food, water and other humanitarian supplies are there at a cross border on the Egyptian side. But
unfortunately, you know, we do not have any sort of, you know, exact date or timing for opening that corridor, you know, for us to take the supplies.
So we are just waiting and we are pleading and urging in fact, everyone, help us open that corridor otherwise, many lives will be lost.
CHATTERLEY: You're having to deal with Hamas in Gaza, the Egyptians, of course. There are other players involved in this not only the providers of
the supplies. Where is the holdup in your mind? Can you pinpoint for me what could help more?
AL-MANDHARI: To be honest, you know, we as WHO, just you know, doing our level best to communicate with the relevant party and everyone, so it is
not clear yet to us, I mean, who is making that corridor, you know, opening delayed.
From the Egyptian side, last week, we met the president, I and the team, we asked him and he immediately ordered his authorities to help us in
operating that corridor and he ordered us -- to us and the airport, the El Arish Airport.
Now, the supplies are there in El Arish Airport ready to be shipped into Gaza once the corridor is open, but we don't know who is really blocking it
from each side.
CHATTERLEY: So you have colleagues that are operating in Gaza. There are obviously other NGOs. We know that members of NGOs have already lost their
lives, just in recent days. What are your people they're saying to you? How frightened are they? And how are they managing this situation? Many of them
don't belong there.
AL-MANDHARI: Exactly. We have many colleagues who are operating. They are supporting their counterparts in the Ministries of Health, as well as UN
agencies, they are in a very, very bad situation. You know, they are going into the field, they are seeing the destruction, the killing of the people,
you know, by direct attacks, seeing hospitals overloading, seeing people, you know, sheltering in a very crowded places, schools, health care
facilities, with very severe shortage of water and food in these very crowded places.
Children, women, elderly, people who are sick with communicable diseases, diabetes, lacking their medications, so it is really a very critical, very
CHATTERLEY: Doctor, I just want to be very clear about what's taking place. Are lives being lost, that could be saved, if those supplies are allowed in
AL-MANDHARI: Exactly. Each second we delay the supplies, it means we are losing a number of lives with no valid reason, in fact. You know, these
deaths are preventable, it is in our hands. So I think we have no other option except to open it now with no further delays.
CHATTERLEY: Sir, we thank you for your time and the work that you and your team are doing.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari there, WHO's regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean. Sir, thank you, once again.
We're back after this.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike appears to have killed hundreds of people at a hospital in Gaza City. The
Ministry of Health says up to 300 people are dead. Hamas says the blast killed many displaced people taking shelter. Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas has declared three days of mourning and is canceled a planned meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden following the strike.
A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister says Israel does not target hospitals, only Hamas strongholds, arms depots and terror targets. Jeremy
Diamond is following all the developments from Jerusalem for us. Jeremy, that's the challenge in ascertaining what exactly happened here. But it
doesn't change the fact that civilian lives once again have been lost and the scale of this tragedy just coming clearer.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely devastating already, reports of two to 300 people killed in this strike. And we are seeing the
just absolutely devastating images from the scene regardless of who is responsible, clearly a tragedy in terms of the amount of lives lost, most
likely innocent lives loss given that this was after all, a hospital not only where people were seeking medical treatment, but were people who were
seeking shelter after having been displaced from other parts of the Gaza Strip.
Now the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, we have just learned according to Palestinian officials, telling my colleague, Abeer Salman,
that he has told the United States that he is canceling his plans meeting with President Biden tomorrow. So we are already seeing the diplomatic
fallout of this strike on this hospital. President Abbas was in Amman, Jordan meeting with Secretary of State Tony Blinken today and he was set to
meet with President Biden there tomorrow.
President Biden is also set to travel to Tel Aviv tomorrow to meet with the Israeli prime minister and then he was going to go to Amman, Jordan to meet
not only with the Palestinian Authority President but also with the Egyptian and the Jordanian leaders as well. We will see whether those
meetings still hold indeed. As of yet, we've reached out to the IDF for comment to see if they are taking responsibility for this strike at this
hospital. As of yet I spoke with an IDF spokesman who said they don't have any clear information yet. It is something that they are looking into. They
insist that they are taking this matter very seriously.
We also heard from a spokesman for the prime minister's office who says that, quote, the IDF does not target hospitals. We only target Hamas
strongholds, arms depots and terror targets. That being said, we do know that already, Israeli airstrikes over the last week or so have resulted in
hundreds of casualties, including several 100 children who have died as a result of those strikes. So we are continuing to monitor the situation for
additional information. We'll get back to you as soon as we have more updates.
CHATTERLEY: Jeremy, I know you will. Do that for us. But as you point out so accurately, it raises the stakes for all whether or not the Israeli
government or the IDF forces are saying, look, we don't target hospitals, we only target Hamas. The perception here is set. The humanitarian crisis
continues to escalate.
And as we've discovered, it's already having a diplomatic implications and it's complicating the diplomatic negotiations, particularly for President
Biden, among the Arab leaders too. This is happening on the eve of his arrival. How do you think it changes the calculus and his approach with
Prime Minister Netanyahu when they speak tomorrow?
DIAMOND: It could change a lot. It could change a lot. I mean, look, the President already, you know, only agreed to come and visit the Israeli
prime minister in Tel Aviv, after Netanyahu gave him a firm commitment that he would allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. We have not seen the
details of that agreement yet but that's our understanding based on reporting that there is a tentative deal in place that the President will
announce when he comes to Tel Aviv.
But his meetings with the Arab leaders certainly will be more fraught more contentious, if it is indeed confirmed that this was an Israeli airstrike
that struck this hospital directly and resulted in massive, massive civilian casualties. The President was set to discuss the humanitarian
situation in Gaza. This certainly would upped the ante for those conversations. But also it ups the ante in terms of the President's broader
strategic objectives here with his trip, which is to try and prevent this conflict between Israel and Hamas from bursting into a much broader
We're already seeing reports of protests at the U.S. Embassy in Amman. We're seeing, you know, reports of essentially, you know, massive
dissatisfaction and criticism of Israel but also of the United States for its part in supporting Israel in its war against Hamas so far, so this
certainly could change the dynamic dramatically. A lot of that, of course hinges on whether or not we get some more definitive information about who
is actually responsible for the strike.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. And certainly the U.S. administration will be pushing for that. Jeremy Diamond for now, thank you so much for that.
Now, when we come back after losing the first vote, Jim Jordan still pushing to win the house speakership today. We'll have the latest after
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CHATTERLEY: Palestinian authorities in Gaza say up to 300 people are dead after an Israeli airstrike hit a hospital in Gaza City. Hamas say the blast
killed many displaced people who were sheltering at the hospital. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the
attack on the hospital was an act of genocide. Rafael Romo is in Jerusalem for us. Rafael just talk us through the details of the facts of what we
know at this stage.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Julia, the big question right now is who is responsible for the attack. The Palestinian government is already
blaming Israel they're calling the bombing, quote, a new war crime against this crowded hospital committed by what they call the occupation.
Palestinian officials also said that the hospital housed hundreds of patients as well as wounded and forcibly displaced people from their homes
due to the airstrikes.
What's Israel's reaction to these serious accusations? Well, Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the IDF is looking into the
reported strike on the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City. Like I already said that since the strike is fairly recent, the IDF is still
unclear whether the hospital was hit by an Israeli Air Force strike or and this is key, Julia, a failed Hamas launch.
Now, we have to clarify that this hospital is known by different names. CNN is calling it the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital to avoid any confusion.
Preliminary estimates indicate that between 200 to 300 people have been killed in the strike. But there are still many people under the hospital
rubble. And Julia in the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already declared the three days of mourning will be observed across
Palestine to honor the victims of what his government called the victims of the Israeli brutal airstrike.
The president also ordered that flags be flown at half-mast. We also need to mention that given the situation in Gaza hospitals, that are still
operating are more crowded than usual because many displaced people have gone to these medical centers seeking shelter. It is estimated that
thousands of people were using it as a refuge, a place they would thought would be safe.
And let's remember Julia, this happened just hours after the Palestinian Ministry of Health increase the death toll in Gaza to over 3,000. The U.N.
says more than 600,000 Palestinians have already fled their homes. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yes. And as we await more details of exactly what happened, as you said, the big question here is who did what. But that doesn't take away
from the fact that this scale of this tragedy and the fact that this is further devastation, loss of life, injuries, at a time when we know the
healthcare system is already at breakpoint in Gaza.
ROMO: Yes, that's right. It's not only the human tragedy, but it also adds another level of seriousness and danger that this conflict may boil over.
We already know and we have been reporting about this, how Iran has been heating up its rhetoric. And also this is happening the day before
President Biden is expected to arrive here in Israel. So a very combustible mix that we're looking at right now here in Israel. Back to you.
CHATTERLEY: Rafael Romo there, thank you for that.
Now joining us, Riyad al-Maliki, he is the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority. Oh, actually, I apologize. He's not with us. We're
going to try and reestablish connection there. We're back after this. Stay with us.
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CHATTERLEY: Welcome back Palestinian officials say hundreds of people were killed when an airstrike hit a hospital in Gaza City earlier. The Hamas-run
health ministry estimates up to 300 people lost their lives. The Israeli military says it's looking into the reported strike. A violent protest
erupted in the West Bank following that attack. And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled his meeting with U.S. President Joe
Biden to return to Ramallah. It seems nowhere safe inside Gaza at this moment.
The World Health Organization says, Israeli bombings at the Rafah crossing make it too dangerous for aid to get in. And it calls the growing
humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a terrifying waiting game, as CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): This city should be the way out of the war zone. But it too was caught in the crosshairs of Israel's
relentless aerosol. You are looking at the aftermath of airstrikes on Rafah. Thousands have flocked here in recent days, seeking safe passage,
only to find more death.
My children, oh God, please find my children, this man pleads. They are under the rubble. Oh God, please pull them out. It is unclear if his
children survived. Israeli bombardment has killed dozens here in recent days, according to Palestinian officials. The city which sits on the
Egyptian border is home to Gaza's only possible humanitarian corridor, a corridor that is now inoperable and unsafe, the WHO says, because of
And at the border crossing, footage shows smoke billowing from multiple air strikes nearby on Tuesday. Desperate families gather here for hours a day.
Praying authorities will allow their exit. So far a diplomatic standoff keeping this crucial corridor shut. Cairo is reluctant to take in refugees.
It says it wants to see aid allowed into the Enclave. Israel's government has imposed a complete siege of Gaza after Hamas terror attacks killed some
1,400 people. It says it aims to wipe out Hamas.
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESPERSON: we continue to operate and strike Hamas targets as we have defined before. And we try to do that
according to the law of armed conflict and of course to minimize civilian casualties.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Intensive efforts by the U.S. and the U.N. are yet to resolve the logjam leaving countless people like this Michigan residents
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the war, they -- I can't sleep, a lot of bomb. This people here, this people here live. It's not right.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): On the Egyptian side of the border, lifesaving aid is piling up with more than 10,000 wounded Palestinians and the health care
system on the brink, every hour counts.
DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SPOKESPERSON: That's why it's critical to get there. This is for people like pregnant women. We know
that there are as 84,000 pregnant women and many of them are delivering every day. Babies don't care about bombs, they come when they come.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Gaza is in a stranglehold rights groups say under siege and under attack with innocent civilians desperate to escape a
growing hells cape.
Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
CHATTERLEY: And Sam Kiley joins us now. Sam that report, of course put together before the events of the past few hours and the attack on the
hospital in Gaza City as well, your thoughts in response to that because we keep and we can go through the responses from the Israeli Prime Minister, a
spokesperson saying we don't target hospitals, we only target Hamas, the IDF seeing whether this is an Israeli strike or perhaps a failed Hamas
rocket strike. We've seen this before. It doesn't bring back those whose lives lost nor prevent the injuries that people will suffer with.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nor think, Julia, will it prevent or head off the reactions. We've already seen the early stages
of reactions to this disaster at this central Gaza hospital, a Baptist Hospital that was already a place that many, many injured but also
uninjured people had sought sanctuary from the air strikes before moving perhaps further south because of course the hitting of hospitals
deliberately is by any definition, a war crime.
Now, the IDF are very aware of this. And they said they're going to investigate. They don't know what happened, they say here, and it is
conceivable. And there have been in the cases in the past where Hamas or Islamic Jihad or other militant groups rocket misfire has caused disastrous
levels of casualties. But the scale here is of a whole new order. And therefore the scale of the reaction elsewhere, notably on the West Bank,
but potentially in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah could increase the already, it's not yet at boiling point is still a skirmishing point. But
they steadily ratcheting up the pressure that they're putting on the Israel Defense Forces there, drawing personnel off from a potential a much
threatened or warranted ground attack going to Israel.
But of course, it is civilian casualties that are on any definition, a disaster, but also could spell real strategic problems ultimately, for
Israel. And that is before they've tried to embark on house to house fighting, which on a comparable size, for example, the clearing out of ISIS
in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, took nine months, the IDF already preparing the population of Israel and their allies, Julia, for a long hard
battle here over Gaza and the Gaza Strip.
And what that means for the population is of extreme importance, particularly to Egypt. But also the Jordanians today saying, any kind of
mass movement of population, population displacement of Palestinians out of their lands that they live on, would be a red line for Jordan. It haven't
said what the consequences for that would be. But they would be, I think, serious. Remember that Jordan and Egypt have peace agreements, formal peace
agreements with Israel have had indeed, for many years now.
CHATTERLEY: And that's of course, where President Biden is headed after he spends time in Israel tomorrow. Do you think the conversations there, once
again, shifts the emphasis to particularly for the Israelis, addressing the humanitarian crisis now that's taking place in Gaza, and that is primary to
any efforts to go in there in a broader ground offensive to find these Hamas fighters whoever was responsible for what took place today?
KILEY: Yes, I think, well, I mean, from the Israeli perspective, Benjamin Netanyahu, his generals, his security cabinet, their full square and full
throated in their statement that they are going to rid Gaza in their words of Hamas and destroy the movement, once and for all, you can't actually
destroy an idea, but at least they might be able to buy, they believe some long term quiet if they are able to destroy militant groups in Gaza.
I think that the public display of support for Israel in the form of two big carrier with a carrier group and a Marine Expeditionary Unit being sent
to the coast of Israel sending signals to countries like Iran to Hezbollah, and non-state actors, they call it, the Iran-backed militia in South
Lebanon, and others in the region that might be tempted to use this opportunity of pressure already on Israel to escalate. That is intended to
reassure the Israelis and threaten Israel's enemies.
But I think behind closed doors, I think there's a degree of indication coming particularly from the Israeli media, that there will be a slight a
sense in which the Biden administration is also shifting slightly into reassuring oversight in terms of what happens next in Gaza, because they
really do not want to see mass casualties there. They do not want to see mass movement of the population of Gaza, and they do not want to see an
ongoing humanitarian disaster, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. And even without an escalation, as you're describing on, actually whichever border we want to pick at this moment or in the West
Bank, if we do see some form of more concerted ground offensive, what we saw today is an inevitability. And that's the concern for all of these
leaders, a humanitarian crisis will escalate.
KILEY: Yes, an escalating humanitarian crisis will add to an already fissile atmosphere that could really detonate much more widely. There have
been quite a lot of threats coming again, from the perpetually threatening, I have to say, Iranian regime. But saying, today, both foreign minister and
the others in the leadership in Tehran, saying that any kind of significant escalation in Gaza would mean in their words, they wouldn't be able to hold
back or other militant groups might rise up. That is the threat is being taken very seriously by Israel.
And the same time, I think the United States and other friends of Israel are certainly behind closed doors, asking for caution and circumspection
when it comes to a massive military intervention potentially in Gaza. Remember there's over 300,000 reservists have been called up in addition to
the serving troops already in the Israel Defense Forces.
CHATTERLEY: I spoke over the weekend to an IDF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. And I talked to him about the prospect of
ceasefire, Sam. And he said, point blank ceasefire is not on the table. But the way that that would be achieved is if Hamas put down their weapons,
they immediately surrender. Clearly, that's not going to happen. But do you think any of this also helps a conversation towards some kind of interim
arrangement, again, to address what we're seeing in Gaza?
KILEY: Well, I think the presence of what Hamas claims is 200. hostages abducted from Israeli territory, other militant groups have got up to 50.
So let's say about 250 hostages both Americans, Britain, French, have we obviously large numbers of Israelis, Germans, large numbers of people from
the international community in the hands of Hamas, this does give them a degree of leverage.
Egypt and Qatar have been very important interlocutors with Hamas in the past. We saw Antony Blinken in Qatar, trying to negotiate their release
that might slow the pace of the Israeli military onslaught that's anticipated. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: We'll see. Sam Kiley, thank you. Great to chat to you.
Well, President Biden, of course, as we've been discussing is due to touch down in Israel in a matter of hours. CNN senior White House correspondent,
Kayla Tausche, joins us now. Kayla, in light of what we've seen over the past few hours, President Biden likely still wanting to present that
support for Israel and for Prime Minister Netanyahu. The problem, of course, is the humanitarian crisis that much worse just in the past few
hours. It's a tough needle to thread. How does he achieve it?
KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We've got no indication Julia that there will be any changes to the President's schedule
as of yet based on the events of the last few hours. Palestinian officials do confirm to CNN that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has
canceled his meeting with President Biden and other leaders in the region, which significantly dilutes the conversation that President Biden was
hoping to have with those leaders in Jordan after his visit to Israel.
But nonetheless, top aides to President Biden suggest that he reached the conclusion to take this trip after careful consideration and only after
Secretary of State Tony Blinken secured clear humanitarian commitments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically to allow aid into
Gaza and to allow passage from Gaza before essentially allowing a ground invasion to begin.
U.S. and Israeli officials, we're told to have an understanding that that humanitarian process would need to take root before any sort of invasion
would take place. Now, what happens in light of the strike on this hospital in Gaza remains to be seen. We know that President Biden is set to take off
from Washington in just the next hour or so. And of course, we're out to the White House for any changes in his schedule. But so far, the White
House and the Biden administration have been silent on what if anything, these recent event will do to change that plan.
CHATTERLEY: We'll see. Kayla Tausche, thank you so much for that.
And that's it for this hour. I'm Julia Chatterley with CNN special coverage of Israel's war on Hamas continues. The Lead with Jake Tapper is up next.