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CNN International: CNN's Continuing Coverage on the War in Israel on its Second Week. srael Politicians Give "Green Light" For Gaza Invasion; Sources: Rafah Crossing Not Expected To Open Friday; Israel Troops Told They'll Soon See "Inside" Of Gaza; Israel Arrest "Terror Operatives'' In West Bank; Pentagon: Us Ship Shot Down Missiles, Drones Near Yemen; Nationwide Protests Expected In Egypt In Coming Hours; Support For Palestinians Grows Across Arab World & Beyond; Republican Jim Jordan Still Far Short Of Votes Needed; Ex- Trump Attorney Sidney Powell Pleads Guilty, Cuts Deal. Aired 2-3a ET.

Aired October 20, 2023 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta with our ongoing coverage of Israel at war.

We begin with the U.S.-brokered deal to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid from Egypt into Gaza, which is now on hold, it seems. Multiple sources tell CNN a convoy of 20 trucks, agreed to by Egypt, Israel and the U.S., is not expected to pass through the Rafah border crossing before Saturday. With aid groups warning of a dire situation in Gaza, any delay in humanitarian assistance will have devastating consequences.

Israel is refusing to last supplies of food, medicine and fuel into Gaza until Hamas releases all the hostages currently being held. But Israeli officials say humanitarian aid crossing from Egypt will be allowed. At the same time, Israel appears to be closer than ever to launching a ground offensive, an all-out effort which Israeli officials say will bring an end to Hamas.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with troops in southern Israel on Thursday, telling them you see Gaza now from a distance, you will soon see it from the inside.


YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): There is no forgiveness for this thing. Only total annihilation of Hamas organization, terror infrastructures, everything that has to do with terrorists and whoever sent them. It will take a week, it will take a month, it will take two months until we eliminate them.


VAUSE: And the U.S. President Joe Biden has made a case for helping Israel and Ukraine during a prime-time Oval Office address. The White House is expected to ask Congress for more than $100 billion in funding for both countries.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common. They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen. In moments like these, we have to remind, we have to remember who we are. We're the United States of America, the United States of America. And there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.


VAUSE: The U.N. is warning the humanitarian situation in Gaza is growing increasingly dire. CNN's Katie Polglase following these developments for us, she joins us now live from London. I guess the question now is what happens with this aid convoy? The expectation was according to President Biden, it would begin in the coming hours. Saturday, maybe at best. And that doesn't even look. So, you know, certain at this point.

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Absolutely, John, and it is a really urgent and pressing need, as you mentioned there with the U.N. statement. We've just been reporting this morning that there is a group of independent experts from the U.N. that are now saying that the Israeli strikes on this siege of Gaza may constitute crimes against humanity. This is how dire the situation is inside Gaza.

And of course, humanitarian aid would greatly relieve, greatly assists that situation. And yet for 12 now going into the 13th day, there has been no aid at all getting in.

Now not only is this crossing, this Rafah crossing we keep talking about, that is the crossing between Gaza into Egypt. There are also crossings into Israel. Those crossings have also remained closed. And as we understand, the agreement that President Biden came to with Netanyahu, the leader of Israel on this, was that they would allow this crossing with Egypt, obviously with the Egypt agreement as well, to open as long as the crossings from Israel were not open. But the concern really from the Israeli point of view, and we've had some understanding from U.S. sources, they may feel similar, is that this humanitarian aid, if it gets into Gaza, may get into the hands of Hamas rather than civilians.

But the net result of this aid not getting in, waiting on this border, 20 trucks have been agreed to get in and they are just waiting on this border. is that civilians are suffering. We are now reporting on death tolls that just in this day, we are now saying that 3,785 people have died in Gaza. That includes 1,524 children. 12,000 more are injured. This is a really quite desperate state that is deteriorating rapidly.

And so this humanitarian need that is waiting, that is available, international NGOs have provided it and is sitting on that border. It desperately needs to get in. And as you mentioned, it is meant to get in today. That's according to Biden's sources now telling us it may be this weekend.


It needs to get in now, clearly. And so we wait and we wait to see if it does. John.

VAUSE: President Biden also made this address trying to convince the American people of the need for further assistance for both Israel and Ukraine. That seems to be a hard sell in some respects, especially for Ukraine. And tying these two measures together in the same package makes it even more complicated, it seems.

POLGLASE: Yeah, it's very interesting, John, that he has pieced these together. While he is distinguishing and saying that the threat of Hamas is not the same as the threat from Russia, he does make some parallel. He does compare them as both threats to democracies. That is his fundamental message. And he's also saying it is a threat to American national security. That is why the American people need to keep investing in America's security in this way. But as you say, it is a challenge, particularly with Ukraine, because the public support for funding Ukraine against this Russian invasion has been waning.

We are now into the 20th month of this war in Ukraine. And so this funding is continuing to be debated. We're heading a poll just in August of this year that CNN conducted that 55 percent of Americans, over half, no longer think Congress should be supplying aid. to Ukraine. So clearly there is a battle there. And even with Israel, clearly public opinion is also not completely in agreement. This is a more current war, clearly a lot still developing on the ground.

And yet only 35 percent are currently agreeing on the amount of U.S. assistance going into Israel. So it's a quite difficult sell. And then you put into the context of all the U.S. politics. There is a complete leadership vacuum in the House of Representatives as well.

This is a very difficult situation for President Biden, and he wants to unify the American public as he sees this war in the Middle East escalating and also the war in Europe continuing to unfold. John.

VAUSE: Katie, thank you. Katie Polglase, Life is There in London.

The sources are warning of a dangerous situation if that Rafah border crossing in Egypt does not open. CNN journalist Ibrahim Dahman has reported on the desperate need for humanitarian aid. We heard his evacuation from northern Gaza along with his wife and their two sons who are 11 and 7 years old. They're now in Khan Younis where there was a major strike Thursday and their drinking water they say is meant for toilets. Here's his latest report.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (translated): The situation in Khan Younis is still the same since we left the hotel. We are still in the same house. At first, the house was safe. But since yesterday and the day before, airstrikes and artillery have increased. Life here is difficult. Water is very difficult to get and when we do get it, it's very hard. There's no drinking water.

There are very strong airstrikes and the world is turning into a white cloud.


VAUSE: Well for more on the growing humanitarian crisis, we're joined now by Hiba Tibi, country director in the West Bank in Gaza for the humanitarian group CARE. Right now she is in Ramallah in the West Bank. Thank you for speaking with us.

HIBA TIBI, CARE COUNTRY DIRECTOR IN WEST BANK AND GAZA: Thanks a lot, John, for having me to talk about the humanitarian need in Gaza.

VAUSE: Can we get to Gaza in a moment? I'd like to know what's happening right now across the West Bank, in particular in Ramallah and other big cities, in terms of IDF operations and the concerns among Palestinians and what's been happening with the security situation there.

TIBI: Unfortunately, the tension is building up, as you know, in Gaza, in West Bank, and even in the region. Over the last days, we have seen the higher escalation in the number of violence incidents that took place all over West Bank. You also, I'm sure that you heard about the news in the north, in Tulkarem, where are constant military operations since yesterday and in Ramallah and live in a very place and I think that is very close to entrance of the city almost every day we have military and actions coming inside the city and finishing up finalizing targeted actions and they need so this is building up the tension today is Friday and there are lots of fat calling for demonstrations and unfortunately no one is as I always say prepared for war.

And what we are seeing on the ground, like civilians and actors, we started to see also in the city, lots of commodities, services that are going lower and lower, especially when it comes to isolated communities that are located in area C.

VAUSE: If and when this aid convoy is allowed into Gaza, it will not be carrying fuel. So for hospitals in Gaza, there is now a desperate need for fuel for generators. So without that fuel, without refilling those generators, what happens?


TIBI: So I will tell you what I heard already today and yesterday and the day before from my colleagues who had also, like many people in Gaza, evacuate from the north to the south. Unfortunately, most of the hospitals, shelters, the schools of U.N. and also their clinics, the shelters that are used, the houses, they operate a majority of them and almost all the time on the generators because of unstable electricity.

The fuel is needed for all of that, for the generators to operate. We are very concerned with the testimonies that we are seeing from people. I know that you have heard of the water crisis and that people are now drinking contaminated water or unclean water.

And this is basically because most of the water that comes to Gaza, the fresh water that is normally used for drinking, is pumped through treatment units that are operating using fuel. And then we need the fuel to transport this fresh water to the population.

And again, all of that is getting very, very complicated. Even us as a humanitarian organization with all our networks and connections, we were able to secure water. But the most important thing, the most biggest obstacle that we faced was how to transport it.

The one liter of oil, of fuel now, is costing 50 shekels, which is around $15. And this makes it very, very expensive. The same is applied on the hospitals that are operating on generators. Doctors were explaining, U.N. agencies were explaining that this is a catastrophic situation where also the hospitals are becoming unfunctional, some of them already out of service.

So this is the situation. Water and electricity being restructured and again in Gaza is an immediate need. So even if, for instance, humanitarian assistance is delivered today, tomorrow, and you know the high estimates of the need, the scale of the need by the U.N. agencies, they declared that we need at least 100 trucks per day. This will not solve the issue if we have water and electricity and fuel specifically to generate these two main important necessities, then the situation might look better.

And when I say might look better, it does not mean like in an amazing way, but to allow for saving lives.

VAUSE: Better certainly is a relative term in this. I need to ask you though, because Israeli officials say that Hamas has plenty of fuel. In fact, Hamas stole fuel from a U.N. school or UNRWA from the refugee agency there, a week's worth of fuel. Is there any indication, I don't know if you can answer this, that Hamas is sharing whatever fuel they have with the hospitals, given how desperately it's needed?

TIBI: Unfortunately, I don't know this. These are kind of discussions that take place on different levels. What I can tell you as a humanitarian service provider and from my colleagues who live the same conditions and also from our partners, medical supplies, medical services suppliers, is that they are running out of fuel.

So the problem now is to deal with the consequences for us to save lives, is to find out how we can secure fuel to continue providing medical services and water for not only wounded, but also those in patients like women, pregnant women. We have 50,000 pregnant women who are unable to access prenatal and postnatal services.

We have patients who need dialysis services and they are unable to access these services. So the most important thing for us is to ensure that we have access to fuel for the hospitals and for the water treatment units that exist in Gaza. VAUSE: It seems there's never been a crisis quite like this one that

the people of Gaza have faced and they are no stranger to hardship. Hiba Tibi, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time. Thank you.

TIBI: Thank you. VAUSE: Well, fresh from his trip to wartime Israel, President Biden makes a rare Oval Office address on the urgent need to give Israel and Ukraine supply with both weapons and ammunition. More on that, in a moment.




VAUSE: Welcome back. The U.S. president is urging all Americans to stand firm with Israel and Ukraine, arguing that economic and military assistance to both countries is vital to global stability and U.S. national security.

In a rare address from the Oval Office Thursday, President Biden said that even though Ukraine and Israel face very different enemies, the threat to both is the same. The White House is expected to send an urgent budget request to Congress on Friday, seeking $100 billion. $60 billion would go to military aid for Ukraine. $100 billion for Israel in emergency assistance, the rest for Taiwan and US border security. Congress though is in limbo until House Republicans elect a new speaker.

David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst as well as New York Times White House and national security correspondent. He is with us this hour from Boston. It's good to see you, David.


VAUSE: Okay, so here's a little more from the U.S. president making the case that helping Ukraine and Israel is not just vital to U.S. interests, but it's also vital to U.S. global leadership. Here he is.


BIDEN: I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. We can't let petty partisan angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen. In moments like these, we have to remind, we have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America.


VAUSE: The problem it seems is that the American public see these two conflicts very differently. And over the last, what, almost two years, support for Ukraine has fallen since the early days of the war. So did the President here make the case that, you know, politics should be put to one side because everything is politicized these days and face this threat together, you know, as one nation, as a global leader?


SANGER: He did the question is whether that message got through, you know, what's struck me John is that you have seen the president at his most passionate when he has been discussing the struggles for Ukraine and preserving its independence and for Israel and freeing it of the threat of terrorism.

In the Ukraine case you saw it back in was it May of 2022 when he said, for God's sake, this man must go, referring to Vladimir Putin. In the past few days, you've heard it in his comparisons to the Holocaust and the kind of attack that Israel endured on October 7th. And I think that on Thursday night, what you heard was an argument that only America can bring order to this kind of chaos. That's been the traditional role for the United States.

The thing is, Joe Biden's of a different generation. He was probably the last American president, certainly the last American president to have been born during World War II, probably the last to have really dealt seriously with the Cold War.

His relationship with Israel is so deep and long that he tells stories about talking to Golda Meir in the Israeli Prime Minister's office. Well, that was 50 years ago.

VAUSE: Well, President Biden also is now reportedly seeking about $10 billion in emergency assistance for Israel and $60 billion for Ukraine. He plans to ask Congress for that on Friday. Here he is.


BIDEN: Tomorrow, I'm going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America's national security needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine, is a smart investment that's going to pay dividends for American security for generations. Help us keep American troops out of harm's way. Help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, more prosperous for our children and grandchildren.


VAUSE: This argument that aid to Ukraine is not charity, it's an investment, it's an investment in U.S. security, the White House has not made very well over the last 18 months or so. And how does the whole play out? We're linking aid for Ukraine, which has become quite political, with aid for Israel, which is mostly a bipartisan issue. Does that mean Congress either agrees to both, or what happens, or neither?

SANGER: Well, the president's going to try to package them together, as your question suggests, John, and the theory that in the enthusiasm to help out Israel, they'll bring Ukraine along and take that off the plate for another year. The Biden arguments are very simple, and it goes back to one that Republicans and Democrats who've made, and Presidents who've made back to the beginning of the Cold War era, which is it's a whole lot cheaper to do this now than to pay for a war later. And if Putin keeps moving toward NATO nations, we would be obligated by the treaties around NATO to go in, and that would be a lot more bloody and a lot more expensive.

But convincing Congress of that when it's so easy to (inaudible) this by saying, why are we spending the money here and not on the border as if that was a choice? That's what he's going to run up against.

VAUSE: Well there was a poll taken by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, voters were asked about Biden's handling of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 47 percent approved, 45 percent disapproved, 8 percent had no opinion. They were also asked about his response to the mass terrorist attack on Israel. 42 percent approved, 37 percent disapproved, 21 percent had no opinion.

Those numbers are, I guess, for Biden pretty good. They're very strong numbers, especially when it comes to foreign policy. But you touched on this. There is still this bigger picture here among a lot of Americans of this growing reluctance for the U.S. to be everywhere all at once and to be committed and to be sorting out the world's problems.

SANGER: Well, you know, it's a fundamental difference of view. Tony Blinken, the Secretary of State, has this favorite phrase. He's had it for years. I don't know how many times I've heard him say it. The world doesn't organize itself. And so if we leave vacuums, it usually gets organized by somebody whose interests are deeply opposed to ours.

That might be Russia, that might be China, might be Iran or North Korea, but it's someone we're not going to care for. So if you want to get a world that is a more pleasant environment for the United States to operate in, you have to invest in that, just as you have to invest in every other relationship.

VAUSE: David, it's good to have you with us. There's a lot of complex issues for the administration here, especially for Biden, because it is a changing and difficult world. Good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

SANGER: Good to see you.


VAUSE: Live now to Tel Aviv, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner. Thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: So has Israel agreed to suspend airstrikes around the Rafah crossing right now to allow repair work to roads and also to the crossing itself and also will those airstrikes be on hold once those trucks actually cross into Gaza? What's the latest on what Israel is willing to do here? LERNER: John we are continuing our now 14th day against Hamas as they

massacred and butchered babies in their bedrooms. We are continuing to strike Hamas, destroying their operational capabilities, and we will continue to do so. The humanitarian mission has to work in parallel to the military operation.

And we are, I would say, committed in order to differentiate between the non-combatants, civilians and the terrorists. But unfortunately, there is a challenge that terrorists will abuse the humanitarian mission. We just saw a few days ago how Hamas had no problem going into a U.N. compound and commandeering fuel and medical supplies. This is the challenge that we face.

VAUSE: That is very much understood and these things have happened in the past too with the Maastricht and the other militant groups in Gaza. But as far as the Israelis are concerned, I'm just trying to look at the process here. Has there been some kind of political decision? Is there agreement? As far as the Israelis are concerned, when this humanitarian flow of aid is meant to begin because we're hearing that it won't be Friday. It may be Saturday. It may be sometime over the weekend. What's your understanding?

LERNER: But I'm not aware of any instruction that the IDF has had to hold fire to stop for striking Hamas After what the Hamas did in Israel's communities and we're still burying some 200 people a day and still finding bodies in the field with our raids in the adjacent areas of the Gaza border. So our instruction is to continue to press forward, to strike Hamas where they are. The humanitarian mission, when the instructions arrive, we will of course implement them.

VAUSE: Now assuming these aid convoys actually do begin at some point, will they be allowed to safely enter northern Gaza, the area which Israelis have advised Palestinians to leave, to head to safe zones in the south?

LERNER: So just speaking from my experience in the past, there is mechanisms to coordinate these types of operations. In one of my former positions, I was a liaison to the World Food Program of the U.N., and we know how to coordinate these types of things. Will it happen? I think it will be very much determined on how Hamas act and how they try to commandeer or don't, and if they get involved and if they launch rocket attacks at the same time that the convoy is moving. This is a very dynamic incident. I think even listening and weighing on what President Biden said, and obviously what Prime Minister Netanyahu said, there's any goods coming into Gaza to alleviate the strife that the people of Gaza are finding cannot go to Hamas.

We cannot allow them to be restocked, replenished, and to enable them to regroup against us. This is the biggest challenge from a defense perspective. And our job, our role is to make sure Hamas never use the Gaza Strip again as a staging ground against our people.

VAUSE: To say it's complicated is a gross understatement and throw into the mix 200 hostages currently being held by Hamas somewhere in Gaza. But what I'm wondering about is, as far as the situation in northern Gaza, there are people who are still stuck there. They haven't been able to leave, the roads have been damaged, they're wounded, they're old, they're pregnant women. If this ground offensive begins sometime soon as it appears to be, what will their status be? How safe will they be if they can't leave? How much danger will they face?

LERNER: The IDF does not target civilians. We do not target civilians. We do not target hospitals. As you extensively reported, the IDF operates based on three principles. Distinction between civilian and terrorists, the non-combatants and terrorists, the issue of military necessity, what is the military advantage we will achieve by destroying a command-and-control position or taking out a terrorist that is en route, planning to attack, conducting an attack, and three, the principle of proportionality. And we are constantly weighing up these three values in order to implement our mission.

Of course, civilians are not targets. Civilians can be caught up in fire and we have to, in exchanges of fire or in strikes, and we need to do the best we can to minimize that. But John, we need to realize this is not just another exchange between Israel and Hamas.

This is a war, a war that Hamas decided to embark against us, and a war that we are going to win. At the end of this they will no longer be able to hold Israel hostage, they will no longer be able to hold 203 Israelis and foreign nationals hostages. And I would say they will no longer be able to hold two million Palestinians hostage.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: So in regards to the ground offensive, which is clearly something which the IDF has been reluctant to do for very long time, it seems that this is now purely in terms of timing when it begins and how it proceeds, now left up to the Israeli military senior leadership. Under what process will that begin? And I guess, is there a goal here? Sort of saying, what does winning look like in specific terms here?

LERNER: Specifically, I would say we have recruited some three hundred thousand reservists. The vast majority of those are actually currently on the border with Gaza, preparing, training, being equipped, and also being tasked, what will each specific unit, what will their task be in order to make the entire picture of the puzzle of destroying Hamas a reality?

And indeed, that is our goal. Obviously, I won't go into specifics about when or when to expect. It's a reality, it's a very clear possibility, absolutely part of the mission and that is what we are preparing for. If the government instructs us to do so, we will mobilize.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, is there an estimate, as grim as this is, just how bloody this could be? The number of casualties on both sides?

LERNER: We are hoping to destroy Hamas in its entirety. That is our goal. And when I say hope, that is what we intend to do. So we will be dismantling their command and control capabilities. We will be hunting down their leaders. And we will be targeting and pursuing the terrorists that actually conducted the brutal massacre on the seventh of October. That is what we intend to do. Incidental or coincidental fatalities are a possibility. We will do

our effort to keep civilians out of harm's way. Unfortunately, we know that our enemy, who is a merciless enemy, has no regard for human life, Israeli or Palestinian. And they will probably go to the maximum effort in order to put civilians in harm's way.

We need to be watching this very, very carefully, this whole how things develop, and indeed, from our perspective, those three core values of our operation. Distinction, proportionality, and military necessity. Those will be our northern star. That is what we will be implementing.

VAUSE: Peter, thanks for being with us. Peter Lerner there from Tel Aviv. We appreciate your time sir, thank you.

LERNER: Have a good day, John.

VAUSE: Thank you, sir. Well for the moment this latest round of hostility erupted between Israel and Hamas. There've been fears the conflict would spread across the region. And when we come back, details of missile and drone fire from Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen, intercepted by a US Navy warship deployed to the Red Sea.



VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It seems international humanitarian assistance for Gaza will now be delayed and will not be delivered on Friday as expected. Multiple sources tell CNN the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is not expected to open before Saturday. Right now, trucks are lined up on the Egyptian side ready to move as soon as the border reopens.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Our trucks are loaded and ready to go. We are working with Egypt and Palestine Red Crescent Societies to deliver our supplies into Gaza as soon as the Rafah crossing is open.


VAUSE: On the Israeli side of the Gaza border, a buildup of troops, tanks, artillery, and other hardware continues amid growing indications a ground invasion is inching closer. Defense minister Yoav Gallant met with troops on Thursday in Southern Israel, telling them they'll soon be seeing the inside of Gaza. And in the West Bank, Israeli forces are moving on Hamas targets. Here's more now from CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In Israel's war with Hamas, more than 60 of the terror group's operatives were arrested early Thursday in the West Bank. The clock now ticking on a far more dangerous phase of the war for the IDF, going into Hamas's heartland, Gaza.

NIR BARKAT, ISRAELI ECONOMY MINISTER: The Israeli government made a decision, gave the green light to the army. Wipe them out. And now it's in the hands of the army.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Israeli politicians are preparing expectations for a long war. And for the first time, hinting at what an end of war may look like.

AVI DICHTER, ISRAELI AGRICULTURAL MINISTER: The Gaza strip all along will have a margin that they will not be able to get in. It will be a fire zone. No matter who are you. You will never be able to come close to the Israeli border.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Dichter, a former head of Israeli security, says what Israel wants is the level of security control they currently have in the West Bank. Complete access on their terms.

DICHTER: Today, whenever we have a military problem, in every single place in the West Bank, we are there.

ROBERTSON: So that's what you'll have in Gaza going forward?

DICHTER: Gaza internal security. Remember, on the Gaza strip. One, there is no administration. It has to be built, another administration.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): But as these plans take shape, and troops prepare to go into Gaza, airstrikes are triggering international calls for a humanitarian pause to ease civilian suffering. Dichter rejects the need for a pause.

DICHTER: We don't activate against civilians.

ROBERTSON: But there are civilian collateral damage.

DICHTER: In a war, in a war -- in a war, we do understand. And unfortunately, we have suffered.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): With or without a pause in strikes, 20 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid are expected to enter Gaza from Egypt soon. Against the scale of need, it's a token. Ahead of a possible ground incursion, maybe all that gets through for a while. Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.



VAUSE: Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen may have just joined this conflict. The Pentagon reporting the US Navy Destroyer in the Red Sea has shot down cruise missiles possibly heading towards Israel. More details now from CNN's Oren Liebermann reporting from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A US Navy Destroyer operating in the Red Sea intercepted three cruise missiles and a number of drones that the Pentagon says may have been heading towards Israel. And that indicates the potential opening of a new front, or at least a new actor, in what the US fears may become a growing regional conflict.

According to the Pentagon on Thursday, Houthi forces in Yemen, and it's worth noting that Houthi forces are backed by Iran, launched the drones and the cruise missiles north along the Red Sea towards Israel. The USS Carney, a US Navy Destroyer in the Red Sea, intercepted those drones as the Pentagon promised it would continue to defend not only the US but also its interests and its partners. And this isn't the only region, or the only area in the Middle East, where we're seeing Iranian-backed back proxies potentially targeting US forces.

There were a number of drone attacks in Iraq over the course of the past 48 or 72 hours, targeting US and coalition forces. And although the Pentagon hasn't given attribution or said who was responsible, they are similar to attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq carried out by Iranian-backed proxies there. This as the Biden administration and defense secretary Lloyd Austin are trying to keep the conflict in Gaza from spreading beyond the borders of the coastal enclave and into the rest of the Middle East.

We've already seen protests at a number of US embassies in the region, and now, the interception of those drones and cruise missiles on the Red Sea, the attacks on US and coalition forces, defense secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart as well as with a number of Arab leaders to make the point first that the US would have Israel's back, and second that the US has placed an emphasis on the importance of safeguarding civilians.

This, an attempt to try and alleviate perhaps some of the tension, some of the anger in the region. But even as the US has tried to keep this conflict from spreading to the region, that very much seems like a real possibility now. Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


VAUSE: When we come back, huge crowds take to the streets in the Middle East and beyond in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza. A report from Jordan in a moment.



VAUSE: In Egypt, there are calls for nationwide protests in the coming hours notably approved by the government. The protests intend to show support for Palestinians in Gaza. And also to support the Egyptian president and his opposition to any attempt to relocate hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt. This would be the first government approved mass protests there since President Al- Sissi took power nearly a decade ago. On Wednesday, protesters demanded humanitarian assistance be allowed

into the Gaza strip. Arab nations are presenting a united front as their anger and outrage continues to spread across the middle east, sparking a growing number of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests. CNN's Nada Bashir reports now from Jordan.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The people demand freedom for Palestine. It's a decades old rallying cry, but one that still resonates across the Arab world. Protests in solidarity for the Palestinian people have ramped up across the Middle East. A growing movement denouncing Israel's continued aerial bombardment of the besieged Gaza strip, which began in response to the Hamas attacks of October seventh.

But here in Jordan, the plight of the Palestinian people is an issue which lies at the very heart of the country's identity. More than 50 percent of the country's population is Palestinian or of Palestinian descent. The neighborhood of Baqaa, just outside of Amman is one of several historic refugee camps established to house Palestinians displaced by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Khalid Raithe has lived here for most of his life and has spent years painting murals depicting the Palestinian experience. Each wall tells the story of the injustice Palestinians here say they have faced for more than 75 years.

BASHIR: This is the symbol of the right to return?

KHALID RAITHE, PALESTINIAN (through translator): Yeah, yeah...and I still have it.

BASHIR (voice-over): Outrage over Israel's relentless airstrikes on the Gaza strip, which is home to more than two million people, is felt by so many here in Jordan. Mohammed Qasem has been attending protests in Amman from the outset of this war. It is a movement that has drawn people from across the country, old and young.

MOHAMED QASEM, AMMAN RESIDENT: We know the narrative because we survived it, we lived it. And, you know, our grandparents lived it. Our parents lived it. We lived it. We thought we were going to tell stories to our kids, but now they are witnessing it as well. It's been 75 years. And right now, it's happening all over again.

BASHIR (voice-over): Protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people have gripped countries across the region, including Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Arab leaders too have been vocal in their condemnation of Israel's airstrikes on Gaza, and the rapidly rising civilian death toll. But there is also mounting concern that this war could create a deeper rift between the Arab world and the West.

AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The growing perception on the street as they see this unequivocal ironclad support for Israel in this war, it is a growing perception that this is a Western Arab Muslim war. That's a place we don't want to get to.

BASHIR (voice-over): But it's not just the Arab world. The outrage and frustration felt in the Middle East is also mirrored in protests taking place further afield. From London to Washington DC, as millions across the globe just like Mohammed and his family demand an end to Israel's airstrikes, an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people. Nada Bashir, CNN, in Amman, Jordan.


VAUSE: Republican on Republican attacks in Congress are getting nasty. And the GOP lawmakers are growing deeply divided over who should be the next speaker of the House. In a moment, details on the uphill battle facing the outspoken, highly partisan Republican Congressman Jim Jordan.



VAUSE: Welcome back. It seems Republican Congressman Jim Jordan is struggling to accept the outcome of a vote for House speaker. After losing two votes, he is now set for a third on Friday. Opposition to his bid to replace Kevin McCarthy has only grown in recent days, mostly because of reports of strong-arm tactics by some of his supporters. CNN's Melanie Zanona reports now from Capitol Hill.


MELANIE ZANONA , CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well Jim Jordan is not backing down, despite the fact that he has been unable to win over some of his most ardent detractors. He is pushing ahead with his speakership bid. On Friday, he is planning to go to the floor for a third time. Before that, he's expected to hold a press conference, where he's going to try to rally support for his speakership bid.

Now, on Thursday, he also met with some of the holdouts who have been vowing to vote against him. He's trying to win them over, and his goal right now is he knows he's probably not going to win on the first ballot on Friday that he takes, but he is hoping to show at least some type of progress. However, after that meeting, a number of those holdouts said they are not budging in their opposition. Let's take a listen.

MIKE KELLY, US HOUSE REPUBLICAN: I don't know that any minds change. This guy refuses to lose, and that's okay. I find that to be very good. But there's some point that we're going to have to move forward, and we can't keep the country shut down.

VERN BUCHANAN, US HOUSE REPUBLICAN: We'll find out if there is any more votes. I don't think very much in the near future. It's going to be awhile.

[02:55:02] ZANONA: So we'll see if Jim Jordan is able to make any progress. We are told, however, that there were some people who voted for Jordan on the second ballot who are now planning to vote against him on the third, which would be very problematic for Jim Jordan and his speakership.

In the meantime, there are now new concerns over members safety. There have been several Republicans who voted against Jim Jordan who say they are now experiencing death threats. Jordan, of course, has denounced those death threats and said he has no involvement in this outside pressure campaign, but all of it speaks to the growing tensions and frustration in the GOP as they struggle to select a new speaker. Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: A new legal blow, this one a big one to Donald Trump. One of his former lawyers has cut a deal with prosecutors. Sydney Powell pleaded guilty in the election subversion case in Fulton County Georgia on the eve of her trial. As part of her plea, Powell is admitting her role in the breach of election systems in rural Coffee County in Georgia.

She's also required to write an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia, pay fines, and testify at future trials against her codefendants, AKA Donald Trump. Although we don't know which trials just yet. Well the US army private who fled to North Korea last July has been charged with desertion. Travis King is currently in pretrial detention in Texas after returning to the US last month.

He's facing a total of eight charges including possession of child pornography, assault, disobeying a superior officer. The 23-year-old had been released from custody in South Korea back in July. He was meant to return then to the US. Instead, he joined a tour of the joint security area where he then fled across the DMZ, the demarcation line into North Korea. I'm John Vause. Thank you for watching, our coverage continues with my colleague Max Foster in London after a very short break. Have a great weekend, see you next week.