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CNN Live Event/Special

Hamas Says It Has Released Two American Hostages; Palestinian Authority PM: Israel Has Had A Mood Of Revenge; Protests Erupt Across Arab World After Friday Prayers; Israeli P.M.'s Office: U.S. Hostage Judith And Natalie Raanan Released By Hamas, In Israel And On Way To Meet Family; Biden Thanks Qatar, Israel For Efforts To Free Hostages; NGO: Fuel Shortages Leave Gaza Hospitals "Unfunctional." Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 20, 2023 - 15:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Relief tonight in Israel as the first two hostages are released by Hamas in Gaza, though there is no relief as critical aid remains frozen.

Hello, I'm Julia Chatterley in New York and welcome to our continuing coverage of the War in Israel.

Tonight, Hamas has released to American hostages to the Red Cross. The militant group said in a statement that they freed a mother and her daughter "in response to Qatari efforts."

We now know their identities, Judith Raanan, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie Raanan are from Chicago and were visiting relatives at the kibbutz when Hamas attacked.

They are now on their way to an Israeli military base where they will be reunited with their family.

Becky Anderson joins us now from Jerusalem.

Becky, clearly huge relief for those two hostages and of course, for their families, just too many more hostages still being held, but let's talk about that major breakthrough first.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, and I've just been speaking to a diplomatic source who is very familiar with what is going on behind-the-scenes, and they told me that the release of these two American hostages, and I quote here, "... is hopefully the start of more to come." The source confirming to me that the hostages were with the Red Cross, and this was just a few moments ago and indicated that the exchanges were not -- sorry, that the release were not -- the releases were not part of a prisoner exchange.

And that's an important note at this point, because, of course, there is clearly, you know, enormous amount of relief, as you say, for these two families. There are, at least we believe 200 other hostages, Israelis and other foreign nationals being held, and that's really important that we remember that. So the idea that this diplomatic sources told me that this, he hopes is the start of more to come is important. Let's remember that Qatar has been mediating efforts. It is in direct contact with Hamas, of course, it hosts Hamas leaders in its country. So it's in touch with Hamas, and it has been mediating these efforts to release these hostages on behalf of Israel, and the US it has formed here, of course, it was only weeks ago, that we saw these successful release of those five Americans wrongfully detained in Iran mediated by Qatar, in exchange for a number of Iranians who are being held in federal detention in the US.

But important at this point, as we understood that these mediation efforts were about exchanges -- exchanges of women being held by Hamas, women and children or youngsters in exchange for Palestinian women and teenagers being held by Israel. Perhaps, we will wait for more detail to come as we hope to get news of more releases going forward.

But at this stage, as we understand it, these two Americans, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, apparently back in Israel, on their way to a military base to be reunited with their families. So really extremely good news for those who are involved.

Julia, I spoke to the Palestinian Authority prime minister earlier today -- I was in Ramallah -- before the release of these two American hostages. He told me during our discussion that the Palestinians were in direct contact with Qatar who have been mediating these efforts. They say there are 200 odd prisoners of course at the moment.

He said the Palestinian Prime Minister told me, he hoped that there would be success.


I asked Mohammad Shtayyeh whether he condemned the Hamas terror attack during which so many of these hostages were kidnapped, and the attack that of course sparked the siege of Gaza. We also discussed the next stages of this war between Hamas and Israel as Israel, its military readies itself for this next stage.

We started though, and I started by asking him whether he condemned the Hamas attacks. This is what he told me.


MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER: The condemnation should be of killing every civilian, every human being that does not deserve to die we should condemn that.

More than 1,600 children has been slaughtered in Gaza, more than 700 women. The general mood in Israel today is a mood of revenge, and I think this appetite for killing should be stopped under any circumstances. None one single human being would like to see innocent people killed.

ANDERSON: You're unwilling to say that you condemn the attacks, though, on October the 7th, why?

SHTAYYEH: Well, because you see, Palestinian story does not start on October 7th. Palestinian catastrophe has been there for 75 years, and we have been crying loud and we have been shouting loud and clear, we need a solution. And what has happened yesterday is yesterday.

The mood of revenge and the preparation for a ground operation which is going to cost 10,000 Palestinian lives. This is where the focus should be and that is what we should stop.

ANDERSON: Are you shocked? Surprised? By the ferocity of the attack on October the 7th?

SHTAYYEH: Everybody were. Everybody was shocked. This is something that has been unprecedented. By all means, the Israeli government policy has to be held responsible for all what has happened, their Israeli strategy was to keep Gaza isolated.

The people in Gaza were very angry, were depressed. The people of Gaza were unemployed, under poverty line. We have to make to -- to provide meaningful life to the people that was not there. Gaza was a zone that was a shrinking every single day.

The situation was shocking to everybody, but the magnitude of destruction that we have seen today in Gaza is something that is a criminal act.

ANDERSON: Israel's Defense minister has said his troops will soon "see the inside of Gaza," and I quote him on that. As Israel's military readies itself for the next stage, just how concerned are you?

SHTAYYEH: Very concerned. If the Israeli Army goes into Gaza with a ground operation, then our anticipation that thousands -- additional thousands, maybe ten thousand, fifteen thousand Palestinians will be killed, so we are more than concerned.

ANDERSON: Why did President Abbas walk out on what was scheduled to be a Summit in Jordan with US president?

SHTAYYEH: What's happened at Al-Ahli Hospital was a horrific scene. We asked one single question: Is the United States ready to say to the Israelis to stop the incursion and stop the attacks? We were not assured on that, and therefore any meeting became meaningless.

We, the Jordanian and the Egyptians, and by the way, and the Americans, they did fully understand that President Abbas had to walk away and they also bade condolences to the losses of lives in the Al- Ahli Hospital.

ANDERSON: The US has been absolutely clear that Israel has a right to defend itself and that it will support Israel in its efforts to destroy Hamas, whatever it takes. Your thoughts on that.

SHTAYYEH: The support of Israel blindly is a license for killing, and I hope that United States does not go into that direction. Israel is not under existential threat, the White House, the president should call for the parties to sit down and work together a peaceful solution.

Encouraging Israel to destroy the people of Gaza, that is not going to bring a solution. Look at the pictures, look at the pictures. Who has been killed in Gaza? Children, women, old men, churches, mosques -- this is not a war on Hamas, this is a war on the Palestinian people wherever they are, in Gaza and the West Bank and Jerusalem.

ANDERSON: Prime Minister, what is the role of the United States in securing a fair and just future for the Palestinian people?

SHTAYYEH: If they have the will, they can do it, but very unfortunately, I'm very frank with you to say that I don't think that the current American administration has the political will to end the conflict. We are managing it without them.


Without them, there is no solution. With them only, there is no solution. So what you need is a collective international effort.

Those who have landed in Tel Aviv to show support for Israel, unfortunately, have been given the greenest of the greenlight for Israel to continue its attack on Gaza. International support should be for peace, international support should not be for aggression.


ANDERSON: That was part of my interview with the Palestinian prime minister earlier today and more to come on that.

I do just want to bring you bang up-to-date on what we understand on the two American hostages who have been released by Hamas today, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, they are US citizens. And I've just got this from Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, who is the official spokesman for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I quote: "Two American civilian hostages have been released by Hamas and handed over to the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. Today's breakthrough comes after many days of continuous communication between all the parties involved. We will continue our dialogue with both the Israelis and Hamas and we hope these efforts will lead to the release of all civilian hostages from every nationality with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace."

The release today, this is on the news just in the past few minutes, the news that two American hostages have been released by Hamas, they are now back in Israel, on their way to a military base as we understand it to be reunited with their families, originally from Chicago, a mother and her daughter.

Well, pro-Palestinian protests have again erupted across the Arab world after Friday prayers. Ambulances took the injured away from a fiery demonstration in the West Bank where I was earlier today. Protesters waved their flags and chanted at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt; in Turkey, demonstrators set an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on fire. And in North Africa, protesters marched through Tunisia's capital chanting "The people want to free Palestine." Protests have also broken out in Jordan. This is now a number of days.

Nada Bashir is there in Amman -- Nada.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, Becky, we certainly have seen protests on an almost daily basis and they have been intensifying here in Amman over the last three days.

We've actually just moved away from the main protest area which is just outside the Al Kaluti Mosque near the Israeli embassy. What we've seen just in the last half hour or so as Jordanian security forces pushing people out. There are still security forces behind us if you can just take a look over there. They are telling protesters to leave this area.

And I have to emphasize that for the last two or three days, these demonstrations, these protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people, in opposition to Israel's aerial bombardment of Gaza, have been going on until the early hours of the morning.

Now, it has just gone 10:00 PM here in Amman and they are telling people to leave. They are trying to clear the roads. The roads actually have been reopened now and we have seen armored vehicles patrolling the area.

But I have to say it has been mostly peaceful throughout, the protests have been peaceful. In fact, while we have seen nightly protests for the last couple of days here in Amman, what we saw this morning after Friday prayers were thousands of people taking to the streets in downtown Amman, marching through the streets.

Families, young children draped in traditional Palestinian scarves expressing their solidarity, but it is not just solidarity. There is also palpable anger here in Amman as there is across the region, anger directed towards Israel and the idea of over the mounting civilian deaths on Gaza, the dire humanitarian situation which rights groups say are pushing Gaza to the brink of collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe.

But there is also anger being directed towards Israel, the Western allies, namely the United States. We heard protesters this morning chanting that they want the Jordanian government to close down the US and Israeli embassies here in Amman.

So you can appreciate the anger that these people feel. This is a cause, an issue which is close to the hearts of many here in Jordan, more than 50 percent of the population are either Palestinian or of Palestinian descent.

But as you know, Becky, this is not just happening in Jordan, this is happening as you said across the Middle East and what we have seen is protests really reaching a boiling point as many continue to demand tougher action by the international community, a ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza, an end to the airstrikes that we are seeing.

[15:15:10] We are anticipating that these protests will only continue, but of course, as you can see, the Jordanian authorities now are taking a much tougher approach to shutting down these demonstrations earlier. But I have to emphasize once again, these have been peaceful protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.


BASHIR (voice over): In downtown Amman, worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, but it is not just the call to prayer that has drawn these crowds today.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

(CROWDS chanting in foreign language.)

BASHIR (voice over): But a call to action in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

BASHIR (voice over): This protest is a pledge, they chant, that the people of Jordan will not leave Gaza alone. Thousands of men, women, and children, entire families draped in the traditional Palestinian scarf, a symbol for many of Palestinian resistance.

BASHIR (on camera): Well, you can hear how loud the crowds are here. We've got another day in Amman, thousands of people have taken to the streets protesting against Israel's continued aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip, protesting in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

(CROWD chanting in foreign language.)

BAYAN ABU GHARBIYA, PROTESTER (through translator): We are doing this for our families who are dying in Gaza because we are unable to do anything. So the least we can do is stand here in solidarity with them, to support them, so that they know that we are with them with our hearts and everything.

(CROWD chanting in foreign language.)

BASHIR (voice over): There is palpable outrage here in Jordan of Israel's ongoing bombardment of besieged Gaza Strip and deep seated anger directed towards Israel and Israel's Western allies.

(CROWD chanting in foreign language.)

BASHIR (voice over): Many here even calling on the Jordanian government to close down the US and Israeli embassies in Amman.

For days now, protests have taken place not only across Jordan, but also across the wider region. In Cairo, where the state has long clamped down on mass demonstrations, hundreds gathered into Tahrir Square.

(CROWD chanting "We need justice.") BASHIR (voice over): Hours earlier, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was forced to cut his visit short after protests erupted there.

Gaza has faced relentless Israeli airstrikes for almost two weeks now.

(CROWD chanting in foreign language.)

BASHIR (voice over): And protests across the Arab world and the wider region are at a boiling point. Iraq, Tunisia, Yemen, and Turkey, and even further afield, and with Gaza on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, this protest movement is only growing stronger.


BASHIR (on camera): Look, Becky, I cannot overstate the significance of the Palestinian cause for many people across the Middle East. Just walking around Amman, we've seen Palestinian flags hanging out of car windows, on balconies, vigils that have been set up for the people of Gaza and this is really something, a sentiment that is shared by almost everyone that we have spoken to here in Amman.

ANDERSON: Echoed in countries around the region and it is very, very clear. Is this an inflection point for the plight of the Palestinian people? Well, one would hope so.

Nada, thank you.

When we come back, trucks full of humanitarian supplies are still stuck at that Rafah Crossing. The head of the UN says getting them into Gaza, getting those supplies into Gaza is a matter of life and death.

I'll be speaking to a doctor inside Gaza after this.



ANDERSON: A reminder of our breaking news this hour: Hamas has released two American hostages to the Red Cross. The militant group said in a statement that they freed a mother and her daughter and I quote, "In response to Qatari efforts."

We now know their identities, Judith Raanan and her daughter, 17-year- old -- her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie Raanan are from Chicago and were visiting relatives at a kibbutz when Hamas attacked.

Nic Robertson joining me now from Sderot. I'm just getting more from now actually from the Qataris themselves, Nic, and so let me just give you what I have.

The official spokesman for Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says and I quote: "Two American civilian hostages have been released by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Today's breakthrough comes after many days of continuous communications between all parties. We will continue our dialogue with both the Israelis and Hamas and we hope these efforts will lead to the release of all civilian hostages from every nationality with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace."

Qatar, of course, let's remind our viewers, mediating these efforts. There are clearly no direct talks between Israel, the US, and Hamas. Qataris mediating those talks. That is their response. They've also -- I've also heard from diplomatic sources that they hope there is -- there will be more to come. Your thoughts.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, what was really interesting today, Becky, from the perspective of where we stand, one mile from Gaza was the quietness in Northern Gaza this evening, and through the day, it was very, very quiet. No missiles going in, no artillery -- or very, very few and no real big salvos of rockets coming out of Gaza, absolutely quiet. Even the drones that are buzzing around in the sky now, we couldn't hear them. They didn't appear to be there.

But the moment that news was being released about the release of the two hostages, immediately that that happened, a huge salvo of rockets fired up from behind us here in Gaza out towards Northern Israel. The interceptors went up. An hour later, that was repeated again, and in that intervening period, five different separate salvos of rockets were fired on to this location here. That is more in the space of an hour and a little bit that we've had here in the space of several days.

So it does create the impression that while on the one hand, Hamas is giving up two hostages and we don't know the deal that's been done behind that, but we know that they've been released and Hamas says that's for humanitarian reasons, but also to send a message the American people, the people of the world that they say that President Biden is like, but nevertheless, a quiet day here with no drone activity.

And as soon as those hostages were released, multiple, multiple salvos of rockets fired out of Gaza. It creates the impression that without rocket fire into Gaza, missile fired into Gaza or drones observing the launch sites that Hamas had the opportunity to set up a number of rocket launchers. It creates that impression.

We don't know if that's the real sequence, but it was a striking change in the day when the impression through the day had been all quiet, it seems that something has been negotiated in the background, which subsequently we know that it was.


ANDERSON: It's fascinating.

So a diplomatic source telling me that the hope is that there will be more to come and clearly those families of the Israeli and foreign nationals who are being held as we understand it, now, this is over 200, so we've seen the release of two US citizens at this point. You know, more than 200, as we understand it, still being held. So, you know, these families will be absolutely, you know, I'm sure thrilled to see the release of these two women, but obviously hoping for more to come.

What I was told by a diplomatic source who is was very familiar with what's going on in these negotiations. Originally, we understood that this would be, you know, what Hamas was looking for was a prisoner exchange, it doesn't appear to have been that at this point, those of hostages that Hamas has taken, women and women and children to be exchanged for women and teenagers being held by the Israelis, Palestinians, as of yet. You know, more details perhaps to come.

But as things stand, as we understand it, it is just these two Americans, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, I'm sure the families are thrilled that they are now being reunited with their families.

Nic, we are, of course, you've just described what's been going on in the past hours down where you are. We are, of course, you know, waiting on the -- on Israel's military to sort of reveal what their next move will be, what the next phase in this war will look like. Is it any clearer?

ROBERTSON: It isn't, although they remain prepared. We're told that they're ready when they decide, when the military decides to have an incursion to go into Gaza and I think when we measure Hamas' actions now against what they've done in the past, that prisoner exchanges they've done in the past, they held the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit for five years, exchanged him for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners.

So I think when we see less than one percent of the hostages released now, at a moment, when there was an expectation, Israel was on the verge of an incursion. I mean, I think this begins to set a potential pattern, or at least a system of effort from Hamas, potentially to release a few and then wait some time, maybe release a few more, because the hostages for Hamas represent an opportunity to hold back in Israeli incursion. We don't know if that has happened, but it is beginning to create or may create in coming days that impression further that Israel's hand is being forced by this.

Because at one time Hamas had also indicated that they wanted a ceasefire. The UN secretary-general had said hostages for humanitarian aid. We know that there are 219 UN trucks at the Egyptian border, and we understand that there was an agreement for 20 trucks. And President Biden has said that those 20 trucks of humanitarian aid should be able to get into Gaza in the next 24 or 48 hours. I think the US administration was ambitious earlier in the week, and that didn't pan out. We don't know if it'll pan out this time.

But all of these things come into play, so where does the Israeli military stand? It seems they're slightly at the moment in hock to the way that Hamas is dealing A., with the hostages and potentially the pressure -- international pressure about humanitarian aid.

ANDERSON: Well, Nic, thank you. We are hearing a chorus of calls for military restraint, for a pause in the fighting, for a ceasefire. These calls coming from around this region. It was a call made by the Palestinian prime minister who I had a long discussion with early on today. It was a fascinating conversation, and more of that discussion is coming up.

Meantime, President Biden is rolling out a $100 billion foreign aid package today. The only thing is, it is heading to a totally dysfunctional Congress.

More from Washington on that. it is up next.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back with a reminder of our breaking news this hour. Hamas releasing two American hostages to the Red Cross. And we now know their identities too. Judith Raanan and his 17-year-old daughter Natalie are far from Chicago and were visiting relatives at a kibbutz when Hamas attacked. The White House has also released a statement.

M.J. Lee joins us with details. Recently at the White House, M.J. but the president "overjoyed."

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is certainly a huge moment of victory for this White House and triumph really, given that President Biden has placed such importance on trying to get these American hostages home. The President just released a statement, really celebrating the release of these two American citizens from Hamas' grip.

And they said -- he said in a statement that from the earliest moments of this attack, we have been working around the clock to free American citizens who are taken hostage by Hamas. And we have not ceased our efforts to secure the release of those who are still being held. He goes on to thank the government of Qatar and the government of Israel for their partnership in this work.

You know, up until a few minutes ago that had really raised the question of whether there are more American hostages being held by Hamas because keep in mind, the U.S. government has never given a firm number as to how many American hostages they believe were being held. They had only so far said maybe a handful. And U.S. official has just told me that this line from the President's statement is suggesting, is confirming that there are additional American hostages currently being held.


Now that of course raises many questions about the prospects of their potential release. What efforts are being made and how close the U.S. government might be in getting additional Americans out. CNN had also reported earlier today that the U.S. had been told by Israelis that there were some American hostages believed to be alive. Of course, we now know that at least two of them were these two mother and daughter who have just been released.

And I don't have to tell you that this, of course, marks an incredible, rare bright spot for this White House and the President and what has been a really bleak and dark couple of weeks as they have watched the scenes of horrific terror and violence coming out of the region. The President had repeatedly said that getting these American hostages out of Gaza was his top priority.

But he had also said, look, the efforts that are going on behind the scenes, the hour-by-hour effort really he had said, not all of that was something that he could talk about publicly. And so, now we are sort of getting that first confirmation of some of those efforts having the effect of again, the release of these two American hostages, certainly a big moment of celebration for this President and this White House.

CHATTERLY: Yes, certainly. And, of course, for the families involved, too. But I just want to reiterate the point that you made and it's a crucial point, as I'm reading through this statement again. We have not ceased our efforts to secure the release of those who are still being held. No specification on whether they are more Americans or whether it's talking just in general, as we know, there are many more hostages, individuals still being held.

The question is, do we get more information on that, whether it's from the State Department or beyond, M.J.?

LEE: Yes. To be clear, what I asked this U.S. official was whether there are more American hostages being held. And I was told that yes, there are additional American hostages in addition to these two that were just released, that are being held. But I think you get to a really important point. There are just so many complexities, complications that make it really challenging for U.S. officials to even talk about and broach this subject.

The intelligence that they're getting, whether it's from the Israelis, whether it's from the Qataris. A lot of the stuff they really just cannot share because so much of it is so sensitive and obviously when it comes to Hamas, they are not sort of the regular sort of group or actor that you can negotiate with. So that has been an incredible challenge for the U.S. government as well.

CHATTERLEY: That have been released and are now coming home. OK. Thanks very much there to M.J. Lee.

Now, coming up. Caught in a war they didn't ask for. We'll bring you the story of Gaza's children just ahead.



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The forced displacement of Palestinians would represent a second catastrophe for the Palestinian people. That was a message from Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Well, I asked the Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh about Israel's instruction to nearly one million people to move from the north to the south of Gaza. This is what he told me. Have a listen.


MOHAMMED SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER: Palestinians in 1948 were pushed out of their homes, were forcefully transferred to the neighboring countries. Now for Israel, to push again, for a forceful transfer of more than a million Palestinians from Gaza, out of Gaza, out of Palestine into Egypt is something that has been designed to end the question of the Palestinian right to return of the Palestinian refugees which was a final status issue on the negotiations.

So, that is a concern for Egypt because Egypt is not ready to be part of a conspiracy to end this Palestinian issue that's called the refugees. And also, for Jordan. If that is going to happen in Egypt, then who will prevent the Israelis from pushing us here in the West Bank to be forcefully transferred to Jordan? And that is where the issue of transfer is such a concern because it is a national security issue for Egypt.

It's a national security issue for Jordan. But it is an existential issue for us, the Palestinians.

ANDERSON: What's Israel's plan? If it does destroy Hamas, who will govern Gaza? Is there a world in which the P.A. takes over?

SHTAYYEH: We will not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank. The solution for Gaza is not going to take us anywhere. A solution in the West Bank alone is not going to take us anywhere. So, what we want is a comprehensive solution that ends occupation.

ANDERSON: There has been a surge in violence in the West Bank amid this Gaza conflict. Since October the 7th more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in either settler violence or by Israeli security. How would you describe the situation here today?

SHTAYYEH: Very inflammatory, very dangerous. And as you rightly said, what you see in the West Bank is incursions into Al Aqsa Mosque. Home demolitions, settler terrorism. This Israeli government has changed rules of engagement. Ben Gvir has been distributing machine guns to settlers. They have been channeling violence against us. So, there is a mood of anger. Palestinians are demonstrating in support with our people in Gaza.

Our -- the people who are in the streets today are average Palestinians because they know who is (INAUDIBLE) Gaza are average Palestinians, kids and children and women.

ANDERSON: The IDF has been conducting raids. Specifically in the Nur Shams refugee camp. They say they are targeting Hamas operations. They said this is counter-terror raids. How extensive aren't Hamas' operations in this area.

SHTAYYEH: I don't say that they are not. But I'm saying that this situation can be all under control by the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinian Authority is allowed to function. And they -- and we have not been allowed to function. The Israelis when you have people killed in the refugee camp of Jenin, people react. A funeral generates funeral. And blood generates blood. And very unfortunately, that Israel is the main cause for all what has been happening here under.

ANDERSON: Prime Minister, we are hearing calls on the streets for Mahmoud Abbas, the president to resign. What do you make of those calls?

SHTAYYEH: Look, people are angry. Mahmoud Abbas has been elected by the general public.

ANDERSON: But there hasn't been an election in 16 years.

SHTAYYEH: Correct. Yes. But we have been -- he issued -- President Abbas issued a decree calling for general elections on the 22nd of May 2021. And it was the Israelis who did not allow us at a time when Israel had five elections in four years.


Palestinians were not allowed to have their own elections.


ANDERSON: To many Palestinians, the Palestinian Authorities central message that liberation can be achieved through diplomacy has failed. Has it failed? Can diplomacy still succeed? Is there -- is there still room for a political solution? Because we are witnessing at present a vacuum into which Hamas is taking terror, not diplomacy as a tool.

SHTAYYEH: Good question. If the situation is deteriorating every single day because of the Israeli measures, then people are looking the other way. But if you ask the Palestinian public, do you want peace? They will say yes. Do you want two states? They will say yes. Do you want end of occupation? They will say yes.


ANDERSON: That was the Palestinian Prime Minister speaking to me earlier in Ramallah in the West Bank where sadly, past 24 hours we have seen more deadly violence.

Well, more than 4000 people have died in Gaza since Israel launched its first attacks nearly two weeks ago. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, about 40 percent of that death toll is made up of children.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh brings us their story and I have to warn you, some of the images in Jo's report are graphic and you might find them difficult to watch.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Why? Why have you gone my son? He wails. He wanted to be a pilot. You're only sleeping, he says. Kissing his boy's lifeless body.

Every day of this war has brought pain. Pain no parent wants to ever live through. Every 15 minutes in Gaza, a child is killed, a group say. More than 1500 children killed so far in a war that's only just beginning. A war they didn't choose. One for which they are paying the heaviest price.

Those who live haunted by what they've survived. The lucky ones still have parents to hold their hands. 10-year-old Abdurrahman (ph) still doesn't know the strike that left him injured took away his mom, dad and three sisters. His on the only one left to try and comfort him. He wakes up, he cries, they give him painkillers and he goes back to sleep, she says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm worried about him. The shock when he wakes up and finds out that his mother and father are gone, his aunt says. He's the youngest. He was so attached to his parents. He used to play football with his dad. He would go with him everywhere.

Families here say they all hated the Israeli military's warning and moved south thinking it would be safe. But it wasn't. Malik's (ph) injured in the hips and legs. She lost her mother and siblings in an airstrike.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A girl in the third grade. What did she do? Her aunt asks. Did she shoot Israelis? She didn't. We're peaceful people in our home, she says. We didn't launch any rockets or shoot. We didn't do anything.

Nine-year-old Mahmoud (ph) was out playing when his family home was hit. He's in hospital with head and leg injuries.

MAHMOUD AL-ALOUL, INJURED CHILD (through translator): We were playing in the garden and suddenly a missile landed on us, he says. Trees fell on me. My mother, my father, my brother and grandfather are injured. My uncle brought me unconscious to the hospital.

Most of the injured in Gaza doctors say are children and women with no power, no water and medical supplies running out. The health care they need is on the verge of collapse. Around half of Gaza's population are children. Most have only ever known life under a blockade and war. Now in this Kill Box, no play safe from Israel's relentless bombardment. Desperate for any promise of safety, many have flooded Shifa hospital grounds.

The constant buzz of military drones overhead has become part of existence in Gaza. Some find a little escape from this living nightmare no child should ever endure. Loujain and Julia say their neighborhood was flattened by airstrikes.

LOUJAIN MASABE, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): We've been living in so much fear, panic and anxiety, she says. Whenever I hear airstrikes, I don't know what to do. I hug my mom.

KARADSHEH: Seven-year-old Julia says she holds her mom too and hides. They're now living under the stairs.


JULIA AL-BAYYARI, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): I get upset when I see injured here in the hospital, Julia says. When I grow up, I want to become a doctor so I can treat them so they can get better.

KARADSHEH: It's a war on Hamas, they say, but it is the youngest who bear the brunt. Ensnared in violence they can't control trapped in this race against death.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Jerusalem, we will be right back.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Because the world's eyes have been fixed on Israel, Ukrainian troops appear to be making gains near the Dnipro River. Reportedly having crossed the river into the Russian-occupied her song region. Ukraine has not officially commented on any cross- river operations but an update to its military staff Thursday notes. Russian aircraft -- airstrikes on the eastern bank suggesting a Ukrainian presence in the area.

This comes after Russian military bloggers claimed earlier this week that Ukrainian military units had pushed into multiple eastern bank villages. To give us a better sense now of what's happening, CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton joins us now. Colonel Leighton, good to have you with us. Just so our viewers understand, Russia and Ukraine have been on the standoff on either side of the banks of this river in the Kherson region for what the best part of a year now after Russia withdrew from the west side.

If this is true and Ukraine is now on the east side, how important is this in terms of breakthrough?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Julia that's a significant development because what that shows is that the Ukrainians have somewhat of an amphibious capability, at least in terms of their river crossing capability. And that means that the Russian positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro are not safe. They are basically quite vulnerable too. At least some of the Ukrainian moves.

And it also means that the hole that the Russians have in that area in the south in that western part of their land bridge between the Donbas region and Crimea. That is also vulnerable. So, at that point, what you -- we might see, Julia, is the possibility of further Ukrainian advances.

CHATTERLEY: Their whole progress on the counteroffensive as we've been calling has been slowed by Russian minefields and then trying to progress through those as best they can surely they're going to find exactly the same thing now on the east side of the river. [15:55:06]

CHATTERLEY: So, how quickly can you -- can we expect progress from here?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think it's going to take some time, because you're absolutely right to point out that the Russians have had months to deploy minefields to put other barriers up the, you know, the famous tank traps that they have. The trenches. All of those things are definitely present on the eastern bank of Dnipro. A -- they are less extensive in some parts of this area in Kherson than they are in areas further east like in Zaporizhzhia.

But they are still there. And it's going to take some time for the Ukrainians to move forward. They are going to have to deal with personnel shortages, trained personnel. I have, you know, basically suffered quite a great deal of losses of attrition. I, you know, during these months of warfare and it is going to be tough going for the Ukrainians. But with the use of ATACMS and other weapons from the West, they may be able to gain a bit more of a foothold on the eastern side.

CHATTERLEY: That's exactly what I was going to ask you next. The ATACMS, the delivery of the U.S.-made army tactical missile systems. So, this is the long-range weaponry that the Ukrainians have now been asking for in greater size for many months. What difference is this going to make? And do you think we're already seeing the impact or is it too early to say?

LEIGHTON: It's a bit early to say, but I think we are actually seeing some impact right now, Julia. And the reason I say that is they've -- the Ukrainians have successfully begun to employ ATACMS missiles against some targets in the southern part of the areas of Ukraine that they're -- that the Russians are occupying. They've also been able to attack some targets in the northern part of Crimea.

So, given that very fact indicates that they are using the system effectively. And as they get more used to incorporating the system in -- within their forces that could then result in further movement. And once that happens, I think it'll make some difference in terms of the territory that the Ukrainians can regain, and of course, on the Russian side territory that the Russians are potentially likely to lose.

CHATTERLEY: Great to get your perspective, sir. Our Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton there. Thank you for your time. We'll be back after this. Stay with us.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. U.S. President Joe Biden says he thinks aid trucks will be able to get into Gaza within two days. The international effort to get help to Palestinians seem to have stalled. Today the head of the U.N. visited the Rafah crossing where trucks of supplies have built up waiting to get through. Antonio Guterres had this to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: So, these trucks are not just trucks. They are a lifeline. They are the difference between life and death for so many people in Gaza.


ANDERSON: And so important that border is opened. Well, some good news just to end the hour. For the first time, hostages taken captive by Hamas have been released. Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie we're visiting relatives that a kibbutz when Hamas attacked.