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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN International: Israel Increasing Airstrikes In Gaza; IDF Will Enter The Gaza Strip To Destroy Hamas; Rafah Crossing Allows 20 Aid Trucks Into Gaza; World Leaders Meet In Cairo For Peace Summit; Arab Leaders Gathered In Cairo On Saturday To Try And Secure A Ceasefire; Egypt Criticizes International Community; Peace Summit In Egypt Ends Without Accord; Pro-Palestinian Protests Growing Across Middle East; Hamas Releasing Two American Hostages; First Aid Convoy Reaching Gaza; Interview With Eastern Mediterranean W.H.O. Regional Emergency Director Dr. Richard Brennan; Bided Committed To Ensuring Aid To Gaza; 100,000 People Gathering In Central London Calling For Immediate Ceasefire In Gaza; Lawyers, Politicians And Academics Warns U.K. Officials In Aiding Israeli War Crimes; Interview With British Conservative MP And International Centre Of Justice For Palestinians Co-Director Crispin Blunt; Israeli Tanks And Troops Line Gaza Border; Family Says Goodbye To Hero Medic. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 21, 2023 - 16:00 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.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bianca Nobolo in London. Welcome back to our breaking news coverage of the Israel Hamas war.
It's now 11:00 p. m. in Jerusalem, and we have new developments unfolding right now. An IDF spokesperson says that they're going to increase airstrikes in Gaza from today, and the IDF chief of staff telling military commanders that they will "enter the Gaza Strip and launch an operation to take out and destroy Hamas." It's not clear exactly when that will happen, but Israeli troops, tanks, and armored personnel carriers have lined the border with Gaza for days now.
This, as U.S. President Joe Biden is promising that he will work with allies to keep Egypt's Rafah Border Crossing into Gaza open for humanitarian aid.
For the first time since the Israel Hamas war began two weeks ago, 20 trucks filled with food, water and medical supplies went into Gaza today, but the crossing only remained open briefly. Palestinian officials say the supplies are not nearly enough amid constant Israeli shelling and airstrikes. More on that now from CNN's Clarissa Ward in Cairo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, now, it's been two weeks of no aid, relentless bombardment, mass displacement. 20 trucks is obviously just a drop in the ocean. But officials are saying that they're hopeful that this is the start of something more sustained, more continuous. The U.N. believes and hopes that potentially tomorrow or on Monday, that more of their trucks could go through.
Today, those 20 trucks were Egyptian Red Crescent trucks. They drove through the Rafah Border Crossing. They unloaded that aid, which was food, water, medicine. Palestinian trucks then loaded the aid and drove it through to the Gaza side.
Now, there's a meeting today of Arab leaders here in Cairo, it's called a Conference of Peace. President Sisi, the Egyptian president, spoke in the last hour or so. He said, this is a welcome sign, but it's not enough. We need to build on this and establish a sustained humanitarian corridor. We need a humanitarian ceasefire as well. And beyond that, we need to work on establishing some kind of a peace process, a two-state solution. So, quite a long list of things that need to happen.
Right now, there seems to be consensus, at least on that first step, of trying to establish a more continuous or sustained humanitarian corridor. But the hospitals at this stage are barely functioning. The fuel supplies, according to one U.N. person who I was speaking to, will be out or depleted in two or three days. So that is a vital resource that is desperately needed and negotiations ongoing to try to get at least 100 trucks in every single day in what would be the beginning of a continuous corridor and hopefully eventually also the establishment as the Israelis had previously mentioned, and also President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken of some kind of a humanitarian zone where some of the 900,000 displaced people inside Gaza could find some refuge and some respite. We are still, though, a long way from that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Clarissa for us there. And CNN's Sara Sidner is also anchoring the show for you this evening, and she joins us from the ground in Jerusalem. Sara, you were telling us earlier that it's been quiet and prayerful there today, but tell us more about the mood and the presumed tension that people feel seeing that a ground invasion of Gaza may be imminent.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think what you are seeing in Jerusalem is because it is Shabbat, because this is a day of rest and prayer for the Jewish population, but it is also a day where people realize that this is the anniversary of that surprise attack by Hamas that ended up with -- in the deaths, the killings of more than 1,000 people in Israel, men, women and children. So, there is a somber feeling here.
It is quieter than I have ever seen it. I used to live here back in 2012 and '13 and have been back in 2014 and 2020 and I have absolutely never seen Jerusalem like this, where the old city is very easily to traverse. Usually, it is backed and packed with tourists and people from all around the world and local people going about their business.
So, you can really tell that something has happened here in a similar way to what happened during the beginning of COVID, where you saw people shutting down and people sort of just waiting until the danger is over. There is a similar feeling, although a very different situation that is happening in this country.
Certainly, there is official war here in Israel, and you can certainly tell by the mood of people here and by the concern of those who live in the West Bank, those who have been out protesting in large numbers against the Israeli bombardment in Gaza that has been unrelenting because of the humanitarian crisis it has caused and the number of deaths, including those of children in a place where about 50 percent of the population is under the age of 18. Bianca.
NOBILO: And, Sara, we'll be right back with you in a moment to pick up on some of those very important stories.
First of all, let's talk about the Egypt Peace Summit, which is now over, and it ended without an accord. Arab leaders had gathered in Cairo on Saturday to try and secure a ceasefire. Israeli and senior U.S. officials, though, were absent.
The Egyptian president is now criticizing the International Community for not doing enough to end the violence. and to address the root cause of the problem. Jordan's king, Abdullah, also has some strong words for leaders from Europe and elsewhere.
So, to discuss this, let's bring in CNN's Nada Bashir, who's in Amman, Jordan. Nada, take us through what happened at the summit, what the Arab leaders had to say, their understanding of what led to the Hamas attack, and what should happen next.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, Bianca, as you mentioned, no resolution coming out of that summit. But, of course, as you also mentioned, no key players, or rather some key players, were missing from that summit. We heard that vocal condemnation once again from President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, as well as the Jordanian king, Abdullah. Both have been vocal from the outset of Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip, when it comes to the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza, when it comes to the mounting civilian death toll that we are seeing.
And of course, as we heard from King Abdullah, who is, of course, a key player in any prospect for a peace resolution when it comes to the situation in the Gaza Strip, as is Egypt, they have long been key players. The king of Jordan, the Jordanian government overall, an ally of the United States as well.
King Abdullah was vocal. He condemned the violence that we've seen in Gaza as well as the West Bank and also, in Israel. Let me just read you a quick bit from his statement earlier today. He said, the relentless bombing campaign underway in Gaza as we speak is cruel and unconscionable on every level. It is collective punishment of a besieged and helpless people. It is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is a war crime.
Now, of course, among the key focuses of this summit was trying to secure that consistent supply of humanitarian aid into Gaza, as well as trying to find some sort of resolution to bring about a ceasefire. That, of course, does not seem to be on the table at this current point in time.
We've heard from an IDF spokesperson saying that the Israel Defense Forces will increase their airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. And of course, it's not just the reaction that we're seeing on the diplomatic front, but we're seeing that reaction to these ongoing airstrikes on the streets across the Middle East, across the globe, to be honest, Bianca.
We've seen huge demonstrations here in Amman. Every night we've seen hundreds gathering outside the Israeli embassy protesting in solidarity with the Palestinian people calling for an end to the airstrikes. Yesterday, we saw thousands of people marching through the streets of Amman once again, protesting those airstrikes.
To date, it has proven to be a little quieter, but we saw a peaceful sit in outside the European Union office here in the Jordanian capital. So, that reaction is still very strong. We've seen protests across the Middle East. We've seen protests in London, in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Paris. These protests are picking up. And as we see these airstrikes intensifying as well, of course, the potential for a ground incursion, which does appear to be looming, according to IDF spokespeople, those protests are only going to intensify.
There is a real sense of outrage, of condemnation here in the Middle East. When we talk about the death toll that we're seeing in Gaza, more than 4,000 people, among them more than 1,700 children. And of course, hundreds of thousands of people now displaced.
We heard that evacuation order from the IDF earlier this week, or rather last week, calling on people in Northern Gaza to evacuate to the south. And as we know, there are still people in Northern Gaza who have been unable to evacuate. We've heard from medics from Doctors Without Borders who have said they won't evacuate. The Red Crescent saying it won't evacuate because they cannot leave without their patients, the elderly, children on incubators, babies.
This is the reality on the ground in Gaza. This is the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe as rights organizations have described it and characterized it. And the anticipation is that if we see these airstrikes continue, if we see this ground incursion, it is only going to get worse.
Let's not forget Gaza has been under a blockade since 2007. It is a densely populated area. It is under siege, and this is a huge crisis. Of course, the pressure is mounting on Arab leaders, particularly those who are in a position, potentially, to work on a peace resolution, including here in Jordan and, of course, Egypt. There is mounting pressure on them right now. Bianca.
NOBILO: Nada, thank you so much. And you are absolutely right about the global protest even coming into the office today. There was a huge pro-Palestinian protest that had well over 10,000 people that I walked through. And even within the governments that seem to be taking quite a sure- footed stance and full-throated support of Israel, like the British government. We have an MP coming on in a few minutes time who has notified the government that he will likely try and prosecute them for war crimes and complicity. So, there is even division, of course, within the governments that take a fairly strong stance in support of Israel. Nada Bashir, thank you so much for being with us this evening.
And we'll be right back after a short break. Do stay with CNN for our continued coverage of the Israel Hamas war.
NOBILO: Hamas has released two hostages nearly two weeks after abducting 200 people in Israel. U.S. citizens Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan were handed over at the border with Gaza. The pair are currently in the care of the IDF and spoke to U.S. President Joe Biden. CNN's Whitney Wild reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The walk to freedom in a snapshot. 59-year-old Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, are finally safe after two weeks as Hamas hostages.
They're headed home after many prayers and tears.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they're innocent.
WILD (voiceover): A community's fear now replaced by joy.
RABBI MEIR HECHT, CO-DIRECTOR, CHABAD OF EVANSTON, ILLINOIS: Our prayers have been heard for Judith and Natalie, and we are so overjoyed.
WILD (voiceover): Judith and Natalie traveled to Israel from Evanston, Illinois, and have been missing since the Hamas attacks on October 7th. They were visiting a kibbutz in Israel for Judith's mother's 85th birthday. Judith's sister told CNN she had no idea if they'd ever return.
SARAY COHEN, JUDITH RAANAN'S SISTER: I'm very worried about my sister and my niece. My niece is of -- she's not even 18. She's supposed to be celebrating her birthday on the 24th of this month. We know that young women are being raped and injured. And Judith is -- she's not very, very healthy.
WILD (voiceover): She says Hamas kidnapped 11 other family members from another kibbutz and they are still missing. Those CNN cannot independently verify that information.
COHEN: As you can imagine, we are devastated and we are having quite a hard time. WILD (voiceover): Natalie's brother told CNN he's looking forward to hugging his younger sister again and helping however he can as she recovers from the trauma.
BEN RAANAN, NATALIE RAANAN'S BROTHER: At least from my father, Natalie is doing well, is composed. We are ready to start this incredible journey of healing and trauma relief for her.
HECHT: Both Judith and Natalie our artists, kind, giving, generous souls.
WILD (voiceover): The office of the Israeli prime minister says the Israel Defense Forces met Judith and Natalie at the Gaza border Friday, along with the International Committee of the Red Cross, transferring them to a military base in the center of Israel to meet family members.
As one family readies to embrace their loved ones, the families and friends of hundreds more are left to wait and wonder.
HECHT: They've gone through the most evil period of their life. For And by people that inflicted just terror and horror to them and to so many others, and our job is to be there for them.
WILD: The White House says President Biden spoke with Judith and Natalie by phone Friday. This as U.S. officials work around the clock to try to bring home 10 other Americans still missing in this conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Now, let's go back to Sara Sidner who's in Jerusalem for us to get more on that humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
SIDNER: Yes. Only about a third of what normally goes into Gaza has been allowed in and this humanitarian crisis, so obviously not nearly enough aid for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians there who need it.
I want to get now to Richard Brennan. He is with the World Health Organization. Thank you, sir. So much for joining us. You said that just getting this done, getting those 20 trucks in, even though it is so little aid, it is something and an important breakthrough. But you said that it was quite complex trying to get this done. Can you give us some sense of the complexities and how they were worked through?
DR. RICHARD BRENNAN, W.H.O. REGIONAL EMERGENCY DIRECTOR, EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN: Yes. As you say, it's a very small but important first step. And getting the supplies across the border is in fact the very first step. From there, we've got to distribute the supplies throughout Gaza in the case of the medical supplies to the hospitals that need them, and of course to the communities that need them. But there are a lot of constraints. There's still a lot of roads that are damaged and just the logistics exercise of getting through, damaged roads and through past collapsed buildings, that's one step.
The second thing is, of course, Gaza is an active combat zone. We need humanitarian pauses. Of course, the best solution for this entire humanitarian catastrophe is a ceasefire, a sustained ceasefire. ?And we absolutely need the aid to be protected. Convoys, you know, cannot be successfully managed when there is active airstrikes. So, that's a huge problem as well.
And the third issue is that we still do not have guarantees that the aid will be sustained. We need, as you've said, just -- this is the first step, but we need sustained convoys for the foreseeable future at a much bigger scale, upwards of 100, maybe 200 trucks per day.
SIDNER: Richard, we have heard today, Bianca Nobilo spoke with someone from the IDF, the Israeli military, who said that, you know, the airstrikes were going to continue again at bombardment there, and that it basically is imminent, that there will be a ground war, it is a matter of when. And with knowing that the possibility of getting more trucks in sustained would be extremely difficult, if not dangerous.
What kind of a deal have you made? Do you think that this is something that could potentially be sustained? And how do you get the aid to the people who need it the most? As you talked about trying to traverse some of this really, really difficult terrain with collapsed buildings and roads that have been bombed out, how are you getting it and distributing it all? And what is being distributed at this point with these 20 trucks that were allowed in?
DR. BRENNAN: They're all important questions. In terms of the negotiations, we at the World Health Organization, we are not engaged in those negotiations about the safe passage of the aid. Those discussions are going on at a high level within the United Nations with, I understand, western diplomats and Israeli authorities.
And we do hope that there is a decision that there be, at the very least, humanitarian pauses and protection for the convoys as they pass through the roads of Gaza.
The distribution of the aid is only being possible at a small level at this stage. We need to get into Northern Gaza where the needs are great. And of course, there's an evacuation order still. ongoing for North Gaza, including for hospitals, which are providing a lifeline for the communities.
So, we continue to advocate. We continue to meet at our level, the operational level and ask that those messages be passed up to senior officials within the Israeli government and indeed within the negotiating bodies.
But people are dying unnecessarily right now for the lack of access to aid. Fuel is another enormous need right now. Fuel is required to run the desalination plants, to provide clean water. It's required to sustain the functioning of hospitals, of ambulances, and so on. That has -- fuel has not been included in today's convoy, not considered to be included in the next two or three convoys. If we don't get the fuel, again, that'll be life threatening for communities of Gaza. SIDNER: Yes. So, a lot of people have to realize the fuel does help with that desalination plant, so that people can have access to water. It also helps with the electricity for things like the hospitals and such, because they do have generators. But without fuel, they cannot continue to run those generators and the power. The one power station, their company there, is completely out of fuel. And so, there is no power that is flowing through Gaza at this point in time.
I am curious, can you give me some sense and the world some sense of what things were like before this crisis, before this humanitarian crisis, because things were not easy in Gaza and have not been since the Israeli blockade, I think that started back in 2007, if I'm not mistaken?
DR. BRENNAN: Yes. You're quite right. There's been a 16-year blockade of Gaza. So, most of the social services are weak, including health, health care. The World Health Organization, WHO, we've been present in Gaza for many years, supporting the Ministry of Health there.
So, I think the health system there has been very resilient. It got through the COVID pandemic, for example, it has responded to previous conflicts over the years, but it is really on its knees right now. And you know, this has just been another massive insult for a poorly functioning under resourced health system.
So, you can imagine with this massive increased burden, over 14,000 people injured, still, you know, around 200 women a day expected to give birth in Gaza, people with chronic diseases like high blood pressure and kidney disease requiring dialysis, they're running out of medications, they're running out of supplies. So, we could expect that they'd be having more complications of their illnesses as well.
So, just at a time when the health system is really close to collapse, as many people are saying, the burden on that health system is skyrocketing. So, it's a desperate situation. We've got to call on the best of our humanity and help people.
We've got to remember that around 50 percent of the population of Gaza is under the age of 18. Over 50 percent of the deaths have been amongst women and children. We've got to call on the best of our humanity. We need that ceasefire. At the very least, we need humanitarian pauses and we have to support those hospitals and clinics that are providing lifesaving work at the moment.
SIDNER: Yes. These doctors were exhausted over COVID. And now, here they are again in the worst conditions. Richard Brennan, thank you so much joining us live from the World Health Organization. We appreciate your time, sir.
DR. BRENNAN: Thank you. Thanks very much.
SIDNER: All right. Today, President Biden has committed to ensuring the continued access to food, water, and medical supplies for the people in Gaza. In a statement released after the first humanitarian supplies passed through the crossing, Biden thanked the leaders of Egypt and Israel, as well as the United Nations, at helping get that done. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is calling for the Rafah Crossing to remain open, saying, movement of aid is imperative to the welfare of the people of Gaza.
Joining me now to discuss all of this is Camila Bernal. She joins us now live. Give me some sense of what you have been hearing from these leaders about this humanitarian crisis that is unfolding every hour and getting worse by the hour in Gaza.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Sara. So, what's very interesting here is that I'm talking to Israeli Americans, Palestinian Americans who say they're really not going to wait for the government and instead are taking matters into their own hands, trying to do everything they can to get as much help to that area as possible.
In terms of the Israeli Americans that I've been talking to, they say that they're focused on getting as much money as possible, also as many supplies as possible trying to help with mental health resources and also saying that they're doing everything they can to fight misinformation.
So, initially, they were told that what was needed was tactical gear, things like bulletproof vests. And now, what they're hearing is that there's a huge need for medical supplies. So, what you're seeing there on your screen is a lot of that supplies. They say they've been able to get it through L.A., also Miami and New York in order to then ship it to Israel.
I spoke to Bulletproof Israel and the CEO of that organization, and here's what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LION SHIRDAN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, BULLETPROOF ISRAEL: For me, it wouldn't make sense to go back. But knowing so many people in Israel, knowing what they're going through, what my goal is, is just to do everything that I can to help them out. Everything, everything. It doesn't mean -- there's no limit to what I would do. It doesn't matter. They're there and they're fighting for us and they're trying to get my family out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And Lion told me that two of his family members had been kidnapped, which is part of the reason why he decided to essentially stop working and do everything he can to collect that aid and to be able to send those supplies.
Now, I also spoke to a number of organizations that are helping Palestinians in Gaza, and what I'm hearing from them is that it's a lot harder on their side. They have been very focused on trying to get political leaders to listen to them here in the United States. They say they're trying to raise as much money as possible as well, but they're also afraid to be labeled as helping a terrorist organization. So, really, they're trying to figure out exactly how to do this. But again, it's just Americans doing everything they can here to send aid to that area, Sara.
SIDNER: Yes, with the blockade, it is virtually impossible unless they can get to aid to Egypt and then have it brought in through the Rafah Border, and there have only been 20 trucks so far, a very tiny percentage of the aid that is needed in the humanitarian crisis there in Gaza. Camila Bernal, thank you so much for your reporting. And we will be right back.
NOBILO: Some 100,000 people gathered in central London Saturday for a demonstration calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Pro- Palestinian demonstrators marched through the city before massing at Downing Street. The official residence, of course, an office of the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
At least one protester carried a sign bearing photos of Mr. Sunak, U.S. President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that read, wanted for war crimes.
Just days ago, a group of lawyers, politicians and academics working to support the rights of Palestinians through the law issued a warning to Mr. Sunak, saying he and other U.K. government officials could be held liable for their role in aiding or abetting Israeli war crimes based on their public statements of unequivocal support for Israel.
Crispin Blunt is co-director of that group, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians and a conservative British MP. Thank you very much for joining the program tonight, sir. Could you tell us more about this letter which you wrote and what it's asking the government to do?
CRISPIN BLUNT, CO-DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CENTRE OF JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS: Well, this letter is now over a week old and the situation has got very much worse since. And our anxiety as a law center, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, we originally set up to find a route for justice for Palestinians who face over a hundred years of dispossession in one way or another, to try and find a way to have, frankly, a mass funded route where lawyers and writs can be used to represent Palestinians rather than bullets, bombs and mortars, which simply get the response we're seeing now in Gaza and write Israel's narrative for them.
The moral and legal position of the Palestinians is very strong, and it's on that playing field they ought to compete. Then we were pitched into this awful disaster following the 7th of October. It is undoubtedly true that the Palestinian Hamas-led fighters are responsible for a very serious war crime, but responding to one war crime with another war crime is not acceptable.
And there is a duty on international leaders of other countries then to restrain the state that is about to commit war crimes, or is in the process of committing war crimes. Otherwise, if you send a message of encouragement, you become complicit, and that's really the essential point.
We were writing to the British prime minister, the foreign secretary and the attorney general to put them on notice that we saw them as complicit because the message getting to Israel was insufficiently strong to say, you're making -- you're breaking the laws of war, you must stop. And the prime minister understandably wanting to stand alongside the people of the State of Israel and the British Jewish population in this time of great grief and trauma from the savagery of the assault was not actually discharging his proper duty, which is to make sure that the response wasn't even worse.
NOBILO: So, obviously, the prime minister, the foreign secretary, attorney general, will be aware of the points that you've just raised, and the points that you make in your letter about the indiscriminate killing of civilians, entire families being eradicated, the levelling of housing blocks, queries over the use of white phosphorus. So, what do you think is behind the British government's position here? They know the optics. They understand these arguments you're making. I'm presuming. Is it history? Is it the special relationship needing to go along with what America is doing? What's your assessment?
BLUNT: Well, if we knew the history and if our leaders really understood the history, they would recognize that right from the Balfour Declaration in 1917, followed by the British administration of Palestine under a mandate from the League of Nations between 1918 and 1948 until we handed it back when Israel declared independence, our history is tied up with these two people. So, it's intertwined.
And there were two elements to the Balfour Declaration. One triumphantly achieved a safe homeland for the Jews who had faced the most appalling hundreds of years of history of oppression in Europe. But we also promised that we would respect the rights of the existing population. And of course, that hasn't happened at all.
And we are now seeing it in almost in the last chance saloon, and with this response to Hamas' attack on Israelis, and one can ought to be able to understand the context from which that appalling event arose, but if Israel responds in a continuation of what is done already it will be way outside the reams of the laws of war, way outside the rules of the International Community about how we conduct relations between nations.
And indeed, the occupation of Gaza is already based on an illegality under international law, a straightforward breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. And of course, this conflict is now spilling over into the West Bank, with 80 Palestinians, I think, have been killed since this thing started. And the -- there are 750,000 Jewish people settled on territory that is anticipated to be the territory of a future State of Palestine. That is a straightforward breach of the most fundamental laws between states, all of which are written after the Second World War, learning the lessons from the dreadful actions of the belligerent states in that war.
NOBILO: It's part of your job, of course, to engage with your constituents and the British public. What is the sense that you get from the public in terms of whether or not they support the prime minister's position?
BLUNT: Well, the polling is quite interesting. And it would suggest that the government, and indeed my party, is right out of sympathy with the majority opinion of the public. I -- of course, everyone is horrified by what happened on the 7th of October, and the fact that over a thousand innocent Israeli citizens were butchered in the way that they were is utterly and completely inexcusable. But the response is from a state.
Now, the people of Israel, understandably, are not only traumatized, they're also enraged by what has happened. But a state has a duty to coolly and calmly consider what the position is under the law. And the Israeli response under the law at the moment is wholly illegal. And Israel's allies have a duty to restrain her. Otherwise, all liberal democracies are going to be in the most appalling trouble.
NOBILO: Crispin Blunt, thank you very much for joining us this evening. Really appreciate your insights and explanation.
Following the release of the two hostages from Hamas captivity, the White House posted this video on social media showing President Biden on a phone call with them. He told them, I'm just delighted we're able to get you out. We've been working on it for a long time. Natalie Raanan thanked the President for his "services to Israel."
Meanwhile, following days of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, some, at least, has been successfully delivered to Gaza. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins me now with more. And she is in Delaware, where President Biden is spending the weekend. Priscilla, tell us more about what the President has been doing in the last 24 hours or so in order to release hostages and, of course, be involved in diplomatic efforts to deescalate what is happening in Israel and Gaza.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, the president has been briefed by his national security team over the situation in Israel and Gaza. And he also released a statement this afternoon, recognizing that humanitarian aid had gone into Gaza, and he attributed that to days of diplomatic engagement. Of course, this is something that came on the heels of the president's trip to Israel. It's also following a conversation that the President Biden had with Egypt's president, where the two agreed to have this opened, the Rafah Crossing, that is.
Now, in a statement, the president went on to say the following, "I made it clear from the outset of this crisis, in both my public statements and private conversations, that humanitarian assistance was a critical and urgent need that had to get moving, and I express my deep personal appreciation about for the leadership of Israel -- of Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to allow for the resumption of this assistance."
And, of course, this is going to be an ongoing challenge for the administration when they recognize and one that they are working behind the scenes on. And that too -- this is also in addition to the hostages held by Hamas and getting those hostages released.
Now, this week, we learned that two American hostages were released by Hamas, the president welcoming that news, as you mentioned earlier. And yesterday, as he was making his way to Rehoboth Beach, the president said -- answered yes when asked whether he wanted to see more hostages released.
Of course, this has been incredibly complicated for the administration. Officials have said that the -- it being an active war zone as well as the complexities of a group like Hamas has made it more difficult to assess the conditions and the locations of American hostages. But when they describe it, they say it is about a handful of hostages who they say are American.
But of course, all of this ongoing, all of it complicated and it's something that the president is being briefed on regularly.
NOBILO: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much for joining us.
I made it clear for -- we're going to just take a short break and we'll be back in a few minutes with more on our top stories for you.
NOBILO: The Israeli military says it will ramp up airstrikes from today as it prepares for the next stage of war in Gaza. The IDF's chief of staff leaving no question of Israel's intention earlier on, telling commanders, "We will enter Gaza."
CNN teams saw more tanks and armored vehicles massing near the border earlier.
Meanwhile, a brief opening at Egypt's Rafah Crossing let 20 trucks into Gaza today, the first aid convoy since this war started. Officials say far more is needed, warning of an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis inside the densely populated enclave.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Ashkelon, Israel now. Jeremy, the real question this weekend is not if, now it seems, but when Israel will invade Gaza.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And from what we can see on the ground, this ground invasion does appear to be imminent, whether imminent means Tonight or tomorrow or in the coming days remains to be seen. But certainly, we are seeing a significant massing of forces around the Gaza Strip.
Just today, we were driving, you know, within 10 kilometers of the strip and we came across not one, not two, but four different groupings of armored vehicles, tanks and bulldozers, which are used to clear the roads of IEDs and other potential obstacles for those forces to be able to move in.
We have video of just one of those groupings where you can see dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers and those D9 bulldozers there. And this is -- again, we saw four different groupings of this very same size. This is all coming as we are hearing those comments from the Israeli military's chief of staff saying, we will enter Gaza, and also telling troops what their task will be.
He said that their task will be to "destroy Hamas operatives and infrastructure," and also making clear that while the -- they understand that Hamas has certainly prepared for a ground invasion, booby-trapped the Gaza Strip, dug new tunnels under the Gaza Strip and reinforced their positions, he said that while they are prepared, we are prepared also in preparing to go in.
Now, there is a real question about what a ground invasion means in terms of casualties. Certainly, Israeli politicians and generals have been preparing the Israeli public for the fact that this will be a long and painful war. Painful certainly in terms of Israeli troop casualties. But there is also a question of what this means for the civilians inside the Gaza Strip who have already suffered immensely in these two weeks of war.
The death toll altogether, including combatants as well as civilians, has risen to over 4,000 inside the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of those are women and Children. And when we witnessed a training yesterday of special forces reconnaissance unit, a reserve unit of troops, we spoke to one of their commanders, a lieutenant colonel who told us as I asked a question about civilian casualties, he said, Israel has time again warned civilians to leave the northern part of the Gaza Strip and head south. And he said, anyone who has chosen to stay there has chosen a side.
Now, he did say that Israel will nonetheless continue to try and avoid civilian casualties, but that was certainly a striking message to hear from a lieutenant colonel who is preparing his forces to go into Gaza. Certainly, the message that some troops will receive is that anyone in that area, any moving person could potentially be a target.
So, this could be a -- certainly a very bloody war ahead, very bloody days ahead as the Israeli military prepares to move into the Gaza Strip. But again, we don't know exactly when that will begin.
NOBILO: And we don't extremely fraught stakes so high and incredibly tense as we await movements from the Israeli troops and tanks. Jeremy Diamond in Ashkelon, Israel for us, thank you very much.
And in just a few moments, we'll hear a tragic story of heroism from the October 7th Hamas attacks in Israel. The family of this young medic say goodbye as they share shocking messages from that day with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
SIDNER: We now want to go to what happened on October 7th, that was exactly two weeks ago to the day. Anderson Cooper was able to speak one of the sisters of an Israeli medic who rushed to help people in one of the kibbutz that had been stormed by Hamas. Here's her story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): When Hamas gunmen arrived at the entrance of the Be'eri kibbutz around 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning, they waited for a car to arrive and opened a gate. Then they executed the people inside.
A 22-year-old medic, Amit Man, was already in the community clinic. She'd run there when rocket sirens first sounded at 6:30 a.m. She could have stayed in her apartment's safe room, but wanted to help in case anyone was wounded.
For the next seven hours, Hamas gunmen roamed the grounds, burning homes, breaking into houses, hunting residents, slaughtering more than 120 men, women, and children.
HAVIVA IZIKSON, AMIT MAN'S SISTER: She wrote us that there is terrorists in the kibbutz. They heard shooting. They heard Arabs talking. They were there, and she let us know that.
COOPER (voiceover): Haviva and Lior are two of Amit's sisters. They exchanged messages with her on WhatsApp all during the attack.
COOPER: She says, at 7:51, she says there are a lot of dead and injured here.
COOPER: The situation, I don't have any way to help.
IZIKSON: She was so upset that she can't help them. All she ever wanted to do is save life and help people.
COOPER (voiceover): At 9:13, Amit wrote, the shooting is just continuing. Then 14 minutes later, sent them this photo, a man lies dead in the clinic hall. We blurred the image of his body. The floor is smeared with blood.
At 11:02, Amit messages her sister about the gunmen. They went into houses and slaughtered people. 11:27, she writes, there's no way to get out.
Her sisters wanted to see Amit and asked her for a photo. You can see blood in the hallway behind her. Minutes later Amit wrote, where is the army? I don't understand. It's been hours.
IZIKSON: They told her it will be OK. I promise, I wrote that. I promise you, and they didn't keep my promise. I really believed she will be OK.
COOPER (voiceover): At 1:50 p.m., Amit messaged, the terrorists, they're here. Coming to us. They were coming inside the clinic.
IZIKSON: She had in there with a nurse and the doctor, the doctor got murdered as well, and two members of the kibbutz that they came with weapon to protect the clinic, the -- both of them also got murdered.
LIOR MAN, AMIT MAN'S SISTER: They ran out of ammunition.
COOPER (voiceover): At 1:54, Amit wrote, they are here. I love you. Then minutes later her last text, I don't think I'll get out of here. Please, be strong if something happens to me.
IZIKSON: And we, as you can imagine, we go crazy. And we write her, Amit please Amit, what's going on? And she doesn't answer. Then she sends us an audio recording say, you hear a lot of shooting and screaming. She sends it to us.
COOPER (voiceover): This is the recording Amit sent them at 2:05 p.m. We want to warn you, it's disturbing.
AMIT MAN (through translator): Shahar, Shahar, Shahar. Please. Please, please, please. Please let it stop. They're here.
IZIKSON: She's screaming, please, make it stop. They are here. Please, make it stop.
L. MAN: Kasha (ph) means, please, please, please --
IZIKSON: Please make it stop. And she's calling the name of Shahar, is the member of the kibbutz that was murdered. Probably, she saw him dying and then she understood --
L. MAN: That she is next.
IZIKSON: -- they're coming for her. She's next, exactly. So, in a desperate move, I call her on the phone. And she answers. And she's telling me, they shot me in the legs. And she's telling me, they murdered everybody in the clinic. She's telling me, they are on me.
L. MAN: On top of me.
IZIKSON: On top of me.
L. MAN: On top of me.
IZIKSON: And I am crying and I'm telling her, Amit, what do you mean? What do you mean? And she's telling me, I don't think I'm going to make it and that's it. The last -- the call goes down and that was the last time we heard from her.
COOPER: That was the last thing she said to you, I don't think I'm going to make it?
COOPER (voiceover): It was two days before they found out for sure Amit was dead. Her family buried her this week.
L. MAN: At least we got to say goodbye.
IZIKSON: Yes. L. MAN: So many other families --
IZIKSON: We got to say goodbye. We got bury her, you know. There are so many dead --
L. MAN: All --
IZIKSON: -- bodies that are missing. We tried to find comfort in that thing. And also, that she died doing what she loved the most, which is save lives.
A. MAN: When I was younger, I saw my daddy cried --
COOPER (voiceover): The other thing Amit loved was singing. And before we left, Haviva and Lior wanted us to hear her voice. Not as it was in those final awful seconds of her life, but as it was when she was at peace.
A. MAN: And my mama swear that she would never let herself forget. And that was the day that I promised I never sing of love if it does not exist. But, darling --
COOPER (voiceover): Amit Man was just 22 years old.
Anderson Cooper, CNN. Tel Aviv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: May Amit Man's memory be a blessing. And to all of the mothers who have lost children in this horrible conflict in this war, may they find some peace tonight. We'll be right back.