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CNN International: Israel At War; IDF To Increase Gaza Strikes; First Aid Convoy Reaches Gaza; Dire Humanitarian Conditions In Gaza; Hamas Frees Two American Citizens; Calls For More Aid After Trucks Deliver Supplies; Interview With Son Of Palestinian-American Trapped In Gaza Nabil Alshurafa; Interview With IDF International Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus; Peace Summit In Egypt Ends Without Accord; World Leaders Arrive In Cairo For Peace Summit; Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador To Turkey, Egypt, And Philippines Francis Ricciardone; Family Says Goodbye To Hero Medic. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 21, 2023 - 19:00   ET




JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our ongoing coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.

And the war between Israel and Hamas is moving closer to a new and more dangerous phase. The Israeli military tells us they plan to ramp up airstrikes in Gaza, "From today." And an Israeli spokesman told CNN earlier, a ground offensive is, "Coming soon."

Meanwhile, there are calls for further aid after 20 trucks finally managed to enter Gaza earlier, carrying precious medical supplies and canned food stuffs. Aid organizations are saying, "Time is running out before deaths could skyrocket due to the lack of water, disease, and access to health care."

In just the past day, 248 people may have been killed in Gaza, at least that's according to the Hamas -controlled government, which says more than 4,300 people have been killed since the attack in Israel on October 7th. We, of course, have no way of verifying that information.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials say, that the amount of aid crossing into Gaza earlier, is not nearly enough to address the humanitarian situation there. They say, it only represents three percent of what used to get into Gaza before this crisis. Salma Abdelaziz reports, and I want to warn you, some images may be disturbing.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Hospitals in Gaza are crumbling. Everything is running out, from surgical equipment, to medicine. And the tiniest lives, are left hanging in the balance.

We need power. We need access to clean water, this doctor says. Without basic services, this will be a humanitarian catastrophe. Already, seven hospitals and 21 primary health care facilities here are out of service, according to Palestinian officials because of shortages. After intense diplomatic efforts, prayers of relief at the Rafah Border crossing, as a trickle of aid was allowed in from Egypt. But the 20-truck convoy is only a drop in the ocean of need here, equivalent you just three percent of what entered this enclave daily prior to the conflict.

More than 200 additional trucks of assistance remain stalled on the Egyptian side, according to the U.N. And every hour, costs lives. And so far, no civilians can leave the enclave. 10-year-old Palestinian- American Aiden is among those trapped.

AIDEN BSEISO, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN: And we have no place to go. All the streets are bombed, they are literally gone. How are we supposed to go out? How? It's all closed.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Even if people are allowed out, it will be a limited number, most likely only those with foreign passports. Sealing some 2 million others, half of them children, into this hellscape. But some refused to go even if they could, fearing Israel intends to bomb and besiege them out of their homes, never to return. Even as Mahmoud (ph) buries his children, he says, he will keep fighting just to exist here.

We will still be patient, as long as we are live on this Earth, we will be patient, he says. We will never leave this land.

After the October 7th terror attacks, when Hamas killed more than 1,400 people in Israel in a brutal surprise incursion, Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas. But with hundreds of airstrikes pounding the densely populated enclave a day, innocent blood is being spilt.

Innocent children were struck down while they were sleeping, this woman shouts. What did they do? Did they carry weapons? These are innocent children who know nothing. Tell us, when will this end.

There are calls for a ceasefire to get civilians out of the war zone and allow more aid into Gaza. But the police fall on deaf ears, so far. Israel is preparing for the next phase of its operations, a potential ground incursion that can only bring more suffering.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


CHATTERLEY: 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 though they did speak to U.S. President Joe Biden, as Whitney Wild reports.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The walk to freedom in the snapshot. 59-year-old Judith Raanan and her 17-year- old daughter, Natalie, are finally safe after two weeks as Hamas hostages.


WILD (voiceover): 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 still 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 would ever return.

SARAY COHEN, JUDITH RAANAN'S SISTER: I'm very worried about my sister and my niece. My niece is -- 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 is not very, very healthy.

WILD (voiceover): She says Hamas kidnapped 11 other family members from another kibbutz and they are still missing, though 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. She is composed. We are ready to start this incredible journey of healing and trauma relief for her.

HECHT: Both Judith and Natalie are artists, kind, giving, generous souls.

WILD (voiceover): The office of the Israeli prime minister says, the Israeli Defense Forces met Judith and Natalie at the Gaza Border on 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 have gone through the most evil period of their life. 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 both 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 this conflict.


CHATTERLEY: OK. We're going to take a quick break. But in the next part of the show, fears for civilians trapped in Gaza. I will talk with a Chicago professor who's has been trying for days to get his mother to safety. We're back, after this.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." And let's get straight to Israel now for the latest on the military preparations then. Nic Robertson is in Sderot for us tonight.

Nic, good to have you with us tonight. We've had the clearest indication, I think, to date from the defense minister of Israel, from the military chief that the ground offensive will happen and it's coming very soon.


We've also seen indications of that in terms of military preparedness on the northern border. Of course, with Gaza too.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and we've been all along the sort of eastern edge of the border today as well, trying to compare and contrast with what we've seen over the past week or so. And the frenzied activity of troops rushing in, of thousands upon thousands of reservist cars outside of bases, of tank units at the side of the road repairing tank tracks. We're not -- didn't see that today.

But the security is tighter, so we can't get to the roads that are close to Gaza. So, it would be expected that's where the units that we're going to go forward into Gaza for an incursion would be. So, we only have a limited picture, but we know that the IDF has said that they will pick up and will -- and are picking up airstrikes and artillery strikes into Gaza today. We're hearing that right now. You might see some flashes behind me. We're hearing the detonations of impacts.

Compared to the previous 24 to 48 hours, where there was a relative lull in the buildup to the release of a couple of hostages. Today, there is much more activity during the daytime. We've seen strikes going into Gaza. You might just hear another detonation coming up behind me as -- there you go, that's Northern Gaza where you have villages, towns like Khan Yunis. You have Gaza City, it's literally seven and a half miles from here, and across to the coastline.

So, all those areas, if there are explosions there, generally you can hear them here. And I think that is what with -- that's what we're hearing now, that's what we have been measuring it against of over the past couple of weeks. So, the IDF is saying, yes, it's going to step up those strikes to make it safer for its troops on the ground. It is not giving a specific timeline of when those troops are going to go in.

And the level of artillery and missile strikes that we are hearing at the moment is not particularly high. It is higher than the past couple days, but it is not as high as we have heard. So, it's very hard to tell due to the fact we can't get close to the border, and you know, we can only gauge in relative terms, the amount of shelling, the amount of missiles we are hearing compared to previous days.

So, it's very hard to tell to make an assessment about when that incursion might come. But it does seem that the Israeli military are getting closer to it. But when Hamas releases hostages, when there is huge pressure for humanitarian pause, 20 aid trucks went into Gaza today. All of those things complicate the political assessment, even though we are told that the greenlight has been given to the military to decide to go in when they feel that they're ready, it complicates that picture. That's potentially what we're not able to witness, but that is potentially what is playing out in the background at the moment.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, much of this conversation, Nic, you and I were having this time a week ago, where we were suggesting that the IDF were making their preparations, that we were awaiting some kind of ground offensive. But as you quite rightly say, in many ways, there is a military war being fought. And there is also a P.R. battle, and we see that spilling all the around the world in terms of response. Do you think they're buying time to some degree, at least, to hope to get more hostages out perhaps? And also, to fulfill those hopes of more aid into Gaza too as complicated as that's been?

ROBERTSON: You know, I think at the moment, when it comes to hostages, 210 as we understand from more than 30 different nations, the initiative still lies with Hamas because they've got them and they were always going to do as they have always done in the past, use hostages for leverage. Whether it is to get their prisoners out of Israeli jails, and we've heard from Hamas's leadership that that's something that they intend to do over the longer term, or whether it is to try to buy time and buy -- therefore international pressure on Israel.

Because the longer the air campaign goes on, there's -- there are consequence civilian casualties with that, and that then becomes -- Hamas uses that to build international pressure on Israel for a humanitarian pause, to not have civilian casualties, to not have an incursion into Gaza. So, Hamas is able to potentially here offer possible hostages release, but at a very, very slow right. They can draw tension to the civilian casualties, and all of that affects Israel's calculations.

So, I think the initiative in that way, when we talk about the political and military initiative, it is very much Hamas has a lot of levers to pull. Of course, Israel has allies around the world, has partners around the world. You know, President Biden was here a couple of days ago, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, was here. Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister was here today. There was a Cypriot leader here today.


So, there have been and continue to be many leaders coming to visit Israel, supporting Israel's position, supporting Israel's right to self-defense. But also, they are leaving that message behind as well, be careful how you do it. Think about what you are going to do after the military strikes, after the incursion. What is, you know, what's your plan to deal with the Palestinians going forward? And there's a part of the Israeli population that asks that question as well. They're very united that there needs to be a response. But there's -- there are deep political divisions in the country.

To say that this is complicated is an understatement. To say that this is, perhaps, the most testing time ever that has faced not just Israel but their current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is probably a reasonably, accurate statement.

CHATTERLEY: And it underscores many of the challenges. Just on a more practical sense too, Nic, if you are the head of the military, you've got IDF forces that have been gathering. We are talking somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000, many of those are reservists. Just to keep them poised for the last two weeks, talking to them about the prospect of this invasion as we saw the head of the military doing today. But also keeping them, in a sense, on edge, waiting for that moment when they are told that they are not going to now go in, that's another additional challenge.

ROBERTSON: Yes, we have been talking about that here among our team because we've all been out. We've all seen the troops. We were with troops at the very beginning of this week who are absolutely ready. You could see that they were ready for the mission ahead. These were troops, you know, who may be or sort of 30 years old, many years of experience, a lot of years of combat experiences, some of the best fighting troops that Israel probably has at the moment. They're -- they were ready.

So, how do you keep them sharp and on that edge? How do you keep them supplied? And let's not forget, when you have so many reservists involved in the fight, that holds another areas of society. We heard from the economy minister earlier this week saying, yes, that's an issue that we have to deal with. That there is an impact on the economy and we do have to, sort of, backfill what the reservists do.

But the most pressing issue, of course, for the IDF is to keep those troops primed, ready to go focused, with the food, with the fuel that they require but not to leave them out in the field so long that when they move off, you know, they are already tired. That is not what you want from a ground invasion force that needs to have their wits absolutely sharp. That needs to have high levels of energy because they could stay in sustained contact for day after day after day.

And their preservation relies on their ability to make good, strong decisions and calculations in combat. And as we know from combat veterans, minutes in combat can feel like hours. So, anything that you subtract from that in advance by keeping troops in the field makes their lives more difficult and it makes it more dangerous. So, all of that has to become a calculation of how long can Israel leave them close to the line of contact, close to the line of departure, close to that invasion point or incursion point is unclear. But absolutely the military will not want to stretch it out too long.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, clock ticking for all. Nic Robertson, good to have you. Thank you so much for your perspective.

And while we are talking about a step up in attacks and airstrikes in Gaza, the reality, of course, is for the civilians of Gaza is almost impossible to comprehend. With those airstrikes and shelling, food, water and medicine, all running low if not gone entirely.

Our next guest, Nabil Alshurafa, has been trying for more than a week now to get his mother to safety. She is in Gaza, along with many other family members. She is Palestinian-American, and had planned to visit Gaza for just 10 days to visit her ailing mother. And now she's trapped there. And Nabil Alshurafa joins us now from Chicago.

And Nabil, good to have you with us this evening, and I'm sorry for the anxiety that you and your family are currently facing. Can I ask first and foremost, what goes through your mind when you hear me and the people in media, in particular, discussing the prospect of an intimate innovation, and a step up in airstrikes in Gaza?

NABIL ALSHURAFA, SON OF PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TRAPPED IN GAZA: Well, first of all, thank you so much. Julia, for having me on the show. It's terrifying to -- when I think about the fact that, you know, all of this is happening to my mother, and now it can even get worse. And to the Palestinian- Americans and Palestinians.

You know, I just spoke to my mother about 12 hours ago, barely, you know, could hear her when we could get a little bit of a cell phone connection through my uncle. And she was telling me it, you know, I don't want to worry you, but the situation is really worrisome. I'm worried for the entire family. It's disastrous. It's beyond one's imagination.


And so, it's terrifying to think that matters can actually get worse. There is -- food is low, water is low. There is no fuel and electricity. They had to evacuate from the northern side, about 1.1 million people had to evacuate. And they found safe haven in the south. However, because food was low, they had to go back up north to their homes to scrap up whatever they could from their refrigerators and cabinets to be able to survive, putting their lives in danger.

My mother now, four times attempted to flee Gaza Strip. The first time, she had to go back. The second, Julia, she was 10 minutes away from the Rafah Border before the Israeli military bombed Rafah, and she had to go back. The third time, the State Department told her to go to exit the Rafah Border, again, the whole negotiations fell apart and she had to go back. The fourth time, again, State Department told her to go, and she had to go, again the Israeli military bombed the Rafah Border. So, it's really terrifying now. I mean, to think that there is going to be an invasion because we know that is going to just make a disastrous situation even worse.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and she has to -- obviously has to move very quickly when she gets that call to try and get to the border to get across. She has to, I guess, drop everything and make a move as fast as she can. I know that -- she did obviously evacuate to the south. And as you said, she is now staying there. But can you just describe the conditions that she is living in? I believe there's 40 to 50 people, at this moment, in one home? You mentioned having to go and get more food. Can you tell us whether they have drinking water, whether they have any electricity? How are they living?

ALSHURAFA: It's unbelievable. Now, my mother when I talked to her, she knows how much we worry about her. And so, she tries to, you know, calm us down a bit. However, I get reality a little bit more from my aunts and uncles, it's horrible. I mean, there are 40 to 50 people in a single home, there are mattresses everywhere, there is no electricity.

And so, sometimes they try to get generators to work, solar powered generators to work for a little bit of time. There is no cell connection. So, it's just concerning. When I get that call from the State Department to tell my mother to go to the Rafah Border, how am I going to reach her to tell her to get there? And then, when she gets there, she's going to need fuel, right? And someone to be able to drive her over to the border.

And so, it's just terrifying. Just this morning, right, you know, they requested -- the State Department said go. And it's interesting, the messages we get from the State Department, right? It's sort of, you know, if you assess the situation, you know, if it's safe, then head to the Rafah Border. As if my mother has the machine learning model or algorithm that can tell her when the Israeli bombs and where they're going to fall.

It's really striking. And one thing I'm just, you know, baffled about, and I feel really betrayed by my own government is the fact that, you know, all we're requesting is for equal protection. You know, my mother is a U.S. citizen. She's been a U.S. citizen for more than 25 years. The Israeli-Americans, they get -- you know, I see the messages, they get, you know, charter flights and cruise ships, food, and wi-fi. And then, we -- you know, the Palestinian-Americans, they get starvation and bombs raining down on them.

So, all we are requesting is just, you know, for equal protection, right. I mean, why can't we request from our allies to stop bombing for a few hours and get these U.S. citizens out?

CHATTERLEY: I guess for balance, I should also point out though that if they could negotiate with Hamas, the government in Gaza, then perhaps that would also help. And of course, in this situation, they can't, Nabil. But I understand your concerns. The problem is, and I know she is trying desperately to get out. And I love the fact that she's a classic mother. That she is more worried about your worry than her situation right now. Is that she leaves behind other members of her family, her brothers, her sisters, her mother that she was visiting too. I mean, that -- that's a terribly difficult decision for her to make too. She has you, obviously, in the United States, but she has family there too.

ALSHURAFA: She is terrified, and she tells me this. She's just, you know, she's just like -- it's my -- her mother, her siblings, their kids, grandkids. And however, the situation is really horrible, and she knows that on the outside she can probably help a lot more than being on the inside and trapped right now.


So, she's praying. We're all praying that she's able to come back home. She leaves my -- you know, she takes care of my sister and her special needs, our grandson as well in California. And so, we're all, you know, hopeful that she comes back home. And I'm really requesting, you know, appealing and requesting to all Americans to really contact your representatives, to really request that we get our U.S. citizens back home.

You know, war -- I was born and raised here in the United States. And I know that the American people are good people. We are hardworking people. We love life. We do not love death. And we've seen, we know that war is not the answer. We have 4,500 deaths, right? 4,500 Palestinians that have been killed, many of them are children. Over 15,000 injured, right? Limbs, you know, gone.

What more is going to satiate the Israeli government? What more do we want? You know, 1.1 million people displaced, right? Their neighborhoods wiped out. Their memories wiped out. Just this morning, my grandma -- next to my grandmother's home in the north, the home was bombed to smithereens, and all her entire building, the windows were shattered. My wife's grandmother did not leave the northern part.

And honestly, Julia, we don't know what to say, right. We don't know to tell her go to the south or stay in the north, because the Israeli government told my mother to go to the south, but then they kept bombing the south. So, you know, is it a trap? Are they, you know, really telling them to keep them safe? We really don't know.

CHATTERLEY: Nabil, we pray for the safety of your mother and that she manages to make it out at the same time. I just want to, again, for balance just point out that it is very difficult for us to verify the death count that we've seen in Gaza. Of course, it comes from the Hamas government, I do want to point that out just to be clear once again to our viewers.

If you have a message though for ordinary Israelis, at this moment, that clearly suffered greatly on October the 7th, do you have a message for them too? To your point about peace, I think.

ALSHURAFA: I do. And I mourn on all life, right. And you know, all lives, all innocent life. And, you know, it saddens me, every life matters, right? Every Israeli life matters. Every Palestinian life matters. And so, I, again, I appeal to the Israelis, I appeal to Americans, every race, every gender, every you know, every individual out there, right, with an ounce of humanity to really, sort of, work with us to stop, to call for a ceasefire, right.

Because, you know, we see this time and time again. I mean, is -- when we kill and destroy more and more life, what is that going to bring but more and more hatred, right? We claim that this is going to make our country safe. How is this going to make us safe, right, when we just tore people's children, their families, right, their memories, right? This is creating a breeding ground, right, for recruitment, right, of fighters, right? And more and more hatred.

And so, to my fellow Israelis, I mourn with you, right. And, right now, you know, we need to work together, right, to really end this. Because we know that life, you know, life matters, no matter where you are from.

CHATTERLEY: Nabil, good to talk to you. Keep in touch, please. And we pray that your mother makes it safely back home very soon. Thank you once again for your time.

ALSHURAFA: Thank you.

CHATTERLEY: We're back after this.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. The IDF says, it plans to step up airstrikes on Gaza in preparation for the next stage of its military operation. Officials say, a ground incursion is a matter of when, at this point, not if. And the IDF chief of staff telling commanders Saturday, we will enter Gaza.

Meanwhile, a brief opening into Egypt's Rafah Crossing let 20 trucks into Gaza earlier, the first aid convoy since the war began. UNICEF says, there is enough water for 22,000 people for one day only, that's a small fraction of what officials say is needed in comparison to the 450 approximate truckloads that used to enter Gaza daily before the war began.

IDF International Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus joins us now. Lieutenant Colonel, good to have you, Sir. Thank you once again for your time. Can we --


CHATTERLEY: Welcome. Can we start by talking about the step up in airstrikes in Gaza? Expected to start today. Can you explain what's happening, sir, and give us a sense of the increase, the scale of increase?

CONRICUS: Yes, I'm not quite sure that we have increased. I think the tempo of operations is rather steady. We continue to hunt Hamas commanders. They continue to hide behind civilians in tunnels and in civilian houses, using civilian infrastructure. They continue to fire rockets from civilian areas towards Israeli civilians. And they continue to abuse everything humanitarian.

Our operation continues. We are preparing also for the next stage of operations. And as we do, we are focused on weakening Hamas's military capabilities for our next stage of operations.

CHATTERLEY: All the civilians who fled south in Gaza, safe tonight, based on what you're saying, or you just can't make that kind of promise?

CONRICUS: Well, I can promise that we definitely try not to target civilians, and we definitely try not to target anything that isn't military. Mistakes do of course happen but it is our intention to attack Hamas and military targets only. And hopefully, they'll have the bravery to stay away from civilians. But bottom line, we do our best not to strike civilians.

CHATTERLEY: I understand. Can I ask whether the airstrikes that you mentioned, and as you've said, the tempos relatively maintained. Will they end once the ground offensive begins?

CONRICUS: No, that is usually not the case when ground forces maneuver, not in Israeli history and not in global history of open warfare. Usually, when troops maneuver on the ground, there is close air support, in support of those ground operations. So, no, I wouldn't count on that.

But as we have said before, we asked civilians to evacuate from the northern part of Gaza because that is where we are going to focus significant military operations. So, anybody staying in the northern part of Gaza is definitely endangering himself, knowingly, and they should evacuate as fast as possible.

CHATTERLEY: Can we rule out a ground invasion beginning tonight, sir?


CONRICUS: I wouldn't be able to say anything about timing, location, and other tactical or strategic plans. I can only say that the IDF will commence military operations, according to our timing, according to the conditions on the ground, the situations of the enemy, many other considerations, and basically, what suits our goals of the best.

CHATTERLEY: To pick up on one of those points, we are now 24 hours since two hostages were released by Hamas. Can they delay the invasion further by releasing more of those hostages?

CONRICUS: Yes, it appears that Hamas is trying. We've seen lots of the communications about it, and some fake statements issued today, which isn't a surprise from an organization that has a proven record of lying and spreading falsehoods. The bottom line is that we will dismantle Hamas, that we will take away other military in their administrative capabilities. And at the end of this war, our people, our 210 hostages, will be home, and Hamas will be dismantled.

CHATTERLEY: So, you're saying, don't weaponize those hostages further by hoping that you can buy yourselves time? Is that the message?

CONRICUS: What I'm saying is that the best thing for Hamas would be to return to the hostages, unconditionally, all of them immediately, as safe and as sound as they possibly can. And surrender unconditionally. That would be the safest and the smartest move on behalf of Hamas. Otherwise, another fate awaits them and it is not a pleasant one.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, and that continues to be the message, sir. We saw the aid convoy entering Gaza today, 20 trucks. The hope, I think from NGOs, is that we could see up to 100 trucks enter, on a daily basis. Are you confident that you can police and secure that level of truck convoy into Gaza?

CONRICUS: That is a challenge because we have seen Hamas tampering with humanitarian goods. We have seen them steal fuel that was intended for civilian purposes, specifically in order to fuel pumps that pump water for the population to drink. But Hamas stole that. Fuel that could have -- fuel for those pumps for more than six days, which is really essential.

So, it will be a challenge. And we don't have boots on the ground in the area. We tried to use technological measures in order to make sure that there are no weapons. And that anything that goes into the Gaza Strip, indeed, is received by those who need it, those poor Gazan civilians that are being used by Hamas.

CHATTERLEY: Can we assume that once the ground offensive begins, no further aid will be allowed into Gaza, or will you try and manage all? And again, can you ensure the safety of those convoys?

CONRICUS: We definitely prioritize civilian population. For one, we want them evacuated out of main combat zones. And for the second thing, we've said, they are not our target. And wherever we can, we will try to alleviate and make the situation less bad for them. They are in a bad situation, and we understand that. It's not a situation that we put them in, Hamas put them in the situation. This wasn't our initiative and not our choice.

On the 7th of October, when Hamas crossed into our borders and butchered civilians, and raped, and took hostage, that's when -- that is what unleashed this unfortunate situation. What we are doing now is simply trying to help ourselves and defend our civilian population. But at the end of the day, we will try to make it as least difficult as possible for the civilian population while making it the most difficult for Hamas and all of those who support Hamas.

CHATTERLEY: So, just to be clear, you are open, at least, to the prospect of allowing aid to continue to flow into Gaza even when you have boots on the ground in Gaza?

CONRICUS: I wouldn't want to speak about the future, let's take it one day at a time, and military operations, as they evolve. I will say that we will fight according to humanitarian law, and that we are aware of humanitarian needs. But our primary objective is to dismantle Hamas, and to make sure that the security situation will change for the better forever.

CHATTERLEY: Lieutenant Colonel, if citizens in Gaza are watching this, at some point, can I ask what your advice is to help them protect themselves best? You obviously have to make a decision between who is a civilian and who is a Hamas fighter. How do they best to protect themselves?


CONRICUS: By spewing out the cowards, by distancing themselves from Hamas, by going south and being close to the humanitarian zone that we have coordinated. By making sure that Hamas doesn't use their house or nearby to fire rockets at Israel, or to try to launch drones, or to conduct other types of military activity. If they see Hamas cowards using their environment, make them understand that you do not agree, and that they are endangering you. Hamas is endangering Gazan civilians and they should be held accountable for it.

CHATTERLEY: You would like Gazan civilians to take on Hamas fighters, if necessary?

CONRICUS: Well, I would like them definitely, in the interest of self- preservation, to distance themselves from where Hamas is.

CHATTERLEY: Sir, we've got. And I'll let you go. I know you're incredibly busy. I appreciate your time. Lieutenant General Jonathan Conricus, thanks, sir.

CONRICUS: Thank you very much.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you as always.

Arab leaders in Cairo, renewing calls for a two-state solution, though the meeting failing to provide even a concluding statement to those talks. I'll speak with a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Turkey, and the Philippines, after this break, stay with us.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. The Egypt Peace Summit has now entered without an accord. Arab leaders had gathered in Cairo on Saturday to try to secure a ceasefire, however, Israeli and senior U.S. officials weren't present. The Egyptian president criticized the International Community for not doing enough to end the violence, calling on them to address the root cause of the issue. He is renewing calls for a two- state solution, and encouraging others who attended the summit to do the same.

Let's discuss with Francis Ricciardone, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines, and the former president of the American University in Cairo.

Ambassador, good to have you with us tonight. There was never going to be a statement coming out of this, never mind a ceasefire from these negotiations. But there does seem to have been a shift, particularly from western leaders, that they still back Israel's right to defend itself, but again they calibrate that it has to be within the confines of international law. What did you take away from this peace summit?

FRANCIS RICCIARDONE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY: Well, you know, at one time, it would have been considered a breakthrough to have the leaders of so many Arab states very explicitly calling for a two-state solution. That's nothing new for the Egyptians since the Camp David Treaty of Peace.

It has been Egyptian policy, and more to the point, American policy. Republican administration, democratic vanished ration, every president since then has called for a two-state solution. President Trump equivocated a bit, but didn't disavow that. And we are firmly back on that as the United States' position.


It's hard. It may prove impossible, but that has been resolute American policy. So, the Arab -- leading voices of the Arab world coming out behind that is -- I have to believe that is a positive thing for everybody, for Israel and for the Palestinians for a way out.

CHATTERLEY: Are you suggesting that, perhaps, and obviously it's very early days, but the suggestion that what we could see come from the violence over the past two weeks, however long it continues, is perhaps a more wholesome inclusive discussion about what the future looks like, as difficult to imagine at this stage, perhaps, as it is?

RICCIARDONE: We can hope and we can pray. It's a grim and horrible price. But you know, if that can arise, if the two parties in the conflict can come to that same conclusion, despite the rage that each feels, the hurt, the victimhood, the rage, the outrage, very understandable. President Biden was -- I thought very artful and clear in his -- stating his -- he was very sincere in stating his compassion for both sides.

But if on the Palestinian side, there can be a strength and resolve, the Palestinian authority has signed on to a two-state solution many years ago. Hamas has not. The -- in Israel, there has been a large debate about this. Most Israeli governments from the right have not signed on to that. It would take quite a sea of change to see if the Israeli side would sign on to a two-state solution. And then both sides work together to make that happen.

But how we get from the current horrible situation to negotiations, I don't see how we do that without de-escalation and a ceasefire as first steps to the immediate thing and return of the hostages and humanitarian relief. And then to that -- then to really deep conversations supported by outside parties, the United States and the rest of the Arab world towards a two-state solution.

CHATTERLEY: Whether they'll admit it or not, do you think one of the things that perhaps many of the players in that meeting will have agreed on is that they're considering life without Hamas in Gaza? That is an assumption.

RICCIARDONE: We'll have to see how that plays out. It's -- you know, from the outside and from the perspective of Americans and Israelis, it's hard to see how Hamas could come out of this without having been thoroughly discredited, even with where they are now, never mind with whatever else may be fall them through IDF action in the coming hours or days.

My own view is that the point is already very, very clear, that Hamas is not capable of leading or much less governing. And certainly, they've dealt themselves out of any long-term solution to the question of Palestine. So, I think they are already thoroughly discredited, but they have the guns. They have the power to intimidate those 2 million people that are there. How that would be resolved, I don't know. I can't see how an Israeli invasion will do that, sadly. Honestly.

CHATTERLEY: And that cuts to the core of the discussions that are sure are still taking place behind the scenes now. Where does this invasion and beyond take us? Ambassador, good to have you with us, sir. Thank you so much for that.


CHATTERLEY: OK. Coming up, we'll hear tragic stories of heroism from the October 7th Hamas attacks in Israel. The family of this young medic saying goodbye, as they share shocking messages from that day with Anderson Cooper.



CHATTERLEY: So many stories of heroism have emerged since the October 7th attacks, like Amit Man, a young medic who left the safety of her apartment when Hamas gunman attacked her kibbutz. Amit went towards the danger and gave her life to help others. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports of the photos and messages Amit sent her sisters. And a warning, the story contains disturbing images.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): When Hamas gunman arrived at the entrance of Be'eri kibbutz around 7:00 a.m., Sunday morning, they waited for a car to arrive and open the 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 saferoom 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. 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.


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.


CHATTERLEY: And that's all the time we have this hour. I'm Julia Chatterley. I'll be back with more on the Israel-Hamas war in just a few minutes time.