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CNN International: IDF Chief Of Staff: "We Will Enter Gaza"; Israeli Troops Line Border Ahead Of Possible Incursion; Aid Trucks Enter Gaza As Rafah Crossing Briefly Opens. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 21, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST: A warm welcome to everyone watching us from around the world. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.
The Israeli Military now offering new clarity on their operation in Gaza, the IDF Chief of Staff sending a clear message to commanders that they will indeed enter Gaza when the time comes. We still don't know when that might be, however. Israeli officials say they're ramping up airstrikes on Gaza starting today, as more and more troops and vehicles gather near the border. Palestinian officials say the Israeli operation has now killed close to 4,400 people, and aid groups are warning that the humanitarian crisis grows increasingly untenable.
28 trucks entered Gaza today, the first such convoy to gain entry. But, the Rafah crossing they used to come and go was only open for that brief period. And Palestinian officials say that flow of aid is an urgent problem still in need of solving. Those groups say roughly 20 times that amount of food, water and medicine was entering Gaza every day before the war began. Salma Abdelaziz reports.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 healthcare 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 to just three percent of what entered this enclave daily prior to the conflict. More than 200 additional trucks of assistance remains stalled on the Egyptian side, according to the UN, 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 had no place to go. All the streets are bombed. They're literally gone. How are we supposed to go out? How? It's all closed.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Even if people are allowed out, it will be a limited number, most likely only those with foreign passports, sealing some two million others, half of them children, into this hellscape. But, some refuse to go even if they could, fearing Israel intends to bomb and besiege them out of their homes, never to return. Even as Mahmood buries his children, he says he will keep fighting just to exist here. We will still be patient. As long as we are alive on this earth, we will be patient. He says, we will never leave this land.
After the October 7 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 spilled. 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 pleas 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: Joining us now to discuss this further is Steve Sosebee. He is the President of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. Steve, thank you so much for your time tonight. It was an important step forward allowing this convoy in, but I think it's been made very clear it's a drop in the ocean. Did any of that and those supplies come to you and your team?
STEVE SOSEBEE, PRESIDENT, PALESTINE CHILDREN'S RELIEF FUND: No. Those supplies went directly to a UN compound to be distributed mainly to hospitals and to the most urgent beneficiaries and people in need.
Our organization and literally so many other international aid organizations are waiting for the opportunity to bring our own aid in through the Egyptian crossing. We have trucks being prepared now with medical supplies, food, water, clothing, and other basic necessities for literally hundreds of thousands of children who are waiting in either UN shelters as internally displaced persons or people in their own damaged or erect homes, waiting for any type of support. Food is running out. Water is running out. Medication is running out. There is no electricity. There is no clean water. There is sewage in the streets. It's just a complete absolute breakdown of all the infrastructure, and the humanitarian crisis is only getting worse every single day.
CHATTERLEY: Do you have any clarity on when you'll be able to bring in your own supplies, as you've mentioned? And are you responsible for ensuring that there is nothing else that gets in there? I guess one of the biggest concerns perhaps would be weaponry for Hamas soldiers. Are you responsible for ensuring what's actually in those trucks?
SOSEBEE: No. The Egyptian security, the Israeli security, United Nations, whoever else is responsible and should be responsible to ensure that any aid coming in is strictly humanitarian. Our job is to just procure whatever supplies are needed based on what we know the conditions are on the ground, the whole world knows what the conditions are in the ground, and purchase that aid and get it in as quickly as possible. It's not just aid coming in. But, let's remember also, we have two doctors, American doctors, Dr. Barbara Zind and Ramona Okumura, who have been stuck in Gaza, as well as many other internationals trying to get out since the closure began on October 7.
In addition to that, there is literally hundreds of critically injured children who are in need of medical care. They cannot get locally. They need to be transferred out for urgent medical treatment as well. Hundreds of injured children in Gaza right now are waiting for transfer out for medical treatment. Many of them are going to die if they don't get that transfer out. So, it's not just aid coming in. It's also the humanitarian opportunity for people to get out of Gaza.
CHATTERLEY: Give us a sense of that, Steve. I do want to talk about your people, in particular, your international workers that are there at the moment. But, just so that my audience understand, your primary purpose before the war began was helping very sick children leave Gaza and come to the United States for treatment. Clearly, all that has stopped right now. Just give us a sense of some of the challenges that the children there are facing.
SOSEBEE: Well, the challenges that the children are facing are just to survive. We're talking hundreds of thousands of children just to get food, medication, clean water, which is no longer available for the most part in the Gaza Strip. These are all basic challenges that we take for granted. Our organization before this round of fighting began was bringing it -- was the main organization in the world bringing in volunteer medical teams from all over the world, and providing thousands of children in Gaza urgent life-saving and life-changing surgical care in local hospitals.
We were also the main organization sending injured and sick children out for free medical care, many than to the United States, and running a lot of other important humanitarian programs and projects on the ground in Gaza, including building the first and only pediatric cancer department in Gaza, which by the way now has run out of chemotherapy drugs, and no longer the patients in that department are not getting the basic treatment for their diseases for cancer that they should be getting. And this is affecting dozens and dozens of children with cancer in the Gaza Strip, as well as, as I mentioned before, literally hundreds and hundreds of injured children waiting for transfer out of Gaza for medical care.
CHATTERLEY: Wow. So, you have children at this moment that have run out of chemotherapy drugs, and there is literally nothing you can do until those supplies come in. Steve, talk to me about --
SOSEBEE: They're not just running out of cancer drugs. Sorry. They're running out of food. We've been -- CHATTERLEY: Yes.
SOSEBEE: -- having a hard time getting food through department in northern Gaza City. It's full of -- the whole entire hospital is full of refugees who are seeking shelter there, hoping that it doesn't get bombed like the Al-Ahli Hospital was. But, in that department, in that pediatric hospital, there is a food insecurity. We're having a hard time getting clean water and food to our patients in that department, not only the chemotherapy drugs.
CHATTERLEY: Steve, what do you say to reassure the workers that you have there, to your point, about the hospital bombing and the risk that they are perhaps in, in this environment? What do you say to them? What do they say to you?
SOSEBEE: I have nothing to say to my staff other than I love them, and we're standing with them and we pray for them every single day. There is no words that we can assure them that they will be safe, where there isn't any safe haven in the Gaza Strip. We've seen schools bombed. We've seen hospitals bombed. We've seen churches and mosques bombed. We've seen every type of shelter in residential tower buildings bombed. There is no place in the Gaza Strip that is safe. And there is nothing I can say to our volunteers or to our staff who have small children and families of their own that they're safe. All we can do is pray for them and hope that there is a ceasefire and that there will be an end to this madness soon.
CHATTERLEY: Some of those people obviously belong there. But, as you said earlier, you have international volunteers --
CHATTERLEY: -- doctors that are there. Are any of them deciding to stay, or are they all saying, or you saying to them, look, we have to get you out?
SOSEBEE: They want to come home to their families. They were there on a humanitarian mission, supposed to be only one-week long. They've been there almost three weeks now, because they started the week prior to the closure.
So, they want to come home. Their families miss them. They're trying very hard to get out. We're waiting and trying to coordinate their crossing at the Rafah border, and we hope that that will be coordinated soon. We're asking the American government to intervene and push hard for the opening for enabling not only the internationals to leave, but also, as I mentioned before, others who are in urgent need of life saving care, particularly injured children to get out of Gaza and allowing more humanitarian aid to come in, because what came in today is a miniscule amount of what is actually needed to save the lives of innocent people on the ground.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. You've made that message incredibly clear. So, are you confident that the State Department and U.S. officials are doing everything they can to help you both get those people out but also get aid in?
SOSEBEE: Am I confident? No, I'm not confident. I'm hopeful that they are. I'm hopeful that every person who has any position of power in our country, whether it's a politician or a bureaucrat at the State Department, or anybody who has any influence, is making a full effort as a human being to do all they can to ensure the opening of the Rafah crossing and to ensure humanitarian aid gets into Gaza. I'm hopeful, but I'm not confident that's being done, because I've not felt that there has been the type of response and communication from our government officials that reflects the level of urgency and priority that this is being done.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Thank you for your time, sir, because you're certainly helping us make it clear. Thank you to you and to all your volunteers and to those in Gaza at this moment. Your work is appreciated, sir, the President of the Palestine Child Relief Fund. Thank you.
New details coming out now about the Israeli Military's plan to go into Gaza. Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are already at the Gaza border. They've been gathering there for two weeks now ever since the Hamas terror attack. The IDF says the ground operation will be aimed at destroying Hamas operatives and infrastructure. I spoke last hour to IDF International Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. I asked him if the IDF strikes were ramping up.
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESPERSON, IDF INTERNATIONAL: 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: Are 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 tempo is 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 urban 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 to 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 situation of the enemy, many other considerations, and basically what suits our goals the best.
CHATTERLEY: To pick up on one of those points, we're 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 communications about 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. We will take away their military and administrative capabilities. And at the end of this war, our people, our 210 hostages, will be home, and Hamas will be dismantled.
CHATTERLEY: And that was IDF International Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, talking to me earlier.
We're now joined by Jeremy Diamond joining us from Ashkelon in Israel. Jeremy, I want to ask you about the situation in Ashkelon obviously in a moment. But, first, I think if we listen to what the IDF spokesperson had to say then, Mr. Conricus, I think it's a case of when, not if now, as far as the ground offensive is concerned.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think that's exactly right. And not only him, but we have heard from a number of IDF generals as well as politicians here in Israel, all of them making very clear now that a ground operation is going to happen, that they will be going into Gaza for the first days, perhaps even the first week, after that Hamas terrorist attack. They were kind of walking around the issue of whether or not there would be a ground invasion, talking in kind of broad and general terms. But, this evening, what we're hearing from the Chief of the General Staff of the IDF is we will enter the Gaza Strip, that kind of explicit language, and also making clear that the goal of this ground operation will be to entirely destroy Hamas operatives and infrastructure.
Now, what exactly that looks like and when exactly this operation will begin, still remains an open question. But, I can tell you that right here on the ground, as we were driving along the border with the Gaza Strip, what we saw is a significant presence not only of infantry troops, but also of armored vehicles, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and those D9 bulldozers which the IDF uses to clear the roads of IEDs and other obstacles before they go in with their ground forces. We saw not one, not two, but four different groupings, each of which included dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers all very close to the Gaza border.
Now, does that mean that an invasion could start in a matter of hours, in a matter of days? It remains unclear. But, certainly what we saw were forces that were coming in, troops that were being bused into these locations. And when you combine that with the language that we're hearing increasingly clear, increasingly unequivocal from the IDF's generals and spokespeople, I think we can all draw the same conclusions.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. I gauge your preparedness, if nothing else. Let's talk about what's taking place where you are right now, and just so our viewers understand, I believe this is the most targeted city in Israel over the past two weeks in terms of weaponry and rocket fire, how are the people there dealing with this situation with an ongoing level of fear, I guess, particularly given many of the businesses I believe have shut their services, have closed too?
DIAMOND: Yes. That's right. About 90 percent of the businesses in this city have closed, that's according to the CEO of this town, with whom we spent some time with in his operation center, which is in the basement of a pretty nondescript building here in Ashkelon. And there, what they are doing is they are monitoring incoming rocket fire. They actually have technology that allows them in coordination with the Iron Dome to pinpoint the location where those rockets would hit, if indeed they get through that Iron Dome. And while that system does indeed intercept the overwhelming majority of these rockets, some of them do make it through, and that is where you get that fear and that anxiety from so many residents in the city of fear that is really palpable, as you go through the streets which are largely empty.
Most people have remained in the city, the residents of the city. About three quarters of them are still living here. But, most of those folks are remaining in their homes. They are only leaving for essential trips. We spoke with one woman at a grocery store who says that she leaves her home once a week to go and run errands at the grocery store. And that's it. Otherwise, she stays at home. But, she is afraid when she comes out. She talked about the fact that she knows if a rocket comes and she is not near a shelter, she needs to lie down and put her hands on her head. And that is certainly a palpable sense of fear that exists in the city.
Four people have been killed by rocket fire in the city in the last two weeks. 35 have been injured. And about 1,200 of the city's residents have been displaced because of rocket fire hitting their homes or their -- the buildings in which they live.
So, this is certainly an ongoing situation. Even just last night, three rockets made it through the Iron Dome system, hitting residential buildings as well as a parked vehicle. Luckily, there were no injuries in that case. But, this is certainly something that this city's population which is no stranger to rocket fire is living with, but they say that this is like never -- nothing they've ever seen before.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, living in lockdown conditions once again and clearly in fear. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much for that report.
OK. Coming up, Palestinian Prime Minister telling CNN, giving Israel blind support is granting them a license to kill. He shares his view of America's role in a future Middle East peace process, just ahead.
And many Israeli-Americans say they feel helpless watching from the United States as the war against Hamas rages on, what some are doing to help their fellow countrymen, next on CNN.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Protesters have been turning out across the United States in recent days, voicing their opposition to the war in Gaza. Now, while most are horrified by what happened on October 7 in Israel, they are rallying in support of the Palestinian people. But, in the U.S., government support for Israel's battle comes with a few conditions. Becky Anderson, anchor of "Connect the World" spoke with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh about that fact.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. 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.
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PRIME MINISTER, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: 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.
They are managing it without them. Without them, there is no solution. With them only, there is no solution. So, what you need is collective international effort, those who have landed in Tel Aviv to show support for Israel, unfortunately, have been given the greenest of the green light for Israel to continue its attack on Gaza. International support should be for peace. International support should not be for aggression.
CHATTERLEY: Our Becky Anderson there speaking with the Palestinian Prime Minister.
Now, in the United States, there were major efforts to help both Israelis and Palestinians. With hospitals in Gaza on the verge of collapse and civilians running out of food, Palestinian officials say Gaza needs 7,000 trucks of immediate aid. Meanwhile, many Israeli- Americans are working to collect humanitarian supplies for themselves. Camila Bernal has more on what people in the United States are doing to help both Israel and Gaza.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're focused on raising as much money as possible, collecting as many supplies as possible, but also focused on mental health resources and fighting misinformation. A lot of these Israeli-Americans began to watch and see what was going on in Israel, and say they were shocked. They were heartbroken, and also felt helpless in a way, many of them that were maybe IDF members were able to travel back to Israel, but others say that it's just better to stay here and do everything they can to help from the U.S.
I talked to the organization Bulletproof Israel, and they said, in the beginning, they were in need of tactical gear, bulletproof vest, anything that they could collect to help the military. But, they now say they're also very focused on medical supplies, the basics. They've been able to ship from LA, from New York, from Miami, and they will continue to do so over the next couple of days. They say they want to send as much help as possible. Here is the CEO of Bulletproof Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LION SHIRDAN, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BULLETPROOF ISRAEL: For me, it wouldn't make sense to go back. But, knowing so many people in Israel and knowing what they're going through, what my goal is just to do everything that I can to help them out, everything, everything. It doesn't mean -- there is 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 two members of his family have been kidnapped, which is part of the reason why he is doing everything he can to help from the U.S. Now, we also reached out to organizations helping Palestinians in Gaza, and what they've told us is that it is impossible for them to send supplies. So, instead, they are extremely focused on trying to raise as much money as possible. But, again, it's Americans who feel like they need to do something from the U.S. to then send that help. BERNAL, CNN, Los Angeles. CHATTERLEY: Still to come, calm a husband and father kidnapped by Hamas, two weeks later and there is still no word about his whereabouts. We'll talk with his brother-in-law here in New York, just ahead.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Two weeks in, Israel is apparently preparing to ramp up its war on Hamas. The Israeli Military says it's going to intensify its air strikes on Gaza "from today". And the Israeli spokesman told CNN, a ground offensive is coming soon. The Hamas- controlled government says more than 4,300 people in Gaza have been killed since October 7. We have no way of verifying, of course, that data when the IDF began targeting Hamas for its attacks on Israel. Aid groups warn deaths from disease could skyrocket if more supplies don't arrive soon. 20 trucks crossed into Gaza today carrying food and medicine. The Israeli Military says 210 people are still being held hostage in Gaza, and that of course is an unfathomable horror for families not knowing when or even if their loved ones will come home.
One of those missing is Omri Miran. He was one of those kidnapped from Kibbutz, and I'm just showing you pictures now of him with his wife. She survived the attack along with their two young daughters. But now, it's been two weeks, and the family is still waiting for word. Miran's brother-in-law, Moshe Lavi, lives here in New York, and he joins us now.
Sir, thank you so much for your time, and our hearts are with you and your family for everything that you've suffered and continue to suffer. Can I ask what you thought when you heard that two hostages had been released?
MOSHE LAVI, BROTHER-IN-LAW BEING HELD IN HAMAS: Thank you so much, Julia, for the opportunity to speak with you tonight. Well, upon about two hostages yesterday, first of all, I was of course very happy that they were released and hopefully unharmed, although I'm sure their mental scars will be with them for the rest of their lives, what they've experienced. It gives us hope for what to come. I will say as well that these two hostages were kidnapped with my brother-in-law. They were taken together from the same house or house where they were held for hours. So, we do hope that in due course they'll be able to provide some information about Omri and hopefully about other hostages with them they were taken.
CHATTERLEY: But, so far, I'm assuming you've heard nothing from any official source.
LAVI: So far, we haven't heard much. But, this is to be expected. I'm sure they need to be taken care of. And hopefully, they receive all the support, the psychological support aid they require and any other support, physical, etc., so that they'll be able to provide information later on. CHATTERLEY: You've suffered your own traumas as a result of this beyond the concerns for family members. I know you pored over videos in the beginning to try and see whether you could see signs of your brother-in-law, which I'm sure was completely horrific to see, but also that your sister and the two small children. The children were woken up at gunpoint, I believe. Your two-year-old niece had a gun pointed in her face. Words fail me. Can I ask how they're managing, whether you're niece has said anything, communicated anything?
LAVI: It's been a very difficult time for our family, for the community. I grew up there. I was there only eight months ago. I'm hardly a New Yorker. I'm not an American citizen. I just happen to be here starting working a month ago. It was hard for all of us. I was supposed to head back home this week. But, my family urged me to stay here and serve as a voice for my sister and our family and the entire victims of this tragedy that befell upon us. For me, personally, it's been dreadful two weeks, and I'm sure it's going to be very difficult for the weeks and months to come.
But, I'm very concerned of course with my sister and my two baby nieces, only two-year-old and six-months-old. The two-year-old is already -- when you're a two-year-old, you're already a person. You already speak.
LAVI: You already feel. You already express your emotions. And I can tell you, every night Roni, the two-year-old, told us, Lishay, my sister, she asked where is father, and then she gives her apotheosis, father is went lost on the way home, or father is working until late. So, he can't talk me into bed, or father is volunteering somewhere.
And before falling asleep, she screams every night, good night, father, because she hopes he'll hear her. And every night, she asked my sister Lishay to take her out to see the stars because that's what she used to do with Omri, her father. And she screams to the stars, calling the name of Omri, and she is experiencing deep trauma. And we can see that. She realizes what she -- I'm sure she doesn't entirely understand what you went through.
But, when I was two-years-old, I fell through a staircase, and that was my trauma. I still -- it's my first memory in this world. I was two and a half years old. And I'm sure, she will remember for the rest of her life the hours she spent with guns pointed at her face, with a body of a teenage girl lying next to her, with blood covering the adults who were next to her, with people shouting, accusing, mocking, torturing people around her.
And I'm sure this trauma will be with her for the next -- for the rest of her life. But, I know our family is strong, and we come from a strong community, and we will be there for them, and we'll do everything we can so that they will live normal life. And we hope he will return to us as soon as possible so that Roni and Alma, the six- months-old -- year old -- the six-months-old will be with their father as soon as possible.
CHATTERLEY: You served in the IDF for many years as a reservist. I believe you are a reservist now. And as you said, you should have been there. Your family encouraged you to stay here in the interim. Are you torn between staying and going back and signing up again and fighting? And is this something that would help you make that decision? I'm sure your heart is torn in too.
LAVI: Yes. I'm a captain reserve. I served in the IDF for six years. I served in a special unit of the Ministry of Defense that coordinated with the Palestinians that worked together with them. I served in two operations and as a humanitarian officer working with the forces on the field to make sure the needs of the Palestinian population are met.
This is unique role that doesn't exist in any other Army, for my knowledge -- to my knowledge. And I was proud of that role, because whenever we engage, we want to make sure that other civilian population, those who are not involved in combat, non-combatants, their needs have been met. And that unit, of course, is mobilized now after being hit very hard at the beginning of this tragedy.
And of course, I'm too old. But, right now, I'm serving on behalf of my family. And that's my priority -- my priorities as well to continue serving as a voice for many hostages, over 200. It seems like the number will go up to 250, according to recent reports, because there are so many people who are still missing.
Bodies have been found or there are signals being found of people being in Gaza. So, this is my role now. Whenever my family will give me the green light, I will fly home to be with them. But, for now, I think I need to be there for the family where they want me to be. And I'm doing all I can here. And there are so many Israelis here and the Jewish population here in New York volunteering 24/7 to make sure the civilian population in Israel receives what it needs after this trauma endured.
CHATTERLEY: Do you believe their coming home, Moshe, do you manage to keep faith and hope?
LAVI: I'm a realist (ph) normally. I studied as well international relations and political science and history. So, my -- I'm a very realist in my approach to those issues. But, I have to have hope. And in those moments -- these moments, I have hope not only Omri will return to us, and have hope for every family that is missing their loved ones, whether they are Israeli, or they are foreign nationals. There are many foreign nationals still being held in the Gaza Strip from all around the world, U.S., France, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, many people are still missing. And I hope for all of them to return. I have to have hope. I have to have it for my family and have to have it for my own sanity.
I can tell you that while we are hopeful during the day, it's very difficult when the night comes. And when you go to bed and thoughts start running into your head when you tried to go to sleep, and then that's when you have to struggle and battle against it, the worst thoughts.
CHATTERLEY: Moshe, our thoughts are with you, and we pray that Roni gets to stare at those stars in her father's arms very soon. Thank you, sir.
LAVI: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: We will be back after this.
LAVI: Good night.
CHATTERLEY: You too.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Near Israel's border with Gaza, this scene is eerie, emptiness left after the Hamas attack two weeks ago. Homes lie deserted and bear the scars of the assault. Anderson Cooper visited one Kibbutzim where the aftermath of the October 7 attacks, and he also spoke to the relatives of those who lost their lives and remain missing.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, AC360 (voice-over): Nir Oz was one of the first Kibbutzim attacked on October 7 by Hamas gunmen. Security cameras recorded some of them entering armed with automatic weapons and RPGs. When we visited Nir Oz this week, the carnage was clear. No family, no home here was untouched by terror. People's possessions are strewn all around, left behind by men who looted and killed for more than seven hours. The silence now sounds sickening. A breeze blows through broken windows, flies, buzz, and the debris.
The residents who survived are gone. Only some cats have returned. Every home, it seems, has been defiled. Family photos remain on the fridge. The people who lived here hid in their safe room. Lucky for them, the door held strong.
COOPER: You can tell gunmen tried to pry this door open. This handle has nearly been pulled off from tugging it. They weren't able. The lock held. It looks like they tried to pry open the door as well. You can fit your hand through here. They can just maybe look in or they couldn't actually break through the store.
COOPER (voice-over): Around back, we checked the window of the safe room. Inside, the bed and sheets are soaked with blood. One member of the family who hid here was wounded, but he and they survived. But, according to the IDF, about a quarter of the 400 people who lived in near Oz are dead or missing.
COOPER: In another house in this Kibbutz, gunmen broke in and murdered a woman named Bracha Levinson. They not only killed her, they got access to her Facebook account, and they live streamed an image of her lying in a pool of blood on the ground so that her friends and family could see.
COOPER (voice-over): This is Bracha Levinson. She was 74-years-old. Her neighbors, Adina and David Moshe, were also in their 70s. They'd lived in Nir Oz for more than 50 years. We found their home completely torched. Dishes were still in the dishwasher. They hid in their safe room when the gunmen came. Her granddaughter Anat says Adina messaged her family they were OK.
ANAT MOSHE SHOSHANY, GRANDMOTHER KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: My grandmother was a very, very strong. She didn't want us to be panicked. Later on --
COOPER: They're not worried about you, in that way.
SHOSHANY: Yes. She is this kind of woman. She always take care of us.
COOPER (voice-over): But, inside the safe room, there was reason to panic, a pool of dry blood, evidence of what happened. David Moshe was shot and killed here, holding onto the door handle to prevent the gunmen from getting in.
SHOSHANY: He was a hero. He was shot. So, there are three gunshots on the door. They succeeded to break through the door.
COOPER (voice-over): Their attackers dragged Adina Moshe out through the safe room window. She later appeared in this video posted online, sandwiched between gunmen on a motorbike in Gaza. Some of the missing have been found. The bodies of 80-year-old Carmella Dan and her 13- year-old granddaughter Noya were identified this week. Her former son- in-law, Ofer Calderon is still missing, as her two of his children Sahar and Erez.
This video shows Erez being dragged away by gunmen, one of whom appears to have blood on his hand. Geo located where the video was shot.
COOPER: This is the last known location of Erez Calderon. He was 12- years-old. He was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen. And he was videotaped as they were dragging him away in this direction. This is the fence to the Kibbutz. Gaza is only about a mile and a half away. You can see an explosion that has just taken place in Gaza off in the distance. So, the gunmen didn't have far to take him in order to get him back into Gaza.
COOPER (voice-over): There is video of Sheri Beebus being kidnapped as well, clutching her two children Ariel and Kfir. Her husband is missing too. We talked to her cousin last week.
YIFAT ZAILER, COUSIN KIDNAPPED: I want my family back. I want my family back. I will try to be strong and stoic and speak clearly, but I'm devastated.
COOPER (voice-over): All of the families of Nir Oz are devastated. David Moshe was buried there this week. His granddaughter Anat wanted us to see a video that was played at his funeral. It's from a celebration at the Kibbutz earlier this year. That's David singing. He has been joined by other members of the Kibbutz.
SHOSHANY: He is singing the first sentence. This is what his talk means. Time will fix all that breaks, this message and you should -- you're allowed to be afraid and you're allowed to be sick, but tomorrow we can rebuild and recover.
COOPER (voice-over): Anderson Cooper, CNN, Nir Oz.
CHATTERLEY: We've seen pro-Palestinian protests across the Middle East these past few days in Yemen, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt. These were in the scenes on Friday in Lebanon which shares a border with Israel, Ben Wedeman reports.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Death to America, Death to Israel, shouts the Master of Ceremonies at a rally in Beirut's southern suburbs to a crowd of a few hundred supporters of Hezbollah and its Shia ally, the Amal Movement, who don't want to be passive bystanders to the bloodshed in Gaza. We want the resistance to liberate Palestine, (inaudible) Muhammad tells me. Words in slogans like these are not new. Yet, as the death toll in Gaza soars, passions are reaching the boiling point.
Earlier this week, twice, protesters north of Beirut tried to reach the American Embassy, stopped only by riot Police firing tear gas and water cannon. In Egypt, a rare unauthorized demonstration demands Arab regimes act to stop Israel's war on Hamas and Gaza. In Jordan, a country where many trace their roots back to historic Palestine, they call on the government to shut the American and Israeli embassies. But, in Lebanon, it's not only protests on the border with Israel. It's just a notch below war.
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WEDEMAN: In south Lebanon, every day, Hezbollah is striking Israeli targets four, five, six times a day. Here in Beirut, they're holding rallies, talking about doing more, but so far it's just talk.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Hezbollah's main backer Iran has threatened to open a new front. Notably silent is Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah who hasn't uttered a word since the war began. I asked Hezbollah Parliament member Ali Ammar if his group is ready to go to war with Israel. The answer to that will come later, he replies. The daily Hezbollah attacks on the border are a hint of what that answer could be. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHATTERLEY: And thousands marched in support to the Palestinians outside the region too. Here is a look at some of the rallies held. On Saturday, in Spain, crowds called for immediate ceasefire, the same call repeated in London. An estimated 100,000 people took part in that March, which went past the British Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. Rallies took place in several cities across Germany and in the Australian capital too. And as you can see, also in Washington, D.C. They all appeared to be peaceful, with no reports of violence.
Now, as Israel's battle with Hamas continues, foreigners stranded inside Israel and Gaza are fighting to escape the war zone and return to safety, a look at the challenges of getting home for those at least who can, next on CNN.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Now, nations around the world have been working to bring their citizens home and get them out of danger. Michael Holmes has the details.
MICHAEL HOLMES, HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM" (voice-over): Out of harm's way, countries around the world are flying their citizens out of Israel on repatriation flights filled with foreign nationals fleeing the Israel- Hamas war. Many of the people leaving Israel were there to earn a living, better than they could in their homeland. Officials in Thailand say at least 30 of their citizens have been killed since Hamas launched its attack on Israel two weeks ago. Eight bodies have been returned. Many of the dead worked on Israeli farms. The Thai government says it's working to return the other bodies and also repatriate thousands of Thai citizens who want to leave Israel.
PIROL CHOTIKASATIEN, THAILAND PERMANENT SECRETARY OF LABOR (TRANSLATED): The number of Thai citizens who wish to return home keeps increasing. We're trying to get Thai people back as much and as soon as possible.
HOLMES (voice-over): Emotional reunions in Manila, as a flight carrying Filipinos who are working in Israel returned home. Many of the evacuees were employed as caregivers in Israel when the attacks happened, and some say they still can't shake what they saw.
MYLENE RIVERA, EVACUEE (TRANSLATED): Apart from the gunfights, explosions were heard along with the sirens. I felt nervous. I was shaking from fear.
HOLMES (voice-over): More than 200 agricultural students from a work study program in Israel flew back to Nepal last week. 10 of their group were killed in the attacks. On Saturday, the bodies of four students were flown back to Kathmandu. Grief-stricken families say it's hard to believe they are gone. DURGA NEUPANE, AUNT OF DECEASED STUDENT (TRANSLATED): He used to say that he would return home, build a concrete house and bring all of us together. Now, even his body is not here.
HOLMES (voice-over): The families say the students were full of hope when they left a chance to earn money as much as $15,000 and learn new skills in Israel's high tech agriculture sector. This father says his son was going to use his savings to start a farming business back in Nepal.
BEJHULAL DANGAURA, FATHER OF DECEASED STUDENT (TRANSLATED): If I had known about this danger, I would have stopped him. I thought he was going there on a study visa, and it would be good for him in his bright future.
HOLMES (voice-over): A future cut short like so many others caught in the middle of a conflict far from their home. Michael Holmes, CNN.
CHATTERLEY: And that's all we have time for this hour. I'm Julia Chatterley. But, I'll be back with more on the Israel-Hamas war in just a few moments time. Stay with CNN.