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CNN Live Event/Special

Pace Summit in Egypt ends Without Accord; Israeli Troops Line Border ahead of Possible Incursion; Freed American Hostages Heading Home to U.S.; CNN Investigation Suggests Israel did not Bomb Gaza Hospital; Four Syrian Generals Face Landmark War Crimes Trial. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 22, 2023 - 01:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, I'm Lynda Kinkade with the latest on the Israel-Hamas war. And Israeli ground offensive into Gaza now appears all but inevitable. Israeli military says its bombardment of Hamas targets will become even more relentless going forward ahead of an incursion.

Authorities in Gaza say more than 4300 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks after the Hamas terror attack in Israel, which killed more than 1400 people with around 200 others missing or captured. Hundreds of armored vehicles along with thousands of Israeli troops are now poised to strike at Hamas at a moment's notice.

On Saturday, the IDF Chief of Staff again repeated what they've heard all week that we will enter Gaza. An IDF Spokesperson told CNN it's not a question of if, at this point, only when.


LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESPERSON: The timeline, you know that changes according to many variables on the ground in the air and across the sea. The important thing is that the IDF will conduct significant military operations in order to defeat Hamas in order to bring our hostages home.

And in order to fundamentally change the security situation that we have in Southern Israel and frankly, all of Israel.


KINKADE: In response to the recent escalations by Iran and its proxies, the U.S. Defense Secretary has announced a significant boost in America's defense posture in the Middle East. The directive includes more missile defense systems across the region, as well as placing more U.S. troops under prepare to deploy orders.

Our Elliott Gotkine joins us now live from London with the latest. Good to have you with us, Elliott. So the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF has indicated that it will increase strikes on Gaza, again, telling residents to head south warning of significant combat. And on top of that, we've got the U.S. now stepping up its so called deterrence in the region. What can you tell us?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Lynda, there's been an inevitability about an Israeli ground invasion incursion into the Gaza Strip ever since Hamas's terrorist attack two weeks ago, we do now seem to be getting very, very close to that actually happening, because Israel has said, as you just mentioned.

That it is going to be increasing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip to minimize the threat to its ground forces. And also because it also, it's been dropping flyers on one southern neighborhood of the Gaza Strip telling residents that if they don't evacuate that they might be considered a partner to the terrorist organization, a reference to Hamas.

We've seen this buildup of troops more than 350,000 reservists called up there are hundreds of tanks there. And now you've got the Chief of the General Staff telling troops there in no uncertain terms that they will be going into the Gaza Strip. So it really is just a question of timing.

But that timing does now seem to be very, very close by. But of course, we've been discussing this all week as well, for the past two weeks that a ground invasion is not going to be simple, not just because of the risk to Israeli troops both to their lives and for the possibility of them being taken hostage.

But also because of course the risks for very large numbers of civilian casualties. And of course, the labyrinth complex of tunnels that Hamas maintains underground and tower blocks there. It's a very risky operation. But it's one that Israel feels that it has to do in order to achieve its objectives of destroying Hamas militarily.

And also trying to get its hostages back there are at least 200 people being held by a Hamas more than a missing as well by Hamas and other militant groups. And Israel wants to get them back as well so very complex operation and one that now seems not just inevitable, but imminent as well, Lynda.

KINKADE: And we've also heard that the Israeli Defense Force, Elliott has attacked what it has described as a terrorist compound in the West Bank, which allegedly included a Hamas cell within a mosque. But what are the details?

GOTKINE: The details are that Israel carried out this airstrike on what it says was a command center being maintained by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. And that jointly those two militant groups were planning in its words in imminent terrorist attack and that's why it carried out this airstrike.

It says this command center was underneath a mosque and you can see those images there a whole being ripped on the side of this mosque by an airstrike. The Palestinian Red Crescent says that there's been one person killed and seven injured and it seems that Israel discovered this compounds in July during a major incursion the biggest in Jenin in some 20 years, Lynda.


KINKADE: All right, Elliott Gotkine, good to have you with us from London. We will speak again soon thank you. Well, we're joined now by Mick Ryan, who is a retired Major General with the Australian Army. He joins us this hour from Brisbane. Good to have you with us.

MAJOR GENERAL MICK RYAN (RET.), AUSTRALIAN ARMY: Yes, it's good to be with you.

KINKADE: So the Israel Defense Forces have warned residents in the north of Gaza again to evacuate dropping red leaflets sending messages to anyone with cell phone service warning that they might be considered as a partner for the terrorist organization, if they don't evacuate. What does that signal about the timing of a possible ground invasion?

RYAN: Well, it potentially signals that a ground attack into Gaza is very close. But it also signals where the Israeli army might seek to enter Gaza, a large part of its forces likely to go into the North. But I don't think all of it will be going there. It will want to surprise Hamas. It will want to deceive it. So other bits of the army will probably go into other bits of Gaza besides the north.

KINKADE: Major General, Israel has warned it that it's going to increase with strikes that it wants to destroy Hamas and its capabilities. But overall, does it have a clear strategic end game?

RYAN: Well, I think that's the big question. At the end of the dire, military operations should be supporting political outcomes. It's not clear what they might be, besides the destruction of Hamas. At the end of the dire, after this operation is complete, Israel will want to work with someone else in Gaza who can make it a more secure and prosperous Gaza. So it reduces its threat to Israel, what those political objectives -- to -- .

KINKADE: And they didn't, Ryan, there is of course, a risk of miscalculation at every step. The U.S. we've heard in the last hour or so that it's now increasing what it calls deterrence in the region to discourage any other actors, any other nations from getting involved.

On top of the two aircraft carriers being deployed in the region, we also heard that it's activated the deployment of an anti-ballistic missile defense system to shoot down and to intercept missiles, as well as the patriot surface to air missile system. Describe for us what that signals what's the likelihood of an escalation in this war involving multiple countries, especially given it U.S. forces in the region have also already been a fight upon?

RYAN: Well, what is possible is that, you know, with Israel, very absorbed in Gaza, other actors, particularly Hezbollah, but you know, other non-state actors from Syria, or even Iran might decide to exploit that opportunity. The U.S. as well as other countries in the region, do not want to see that they don't want to see a spillover of conflict here. So it's not just the United States and Israel that have an interest in deterring other actors. A range of countries in the region also have a deep interest in ensuring this conflict is restricted to Israel and Gaza at the moment.

KINKADE: Major General Ryan, despite so much sympathy for the horrific terror attack in Israel. We have sent -- global backlash for the civilian deaths in Gaza, as well as the airstrikes. We've seen Israel cut off supplies of water, of fuel, electricity. Israel has a claim that it's restarted the water supply.

But people in Gaza say without electricity, you can't pump the water. How does the Israel conduct a war on Hamas without the collective punishment of 2 million plus citizens?

RYAN: Well, I think this is at the heart of President Biden's words last week when he said, you know, Americans after 9/11 were enraged and heartbroken, but we also made mistakes. I think that was him telegraphing to Israel, you're enraged, you're heartbroken. But please don't do anything that's going to compromise a long term strategic solution here.

So I think America and Israel's other friends will be counseling them in the background. That yes, they need to take on Hamas. Yes, they have a right to sovereign self-defense. But they shouldn't hopefully be doing things that make the situation worse in the longer term.

KINKADE: And in the last couple of days, my agenda we saw the release of two hostages by Hamas to Americans but there are around 200 others still in captivity. I spoke to the IDF about how they can be sure that those hostages are safe as they carry out these airstrikes one after the next.

They told me that they have intelligence to suggest that the hostages are being held elsewhere. But what are the risks for those captives held by Hamas if Israel launches this ground invasion and how does that pose an additional challenge for the IDF?

RYAN: Well, on these kind of urban operations is as good as the IDF is and it's deep as its knowledge of Gaza is.


There still many, many unknowns and the location was a very hostages is unlikely to be known by the intelligence services. That means that when Israel does go in in the ground, every soldier will have in the back of their mind that they could be hurting hostages by their actions that will have a fairly significant impact on Israel's operations. So I think it will be very difficult for the IDF to assume it knows the location of every hostage.

KINKADE: And the idea of course, has a very advanced military, especially when it comes to technology. But Israel, I mean, Gaza and Hamas use these tunnels, these underground tunnels throughout the territory. How does the advances in technology that Israel has a system as they proceed? RYAN: Well, they help but no technology is perfect. You know, as military people know the enemy always gets to vote. Hamas has been working very hard for decades not just to establish these tunnels, but to hide them and ensure that the Israelis can pick them up if Israel knew where they were where they'd be destroyed by now.

So they're going to the effector, but just urban operations generally are very, very difficult even for the best armies, even for those like the Israelis who have done this a lot. It will be slow going it will be very bloody for soldiers and civilians unfortunately.

KINKADE: Retired Major General Mick Ryan, we appreciate your time from Brisbane, Australia. Thanks so much.

RYAN: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, any in Israeli ground incursion into Gaza will eventually have to deal with what the IDF calls the Gaza metro, which is what we were just speaking about the vast network of tunnels beneath Gaza, and clearing them out poses and an especially thorny technical problem for the Israeli troops, CNN's, Tom Foreman explains.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As much as we hear about the tunnels under Gaza, there really aren't many photos or eyewitness accounts as to exactly what they are compared to the importance of them. Generally, many of them seem to be dug by hand, relatively small, and then they're reinforced with concrete so they can't easily be collapsed.

How big is this network? Well, think about this, Gaza itself is only about 25 by 6 miles. And yet the indication from some experts is there may be more than 300 miles of tunnels underneath that. The depth unknown maybe it is a few meters, maybe it's a whole lot more and many of them appear fairly cramped.

Possible uses well hiding command centers, weapons caches, rocketry, and yes, maybe even hostages, secret movement of key Hamas figures. So they might be in this part of the area and go to this part of the area and be undetected because they can't be spied by satellites or people who are trying to look with drones or anything else.

And they would represent a safe place in this small area relatively safe, and that a lot of conventional weapons would not easily penetrate this. But in fact, you might have to bring in bigger sort of bunker buster bombs, if somebody really wanted to be able to go through the reinforcement and all of that Earth to get underneath but that's why this is the focus not only for Hamas, but for the Israelis too.

KINKADE: Thanks to Tom Foreman. Was still to come what could Qatar's role in this war be? We're going to talk with a Middle East expert about how guitars influence in the region could become a liability.


[01:15:00] KINKADE: Welcome back, a peace summit called by Egypt ended without an accord due to "differences". And that's according to two officials. Arab leaders are gathered in Cairo Saturday to try to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and protect it civilians. However, Israeli and senior U.S. officials weren't there.

Egyptian President called for the resumption of negotiations for a two state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was unfortunate that some of those attending "had difficulty condemning terrorism". To get a better understanding of how countries in the region such as Qatar positioned as this war plays out.

We're joined by Hussein Ibish. He is a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine. Good to have you with us.

HUSSEIN IBISH, SENIOR RESIDENT SCHOLAR AT THE ARAB GULF STATES INSTITUTE: A good quick correction. I'm actually a Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

KINKADE: Oh, excellent, good to get your perspective today.

IBISH: Thank you.

KINKADE: I read the piece that you wrote in the Atlantic, describing Qatar as a diplomatic broker given its ties to Hamas. But you want that those ties are now a liability. Can you explain why? Because obviously, so far we've seen Qatar helped with the release of two hostages, two Americans.

So surely at this time, they would be considered an asset, given that direct line of communication with Hamas.

IBISH: Yes, I have no doubt. At the moment, they're an asset regarding hostages. And also, they have this background of being a huge asset to the Pentagon, because they built this huge, fabulous airbase called Al Udeid and handed it over to the United States on incredible terms that really no other country would agree to basically giving us virtually extraterritorial jurisdiction there.

But it functions as almost like U.S. territory, basically extraordinary. So that's something that the Pentagon really charges. On the other hand, as time goes on, given how deep Qatar has links to the Hamas are, and all these senior Hamas political leaders living in Qatar, at the expense of the Qataris.

It may become an issue with Israel, the West and other Arab countries, because they may say look at the cut. A Hamas has revealed itself to be in the category of ISIS and Al Qaeda. You can't do this you have to choose between us and them.


If that happens they're going to be in a very, very difficult spot.

KINKADE: We know that Hamas, I mean, Qatar sorry, has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Gaza, you right with the consent of the U.S. and Israel doesn't need that consent?

IBISH: Oh, yes, I think so as a practical matter does, because Israel allowed a Qatari official to bring, it's literally brought in cash, it's not bank transfers, its actual cash that comes sometimes anyway. And all of that, yes, I think Israel could block it if they wanted to.

Because what Hamas is doing, obviously, excuse me, what Qatar is doing for Hamas in this case, is paying, among other things, paying the public employees payroll, so that the teachers and the doctors who work for the government, and the police officers and all the bureaucrats and all the civil servants in Gaza get paid.

So that families have food on the table, it basically has been propping up the Gaza economy on a monthly basis. And so that, you know, has been OK with Israel, United States, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and Egypt and Jordan and everybody else. But I think at this point, any additional aid to Hamas takes on a very different tinge.

And they give them a lot of support. Beyond that, they as I say they have almost all the political leadership of Hamas living there as close and trusted friends. That's a problem now. Good. I mean, they may be protected by the Pentagon, and by this base that they pay for, and gave to the United States. But it's going to be tricky. They're going to be in a tough spot.

KINKADE: Israel has indicated that it will launch a ground incursion. It's ready to proceed with that. Is it walking into a trap?

IBISH: Well, I've written that from the very beginning. And I think it is. I think Hamas wants exactly that. Hamas engaged in an act of spectacular overkill. And when terrorist groups or insurgent groups do that, they're trying to provoke any emotional overreaction by the targeted power by the stronger dominant power.

And to get them to inflict on themselves damage and a blow that the insurgent group would not be capable of doing. Think of 9/11 how it provoked the United States into irrationally attacking Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. But it was a blow against American prestige interests, sense everything.

That continues to reverberate to this day, we did much more damage to ourselves that will -- that could have by stupidly invading Iraq. So I think Hamas is trying to get Israel to make that mistake, come in on the ground and engage in the kind of close quarters, house does combat that really favors guerrillas and militia groups, not regular armies.

And ideally, they would like Israeli troops to stay and say, well, we're not we have to run this place. And Hamas is destroyed and everything. And they can then the remnants of Hamas can create an insurgency that at first is very small, maybe, but over time, gained steam, and momentum.

And then they can start picking off Israeli soldiers, and capturing them and whatnot. All of this is a bid to gain control of the Palestinian national movement, and once and for all, get fatter into the margins, and to ultimately take over the PLO, with all of their missions all over the world and their U.N. presence, their U.N. observer state.

So I think this is the plan. So far, I think it's been working brilliantly for Hamas. I'm sad to say, Israel goes in on the ground. Well, we'll see what happens but I think they're walking into a trap, as I said.

KINKADE: All right. Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, good to get your perspective, thank you.

IBISH: Thank you so much.

KINKADE: Still to come, two freed American hostages reunite with their family in Israel, but what about the hundreds of others still in Hamas captivity? I'll speak to an expert next.



KINKADE: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world, I'm Lynda Kinkade. You're watching CNN "Newsroom". Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are preparing for a ground incursion of Gaza, is Israel says it will step up airstrikes on the territory. The IDF Chief of Staff said Saturday that the military will enter Gaza and initiate an operation to take out Hamas, but it did not provide any timeframe.

Well, the U.S. is sending more missile defense systems to the Middle East. The Pentagon is placing additional U.S. troops on prepare to deploy an order in response to the escalating situation in the region. And aid organizations are calling for unrestricted access to Gaza, saying in a joint statement from the United Nations that time is running out to help the thousands in need of medical assistance.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz shows us the dangers that come with the growing humanitarian crisis, and a warning that her report does contain disturbing video.


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 7 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 to just 3 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 U.N., and every hour costs lives.


And so far, no civilians can leave the Enclave. 10 year old Palestinian American Aden is among those trucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 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. Stealing some 2 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 Muhammad 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 1400 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 these ends?

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.


KINKADE: Well, those two American hostages were released Friday have reunited with family members in Israel. Judith Tai Rannan and her 17 year old daughter Natalie spent nearly two weeks in Hamas captivity before they were handed over to Israeli forces at the Gaza border.

Natalie's father says she is expected to come home to Illinois to celebrate her 18th birthday on Tuesday. Natalie and her mother spoke on the phone with the U.S. President Joe Biden after being released. The White House posted a video of that emotional call on social media.




BIDEN: I'm so glad you're home or not home, but I'm glad you're out.

RANNAN: Thank you sir very, very much.

BIDEN: Hey, Natalie, how are you? God love --

RANNAN: Thank you for the services.

BIDEN: Look, that's been long serving. I'm just delighted. We're able to get you out. We've been working on it a long time. We're going to get them all out God willing. I just want to say I hope you're both feeling good, but in good health as well.

RANNAN: Yes sir. Yes, we are. Thank you very much. God bless you.

BIDEN: God bless you guys.


KINKADE: Well, the release was the result of negotiations between Qatar and Hamas. According to the IDF more than 200 people are being held hostage in Gaza right now. Hostages right now, they're trying to negotiate their released using Qatar. Well, joining me now from New York is Christopher O'Leary.

He is the Senior Vice President for Global Operations, The Soufan Group, a Global Intelligence and Security Consultancy. He's also a Former U.S. government Director of Hostage Recovery. Good to have you with us.


KINKADE: Sir, in your role as the Former Director of Hostage Recovery for the U.S. government, you were dedicated to the safe, rescue and recovery of U.S. citizens taken by terror groups. What are you hearing from your sources in the field about the release of those two Americans who are held captive by Hamas? Why would Hamas release those two? What was the calculation?

O'LEARY: Well, it's tough to say exactly what their calculations were but it was calculated. Hamas did not do that, because they're all sudden benevolent. Or they didn't do it for humanitarian reasons. I think it's important to recognize and remember they're a terrorist organization.

They took hostages to terrorize. It's a tried and proven tactic for terrorist organizations in the modern era. And it's intended to influence victims beyond its immediate victims, striking terror around the world, through the use of the media, now social media. Why they were released could be a variety of reasons, one of which is a delaying tactic on the part of Hamas.

You know, it gives hope that others could be released and might slow the invasion of Gaza by Israel. It could be to a counter narrative to the world to show that they are not monsters as they demonstrated two weeks ago.


But they have a humanitarian bone in their body, but that's not accurate. Or number three to demonstrate that there are legitimate partners in a negotiation that the Qataris and others can work with them. And there might be a deal to be struck here.

KINKADE: So can you give us a sense Christopher, what sort of strategies you deploy when negotiating with terrorists in the work you've done? How often would you have a direct line through? And when would you work with indirect channels to negotiate?

O'LEARY: Well, depends on the group. There are groups that, you know, have turned this into a business and northwest Africa, groups I'll tie it in the Islamic Maghreb, or in the Southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group or in South America FARC. They've turned this into a business over the years.

Hamas is different. They are in some ways, the nationalistic group looking for the independence of Palestine, but they're also an Islamist group as well. So they are not rational actors, although they have some proficiency and experience in dealing with hostage matters. And they also know that their anchor point is you know if they took one Israeli soldier in 2006.

Five years later, they had, you know, were able to get over 1000 Palestinian prisoners released. So that's what they're thinking. So now they have 210 hostages, and they are using this to their benefit, it's going to be very calculated, very deliberate on their part. So negotiating with them, through the Qatari is the real legitimate partner with an established track record with the United States.

And the international community is the best approach right now. There is FBI, hostage negotiators, partnered up with the Israelis on deck, as well as other hostage negotiators from the international community who routinely work together in matters that are complex like this.

KINKADE: Sir, in terms of the other hostages, including foreign nationals from dozens of countries. If you're working on this particular negotiation to get them out, what would be the best way isn't negotiating with Hamas or is it a military rescue, because we know that Israel is ready to launch a ground incursion?

O'LEARY: So unfortunately, it's both. So as soon as you know, this event happened, the hostage enterprise from Israel, which includes their special operations forces, who are extremely capable, their negotiators, their intelligence capabilities, started working on this problem, because there were Americans taken because there were other dual nationals taken.

All of those capabilities also came from those countries. So the United States immediately deployed a team over there to work with Israel. Just a year ago, we did an exercise symposium with the Israelis discussing how we respond jointly to a complex hostage matter.

And more recently, we've been working with the international community for what we've called a multilateral fused response. So if there was a complex hostage matter where there were Americans taken alongside British citizens alongside Qatari citizens, that we would fuse our response, synchronized our efforts in gathering intelligence in our negotiations, and our strategic narrative to the global community, and work on joint tactical resolution.

But it's also synchronizing our efforts with the negotiations and I'll give you a one vignette. TWA 847 was a very famous and complex hostage incident in 1985, and it has hostages from a variety of countries. The Greek government negotiated directly with the Palestinian group that took the hostages, and they were able to secure the release of their citizens.

The incident protracted for nearly three weeks and resulted in the death of a U.S. Navy Diver who was beaten and then shot and dumped on our tarmac and Beirut International Airport. So it is important when you have a complex matter like this to work together. And that's what we've been working on collectively for the last year.

KINKADE: All right, Christopher O'Leary, good to get your perspective. We really appreciate it. Thanks so much. Still to come on CNN, we examine the latest evidence and that deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital. What we discovered, after a short break, stay with us.



KINKADE: CNN investigation to leaves little doubt that the deadly explosion in the Gaza hospital is not caused by Israel. Our Jeremy Diamond is in Ashkelon with the very latest evidence.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our investigations team has conducted a really thorough analysis using dozens of videos taken from social media but also live broadcasts and footage filmed by a freelance journalist working for CNN, inside the Gaza Strip, in addition to that their satellite imagery.

And they also spoke with several explosives and other military experts who analyze these very images. And CNN's analysis effectively suggests that this blast at this hospital inside the Gaza Strip was caused by a rocket launched from Gaza, a rocket that appears to have broken up mid-air.

And then at least part of that rocket fell down on that parking lot outside the hospital, causing the explosion that has killed hundreds of people over there. Now these weapons and explosives experts who CNN spoke with, they all agree that this is the most likely scenario.

Now at the same time, a definitive conclusion on this simply can't be reached without recovering physical evidence from the site, which is very difficult given the limited access that journalists have to the Gaza Strip and also the fact that that territory is indeed controlled by Hamas.

Now, I want to take you through two key moments here because one of them is from this live broadcast that was being broadcast on Al Jazeera, where you can see the rockets that were being fired around the same time as this blast occurred. One of those rockets appears to burn out in the sky before crashing into the area where the hospital is.

The second piece of evidence is the crater. And this is a key piece of evidence that the Israeli Defense Forces have also pointed to as they tried to make the initial claim that this was not them that this was caused by a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


The crater that was caused by this explosion was by three feet wide, about one foot deep. And all of the experts that CNN spoke to agreed that this is not consistent with the kind of crater that you would see from a bomb that would be dropped from an aircraft. And they also said that it is not consistent with any kind of artillery fire on that kind of a position.

Now, all of this doesn't change the fact that Palestinian officials continue to insist that Israel is responsible for the strike. Israel, of course, denies that and has pointed to this very same rocket scenario. What it also doesn't change is the anger, the eruption of anger that this hospital blast has caused in the Arab world in the Middle East.

We have watched these protests over the last couple of days at U.S. embassies, at Israeli embassies in the region. And ultimately, you know, the majority of this hospital blasts has really become quite a touch point. And I don't think that that is going to change despite this latest analysis.

KINKADE: Thanks to Jeremy Diamond. Still to come, as Syria's President, steps backwards to the world stage. Human rights activists hope there's still a chance for justice for victims of his brutal war.



KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade. The leader of a synagogue in Detroit was found stabbed to death outside her home Saturday morning. Police are trying to figure out why Samantha Woll was murdered. The Police Chief says a motive is not yet known. One of Woll's friends tells CNN that she treated everyone with love and compassion.


MORENO TAYLOR, FRIEND OF SAMANTHA WOLL (ph): She was such a bright light in our community and you know, had done so much to contribute to the revitalization of the City of Detroit. Sam was energetic. She always had that bright smile that you're showing now.

You know, she greeted everybody with love, compassion, and she really led. She was someone who embodied her values.


KINKADE: Detroit's Mayor says the 40 year olds death has left a huge hole in the community. The FBI and the Michigan State Police say helping with the investigation. We're now to the war in Ukraine where officials in Kharkiv say a Russian missile strike killed at least six people.

According to the regional prosecutor's office, Russian forces fired two missiles out a building belonging to a logistics company with employees inside. At least 16 people were injured in the attack. Search and rescue operations are underway. This week, French judges issued an arrest warrant for several high ranking Syrian military officials on allegations of war crimes.

The indictments come after years along the investigation around the tragedy of a single family. Human Rights Activists hope it's the start of bringing justice to an entire nation. Our Jomana Karadsheh has a story.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how the regime of Bashar Al-Assad backed by Russia for its way to survival. City after city bumped into submission, an aerial campaign of indiscriminate brutality that claimed countless lives. And they did it all under the cover of total impunity.

But that made me no more belong right to accountability began here in the City of Doha, with the June 2017 airstrike that killed Syrian French National Salah Abou Nabout, who turned his home into a makeshift school. After a year's long investigation by judges of France's War Crimes Unit.

Top ranking Syrian generals have now been indicted and international warrants have been issued for their arrest.

MAZEN DARWISH, SYRIAN LAWYER/ SYRIAN CENTER FOR MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: This is the first time that Syrian official army prosecuted. This is the first time we are talking about the air force, the official Syrian army attacking schools, protected places.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Lawyer Mazen Darwish and his Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression played a crucial role in the case collecting witness testimony. Evidence from the scene French investigators couldn't reach and with the help of Syrian officers who defected they were able to build the regime's chain of command structure and alleged criminal responsibility of those who set policy and issued orders.

DARWISH: It took more than 14 months to build the structure and the chain of command. This is never being able to done if there were no insiders.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The suspects include that then second highest ranking military official after Bashar Al-Assad, Major General Fahd Jassem al-Freij who served as Minister of Defense, Deputy Commander in Chief of the army, Major General Ali Abdullah Al Ayyoub then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces later Defense Minister.

He was Syria's third highest ranking officer at the time of the attack. And Brigadier General Ahmed Al Baloul, who commanded the air force, was also indicted along with the commander of the helicopter brigade accused of dropping the barrel bombs on the school.

KARADSHEH: Why isn't a shot at -- , one of the suspects they would go after if he is the Commander in Chief?

DARWISH: Not because he's not responsible, but because we are talking about local court. Presidents have immunity, and this is why we tried to go to the ICC.

KARADSHEH: But Russia blocks the path to the ICC.

DARWISH: Unfortunately, last time Russia and China together used veto.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): This is the first time anyone has tried to hold the regime to account for alleged war crimes arising from a military operation for the use of barrel bombs. These are cylinders packed with fuel and explosives, crude, unguided weapons that are dropped from helicopters and are believed to kill thousands of Syrians.

It's a winner boots French citizenship that gave France jurisdiction, but it's his son how much determination to pursue justice for his father that made this all possible.

OMAR ABOU NABOUT, SON OF VICTIM AND COMPLAINANT: I couldn't stay silent when I could do something. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed, including my father. I didn't want the day to come when I'm older and would regret not taking the opportunity.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): The Syrian government may deny targeting civilians but Omar says this victory for him and others fighting impunity is now more important than ever as Arab States appear eager to turn the page and welcome asset back into the fold.

NABOUT: Normalizing the Syrian regime has become easy, and they're turning a blind eye to the war crimes that were committed, the detainees who were still in Syrian jails to displace. This legal battle should continue to tell the regime stop. There are war crimes you should be held accountable for.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The officials indicted may likely never stand trial, but the warrants mean they will never travel freely around the world.

DARWISH: It's not about revenge. This is how we can protect our future from revenge. The same people who arrested me, torture me, and they have all the power. And they can do it again. This is our responsibility for our children, for our future.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Those fighting for justice say it's about preserving the narrative and doing all they can to ensure it never happens again. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Paris.


KINKADE: Poll was open about five hours from now in Argentina's presidential election. Ballots have been shipped around the country which is suffering from inflation of more than 130 percent. The latest polling shows a tight three way raise that's likely to head to a runoff in November.

Some voters say they won't make up their mind until they get to the ballot box. Outsider Javier Millay is seen as the front runner he has pledged to take a metaphorical chainsaw to the status quo. That wraps up our coverage this hour. I'm Lynda Kinkade. I will be back with much more news. After a very short break stay with us. You're watching CNN.