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CNN Live Event/Special
Hamas Clashed With IDF Inside Gaza; Israel Ramps Up Aerial Bombardment; Gaza Hospitals Overwhelmed With Casualties; 14 Aid Relief Trucks Enter Gaza From Egypt; Gaza Hospitals Scaling Back At Crucial Treatments; Interview With Palestine Red Crescent Society Director General Marwan Jilani; IDF Expands Evacuations In Northern Israel; Israel Warns About Conflict In West Bank And Lebanon; Netanyahu Warning Hezbollah; Israel Prepares To Send Enormous Force into Gaza; Interview With; Interview With Former U.S. State Department Midde East Negotiator And Carnegie Endowment Senior Fellow Aaron David Miller; Hamas Holding 212 Hostages In Gaza; U.S. Asking Israel To Slow Down; Biden And Netanyahu Speaks By Phone; U.S. Presses Israel To Delay Ground Incursion; Protestors All Around the World Making Their Opinions Known; Interview With Standing Together National Co-Director And Co-Founder Alon-Lee Green; Russian Missile Strike Hits Kharkiv Region; Ukraine Launching Raids On Crimea; Thousands Of Families Displaced In Israel. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 22, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Israel Hamas war which could be on the cusp of its next stages. That's as we get word of Hamas fighters clashing with Israeli troops inside Gaza now.
It appears to be one of the first ground battles in the territory since war broke out earlier on this month, Hamas claims its fighters ambushed two Israeli military bulldozers and a tank forcing Israeli troops to retreat without their vehicles. A major Israeli ground incursion into Gaza could now be imminent. The IDF says one Israeli soldier was killed during operations to prepare for that.
And from the ground to the skies, Israel has been ramping up its aerial bombardment. Officials at several hospitals in Gaza say they've been overwhelmed with casualties today, with one calling it a "Bloody Day."
The Hamas controlled health ministry says more than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza since October the 7th.
Some much-needed respite though for civilians in Gaza who've been waiting on food and water. In the past hour, at least 14 aid trucks made it into Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah Crossing which reopened this weekend, but obviously, that is nowhere near enough.
As Israel steps up its military activity in Gaza, hospitals there say crucial treatments like dialysis are having to be scaled back because of electricity and fuel shortages. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Central Gaza has been overwhelmed with casualties, with the doctor calling the situation catastrophic. A warning now that Scott McLean's report contains graphic images.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Those who arrived at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Central Gaza alive are the lucky ones. There were five airstrikes this morning near the hospital. This video shows the smoke from one rising nearby. Some 110 bodies were brought here overnight and this morning, one medical source tells CNN.
The morgue is now full. The rest of the bodies, wrapped in white sheets, now lay outside in the heat of the day. Relatives try to identify their loved ones. Finding them confirms their worst fears.
Inside the hospital, children, including a toddler, are among the dead. Several of these victims were found with their names written in Arabic on their legs, an increasingly common marking as parents try to make identification easier if they or their kids are killed.
This hospital is located outside of the area of Northern Gaza that Israel has been trying to get civilians to evacuate. On Saturday, the IDF dropped leaflets telling people that everyone who chose to not evacuate from the north of the Strip to the south of Wadi Gaza might be considered as a partner for the terrorist organization.
In a statement, the IDF confirmed it dropped the leaflets, but said it has no intention to consider those who have not evacuated from the affected area of fighting as a member of the terrorist group. Even those who have managed to avoid the bombs are not out of danger. A trickle of aid, 20 trucks, were allowed to cross the Rafah Border Crossing from Egypt on Saturday. But that's a tiny fraction of what is needed.
MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PRESIDENT, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: 20 trucks of aid to Gaza will not change much. Gaza needs at least 500 trucks daily of fuel, food, medicines, and water. As a matter of fact, for 14 days, Gaza got nothing under the Israeli siege. And its immediate need now is 7,000 trucks.
MCLEAN (voiceover): Satellite images show dozens of trucks waiting at the border and dozens more a quarter mile down the road, all unable to get in. Aid groups say that the death toll could skyrocket because of disease and hospitals that are overwhelmed and undersupplied.
With no electricity or generator, this shopkeeper in Central Gaza is keeping the store open by candlelight as the shelves look increasingly bare. The World Food Programme says the shortage of basic supplies is pushing Gaza to the edge of catastrophe. The IDF says it killed dozens of terrorists overnight, but vows that the number of airstrikes will only increase ahead of an expected ground operation. Meanwhile, conditions for the people of Gaza worsen by the hour.
Scott McClean, CNN, London. (END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: To get more now, let's bring in my co-anchor, CNN, Sara Sidner, who's in the region for us in Jerusalem. Sara.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Bianca. Here in Jerusalem, things have been quiet. It has been a day of prayer. I do want to talk to you now about Marwan Jilani. He is the director general of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, and he's going to join us now about the situation in Gaza.
You just heard the very, very disturbing reporting there about what is happening there and the crisis that is ongoing since the Israel war on Hamas started. I want to begin here, sir. Dozens of trucks are at the border waiting with humanitarian aid, according to satellite images that we have seen, what, if anything, is being done to try and get those trucks into Gaza and to the people who need it most? How difficult has this process been?
MARWAN JILANI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, PALESTINE RED CRESCENT SOCIETY: Thank you. It's been very difficult. As you said in your report, there are 2.3 million people who are lacking basic life support, including food, water, medicine and medical supplies for the hospitals. And above all, the fuel which runs the water and runs the hospital machines to keep people alive and to treat the wounded.
I just came back from Egypt. I was on the other side of the Rafah border to coordinate the entry of the aid with our colleagues from the Egyptian Red Crescent. We saw a trickle coming in with, you know, two days ago, 20 trucks. Today, just about an hour ago, we managed to get another 15 trucks in. And they've been received by Palestine Red Crescent, by our colleagues, and moved into UNRWA, United Nations Refugee storehouses.
So, this is really a drop in the ocean. It's not enough. The hospitals are running on a day-by-day basis in terms of fuel. It was good news to see today that there has been about five, six trucks of fuel -- tanks of fuel that came in. This will be distributed to hospitals and we'll give them another maybe -- another two days, each hospital, to be able to run and care for their patients, the wounded and those who are at the hospital.
So, it is a catastrophe. It is -- now, it is really -- it is a catastrophe. It is not a catastrophe that we will see in a few days, no. Today it is a catastrophe. More than 1 million people are displaced, more than 6,400 people are killed and more than -- almost 15,000 have been injured. And there are no safe places in Gaza. People don't know where to go. And they are sheltering, including in hospitals.
Our hospital in Gaza City has 12,000 people who are seeking safe place to stay there. They are sheltering in our hospital, sleeping in -- on the corridors of operation rooms and in the basement and in other rooms, and this situation really cannot go on for much, much longer. SIDNER: Mr. Jilani, you talked about, you know, just being there and what you have been able to help get into Gaza. Can you give me a number now? Because five trucks filled with fuel, you're saying those will go to the hospitals, which are in dire need of fuel, they -- without electricity, their work is made almost impossible. Can you give us a sense of just how many trucks have now gone in? We've heard the number 14. We've heard the number 20. Curious as to how many are actually have been allowed in.
JILANI: 20 trucks entered on Saturday. Those were mostly medicine and medical supplies. So, these are in the warehouses of the United Nations.
Today, another 15 trucks entered just -- as I said, just about one or two hours ago, plus the five tucks with fuel. So, you're talking about 40 trucks.
JILANI: 40 trucks is nothing. It -- as I said, it's a drop in the ocean. You need to have hundreds of trucks to get in in order to provide the necessary food and water and medicine to the 2 million people in Gaza.
SIDNER: Yes. And it is one of the most densely populated places in the entire world, where people are leaving North Gaza going to the south, where there is just not enough humanitarian aid, and some of them we have learned have come back to the north, where Israel says, everyone should evacuate.
I did ask an Israeli former prime minister, spokesperson and ambassador whether or not Israel is going to take into account that there are still doctors and patients In Gaza City hospitals, place where Israel said that people needed to evacuate, and he said that they were going to do their best to try not to impact those areas. But give us some sense of what is happening with the injured population in Gaza and how they're actually being able to get care.
JILANI: It's not only the injured. As I said, we have -- our hospital has been warned on numerous occasions. Two nights ago, we went public and we issued a statement that we were under imminent threat that the hospital will be hit. We had few calls, a call after call from an army's spokesman telling us that if you don't evacuate, that 12,000 people who are sheltering plus the patients, you are responsible.
So, this is ridiculous because it -- the responsibility falls with occupying power. The responsibility falls whoever is going to take action against a hospital or a civilian population. So, how we treating them? We are doing our best. We are operating our hospitals, our intensive care units day by day and hour by hour.
A few days ago, we didn't have food for our medical teams in the north. So, we had to bring in our colleagues, risk their lives, moving from Khan Yunis in the south to Gaza City, some bread in order for us to feed the medical teams, who, by the way, have been for the past two weeks working around the hour. They don't have shifts. There are no extra teams in order to -- for some of them to take a rest. And of course, the number of injuries are huge.
So, those people are exhausted, are stressed out. And psychologically, it's a huge trauma to see all those children, women, wounded, people from under the rubble. It is just unbelievable. Unbelievable to see the horrors and the horrifying scenes that these doctors and nurses that they have to deal with.
SIDNER: Yes. I think it's really important what you just said, and we haven't talked enough about it that the nurses and doctors and technicians that work in these hospitals have not enough food, just like everyone else and water like everyone else and some of them with their families. They're trying to protect their families. They have to be beyond exhausted as they try to care for an injured population.
Marwan Jilani, thank you so much for what your organization does to help people. And thank you for joining us here on CNN.
JILANI: Thank you.
SIDNER: And we will be right back.
NOBILO: Welcome back. By all accounts, it appears that Israel is ready to move forces into Gaza. But there are growing concerns about the war spreading elsewhere in the region as well. Israeli forces conducted an airstrike on a compound underneath a mosque in the West Bank. Israel says the compound was being used by Hamas and Islamic jihad to plan terror attacks.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited with troops in the north near the border with Lebanon and he had a stark warning for Hezbollah fighters who've been skirmishing with the Israelis in recent days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister (through translator): If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will miss the Second Lebanon War. It will make the mistake of its life. We will strike it with a force it cannot even imagine. And the significance for it and the State of Lebanon will be devastating
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is near the Gaza border in the town of Ashkelon. And he has more now on the preparations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in case there was any question that Israel intends to go into Gaza Strip with troops, a ground invasion, those questions are being put to rest this evening by Israel's military chief of staff, the top general, saying, "We will enter the Gaza Strip."
What he is also telling his troops is their mission, and he says that it is to "destroy Hamas operatives and infrastructure."
Now, these comments add to others by the defense minister, by the Israeli prime minister, all making clear that a ground invasion is certainly approaching. Now, on the ground, what we also see are the signs of a potentially imminent ground invasion as well.
As we were driving along the Gaza Strip today, within about eight kilometers or so of the Gaza Strip, what we found was not one, not two, but four different groupings of dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers, as well as these D9 bulldozers, which the Israeli military uses ahead of ground troops to try and dig up and set off any potential IEDs, as well as any other obstacles that may be in the way of those forces.
Now, put together, these four groupings that we saw in just about one square mile of an area represented hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers. as well as those bulldozers, and there were also infantry troops, positioned along the way. Now, the only question appears to be exactly when the Israeli military will move forward with this invasion.
Certainly, Hamas seems to continue to be dangling the possibility of additional hostages being released as one way to try and delay this ground invasion, but Israel's military continues to insist that it will move forward at a time and place of its choosing. And in line with that, Israeli military officials now say that they are increasing their strikes, that they are intensifying those strikes in order to try and minimize the risk to their own troops when they move in on the ground.
But the question of what the impact will be on Gaza's civilians, who have already suffered so much in two weeks of bombardment by Israeli forces, more than 1,600 children are believed to have died, according to, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, that question of civilian casualties still remains going forward.
Israel's military has directed civilians to move out of the northern part of the Gaza Strip and to move south. And when I spoke with a special forces commander just the other day, this commander said that, civilians have been directed out of those areas, and he said, "Anyone who has chosen to stay there has chosen a side," indicating to his troops that any person who remains in that area could potentially be an enemy and could potentially be a target.
Now, at the same time, that commander said that his troops will still try and avoid civilian casualties, but those comments and the broader specter of this war and how it has already impacted civilians inside of Gaza certainly raises the possibility of a very bloody time, bloody days, bloody weeks ahead.
Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Ashkelon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Joining me now is Aaron David Miller. He's a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S. State Department and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment. And he joins me now live from Washington, D.C. Thank you very much for being with us today, sir.
AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT MIDDE EAST NEGOTIATOR AND SENIOR FELLOW: Thanks for having me, Bianca.
NOBILO: How do you assess President Biden's success overall this week in terms of playing to his domestic base, but also America's role in the world?
MILLER: You know, I think the administration probably faces an extraordinarily tough lift on this one. I mean, he's had some impact, I think, on trying to at least lay the foundation for a surge of humanitarian assistance through Rafah. But I think Egyptian, Israeli and Hamas agendas have made that flow just a trickle. And it's a matter, as secretary general of the U.N. I said, of life and death.
On the issue of escalation and deterrence, I think the administration has done about all it can. Positioning two carrier strike groups with maybe a couple hundred aircrafts and support vessels in the event that Israel and Hezbollah literally get into a major confrontation, not talking about what they've been doing over the last week. And should Iran enter, the U.S. would be prepared to respond.
He's had some effect, I think, on the timing of the Israeli ground campaign, large part, I think, is, Bianca, we really don't know, and I suspect there is an enormous amount going on below the surface with respect the efforts to free hostages. And I think he's bought time and space from the Israelis in an effort to do that.
But on balance, I guess I would say, and I'm not sure it's a criticism, I think that events, frankly, are driving this, and we're drifting. And it's very unlikely that we're going to be able to prevent an escalation. Certainly. I don't think the administration will prevent an Israeli ground campaign. So, on balance, I'm sad to say the situation is going to get worse before it gets much worse.
NOBILO: Which partners of the U.S. and the Arab world are they working with most closely on this, that they can actually collaborate with on such a fractious and volatile issue?
MILLER: Very good question. You know, the Arab states that have some influence, and Turkey, of course, not an Arab state, an Islamic state. The Turks, the Egyptians, but mostly the Qataris. You know, Qatar hosts the do the, external leadership of Hamas. They bankrolled Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the last several years, I might add, with Israeli acquiescence in an effort to keep Gaza calm and relatively stable. So, I think Qatar has played the key role almost from the beginning. And I think they are -- they will be instrumental. If any additional hostages can be freed, they will be the driver.
NOBILO: You point out that there will be so much going on behind the scenes diplomatically, which obviously we're unaware of at the moment. But do you think that the White House made a mistake in Biden embracing Netanyahu so completely, literally and figuratively, in terms of America's any remaining moral authority in the international stage, given the civilian toll that is being inflicted by the Israeli airstrikes and retaliation for the Hamas attacks.
I mean, that's very difficult, surely. And it feels like sympathy is potentially draining away. We heard from a former Israeli prime minister on that earlier today, surely Biden's got to be aware of those optics.
MILLER: Yes. And I think you've seen the administration and the president's rhetoric begin to shift and evolve. But no, I -- look, it's easy to offer advice from the outside. I worked for almost 25 years inside. I know about the constraints.
If you look at the point of departure for this crisis, not the origins of the Israeli Palestinian crisis, but the point of departure for this crisis, it was a degree of savagery and brutality that -- you know, having worked the Israeli Palestinian issue for decades, we've never seen. And it occurred not against military targets, but against civilians.
So, if you consider that and you add to it the president's preternatural support of Israel, I mean, he's in love with the idea of Israel and committed to its security, it's imprinted on his emotional and political DNA. If you add to that the administration's approach, which was to build up some measure of trust and confidence in the early days with Mr. Netanyahu and his war cabinet, in an effort to have enough currency, should the administration have to truly intercede, and I suspect they may, once this ground campaign begins, to move -- to caution de-escalation and to urge de-escalation with the Israelis. I don't think there was much of a choice.
The world wants moral clarity from the administration and moral consistency. But the president's view of this thing is sequential. We wouldn't be having this conversation if, in fact, Hamas had not decided to launch this attack and indiscriminately torture and kill men, women, and children in addition to taking hostages.
So, I think the frame was very actually inevitable. I think the problem was that once the strike on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza occurred, that Arab public opinion, the president had to cancel his summit in Oman, that means he couldn't meet with Sisi, Abbas, or the king of Jordan. So, it appeared as if this was an Israel only strategy. And I don't think that was the administration's intention.
But again, as I mentioned, I think, events are driving the train and the administration is clearly not in control.
NOBILO: Aaron David Miller, thank you very much for joining us today. We appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you, Bianca
NOBILO: And when we come back, unwavering support, but also words of caution as we were just talking about the diplomatic dance as the U.S. tries to keep the Middle East conflict from spinning out of control.
SIDNER: More on our top story for you now. The Israeli troops clashing with Hamas fighters inside Gaza earlier Sunday. This comes as Israel ramps up its airstrikes over Gaza, preparing for what it calls the next stage of its war with Hamas.
We're also hearing from Egypt's Red Crescent confirming that more trucks with lifesaving food, and we also heard that from the Palestinian Red Crescent, and water are now in the besieged enclave in Gaza, but aid workers say there just isn't enough aid that is coming in less than 4 percent of what normally comes through the borders. Our CNN's Nic Robertson is close to the Gaza border with Israel. He's in Sderot where he is seeing a bombardment like he has not seen over these past two weeks. Nic, tell us what you've been experiencing there.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. It's been building up since early this evening, really the most sustained and heavy bombardment that we've seen sustained because there are explosions and detonations by the minute, perhaps several a minute. And the heaviest because they are reverberating through where we are, which is a mile away from the border fence with Gaza. So, that gives you some sense of how big the detonations must be if you're standing inside of Gaza. If they shake this house, then presumably it's doing the same to buildings inside of Gaza as well.
So, this is the most amount of airstrikes, the most sustained artillery strikes, and it does seem to be concentrated in this northern area of Gaza. You're probably seeing flashes over my shoulder here. We're getting big detonations associated with those flashes. They seem to be -- that was one detonation, a bit more in the distance. Another flash there. John, our cameraman, is telling me here at the moment.
This is now at a tempo that we really haven't witnessed before. Is this what the idea has said that they would do ahead of a ground incursion? Another flash, John is telling me. Is this the buildup before ground incursion that the IDF was speaking about? We don't know.
We've been along the front lines today, looking at some of the military buildup, the armored personnel carriers, the tanks, the heavy bulldozers, they're all there in multiple locations. The locations we were looking at was still a few miles away from Gaza. We know that the prime minister has been meeting with his war cabinet in the last few hours or so. It does feel at the moment as if the tempo is building up for something. That said, we've seen the tempo build up before and fall away.
But I think this expectation that something is going to happen, the fact that the troops have been ready for a while, they feel that they've been stood up and then stood down and stood back up again and stood down again, it's been the narrative over the past few days.
I've been talking with analysts here as well, military analysts, who say, look, both Washington and Prime Minister Netanyahu are aware that the window for an incursion is narrowing and it's narrowing because of the high civilian toll inside of Gaza, and this is something that also will be affecting the political calculus here at the moment, Sara.
SIDNER: Yes. I mean, it's really fascinating to hear you say just how big those bombardments are that you're actually getting the reverberations in houses on the other side of the border. Nic Robertson, we've also heard from Ehud Barak who talked to our Fareed Zakaria. Ehud Barak, obviously the former prime minister and a former defense minister, saying it will be in the next few days, he believes, that the ground incursion will happen. We will wait and see. Thank you so much and be safe. You and John (INAUDIBLE) there on the border with Gaza.
Now, to the United States where President Biden has been very busily working the phone. In the recent hours, we've learned he's held conversations with allies in Europe and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And it comes, of course, amid reports the U.S. is asking Israel to slow down its invasion of Gaza, hoping the that the United States can continue to release and help release some of the hostages that are there. We know two people, two American citizens, were released over the past couple of days.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Secretary says he is worried that U.S. troops in the region could be the target of attacks. He's deploying additional missile defense systems and he's stepping up the readiness of some U.S. troops in case. They have to deploy at any moment notice.
Let's go now to CNN White House Reporter Priscilla Alvarez. You are in Delaware. That's where Joe Biden has been spending the weekend, but spending the weekend working very hard to try and figure out how to get more hostages out of Gaza. What else can you tell us?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Working very hard and making multiple calls this afternoon. We learned from the White House that the president not only spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he also spoke with Canadian and European leaders about the ongoing conflict in Israel. And a topic of discussion that came up is, of course, the release of hostages that are held by Hamas.
This has been an ongoing issue, a very complicated one for this White House as they try to wrap their arms around the situation more than two weeks later. How many exactly there are, how many are U.S. citizens and also, where they are and what condition they're in. Now, as you mentioned earlier, CNN previously reported that the Biden administration wants to see a delay in this invasion with hopes of getting more hostages out. Qatar is serving as the middleman in trying to help with those negotiations, but of course, there's still not enough movement on that front, or at least publicly that we know of, of how many more might be released.
And so, in all of these calls, that is part of what the administration is discussing, but also the humanitarian assistance into Gaza. Over the weekend, we saw some progress on this front as some aid trucks made their way into Gaza. And while aid organizations welcomed that, they noted that it can only be the beginning, that they still need so much more help.
And President Biden, in a statement yesterday and again affirming today, that the White House plans to continue their support, continue those discussions to make sure that assistance continues to flow into Gaza. But of course, he is continuing to be briefed here by his national security team and President Biden too responding to questions from reporters while here in Rehoboth about whether the U.S. really does want to see a delayed invasion by Israel. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you encouraging the Israelis to delay invasion?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm talking to the Israelis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALVAREZ: So, you heard it there, Biden is continuing to talk to Israelis. He spoke to the prime minister again today marking the eighth phone call the two have had since October 7th. All of this continuing to develop very quickly and the White House keeping eyes on all of it. Sara.
SIDNER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much joining us from Rehoboth where President Biden is working the phones trying to deal with the hostage crisis here in Gaza.
All right. More than two weeks now into the fighting here between Israel and Hamas protestors around the world are making their opinions known about the war that they see unfolding between Israel and Hamas. A look at some of the international reaction and what's driving it. Our special coverage just ahead.
NOBILO: Since the war between Hamas and Israel began, we've seen displays of support around the world for both Israel and the Palestinian people. Thousands of people took to the streets of Brussels in the Belgian capital's first pro-Palestinian protest since the start of the war. Demonstrators called on E.U. leaders to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
And in the Spanish capital, people from Madrid's Jewish community gathered to demand the release of some 200 people taken hostage when Hamas militants stormed into Israel on October the 7th.
Joining me now from Tel Aviv, Alon-Lee Green is the national co- director and founder of the group Standing Together, a progressive grassroots movement operated by Jews and Arabs. Thank you so much for joining the program today. It's such a breath of fresh air to be able to speak to you doing such important and unifying work at this time.
ALON-LEE GREEN, NATIONAL CO-DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER, STANDING TOGETHER: Thank you for having me.
NOBILO: I read in an article that you wrote that posters that have been hung by your colleagues around Jerusalem saying, Jews and Arabs, we will get through this together, have been confiscated and there's been some scuffles with police. Can you tell me about the resistance that you face trying to spread this very positive and loving message in this time of violence and grief?
GREEN: Well, first of all, our message is a message of solidarity, is a message of unity in this troubling time in Israel. We've been through a terrible massacre against our people. We've suffered --
NOBILO: Unfortunately, we're having some audio issues there. We'll do our very best to get Alon-Lee Green back. We've lost the microphone, but we'll return to him as soon as possible.
In the meantime, let's just take a brief look at other international headlines. In Ukraine, search and rescue crews are trying to find survivors in the devastation wrought by a Russian missile strike that hit the Kharkiv region late Saturday.
Ukrainian officials say at least six people were killed and 14 more injured when the missiles hit a building, housing a logistics company.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian special forces are launching raids on Russian occupied Crimea. They're using unconventional methods in hopes of throwing Moscow off its guard in order to boost morale during Ukraine's slowed counteroffensive. Fred Pleitgen shows us how.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A brazen attack from the sea. Ukrainian forces using jet skis to land in Russian occupied Crimea. The fighter speaking goes by the call sign Musician. He tells me the operation was successful, but tough.
While we were landing, the sea was stormy, he says. The waves were up to two meters high. Plus, Russian warships were patrolling, the Raptors.
The Ukrainians say they also managed to destroy Russian military gear before racing off across the Black Sea, using larger boats to carry fuel for the jet skis on the long journey back to Ukrainian held territory. Musician says these missions are militarily essential.
It helps our forces in the trenches, he says. We distract the enemy's attention towards us, and the enemy is forced to relocate their personnel and vehicles to the Crimean seaside.
Ukraine has started a major campaign against Russian military targets in and around Crimea, hitting the HQ of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet, damaging a submarine and a Russian landing ship as well as hitting an airbase. The Ukrainians use drones and cruise missiles for some of the attacks, but rely on a network of undercover partisan groups inside Crimea for information and targeting.
One of the groups agreed to answer our questions but only in writing for security reasons. We constantly monitor all military facilities on the territory of the Crimean Autonomous Region with the help of our agents and residents of Crimea who constantly inform us the ATESH Group Rights, a wide and developed system of agents allows you to make a choice.
One of the key targets Ukraine has hit several times, the Kerch Bridge linking occupied Crimea to the Russian mainland. The attacks have led to severe disruptions. Russian leader Vladimir Putin, vowing revenge.
There will definitely be a response from Russia, he said. The Ministry of Defense is preparing proposals.
For the Ukrainians, missions like these are also psychologically important, one of the planners of the jet ski raid tells me.
We are fighting a trench war on the front lines, and the armed forces success is not so obvious, he says. And special operations of this kind in the rear or in the sea, they inspire and give energy to keep fighting.
And the fighters in the Bratstva unit say their next infiltrations are already in the works, but they won't say when, where, or how.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: And we have only Alon-Lee Green back with us, hopefully. Sorry, we had some communications issues there. Let's get right back into the interview. So, I was asking you about the message of your organization and also the resistance that you've been facing in recent days within Israel.
GREEN: So, yes. So, standing together is a Jewish Arab movement. And right now, in this emergency time, we are spreading the message that in Israel live both Jewish and Arab Palestinian citizens, and we must go through this moment together.
Some right-wing extremists are trying to pit the communities against each other. They're trying to tell us that the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel are an enemy from within, that they are siding with Hamas. It is a complete lie. We are in this together. We suffered a trauma together. We are fearing together.
The massacre of Hamas was hurting both Palestinian citizens and Jewish citizens. And our movement right now is trying to create solidarity between the people living here in Israel and also, delivering the message that hurting innocent people in Gaza will bring us nowhere, will bring no security to the Israeli people right now.
NOBILO: What is life like at the moment for the Arab Palestinian minority that live within Israel?
GREEN: So, 20 percent of the citizens in Israel are Arab Palestinians. They live all across the country, and a lot of them live also in mixed Jewish Arab cities. And I'm just -- you know, I have to say it is as clearly and direct as possible, they are afraid right now. They feel that they cannot open their mouth, that they cannot even, you know, identify as Palestinians right now, even though a lot of them have families in Gaza or in Ramallah, and they are suffering. The -- you know, the pain of both sides. And I think it does not make them, traitors, it just makes them human.
NOBILO: Some of the survivors of the terror attack that happened on October the 7th or family members of those people who were killed and also, we've heard it from Palestinians, too, are bravely speaking out and saying that the answer to this is not revenge, it's not more violence. We have to work together and we have to focus on peace and preserving the life that remains.
My grandfather was in concentration camp, and for the rest of his life that was exactly what he preached as well. What would your message be to Benjamin Netanyahu and the International Community that are involved in this?
GREEN: It is amazing to see these families that just lost their, dear ones that are grieving at the moment. Families that are sitting at home or waiting for their loved ones to come back because they're held hostage in Gaza, saying a very clear message about life at the moment and not about more death.
And my message, our message, message to our prime minister is stop talking to us about more death and more destruction. Please, please, please talk to us about the living. Talk to us about the 200 hostages that are held right now in Gaza Street. Promise us more life and more prosperity and more safety in our country.
It will not bring us anything to flatten Gaza or to bring it back to the Stone Age. We need real security and real security can only be achieved with a solution, a solution of an Israeli Palestinian peace, a solution of independence and freedom to all the people that are living on this land.
We condemn the massacre of Hamas. We condemn the barbaric slaughter of children and women, but we need to understand that revenge is not a war plan. Anger cannot lead us to a place where we are, getting out of this situation right now. There are millions of people living on this land. Some of them Palestinian, some of them Jewish. No one is going anywhere, anywhere, and we need to be able to live in this land together.
NOBILO: And quite apart from the moral and the ethical value of what you're doing, we know from research about post conflict societies that this will not lead anywhere positive. So, Alon Green, thank you -- Alon-Lee Green, for joining us today. Really appreciate your time and best of luck with the work that you're doing.
GREEN: Thank you for having me.
NOBILO: And we will have more news for you after a short break. Stay with us.
SIDNER: The Biden administration says it is hopeful that more hostages being held by Hamas will be released. We know that two Americans have already been released. And President Biden at these past few hours has been working the phone, talking to international allies, trying to figure out how that will happen. Israel says more than 200 people were kidnapped on October 7th, during the terror attack by Hamas.
Hopes were raised, of course, by those recent release of those two Americans. And the U.S. secretary of state says that U.S. officials have been engaged with partners in the region and are in talks with those who might have some influence with Hamas.
In addition to those still missing, more than 100,000 families in Israel have been displaced. They're feeling rocket attacks and their risk of military fighting, some are being hosted by volunteers. You're looking at a hotel that's been turned into a shelter here in Jerusalem.
Rafael Romo has been hearing the stories of some of those displaced families who have left the areas where rockets come very, very, very quickly, and many of them show up in their area. He joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Tell me what you're hearing from these families.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sara, hi. It's really hard to hear what they have to say, especially when you see those children who are very, very small and have already heard explosions. And let me tell you, the Israeli military and other agencies here in Israel announced the plan last week to evacuate 28 communities living within two kilometers of the Lebanese border. Since then, it has included towns that fall within the vicinity.
We visited a shelter in Jerusalem and spoke with people that not only saw missiles exploding right above them, but also others who witnessed the brutality of Hamas militants during the October 7th terrorist attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER KAHANI, DISPLACES MOTHER: We had terrorists all around us.
ROMO (voiceover): Jennifer Kahani says she and her family woke up to the sound of explosions and missiles whizzing by.
It was the morning of October 7 in the village where they live in Southern Israel near the border with Gaza. They soon realized they were under attack.
KAHANI: We saw helicopters overhead. We saw -- we heard gunfire near us. The terrorists were not far from where I live.
ROMO (voiceover): Kahani and her five-year-old son --
KAHANI: What would you like?
ROMO (voiceover): -- are two of the more than 500 displaced people from Israel's north and south who are now living at a Jerusalem hotel turned into a shelter.
MICHAEL MISTRETTA, CEO, FIRM: We take a hotel, house people inside, feed them, do activities. So, we're trying to create some sort of normalcy. We will be hosting next week 1,200 people across the country.
ROMO (voiceover): This Christian organization called the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries, or FIRM for short, has mobilized to help displaced people who had to flee their homes.
NISSIM COHEN, DISPLACED ISRAELI: They want to destroy Israel.
ROMO (voiceover): Nissim Cohen and his wife, Camelia, live in Northern Israel. Their son, Joseph, warned them a war was coming from the south after the October 7 attacks. Now, they're also among the displaced.
They say they fled their village located two kilometers from the border with Lebanon because they saw missiles launched by Hezbollah intercepted right above their heads by Israel's Iron Dome Air Defense System.
ROMO: From your house near the Lebanese border, could you see the missiles, the rockets flying by?
COHEN: All the missiles. I saw all the missiles. I we saw the army in the border.
ROMO (voiceover): According to the Israel Defense Forces, about 100,000 people have been evacuated from communities near both the Gaza and Lebanon borders due to the heightened risk of attacks.
MISTRETTA Some of them have lost their homes. A lot of them have lost loved ones. Some of them -- I met a family just yesterday, that their 18-year-old daughter, her best friend, is being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
[16:55:00] So, the trauma is really pervasive. As a group of Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs really working together to help care for as many people as possible.
ROMO: Many of these families share a feeling of uncertainty right now. When will the war end? When will they be able to go home? Those are questions for which they don't have an answer right now.
ROMO (voiceover): Jennifer Kahani says her husband stayed behind with others, trying to figure out how to defend their communities against further attacks.
KAHANI: We didn't just lose Jews. We didn't just lose, you know, Zionists or Israelis that day. We lost tourists that came here for a celebration of peace at a party. We lost caregivers from the Philippines and from India that were caring for elderly.
ROMO (voiceover): For now, Kahani says all she can do is hug her son a little harder, pray for her husband's safe return, and hope that something like this never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMO (on camera): And, Sara, beyond opening this shelter, FIRM will start delivering 2,500 hot meals a day in Central Israel in places like bomb shelters. Back to you.
SIDNER: Wow. Rafael Romo, thank you so much for sharing that story with us. And that's it for this hour of CNN Special Coverage. We will be right back.