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CNN Live Event/Special
Israel At War; Health Employees Work Around The Clock To Identify Bodies; Survivor Of Nova Music Festival Describes Terror; Israel Readies For Next Stages Of War. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 22, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A warm welcome to everyone joining us from around the world. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.
Tonight, no fuel and not enough life saving food and water. That's what we're hearing as the Egyptian Red Crescent confirms more aid trucks are now in Gaza. So the aid may be arriving but the UN says the convoy has not provided desperately needed fuel. And aid workers say the relief supplies aren't nearly enough for the besieged enclave.
We're also hearing tonight from a senior Israeli official who says there will be no ceasefire in Gaza. This comes as Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters inside the Palestinian territory earlier in the day. Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government says it's prepared for what it calls the next stage of its war with Hamas. The Israeli Prime Minister spent the day meeting with his war cabinet as the military ramps up its airstrikes on Gaza.
Now for his part, Israel's Defense Minister took a moment to discuss the expected incursion. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translation): This needs to be the last maneuvering inside Gaza, due to the simple reason that Hamas will cease to exist. It might take a month or two, but eventually there will be no Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: As we've been reporting, there are claims of Hamas fighters clashing with Israeli troops inside Gaza. It will be one of the first ground battles in Gaza since war broke out. Hamas mass claims its fighters ambush two Israeli military bulldozers and a tank forcing Israeli troops to retreat without their vehicles.
Meanwhile, Israel says it's been conducting dozens of strikes against Hamas late on Sunday. International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is close to Israel's border with Gaza, and he says the strikes have been the most sustained bombardment of the area he's seen since he began reporting from southern Israel two weeks ago. He just filed this report just a short while ago from Sderot near the border with Gaza.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Bristling with battle ready troops, farmers' fields north of Gaza churn with the controlled fury of a nation readying for an incursion to strike Hamas. Yet, they are waiting with no explanation why.
(on-camera): It feels like that early rush for battle readiness has passed, the troops are deployed standing by. The question is how long can they be kept out here?
(voice-over): According to former IDF General Israel Ziv, as long as is needed there are military gains.
ISRAEL ZIV, FORMER IDF GENERAL: We are now improving our intelligence and our capacity of targets.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): But the political calculation here is more complicated.
RON BEN-YISHAI, FORMER IDF MEMBER & MILITARY ANALYST: I think both in Washington and in Jerusalem, they understand that the legitimation -- legitimization window is closing quickly.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Civilian losses in Gaza are growing, more than a third of them children according to Palestinian health officials. Lengthy negotiations have led to two American hostages released, as a tiny amount of humanitarian aid has crossed into Gaza that Israel fears ends up at Hamas' hands.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's calculus of when to send in ground troops has never been so fraught under pressure from the White House for more hostage releases.
BEN-YISHAI: Netanyahu is in real problem. He cannot say no to Biden but he cannot say yes to the humanitarian aid that drift into northern Gaza.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): But he is also under pressure at home too, military and others hawkish for a decisive blow against Hamas.
ZIV: We are finishing preparing, you know, the ground force because we've changed plans. We are going to for heavy maneuvering.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Netanyahu is dilemma compounded by his dependence on American weapons.
BEN-YISHAI: The pressure is from Washington is real, is real and strong, and the Prime Minister says many times to his ministers, listen, we are getting from the United States more than you know.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Where, less than a week ago, these fields were teeming with tanks, troops making last minute repairs. Today, there are just tracks in the sand. (on-camera): There's soldiers jacket here, bread and a bag on the table. The question is, where have all the tanks gone? Forward for an incursion or back to base for a pause?
(voice-over): Close to the frontline in Gaza these days, more questions than answers and incursions still highly probable, but when? Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.
CHATTERLEY: 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. A warning that the images we're about to show you of people being taken into one hospital. This is the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Central Gaza which has been overwhelmed with casualties.
A doctor is calling the situation catastrophic and described Sunday as a bloody day. "The IDF says strikes around the hospital have been intelligence led and resulted in the death of a high ranking Hamas figure. But the head of the hospital says his staffs are being put in an impossible situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IYAD ISSA ABU ZAHER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, AL AQSA MARTYRS HOSPITAL (through translation): Today is Sunday, it's a bloody day for the central governor of Al Aqsa. Relentless bombardment on all the refugee camps of Central Gaza, which started yesterday evening at 8:00 PM until this hour, the bombardment did not stop.
It's impossible for any hospital in the world to admit this number of injured, and it's impossible for any medical crew to work with these large numbers of injured. And every injured person needs four or five specialized surgeons and surgeries. And this puts a large burden on the medical crew. We can't offer medical services the same way in a warzone that you would give to patients in a normal situation. Injuries in the dozens, there is no room or hospital beds for these injuries.
The injured were at the doorstep of operation theater rooms, and on top of each other. Each waiting their turn for an operation in the situation is catastrophic at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: And Scott McLean has more now on the situation in Gaza. And once again a warning, his report does contain graphic images.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 tried 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 were 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 (voice-over): Satellite images show dozens of trucks waiting at the border and dozens more quarter mile down the road all unable to get in. Aid group say that the death toll could skyrocket because of disease and hospitals that are overwhelmed and under supplied. With no electricity or generator, this shopkeeper in Central Gaza is keeping the store open by candlelight. The shelves look increasingly bare.
The World Food Program 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 McLean, CNN, London.
CHATTERLEY: Joining me now to talk about this is Janti Soeripto. She's the President and CEO of Save the Children US. Janti, thank you so much.
These are terribly grim images that we're showing. And despite the fact that we're talking about aid having arrived again today, or Sunday, aid arriving Saturday, we know it's not enough. Just describe what you're hearing, please, from your people there. JANTI SOERIPTO, PRESIDENT/CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Yes. Thanks, Julia. And it is truly horrific what you're just describing there, parents writing the names on their children's legs for identification. It is -- we are watching, essentially, in horror as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds.
There are over a million children in Gaza. It's a very densely populated area as you know, and most of the people are now essentially sheltering on a third of the area, so even more dense. There was nothing really prepared there. There's not enough shelter there.
There is -- they're rapidly running out of water, I'm sure you've heard that as well before. The hospitals have no water, they have no fuel, no power, that means critical incubators cannot be run. People kind of operate without anesthesia, et cetera, et cetera. So, yes, the data are not confirmed. We are fearful that many, thousands of children already have been killed or injured, and are also lacking access to medical care.
CHATTERLEY: Have you any sense of when your specific supplies might reach Gaza? I know what we've seen go through in the last couple of days has been very, very specific, the United Nations in particular. Do you have any sense of timing?
SOERIPTO: We don't. We have a couple of trucks waiting at the border waiting at the border. Our team mobilize of course as soon as we could. And as many, you know, commentators have already said, look, the number of trucks that have gone in, 20 the first time and, I think, and today some 14 or 15, maybe 17, but this is truly a drop in the ocean. It is really.
So before the this escalation, there were 100 trucks per day, every day going into Gaza, to deal with the humanitarian -- that people -- humanitarian need then, can you imagine what that need is now? And we're talking here about sort of some 35 to 40 trucks haven't gone in over the course of two days. So it is literally -- it's better than nothing but clearly much, much more needs to be done. Water, medicine, food, you know, hospital supplies, as well as things like diapers, hygiene kits, for families as well.
CHATTERLEY: We know the logistics, the politics of what's taking place at the border, trying to get humanitarian access or aid access into Gaza has been a deeply complicated. One of the concerns from certainly the Israeli side is that some of this gets into the hands of the government there of Hamas. Have you heard of any supplies being commandeered or taken by Hamas? Would you be comfortable enough sharing that with me, even if you knew it to be the case, given that you have people there?
SOERIPTO: We have people there. We have 24 colleagues in Gaza. They are still safe and accounted for as safe as possible. Of course, that is also another guarantee. They will also have to move south with their families and everything that they could serve and carry. So -- and it is hard for them still. They have gone out and actually did a few local distributions with a few supplies that we still had in Gaza, in warehouses so we did some. But, of course, you know, those supplies have now been, you know, fully, you know, completely depleted.
So we are desperately waiting for the -- for further opportunity to get trucks in from whoever. It's hard. I mean, it's hard to get the data. I mean, at the moment there's so little coming in. You know, that is not our biggest concern. Our biggest plea is for a ceasefire. We understand it credibly complicated.
We are humanitarians. We focus on the situation for children. And no child is safe until the violence stops. The ceasefire is not possible within the short term. And certainly humanitarian polls that ought to be possible to open up more access, to get more trucks in with life saving supplies. Because any hour, any day that is missed, more children will die.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. I think I'm reading between the lines of what you said there. And there's simply not enough to go around. It's the least of your worries, really, that some of these supplies get in the hands of her mass. You need them -- you need more simply there available for all use, quite frankly.
To your point about the ceasefire, and actually you were calling for the ceasefire, at least Save the Children was, almost immediately in the aftermath of what we saw on October the 7th. Can you rationalize given sort of the devastation and the tragedy that we saw in Israel, the desire the need for some kind of response, even as you focus in your role providing humanitarian assistance?
SOERIPTO: Well, that's exactly our role, right? And we would say, look, abduction of children, killing and maiming of children, denying humanitarian aid, all these things are grave violations. They are not in accordance with international humanitarian law either. So that is what we're focused on.
That needs to stop. So that we can actually help children on the ground now, get injured children the medicals support that they need, making sure that they don't die unnecessarily from having no water, no food, no nothing and prevent it from being, you know, from getting even worse than it already is.
CHATTERLEY: It seems as though I'm splitting hairs, but we are struggling to get information and to get verification of some of the information that we're getting from the Hamas government of the loss of life and the injury there. When you see the numbers of, women, of children having lost their lives, individuals, does it tie with the numbers that you're hearing from your people? And I appreciate that's a small subset. But does it sound outrageous to you the numbers that we're hearing?
SOERIPTO: No, it doesn't. And look, it's not that our 24 colleagues and their local partners are currently going around verifying the numbers, right? That's simply impossible. To trying to stay alive and they're also trying to actually still, you know, support where they can. But if you picture that there are 2 million people, 2.3 million people, including a million children, essentially stuck on a very small piece of land, it doesn't surprise me knowing the violence that has been going on there from all sides. So it doesn't sound crazy to me.
But we're, you know, we're very cautious. We know the data are very difficult to verify at the moment, so. And again, you know, that's not something we necessarily occupy ourselves with. It's certainly not our role. Our role is to call out what we think will protect children from further harm.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Janti, thank you for the work that you and your team are doing there and we pray for their safety.
Now, the United States is reportedly pushing Israel to delay its seemingly imminent ground incursion into Gaza. Sources tell CNN that the Biden administration is hoping to get more hostages held by her mass released and allow more opportunity for that much needed aid to get into Gaza, as Alex Marquardt reports.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What we're hearing from the Biden ministration is that they are simply giving advice offering their best judgment, about what Israel should do when they do undertake this ground invasion. But what I've been told by two different sources is that part of what the US is telling Israel is pressing them to allow for more time to delay this ground incursion, to allow for more progress on both the hostages and the aid going into southern Gaza.
There has been progress on that. We saw the two American women released on Friday, part of the 200 or so hostages still being held by Hamas. We've also seen these trucks moving towards southern Gaza today.
So there has been progress. We know that a major priority for Israel and for the United States is to get these hostages out, particularly the foreign nationals and the civilians, and to allow that aid to get into Gaza. Israel doesn't want to be seen as being told what to do. And certainly Hamas knows that pressure will build on Israel if they continue to sort of trickle out these hostages, or if there's a sense that hostages may be released. And that kind of pressure could get in the way of what Israel is planning.
CHATTERLEY: OK. Joining us now is the IDF International Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. Lieutenant colonel, good to have you with us as always.
Can I just stop there and ask whether there's any debate or conflict taking place between the Israeli military and the Israeli government? I guess I'm asking you, is the military being forced to wait?
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: I am not aware of any such thing. And I can say that Israeli troops are both trained, equipped and ready to conduct major military operations. And until that happens, we continue to target Hamas leaders, their infrastructure, their logistics, and all of their other military components in the Gaza Strip as we speak.
We're hunting commanders. And the aim may be other things are discussed, but the aim is very clear. We need to fundamentally change the security situation in Gaza and make sure that at the end of this campaign, Hamas doesn't exist.
CHATTERLEY: Can I ask what the count is, sir, if you have one? How many Hamas fighters terrorists you've managed to take out of action so far? Do you have a sense?
CONRICUS: We have a sense, which is an intel assessment, one that I cannot share yet in terms of numbers. We're working on getting numbers. It is difficult because the terrorists are hiding underground and I'm not entirely sure that Hamas itself has an updated tally of the casualties in the situation.
We monitor Palestinian reports. We do have a better awareness, not total, but better awareness about senior operatives that we have killed and we have killed more than 15 senior Hamas members military of different ranks and different components and we continue to search for them. They are a priority, specifically the Nakba Force, the same so called elite unit of Hamas that was really the tip of their bloody spear that invaded into Israel and attacked Israeli communities. They have been specifically targeted as have seniors,
CHATTERLEY: You also carrying out raids in Gaza themselves, and I'll talk about that in a moment. But just on that point, have you managed to capture any fighters alive?
CONRICUS: There were a few attacks in the first week of the war, where Hamas terrorist infiltrated into Israel tried to conduct attacks, and were either killed and some were wounded and apprehended. So then, yes.
Since then, since Hamas hasn't been able to launch strikes into Israel, no. I'm not aware of any Hamas captives. But I, of course, that is something that may happen in the future. But as of now, no.
CHATTERLEY: Can I ask about the death of the IDF soldier? And I believe three of those injured in some of their preparations for the ground defense. I'm sorry, for his loss and to his family, too. Can I ask if that's the first loss of military life conducting operations in Gaza since the war began? And what more you can tell us about that?
Hamas obviously said that Israeli soldiers were forced to retreat and that they abandoned their vehicles.
CONRICUS: Well, you know, we -- as we said before, we have this tremendous challenge of collecting intelligence and understanding where all Israelis are. And we're doing that in a different ways, collecting intelligence from different sources. One of them being remains and bodies and parts, and other pieces of information on the ground within the border perimeter. And the operation that you refer to, it was an operation that was tasked in doing exactly that, providing intelligence and more pieces to the puzzle. And they were attacked with an anti-tank missile and sustained casualties, fought back. I do not yet know how many casualties on the other side, on the Hamas side. But unfortunately, it led to Israeli casualties, wounded and one killed.
CHATTERLEY: And, sir, I know that this is all in the process of finding terrorists, finding weapons, also locating the hostages to. And I just wanted to ask you about that. A number of days ago now, we were told that the belief from the IDF is that the majority of those hostages are still alive. Have you had any sense, any evidence, any intel that changes your view on that or the view they still holds?
CONRICUS: No. That has not changed and what we do see is that Hamas tries to deploy very basic PsyOps warfare tactics and is trying to manipulate , trying I think very crudely and not very sophisticatedly, to insinuate that they released hostages on so-called humanitarian basis. But I am not aware of any significant change.
There have been reports over the two weeks, there have been threats made by Hamas that they would execute hostages. And then there have been reports coming out of Hamas that hostages were killed. So it's very difficult to ascertain what's true and what's just simply old, usual Hamas lies. But the bottom line is responsibility for the safety is with Hamas, and we demand all of them back.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. We appreciate, sir, your continuing ability to try and help us decipher what's fact versus fiction as well. You are a soldier in great time of need, and I talk to you in that capacity. But you're also a human. You suffered loss around you as a result of the events of October 7th.
I just wanted to ask you 15 days later, have you been able to process and rationalize what took place there and the responsibility you now hold?
CONRICUS: Yes. I think we are -- most of us in Israel, we're either in reserves now, many of us in, you know, fighting aids et cetera. We're either in reserves or busy doing tasks that other people have been called up or doing now. I'm trying to keep my mind on the job at hand. And I have not yet availed myself to thinking about the hostages and thinking about the friends that I have that are no longer who were killed in combat, and thinking really about the families, what there are enduring.
These are extremely, extremely difficult times for so many people in Israel. And what my personal, you know, way of dealing with it, is to try to focus on the job. And we -- the IDF, the men and women in the field of the IDF have a tremendous challenge on two fronts, dealing with Hamas and dealing possibly with Hezbollah. These are very, very big tasks and it requires that everybody, you know, stay focused.
I suppose that there will be a time in the future once the dust settles and the last bullet is fired. And we will return to, you know, hear the sound of Israeli children playing in the villages outside of Gaza, in the kibbutzim that are now evacuated. Once that returns, then we'll have time to think about other things.
But now is unfortunately sadly a time for fighting for a war that has been forced upon us. And we're all coming together and focusing on it.
CHATTERLEY: Sir, thank you for your time, Jonathan Conricus.
CONRICUS: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: Thank you, sir. OK. Still to come, forensic specialists in Israel are working nonstop to solve one very disturbing problem. And later, we'll hear from one of the survivors of the Nova Music Festival. She describes what it was like when Hamas first attacked.
JULIA CHATTERLE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Police officials say dozens of Israeli Forensic Investigators are working day and night to identify the hundreds of bodies quote, "bought to a major morgue". The IDF reports at least 1,400 deaths in Israel since Hamas attack the country on October 7th. Doctors say they're seeing things that are just completely unimaginable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAL LEVIN-ELAD, COMMANDER HEAD OF ISRAELI POLICE'S DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL FORENSIC: We were glad to see bodies who are whole. It's unimaginable, to be able to say -- I can't imagine myself saying that I was glad to see a whole body because the rest of it was -- was -- it was atrocious, what had been done to people, things that we were shocked to see. And we worked night and day in three shifts, 60 or 70 people working for 24 hours a day. Hundreds of bodies came every day, hundreds of bodies. This is something we have never seen in Israel before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: And in the past hour, we spoke with the survivor of the Nova Music Festival. And that was where Hamas first attacked in the early morning hours. I asked Natalie Sanandaji how she was feeling two weeks out from that terrible day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIE SANANDAJI, NEW YORKER WHO SURVIVED HAMAS ATTACK: There's definitely a type of survivor's guilt. The more stories I hear of those who have been taken hostage or killed, the more families I speak to, who had kids at the festival that are worried for their children or had to bury their children. It can feel almost selfish to say, I'm happy to be alive. But I do feel that as someone who did survive, as someone who saw all of this happen firsthand, I do feel that is a type of responsibility to speak about what happened and to bring awareness to it and to speak for all those who can't speak for themselves right now.
CHATTERLEY: Of course. And you have nothing to feel guilty for. I think when I read your story, what stood out to me was, in terms of what you went through the sheer confusion you were running in -- in one direction. You didn't know if it was the right direction. Someone suggested you -- you shield, you hide in a ditch with them, and one of the people around you said it wasn't a good idea. And actually that decision ultimately saved your lives because the people there died.
Natalie, have you spoken to anybody sort of professionally since then to help you deal with this, to process this beyond just communicating what you went through to help us understand better?
SANANDAJI: I haven't yet. It's definitely on my to-do list. I -- I've said something to a few people that I have gotten mixed responses in regards to this. But I said that everyone responds to trauma differently. And I feel that right now, my body and minds response to this trauma is making me feel a bit disassociated. And I feel that that's almost my superpower because it allows me to tell my story over and over again without breaking down without getting emotional, without causing more trauma for myself. Eventually, in the near future, I will seek help in regards to processing this trauma.
Obviously, once I started doing that, it will bring out a lot of emotions that are currently stored somewhere deep inside. And it may make it harder for me to keep telling my story or maybe telling my story will continue to be part of my therapy because some people do say that speaking about it, talking about it also helps you heal.
CHATTERLEY: I think in some of the comments that you've made, you've been incredibly clear on -- on how you view what happened. But also what's happened since and that in your mind this shouldn't and isn't about years of -- of conflict and of challenges between Israelis and Palestinians. This is about something more fundamental and it's now Israel versus Hamas and that you wanted people to understand that. Just explain what you mean by that.
SANANDAJI: Yes. What I mean by That is Hamas is using the Palestinian people to their own benefit. They're using false information and propaganda to make others around the world believe that they're pro- Palestine and they want to free Palestine. But killing other innocent people, people that were just at a party to enjoy themselves, babies, the elderly, that's not going to free Palestine. Nothing that they did is in hopes of freeing Palestine. If anything, as I've said before, Hamas is just as complicit in the deaths of innocent Palestinians as they are in the deaths of innocent Israelis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Our thanks to Natalie for sharing her story. And coming up next more on the prospect of an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. And hear what the Israeli Prime Minister said as he spoke to troops in Northern Israel, next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. By all accounts, it appears Israel is ready to move forces into Gaza. But there are growing concerns about the war spreading elsewhere in the region. Israeli forces conducted an air strike on a compound underneath a mosque in the West Bank. Israel say is 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. He had a stark warning for Hezbollah fighters who have been skirmishing with Israelis in recent days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will make 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)
CHATTERLEY: And as the situation on the Lebanon border grows more tense, the U.S. is stepping up its readiness in the region to as Mike Valerio has the report.
MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heightened hostilities along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM SCOTT, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: Fighting a war on two different borders is going to be something we should keep our eyes on and we should send a message to Hezbollah stand down or there will be consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: The influence of Iran backed Hezbollah in South Lebanon is raising concerns of a potentially broader conflict Israel now urging more northern residents to evacuate their homes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We encourage them at every -- every opportunity, John, to make sure that we are accounting for those civilians that are in the -- in the battle space.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: This situation triggering, a surge in military support from the United States as additional missile defense systems are dispatched and some 2,000 U.S. troops are put on standby for potential deployment. The Biden Administration has proposed an additional 100 billion dollars in foreign aid. That would include 14 billion to assist Israel, which has drawn criticism from some members of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: We need to have a single focus on bringing Congress together behind the support for Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: As questions arise regarding what actions the U.S. should take to support Israel and mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, pro-Palestinian demonstrations continue in Western countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IN CHORUS: Ceasefire now. Ceasefire now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: President Biden taking a social media Sunday morning with a message that reads quote, Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace. I'm Mike Valerio reporting.
CHATTERLEY: Now through the evacuation orders many towns along the Israeli-Lebanese Border all but empty. Matthew Chance is in the area and brings us this report from the scene.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's very quiet here in Qiryat Shemona at the moment in Northern Israel. But that's mainly because the vast majority of the population of this city of more than 20,000 people, this time, have -- have gone. They've been evacuated. And that's true of towns and villages all across this area, close to the Lebanese border. There's been a -- an order from the Israeli government for civilians to leave because of the growing threat of rocket attacks and other kinds of attacks from Southern Lebanon where Hamas controls the territory. Palestinian militant groups also operate in southern Lebanon as well. And indeed, the Israeli military say that those attacks have been increasing over the course of the past week or so. With, as you say, drone attacks taking place, you know, or drone flights at these taking place across Northern Israel from Lebanese territory, and anti-tank missiles being fired at Israeli installations along the border. There have been infiltrations of gunmen from the Lebanese side into Israel.
The Israelis have of course, responded in kind. They've been pounding areas with artillery strikes and air strikes inside southern Lebanon, and in Syria as well. We're very close to the border with Syria, also. And they are now warning Lebanon yet again and warning Hezbollah that if this continues, or if it escalates, there will be a very strong response, indeed, from the Israeli military. They say they don't want a second front to open up. But, you know, as they're focusing on the south, and as they prepare for that operation, that land operation in Gaza. But they have moved tens of thousands of troops, at least into this region, in preparation for what they say will be a very determined and strong and destructive response against Hezbollah and against Lebanon, if that was if the attacks from that southern parts of the country persist or -- or escalate.
CHATTERLEY: Keeping the danger of regional spillover effects into account, international aid is still beginning to trickle into our Gaza to help alleviate at least some of the suffering of civilians there in the meantime. But Israel's bombardment of Gaza clearly showing no signs of letting up and many expect the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza to begin soon.
I spoke to Ian Bremmer, the President and Founder of GZERO Media and the Eurasia group earlier to get his perspective.
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CHATTERLEY: We are in a pause rather than an indefinite delay in terms of that incursion, despite pressure from the United States and no doubt other allies too.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT/FOUNDER OF GZERO MEDIA: it's the most intense air strikes against Gaza that we've seen in the last two weeks. And everyone does expect that a ground incursion is going to happen imminently. And you're right that President Biden and the Biden Administration more broadly, have been pressing the Israeli government to delay as long as possible, saying there's no urgency. Hamas is not going anywhere. In fact, no one is leaving Gaza, at this point has no capacity.
And so why wouldn't you want to be able to set up safe zones, be able to set up refugee camps, get humanitarian aid in place, reduce the civilian casualties by having more evacuations from the north. And what I am hearing from the Americans and from others is that the Israeli response is not strategic. It's emotional. It's a focus on retribution. It's a level of urgency that they need to go in. They need to go in hard and they need to go in now. And -- and the expectation is that that is indeed going to occur.
The Biden Administration does not believe they're going to be able to prevent the Israelis from a ground invasion for very much longer.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And the question is what then comes next. I mean, in terms of timeframe, and I'm not talking about the practicalities, I'm just talking about how long it takes to secure an area. You can surround Gaza City pretty easily, I assume but actually when you get into the city itself that's far more complicated. The Israeli Defense Minister suggested today it might take a month or two, Ian, that involves some kind of temporary occupation at the very least.
BREMMER: Well, they don't the military doesn't have either the willingness or the capacity to engage in a long term occupation. But if you want to destroy Hamas, and that, of course means the underground tunnel network, it also means some 30,000 to 40,000 fighters, not just the military leadership in Gaza City, and this is urban fighting, that's going to be house to house building the building harder than what you had in Fallujah, in Iraq, you are talking about months of fighting, and you're talking about tens of thousands minimum Palestinian civilian casualties as well. And the concern is that that's going to lead to an escalation beyond Gaza, not just of course, because there'll be massive outcry from the humanitarian damage, but also because Palestinians in the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, you will see a second or third front in the war that nobody wants to see not the Americans, not the Europeans, not the global South, truly nobody doing.
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CHATTERLEY: And thanks to Ian Bremmer, they're the founder of GZERO Media and Eurasia Group. Now less than a week after a deadly blast tore through a Gaza hospital, CNN investigates the source of that explosion. The details on that just ahead.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. Sunday provided another day of global protests has tens of thousands marched in support of Palestinians.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free Palestine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free, free Palestine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Free, free Palestine.
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CHATTERLEY: In Brussels demonstrators gathered outside the European Commission headquarters calling for a ceasefire and its Sarajevo, thousands were seen waving Palestinian and Bosnian flags also demanding a halt to these really offensive in Gaza. Much of that since it's been five days after a horrific blast tore through a Gaza hospital. According to Gaza health officials hundreds died in the blast at the Al Ahli Baptist Hospital on October 17.
Hamas blames Israel and Israel says it was a misfired rocket by Islamic Jihad. Will now a CNN investigation suggests the deadly explosion was not caused by Israel. Jeremy Diamond takes us through the evidence.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now 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 explosive as and other military experts who analyze these very images. And CNN 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.
[21:50:30] Now, these weapons and explosives, 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 three 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 blasts 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 and Israeli embassies in the region. And ultimately, you know, the majority of these, 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.
CHATTERLEY: Now the U.S. military is stepping up readiness in the Middle East as fears grow of a possible attack through its support of Israel's war on Hamas. What the U.S. Defense Secretary is saying next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Some stark words of warning from Iran on Israel's war from with her mass. Iranian media reports foreign minister has seen Ameer Abdullah and describes the Middle East as a quote, "powder keg". He says any miscalculation in what he terms the continuing genocide and forced displacement quote, "could have serious and bitter consequences".
He also warned the U.S. and Israel that if crimes against humanity do not stop immediately, the region could go quote, "out of control at any moment". The U.S. is concerned its forces around the Middle East could be targets for attacks too because of its support for Israel and its war against Hamas.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says the military has deployed additional missile defense systems to the region, and is stepping up some of the readiness of troops in case they have to deploy at a moment's notice.
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LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENCE SECRETARY: Recently, we've seen rocket and UAV attacks against bases housing our troops in Iraq and Syria. We're concerned about potential escalation. In fact, what we're seeing is a -- is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our -- our people throughout the region. And because of that, we're going to do what's necessary to make sure that our troops are -- are in the right, good position, they're protected, and that we have the ability to respond.
Now, this additional deployment sends a another message to those who would who would seek to widen this conflict, as President Biden said earlier, and as you've heard me say, if any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see. Our advice is don't. We maintain the right to defend ourselves and we won't hesitate to take the appropriate action.
As a reminder, U.S. military movements since Hamas attacked Israel two weeks ago include two carrier groups ordered to the eastern Mediterranean to deter Iran and its allies Syria and Hezbollah, from opening new fronts against Israel, and a U.S. Marine rapid response force consisting of 2,000 marines and sailors. Thank you for joining me this hour. I'm Julia Chatterley Israel Hamas war coverage continues with Michael Holmes after this short break, stay with CNN.