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CNN Live Event/Special

IDF: Dozens Of Strikes In Gaza Late Sunday; Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies Amid Conflict; CNN Analysis Suggests Israel Did Not Bomb Gaza Hospital; Biden And Netanyahu Spoke By Phone On Sunday; Ukraine Special Forces Launch Daring Raids In Crimea; Parents Of Israeli Hostage Speak To CNN. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 22, 2023 - 22:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome everyone. I'm Michael Holmes with the latest on the Israel-Hamas war. And the violence in Gaza continues into a second week as clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters escalate, the IDF targeted and carried out dozens of airstrikes in the past few hours. It appears to be the most sustained bombardment in northern Gaza since the start of the conflict.

A senior Israeli official telling CNN there will be no ceasefire amid hostage talks, saying humanitarian efforts can't interfere with the military's mission to dismantle Hamas. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the nation's war cabinet Sunday to discuss security amid other things. The country's defense minister saying, it's likely invasion of Gaza needs to be Israel's last moves inside the region, vowing Hamas will not be around for long.


YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): 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.


HOLMES: So that ground incursion into Gaza still appears to be inevitable if timing uncertain. Nic Robertson filed this report a short time ago. He's in Sderot near the border with Gaza with the very latest.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Bristling with battle-ready troops, farmer's 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 in Hamas's 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.

YISHAI: Netanyahu is in real problem. He cannot say no to Biden. But he cannot say yes today 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 planes. We are going to for heavy maneuvering.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Netanyahu's dilemma compounded by his dependence on American weapons.

YISHAI: The pressure is from Washington 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 a soldier's jacket here, bread in 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.


HOLMES: Relief aid trucks have arrived in Gaza again, but they did not include fuel. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society confirming at least 14 relief trucks were bound for a warehouse in central Gaza. The U.N. confirmed none of those trucks contained fuel but they did contain food and some medical supplies. The official say it is not nearly enough to meet the needs of the people. As the war between Israel and Hamas rages on, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says it is important to protect young people in the conflict.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When I hear the stories, when I see the pictures of young children who have lost their lives in this conflict of Hamas is making, whoever they are, wherever they are, whether they're Palestinians, whether they're Israelis, whether they're Jews or Muslims. It hits me and I know it hits virtually everyone right in the heart.

And that's why it's so important to do everything possible to protect them. And why it's so important to do everything possible to get assistance to those who need it. We have to remember, Israel has to do everything it can to make sure this doesn't happen again. Freezing things in place where they are now would allow Hamas to remain where it is. And to repeat what it's done sometime in the future. No country could accept that.


HOLMES: Now some parents in Gaza are resorting to heartbreaking measures for their children. And a warning, the images we're about to see are graphic. They are writing their children's names on their limbs so they can be identified if the parents or the children are killed. A CNN photographer capturing these gut wrenching images of dead children with names written on their legs.

The government media office of Hamas which run the besieged enclave says more than 1,900 children have been killed so far. Scott McLean with more now on the situation in Gaza. And 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 air strikes 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 tried 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: Twenty trucks of aid to Gaza will not change much. Gaza needs at least 500 trucks daily of fuel, food, medicines underwater. 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 showed 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 now is that the Number of airstrikes will only increase if unexpected ground operation. Meanwhile conditions for the people of Gaza worsen by the hour.


Scott McLean, CNN, London.


HOLMES: And joining me now from Washington, D.C. is Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian author and journalist. And thanks so much for making the time. Now week ago, you told CNN that minute to minute you don't know if your family members are alive or dead, a week later, how are they coping or not coping and what's happened and continues to happen?

LAILA EL-HADDAD, PALESTINIAN AUTHOR & JOURNALIST: Thank you so much. They're exhausted, they're tired, they're demoralized. They don't want us to ask how they're doing. I mean, I don't know what to say. I don't know how many times we've gotten these questions. And we keep trying to justify and explain to the world why we, why our relatives, why our children are human beings that don't deserve to be killed.

They're not terrorists, as the flyers I was hearing the news report. And the relatives I'm the most concerned about are the ones in Gaza city that have elected to remain that have been given this false choice of displacing themselves forced transfer, which is a crime against humanity, or else be considered terrorists or an accomplice to terror. They showed me those flyers that was referenced and they sent me a picture of it.

And so it's, I mean, that I don't know what to say they've lost all power they had a little bit last week, they don't have any more, they have no more water. My cousin's wife doesn't have any way to make formula for her infant twins. And yet, the children keep saying to me, you know, that -- I mean, they have names, they have lives. I just want a Rubik's Cube when this is all over it. That's what he keeps saying.

But we're sort of watching this unfold on our screens. And meanwhile, humanitarian aid is being weaponized. I -- and I feel like I'm in some kind of Orwellian, twisted Orwellian reality right now.


EL-HADDAD: And meanwhile, officials here are discussing not whether there should be a ceasefire, but how many liters of water each person in Gaza should be getting. That's what I've been hearing.

HOLMES: It is -- it must be -- I can't imagine what it's like to, as you say, just sit and watch from afar. I mean, you made the point Israel wanting Palestinians to evacuate south, even though it's hitting targets in the south, these flyers you mentioned are interesting. And we confirm them too. And translated them they're telling Palestinians who won't or can't leave the north, they could be considered in the wording is, quote, a partner for terrorist organizations in a ground operation. What is your reaction, your family's reaction to that sort of warning?

EL-HADDAD: I mean, they were aghast. My cousin's wife, Feda (ph), sends me a video rocking her infant twins and said, so now we're essentially being told that either we leave our home by force, and get displaced and join, you know, million others in tents, without food or access to water, or we're terrorists. I mean, she literally had no words and she said, we're not leaving, we're going to stay right here and die in the dignity of our own homes.

And I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm expecting at any moment, to hear -- to see their names on the, you know, in the news that I keep getting every minute by minute. We just -- we lost several members of my mother's family in Hanunez (ph) in the south. And we lost some just found out very close friends in central Gaza.

HOLMES: You know, it brings me to a point that I wanted to ask you about. I mean, I think everyone can agree, Hamas carried out an act of brutal terror against civilians on October 7th, there has been, of course, quite rightly enormous empathy with Israelis in the wake of that attack. But Israel's bombardment of Gaza has gone on and on the death toll of particularly women and children, it must be sad, is mountain. Do you feel an empathy deficit around the world for Palestinians, and many or even most of whom in Gaza want nothing to do with the behavior of Hamas?

EL-HADDAD: Absolutely, I mean, we've said this from day one, it's selective moral outrage. It always has been and always will be, not now, but it's especially emphasized now. And it has real life consequences for Palestinians who are dehumanized and demonized and othered.

And, you know, we saw this deliberate campaign happening in the beginning, where they were depicted like this, their city was called wicked. They were called human animals, and so on and so forth. The implication being that the laws of war don't apply to them. We can do what we want, and the media's kind of going along with the spin.

And so anything they do is morally anything that Israelis want to do then is morally justified and the reality is the satellite imagery and all of the analysis shows the targets have been civilian targets, the overwhelming with majority of the fatalities have been, you know, a large percentage 1,900 I want to say now have been children and have been -- has been civilian infrastructure and has been farms and hospitals.


HOLMES: Well, in fact, the U.N. says I think the number was close to 40 percent of homes in or housing units in Gaza have been destroyed, or damaged. About 1.4 million people displaced out of a total population of 2.2 million. What do you think could happen in the next days and even weeks, particularly if there is a ground incursion?

EL-HADDAD: I mean, it's just an all-out catastrophe is nothing short of Armageddon. I don't know what to say. You know, I -- it bears repeating. We're not talking here about a sovereign nation state where people can escape, where they can defend themselves with. We're talking about a besieged territory of 2.2 million women, children, elderly, I had a friend of mine who's 103 years old, she's survived the neck about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and her house was bombed and she miraculously survived.

We're talking about human beings who have no recourse, who are captive. And we're -- we all seem to be OK with this in the modern age with seeing this ethnic cleansing and this modern day genocide unfold. I mean, I'm literally speechless. I don't know what to say. And again, the statistics and the targets analysis tell a very different story about what's going on. It's wreaking some damage on the innocent civilian population of Gaza. It's not targeting Hamas. So I really don't know what the end game is here except that no one in the United States where I am right now was interested in even saying the word ceasefire, it's become a dirty word to be able to say and the hostilities. And so there's only one way this can end which is tragically, for all sides of the world.

HOLMES: Laila, we got to leave it there, unfortunately, but powerful testimony there to your family and we wish them well, Laila El-Haddad, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, less than a week after a deadly blast tore through Gaza hospital, CNN investigates the source of the explosion. We'll have that story more when we come back.


HOLMES: Well as the Israel steps up its military activity in Gaza, Palestinians say the main hospital there is scaling back crucial treatments like dialysis because of electricity, medicine and fuel shortages. And at another hospital, there have been disturbing images of people being rushed in for treatment. I want you to have a look at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. This is in central Gaza, and it has been overwhelmed with casualties after Israeli strikes.

A doctor there calling the situation catastrophic and describing Sunday as a bloody day, some casualties being treated literally on the floor. The IDF says its strikes around the hospital have resulted in the death of a high ranking Hamas figure. But the head of the hospital says his staff has been put in an impossible position.



DR. IYAD ISSA ABU ZAHER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, AL AQSA MARTYRS HOSPITAL (through translator): Today Sunday was a bloody day for the central governor of Gaza, relentless bombardment on all the refugee camps of central Gaza, which started yesterday evening at 8:00 p.m. 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 and can't offer medical services the same way in a war zone 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 are at the doorstep of operation theater rooms and on top of each other. Each waiting their turn for an operation. And the situation is catastrophic at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.


HOLMES: Well, it has been five days since a horrific blast tore through another hospital in Gaza. According to Gaza health officials, hundreds died at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital that was on October 17th. Hamas blames Israel. Israel says it was a misfired rocket by Islamic Jihad. Now CNN investigation suggest the deadly explosion was not caused by Israel. Jeremy Diamond takes us through the 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 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 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.

HOLMES: Jeremy Diamond there. Now more than a million Gazans have been displaced. The U.N. says 1.4 million since the Israeli bombing campaign began. But since the outbreak of war, many Israelis have fled their homes as well fleeing rocket attacks and the risk of fighting. Rafael Romo has been hearing some of their stories. Here is his report.


JENNIFER KAHANI, DISPLACED MOTHER: We had terrorists all around us.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jennifer Kahani says she and her family woke up to the sound of explosions and missiles whizzing by. It was the morning of October 7th 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 tariffs we're not far from where I live.

ROMO (voice-over): Kahani and her five-year-old son --

KAHANI: What would you like?

ROMO (voice-over): -- 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, housed people inside, feed them, do activities. They're trying to create some sort of normalcy. We will be hosting next week 1,200 people across the country.

ROMO (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): Nissim Cohen and his wife Camillia. Live in northern Israel. Their son Joseph warned them a war was coming from the south after the October 7th 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.

(on camera): From your house near the Lebanese border, could you see the missiles the rockets flying by?

COHEN: All the missiles. I saw all the measles. We saw the army in the border.

ROMO (voice-over): 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 lost their homes, a lot of them 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. So the trauma is really pervasive. As a group of Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs really working together, so we have to care for as many people as possible.

ROMO (on camera): 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.

(voice-over): 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, Zionist 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 (voice-over): For now, Kahani says all she can do is hug her son a little harder, pray for her husband safe return and hope that something like this never happens again.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES: Quick break in the program now. But when we come back, we'll tell you about the U.S. President's diplomatic push this weekend to keep the conflict in the Middle East from escalating. Stay with us.



HOLMES: Well, Hamas says the head of its political unit spoke to Iran's foreign minister laid on Sunday to discuss how to stop the Israeli strikes on Gaza. Hamas posted on telegram to say that its political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh received a phone call from Iran's Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The pair are seen here at a meeting in Doha just over a week ago.

Hamas says the latest discussion address quote, all methods to try to stop Israeli strikes. U.S. officials say there is no evidence to directly link Iran to the October 7th attacks on Israel. But say Iran is quote, broadly complicit. The French president and Dutch Prime Minister are both expected to visit Israel in the hours ahead. According to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Emmanuel Macron and Mark Rutte will arrive in Israel on Monday, where they'll meet with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Other European leaders joined the U.S. and Canada in a joint statement on the conflict affirming support for Israel and also calling for adherence to humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians. The U.S. President Joe Biden has been working the phones this weekend making a series of calls to world leaders in an effort to keep the conflict from spreading.

CNN White House reporter Priscilla Alvarez with the detail.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Biden made calls to multiple world leaders on Sunday as a potential invasion of Gaza looms. Now the President spoke with leaders of Canada and Europe as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now according to a White House read out, the two leaders discussed developments in Israel and Gaza, as well as President Biden affirming the flow of critical assistance to Gaza. And the two also discussed ongoing efforts to release hostages.

Now this is the eighth call between the two leaders since the terror attacks on October 7th. Of course, all of these calls come on the heels of President Biden's trip to Israel in the past week, as well as ongoing efforts by U.S. officials to get that necessary assistance to Gaza and trying to get the release of additional hostages being held by Hamas.

Now while here in Rehoboth, the President was asked whether the U.S. is encouraging Israel to delay an invasion and to that President Biden said that he is only speaking to Israel. Now U.S. officials maintain that it is ultimately Israel's decision as how they move forward. But that it is important and they stress that innocent civilians are protected and that assistance can get to Gaza, President Biden staying close with his national security team over the course of the weekend as all of this unfolds.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, traveling with the president.

HOLMES: Other members of the Biden administration are expressing concern about where this crisis is headed. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that the threat to U.S. troops and civilians throughout the region remains high.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: 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 people throughout the region. And because of that, we're going to do what's necessary to make sure that our troops are in a right good position, they're protected, and that we have the ability to respond.


HOLMES: Now on Saturday, Austin announced the deployment of additional missile defense systems to the Middle East. He is also placing more U.S. troops on alert for possible deployment to the region.

Now Robin Wright is a contributing writer for The New Yorker and a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She joins me now from Washington, D.C. Good to see you again, Robin. I mean let's start with the big picture. There are these clashes on the northern border with Lebanon, the U.S. increasing its force posture in the region Iran warning of regional spread. You know Iran has a vested interest in the propaganda game. But what is the risk of all of this metastasizing into a regional conflict?

ROBIN WRIGHT, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: There's a very real danger and that's reflected in the kind of language you've seen from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon over the last couple of days. The deployment of two carrier battle groups into the eastern Mediterranean also shows that the United States is willing to flex its muscle to show or to signal that it is willing to act in the event of a wider war.


At the moment the kind of tensions have been playing out among Iran's proxies in targeting, whether it's firing drones and missiles at Israel from Yemen, firing at two U.S. deployments in eastern Syria, a deployment of two places in northern Iraq where the United States troops are based.

And of course, what's happening on the northern border of Israel with the attacks from Iran's biggest proxy, Hezbollah. So there's a real danger that Iran is not just probing but looking for something bigger. But again, we are at that kind of precipice, the cusp of something bigger. We're not there yet. I think the kind of, well, missy we're seeing is trying to prevent that.

HOLMES: Yes. Good point. I wanted to ask you too, nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since this began, dozens more arrested in Israeli raids. Are the risks of West Bank escalation, increasing East Jerusalem, and what would that do to this conflict?

WRIGHT: Absolutely the passions and Furies among all parties are growing with each day. And the real danger is that the Palestinians in the West Bank turn against the Palestinian Authority government. And that in the process of taking on Hamas in Gaza, that the Israelis also lose the option of talking to the leadership in the West Bank, because they become increasingly unpopular at home, so the repercussions of all this play out both locally and regionally.

HOLMES: Can Israel's, you know, it's short term strategy, I guess, in Gaza, be successful, long term, without a political path for Palestinians, a path for some level of self-determination, autonomy. Without that, won't the next Hamas just be around the corner if this one is wiped out as Israel promises?

WRIGHT: Michael, that's the most important bottom line of this conflict. And that is, Israel can absolutely make military progress against Hamas and eliminating command posts arsenals and leadership. But the question is, who rules Hamas? What happens next? And how do you prevent the creation of yet another militant group? Not immediately, but down the road because there's no political alternatives.

Wars do not end militarily ever. There is always a political outcome. It's been true of any major war that has ended otherwise, wars simply beget more wars.

HOLMES: Has the U.S., the Israelis and others made a strategic mistake in pushing the Palestinian autonomy self-determination question to the side because that has certainly happened when the U.S. hasn't really had skin in the game for a decade nearly. Has pushing that aside, fanned the flames of, you know, groups like or support for groups like Hamas and others. That sense of hopelessness not just in Gaza, but the West Bank as well. Was that a strategic error by Israel and others?

WRIGHT: And the United States is a broker, absolutely. But that's been the core issue since 1948, since the creation of Israel, since the deadlock over what -- over the fate of the Palestinians in part because of what the Palestinians decided themselves, that's played out in four conventional wars and several unconventional wars with militias like the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah ever since. And it's likely to play out down the road that way too. The danger to Israel does not end even if it wins militarily in Gaza.

HOLMES: And when it comes to Gaza, I wanted to ask you to the U.S. Secretary of State to Antony Blinken said on Sunday, quote, we can't go back to the status quo, they can't go back to the status quo, with Hamas being in a position in terms of governance of Gaza. But that then raises a question of what does need to happen when this is over in terms of governance of Gaza if Israel indeed succeeds in breaking Hamas, who owns whatever is left of the Gaza Strip?

WRIGHT: And that's a question unanswered and that was the problem when the United States went into Afghanistan, when the United States went into Iraq. It didn't really think through how do you create peace? How do you create an alternative that's viable, credible and legitimate to those who live in the countries? It's a problem that we've seen repeatedly in the 21st century, unfortunately.

HOLMES: Great analysis as always, Robin Wright in Washington. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

HOLMES: Still to come, Ukrainian forces carry out a surprise attack on Russian troops in Crimea. We'll take a look at how it was planned and how it unfolded.



HOLMES: Heading now to the war in Ukraine, a Russian attack hitting a post office. This is video of a Russian missile strike on a post office in Kharkiv. At least six people killed, 16 more wounded. The attack prompting blunt criticism towards Russia from the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine who said quote, the Kremlin's disregard for life is for all the world to see. Ukrainian forces meanwhile, have executed a daring raid on Russian troops in Crimea. CNN's Fred Pleitgen got a look at how that operation unfolded from one of the soldiers who took part.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A brazen attack from the sea, Ukrainian forces using jet skis to land in Russian occupied Crimea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking a foreign language).

PLEITGEN (voiceover): 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 storming, he says. The waves were up to two meters high, plus, Russian forces were patrolling, the raptors.

The Ukrainians say they also managed to destroy a 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 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 only 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 writes. A wide and developed system of agents allows you to make a choice.

One of the key target 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 units say their next infiltrations are already in the works but they won't say when, where or how.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


HOLMES: Coming up on the program, families of Israeli hostages are living every day in a hell of uncertainty and pain and they're telling this stories to CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Sources say the Biden administration is urging Israel to delay its promised incursion into Gaza in order to allow for more possible hostage releases and for humanitarian aid to enter the territory. But a senior Israeli official telling CNN they were not aware of the United States request and says there will be quote, no ceasefire.

Israel Defense Forces insist an incursion is coming soon, probably and they claim they have carried out dozens of airstrikes on Hamas targets on Sunday to pave the way. Israel believes some 200 people are still being held captive in Gaza. Their families are living in agony of course desperate for information about their loved ones. The parents of one young man who was kidnapped from the nova music festival spoke to Kaitlan Collins about it


MALKI SHEM-TOV, SON KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: From a phone call to another phone call is sound much more panic much more hysteric. Even in the one of the phone call, he said they're running away, they have a lot of friends but they start to run so they lost some of his friends. And while he was running, they say that there are shooting all over and he said that even see some dank people. And I love you, I love you.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You must have been so panicked to hear your 21-year-old son telling you it's not just rockets, it's there's gunfire, people are running and being killed.

M. SHEM-TOV: Yes, yes. It was like we could understand from his voice, that this is something that we cannot understand even what is experienced over there.

SHELLY SHEM-TOV, SON KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: He told me he was panicked. He was afraid. He said that they got into the car and they're trying to escape from there. My daughter told them send us a live location. He sent the live location and then the phone was stuck. And then we started to see that the point is moving like not in the right way.

COLLINS: Not coming home.

S. SHEM-TOV: Not coming home at all. It's moving to the board. And my daughter started to cry and she told us listen, it's not the way, it's not the way. I called him to say, Omer, it's not the way. And he didn't answer. The phone was ringing and he didn't answer. And then we saw he's getting into Gaza.

M. SHEM-TOV: He was behind border wall.

S. SHEM-TOV: He was behind border wall.

M. SHEM-TOV: And then in the evening, we got a video that was published by the Hamas that Omer is -- he's an hostage. He's over there. We saw we saw Omer handcuffed in the back of pickup.


COLLINS: He was handcuffed in a truck? M. SHEM-TOV: Yes. With his friend. They were alive. There was no blood or something on his clothes. And that's was the only single signal that we got for him.

COLLINS: And it's been almost two weeks, tomorrow have been two weeks. I mean, what have these two weeks been like for both of you?

S. SHEM-TOV: We didn't -- we are not sleeping. We were not eating. We -- all of the things that we are doing now it's to shout all over the world our pain that no mother in all over the world needs to feel like mother and father needs to feel like we are feeling now. Imagine that your son is going to a party. And the next day people, murderers kidnapped him. And you don't know if he's eating, sleeping, if they are beating him.

The basic thing of a mother is to --

M. SHEM-TOV: Protect.

S. SHEM-TOV: -- to protect her son, and I cannot protect my son. And it's driving me crazy. And it's -- I'm talking not only for myself, I'm talking for a lot of families, you must understand that people were in the safe place at their home. They were sitting eating breakfast, some of them was sleeping. And then these terrorists came in through their house and murder and took them from their house from the place that it's the most safe place. And they took him, babies, children, teenage, mothers, fathers, grandmothers.

COLLINS: And he's 21. But it he's your baby. I mean, what is -- what's he like? What's his personality? What is he -- you were saying, he kisses you three times on the cheeks all the time.

S. SHEM-TOV: Yes, yes, yes, every day.

M. SHEM-TOV: Yes, yes. He's amazing guy. He's a party guy. He's by himself, he's a DJ and he likes very much all these kinds of festival, music festivals. So that's Omer very, very happy guy. Very happy guy.

S. SHEM-TOV: Yes. Funny.

M. SHEM-TOV: Funny. Very funny.

COLLINS: He's so cute.

S. SHEM-TOV: We call him sunshine because like the sunshine everybody wants to be --

M. SHEM-TOV: Next to him.

S. SHEM-TOV: -- next to him.

COLLINS: The last time Omer's family saw him was at Shabbat dinner two weeks ago. He was there like he always is. He's always the life of the party as they talked about his big personality. And that night was the night that he went to the nova music festival. The next time his parents heard from him was in a series of panic phone calls the next day when they realize that the festival he was out was being attacked by Hamas.

This ceremony tonight in this huge table that you see is for all the families whose loved ones are being held hostage tonight, whose loved ones won't be at Shabbat dinner tonight. And Omer's family is hoping that he will be back at their Shabbat dinner at their table very soon.


HOLMES: A 27-year-old Israeli-American medic is headed to Israel to help victims impacted by the war. Kinaret Levin says she plans to work at a hospital and nursing homes while she's there. She spoke with CNN national correspondent, Camila Bernal.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kinaret Levin says that going to Israel is a calling. She says that after seeing what happened on October 7th, she was reminded of a feeling she had when she was six years old at the time of the September 11th attack. So she says that as an American, going to Israel is her way of pursuing justice. She says she will go to volunteer at a hospital and is hoping to do so for as long as she's able to stay in Israel.

She also told me that she's made peace with a number of possible scenarios, including deaths. She says she may not be able to return home to the United States when she plans to in about a month but is willing to risk her life to leave everything behind at her home in Fredericksburg, Texas, leave her family, job opportunities to go and do what she described as a calling as something that she needed to do. Here's what she told us.



KINARET LEVIN, MEDIC TRAVELING TO ISRAEL: One of my ways of coping with this loss, this tragedy of what happened on October 7th, is to go to Israel and hope. This is doing my part and this is my values and who I am as a person, and who I am as a nurse, and a medical professional.


BERNAL: And we talked to her on her layover here in Los Angeles before going to Israel, but she has texted us to say she's landed safely in Israel. She plans to spend about one or two days with her grandmother before beginning her volunteer work. Now, there are a number of organizations that we've talked to here in the U.S. who say it is very difficult for civilians to travel to Israel right now. There is limited space on charter flights that are normally prioritizing IDF members. And then in terms of commercial flights, it is expensive and it is limited. But there are many, many here in the U.S. that are wanting to travel to Israel to help.

Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.

HOLMES: Sunday was a day of global protesters, tens of thousands marched in support of Palestinians. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


CROWD: Free, free Palestine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free, free Palestine.

CROWD: Free, free Palestine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free, free Palestine.


HOLMES: This is in Brussels, demonstrators outside the European Commission headquarters calling for a ceasefire. And in Sarajevo, thousands were seen waving Palestinian and Bosnian flags also demanding a halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza. A renowned climber known as the French spider man climbed a massive building in Paris to call for peace. It took Lane Robear (ph) two hours to get to the top of the 220 meters high tower. He says he's not picking sides in the war but called on political leaders to hear each other out. Otherwise he says we're on the verge of World War III.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Instagram, X and Threats at own CNN. Stick around, I'll have more CNN Newsroom after this.