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CNN Live Event/Special
Israel's Military Carried Out Dozens Of Airstrikes On Hamas Targets; House Speaker Race Widens To 9 Republicans Vying For Nomination; Hospitals in Gaza Overwhelmed And Undersupplied; Israel at War; Memorial for Detroit Synagogue Leader Stabbed to Death; Israeli President: Army Found Hostage-Taking Handbook from Hamas; Chinese Mideast Envoy Says Crisis is Severe; American Medic Travels to Israel to Help Victims. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired October 23, 2023 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world as we continue our coverage of Israel at war. I'm Rosemary Church.
Israeli forces are stepping up airstrikes in Gaza ahead of what they're calling the next stage of Israel's war on Hamas. Explosions and plumes of black smoke could be seen in Gaza City, and Hamas says its fighters also clashed with Israeli troops inside Gaza. He has more from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We fought with exemplary heroism in Gaza. Your stories are very inspirational and know that you lost comrades. This is very, very difficult, but we are fighting for our lives, for our home. This is no exaggeration. This is war. We are now in a double battle. One battle is to block them here. The second battle is to win a crushing victory that will erase Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Mr. Netanyahu also met with the nation's war cabinet Sunday to discuss security and the country's defense minister says it's likely invasion of Gaza needs to be Israel's last move inside the region vowing Hamas won't be around for long.
Meantime, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is becoming more desperate a second convoy of at least 14 aid trucks entered by the Rafah Border Crossing on Sunday with vital food, water and other supplies. A warning some of the images we're about to show can be disturbing.
Patients are also overwhelming the hospital system which is already having to scale back on treatments at local at some locations. Fuel is still scarce within Gaza and doctors say infants on ventilators remain at risk without a dependable source of electricity.
In Northern Gaza, in northern Israel I should say, the IDF is warning Hezbollah leaders they're playing quote a dangerous game. An IDF spokesperson says the group has attacked Israeli positions along the border with Lebanon, which the military has responded to.
And journalist Elliott Gotkine joins me now live from London with more on all of this. Good morning to Elliott. So we are seeing an increase in Israeli airstrikes in northern Gaza.
What is the latest on that and what more are you learning about the much anticipated ground incursion that's expected at any moment apparently?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, this drumbeat towards the ground invasion has been getting louder ever since that terrorist attack from Hamas on October the seventh. It is getting louder. And we've got now some more indications that we do seem to be on the cusp of it actually happening.
So we had the Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi telling troops over the weekend, we will enter the Gaza Strip. We've had those clashes. The first clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants inside the Gaza Strip on the ground happening yesterday.
One IDF soldier was killed and three injured when Hamas militants fired an anti-tank missile at what the Israelis said was an engineering vehicle.
On top of that, as you say, we've got that increase in bombardment, perhaps the heaviest bombardment of the Gaza strip that we've seen over the past two weeks as Israel tries to take out not just Hamas commanders, but also weapons storage facilities, rocket launchers, and of course, those tunnels, that tunnel system that Hamas maintains underground beneath the Gaza Strip. So that's another indication of what's going on.
And on top of that, we've seen a flurry of diplomatic activity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding his eighth conversation with President Biden also speaking with other world leaders. We've already had visits to Israel off President Biden and the British and Italian Prime Ministers. We've got the French president and the Dutch Prime Minister coming today as well.
Yes, there'll be talking about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, how to get more aid into those Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, also discussing ways to try to get more hostages released. We of course, saw two Israeli Americans released by Hamas over the weekend, just before the weekend. There are still some 200 plus people being held by being held hostage by Hamas, who were abducted from inside Israel during that initial attack on October the seventh.
So that will also be a point of discussion and no doubt Netanyahu will also update them on the security situation, and perhaps give a hint of its plans for ground invasion. Rosemary.
CHURCH: And Elliott, the U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly asking Israel to delay its ground incursion into Gaza so that more work can be done to negotiate the release of hostages, any sign that will happen and how much influence does the US have on this issue? Do you think?
GOTKINE: Clearly, the U.S. has more influence on Israel than any other country. In terms of the delay we've already seen things being delayed for perhaps a variety of reasons. Of course, President Biden's actual visit, actual presence inside Israel would have delayed matters a little bit because Israel was never going to go in on the ground while the President was in town.
Now when he was asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he was asked if the U.S. is pressing Israel for a delay, he simply said that these are decisions that Israel has to make. And when President Biden was asked, he said simply, I am talking to the Israelis for its part. Israel has denied these reports. It has denied that the United States has asked it to delay going in on the ground.
But clearly, we've been expecting this to happen for a number of days now. It hasn't happened. Perhaps the U.S. is pressing for a delay, as we understand it, perhaps it's the weather, perhaps just changing facts on the ground, or additional intelligence that the Israelis are getting, for example, as to the whereabouts of its hostages and other bodies and other perhaps Hamas infrastructure and assets on the ground and below the ground.
So delays have clearly happened. The U.S. we understand is pressing Israel to delay in order to facilitate further negotiations for the hostages to be released. And to get more humanitarian aid in. Israel says that isn't the case. We do expect that ground invasion to happen. We know it's a question of when rather than if, it seems we're on the cusp of it now. But understandably, perhaps, Rosemary, the Israelis not really giving much away right now.
CHURCH: All right. Thanks to Elliott Gotkine for that live report from London. Appreciate it.
Aid workers are warning the situation in Gaza has become a humanitarian catastrophe. Palestinian officials say more than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza since the war started. Among them more than 1,000 women and nearly 2,000 children. CNN's Scott McLean has more now on the situation in the besieged enclave. A warning though his report contains graphic images.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN 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 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: 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 gazette (ph) 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 I have an expected ground operation. Meanwhile, conditions for the people of Gaza worsen by the hour. Scott McLean, CNN, London.
CHURCH: Tamara Alrifai is the Director of External Relations and Communications with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and she joins me now from Amman, in Jordan, thank you so much for being with us.
TAMARA ALRIFAI, DIRECTOR, EXTERNAL RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS, UNRWA: Thank you. Good morning.
CHURCH: So your organization is currently sheltering hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been displaced by this war. What is the situation right now as some of that humanitarian aid has eventually arrived in Gaza just a fraction of what's needed though?
ALRIFAI: Yes, Scott said it very well. It's a trickle. So over the last two days, two convoys of humanitarian assistance managed to go into Gaza. We're talking about 20 trucks the day before yesterday, and 14 trucks overnight this morning.
However, these trucks really only contain a fraction of what is needed, given the immense humanitarian needs, particularly amongst the 400, or more than 400,000 people displaced in schools that have become shelters. These are usually schools that's UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees, runs and where it hosts little girls and boys.
These have now become overcrowded shelters with no privacy, no locks, one toilet for several hundreds or even thousands people situations very, very dire. So 20 and 14 trucks is a welcome gesture.
But as a reminder, before this conflict, over 100 trucks of humanitarian aid and fuel used to come in, and here I really must insist on the fuel. No fuel has come into Gaza for the last two weeks. And without fuel, it's not going to be possible to go around Gaza in our trucks and distribute assistance, or to power the water desalination plants and get clean drinking water or to power hospitals and their life saving machines.
We've just seen, you've just shown how that health system is on the brink of collapse. We need fuel that is very, very urgent, as urgent as water and food.
CHURCH: And of course the IDF of says it's not allowing fueling because it's concerned that Hamas will take it as it has in the past. So I did want to ask you, though, when you expect more humanitarian aid to get into Gaza via the Rafah Crossing, and what's the process involved in rationing out what is available right now until more supplies enter the water on region (ph)?
ALRIFAI: It's really a very strict rationing. It's even counting the minimum required calories per person, per day for survival. That is how dire it is. And that is how small little that access of humanitarian assistance is. So we are really counting on a continuous and unimpeded access of the trucks from Rafah into Gaza.
But again, these trucks have to contain fuel, water, food and urgently needed medical supplies. And the flow has to be a big flow, not just a trickle of 10 or tens even of trucks a day.
CHURCH: And what is happening right now and Gaza's hospitals given Israel has cut off food, water, electricity, and as you mentioned these fuel supplies that would run those generators.
ALRIFAI: This situation is extremely difficult what we're hearing from our partners in the health sector, other than working around the clock to attend to the wounded. The supplies are extremely low, including hygiene supplies. Imagine a hospital that cannot be cleaned because there are no hygiene supplies. This is not only a major health situation related to those who are wounded in the airstrikes.
It is also a major risk for public health -- for a public health crisis if we're not able to have clean water for the hospitals, and if we're not able to clean the hospitals. Hospitals are run by the health sector and health partners, UNRWA and the World Health Organization and other U.N. agencies support the health sector by bringing in medical supplies, medicines, even basic medicines like insulin or paracetamol or antibiotics, and mostly by advocating for fuel to come into Gaza to generate electricity.
CHURCH: All right, our thanks to Tamara Alrifai for joining us. Really appreciate you chatting with us about the dire situation in Gaza.
And still to come, Republicans in the U.S. House can't get their act together. I will talk to law professor Jessica Levinson about the party's struggle to elect a speaker of the house. Back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. Well, in Washington, nine Republicans have entered the high stakes race for Speaker of the House of Representatives.
They will make their case before the republican conference later today after Jim Jordan failed three times to win the spot this past week. The House has been paralyzed without a speaker for nearly three weeks now, which ousted speaker Kevin McCarthy calls embarrassing.
With such a crowded field, it is unclear if any of the nine candidates will secure the 217 votes needed to win the speakership. One standout is House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who is endorsed by ex-speaker, Kevin McCarthy, however, given McCarthy's historic ouster, that may end up harming Emma's chances.
So joining us now to discuss all of this is Jessica Levinson, law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and host of the Passing Judgment podcast. Good to have you with us.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Good to be here.
CHURCH: So nine Republicans have now joined the race to become House speaker after Representative Jim Jordan failed to get enough support and dropped out of the race. So, how will they -- how will this all play out do you think? And who will likely get sufficient support if that's even possible?
LEVINSON: I don't know if any of the nine or any of the 217 that will have to vote for that person know that for sure. Because I think the house truly still is in chaos. We've never had a situation like this where the House is without a speaker for three weeks, because the Speaker himself was ousted by his party. And then the next two in line could not garner the votes needed.
So, who's going to get this particular job? It's the person who can and I don't know how many rounds it will take, but say to all of the factions of the Republican Party, we are going to lose in 2024 if we don't elect somebody. We need to do pressing things, like vote on a budget, like vote on a resolution involving Hamas, like keep the government functioning, our government is based on three branches, and half of one of the branches isn't functioning at all right now.
CHURCH: That's a problem, isn't it? Because Republicans will select a nominee Monday and vote on the floor Tuesday. We don't know if they'll succeed in that. That's the plan. But as Republicans struggle to get this done, of course, the House remains paralyzed, unable to pass legislation on Israel's war with Gaza and Russia's war on Ukraine.
So, how likely is it that Republicans can get this done in time to help those parts of the world but also before a looming government shutdown? There is so much at stake right here while the GOP deals.
LEVINSON: There's never a good time for the House of Representatives to grind to a halt. But this is a particularly precarious time. As you outline there are very serious issues with respect to foreign policy. We have the Ukraine crisis. We have the crisis in the Middle East.
And of course, November 17, which truly is just around the corner, is when we need to pass a bill to keep the government open to keep it functioning. And we know what happens if our federal government shuts down. And that truly would be a problem for many Americans. That is not an abstract concept that would have concrete and really dire impacts.
So who is it going to be? And how will this person garner the support? I think the person will really again have to explain that it not only looks like House Republicans are in chaos, but it's going to look like this to the voters, and that they're going to have to make compromises.
I also think that person will have to be strong enough not to make promises that he or she cannot keep, because that really was part of Kevin McCarthy's downfall. He made so many promises to so many people. And they were confused. They were competing and conflicting. He really could not make everybody happy.
CHURCH: And what role will and perhaps should the Democrats play in this process to get a speaker installed?
LEVINSON: So only in an extremely rare situation. And I will say rarer than the one we're seeing now, which I understand is hard for people who are watching to imagine only in a extremely rare situation, I think would enough Republicans join with Democrats such that Democrats have an active role in this and actually pick a Democrat to leave the Speaker of the House like Hakeem Jeffries.
I think that ultimately Republicans will say we'd rather have a fellow Republican who a number of us don't support then to have a Democrat. If House Republicans simply can't pick one of their own party, I think that's all but a flag of defeat to themselves and to their voters.
CHURCH: Yes, it certainly is. And of course, what is the likely political blowback for Republican indecision on this effort to find a speaker because, I mean, if it had happened maybe a few days back it might be forgotten.
But it's dragged on and on and on at a very critical time for the world. In fact, so will voters remember this in November 2024?
LEVINSON: I think they will remember that this is a particularly dark moment for us that our system of government is based on the idea that we don't have one party rule that we have two parties that need to work with each other, and need to learn to compromise. And that actually is a public good.
I think many voters are not nearly as polarized as our officials and we can talk about a whole host of reasons that that's the case dealing with how we elect our officials, how we choose them in primary elections. But I think for voters, they have to go to work. They have to do their jobs. They don't get to just out somebody and say, well, we're rudderless. And we'll stagnate until we can finally pick somebody.
So I think a lot of people are just shaking their heads, even people who might really want a conservative agenda are not looking at that they're not seeing the fruition of that House majority that was voted in.
CHURCH: All right. Jessica Levinson, well, Jessica Levinson joining us there with her analysis appreciate. You're not ours. We don't own you. Thank you so much for being with us.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, still become Israeli officials urging more civilians near the northern border with Lebanon to leave we will tell you why. Plus, a memorial in the United States is held for a synagogue leader who was stabbed to death but questions are still swirling about why she was killed. We will have the latest on the investigation.
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.
Well, Israel Defense forces are bombarding Hamas targets in Gaza and also engaged in limited skirmishes inside the territory Sunday. All of this ahead of a potential military incursion.
Sources say the White House is urging Israel to delay any ground assault in order to allow for more possible hostage releases and for more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
on the phone and they agreed to a continued flow of aid to Gaza. But despite some trucks getting through the Rafah border crossing, aid groups say the humanitarian situation remains dire.
Well Israel Defense Forces say Hezbollah militants are targeting their forces from across the northern border with Lebanon. And Israel is responding with tank, drone and artillery attacks as the hostilities grow. Israeli officials say they will fund the evacuation of 14 additional communities near the Lebanese border.
Many towns are already nearly empty. Matthew Chances is in the area and brings us a report from the same.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's very quiet here in Kiryat Shamona in (INAUDIBLE) northern Israel but that's mainly because the vast majority of the population of this city of more than 20,000 people, town, have gone. They have been evacuated.
And that's true of towns and villages all across this area, close to the Lebanese border. There has been 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 operating southern Lebanon as well.
And indeed the Israeli military say that those attacks have been increasing over the course of past week or so with, as you say, drone attacks taking place -- well drone flights, at least 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 have been pounding areas with artillery strikes and airstrikes 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, morning 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 instead of 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 the attacks from that southern part of the country persist or escalate.
CHURCH: 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.
One woman whose son was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova Music Festival two weeks ago describes her worst fears and her greatest hopes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IDIT OHEL, SON ALON WAS TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: I know that Alon, as I know him is very strong, he has good faith and he will go through this. And I know that he's helping people. I know that he -- that's what he learned from us.
I know that he's helping himself and the people around him to be able to go through this horrible thing. Something that is haunting me every night. You know, I'm thinking about Alon, what he's going through. And I sometimes see myself going through this, you know, suddenly be with rockets around me and gunshots and someone dragging me somewhere, I have no idea where.
And when I think about that, you know, I think about my son and where he is and what he's doing. If he's getting food? Is he getting, you know, time to sleep?
OHEL: It's something that is so hard for me and I think anybody who can be in my place or in his place and think of it. How do you cope? How do you act? What do you do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A Detroit synagogue leader who was killed over the weekend is being mourned by friends and family members. At a memorial service on Sunday, Samantha Woll was remembered as a model citizen who was endlessly positive and loved bridging divides.
CNN's Omar Jimenez has more now on her memorial and the investigation into her death.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the headline alone is a cause for concern: Detroit synagogue later found stabbed to death. And it is understandable why some may jump to quick conclusions.
But it's exactly what Detroit police are cautioning against. At least at this stage in the investigation. Now, they have not announced an arrest of any suspect and they have not announced a motive that they have found in this particular case.
But over the course of Sunday, the Detroit police chief put out a statement that read in part, "While the investigation into the death of Ms. Samantha Woll remains ongoing at this time, no evidence has surfaced suggesting that this was motivated by anti-Semitism."
But what wasn't included in that statement was that they ruled out this being motivated by anti-Semitism which highlights really where they are in this investigation, that they are in the very early stages. And it is why they're urging caution for people to jump to conclusions.
Now, what we do know is that on this block where I'm standing near downtown Detroit, this is where police found the body of Woll. They say they followed a trail of blood to her home. That's where they believe the killing actually took place.
And again, they have not released any arrest or identity of a suspect they have at this point.
Now as for what happened, well, they still work through that. It did happen and it's why this community is trying to figure out how to move forward at this point.
A memorial service was held on Sunday where speakers from those who knew her best all the way to state elected officials shared what they remembered about the 40-year-old Samantha Woll.
Take a listen to Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel.
DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Samantha Woll may have been the nicest person that I have ever met or will ever meet in my lifetime. Sam did more for our community, our state, our world, our lives than her short time here on earth than most will ever accomplish in a thousand lifetimes over.
And her killer will not rob us of the memory of her joy and warmth and kindness that she leaves behind.
JIMENEZ: Over the course of that service, we also heard from a state senator who was with Woll the night before she was found dead, at a wedding. And she said the only consolation she has in this is that some of her final memories of Woll were of laughter and of happiness.
Now moving forward, the FBI is assisting the Detroit police in trying to figure out what happened here. The community is trying to move forward and process what happened as investigators, again at this, point are trying to figure out why.
Omar Jimenez, CNN -- Detroit.
CHURCH: More now on the hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. The Israeli president told CNN that his country's army has recovered a hostage taking handbook from Hamas. That discovery, of course, comes in the aftermath of the surprise attack on Israel on October 7th.
Perhaps the most revealing part of this manual is the idea that Hamas was never supposed to bring the hostages into Gaza. Israel's president described the pamphlet as a detailed how-to guide for taking hostages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: This booklet is an instruction guide how to go into a civilian premises, into a kibbutz, a city, and Mossad (ph), how to break in. And first thing, what do you do when you find the citizens? You torture them.
This is the booklet. It says exactly how to torture them, how to abduct them, how to kidnap them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: We want to talk more about this. Joining me is Graeme Wood. He is a staff writer for "The Atlantic" and the author of the book "The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State". Appreciate you joining us.
GRAEME WOOD, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Glad to be here.
CHURCH: So in a recent article, you write that Hamas' hostage-taking handbook that we just heard about says to kill the difficult ones and use hostages as human shields. You received that document from an official in the Israel Defense Forces. What else does that chilling document reveal about how Hamas might be treating the more than 200 hostages that they're currently holding inside Gaza?
WOOD: Yes. So the document which I received from the IDF and through other sources, in fact other sources gave me parts of the document that the IDF didn't. It does describe a program of hostage taking. It was clear from that black and white that there is an expectation that they would able to take hostages and that they would treat them with brutality from the start.
The document says, for example, that you should identify the problematic ones. The ones who might resist and kill them first. You should separate the women and children from the men. And you should remove any implement that they would be able to use to kill themselves. So it also says to force them into compliance with electric shock.
But as you said, the really surprising thing about the document is that the game plan that it describes is actually not what happened. I mean Hamas may have planned to take hostages into Gaza, but the document described having a standoff almost certainly that was supposed to take place in Israeli territory.
So they, I think, were probably surprised at their great fortune that they were able to get so many hostages and bring them back to Gaza where they have even more leeway with how they can handle them.
CHURCH: So given what the handbook said about that, is there any idea as to why they changed their plan and instead of keeping them in some of these kibbutz homes, they took them back to Gaza? Anyone understand why that was changed?
WOOD: I think it's pretty straightforward actually. I mean they didn't expect, nor did Israel expect, that when they went into Israeli territory, they would have the run of the place for so long.
I mean it was shocking, I think, to Israelis that it took hours -- I mean like 12 hours for them to have a full response from the IDF. So, so when Hamas went there, I think they expected that they would have the full fury of a modern military coming after them. But they actually had hours of leisure when they could do what they wished on site.
And during that time, I'm sure it was pretty obvious to them that they would rather not have a prolonged standoff in Israeli territory when they can just take everybody back. You know, hundreds of people back and bring -- have them in Gaza territory instead.
CHURCH: And I did want to just raise a point because Israel's president also claimed that that document contained directions and instructions for the manufacture of chemical weapons. Have you heard any more on that?
WOOD: Yes, I have seen the documents that are pertaining to chemical weapons. And I must say, these documents are strange. I've discussed them with chemists. And I'm assured that the chemical weapons that are described are the most primitive and least likely to work. So this, I think is a document, a chemical weapons document that is, an expression of aspiration rather than a fully-fledged plan to kill large numbers of people with terrible, corrosive, poisonous gases or whatever.
It is still alarming that anyone would try to do this. But unlike the hostage manual, it's not describing something that is anywhere close to being able to take into fruition.
CHURCH: Graeme Wood, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
WOOD: You're welcome.
CHURCH: And we'll be right back.
CHURCH: China's special envoy to the Middle East says the situation in Gaza is severe and the risk of a large-scale ground conflict is rising significantly. According to Chinese state media Zhai Jun warned of armed conflict spreading along Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria and said the prospect of them expanding regionally and internationally are worrisome. Zhai is visiting the region this week to promote peace talks and push for a ceasefire.
And CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie.
So, what is expected to come out of this upcoming visit to the region of China's special Middle East envoy?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, China's envoy for Middle East affairs is in the region to push for peace talks. Zhai Jun says that China is willing to do, quote, "whatever is conducive to promote dialogue, to reach a cease-fire, and restore peace. He also adds that the risk of a large-scale ground conflict in Gaza is, quote, "significantly rising".
Look, China wants to present itself to the world as a neutral mediator, but we have to keep in mind that China has some deep economic interests that it wants to safeguard in the Middle East, especially access to energy like oil and gas.
Now, it was on Saturday that Zhai Jun was in Egypt, and he made remarks at the Cairo Summit for Peace. Zhai, in addition to visiting Egypt, is also visiting the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, and other countries in the region.
And Zhai says that China has provided and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians through U.N., through bilateral channels and that China wants to promote a two-state solution.
Now, according to a foreign minister readout of the Cairo Summit, we have it, let's bring it up for you. It says this, quote, "to end the cycle of the conflict between Palestine and Israel, it is essential to implement the two-state solution, establish an independent state of Palestine, and realize peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel," unquote.
And that is what we heard last week. Thursday last week, straight from the top leader of China, Xi Jinping. It was when he made those first comments ever since the war broke out. Xi called for a two-state solution. He said it was the fundamental way out.
And what we have not heard from China -- we have yet to hear any condemnation of Hamas. China has not condemned Hamas for its brutal terror attack on Israel on October 7th. And that has prompted anger from Israel, disappointment from Israel. It's prompted criticism from U.S. officials as well.
Back to you.
CHURCH: Critical point there. Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong. Appreciate it.
And coming up, you will hear from an American medic who says she is willing to risk her life to go to Israel and help victims of the violence recover.
We're back with that and more and in just a moment.
CHURCH: A 27-year-old Israeli-American medic is heading to Israel to help victims impacted by the war. Kinaret Levin (ph) says she plans to work at a hospital and nursing homes while she is there. She spoke with CNN's Camila Bernal.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kinaret Levin says 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 is able to stay in Israel.
She also told me that she has made peace with a number of possible scenarios, including death. 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. Something that she needed to do.
Here is what she told us.
KINARET LEVIN, ISRAELI-AMERICAN MEDIC: One of my ways of coping with this loss, this tragedy of what happened on October 7th, is to go to Israel and help. This is doing my part and this is my value 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 has landed safely in Israel. She plans to spend about one or two days with her grandmother before beginning her volunteer work.
BERNAL: Now, there are a number of organizations that we 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.
CHURCH: The New York Giants on Sunday honored the ten Americans still unaccounted for after the Hamas terror attacks. The team displayed American flags in ten empty seats at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants were hosting the Washington Commanders.
Hamas released two Americans last week, but the U.S. secretary of state says ten others are unaccounted for and at least some of them are being held hostage.
A renowned climber, known as the French Spider-Man, climbed a massive building in Paris to call for peace in the Middle East. It took Alain Robert (ph) two hours to get to the top of the 220-meter-high tower. He says he is not picking sides in the war, but called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to hear each other out. Otherwise he says, we are on the verge of World War 3.
Appreciate your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.
Do stay with us.