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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Coverage of "Israel at War."; No Ceasefire While Hostage Negotiations Continue; Trucks With Aid Enter Gaza; U.S. Seeking Delay of Israel's Ground Incursion; Humanitarian Crisis Rise Inside Gaza; Hostage Taking Handbook by Hamas Found. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired October 23, 2023 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: 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. And we begin in Gaza, where Israeli forces bombarded Gaza with heavy airstrikes overnight Monday. Palestinian officials in Gaza told CNN dozens of people were killed in the Jabalia refugee camp. Buildings in Rafah, Khan Younis, central Gaza and Gaza City were also struck including several residential homes.
Senior Israeli official tells CNN there will be no ceasefire while trying to arrange hostage release, saying humanitarian efforts cannot interfere with the mission to dismantle Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met IDF troops on Sunday, as well as the nation's war cabinet to discuss security amid other things. Here's more now from the country's defense minister.
(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, two, but eventually there will be no Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Meantime, a second convoy of at least 14 aid trucks entered Gaza on Sunday through the Rafah border crossing with vital supplies amid a deepening humanitarian crisis. Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins me now from London with more. Good morning to you Elliot. So, we are seeing an increase in Israeli airstrikes in northern Gaza. What is the latest on that? And of course, what more are you learning about this much anticipated ground incursion that many say could happen any moment?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, in terms of these strikes, just in the last few minutes, the IDF has sent out an update saying that over the past day it's hit more than 320 military targets. It says it's been targeting to both Hamas and the smaller militant group of Islamic Jihad, some of those with militants inside. It says it's been targeting military compounds and observation posts and also anti- tank missile cells.
So more than 320 targets, which would seem to tally with our Nic Robertson's reporting that this seemed to be the heaviest bombardment that he'd heard going on in the northern Gaza Strip since Israel started these airstrikes against Hamas following that October 7 terrorist attack. So that's from the Israeli side.
We're also hearing from Palestinian doctors and officials at the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip saying that 26 people were killed in overnight strikes. So, no letup in the airstrikes. As far as the ground invasion goes, one other line that we got from the IDF in the last few minutes is that it was also targeting assets that were, in its words, posing a threat to forces in the surrounding area who are preparing for ground operations.
So, yet more evidence that Israel is preparing for a ground operation if we needed it. We still clearly don't know when Israel is going to go in. But this drumbeat has been growing louder over the past week. We've heard from the chief of the general staff telling troops that they will be going into Gaza. We've seen this ramping up of air strikes. And we also had, of course, that first clash inside the Gaza Strip between the IDF and Hamas militants, in which militants fired an anti-tank missile towards Israeli troops who were operating an engineering vehicle according to the IDF, killing one IDF soldier, and injuring three.
So, we don't know precisely when it's going to happen, but it does now seem that we are closer than ever, that we are on the cusp of the start of this ground operation, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Meantime, U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly asking Israel to delay that ground incursion into Gaza so that more work can be done to negotiate the release of hostages and humanitarian aid to get in. So, any sign that will happen and how much influence does the U.S. have on an issue like this? So delicate.
GOTKINE: President Biden, I suppose, has already prompted a delay of sorts by actually coming to Israel. So, during that time when he was in town, clearly Israel was not going to launch a ground offensive while the president of Israel's closest ally was in town. The U.S. of course has more influence on Israel than any other country, not just because it provides more military aid than any other country, but they are -- the U.S. is Israel's closest ally.
Now, we understand that the U.S. has been leaning on Israel to delay ground operations, as you say, to try to get more progress, more success, if you like, in getting Hamas to release some of the 200-plus hostages that it's holding. We saw them release two Israeli Americans on Friday. They want more to be released.
They're also working on trying to get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Now, when he was asked about the U.S. leaning on Israel to delay ground operations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken simply said that this is a matter for the Israelis. This is a decision that Israel has to make. And when President Biden was asked, His response, without giving anything away clearly, was saying, I am talking to the Israelis. That's all he would say.
So, there are conversations going on. Israel also talking to other world leaders. We've already had the Prime Minister of Italy, Prime Minister of the U.K., in addition to President Biden meeting with Netanyahu, the Prime Minister in Israel. We're expecting the French president and the Dutch prime minister to come to Israel today. They will clearly be talking about security issues in addition to the humanitarian situation and the hostage situation.
Whether they will discuss plans for a ground offensive, we don't know as of yet. One imagines it will come up in conversation. But Israel has a number of factors that it's playing with, not just perhaps being lent on by the United States, but also where the hostages are, perhaps fresh intelligence that it's getting as to where they are, as to where Hamas' tunnels, the tunnel network that it maintains under the Gaza Strip is located.
And even things as mundane as the weather could be affecting preparations. Ultimately, it's a political decision and the decision to go in either hasn't been made yet or the decision of when to go in hasn't been made yet even if it's already been communicated to the troops who as we know have been massing outside the Gaza Strip for what two weeks now, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Elliott Gotkine bringing us that live report from London. Many thanks. And CNN's Nic Robertson is in Sderot near the border with Gaza and has more on the next stages of the war.
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 the 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 AND 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 to the humanitarian aid that drifts 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 the ground force because we've changed plans. We are going for heavy maneuvering.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Netanyahu's dilemma compounded by his dependence on American weapons.
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 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 front line in Gaza these days, more questions than answers. An incursion still highly probable. But when? Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.
CHURCH: Joining me now from Brisbane, Australia is Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Appreciate you joining us.
PETER LAYTON, VISITING FELLOW, GRIFFITH ASIA INSTITUTE: Hi.
CHURCH: So, the U.S. and others fear this war could expand beyond Israel's borders with both the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Defense Secretary voicing their concern this war could escalate. How do they prevent that from happening given we are seeing Hezbollah and others flex their muscles at this time?
LAYTON: They're flexing their muscles, but they're doing it in a fairly constrained manner. I think that they're just simply hoping that those threats will convince Hezbollah in the north and the Iranians as well. The Iranians got the Houthis to launch those cruise missiles and some drones, but Iran tends to be sort of standing back. I'm not sure that Iran wants to lose Hezbollah as a fighting organization.
The Israelis clearly have an overwhelming force organized in the north of Israel, but they really don't want another war up there. They would much rather prefer just to concentrate upon Gaza.
CHURCH: I hope you're right on that particular issue. I did want to ask you this because U.S. President Joe Biden is reportedly asking Israel to delay any planned ground incursion into Gaza so that more work can be done to negotiate the release of hostages, although Israel denies this. Should a ground incursion be delayed? And what are the dangers involved in such an operation? And of course, the likely ramifications.
LAYTON: There are a whole host of dangers. Depends on the size of how big the ground invasion is. We appear to be seeing the start of raids, if you like, into Gaza, and there may be some stepped up raids during the night's coming, raids aimed at killing Hamas leaders and possibly rescuing some of the hostages. Then after that, you could possibly see that a fairly major ground incursion into the north of Gaza.
The Israeli foreign minister is talking about annexing parts of Gaza after this ends. It's possible that they may say, annex Gaza City and push everybody down south into the southern part of the Gaza Strip. That simply highlights that the problem is, is that before there's a ground war, you would expect that the Israelis would know how the ground war will end and what peace they want after the war.
At the present time, we have no idea of the peace after the war. The Israelis are simply saying that they will destroy Hamas. But when Hamas goes, there's probably a dozen other groups who will take their place. So that doesn't seem a terribly useful ground war aimed. On the other hand, President Biden has once again spoken about a two-state solution. The president's obviously thinking about solving the longer- term problem. The Israelis are very much focused upon short-term revenge.
CHURCH: Right, because this is going to ultimately need a political solution. A military solution is not going to cut it, is it? I mean, we've seen this play out a number of times, maybe not at this level. But you touched on this, Israel's mission right now, of course, being to wipe out Hamas, both militarily and politically. But how achievable is that and what are the dangers of radicalizing other bad actors to fill that vacuum? And of course, what's the likely goal of Hamas in all of this too because there's --- what's it planning? Why did it do this?
LAYTON: All those issues rise up I think now. I think the chances of destroying Hamas totally is very unlikely. It will certainly -- Israel can certainly kill a lot of Hamas leaders and a lot of Hamas soldiers, but they're hiding amongst two million people. That's a lot of people who could join other Hamas-like groups.
As you say, all this has been going on for a very long time, some would say since 1948, or at least since 1967. So, a political solution is required for it to end, but the Israelis show no signs of wishing to, in fact, do that. And in fact, in the occupied territories, on the West Bank there, this year has been a rather horrid year, let's say.
I think there's about 250 Palestinians have been killed. So that's roughly sort of one a day. So, there's a lot of tension there as well. So, the five million Palestinians are, if you like, angry and annoyed. It's going to be a very difficult war to end in that military sense. A political solution is surely the only game in town, but there's no sign of it yet from the Israeli side.
CHURCH: All right, Peter Layton, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis and perspective on all of this. Appreciate it.
LAYTON: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Well, aid workers are warning the situation in Gaza has become a humanitarian catastrophe. The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health says more than 4,600 people have been killed in the besieged enclave since the war started, among them 1,000 women and nearly 2,000 children. Rights groups fear an Israeli ground incursion would increase those casualties dramatically. The Israel Defense Forces dropped these flyers on Saturday in a neighborhood in Gaza City warning residents that if they choose not to evacuate to the south of Gaza, they, quote, "might be considered as a partner for the terrorist organization."
However, Palestinian author and journalist, Laila El-Haddad, told CNN, that some residents will never leave their homes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAILA EL-HADDAD, PALESTINIAN AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: They were aghast. My cousin's wife, Fidat (ph), sent 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, a 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: As the situation worsens in Gaza, some parents are resorting to heartbreaking measures for their children, warning the images you're about to see are graphic. They are writing their children's names on their legs so they can be identified if the parents or the children are killed. A CNN photographer captured these gut-wrenching images of dead children with names written on their legs.
Well, meantime, some relief aid trucks are arriving in Gaza, but they don't include fuel. At least 14 humanitarian relief trucks, sponsored by the Egyptian Red Crescent and the U.N., entered Gaza from the Rafah crossing on Sunday, carrying food and medicine. But officials say it's not enough to meet the needs of the people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with Tamara Alrifai, Director of External Relations. and communications with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. And she says the situation in Gaza is dire and they desperately need fuel.
TAMARA ALRIFAI, DIRECTOR, EXTERNAL RELATIONS & COMMUNICATIONS, UNRWA: 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, 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 UNRWA, the U.N. 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 hundred or even thousand people, situation's very, very dire. So, 20 and 14 trucks are 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 says it's not allowing fuel in 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 war-torn region?
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: Still to come, what we know about this, the so-called Hamas hostage handbook, and what it tells us about the risks to those still being held by the militant group. We're back with that and more in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, 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 tells 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 imminent.
But 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 7. 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 instruction guide how to go into a civilian premises, into a kibbutz, a city, a moshav, 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: 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's hostage- taking handbook that we just heard about says to kill the difficult ones and use hostages as human shields. And 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: Yeah, so the document which I received from the IDF and through other sources, in fact other sources gave me parts of that document that the IDF didn't, it does describe a program of hostage taking. I mean, it was clear from that in black and white that there was an expectation that they would be able to take hostages and that they would treat them with brutality from the start.
I mean, 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 might be able to use to kill themselves. So, it also says to force them into compliance with electric shocks. But as you say, 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 plans to take hostages into Gaza but the documents describe having a standoff almost certainly that was supposed to take place in Israeli territory so that 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 to be 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, when Hamas went there, I think they expected 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 could just take everybody back. you know, hundreds of people back and bring the -- have them in Gaza territory instead.
CHURCH: And I did want to just raise a point because Israel's president also claimed 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 pertained 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, the chemical weapons document is an expression of aspiration rather than a fully-fledged plan to kill large numbers of people with, you know, terrible corrosive, poisonous gases or whatever. It's still alarming that anyone would try to do this.
CHURCH: Our thanks to Graeme Wood joining us last hour. World leaders are working to solve this crisis, but the latest assessment from the Chinese envoy on the ground in the region is not optimistic. A live report from Hong Kong, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: More on the top story this hour. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Israel Defense Forces say 320 terror targets were struck in Gaza overnight, including tunnels and dozens of operational command centers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Palestinian doctors and ministry officials say dozens were killed.
Hamas fighters and Israeli forces also engaged in limited clashes inside Gaza on Sunday. Meantime, at least 14 humanitarian relief trucks entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt Sunday through the Rafah border crossing. The convoy carried food and medicine.
These trucks arrived a day after a convoy of 20 Egyptian trucks unloaded humanitarian aid in Gaza using the same crossing. Well 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 conflicts spreading along Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria. Zhai is visiting the region this week to promote peace talks and push for a cease-fire. And CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now live from Hong Kong to talk more on this. So Kristie, what is expected to come out of this Middle East visit by China's envoy?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China's envoy for Middle East affairs is in the region to push for peace. Zhai Jun says that China is willing to do, quote, "Whatever is conducive" to promote dialogue, to reach a cease fire, and to 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 as a neutral mediator, but China has deep economic interests in the Middle East that it wants to safeguard, especially access to energy, access to oil and gas. Now on Saturday, that was when Zhai was in Egypt and he made remarks at the Cairo Summit for Peace.
Zhai has visited Egypt and Qatar, he is also visiting the UAE, Saudi Arabia , Jordan and other countries in the region, and Zhai says this, he says China has provided and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians through UN channels, through bilateral channels, and that China wants to promote a two-state solution. Now according to a foreign ministry readout of the Cairo Summit, we have it, let's bring it up for you.
It reads as follows, 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 co-existence between Palestine and Israel." And this is what we heard last week from Chinese leader Xi Jingping on Thursday.
This was his first public comment since the war broke out. Xi called for a two-state solution. And he called it, quote, "The fundamental way out." Now, what have we not heard from China? We have not heard any condemnation of Hamas. China has refrained from condemning Hamas for its brutal and coordinated terror attack on Israel on October the seventh, and that has prompted anger and disappointment from Israel. It also prompted criticism from the US. Back to you.
CHURCH: Alright, our thanks to Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong. And coming up, some of the other headlines we are following here on CNN including the latest on the leaderless House of Representatives in the United States. How long can the political dysfunction last? We'll take a look.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. We will return to CNN's coverage of Israel at war in just a moment, but let's take a look at some of the other headlines we're following this hour. A Detroit synagogue leader who was killed over the weekend is being mourned by her friends and family. Samantha Woll was found stabbed to death outside her home.
Police say they discovered a trail of blood leading to the home where they believe the crime happened. At a memorial service Sunday, Woll was remembered as a model citizen who was endlessly positive and loved bridging divides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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, in 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Woll had led the Isaac Agree Synagogue in Detroit since 2022. The police chief says they are still investigating her death, and they have no evidence to suggest it was motivated by anti-semitism. 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, 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 Emmer's chances. 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 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 is 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're 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: And 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 onIsrael'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 dithers.
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 outlined. 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 17th, 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 would 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 are going to have to make compromises. I also think the 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 competing and conflicting. He really could not make everybody happy.
CHURCH: And that was Jessica Levinson, law professor and host of "The Passing Judgment" podcast, talking to me last hour. Well coming up next, we return to Israel to bring you a story of bravery and triumph that emerged from the October seventh terror attack.
CHURCH: A group of brave volunteers managed to fight off more than 30 Hamas terrorists during that surprise attack just over two weeks ago. Incredibly no one inside the small kibbutz in Southern Israel was killed. CNN's Erin Burnett spoke with some of the heroes in this community.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You were at the gate. They tried to come in the vehicle gate and I know in Be'eri we saw all the burnout cars they used to block. You were able to stop that. But they burst through the pedestrian gate. We have footage of some of this from the security cameras.
ELI LEVY, MEFALSIM VOLUNTEER SECURITY FORCE: They were actually shooting anti-tank missiles on the gate. And so there's an actual carnage going on outside the gate. People trying to rush in from the party, people that were just driving.
BURNETT: Right, because they're trying to come in for safety.
LEVY: They're trying to come in. The gate is closed. They cannot see the terrorists and they just go outside and run to the gate and they're being shot at from short distance. Fall down.
BURNETT: So the terrorists at the gate are trying to come in. These people are rushing in so they're basically just, they were just like picking them off as they run in.
LEVY: The terrorists were actually taking cover around the gate from the outside and firing at those civilians running to the gate. Stabbing them after they were shot down to make sure that they are dead. They are engaging, there's a small bomb shelter outside the gate. Some of the party members were hiding there. So you can see a group of terrorists going and doing their massacre there.
NOAM KAZAZ, MEFALSIM VOLUNTEER SECURITY FORCE: They throw hand grenades.
BURNETT: Grenades into the shelter?
KAZAZ: Yes. You can see in the movie, the security movie. You see the hand of the terrorist throw hand grenades inside.
YARDEN RESKIN, MEFALSIM VOLUNTEER SECURITY FORCE: So, I went out solo and starting moving towards the main gate. But not in a straight line. I went through the houses. I got to parking lot number two. That is on there. And there's a hill, a small hill overwatching it but from outside. And there were two or three guys wearing black, looking at the road. I wasn't sure if this is our people or maybe I don't know what. And at the moment they turned around, I saw AK-47s.
BURNETT: So that's how you know, because you all have M16s. All of you.
RESKIN: We don't use AK-47. So that's not us.
BURNETT: So you know, immediate signal --
RESKIN: Yeah, that's not us. I shot at this group. One of them got hit. The other two scattered.
BURNETT: So you have any idea how many -- obviously you have M16s, you have magazines. But just a sense of this went on for hours. How many bullets did you even shoot? Do you have any idea of what this took?
LEVY: I shot 240 bullets.
DAVID ROSENBERG, MEFALSIM VOLUNTEER SECURITY FORCE: I knew I have only six magazines. I counted every bullet. I knew that I cannot shoot like I have a backup or something like that. So I've been shooting, every bullet has its own target. I didn't shoot just to make them lie.
BURNETT: Right, you had to shoot to kill?
ROSENBERG: I had to shoot to kill.
BURNETT: So I know you all know you've seen these. This is what was found on them. I mean at least on somebody, right. This is their plans of what they were going to do. I just was reading through it. I mean, it's dated October 2022. They were planning it for a whole year. The details in here, Eli I wanted to ask you one specific thing, I mean they knew everything.
ROSENBERG: Except our names.
BURNETT: Except your names. They put their phone numbers in here. They put, you know, the task, kibbutz Mefalsim Raid Plan B14. I mean, it's military.
LEVY: Very specified.
BURNETT: God is great. The barter. Oxsam brigade. They label it all. But at the top they have the cameras that are going to be visible. Who was going to come to help you. They knew the tank brigade. But it's this part I wanted to ask you all about. This was exactly what they planned to do inside the kibbutz. The duty of where they were supposed to go. What street numbers. Everything.
LEVY: They knew where the generator is --
BURNETT: Did you, now that you see this and you saw them, were they trying to execute this plan?
LEVY: Exactly. The plan was actually to engage the security group, to open the main gates. To allow vehicles in. To sabotage the main power and the generator. And to make as much casualties for the security team to allow the second wave to go in. And the fact that they know the exact street where to go to. Where the generator is and it's stated there.
LEVY: Street by street. That's exactly what they were executing. Exactly. They came to the exact points where the gates are. For instance, the point beside my house is the small gate that is closed. It's in the plan. I actually saw a page --
RESKIN: I saw it too, with symbols, arrows, gate, gate, gate.
BURNETT: When you sit here now and you think about it, that they didn't just plan and train. I mean, this is military. How do you even react to that? The date is October 2022.
LEVY: It's terrifying because it is a military plan, the competence, the terrorists trained on it. It was quite clear they knew exactly what they were doing. They were disciplined. This is a military grade planning.
CHURCH: And that was CNN's Erin Burnett reporting there. I want to thank you for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, I will be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.