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CNN Live Event/Special

Hamas Releases Two Female Israeli Hostages; Israel Preparing Gaza Op From Air, Land, And Sea; IDF Says It Struck Several Hezbollah Posts In Southern Lebanon. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta with our ongoing coverage of Israel's war with Hamas. Two more women being held by Hamas in Gaza have been released, but the militant group is still holding more than 200 hostages, all of them kidnapped 16 days ago, during that deadly Hamas attack on Israel.

The two women were released to the Red Cross at the Rafah Crossing on the border with Egypt. Both are Israelis, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, who have now been reunited with family at a medical center in Israel. Not long after the women were released, the daughter and grandson of Yocheved Lifshitz spoke to CNN.


SHARONE LIFSHITZ, DAUGHTER OF FREED HOSTAGE: It's impossible to describe my mom. I think she has a good smile. I don't know. I'm so delighted. But my heart is with, you know, this is a small ray of light in a big story that is still unfolding. My father is there. So many other people were waiting for good news about everyone.

I've seen a picture of her in a bed, in a hospital bed. She's waving a hand. I know that she's well enough to speak. And well enough to walk. I think she walked across the border. So my mom's story is an amazing story. My heart is with my father and the other 218 people or so that are still held hostage. This is a great sign that other things can happen.

DANIEL LIFSHITZ, GRANDSON OF FREED HOSTAGE: I was thinking that I would never see her again and see or hear is it's just amazing. And she's a hero. She has so much courage. She's so strong. She's sick, and she suffered, walks in tunnels and so many things, you know, that she's, I don't know, I don't know. I don't know where this woman have this power from and seeing her which I know that she's so strong.

I can imagine another ones. And I'm telling you, we have to be fast seeing my grandma like that. And from one side so happy but from the other side. I see in her eyes what she's been through. And I know that the timeline the clock is ticking. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Qatar and Egypt helped negotiate their release, which Hamas officials said was for humanitarian and health reasons and comes just days after mustard free to American women.

The precise number of U.S. citizens being held by Hamas in Gaza remains unclear. After the weekend, 10 Americans are now unaccounted for. And the Biden administration is urging Israel to delay any ground offensive, while hostage negotiations continue with Hamas. Probably though the White House is insisting it has no interest in dictating Israel's military operations.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR: The Israeli defense forces need to decide for themselves how they're going to conduct operations. We're not in the business of dictating terms to them, and we're certainly not going to be in the business here from the White House of previewing any future operations one way or the other.


VAUSE: Israel's defense minister is giving every indication of ground incursion could happen at any moment, saying the military has been planning a multilateral operation against Hamas from the air, ground and sea.

But for more than two weeks very truthfully massing on the border with Gaza. And as CNN's Nic Robertson reports more than 300,000 soldiers and are waiting for the order to begin the next phase of this war, and that order could come at any moment.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): Just outside Gaza farmer's fields churn with the control fury of a nation readying for an incursion to strike Hamas.


Battle ready troops with everything they need, except an order to attack. In part, Sources tell CNN because America wants more hostages released first.

KIRBY: We want to get the rest of them out. And that, you know, that -- you got to have -- you got to have the ability to continue to negotiate and try to work towards that outcome.

ROBERTSON: Israeli officials deny the White House is leaning on them to ease off on attacks and allow him humanitarian aid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe the best way to get the hostages out is to keep the pressure on. ROBERTSON: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calculus of when to send in ground troops has never been so fraught. He is vulnerable to White House pressure, because Israel needs U.S. weapons. And he's under increasing international pressure over civilian losses in Gaza. So much so it seems to be running down the clock on his plans to smash Hamas for its brutal October 7 attacks.

RON BEN-YISHAI, MILITARY ANALYST: I think both in Washington and in Jerusalem they understand that the legitimation, legitimization window is closing quickly.

ROBERTSON: He is also under pressure at home too, military and others hawkish eager to begin a decisive ground attack.

ISRAEL ZIV, FOMRER GENERAL, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: We are finishing preparing, you know the ground force, because we've changed plans. We are going to for heavy maneuvering.

ROBERTSON: 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.

ROBERTSON (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.

ROBERTSON (voiceover): Close to the frontline in Gaza these days, more questions than answers. International diplomacy it seems pushing military plans off track.

BEN-YISHAI: The pressure is from Washington is real. Is real and strong. And the Prime Minister says many times to his ministers, listen, we are getting from the United States more than you know.

ROBERTSON: The IDF, however, refuting reports in Israeli media have a growing rift between Netanyahu and his military commanders. Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.


VAUSE: Journalist Elliott Gotkine is with us now live from London for an update on all of this. And Elliott, from a military point of view, there's a limit on how long 300,000 troops can remain battle ready for a major offensive. But as Nic sort of alluded to in his report, that's the only consideration right now for the Israeli government.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: No, it's not, John and I suppose there are a multitude of reasons as to why Israel hasn't gone in yet. And as Nic was saying, you know, it's been what, 17 days since Hamas went on that murderous rampage on October the seventh. And ever since then it's what we've been expecting the Israeli military to go in, it's gone in in the past for far less. And yet it hasn't happened yet.

Now, we know that negotiations to get more hostages released is potentially one reason. Israel is also gathering intelligence from Hamas militants that it has taken prisoner who entered Israel before as well. At the same time, it's also giving more time for the air campaign to target targets inside of the Gaza Strip.

And we were talking yesterday about it being the heaviest bombardment since October, the seventh with more than 320 targets hit. Well, overnight now we've had from the IDF, they're saying they've hit more than 400 targets, things like commanders, underground tunnels, rocket, and also rocket launchers and the like, as well.

So, Israel trying to kind of hit more targets to make it as easy as possible for ground troops to go in. We know they're carrying out exercises. We know that the Chief of the General Staff has told troops that they're going in. We know that Yoav Gallant, the defense minister has talked about this is going to be an air, land and sea operation. And yet it hasn't happened just yet.

And I suppose the other big concern, of course, is that if and when Israel does go in that Hezbollah on the northern border in Lebanon, the Iranian proxy with whom Israel has already been having back and forth with anti-tank missiles being fired by Hezbollah, towards Israel, Israel retaliating that has been simmering now for the last week or two. And Israel doesn't want a Northern Front open.

Add to this, the kind of caution that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tends to exercise with major decisions. And that all adds up to a delay. And of course, at the same time, we have that great humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. We've heard from a British Palestinian surgeon saying the hospital he's working in will turn into a mass grave if electricity runs out.


And you've even had Hamas, which, of course, as well as launching that terrorist attack on October the seventh runs the Gaza Strip. It is saying that a power outage at the Indonesian Hospital is a crime against humanity. And I suppose there's a tragic irony there that it is Hamas, which of course, started this war that is the organization in this occasion accusing Israel of war crimes, but that is the situation right now, they're trying to get more aid in Israel saying that fuel cannot go in because Hamas will simply pilfer it indeed, when Mark Regev, the senior adviser to the government was asked if Hamas would actually release all the remaining 218 or so hostages that it is holding inside the Gaza Strip, would Israel allow fuel to go in? And he said no, it would not. John.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there live for us in London. According to Palestinian officials, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have intensified in the past 24 hours, even in the south where at least 28 people were killed, doesn't injured in the city of Rafah, according to Hamas security officials.

Last week, Israel told millions of people in northern Gaza to relocate to the South for their own safety. Aid groups are wanting all the chaos and destruction from unrelenting Israeli airstrikes is taking a horrendous toll on Gaza's children.

One Palestinian human rights group says so far, more than 2,000 children have been killed in just over two weeks, and number which for now remains almost impossible to verify. But for hospitals in Gaza each day, it seems brings you misery and a new level of desperation. CNN's Clarissa Ward reports out and a warning her story contains a very graphic and disturbing images.


CLASSIRA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): You are entering the Al- Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. This is just one minute on one day. But doctors tell us it could be any minute of the last 16 days. It is a scene from how many of the patients are young children.

The reception area now a triage center and everywhere you turn to another casualty. Every one of these people has been ordered by Israel's military to evacuate the hospital, including the staff already outnumbered and overwhelmed.

And as the punishing bombardment continues, the wounded keeps flooding in. Doctors say there's nowhere else for them to go and no safe way to transport them out.

DR. MARWAN ABUSADA, CHIEF OF SURGERY, AL SHIFA HOSPITAL: We had the mass casualties once or twice a day. But now we have every half an hour casualties so it is overloaded. Our emergency department and our LT department and our IBD department are overloaded with patients.

WARD: Dr. Marwan Abusada warns that the situation is about to get dramatically worse. Hospital, he says is just two days away from running out of fuel needed to power the generators that are keeping the hospital and its patients alive.

WARD (on camera): If you do run out of fuel in two days, what will you do? I mean, what can you do?

ABUSADA: I think the international community will be part of the process of killing of our people if they don't act on Israel to allow to get fuel enter into Gaza, what to do for the people who are in the ICU on mechanical ventilator. What about the neonatal units? There are small babies. We have more than 130 in our neonatal ICU units. What to do with them? They will, OK, is I think we are allowing them to die at this stage without having fuel to run our generators in the hospital.

WARD (voiceover): Just a trickle of aid has been allowed to cross into Gaza, and none of it fuel blocked by Israel. It says over concerns it will be taken by Hamas. Hundreds of trucks are waiting along the Egyptian side of the border.

But diplomatic efforts to establish a continuous humanitarian corridor have failed, and there is no more time for debate.


VAUSE: To Gaza City now we're joined by Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a British Palestinian surgeon working at Shifa Hospital, the biggest medical facility in Gaza. Doctor, thank you for speaking with us. We appreciate your time, sir.


VAUSE: Yes, the most urgent need right now in Gaza is what's not coming in and that is fuel. Shifa hospital runs off to very big generators if no fuel arrives, if there are no more supplies coming in, when do those generators stop working?

ABU-SITTA: So over the last few days, we've been getting increasing -- increasingly frequent and longer electricity cuts. And the real question is, is there anything such --is there anything left of a hospital when there is no electricity?


And my answer is no, there's -- effectively Shifa Hospital will become a mass grave if it runs out of electricity. We have 150 patients who are ventilated because of the critical nature of their lungs. We cannot run the operating rooms. We cannot run the anaesthetic machines, effectively the hospital, which now has around 1,700 wounded patients, three times its capacity will cease to exist as a hospital.

VAUSE: So right now, the situation with electricity, we know that the Israelis cut off supplies coming in from Israel, the only power station in Gaza is out of fuel. So when you say you've had intermittent power supplies, are you essentially load sharing or going through blackouts or rolling blackouts with your own power supply from those generators to try and make it last longer?

ABU-SITTA: Yes, I think what's happening is that they are trying to cut down on usage because they have been dependent on the generators for 24 hours since the war started. And so what, you know, my feeling is as the -- as time passes, and fuel supply is less there, we're going to have longer, longer hours.

VAUSE: Not only do you have a lot of people there in the ICU and on ventilators because of, you know, they've been wounded during this conflict with Israel, but you also have an unusually high number of preborn children who are basically being incubated right now. How many and what's their status and what happens when the power stops?

ABUT-SITTA: I mean, the same situation applies to the neonatal units. Shifa's neonatal, I mean, Shifa has the largest maternity unit in Gaza, and its largest neonatal unit. I think over 15 incubators will cease to function once the electricity is out.

VAUSE: So this is essentially, without electricity, there is a countdown to these children dying.

ABUT-SITTA: Absolutely, absolutely. Not just the children, the wounded in the ventilating machines, and anyone wounded who needs an anaesthetic machine for their surgery.

VAUSE: Medical supplies have been part of the three shipments in recent days, no fuel, how would you describe what you've received in those shipments compared to what you actually need?

ABU-SITTA: Miniscule sending, what, 14, 16 trucks to two and a quarter million people to 14,000 wounded it will not be sufficient to make any tangible difference to the outcome of their treatment. What we need is a continuous humanitarian corridor and a cessation of the bombing so that we can evacuate the wounded to a safe place. So that medical team slot site (ph) can come in and help and so that supplies can be replenished. Otherwise, these quantities are just there as a media gimmick.

VAUSE: I want to ask you about selling the Israeli military told me last week, and that is that Hamas, the military group which is running Gaza right now, and responsible for the conflict with Israel. They essentially seized supplies of fuel from the U.N. compound, enough fuel according to the Israelis, at least to run Gaza for a week.

So with that in mind, have you received as -- your hospital received any extra fuel supplies from Hamas at any point?

ABU-SITTA: I'm not aware that the hospital has been receiving any extra fuel supplies. What I understand from the administration is that what we have is what was in the supplies before them. But this is also extends to the ambulances. I understand now that the gas stations are only giving health staff and ambulances access to petrol. And so, even the ambulance staff saying that unless they have access to petrol, they will not be able to bring in the wounded.

VAUSE: Doctor Ghassan Abu-Sitta, thank you so much for being with us, sir. We wish you all the very best like clearly this is an incredibly difficult time for you and all the stuff they're actually possible. So thank you for being with us.

ABU-SITTA: Thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN, the trauma of going home for the first time when home is where Hamas terrorists murdered your family.



VAUSE: Israel's military says multiple Hezbollah posts in southern Lebanon were targeted Monday night. CNN crews in Lebanon heard the airstrikes as they happened. The IDF says a military compound and observation outpost and more were hit in response to rocket and anti- tank missiles launched from the area earlier on Monday.

Hezbollah media reported the strikes occurring in open areas. They also claimed for Hezbollah fighters died on Monday before the most recent attack.

Kibbutz Kissufim is a tiny community about as close to the border with Gaza as a get, home to almost 300 people mostly farmers living in a collective. It was also among the Israeli communities attacked by Hamas terrorists October 7.

And there, CNN's Kaitlan Collins met with one man returning to his childhood home for the first time since most of his family were murdered. And for many viewers a warning, this report has disturbing details and graphic images.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): Kibbutz Kissufim is less than three miles away from the Gaza border, a quiet community where residents grow avocados and raise poultry and their families.

But as the sun rose on Saturday, October 7, the kibbutz that around 300 people called home became the site of a massacre, as Hamas militants stormed inside and murdered 14 people kidnapped hoping for others.


Major Marcus Sheff a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces watched from home as the brutal attack unfolded that day. Now he's leading a small group of foreign press into the kibbutz for the first time, wanting the world to bear witness to the atrocities firsthand.

MAJ. MARCUS SHEFF, IDF RESERVIST: You know, the shock is still there after two weeks. We've seen the damage and yet, it's still hard to absorb the full horror.

COLLINS: The stench of death is thick in the air as you walk along the tree lined streets, but if you didn't look too closely, you'd never guessed that a slaughter took place here. Then you notice the bullet hole in Ginas Minatich's (ph) door. The 90-year-old grandmother who loved gardening was in her bathroom when Hamas militants shot her in the head. Her blood is still smeared on the entryway two weeks later.

COLLINS (on camera): If you didn't look over here would just look like a regular home on a Saturday morning orange juice out, the newspaper or mail, some cookies. When you look over here at the kitchen, you can see if people have gone through it. They opened all the cabinets. There's still cups in the sink. Her kettle is still out. And Gina is one of several who was brutally murdered in her kibbutz on that Saturday morning.

COLLINS (voiceover): The Zach family lived just down the street. Parents a Itai Eddie (ph) and their 14-year-old son Sagi were at home when the attack began. Their older children Hadar Tumhare (ph) were away. We reached 24-year-old Hadar on FaceTime.

COLLINS (on camera): What's through there? What's what was through that window. This is the first time he's able to see the charred remains of his family's home.

HADAR ZAK, PARENTS AND BROTHER KILLED BY HAMAS: Someone from the kibbutz told me that he opened the safe room and he found my dad laying on the ground with my dog just watching the doors so the terrorists won't come in.

COLLINS (voiceover): The bodies of his mother and little brother were found hugging each other in the nearby bomb shelter where they is fixated after militants set their home on fire. Just days before Sagi was dancing his heart out in a Bruno Mars concert in Tel Aviv. ZAK: I'm 24. We have 10 years between us. It's hard for me to say my little brother because it was my child.

COLLINS: Hadar and his sister Tumhare (ph) are now orphans. His grief and his anger is palpable.

ZAK: It's kind of absurd to me that you guys showed it to me first, and not someone from Israel, you know what I mean? I love my kibbutz, my kibbutz is amazing. But the government, I have no words to describe the disappointment.

COLLINS: Just 24 hours later in the Kissufim area, an IDF soldier is killed and three others wounded during a raid ahead of Israel's expected ground invasion in Gaza. And ominous warning shot of what is yet to come.


VAUSE: Still ahead here on CNN, how Israel's potential ground incursion against Hamas might impact the political situation across an already tense region. Military analyst weighs in a moment.



VAUSE: Coming up to 33 minutes past the hour. Welcome back everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Tel Aviv to show his solidarity with Israel. Earlier meeting with Israeli victims of Hamas attacks. Sources say Macron will discuss a two-state solution with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They also say it's likely he may meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Dutch Prime Minister has also visited the region and met with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Mark Rutte says he urged Netanyahu to show restrain when using force in Gaza and spoke with Mahmoud Abbas about the cycle of violence unleashed by the militant group, Hamas.

We've been following the story of CNN journalist Ibrahim Dahman who lives in Gaza. After leaving the north and traveling south for his safety, even his family were hoping to escape Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. But now it seems those hopes have been dashed. He's now stuck in the south with his wife and two young sons, just 11 and 7 years old.

Here's the latest from Ibrahim.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST: Are we going to die today?

That's what my son asks me since we fled Gaza City. Life in Khan Younis is difficult. We're staying with at least 150 other displaced families from the north, eating the bare minimum to survive.

We spend our time watching the airstrikes. And filling the water tank.

It's like drinking toilet water. Our children drink toilet water.

Because there's no electricity, my children can't see the horror online and spend their time playing with other children.

Over the weekend, we were told to go to the Rafah crossing. So we loaded our car to try and flee again.

On the way there was a lot of destruction. At the crossing, other families full of hope were also trying to escape. But that hope quickly faded. We were told it's now closed.

We were at the Rafah crossing. We were hoping to enter the Egyptian side but the crossing was closed. It only opened for humanitarian aid.


DAHMAN: We make our way back avoiding the chaos, hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.

We hear airstrikes in the distance.

Are you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I'm not scared.

DAHMAN: But I can see the fear in his eyes, the same that's in mine.



VAUSE: As this war drags on, Palestinians in Gaza are finding fewer, fewer places of refuge. Many had found shelter at a Greek Orthodox Church, the oldest in Gaza. But the church compound was hit by an Israeli airstrike last week.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has the story and a warning again, her report contains some graphic content.



JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a war on Hamas, Israel says, but it is the people of Gaza who are paying the heaviest price. No place safe, no place spared Israel's wrath. Danger looms around every corner of this besieged land, every day, every minute spent in fear of when death may strike.

Many now write their children's names on their legs, so if they are killed their little ones or not just a number.

Israel says it does not target civilians. It's Hamas they say that's using them as human shields. They try to avoid civilian casualties they say, but the numbers and pictures tell a different story in a place where it is the innocent who are the majority.

Hospitals, schools, mosques have been bombed. And on Friday Gazans absorbing another horror, one that hit their tiny Christian community. An airstrike on a building at the compound of the Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church, one of the oldest churches in the world where hundreds have sought refuge from the relentless bombardment.

This was no sanctuary, a scene of chaos at this house of worship. With no power, they use their phones to light up the rubble and dig the bodies and survivors out of the carnage.

Daylight brought the painful scenes of those searching for shrouded bodies for their loved ones. Inconsolable grief of those who found them.

The gut-wrenching grief of a father mourning his children, and a grandmother her little George.

RAMZI AL-ZOURI, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): With no prior warning, they bombed civilians in the church, they killed my three children, they killed my cousin. My whole cousin's family was wiped.

KARADSHEH: The Israeli military said the airstrike was targeting a Hamas command and control center nearby. They said this was not the intention but they call collateral damage.

17 Christians, entire families, including infants perished in the strike. 26-year-old Viola was killed along with her husband and baby girl. Her sister Yara, her husband and children also gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. We are here 2,000 years and we are not going to leave. We are still here, we'll continue our life as all of population in the Gaza Strip.

KARADSHEH: So much grief, so much anger at the silence over their suffering, and those who won't stop the bloodshed.

RAMY AL-GELDA, GAZA RESIDENT WHO TOOK SHELDTER IN CHURCH: This is the message to the world, and specifically this message is for Biden, president of the United States.

He should know that the Christian Arabs, Christian community in Gaza are being targeted. No one is safe in Gaza. Everyone in danger.

KARADSHEH: Shell-shocked survivors, both Christians and Muslims, sat around the church this weekend, with seemingly nowhere left to run.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Russia's foreign minister says the world needs to work together to find a solution to the crisis in the Middle East. Even if that means the United States has to sit down at the table with Russia and Iran.

Sergei Lavrov says Gaza came up and he made those remarks in Tehran, came up during a discussion about the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. Lavrov says Russia rejects all terrorism and violation to the international humanitarian law quote, "including the indiscriminate use of force".

This comes as Moscow continues to wage an 18-month-old war in Ukraine which shows no sign of coming to an end.

The Cuban government held a pro-Palestinian rally condemning Israel's war with Hamas.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is our man in Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are at a solidarity rally that the Cuban government is holding to show its support for Palestinians, and it criticized Israel's war on Hamas.

There are hundreds of people here, many of them school-aged children who come directly from class, as well as a small group of Palestinians, some of them are medical student who are studying here to become doctors when the war broke out.

Cuba's position on this latest conflict is unequivocal. Cuba for years have supported Palestinians' rights to form a state and the Cuban government does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Cuba blames the U.S. and Israel for this latest outbreak of violence. The Cuban state-run media has paid little attention to what Hamas has done to civilians in the attack on Israel.

The Cuban government released a statement at the beginning of the conflicts saying that there should be an immediate ceasefire. But over the last several days (INAUDIBLE) the Cuban government has taken a harder position.

On Monday Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel posted on social media that what Israel is doing in the Gaza Strip is tantamount to quote, "genocide".

Patrick Oppmann, CNN -- Havana.



VAUSE: The conflict in Gaza seems to have now erupted among McDonald's franchises in the Middle East. It all began when a McDonald's in Israel gave thousands of free meals to Israeli forces, according to social media posts.

That angered franchises in Kuwait, Pakistan and other countries, issuing a statement saying they have nothing to do with the Israeli franchise. Some (INAUDIBLE) do support Palestinians in Gaza.

McDonald's corporate headquarters told CNN it's now prioritizing the safety of its franchisees and offering them support.

With that we'll take a short break. Back in a moment. You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: Live now to Tel Aviv, and for more on the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza and what happens next, we're joined by Harel Chorev, a senior researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African studies at Tel Aviv University. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So right now it seems no one really knows precisely what happens in Gaza the day after tomorrow, you know, once Israel decides it's mission accomplished, and Hamas is gone, the infrastructure is gone.

Then what? Who fills that void? Has anyone actually thought about this?

CHOREV: Yes, of course they did. Actually Israel has its own court (ph) to deal with such issues, but you know, war is the kingdom of uncertainty.


CHOREV: However, what I predict is that Israel will have to control militarily the occupied area of the Gaza Strip. And it will take some time to clear it up from Hamas terrorists.

I assume that after the situation will be stabilized, Israel will keep a certain garrison there.

And throughout this period we are talking mainly about the international organizations such as the Red Cross and the U.N. organization that will play a key role in providing the population with this crucial need.

At the second phase, John, however I believe that around 30,000 Palestinian Authority (INAUDIBLE) that are in the Gaza Strip will take a major role of running the population but will still need to build something out of scratch.

And I know that Israel is working on those (INAUDIBLE). In the long run, however, much more substantial processes, the Gaza Strip will need to undergo much fundamental processes in terms of education just like -- I'm sorry to use this metaphor but I just can't think about anything else -- just like Germany for example after the Second World War, namely processes of (INAUDIBLE) that, you know, we're talking about a population that in the past 17 years, mainly two generations almost, were thinking about Jews in a very dehumanizing way. And not just because they were born this way but rather because they were indoctrinized (ph) this way.

So I think Israel has -- not just Israel -- also other partners that probably participated will have to do a very, very fundamental work in rooting this out. All those horrible summer camps of Hamas and to create something new, something healthy.

VAUSE: During your visit to southern Israel last week, the Israeli defense minister met with troops not far from the border with Gaza. Here's what he said.


YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): There is no forgiveness for this thing. Only total annihilation of Hamas organization. Terror infrastructures, everything that has to do with terrorists and whoever sent them.

It will take a week, it will take a month, it will take two months until we eliminate them.


VAUSE: How much of the future of Gaza will be determined by how that offensive plays out? Just in terms of leaving behind some kind of civil infrastructure in place to govern. And could you see Gaza becoming like a demilitarized zone?

CHOREV: Eventually the simple answer is that we don't have any other option. I mean we have to demilitarize it. We will have to deal with the guerilla that will pop up every now and then, like the last story of the Japanese soldier in the force who haven't heard about the end of the war.

But that would be the case and I think that the civilian population is going through, of course, not an easy time like we in Israel. I mean, what we suffered is just immense. And I think it quite reflected in that speech that we just heard.

However, I'm really positive, in terms of the wider picture of what such a change can do to the relations of Israel in Palestinian as a whole. And to the region, by the way, as a whole. It's not just a local thing, you know.

it's really the Iranian axis against the pro-West, pro-American axis.


VAUSE: I want you to listen -- with that in mind -- here's the German foreign minister talking about the future and what needs to be done. Listen to this.


ANNALENA BAERBOCK, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We need a path for tomorrow. This means thinking about it now, how security in Gaza, peace in the region can be secured together with international actors.

For the European Union and for Germany, it is clear that Israelis and Palestinians can only live in peace and security in a long term, free of terrorism and free from human tragedy with a two-state solution.


VAUSE: So once Hamas is no longer part of the picture, would Israelis be more willing to return to some kind of political solution here with the Palestinians? Or does that remain off the table for the foreseeable future?

You know, from the darkest moments, could there be hope you know, or some kind of long-term peace?

CHOREV: Absolutely, John -- period. Absolutely. And I'll tell you why.

People don't remember anymore but in the mid-90s, most of the Israelis something like 63 to 68 percent supported the idea of two-state solution including your humble servant.


CHOREV: However, the suicide bombing that began in 1993 and for a long -- for the whole 90s and the early 2000s ruined that trust in the two- state solution. It was always, always a security question for us Israelis and not anything else.

Of course, we have the settlement project. But we need to keep in mind those settlers are just a few hundreds of thousands out of the 10 million population. So if you take out, if you remove the most negative player in this play and you leave it with just two moderate players, as the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and of course, you heal everything that needs to be healed because it's not perfect there as well.

By the way by both sides -- not just the Palestinian Authority or in Israel. You know it's been a while.

I think it will create a much more positive atmosphere for advancing to the two-state solution which at the end of the day, I don't see any other viable solution.

VAUSE: And with that I will jump in and say thank you, sir, our humble servant. We appreciate you so much for being with us in this show.

CHOREV: Thank you, John.


VAUSE: Thank you for your time, sir. Be well. And thank you for watching. I'm John Vause.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with Rosemary Church after a short break. See you back here tomorrow.