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CNN Live Event/Special

Israel at War; Gaza Death Toll Rises as Humanitarian Crisis Deepens; Interview with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti; Hamas Used Landlines to Avoid Detection and Plan Attack; Republicans Name New U.S. House Speaker Nominee; Chinese Defense Minister Fired; Israeli PM Warns Ground Offensive Into Gaza Is Coming; Macron On Visit To Israel, West Bank As Gaza War Rages; Blinken Calls On UNSC Members To Stop War From Expanding. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 25, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone I'm John Vause. Welcome to CNN Newsroom. We begin on the border with Gaza where the clock is ticking down to Israeli ground offensive, while negotiations continue to try and free more than 200 hostages being held by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.

Sources say those negotiations appear to reach an impasse over Hamas for months for fuel. Israel says that is a non-starter. At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to reassure troops who've been on standby for more than two weeks. The ground offensive is still on track, with just one goal to smash Hamas and retaliation for the militant groups attack October 7, which killed more than 1,400 civilians.

Even before any ground incursion, unrelenting Israeli airstrikes have had a devastating impact on Gaza, and more than 2 million Palestinians who live there and now facing a dire humanitarian crisis.

On Tuesday, only eight of unexpected 28 aid trucks cross over from Egypt. And as the civilian death toll in Gaza climbs higher, the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, bringing an angry backlash from Israeli diplomats. Guterres said the appalling acts of Hamas do not justify what is collective punishment of the Palestinian people. And that aid delivered so far to Gaza does not match the enormous need.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Some humanitarian relief is finally getting into Gaza, but it is a drop of aid in the notion of needs. In addition, our U.N. fuel supplies in Gaza will run out in a matter of days, and that will be another disaster. Without fuel, aid cannot be delivered. Hospitals will not have power and drinking water cannot be purified or even pumped.


VAUSE: Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza is coming via the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt. The two other Israeli crossings remain closed. And now new satellite images appear to show the Egyptians are sealing the crossing point with cement slabs in between aid convoys.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the civilians caught in the crossfire and a warning her story contains some graphic images.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Movements after an overnight striking Gaza stun survivors stumble out. People nearby rush to help. There's no ambulance we have to get people out, a man shouts. Men dig with bare hands. It is dark dusty.

The screams are jarring. Look at the children. Look at the children, he says. (INAUDIBLE) sheer chaos and carnage. This is the aftermath of just one of the hundreds of bombings a day that batter the Gaza Strip, the scene captured by a journalist.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas and aims to wipe out the group but Palestinians and aid agencies say it is civilians that are dying by the hundreds. Drone footage shows entire neighborhoods already leveled by the near constant bombardment. Nothing is spared schools, mosques, shelters, medical centers all struck according to the United Nations.

Gaza is all too familiar with war, but has never seen it on the scale. And for survivors, there is little life left here. Baby Sana del Halaby (ph) is now an orphan. But he's far too young to understand that. What did this little boy do? An airstrike hit his house while he was sleeping? His uncle says. His whole family was killed. He's the only survivor. Stop this. Stop the suffering.

There are calls for Israel to pause hostilities. But the IDF is only ramping up its attacks and preparing for what's expected to be a full on ground invasion of the Enclave but Gazans say they can endure no more.

Amaral Bakta (ph) says nearly 50 members of his extended family were killed after they followed Israel's evacuation instructions. We were hosting our family from the north, 50 to 70 people because it was supposed to be safe, he says, but at dawn our home was bombed. We don't know what to do. We've lost our minds.

Gaza is praying for relief. But the cries of anguish here are so far unheard. The bloodshed won't stop. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.



VAUSE: Journalist Elliott Gotkine is live with us from now from London. So Elliot, the thing about Gaza was just when you think things are about as bad as they can get, they do tend to get worse. And that seems to be the point we've reached right now in terms of a shortage of fuel. Hospitals are closing, the main U.N. agency says it will stop operations in the coming hours. And this seems to be the crunch moment for Gaza.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: John, just because things have got worse, it doesn't mean they can't get even worse than they are right now especially if and when this expected ground invasion takes place. We understand that at least six hospitals have closed already. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees says that it will have to cease operations by this evening on Wednesday evening if it does not get fuel supplies a fuel is not allowed in.

From Israel's perspective as we've heard them say repeatedly fuel will not be allowed into the Gaza Strip because it believes that Hamas and other militant groups will simply take it and use it to continue to fire rockets at Israeli communities and support their own war machine.

But of course, the calls for a ceasefire as the humanitarian situation gets worse as the death toll rises in the Gaza Strip is reaching deafening levels. We heard the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday calling on Israel to engage -- to impose a ceasefire, humanitarian ceasefire. And this really sparked a furious with Israelis not simply for the call for the ceasefire, but because of some of his other comments, saying that Hamas is terrorist attacks of October the seventh didn't happen in a vacuum, and that they happened after 56 years of what he said was suffocating occupation by the Israelis. That sparked a response from Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan calling on Mr. Guterres to resign immediately saying he's not fit to lead the United Nations and accusing him of tolerating terrorism.

And it seems from Israel's perspective right now, as we wait for this ground invasion to happen as we've been waiting for more than two weeks for it to happen, that such is the diplomatic pressure for Israel to not go in, to not make the situation worse on a humanitarian level.

Israel's problem is that it doesn't feel that it's achieved any of its objectives. Its objectives were to smash Hamas in the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent it from ever being able to carry out an attack on the scale that it did on October the seventh to free the more than 200 hostages are the -- that are being held by Hamas and other militant groups.

And of course to stop rocket fire happening yet we're still seeing rocket fire, the hostages are still being held. And even just yesterday, there was an infiltration the IDF says from a set of divers by Hamas, getting out of the Gaza Strip via a tunnel into the sea north of the Gaza Strip, which the IDF says that it took out.

So there are still infiltrations, there are still rocket fire hostages still being held. Israel hasn't achieved its objectives. And against that backdrop, despite the deteriorating humanitarian situation, it's hard to see how Israel is going to sell some kind of humanitarian ceasefire to the Israeli public when it hasn't achieved any of its objectives. John.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there live for us in London.

Well, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. has warned Israel's assault on Gaza will not live up until all hostages are released. In recent days, Hamas has set free four women and two American into Israeli and now we're hearing more details from one of those hostages about her ordeal in Gaza, where she says Hamas gunmen to go underground to a vast network of tunnels which she said was like a spiderweb. Details down from CNN's Bianca Nobilo.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): it was a hell I could not have known. An 85-year-old grandmother, one of the two Israeli hostages released by Hamas Monday night expressed anger towards her government for not taking the Hamas threat seriously in the weeks leading up to the horror of October the seventh.

YOCHEVED LIFSHIFTZ, ISRAELI HOSTAGE RELEASED BY HAMAS (through translator): The lack of awareness by Shin Bet and the IDF hurt us a lot. They will warn three weeks beforehand, they burnt fields, they sent fire balloons and the IDF did not treat it seriously.

NOBILO: Safely reunited with her daughter, Yocheved Lifshitz detailed the horror that unfolded in her home in southern Israel.

LIFSHITZ (through translator): All of a sudden on a Saturday morning, everything was very quiet. There was a hard pounding on the settlement. I was kidnapped on a motorbike on my side while they were driving towards Gaza in the field.

NOBILO: The ensuing two weeks, she was held hostage in Hamas's secretive network of underground tunnels. Upon her release her testimony of the traumatic ordeal extraordinary from horror to displays of humanity from her captors.


LIFSHITZ (through translator): When we got there, they told us they believed in the Koran and would not harm us, and that they would give us the same conditions that they had inside the tunnels. For each of us, there was a God, they took care of every detail. There were a lot of women and they knew about feminine hygiene, and they took care of everything there.

NOBILO: She was released alongside her female neighbor, but her husband remains held in Gaza. Her freedom, a relief for Yocheved's daughter, and a glimmer of hope for the families whose loved ones remain as hostages under her mass.

Her experience now a potentially critical insight into Hamas's spider web of tunnels and the behaviors planning and objectives of a group which shocked the world with their capabilities, preparedness and brutality on October the seventh. Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: And joining us now is Christopher O'Leary, Senior Vice President with The Soufan Group, which advises both governments and the private sector about global security. He's also the U.S. government's former director of Hostage Rescue and Recovery. Christopher, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So hostage negotiations between Hamas and Israel are taking place via Qatar and Egypt. And CNN reports as part of the negotiations, Hamas wants more fuel allowed into the coastal enclave according to a person familiar with the group's demands. But Israeli officials have made clear publicly that isn't negotiable. And here's Mark Regev, senior aide to the Israeli Prime Minister explaining why. Listen to this.


MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The government decision is that fuel doesn't go in because it will be stolen by Hamas, and it will be used by them to power rockets that are fired into Israel to kill our people.


VAUSE: So right now, the odds pretty slim have any kind of real breakthrough here? And is the bottom line for Israel simply damned if they do and damned if they don't.

O'LEARY: So yes, they are damned either way. They have to continue negotiations. Hamas is being very calculated about everything they're doing. The release of the hostages to this point has been calculated. It was a minute ability of step releasing Americans first, to sow some discord, and build a little friction between the United States and Israel.

Now releasing two elderly Israeli citizens, also creating some doubt within Israel, for the hostage families asking things to be delayed. So there's other opportunities. But the negotiations have to continue. But for Israel, it's an opportunity to get some small victories, but also gather information and intelligence about where the other hostages are also identifying all of them. Not all hostages or potential hostages are fully identified. So negotiations are an opportunity to gather information as well.

VAUSE: There are other factors here you sort of touched on it. The hostages are from a number of different countries is still yet to be all identified. And not all of them are being held by Hamas, other militant groups in Gaza, like Islamic Jihad, reportedly a wholly a small number as well, that it's scattered across Gaza. So how much more complicated does all of this make these negotiations?

O'LEARY: It makes them quite a bit more complicated. And first of all, Palestinian Islamic Jihad is more Islamist and more radical than Hamas is, although Hamas, you know, probably changed that, that calculus a little bit with October seventh in their activities. But Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an extension and was born out of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which, you know, if you peel that back a little bit, you know, some of the founders of al-Qaeda came from EIJ. And they are, you know, very militant, very Islamist.

And, you know, traditionally, Hamas has been a little more nationalistic. And, you know, what is the most leadings although, you know, that has been turned on its head in recent weeks. But trying to negotiate with Hamas, who does not have control of all the hostages, makes it a much more challenging negotiation to try to get all the hostages out at some point.

VAUSE: And right now, more than 300,000 Israeli troops and masks on the border with Gaza, the IDF says they're ready for grounded offensive, that level of readiness comes with a time limit. So, how much will time do these negotiations have from a military point of view. And once that events have begins, what are the chances of rescuing the hostages, any kind of operation to get them out of Gaza?

O'LEARY: Going into Gaza is going to be extremely difficult and complex, having spent time in places like Fallujah and Mosul. Gaza is much denser because they had limited geography and Gaza. They've built things up whereas if you look across the Middle East, most Middle East cities have, you know, buildings that are on average two or three storey with open rooftops.


The families sleep on the roof during the hotter months. You know, Gaza is much more complex making any kind of hostage rescue very difficult. It's a 360 degree threat picture, and also has been widely reported, potentially hundreds of miles of reinforced tunnels, which is likely where all the hostages being held.

VAUSE: Chris, thank you for being with us. We really appreciate your time and your insights as well. Thank you.

O'LEARY: Good to be here.

VAUSE: Still the call on CNN, the U.S. Secretary of State is calling on U.N. Security Council members to help stop the Israel-Hamas war from expanding more on what else he is saying. In a moment.


VAUSE: French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to visit the region, a show of solidarity with Israel and also support for the Palestinians.

On Tuesday he met with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, telling him nothing can justify the suffering in Gaza, think that Hamas does not represent all Palestinians.

[01:20:04] Earlier, Macron met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and propose an international effort to fight Hamas and other terror groups similar to the anti-ISIS coalition. The French President also spoke about a shared grief with Israel, with at least 30 French citizens killed in the Hamas attacks earlier this month.

At the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Israel's Foreign Minister tried to remind fellow diplomats of the horrors of that October 7 attack by playing a phone call which he says was between a Hamas gunman and his parents.

CNN has independently translated the call the audio though we cannot confirm its veracity and we cannot confirm whether it was recorded or how it was actually obtained by the IDF. Here's part of it.


MAHMOUD: Hi dad. I'm talking to you from Mefelsim. Open my WhatsApp now, and you'll see all those killed. Loo how many I killed with my own hands. Your Son killed Jews. It's inside Mefalsim, dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My God protect you.

MAHMOUD: Dad, I'm talking to you from a Jewish woman's phone killed her, and I killed her husband.

ELI COHEN, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: This is a terrorist of Hamas. What is said in there in Arabs, it tells him to his mother and fathers that he is proud that he has blood of 10 Jewish that he murdered.


VAUSE: Not long after that tensions flared over comments by the U.N. Secretary General, who said the Hamas attacks quote did not happen in a vacuum. U.S. Secretary of State though is a little more diplomatic when calling for an increase in humanitarian assistance for Gaza. Here CNN's Alex Marquardt.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN Chief NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on camera): At the UN Security Council today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the world to help stop the expansion of the war between Israel and Hamas. He urged countries to pressure Iran and its proxies from opening up new fronts and warned that if Iran or the proxies strike U.S. targets, he said, quote we will defend our security swiftly and decisively.

Interestingly, when Blinken talked about the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, he said that humanitarian pauses must be considered to allow that aid to reach civilians. He didn't use the word ceasefire, which the U.S. refuses to say and Israel says that they won't do but how a pause is different than a ceasefire is unclear.

The Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres also created a firestorm with comments that he made about what he called Israel's suffocating occupation. Take a listen to us.

GUTERRES: It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.

MARQUARDT: Israel's ambassador to the U.N. responded furiously saying in a tweet that it's truly sad that the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust holds such horrible views. He called on Guterres to resign immediately.

Some family members of hostages being held by Hamas, who were visiting the U.N. refused to meet with the Secretary General following his comments while others called on the world to help free their loved ones. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel it. I want to say thanks to the countries that support us in bringing our families back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born in Manhattan raised on Garland within the Jewish community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women being held hostage. We feel and believe and wish all of you to think that these are crimes against humanity.

MARQUARDT: One mother of a son who was kidnapped said that nothing seems to be moving on freeing the hostages. She said that this is a world crisis, not just a personal crisis. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Queen Rania of Jordan says there is quite a glaring double standard in the world's reaction to the Israel-Hamas conflict, telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Western leaders condemned the October 7 Hamas attacks and stood by Israel, but have not called for a ceasefire when it comes to Israel's bombing of Gaza. She also said Palestinians in Gaza are now facing a terrible choice.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERANATIONAL ANCHOR: I want to ask you about what Jordan has said and your husband, the king has said that there is a -- there has been anyway an attempt or a suggestion to move on -- to move Palestinians who are trying to seek you know, seek safety, either into Egypt or into Jordan, your country. And the king has said this is a red line, I think the plan by certain of the usual suspects to try and create de facto issues on the ground. No refugees in Jordan, no refugees in Egypt.

QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, JORDAN: Well, look, the people of Gaza now are facing two choices either they leave or they face death or collective punishment.


So essentially, they're given a choice between expulsion or extermination between ethnic cleansing and genocide, and no people should be given to -- have to face that kind of choice. And what my husband was referring to is, the people of Palestine should not, of Gaza should not be forced to be moved. Again, they're most of the -- most of the residents of Gaza are already refugees. And right now, at least a million have been displaced from their homes.

So we do not want another mass displacement of Palestinians like what happened at the Nakba in 1948. And that's what my husband meant about this being a red line, the Palestinians have the right to remain on their land.


VAUSE: The Nakba, or catastrophe that Queen Rania mentioned is how Palestinians describe Israel's independence day and the following mass exodus of Arabs when they're newly formed Israeli state.

When we come back despite warnings from rights groups of urgent and growing needs in Gaza, there is still only limited aid making its way to the coastal enclave. What that means for the 2 million people who live there.

Also, U.S. and Israeli officials are learning more about how Hamas militants launched their murderous surprise attack on Israel. Those details also next.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN Newsroom. New satellite images appear to show Egypt is sealing off the Gaza border in between aid convoys. The images were taken by Maxwell Technologies Tuesday afternoon showing unbroken shadow of a cement slab war which Egypt seemed to construct after Israeli strike bombed the road on the Gaza side.


The images come as eight aid trucks out of an expected 20 entered Gaza on Tuesday. And the U.N. is once again warning the enclave needs a lot more aid and needs it now.

Residents also say they desperately need more assistance.


MAHMOUD SHAMIYEH, DISPLACED GAZAN RESIDENT (through translator): This thing that is being distributed cannot be called aid at all.

And it should not be referred us such because these items do not cover any of the people's needs. People in Gaza are dying in two ways -- a fast death or a slow death in refugee camps.

We are asking for the simplest and most essential elements that allow every person, young or old, child or adult to stay alive, neglecting our lives like this is unacceptable.


VAUSE: Joining me now from Ramallah in the West Bank is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian parliament. Dr. Barghouti, thank you for being with us once again.


VAUSE: Do you have any more insight or details into what the Egyptians are doing right now on the Rafah crossing with this huge cement slabs being put in place in between aid convoys? Essentially sealing the border off in between the trucks coming in and out? Do you know what's happening there right now?

BARGHOUTI: No, the question is, what Israel is doing. Israel is preventing the supply of fuel to Gaza. They said that they would not allow a single drop of oil or fuel into Gaza. Because of that, children are dying now in the incubators that have no electricity. Children are dying because they don't have access to kidney dialysis. Hospitals are breaking down, they are stopping all their operations.

And the Egyptians want to send every possible truck they have. But Israel's preventing that. Israel is checking every truck and not allowing the essential material to enter.

And what they have allowed so far is no more than 70 trucks out of 8,900 that are needed. And in reality, what we see here is a process not only of dehumanization of Palestinians but also an act of annihilation.

So far, Israel killed 6,000 Palestinians in Gaza. They also killed 2,400 innocent children. These are not numbers. Each child was a child that had a father and a mother and sisters and brothers who were also killed. Whole families have been eliminated and scratched from the civil records because the world is watching and allowing Israel to continue this massacre. It's a true massacre. And Israel is not held accountable.

VAUSE: You know, the old argument (ph), Dr. Barghouti that, you know, the Israelis say that, you know, they try to avoid civilian casualties, they don't target civilians, but Hamas uses civilians as human shields.

BARGHOUTI: They're lying. They're lying. They are lying.

VAUSE: You've been to Gaza --

BARGHOUTI: They're lying. Don't repeat their lies, please.

VAUSE: Well --

BARGHOUTI: Let me tell -- let me ask you, how can you -- how can you kill 2,400 children and say that you are trying to keep people safe?

VAUSE: So, look -- BARGHOUTI: They're -- they have already bombarded -- excuse me --


BARGHOUTI: -- they have already bombarded 50 percent of Palestinian homes and houses in Gaza. They've already ethnically cleansed 1.4 million people.

They are conducting not only massacres, but an act of genocide in front of the whole world. And the United States Secretary of State refuses to support immediate ceasefire.

VAUSE: Right.

BARGHOUTI: At least to save the lives of these people, including the Israeli prisoners who are being hurt by the Israeli airstrikes that have already taken the lives of 22 of them.

VAUSE: There is a lot of bloodshed on both sides, and right now, a lot of bloodshed in Gaza, as you pointed out.

With regards to the fuel --

BARGHOUTI: No, there is no bloodshed on both sides at the moment, there's bloodshed on one side, on the Palestinian side.

VAUSE: There has been ongoing bloodshed --

BARGHOUTI: There was bloodshed -- no, there was bloodshed on the Israeli side. That does not justify what Israel is doing now.

VAUSE: Sure. But isn't it important right now --


BARGHOUTI: This is not self-defense.


VAUSE: Ok --

BARGHOUTI: This is not self-defense.

VAUSE: Isn't this important right now to distinguish between Hamas and the civilians in Gaza? Because the reason why fuel is not getting into Gaza --

BARGHOUTI: They can't.

VAUSE: -- is because Israel says Hamas will use that fuel for rockets, and those rockets will be fired at Israel and kill Israeli civilians. That as a stand-alone concern does not seem to be unreasonable.

BARGHOUTI: That's absolutely wrong, and excuse me to use this expression, this is bullshit.


BARGHOUTI: Because the fuel will go to UNRWA under the control of the United Nations. It will go to hospitals that have stopped working now. It will go to save children's lives.

But they don't care. Israel, in the process of conducting a massacre against Palestinian people -- it's a process of genocide, collective punishment, and ethnic cleansing. And the whole world is watching.

And the United States is against ceasefire. Why? By which law? How many thousands and thousands and thousands of children should die from the Palestinian side before Israel is satisfied?


Israel is also conducting witch-hunting. They are attacking Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, just because he said we need ceasefire, just because he reminded everybody that this whole story started not on the 7th of October, but 56 years ago when Israel occupied Palestinian land.

By which law they are against what Obama says, what Fukuyama says, what Guterres says? And they are even accusing their own prisoner who was freed from the Israel -- from the Gaza side of being a liar just -- a liar just because she said she was treated properly.

Let me tell you, two Palestinian prisoners have already been killed by Israeli army in prison. The last two days, 103 Palestinians in West Bank have been already killed by Israel.

Hamas is not governing here. Why do they kill civilians? Why do they attack Palestinians everywhere? And for how long the world can continue to accept this impunity from Israel? By which law? Who are they? Are they better human beings than us?

VAUSE: I understand that there's an urgent need for some kind of reprieve for the people of Gaza. That does not seem it's going to happen anytime soon. So the immediate problem which you need to deal with right now is a lack of fuel.

You said there's a way to ensure the fuel doesn't get to Hamas, so it can reach the hospitals where it's needed, it can go to UNRWA. Hamas seized fuel supplies from UNRWA just last week.

So how is it --


BARGHOUTI: You are -- you are -- excuse me --

VAUSE: Yes, go ahead.

BARGHOUTI: -- let me respond.

VAUSE: Sure. BARGHOUTI: I am sorry to tell you, you are repeating the Israeli lies. As you have repeated Israeli lies about decapitating children, and then you have to apologize for that. Also, the media repeated lies about women being raped, and then they had to apologize about that.

Israel now is a factory that manufactures lies. And these lies are distributed everywhere. Facts are facts. I am telling you all the aid goes to U.N. agencies. All the aid is controlled by Israeli people who control what goes in. All the aid is run by United Nations organizations.

Hamas has no way of taking anything. This is not an attack on Hamas. This is an attack on all Palestinian people. This is an act of annihilation of a whole people.

I received calls from friends, whole families have been killed -- the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the grandfather, the grandmother. Homes are destroyed.

VAUSE: One last question --


BARGHOUTI: There is no safe spot now in Gaza.

VAUSE: Dr. Barghouti, we're very much out of time. Very quickly though, does Hamas have any blame, any responsibility for what's happening in Gaza right now, or are they completely innocent?

BARGHOUTI: Of course, there was a responsibility. That attack should not have killed any Israeli civilian. I don't agree with that.

But that does not justify this. Self-defense doesn't mean you kill innocent civilians. Self-defense does not mean you can annihilate the whole Palestinian population just to satisfy these extremists who are running the show in Israel and in Tel Aviv.

VAUSE: Dr Barghouti --

BARGHOUTI: And who have done so many bad things for their own people, killing their own prisoners with their own airstrikes.

VAUSE: Dr. Barghouti, thank you for your time, sir. And I appreciate you being with us.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

VAUSE: And I appreciate your insights and your views. Thank you.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

VAUSE: The IDF says Israel's navy clashed with Hamas divers Tuesday who were attempting to reach Israeli territory by sea. A spokesperson said the divers used an undersea tunnel off the coast of northern Gaza to infiltrate the south of the city of Ashkelon. The military wing of Hamas claims it was able to reach beaches in

Zikim. The IDF says it eliminated the Hamas forces, and Israeli war planes struck the military compound in Gaza where the Hamas fighters came from.

The October 7th Hamas attack on Israel left the country not just grieving its dead, but shaken and uncertain about how all the planning went unnoticed by Israeli intelligence.

Now, new details have emerged about how Hamas was able to do just that. It involves old school counterintelligence measures, underground tunnels and even above ground training.

CNN's Pamela Brown has details.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well sources are telling CNN that a small group of Hamas operatives used hard-wired phones and the tunnels beneath Gaza to communicate over a period of two years. That's according to intelligence shared with U.S. officials. Those old- fashioned landlines allowed Hamas leaders to communicate with one another, in secret. They avoided using computers or cell phones in order to keep from being trapped by Israeli or U.S. Intelligence according to the sources.

Instead, they held meetings in person among a small group and stayed off all digital communications, we are told.

Now this partially explains why Israel and the U.S. were so caught off guard by the attack, and how 1,000 Hamas fighters were able to pour across the border without being stopped, as we have seen in the propaganda video released by Hamas.

All of this communication, we are told, happened in the miles of underground tunnel systems that is beneath Gaza that the IDF nicknamed the Gaza Metro.


BROWN: Another way Hamas was able to keep this way under the radar is that they kept the planning of the October 7th attack a secret even from other members. Only a very small group knew about the mission until just before it was carried out.

Hamas ground unit commanders and fighters who are in training for many months and kept in a state of general preparedness but only found out about the specific plan just a few days before the terrorist attack.

And one of the sources said some of the training above ground was observed but did not ring major alarm bells. The thinking was Hamas always trains people like this. It didn't look different.

And we also know that Israel had found hard-wired phones and Hamas strongholds in the past. In, fact the Israeli military found a similar kind of communication system when they raided a city in the northern West Bank over the summer -- that's according to an Israeli official.

They called it, a Joint Operational Command Center and it had hard- wired communication lines and closed-circuit surveillance cameras to give advance warning of Israeli troop movements.

Pamela Brown, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: A U.S. official tells CNN the U.S. is working with several Middle Eastern nations to shut down a secret Hamas investment portfolio worth as much as a billion dollars. U.S. and Saudi officials called an emergency meeting in Riyadh with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to share information on how to disrupt the cash flow.

Last week the U.S. sanctioned individuals managing those assets for Hamas. The U.S. Treasury Financial Crime Enforcement Team also laying out new rules to keep Hamas and other terror groups from accessing cryptocurrencies to fund their operations.

Well, coming up on CNN, number four come on down. U.S. House Republicans nominate another potential House Speaker but will he too fall victim of party infighting and feuds, but could this be the one?



VAUSE: A potentially catastrophic hurricane is now making landfall near the Mexican resort city of Acapulco. Hurricane Otis is a category 5, the most powerful rating and the first one ever to make landfall in the eastern Pacific.

Wind speeds are around 270 kilometers per hour -- it's 165 miles. Mexican authorities went to the beaches Tuesday urging people to take shelter away from the coast as well as waterways.

Three weeks after Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House Speaker, Representative Mike Johnson is now the latest Republican nominee in the carousel of candidates. After winning the nomination in the party room, Johnson will now face a vote on the House floor Wednesday.

And that's where it all gets a little bit dicey, with just a small number of Republican lawmakers able to derail his election as speaker.

CNN's Manu Raju has the latest now reporting in from Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House Republicans say they are ready to end weeks of bickering, internal feuding and the first-ever ouster of a sitting speaker that has left the chamber paralyzed for the past three weeks.

They say they're ready to put that to an end in the aftermath of Congressman Mike Johnson, the Louisiana Republican who was nominated as the speaker designate, someone who needs actually the votes of the full house, 217 votes, in order to be elected on Wednesday at noon. He plans to take it to the floor then.

This, coming after three other nominees saw their bids bags collapse, including one, Congressman Tom Emmer. Earlier in the afternoon, just a couple of hours after he won his party's nomination. He faced a fierce backlash on the right and then decided it was time for him to drop out because he had no path to speakership.

Well, Mike Johnson then won the nomination himself. The four-time nominee has come forward in the aftermath of Kevin McCarthy's ouster. There was some concern inside the room, there were roughly 44 members who voted for other candidates, someone who is not Mike Johnson or any of the others who were declared candidate. Ultimately typically, though, some of those came to his side when it came to one of the final votes to decide whether or not they would back him on the floor.

There were 22 members who were missing from that vote and there are also three members who voted present. Mike Johnson on the floor on Wednesday can only afford to lose four Republican votes.

So he has some work to go but still, there is confidence in the ranks that after all this infighting that even though the members who flatly opposed to pushing out Kevin McCarthy, even they say it's time to put this to an end and back Mike Johnson to the speakership.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Democracy is messy sometimes but it is our system. This conference that you see, this house Republican majority is united.

But even if Mike Johnson wins this vote on Wednesday, there are such huge issues confronting the next speaker. And he'll have to not just put back pieces together, but start to put together a strategy that is essentially in shambles. A legislative strategy and an agenda that has been completely derailed by this infighting.

Some of the key issues on the table. How to deal with aid to Israel. How to deal with aid to Ukraine. The White House and Senate Republican leaders want to tie that issue together. How will they deal with that in the House where there's been resistance to the idea of tying Ukraine aid to Israel aid.

And also avoiding a government shutdown by mid-November. Something that can cause a huge fight within the ranks as well.

So, so many questions for Congressman Johnson. If he does win the speakership, major issues await him. And could he run into the same problems that Kevin McCarthy did that ended his speakership? That's also a huge question for his future as the House tries to move past this ugly period.

Manu Raju, CNN -- Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Legal woes for Donald Trump with his former chief of staff reportedly making the first publicly know deal in the special counsel's federal election subversion case.

According to ABC News, Mark Meadows was granted immunity from prosecution and has met with federal prosecutors at least three times this year. ABC reports Meadows told special counsel Jack Smith investigators that he did not believe the election was stolen and that Trump was being dishonest in claiming victory.

The former U.S. President has pleaded not guilty to several charges related to his efforts to overturn those election results. Just one of four cases ongoing.

Still to come here on CNN, China sacks his defense minister who went missing from the public eye months ago. Now, he has been ousted in a very public manner. We're live in Hong Kong with more.



VAUSE: First, he just disappeared and for two months wasn't seen in public. Now China's defense minister has been officially removed. Li Shangfu is the second high-profile official to be fired without explanation from Beijing.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong with details. So, yes it was a very private sort of disappearance, now a very public sacking. What happened?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, John. This is just the latest high-profile reshuffle in China. And according to state media, LI Shangfu has been removed as defense minister, as state council and as a member of the powerful Central Military Commission.

Qin Gang who was ousted as you recall as foreign minister back in July was also removed as state counselor. No explanation was given. No replacement appointed for Li Shangfu and that effectively leaves China without a defense minister.

Now before he was ousted, Li had been missing from public view since late August. He was reportedly under investigation for corruption. According to one Reuters report, it was for corrupt procurement of military equipment.

But when the defense ministry was asked about it and the allegations a couple of months ago in September a spokesperson said that he was, quote, "not aware of the situation".

Now this ousting comes after a surprise shake up in the military when China revealed two new leaders of its PLA rocket force. It also comes after the unexplained removal of Qin Gang who, as we recall, he was dramatically ousted as the foreign minister of China in July after he vanished from public view for a month.


STOUT: And analysts said that these events have all raised questions about Xi Jinping, about the governance of China's core leader as he continues to consolidate his power in an increasingly opaque China.

Back to you, John.

VAUSE: And just what would be the impact here without the defense minister there, with him gone, on U.S.-China relations. You know, despite all the tensions between the United States in Washington and Beijing they have often kept an open line at a defense level.

STOUT: You know, it's interesting because ironically thi8s could have a positive impact on U.S.-China relations because the removal of Li Shangfu also removes a major roadblock for the resumption of high- level military talks between China and the U.S.

Li Shangfu was sanctioned by the U.S. back in 2018 over China's purchase of Russian weaponry and China has repeatedly said there can be no high-level military meeting between U.S. and China until those sanctions are scrapped.

And that was why, and I think we have the video for you, back in June you may remember in Singapore, you know, China declined a U.S. request for meetings at the security forum there. But the two defense chiefs they managed this surprise handshake that went viral and made headlines all around the world.

But with Li Shangfu now out of the picture, people are wondering could high-level military talks resume? And that will be up for discussion, John when China's top diplomat, Wang Yi visits Washington later this week -- the 26th to the 28th. Back to you.

VAUSE: The intrigue continues in Beijing. Kristie Lu Stout, with all of it live in Hong Kong. Thank you.

STOUT: Thank you.

VAUSE: California Governor Gavin Newsom is in China this working on a new climate change partnership. Newsom and business leaders visited the industrial city of Xinjian (ph) Tuesday and toured the world's first zero emission municipal (ph) bus fleet. Newsome being very pensive there.

He says he hoped to bridge the divide between the world's two biggest polluters, by talking about green energy as well as economic development, tourism and cultural exchanges.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. My friend and colleague Lynda Kinkade is up after a very short break.

See you right back here tomorrow.