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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Images Show Smoke Rising From Suspected Strike In Lebanon; Israel Urges Mass Evacuations From Northern Gaza; GOP Scrambles After Scalise Drops Out Of Speaker Race; Blinken Speaks To Reporters During Qatar Stop; Blinken Condemns Hamas For Attack On Israeli Civilians. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 13, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. Kasie Hunt is off today. Welcome to our viewers in the United
States and around the world. We're live in Washington where it is 11 am and its 6 pm in Israel and Gaza. And we begin our breaking news coverage there.
We start with a war in the Middle East and images from Southern Lebanon. You're seeing pictures from near the Israeli border where smoke is rising
from a suspected shelling or strike militants like Lebanon's Hezbollah have been worn to stay out of fighting between Israel and Hamas after last
But Israel says it has taken fire from the Lebanese side of the border. We're monitoring that situation and we'll bring you more details as we get
them. All this as Israel warns more than a million people to evacuate Northern Gaza. You can see thousands of leaflets they are falling from the
sky in this video from Gaza City.
A closer look at these leaflets shows that they say it's a warning to civilians in Gaza City to evacuate their homes and to move south. The
leaflet instructs people not to return home until further notice from the Israel Defense Forces. The area in red on this map is the part of Gaza that
Israel wants evacuated. Now U.S. government spokesman John Kirby tells CNN that Israel has two reasons for these evacuations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: What they're trying to do is, is to the maximum extent
possible, avoid civilian casualties, and also separate Hamas from the human shields. I mean, Hamas actually gave account in order to tell him
Palestinians in Gaza to stay at home. Why because having human shields they think protects them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Some in Gaza have already started leaving and the United Nations is Israel once the evacuation complete within 24 hours. But they also say
that's impossible without devastating humanitarian consequences. Israel's massive bombing campaign has dropped as many bombs this week as were
dropped during the seven week conflict in 2014.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than 1700 people in Gaza have been killed. Meanwhile, an official says the U.S. hasn't verified claims
that 13 hostages taken by Hamas were killed in airstrikes. Along Israel's border with Gaza, Israeli tanks and troops are gathering, preparing for
what many suspect will be a ground invasion and possibly attempts to rescue hostages.
CNN's "CONNECT THE WORLD" Anchor Becky Anderson, she's live in Jerusalem where tensions are very high, Becky?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR CONNECT THE WORLD: Yeah, tension eerily quiet and what is the first day of Friday prayers since this Hamas attack last
weekend the Al Aqsa Mosque, extremely quiet, almost empty, I would say is Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, restricted those who were allowed
into the old city.
That of course is the site of the Haram al Sharif known by Arabs as the Haram al Sharif and by Jews as the Temple Mount. We were out in East
Jerusalem and today there were some scuffles with Palestinians on the streets with security forces. But as I say, nothing like the sort of
violent clashes that I've seen in conflicts in the past.
We are those seeing deadly clashes in the West Bank today. And this is as Palestinians look on, to what is going on in Gaza at present clearly you
know, a humanitarian issue, a real humanitarian issue now developing there as the IDF Israeli forces tell Gaza residents that they must evacuate a
mass telling people to stay in their homes.
You know, this is such a complicated situation ultimately as decisions are made for and on behalf as it were of the people of Gaza, but it is the
people of Gaza whose lives are at stake in. Nardeen Fares joins us now. And Nardeen, just tell me where you are and what is going on where you are?
NARDEEN FARES, RESIDENT IN GAZA: Hello.
ANDERSON: Can you hear me, Nardeen?
FARES: Yeah, I'm hearing you right now.
ANDERSON: Yeah, just to describe for our viewers where you are, and what is going on?
FARES: Yeah, now we are in the southern of the Gaza Strip. I was totally started with the first day of the war. We love living in the center of the
Gaza City, in the liveliest places close to the seashore. On the third day of the word Agreement Square was written, as we were told to leave our
home, we did not have enough time.
So we went to my grandfather's house, which was short distance from a remote area that might be witnessed and Israeli attacked and violent
bombing of a flower was falling over the house and the ground was shaking like an earthquake. What's your thought? Oh, when the --
ANDERSON: The Israelis have you know, this is now a besieged area isn't it? There's a total siege and as we understand it, you know, residents now
running very, very short of electricity from generators, fuel is short for those generators, water, food, are really very difficult to come by, at
And Israeli forces, telling residents in Gaza to head south and evacuate from the areas that one assumes are likely to be further attacked by
Israel, particularly if there is a ground incursion. What do you do at this point?
FARES: Right now, we are suffering from the lack of voter more than 80, 100 percent of citizens in the -- wild occupations preventing an aid from
outside to enter -- right now, the configuration the service disaster comes -- you. Aggression is everywhere. Families were displaced from their homes
also they bombed many houses without word made.
Hospitals are suffering from lack of medical equipment. I am now pregnant in my last month and I was having the smells of the toxic hazards from the
bomb. So that's so toxic for me and my baby.
ANDERSON: I'm so sorry. What is your plan next? I mean what's the plan for you and your family? You know where do you go next?
FARES: Yeah, we collect our important thing in bags and we put it in front of the doors of the home and stand by for any things to be happen they
bombed the house or they evacuate us. We are waiting for the test if I can say that in any moment.
ANDERSON: If you want to leave Gaza at this point, how would you do it?
FARES: Yeah, we cannot. It's impossible to leave Gaza right now because all the questions from refer to areas are closing. They are making a very big
siege on us. It's no way to go out from the Gaza Strip.
ANDERSON: How are you feeling?
FARES: I'm feeling very afraid of the unknown future. I don't know where I will be undefined that I will give birth comes there and as I will be able
to find a hospital or not because hospitals now are being attacked and maybe bombing any time. Now everything is a threatened by bombing even
hospitals exclusion is picked up --
ANDERSON: How many days do you think before you run out or completely of food, of water, electricity, fuel for any generators that you or your
friends and family might have? I mean, how long do you have?
FARES: The fuel we have in our house for example, that not everybody can have it. Our house has fuel that may last for one or two days maximum then
it will go up. No electricity, no internet, no connections, no water that's --
Some places they have --
ANDERSON: Yeah, look after yourself, look after your family. And we wish you the best. Thank you very much indeed for joining us today and telling
us your story.
FARES: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Fares Nardeen and Kasie, you know, there is so much going on, so much shuffled diplomacy around this region and beyond the Secretary of
State Antony Blinken, here yesterday, in Israel, Kasie and, you know, out to Jordan, to see I'm sorry, Nia, got that I'd heard you earlier on in my
You know, so much going on. Secretary of State as I said in Jordan, now on his way to Qatar to Saudi to the UAE trying to effect some sort of solution
for humanitarian corridors to get aid into Gaza and to get, you know, primarily people out of Gaza, although at this point, my sources telling me
that there are negotiations but no clear opportunities for evacuation at this point.
So you've heard the story of what life is like in Gaza at present as people there wait, what happens next the expected assault by Israeli forces
whenever that might come, back to you.
HENDERSON: Thanks so much for that report, Becky, stay safe. Up next, Hamas is telling people to ignore Israel's evacuation notice for Gaza. These are
live pictures of Gaza coming up on our screen, and we'll go to a town very close to the border for more on the situation. Stay with us.
HENDERSON: Let's get more now on the breaking news in Lebanon where smokes had been spotted rising from suspected chilling or an airstrike. CNN Senior
International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is live in Southern Lebanon, Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Malika, I think they're airstrikes. I mean, what we've been hearing sounds to be artillery
at the moment, perhaps rockets. In fact, we just heard three thuds just two or three minutes ago. But just to recount what we've seen here.
We're overlooking the Israeli town of Metula, which is now been declared a closed military area by the military. In fact, we've seen some troops
running around sort of trying to take cover. Now, within the last hour and a half the distant hill has been targeted. We've seen smoke over there and
closer in that hill overlooking Metula, which is in Israeli military position.
We did see it take a direct hit. Now the Israelis seem to have responded in one form or another by striking targets around the town of -- which is on
the other side of Metula. Now that's the action within the last hour and a half. Several hours ago, according to the Lebanese official news agency,
rockets were fired from Lebanese territory in the direction of Israel.
I just heard another thud that's the fourth. They weren't intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The Israelis responded by targeting, among other
things, according to the Lebanese army, an unoccupied Lebanese army observation tower, and what followed was a prolonged exchange of fire
between the two sides.
We believe just small arms fire in that case, and this represents within the last three hours a rather dramatic change in the atmosphere along the
border. We were driving along the border through much of the day it was quiet for the most part. And it was thought that perhaps after the earlier
count strikes and counter strikes this week that perhaps did it come to an end, but I guess that's not the case, Malika.
HENDERSON: Ben Wedeman thanks so much for joining us. Let's get more now from our Nic Robertson. He's live from an Israeli town near the Gaza
border. Nic, what are you seeing there?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, we're seeing a lot of artillery strikes coming from these newly dug in how it's a gun
positions, that the Israeli Defense Forces put in place over the past sort of 48 hours, going into Gaza, a fairly steady barrage going in.
There were some rockets fired out of Gaza into this town stir right a little earlier on today also fired up towards Ashkelon, Ashdod up the
coast, the thing that is perhaps giving the citizens of Gaza most concern now, as well as of course, the shelling and the missiles. It was a very,
very heavy night of missile and artillery strikes in Gaza last night was when they woke up this morning.
And they were told by the Israeli Defense Force to move south. Now the U.N. has said that to move that 1.1 million population of the north of Gaza
behind us here, further south is impossible, and it can potentially have serious humanitarian knock on consequences that there isn't a transport to
There isn't a way to make it safe for the citizens to do it. The Israeli Defense Force says they're asking the civilians of Gaza to move, so that
they can avoid civilian casualties while they target Hamas. Hamas has come back and told the civilians in Gaza don't move, stay where you are.
And it's creating a situation whereby Israel will be able to point to those that criticize it for the high or growing Palestinian death and casualty
toll latest numbers above 1500, according to the Palestinian health officials, that there will be many countries that will blame Israel for
that rising death toll.
And Israel will say well, look, we've tried to give an opportunity for the Palestinians to move out of the way.
Hamas won't let them do it. So therefore Hamas has a responsibility. Hamas will therefore will also turn and put the blame back on Israel we've seen
this before it seems to be. So therefore Hamas has a responsibility. Hamas will therefore will also turn and put the blame back on Israel. We've seen
this before. It seems to be where we're headed again.
HENDERSON: Very complicated situation on the ground there. Nic Robertson, thank you. Let's bring in today's panel. We've got CNN Senior International
Correspondent, Sam Kiley. He's joining us from London. And here with me in the studio, Cedric Leighton, a CNN Military Analyst and retired U.S. Air
David Makovsky, Director of the Program on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Sabrina Siddiqui, White House
Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Sam, I want to start with you. We're not seeing signs of a mass exodus as of now and you've got the Rafah
border crossing that's actually close.
Where are these refugees from Gaza, they're actually being told to leave now by the Israeli government? Where they're supposed to go?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's slightly confusingly you have the Gaza Strip and Gaza City. Now it is Gaza City,
effectively the largest conurbation in the north of the strip, which is only about 35 miles long, where the Israelis are saying that people should
Now that involves a population of 1.1 plus million people moving south down that strip towards the Rafah crossing. Now, the Rafah crossing is
officially controlled by the Palestinians and the Egyptians, but it is overlooked and militarily dominated by Israel, and for whatever reasons,
and it's not clear, obviously, at the moment, why the Rafah crossing is closed?
But I have to say the Egyptians are absolutely in General Sisi, the President of Egypt is repeated this yesterday, they are not interested and
will probably not allow a mass exodus of Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip into Egyptian territory. And the reason for that is in the Arab world.
These mass movements of Palestinian populations that were seen in 1948 and 1967 mean frequently that those Palestinians may not be able to go back.
That is the reasoning in the Middle East. And that will be among the reasons why the Egyptians don't want to allow this population to get out of
the way of the Israeli anticipated advance.
On top of that, of course, in terms of humanitarian issue, if you're concentrating the already most concentrated population, urban population on
earth into half the space they had before, you're going to develop the most immediate and catastrophic humanitarian problems.
There are a number of very, very big hospitals, for example, in the north of the country. I've just received a voice memo from the Gaza Ministry of
Health saying that they can't move most of their critical care patients because they'll simply die in transit. And there's nowhere for them to go
into central and southern Gaza, which is very much less developed than the north of the area.
The central part of the Gaza Strip is sort of sand dunes and rubble, not an environment that you can concentrate over a million people in.
HENDERSON: Colonel, in the situation that is developing on the ground, they are in Gaza, it's a humanitarian crisis at this point, is there any way to
ease the burden on the Gaza people?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The only way to do it is to eliminate the fighting, you know, to get have a ceasefire of some type.
But that is really impossible. I mean, given all the situations that you have, with, you know, the attack from Hamas into Israel.
You have in an Israeli population that is fired up to go after Hamas targets, they're not going to let go until they achieve their military
objectives. And probably then some, and then you also have a situation where the Hamas fighters don't want to let go either.
So neither side is going to give an inch here until they find some way out of it, or at least take some time to do that. But militarily, I don't see
any way of it ending at this point.
HENDERSON: And David, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in the region. What are his objectives in his travels and visits with different leaders?
DAVID MAKOVSKY, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAM IN ARAB-ISRAEL RELATIONS AT WASHINGTON INSTITUTE: Well, I think there are three immediate ones and maybe a fourth,
which might be more down the road. I think, first is no second front don't want to regionalize this conflict.
You know, from an American perspective, this conflict is explosive enough. We don't want to see Iran having with its proxies, Hezbollah in the north.
There are also Iranian militias in the no man's land of Syria. And now everyone's got long range rockets in Yemen and Iraq.
So the Arabs here clearly and we're trying to leverage our relationships with the Arabs. They clearly agree with the Secretary.
And there was a phone call with the Saudis and the Iranians. I think here the Arabs are completely with the Secretary on the second front and make
sure you don't regionalize the conflict. The second one is clearly the issue of the corridor which Speakers have been talking to, and what can be
done if we can't bring people over Rafah?
Can we bring humanitarian supplies in and hear maybe the Egyptians will be more supportive. And the third is the hostage issue. And there's no doubt
that Egypt and Qatar have the relationships that no one else does. And so the meeting right now that the Secretary is having in Qatar is a big one.
And Egypt has also has those relations. But you know, Hamas is going to say, you know, this for us is we use them as a bargaining chips. We want to
use them as human shields. So how much influence Qatar and Egypt have? I think arraign, you know, left to be seen, but I see those as the three
And then the question the Arabs are going to ask, the Secretary is, where does this end? What is the end state? And I think there are some ideas we
have time to talk about that.
HENDERSON: And Sabrina President Biden, he's forceful words that the U.S. stands with Israel. He's gotten a lot of bipartisan praise. How does he see
the U.S. is role here, obviously top of mind is the hostages are freeing those hostages? And apparently he's talking with some of the families of
people who are missing in Israel? How does he see the role of the administration?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, so far, what we've seen from President Biden is offering the U.S.
government's unwavering support for Israel, of course, to focus on trying to free those hostages, although notably, right now, the administration is
saying they have no intention of sending U.S. troops in as part of that process, because they do not want a wider or more protracted conflict.
You know, I think one of the challenges that the administration is dealing with is that President Biden, in his phone calls the Prime Minister
Netanyahu has been urging restraint, and they've done so publicly, although in a pretty tepid way. So, now that you see this humanitarian crisis
unfolding, in Gaza, where some 447 children and 248 women are among those killed in Israeli airstrikes, as of yesterday.
There is this, you know, cutting off of electricity, water, food, you know, the, of course, asked to evacuate 1.1 million people, which the U.N. says,
is impossible, you know, some of the hospitals on the ground say it's a death sentence for the patients who are in hospitals in Gaza.
You know, there are humanitarian groups who are referring to this as collective punishment. What point is the Biden administration, take a look
at all of that, and change course, and maybe call for some kind of ceasefire, take a more active role in trying to bring an end to the
violence because as you see the devastating consequences unfold in Gaza that are being borne by civilians, by children, by women.
The support right now that is bipartisan in Washington for Israel, and of the President's approach thus far, you will probably you will continue and
see cracks in that support as the violence escalates.
HENDERSON: And we've seen some protests here around the world today, very strong feelings, obviously, for the Palestinians. What are the risks of
this expanding, Colonel?
LEIGHTON: Nia, they are considerable, because, you know, like, you mentioned, the protests, the huge protests in Yemen and Baghdad, in
European capitals. So there is a lot of tension going on here. And a lot of people are going into their various camps, you know, either you're pro-
Palestinian or you're pro-Israeli.
And the humanitarian crisis has a risk of actually falling by the wayside if people aren't careful to keep their eye on the ball. In essence, the
real issue is the humanitarian crisis, the hostages, and finally trying to solve the Palestinian problem. And that is a tall order, though, especially
that last one.
HENDERSON: Yeah. And it's been a problem for decades and this being Israel's 9/11 in so many ways. Sam Kiley, Cedric Leighton, David Makovsky
and Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you so much for your perspective. And your expertise on this very complicated issue.
Coming up, House Republicans are scrambling to find another nominee for Speaker after their first one pulled out of the race last night. We'll have
more on the dysfunction, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCALISE: I just share with my colleagues and I'm withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee. If you look at over the last few weeks,
if you look at where our conference is, there's still work to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson live in Washington. Republicans in the U.S. House scrambling once again, they're meeting behind
closed doors at this hour over the search for a new speaker and as you just heard their House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, pulling him from
consideration late Thursday after realizing that he couldn't get the votes that he needed, the 217 votes.
All eyes are now on Congressman Jim Jordan who sources say as calling Republicans to gauge how much support he has for his bid. But for now, the
search for Kevin McCarthy's replacement remains at an impasse 10 days after he was pushed aside, leaving some Republicans very, very, very frustrated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AUSTIN SCOTT (R-GA): There are people in there that are honorably trying to get to the right place. And then there are people in there, as
you know, that like to go on the TV and are not necessarily negotiating for anything other than TV time.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How does it make you guys look?
SCOTT: Makes us look like a bunch of idiots.
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): These guys want to be in the minority. That's exact, I think they would prefer that because they can just vote no and yell and
scream all the time.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): It's a dangerous game that we're playing. It just proves our adversaries right that democracy doesn't work. Our
adversaries are watching this.
REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): We really need to get our act together. This is a continuation of a pretty, pretty dysfunctional disease of the -- 118s. We
have a lot of members who just feel like they will let perfect be the enemy that good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Let's dive into all of this with today's panel. We've got Maria Cardona. She's a CNN Political Commentator and a Democratic Strategist.
Doug Heye is a Republican Strategist and Former Communications Director for the Republican National Committee and Sabrina Siddiqui, she's still with
us. And she's the White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Doug, I'm going to start with you because you're the Republican at the table. You heard Mike McCaul there saying that the world is watching. He
also had a warning for his colleagues; I want you to take a look at what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAUL: The world is on fire, our adversaries are watching what we do and then quite frankly, they like it. And Chairman Xi talks about how democracy
doesn't work. And we're proving them right. And we need to fill the chair with a speaker. Every day that goes by it gets more dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: You know, I had to figure that the crisis in Israel would put some fire under Republicans and add some urgency to this House race. It
doesn't necessarily seem like that's happening.
DOUG HEYE, U.S. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Are you're kidding me? The Capitol is on fire right now. There's no shortage of fire, especially in the room
that's called HC5, which is where House Republicans have their meetings. And what we see is that the there's incoming fire, there's fighting within
the members. And it's not clear if Jim Jordan is going to be able to get there, get there or not over this hump. But we do know that one of the
problems Republicans have for today is a lack of members.
HEYE: A lot of folks went home last night or first thing this morning. They're trying to get them to come back. But if you're flying to
California, or you know, rural Missouri or something like that.
HEYE: You got a problem in doing so. So clearly, this is going to go on for a few more days.
HENDERSON: Maria, you are shaking your head. There's all this talk about Democrats role in this. And kind of this dream of some sort of bipartisan
speaker and the Democrats throw their lot in with the Republicans. Is that realistic? Is that a fantasy?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it could be realistic. If Republicans finally understand their job and know that they have to get
their act together. I was shaking my head because Doug was mentioning how so many folks are going home. They're going home in the midst of this
crisis. And it is a crisis.
The Republican conference right now is akin to a failed state. And no Democrat is happy watching this, because it's a major embarrassment for the
United States on a global scale, at a moment when, like we were talking about before the world is on fire.
And we're going to have to actually pass some really serious aid packages for Israel, for Ukraine for others. And we can't do that if there is no
speaker. So Democrats are at the ready, Nia to make sure that they are focused on trying to fix something. But this is a Republican
We are not the majority. We should be early. And I think that this proves to the American people who should be the majority next time around. But
Democrats are at the ready to work with a common sense, courageous Republican speaker who is able to step up to the plate and understand that
anything that happens needs to be in a bipartisan way.
HENDERSON: And Sabrina, you asked President Biden, after Kevin McCarthy was ousted. You asked him how he felt about working with Jim Jordan, what did
he tell you?
SIDDIQUI: Well, when I asked the president if he could see himself working with Congressman, Jim Jordan, who of course belongs to the right flank
within the House Republican conference, President Biden left. He said that some members are easier to work with than others, but he intends to work
with whoever Republicans choose as the next House Speaker.
I think the White House has very much left to this to House Republicans. They say it is not their place to weigh in on, you know, any leadership
fight, let alone in another party. But you know, I think it really is about having to move critical aid to Israel to Ukraine, and ensure that a
government shutdown is ever --
HENDERSON Yeah thanks. We're going to have to cut you off here. We're going to use -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He's now in Qatar after stops
in Israel and Jordan. And he's speaking to reporters now alongside with the prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER & FOREIGN MINISTER: [Foreign Language]
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: We're back in here and continue this conversation about domestic politics, which obviously are related to international politics, as well.
Doug, who can get 217, Jordan is probably going to put his name back in at some point. He's saying he's giving himself a little time to do that,
perhaps Friday. There are other names that are coming to the fore. Who's your money on?
HEYE: Well, the short answer is, I don't know.
HENDERSON: Right, it's the problem.
HEYE: Part of this is basic math. Steve Scalise had a majority of those voting and wasn't able to get there. Jim Jordan didn't have a majority.
HENDERSON: Yeah, he had 99, right.
HEYE: So he has hurdles as well.
HENDERSON: You know we're going to wrap it here. But this will be an ongoing conversation, obviously. Coming up more on the leadership crisis in
the U.S. House Republicans are meeting right now to figure a way out of it. And we'll go live to Capitol Hill when we come back.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Qatar has been a very close partner to the United States on a broad range of issues that are crucial to
both of our countries and to this region from working together on evacuating Americans, Afghans and others from Afghanistan to cooperating
very closely in responding to humanitarian emergencies, like the devastating earthquakes in -- and in Syria.
We're meeting today at what is a difficult but also consequential time for the region in the wake of Hamas's appalling attack that killed more than
1300 Israelis, at least 27 American citizens and people from more than 30 countries. The United States and Qatar share the goal of preventing this
conflict from spreading.
We discussed in detail our efforts to prevent any act, state or non-state creating a new front in this conflict. We're also working intensively
together to secure the release of hostages, including American citizens being held by Hamas and Gaza. I'm grateful for the urgency that Qatar is
bringing to this afternoon.
I had an opportunity to meet yesterday with the families of some of those being held hostage by Hamas. Their anguish is profound. They're desperate
to bring their loved ones home. And we are working urgently on that effort. We're doing that with Qatar and we're doing that with allies and partners
across the region.
As Israel continues to respond to Hamas's devastating attacks, the United States will ensure that it has what it needs to defend his people. Our
Secretary of Defense Austin was in Israel today doing just that. We're working closely with the Israelis to make sure that we're providing them
what they need, and we'll be able to do that on an ongoing basis.
At the same time, we're in constant communication with Israeli officials and with multilateral international organizations, humanitarian
organizations including the United Nations agencies, including the ICRC to get aid to civilians in Gaza.
As I said yesterday in Tel Aviv, Israel has the right. Indeed it has the obligation to defend its people, and to try to ensure that Hamas can never
repeat what it's done. We continue to discuss with Israel the importance of taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.
We recognize that many Palestinian families in Gaza are suffering through no fault of their own. And the Palestinian civilians have lost their lives.
We mourn the loss of every innocent life, Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Christian, Muslim, as well as civilians of every faith and every
nationality that have -- been killed.
Let's not lose sight of why this is happening. Israel is conducting operations in Gaza because Hamas carried out terrorist attacks that killed
in the most horrific way, 1300 - people Hamas terrorist slaughtered, raped, mutilated, tortured, burned innocent civilians, from babies to the elderly,
men, women, boys and girls.
Now, efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza are complicated by the fact that Musk continues to use innocent civilians as human shields and is
reportedly blocking roads to prevent Palestinians from moving to southern Gaza, out of harm's way.
We know the humanitarian situation is urgent. We're actively engaged with partners, including Qatar to get aid to those who need it. Your Excellency,
thank you again for today's very, very good discussions and for all the work that our countries have done together. Thank you.
HENDERSON: What are your reactions to the Secretary of State's comments?
SIDDIQUI: Well, I think you heard Secretary of State Blinken, really trying and emphasizing the need to now de-escalate as this conflict continues. And
you know, there is also of course, a discussion about how to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
Now, you know, the administration has been very clear that they still support the Israeli government's efforts to respond to the Hamas terrorist
attack and Blinken spoke again, to the atrocities that were committed last weekend. But there is, of course, this international humanity or
humanitarian crisis that is unfolding.
And the administration, the Biden Administration is also feeling the pressure to try and rein in this violence, and also protect the civilians
of Gaza. There's still many questions about how to achieve that goal with the passages around Gaza, the borders closed.
And of course, this, this order by the Israeli government to evacuate 1.1 million people, which of course, as we talked about earlier in the show,
the United Nations has said is impossible. Other groups have cast doubt on the ability to do so. But you see Secretary Blinken now taking I think, a
more active role on the part of the Biden Administration to try and de- escalate this conflict as the violence continues.
HENDERSON: And Maria, I want to bring you in Biden's handling of this crisis of this hostage situation. Obviously, Americans are going to be very
focused. And actually, we're going to go back to Antony Blinken, who's speaking to the press now.
BLINKEN: Israel has both the right and even the obligation to defend his job. Last Saturday never happens again. The same time the way Israel does
this matters, the way any democracy has to deal with such a situation matters. And to that end, we've discussed with the Israelis urged the
Israelis to use every possible precaution to avoid harm to civilians.
It's also important to remember the fundamental issue that makes this so complicated as I said again a moment ago. Hamas uses civilians as human
It puts them in places where they will be in danger. It puts them in places where they're used, in effect to try to protect Hamas officials or their
equipment or infrastructure. Civilians, of course, should not be the target of military operations. They are not the target of Israeli operations; they
are very deliberately the target of Hamas's act.
I mentioned as well, that we're very actively engaged with UN relief agencies, with the ICRC, with others, to address the acute humanitarian
needs of people in Gaza to protect them from harm, and make sure that they have the ability to get what they need.
We need to ensure for example, that there are safe areas in Gaza. Civilians are working through the details on that and more to be said in the days
ahead, but that's a priority for us. We're discussing this with the Israeli government; we're discussing it with others in the region.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So -- team to make contact with some countries, Iran, the United States, and France and other countries, what is the content of
these communications and what are we basing them on?
THANI: Well, the previous days is the outbreak of this crisis. His Highness the Emir has initiated contacts, and I have initiated contact with my
counterparts. We have specific aims at this stage; we are trying to reduce the tension.
And we hope that this war will come to halt and the humanitarian corridors secured so that humanitarian aid can reach the Gaza strip and also the
civilian prisoners who have been taken from Israel who are working on making sure that they will be released.
The role of the set of Qatar focuses on finding solutions for this crisis and avoids the crisis spilling over to other fronts and countries. Our
priorities focus on, first of all, stopping the world and making sure humanitarian aid is delivered. And the prisoners are returned from.
Third question from -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Sheikh Mohammed, given the condemnation from the world on Hamas attack, is Qatar considering shutting down Hamas
bureau? Are you prepared to ask the leadership to leave if your western allies demand you to do so? And Mr. Secretary, have you asked Qatar to shut
down the Hamas office?
And if I may, Mr. Secretary, yesterday, and just now you said Israel has a right to defend itself. But you added that how does that mattered. And you
talked about a standard that democracies should strive for even when it's difficult to do so. Today, Israel ordered residents of Gaza City to leave
and move south something you aren't Palestinian, and we just call the crime against humanity.
The translation wasn't great. So the gentleman before me might have asked something similar. But let me push you a little bit more on this. How that
square, how does does that order square with that standard you mentioned and also international law? Does the United States support this relocation?
And since you had a conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, did you give your blessing for this move? Thank you.
BLINKEN: Thank you.
THANI: Well, regarding your question about Hamas political office in Doha right now, actually, this office actually says it's the stuff that's being
used as a way of communicating and then bringing peace and calm to the region, not to - anymore. And this is the purpose of that office, as long
as we are keeping the communication open right now and focusing on putting an end for this conflict and this is useful.
That's, that's what the main, our main focus is this. Actually now, our key, our key focus for us in the state of Qatar and I believe the United
States sharing with us this objective is how to put an end for this conflict, how to deescalate how to create a humanitarian corridor and how
to get the hospitals back safe.
BLINKEN: -- first, the first part of your question. Let me start by saying and I mentioned this before, but I want to repeat it. I really thank Qatar
for the work that they're doing, to try to help secure the release of --. This is something that we deeply appreciate; I know that other countries do
as well. And it's something that we're actively pursuing.
I've also been making it clear, in all of my conversations throughout this trip, that there can be no more business as usual, with Hamas, murdering
babies, burning families to death, taking little children as hostages. These are unconscionable acts of brutality.
Every country in our judgment needs to condemn these actions, needs to hold them accountable. And we will continue to make that clear. When it comes to
providing for civilians in Gaza, both ensuring that they can be out of harm's way and that they can have access to the support that they need the
humanitarian assistance, the food, the medicine, the water.
Our focus now is on helping to create safe zones. And we're doing that with the leading international organizations. We're doing that engaged with
Israel. And we're working with other countries to that end. And so that's where our focus is. We think this is the best way to make sure those
civilians who are caught in a crossfire Hamas is making and be safe and receive the assistance they need. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Bloomberg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, I know the situation Israel is highly charged and very fluid. But are you worried about the medium and long term
consequences of what's unfolding in Gaza? Are you worried that Israel may be simply retaliating in a fury because of the horrendous nature of these
attacks, and might not have a medium or long term plan?
And secondly, I'm wondering, how worried are you about a second front in this war? Iran and Hezbollah have already made threats of opening this new
front if attacks on civilians, and the Oran and Israeli blockade of Gaza continues? What would the U.S. response be if Hezbollah ramps up its own
attacks, for instance, in response to a ground invasion?
And Sheikh Mohammed, the U.S. and Israel are both struggling with this tragic and fluid hostage situation that the secretary was talking about?
And I've looked for Qatar to help navigate it. Can you tell us about your engagements with Hamas? And are you optimistic about getting these people
back alive, given reports that some of them may have already died in Israeli strikes on Gaza?
And secondly, there have been rising criticism and protests across the Arab world, as Israel's retaliation continues. What's your view of how Israel is
conducting its military response? And are you worried about the potential? Are you also worried about the potential for medium and long term
consequences of what's happening? Thank you.
BLINKEN: -- thank you very much. First part of the question, no country, no country, can tolerate having terrorist group come in, slaughter its people
in the most unconscionable ways, and live like that. What Israel is doing is not retaliation. What Israel is doing is defending the lives of its
people and as I said, trying to make sure that this cannot happen again.
And I think any country faced with what Israel has suffered, would likely do the same thing. Imagine if this had happened in the United States. So
that's what is happening. Of course, it's important to think about, as one might put it, the day after, and where this goes.
And I believe that is very much a part of Israel's thinking as well as our own and the thinking of many other countries in the region, because one
thing is for sure. We can't go back to the status quo that allow this to happen in the first place. So that has to be part of the thinking and it