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Family of Andrew Brown Jr. Views Bodycam Footage; Middle East Crisis. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 11, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, it's the top of the hour. I'm Alisyn Camerota, joined by Victor Blackwell.

We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world.

We have breaking news for you out of Israel, fires burning in Tel Aviv. Our CNN reporter on the ground there just described rushing his children from their beds into a shelter after hearing nine loud explosions.

An Israeli airstrike also earlier apparently hit a 13-story residential tower in Gaza, causing it to collapse, as you are about to see on your screen.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Now, you see the video there from Gaza.

The militant group Hamas vowed to retaliate. And it appears that it has done. There have been loud blasts. We have seen the flames there in Tel Aviv.

We're covering this from multiple angles.

We're starting with Ben Wedeman, who is in Jerusalem.

Ben, to you, what you are seeing there. We also have Aaron David Miller, our analyst, global affairs analyst, in Washington.

But to you first, Ben. What are you seeing there? Are you seeing much like what we're seeing in Ashkelon and Tel Aviv?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, here in Jerusalem, there had been (AUDIO GAP) going off. There haven't been any rocket attacks (AUDIO GAP) been seeing (AUDIO GAP) around the city between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

But compared (AUDIO GAP) few nights, it's (AUDIO GAP) calm here. What we're seeing elsewhere, for instance (AUDIO GAP) rocket barrage. Apparently, one rocket hit a bus in the town of (AUDIO GAP) which is just south of Tel Aviation.

And (AUDIO GAP) international airport has now been closed as a result of (AUDIO GAP) barrage. We -- as you mentioned (AUDIO GAP) toppling of the (AUDIO GAP) story (AUDIO GAP) building on the Gaza water (AUDIO GAP) earlier in the evening (AUDIO GAP) as well (AUDIO GAP) continues (AUDIO GAP) number was 28, nine of them children (AUDIO GAP) Israelis also been killed.

And it does seem that this situation is escalating, it appears inexorably, towards--


Ben -- Ben, sorry to interrupt you. We're having a little bit of a problem with your signal.

And we do want to get right now to Hadas Gold. She is taking cover in a shelter in Ashkelon. We saw a minute of her video a second ago.

There she is again.

Hadas, can you hear us?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn. Yes, I can hear you, yes.

We were -- right before we were supposed to go live on air with you, we heard those air raid sirens again (AUDIO GAP) building that we have been standing outside of all day, actually. This building was hit itself by a rocket earlier this morning.

And all day long, we have been hearing these air raid sirens. We have been rushed into the bomb shelter. Surrounding me right now are residents of this building, children. Even their dogs are with them down here. And this has just been happening all day long.

We will hear the air raid sirens. We heard several explosions, booms. We're not sure if that's Iron Dome interceptions or otherwise. Just heard another one just now. So, this is what's been happening all day long into the evening.

And as we have heard, Tel Aviv is also experiencing the same thing, a major escalation in all of this, because Tel Aviv normally does not get targeted with these sorts of rockets and has not for some time. But here, for the residents living in Ashkelon, this is what they have been dealing with for the past 24 hours.

Two people in Ashkelon earlier today were killed by rockets. We also know that, in Gaza, there have been people killed as well, at least 28, including nine of them children, more than 120 injured, Israel said that's -- Israel says it's looking into the civilian casualties, but it's going to be, they say, targeting Hamas very heavily in retaliation for this barrage of rocket attacks.

We have seen at least 500 rockets, probably more, in the last 24 hours. This is an escalation that we have not seen here for quite some time, Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: All right. We have got Hadas Gold there.

Ben Wedeman, we're still working on his audio issue.

You will forgive that there are going to be some technical elements here that are challenging.

Let's try Ben one more time.

Ben, we had some hiccups with the audio. Continue with your thought there about the -- what we're seeing across the country and the escalation.

WEDEMAN: What we're seeing across Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza is an escalation, the likes of which we haven't seen really since 2014, when there was a major war between Israel and Gaza.


In those -- basically, since Friday, things have escalated and really moved from Jerusalem, where they were protests against forced house evictions, protests against police restrictions on access to the Old City to Palestinians. And now Hamas has become involved. Islamic Jihad has become involved from Gaza, firing missiles.

And, in fact, many Palestinians here in Jerusalem are somewhat resentful of the fact that these factions have become involved from Gaza, because the attention has really shifted from the situation in Jerusalem, which is really a civil rights question, to really one of war, in which Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza are trading these strikes.

Now, what you just heard is just fireworks here, because the end -- Ramadan is coming to an end within the next day. So that's nothing to worry about -- Victor, Christy (sic).

CAMEROTA: OK, we -- thank you very much for that.

And we want to bring in Aaron David Miller. He's our CNN global affairs analyst, former State Department Middle East negotiator.

Aaron David, I know that you're no stranger, obviously, to the tinderbox that is the Middle East. But, as Ben was just saying, and Hadas, they haven't seen the scope of this, the fires in Tel Aviv, things like that, since 2014.

How did this escalate so quickly to where we are? And just give us the context.

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, it's stunning that a conflict that had been focused and centered on Jerusalem and localized has now broadened.

The very essence this conflict has now changed. And Ben's words, I think, are quite wise. There's an enormous amount of resentment that Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad is now involved in this, because it shifts the whole character and operation.

You have heard that -- the Biden administration, unmitigated support for Israel, right to defend itself. And Hamas, now seeking to take advantage of defending Jerusalem, has now unleashed a barrage of rockets, which inevitably is going to draw an intense Israeli response.

This does resemble 2014, which went on for almost seven or eight weeks. It ended with an Egyptian-brokered, very messy cease-fire. And the casualties were horrendous, particularly on the Palestinian side, anywhere from 2,200 to 2,300 dead, 67 Israeli soldiers and five Israeli civilians.

That was the asymmetrical nature of the casualty count, largely because of Israel's Iron Dome defensive capacity, and its determination to strike disproportionately in Gaza. So, again, how long this will go on is unclear.

But the one thing, the one takeaway from this is that it's hard to see how any of this is going to lead to any sort of an outcome that will fundamentally leave Palestinians and Israelis in a better position than when they started, more death, more destruction, more mistrust, more bloodshed, and little pathway under these circumstances, Victor and Alisyn, for a more hopeful conclusion.

And that -- therein lies the real tragedy.

BLACKWELL: I want to come back to that point in just a moment, but let's go now to Ashkelon, where Hadas Gold is still there in that shelter.

And we have to remember that there is no siren that sounds in Gaza. There are -- there is no Iron Dome.

But where you have been there in Ashkelon, we have heard the sirens. You have heard the sirens almost continuously. How long have you been in that shelter? And how often is this happening? And what's the clear for people to go back to their homes?

GOLD: I think it is a very important point to keep in mind that the people in Gaza do not have an Iron Dome, and may not even have necessarily the same sort of shelters.

But here in Ashkelon, we have been hearing these air raid sirens all day long. I have to be honest. I have lost count of the number of times that we have heard the sirens and have come running into this shelter. And we would hear them also while we were still in the shelter, because we would kind of stay in place for a few minutes afterwards, and then there would be another siren.

I have had several times where I have been live on air already today and we have heard the sirens, and we have to come rushing in. The residents here are coming in and out, going back up to their apartments, coming back down.

For now, they're mostly staying put in this shelter. They have brought a food and water down here. They're being very kind to us, sharing their food and water with us, making us coffee, letting us use their facilities.

But this is where they're staying in, because when those air raid sirens go off here in Ashkelon, as close as we are to Gaza, you have about 15 to 30 seconds to get yourself into a protected space.


And we have also seen just the rockets ourselves with our own eyes. We have been outside. We will see them flash up in the sky. We have also heard airplanes, jets flying overhead. And then, occasionally, we will hear booms in the distance.

It's hard for us from here to tell if those sounds are from airstrikes, if they're from rockets, if they're from the Iron Dome intercepting some of those rockets. Because it's so hard to tell, you can't take chances here. And so, for many of the residents here, they go running into shelters.

When we were in the shelter actually earlier, what happens is, if you're out on the street, if you're driving your car, you're supposed to get out, you're supposed to get off the street, and go immediately into the nearest building and into a shelter.

And, actually, while we were in the shelter earlier today, these two women came running in and one of them even said to the other, "Did you turn off the car?" And she said, "No, I just went running out."

And that's what's happening here. This is what life has been like here for the past 24 hours or so.

CAMEROTA: Hadas, it's so helpful for the rest of the world to have you there on the ground. And we all did watch your live shot earlier this morning when the sirens went off, and you had to immediately race with your crew into the shelter there.

It doesn't appear to be simmering down. It appears, as we look at the other side of your screen, and the fires in Tel Aviv, to be escalating. How long can you and others stay in that shelter?

GOLD: Well, people will stay in here until it's safe for them to go out.

And, occasionally, when there are lulls in between air raid sirens, they will go out for some -- go out for some fresh air. They will go back up to their apartments to get drinks. And like I said, they have been so kind to us, sharing their food and water with us.

But people here are prepared to spend the night here. We have seen people bringing down blankets. There's some chairs and couches down here. And they will be prepared to spend the night here, because we just don't know what the night will bring, and the same with people in Gaza.

We cannot forget the people in Gaza are also facing some incredibly scary and tense moments right now.

BLACKWELL: Aaron, how much consideration should be given to the variable of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in the political fight of his career after a fourth election, still struggling to form a coalition government, may face a fifth in the question of what happens next?

MILLER: It's a fascinating question. And I have heard both sides of the argument.

Mr. Netanyahu needs a crisis. This could generate great difficulty on the part of the opposition in forming a "change coalition" -- quote, unquote -- largely because it's dependent -- that change coalition is dependent on one small Arab party who would support the government from the outside.

The more destruction and deaths of Palestinians there are during the course of his conflict, the more difficult it's going to be. In Mansour Abbas, the head of that party, has suspended, at least temporarily, coalition negotiations.

I mean, right now, it looks to me like -- again, it depends on the intensity of this and how long it goes on. But it seems clear Mr. Netanyahu has the support of Benny Gantz, who is part of that opposition. He's currently minister of defense. This -- the Israelis are putting on a unified front right now.

And I think it's impossible to say right now, Victor and Alisyn, which way these coalition negotiations are going to go. Usually -- and we have had -- we have seen four of these Israeli-Hamas confrontations, 2008-'09, 2012, 2014, and now this.

Usually, they end because the Israelis cannot and do not want to sustain a situation where Ben-Gurion Airport, their major airport remains closed because of the fear of rocket attacks or their citizens in shelters. And Hamas cannot withstand for a prolonged period of time the kind of destruction that is going to make residents of Gaza, however proud they may be of Hamas' defense of -- quote, unquote -- "Jerusalem" in this latest round.

So I suspect this one will end. I don't think it's going to go on for too -- for eight -- seven to eight weeks. But, right now, how it's going to end is very unclear.

CAMEROTA: And, Aaron David, as you point out, Ben-Gurion International Airport is closed right now because of the threat of incoming rocket fire. It's 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv.

Also, this is just coming in from the White House. The -- President Biden is calling for an end to the violence. He has directed his team to engage intensively, engage intensively with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

His press secretary says: "We stand against extremism that has inflicted violence on both communities."

And, I mean, you have been that person who has engaged intensively. And what can the U.S. do?

MILLER: Well, in this case, this is a multidimensional, multifront confrontation.


You have got Jerusalem Palestinians. You have got Israeli Arabs rioting in towns like Ramallah, Lod, and Nazareth within Israel proper. And you have Hamas.

The United States doesn't have influence or direct contact with Hamas. And they can do very little, it seems to me. Neither can Mahmoud Abbas. He doesn't have much control over the Palestinians in Jerusalem. I think we're going to have to rely heavily on the Egyptians. They came through in 2014 in the Operation Protective Edge, which was so costly in terms of Palestinian lives.

We are going to have to rely heavily on the Egyptians. But we are also, I suspect, going to have to navigate a very fine line with our closest Israeli ally. And this is an administration that has a domestic agenda that is going to require tremendous political support.

It's going to be tough to be tough, given Biden's priorities with the Israelis.

BLACKWELL: Let's show you the video again of that tower, 13-story tower. We have got video in now. It collapsed. We showed you the video just moments ago.

The strike on this tower is what led to the retaliation in Tel Aviv that we showed you the flames of earlier, 150 airstrikes, more than, on targets in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry says that the airstrikes have killed at least 28 people, including 10 children.

We have got Hadas Gold, who is in Ashkelon.

And the responses, aside from the rockets, the airstrikes that we have seen, what have we heard from the IDF, from the Israeli government about where this goes next?

GOLD: Well, the Israeli military has seen this as what they call an unacceptable attack from Hamas, especially when Jerusalem was targeted yesterday at 6:00 p.m., air raid sirens sounding in Jerusalem, and six rockets were fired towards Jerusalem, something that has not happened in a very, very long time.

And they said that they -- Netanyahu has threatened -- threatened Hamas and said that they will receive attacks they would -- did not anticipate. Now, the Israeli military says that they have struck more than 300 targets in the Gaza Strip.

They said about 150 of them were specifically sort of rocket launcher areas. They say they have killed 20 militants, at least, including the head of the sort of anti-tank missile division. And they are continuing to strike. We have been hearing airplanes flying overhead. We have been hearing explosions in the distance. And it's just a very quickly developing situation. The Israeli

military has also said they have called up thousands of reserves to be prepared to strengthen their positions. They have also said they have targeted tunnels, they say, Hamas tunnels that Hamas operatives were trying to use.

And now they are, as we have seen, targeting these buildings. That could mean that they believe that these buildings are either important headquarters for Hamas. It's hard to tell right now, as this is a very quickly developing situation.

And just in the past few minutes here, we're hearing -- we continue to hear all day long, all evening long air raid sirens. That's why we're in the shelter right now, because, otherwise, when you're outside, you have seconds to run in.

We have been hearing rockets. We have been hearing explosions. They could be interceptions from the Iron Dome. They could be rockets landing. They could be airstrikes in the distance. Because it's so hard to know, you have to play it safe here.

BLACKWELL: All right, Hadas Gold, Aaron David Miller, Ben Wedeman as well, thank you all for your reporting both from Washington and on the ground there.

We will continue to follow the breaking news out of Israel, of course.

CAMEROTA: Also, back here in the U.S., the family of Andrew Brown Jr. seeing the bodycam footage of his final moments this hour. So, we're live for you in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.



CAMEROTA: Happening right now, the family of Andrew Brown Jr. is viewing the video of his fatal encounter with law enforcement.

But we're told they will only be shown a portion of what was recorded.

BLACKWELL: So let's bring in CNN Brian Todd.

Brian, why is the family only being allowed to see just part of this video?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Alisyn, that's because the judge who's handled the case thus far, Jeffrey Foster, has ruled that, out of the nearly two hours of body camera footage that the deputies filmed that day, that Andrew Brown appears in only 18 minutes and 41 seconds of it.

And, therefore, all the other footage that does not contain images of Andrew Brown, the judge did not say that's not relevant, but he said it was not appropriate to show that video at this time, so the judge basically saying, 18 minutes and 41 seconds of video showing Andrew Brown, that's what the family can see. And just about less than 10 minutes ago, the family arrived at the

door here behind us. They were greeted personally at the door by the district attorney, Andrew Womble, and by the sheriff, Tommy Wooten, as they went in. They were joined by their attorneys.

One of Andrew Brown Jr.'s aunts, Glenda Brown, talked about the fact that the family would be only able to view a little less than 20 minutes of the videotape. Here's what she had to say over the weekend.


GLENDA BROWN, AUNT OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: We need to see the bodycam, 20 seconds, not enough, 20 minutes, not enough.


BROWN: We want to see the whole tape.



TODD: And just a short time ago, as the family and its attorneys went into the building here, my colleague Jason Carroll and I had a chance to ask them a couple of questions.

They said that they do not expect there would be a time limit for how long they can take to view this videotape. I asked attorney Bakari Sellers what he expected to see. And he said: "We expect to see an unjustifiable shooting" -- Alisyn, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Brian Todd for us there in Elizabeth City, thanks so much.

Just ahead: Today is the first day that children 12 to 15 can get a COVID vaccine, after the FDA authorized those shots.