Return to Transcripts main page


Tensions Between Israel and Palestinian Cause More Lives; Israel Retaliates with Rocket Air Strikes; Lod Declares State of Emergency; White House Ask for De-escalation; Nepal's COVID Cases Skyrocketed; Worst Fighting In Years Edges Toward All-Out War; Israel Ramps Up Airstrike Amid Rocket Fire From Gaza; Inside U.S.-European War Games; Colonial Pipeline Hack Causing Panic Buying Of Oil; Keeping Olympic Dreams Alive. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 12, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead. Violence between Israel and the Palestinians escalates toward an all-out war as old and new grievances boil to the surface.

First India, now Nepal faces severe oxygen shortages as COVID cases soar.

And CNN gets exclusive access as navy SEALS trained U.S. allies in eastern Europe to resist the Russians.

Thanks for joining us.

And we begin with new developments on a number of fronts in the worsening conflict between Israel and Hamas. First, the militant group fired another barrage of rocks toward the Jewish in the overnight hours. The government says at least five people have been killed. The latest, a 52-year-old Israeli Arab man and his daughter who died when a rocket hit their farm in central Israel.

And that's not far from the city of Lod where the government has now declared a state of emergency after protest escalated into riots this week. A CNN crew driving through the area saw burned out cars, rocks and other debris littering the streets.


UNKNOWN: Allahu Akbar!


CHURCH (on camera): Meanwhile, in Gaza, Palestinian officials say at least 35 people have been killed by the Israeli offensive. Air strikes leveled this 13-story residential tower on Tuesday. The IDF claims it was being used by Hamas for military research.

And here what an Israeli military spokesman told CNN about his country's response to the rocket's attacks.


JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I wouldn't get ahead of ourselves. I'd say that there's an abundance of military targets that we have planned, we have investigated and prepared ourselves to be able to strike. All of those are pure classified military targets belonging to either the Hamas or the Islamic Jihad, and we've been attacking those targets over the last 24 hours and we have plans to continue and to broaden the scope of our attacks. Just as the prime minister said and the chief of the general staff also reiterated that this isn't going to end tomorrow.

And the fact that Hamas allowed itself such a blatant and active aggression against Israel, will not go unanswered, and we are attacking their targets.


CHURCH (on camera): And despite international pressure on both sides to de-escalate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns this is just the beginning.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will pay for this, and they will pay a heavy price.


CHURCH (on camera): Hamas remains defiant as well. The militant group says it has the right to respond to Israel's offensive and protect its people.


ISMAIL HANIYEH, SENIOR HAMAS POLITICAL LEADER (through translator): If Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it. And if it wants to stop, we're also ready. If they want to remove their hand over Jerusalem, we are ready.


CHURCH (on camera): Let's go live now to journalist Elliott Gotkine. He joins us from south of Tel Aviv. So, Elliott, Israel ramping up air strikes in response to rocket fire coming from Gaza. What is the latest on this from where you are?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, this was a very long night both residents of Israeli and residents in the Gaza strip. Sirens were sounding several times. I counted about half a dozen times that I had to go down to the shelter in my building, taking my children down there as well overnight. And there were something like, more than 100 rockets fired from Gaza strip towards Tel Aviv.

And when so many rockets are being fired, the Iron Dome Defense system which was having about a nine -- hitting about nine out in 10 of the rockets being fired and coming towards Israel it can't get all of them. And you can see here the result.

This is Rishon, LeZion, this is a quiet residential street just south of Tel Aviv you can see the crater left behind by one of the rockets and the disruption left. This is just one home. I should say there are burned out and charred vehicles which we still smell, we can still smell them the burning from them which happened last night.

And when that missile struck, a 60 -- a woman in her 60s who the neighbor say was just coming home at about that time she was killed. And that brings the death toll in Israel to five.


In the Gaza strip the Palestinian health ministry says that more than 35 people have been killed, including a dozen children. Both sides say there have been more than 200 injured Palestinians, more than 200 Israelis injured as well.

There aren't really any rockets flying at the moment. This was, you know, a kind of night time thing since dawn broke. There haven't been sirens sounding that I've been aware of. But obviously, tonight is another night. And as the day wears on and perhaps more targets are struck by the IDF and perhaps more rockets are fired from the Gaza strip into Israel, we should expect things to continue to escalate as the IDF spokesman is saying just before.

CHURCH: Right. And what are people saying to you? What are they saying about where they think this might be going?

GOTKINE: Unfortunately, Israel has seen this before as have the residents of Gaza of course. We don't actually know where this is going. People aren't really sure. There are some obviously who will want to see things calm down immediately. And there will be some -- the clear up operation obviously happening here -- and there will be some who feel that, you know, a firmer hand is required to ensure that this can't keep happening every few years.

What we do know is partly based on what the IDF spokesman has told us and partly a sense of what we've seen going on is that no side appears willing to back down just yet. And perhaps only when both sides feel that they've reached their objectives or feel that they can claim a victory will be see that we are getting towards the end game. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Indeed. Elliott Gotkine bringing us the latest there from the ground. I appreciate it.

Well the Arab League is coming out strongly in defense of the Palestinians. The group's leader blame Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the government's tolerance of Jewish extremist for the conflict.


AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Israel is playing with fire. The aggression of its actions, its morals, and illegitimacy pushes the entire region towards further conflict. Israel is limiting all the chances of achieving fair peace, and it is threatening the safety and stability of the entire region.


CHURCH (on camera): Joining me now is former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon. Thank you, Ambassador, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, this deadly escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza is the fiercest, it's the fiercest we've seen in many years. How likely is it that this would developed into a major conflict in the region?

AYALON: Well, unfortunately, the short answer is that it could be very likely. Because right now, Iran and the Hezbollah are waiting -- at the waiting (Ph) we saw now activity by Hezbollah diplomacy -- I'm sorry -- Iran's diplomacy. Their foreign minister is traveling into the area trying to foment and incite some war.

But we have to look at it, I guess from a bigger picture. Is that, we are at war with Hamas which is a continuous one, which is they call it an open war. They are sworn to Israel's destruction. They say repeatedly it's an older conflict and this is what they train and teach their people.

So, actually, what we see are lots of quiet in between attacks by Hamas which is looking always for the right pretext. This time it was unfortunately, the day of Jerusalem where we commemorate the reunification of our capital from 54 years ago, and also, the convergence of Ramadan and the cancellation of the Palestinian election.

So, Hamas is taking advantage now against their political rival in Ramallah which is Abu Mazen and the Palestinian authority. So, all this together have shown them to really move forward.

There is another thing here which is important to say. There are constant rumors that the radical Islamist throughout the are all spreading as if Israel is trying to actually demolish the Temple Mount, the mosque on the Temple Mount. And of course, this is nonsense, but this incites Muslims from all the region, and this is why we have seen last week hundreds of thousands of Muslims coming converging on Jerusalem with violent demonstrations.

Police had no choice but to keep law and order. And this of course was kind of an expletive process which we see the evidence affected today and last night here in Israel.

CHURCH: Well, western nations are condemning the violence and the U.S. has publicly and privately called on both sides to show restraint and de-escalate the violence, mindful of citizens caught in the middle of all of this. What more does the U.S. need to be doing to resolve this rather than just manage this escalating violence?


AYALON: I think simply put I think a lot of pressure and condemnation. It should be a one-sided condemnation, because there is only one aggressor, one attacker here. And the other side Israel which has to defend itself, which has the full right to do it according to the charter of the U.N.

I think they heed very much to the voice coming from Washington and from of course other capitalist especially in Europe. If they hear on both sides to be quiet, that gives them moral motivation to continue the firing. If they knew that they were on the spot, that would add to deterrence. And the other thing I think that the U.S. could do is talk to Qatar. Qatar is the bankroller of Hamas. And they have a lot of leverage. So, if Qatar would put pressure on Hamas in Gaza, if Egypt put pressure on Hamas in Gaza, I think they would be less likely to refuse them.

CHURCH: And so, just days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu's opponent, Yair Lapid was tapped by the Israeli president and given four weeks to form a unity government because Netanyahu had failed to do that. But this violence has put those talks on hold. What -- what's the politics behind all of this and what impact could this escalating violence have on efforts to form a government without Netanyahu at the helm? Because it has to be said, the longer this crisis continues, the better that is for Benjamin Netanyahu. Right?

AYALON: So, it seems. Absolutely. And this is very unfortunate, because we have been on the verge of a new government which was to include, for the first time in our history, an Arab party, an Israeli Arab party that was going to join the coalition.

Now, of course with this violence, this cannot happen. And this could really scuttle the efforts of constructing a new government, which means that the status quo will remain. And we may have a fifth election, because if there is no government by Lapid and Bennett, Netanyahu cannot form the government. That means a stalemate. And if the Arabs do not weigh in to one of the sides, that means fifth elections.

CHURCH: Ambassador Danny Ayalon, we thank you so much for talking with us. I appreciate it.

AYALON: My pleasure.

CHURCH: And just ahead, we will hear from Mustafa Barghouti, the president of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Well in the U.S., the White House is expressing serious concerns about the growing violence in the region, and says President Joe Biden is monitoring the situation.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well as tensions continue to boil over violence escalating in Jerusalem, the White House urging de- escalation. White House officials making very clear that Israel has every right to protect itself against rockets fired by Hamas. But also urging the Israelis to take care to pay attention to the treatment of the Palestinian people.

And it's a delicate balance, a delicate thin line to walk for the White House. And White House officials acknowledge that, but they are making clear they are reaching out, trying to do their best to ratchet back the situation. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Since last week, he has directed his team to engage intensively with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as leaders throughout the Middle East. His team is communicating a clear and consistent message in support of de-escalation, and that is our primary focus.


MATTINGLY (on camera): Now, one of those officials, White House press secretary Jen Psaki referencing national security adviser Jake Sullivan, speaking to his counterpart in Israel, also speaking to several other officials in the region trying to figure out if there are pathways to if not put an end to the violence as it continues to escalate at least, try and de-escalate things over the course of the next several days.

So far though, no clear pathway forward to that end. Still waiting for one clear statement, or at least public statement from President Joe Biden, at least on camera public statement at this point in time.

One thing we did learn on Tuesday was that President Biden has sent a letter to Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, this is a response to a letter Abbas sent to President Biden earlier this year. No known details about what's in that letter, but it's very clear now the two sides are communicating, at least in some way, shape or form, whether that has any influence or impact on what's going on right now is unclear.

But it is very clear that the White House is concerned about what they've seen. They are calling for de-escalation and they want something to change and change fast and the reason that is forever problematic when it comes to how U.S. officials deal with the Middle East.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: India and Nepal have shattered their own records for daily COVID deaths. The latest on that.

Plus, we visit a Nepali hospital forced to turn patients away.



CHURCH (on camera): We are following new developments out of Israel where Hamas militants fired another barrage of rockets at the Jewish state in the overnight hours. Two people were killed near Lod, bringing Israel's death toll since Monday to five. Palestinian officials say at least 35 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes.

You can stay with CNN. We'll bring you updates as they become available.

A few hours ago, India released its latest official COVID figures and it has once again set a new record for daily deaths. More than 4,200 fatalities were reported on Wednesday, with the overall death toll now surpassing a quarter million. And India's total cases have now risen past 23 million.

Meantime, at least 19 Indian states are recording a high COVID positivity rate of more than 20 percent. In the state of Goa almost half of those being tested are coming up positive for the virus.

In neighboring Nepal, the daily death toll from coronavirus is also in record territory and the lockdown in the capital Kathmandu has been extended a few more weeks.

So, let's bring in Anna Coren who is covering all of this from Hong Kong. So, Anna, Nepal is facing an oxygen shortage, soaring cases and deaths, and the government in crisis. What is the latest on this tragedy?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, Human Rights Watch is warning of a looming catastrophe for the Himalayan country as COVID its second wave absolutely devastates this country. Daily infections and deaths have reached records highs with nearly one person dying every six minutes across the country.

As you mentioned, oxygen is in acute, there is an acute shortage of oxygen, and the Supreme Court of Nepal has stepped in ordering authorities to set up a national task force to work out the distribution of oxygen and medical supplies. The problem is, Rosemary, they are all in such short supply. Take a look.


COREN (voice over): So close to receiving help, but still struggling to breathe. COVID patients line-up outside hospitals in Nepal begging for oxygen supplies or an available bed. Hospitals are starting to turn patients away, and doctors are raising the alarm about what they are calling a crisis of oxygen.

SAUGAT POUDYAL, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, KARUNA HOSPITAL IN KATHMANDU: I think the global community needs to step forward from now on, it's the lack of oxygen that is going to bring about a huge catastrophic count.


COREN: In desperation, people are even taking to Twitter to beg for help, including Surajan K.C., whose parents are both in hospital with COVID, his father in ICU.

SURAJAN K.C., BOTH PARENTS HAVE COVID-19: With dad, it's been up and down because his oxygen level is not stable, we're just waiting and watching whether he's going to recover soon. So, we are just hoping every day that, you know, he gets well soon, and we can bring him home.

COREN: Even though his parents now have hospital beds, that does not guarantee a supply of oxygen.

K.C.: It is pretty scary especially when it comes to oxygen. Because even if you find beds in the hospitals, I've heard that so many hospitals are telling the patients to that they have to find oxygens for their patients by themselves.

COREN: One group of volunteers is trying to help by connecting these patients with oxygen supplies and beds. Using a web site and social media to fill the gaps, in a system which they say is failing to people.

EEDA RIJAL, VOLUNTEER, COVID CONNECT NEPAL: It's a humanitarian crisis at the moment, and we working in frontline, we've seen that surge and we don't understand why the government has not been able to see this.

COREN: But their work is getting harder, after new directives were issued stating that only the government can approve oxygen distribution from factories. Aim to preventing hoarding in private homes but strangling supplies with red tape.

To try to meet the increasing demands in these impoverished country of more than 30 million people, Nepal's oxygen manufacturers are being asked to ramp up production. And China is sending in 20,000 oxygen cylinders and 100 ventilators.

Climbers attempting Everest are also being asked to save their oxygen canisters so they can be re-filled for the hospitals. Doctors also believe these climbers should be donating full oxygen canisters to help this crisis. There are more than 3,000 small canisters of oxygen currently on the mountain.

Despite the unfolding disaster in the hospitals, the caretaker Nepali prime minister told CNN on the weekend, the COVID situation is quote, "under control," a response which angered many Nepalis.

SURAJ RAJ PANDEY, COVID CONNECT NEPAL: People are not getting beds, people are not getting oxygen, people are crying out for help and the head of this country comes out and says to international community everything is fine, Nepal is normal, everything is under control while people are dying out in the streets.

COREN: The prime minister on Monday lost a vital vote of confidence after more than 200 lawmakers gathered in parliament despite the risks of large gatherings. So, his government, like the fragile healthcare system, is heading for collapse. And frontline workers are being left to cope with the onslaught.

POUDYAL: It's been sleepless night for the last seven days. So, I think (Inaudible) for us.

UNKNOWN: We've been working 24/7, and the thing is taking a break has never been an option because people's lives are at stake at the moment.


COREN (on camera): Rosemary, similar to India, Nepal managed to escape relatively unscathed during the first wave. It is not so lucky the second time around. The positivity rate in Nepal is almost 50 percent, which means one in two people are testing positive for COVID.

We have to remember; this is a very poor country. And the health system is quite literally on the brink of collapse. The political turmoil the country is experiencing could not come at a worst time considering this national emergency. The opposition has until Thursday night to try and form a government if they are unsuccessful, that means the caretaker Prime Minister, Sharma Oli, will remain in power until elections can be held at the earliest by the end of the year, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a shocking situation. Anna Coren bringing us up to date on what is happening in Nepal. Many thanks.

Well as the crisis continues, there are many ways you can help people in India cope with this devastating COVID outbreak. Just go to to find out how.

And there are growing fears of a widening conflict between Israel and Gaza. And the unrest in the streets is spreading beyond Jerusalem. We will have an update on that.



CHURCH (on camera): There are disturbing signs of an expanding conflict in Israel and Gaza. The Israeli government has declared a state of emergency in the mixed Jewish and Arab city of Lod after protests turned into riots. Rocket fire killed two people, reportedly Arab Israelis nearby. And Israel has ramped up airstrikes in Gaza.

Palestinian health officials report at least 35 people have been killed, including 12 children. Hamas and Islamic Jihad targeted Tel Aviv in retaliation. South of the city, a bus caught fire after it was hit by militant rocket fire. Local media reports seven people were injured.

Well the violence hasn't been this intense since 2014. The rockets fired from Gaza and the Israeli airstrikes, edging towards all-out war.

Hadas Gold reports there is no sign of it easing.


UNKNOWN: Sirens, let's go, let's go!

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Ashkelon and other neighborhoods near the Gaza border, the warning sounds fill the air all day long. And as night fell, a new target, Tel Aviv. As Hamas and Islamic Jihad Iran's rocket after rocket after targets in Israel, with more than 600 fired so far.

Senior member of the Hamas political bureau, Dr. Maher Saleh (Ph) saying in a written statement Tuesday, that Hamas's response is to stop the Israeli occupations, violations and to halt the implementation of its aggressive schemes in Jerusalem. Undeterred by Israel's crushing airstrikes in response and vows of harsher television.

NETANYAHU (through translator): After a situational assessment, we have made the decision to further increase both the intensity of the attacks and the rate of attacks. Hamas will receive blows that it did not expect.

GOLD: Tensions have been building for weeks, a major flash point, protest over threatened evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem. And clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian at Islam's third holiest site, the Al- Aqsa Mosque has broaden into a level of anger and deadly violence in the region not seen in years.

The all-too familiar sight of this long-standing conflicts grief and anguish, returning as mourners bury their dead in Gaza, not only Israel's intended militant targets but also the young. At least 10 children among the dozens killed thus far in air strikes.

Israel says it's investigating any civilian casualties with than 200 injured.

And while Israel's air defense or Iron Dome has intercepted most of the incoming rockets from Gaza, direct hits in Ashkelon and on the outskirts of Tel Aviv left three Israelis dead and dozens more injured. Stoking the very real fear of the growing scope and reach of these weapons on Israeli civilians.

And while protests pop up in various cities around the globe against the force of Israeli's air response on Gaza and against the possible evictions in Jerusalem, western nations are uniformly condemning the rocket attacks and are calling for a de-escalation in tensions. A call that has thus far gone unheeded.

And with Tuesday night's new rocket barrage of Tel Aviv, and the retaliation all but certain to come, a death toll all but certain to rise.


Hadas Gold, CNN, Ashkelon.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And CNN's Kylie Atwood has more on the U.S. reaction to tensions in the region.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A State Department spokesperson said the Biden administration is deeply concerned about the escalation between Israel and those launching rockets from Gaza. He also said that the Biden administration is deeply concerned about civilian deaths on both sides.

Now, Secretary of State, Tony Blinken had a phone call on Tuesday with his Israeli counterpart. The main message during that phone call was de-escalation. That is what we have heard from the Biden administration over the last three days -- few days repeatedly. We've heard that from the White House today, the press secretary also said that President Biden has been briefed on the situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. Every single day for the last few days and he has told those on his team to engage with both Israeli and Palestinian officials on this matter. Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


CHURCH: And CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is with us now. Good to see, you Nic. So, we are seeing this escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza with deadly consequences. How much worse could this potentially get and is the international community doing an off to try to resolve this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): the previous evidence, if you go back to 2014, and the conflict then, is that this could get worse and what concerns people at a moment is that does appear to be heading in that direction. And perhaps with greatest speed that it did in the summer of 2014.

If you go back then, more than 60 Israeli soldiers were killed in that conflict, more than 2,000 Palestinians living in Gaza according to the Gaza's health ministry were killed. So, in terms of the physical, personal loss, it could get worse. Those fingers are very stark figures. And that's partly what helped draw the previous conflict to conclusion was some, negotiation towards resolution.

And back then, Egypt and Qatar as they have in the past were involved in that. We are not aware that they're involved in that at this time. I think it's notable that the United States under President Biden was not keen to engage and put the Palestinian-Israeli tension at the top of the international agenda.

In fact, it took him a noticeably long time to have a phone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So, I think in those terms, the United States is calling for a de-escalation is saying that Israel has the right to defend itself from rocket attacks. How deeply and quickly they can get involved to de-escalate is unclear.

I think Secretary Blinken's call to Gabi Ashkenazi Israel's foreign minister does appear to have had some impact. The Israel's Foreign Minister was on a trip to South Korea. He has now come back to Israel or on his way back to Israel. That perhaps indicates that Israel is preparing to deepen its engagement with the international community.

But that's not (inaudible) the engagement to de-escalate or disengagement to, you know, to deal with the concerns that are already coming. The U.N.'s point person on Middle East tensions said that he is deeply concerned that this could escalate as the conflict did in 2014. So, I think their concerns remain very deep. The path out of this is not clear. De-escalation has been passed. And so these concerns are very real at the moment.

CHURCH: Absolutely they are. Nic Robertson bringing us the latest on that, many thanks. Well, the Mustafa Barghouti is the president of the Palestinian national initiatives and member of the Palestinian parliament. He joins me this hour from Ramallah in the West Bank. Thank you sir for talking with us.


CHURCH: Good to have you with us. So, in response to calls for President Biden to establish dialog with the Palestinians on Tuesday, the White House disclosed that the president had in fact sent a letter to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority president, about this situation. But in the end, Abbas has very little influence over Hamas, or the Islamic jihad. So, what is this likely to achieve, although at least the channels of communications open? And what should the next step be in trying to resolve this escalating violence?

BARGHOUTI: Well, first of all, I think that we as Palestinians have manage to reach an important point back in September by establishing joint (inaudible) includes (inaudible) Hamas and every body else. All the 14 Palestinian political forces to the United States is really interested. They can find by unified Palestinian leadership and talk to it.


If they are interested. But the strangest thing that I have just heard is that Israel has the right to defend itself. Buy nobody is saying that Palestinians also have the right to defend themselves. This approach which discriminates against Palestinians is unacceptable. And today, it's a very dangerous situation and intervention is very much needed to stop the escalation and to bring back the ceasefire for sure.

But people have to demand that this is the result of ignoring Palestinian issue for more than 70 years. This is the result that no pressure has been exercise on Israel to end this military occupation which has become the longest in modern history. 54 years of occupation, which has transformed into a system of racial discrimination and apartheid. That is the main problem that has to be resolved so that we would not see this happening again.

CHURCH: And so, Hamas says it's firing hundreds of rockets at Israel to stop what it calls the Israeli occupation violations and to halt the implementation of Israel's aggressive schemes in Jerusalem. But how does this further the needs of Palestinians, the firing of these rockets which then, in turn, the reply will be the Israeli airstrikes destroying homes in response to those -- that rocket fire. Surely, there is a better way than this path.

BARGHOUTI: Well, Palestinians have tried popular nonviolence resistance for a whole month and during Ramadan. When Israel was working on evicting 500 people from their homes and communities in Iraq. By the way, these people were subjected to ethnic cleansing back in 1948. And now they want to conduct ethnic cleansing again.

So we have popular, nonviolence resistance, more or gets where it was for a whole month and Israel continue to attack. That people who are praying inside a mosque and (inaudible) mosque. They continue to attack Palestinians. More than 1,000 people were injured, six of them lost their eyes. Several people were killed just yesterday evening. The Israeli army killed two people in the West Bank. One of them was a child, 16 years-old.

And in the West Bank, we don't have rockets. So, the Israeli behavior led for this escalation. An in my opinion, the world must not equate between those who are occupying Palestinians and those who are occupied. I cannot equate between Israel which has a (inaudible), the lives just little (inaudible) in the Middle East. And the situation in Gaza where 2.1 million people have been under military seized for 16 years. And 80 percent of the young educated people are unemployed.

The level of poverty is unbelievable. So, this has to change. The way to change that is either Israel would accept that Palestinians would live in their own independent state or they would accept that we live together in one state, but with Democratic rights, equal rights and not to say this land is for Jewish people only.

CHURCH: But sir, how much do you worry that Hamas and the Islamic jihad are playing right into Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to stay in power and avoid facing corruption charges the longer this violence drags on the less likely it is? That his opponent Yair Lapid would be able to form a governing coalition without Netanyahu at the helm.

BARGHOUTI: The issue is here has been in the hands of Israel. I do not think that Israelis should allow Netanyahu who is accused of corruption to continue, using their blood and the blood of Palestinians to stay in power. And that has to come from Israeli party. They must (inaudible) and get rid of him.

But on the other hand I must say that the Palestinians side, tried to avoid this escalation. Hamas and other party in Gaza declared that Israel should not attack high rise buildings and if they do, they will respond with rockets at Tel Aviv. Netanyahu proceeded and destroyed high rise building which it has hundreds of people living in it. And of course that is also a response. So this escalation in my

opinion is on Netanyahu's shoulder, and on (inaudible) and on the Israeli army, they must move to get rid of this leadership that does not care about them and does not care about (inaudible). Id they care about the future, they will not have blocked the possibility of the peace process for more than 15 years.

CHURCH: Mustafa Barghouti, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, military training drills between the U.S. and its European allies are a regular occurrence.


But Russia's reason military behavior is casting the exercises in a new light. We get exclusive access to America's Elite Special Forces in Europe, that's next.


CHURCH: The U.S. and its European allies are conducting military exercises in the region this month. The wargames dubbed Trojan Footprint are taking place throughout the continent, as well as around the Black Sea. That has been the side of Russian provocations in recent weeks. The joint American and European exercises are normal drills designed to deter Russia. But they have taken on much greater significance now. CNN's Alex Marquardt got rare access to Elite Special Forces.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): At the same time that Russia is ratcheting up tension with Ukraine, the U.S. and its NATO allies have launched large scale military exercises all across Europe. Now, these exercises have been planned for a while, now. But this timing is not lost on anyone.

Over the past few days, we've covered a number of these exercises at sea, on land, and in the air. And got an exclusive access to some of the most elite U.S. Forces.


MARQUARDT (voice over): A team of U.S. Navy SEALS rifles drawn, move quickly through the pitch black of a warehouse on the Black Sea. Laser sites, invisible to the naked eye, finding and taking out enemy fighters.

UNKNOWN: And shoot it down, shoot it down. Alright, let's go.

UNKNOWN: Break, up breakup.

MARQUARDT: Tonight, the dead, wounded and bullets are not real. But part of an elaborate series of NATO military exercises involving almost 30,000 soldiers, from 26 countries. MAJOR GENERAL JOE JARRARD, DEP. COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY IN EURPE AND

AFRICA: It's just showing everybody that we had the capability and we can use it when necessary.

MARQUARDT: CNN got rare access, to some of the most elite U.S. troops in the world, taking part in a unique training called Trojan Footprint. It is across Eastern Europe, working with forces from Spain, Jordan, Romania, Ukraine, and more. It could not come at a more tense time for this region, with Russia recently ratcheting up its aggression, sending tens of thousands of troops and a massive deployment of equipment to the border with Ukraine.

Prompting fears of an invasion, and harsh condemnation from Europe and Washington. Back in Romania, this display of strength, and cooperation, clearly hoping to send a powerful message.

DAVID MUNIZ, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES, U.S. EMBASSY IN ROMANIA: When we are strong, when we are united, it has a real chilling effect on shall we say, the kinds of things that can happen. And so, in this way you cut down on the chance for mischief.

MARQUARDT: Even as Russia pulls back some of its troop from the land border with Ukraine, they've been stepping up their activities out here in the Black Sea.


Their warships have been carrying out exercises, they have been harassing Ukrainian vessels, and closing down parts of the Black Sea to other foreign ships as well. The Navy SEALS lead the training in those waters. While Ukrainian soldiers practice alongside these American green berets, with faces we are not allowed to show.

When you talk to troops from other countries like the Ukrainians, like the Romanians, how import do you think it is for them to feel that American support?

UNKNOWN: I think it is pretty significant. It shows that we are serious, working in an exercise like Trojan Footprint. It is important, whether whatever is going on around the world.

MARQUARDT: Which is why, these massive exercises take place at sea, in the air, and on land.

UNKNOWN: 0-5, corrections, 50 meters, north --

MARQUARDT: A dynamic display of partnership and firepower punctuating the loud message of a united front in troubling times.

UNKNOWN: 34 one, good hits, targets destroyed.

MARQUARDT: This is a military base for NATO's newest and 30th member, north Macedonia, a small country in a growing military alliance that Vladimir Putin is determined to undermine. Two other countries that are taking part in these exercises, Jordan and Ukraine, which are not yet NATO members, have been invaded by Russia in recent years. So that threat from Russia is very real. And everybody have spoken with over the past few days has talked about the importance of projecting strength, and solidarity. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Scorpio, north Macedonia.


CHURCH: The U.S. fuel supplier Colonial Pipeline says it has manually delivered nearly a million barrels of fuel since a cyberattack shut down operations last week. The company says it's making progress to substantially restore services by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, federal officials are pleading with Americans not to hoard gasoline. CNN's Pete Muntean reports on the panic buying causing shortages on the East Coast.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The latest problem caused by the colonial pipeline hack is panic at the pump with lines at some stations getting longer. The 5,500 mile pipeline supplies about 45 percent of all fuel used on the East Coast.

UNKNOWN: It looks like they just ran out. They charged me 11 cents.

MUNTEAN: Even though experts say the rush is not necessary for now, the White House insists there are no widespread fuel shortages, but that has not stopped people from buying gas fast. Oil analyst tell CNN that will lead to more than 1,000 stations running out of gas soon, with the biggest impacts in Georgia and Tennessee. On Monday, demand jumped 40 percent in five states from Florida to Virginia.

UNKNOWN: It's a very serious problem right now.

MUNTEAN: 84-year-old, Bill Holtsman has spent his entire career distributing gas to stations in Virginia. But with the Colonial Pipeline mostly off line, Holtsman trucks are now scrambling to fill- up elsewhere. Holtsman says this Colonial terminal at Fairfax, Virginia is now drive.

UNKNOWN: Our goal is to not have any station out of gasoline and unfortunately that's probably going to happen and that really bothers me.

MUNTEAN: Triple A says the price of a gallon of gas has shot up more than 7 cents in the last week, the new national averages now more than $2.98, the highest in 6 years. Oil analyst, Tom Kloza, says with some stations now selling four times the norm, the national average will soon top $3.

TOM KLOZA, OIL ANALYST: When everybody scrambles, it's like everyone is scrambling to go through a revolving door. We are seeing that behavior right now. It has spreads like wildfire.

MUNTEAN: It's a new damper on what the travel industry hoped would be the start of a rebound beyond just road trips. In Atlanta, the world's second busiest airport says it is looking for additional fuel suppliers. American airlines is even adding stops to a few of its longer flights, unable to top up all the way. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm calls this a supply crunch, rather than a gas shortage.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There was no cause for hoarding toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic. There should be no cause for hoarding gasoline.

MUNTEAN: Here in Virginia, the Governor just declared a state of emergency, even though only about 7 percent of gas stations statewide are now without gas. Colonial, says it can say on Wednesday when it can turn the pipeline back on, but it could take a few days after that until gas begins reaching terminals like this one.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Fairfax, Virginia.


CHURCH: Less than three months to go and athletes around the world are anxiously awaiting to see if the Tokyo Olympics will happen.


UNKNOWN: Still, I worry sometimes because I can't assume -- to be increasing on the worries are always there, but I'm sure that Olympics will take place.



CHURCH: Coming up, how a Japanese villages is helping south Sudanese athletes keep their Olympic dreams alive.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. We are less than three months away from the Tokyo Olympics. But there is mounting uncertainty over whether the games will take place as COVID cases rise in Japan. And the president of the international Olympic committee has postponed his visit to the country. Still, athletes are training to be in tip-top shape, including one group from south Sudan. CNN's Blake Essig reports how Japan is helping keep their Olympic dreams alive.


UNKNOWN: I'm doing it for my country, not for myself.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Abraham Majok Matet Guem has been running his entire life, running from violence, running for survival, and in just a few months, running to unite a nation at the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

ABRAHAM MAJOK MATET GUEM, OLYMPIC ATHLETE: All I need for my people that is the Sudanese is love and peace. And all this comes with forgiveness, when we are able to forgive one another, this piece can come in.

ESSIG: Since becoming an independent nation in 2011, south Sudan has been embroiled in constant conflict. The most recent, a six year long civil war which left nearly 400,000 people dead and millions more displaced.

MAJOK MATET GUEM: Seeing all these people dying, seeing people suffering, people worried, and they fear that we will always have suffering.

ESSIG: While the effects of war are long-lasting, Guem and his teammates and coach have found peace and a safe place to train roughly 7,000 miles from home in Maebashi, Japan.

For most athletes in south Sudan, food is hard to come by. Shoes are uncommon. And facilities like this simply don't exist. The team has been living and training here for nearly a year and a half. They go to school daily to study Japanese and computer skills, have immersed themselves in Japanese culture, and even sample the local fair. Overtime, Michael Machiek, south Sudan's first Paralympic athletes, says they've become part of the community.

MICHAEL MACHIEK, SOUTH SUDAN FIRST PARALYMPIC ATHLETES: My favorite in (inaudible) the way the Japanese treat us very nice. Yes. They treat us as if we are citizens of Japan.

ESSIG: Through taxes and donations, the city of Maebashi raised about $300,000 to host and support the athletes. City officials say their stay was extended by a year because of COVID-19.

SHINICHI HAGIWARA, MAEBASHI CITY SPORTS DIVISION (through translation): They've become one of us now. I think people do you feel surprised when they see the athletes. They just want them to do well at the Olympics.

ESSIG: While Olympic organizers remain Adamant that the games will be held as scheduled, whether or not they actually take place remains to be seen, as a fourth wave of infection in Japan continues to swell.

MAJOK MATET GUEM: Right now it still worries me sometime, because the cases seems to be increasing and the war is always there, but I am sure that Olympics will take place.


ESSIG: And if it does, Guem and his teammates will be ready to run. Run not for themselves, but to bring pride to the people of south Sudan, still struggling to recover from ongoing ethnic violence. Blake Essig, CNN, Maebashi, Japan.


CHURCH: For months, we have been saying a humanitarian crisis unfold in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Amid a military conflict there, report of atrocities and human rights crime continued to emerge. And now, a CNN team has been able to investigate from inside the country after traveling across the Tigray region. They became the first journalists to enter a sacred city besieged by the conflict. But before they arrived, CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team encountered numerous roadblocks. Here is what happened at one of them.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We get out of the car with our hands up and identify ourselves to the Ethiopian soldiers.

Hello, hello, CNN, CNN, we are CNN, journalists. We are journalists. Sir? Sir?

UNKNOWN: Ask our commander.

ELBAGIR: The soldier spots our camera. They are incredibly tense.

It's OK. It's OK.

The soldiers close in on us. As we are pulled to one side, we turn on our covert camera.

Are we detained? Unless we are detained, we are not giving them the camera.


CHURCH: And to watch the rest of their perilous journey and see the shocking truth stand covered, you can tune in Thursday starting at 5:00 a.m. in London and at noon in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

We are tracking all the developments out of Israel and Gaza. There was a barrage of rocket fire and air strikes in the overnight hours. Israel declared a state of emergency in (inaudible) after protests turned violent. The city has a mixed Arab and Jewish population. Border police are being sent in as reinforcements.

Hamas and Islamic jihad fired rockets at Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israel's ramped up airstrikes. You can stay with CNN. We will bring you the very latest on this story.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment.