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Ethnic Clashes Rock Jewish-Arab Cities in Israel; 35 Indian States Under Lockdowns or Restrictions; Ohio Lottery to Give Vaccinated Winners $1 Million; Ethnic Clashes Rock Jewish-Arab Cities in Israel; Designing New Materials Out of Trash; Investigations Begin Into Alleged Police Abuse. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 13, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching another hour CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio 7 here at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

Coming up this hour:

Israeli-Palestinian violence takes an ominous turn. Clashes between Arabs and Jews exploding in the streets of cities and towns across Israel.

India's COVID crisis reaches the heartland, as small towns and villages now struggle with soaring cases with limited resources.

One U.S. state comes out with a new way to encourage people to get vaccinated, a $1 million lottery.


VAUSE: A new front seems to have open in the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians, with more violence between areas and Jews erupting across Israel. For the first time in more than 50 years, the government has now declared a state of emergency, and Arab community after protest turned to riots in the city of Lod. In places where Arabs and Jews use once live side by side, there now reports of mob violence, beatings and arson attacks.

And as you're about to see, some of the violence seen live on local television, shared on social media, and viewers may find the images disturbing.

In Bat Yam, an outer suburb of Tel Aviv, a TV crew from Israel's Channel 11, broadcast live images of a right-wing Jewish mob attacking a man believed to be a Palestinian Israeli citizen. He was taken to hospital.

And to the north of the city of Haifa, an Arab mob attacked and critically wounded a Jewish man. One city mayor has said, 70 years of coexistence has been trampled.

Meantime, Hamas buildings in Gaza have been sending rockets into Israeli territory.

In Tel Aviv, residents scramble to shelter as air raid sires rang out. Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system. But not every rocket was stopped.

A 6-year-old child became the latest Israeli casualty after a missile hit a residential building in the country's south. The IDF says more than 1,500 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip since Monday.

Israel has responded to devastating airstrikes. On Wednesday, another high rise building was leveled. The Palestinian health ministry says 67 people have been killed, including 17 children. Israel, though, insists it is targeting Hamas infrastructure across Gaza.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: Yesterday, I told those sons of darkness, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, that their blood is forfeit. And a short while ago, we eliminated top commanders of the Hamas general staff, including the Gaza brigade commander and other commanders. And this is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible.


VAUSE: The U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting on Friday, and the Mideast envoy to the council is tweeting: Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take responsibility of de-escalation. The cost of the war in Gaza is devastating it is being paid by ordinary people.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has the scene from Gaza and again, a warning, some of the images in his report are disturbing.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once more, hell is unleashed in this small crowded place.

As Israel's real fire and brimstone rain down on Gaza. And Hamas and Islamic Jihad's rockets roar out of Gaza into Israel.

A conflict left to fester again has burst into flames.

We heard an explosion, two rockets one after another, says Gaza resident Erafat Rifi (ph). I found my 18-year-old granddaughter dead. My son was injured in the head. And his other daughter had a broken leg.

By Wednesday midday, more than 50 people have been killed in Gaza according to Palestinian health ministry, among them, at least 14 children. Hundreds have been wounded.

In Gaza, where 80 percent of the population are refugees, or their descendants, once more, they're made homeless.


At 6:00 in the morning, we were told to leave because they were going to bring down the building in front of us, says Abdul Aziz Abu Sharia. We ran out and waited in the street for four hours. And in the evening, we went back and found everything destroyed. There's nothing left.

Neither the militant factions nor Israel show any signs of backing down. Israel has mobilized reserves, and is moving tanks toward Gaza. While Hamas has put videos of its rocket team, the message, clear.


WEDEMAN: Escalation appears inevitable, all the death and suffering that go with it.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Many in Tel Aviv are walking for another night in bomb shelters after air raid sirens warned of incoming rocket fire.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine is live in Tel Aviv this hour.

So, Elliott, in the past, it's taken a couple of weeks before this conflict has escalated to the point where Tel-Aviv was actually in the firing line. You know, it's always been limited to the area of Ashkelon in the south. Given that Tel Aviv has been in the firing line, a couple days now, does that decrease the pressure on the government to find some kind of solution here? Or does it increased the resolve to push ahead with this military operation?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Well, right now, the government says that it will continue to strike Hamas and what it describes as other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. There hasn't -- there have (INAUDIBLE) you know, attempts from the international community to try to get both sides to deescalate the situation.

We finally heard from President Joe Biden yesterday talking -- he had a conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And he said that his expectation, and hope was that this would be closing down sooner rather than later, saying that, you know, the engagement is in high gear, that the administration is speaking to people, not just the players among Israelis and Palestinians, but also in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, and in the United Arab Emirates, for example, to try and get some pressure moving in to trying get both sides to back down.

There were unconfirmed reports in Israeli media yesterday that Hamas had reached out to his to offer a cease-fire, but that was rejected. Those reports were unconfirmed.

So the situation right now is that there been more rockets are fired into southern Israel this morning and sirens sounding there. And there really is no immediate, obvious way that this is going to de-escalate. The Israeli army is giving a briefing right now as we speak. And we'll bring you updates from that, as soon as we have them.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there with the very latest in Tel Aviv.

Well, the response from U.S. President Joe Biden is fairly boiler plate, saying the violence needs to stop but Israel has a right to self-defense.

Biden has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the U.S. looks for ways to end this recent conflict. The White House is also in touch with regional actors such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Here's what President Biden says needs to happen next.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My expectation and hope is that that this will be closing down sooner than later. But Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory. But I had a conversation for a while with the prime minister of Israel, and I think that -- my hope is that we'll see this coming to conclusion sooner than later.


VAUSE: Jordan will begin sending emergency medical aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

In the meantime, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink, and for both sides to show restraint. The U.K. is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions.

Saudi foreign ministry says it condemns in strongest terms the blatant attacks carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa mosque, undermining the safety and security of worshippers.

But Israel defends its military tactics. The government accuses Hamas of firing rockets from civilian areas, including schools, using women and children as human shields.


MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We're doing everything we can to avoid people who are not involved in this conflict getting hurt. We don't want to see children -- Israeli children or Palestinian children caught up in this fighting.

Unfortunately, this conflict has been forced upon us. I think we've had over 1,500 rockets fired at Israel since this started on Monday. We're trying to be as surgical as we can, as is humanly possibly in a very, very complex combat situation.


Last night, a air raid sirens went off as you reported across Israel. We are responding. We want this to end, but end in a way that it won't return.

And let's be clear, we made leading up to this an explosion of this crisis on Monday night, we did everything we could to de-escalate. We did everything we could to avoid this crisis, but Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza were committed to escalation, to violence, to shooting their rockets into Israel. And we are acting to defend our people, to protect our citizens, and we will in the end, restore peace and quiet.


VAUSE: Mark Regev there, senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, speaking to me just a short time ago.

Hanan Ashrawi is a senior Palestinian diplomat, former PLO executive member. She's with us from Ramallah, in the West Bank.

Hanan Ashrawi, it's good to see you.


VAUSE: Even to president of the Palestinian Authority wanted to try and rein in Hamas right now, it seems Mahmoud Abbas has almost zero influence in what happens in Gaza. He could not try and stop Hamas if he wants to, could he?

ASHRAWI: Well, the question is not whether Mahmoud Abbas can rein in or stop violence, or whatever, it's just -- it's surrealistic, it's absurd when you cover the situation, you start talking about Hamas as you thought this came out of the blue. You don't even mention the occupation. The fact that Israel is holding a whole nation captive has provoked this confrontation deliberately in Jerusalem, and with the prayers in the mosque, and by trying to carry out ethnic cleansing and (INAUDIBLE) so on.

If you do not frame the context, somehow you are playing into the spin and the misleading propaganda of the Israeli machine. This is incredible. We are a people under occupation and everybody talks -- in the West, talks about Israel's right to self-defense. When you have -- I've never heard in the world that people who are occupying -- an army that is occupying a captive people, and then claiming self-defense when they start shelling and bombing and destroying homes and people's lives.

This is not self-defense. This is absolute aggression. End the occupation. Let the Palestinian people go and then you will have peace and quiet.

I'm sorry, I had to say this. VAUSE: No, I appreciate you. You make very good points and I

understand exactly what you were saying. The reality is, though, that every time Hamas starts this missile fire into Israel, for whatever reason, for whatever justification there is, the Israelis responded with a level of aggression which so many people who have declared, you know, Goldstone report -- going all the way back to the Goldstone report in 2009 as war crimes.


VAUSE: The asymmetric level of violence being used by the Israelis against the Palestinians have been -- you know, it's being investigated by a number of organizations now. But the reality is, that thousands of Palestinians in Gaza could end up dead because not just what Israel is doing but because they're being provoked by Hamas.

Now, whatever the reasons behind that, surely, this one I put to Regev, Mark Regev, just last hour, there is a better way that would not leave so many people dead in Gaza.

ASHRAWI: Absolutely, I agree, there is a better way which is to deal with the causes of this violence, to deal with the causes of these constant attacks on Gaza, and the constant killing of innocent civilians, like his surgical strikes that kill civilians, and women and children, anyway.

There is a better way, if you address the core issue of Israel's occupation, of Israel 's ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, of Israel's supreme provocation when it starts attacking worshippers during the month of Ramadan in the mosque. When you try to deal with the fact that Israel is acting as a rogue state entirely outside the law, totally given, not just permission but cover to act with impunity by saying it's self-defense, when the Palestinians not only have no right to self-defense, they also have the pressure and the blackmail in order to succumb and to accept their fate. This is not acceptable.

So, the real causes are there, it's obvious. There can be no peace and security for anybody, so long as there is this situation of a glaring injustice, of egregious violations of human rights and international law. And then they tried to justify with all sorts of misleading spin. There should -- violence should stop, of course, but the occupation is a form of constant aggression that we live under.

The people in Gaza are like people in a cage and with nowhere to go, with nowhere to hide. They do not have the Iron Dome protection, they do not have shelters. They have no place -- they are the most densely populated area in the world. They don't even have sirens to tell them what's happening.


Suddenly, they get all these shells and bombs raining on them.

So, let's put things in perspective.

VAUSE: Understood. ASHRAWI: And I believe there has to be intervention to stop this lethal situation. You cannot stop the occupation, you -- right now, you have to curb Israeli violence and violations.


VAUSE: And this is the thing -- there is the big picture, and, obviously, there needs to be a peace process here which is not happening to try and resolve the outstanding, long running issues here.

ASHRAWI: And we need intervention.

VAUSE: Yeah.

ASHRAWI: We need protection for Palestine. We need accountability for Israel.

VAUSE: In the immediate term --

ASHRAWI: It cannot constantly get away with murder literally.

VAUSE: Yeah. But in the meantime, you have people dying.

And so, another veteran of Palestinian politics, Mustafa Barghouti, he blames the violence squarely on Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister's personal legal problems. Here he is. Listen to this.



MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, GENERAL SECRETARY, PALESTINIAN NATIONAL INITIATIVE: The real opportunistic person here is Netanyahu, who is trying to use this fight, using the blood of Palestinians and Israelis to escape the fact that he's threatened with three cases of corruption, and just to stay in power as prime minister. What's happening is a war crime, and it should not be allowed to continue.


VAUSE: He's not the first to make this point, but it seems Hamas was more than eager to give Netanyahu a fight. And they're being driven by their own political motives, which had a lot to do with improving their standing among the people in Gaza and the West Bank.

ASHRAWI: Yeah. That's true, people have their agendas. Hamas is trying to send a message that Palestinians aren't going to just be passive victims all the time, and that there is a price to be paid, if you're going to do all these things as an occupying power.

And yes, Netanyahu has cynically, really, not just exploited the situation but he provoked confrontation, he provoked the Palestinian people beyond endurance because he wants to say that he is Mr. security, that we're facing military or security crisis, and so on, and so, he needs to stay in power and he can stay out of prison for corruption.

Still, this cynical manipulation situation has been characteristic of Netanyahu all his career. But the problem is that people, not just Hamas -- everybody, the whole world, somehow it seems to ignore these manipulative reasons and seems to ignore the unbridled violence by the occupation and to start somewhere where Hamas gets in and says, enough is enough.

Hamas gave them -- and I'm no admirer of Hamas as you know -- but they gave them an ultimatum.

VAUSE: Yeah.

ASHRAWI: Once, twice, and they said you have to stop this because you're provoke the Palestinian people. You are targeting the holiest site. This is the month of Ramadan. There are worshippers, hundreds, thousands of worshippers were in the mosque when they're tear-gassed, when the used stun grenades on them, when they entered hundreds of people there. They arrested hundreds more.

It's -- the occupation on the rampage, it's a total act of incitement and provocation. And then they start complaining that they have to have a free hand in order to carry out self-defense, Israel has the responsibility of abiding by international law, of respecting human rights, of understanding that there are values and morals that have to influence behavior, even of the most cruel and extreme right wing, racist coalition government in Israel. These are things that cannot be allowed to continue in this 21st century when we think we have a rules-based, international, multilateral system that respects human rights and considers all human beings as equals.

Right now, changing this lethal equation of Israel acting without any kinds of (INAUDIBLE) or accountability and Palestinians constantly blame even though they have very little power in terms of their own lives, and even though Israel is systematically carrying out a process of oppression, of discrimination, and, of course, of ethnic cleansing.

And the Palestinian people everywhere are one people. As you rightfully said, there were -- not just the mob violence. The racism inherent in Israel has come out in the open now.

VAUSE: Right.

ASHRAWI: For decades, the Palestinians in Israel, and they are not Arabs like that, they're Palestinians and their ancestral homes. They are indigenous people against whom Israel has exercised the worst form of discrimination.

And now, it's all --

VAUSE: Hanan --

ASHRAWI: The chickens are coming home to roost.

(CROSSTALK) ASHRAWI: But anyway, we are one people, whether in exile, in refugee camps, under occupation, are within racist system in Israel, the injustice and the oppression has to stop. This is how you deal with a very lethal and toxic situation.

VAUSE: Hanan Ashrawi, thank you for being with us.


We very much appreciate your time and your views and your opinions.

ASHRAWI: You're welcome.

VAUSE: Hanan Ashrawi there for us in Ramallah, thank you, ma'am.

Well, still to come, in just weeks, India's pandemic overwhelmed hospitals in the big cities. Now, the ill-equipped rural health care system is overstretched as COVID-19 spreads around the country.

And if getting the COVID-19 vaccine meant you could win a million dollars, or a full scholarship to a college in the U.S., that basically overcomes the hesitancy. A crazy idea that might just work.


VAUSE: India's coronavirus death toll approach 260,000 on Thursday with all but one of 36 states now under lockdown and other restrictions. The daily death toll has exceeded 3,000 every day for more than two weeks, enough for the scenes of desperation and Indian cities, the virus is now rampaging in rural areas where medical care is limited. This is leaving families grief stricken as they struggle to search for oxygen for their loved ones. Two Indian states, the Union Territory and Delhi are now suspending vaccinations for people age between 18 and 44 because of shortages of vaccines.

CNN's Vedika Sud live now in New Delhi with more on this.

Shortages of vaccine in the vaccine-producing capital of the world, the country though that was meant to be making COVID vaccines for everybody else and there is shortages. What is going on?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ironical, isn't it, John? And this comes at a time in the government has been facing flak for exporting vaccines from India to other countries as well. Now comes a situation where many states are actually asking for a vaccine supplies, but they're not in stock.

You corrected pointed out two states, the southern state of Karnataka actually stopped vaccinations until tomorrow. You also have Maharashtra that has said that we will give priority to the 45-plus category of people. Remember, that was the second phase that's rolled out to date. A lot of them have not got their second dose. So, that was priority.

And from the 1st of May, those 18 and above where to be vaccinated. A lot of them still not being vaccinated because of the shortage of supply.

In the Union territory of Delhi, in fact, Covaxin, one of the two vaccines that was rolled out across India from mid January is in short supply, because of which hundreds of vaccine centers have been closed to further notice because vaccines are just not in stock. So, that's the situation here.

You also had, on Wednesday, 12 opposition leaders writing to the Indian prime minister, talking about the vaccine shortage along with other issues and they said it's for the central government to ensure that they get enough vaccines and distribute it to the states. Some states have been also distributing global tenders to vaccine companies to get more vaccines for their states.

So, as of now, this is the biggest challenge. Well, for the last two weeks, we were talking about oxygen supplies being out of stock really, but with a lot of global aid coming in, I wouldn't say it's completely not an issue anymore.


But yes, it's less of a challenge compared to vaccines that India needs at this point in time, John.

VAUSE: Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud in New Delhi with the very latest there.

Well, despite growing concerns over increasing numbers of COVID patients, the International Olympic Committee says the Tokyo Games are still on track, less than three months to go. Cases are still rising in Japan, state of emergency has been extended in Tokyo and other areas.

Still, an IOC spokesperson says they are confident they can host the games and actually win over some public support.

According to the latest Olympic playbook, athletes and their close contacts will be tested daily for COVID-19.

U.K. Health Ministry says England is now heading in the right direction. As a study finds new COVID cases have fallen by 60 percent since March. Researchers found one and 1,000 people were infected with the virus, most being adults ages 25 to 34 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. More than 90 percent of the cases are now caused by the British variant, which officials are warning remains a threat.

Meantime here in the United States, the governor of Ohio is hoping to encourage all those who are holding on and getting vaccinated with a lottery. Five adults will be awarded $1 million for getting a COVID shot. Five teenagers will get a full-ride scholarship to a state university.

Here's the governor, in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MIKE DEWINE, OHIO: Now, I know that some of you are now shaking your head and saying, that Mike DeWine, he's crazy. This million dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money. But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it, the real waste is a life that is lost now to COVID-19.


VAUSE: Now, according to the CDC, less than half the people living in Ohio have received one COVID-19 shot.

Coming, up the very latest on the conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza. Why the fighting could hurt U.S. strategy behind -- beyond the Middle East. That's ahead.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Well, the violence is spiraling, the casualty toll is growing in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Israeli airstrikes continue its devastating impact on Gaza. Three high-rise buildings have been leveled in the past two days. The IDF says this building is being used by Hamas military intelligence.

In response, Hamas has fired more rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just in the past few hours. Israel says seven civilians have been killed by Hamas rocket fire.

And there is alarming unrest in a number of mixed communities in Israel where Arab and Israeli mobs are attacking one another. The conflict is sowing up deep and violent divisions within Israel. A warning -- what you are about to see has some graphic images

This is near Tel Aviv on Wednesday. A car speeding away as it's chased by a crowd. The driver thought to be in an Arab, a Palestinian-Israeli citizen.

He's taken from the car then beaten, kicked -- eventually his attackers fall back as they leave him there bleeding in the street.

And in the north, not far from Haifa, a crowd chased one man though to be Jewish. He falls to the ground, he is kicked and beaten.

CNN'S Ben Wedeman says the crisis we are seeing now was inevitable.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps the most worrying development on the ground here is within Israel proper. We are seeing this evening, a wave of incidents between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel.

We've seen one very graphic video of an Israeli mob lynching a Palestinian-Israeli motorist who was pulled out of his car and severely beaten. And there have been other incidents similar to that of mobs breaking into and smashing Arab-run businesses.

And we did hear the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he will try to reimpose order if need be with an iron fist in the town of Lid which is a mixed Palestinian and Jewish town near Tel Aviv. They have imposed an 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. overnight curfew and deployed units of the border police from the West Bank to that town.

So there are sort of multiple flash points here -- Gaza, Jerusalem, and within Israel itself -- which amount to a very severe crisis. I was here in September of 2000, October of 2000 at the beginning of the second Intifada when there was also mass protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel. More than a dozen were killed in protests by Israeli security forces.

But that quickly passed, and really the focus was more on the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem.

But this is sort of serious -- and the intensity of it is something that I don't think was anticipated. In a sense the crisis we are seeing is inevitable, given that you have had mounting tensions and resentment between the -- among the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank and also among the Palestinian citizens of Israel. And this has been building for years.

As we've seen so many times in the past, there have been periods of relative calm, relative calm, followed by these outbursts. But certainly this is the biggest outburst of multiple crises, violence and protests that we've seen in quite some time.


VAUSE: Our thanks to Ben Wedeman for that.

Now, the U.N. is calling on both sides to stand down and is also taking Hamas to task for launching from civilian neighborhoods in in Gaza.


STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESMAN FOR U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: We are very concerned by the growing civilian casualties in both Gaza and Israel, and deeply saddened by the reported deaths of children in Gaza.

The Secretary General and Mr. (INAUDIBLE) have both reiterated that Hamas and other militant groups' indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars from highly-populated civilian neighborhoods towards civilian population center violates international humanitarian law and is unacceptable and has to stop immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: It took just a few months but now Joe Biden joins a long list of U.S. presidents facing a potential war in the Middle East. He has spoken with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Phil Mattingly reports on what is an unwanted international crisis now facing the Biden administration.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well when President Biden came into office, he made clear while the administration would certainly still be engaged in the Middle East, it was no longer going to be the focus. The focus that so many administrations had been drawn into for decades.

The president wanted to move away from it, shift the focus to the Indo-Pacific region, most notably, China. However, once again, reality seems to have gotten in the way of best laid plans.


MATTINGLY: The president now fully engaged, his team in constant contact over the increasing violence, the escalation of the feud in Israel.

The president speaking by phone for the first time with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This was what he said after that call.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My expectation hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has the right to defend itself. We have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.

MATTINGLY: Now the president also making clear that, while top administration officials have engaged with their Israeli counterparts they're also engaged with the Egyptian counterparts, with the Saudis, with the Emirati trying to figure out if there is a regional solution to something that only seems to be getting worse by the day.

But one thing is definitely clear going forward as the administration continues to try and figure out if there is a path forward that they can play a role in.

They're not getting away from the Middle East. They're not getting away from this region and the violence that often percolates in that region anytime soon.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: For more than a decade, Ambassador Dennis Ross was the U.S. point man for Mideast peace negotiations. He has served in every administration from Reagan to Obama. And we're grateful he's able to join us this hour from Washington.

Ambassador Dennis Ross, thank you for being with us. DENNIS ROSS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO BARACK OBAMA: Nice to be with

you, thank you.

VAUSE: You know, much of your career in public service was invested in the Mideast peace process. And there was a time when there was cautious optimism, but now all these years later, it seems the violence and the bloodshed is worse than ever, the situation more complex than ever. Both sides seemingly more intractable in their positions.

So how do you rationalize that? How do we get from, you know, hope and optimism to where we are now?

ROSS: Well, it's not easy. You are quite right. There was a period I think the prospect of reaching an agreement seemed to be quite high. Now between Israelis and Palestinians, that seems very far away.

One of our problems, I think, is when you come close to peace and you don't succeed, and then you have enormous violence in the second Intifada and you, in a sense, you lose what looks to be any real sense of possibility.

When that takes place, people lose hope. And when they lose hope, those who basically are offering a much more rejection as radical interpretation tend to come the fore.

So what we are seeing today is that the Israeli public and the Palestinian public are lost in a sense of possibility. They disbelieve each other. They have very little hope. And until we can reestablish some process where the two sides can begin to see that commitments are made and fulfilled and there is a possibility again it's going to be pretty hard to get from where we are.

I do think that when we get beyond what's happening right now, we need to think about how we can use the normalization process between Arabs and Israelis to break the stalemate between the Israelis and Palestinians.

That's the one new element there, and I do see ways that you might be able to break that stalemate. That's what I think what our focus should be on.

VAUSE: Right now though, we've seen these sort of conflicts before but this time, there is the added flash point of mob violence between Arabs and Jews in a number of Israeli cities. "The Washington Post" reports "By Wednesday night, bands of Arab residents, some with bats and rocks had begun guarding their streets in Lod against roaming groups of Jewish Israelis, some armed with bats and guns.

These right-wing Israelis, many young and from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, had come to Lod saying they wanted to protect Jewish residents."

And during all the conflicts Israel has waged in Gaza and the West Bank in recent years, the Arab minority has remained mostly quiet. So what's driving the unrest this time, and is this what the start of a third Intifada looks like? Or what's essentially kind of a civil war.

ROSS: There is a need for leadership within the Israeli community and also with the Israeli-Arab the government more generally. I think to make it clear, this is wrong, it won't be tolerated. And this is not the way Israelis are going to live.

And I say this because one of the interesting things is the relationship between Israeli Arabs and the Israeli-Jewish population had actually gone through a pretty remarkable change for the better. I say that largely as an outgrowth (ph) of COVID. 20 percent of all Israeli doctors are Arab, 30 percent of all Israeli pharmacists are Arab and they were people who were on the frontline when COVID was striking at its worst.

AND This is heavily appreciated by the, you know, by the majority Israeli Jewish population. And the fact that you had Prime Minister Netanyahu among others reaching out to Minister Abbas (ph) trying to form a government. Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid were again reaching out to the Arab parties before this began showed that what didn't seem possible before was looking like it was possible now.


ROSS: So we went from a period that looked quite hopeful at least in terms of coexistence within Israel to now one that I think requires a lot of soul searching and some leadership from the government, and from within the Israeli-Arab community as well.

VAUSE: The other big difference we are seeing is just pure (ph) intensity of the fighting especially compared to 2014. That was when 50 days of fighting saw about 4,600 rockets and mortars by from Gaza into Israel.

That's 90 on average each day, killing a total six Israeli civilians. Two weeks into that conflicts, Hamas rocket almost reached Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Operations were suspended for 48 hours.

After just four days into this conflict, more than 1,500 Hamas rockets have been fired. So about a third of the total from 7 years ago. Already, the Israeli civilian death toll is higher and notably major U.S. carriers are now suspending flights into Israel to two weeks last time.

Just from those numbers alone, Hamas appears to have significantly upped their offensive capability. What are the implications of that for the people of Israel and the people of Gaza?

ROSS: Look, I think one of the things that we are seeing is that Hamas is trying to change the rules of the game. They clearly, by sending rockets targeting Jerusalem, one of the things they are trying to do is to signal we can strike at Jerusalem and we can do it with a level of impunity and we are not concerned about how you will respond.

What the Israeli government -- and this was I think across the board, this is -- throughout the whole national security establishment within Israel, there is a sense that somehow deterrence was diminished and it has to be restored.

So what you've got right now is Hamas trying to use their ability to show they can change the rules, to try to seize the mantle of Palestinian leadership to show how they will counter what the Israelis are doing.

And the Israelis seeking to demonstrate, we will make the cost very high for you or so that you won't think about doing this again.

VAUSE: If U.S. President Biden was to ask for your counsel at this point, what would you tell him?

ROSS: I would tell him, I guess three things.

One, work closely with the Egyptians right now to try to get a ceasefire.

Two, be prepared to try to work with other Arab states that have been normalizing.

Three, be prepared to broker with those stakes, outreach to Israel, but also steps Israel could then take towards the Palestinians, so that you can use the Arab normalization process to break the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians.

And I guess I said three but maybe I'll say four. The U.S. I would like to see the international community to have a Marshall Plan for Gaza but have it conditioned on Hamas at a minimum, at the bare minimum giving up all the rockets in a verifiable way.

Again, because no one is going to invest in rebuilding Gaza if Hamas can hold that hostage at anytime it decides that it's going to launch missiles again.

Let's expose Hamas that way. Let's give the people of Gaza a sense of what can be possible, and what's holding it back.

VAUSE: Ambassador Dennis Ross, thank you so much for being with us.

ROSS: My pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Gaza, the scene just moments ago, we could see what looked to be smoke coming from -- in the distance there as we look at what appears to be the end result of yet another Israeli airstrike, perhaps.

Israeli airstrikes have continued overnight, so too have the rocket fire coming from the Gaza strip into Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv, where air raid sirens were heard throughout the night sending many people scrambling for bomb shelters for protection.

It is Thursday morning in Gaza right now. This is the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is Eid al-Fitr which is normally a festive time of the year when people would gather for celebrations and for meals, head out and buy clothes, that kind of thing. Clearly, it is a very different mood in Gaza this year as Israel continues with those airstrikes in response to the continued barrage of fire -- of rocket fire coming from Hamas and other Palestinian military groups like Islamic jihad.

So far the IDF -- the eye Israeli Defense Forces says about 1,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza in just the past 4 days.

We will take a short break. A lot more when we come back. This is CNN.



VAUSE: That's quite the introduction.

Now a "Call to Earth", CNN's initiative to promote a more sustainable future.

We head to Taiwan for this report and a company designing solutions to overcome a mounting problem of a mountain of trash.

From furniture to hospital wards all built from waste, one CEO is on a mission to revolutionize recycling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do all these places have in common? They're all made partly from trash and designed by this man. Arthur Huang is a Taiwanese architect, engineer, and cofounder and CEO of Mini Waste.

A company turning different kinds of waste like plastic bottles into materials for buildings and products across the world.

ARTHUR HUANG, CEO, MINI WASTE: In nature we produce zero waist. Isn't that how the city should be -- isn't that how we should build our products? Everything should be circular, there's no waste. Everything can be retransformed, re-upcycled into all kinds of beautiful architecture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Huang has spent the past 16 years innovating such transformation.

HUANG: This is designed to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His team has used waste to develop over 1,200 different materials for use in construction all over Taiwan's capital, Taipei, and beyond.

One brand taking steps in this direction is Nike which has been collaborating with Mini Waste since 2011 to design stores made from recycled materials.

HUANG: This is one of the most famous basketball stars in Taiwan and these are actually their shoes. Being compressed together to create the furniture for the store. And all the way to the curtains, all the way to the furnitures, they're also made from recycled polyester. This is a brick that's made from LED lights. And with recycled polyester as a casing. And also this is a balloon, that's right, recycled from a factory waste. These are actually made from Nike (INAUDIBLE). The mid sole of a Nike shoe and the bottom sole of a Nike shoe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the streets of Taipei to the Tibetan Plateau, Huang and his team took their technology for a trust drive in 2017 with the trash press -- a portable solar-powered recycling machine designed to allow communities to recycle locally in places where plastic waste has become an increasing problem, like China's (INAUDIBLE) region in Xinghai (ph) province.

HUANG: Our mission has shifted to say how can we actually take many of these possible technologies to the people who actually really need it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mini Waste has developed an A.I. recycling system to detect different kinds of plastic which the trash-presso, through heating compression can transform into new products.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mini Waste turned their engineering skills to a different kind of transformation.

Huang worked with the Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital and other partners to develop the Modular Adaptable Convertible or MAC Ward.

HUANG: During COVID time most material cannot be shipped, so we are building medical parts, medical ward systems -- all out of local trash. All the aluminum panels are already made from 90 percent recycled aluminum and even the handle of the shelving, all the hanging racks -- these are actually originally from medical waste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A portable version can be built from scratch in 24 hours, Huang says.

HUANG: I think that is what pandemic forces us to become very innovative to coming up with the solutions to adapt to the current situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adapting to a pandemic and also to environmental pressures, Huang's work shows how to create a more sustainable future.

HUANG: We don't need to create new things, we just need to use our ingenuity, innovations, and our good heart and good brain to transform these existing material into the next generation of products and building to powering our economy.


VAUSE: We'll continue to share inspirational stories like that one as part of CNN's initiative to save the world. What are you doing to answer the call? Let us now with the #CallToEarth.


VAUSE: Colombian police are now the focus of a government investigation into dozens of allegations of abuse. The president Ivan Duque spoke exclusively to CNN and says all the alleged incidents are from the recent wave for protests.

Now they say they're looking into dozens of the suspected cases of abuse.

And as Stefano Pozzebon reports from Bogota, the protests are not showing any sign of easing out.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST (on camera): Yet again on Wednesday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Colombia in the 15 consecutive day of demonstrations against the government's handling of the pandemic response and the police violence.

42 people have been killed so far in Colombia in this wave of protests that is sweeping across the nation, according to the Colombian ombudsman. And even though the government has made concession to the demonstrators, such as cancelling university fees for lower income students. The marches are showing no sign of slowing down as you can see.

And on Wednesday, President Ivan Duque plans to catch the bottom of the allegations over police violence and alleged excessive use of force.

President Duque was speaking exclusively to CNN's Christiane Amanpour and take a listen to what he said.

IVAN DUQUE, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: We have now 65 accusations on members of the military or the police, but specifically 98 percent on possibilities in regarding police activities. 65 cases have been opened because we have a zero tolerance policy for any individual conduct that is beyond the law.

POZZEBON: And eight of those 65 cases are for alleged homicide at the hands of the Colombian police. The Colombian president (INAUDIBLE) confirmed to CNN after the interview.


POZZEBON: And this is taking place while Colombia is going through a dramatic wave of COVID-19. The intensive care units in the city of Bogota are filled and over 90 percent capacity as of Wednesday night.

For CNN, this Stefano Pozzebon -- Bogota.


VAUSE: Colombia's president also told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he is willing to listen to protesters and talk with them and he also believes they had every right to hold peaceful rallies. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUQUE: And I want to be very clear that I've always been a defender of the right to pacific protest in a democracy. I've been a defender and I have trusted always in democracy. We have been dealing with cases of violence that are specific cases with other protocols of the use of force. Any accusation of wrongdoing of an individual that is a member of the police bodies have been investigated, will be investigated and we are going to work closely with the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office is doing the investigations with rigorosity (ph) in order to determine what were the causes of people that have died in interactions or fights with the police bodies.

And that is very clear from my side. We have to get to the bottom of the investigations. We have also have to move forward very closely with the investigations that are related to acts of violence against police bodies.

But you mentioned something very important, Christiane. You mentioned that peaceful process have say that we have to engage in a dialog. We have opened that dialog and we know that we have people that have been badly affected by the political, economic, and social effects of the pandemic and we know that we have to embrace many social causes in a rapid way because we know that youngsters, for example, have been the most affected in terms of employment by the pandemic. And we want to be able to put on the public policy to respond to those sectors of the population.

But you mentioned something else. What do I want my legacy to be? At this moment, Christiane, I think the most important thing is that we have to attend the people that have been badly affected economically and socially by the pandemic and we are engaging into dialogues with young people throughout the country and we want to build a national pact so that we can attend their employment needs, their education needs, and also to promote their leadership to have political participation and representation.


VAUSE: And you can see more of that exclusive interview with the Colombian president Ivan Duque by logging on to

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

Please stay with us. CNN Newsroom continues after a very short break with my colleague Kim Brunhuber.

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