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Fears of Full-Scale War Loom over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Eritrean Troops Blocking Aid in Tigray; Nearly All Indian States under Lockdowns or Restrictions. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired May 13, 2021 - 02:00   ET





KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the brink of war: a conflict escalates between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, with pressure mounting for leaders on both sides to de-escalate.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Then, the COVID crisis in India; the death toll continues to climb. Oxygen is still low and an end to this wave doesn't seem in sight. We are live from New Delhi.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, Nima Elbagir travels through Ethiopia's Tigray region, where Eritrean troops remain at large and evidence increases of alleged atrocities. We will bring you our in-depth investigation. That's all ahead.

I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: We begin in the Middle East, where Hamas militants fired another wave of rockets from Gaza toward Israel. Listen to this.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): You can hear the arid sirens blaring in this video from Tel Aviv, as residents scramble to shelters. Israel says seven people have been killed by the nearly 1,500 rockets launched by Hamas since Monday.

Israeli airstrikes leveled another building in Gaza on Wednesday. The Palestinian health ministry says 67 people have been killed there, including 17 children. But Israel insists it's targeting Hamas intelligence offices.


BRUNHUBER: In cities throughout Israel, Arabs and Jews, who have lived side by side for decades, have turned on each other in riots, beatings and arson attacks. The pictures are graphic and some viewers might find them disturbing.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): One video shows a right-wing Jewish mob just south of Tel Aviv trying to clinch an Arab driver, who was wounded and taken to hospital.

In another town in the north, an Arab mob attacked and critically wounded a Jewish man. A local mayor says 70 years of coexistence has been trampled.


BRUNHUBER: So the response from U.S. President Joe Biden isn't surprising. The violence needs to stop. But Israel has a right to defend itself. Biden has spoken with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, as the U.S. looks for ways to end the fight.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council will hold an open meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday.


STEPHANE DUJARRIC, U.N. SPOKESPERSON: 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. Vanislan (ph) have both reiterated that Hamas and other militant groups' indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars from highly populated civilian neighborhoods toward a civilian population center violates international humanitarian law and is unacceptable and has to stop immediately.


BRUNHUBER: Let's go live now to Tel Aviv and journalist Elliott Gotkine.

Elliott, what's the latest?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is we had, as you've discussed, more barrages of rockets fired into Israel overnight, more airstrikes in Gaza this morning. The sirens have sounded in the south of Israel as well.

And there are reports of more airstrikes on top of that. We heard from the Israeli Defense Forces. They now say more than 1,600 rockets have been fired into Israel since the latest flare-up began and more than 600 targets have been hit in Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas- controlled Gaza Strip.

Perhaps more worryingly as well as concerns about all-out war between Israel and the Gaza Strip is also concerns of a civil war. From across the political spectrum, politicians and leaders have expressed their alarm at this growing violence between Israeli, Arab and Jewish citizens.

You showed some of the footage just before. The president Reuven Rivlin took the nearly unprecedented step of calling into a local TV channel to call for an end to what he described as madness.


GOTKINE: You had prime minister Netanyahu going on air and tweeting out a video, saying, I don't care if your blood is boiling, you don't come to an Arab civilian to try to lynch him, just as we can't see Arab citizens do so to Jewish citizens.

So real concerns, on the one hand what's seems to be history repeating itself, with the conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip going, on we've got what we haven't really seen much of in the past, certainly not seen such graphic footage of it, taking place in cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations and concerns.

That is also turning into an issue. One local Jewish resident tweeting, "How can we look our neighbors in the eye after this?"

BRUNHUBER: Extremely troubling. Now the search for a solution, I mean, we heard the international community push for a diplomatic solution, the U.S. dispatched an envoy to the region; other countries are trying to broker a truce.

How close or far are we?

GOTKINE: It's hard to say. We do know the diplomatic levers, diplomatic cogs seems to be turning ever bit faster. Now we know that President Joe Biden spoke with prime minister Netanyahu. Biden saying his expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner rather than later.

Netanyahu said he thank the president for his support for Israel's right to defend itself adding that Israel will continue to strike militant targets in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, secretary of state Antony Blinken called Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and they had a conversation as well.

Abbas saying that he's stressing the importance of creating a political atmosphere to reach a political solution, adding the -- stressing the importance of stopping the Israeli attacks on our Palestinian people everywhere, putting into surface attacks and aggressive Israeli measures against our people.

So the U.S. is now more heavily involved and also says they've been in contact and reaching out to other players in the region, such as Egypt, who have traditionally been mediated between Israel and Hamas and also the Saudis and to the United Arab Emirates as well in the hope they can try to get both sides to pull. Back

But as I, say there is no sign that the escalation right now and the Israel Defense Forces says they are preparing for any eventuality. They're not expecting a ground invasion but that's one of the contingencies they have in place. BRUNHUBER: Very troubling indeed. Elliott Gotkine in Tel Aviv, thank

you so much.

After months of reporting on the crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray region from outside the country, a CNN team was finally granted access by Ethiopia's government. There, they found obstructed aid routes, Eritrean soldiers manning checkpoints weeks after their supposed withdrawal and reprisal attacks against civilians.

The U.N. and the U.S. have been receiving these reports for weeks but now, for the first time, CNN has captured this awful reality on camera. Traveling across Tigray from the regional capital city, Mekelle, CNN's Nima Elbagir and others were the first journalists into the besieged city of Axum, the holiest city in Ethiopia. Senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been over a month now since the Ethiopian government promised the United States, the U.N., the world that Eritrean troops had begun withdrawal.

We went to see whether that was true

ELBAGIR (voice-over): A show of force by Ethiopia's national defense force in its Tigray region, a government visibly flexing control.

We traveled outside of the capital Mekelle, across the region, to see if the Ethiopian government has kept the promises to the world. Unimpeded access and the withdrawal of the Eritrean allies. The conflict for control of Tigray blazes on.

Days earlier, these Tigrayan forces fighting for regional autonomy pushed out Eritrean troops from this town.

As we arrived, one young man Kasa (ph) wants to show us where his father, brother and cousin were taken and executed just days ago. The blood is still visible. It stains the ground.

They didn't want to wash away his blood. He says they wanted to leave it there. The body they took to the graveyard, but the blood, the place where his father was executed, he -- the family still wants that place marked.

Just a few meters from where Kasa's father died, his brother and cousin were executed, murdered, he says, by Eritreans. The same Eritreans who were supposed to have withdrawn.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): We returned with Kasa to his family. In total, just this one family lost seven loved ones less than a week ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of us have to run and hide when they come and even the women. They rape the women and then kill them. May God bring mercy on us, because we don't know what we can do. ELBAGIR: The Eritreans are not only still here, but a day into our journey and we have found evidence of fresh atrocities. We hear that the holy city of Axum to the west have been sealed off by

Eritrean soldiers for 12 days. We need to see for ourselves.

So, we head out towards Axum, but don't get very far. Something is not right. The team car behind us radios in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locals said there was shooting up ahead.

ELBAGIR: There's a car coming.

A U.N. driver flashes us a warning, but we decide to press on.

Hello. Salam. Can we go ahead? We are going to go.


ELBAGIR: Thank you.

But the road ahead is blocked. We get out of the car with our hands up and identify ourselves to the Ethiopian soldiers.

Hey, hello, hello, hello, CNN, CNN, we are CNN, journalists.

We are journalists. Sir. Tell us --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before ask our commander.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): The soldier spots our camera. They are incredibly tense.

ELBAGIR: It's OK, it's OK. We --

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The soldiers close in on us.

ELBAGIR: We aren't there.


ELBAGIR: We are.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): As we are pulled to one side, we turn on our covert camera.

ELBAGIR: Unless we are detained, unless we are detained, we are not giving them the camera.

We will only go to the administration, the civilian administration. If you want to have detained a CNN team that's what's happening now. Because we're not going to the camp willingly.

They have now said, that we are allowed to go and meet the general in a civilian location but it is still against our will but we're going.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): On our way to the headquarters we're able to hide our footage and we are later released.

At the local hospital, we find out why the soldiers didn't us to film.

What happened? It's OK. You are clearly in shock. Just take a moment to breathe and then tell us what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were in the bus station when the shooting started and running to try to get away. That's when it happened.

ELBAGIR: This girl is so scared she is covering her face, but she wants to tell us what happened which is that a grenade detonated in front of a group of soldiers and they started to randomly opening fire on civilians and she is clearly not a soldier. She is a teenage girl and she says that she was shot through the leg.

This is the main route to Axum. It's a vital supply artery, but for 12 days now, nothing has been able to pass.

First checkpoint, Ethiopian soldiers let us through and ahead, we have been warned by senior Ethiopian military sources, we'll find the Eritrean soldiers.

As we cross the hill, before we reached the second checkpoint, we turn on our covert cameras.

Hello, sir. Can I show you our papers?

We are CNN, journalists. And we have permission to travel.

These are the Eritrean troops captured here for the first time on camera, a ragtag army in their distinctive light colored fatigues, some are also wearing a previously retired Ethiopian army uniform, a clear bid to sow confusion as to whether they are Ethiopian or Eritrean.

Eritrean solders are telling us that we don't have permission to travel, even though the Ethiopian soldiers waived us through. The other thing is, Eritrean solders are supposed to have begun withdrawing, but here they are manning a checkpoint and blocking us from going forward.

Hello, sir. How are you? Journalists. We have permission.

You are asking us to turn back? OK. We have been sent back.

Both Eritrea and Ethiopia promised these troops would withdraw weeks ago and yet this foreign force is still here and occupying, obstructing a key supply route with impunity.

After calling the interim government, military contacts and others, on our fourth attempt, we make it through.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Three days after setting off, we finally arrived in Axum, a UNESCO heritage site, the holiest city of Ethiopia and place of pilgrimage, but even the act of worship here is dangerous one. The war is never far away. At a local health facility, we will see firsthand the consequences of

this almost two-week siege. Two-month-old Johannes' life is hanging in the balance. His mother risked her life and his to get him past the soldiers encircling the city so that he can receive life-saving oxygen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When he first got ill, it was a hard time so I couldn't bring him. There was an act of war and he got weaker, but I could not find the transport and I had to travel roads along to get him here.

ELBAGIR: He is not out of danger yet, the hospital electricity flickers on and off and they are still waiting to get more cylinders of oxygen.

In the almost two weeks that Axum has been cut off from the outside world, violence has spiked. We find this 24-year-old teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They found us, they took our money, beat the man and raped the two of us.

ELGABIR: Do you know who did this to you?


ELBAGIR: Eritrean soldiers did this? I'm so sorry.

This is one case that we are able to capture, because we are here, but it is impossible to know how many more women this was done to while this city was closed off from the outside world.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Another health facility, Aksum Referral Hospital, soldiers walk in and out of the hospital with impunity. One spots the camera and runs off. They've run out of blood here. Doctors and medical students are donating their own but it's still not enough.

People who could have been saved are dying. Every patient you see here -- the old, the young, the helpless -- all injured in this conflict.

Our journey here has brought into focus the hollowness of Ethiopia's promises.

As we leave Axum, a line of soldiers encircles the hospital. There is no respite.

ELBAGIR: CNN reached out to the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments with multiple requests for comment but they did not respond -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: And for more on what Nima and her crew saw and experienced on the conflict and the conditions in Tigray, visit our website at

All right, we'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.





BRUNHUBER: Violence is spiraling and the casualty sprawling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli airstrikes continue with devastating impact. Three high-rise buildings in Gaza have been leveled in the past two days. The IDF say the buildings were being used by Hamas military and intelligence. Hamas fired more rockets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the past few hours.

Israel says seven of its citizens have been killed in the rocket attacks and there is alarming unrest in a number of mixed communities in Israel, where Arab and Israeli mobs are attacking each other.

Isaac Herzog is the chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel and he joins us now from Tel Aviv.

Thank you so much for being here with us. The U.N. warns this conflict could mushroom into full-scale war and an Arab member of parliament tweeted, quote, "We are in the brink of a civil war."

How close to the brink are we here?

ISAAC HERZOG, THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL: So first let's differentiate between 2 different arenas. One has to do with the fact that we, the Israelis were bombarded and are bombarded from Gaza and, therefore, we took actions and military steps to curtail and block and undermine the ability of Hamas to attack Israel.

Last night, we also spent again time in shelters, including in Tel Aviv, where we're broadcasting from, which is quite unprecedented when you think about it historically.

And the other is an eruption of inner tensions within Israeli society, something which saddens us terribly and I can tell you outright that I would say 1995 of central Israelis, Jews and Arabs are against it vehemently but there are extremists and we are dealing with them.

BRUNHUBER: So I want to look at how we got to this point. Many Arabs blame prime minister Netanyahu's government for allowing tensions to escalate and for the failure to curb right wing extremism among other things.

What more could and should the government have done to prevent things from getting this far? HERZOG: I think one needs to understand the geostrategic development that led to this. There is an Iranian led coalition in the region that wants to undermine any possibility of recent stability.

Due to that, Hamas is an ally of Iran; Hezbollah and others are allies of Iran and they are just waiting for an opportunity to tilt the balance and erupt the violence.

What happened was in light of the emergence of Israel from COVID, going back to other issues of the day, together, with the fact that the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas decided to cancel the planned elections which were due to be held in a few weeks' time, this led to an inner tension that the Israeli prearranged.

And last Friday night and out of nowhere, truly, because there was quiet in Jerusalem, riots started with huge rocks, like 15 pounds rocks being thrown at police and on Jewish prayers, et cetera.

This led to an emergence of the entry of police into the Temple Mount. And the spiral is there. And the spiral, of course, led to an immediate decision by Hamas, which, in my mind, Hamas arranged in advance to fire missiles at Israel's capital.

And millions of Israelis were running to shelters after many years of quiet and tranquility and actually, after a blooming period of good relations between Jews and Arabs in the country, which led to a record-breaking achievement in dealing with COVID.

So this is extremely sad but it doesn't mean that the majority of Israelis are not there to continue in peace and --


BRUNHUBER: Sorry, let me just --

HERZOG: -- military in defending us.

BRUNHUBER: Sorry to interrupt you, I just -- because we don't have very much time left and I do want to get into the attempt to find solutions here. Here, the White House says there's been lots of calls between the administration and representatives in the region.

But beyond talking and urging de-escalation, what role do you expect the U.S. to play here, especially given the shift from the previous administration's policy of unwavering support for Israel?

HERZOG: So first of all, I think we all welcome the approach by President Biden and his team. President Biden spoke to prime minister Netanyahu yesterday and the fact that he has expressed his eagerness and desire to bring calm in the diplomatic efforts, which will ensue by the American administration, are very important.


HERZOG: But let's agree on something. The problem is that America has no interest over Hamas. Hamas is a terror organization, based fully on terror. Its philosophy is based on terror. And no one can really demand from Hamas to stop.

The Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza so at the end, there's an effort done by the international community, that's fine. But most importantly, an effort done by the Egyptians, who enables adjacent neighbors, both Israel and Gaza, and we welcome these efforts as well.

But one thing has to be made clear. No country in the world, definitely not a democratic country in the world, can accept 1,000 missiles on its territory and can accept bringing millions of citizens into shelter and accept the fact that a 6-year-old kid was murdered last night by missiles from Gaza.

This is unacceptable, all this is unacceptable in the world affairs and that's why the Israelis are adamant to put a stop.

BRUNHUBER: I think everyone would agree, all the violence on both sides is unacceptable. We are out of time but I just did want to ask you this quick question before you left. Israel's presidential election will be held June 2nd and you're considered one of the leading candidates if you enter the race.

Will you?

HERZOG: So I will -- it's definitely under consideration and I will make my announcement in the foreseeable future, once we have to submit the candidacies. And I will let you know.

BRUNHUBER: So not here on CNN right now, all right.

HERZOG: No, no.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for your time on this very serious subject. I should say I really appreciate it.


BRUNHUBER: -- Herzog, live from Tel Aviv. Thank you.

And Khaled Elgindy is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. He wrote the book "Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump." I asked him earlier what he makes of the violence between Jews and Arabs in the streets of Israel.


KHALED ELGINDY, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: I don't think we've seen anything like this situation. Obviously, we've seen violence in Gaza; we've seen Jerusalem unrest periodically over the last many years, in other areas, where the Israeli occupation is deeply entrenched.

What we haven't seen and what is new is the Palestinians, who are citizens of Israel, have also kind of joined the fray, in addition to extremists on the Israeli side, both in places like Jerusalem but also in Israel itself, where there is mob attacks. It looks primarily like they are vigilante attacks by Jewish citizens

against Palestinians, who are citizens of Israel in various parts of the country.

That part of this is new. And I think it suggests a shift in the nature of this conflict, from one where people were looking at this idea of two states, to one where Palestinians, regardless of where they lived as citizens of Israel or in occupied territories, as not citizens, are kind of struggling for equality.

I think that may be where things are shifting.


BRUNHUBER: And we'll have more of my interview in the next hour.

All right, still to come, people in India are lining up for COVID vaccinations only to be told there are no shots available as the country battles a second deadly wave.

And the cycle of rocket attacks remains unbroken. We'll have the latest on the spreading violence in Israel and Gaza. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: A top United Nations diplomat is warning the Israeli- Palestinian conflict could lead to full-scale war. Hamas fired another barrage of rockets from Gaza toward the Jewish state overnight. Israel says 7 people have been killed since Monday.

And in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes lit up the night again. Palestinians say 67 people have been killed, including 17 children. Meanwhile, things have turned violent in mixed Arab Jewish communities across Israel, with reports of lynch mobs, arson and riots.

One local mayor says 70 years of coexistence has been trampled. Hadas Gold reports on the renewed cycle of violence, the worst in years between the two sides.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a pattern that shouldn't be familiar but already is. Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets streaking across the sky from Gaza.

Sirens ringing out, warning Israelis to take cover. The Iran Dome intercepting as many incoming projectiles as possible.

The punishing retaliation of an air assault on Gaza targets by Israeli forces, pushing the casualty count higher with each cycle, dimming the hopes for de-escalation of violence and exposing a harsh reality of a long-standing conflict boiling over into rage once again. What started as a flash point over threatened evictions of Palestinian

families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and clashes at the Al-Asa mosque, is now a conflict that the U.N. special envoy to the Middle East says is escalating towards an all-out war.

Israel calling up reservists and moving tanks and heavy artillery to the Gaza border, refusing to rule out a ground offensive. Defense Minister Benny Gantz making clear Israel has no intention of backing down.

BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: In hundreds of strikes, weapons, production sites, tunnels and towers that have been serving terrorist organizations have crumbled. And they will keep crumbling. There are many more targets. This is just the beginning.

GOLD: Hamas confirming some leaders of their armed wing killed in the latest round of airstrikes while vowing that nothing will stop their battle.

A Hamas spokesman calling for Palestinians to march in Jerusalem to the Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday, saying, "Your alarm toward Al-Aqsa is a pledge of loyalty to the blood of the righteous martyrs in Gaza with honor and an affirmation of continuing the path of liberation."

Anger now spilling beyond Jerusalem into other cities. The city of Lod becoming the latest powder keg. A state of emergency and curfew now in effect after an Arab Israeli man was shot dead, and rioters torched synagogues, cars, and businesses there.

In the meantime, civilians continued to pay the heaviest price as Gaza citizens tried to salvage what is left of bombed-out buildings, all while mourning and burying their dead.

With scores killed and several hundred injured, while in Israel with every siren a warning that another missile might make it through. Several have already claimed lives -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


BRUNHUBER: Those living in Gaza have few bomb shelters, no Iron Dome defense system to protect them. The Palestinian health chief says residents are in a state of panic.


BRUNHUBER: CNN spoke to the director of Gaza operations at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Let's listen.


MATTHIAS SCHMALE, UNITED NATIONS' RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES: It really feels at times like this place is being pounded to the ground. I saw myself a building being hit yesterday and evaporating basically. But of course, this is not about building but people.

I just heard this afternoon that the sister of my communications officer was killed in an airstrike. So this hits home closely. I was informed this morning by an area staff that a young girl going to school was hit by shrapnel and it is stuck in her chest.

And then yesterday or the day before four children were killed as a result of this violence. So it is terrifying. It truly is terrifying. Through the day, we may hear it. There's been the noise, the ugly sound of war. Rockets from here and then very severe retaliatory strikes from the Israeli side.

I must say I have started saying, today, this feels like war. You know?

There is a heaviness of rockets back and forth, hundreds of rockets fired from here and, really, hundreds of retaliatory strikes. So this is the beginning of a war. And we can only hope that they will pull back from the brink and hope it's not too late.


BRUNHUBER: We will have the latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict throughout the hours ahead. Time for a quick break. Please do stay with CNN.




BRUNHUBER: India's coronavirus death toll approached 260,000 on Thursday with 35 of the country's 36 states now under lockdowns and other restrictions. The number of deaths has exceeded 3,000 a day now for more than 2 weeks.

After the scenes of desperation we saw in Indian cities, the virus is now rampaging through rural areas, where medical care is limited. The situation is leading families grief-stricken as they have struggled to get oxygen for the loved ones.

Two Indian states and the Indian territory of Delhi are now suspending vaccinations for people aged between 18 and 44 due to shortages. Vedika Sud is with us from New Delhi.

Vedika, let's start with the vaccine shortage. It doesn't sound as if things are improving at all.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That has been the biggest challenge this week, to get enough supplies to every state of the country. That's what's lacking right now. You've also had 12 opposition leaders write the prime minister Wednesday, asking him to make sure the central government can get more supplies in for them.

Global tenders will be floated by the states as well in their effort to make sure some vaccines come in the meantime.


SUD: As you mentioned, 2 states and Delhi are also suffering due to lack of vaccine supply. You do know since May 1st, 18 to 44, that age category are eligible for vaccines the first shot.

Almost 600 million people fall in that category. You can imagine how many doses are needed for these people. And as of now, the health minister came out and said he spoke to the health ministers of different states to say that, in the month of May, 18 million vaccines will be available and, in June, 19 million.

That doesn't add up to the 600 million people who fall in that age bracket between 18 and 44. Priorities are given to those 45 and above because they are due for the second vaccine.

I know cases of people who have gone for vaccines and have been turned away because those vaccine supplies are just not available for them. It is a very difficult situation as I speak with you.

And this is going to be the challenge for India, not only this week but the coming months, given the supply is less than the demand for these vaccines and India.

BRUNHUBER: All right, Vedika Sud, thank you so much.

According to a new report, the coronavirus pandemic could have been prevented if countries hadn't been so slow to act on new information. That's the finding of an independent panel appointed by the World Health Organization.

The panel's final report says delays in preparedness and response were the biggest factors in allowing the virus to spread so quickly and recommends the WHO have more authority to share critical information with the world.


HELEN CLARK, CO-CHAIR, INDEPENDENT PANEL FOR PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE: Whilst the virus was spreading, information was being hoarded and decisions were delayed whilst waiting on responses to laborious exchanges of official emails.

As information began to arrive at WHO, the organization was not sufficiently empowered to investigated, validate and then confirm at speed that a dangerous outbreak was occurring.


BRUNHUBER: The report also warns that the world is, quote, "clearly unfit to handle another pandemic without making substantial changes."

With just a few months to, go the International Olympic Committee says it's moving forward with the Tokyo games despite growing COVID concerns. Cases are rising are rising in Japan and the state of emergency has been extended in Tokyo. Athletes took part in Olympic testing events earlier this week.

An IOC spokesperson said he's confident they can host the full games and win over public support.


MARK ADAMS, IOC PRESIDENT'S SPOKESPERSON: As things stand in the moment and as we talk to our Japanese partners and, friends we are moving full ahead. There has been a full extension of the emergency situation. But we continue to plan for full games. That's the way it has to be and that's the only way it can be for us.

Everything is telling us, from test events to the international events, the games can go ahead and will go ahead.


BRUNHUBER: But the virus has led the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee to change the format of the upcoming torch relay in the Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures. It's been moved off public roads and into parks and gymnasiums.

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber and I will be back in a moment with more news. Please do stay with us.