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Shower of Rockets Seen Between Israel and Gaza; P.M. Netanyahu Wants the War to Stop; Palestinians Focus on Targeting Israel; India's COVID Cases Skyrocketed Within a Month; CDC Announce Good News for Vaccinated Americans; Concerns Grow In U.K. Over COVID Variant First Seen In India; The View From Ramallah, IDF Says It's Struck 600 Hamas Military Targets In Gaza; Mob Violence Spreads In Arab-Jewish Neighborhoods; Egypt, Qatar, United Nations Reaching Out To Mediate; Anti-Olympics Petition Gains Steam; COVID-19 Surge Impacts Mt. Everest Climbers In Nepal; Royal Interview With Prince Harry. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 14, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. I appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, a barrage of rockets and airstrikes painting the sky across Israel and Gaza escalate in the region. We're live in Tel Aviv with the latest.

India's horrifying coronavirus crisis surpasses a staggering milestone as a search for COVID vaccines intensify.

Also, Prince Harry in a stunning new interview speaking out about why he really left the royal family. You will hear it coming up.

Israel escalating its military campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza, now adding artillery fire to its punishing airstrikes. The IDF says no Israeli troops are inside Gaza clarifying a statement that was made earlier by them. And although it's considering a ground incursion, any decision would take days.

Israel warning residents near the border with Gaza to remain inside their shelters. To the north, rockets firing from Gaza continuing to land indiscriminately in Tel Aviv and other cities. At least seven Israelis have been killed. The IDF says its Iron Dome aerial defensive system has intercepted about 90 percent of the incoming missiles.

Inside Gaza the death toll from Israeli airstrikes has climbed in the last hour. It is now put at a 119 people including 31 children. Still, Israel claims it's going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. The latest targets include an alleged missile production site at Hamas naval facility and the homes of top Hamas commanders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the strikes on Gaza are far from over. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The defense activity of Iron Dome batteries is giving us an offensive space and the Israeli Defense Forces has already attacked hundreds of targets, I've assumed past 1,000 targets. We continue striking Hamas while defending our citizens. It will take more time but with great firmness an offense as well as defense, we achieve our goal of bringing back calm to the state of Israel.


HOLMES (on camera): Mr. Netanyahu also condemning the wave of mob violence spreading through cities and towns across Israel. He has granted police emergency powers to impose curfews to stop one of the ongoing clashes between Arab and Jewish citizens who have lived fairly peacefully side by side for decades.

CNN's Hadas Gold reports from Jerusalem.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Hamas and the Israeli military wage battle in the skies over Israel and Gaza tensions are escalating. With the Israeli government downplaying the prospect of an immediate ceasefire.

LIOR HAIAT, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: If we'll insist the fire right now Hamas will again or will get to its goal and its objective of hitting Israel and not paying a price. We have -- we will attack the Hamas infrastructure.

GOLD: Back on the ground, an alarming level of rage spilling into the streets beyond Jerusalem. Mob violence spreading through mixed Arab and Jewish cities like Lot, Acre, and Bat Yam.

I saw death. Death. You know a death is? People jumping in you with stones, throwing stones at me.

GOLD: Arab citizens attacking a man they think is Jewish. Jewish citizens attacking someone they believe is Arab. The communal violence reaching such a fever pitch, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily warning rogue vigilantes to stop or face dire consequences.

NETANYAHU (through translator): I do not care at all if your blood is boiling. It's boiling, it's an interesting. You cannot take the law into your own hands. You cannot come and take a simple Arab citizen and try to lynch him. Just as we cannot see Arab citizens doing this to Jewish citizens, this will not stand.

GOLD: Police getting reinforcements on horseback in riot gear and cities like Lod to quell the unrest. As sirens ring constantly, a warning from above incoming rocket fire.

[03:05:02] The Iron Dome stopping 90 percent of the more than 1,800 rockets fired into Israel thus far, according to the Israeli military. With Israeli air strikes targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza, the casualty count is rising with each exchange. The displaced in Gaza growing with every building reduced to rubble.

The threat in the skies so grave that many western airlines have canceled flights to Tel Aviv. And on a new front Hamas releasing a slick propaganda video launching what it says are suicide drones. Drones that Israeli forces say they have shot down. Diplomatic efforts underway overseas with nations weighing in on the conflict and urging calm. While in Tel Aviv elsewhere, signs popping up urging peaceful coexistence.

SUBHI TALAIB, RESIDENT, LOD, ISRAEL (through translator): We need to live here together. Coexistence. We need to be together. Partners to be partners with each other.

GOLD: In the meantime, the barrage of rockets ongoing. While along the Israeli Gaza border, tanks and position take aim and fire.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES (on camera): And it is just past 10 a.m. in Tel Aviv the southern outskirts of that city that's where we find journalist Elliott Gotkine, live for us this hour. What are you hearing about the chances of what the scope might be of the operation going forward? A sense of how far the IDF might go?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Michael, in terms of a ground incursion we kind of thought, some people going thought that at least one might be underway yesterday when the IDF tweeted out that Israeli air and ground forces were attacking the Gaza strip. But that was swiftly clarified that there were no ground forces in the Gaza strip just yet.

There were 50 rounds of tank fire the IDF says, and last night what they were doing was targeting this kind of elaborate labyrinth of tunnels that Hamas and other militant groups have underground. It's almost like, a separate city the idea says which they call the metro. And what they were trying to do is to destroy some of those tunnels to impede the militant group's ability to move rockets around or to take cover and to evade the airstrikes or artillery strikes that Israel was raining down on parts of the Gaza strip.

In terms of the possibility of the ground incursion though, that is still is on the table. It was never really off the table. It does look like we might be getting closer to that eventuality. Nine thousand reservists have been called up, but analyst suggest that if there is a ground incursion it's not likely to happen in the next few days for a couple of reasons.

The military reason is that which is a single division of armored and infantry there by Gaza and that's simply not enough for a comprehensive ground operation to be successful. The political reason is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is clinging to office by the skin of his teeth.

It looks now that the opposition is going to be unable to put together a governing coalition. Which means another set of elections, yes, another one is likely later in the year. And that gives Netanyahu another chance of staying in office, and he'll be very mindful that his popularity could be severely affected if a ground incursion goes ahead and if there are a large number of Israeli casualties.

So, these are some of the calculations that will be going through his mind even as planning for the possibility of a ground incursion continues to advance.

HOLMES: There has been one other worrying aspect of what's been happening and that is violence in some of these Israeli towns with mixed populations. And that's something that even though there are old wounds in a lot of these places. Something we haven't seen really before.

GOTKINE: No. It's not something that is common. Yes, there are occasionally tensions or isolated instances of violence but nothing on this scale, and certainly not mobs repeat of Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews attacking each other in different mixed cities on what seems to be a nightly basis.

Just here in Jaffa yesterday, a 19-year-old Israeli soldier was attacked and suffered a fractured skull. His status in hospital is now stable. And we also know that as Hadas was relating just before, there have been more attacks on Israeli Arab citizens, more attacks by Israeli -- by mobs of Israeli Jews and Israeli Jewish mobs attacking Israeli Arab citizens.

President Reuven Rivlin has pleaded for an end to the madness. And you were saying, Netanyahu, the prime minister, saying that there will be severe penalties and the anarchy will simply not be tolerated. But as we move into the weakened there is still concerns that more violence is going to take place in areas where there are Arabs and Jews as (Inaudible) hotel just here at the entrance.

The manager told us a short -- a few minutes ago that he is telling all the guests to leave and he's closing the hotel. He is that concerned about more violence taking place here at least in this part of Tel Aviv.


HOLMES: Wow, that is something. Elliott Gotkine there in the southern areas of Tel Aviv. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Nir Barkat is a former mayor of Jerusalem, he joins me now. And thank for being with us, sir.

I'm curious what your take is on the chances of a full-scale war and whether that is something Benjamin Netanyahu wants a ground operation with all the risks that that entails. What do you think is the likely scope of the operation? NIR BARKAT, FORMER MAYOR OF JERUSALEM: Well, to remind you, Michael,

that when Israel left Gaza 15 years ago, we thought that the Palestinians will create the next Singapore of the Middle East. Unfortunately, they have invested all their capital the donations they received from the world in targeting Israel. In creating a platform for terrorizing Israel and bombing Israel.

And so, our goal, Israeli's goal is to deter them and to make sure that we hit the terrorists in a way that will deter them from targeting innocent civilians in Israel. That's our goal. If we need to put boots on the ground, we will, but that's not the target. The target is to deter them from terrorizing Israel.

HOLMES: The funny thing about deterrent is that, you know, here we are again. This just happens every few years. When it comes to Hamas, militants, you know, one apartment building was destroyed, other buildings as well. I'm just curious, is there a better way to target specific individuals rather than taking down entire buildings?

BARKAT: Well, unfortunately, the Hamas has a very, very different approach to the western world. Israel puts the army between the enemy and the civilians. Hamas targets civilians and targets behind civilians. And so, what they do to protect the terrorists themselves is they move into a civilian building and they think they are protected.

So, what Israel does is warn the civilians, please leave because we're going to attack and tell them when we will target the infrastructure of the terrorists. And we will do everything we can to pinpoint and target only the terrorists. We don't want to hit any civilians. That's exactly 180 degrees from what the terrorists do.

HOLMES: There is always a debate at times like this because they keep happening about proportionality. Do you think the Israeli response is proportional when you look at the damage done and the casualties caused? Again, is there not a different way?

BARKAT: Well, I remember the United States president say that when the United States is targeted, they will use, you will use disproportional force to make sure that the enemy understands to deter them from targeting us. So, we will use everything we can to make sure that the terrorists pay a heavy price. And hit their infrastructure and decrease their motivation to attack Israel.

We will do what we need to do with force, with no fear, until the terrorists will understand that it's better to work with Israel versus fight with Israel.

HOLMES: You are a former mayor of Jerusalem so I want to ask you this. Your take on the issue central to all of this, the potential evictions, potential, of Palestinian families from their homes in east Jerusalem. And what -- what critics say is a deliberate creeping settler encroachment on east Jerusalem to change the demographics, to, you know, if you like, dilute the Arab population there in a part of the city that Palestinians would want as capital for their future state. As a former mayor, what do you make of that? BARKAT: Well, I will make it very clear, Michael. Jews can live

anywhere they want in the world. They could live in Atlanta, your hometown, they could live in Damascus, they can live anywhere. Jews, Christians, and Muslims can live anywhere they want. And it's about time that the world stops telling Jews where not to live.

And especially in the hometown, the capital of the Jewish people. The city of Jerusalem. The holy city of Jerusalem. You want to tell me that people cannot live wherever they want? Now, in this specific case, it's a civilian case.


BARKAT: Decided by the courts, the high Supreme Court of Israel. Decided that --


HOLMES: I think -- I think for Palestinians, I think just to be clear, I think for Palestinians one of the more galling aspects of what is happening there and in particular this time the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is the fact that the law allows settlers to claim historical ownership of Arab homes in east Jerusalem. Palestinians do not have that legal right to claim homes taken post 1948. Do you think that's fair? Do you think that helps with the cohesiveness of the population in the city?


BARKAT: We have high Supreme Court like in the United States like anywhere in the western world, unfortunately it's not the same all over here in the Middle East. We are the only democracy and we -- any dispute goes to the high Supreme Court. So, when the high Supreme Court decides that in this case, a, we'll get a house, and not b, it has nothing to do with Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It is a civilian issue. And trying to use a civilian issue to make a political is totally unaccepted. We will act by the civil -- by the high Supreme Court because we are democracy and law and order is what -- we are obliged to law and order.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. I don't think that's the way they see it but I hear what you're saying. I do want to ask you too about very quickly before we end. This violence that's going on in mixed towns, intercommunal violence is something that we haven't seen before in these sorts of conflicts. How concerning is that in terms of social fabric in these towns?

BARKAT: It is concerning. I am concerned like many of us here in Israel. Because we want to have peace between Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and Jews in our country like all over the world. And the violence that started by the targets, by the rocket attacks of Hamas by Gaza unfortunately affected some of the Arabs in our -- in mix cities and towns in Israel.

We will have to fight the violence very aggressively. We will not allow anybody to get away with violence or targeting their neighbors and we will do everything in our power to restore law and order and living together Jews, Christians and Muslims because that's the right thing to do. We have no choice but to battle these unfortunate incidents.

HOLMES: Worrying times. Nir Barkat, thank you so much, former mayor of Jerusalem. I appreciate it.

BARKAT: Thank you very much.

HOLMES: Still ahead at this hour, my conversation with human rights attorney Diana Buttu who formerly served as spokeswoman for the PLO. That's a little later in the program.

COVID cases and deaths still rising in India and now it is facing a shortage of vaccine. Coming up, the action one Indian state is taking to find its own supply.

Plus, a word of caution from Britain's prime minister as the U.K. battles the COVID variant first seen in India.

You are watching CNN Newsroom. We will be right back.


HOLMES (on camera): A huge announcement from the U.S. CDC has Americans grinning from ear to hear and other people can actually see the smiles. The latest guidance says fully vaccinated people can now ditch their masks in most cases, both indoors and outdoors.


On Thursday, President Joe Biden appearing mask-less at the White House and touting the news as a major milestone for the U.S.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Today is a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus. Just a few hours ago, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC announced that they are no longer recommending that fully vaccinated people need to wear masks. I think it's a great milestone, a great day.


HOLMES (on camera): The CDC still recommends masks be worn while traveling even if you are fully vaccinated. Children too young to get the vaccine also need to still mask up.

A staggering 24 million confirmed COVID cases have now been reported in India since the pandemic began. Nearly five million of those logged this month alone and we are only two weeks into this month. Meanwhile, vaccines in short supply. India's government says it is securing an additional two billion doses by the end of the year. But until then, at least one state is now turning to the global COVAX program for help. CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley joins me now from

Delhi. Yes, India all sorts of vaccine issues trying to ramp up production, distribution. Still, clearly not enough and those numbers are still horrific.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are alarming, Michael, and they are not getting any better. There is every indication that they're going to get worse. Whatever the sort of day- to-day isolation that we are seeing in these numbers there is an assumption, indeed, a belief among epidemiologists that these are all very substantial underestimates, both for the number of people infected but also for the death toll, which in any case is around 4,000.

Now comparative as relative to population numbers that would put India fairly low on the list of nations around the world in terms of the sort of numbers of people dead per hundred thousand, for example. But the reality is that huge numbers of people are dying here and their deaths are not being recorded at all, or they are not being recorded necessarily as COVID deaths.

Not that's not a conspiracy, that's just how things are here. Very often people around the world have had -- have passed away and have not been recorded as dying from COVID but for whatever the other comorbidities may have been.

So, the numbers are very vague. But what we do know in terms of numbers is that about two and a half to three percent of the population is now vaccinated. We do know that the states pretty much across the nation are running very short on vaccinations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under enormous pressure to get more vaccinations into the country. Although his government just put out a statement this morning, saying actually that's an issue that should be dealt with at a state level. Effectively in the United States context as a federal at a state level rather than on a federal.

But at the same time things are definitely running out of control in terms of new infections across the south of the country. And indeed, in the northern states like here in Delhi and in Uttar Pradesh next door which is the most populous state where there have been large numbers of bodies appearing floating in the Ganges.

There is no evidence as to exactly where they have come from those bodies but the assumption of authorities there is that they are people who have been too poor or too overwhelmed in crematoria to actually burn the bodies and they just simply disposed of victims of this pandemic in the holy Ganges River.

So, that is just an indication of how desperate things remain here in India, Michael.

HOLMES: Indeed. Sam Kiley, good to have you there in India covering it for us. I appreciate that.

Now from Malaysia to Singapore to Taiwan. Rising COVID cases, lockdowns, and quarantine orders hitting India's neighbors hard. Kristie Lu Stout with that.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As India's COVID-19 catastrophe worsens, new waves of infection are engulfing south in Southeast Asia. Now if you look at this. The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases Asia is the global coronavirus hot spot. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies is sounding the alarm.

Its Asia-Pacific director says this, quote, "COVID-19 is exploding across much of Asia, overwhelming hospitals and healthcare." In Nepal, cases are spiking. COVID-19 patients are begging for oxygen and hospital beds. At least 72 out of Nepal's 77 district are under full or partial lockdown.

The virus is also threatening Southeast Asia. On Monday, the director general of the World Health Organization said that cases and deaths are still increasing rapidly in the region. Now cases have been rising in Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia.


Thailand is reporting a record number of cases including thousands of infections at two prisons in Bangkok. As cases rise, Malaysia announced a new nationwide lockdown on Monday. All social gatherings are banned along with interstate and inter-district travel.

Taiwan, a pandemic success story is now dealing with an outbreak linked to China Airlines pilots. The island is quarantining all pilots from that airline for 14 days. Singapore has generally kept the pandemic under control but it too is managing a COVID-19 cluster link to a staff at Changi Airport. Now Singapore closed the airport's passenger terminal buildings from Thursday for two weeks. The airport remains open for air travel.

This week the World Health Organization classified the COVID-19 variant first identified in India as a variant of concern, warning that it may be highly contagious. Now the variant has already spread to 44 countries including many in south and Southeast Asia from Bangladesh to Nepal to Singapore and the Philippines. The virus and this new variant of concern have no respect for borders.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

HOLMES: Now, other than India, none of those 44 countries Kristie just mentioned has had more cases of the variant than Britain. The problem is the number of confirmed cases in the U.K. has doubled in the past week to more than 1,300, and concerns are growing the variant might jeopardize the plan to lift all limits on social contact in England after June 21st.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is not ruling anything out but still cautiously optimistic.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it. It has been spreading. You know, provided this Indian variant B.1.617 doesn't, you know, take off in the way that some people fear, I think -- think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality.


HOLMES (on camera): Officials say they will step up rapid testing and other measures in the most effective areas including London and part of Northwest England.

For more Scott McLean joins me from London. How worried is the U.K. that this variant could derail things?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Michael. Yes. So, yesterday officials were meeting on this exact topic to figure out how to respond. This morning the vaccines minister says that the government will go ahead and ramp up what it's calling surge testing in 15 different parts of the country where they are seeing this new variant cropping up.

They're also looking at the possibility of actually shortening the timeframe between the first and the second vaccine doses. At this time though, the plan is still to go ahead with the relaxation of coronavirus rules on Monday, which means that small indoor gatherings are allowed, indoor dining is coming back and even some amount of fans will be allowed at sporting events as well.

However, this past Monday the prime minister and his health advisers were asked whether this would be the last lockdown this country would see. And none of them would answer the question point blank. Or none of them would at least rule out the possibility point blank.

Yesterday the prime minister was asked about the possibility of local lockdowns coming back. He refused to rule out that possibility either. As you said, the U.K. has had the most cases of this Indian variant outside of India, more than 1,300 cases. And the problem is that officials here say that it is at least as transmissible as the U.K. variant, which, by the way, is much more transmissible than the original virus.

Now at the very least they're saying or the good news, I should say, is that they don't think or they're not -- it's not clear that this variant is any more dangerous or any more deadly than the original virus, nor do they think that it can escape the protection set out with the vaccine. But obviously, they are saying there's not quite enough data to make it definitive determination on that just yet.

Last year, last winter, the government was pretty caught off guard by just how quickly this U.K. variant B117 was spreading just as things were starting to look much better. And so, they're trying not to make the same mistake with this one again.

This country, Michael, is in a pretty good position. More than two- thirds of the adult population has had at least one shot of the vaccine. The problem is that very few people under the age of 40 have any protection at all, and so with the return of more socializing in person there's very high potential for this variant to spread quickly amongst younger cohorts of the population.

The prime minister as you said did say that he is optimistic to go ahead with the plan for reopening come June even scrapping social distancing, scrapping mask rules altogether but with the one big caveat that this variant doesn't spiral out of control, Michael.

HOLMES: And really quick, what do we know about where the variant is spreading and I guess it's possible their cases are going undetected?


MCLEAN (on camera): Yes, you're absolutely right. And so we know that this is being found in pockets of London. It's also being found in pockets of the northwest. In particular, one town just outside of Manchester, called Bolton, where they're -- again, deploying the surge testing, as they are calling it.

In terms of detecting it, well, the U.K. is genetically sequencing almost all samples that come back positive from people entering the country from abroad. From all countries except for the most safe countries they are sequencing. But, within the country, they simply don't have the capacity to test every single positive sample. The U.K., actually, has the biggest genetic sequencing capacity on earth. But even then, they're still missing some. And so the number, right now is more than 1,300 but the reality Michael, is that the true number is likely higher from that.

HOLMES: Yes. Exactly. Near concerning. Scott McLean, in London, good to see you Scott. Thanks for that.

We will take a quick break on the program, when we come back, Turkey's president says the world should teach Israel a lesson for its assault on Gaza. We'll get more international reaction, and a live report from Beirut.

Also, my conversation with a former spokeswoman for the (inaudible), speaking to me from Ramallah in the West Bank. We'll be right back with that and more.


HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers, all around the world, I'm Michael Holmes, you are watching CNN Newsroom. Israel's Arab neighbors, reacting with scorn, and dismay, over the fire power Israel has unleashed on Gaza. Iraq's Prime Minister, calling Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to reaffirm Iraqi support for the Palestinian cause. He said, Iraq strongly condemns the Israeli attacks on Palestinians.

The Turkish president, Mr. Erdogan, was even more harsh. Not only did he denounce Israel's military actions as reckless, he said the international community should, quote, teach Israel a strong and deterrent lessen.

And the Saudi foreign ministry said in a tweet that it condemns the, quote, blatant attacks carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against the sanctity of the Al Aksum Mosque. CNN Salma Abdulaziz, joins me now from Beirut. Tell us a little more about the regional reaction to what has been happening, Salma?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): Michael, I think if you ask people, on the streets of Beirut, where I am, on Cairo, in Riyadh, they will tell you that the statements, yes, as strong as they are, are rhetoric. Empty rhetoric at that.


I think that is what most populations will feel about these words. Their condemnation that their leaders have to take the sort of status quo, but in terms of action from the Middle East, from this leadership, I don't think anyone here in Beirut, or beyond the region at large is expecting more than that.

And it is not just about the government, Michael. It's about the people. Take Beirut, for example, where I am, where there is a severe economic crisis. People are struggling, literally to put food on the table. Last year, of course, there was that port blast. The country still trying to rebuild from that.

It is essentially a matter of turning inwards right now for a lot of Middle Eastern countries. There are so many problems within, that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems quite distant. It seems like something people cannot handle. Where we are seeing the reaction, where we are seeing outrage is, actually, on social media. The time of COVID, many young people taking online.

But the language around this, Michael, is very different. And you'll know this, having covered this conflict for many years. Now, the language being adopted on the social media accounts, is that of sort of the global systems of inequality. You see, hashtag Palestinian lives matter. You see conversations about ethnic privilege, about systemic discrimination.

So, the language around this is really changing from one of history, and dates, and the passion tied around that history, to one of the present day. People really asking, what can be done on the ground, right now? With the factors that are on the ground, right now, to improve life. Life for civilians. Michael?

HOLMES: That's fascinating. The social media aspect. And you are right, Arab governments in the region, that's generally just words. I wanted to ask you too -- some rockets fired from southern Lebanon, towards Israel. A concerning incident. What do we know about that? Is it significant?

ABDELAZIZ: That was definitely a moment of fear, and worry here last night. Three rockets, fired from southern Lebanon, into northern Israel. Now they landed in the Mediterranean seas. So, no infrastructure damage, no civilian lives lost there or harms it anyway. But again, as you know, it is a very sensitive situation, because Hezbollah operates in southern Lebanon.

Now, so far, that group has not spoken on this, there is no statement, no comment. What we do know from the Lebanese military who put out a statement today, is that three more rockets, unfired rockets, were found in the (inaudible) camp. Now this is a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. They believe this is the area that these three rockets were fired from.

We understand, on background that this is an area that is not usually militarized that militant groups don't normally operate in. But, the question is of course, is this just an isolated incident, will everyone let it pass, or does it escalate into something further? I think Hezbollah, not speaking on this gives people hope here that this won't grow into something more. Michael.

HOLMES: Indeed, Salma, good to see you. Salma Abdulaziz, there in Beirut for us.

Diana Buttu, is a human rights attorney, and former spokeswoman for the PLO. She joins me now from Ramallah in the West Bank. Good to see you Diana.

DIANA BUTTU, FORMER PLO SPOKESPERSON (on camera): is a human rights attorney Thank you.

HOLMES: The thing is, and you know this well, and I've been there many times, this is just a bloody tragic, horrendous cycle of rinse, and repeat. There's a war every few years, hundreds, thousands get killed, and here we are again. Who's going to take the hard decisions to change things at a fundamental level? Because we will inevitably, see this again.

BUTTU: Well, this is exactly the point, Michael is that the reason we are seeing this is this is now 54 years of military occupation, 73 years since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in (inaudible). And we have yet to see either an Israeli leader, or an international leader, come forward, and actually stop this.

This is a one-sided occupation in Israel's occupied Palestine, and that's why it is so important for the international community to put pressure on Israel, to end this. And yet, instead, we see the Biden administration, other administrations around the world, are instead, coddling Israel. Which is only going to lead to more, and more, Palestinian death and destruction.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you, about this concerning aspect of violence in some of these Israeli towns, with mixed populations like (inaudible), leaders of these two Arabs. There are ancient wounds in these places, but intercommunal violence is not often seen. How worrying is that?

BUTTU: Well, it's terribly worrying, because there has always been a system of discrimination, and of ethnic privilege that pervaded this country. And, it's not as all surprising that we see that Netanyahu, and leaders, virtually of all the Israeli leaders that are representing these political parties, have come out. They had been stoking the flames of anti Palestinian hate.

And it is not at all surprising that we now see that these mobs are happening. You know, I think it's really important to put yourselves in the shoes of what it's like to be a Palestinian, who is been told, time and again, that not only are you a second-class citizen, but you are not even wanted in this place. You don't belong.

And then on top of that to have the full weight of the state doing the same, it is not at all surprising that we see these mobs coming out, pulling people from their houses, smashing Palestinian cars and chanting deaths to Arab, pulling people from their houses. Smashing Palestinian cars, and chanting death to Arabs, all while the police are watching.

HOLMES: I mean, the escalation has come from Gaza in many ways. I mean, has this barrage of rockets from Gaza, in some ways, been a bit of a tactical blunder by Hamas? In the sense that the rockets have distracted from what was a fairly popular uprising in Jerusalem over these potential evictions. And that issue made it easier for Israel to justify using, you know, overwhelming forces, it always does. Was that a blunder by Hamas getting involved like this?

BUTTU: You know, Michael, history didn't begin with the rockets. This didn't begin with the rockets. This all began because decisions were taken by this Israeli government, to try to incite, to inflame, and to kill. And whether there were rockets or not rocket, we all know that the result would have been the same. Which is there have been calls now by different levels of Israeli politicians, to quote unquote, flattened Gaza.

And so, to look at it just from that perspective is to ignore the 54 years of military occupation. Of course, then now 15 years of military blockade that Israel has imposed on the Gaza strip.

HOLMES: You mentioned this earlier, speak more to what the international community needs to do. To broker not just an end to this latest round of violence, because as I said, we will be here again in a few years, but to try to set up some sort of pathway forward.

BUTTU: It's simple, Michael. All that they need to do is to put sanctions on Israel, to make sure that it ends its occupations, it really is that simple. But instead, we see leader, after leader, after leader, coddle Israel. You know, there's an active boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign that needs to be adopted and pushed, because we see that without that Israel is going to continue full steam ahead.

We are hearing the human rights organizations, including human rights watch that has declared this apartheid. And so, just as there are mechanisms that were used to end apartheid in South Africa, the same mechanisms can be used, to end Israeli apartheid. The sad part is that, we don't have any leaders around the world, at this point in time, and Palestinians are the ones who are paying the price.

HOLMES: We are nearly out of time, but I just wanted to ask you, the Palestinian political system has to get its act together, doesn't it? I mean, elections were postponed, there isn't a strong leadership. And then, you have Hamas in Gaza, doing what they do, and you know, in many ways, Israel needs Hamas, not just as a visible enemy, but because the collapse of Hamas would leave a power vacuum in Gaza, and the chaos that would bring. What does a Palestinian political wings have to do to get their house in order?

BUTTU: This is also one of the problems is that Palestinians obviously need to have a new leadership, but that should not detract from the fact that it is up to Israel, forced by the international community to actually end this military occupation. They don't need to have a Palestinian leadership in place to end the occupation. It needs to be a political decision that is taken, and sadly that political decision is not been taken.

HOLMES: Diana Buttu, in Ramallah in the West Bank, thank you so much, I appreciate you're time.

BUTTU: Thank you.

HOLMES: Hundreds of thousands of people are demanding the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. Their petition, going straight to the hands of officials. We'll talk about whether it could make a difference, when we come back.



HOLMES: The Tokyo Olympics supposed to kick off in just a little bit over two months from now, but public pressure to cancel the games continues to grow as coronavirus cases spike in Japan. Protesters are holding demonstrations, hundreds of thousands have signed a petition to scrap the games.

And at least 35 host towns have canceled deals to house athletes. But the Olympic committee says the game will go on for now. Blake Essig is standing by in Tokyo for us. It is an extraordinary situation, I mean, the pressure is building. What is going to happen?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, Michael, as you said, you know, the pressure is building but the International Olympic Committee remains confident that these games will go ahead on schedule, no matter what this summer. You know, they're pointing most recently to several test events which included overseas athlete that they said were held successfully. But there is a growing number of voices that aren't so sure.

Earlier today a petition with more than 350,000 signatures, which is collected just this past week, are calling for the games to be canceled. It was submitted in person to Tokyo's metropolitan government and also by email to the IOC. Recently, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, (inaudible), Serena Williams all cast doubt that the game should be held. You know, and then, as far as those host issues that you talked about, 35 of them have canceled plans to welcome athletes from around the world in the buildup to the games.

But it is not just the host city is canceling it is also the Olympic teams, most recently USA track and field, they cancelled their July training camp saying that they don't see an end in sight to the pandemic, and expressed concern for the safety of athletes. Now, there are other USA teams that are heading to cheaper prefectures where this track and field team was going to hold the training camp.

So, you know, there are other teams that are continuing to move forward with those plans. But you know, again, just recently, several local Governors have said that they will not free up hospital beds space for athletes. And just yesterday the head of the National Medical Doctors Union here in Japan which consists of 130 doctors said that the Tokyo Olympics should not be held, he went on to say that having people from all over the world could make Tokyo a place which develops the virus and variants, and even without spectators, a safe and secure games really isn't possible.

Now, as for the current COVID-19 situation across Japan, it is getting worse. Cases are on the rise and the number of severe cases has once again set a new record. Japan's Prime Minister is expected to announce later today, just here in a couple of hours, if another six prefectures will be added to the list of locations currently under full or partial state of emergency orders. If they do that, Michael that will bring the total number to 19 prefectures with restrictions put in place to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

HOLMES (on camera): What a scenario. Blake Essig in Tokyo, we appreciate it, thanks, Blake.

Now, India's coronavirus crisis spilling over into Nepal as we've been reporting. But with tourism opening back up there, it concerns Nepal's government is downplaying how serious the situation has become.

CNN's Anna Coren spoke with one mountaineer about what he is seeing.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Almost 6,000 meters above sea levels in the Himalayas is where Alex Txikon feels most at home. The 39-year-old Spaniard traverses the crevices of the Khumbu Icefall, a short distance from Mount Everest base camp. It's part of his preparation for his fourth attempt to summit Everest without oxygen.

After canceling last years climbing season as a result of the pandemic, the government of Nepal announced earlier this year it was open for business. More than 400 permits were issued, a record number. And at 11,000 U.S. dollars a permit, a welcome wind full of more than $4 million for the government of this impoverished nation.


But as more than 1,000 climbers, (inaudible) and staff began arriving at base camp, word was spreading of India's second wave surging across the border into Nepal. And suddenly, there was an outbreak of COVID cases on the mountain.

ALEX TXIKON, MOUNTAINEER: Many people sick. A lot of people were (inaudible) disappearing. Nobody says nothing. But a lot of people goes down and we see that, that is corona. COREN: The government maintains there have been no COVID cases at

Mount Everest, despite the evacuation of dozens of climbers, who hospitals in Kathmandu who have been tested positive. There is still no COVID testing facilities at base camp.

BILLI BIERLING, HIMALAYAN DATABASE: The government were trying to keep the COVID cases under the carpet, and I'm afraid the worst-case scenario has become true.

COREN: For Alex Txikon, he wasn't taking any more risks. After 12 days at base camp he decided to pull the pin.

TXIKON: I want to climb Everest without oxygen, and if I catch the corona, camp one, or camp two I start with the symptoms, it is so dangerous. I feel myself that the Nepal government is playing with our lives.

COREN: The chairman of the biggest tour company in Everest told us earlier this week, more than 30 of the Everest clients tested positive. The company on Thursday announced two climbers, a U.S. and Swiss national had died Wednesday, during their Everest attempt. The first death of the season usually there are about 10 deaths a year. Exhaustion is being blamed. Officials won't confirmed if the bodies will be tested for COVID.

TXIKON: If we lost one life, who is positive from corona, this has become a big, big problem for the Nepal government, in my opinion, because they are hiding the reality.

COREN: A team from the Bahrain royal family was among the first foreign group to summit Everest. The Indian government also had a large chain of climbers, they joined for a photo-op with little social distancing. While climbers chase their Everest dreams, an oxygen crisis is unfolding across the country.

With hospitals running out as the second wave devastates Nepal. The government is calling on climbers to return use oxygen cylinders to help COVID patients, but it is a drop in the ocean considering the scale of this calamity.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


HOLMES (on camera): And we will be right back.


HOLMES: We are getting some more insight into what led Prince Harry to leave his native Britain and move to the United States with his wife and young son. The Duke of Sussex spoke on a podcast where he talked about confronting his personal pain.

And as Max Foster reports, he is once again tracing those issues back to his royal upbringing.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just when you thought Prince Harry couldn't lift the lid on British royal life any further, comes this and analysis of the pain he suffered as he grew up.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I know we shouldn't be pointing a finger or blaming anybody but certainly when it comes to parenting, if I have experienced some form of pain or suffering, because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents have suffered, I'm going to make sure that I break that cycle so I don't pass it on basically.


FOSTER: Appearing on actor Dax Shepard's podcast, called Armchair Expert, the Duke of Sussex spoke of genetic pain. Something he says he inherited from Prince Charles, and something he is coming to terms with during therapy.

PRINCE HARRY: I never saw it, I never knew about it and then suddenly I started to piece it altogether, and go, OK, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this bit about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents. So, that means that he is treating me the way that he was treated.

UNKNOWN: Exactly.

PRINCE HARRY: Which means how can I change that for my own kids? Well, and here I am. I've now moved my whole family to the U.S. That wasn't the plan. You know what I mean? But sometimes you have to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first.

FOSTER: Harry put his wild parting days down to childhood trauma, talking about being photographed playing naked billiard, he compared royal life to make sure between the Truman show and being in a zoo.

PRINCE HARRY: Is the job right, I couldn't bear it. Get on with it. I was in my early 20s. I was the case of -- like I just don't want this job. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be doing this. Look what it did to my mom. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife in a family when I know that it is going to happen again?

FOSTER: Harry recalls going on a secret supermarket run, in the early stages of his relationship with Meghan.

PRINCE HARRY: The first time that Meghan and I met up for her to come and stay with me, we met up in a supermarket in London pretending that we didn't know each other, so texting each other from the other side of the aisle. There were people were looking at me and giving me this weird looks and coming up and saying hi or whatever --

FOSTER: They've since married. Relocated to Los Angeles and had one child with another on the way.

PRINCE HARRY: So, living here now I can actually like lift my head and I feel different. My shoulders have dropped, so have hers. And you can walk around feeling a little bit more free. I get to take Archie at the back of my bicycle, now that I've said that they're probably going to be -- I've never had a chance to do that.

FOSTER: Prince Harry haunted by his past, but now rebuilding his future. Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.


HOLMES (on camera): And that will do it for this hour of CNN Newsroom, thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes, follow me on Instagram and Twitter @HolmesCNN. CNN Newsroom continues after the break with Kim Brunhuber, stick around.