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CNN NEWSROOM

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; U.K. Town Stepping Up Vaccinations and Testing. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired May 15, 2021 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. We're taking you to the top story now.

It's 7 am right now in Gaza, where the death toll from days of Israeli shelling has risen to at least 126 Palestinians, including more than 30 children. Israel says its artillery and airstrikes are targeting Hamas in Gaza; particularly they say, a network of tunnels used by the group. And the IDF claims at least 75 militants have been killed so far.

Israel says some 2,000 rockets were launched from Gaza since Monday, causing 8 Israeli deaths. The IDF says it has destroyed about 90 percent of the incoming rockets.

Outside of Gaza, violent clashes in the West Bank on Friday led to its deadliest day in years, with at least 10 Palestinians killed. CNN correspondents are deployed throughout the region. We begin with Nic Robertson near the Gaza border.

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NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Over Gaza, the fury of war frozen. Hamas rockets tear towards Israel's Iron Dome, defensive tentacles, on the ground, fear.

Families flee, sheltering in U.N.-designated safe havens, schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They are targeting our homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We stayed together at home with a group of children. Suddenly, we heard artillery hitting us from every side. Wherever we looked, it was hitting. We and our children are completely exhausted.

ROBERTSON: The toll, deaths and destruction, climbing on both sides.

At Gaza's border, tanks, troops, armored personnel carriers on standby, Iron Dome intercepts overhead, a background beat of war.

(on camera): And that's a siren here. And that means we are being -- this location is being targeted. So, we are going to move swiftly for cover.

(voice-over): Not enough troops here for a ground incursion, but getting their job done, according to Israel's prime minister.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I said that when we strike Hamas and the other terrorist organizations very hard. And we are doing just that. In the last 24 hours, we have attacked underground targets. Hamas thought it could hide there. But it cannot hide there.

ROBERTSON: Away from Gaza, at Friday prayers in the venerated Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, tensions mounting, worshipers angry over Palestinian suffering, clashing with Israeli police.

Across the West Bank, confrontations continuing throughout the day, indirectly, Hamas managing to turn Gaza's suffering to their advantage.

ABU OBAIDA, SPOKESMAN, HAMAS MILITARY WING (through translator): If it comes to responding to your aggression and claiming victory for our people and our sanctities, there are no red lines, sacred rules of engagement or complicated calculations.

ROBERTSON: What's lacking here is diplomacy, no off-ramp in sight, the suffering spurring increasing international calls for an end to the violence, but nothing to show for it yet -- Nic Robertson, CNN, from the border with Gaza.

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HOLMES: The Palestinian mission to the United Nations is appealing for international intervention to end the bloodshed. Israel has flat-out rejected any talk of a cease-fire. So, the human misery inside Gaza goes on. No one may be suffering more, of course, than the children. CNN's Arwa Damon with their tragic story.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sister unable to comprehend the loss. A father gripped by gut wrenching pain. A family unable to understand why.

Why did 11-year-old Hussein Hamad have to die?

A Palestinian children's rights organization says the cause of death is unclear. There were both rockets being fired and war planes overhead. The health ministry in Gaza says it was an airstrike and, in the family's mind, there is no doubt.

"Why did you have to kill him?" his uncle asks. "They kill and there is no one to make them answer for it. The whole world is watching.

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"How can the adults unable to cope with their own sorrow wipe the tears of the children and reassure them that everything will be all right, that this too shall pass? Loss like this, it never does."

Two-year-old Yazan dead, along with two siblings and a young cousin Ibrahim Hassanain also dead, Hamada (ph) and Ahmad (ph) and Amour (ph), the growing list of children forever gone.

There is no escaping from Gaza, a densely packed tiny strip of land under Israeli blockade. Hamas fires rockets towards Israel and Israel dispenses collective punishment. Where there are no shelters, no air raid sirens, just warnings from the Israelis that send families pouring into the streets with what they can carry.

"What should we do?" this father asks helpless. "Of course, we will leave. Should we wait for them to kill us and our kids?"

There are no reassuring words, no tucking their children safely into bed, telling them that the nightmare is over.

"Please, please people, have some empathy with us. We are dying every day. This is too much," another father pleads.

Israel says its strikes are precise, targeting Hamas. But targeting someone in a residential apartment building is to target all of its residents. The shockwave ripples through the neighborhood. Windows smash, walls crack and crumble, shrapnel flies.

And even if they managed to flee before the strikes, all they owned in life is reduced to rubble. No one can promise these children that, once they heal and go back home, if they even have a home to go back to, that they will be safe to do so for this is Gaza, where, even if this round of bombardment does pass, the next one will always loom -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

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HOLMES: Across the Middle East, people concerned about the violence are expressing it in the streets. In Jordan, riot police had to disperse hundreds of protesters when they headed towards the Israeli border.

We are seeing similar pro-Palestinian demonstrations in many Middle Eastern countries. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports from one such rally in Beirut.

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SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: These are the protests that were organized by the group, Hezbollah, political (INAUDIBLE) operates here in Lebanon. So far (INAUDIBLE) protesters are a way to show the strength and support of that movement.

And that is organized by that rally, so a lot of that rhetoric is (INAUDIBLE) and a great deal of condemnation.

I spoke to one young woman who told me that the scenes that she saw play out over the last week in Gaza brought her to tears. It's (INAUDIBLE) a sensitive time for the Middle East (INAUDIBLE) when people are celebrating the end of Ramadan. So coming out showing solidarity, showing support, these families say, is crucial -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, (INAUDIBLE).

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HOLMES: The race between the virus and the vaccines may be about to become a great deal tighter. Boris Johnson issuing that stark warning after cases of the Indian COVID variant doubled in England in a week.

He said the government will accelerate its vaccination rollout in response. Britain is due to enter the next phase of reopening on Monday. Mr. Johnson said that will go ahead as planned.

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BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: I do not believe that we need on the present evidence to delay our road map and we will proceed with our plan to move to step 3 in England for Monday.

But I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move, to step four in June. And I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe.

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HOLMES: Now in the town of Bolton in northwest England, they are taking no chances.

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HOLMES: Ramping up vaccine rollout there. Door to door testing and mobile testing units are also being deployed. Bolton has been hit hard by the rapid spread of the Indian variant.

Meanwhile, India itself has been caught in a second wave of COVID for nearly 2 months now. For 3 weeks prime minister Narendra Modi failed to publicly address the outbreak. He finally broke his silence on Friday in a virtual meeting, saying India was now on war footing and discussed steps being taken by the government.

He also described the virus as an adversary.

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NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In front of us is an invisible enemy. And this enemy has many faces. Because of coronavirus, we have lost a lot of our loved ones.

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HOLMES: India's crisis has spilled over into neighboring Nepal, as we have been reporting. Coronavirus cases and deaths soaring in the impoverished Himalayan nation. On Friday, Nepal reported more than 8,000 new infections for the 10th consecutive day.

The government says a quarter of Nepal's total COVID deaths have been reported in just the last 10 days.

And here in the United States, Americans try to navigate new guidance from the CDC that says fully vaccinated people can go without a mask in most settings, both inside and outdoors.

The abrupt change has sparked widespread confusion, though. The nation's leading infectious disease expert, however, says those who are vaccinated should trust the science.

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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: People who feel that which they should now, based on the data, that it is safe for them not only outdoors but indoors, they should feel comfortable in not wearing a mask.

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HOLMES: When it comes to schools Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated children will still need to wear a mask in the classroom.

A gasoline shortage in the southeastern U.S. is starting to ease a little bit following a ransomware attack on a major pipeline. A travel website says fuel pumps are out of fuel but shortages remain widespread in seven states and in Washington, D.C.

Sources tell CNN the Colonial Pipeline company paid off the group called DarkSide. It's unclear how much but the ransom demand was reportedly around $5 million. The pipeline back online but it will take days before supplies get back to normal.

China says it has just become the second country after the U.S. to successfully land a rover on Mars. Chinese state media airing this animation of what the landing on the Red Planet Saturday morning might have looked like. The 6 wheeled solar powered vehicles will spend 3 months searching for signs of ancient life on the Martian surface.

Thank you for watching. I'm Michael Holmes. Stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" and I will see you a little bit later.