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Biden Supports Ceasefire in Call with Netanyahu; Biden: U.S. to Share Millions More Vaccines with the World; Kenya Weeks Away from Running Out of Vaccines; Protesters Call for Olympic Games to be Cancelled; Adjusting to Life after Lockdown; Biden Supports Ceasefire in Call with Netanyahu; Taiwan Fighting Its Most Severe COVID Surge; Cyclone Hampers India's COVID Relief Efforts. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 18, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Hello again. I'm John Vause.

And coming up this hour:

As the Gaza conflict heads into a second week, and the death toll continues to rise. Both Israel and Hamas projecting calls for a cease- fire.

Already overwhelmed by the COVID pandemic, India dealing with a massive cyclone, the strongest and decades, making landfall on the west coast.

Plus, how Taiwan went from pandemic pin-up, to best response, now recording record daily infections, and new pandemic restrictions imposed by the government.


VAUSE: Growing calls for a ceasefire appeared to have little to slow the pace of Israel's military offensive on Gaza. More than a week into this conflict, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his support for a ceasefire during a phone call Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Overnight, though, Israel says airstrikes destroyed a network of Hamas tunnels, and rocket installations, as well as the homes of senior Hamas commanders. Also, a senior commander of another military group, Islam Jihad, was also targeted.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, the death toll in Gaza now stands at 212, including 61 children. And after a coronavirus testing center was damaged by an Israeli airstrike on Monday, Hamas issues a warning of a wave of new COVID cases. The IDF says there was no outgoing from fought Gaza overnight on Monday, but so, far Hamas rockets claimed 10 Israeli lives since the fighting escalated last week.

We begin our coverage now this hour with CNN senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, in Jerusalem.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rescuers pulling 6-year-old Susie (ph) from the rubble of her home in Gaza city. She was trapped there for seven hours. Susie's mother, two sisters, and two brothers were killed in an Israeli airstrike early Sunday.

The last I saw my wife, says her father Riyadh (ph), she had thrown herself on the floor and concrete fell on her head.

The high tech meat grinder that is 21st century warfare is gradually turning parts of this crowded strip of land on the Mediterranean, into a lunar landscape of the jagged concrete and twisted metal. The death toll here now exceeds 200, according to the Hamas-run Gaza ministry of health.

Three years ago, a CNN official said the resident of Gaza are caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.

The Palestinian situation is devastated and crisis since 15 years. Now, that crisis is worst and suffering has increased, says Gaza resident Ahmed (ph).

The power grid was already barely functioning before the hostilities, what little feel there was coming from Israel, has now stopped. The Gaza power company warns the strip could go completely dark in two days.

Israeli airstrikes and Hamas missile barrages continued unabated. In parts of Israel, sirens wailed Monday to warn of incoming rockets from Gaza. Peoples in Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod, including a CNN team fleeing to shelter for safety.

The Israeli military says, at least one residential building in Ashdod was hit, it came after Hamas launched hundreds of rockets toward Israel over the weekend, one squarely striking a synagogue in the city of Ashkelon.

According to the Israeli military, at least 10 Israelis have died as a result of more than 3,000 rockets from Gaza, the country's Iron Dome defense enabling most to take cover.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We will do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet.

WEDEMAN: Three times in the past 13 years, and now, once more the low intensity conflict between the militant factions and Israel has erupted into full scale war.

And each round ends with the same result, and soon the seeds of the next round crane carnage and ruin begin to grow.


Perhaps calm and order of sorts, will be restored to Israelis and Palestinians, until the next time.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Journalist Elliott Gotkine is live this hour in southern Israel, in the city of Ashdod. It just passed 8:00 a.m. there.

So, Elliott, the IDF is now saying it's hitting more militant targets in Gaza in the past week than it did all of last year. And as Ben was reporting, and it's now like 80, or 90 percent of Hamas' capability of making these rockets has been, basically, taken up by the Israelis.

What's left to hit? And how much longer can this go on?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: The head of the IDF, the chief of the IDF, Aviv Kohavi, was saying that they're going to intensify their strikes. They hit some 65 targets, using 62 fighter jets overnight. There was a 6-hour lull in terms of the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, but a 6-hour lull does not in any shape, or form, suggest any kind of cease-fire, and more rockets will be expected, later today.

But, you're right, the IDF says that it had the targets kind of drawn out before the outbreak of this latest spat of violence, or this latest war between Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, and it is now seems to be focusing, very much so, on both the commanders of militant groups, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, on the tunnel network in particular, where it stores weapons, and where fighters hide. And also, on anything else it deems to be Hamas infrastructure.

So, it still has targets, and says it's going to intensify airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and on those targets. So, as far as the IDF concerned, there's plenty more to hit, and it will continue to believe so until there is either quiet, or until some kind of agreement is reached, whereby, rocket fire ceases.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there in Ashdod, Israel, with the very latest.

More now in the humanitarian crisis which is growing inside Gaza. The World Food Programme is providing emergency aid, but the closure of crossings into Gaza could soon cut off supply.

The U.N. says more than 38,000 people have been displaced, many sheltering and schools, which are being run by the U.N. More than 2,500 Palestinians are now homeless. Forty-one educational facilities, that includes kindergartens, and schools, have been damaged. Power, limited to six to eight hours a day, that's affecting health care, and water supplies, as well as other services.

Dr. Natalie Thurtle is the medical coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders. She is with us from Jerusalem.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Apart from a cease-fire, what is the most urgent need right now in

Gaza when it comes to treating the wounded? Because more than 1,000 people have been hurt.

DR. NATALIE THURTLE, MEDICAL COORDINATOR, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: The most urgent need at present is pause. There should be a pause in hostilities so that we can open the entry points into Gaza to bring in much needed supplies. But there has been no moment in which we're able to get supplies in addition to (AUDIO GAP) within the infrastructure, that's calling for that.

VAUSE: What's a situation now with this coronavirus testing center, which was among the targets hit on Monday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry? There's now fears that this will spark an outbreak of COVID-19, especially with so many people now, in shelters, across the Gaza Strip.

THURTLE: Yeah, I think that's a very serious concern, Gaza was on the end of their second wave of COVID, and they still have patients in ICU, ventilated with COVID, which is still bringing up capacity. That could be going to trauma patients, if we start with the third wave of COVID now, which as you mention, is highly like in given the number of displaced people, which I understand, is now 58,000.

We really will struggle with capacity (AUDIO GAP) that everyone is trying to manage. So, without testing we won't be able to identify early (AUDIO GAP) and it's a very serious concern.

VAUSE: So, essentially, there's no testing right now in Gaza because its facility --

THURTLE: No testing in Gaza right now.

VAUSE: This is the only testing center pretty much for COVID-19.

THURTLE: Correct.

VAUSE: Okay. The main hospital in Gaza, it's the Al-Shifa Hospital. This is the scene on Monday after an Israeli airstrike. When you take a look, this is one -- some children that were brought in after that era strike. As you say, there's more than 1,000 wounded there. That includes a 5-month-old baby, who survived an airstrike, killing his mother, and four brothers and sisters.

So, what sort of treatment are they receiving at this hospital? Which is the best facility in Gaza. Is it basically triage at this point?

THURTLE: I think it's important to note that access to all facilities, there's actually 10 hospitals receiving casualties in Gaza, including the (AUDIO GAP).


But access to all facilities has been severely compromised by the aerial strikes. Our own facility was damaged (AUDIO GAP) and the structural integrity (AUDIO GAP). So, we are also supporting also hospitals in the north (AUDIO GAP) upwards to 50 patients today. They are at the facilities, the access, overall for patients, trying to care for injuries, but it's extremely compromised.

VAUSE: Natalie, we'll leave it there, and will fix your audio up a little bit more after a short break. So, please stay with us. If we fix it, we'll talk you on the other side of the commercial.

Also ahead this hour, as India tops 25 million COVID cases, a massive cyclone is hampering testing and vaccination efforts on the country's west coast. They're making this crisis so much worse.

And Taiwan is facing its most severe COVID outbreak so far. The island had seemingly managed to contain the pandemic, the best in the world. So, what happened? A live report from Taipei also.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

We return to our lead story now about a humanitarian crisis which appears to be growing in Gaza, after a week, more than a week of Israeli airstrikes.

Let's head back now to Jerusalem, and the regional coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Natalie Thurtle.

Thank you for being with us once again.

I wonder about the shortage of fuel in Gaza right now, because without electricity within days, there could be a serious crisis building because Al-Shifa Hospital, at least, has two massive backup generators. But what -- so, they'll be okay for a few days but, what happens when the lights go out? Not only in terms of medical care but for the life of more than 2 million people?

THURTLE: Yeah. So, obviously, we are in daily contact with our staff in Gaza, and it is an enormously burdensome for them when they lose their electricity and it's (AUDIO GAP) releases communication with them. Their people are having difficulties maintaining their electricity supply, and are relying on backup generators.

This is all a serious concern of the fuel availability for the Palestinian (AUDIO GAP) society and the electives (ph). My understanding is that there's significant levels of fuel for those purposes, also, which contributes to be an access to health care for the population of Gaza.

VAUSE: And very quickly, you mentioned that MSF facilities have been barely damaged by an Israeli airstrike. Has there been any talk of withdrawing personnel? Can non-local staff leave Gaza, even if they wanted to?

THURTLE: MSF cannot leave Gaza. MSF can't leave Gaza at the moment because there has not been an opportunity for a humanitarian corridor to exit. VAUSE: So, essentially, the people you have there who are the

volunteers from outside of Gaza, they are stuck there right now. How concerned are you for their wellbeing at this point?

THURTLE: I'm concerned for the well-being of all of our staff.


We have over 200 staff in Gaza, and, obviously, they are very compromised, and unsafe. And we worry for them, as we are for the rest of the population.

VAUSE: And, Natalie, very quickly, you are there for 2014. You've been on the region for a very long time. Has the intensity of this conflict surprise to you?

THURTLE: In honestly -- in honesty, yes. I think that this happened extremely quickly, and the intensity, according to my colleagues from Gaza, (AUDIO GAP) was that the intensity is unlike anything we've seen before.

VAUSE: We will leave it there.

Dr. Natalie Thurtle, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

THURTLE: Thank you for your time.

VAUSE: Well, Taiwan is in an unusual position, dealing with its most severe COVID outbreak so far. Reporting 335 new cases just on Monday, a record single day rise. Until a few days ago, the island had reported fewer than 2,000 cases since the pandemic began. Now, though, infections are rising sharply, and schools are closed in some areas. New restrictions are affecting the capital, and beginning Wednesday. Foreigners will be barred from entry.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei, for more. He joins us now live.

And, this is a country, or this is a territory, if you like, that had done pretty much everything right from the get-go, was being praised around the world as being a case study, a poster child, for how to deal with the pandemic.

What happened?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, it is a poster child, John, for what can happen in, what's feels like one of the safest places on Earth when it comes to COVID. People get complacent, and then you get one infection, and that spreads to the next person, and the next person, and because we have a population that is overwhelmingly unvaccinated, with a vaccine shortage, you have no herd immunity, an island of 23 million people, highly vulnerable to an outbreak, and numbers that are going up every single day.

This is the -- yesterday's number, of just over 333 cases, local transmission, and then to imported cases, it making it to 335, the fourth consecutive pandemic record here in Taiwan. And we are expecting, in just under an hour, we will announce the latest numbers, and there is really no indication as of now that the numbers will go down at this stage because you have that 14-day incubation period for the virus.

So, this was spreading, and people just didn't know it. When they were at adult entertainment values, like hostess tea houses, where there's a cluster centered there. People were out at night markets, at restaurants. They were out with their families and friends, living life, up until just a few days ago. But now, the streets here in Taipei, a new Taipei City, are all but empty, people are required to wear masks when they go out in public.

And we are seeing images from supermarkets that, in many ways, feel like a time warp to this time last year in other countries where people were panic buying, stopping up on items like toilet paper, afraid that they're going to run out. It's, in many ways, a reality check here in Taiwan, but also for the rest of the world that, even if you are in a place where the pandemic seems to have been tamed, if you let your guard down, just for a moment, things can get worse, and they get worse quickly. That's certainly the case here, John.

And the president of Taiwan is holding out hope that by late July, there might be some locally developed vaccines, vaccines made here in Taiwan, that will be available for people because even if you want to get vaccinated right now in Taiwan, it's very, very difficult, unless you are an essential frontline worker or a high risk group. And even those groups of people are having a hard time getting jabs in arms because the number of doses has dwindled very significantly.

So, it's a serious situation. It could get a lot worse before it gets better. And as you mentioned, starting tomorrow, foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter Taiwan, and transit flights for this country are also temporarily suspended for at least the next month. Schools closed for two weeks, local council suspending operations, everyone hunkering down, and bracing for what could be a rough go of it in the days and weeks ahead, John.

VAUSE: So, traffic -- international traffic into Taiwan is being placed on hold. That's the Taiwanese authorities. How is the region reacting to Taiwan? Has there any tightening of the borders from neighboring countries?

RIPLEY: So, I flew here a couple of days ago from Hong Kong, and in Hong Kong, you have a mandatory 3-week hotel quarantine if you come from most places. But for people who are traveling from Taiwan, you could actually quarantine for 14 days from home. That is now changing.

Now, the stringent quarantine requirements are going to be in effect for anybody coming to Hong Kong, from Taiwan, and other countries, taking similar measures as well. So, Taiwan which was one of those places where if you came from here, it was almost as if you got special privileges.

[01:20:03] Now, those privileges not really revoked, but in some cases, even tighter requirements, because of the large number of local cases here and the uncertainty about where the numbers are going to go.

VAUSE: Will, thank you. Grim update there, but we appreciate you being with us. Will Ripley in Taipei.

Well, the number of daily new COVID infections in India appears to be falling. But health experts are concerned, it's a result of inadequate testing in rural areas, where the coronavirus is now spreading and is unlikely to be a sign the outbreak is peaked.

Overall, the total number of confirmed cases has passed 25 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. Here's what one professor had to say about the impact of COVID-19, on rural India.


VIJAY NATH MISHRA, PROFESSOR, IMMUNOLOGY DEPARTMENT, BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY (through translator): If COVID-19 spreads completely in the villages, then no hospital India can accommodate them, because the rural populations is very large and the health care is fragile. We have to increase testing in the villages.


VAUSE: And on top of a manmade crisis now comes what could be a natural disaster, a massive cyclone, pummeling India's West Coast. Hundreds of thousands of people, including COVID patients have been evacuated, disrupting both testing, and vaccination efforts. We'll have more on that massive storm in just a moment.

But CNN's Anna Coren, following the story also from here, live, from Hong Kong.

So the storm, it's just doing no luck with those vaccination efforts. And what's happening across India as that vaccine supplies continue to run low.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies have described this cyclone as a terrible double blow for the families who are in those states of Gujarat, and Maharashtra that have been hit by the cyclone. It made landfall in Gujarat, but, all along the West Coast, it has just been absolutely pummeled, and they are experiencing high winds. Crazy rainfall, and then, flooding.

And, we know that this is going to last for days, so many of these areas around the coast, low lying.

Hundreds of thousands of people, John, have been evacuated into shelters. And these are two states where we were seeing COVID numbers decrease. They were coming down. Add the cyclone into it, and now there is this opportunity for it to spread, once again, as thousands of people are crammed together. COVID patients that were being treated in these hospitals have had to

be moved along with other COVID patients. So, this is just causing more calamity for these areas.

You mentioned the vaccine program across India, that has been in short supply now for weeks, despite efforts to bring in more vaccine. There was more Sputnik vaccine from Russia that arrived over the weekend, but the programs in those two states have been suspended, because of the cyclone.

And as I say, you know, once the flooding, suddenly, dies down, then comes the cleanup. So, it is certainly going to take a long time for things to get back on track. A real problem, John, for these people in this region.

VAUSE: It just seems misery upon hardship, and that's already awful.

In the minute or so, right now, there is a search and rescue operation which has been underway for sometime because of the storm, just off the coast of Mumbai. What are the details?

COREN: Yeah, a couple of barges off oil rigs, oil fields, off the coast of Mumbai have sunk. And there are three navy vessels out there, at the moment. There has been a rescue operation, 127 people were rescued from one of these -- one of these barges, 147 still missing.

The navy says that its search and rescue operation is ongoing. However, as you see, conditions are horrid. So, they cannot get helicopters up in the skies. They'e waiting for conditions to clear. When that happens, we just don't know.

VAUSE: Anna, thank you for that update. We appreciate.

And we'll get more now on the terrible weather, which is heading off the coast of India.

Let's go with meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for more on that massive storm, one of the biggest in decades.

What can you tell us, Pedram?


You know, it's incredible to think this is the first tropical system of the entire season, but of course, as you noted, it is a historic one. The strongest we've seen in decades, the strongest ever to impact anywhere across western India, coming across the Gujarat state there, into the early morning hours of Tuesday, 205 kilometers per hour winds, also makes it the strongest storm ever in the Arabian Sea, to make landfall in any nation, for this particular basin.

So, you take a look. Here's what's left of it, has dropped off about 100 kilometers per hour in intensity. Still a strong tropical system here as it moves across the central portion of the state of Gujarat and Ahmadabad, next in line here, we think west of the city is where the center of the storm will begin to move. [01:25:04]

Of course, the significant amount of rainfall going to be a primary story to follow moving forward. I have already observed anywhere from 450 to 400 plus millimeters in spots. And some of the larger cities there, you can see how much rain is accumulated.

And you've got to keep in mind, this is the dry season, the pre- monsoon season here. So, a lot of these areas, you take the last six months of rainfall, put it together, and they will not attributed anywhere near these numbers they've see the past 44 hours. So, flooding, almost certainly, taking place across some of these communities. And there goes the system, we think within the next 24 hours, just drops off down to about 90 kilometers per hour.

Again, the forecast track right now does want to push it just west of Ahmadabad, the city of over 5 million people. It's the fifth most populous city across the sub-continent. So, we'll watch that carefully as the system moves over this region. You will notice, this is the Gulf of Khambhat, which is just west of out there, that area had seen significant winds in recent hours as well.

We know any sort of shipping across this region has been halted, but a lot of damage could be expected along the shores there, as the system moves inland. And then eventually, we watch for another 150 to 250 millimeters of rainfall across this region, and then you'll notice, this system does eventually end up over New Delhi as well, John.

And, one thing I just took note of, as you maybe aware, this is typically, when you see the most Mount Everest expedition take place there across the Himalayas. The window generally about two weeks, it is usually in the middle of May. And tell you want, a lot of rain , a lot of snow on those higher elevations in the next couple of days as the system arrives in that direction in the next week -- John.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you.

It seems that there is a lot of rain, in a lot of places right now, in Brazil's Amazonas state, facing one of the worst flights in the century. More than 400,000 people have been affected in more than 50 cities. River levels have been rising by three centimeters each day because of heavy rainfall.

This disaster another blow to a region which is already being devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. And in the United States, Louisiana's governor has declared a state of emergency because of life-threatening floods. The water, rising so high, some cars were almost emerged submerged.

And parts have received more than 30 centimeters. You've got a foot of rain on Monday. That's more though received from either of the hurricanes, which made landfall last year.

Well, still to come, international pressure is building for a cease- fire in Gaza and in Israel, but diplomacy has failed. Coming up, the demands each side are making to end the violence.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. Thank you for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with more on our lead story.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue to strike at what he calls the targets of terrorism in Gaza.

This video is just in as the Israeli military hit Gaza with more airstrikes on Tuesday. Four-story building there -- the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, and Islamic University collapsed in central Gaza. The building was empty at the time, a warning was issued before the airstrike.

In his latest call to Mr. Netanyahu, the U.S. President Joe Biden, says he supports a ceasefire. France says it will work with Egypt and Jordan on a concrete proposal for some kind of truce.

But as CNN's Nic Robertson reports, diplomacy has so far stalled with roadblocks put up by both sides.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Close to Gaza, Israel's big guns speak louder than diplomats. Racksmore (ph) artillery shells ready for firing. This is the language of confrontation, not reconciliation.

(on camera): Hamas says talks to end the conflict are held up on two issues. Their demand that Israel ends what it describes as provocations in Jerusalem; and Israel's demand that Hamas ends firing first.

(voice over): America's lead diplomat on the conflict Hady Amr met Palestinian officials Monday. They don't live in Gaza, and don't control Hamas and want international pressure on Israel.

MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We are following what is happening, every second, and call on the international community to intervene to stop the aggression. But Israel has so far not responded to anyone.

ROBERTSON: In Europe also working diplomatic angles to end the conflict, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, sounding uncertain a truce can be had right now.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are ready to lend support if the party seeks a cease-fire. We will continue to conduct intensive diplomacy to bring this current cycle of violence to an end.

ROBERTSON: In the meantime, Hamas rockets still reaching Israel's residents -- three civilians injured in Ashdod, north of Gaza. Israel's navy destroying a Hamas boat and killing the commander of another militant group, Islamic jihad. All signs here, the conflict not done.

BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): We have thousands of targets of terrorist organizations. We will reach their homes, their underground hideout, their weapons depots, their manufacturing factories. Wherever they produce terrorism, we will create targets and attack them.

ROBERTSON: If the first week of this conflict is any measure, what's to come will be no less harrowing.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- close to Gaza, Israel.


VAUSE: Human rights attorney Diana Buttu is a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Earlier she spoke with my colleague Hala Gorani about the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.


DIANA BUTTU, HUMAN RIGHT ATTORNEY: They haven't been able to provide a single shred of evidence, dating as far back as 2008, when they also hit buildings then as well.

And what they do is they are not only blocking the media by bombing these buildings, but they're also blocking media access. What they want to do is they want to commit crimes, and they don't want anybody to report on them.

And then they want us to simply believe the statements that they're making about it. It wreaks. It wreaks. And the fact that the world is not doing anything to stop Israel is very alarming to me.

HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Well, let's talk about that. I mean you had statements from the White House and from the U.S. Secretary of State largely saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, calling on calm on both sides.

How do you -- What do you read into that? I mean what does that say? What impact will that have on how things develop?

Do you believe that the U.S. has so far stood back in terms of putting any pressure on the Israelis?

BUTTU: It's not that they've stood back, they've actually actively- enabled Israel. The United States gives Israel $3.8 billion every year. They just today approved an additional $735 million.

They've three times tried to block statements in the U.N. Security Council. This idea that somehow Israel has a right to defend itself is absurd. Israel is not defending itself, it's defending its occupation. When do Palestinians get a right to security? When do we get to defend ourselves? The big issue here is that by enabling Israel, they've actually enabled these war crimes. And we see that time after time, year after year, the situation has actually gotten worse. It hasn't gotten better.

And the only strategy that Israel has is to continually bomb Gaza, to continually make sure that Palestinians cannot survive.


BUTTU: I mean this is not a recipe for future relations as Mark Regev would like to make it seem. This is a -- this is a recipe for --


GORANI: What about -- sorry Diana, to jump in -- but what about are you sensing a shift? I mean we're seeing some op-ed, editorials, analysis pieces coming out in the U.S. that perhaps we are seeing a bit of a shift among some politicians in western capitals? I mean in the U.S., for instance, you had Jewish congresspeople come out and say, you know, we need a ceasefire immediately. The Israeli police are overreacted in East Jerusalem, et cetera.

We are seeing for instance demonstrations in Brooklyn, in Chicago, in Paris, et cetera. Maybe in a way that we haven't seen just five or six years ago.

So A, do you agree that there is a shift and B, what impact do you think it could have?

BUTTO: There is definitely a shift. Look, I've long believed Hala, that the world does not side with Israel. It might be the world powers that side with Israel but not the world.

And we're slowly starting to see that these cracks are taking shape, that these cracks are happening, and not just among the world but in that diplomatic arena as well.

The big problem for me is how long do we have to continue to see kids in refugee camps being bombed by a nuclear power holder for the world to wake up? So, it is heartening. I just wish that it was happening faster. And I wish that it was accompanied by the global call for boycotting Israel, for divesting from Israel, and for putting economic sanctions on Israel.

I think that that part is going to happen on the grassroots level. It just is going to take some time on the international level. And that's the problem is that as long as Israel is given the green light and not given a red light we're going to continue to see these types of war crimes being perpetrated.


VAUSE: Diana Buttu there speaking with Hala Gorani and we are hoping to talk with Ron Dermer. He is an Israeli ambassador who served in Washington for a time. As soon as we get him, we will bring him to you.

The U.S. has now promised to share part of its coronavirus vaccine stockpile with the world.

On Monday, President Joe Biden vowed to donate at least 20 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the end of June. That's on top of 60 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca which has already been promised.

It's a big boost for the COVAX global vaccine initiative which is falling far short of its delivery goals. Its partner, UNICEF, says COVAX was hoping to get 170 million doses to low income countries this week but now is facing 105 million dose shortfall ahead of the World Health Organization which puts the vast inequities in vaccine access in very stark terms.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: The world is in vaccine apartheid. As you know, high-income countries account for 15 percent of the world's population, but have 45 percent of the world's vaccines.

And low or middle income countries account for almost half of the world's population but have received just 17 percent of the world's vaccine. So the gap is really big.


VAUSE: Kenya is close to running out of vaccine supplies. Less than 2 percent of the population has had their first shot.

CNN's Larry Madowo picks up the story from Nairobi.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kenya received one million AstraZeneca shots from COVAX, That is the global vaccine alliance that's been helping low and middle income countries receive vaccines for free or at heavily discounted prices.

The country expected 2.6 million, but it was hoping for more. So it put nearly all of them in the shot of the arms of people that needed it most. The priority was given to essential workers, to people in the security services, and to anybody over the age of 58.

The guidance was a distance of eight weeks between the first shot and the second. The country now revised that to 12 weeks hoping that by that time, there will be more vaccines available in the country. But that's a big question mark.

Chairperson of the COVID taskforce of the ministry of health in Kenya telling CNN that the country may run out of vaccines by the end of May or early June and it just doesn't know when it's going to get more vaccines.

The country is looking to other places, hoping for millions of Johnson & Johnson shots, but for those who are already vaccinated, it is not recommending that you take the first shot of AstraZeneca and a second shot of Johnson & Johnson.

So the true fear here is a fourth wave might hit the country, the health care system cannot take it and there's no clear sign when it will be getting more vaccines. So any help, whether it comes from COVAX or from any other source would be so useful to stave (ph) off a crisis here in the country.

Larry Madowo, CNN -- Nairobi.


VAUSE: Well Ron Dermer served as Israeli ambassador to the United States. He was also a senior advisor to the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is with us live this hour.

Ron, thank you. Glad we have you up.



VAUSE: I want to follow up on an allegation you may have heard it. It came from the human rights lawyer, Diana Buttu just a few moments ago. Accusing Israel of showing no evidence about these targets, which are being hit in Gaza. Saying that you're (INAUDIBLE) are being used by Hamas and then preventing the media from getting access to these sites, saying it's all part of a cover-up. How do you respond to that?

DERMER: It's just ridiculous. It's a continuation of a lie about the evidence, it has actually been provided, as I understand it to U.S. intelligence officials. And that was a site where you had Hamas intelligence in that building and they were engaged in activity that actually would have, as far as I understand would have undermined our ability to actually target effectively and also undermine our ability to intercept incoming rockets.

And I think when all this information is going to get out, John, people are going to be embarrassed for making such an allegation.

VAUSE: Can you expand on exactly what was going on in that building?

DERMER: Well, we know that there were Hamas intelligence that was there. I assume that in the coming days, that information will be fully released. And we took action because that became a legitimate military target.

Hamas obviously thought that there was no way that Israel was going to target such a building because the press was there and they were wrong about that. What we did was we warned the press, not a single press person was killed.

I don't believe any were injured. We cleared the building and we took it down. Now, if somebody from Hamas there would have done something to jam our ability to defend our citizens, we would've had a real serious problem on our hands.

We could've had incoming rockets that would kill a lot of Israeli civilians. And I'll tell you something else, John, that's important to understand about Israel's Iron Dome System.

For every Israeli who is saved, you probably have 10, 50, maybe 100 Palestinians were saved. And I'll explain to you why that is.

If Israel's government does not have the Iron Dome System to prevent these rockets from lobbed at our cities, we will be forced into a massive ground operation. And that will endanger many more innocent Palestinians.

The Iron Dome System has effectively allowed us to deescalate the conflict. And that's why it's so important. And Hamas that was working in that building to undermine that system, would be a great danger not only to Israel, but also to Palestinian civilians.

VAUSE: They don't really care about civilians. I mean that's pretty obvious by what they've been doing.

But I'm just wondering, does Israel even want a ceasefire at this point in time?

DERMER: I'm sorry?

VAUSE: Does Israel even want a ceasefire at this point?

DERMER: Well, what we have to do in our operation -- we didn't start here, remember John. They launched rockets at us -- somebody can't come and hit you in the back of the head with the club, and then say we want a ceasefire.

We have to go and take action against Hamas. And we have to exact a heavy enough price from Hamas that they are deterred from taking such action in the future.

I think we're getting close to that point. I don't think that we're there yet. We have really hit the Hamas terrorists very hard. The IDF has reported that about 160 Hamas terrorists were killed.

We have taken out a lot of their terrorist infrastructure. This subterranean tunnel network that Hamas uses to move terrorists from one place to the other, to move rockets and missiles and other weaponry from one place to another. That -- a lot of it was taken out and that was a big weapon in Hamas war machine.

So their capabilities, their terrorist capabilities have been degraded considerably. And I hope that we will move close to the end of this operation. I don't think it's going to take weeks. It's probably several days.

VAUSE: Ok. Let's just (INAUDIBLE) because the concern is that back in 2014, this went on for 50 days, and more than 2,000 people in Gaza were dead by the end of it. And all other places flattened. And back then it was, you know, the whole objective was to degrade Hamas, teach them a lesson, make sure they don't do this again. Well, they did.

So how can you guarantee that, you know, what you do will ensure that Hamas is going to be degraded -- that they will not be able carry out these sort of airstrikes again?

DERMER: Well, I will tell you a big difference between 2012 and 2014. 2012, we had a round 2 -- the second round. There was a first round in 2008-2009. There was no Iron Dome. And we had to launch a pretty big ground operation, not fully into Gaza but many, many people were killed.

In 2012, it was an 8-day operation, Israel actually did not go in on the ground. And the reason why we were able to de-escalate is one, we had Iron Dome, and two, we had the full backing of the international community for what we were trying to achieve.

President Obama then spoke I think four, five times to Prime Minister Netanyahu, gave him the full backing and Israel was able to de- escalate it in eight days.

What happened in 2014 is we did not have that full backing from the international community. And that ended up costing a lot of lives because Hamas thought that they can keep firing rockets, and the world would turn on Israel.

The important thing is not just for the United States, but for the rest of the world, to back Israel's ability to defend itself. It's right to defend itself. And when these terrible tragedies happen, when innocent civilians are killed because Hamas is putting their military infrastructure in civilian areas and even the most precise strikes that you could possibly have will have unintended civilian casualties

If the media will lay that at the doorstep of Hamas, will blame Hamas, you will see that this round will be shorter and Hamas will be much less likely to start a new round in the future.


VAUSE: Ok Ron, thank you very much. We appreciate you being up with us early. Thank you for the insights and the explanations and the viewpoint from Israel. Thank you.

DERMER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Take care.

Well, still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, it was meant to be a moment of national pride. Now many in Japan just want those Olympic games to go away.

A live report from Tokyo is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Well, what started as unhappy grumblings and then grew to demands for the cancellation of the Tokyo Summer Olympics have now turned to protests. All of this happening amid a surge of COVID infections.

A poll by one Japanese newspaper found widespread opposition to the games. 43 percent in favor of canceling the Olympics altogether.

Despite that opposition, pre-games events are underway. That includes the torch relay. On Monday, it went through Hiroshima's Peace Park. The opening ceremony is still two months away, just a touch over.

For more we go to CNN in Tokyo, Blake Essig is standing by live.

Why are they going to do when this actually gets under way and no one wants the Olympics to take place there? I mean they'll be the happiest games in the world.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, those grumbles that you mention, they are getting louder and louder with each day that we get closer to the start of these games. And COVID-19 continues to cause problems for Olympic organizers.

The torch relay set for today in Hiroshima has been moved off public roads. This was an event that IOC president Thomas Bach was scheduled to be at before postponing his visit because of the virus.

Also today, Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association which represents 6,000 primary care doctors release a letter sent to the government of Tokyo, and the central government calling for the games to be canceled.

In it, they say that the medical institutions specifically in Tokyo are dealing with COVID-19 and they have their hands full. And have almost no capacity to spare.

Now, last night in Tokyo, dozens of protesters waved signs chanted, and marched, opposing the games. And just a few days before that a petition with more than 350,000 signatures were submitted to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government calling for the games to be canceled.

So far at least 45 towns and Olympic teams, have abandoned plans to hold training camps and participate in the host town initiative.

And a recent poll conducted by a major Japanese newspaper showed that more than 80 percent of people believe that the games should either be canceled or postponed again.

Now it's worth noting that protests in Japan here uncommon. Democracy doesn't exactly have a long history here. And people traditionally stay out, you know keep their politics quiet.


ESSIG: So the fact that ordinary people, athletes, medical professionals and industry leaders are speaking out publicly against the Olympics, even in small numbers is significant. And it's clear that the anti Olympic movement is growing.

Now part of the reason Japan is still battling a fourth wave of infection, and the strain on the medical systems continues to grow. The big concern from not only the public and medical professionals has to do with what could happen when tens of thousands of athletes and support staff enter Japan for the Olympics in the next coming month or two, John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you very much. Blake Essig there in Tokyo -- I'll get your name right one day. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

In the meantime we'll take a short break.

Right after lockdown as pandemic restrictions are lifted across the U.K. some are feeling a little anxious. We'll explain.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Easy, no problems. No (INAUDIBLE). Very happy to be here. Thank you for letting us in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're really, really happy. Big welcome sign. Welcome back to (INAUDIBLE). and I've just been given this box. And I've opened it up, and inside of it there is a mask, some hand sanitizer, and a guide on keeping safe on (INAUDIBLE) where you enjoy your holiday. So we are really, really delighted to be here.


VAUSE: Some of the first British tourists to visit Portugal for some holiday making after a COVID related travel ban was lifted had been in place for 5 months. Entry into Portugal now requires a negative COVID test.

Masks are still required on the beach. Portugal is one of 12 destinations on the British government's so-called, a green list. Proof of travel, requiring no quarantine, on return to the U.K.

A Monday 23 flights from Britain landed in Portugal. There's a lot of happy holiday-makers on board.

Well, for many in the U.K. and around the world, readjusting to life after lockdown will be a personal challenge. Psychologists call it reentry anxiety.

And it's similar to how some may feel after solitary confinement, maybe being in outer space.

CNN's Phil Black spoke to those who've experienced and overcome their own challenges with extreme isolation.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Confined largely to our homes, deprived of freedoms, experiences and humans connection.

Somehow, we have mostly learned to get by. Now in countries with vast vaccine programs we must adapt again to crowds, to conversations, to a pace of life that seems distant, and personally, a little intimidating. And that makes me feel nervous, anxious, even fearful.

(on camera): But I don't know why I'm feeling this way.

ANA NIKCEVIC, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think we have only become a little inclined to be closed in, and hesitant to go back to that normal life. And we need to invigorate that social muscle.

BLACK (voice over): Psychologist Ana Nikcevic says nervousness about returning to something like our old reality now has a name. Reentry anxiety.

But it's not new.

NIKCEVIC: This phenomenon has been observed by psychologists before in people who have spent protracted periods of time in isolation. For example, people who have gone into space.

BLACK: Chris Hadfield (ph) understands why some people are feeling anxious.


CHRIS HADFIELD, ASTRONAUT: My longest time in space, when I was living on board and commanding the International Space Station, was a little under six months. So, half a year, halfway around the sun.

BLACK: Hadfield says he returned to work a different person and many of those emerging from lockdown will also have experienced profound personal change.

(on camera): Perhaps some of the anxiety is fueled by the fear that things could go back. That we could lose some of what we found through this experience.

HADFIELD: I think that's up to each of us though. How am I going to take this new version of me and introduce it to this new version of the world in as productive way as I possibly can.

BLACK: A practical optimism I think that's what you're advocating there. Is that fair.

HADFIELD: That's how we fly space ships though with a very deeply based practical optimism.

BLACK: Pip Hare believes she is her best self when battling oceans alone.

She recently finished a 96-day non stop single handed race around the world but even with all her extraordinary (INAUDIBLE) returning to life on land can be overwhelming. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) but we are adaptable and we will go to a different kind of normal again. But you don't want to throw yourself at it too hard, allow the change to happen gradually and make sure you're doing things that work for you.

JASON REZAIAN, "WASHINGTON POST": My wife and I were arrested.

BLACK: Jason Rezaian was imprisoned in Iran while working as "The Washington Post" bureau chief.

REZAIAN: I spent 49 days in solitary confinement. And I went on to spend a total 544 days in that prison.

BLACK: He know the complex emotions that follow a sudden return to a once familiar life.

REZAIAN: In my case, I was, you know, one person and my wife. We were two people that were dealing with this.

What we are talking about now is billions of people around the world coming to this at almost the same time. Just recognizing that everybody is going to have a different reaction and many of those reactions are going to be unexpected -- unexpected to the world and unexpected to those people themselves.

BLACK: So, we should all be a little gentle with each other, perhaps?

REZAIAN: I think we should always be a little bit gentle with each other, but certainly in the weeks and the months ahead, you know, I think we should err towards forgiveness. There is going to be a lot of awkward encounters for everybody.

BLACK: Everyone wants the pandemic to end. But in a world were old certainties have been swept aside, we can't all be sure we'll want everything that comes next.

Phil Black, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: Ok. Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. A lot more news after a short break with my friend and colleague, Robyn Curnow.