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Israel's Assault on Gaza, Efforts at Cease-Fire Prove Difficult; Monster Cyclone Disrupts Testing, Vaccinations in India; Outbreak Puts Pressure on Taiwan's Low Vaccination Rates; Pressure to Cancel Tokyo Summer Olympics Growing; Opposition to Games Grows as COVID-19 Cases Spread; Thousands of Palestinians Protest in West Bank; 6,000 Migrants Swim from Morocco to Ceuta, Spain. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired May 19, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour, another day of escalating airstrikes by the Israelis and rocket fire from Hamas with this conflict playing out on multiple fronts. From Gaza to the West Bank, where the Palestinians have clashed with Israeli solders.

With India left battered by a deadly cyclone, forecasters are warning conditions are ripe for another powerful storm to form in the region.

And the not so friendly, not really wanted, can't they just cancel the whole damn thing, Tokyo Olympics?

Thousands of doctors now joining calls to bring an end to the Summer Games before they begin.


VAUSE: Despite days of diplomatic talk about cease-fires, de- escalation, the sounds of war seem to be growing as Israeli airstrikes pound the Gaza Strip and Hamas militants fire rockets into Israel, while another front opens in the West Bank with deadly between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers.

And the lopsided death toll continues to rise, more than 200 dead in Gaza while, in Israel, a dozen people have been killed.


VAUSE (voice-over): Israel says, they're targeting Hamas rocket launches, tunnel networks and the homes of senior militants in Gaza, an air campaign which the Israeli prime minister says militant groups did not expect and in his words, has set them back years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): Hamas and Islamic Jihad received blows they didn't expect. We've taken Hamas years back. We'll continue as long as necessary to bring the quiet back to the citizens of Israel.


VAUSE: Israel allowed international aid into Gaza for the first time in nine days, since the fighting began but closed the border soon after in response to mortar fire.

Just across the board from Gaza, workers in Israel died when they were hit by projectile Hamas and island Jihad, claimed responsibility.


VAUSE (voice-over): And thousands of Palestinians filled the streets on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, protesting in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. At least four people were killed in violent clashes with police. A security source says Israel has imposed a partial closure on the territory.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So today is a nationwide strike, it's a nationwide strike especially for our dignity. We have endured 73 years of occupation and humiliation and we've had enough.


VAUSE: Elliott Gotkine live for us in the southern city of Ashdod, in Israel.

Elliott, both sides are saying we are here for the long haul but it does feel like there could be moving to some kind of cease-fire, maybe in the next couple of days. That could be when these conflicts turn to the most deadliest part, when they fight everything they have in those final few hours and days.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John, there were reports on Israeli media that a cease-fire had been agreed, brokered by the Egyptians, and this would come into effect on Thursday.

CNN spoke with a senior Hamas leader, a member of the political bureau. He said that those reports were simply not true but they trying to broker a cease-fire. We also understand there are a couple of stumbling blocks. Israel insisting that Hamas go first for a cease- fire and that is something that Hamas dismissed.

At the same, time Hamas has insisted that Israel end provocations over al-Aqsa and also to resolve the situation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The presidents of France and Egypt and king of Jordan held a virtual meeting yesterday and undertook to push forward with efforts at bringing a cease-fire. Things do seem to be moving, when any cease-fire would come to effect,

we don't know. It does not been agreed to just, yet. But as you say when there is a kind of an endpoint or at least for now and endpoint of the current fighting, inevitably both sides will try and get the strikes in that they want to get, before they let their guns go silent.


VAUSE: This is the point, this is a cease-fire, it's not a resolution, it's not an end to the conflict it's just a pause in the fighting. Quite often these cease-fires don't, hold with violations on both sides.

Even if there is some kind of an agreement, an end to this could still be some time off, right?

GOTKINE: Yes, I don't think anyone sees this as the overall end game. This is simply a pause in the ongoing conflict, between Israel and the militants of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

There have been wars, cease-fires and then years of quiet, punctuated by skirmishes, that is probably the best anyone can hope for right now. Getting a cease-fire for the current round of fighting, getting a quiet and allowing the citizens of Gaza to get back to normal, also the citizens of Israel to go about their business as normal, as well.

It's not an ideal scenario but that is the situation and probably the best both sides can hope for right now.

VAUSE: Yes, it's a pretty grim situation. Elliott Gotkine, thank you, live in Ashdod.

The E.U. foreign policy chief calling for an immediate cease-fire to protect civilians and allow full humanitarian access to Gaza. After meeting with the foreign ministers, he said E.U. supports Israel's right to defend itself but has to be done in what he called a proportional manner.

France plans to offer a resolution at the U.N. Security Council on the violence but the U.S. still opposes that move. The secretary of state believes the U.S. believes actions by the Security Council will be counterproductive.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: With regard to the United Nations, we're not standing in the way of diplomacy. On the contrary, as I said, we're exercising it virtually nonstop.

The question is, would any given action or any given statement actually advance the goal of ending the violence and moving to a better place. That's the judgment that we bring to bear each time we are considering what action to take.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Karl Schembri is the regional media adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council. He is with us this hour, from Amman, in Jordan.

Karl, thank you for taking the time to speak with us, I want to talk about the Israeli goal here before ending the military offense in Gaza. They want to degrade Hamas' ability to manufacture and fire rockets from Gaza. Those are imposed at cost. For every rocket fired to Israel, listen to a little more now from Mark Regev, a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister.


MARK REGEV, NETANYAHU SENIOR ADVISER: Waiting them out, of course they want us to stop. The question is if they just get used to the idea that they can shoot thousands of rockets at Israel, and then the international community demands Israel stops, then why would ever stop shooting rockets at Israel if they can get the international community to protect them?


VAUSE: They had a similar goal 7 years ago back in 2014, up to 50 days of Israeli fire from land, sea, air, 2000 dead in Gaza. The place was trashed, the infrastructure destroyed.

Hamas fired a rocket back at Israel within two months.

So how do they achieve this goal, without causing more pain and devastation than 7 years ago?

KARL SCHEMBRI, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: Well, look, as a humanitarian I look primarily at the human cost of all of this. We're seeing over 60 children killed now, 100 people (INAUDIBLE) and this is the result.

If we take a step back of the bigger underlying issues here, we have over 2 million people, who are living under siege in the Gaza Strip, millions more living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, facing forced evictions.

These are all underlying factors that have remained there, every time that there was a de-escalation. So as you rightly say, the ingredients are going to stay there unless they are tackled. That is also leading to these kinds of escalations, with terrible, devastating impacts on human life.

Only yesterday, we have concluded that,, just out of the 60 children killed, 11 of them were children we were helping, assisting with trauma from previous violence. Imagine, they've already been through other escalations, daily violence as well.

This is the life inside the Gaza Strip, an extremely terrifying one when you live under siege in that way. Very militarized, it is no place for children to grow up in. And that's what we're saying this should end. They shouldn't be living under siege.

VAUSE: If you're a child living in Gaza and you're under 12 years of age, you've seen what?

Four wars now?

SCHEMBRI: Pretty much, that's correct.


VAUSE: That must have an incredible emotional toll, to say the least.

SCHEMBRI: That's the kind of children we've been working with. We give our attention to Gaza unfortunately in moments like this when there's a huge flare up, when the buildings are shaking and the fire is raging.

Yes, the daily experience for these children, is a terrifying one. They get nightmares. We work with children who have absolutely terrifying, violent nightmares, that make them unable to function, totally abnormal for a child of that age.

These children killed, between 5 and 15 years of age, where all kids, with their parents, with their siblings, with neighbors, inside their homes. The violence, there's no escape from it. This is not like going to some front line, which you can avoid. This is the front line coming through your bedroom.

VAUSE: Yes, in 2012, a U.N. report said that Gaza would be for the most part, unlivable by 2020. No reliable access to safe drinking water, standards of health care, education will continue to decline and division of affordable and reliable electricity for all will have become a distant memory.

In 2017, Save the Children, 90 percent of the drinking water was unfit for human consumption, electricity available for just 2-4 hours, waterborne disease spiking, health emergency services breaking down.

Another report the following year, unemployment 52 percent, the highest in the world. Add to that, whatever devastations caused by this latest round of Israeli airstrikes, Gaza goes from a humanitarian catastrophe to a disaster, then to what?

Hell on Earth?

SCHEMBRI: That is an accurate description, really, I think what's strikes us, because we as humanitarians will step in when the bombs stop falling. Governments will deliver and pump money into Gaza for reconstruction, quite generously, normally. We appeal to them to do that.

But until, once that is done, a few years down the line, we are back to square one. Throughout these years, they will be living in exactly the nightmare we've been talking about. Undrinkable water, no freedom of movement, we're talking -- you've mentioned a lot of the physical infrastructure, civilian infrastructure, hospitals destroyed, unable to cope.

Try and think of what that does to the dignity of a parent raising their children, who can never travel, move out of this little strip of land, not even to the other side of the Palestinian Territory in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, someone who has never met someone outside of Gaza, those 2 million people, who have now been living under such restrictive conditions.

What is that going to do for coexistence?

How is that going to contribute to a peaceful coexistence with your neighbors, if you are just limited to such a tiny stretch of land, which is ultimately the subject of airstrikes, every other year?

VAUSE: Karl, we'll leave it, there but thank you so much for being with us, we appreciate your time, thank you sir.

SCHEMBRI: Thank you.


VAUSE: The death toll now stands at 40, after a cyclone swept through India, destroyed roads, buildings, impacting coronavirus relief efforts across the country. Power supplies been disrupted at some hospitals in the state of Gujarat.

This is the cost of the storm. Search and rescue teams are still looking for workers from an oil barge that sank off the coast of Mumbai. CNN's Anna Coren is in Hong Kong.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: John, that rescue operation is being hampered by poor conditions but, we can report 180 people have been rescued from that barge off the coast of Mumbai, about 70 kilometers off the coast.

This is where the country's largest oil rigs are located. An SOS went out on Monday night, the Navy and Coast Guard responded to that SOS distress call. That rescue operation began.

Dozens, we should stress, are still missing. Another barge ran aground, 137 people on board. They were all rescued.

Then, John, there are a number of ships that are missing off the coast of Gujarat. The state of Gujarat, that is where the cyclone made landfall on Monday night, bringing extremely strong winds.


COREN: The strongest storm, cyclone to hit the region in 2 decades. We just heard from prime minister Narendra Modi's office. He says that he will be visiting the state of Gujarat today. He'll be conducting an aerial survey to look at the damage.

This is his home state, we must remember. Obviously, he pays particular interest and what's happening back home. This is a state that has seen a surge in COVID cases in the last couple of weeks. The cyclone has obviously thrown those COVID plans really out the window.

Vaccination programs have been suspended. The storm damage is going to take days, if not weeks, to clean up and get that program back up and running. I should also mention that the prime minister spoke yesterday, saying his focus was to ramp up the vaccination program. Pressure is on to also ramp up production.

VAUSE: Anna Coren in Hong Kong, thank you.

We will take a break. When we come back, Taiwan is experiencing a vaccine crisis, leading to a rush to get vaccinated.

Is there enough supply for everyone?

Also, a number of Japanese towns are ditching a program to host Olympic athletes from around the world.




VAUSE: Nonessential businesses in France will welcome back customers on Wednesday. Outdoor bars and restaurants will reopen at half capacity. Pandemic restrictions are being rolled back as new COVID cases and the daily death toll continues to decline; 21 million people have received at least one vaccine dose.

A different story in Taiwan. Vaccination efforts are in pressure. The island's dealing with the most severe outbreak so far. Fewer than 1 percent of the population has been vaccinated. CNN's Will Ripley live in Taipei.

This is quite surprising, a country that did so well in the beginning has such a low number of people vaccinated and such short supply.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Taiwan is a wealthy country. They are the world's leading manufacturer of the chips the world relies on to power many electronic devices. They have everything but opportunity when it comes to getting vaccines into the country.

There's 23 million people here. They received 300,000 AstraZeneca doses, period. And they are almost out of those. This latest flare-up is really shining a spotlight on the difficulties that Taiwan is facing in the region as they go back and forth with Mainland China.


RIPLEY: China considers the self governing island a renegade province that they can take back at any time. They are routinely sending planes and ships into the Taiwan Strait, very close to small pieces of land, these islands that Taiwan claims as its territory.

There is intimidation going on on the military front and Taiwan is claiming intimidation on the vaccine front. Even this week, we've seen it play out. On Monday, the Taiwan office in the mainland put out a statement, offering to help the island with their current COVID crisis, to which Taiwan immediately responded back, don't pretend you are trying to help us.

If you wanted to help, you would have let us get those BioNTech doses they were trying to get in February.

Taiwan claimed they were close to getting 5 million doses from BioNTech and they believed Chinese interference blocked that deal. BioNTech has had no comment and there is no official comment from any of the foreign ministries involved but there is a lot of talk on the ground here in Taipei, that Beijing does not want Taiwan to get more effective foreign vaccines.

They want them to get China made vaccines, because Beijing has been donating and selling vaccines to a lot of countries and territories.

Let me read you this tweet, to sum it all. Up this is from Taiwan's presidential office, saying, "Taiwan access to vaccines continues to be slowed down by Chinese interference, while they insist we buy Chinese made ones. If you really want to help, please don't stand in the doorway. don't block up the hall."

There is a political back and forth and we are still waiting to find out if the case numbers will continue going up as they have over the last week.

VAUSE: Will Ripley, thank you.

Across Japan, towns and cities are withdrawing the welcome mat for athletes competing in the Olympics. It's a blow for Tokyo which is already under pressure to cancel or postpone the games because of the pandemic and a rising number of new infections. Blake Essig has our report.



BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Things were different when Belize's national band last visited Yokoshima Hikari (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's unthinkable now. No one is wearing masks.

ESSIG (voice-over): That was nearly 2 years ago. Back then, they threw a party at their resort after inviting the band to celebrate the town's decision to host athletes from the small Caribbean nation in the buildup to the Olympic Games.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator); This is a small town and we have very little chance to communicate with people from abroad. So we were looking forward to it.

ESSIG (voice-over): But COVID-19 had other plans, with cases on the rise across Japan and seemingly no end in sight to the pandemic, the mayor was forced to make a choice, the health of his people or the Olympics. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My biggest mission is to

protect the town people's life and health, so I made this decision without any hesitation.

ESSIG (voice-over): Part of the reason to pull out as host, his town has no PCR testing, which is a requirement in the Olympic playbook outlining COVID-19 countermeasures. In addition, he says medical resources are limited and the public hospitals aren't capable of treating patients requiring treatment for COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We hear about the medical collapse in Osaka and I'm afraid it may take place here.

ESSIG (voice-over): While disappointed, this doctor says he understands the decision was made to avoid potential risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This hospital is the only impatient facility in town. So if this hospital was tied up with COVID patients, we cannot operate regular medical care at all.

ESSIG (voice-over): So far, at least 45 out of 528 host towns and Olympic teams have pulled out from participating in the program because of the pandemic, with some officials saying more are expected to follow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's putting people at risk.

ESSIG (voice-over): Superstar athletes have started to cast doubt. Recently, medical professionals, business leaders and a majority of the Japanese population have called for the games to be canceled.

But will it make a difference?

One Olympic scholar says it already has.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the criticisms from athletes and from elsewhere do matter, because they leave a mark on this Olympics. It's going to be impossible to remove.

ESSIG (voice-over): Reputational damage that he says could be amplified if the games are held.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want it to happen but say there is a spike in COVID cases as a result of the games. It would be devastating.

ESSIG (voice-over): An Olympic story that for now is dominated by the dark cloud of COVID-19 -- Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.



VAUSE: Earlier this year at the opening of a new session of parliament, Japan's prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the Tokyo Olympic would be proof of a human victory over the coronavirus. He talked about determination to achieve games that can deliver hope

and courage throughout the world. Now many are united in hope the games will be canceled. As of Tuesday, that includes 6,000 doctors in the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, who signed on to a letter demanding that.

Last year, the president said these delayed Summer Games would be the light at the end of this very dark tunnel, when the world will reunite after conquering the coronavirus pandemic.

The story of the Tokyo Olympics seems to be the story about how we have dealt with the pandemic. Optimism based on nothing more than wishful thinking, elected officials who failed to follow the signs or listen to health experts.

And the light at the end of the tunnel, for wealthy nations, it may be the end of the worst of the pandemic but there are so many other nations around the world that have yet to see a vaccination. The light is the lantern of the oncoming train.

To the great state of Texas now, Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College in Houston.

It's good to see you.


VAUSE: The Olympics. This will be where denial of reality collides with a lack of political will to make hard some very hard choices. Every time that's happened during this pandemic, it has not ended well.

Is that what's likely to happen in June and July?

HOTEZ: In defense of the Japanese government, it's good to have ambitious goals and aspirational goals. If you don't have that, you don't get anywhere. The hard reality is the only way we can slow the pandemic down is through vaccination.

Despite some good efforts, we have done a very poor job at vaccinating most of the world. We've vaccinated a few countries in the Western Hemisphere, the United States, Canada, the U.K., some of the Nordic countries, Western Europe and that's really about it.

So in the rest of the world, we have a screaming, raging pandemic. I don't see a means by which we can do this in 2021.

VAUSE: When we talk about vaccines, wealthy nations have stockpiled almost half of the world's vaccine supply. We're less than 20 percent of the global population. Maybe the worst will be over in the next few months for those nations.

But the coronavirus is not going away. It will spread in countries where a vaccine is in short supply and health care services are inadequate. It's only a matter of time before the virus comes back and bites wealthy nations.

HOTEZ: No, I think the U.S. and some of the Western European, Nordic countries will do a good job at vaccinating their way through the epidemic. But that's a tiny percentage of the world.

If you look at more than 1 billion doses of vaccine that have been delivered, it's almost entirely in wealthy countries and in China. Africa is mostly bereft of vaccines, so is Latin America, as well as many of the low and middle income countries in Asia.

Guess where people are coming in for the Olympics?

From all over the world. For a global event like this, we are clearly not ready.

I'm hopeful if we can accelerate vaccinations, especially across low and middle income countries, maybe by 2022, I think that should be a goal we should try to aspire towards but I don't see a path by which we can do that right now.

VAUSE: The virus seems to thrive on our worst instincts, whether it's a refusal to wear a face mask or political leaders who want to avoid hard decisions, like locking down an economy.

Often, these kind of decisions are made because there is an urge to get back to normal as fast as we can and what happens is quite the opposite. We make selfish or dumb decisions and it delays the return to normalcy.

Is that something we will see similar with vaccines?

HOTEZ: One of the problems with big events like the Olympics -- and I'm no expert -- but it seems to me that you have to lock in big contracts many months ahead, sometimes years ahead. You try to do forecast planning and make your best guess that things will work out.

Clearly, this was not the case in this instance. So trying to develop a risk management strategy is problematic. By 2022, I think we will be in a much better position. I don't want to make promises but I do think we will be able to do better at vaccinating globally. We will have our arms around the variants to some extent.

Some of my colleagues are less optimistic and they say 2023 or 2024. I think we can do better. But clearly, 2021 is out for a big international gathering right now. Especially in a country like Japan, where more than 120 million people, I think, only 6 million doses of vaccine have been delivered.


So Japan is highly vulnerable right now, and it would be self- defeating for them to post something as ambitious as the Olympics.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, I think it's less than 1 percent of the entire population have received some kind of vaccine shot at this point, which is not a great number at this stage. Doctor Hotez, it's been a while, and it's been good to see you. Thanks

for being with us.

HOTEZ: Thanks so much.

VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. When we come back, anger over Israeli air strikes on Gaza, sending Palestinian protesters onto the streets of the West Bank. That's leading to deadly clashes.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

We have this just into CNN, India has just reported more than 4,500 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday alone. That's the most in one day since the pandemic began.

The daily death toll has remained about 3,000, every day, since April 28.

Well, it might just be a new front in Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Protesters gathering in the West Bank, demanding an end to the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and those demonstrations turned deadly as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces.

Meantime, Arab Israelis held a gentle strike across Israel and the West Bank. Meantime, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel resumed after a brief pause as Israeli jets continued to respond with more punishing airstrikes. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman reports now from Jerusalem.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Explosions light the sky above Gaza, as a brief overnight low breaks with fresh airstrikes from Israel. Gaza militants returned fire according to Israeli officials, and so began another day of violence.

Thousands of Palestinians protesting in solidarity with Gaza, taking to the streets of the West Bank into East Jerusalem. Some clashed with Israeli police just north of the Old City, where several Palestinian families face forced eviction from homes claimed by Jewish settlers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're striking for dignity. We have endured 73 years of occupation and humiliation, and we've had enough.


WEDEMAN: Hamas, Fattah and Palestinian civil society groups calling for the demonstrations.

On the ninth day of cross-border fire, the ninth day of devastation. The Israeli military says warplanes struck nine rocket launch sites in Gaza Tuesday and targeted a tunnel system, homes of Hamas commanders, and an empty tank squad in Gaza City. The strikes on militants catching civilians in the crossfire.

A bereaved father in Gaza clutches his wounded baby, his only surviving family after airstrikes killed his wife and four sons. They're among more than 200 Palestinians killed so far in the conflict.

Israel's prime minister says their offensive will press on.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We've taken Hamas years back. We'll continue as long as necessary to bring the quiet back to the citizens of Israel.

WEDEMAN: In Israel, two Thai migrant workers were killed and seven people injured, after a rocket strike on an Israeli farm just over the Gaza fence.

Hamas and Islamic jihad claimed responsibility as the death toll in Israel rises to 12. Further north, rockets also landed on the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Bathsheba.

Some Israelis living in range of the rocket fire have fled to shelters for safety, afraid more violence will come.

NATANEL SHARVIT, FATHER OF FOUR LIVING IN SHELTER (through translator): My children are suffering from anxiety. They are so scared to sleep at home.

WEDEMAN: A life of fear becoming the norm as civilians paid the price in a conflict raging on.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Jordan, Egypt and France are working on a diplomatic off-ramp for the Israelis and Hamas. Jordan's King Abdullah said the Palestinians must be protected, and the aggression on Gaza must end.

Well, the French president is pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire. Egypt is vowing to help rebuild Gaza. The Egyptian foreign minister spoke with CNN's Becky Anderson about how to push the peace process forward.


SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we are working diligently to achieve a ceasefire. I think the consequences of the escalation of the violence, the loss of life and destruction, certainly necessitates that all efforts are undertaken to achieve a cease-fire, to avoid the escalation, and to avoid the widening of the conflict.

Our efforts have been consistent in that regard. I have been reaching out to all parties concerned spoken to Secretary Blinken, a variety of foreign ministers from the European Union. There's a great deal of interest again, foreign ministers of the organization of Islamic conference, that -- and we continue to coordinate with all our partners to achieve a cease-fire, to prevent the ongoing escalation and the subsequent potential of loss of life.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who or what is getting in the way of a cease-fire agreement at this point?

SHOUKRY: We are working hard with all of parties concerned, and we hope that sooner, rather than later, we will be in a position to declare a cease-fire and to relieve the current tensions.

We have been in close consultations with the Israelis, with the Palestinians, with Hamas and we have reassurances that the Palestinians are eager to resolve this escalation.


VAUSE: And you can watch the full interview with the Egyptian foreign minister on "CONNECT THE WORLD," 7 p.m. Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, 11 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Next up, risking everything for a better life. Six thousand migrants make a dangerous swim from Morocco to Spain in what's being called an unprecedented crisis.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. More than 6,000 migrants have made a desperate swim from Morocco to the Spanish-controlled territory of Ceuta in North Africa. It's the latest in a growing trend of illegal migration to Spain.

CNN's Al Goodman has more now from Madrid.


AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Exhausted and cold, thousands of Moroccan migrants swam their way to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in Northern Africa.

Some wading to shore, others breaching the border fence, many of them minors and in need of medical attention.

Some entered southern Ceuta at Tarajal Beach, but most came through in north Ceuta at Benzu Beach. It was just a short swim around break waters which marked the border up one side and then down the other to reach Ceuta, a Spanish government spokesman said.

Risking their lives, many came under the cover of darkness, some aided by flotation devices. But the light at the end, turned out to be Spanish authorities, not the warmest welcome.

Police enforced as migrants arrived, many out of breath. One Moroccan man drowned, the government said. Some were jubilant as they ran into Ceuta town, but it would be a short visit for many of them. The Spanish interior minister saying thousands had already been sent back.

FERNANDO GRANDE-MARLASKA, SPANISH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We will be strong in defending our borders.

GOODMAN: Spain's prime minister announced a visit to Ceuta and Spain's other enclave, Melilla on Morocco's north coast and thanked the European Union for its support.

PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will restore order with the greatest speed. We will be firm to guarantee the security of our citizens against any challenge and under any circumstance.

GOODMAN: Troops were doing to back up police and keep the situation contained, while increasing border security, officials said. The president of Ceuta, home to 84,000 Spaniards, called the situation unprecedented, demanding help.

(on camera): The crisis in Ceuta is a sign of deep tension between Spain and Morocco, political analysts say. It's also increasing pressure on Spain's socialist government for its immigration policy, from conservatives and from Spain's emboldened far-right party.

Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is -- starts after a very short break. I'll be back at the top of the hour. Thanks for watching.