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Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas Takes Effect; Prince William: BBC's Failures Contributed to Diana's Paranoia; India's COVID-19 Cases Cross 26 Million Mark; Olympic Game Organizers to Speak Amid Pressure to Call Off Games; U.S. Senate Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Eritrean Troops. Aired 12-12:45a ET
Aired May 21, 2021 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from our world headquarters here in Atlanta.
Ahead this hour, a cease-fire, but not a solution. Israel and Hamas agree to put the killing on hold. Now what?
Europe finally agrees on how vaccine passports will work, allowing free travel within the block. But beyond that, health officials say think twice.
She may still be alive today. The scathing response from Prince Harry, and William, after an inquiry reveals the cover-up and deceit surrounding the BBC interview with their mother.
Eleven days of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza is on hold, at least for now. Both sides agree to a cease-fire, brokered by Egypt, which took effect about five hours ago.
The news brought celebrations in Gaza, where Hamas officials say Israeli airstrikes killed at least 232 people and afflicted more than $300 million in damage. Israel reports 12 casualties from Hamas rocket and mortars.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying in part, the security cabinet conveyed and accepted, unanimously, the recommendation of all security elements to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual unconditional cease-fire.
The political leadership empathizes that the reality on the ground will determine any decision to resume the military campaign. Hamas says Israel carried out more than 1,800 airstrikes since the conflict intensified last Monday. U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the truce, pledging to help Israel replenish its Iron Dome air defense system, as well as provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress, and I've committed to working for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Live now, in southern Israel, Elliott Gotkine is live for us again.
So Elliott, what we have is a situation where both sides have agreed to put this on hold. Everyone seems to agree that there needs to be something done to move this forward, to try and fix the damage in Gaza, to try and move this process into some kind of negotiations towards peace.
But just how that last part happens is, right now, it's just still the question and has been for a long time.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Indeed, John. I mean, while there will be relief inside and on the citizens of Gaza, and also, certainly, in southern Israel, which bore the brunt of the rocket fire over the last 11 days, I don't think anyone really thinks that this is the end. This is a ceasefire. This is the latest round of fighting.
And everyone really expects there to be more, at some point in the future. Now, one thing that may have changed slightly is that the U.S. president, Joe Biden, will, of course, now have been -- will have been made very clear to him that this isn't a situation that can be ignored. But he -- you know, he still bears the scars of attempts to try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on his vice president, and we have seen other attempts by other administrations, you know, fail or become bogged down.
And right now, you have a situation where you also have, you know, political instability inside of Israel. We don't have a fully functioning government. There will probably be fresh elections later this year.
You have the Palestinian Authority president who hasn't, you know, gone to the people in terms of an election, for something like 15 years. And, you've got Hamas, you know, firmly embedded, in control, of the Gaza Strip, a militant group that doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist.
So against that backdrop, it's very hard to see how this can be resolved anytime soon. It doesn't mean that the U.S. administration or the U.N. or international community right now will try and redouble its efforts to do so. But I think that optimism that some kind of, you know, broader solution can be reached remains quite thin on the ground here.
VAUSE: We had -- we sort of had a situation last week where, for all intents and purposes, this conflict looked as if it was heading to be a repeat of what we saw in 2014, which was an all-out shoot them down, which lasted, you know, 50 days. This lasted 11. There was a sort of turning point, I think, around
Monday or Tuesday, when it seemed the -- the Americans came on board and demanding this cease-fire be put in place, at least steps towards de-escalation.
Do we know, specifically, what it was that triggered this sudden turnaround?
GOTKINE: It does seem that the U.S. being more engaged may have encouraged the Israelis to keep this round of fighting as short as possible. But, I think, also, you know, although Israel has said, you know, quite publicly, that it's recognized that Hamas's capabilities have improved since the last round of fighting.
I think also so have Israel's. And its ability to, for example, target Hamas's tunnel network, which it described, which it calls the metro underground, without needing to go in with a ground incursion, which we thought we were very close to at one point, has, perhaps, helped to keep a lid on things.
And in a way, it almost like speeded up the conflict. You know, we had almost as many rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in these 11 days as we did in the last 50-day conflict in 2014.
So in that respect, you know, things seemed to be a lot more -- a lot more compressed. And that may be one reason why things have been resolved.
But also, this has, you know, got a freshly-installed president in the United States, this wasn't on his kind of top list of priorities, necessarily.
Now, clearly, this is something that is understood can not be ignored, and when the U.S. administration started getting more involved, you know, that's pretty much the only people that the Israelis are going to listen to.
And obviously, having the Egyptians on board, President El-Sisi, who spoke with President Joe Biden, as well, to try to help resolve this conflict, once they came on board, and they could lean on perhaps with the Qataris on the Hamas to agree to some kind of cease-fire. That was when things started kind of moving towards the endgame, but the current detente, let's call it, that we have that started some five hours ago today.
VAUSE: Yes, we'll see if it holds, obviously. All hopes that it will. Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine there in Ashdod in Israel.
The U.N. secretary general has welcomed a cease-fire but is demanding more. Antonio Guterres says now is the time for Israel, and the Palestinians, to return to negotiations. And he's calling for robust humanitarian aid for everyone living in Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: The fighting has left thousands of Palestinians homeless and forced over 50,000 people to leave their homes and seek shelter in schools, mosques, and other places with little access to water, food, hygiene, or health services. I was horrified by reports that nine members of one family were killed in Al-Shati refugee camp. If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For six years, Johana Plusner was an elected member of the Knesset, or parliament in Israel. He is now the president of the Israel Democracy Institute. He's with us from Hod Hasharon in central Israel.
Johana, thank you very much for taking the time. Hamas officials --
YOHANAN PLESNER, PRESIDENT, ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: Hi, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reporting from Israel.
VAUSE: Good to see you.
Now, the Hamas officials have declared victory over the IDF, as they often do. But given the number of dead Palestinians, it's around 230. The extent of the destruction in Gaza is 300 million or so, or more. If this is victory, then what does losing look like?
PLESNER: Well, this is not a competition for who killed as many people as possible. Hamas initiated this round of violence by shooting rockets and missiles at Israeli targets, Israel's capital, Israel's metropolitan center, Tel Aviv, and Israel had to respond. And it responded in order to reduce Hamas as motivation, and Hamas's capacity to initiate such attacks.
And -- and we did so, again, by undermining their capacity, the stockpile, the weapons, the R&B facilities, and the metro. This system of tunnels that was designed to enable Hamas to attack Israel and to infiltrate into Israel proper, and kill Israeli civilians.
This capacity was reduced, and this was the main goal of the operation. I wouldn't count on a sort of European-type peace now between Israel and Gaza. Let's remember, Hamas has charged an ideology to turn the region into a medieval area, run by clerics and supported by Iran, where there's no room, not for a Jewish state that needs to be annihilated, in their view, not for women with three rights, not for minorities.
So we're dealing with a very, very extreme ideology that is trying also to implement it by using force. And first and foremost, by torturing its own citizens, all the civilians that -- that pay the price in this conflict on the Gaza side on the making of the Hamas leadership that cynically, and consciously, at least it's stockpiles of weapons and capabilities within the civilian population. So it's very --
[00:10:07] VAUSE: On that note, just -- just on the civilian casualties, we're looking at 230-something Palestinians who were killed in Gaza. Last time around, it was close to 2,300, ten times that number. Really, it lasted a lot longer. But obviously, 230 dead people is too many.
But clearly, is Israel getting better at targeting the Hamas infrastructure, avoiding these civilian air raids?
PLESNER: Well, first of all, we have to break down those 230. John, I don't want to be inaccurate.
So let's assume about half, or at least half of them, are Hamas operatives. Terrorists who were trained in order to kill Israeli citizens. Not Israeli soldiers, the entire capacity of Hamas, and instead of building, creating, a Hong Kong, or Singapore of the Middle East.
All of the available resources were put in place in order to build capacity, to kill Israeli citizens. So about half of those casualties are people who had to die in order -- because they were planning to kill citizens.
The other are what's called -- and it's a problematic word -- our collateral damage. Now, Israel, I can't see any other military, not the Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the Brits in Iraq, or any other conflict where there was such care and professionalism put in place in order to target the terrorists and to save and spare as many civilian lives. And this ratio of about 50 percent, you won't find it anywhere else.
And Hamas is cynically making it very difficult. They're not placing their weapons in military bases but rather in apartment buildings, in mosques, in hospitals, in schools and so on.
So it made it the difficult for the IDF. And many times, the IDF gave up on clear Hamas targets, just in order not to exact civilian casualties. The IDF is extremely cautious --
PLESNER: -- not to affect civilians. And this explains this outcome that, as you mentioned, it is -- I mean, it's every civilian casualty is tragic. But it's still a lot better than the 2014 situation.
VAUSE: And there is a cease-fire which is in place right now. But we learned from both the Palestinian and the U.N. representatives, making it clear that a cease-fire is not a solution. Listen to this.
RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO U.N. (through translator): Israel, with its state-of-the-art arms, is targeting families as they sleep to sow the seeds of terror. The occupation targets our people, our generations, generation, after generation. This criminal Israeli occupation has caused so much pain, which cannot be solved by a truce and a cease-fire. GILAD ERDAN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ISRAEL TO THE U.N.: You
cannot fire at our capital, and then pretend you want a cease-fire. Israel wants a cease-fire. But, only after significantly degrading Hamas's terror machine. We are looking for a cure and not a Band-Aid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Even if both sides observe the cease-fire, it still does nothing to address the reasons for the overall conflict, the bigger picture here. So what is the bare minimum that must be done by Israel and by the Palestinians to get out of this cycle of major conflict every few years?
PLESNER: Well, and create a distinction between the immediate term of, you know, restoring calm, and what's required for that is -- it's simply for Hamas not to continue shooting.
Israel, once it acknowledges and it accepts the cease-fire, Israel will not shoot anymore rockets and has no intention of doing so. So it solely depends on one parameter. Whether Hamas will continue to shoot or not.
On the longer term, it's -- John, it's a lot more complicated. Because as I mentioned, Hamas's raison d'etre, if you will, the entire logic of its existence, is to annihilate the state of Israel. And it's not something that we can ignore. There's no issue of occupation, because Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter.
So, Israel does not control Gaza. It does affect its ports of entry, because we know that Hamas, rather than building, again, the Singapore of the Middle East, is trying to build a terrorist state that will have capacity and an ability to kill as many Israeli citizens.
If Hamas decides that they want to focus on rebuilding their own region, and economic opportunity, health institutions, Israel will be there, and help them to do so.
But I'm quite skeptical that this will be the outcome. So a more courageous, and difficult, strategic path would be to reinstate, or re-help the Palestinian Authority, much like President Biden try insinuating that he wants to do: helping the Palestinians, strengthening the Palestinian Authority, helping them build capacity in Gaza, and then hopefully moving forward with a Palestinian Authority to a negotiated settlement.
This should -- this should be the strategic way forward, but given the situation right now, I'm quite skeptical that we're going there.
VAUSE: Well, we can only hope. Yohanan Plesner there. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.
PLESNER: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Take care. Well, as we've been talking about the cease-fire, as long as it's
holding, it's a chance for many in Gaza to come out and assess the damage, count the dead and the wounded, basically try to repair their lives as best they can.
The bigger, more complex problems which have kept this conflict going seemingly forever, it seems, remain the same.
CNN's Ben Wedeman reports now from the West Bank.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the 10th of May, the God of war has smiled down upon this blighted land. Airstrikes and rocket barrages, artillery and mortar fire, hundreds of people dead and more than 2,000 wounded. Tens of thousands made homeless.
(on camera): The current round of hostilities between Gaza and Israel, this too shall pass. What shall not pass are the reasons for this conflict, played out in places like here, Al-Bireh, and other villages, towns, and cities in the West Bank, and places like Sheikh Jarrah in eastern Jerusalem, and indeed in Gaza itself.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Going back more than a decade, Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face forced eviction, has been a constant flash point in Jerusalem, even more so today.
In Jerusalem, Palestinian residents, nearly 40 percent of the population, pay taxes, carry Israeli identification cards, but among other things, can't vote in national elections.
A new wave of protest has broken out on the West Bank, where millions of Palestinians live in limbo, crammed into an archipelago of pseudo- autonomous enclaves, all ultimately under Israeli military rule.
WEDEMAN: Since hostilities began, Israel has pummeled Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes, while Hamas and other factions have fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but has maintained, along with Egypt, an effective blockade since 2007, when Hamas took over. Israel controls the birth registry, the air space, and maritime access, and much more. This war will change none of that.
TAWFEEQ HADDAD, JERUSALEM RESIDENT: Just like in South Africa, this has to end. Palestinians will not be second-class citizens in their homeland or kicked out of their place.
WEDEMAN: When relative calm returns and the world's attention moves on, the petty pace of this conflict will resume from day to day, until once more onto the breach.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Al-Bireh, West Bank.
VAUSE: Still to come here, vaccine passports now a step closer to reality in Europe. And that means unrestricted travel could be back within the block.
VAUSE: It seems Princes William and Harry unleashed more than 25 years of pent-up rage and fury over that BBC interview with their mother. That's the one where Princess Diana revealed the breakdown of her relationship with Prince Charles.
And independent inquiry found journalist Martin Bashir used deceitful methods to secure that blockbuster interview, and the BBC covered it up. More now from CNN royal correspondent Max Foster.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: This interview was a defining one for Diana, and it gave us an insight into her state of mind in those last couple of years of her life.
It's always been very uncomfortable for her sons to watch, and now, Prince William says it should never be shown again because of the findings in this report by Lord Dyson.
PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia, and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.
But what saddens me most is that, if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed, not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders of the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.
FOSTER: Prince Harry issuing his own statement, part of it reading, "What deeply concerns me is that practices like these and even worse are still widespread today."
Charles Spencer, Diana's brother, going as far as saying he saw a direct line between this interview and Diana's death two years after it was broadcast.
The BBC giving a full and unreserved apology for its failings here. The current director-general of the BBC saying it was a dark day for the BBC.
Martin Bashir standing by his interview, saying, "I will always remain immensely proud of that interview," although he did apologize again for having these documents forged.
Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.
VAUSE: Well, just in time for the northern summer, travel within Europe may soon be a lot easier. The European Union says it will start using COVID vaccine passports this coming July, allowing unrestricted travel once again within the block. The certificates will display either a vaccination or recent negative test, or if someone has immunity based on recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN FERNANDO LOPEZ AGUILAR, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT NEGOTIATOR: If you are vaccinated in a member state of the European Union, the health system of your member state will provide you with a certificate. That is the new rule of the game, and that certificate will do. That certificate means that you don't have to PCR every week. Hey, listen, I'm vaccinated. The certificate says so. I was vaccinated, so please let in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Member states will not be allowed to impose additional restrictions like quarantines unless it's considered necessary for public health. They must give 48 hours' notice beforehand, before their rules take effect.
But even as some restrictions are being lifted, the World Health Organization is urging people to avoid international travel. The agency's regional director says there still concerns that more transmissible variants, like the one first detected in India, are posing a risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS KLUGE, WHO REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty. We need to continue to exercise caution and rethink or avoid international travel. Vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but you cannot be blinded by that light. So the pandemic is not over yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So far, it seems that all the vaccines which have been authorized for use are effective against the known strains of the virus that are causing the concern.
Well, you can add black fungus to the list of challenges facing India. Health authorities say cases of the rare, potentially fatal, infection are mounting among coronavirus patients.
A number of Indian states are facing shortages of the drug used to treat it.
With us now is CNN's Vedika Sud in New Delhi. They can't catch a break. It just seems that a never-ending blister of new problems and new, I guess, crises for the medical profession there.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's true, John. But before I go ahead, let me just say that the news is just coming in from India's health ministry, and India has now crossed 26 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
It has also reported almost 260,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. And the death toll is still above 4,000.
Now, one of the reasons why medical experts are worried at this time by the fight, COVID-19 out of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) across India is pneumo mycosis, commonly known as black fungus.
What does this do? Well, it can be severe in many cases if not treated in time. A person could lose a part of his jaw or even the eye or eyes in this case.
This happens in a lot of places, not only in India, but why it's being reported in India is because a lot of people who are recovering or have recovered from COVID-19, of course, their immunity right now is low. Those with uncontrolled diabetes are also reporting black fungus infections.
And this is happening at quite an alarming level, because the mortality rate, if this is not checked in time, could be between 20 to 54 percent, which is a staggering number.
Now, the state of Maharashtra has already reported 19 deaths because of black fungus, and there are over 800 patients being treated for this. Two other states have already said that they have patients who are being treated for this.
Also, the national capital of New Delhi has reported cases. So now these cases are emerging across India. And yes, there is a shortage, but India is facing a shortage of the medicine that can treat this, but the Indian government has issued a press release saying that they're ramping up the supply of this medicine. Truly a worrying situation here, John.
VAUSE: Vedika, thank you. Vedika Sud there in New Delhi, where it goes from bad to worse, it seems, almost every day.
Well, about six hours from now, Olympic officials will provide an update on preparations for the Tokyo summer games. With just over two months before the games began, organizers have been pushing back against growing pressure to call the whole thing off.
CNN's Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo.
So Blake, just looking at one of the headlines here from one of the papers there. "Like Hell" is the headline, where it says, "Olympics Loom Japan's Healthcare in Turmoil."
No one seems to believe the statement coming from officials that the Olympics will be safe.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the idea that you would take your medical advice, you know, regarding the ability to hold a safe and secure games from medical professionals, you know, again, the IOC is looking to the WHO for guidance.
But again, here on the ground, infectious disease specialists, doctors' unions, other doctors' groups have all come out and said that these games cannot happen safely and need to be canceled.
Now, a three-day meeting of Olympic organizers wraps up later today. And at the start of the meeting, the International Olympic Committee, President Thomas Bach once again said that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in a safe way.
Officials say the point of this meeting is to focus on the protection of athletes and the public through testing and separation. Though to this point, the focus has been on athletes with very little talk about protecting Japan's population.
Now, organizers remain confident that they can deliver a safe and secure games. Medical professionals and a large majority of the Japanese public aren't so sure. Calls for the games to be canceled and postponed are getting louder every day. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASAFUMI HONDA, OFFICE PARKING LOT STAFF (through translator): I'm against holding the Olympics. Because we're under the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's too big of a risk to hold the Olympics where many people will gather in venues.
KAZUHIRO MURA, CLINIC DOCTOR (through translator): The biggest issue to holding the games is manpower of medical staff. We can't stop regular medical examinations at local clinics like mine. If we do, the medical system will collapse. So we need to protect the hospitals and local clinics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: Well, the vaccination, the total number of fully-vaccinated people here in Japan is roughly 2 percent. Those numbers are expected to increase starting next week, when mass vaccination centers open up in Tokyo and Osaka.
Officials say that they hope to be able to deliver about 15,000 daily doses between those two sites as well as AstraZeneca and Moderna now being approved for use here in Japan. But the medical professionals say that supply is not the issue. Instead, it's manpower and a chaotic reservation and distribution system, John.
VAUSE: Yes, Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there with a continual -- this story just keeps grinding on and on and on. They say it's safe. The local population says we don't believe you. And it's been toe to toe for the last week or so. We'll see where this goes. Thanks, Blake.
Coming up after a short break, Israel and Hamas have put the killing on hold, but a cease-fire one and one of the world's longest running conflicts.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. It's just 7"32 in the morning in Israel and Gaza, where a cease-fire is holding after 11 days of near constant shelling, airstrikes, and rocket attacks. But for how long?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Word of a cease-fire, bringing celebrations in Gaza, where Hamas officials say more than 230 people were killed. Israel has reported 12 dead.
Some Israelis say, they're glad these hostilities have stopped, but are skeptical that it will last.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's good, the cease-fire is good for humanitarian reasons, to let civilians relax a little bit on both sides. I'm skeptical, though, that it will really be kept for a while. I don't think Israel has achieved much. There are no agreements about the future, nothing. But I guess it's good to have a bit of a break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a bittersweet -- it's good that the conflict is over, but unfortunately, I don't feel like we have much time until the next escalation, if anything significant will change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the cease-fire won't last eight hours. And they will start shooting rockets, again, and they will just try to kill our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The rocket fire, the air strikes continued right up until the 2 a.m. deadline. Israel says it will honor the cease-fire, as long as Hamas does the same.
Details now from CNN's Nic Robertson in Ashdod, Israel.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Under intense international pressure, Israel's security cabinet agreeing to an Egyptian brokered cease-fire. Hamas, signing up, too. End of hostilities, 2 a.m., local.
But in a tweet, Israel's defense ministry warning the reality on the ground will determine whether we resume operations. But in the minutes prior to the agreement, Israeli warplanes still hitting targets in Gaza.
(on camera): Wo we're going to try and get ourselves to a safer place here.
(voice-over): Hamas rockets, still targeting Israel. And not everyone happy with Netanyahu's decision.
(on camera): Right now, the government is having the security cabinet meeting. What are you hoping is going to come out of it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want missiles to stop. I think if we start it, we have to end it, and go to the end.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Earlier in the day, Hamas rockets hitting right outside our broadcast location.
Also, in the nearby town of Ashkelon and Bar Sheva (ph), more than 340 rockets fired, according to Israel's defense forces, since an overnight pause by Hamas.
Israeli airstrikes continued in Gaza, too. Targeting, they said, Hamas tunnels, rocket launchers, commanders, and weapons stores.
U.N. officials in Gaza say more than 70,000 Palestinians have been displaced during the 11 days of fighting and are calling for $38 million in immediate aid to help with essentials. Hundreds of millions more needed, they say, if the cease-fire takes hold.
The situation, according to the U.N. secretary-general, is dire.
GUTERRES: If it is hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.
ROBERTSON: Even before an end to the attacks, Palestinian leaders describing the violence of occupation that has no end in sight.
MOHAMMED SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER: This occupation should end, and the sufferings of our people, in Gaza, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, in refugee camps in Lebanon, should also stop, immediately. Otherwise, it's a cycle of violence.
ROBERTSON: Earlier in the day, several European foreign ministers, taken to see the sight of a Hamas rocket attack. Their visit, not just as friends of Israel, but adding to the drumbeat for durable peace. Into the night, not yet clear if the cease-fire that came into effect at 2 a.m. local, can actually hold.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Israel.
VAUSE: We have more now from the Palestinian prime minister. He spoke with CNN's Becky Anderson, before the cease-fire was announced. And Becky asked about the rivalry, the division between Hamas militants who control Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. And can they now work together?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donor countries are losing patience. Both with Israel, and with you. Both Israel, and the P.A. They're -- its critics will say, view the international community as a bottomless pit of money that can rebuild Gaza, and then, just about keep it afloat.
But the P.A. needs to go back to Gaza. And to do that, you need to reach a more concrete agreement with Hamas than you have had for 15 years. What is that agreement going to look like, sir? And what will the outreach to Israel for a solution, going forward, look like, sir?
SHTAYYEH: Well, look, we tried to come to an agreement with Hamas through four different agreements. It didn't work. And then, we decided to go into elections. That was blocked by the Israelis.
Our president has issued a presidential decree with a date of after tomorrow, the 22nd of May, and the Israelis, they did block our intentions, and our position to have elections, because they did not want to allow our people in Jerusalem to be part of the election process.
And therefore, this reconciliation of this Palestinian, Palestinian issue was actually blocked. We know, the colonial strategy is divide and rule (ph). And Netanyahu is part of that colonization program, and a colonizing power.
Now, we will launch a new dialog in order for us. Really, because we want to come to a political ground with Hamas. We want to come to a political ground with all Palestinian factions. Nobody should declare war on himself, or herself, and nobody should be part of this process on his own.
The Palestinians, we need to be united in order for us to face the challenges that we were facing. Palestinians, they care for their dignity, their freedom, their independence, their sovereign state, their Jerusalem, their unity. We care for these things.
The question is that we need Israel to, also, lift its feet on the Palestinian reconciliation. Because not allowing Palestinians to have elections, that is closing the door for a Palestinian unity. And that is where we are heading.
I hope that a Palestinian-Palestinian dialog will be launched very soon, and with that, we will come to a national unity government, based on what our president has been saying, yesterday. We need to come to ground in which that we address the serious challenges that we are facing. VAUSE: Well, after a CNN exclusive investigation into the dire
situation inside of Ethiopia's Tigray region, there's now a unanimous agreement within the U.S. Senate for Eritrean troops to withdraw. And we'll tell you more on that in just a moment.
VAUSE: The U.S. Senate is calling for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region. That's after a CNN investigation uncovered that soldiers were cutting off aid routes to starving civilians.
CNN's Nima Elbagir was part of that investigation, and she has the very latest.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the clearest message to date to Ethiopian Prime Minister Aby Ahmed and his Eritrean allies, the U.S. Senate, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia's Tigray region.
They also called upon the U.S. secretary of state, U.S. secretary of the treasury, and the Biden administration to hold those who were found guilty of having violated human rights in Ethiopia's Tigray region, accountable, opening the door for potential sanctions.
It's been six months of conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, and many activists and advocates tell us that it has been six months in which the world has only offered words of concern.
Well, these words of concern feel a little stronger, but the hope for many is that finally, these words will open the door to action. Because the U.N. has said that still, Eritrean troops and Ethiopian citizens continue to obstruct the flow of aid inside Tigray, in spite of the fact that the region is on the brink of famine.
Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.
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