CNN’s Jake Tapper spent part of this Sunday morning speaking to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which impacts a population of over 2 million people, approximately half of whom are under 18.
Tapper acknowledged that Israel’s assault against Gaza is “a different situation” than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but asked: “But cutting off supplies, cutting off heat, cutting off water to civilians. What’s the difference?”
Sullivan replied, “Well, first, thank you for saying that Israel is not Russia, because Israel is not Russia–” to which the CNN host interjected, “Civilians are civilians, Jake! Civilians are civilians!”
This outburst caused Sullivan to pause, and he agreed, “Yes, absolutely they are. And they deserve, as I said before, access to water and medicine and food.”
Sullivan assured Tapper that Israel “turned the water pipe back on in southern Gaza” but made it clear that so far, the country has not eased any other parts of the blockade.
As Tapper put it, “But you’re not telling the Israelis to let the Palestinian hospitals have power.”
The situation in Gaza is devolving hourly if not minute by minute. Earlier Sunday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini reported: “In fact, Gaza is being strangled and it seems the war right now has lost its humanity … If we look at the issue of water, we all know water is life and Gaza is running out of water and Gaza is running out of life.”
So far, more than 600,000 people in Gaza have forcibly relocated to the south of the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant announced a “complete siege” of Gaza on Monday. He explained: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”
Since then, a number of organizations and international leaders have called on Israel to ease the heavy restrictions on Gaza’s citizens. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard has demanded, “The Israeli authorities must immediately restore Gaza’s electricity supply and suspend the increased restrictions imposed as a result of the Minister of Defence’s order of 9 October 2023 and lift its illegal 16-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
“The collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population amounts to a war crime – it is cruel and inhumane. As the occupying power, Israel has a clear obligation under international law to ensure the basic needs of Gaza’s civilian population are met,” Callamard concluded.
Later Sunday, Tapper closed out “State of the Union” with interviews with family members of Israelis who were killed by Hamas. After clarifying that “the U.S. and EU classify” the organization as a terrorist group, Tapper noted, “The people of Gaza indeed deserve to live without a blockade. They deserve to live in freedom and with democracy and human rights and without fear of their government, which Hamas denies them.”
He then asked, “If any of this were about freedom and rights, why would Hamas have slaughtered, for example, Danielle Waldman?” Danielle, a 24-year-old who attended the Nova music festival, is the daughter of Eyal Waldman, a tech businessman who employees Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Hours after her death, he told CNN’s Erin Burnett, “Even today, our hand is reaching out for peace. We want to learn to live together, not to continue killing each other.”
Tapper also spoke to Noy Katzman, whose brother Haim was killed by Hamas. Despite that loss, Noy told CNN, “The most important for me and I think also for my brother, was that his death won’t be used to kill innocent people.”
To close out the show, Tapper issued a plea that “we can all pray that the humanity of those three we just heard from will ultimately rule the day, not the brutality and barbarism that we saw from Hamas eight days ago and not the death of innocents that we continue to see in Israel and in Gaza.”
He added, “I wish you shalom. Salaam alaikum. May peace be upon all of us. All of us.”