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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
IDF: Israel Striking Hezbollah Terrorist Targets In Lebanon; Hamas Releases Video Of Woman Held Hostage In Gaza; Blinken: Biden To Visit Israel On Wednesday; U.S. Rapid Response Force With 2,000 Marines, Sailors Headed To Waters Near Israel; Will Join U.S. Warships Converging On Area; Muslim Boy Killed, Mother Wounded In Possible Chicago-Area Hate Crime. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 16, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAUL PRESTON, HUSBAND OF DR. BARBARA ZIND, AMERICAN DOCTOR TRAPPED IN GAZA: We're hearing misleading, missing and incomplete information.
And so, you know, and she's actually hearing less than we are, and so like I told her when Blinken, the other day said that there was -- it was a priority that Rafah border crossing becomes open.
So she's getting a lot of information from me. Unfortunately, her texts are a bit sporadic. They don't come through all the time.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, well, I'm glad you had one in the past few hours, I knew each one of those has got to give you just at least a sense of calm.
Paul, thank you so much. I appreciate your joining us, and we all hope that she and others will be out soon.
Thanks so much to all of you for being with us for our continuing breaking coverage.
AC 360 begins now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is 3:00 AM here in Israel. The war here within the last hour or so may be widening or entering a new phase beyond just Hamas in Gaza to the south.
Just a short time ago, Israel's Defense Forces saying the IDF is now striking what it calls Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon. So there's that new development.
And in a few hours, with troops on the verge of going into Gaza and conditions there becoming increasingly unlivable, people here will be waking up to what could be the first of many hostage videos to come.
Hamas released the first one in the overnight hours. The footage is of a 21-year-old French-Israeli woman named, Mia Schem.
Now this is not from the video that Hamas put out, which we're not broadcasting because it would serve no other purpose than propaganda for her captors.
Hamas today said they now hold as many as 250 hostages. Earlier Israel put the number at 199. I spoke with Mia's family just before airtime. We're going to bring you that in a moment.
We'll also be joined by the Mossad's former man in charge, trying to get hostages back about the difficulties now with so many hostages, all of which could grow that much worse in the hours ahead, especially if hostilities with Hezbollah in the north keep growing, which may explain the Biden administration's decision to send a rapid response force into the region, about 2,000 marines and sailors according to Defense officials, joining two aircraft carrier battle groups either already on station in the Eastern Mediterranean or heading this way.
Secretary of State Blinken meantime continuing his shuttle diplomacy returning here from stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia for what turned into a marathon meeting which just wrapped up after seven-and-a-half hours with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of Israel's new War Cabinet.
Now, we are expecting an announcement from Secretary of State Blinken shortly any moment now, and we will bring it to you when it happens.
A portion of that meeting tonight was interrupted by air raid warnings, which sent officials and members of the press scrambling to take shelter. The press in one location, officials in another just across the street.
And with Hamas showing no sign of running out of rockets, it was far from the only such warning today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There goes another rocket missile. There are the sirens, we're just going to step to the side. We'll lock off the camera, step under some shelter to the side. We're expecting Iron Dome intercepts over here shortly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was CNN's Nic Robertson earlier near the border of Gaza where some 300,000 troops had been massing, pouring artillery onto targets in Northern Gaza, while refugees streamed south through the territory and humanitarian conditions there grow more dire.
So there is a lot to get to in the hour ahead. Again, we are expecting to hear from Secretary of State Antony Blinken any moment. Right now, let's go to CNN's Nic Robertson who joins us from Sderot.
Nic, what's the latest of what you're seeing there?
ROBERTSON: Yes, heavy impacts in Gaza and it is confusing because there are a number of different things. There are some artillery over here firing in that we haven't heard from several days, there were some air strikes before. The explosions really are just sort of booming and echoing around this area. There was another one. But you're talking there about the Israeli Defense Force getting ready to go in and they know that they face a big conundrum right now that Hamas is in there. And although the IDF has asked a lot of the civilians to move to the south, there are still a lot of civilians who haven't moved.
And I asked the spokesman here about that. Who is responsible when your troops go in, if and when they go in? Who's responsible for the civilian casualties? The conundrum, of course --
COOPER: Secretary Blinken is speaking, Nic. We're going to go live to that. I'm sorry, Nic.
ANTONY BLINKEN, US SECRETARY OF STATE: ... for the region, and for the world and he is coming here to do the following.
First, the president will reaffirm the United States solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security. President Biden will again make clear as he has done unequivocally since Hamas' slaughter of more than 1,400 people, including at least 30 Americans that Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks.
The president will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people, as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs.
Second, President Biden will underscore our crystal clear message to any actor, state or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel, don't. To that end, he's deployed two aircraft carrier groups and other military assets to the region.
Third, the president will continue to coordinate closely with our Israeli partners to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas, including men, women, small children, Holocaust survivors, and American citizens as an indispensable humanitarian effort.
Fourth, President Biden will receive a comprehensive brief on Israel's war aims and strategy.
Fifth, the president will hear from Israel, how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties, and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas.
To that end, today, and at our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, and then alone, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm's way.
It is critical that aid begin flowing into Gaza as soon as possible. We share Israel's concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid entering Gaza or otherwise preventing it from reaching the people who need it. If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian assistance from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we will be the first to condemn it and we will work to prevent it from happening again.
We welcome the government of Israel's commitment to work on this plan. The president very much looks forward to discussing it further when he is here on Wednesday.
Thanks very much.
COOPER: Secretary of State Antony Blinken making that announcement right now in Tel Aviv.
I'm joined by CNN's Clarissa Ward, Nic Robertson, Alex Marquardt as well.
Clarissa, President Biden coming to Israel Wednesday. That's going to be a really interesting development, and certainly something many Israelis will be paying very, very close attention to.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is a big win for Israel. This is something they very much wanted, a real show of strength and solidarity and continuing the idea that the US is in lockstep with Israel.
I think for President Biden, he will be somewhat walking a tightrope as well, in terms of needing to address growing concerns about the situation in Gaza, about the soaring death toll, about the lack of humanitarian aid getting in.
You did hear of course Secretary of State Blinken addressing that saying that the Israelis and the Americans have agreed on a mechanism, essentially that would allow some of that aid to start flowing in to the Gaza Strip.
He didn't really give any details as to what this might look like. This is something Anderson, as you know, that diplomats have been feverishly working on for days and days now, trying to facilitate the passage of a through that Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
So far, it has been logged jammed with all sides, pointing the fingers at each other and blaming each other. But clearly, after this long, more than seven hour meeting that Blinken had with the Israeli War Cabinet, they have come up with some kind of a solution or mechanism that would allow that aid to get to those who need it most.
He also talked about the possibility of creating zones within Gaza where civilians could flow into a sort of refuge if you will. We've heard this before as well from Israeli officials that they would establish an area where potentially hundreds of thousands of people could find a modicum of security, could also have access to aid.
You heard Blinken also, though, warning Hamas about doing anything to attempt to try to stop that aid from flowing freely. But I think a lot of questions still remain, Anderson, and presumably we'll get more clarity on them as the president's trip gets closer and closer as to what these zones will look like, who will enforce them, who will be allowed in, who will be allowed out. That's obviously a big concern for Egypt, which does not want a massive displacement of people in the Sinai Peninsula.
So a lot of interesting developments here, but a lot of questions as to what this will look like.
COOPER: Clarissa, this also must be good news for Americans who are in Gaza who are hoping to get out. It seems highly unlikely to me that the president of the United States would come to Israel, with American civilians stuck still in Gaza at the Rafah border trying to get out.
WARD: Right, and according to the US Embassy in Cairo, they are tracking 253, I believe the exact number is, Americans who are trapped inside Gaza. Many have been sort of literally camping out right by that Rafah border crossing for days now.
Every day, they're told that it looks like tomorrow morning, they'll be able to cross. Certainly today, we expected that early this morning, some foreign nationals will be allowed to leave. Then at the last minute it didn't happen. The Egyptians blaming the Israelis, the Israelis blaming Hamas, and so on and so forth.
But certainly that will be a top priority for President Biden and for Secretary of State Blinken in advance of Biden's visit. But again, we don't know yet what the Egyptians have to say about this specifically, of course, the Rafah border crossing is in, you know, it's on the border between Gaza and Egypt. They have had real concerns in the past about a number of issues, but primarily about the issue of security and also the issue of having a lot of people flowing into a part of Egypt that is already a heavily militarized zone -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, you are in Sderot tonight, what stood out to you from Secretary Blinken's statement?
ROBERTSON: Yes, I was trying to sort of hear things that might point to a definitive off-ramp in terms of the sort of military buildup for a possible incursion, or language that might hint and intimate that Israel is dialing back the level of anger, the real feel of a need and a desire to eradicate the Hamas leadership through military means, by going into Gaza, but I don't really think I heard that off-ramp.
But I think what we are hearing, on top of all those points, Clarissa is making about the humanitarian area, when you sort of look at the possibility of an incursion, it seems to me unlikely President Biden would want to come when -- if he thought that there was about to be an incursion, in essence, the violence was about to go up a notch.
So I think in terms of the diplomacy and the politics that are involved here, and overall, just using the time to sop up some of the heat, some of the anger, some of the frustration, some of the hurt some of the pain that's going on here, you know, people are still being buried here. There'll be more funerals again tomorrow, for people who were killed a week-and-a-half ago, almost now. That anger and frustration is real. Time doesn't heal it. But time gives politicians and diplomats a space to work.
So I think President Biden coming here on Wednesday, opens up a little more time. I don't see the mechanism yet of how President Biden comes and there is a conversation that will that will put Prime Minister Netanyahu in his Cabinet off from an incursion into Gaza and find another method of dealing with Hamas. I don't see that and I don't hear that in the language at the moment.
But it does perhaps help bring down the temperature writ larger in the region, President Biden's presence, but also just gives diplomats and politicians a little more time to talk.
COOPER: I want to bring in Ben Wedeman as well, who is in Southern Lebanon, which we have seen activity on the northern border of Israel. We've seen the IDF said they had struck what they called terror targets in Southern Lebanon.
Ben, Secretary Blinken mentioned non-state actors telling them to stay out of this. That seems to be a direct message to Hezbollah.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a direct message to Hezbollah, Anderson, but also to Iran, which is the main backer of that.
What we've seen, certainly in recent days is a definite increase in the number of attacks by Hezbollah on Israeli targets, and Israeli counter strikes as well.
Now, the Iranian Foreign Minister has been making a tour of the capitals around here. He was in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Doha, and Qatar, as well, and he is sending a message basically, that I mean, I'll just read it to you actually. He said: "Any preemptive action in the next few hours is possible. Anything is possible. No side can remain indifferent."
He is essentially sending the message that perhaps Iran and its allies, Syria and Hezbollah for instance are prepared or considering some sort of intervention in this war beyond what we've been seeing here in South Lebanon.
Certainly Hezbollah is well-prepared, well-armed, well-trained and ready if it gets the order from Tehran to actually move and open a new front in this war with Israel -- Anderson.
COOPER: Alex Marquardt, it seems as Nic Robertson was saying, unlikely that the president would come before -- while any ground operation is underway, so I'm not sure if this -- it would seem that this may be a sign that there won't be a ground operation until after the president leaves.
Alex, what are you hearing?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's probably right, Anderson.
And there are probably two signs that the ground incursion would probably not start in the immediate future. Now, this very big sign that President Biden is going in the unlikelihood, if you will, that the Israelis would launch it while President Biden is on the ground, but also, all the reporting that we've seen that essentially, when Israel wants to go into Northern Gaza, they want to make sure that they're doing so when most of the civilians have been cleared out so they can focus their efforts on those Hamas militants.
Anderson, it does occur to me that this is the second time this year that President Joe Biden is going into an active war zone. He did the same back in February, he went to the capital Kyiv -- the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, on the anniversary -- the first anniversary of the Russian invasion there. That trip was shrouded in secrecy.
And in fact, air raid sirens sounded when he was on the ground there. Now, we have this 48-hour notice that he is going to Israel. You know better than I do, the air raid sirens were sounding there.
Tonight, we saw that happen while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was at the Kirya, as it's known, which is essentially Israel's Pentagon.
The other thing that really strikes me, Anderson is that, we have heard these messages of support from American officials, Secretary Blinken last week, Secretary Austin as well, that really talked about Israel's right to defend itself. And over the past few days, you really heard that coupled with the fact that there really needs to be a lot more work done when it comes to people trying to get out of Gaza, trying to get aid into Gaza.
So at the same time that President Biden is coming to express that level of support, there is a lot that he will be discussing on the ground -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, and more than the seven-hour meeting with Blinken, obviously, they have been discussing a lot.
Alex Marquardt, Clarissa Ward, Nic Robertson, Ben Wedeman, thank.
You more now in the hostage who Hamas tonight released a video of. Just before airtime, I spoke with Mia Schem's mother, Keren Scharf Schem, also her brothers, Ori and Eli.
COOPER: Keren, how does your daughter look to you?
KEREN SCHARF SCHEM, MOTHER OF MIA SCHEM: Let's say that she's been through pain -- she is in pain. And she's injured -- she's injured. She looks a bit terrified, but she is alive and stable.
COOPER: Does it? Does it help to see her?
SCHARF SCHEM: Of course, because until now, I didn't know she's dead or alive. I mean, it's been 10 days until Saturday, she was missing. And on Saturday, they said that maybe she's been kidnapped. That's all. So I didn't know if she is alive or dead, and every day, the numbers of the missing and the dead people are getting up and higher and higher and higher. So it's really tough.
COOPER: Do you know where she was taken from? Where was she when the attack took place?
SCHEM: They went to a festival party, and all I know that Saturday morning, it's seven o'clock and 17 minutes, she sent a text message to one of her friends who was in the party and she wrote: "They are shooting at us. Please come save us." That's the only thing I know.
The other thing I knew was rumors, like she was shot. Now, I can see that it's true because she's injured. You can see that she had an operation in her hand.
She went to this party with her friend, Ilya Toredano (ph). They went together and we know nothing about him. He is not in the missing list, he is not in the kidnapped list. He is not in the dead list. We still have bodies that we didn't recognize because we have so many.
ELI SCHEM, BROTHER OF MIA SCHEM, WOMAN HELD IN GAZA: Now's the time when we are interviewing with you and to say to all the people that are hearing us and all the leaders around the world that can see this interview, to come and stand with us and stand with human rights and help us get Mia and all the other 200 innocent souls, the hostages they are keeping in the Gaza Strip to come back home. That's all we want. Just to get Mia back to us.
SCHEM: We are begging the world to bring my baby home. She's only 21 years old. She just went to a festival party after months that she didn't go anywhere. She has medical problems. She just wanted to have some fun. And she shouldn't be there.
So we are begging the world to interfere and to bring her home, and all the others. We have like 200 more hostages -- children, babies, old people, Holocaust survivors that we don't know what's going on with them. We don't know if they're alive, if they are dead. If they give them food. We don't know which condition they are.
COOPER: We aren't showing the video that Hamas has put out, but we are showing other photos of her. Can you just tell people what she is like? What do you want people to know about your daughter?
SCHEM: My daughter is very mature. I'm a single mom. And we've been through a lot and she is only 21, but she's like 60-year-old smart woman. She's very, very strong. That's why we all believed in our hearts, that she's alive because we knew that she will never give up. I really knew it.
The problem is that every time we opened the TV and I saw the numbers, it was very hard to stick to this belief, but she is a survivor and she is very, very talented. And I have four children. I have daughters, small daughter, Dani, 10 years old and Mia is like a mother to Dani and she's very, very, very close to her brothers.
She cooks for them she tells -- they are talking with her about everything. I mean, she is a mother like me and my best friend. She's very, very creative. She paints, she cooks, she makes the tools, she's the heart of the family.
COOPER: Karen, Ori, Eli, thank you so much for talking to us. Is there anything you would want her to know if for some reason she could see this?
SCHEM: Yes, I want her to be strong and I want her to be sure that the world will do everything to bring her home.
ELI SCHEM: Mia, if you can see us, we want to tell you from all the family and all the people in Israel (speaking in foreign language) and we are waiting for you.
SCHEM: We love you. We are waiting for you.
ELI SCHEM: We love you. We're going to do anything --
SCHEM: To bring you home.
ELI SCHEM: To bring you back home.
SCHEM: We will never stop and after you will be here. We will continue until all the 200 hostages will be home, too. We never stop and the world is with us, I'm sure because it's not our war. It's a very, very big war.
COOPER: Karen, Ori, Eli, thank you. I wish you the best.
ORI SCHEM, BROTHER OF MIA SCHEM: Thank you very much.
SCHEM: Thank you very much.
COOPER: More perspective now on the taking of hostages. Joining me is Rami Igra, former division chief of the hostages and MIA unit with the Mossad. Thank you so much for being with us.
A hundred ninety-nine hostages, that is the number Israel says Hamas, others say as many as 250. What lessons have been learned from hostage negotiations that have taken on that have happened here in the past?
RAMI IGRA, FORMER DIVISION CHIEF OF MOSSAD HOSTAGES AND MIA UNIT: Israel's biggest mistake in the past was negotiating for prisoners in Israel.
COOPER: Gilad Shalit, a soldier who was held for years by Hamas exchanged ultimately for more than a thousand prisoners.
IGRA: All the top echelon today in the Gaza Strip, people who have been released in the Gilad Shilat deal.
COOPER: All the people who are running Hamas now were in Israeli prisons.
COOPER: And they got out.
IGRA: They got out and they are -- and Sinwar, the head of Hamas today, or the operational head of Hamas was one of these people released, and these people have an obligation for their prisoners in Israel.
Part of the reason for this whole thing is the release of Israeli -- of their prisoners.
COOPER: Part of the entire -- part of the reason for the terror attack was to get people to exchange?
IGRA: Yes, to exchange.
COOPER: Because they knew there's a history of Israel making a deal.
IGRA: Yes. Israel can't afford having another situation like this, we can't live with the Hamas. You couldn't -- if the Hamas ever returns to the Gaza Strip, we're faced with a situation, people can't live not in around the Gaza Strip, but not also in Tel Aviv. As you can see yourself, I mean, you run to the shelter and there is no reason you should run to a shelter as a civilian.
We are looking at an organization that is fundamentalist and is primarily evil. We don't -- it is not only here, it's all over the world. Look at the Taliban, look at Hezbollah, look at many other organizations like this that have a purpose. And the purpose is to have a jihad with us.
So civilization is facing today this sort of thing and our obligation, I think, and I think it's the Western world and the American and the United States has shown this is to go into the Gaza Strip and eradicate the Hamas.
COOPER: It is such a hard lesson you say to not negotiate? I mean, on paper people can see yes, that makes sense. Emotionally --
COOPER: It is terrible. I mean, there's 199 families and thousands of people related to them who are desperate for getting --
IGRA: It is terrible. Emotionally, it's a terrible decision, but if you look at the practical side of conducting war in the Gaza Strip, Israel will do all it can in order to release these prisoners, and some of them will or maybe all of them will be released, but by force.
COOPER: That's the only way. IGRA: The only way to release prisoners in this kind of situation is force. Negotiation, what is -- Hamas has come back to us and said, twice, already said, all right we're willing to negotiate the release of the prisoners. So we want first, of all ceasefire. Second of all -- meaning stop killing us, stop eradicating us. Second, we want all our prisoners, we're talking about thousands of prisoners that are in Israeli jails, people with blood on their hands, release these people, and we will release the people with us.
COOPER: It's not just Hamas holding hostages. I mean, Islamic Jihad had said days ago that they had some 30, but you told me something before, which I hadn't really realized that there are individuals perhaps who may be holding hostages.
IGRA: Because not everybody is accounted. Right now Hamas said 150, the Jihadis said 30 and we know that many Palestinians went -- drove into Israel on that Black Saturday and taken with them Israeli.
COOPER: So some of the videos we've seen of people being led away --
IGRA: Videos you haven't seen -- videos yes, because these people are not in the same situation that Hamas is, but you will see once the maneuver in the Gaza Strip starts, that some of these people are going to come out of private homes.
COOPER: Not necessarily taken by Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
IGRA: Not actually, even Gilad Shalit, at the first stage was not taken by the Hamas. He was taken by a local mob.
COOPER: Like a criminal or criminal organization.
IGRA: Yes, a criminal organization.
COOPER: The operation, whenever it starts, what is it going to be like? What are the lessons that have been learned from the last operations on the ground in Gaza that would be applied to this?
IGRA: The last operation of the Gaza Strip was many, many years ago. But it was in the '67. '67 was the last operation. I'm not talking about a small operation. We're talking about the taking over of the Gaza Strip.
The only way that you're going to eradicate the Hamas is go house by house. Get one by one. These people, there's 150,000 Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip.
IGRA: 150,000, and they have to be taken out of this game. We can't have -- we can't continue living in Israel with this kind of thing on our border.
COOPER: How essential, you know -- the humanitarian situation obviously is dire on the ground in Gaza. There's -- Israel has asked to, you know, has told people to move south. It seems like with Anthony Blinken's statement maybe there'll be some mechanism for supplying people in the south with food, that sort of thing.
COOPER: From a military standpoint, that is something I would imagine Israel would very much want because they would want as many civilians out of that area to make --
IGRA: The Hamas is stopping this. Hamas is there stopping the civilians from going south. The Hamas would like the civilians to be human shields. This is -- this has been a tactic all along. Israel is going to do the most it can in order to keep the humanitarian situation reasonable. It's not going to be fun. We're in a war zone.
Look at the -- look at other war zones in this world. It's not going to be easy, but Israel is going to do its utmost in order to get these civilians, the civilians, and people who are not connected to Hamas to get out of the situation and come home safely.
You have to think that there's 600,000 Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip, and the rest are non-supporters that are there captive of the Hamas.
COOPER: Rami Igra, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
IGRA: Thank you.
COOPER: OK, nice to meet you.
Next, more on the growing American military presence in the region and the mission that could be ahead for it, ahead.
COOPER: We just learned more about President Biden's itinerary this week. He'll come to Israel on Wednesday. And from here, he goes to Jordan to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President El-Sisi.
Now militarily, he comes as the commander in chief of a significant and growing presence in the region. Two carrier groups. And we learned today, a Rapid Reaction Force.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more on that joins us now. So what more do you know about the trip and about the military force we're talking about?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. The Pentagon is sending a Rapid Response Force of about 2,000 Marines and sailors to the waters off the coast of Israel. This is effectively preparing this 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit for rapid potential deployment to Israel. But the Pentagon -- the defense official who confirmed this story to us, is making clear that this is not an indication that these troops are being readied for a combat role here. Instead, what could potentially happen is that they could play some kind of a medical or logistical support role here as well.
But beyond that, of course, this is part of a bigger picture of deterrence that the United States is trying to put forward in the region. President Biden has already deployed not one, but two aircraft carriers to the region, as well as additional fighter jets, all intended to send the message to countries like Iran, for example, to not turn this conflict between Israel and Hamas into a broader regional war.
That is certainly what the White House and the President are trying to head off here. We should note that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, they are known for a number of specialties, including crisis response, humanitarian assistance, as well as amphibious operations and other special operations.
All important context right now as we await to see not only the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the possible evacuation of American citizens from the United -- from Israel, but also, of course, the recovery of those hostages from Gaza.
COOPER: How confident are American officials that those assets, including again, we're talking two aircraft carriers would be enough of a deterrent?
DIAMOND: Well, it's certainly part of a bigger picture, Anderson, right? Beyond the deployment of these assets, you've also had the Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, shuttling from one Arab country to the other in this Middle East region over the course of this last week to try and head off the possibility that this conflict between Israel and Hamas could expand into a broader regional conflict.
And President Biden, as he comes to Israel on Wednesday and is also, as you just mentioned, set to visit Jordan as well as the Palestinian Authority president, his visit here will also act as a deterrence factor. In fact, that's one of the things that the secretary of state highlighted earlier this evening is that the president's visit here to Israel is intended to make crystal clear that the United States is committed to Israel's defense.
And again, just part of that broader picture of deterring any bad actors, such as Iran, as the U.S. views it, from taking advantage of this situation. Anderson?
COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much.
Now back to the hostages. Moments ago, we talked to a former top official with the intelligence service Mossad. He told me that Israel's biggest mistake in the past was negotiating with Hamas for the return of hostages. He said that's one reason why Hamas attacked, to force another prisoner exchange. He said that Israel can't afford to do that again and that the only way to get the current hostages released is, quote, by force. Hirsch Goldberg-Polin is 23 years old. He's an American born Israeli. He was at that music festival, October 7, where hundreds were killed.
He was severely injured and taken hostage. His mom wrote a really moving op ed in The New York Times to those who have seen her son. The title was, "I hope someone somewhere is being kind to my boy." I spoke to Rachel Goldberg and her husband Jon Polin earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rachel, when the attack happened, were you able to communicate with your son at all?
RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSIC FESTIVAL: As soon as we heard bomb sirens going off in Jerusalem, it was around 8:00 in the morning on Saturday morning. John was at synagogue, and so I ran downstairs to my girls to get them into the bomb shelter that we have in our home. And we waited the 10-minute protocol is to wait, you know, 10 minutes after a siren and then I ran to get my phone.
And when I turned on my phone, which I don't normally use on the Jewish Sabbath, that's when I saw two texts pop up at 8:10, 8:11 in the morning. And they had come in about 10 minutes before I turned on my phone. The first one said, I love you. And the second one said, I'm sorry.
And immediately, I knew something horrible must have been happening or was about to happen. And I, of course, tried to call him and it just rang and rang and I wrote him a few texts and those have never been answered. So, I wasn't in touch with him. He tried to be in touch with us. And that's the last that we have any communication from him.
COOPER: I know that you have a photo that was taken inside a bomb shelter of people who were hiding in the bomb shelter, and I know you've identified your son in that photo and we're showing it. Do you know what happened in that shelter?
JON POLIN, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSIC FESTIVAL: We do. What we pieced together, starting over the course of the day on Sunday into Monday of last week is he and three other friends got in a car to escape the massacre at the festival. At about 7:30 a.m., they were on the road trying to get out and there were terrorists shooting bullets along the road, rockets flying overhead.
So they got out and they went into a bomb shelter where that picture surfaced and is taken. And basically what we know is from 7:30, they came under heavy gunfire, grenade fire, an RPG was launched into there. And they were --
COOPER: Into the bomb shelter?
POLIN: Into the bomb shelter. And we know from three eyewitness accounts of survivors that basically, there were at least 11 grenades thrown into the bomb shelter. We've been told by three different eyewitnesses that Hirsch's very close friend on there who he was with standing in the doorway of the bomb shelter in this photo was able to take at least eight of the grenades and toss them back out.
And -- but under gunfire and grenades, there were many injuries. We know that at 9:00 in the morning, gunmen came in calmly and removed our son and two others who were alive. There were other survivors pretending to be dead, but these three young men, boys were taken out at gunpoint.
Our son, by all accounts of the witnesses had his left arm blown off at some point during the attack. He had fashioned for himself some sort of bandage, tourniquet, we don't know what. One of the other guys that was taken out with him, we're told, had a bullet in his leg, and these three guys were placed on a Hamas tender, driven off towards Gaza at 9:00 in the morning.
And we subsequently have been told by Israeli authorities that about an hour and a half later, they have the final ping, identifying his phone from inside of Gaza at roughly 10:25 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 7th. That's the last we've heard.
COOPER: Rachel, you wrote about your son's abduction, about what happened in a piece in the New York Times, and you wrote about being stuck in the awful present, and that time is slowly ticking into the future, you said, with these hostages approaching a week in captivity.
You also talked about being in a sort of alternate universe. You're no longer in the world that others are living in. Can you just talk about that?
GOLDBERG: It's very hard to describe. I know anyone who's suffered a very shocking loss probably understands what I'm talking about. I know that you yourself have been through loss in your life. And so people have talked to me about when you have like a very fast reality shift between what was before and what was after.
And we're kind of stuck in this middle ground also. So, for example, yesterday we were talking to some of the senators who are here, who were here visiting to talk to Americans who have loved ones who are being held hostage.
And I said to them, I don't live where you live anymore. I'm in a different -- everything is different. And it's very hard to describe it to people. There's -- it just doesn't -- it feels like I'm very close to where the rest of everyone know is, but there's this layer separating us from other people.
Although, you know, so many people in the country now are suffering similar loss, similar questions, similar unknowns, and I know that we all are feeling that. So in a sense, it's a bunch of people in this alternate universe that we find ourselves in this dark hour. COOPER: If I can, I want to read one more passage that you wrote in the Times. You said, "To save a life, our sages taught, is to save a world. Please help me save my son, it will save my world. Every single person in Gaza has a mother or had a mother at some point.
And I would say this then as mother to other mothers, if you see Hirsch, please help him. I think about it a lot. I really think I would help your son if he was in front of me, injured, near me." How hopeful are you that somewhere someone will see this and see your son and help him?
GOLDBERG: I mean, I'm beyond -- there's no way to describe how hopeful I am that that would happen. I know there are good people in Gaza. I know that. And I know that, you know, I'm not a politician and I'm not a diplomat, and I'm not a military strategist. I'm a mother and I'm a teacher.
And I think that there is a universal pain that all of us are going through now. And I know that there have been periods in history where people have done the right thing, even when it's terrifying for them. There have been good people in bad places throughout history who've made the choice to do the right thing, even when it is so frightening for them.
And I'm praying that there is that person on the other side. You can't hide 200 people. There are 200 people there. There are children there, little children, and there are elderly people. There are Holocaust survivors there. And there's my son, who was at a music festival and who is having a critical grave wound.
He could be bleeding out, he could be dead. We don't know. And I'm praying that somebody does the right thing and helps. Obviously, Hirsch is my son and my world. I hope they help Hirsch, but I hope that people help scores and scores and scores of these innocent hostages who are just there in a very scary situation. And it seems unreasonable to me.
COOPER: Rachel, Jon, is there anything else you want people to know about Hirsch?
POLIN: There are. So we've been bringing awareness to Hirsch's story, to his plight. We've been doing it on social media. We're on Facebook, on Instagram and Twitter at bringhirschhome, and the story resonates with people. People can relate. In some weird way, they can't, but they can.
And we're hearing support from people all over the world, and it's lifting us up, and it matters and it helps. So please continue to spread the story.
COOPER: Jon and Rachel, I thank you for talking to us and telling us about Hirsch and what you're going through. And I hope someone is listening.
GOLDBERG: We do, too. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rachel Goldberg, her husband, Jon Polin, talking about their son Hirsch.
Just ahead, little boy, just six years old, and officials say he was killed because he was Muslim. Today was his funeral, and investigators say his landlord near Chicago stabbed him to death and wounded his mother gravely. The new development's next.
COOPER: Tonight, a Palestinian-American mom is recovering in a hospital outside Chicago, unable to attend the funeral of her six- year-old son today. Both were attacked in a horrific stabbing. Authorities have arrested their 71-year-old landlord. They believe the attack was motivated because the mother and son are Muslim.
The Justice Department has also opened a federal hate crime investigation. CNN's Whitney Wild has details.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A six- year-old boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, laid to rest today.
YOUSEF HANNON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: He's a very kind kid. He likes to jump up and down. When he was dead, his last words to his mom. Mom, I'm fine. You know what? He is fine. He's in a better place.
WILD (voice-over): Police say Wadea was brutally stabbed to death by his landlord just outside of Chicago allegedly for being Muslim.
OUSSAMA JAMMAL, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE MOSQUE FOUNDATION: Their landlord, in an act of hate, shouted the threats and unleashed violence.
WILD (voice-over): The boy's mother, Hanaan Shahin, was also stabbed more than a dozen times and is still being treated in the hospital. She was unable to attend her son's funeral today. The landlord, 71- year-old Joseph Zuba, appearing in court today. Zuba allegedly entered the room he rented to Shaheen and her son Saturday morning, stabbing the 6-year-old 26 times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: the female Is claiming that the landlord has the child in another room, and apparently is either stabbing or has stabbed the child.
WILD (voice-over): Authorities have now opened a federal hate crimes investigation. The local sheriff saying in a statement, "both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis".
Outrage erupting over the brutal crime. AHMED REHAB, EXECUTIVE DIR., COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS, CHICAGO: He paid the price for the atmosphere of hate.
WILD (voice-over): Illustrating why federal officials are worried about growing threats aimed at American-Muslims and American-Jews since the Hamas terror attack in Israel.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Countering terrorism remains the FBI's number one priority, and we will not tolerate violence motivated by hate and extremism. And we're going to continue to do everything in our power to protect the American people.
WILD (voice-over): A six-year-old's funeral. More evidence that threat is all too real.
His father said the conflict in the Middle East should cause no violence on American soil, saying, quote, "I hope that my son will be the bullet that will resolve this issue".
COOPER: Whitney, what is law enforcement saying about other threats to Muslims or Jews, hate crimes against these groups in the U.S.?
WILD: Well, the risk across the nation is very real, and it remains, Anderson. There was a man in Michigan just days ago who was arrested for making threats against Palestinian-Americans in Dearborn. That is one of the largest Arab-American populations in the country.
So, again, law enforcement very much on high alert. We've heard that for several days now. And sadly, this is the kind of case that illustrates why vigilance is so important and why law enforcement is so concerned, Anderson.
COOPER: Whitney Wild, thank you. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We are just a couple hours from sunrise here in Tel Aviv on a day that's already brought significant developments from new strikes on southern Lebanon to the first hostage video to the announcement of President Biden's upcoming visit here just a couple days from now.
These things and no doubt many more will all come to better focus in the hours ahead and perhaps further shape this war in the days to come, which is why CNN's coverage continues from Israel.