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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Two Freed Israeli Hostages Arrive At Tel Aviv Hospital; IDF Carrying Out Raids "Along The Contact Line" With Gaza; U.N. Officials Say Humanitarian Situation In Gaza "Dire". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 23, 2023 - 20:00   ET




PORAT: And they tell him thank you that he tell me that. And I will try to be more happy like I used to be.


BURNETT: Yasmin is an extraordinary woman. Thank you so much for joining us. "AC360" starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 3:00 a.m. in Tel Aviv Two more hostages, more than 200 still being held, are on their way home. Nurit Cooper, who's 79 years old, and Yocheved Lifshitz, who's 85, both Israeli citizens, both taken from their husbands from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

Mrs. Lifshitz and her husband are founding members of that kibbutz. Her husband is still being held.

Short time ago, she and Mrs. Cooper were handed over to the Red Cross at the Rafah Border Crossing into Egypt in southern Gaza, where they each were examined by medics before being put into ambulances for the first leg of their journey back to Israel.

Now the medics telling an Egyptian state-affiliated media outlet that Mrs. Cooper and Lifshitz were in stable condition. And just a few moments ago, we got this video of a military helicopter arriving in a hospital here in Tel Aviv carrying the two freed women now safely back here in Israel.

This comes with sources telling CNN that the Biden administration has been pressing Israel to delay its ground incursion into Gaza to allow more time to get hostages out and humanitarian aid in from the south. That said, National Security spokesman John Kirby tells CNN Tonight, quote, "We don't believe that this is the time for a ceasefire."

There's certainly a lot to get to in the hour ahead. We begin with my conversation with Yocheved and Oded Lifshitz' daughter, Sharone, who grew up on Kibbutz Nir Oz and now lives in London.

When we spoke, she just got the news of her mother's release and was at Heathrow Airport about to catch a flight here.

COOPER: Sharone, what have you heard about your mother?

SHARONE LIFSHITZ, DAUGHTER OF CAPTIVE RELEASED BY HAMAS: My mom, she's now with us. She's being flown out, and she's coming.

I've seen a picture of her in a bed -- in a hospital bed. She's waving her hand.

I know she's well enough to speak and well enough to walk. I think she walked across the border.

So, my mom's story is an amazing story. My heart is with my father and the other 218 people also that are still held hostage. This is a great sign that other things can happen.

COOPER: Do you know the other hostage who's been released, Nurit?

LIFSHITZ: Yes, of course. Of course, she's a kibbutz member. Her name is Nurit Cooper, and she's a member. I've known her all my life, of course.

COOPER: What did you -- when you heard the news, what went through your mind?

LIFSHITZ: It's impossible to describe. My mom -- I think she has a good smile. I don't know.

I'm so delighted. But my heart is with -- you know, this is a small ray of light in a big story that is still unfolding. My father is there.

There's so many other people. We're waiting for good news about everyone.

My heart is with all my friends, and loved ones, and everybody else that are still hostage. I think this is a great sign that we're moving in the right direction.

COOPER: Your father is still being held hostage. Have you had any information about him?

LIFSHITZ: No, I don't know any information. At least I'm waiting to hear what my mom says, and well, I do not know.

COOPER: What is your message to other hostage families who are watching this, eager for -- happy for you, wishing more were released? What's your message to them?

LIFSHITZ: I hope we can share in this happiness and that when -- we can all join together. This isn't over. You know, my mom is one ray of light, and my father is (inaudible), and everybody are happy for us. But I'm waiting to also be happy for them.

COOPER: There are so many from Nir Oz who are killed, who are missing. It's a community of 400 people. A quarter of them are believed dead or missing. It's unthinkable.

LIFSHITZ: No, no, no. More than a quarter. And we have to bring those if we still can.

This is not a political issue. This is a humane issue. We have lost so many.

People are going to funerals every day (inaudible).

This is a ray of light, but there's so much darkness. And I can't wait to hug my mom, and I can't wait to see my other members of my community and the region also hugging their loved ones. I have to go now.


COOPER: There's a lot of members of your community who want to hug you as well. Have a good flight.

LIFSHITZ: Thank you. We speak again soon. Thank you.

COOPER: Sharone Lifshitz. We've just been able to establish communication with Mrs. Lifshitz's grandson, Daniel, who has just seen his grandmother at the hospital. Daniel, how is she doing?

DANIEL LIFSHITZ, GRANDSON OF YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ: Well, she's talking. She can walk. She can hug her grandchildren, which are very happy from that. And we are very glad to meet her.

It is incredible that we see her. We -- and we couldn't imagine that it will happen.

And from one side, I have so much joy and light from sitting here. I'm telling you, I have -- I came here from Eilat now with a helicopter to see her.

And the joy in the hotel in Eilat that gives huge amount of hope for the other families, that was just inspiring. I felt like everyone are just hugging me in an amazing gesture like their people are there.

They're not sure if they will be back, but it was just giving them so much joy, so much life that I have goosebumps all over my body now to think about it. I mean, for this community to see these two old women was just an amazing thing.

And meeting my grandmother here was -- I was -- you know, I was thinking that I would never see her again. And to see her here is it's just amazing.

And she's a hero. She has so much courage. She's so strong.

She's sick and she suffered, walks in tunnels and so many things, you know, that she's -- I don't know, I don't know where this woman have this power from.

And seeing her, which I know that she's so strong, I can imagine other ones. And I'm telling you, we have to be fast.

Seeing my grandma like that and from one side so happy, but from the other side, I've seen her eyes, what she's been through. And I know that the timeline, the clock is ticking and making everything to bring all those hostages back is so evident now. And it's the top mission now for everybody.

COOPER: Eilat, which you are talking about, that's where most of the community from Nir Oz has been relocated to now. You're all together.

Did your grandmother, did she describe some of what her captivity was like? You mentioned tunnels that she was moving through.

LIFSHITZ: So, she mentioned that she was awoke and then she was there in a room. But she didn't know much.

And I actually didn't have the time to speak with her. So, I know the officials will speak with her. I'm sure they will know more.

You know, we were more in the hugging, and crying, and kissing her for coming here ...

COOPER: Yes, of course, of course.

LIFSHITZ: ... and hearing the story.


LIFSHITZ: Yes. And yes, yes, I came from that ...

COOPER: I -- both ...


COOPER: ... both your grandmother and your grandfather, who is still being held, I mean, they sound like such extraordinary people. They were among the original founders of the community of Nir Oz, which I think has been there for more than 50 years.

They were peace activists in many ways. Can you -- what are your thoughts?

I mean, your grandfather is still being held. This is just -- this is an impossible situation for families like yours.

LIFSHITZ: Yes, it's so much joy and light and, you know, happiness from one side and so much sadness. And still this roller coaster, we don't go out of it.

I could describe my feeling like some -- I went up on a roller coaster, and I can't go out. When I sleep, it's tamed, but I'm still on the roller coaster and I can never go out in the morning, in the night.

And now my grandmother is back, but still now I'm more afraid about my grandfather that he's still there and still no men being released. [20:10:08]

But, you know, if they are so extraordinary people that even when they were so sick like that, they would be helping so many people in Gaza strip. You know, these sick people, which had cancer and other disease, and they took them every week to the hospitals in Israel, hospital like where I am now, to get treatment and getting them back to Gaza strip.

And you mentioned the time, yes, there in the kibbutz since 1955. And it was heaven. And imagine the hell came there.

COOPER: Yes. And there are so many people from Nir Oz who have been murdered, so many who are believed to be still being held, Shiri Bibas, her two children, her parents. Their whereabouts are unknown, so many families from Nir Oz.

Daniel Lifshitz, I'm so happy for your family tonight. Thank you for talking with us.

LIFSHITZ: Thank you, really. Most important, as you said, those children, do everything for those children to come back.

COOPER: The two children of Shiri Bibas, Erez Calderon, 12 years old, was also kidnapped from Nir Oz and many others.

Daniel, thank you. We'll continue to be in touch with you.

CNN's Clarissa Ward has more on all this. She joins us now from Cairo.

Clarissa, what have you learned from that side of the border?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So it was earlier this evening, Anderson, that we first heard of ambulances kind of pulling up at the Rafah Crossing. Essentially, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz were released by Hamas militants.

They actually released a propaganda video as well. We're not showing it. It shows the militants offering the women tea and biscuits. Clearly, Hamas wants to use this or try to milk this to the best of their ability as a propaganda opportunity.

The women were then escorted by members of the Red Cross into an ambulance, cross to the Rafah side of the border. They were taken from there really straight to an airport where they were then flown out to a medical center where they now are. As you see, Daniel has just visited with his grandmother, who you just had on the show there.

Questions still remain, of course, Anderson, about the future of all the other hostages who have been taken. There have been discussions of other deals in the works.

We know the Egyptian government and the Qataris have been very actively involved in those negotiations -- Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Some perspectives now from Rami Igra who joins us once again, former

chief of the hostages, an MIA unit of Mossad.

Rami, what does this release of two more hostages tell you particularly when it comes to Hamas' tactics and overall strategy?

RAMI IGRA, FORMER DIVISION CHIEF OF MOSSAD HOSTAGES: Well, as we have already spoken, Hamas is using the hostages as their cards of negotiation. They are trying to do two things.

First of all, they're trying to get a ceasefire. They would like to stop the Israeli attack, and they would like to stop the Israeli incursion, still under the false thought that by doing these things, Israel will change its resolve and not go into the Gaza Strip.

The second thing is they're trying to so-called show their humanity. Remember, these people, they are trying to show their humanity, went into Nir Oz, decapitated babies, did the -- killed the elderly, killed women, raped women. And now they're trying to show to the world and to some of your viewers that maybe they're freedom fighters.

But they're not freedom fighters. They are terrorists and they're murderous terrorists. And this is what they're trying to do.

Very important here is the fact that the Egyptians mediated this deal, not the Qataris.

The Egyptians, as we -- as you understand, really holds the entrance to the Gaza Strip, the entrance where the supplies come. The Egyptians are also the people that don't want the Gaza Strip citizens to move into Egypt.

There is another deal that is now brewing, and that's the deal for releasing 50 hostages. It's been talked about. Qataris have been putting it forward.

Is it going to happen? We don't know. They insist on getting fuel into the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli government is against doing that.

The fact that they want this fuel to be used in the fighting, that will come in the next couple of days or soon, very soon.


The Israel government has been holding back for several reasons. One is Netanyahu is being a little hesitant. And the fact that we are letting all the possibilities of releasing these hostages come to light.

COOPER: What kind of information can a released hostage provide that's useful to intelligence officials or in just finding out about the status of other hostages? In the past, have they been able to provide any information?

IGRA: I don't think that there's any very important information. There is information. As the grandson just said, the grandmother doesn't know a lot. You

know, she's gone into a room. She's been through a tunnel, but this is not going to give us a lot.

The information is being gathered. And as I said before, the Israeli army now has put a lot of emphasis into gathering information about the hostages.

This is the way in the end, unless there's a miracle. We all hope for a miracle.

Unless there's a miracle at the end, at the end, the way these hostages are going to come home is by force. And in order to do that, Israel has deployed a lot of gathering tools in order to gather the information needed to place the hostages and create special operations.

This means visual information, a lot of cyber, human assets that Israel has in the Gaza Strip, all are working on the collection of this kind of information.

What a hostage can tell is a perspective that doesn't really give you, you know, any tool to use if you want to go into the area and release the other hostages.

COOPER: Rami Igra, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

Much more now on preparations for any possible move by the IDF into Gaza. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live from Sderot, not far from the Gaza border.

What have you been seeing on the ground there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. We're continuing to get artillery impacts, artillery taking off from outside of Gaza impacting inside the Gaza Strip. It's low-level compared to the very heavy missile strikes we were hearing last night. There are fighter jets in the sky, but it doesn't seem as if this is a particularly heavy night of shelling.

During the day, Hamas or other groups have fired a couple of salvos of rockets into this town of Sderot. But as far as that incursion goes and the troops that are getting ready for it, according to the IDF chief of general staff, their troops are ready. They're ready to go.

We're also learning that they're doing additional training. They're not moving away from the border, as best we can tell at the moment. But they're also not formed up at the border.

It doesn't appear that they're going to go in tonight. But we do get the sense that this continues to be the expectation.

I don't think anything we're hearing, despite the hostage releases, despite Hamas' efforts to derail a possible incursion, I don't think we're hearing an off-ramp for it at the moment. And that was another detonation just heard in the background. Two

fighter jets -- yes, two fighter jets, I think, in the sky behind me right now as well, Anderson.

COOPER: The Israeli defense minister said today in a statement that Israel is preparing for what he called a multilateral operation. I assume that means by land, by sea, by air. Obviously, not a lot of detail in there. That's pretty obvious that it would be multilateral, no?

ROBERTSON: It is. I mean, look, that -- you have to -- when you go in, you have to overwhelm whatever Hamas resistance there's going to be. And one way you can do that is by air.

I was, just a couple of minutes ago, hearing a helicopter flying by. We don't see them too often here, but absolutely helicopters can be expected to be involved supporting troops on the ground, even dropping troops deeper on the ground.

And by sea, either support by shelling or troops landed by sea because, of course, you know, the top of the Gaza Strip is quite narrow. So, you can bring troops in and off the sea. You can drop some by helicopter, and others can come in by land.

You can put a lot of forces on the ground concentrated in an area quite quickly depending on the objective. And, again, we don't know the specific objectives yet.

COOPER: Right.

ROBERTSON: But the town behind me, 2 1/2 kilometers away, Beit Hanoun, that was one of the first objectives back in 2014 and quite likely will be again this time -- Anderson?


COOPER: Yes. Nic Robertson, thank you, again.

Perspectives now on Nic's reporting joining us, Retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor, former top aide to General David Petraeus and currently professor of Military History at Ohio State University.

Colonel Mansoor, thanks so much for being with us again. Hamas could release all the hostages or all the civilian ones if they wanted to or all the wounded ones and the ones who need medication. Releasing two at a time like that, what kind of -- what do you see that as the -- what's the tactic there?

PETER MANSOOR, RETIRED ARMY COLONEL, PROFESSOR OF MILITARY HISTORY AT OSU: Well, they're sort of dribbling them out, showing goodwill, but not giving away their trump card, which is these hostages that they can use to release Palestinian prisoners and as bargaining chips.

I think that they will release those that are too ill to continue in captivity because if they die in Hamas' care, it does Hamas no good to have them, you know, a dead body on their hands, and then they'll be blamed for killing them. So this is what we're seeing.

And it may go on for some time, but I think the ground invasion will begin before those hostages are released.

COOPER: You and I talked earlier today, and you had said something that really got my attention. You said the fighting in Gaza City will be more complicated than it was for the US in Fallujah, in Iraq, as well as Mosul.

What are the rules of engagement for IDF forces when they are fighting in an environment where it's urban warfare, and there are a lot of civilians around? As many civilians who have gone to the south, there are still a lot of civilians and a lot of, you know, men, women, and children in Gaza City and elsewhere.

MANSOOR: Yes, exactly. So under the rules of war, the Israelis have to do what they can to minimize civilian casualties. They don't have to eliminate them.

You know, the -- I've been thinking about parallels in history, and what I came up with was the Battle of Manila in 1945. There were about a million Filipinos in the capital city.

The Japanese wouldn't let them leave. They used them as human shields, and the United States forces attack to clear the city. And in the process, 100,000 Filipinos died, some of them by Japanese atrocities.

COOPER: Right.

MANSOOR: This is a potential future for Gaza City if the Israeli forces use all the firepower at their disposal, as the American army did back in February 1945.

COOPER: What is the calculation though for a, you know, a soldier manning a weapon in Gaza City? I mean, is -- how do you determine when it's okay to fire? I mean, how -- who makes those choices?

MANSOOR: Well, when it comes to the decision to pull the trigger, that's up to the individual soldier and his immediate leader. These are tough decisions.

We saw it in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1992 when the rangers went in or maybe '93. The rangers went in to the center of Mogadishu, and there were a whole bunch of Somalis that were used as human shields.

And the rangers had to sometimes kill the civilians in order to kill the fighters hiding behind them. And this is something that the Israeli army is going to have to face. And hopefully, they're being trained up for these eventualities while they're waiting for the invasion to begin.

COOPER: Given the planning and training we saw from Hamas in their sickening attacks on October 7th, one has to assume -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that they have planned for this Israeli response.

And I guess the conundrum is, if Israel does go in, are they doing what Hamas wanted? And if they don't go in, how do they defeat Hamas because they can't do it from the air?

MANSOOR: Yes, I think, you know, it's the horns of a dilemma. I think this is exactly what Hamas wants. They want Israeli forces to go in, kill a lot of civilians.

The Hamas fighters with 15 years of preparation can pop up in tunnels behind Israeli forces, kill a lot of Israeli soldiers. That would be the ideal.

But even if they lose, a lot of their civilians are going to get killed in the process. And that will inflame world opinion and turn the world against Israel.

So, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. And the -- you know, I don't envy the Israeli government having to make this decision on whether to launch this ground invasion. But my guess is that they are going to remain committed to doing it.

COOPER: Yes, Colonel Mansoor, I appreciate your time again. Thank you.

MANSOOR: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, my conversation with the mother and father of a 23-year-old American who was badly wounded when taken hostage by Hamas, is being held tonight. Their reaction to video they didn't even know existed at first. And we'll tell you how they got to see it, coming up.


Also, a report from a hospital in Gaza City on the grim, horrible conditions there, which could only get worse in the days ahead.


COOPER: I want to show you a picture of a 23-year-old American- Israeli, Hersh Goldberg-Polin. He is believed to be a hostage right now in Gaza.

Last Monday I did a live interview with his mom, Rachel, and his dad, Jon. They told me that Hersh's arm had been partially blown off by Hamas gunmen who tossed grenades into the shelter that he was hiding in after he escaped from the Nova Music Festival.

Eyewitnesses had told them that their son Hersh was put into a truck by gunmen and driven off. But they had no video of their son.

So during that live interview a week ago when we showed a picture of Hersh, this picture, I realized I actually had seen their son and had a video of their son on my phone. It had been shown to me by a soldier at the music festival.

We recorded it off his phone. We had permission from him to do so, and it had never been released publicly.

I did not want to shock them during this live interview, so I waited until the interview was done. And then I called Rachel and Jon immediately, and I sent them the video. And it was their son, Hersh.

I've been in touch with the family a lot this last week, and they now would like everyone to see this video. They want you to know what has happened to their child, and they want the world to know that there are seriously wounded people who were taken by Hamas. And this video is proof of that. We blurred out some parts of it, but we want to warn you, it is disturbing.



COOPER (voice-over): God is great, the gunman shouts, recording on his phone.

He checks a car, looking for anyone else hiding.

Other gunmen shout as they bring survivors from the shelter. Calm, calm, they yell. Load them.

That's Hersh on the right with another hostage. His left hand and part of his arm is blown off, the bone sticks out.

The other hostage appears wounded as well.

Another wounded hostages dragged by his hair and tossed into the truck.

A fourth man is thrown on top of them.

When I sent the video to you, what was your initial?

JON POLIN, SON ABDUCATED BY HAMAS AT MUSIC FESTIVAL: First of all, it's a crazy sequence of events that we talk to you through a computer screen and then get a phone call from you saying, I have a video of your son.

COOPER: I did not want to say on live television.

POLIN: Of course.

RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON ABDUCATED BY HAMAS AT MUSIC FESTIVAL: We have course appreciated, the way everything has unfolded, the gentleness that you used, because at the end of the day you are a journalist, and journalists want a story. That could have been dealt with in many other ways that were not kind and gentle.

POLIN: So, first seeing that video in general gave us a dose of optimism. As horrible as it is as a parent to see your kid under gunpoint being pushed with one arm, the composure from which he's walking on his own legs, pulling himself with his one weak hand, he's a lefty, and his left arm was blown, of pulling himself it is one-week hand onto the truck, gave me a real dose of his strengths that he is handling a horrible situation, and he is doing it would composure.

GOLDBERG: I mean, we're saying he walked out calmly, which he did, but I think it was from shock.

COOPER: They have this photo taken inside the shelter before Hamas gunman began throwing grenades inside. Rachel says, as many as 29 people were crammed together. That is Hersh, and this is his friend, Onor Shapira (ph).

GOLDBERG: Hersh and Onor went to the festival together. They've known to the since they were kids. Onor was behind the door, and Onor, by anyone's account which we spoke to, as they were throwing grenades, he would keep picking them up and throwing them out, picking them up throwing them out. All these witnesses said there were 11 grenades thrown in. He threw out eight.

COOPER: Rachel says eight people survived and avoided captured by hiding the blown bodies of the dead. But Onor Shapira didn't make it out alive.

GOLDBERG: His parents came to her house on Friday, and the people who are identifying bodies actually let them know that the identified him with DNA, but in his hand, he was holding a grenade. His dead body had a grenade in it in his hand.

This means he is the real hero. Those eight people, and even the people who walked out and are now in Gaza, it is because of Onor.

COOPER: How were you able to get through each day?

GOLDBERG: I personally feel like we have to keep running to the end of the Earth to save him. We have to keep going and believing that somehow he got treatment, and he is there, and he is in pain, and suffering, but he's alive and he's there.

There are also the moments in this universe that we now live, where you say, maybe he died on the truck. Maybe he blood out in that truck. Maybe he died yesterday. Maybe he died five minutes ago.

And there are those moments where you think, how are these thoughts even, I don't understand these thoughts. That they are real thoughts.

COOPER: They often go down to see their sons room.

This is Hersh's room?

GOLDBERG: This is Hersh's room. It's a steel door because it's our --

COOPER: Safe room.

GOLDBERG: Bomb shelter, yeah.

COOPER: You can feel him here close, his globe, his books, and momentous, it's all just as he left them. Rachel did make his bed, however. She wants it ready for when he returns.

GOLDBERG: We have a porch that's facing south, and they went out Friday night. I was screaming to him, hoping, because Friday night we bless our children traditionally, and Jewish homes you bless your children on Friday night. So, I was screaming.


It's a traditional blessing from the Bible. And so, I was screaming the blessing to him. My hands out. I usually put my hands on his head when he's home.

COOPER: What does the blessing say?

GOLDBERG: It says, may God bless you and may God's face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God's countenance be lifted up towards you and give you peace. So --

COOPER: What do would you want people to know about Hersh?

GOLDBERG: He's just a super curious kid, and this wanderlust he developed when he was six or seven years old has been his life, obsession, always asking for maps and globes and atlas is for his bar mitzvah.

Really, you know, these last few years he's really saved every penny to go on this trip that he has a ticket for on December 27th. He was going to go to India, and they'll all points east.

COOPER: Rachel and Jon were on the cover of time magazine. They're trying to get the world to pay attention to the plight of the hostages, particularly those like Hersh who have serious wounds or medical issues.

POLIN: As Americans Israelis, we have been embraced by the U.S. government. The support is there. The empathy is there from the U.S.

We are obviously hungry for more than that. We want action. We want results. There are hostages from somewhere around 30 countries. Why have we not yet seen prime ministers, foreign ministers, global leaders screaming to get the wounded help?

COOPER: Rachel also got to be in a pool with other American families and President Biden.

POLIN: And he stayed for 90 minutes and listen to us, and he cried with us.

GOLDBERG: I know loss, I have lost two children, I lost my wife, and I'm telling you that you need to go through this, but you also need to remember that you will be strong again for your family, you know? He said things that because he knows laws, so it wasn't platitudes, it was someone speaking who has lost children, speaking to a mother who lost her two children.

And it was real moment of coming together just as people who know what pain is, this very excruciating parts of pain.

COOPER: This is a particular kind of pain.

GOLDBERG: Correct. There's no playbook for this that we know of. The game daily is he alive? Is he getting treatment? Did he die 15 days ago?

Like we are on the head of a pen, and every direction you fall is a bad direction. So, a lot of how we get through the day when you asked that report is we're trying to balance on the head of the pin and just get everything done with the hope that he will come home to us alive, and he'll go on that trip with one hand.


COOPER: Jon and Rachel.

With me now is Avi Mayer, veteran chief of "The Jerusalem Post".

I mean, the situation with the hostages is so sickening and horrific. Do you hear -- I mean, when you talk to people do what do they talk about first? What are -- what do you hear from people?

AVI MAYER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JERUSALEM POST: Well, I think the rallies are in a state of shock and trauma. They're also in this waiting game, not knowing whether this ground offensive is going to happen or not. There are 360,000 people who are massed on the border, and that affects families across the country, talking about people's siblings, spouses, parents in some cases.

So, I think that's what people are mostly thinking about, but, of course, the hostage situation is very much on people's minds and that's been very much the conversation is all this time. The hospitality waging is very much on peoples minds. That has been very much the conversation this time.

COOPER: Hamas could release all their hostages right away. I mean, the game they are playing of releasing two by two, it's very clear there's a tactic there, there's a strategy there, the manipulation of it. It is incredible to me, though, that, you know, wounded hostages, infants, toddlers, people with severe medical conditions are still being held.

MAYER: It's shocking. I mean, there's no words to describe anything we've encountered over the past two weeks. I don't know that the English language has the vocabulary to enable us to describe what we're going through. But, the horror of having small infants, elderly people, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses who are still being held by Hamas as hostages and are not being released is unfathomable.

We don't exactly what their calculus, is who they're really seen who they're not, but, obviously we all hope everyone is really soon.

COOPER: The thing I think people who have not been here and have not been to Be'eri which you were at, had not been to Nir Oz and the Nova Music Festival site do not understand or don't want to think about is the personal nature of this brutality.


I mean, this is people looking each other in the eye, and shooting to death Bracka Levinson (Ph) in Nir Oz and logging onto her Facebook account and livestreaming it for her friends and family to see.

I mean, it is -- this is kind of a new, there is something particularly personal about this.

MAYER: I think the cruelty of it all was so shocking to so many Israelis. Israelis know Hamas. They're not new to Hamas. They know it's a terrorist organization that wants to murder Israelis and wants Israel not to exist.

But I think for many years, Israelis thought of Hamas as somewhat pragmatic organization that was mostly tasked with caring for the people of Gaza, ensuring their economic well-being and so on and so forth. And what you saw on Saturday, the seventh was an organization that is insatiable and wants just murdered Jews in the most horrific and cruel ways.

I think that that is a wakeup call for many Israelis who were trying to figure out how to grapple with that and move forward.

COOPER: There is also this, political situation in Israel has been incredibly divisive over the last, you know, year or so. How does that impact a lack of confidence many people have in Netanyahu, how does that impact the way people think now about the possible ground operation, or does it?

MAYER: Well, I think the fact that we now have an emergency unity government is helpful in that respect, because you have --

COOPER: That was the whole idea of having this emergency government

MAYER: Exactly. The primary opponents, of course, is Benny Gantz, who was defense minister under Netanyahu and they had a major falling out, is now a part of the decision-making circle, I think that's helpful ensuring the people of Israel have the confidence of this governments can lead the country forward and do whatever it must to ensure that Hamas has a capacity to carry a massacre like this ever again.

COOPER: The number of people from intelligence committee, from the military leadership, they have accepted a level of responsibility for the intelligence failure for the lack of response, apologize in some ways. Netanyahu has not done that.

Is that something you hear from people? Are there many Israelis who want that, or are they not thinking about that at the time?

MAYER: Israelis are very much thinking about that. I think, you know, right now, they are just thinking about how to move forward, how to ensure Israel does whatever it must to ensure Hamas is not have the capacity to ever do this again. We know there's going to be a reckoning after all. This is going to be a commission of inquiry. I don't see quite frankly how Netanyahu survives this politically.

COOPER: This is not something it's going to get pushed down the road.

MAYER: No, this is a cataclysmic event. I think this is a starting point is really history. We're going to see a totally different political map at the end of this.

COOPER: Avi Mayer, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

MAYER: Thank you.

COOPER: Thanks for coming up.

We got a lot more ahead. Clarissa Ward is back with us with new reporting on the situation in Gaza.

Clarissa, what's the latest on aid getting in your reporting from Egypt tonight?

CLARRISA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Anderson, through the Rafah crossing from Egypt and Gaza, another convoy of trucks of aid when in today. That brings the total number of trucks in the last three days to just over 60. But, to give you some perspective, that's 60 trucks in about 16 days, compared to what would normally be in the time period more than 7,000 trucks of aid.

And all of this is happening against the backdrop of some of the most relentless and punishing bombardment, more than 300 strikes in Gaza last night alone. It is the hospitals, Anderson, that are really feeling the pressure, the situation going from critical to dire.


WARD (voice-over): You are entering the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City. This is just one minute on one day. The doctors tell us it could be any minute from the last 16 days. It is a scene from hell. Many of the patients are young children.

The reception area now a triage center. Everywhere you turn, another casualty.

Every one of these people has been ordered by Israel's military to evacuate the hospital, including the staff, already outnumbered and overwhelmed.

And as the punishing bombardment continues, the wounded keep flooding in. Doctors say there is nowhere else for them to go, and no safe way to transport them out.

DR. MARWAN ABUSADA, CHIEF OF SURGERY, AL SHIFA HOSPITAL: We have the mass casualties once or twice a day, but now, we have every half an hour casualties. So, it's overloaded our emergency departments, and our OT department and our IPT (ph) are overloaded with patients.

WARD: Dr. Marwan Abusada warns that the situation is about to get dramatically worse.


The hospital, he says, it's just two days away from running out of fuel, needed to power the generators that are keeping the hospital and its patients alive. If you do run out of fuel in two days, what will you do? I mean, what

can you do?

ABUSADA: I think the international community will be part of the process of killing our people. If they don't act on Israel and allow to get the fuel entrance to Gaza, what to do for the people who are ICU or mechanical ventilator? What about the neonatal, the small babies? We have more than 130 in our neonatal, ICU units. What do we do with them?

They will, okay, I think we are allowing them to die in these stations (ph) if we don't have fuel to run our generators in the hospital.

WARD: Just a trickle of aid has been allowed to cross into Gaza, and none of it fuel, blocked by Israel, it says over concerns it will be taken by Hamas. Hundreds of trucks are waiting along the Egyptian side of the border.

The diplomatic efforts to establish a continuous humanitarian corridor have failed, and there is no more time for debate.


COOPER: Those babies, Clarissa. Can you talk about why fuel has become such a sticking point here?

WARD: Well, from the Israeli perspective Anderson, they say that Hamas has been stealing fuel. They are concerned that if more fuel goes in, that they will co-opt it and take it and use it for their own purposes.

At the same time, it is abundantly clear from talking to humanitarian organizations on the ground, talking to the U.N., talking to Dr. Abusada at the A Shifa Hospital in Gaza that fuel is essential. Not even just for the generators Anderson. Fuel is essential for their desalination plants.

Dr. Abusada talked a lot about how people are now drinking brackish water because there isn't freshwater. That they need to keep these desalination plants going.

So, fuel is life for the people of Gaza but so far there is just a paralysis, and inability it seems for everyone to come together and try to come up with some kind of mechanism that could satisfy Israel's concerns but ensure that that desperately needed fuel gets to where it needs to be -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, organizations, the U.N. has people on the ground. Does the U.N. say that Hamas takes stuff from them? I mean --

WARD: The U.N. has not publicly said anything like that and, you know, we haven't -- the only place we have heard that from on the record is from the IDF. Actually they reiterated a claim on our air earlier tonight. They said that Hamas had stolen fuel and that they have 1,000 liters of fuel that they could be giving to the hospitals, that they do have fuel. Just to give you perspective. When we interviewed Dr. Marwan Abusada,

he said that even when they turn off the electricity and the AC, that one hospital goes through 9,000 liters of fuel a day. And there are many hospitals in the Gaza Strip right now, all of them desperate for fuel, all of them on the brink of running out.

So even if this claim that Hamas has taken this fuel and is holding this 1,000 liters of fuel is true, that would potentially help one hospital to operate for maybe a few hours, Anderson.

COOPER: Clarissa Ward, thanks.

Just ahead, difficulties that Israel is now facing from the fact that not just security thoughts from Lebanon to deal with, reports from the West Bank, next.



COOPER: In addition to Israel's fighting Hamas in the south and Hezbollah to the north, we are also watching increasing volatile situation in the West Bank. Israeli forces have increased incursions into the occupied territory targeting what they say are Hamas operatives. The Hamas and Palestinian health ministry says many have been killed there since the October 7th attack.

Sara Sidner has more on the growing tensions between Palestinians and Jewish settlers there.



SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Natan Douek is doing his normal dad duties, but this scene is not at all normal. Everything has changed in their Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

DOUEK: We need to protect ourselves because we are surrounded by people who don't necessarily like us.

SIDNER: Since the October 7th attack to their south by Hamas on Shabbat, Douek rejoined the army and his patrolling is fortified neighborhood instead of working his factory job.

DOUEK: At the end of Shabbat, we say a prayer asking God to help us and to keep our children safe and to keep our soldiers safe. Some of these words I just couldn't say them because you know we weren't safe on October 7th.

SIDNER: The Jewish settler presence in the West Bank is always been fraught, being deemed illegal by international law because they are built on occupied Palestinian land. But this is a different kind of fear he says.

Hanan Ashrawi is a Palestinian activist and a former Palestinian Liberation Organization official.

HANAN ASHRAWI, ACTIVIST, FORMER PALESTINIAN LIBERATION ORGANIZATION OFFICIAL: They tell you they're afraid. Why are you committing a war crime? What are you living on Palestinian land illegally? Just because Israel tells you it can. This is occupied territory.

SIDNER: And she says that there is the growing settler Palestinian settler violence. Violence between Jewish settlers and Palestinians have been caught on camera for decades. One of the latest filing settlers frying rocks and firing guns at Palestinian homes.

In another incident, after a confrontation a Jewish settler shoots and apparently an armed Palestinian man in the stomach.

We asked Yossi Dagan, the governor of some 60 settlements in the West Bank about this incident.


How do you defend the Palestinians who have been killed by settlers?

I'm supposed to explain to CNN why terrorists that tried to kill civilians or soldiers were shot by security sources, the police or the army? With all due respect, I don't really understand the question.

We clarified in English and Hebrew, showing him the video.

So, this is why I'm asking this, because this information is out. Groups are saying, look the settlers is not the IDF people fighting against Palestinians and shooting them.

What you are showing me now is an edited, tendentious video of attempts of terrorists to hurt and kill Jews that are protecting themselves. This happens a lot. And unfortunately, there aren't two equal sides.

The video you are seeing is not edited, but Palestinians agree with one thing, the sides are not equal. They say they are the overwhelming victims in this.

And the two weeks after October 7th alone, more than 90 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank from attacks by settlers and Israeli security forces, according to the Israeli ministry of health in the West Bank.

Bank in settlement Kiryat Netafim, Douek does his patrols back home and protect his family and neighbors like Liat Har-Tov.

LIAT HAR-TOV, RESIDENT, KIRYAT NETAFIM: I have lived here for 24 years. I never feared. We work with them, we talk with them, we work with them in the industrial joint just across the road.

They're friends. We are friends with them. It was always like that.

SIDNER: And now?

HAR-TOV: Something has been cracked. Something is not the same anymore.


COOPER: Sara Sidner joins me now from Jerusalem.

The issue of settlers is a hugely controversial one here and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has been very encouraging certainly of those settlers?

SIDNER: Yeah, they have. And, look, Liat told us, the woman you we just heard there, that she basically move there because the land was cheap in part. But many settlers also move there for religious reasons. They believe that it is part of the Jewish biblical homeland, that they referred to as Judea and Samaria.

Of course, international laws say something very different, that they are occupying Palestinian land illegally. And what happens in all of this is as more and more of these settlements occur, the Palestinians see this as less and less of a chance to for them to have their own state one day, their own official state as their territory is literally shrinking -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah. Sara Sidner, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: For information to help to help the humanitarian effort in Israel and Gaza, CNN's "Impact Your World" has gathered a list of vetted organizations on the ground responding to the crisis. And go to You can also text the word "relief" to the number 707070.

CNN's coverage in Israel continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.