Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Israel Confirms Airstrike Hit Gaza's Largest Refugee Camp; US Secretary Of State Blinken To Return To Israel This Week; IDF Says It Killed Hamas Leader in Refugee Camp Strike; Hamas Denies Commander Was There; Large Craters, Rubble At Refugee Camp After IDF Airstrike; Witness To Strike That Hit Gaza Refugee Camp: "It Felt Like the End Of The World"; Officials: Dozens Of Humanitarian Aid Trucks Crossed Into Gaza On Tuesday With Water, Food, And Medical Equipment; Hamas Claims It Will Release Some Foreign Hostages In The "Coming Days"; Israeli Military Says It Continues To Intercept Threats On Its Borders With Lebanon And Near The Red Sea; Mother Of Shani Louk On Daughter's Death; Israel Sees Iran Behind Attacks From Hezbollah, Houthi Rebels In Yemen; Fears Of An Expanded War; Hamas Claims It Will Release Some Foreign Hostages In The Coming Days; Mother Of Hostage Killed By Hamas: We Cannot Do A Real Funeral, There Is No Body; Posters Of Kidnapped Israelis Being Torn Down In Some U.S. Cities And On College Campuses; Documents From Sherrif's Office Show Gunman's Ex-Wife And Son Reported Concerns About His Anger And Paranoia. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 31, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And thanks very much for joining us, Erin. We'll be back tomorrow. I'll be back here live tomorrow in Tel Aviv starting at 4:00 PM Eastern. Also, for "The Situation Room" starting at 5:00 PM Eastern tomorrow.
"AC 360" starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. This is the aftermath of an Israeli strike today in the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp. The UN says it's the largest such camp in Gaza.
One eyewitness described the scene to CNN as horrific and said, quote, "Children were carrying other injured children."
We warn you, the next video is disturbing. Many of the wounded and dead were taken here, the hospital closest to the camp. Witnesses telling CNN they believe a large number were killed, but we can't independently verify the actual number.
The IDF confirmed the strike and said they were targeting and killed a top commander of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas denies the commander was even there. We'll have more on that in a moment in a conversation with the representative from the IDF.
Israel also said today that there were more strikes in the north that destroyed Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. And tonight, there's late word that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed back to Israel Friday. He is also expected to visit other countries in the region as well, not clear yet which ones.
A spokesman for what Hamas calls its "military wing," meaning the people who planned, launched and committed the October 7th terror attacks, says his group will free some hostages that they kidnapped, in particular, foreign nationals. No indication when that may happen. Only a claim that it would happen, quote, "in the coming days."
I'm joined now by CNN's Nic Robertson near the Gaza border in Sderot, Israel.
Nic, what do we know more about this airstrike?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We know the IDF say that they were targeting the senior commander from the Hamas, that he was involved in the October 7th attacks, that he was actively planning more operations against Israel and had been involved over the past two decades in other attacks, significantly 2004 in Ashdod, an attack that killed 13 Israelis.
Now, they say when they targeted him, he was with a number of other Hamas members. This does seem to fit the footprint of what the IDF is describing as the ground operations inside Gaza, that the troops on the ground when they identify Hamas targets, they call in airstrikes.
This was a massive airstrike by all accounts, multiple impacts on the ground. The crater is very deep.
We do know some of the airstrikes are designed to detonate in the tunnels that Hamas hides in. We don't know if that was the case this time, but the IDF indicated that he was hiding in tunnels, hiding behind civilians.
But the devastation in this densely populated refugee camp in Gaza is the biggest of the eight refugee camps there, more than 110,000 people living in that very tiny area, very densely populated. And the local hospital, the Indonesian hospital, the director there saying literally they were having hundreds of casualties, dead and wounded. They were treating them in corridors, on floors, the hospital completely overwhelmed.
The image is of -- one of massive destruction, but the IDF very clear saying they were targeting this Hamas leader. Hamas has come back, though, and said that he wasn't there.
They're not saying if he is alive. They're not saying where he was. They're just saying he wasn't there, Anderson.
COOPER: And what are we seeing in -- or what are you seeing in terms of airstrikes where you are right now?
ROBERTSON: Yes, fighter jets overhead right now. We've seen helicopters, it appears, firing missiles into Gaza this evening. There have been very heavy detonations that we're hearing of heavy artillery being fired in.
And I'll ask John (ph), if you can just swing the camera around here, you can see some white lights there.
Now, that scenario that was pretty dark until the last few days, that, we believe, is now an illuminated sort of gateway, if you will, into Gaza, that the IDF is illuminating. And this appears to be as close to the Erez Crossing, one of the principle crossings into Gaza.
But this appears to be an area they now are floodlighting to better enable troops to come and go into Gaza by safety, but, of course, they wouldn't have floodlights on it. They thought Hamas was around there.
So I think this shows that the incursion into Gaza is now one that has a well-established beachhead, if you want to call it that, breach in the border to Gaza there. We don't know how far the troops are getting into Gaza, how far they are into Gaza City precisely, what are they doing.
Are they all on foot? Are they in tanks? Are they in armored fighting vehicles?
But what we've seen in bases closer to the border today -- we've been further south along the border here -- there are troops and combat vehicles forming up in columns, getting ready to go, getting ready, it appeared, to go into Gaza and reinforce. And that's -- that is the message the IDF is conveying tonight, "This isn't over."
They call it a difficult battle space, a difficult one to fight in. They're not after creating civilian casualties, but they are not -- and you can hear it -- stopping this incursion, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Nic Robertson, thank you.
We have more on the camp itself by one of our reporters who had recently been there. First, I'm joined by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, the international spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces.
Colonel, as you know, Hamas denies the commander-in-question was at the refugee camp. I know the IDF says it has intelligence that he was there and that he was killed. How can you be sure?
JONATHAN CONRICUS, INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN FOR THE ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: Yes, he wasn't in a refugee camp. I agree with the Hamas on that. He was in his tunnel complex under a populated area, which is where Hamas terrorists hide, trying to use civilians as their human shields.
And yes, I can confirm that he is dead, just like we have confirmed the death of more than 50 Hamas operatives with names, and locations, and their military importance, and their position.
Also, Ibrahim Biari is dead, along with dozens of other terrorists. And, frankly, I wouldn't trust a single thing that Hamas say, whether it's not who's alive and who's dead, and any situation about hostages and practically anything else. COOPER: What is the calculation the IDF makes in deciding on striking
the area that you know is heavily populated? I ask this, because I mean, in war, soldiers make calculations in targeting -- you know, in targeting a person.
Is this person's worth the loss of civilian life? Are they important enough that it's worth a certain amount of civilian loss? And these are cold -- it's a cold calculus to make, but all militaries make this.
Can you just talk about how those decisions are made or who makes them?
CONRICUS: Yes. They are made, as you say correctly, during wartime. War is horrible. The things that happen in war are never good and never positive. And unfortunately, we find ourselves in this war after we were attacked by Hamas.
What we're doing now is striking back at Hamas and striking at its military facilities. In every combat in urban terrain when there's still presence of civilians which, by the way, have been called on us to evacuate for more than two weeks, this is northern Gaza. We've called on them to evacuate.
About 800,000 have evacuated; 300,000 or so still remain in the area, which is regrettable. But in any case, the calculations that we do, like any military, is what is the importance of the military target, and how can that promote the achievement of the aims of the war, and what is the estimated cost in noncombatants.
And then you try to decide balance between those two. I can tell you that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of strikes that we avert in the early planning stages, or even once they're being executed, because we see that the balance between the military importance and collateral damage, as it's called in military speak, isn't good enough. And then we avert the strike or we decide not to do it or we give advanced warnings, or we call ahead. And we do all kinds of things. But the bottom line is it's always relevant.
In this case, a senior important combatant commander of Hamas that was running operations from his bunker complex underneath that neighborhood, that is why he and the other terrorists were struck. And yes, he is confirmed killed to the best of information that we have at this time. And hopefully soon, we will be able to get our hands and weapons on more Hamas commanders.
This guy, by the way, was one of the planners and the executers of the October 7th massacre as well.
COOPER: How many Hamas leaders does the IDF believe are in Gaza?
CONRICUS: Excellent question, very relevant, and really at the top of the focus of Israeli intelligence.
Where are the commanders? How many of them have gone incognito and trying to embed themselves in civilian population? How many are trying to flee from Gaza using tunnels and other ways? Very, very relevant, and really at the top of our information requirements. We are monitoring that.
At this stage, I cannot say here what our assessment is, but we are aware of the common phenomena with Hamas, whenever the going gets really tough, they will send expendables from their point of view to try to fight off forces. But the seniors, we will find them perhaps elsewhere. Maybe in qatar, maybe in other locations.
But in relative safety, usually the cowards that they are, they will leave Palestinian civilians to face the consequences of their aggression, and they will have the rank-and-file continue fight while they take big checks of money and leave the area.
Unfortunately, not the first time that happens, but it's part of the calculation that we're seeing.
COOPER: Colonel Jonathan Conricus, thank you.
CONRICUS: Thank you.
COOPER: Joining me now from Cairo, CNN's Melissa Bell, who went to the Rafah Crossing today where aid is still stalled and in southern Lebanon, Ben Wedeman who visited the Jabalia camp this past May.
Ben, the IDF says that there were Hamas tunnels in this camp and that they killed a senior Hamas commander. When were you last at this camp and was a Hamas presence evident there?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I was last there in May after another round of fighting between, at that point, Islamic Jihad and Israel. And no, there was no obvious Hamas presence there.
What was obvious was that this was one of the most densely populated of Gaza's eight refugee camps. And more than anything, what you would see in Jabalia was lots of children, more than anything else. Certainly, not any Hamas fighters walking around.
Again, I've been going to Jabalia for years, going back to 1993. And what always struck me going there was how many children were there. In fact, among journalists who regularly covered Gaza, they always said, "You're going to Jabalia? Watch out for the kids. There are so many of them."
Not hostile, not aggressive in any way, just simply you had to manage the children while you tried to do your work.
And this is -- you know, you have that spokesman for the Israeli military talking about collateral damage. Anybody who watched the footage coming from the scene of that airstrike would have been struck by how many children were on the scene, how many dead children were being pulled out of the rubble.
So perhaps, there was a Hamas tunnel deep underneath the Jabalia refugee camp. But on the surface, there were people. There were civilians. There were children who were struck in this.
And CNN was able to speak to eyewitnesses. They talked about children pulling wounded children out of the rubble.
One man who saw the strike said it felt like the end of the world -- Anderson.
COOPER: Melissa, do you know how much humanitarian aid actually got into Gaza today in the south?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we saw today, Anderson, was a bigger proportion of aid getting through a 24-hour period than we've seen over the course of the more than three weeks since this war began.
In all, there are now 217 trucks with 57 extra who made it through that slow trickle in the Jaffa gate that the -- sorry, the Rafah gate through into the enclave.
Just to be clear, whilst that is a bigger proportion than we've seen so far, Anderson, it is a tiny proportion of what is needed to meet the needs of the people inside. In fact, one aid worker described it as a drop in the ocean.
To give you an idea, the UN Children's Agency says that there is currently just 5% of the water needed in the enclave to meet the needs of the people inside. And so ever since, Israel has declared this full siege, beyond the bombardments that Ben was talking about, essentially, what you're looking at is a policy of starvation. And that is close to where we're now getting inside Gaza.
COOPER: What is the latest, Melissa, on whether the Rafah Crossing will ever open for -- whether it's wounded civilians to be -- go -- get out of Gaza to be treated or the Palestinian-Americans who have been stuck there now for more than three weeks. I don't understand who's preventing the Palestinian-Americans from leaving? Because there is families who have been waiting there for weeks.
BELL: That's right, who headed there when this all began in the hope that they'd be allowed through. It was certainly what they had heard.
In fact, we are starting to begin to hear some word of movement on that, so a little increased aid has gone in. And what we're hearing is that, for the very first time, 81 wounded Palestinians will be allowed through the Rafah gate and to a field hospital that has been set up some 15 kilometers away by Egyptian authorities.
So that is good news to be at least for the first time, for the first civilians to be able to head out of Gaza. They've been entirely trapped so far.
And to your question about the dual nationals, there are so many hundreds of them inside the enclave. We're beginning the hear that there might be some movement on that front, too, although no confirmation for the time being, Anderson, that it will happen tomorrow. We're starting to hear that some of those dual nationals will make their way out.
The difficulty here I think is, first of all, the very intense negotiations that have had to take place between Hamas, Israeli officials who keep a control function at that gate. It is their inspections that is making the entry of the trucks so slow, even at that one gate that leads on to Egypt rather than to Israel. It also takes their agreement for the civilians being able to get out. It takes Egyptian agreement.
And bear in mind, that Egyptians have been very reluctant to open this crossing to civilians because, first of all, they don't want to be dealing with a refugee crisis. Second of all, they do not want to see the forced movement, displacement of the Palestinian people into the Sinai Desert. So they've been very wary about this.
The negotiations have been painfully slow, but we are beginning to hear that there will be some movements. Some of these dual nationals will be able to make their way out.
And bear in mind then to add to all of that difficulty, you have the question of the consular services that are going to have to be set up, sometimes, for people who have no documents. This is an extremely difficult situation to deal with at the gate. But, of course, there are very desperate people on the other side of that crossing, just hoping they're going to be able to get through, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Ben, on the northern border with Lebanon, what are you seeing?
WEDEMAN: Well, it's been relatively quiet today. Yesterday, we saw a lot of back and forth fire between the Israel and Hezbollah and other groups, significantly targeting further into the territory of the other side.
But by and large, I mean, the situation remains very tense. We've seen that Hamas -- rather Hezbollah today had a funeral in one of the border towns for the 47th of its fighters to have been killed so far since the 8th of October when Hezbollah joined into the fight, so to speak.
And we've seen almost 30,000 people who live along the border on the Lebanese side moving to safer ground further north. And a lot of the towns and villages along the border are largely abandoned at this point, because people fear that perhaps worse is to come -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman and Melissa Bell, thank you very much.
Still to come tonight, more on that northern border with Israel, fears of an expanded war. In north of Israel, in Lebanon, daily fights between Hezbollah and Israel. Jim Sciutto has a report coming up next.
A lot more ahead in this hour. We also want to tell you of an update on Shani Louk who was 23 years old when she was terrorized and killed by Hamas. You may remember her near naked body was tossed into the back of a
pickup truck. She was paraded by gunmen through the streets of Gaza while crowds spat on her and shouted, "God is great."
Her mother and the world held out hope that she might still be alive, but Shani was confirmed dead this week. We talk to her mother ahead tonight.
COOPER: As we were discussing before the break with Ben Wedeman, there is continued concern tonight that as Israel's military pushes farther into Gaza and casualties mount, now the already daily skirmishes to the north in Lebanon with Hezbollah could grow more violent. In fact, today Israel intercepted a missile launched from Yemen, which Israel obviously doesn't share a border with.
Jim Sciutto has more.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Israeli soldiers gaze north toward Lebanon. What they fear could be the next front of this war.
And, in fact, Israel and Hezbollah are already exchanging fire across the length of the Israeli-Lebanon border. IDF howitzers firing on Hezbollah targets and Hezbollah firing back. Virtually every village we visit along the border has come under fire.
SCIUTTO (on camera): When you travel along the Israel-Lebanon border, you see things like this multiple times a day. The smoke rising there, the flames from a strike that -- just across the border inside Lebanon, not clear if that was outgoing fire from Lebanon or incoming from Israel.
We did just hear from the IDF a short -- and there is another explosion as we're speaking. And we heard of another exchange of fire just a couple of miles down here.
That wall you see along there, that marks the border between Israel on this side, Lebanon on the other.
SCIUTTO (voice over): The threat comes from further afield as well. Today, Israel said its Arrow high-altitude missile defense system fired for the first time since the October 7th attacks.
Responding to a missile launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Israeli officials see one nation behind all these attacks, Iran.
REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON (through translator): There are many actors who are acting at the behest of Iran, including the Houthis, who are trying to challenge us and to distract us from the war in Gaza. We remain focused. We are focused on the war in Gaza.
SCIUTTO (voice over): Gaza remains the main thrust, but the IDF is attacking inside Lebanon and Syria multiple times a day. This strike, the IDF says, hit Hezbollah infrastructure.
Funerals held for the last two days in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah saying nearly 50 of its fighters have been killed since the clashes began.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto joins us now from northern Israel. What are Iranian officials saying about the clashes between its proxies and the IDF?
SCIUTTO: The consistent answer from the Iranian foreign minister has been that these are the independent acts of forces -- resistance forces and calls them Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah, and Lebanon, and others in Iraq and Syria.
And while it is true that these groups operate with some independence, that, of course, denies the fact that it is Iran that arms them, that supplies, for instance, the missiles that the Houthis were firing today in the arms and the training to Hamas and Hezbollah and others.
And we should also note that even as Iranian officials deny responsibility for these attacks, the Iranian foreign minister noted that he has recently visited those fighters and the leaders of those groups in Iraq, Syria, in Lebanon. And each statement we've heard from Iranian officials has included a threat of its own.
We heard the Iranian foreign minister warn that Israel has crossed red lines and warn again that everyone will pay a price for Israel's actions. Of course, sounds very much like threats. And it is the US view that none of these groups operate without, we should say, Anderson, Iran's at least tacit ...
SCIUTTO: ... approval for these attacks.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto, Jim, thanks.
I'm joined now by Barak Ravid, a reporter and Middle East expert who covers politics and foreign policy for Axios. He's also correspondent for the Israeli publication, Walla.
Barak, thank you for being with us. I'm wondering what you are hearing about the ground operation in Gaza in terms of how many Israeli troops are actually on the ground. Have they gone to Gaza City yet?
BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL REPORTER AND MIDDLE EAST FOR AXIOS: Good evening, Anderson. I don't think they're in Gaza City yet. I mean, the plan as it is right now is to basically encircle Gaza City both from the north, from the Gaza beach, and from areas that are northeast of Gaza City, and from the central Gaza Strip with forces coming in from Israeli territory into Gaza and going then north to Gaza City.
So basically, Gaza City will be encircled. We're talking about more than 20 thousand Israeli soldiers right now in Gaza, I think, something around three armored and infantry divisions. This is a very big force.
COOPER: You reported earlier that Hamas claims that it's going to release some foreign national hostages in the coming days. Is it clear to you how calculated their releases are in terms of propaganda or trying to weaken international support for Israel? I mean, how well- organized are their release releases?
RAVID: Well, I think it's -- it can be both, meaning, there is a possibility that Hamas will release some foreign nationals as it did in previous weeks. It released two American hostages and then two Israeli hostages. And it's possible that it will release more.
On the other hand, what Hamas is trying to do with those releases is to basically send the message to Israel that if it goes further into Gaza, it is putting those hostages in risk.
And by the way, Anderson, we're talking about almost 240 hostages in Gaza. Hamas is not holding all of them. We have to remember that.
Hamas is holding the majority of them. It holds the majority of the soldiers, but it does not hold all the Israeli civilians that were taken hostage.
And this is why Hamas has a problem to give the list of hostages, because it doesn't know who they are.
COOPER: I also saw some of your reporting, which has not gotten a lot of attention, and I think it's fascinating. Israel is not paying the Palestinian authority in the West Bank tax revenues that they are owed by -- under accords that were signed. Can you just talk about why they are doing that? Because it seems -- I mean, it seems clearly designed to weaken the Palestinian authority at a very time when tensions in the West Bank are skyrocketing.
RAVID: Yes, it seems to me, you know, maybe the word you were looking for is crazy, because that's what it is.
Israel is right now in a huge crisis in Gaza, in a war with Hamas. And at the same time, the Israeli minister of finance, that the one thing that he needs to deal with right now is to basically suspend the transfer of the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian authority who is the rival of Hamas in the West Bank.
Those tax revenues, why are they so important? Because this is the money that the Palestinian authority uses to pay salaries to its security forces.
If those security forces don't get paid, they will not do their job. If they don't do their job, there will be more terrorist attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, and the West Bank will also escalate.
And the Biden administration asked Israel through several channels and also the Secretary of State Tony Blinken today publicly in a hearing in the Senate told them you need to release the money.
Tomorrow there's an Israeli security cabinet meeting. This issue is going to come up. But this is really a self-inflicting wound in the moment where Israel really doesn't need any distraction than the war in Gaza.
COOPER: Yes, that was fascinating reporting. Barak Ravid, thank you so much.
RAVID: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up, 23-year-old Shani Louk was attending the Nova music festival when she was taken. Later seen in this video in the back of that truck partially clothed in Gaza. The IDF has now confirmed she was killed. A conversation with her mother Ricarda, next.
COOPER: Again our breaking news tonight. Hamas claims it will release some foreign hostages in coming days. Details, whoever, are scant. More than 230 hostages remain missing tonight. Some families have received obviously the heartbreaking news that their loved ones were killed, including now that of Shani Louk. She was attending the Israeli Music Festival, Nova music festival on October 7 when Hamas slaughter began.
As we reported last night her remains were identified by a bone fragment from her skulls. Source involved with her identification told CNN. Shani Louk was just 23 years old.
People around the world first heard her name because of this horrific video that was posted online the day of the attacks. It's her in the back of a pickup truck, gunman. Their legs draped over her holding onto locks of her hair. Chanting, God is great in Arabic. People in the crowd spitting on her while she's faced down, not moving. As I said, the leg of that Hamas fighter break draped over her.
I spoke to her mom, Ricarda, the very next day. One of the first families to speak out and even after seeing that video of her daughter she remained hopeful. Ricarda joins me again tonight.
Ricarda, thank you for being with us. I'm so sorry for -- for your loss. When did you hear that -- that Shani had, in fact, been identified?
RICARDA LOUK, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPING VICTIM: On Sunday night, the military knocked on my door and they told us that Shani is not with a living anymore. And they identified a piece of her skull to be from her by her DNA. And an essential piece that the human being cannot be without this. So this really determined her death.
COOPER: And have they actually been able to -- to return her?
COOPER: Had they actually found her?
LOUK: No, no, the body not -- we cannot do really, real funeral. There is no body. That's the -- the body we see on the video that we know of, that she was already dead when they transferred the body to Gaza. We assume it's there.
COOPER: I mean, so many people got to know you, got to know Shani. And obviously this is just devastating for -- for -- for everybody who knew her and loved her. What -- what do you want people to know about your daughter?
LOUK: Yeah, I mean, my -- as I said previous -- also, my daughter is -- was very lively. And she liked to dance. And she liked music. She was very creative and artist, and she just loved life. She loved people. She had a really big heart. And she was always happy, and especially the last few years traveling a lot, meeting new people from all over the world. And she was really a big, open hearts. And yeah, and it's a pity that it ended really like this. She didn't deserve it.
COOPER: You -- you were so focused on -- on gathering any information you could on -- on doing everything you could as -- as any parent would, and that happens suddenly, all stop is just -- it's -- it's -- this is also unthinkable?
LOUK: Yeah, it was really a long, hard three weeks, looking for any clues, being optimistic. And we had always hoped that she will return to us, no matter in what situation and to be three weeks in the unknown, and you have no idea what's going on where she is, what condition. Really no, no signs and no information from the public.
From -- for the government, nothing. It was very difficult. And I don't wish this to any -- any parent, any family member. Yeah.
COOPER: You had thought, you had gotten some possibly positive news at one point in you and I spoke and somebody I think in maybe who had a contact in Gaza had said that it was possible she was in a hospital. Did that -- was that just not -- not the case?
LOUK: Yeah, we don't know. We never got really firm confirmation of this information. Nobody could give us really approval for this. And maybe the person just got mixed up or, I mean, he didn't say that he saw her personally. He just knew that she was there. But it could be that it was another woman, not Shani.
COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know?
LOUK: I just want that people -- I mean, we will cherish her, how she was. The beautiful, joyful person she was. But we -- we have to remember that there are still so many other hostages there and they need to be freed. And they need to be freed as soon as possible. And everybody needs to set the right priorities to get them free. It's really terrible feeling to be in the situation where you don't know anything and you don't know when they're coming out, if they're coming out. No -- to be really blind of all the negotiations or what's going on and just wait and wait. And it's terrible.
And on one side, I'm happy that I have some kind of closure, even if it's a bad one. But at least we know she didn't suffer in the end. And she was celebrating until the last moment and had a good life. But we shouldn't forget those other hostages. They need to be freed as soon as possible. Nobody needs to be in this situation.
COOPER: Ricarda Louk, again I'm -- I am really just so sorry for your loss. And thank you for talking to us.
LOUK: Thank you.
COOPER: Well next, here in the U.S. and some cities on college campuses, posters of kidnapped Israelis have been put up and then torn down, touching off clashes. That story is next.
COOPER: Today on Capitol Hill, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned lawmakers that anti-Semitism is reaching what he called historic levels in this country. Wray said that it's in part because the Jewish community is targeted by foreign terrorists also homegrown and domestic violent extremists.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: In fact, our statistics would indicate that for a group that represents only about 2.4% of the American public, they account for something like 60% of all religious faiths hate crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Still Wray added, this is not a time for panic, but a time for vigilance and to report anything suspicious. Tensions are obviously high following the Hamas attacks. Here in the U.S. even simple posters drawing attention to the missing in Israel are being ripped down in some places. Randi Kaye has more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no, no, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you'll be all over the news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll be all over the news.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In New York City in ugly confrontation over the removal of a poster of one of the hostages kidnapped from Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're so proud of it. Show your face. Show your face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not allowed to post anything.
KAYE: After a few moments the people walked away from the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on you.
KAYE: That's Broadway Producer James Simon, using scissors to take down a poster showing one of the more than 200 hostages. After removing the poster, Simon crumpled it up and tossed it in the garbage. When the New York Post published the video, Simon told the Post, he took down the flyers for the purpose of keeping the city streets clean, and not for anti-Semitic reasons.
According to the Post. He also apologized for offending anyone. CNN reached out to Simon but did not receive a response.
The posters were designed by a few Israeli artists who were visiting New York City when Hamas gunmen attacked Israel. They say they identified 220 hostages and confirm their names with their families before making the flyers. But that they never expected their work to become a flashpoint. Like this incident at Boston University after a student who said she is Jewish, took down a poster.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you filming?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your point?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? To show where the hate is coming from in this campus? Most Jewish students don't feel safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're reporting occupation, an illegal occupation, that's been happening for 75 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not condemning terrorists? That is wrong. You should be ashamed of yourself.
KAYE: On what appears to be a campus in San Diego watches one man tries unsuccessfully to block another from ripping down the posters with hostages images. Beyond the posters, tensions are rising on college campuses over the war. At Tulane University, a brawl broke out after a pro-Palestinian demonstrator tried to burn an Israeli flag. At Cornell University, Jewish students were threatened with death over the weekend according to the Cornell Daily Sun. And at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a pro-Palestinian rally clashed with supporters of Israel.
All of this has communities on edge and businesses on edge. In Miami, a dentist was fired from his job after being captured on camera tearing down one of the kidnapped posters and crumpling it up. He told reporters his intent was to promote peace and deescalate the situation. He told CNN.
DR. AHMED ELKOUSSA, FIRED OVER VIDEO OF HIM TAKING DOWN POSTERS: I've been wrongfully mislabeled many things. And I find it very disheartening to be mislabeled as anti-Semitic when I come from a Semitic background.
KAYE: With each poster that comes down, the artists making them tell CNN, they promised to put up 10,000 more. Randi Kaye, CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Still ahead, more questions but few answers about the warning signs leading up to the mass shooting in Maine last week. We have new reporting about some of the red flags raised about the gunman before the massacre, next.
COOPER: Tonight, we're learning more about the gunman who killed 18 people in that shooting rampage in Maine last week. CNN has continued to get new reporting showing there were several warning signs raised in the weeks and months leading up to the massacre. And that reporting has raised even more questions that we still don't have answers to. CNN's Senior Crime Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.
I want to play a clip of something you were asking the -- the main governor, just the other day. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We know that there is an alarming concern from the law enforcement community that activity and information here was ignored. And the simple answer is why was that done? And are you concerned about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think those kinds of facts have yet to be determined. You're making assumptions. I'm not willing to make those assumptions.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So what have you learned since that press conference?
PROKUPECZ: Well, we were there to question her about our reporting. We had obtained information that police had been to his home in September from the Sagadahoc Sheriff's Office. They were at his home, just six weeks before all of this happened, checking on him because they got a call from someone at the Army Reserve saying that they were concerned about his mental state. And they went to the home three times.
And in one of those instances on November 16, his car was in the driveway, that white Subaru that he used to get around was in their driveway. But yet they did nothing. They knocked on the door. They thought he was inside. But yet, they didn't follow up in any way. They spoke to his family, because they got this call saying that this Army Reserve person was concerned that he was going to do a mass shooting. He was having a psychotic episode. There was stuff going on in his life. And so they went to do a welfare check on your home.
And so we were simply there to question the governor about, well, where is the accountability? Where was the law enforcement folks checking in on him following up? Because obviously, there were indications that he was having some trouble in his life. He had access to weapons. At that point, the military had removed his access to weapons. And so simply she just -- was being evasive. And she really wasn't answering our questions about what law -- the law enforcement folks are doing.
COOPER: So is it clear now what they did in response --
COOPER: -- to his concern?
PROKUPECZ: Yeah, he's essentially most -- people feel they went to the home, they spoke to the family, his family and the family indicated that he was having issues, but somehow that he may not have had access to weapons. But it's not entirely clear that that's the case because there's now even more information that a friend of the family has told police that he had a key to a safe whether weapons were. So there's a lot of still questions that need to be answered by law enforcement. And just the overall why wasn't there more follow up and why weren't they checking to see where he was, to trying to get him some help, take him off the street.
COOPER: And there were new documents released about -- potentially about him target like why he targeted specifically this --
PROKUPECZ: Yeah. So, one of the things that they're looking at is, for motivation is that he thought that the folks at the bar, the Schemengees Bar and also the Bowling Alley, were somehow involved in, and saying that he was a pedophile. This was something that was going on in his life. For some reason he thought people were talking about him, calling him a pedophile. And so he thought that was being sort of -- that the folks at the bar and at the Bowling Alley, were doing that. And so that's perhaps -- police are saying that's maybe why he was targeting those locations.
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, appropriate it. Thank you.
And now to Colorado, where authorities say another potential mass killing was averted when a man armed with guns and explosives was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. He was found in the woman's bathroom at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The local sheriff says the 20-year-olds body was found Saturday morning before the park was set to open.
Investigators say it appears he illegally entered the park before it closed the night before. And the Sherrif -- according to sheriff, there was a note on the bathroom wall where the armed man was found that read, "I'm not a killer. I just wanted to get into the caves." There aren't certain it's linked to him but say there is reasonable suspicion. We'll be right back.
COOPER: For information on how 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. Go to cnn.comforward/impact, you can also text the word, RELIEF to the number 707070.
The news continues. "The Source" with Kaitlan Collins starts now.