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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Israel's Cabinet Votes To Approve Hostage Release Deal. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 21, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And we have breaking news out of Israel. Matthew Chance is in Tel Aviv. Matthew, what do you know?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not much, unfortunately, except that that cabinet meeting which has been held for maybe seven hours has now officially broken up. It's over.
What we don't know yet, and we're hoping to bring you this soon, is what the outcome of the vote is on that hostage deal that is being so vigorously debated over the course of the last several hours. Whether or not a deal to free those Israeli hostages has been approved or not, we don't have that information for you quite yet.
BURNETT: All right. And as we await the developments here, obviously, very significant. Thank you, Matthew Chance. Thanks all of you for joining us. "AC 360" starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The waiting must be almost unbearable, but for at least some of the families whose loved ones have been held captive by terrorists for the last 46 days, the waiting could be closer to being over, and their loved ones could be that much closer to coming home. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
Just moments ago, the Israeli government's full cabinet meeting on a proposed deal with Hamas ended. Again, the cabinet meeting just ended. We do not know what they decided on.
According to multiple sources, these are the proposed points of a possible agreement. Hamas would free 50 women and children, mostly children, taken on October 7th. In exchange, Israel would release 150 Palestinians -- three for every one hostage -- and take a four to five-day pause -- Israel would -- in operations in Gaza.
Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Alex Marquardt in Washington, Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, and Becky Anderson in Doha, in Qatar. Let's get right to Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv with the very latest.
Oren, this meeting is over. What are you hearing?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, the meeting ended just moments ago after many hours of debate. It is the expectation that this deal was going to be approved, but we don't have that word yet officially from the prime minister's office. I am checking my notifications here and waiting for it to come through, but it has not yet. This was a debate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was leading as part of the full cabinet. It had already gone through the legal and political process through the war cabinet and then the security cabinet, but it needs the approval of the full cabinet because it involves a release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a release of Israeli hostages.
Netanyahu said, although it was a difficult decision to take a pause in the fighting, it was the right thing to do, urging the full cabinet to give it final approval. But there were some elements of his coalition, some of the far-right members who said they would vote against it. Still, they didn't have the votes to try to scuttle this deal, and that's why the expectation is that it was going to be approved. And we're waiting for a final statement here.
It will be welcome news to many of the families who have waited for this moment, some sort of breakthrough that would allow at least some of the 240 or so Israeli hostages held in Gaza to be released -- women and children first. But in speaking to many of these families, they believe that this is a possibility to get to a larger breakthrough and begin the process of releasing more hostages.
Crucially, John, as I just said, it is right now women and children. It does not include men. It does not include hostages who were Israeli soldiers.
BERMAN: Oren, again, I keep looking at my notifications also to see if we are getting final word that it was approved. This meeting went on for several hours. Is there any sense that there might have been more opposition or might have been a tougher slog for Netanyahu to get it through?
LIEBERMANN: Well, first, it's the Israeli government and there will be debates about just about everything. So it's not too much of a surprise that it lasted several hours.
There was some opposition. Again, some of the far-right party members wanted to see Israeli essentially keep pounding Hamas, believing that would be the way to release all of the hostages from a complete surrender. But they didn't have the votes, and Netanyahu knew they didn't have ...
LIEBERMANN: ... the votes ...
LIEBERMANN: ... so he was able to push this through ...
BERMAN: Oren ...
LIEBERMANN: ... nor they have the votes (inaudible) the government.
BERMAN: ... let me interrupt. LIEBERMANN: Yes, John.
BERMAN: Let me interrupt, Oren. It just crossed. Israel's cabinet has approved the deal that would see the release of some hostages from Gaza. Again, CNN is reporting that Israel's cabinet has approved the deal that would see the release of some hostages from Gaza.
So, Oren, there you have it, the result of that hours' long meet being there, but perhaps an outcome that was expected.
LIEBERMANN: Absolutely. Netanyahu knew he had the support for this. And it's not just within his government, certainly, there were some elements that were trying to push against this. But not only that they did not have the vote to scuttle the deal, they also didn't have the votes to take down his government.
So Netanyahu probably not too worried here, he also knew based on public opinion polls we have seen that this was what the Israeli public was demanding. Even if it wasn't a deal for all of the hostages, it was a demand to begin the process of bringing home at least some of the hostages.
Not a surprise, women and children are first. They have gotten, frankly, much of the attention. And many of the international calls were to release women and children.
So after hours of debate and a legal and political process, again, the smaller war cabinet, the security cabinet, and then the full cabinet, the deal itself has been approved as we reported.
I will point out one more thing quickly, John. There is now a 24-hour period where anybody who opposes the deal can file at the Supreme Court and try to stop it.
That is part of this process. It is largely, however, a formality. The expectation, this is going through.
And we could see some hostages released into Thursday morning, perhaps Friday depending on the time line of all of this. And that, too, will play out in a process about 10 hostages a day over the course of this multi-day pause in the fighting.
What's unclear at least from what I'm seeing right now is when the Palestinian prisoners will be released, 150 women and children released from Israeli prisons.
BERMAN: All right. Oren Liebermann, in Tel Aviv, we're reporting this in real-time. We'll let you get back to working your sources. Let us know if you hear anything new.
In the meantime, Israel's prime minister today thanked President Biden for his role in the hostage talks. We can now call it the "hostage deal." CNN's Alex Marquardt is with us more from the effort on that. And, Alex, what are you hearing from your sources now from the White House about this deal?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The hostage deal and the prisoner swap, John, as Oren was just noting there, that we expect Palestinian prisoners to also be released from Israeli prisons.
I should note I'm also looking at my phone here because another part of what we expect to happen in the coming hours is a statement by Qatar, which has been the main mediator in all of this. They have a very important role as the ones who speak directly with Hamas.
They also engage, at the same time, with Egypt and the United States. The US, of course, doesn't deal directly with Hamas because they are a terrorist organization, so we are expecting a statement to come from Qatar. It is a possibility that it comes tomorrow because it is so late in the region.
But, John, the US has been central to this process not least because you have American hostages who are involved, some 10 American citizens who are missing, believed to be hostages, a mix of men, women and children. One of the most famous cases is someone who was mentioned by President Biden a few days ago after a phone call with the Emir of Qatar, Abigail Idan, who is a 3-year-old in Hamas custody. She is turning four years old on Friday.
So this has been so important for the Biden administration because of those citizens, but also because they have unique leverage with each of these players. And the senior most members of the Biden administration have been intimately involved with every step of this process since October 7th.
We've just seen the top White House official for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, return from the Middle East, where he was continuing with talks. The CIA Director Bill Burns has been in the region speaking with Israeli and Qatari counterparts.
And then the president himself has also played a significant role on the phone repeatedly with his counterparts from Israel, from Egypt, from Qatar. We heard from the White House earlier today saying that he usually gets updates multiple times a day jumping in where he feels appropriate on a personal level.
So this is going to be something that we expect the US to continue to participate in. There -- we do believe that some American citizens will be among this first release of these 50 hostages. Hopefully, it will be more in the days after that. And that this framework -- these conversations will continue.
Prime Minister Netanyahu saying two important things today, thanking President Biden for getting a better deal for the Israeli people, but also saying that the fighting will continue after this pause in the fighting. So we do expect those negotiations to continue, as Oren was just touching on. Even if, say, 50 to 70 hostages are released in the coming days, the vast majority of those 236 hostages held by Hamas will still be in Gaza -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Alex Marquardt, stand by, getting a little more information. We are hearing that the deal was approved by the Israeli cabinet with a significant majority, that is according to a government source talking to CNN.
Let's go now to CNN's Becky Anderson in Doha, in Qatar, where the framework agreement was hammered out. Becky, at this late hour, where you are, what are you now hearing?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes. Well, we haven't got the official announcement from here yet. The understanding from here was that the Qataris will be putting that announcement out first given that they mediated these talks. We haven't got that as of yet. That is not to suggest that this deal hasn't now been agreed upon.
It was a proposal that was delivered to Israel in the early hours of yesterday morning. The time here now is just after 4 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday. So the Israelis have had this for 24 hours. The parameters, as we've been discussing, is 50 plus women and children over a four to five-day period, aid coming in -- aid trucks coming in through the border, and this pause during which hostilities would cease both the ground and for periods in the air.
As I say, you know, nothing further from the Qataris who have been mediating these talks for weeks. They have been complicated. They have been very, very difficult.
I've spoken with the mediators here on a number of occasions. And they have said that they've just been looking over the weeks for a period of calm to get this done. But at this stage, that period of calm will only come now that this pause will start.
That's the news from here. Excuse me.
BERMAN: Becky Anderson, thank you very much for that.
Four AM in Qatar, the Qataris, a central figure in working this out this deal, which the breaking news is has now been approved by the Israeli cabinet, as many as 50 Israeli hostages expected to be released in the next several days in exchange for 150 Palestinians and a four to five-day pause in the fighting.
With us now is Anat Moshe Shoshany. Her grandmother, Adina Moshe was kidnapped from kibbutz Nir Oz by Hamas gunmen who murdered Anat's grandfather and took the grandmother on the back of a moped through Gaza.
That's hard to imagine what it must have been like to hold on on the back of that moped for your life to a murderer and a kidnapper. And it's no easier to imagine what the waiting has been like for those who love her or maybe they're released tonight.
So, Anat, let me just get right to you. Describe your feelings now that you have heard that a deal has been approved by Israel's cabinet.
ANAT MOSHE SHOSHANY, GRANDFATHER KILLED, GRANDMOTHER TAKEN HOSTAGE: So this is very tension days for us -- for all of us. There's a lot of uncertainty about everything. The expectations are high, obviously. But we learn to balance the emotions, and we're waiting for any kind of information about her.
We don't know anything for sure. I just saw it with you that the cabinet approved the deal, which -- this gives me actually so much hope.
I think and believe that every soul that we can save from there is essential for us because, even if my grandmother won't be among those people and, obviously, I hope she will be. But even if she's not, I just can't wait to see the picture of the children, of the innocent people going out from there after so many days, so many long days that we're waiting for them. And this is the first step I want to believe.
BERMAN: Have you been told anything about whether your grandmother will be part of this group?
SHOSHANY: We know nothing more than you do. You maybe even know more than I am. Everything we know mostly from the media or from rumors, there's a lot of rumors. There's a lot of the psychology war that Hamas is trying to do and, obviously, you can't ignore it. This is also how we found out that my grandmother is even kidnapped, through those videos or those messages that they are sending.
But I think, along the way, you know, we are fighting this fight for a very long time. This is going to be the 47th day tomorrow. So we learn to be patient and be calm about it as much as we can because we can't stand to, you know, hold our hopes up and then to disappoint.
But I really do hope to see someone walking out of there alive. It will be just -- I think it will fill us with hope for the others, first of all, and for a chance. We want a chance to see our loved one back. This is all we want. And I really hope that this is just the first step (inaudible).
BERMAN: Have you heard anything in the last week or two or three or since Anderson, I know, spoke to you in the days after the terror attack? Have you heard anything about your grandmother and her well- being?
SHOSHANY: Nothing new. I just want to hope that she's holding on there. We cannot be sure about anything. We don't have any kind of confirmed information about her condition. But again, we just hold our breath and fight as hard as we can.
BERMAN: And you have been fighting. You have been fighting and you've been pushing the Israeli government for information and for efforts to bring the hostages home. What's that been like for you?
SHOSHANY: I think that there's a lot of weight or the public pressure here in Israel and the global meaning of that because once you realize that this is the first priority of your public or the people here in Israel and even internationally, I think it means a lot because we can't afford these people to be a collateral damage for this conflict. And we won't let it happen because we stand for them.
They're innocent. They've just been kidnapped from their house. We lost so much.
And I can't help to remember my interview with Anderson, which I screamed there, it's been four days -- four days. And I was so emotional. And I couldn't see a reality when I see here over 40 days after and I'm still on the very same condition.
But, you know, this is the reality, and I started to realize that unless I'm going to fight and fight hard, not only me, I mean, everyone beside me, so nothing will happen. This is why we're also putting a lot of push -- pressure on the government and on the cabinet that we actually first met only two days ago. This was the first time that we met them in person and that we really had a chance to talk and to speak our mind in front of them personally and officially.
So I just want to hope that it did what it had to do and -- because I think that the family voices are so important, and they need to be heard. They need to be heard. We're a democratic state, and I think there is a lot of weight for our voice. So I think the pressure there is something.
BERMAN: Anat Moshe Shoshany, thank you for being with us. I think we understand your hope, but also your frustration and your trepidation upon learning this news that a deal has been reached. And I hope so much that you get to see your grandmother in the coming days and hold her in your arms. Thank you.
SHOSHANY: Thank you. I really hope so, too. Thank you so much. Welcome.
BERMAN: Let's get right back to Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, who has some new information from the Israeli government. Oren, I understand you have a statement.
LIEBERMANN: John, we just got the first official statement from the government confirming the deal has been approved and also confirming many of the details we reported about the deal throughout the course of the day. So let me read this to you. This is not the official translation, but I'll translate it from the Hebrew.
It says the government of Israel is committed to the release and return of all of the hostages home. Tonight, the government approved the first stage of the deal for that -- to that effect according to which 50 hostages will be freed, women and children, over a four-day period. And that will lead to a pause in the fighting.
The pause will continue every day in which 10 more hostages are released, and then it goes on to say that the government of Israel, the Israeli military is committed to continuing the war, to continuing to free the hostages, and to continue in its mission to destroy Hamas and ensure the safety of Israel.
So we'll get an official translation of that shortly from the government, but an important first statement here acknowledging that the deal itself has been approved. A government source said it was approved by a significant majority a short time ago following what was a very lengthy cabinet meeting. But this was the expectation all along here, although there were a few dissenting voices.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has led this effectively over the finish line, and now it's just a question of how soon those hostages are released.
BERMAN: Oren Liebermann, you're not just doing real-time reporting, you're doing real-time translation for us. And I do appreciate that. Did the statement say anything specific about the hostages being released as being women and children?
LIEBERMANN: It does. It does specifically say women and children. It says the first 50 hostages, women and children, over a four-day period. And for every 10 more hostages released, there will be a continuation essentially of the pause in the fighting.
BERMAN: So talk about that a little bit ...
LIEBERMANN: No mention here of what it -- oh, go ahead.
BERMAN: I'm sorry. Just on that other point that we had heard the parameters of this deal with a four to five-day pause, 50 hostages released, and the possibility of it going on for longer if more hostages came out. But there it is explicitly in writing, albeit in Hebrew that you're translating for us, that if 10 hostages a day are released, the pause in fighting would continue?
LIEBERMANN: That's what this says here, and that was our expectation that there might be up to a total of 70 or 80 hostages that could be released for a pause in the fighting. Our understanding is that group still includes only women and children. It's important to note this does not include any men or, likely, not any soldiers.
Remember, even 80 is still only a third of the hostages who are held in Gaza. So there is still a long way to go until they are all freed. But, of course, this, a first major step, the first 50 coming over the course of four days and the possibility to continue a pause in the fighting if there are more released.
BERMAN: Oren Liebermann, terrific work. Keep us posted. Again, I know you're getting more information by the minute here. We'll come back at a moment's notice.
And ahead, we're going to get more reporting on this agreement which, as you heard from Oren Liebermann, the Israeli cabinet just approved 50 hostages in the next four to five days. We're going to get perspective from a former senior Mossad officer.
BERMAN: All right. We are expecting more details in the coming moments about the deal approved tonight, just minutes ago, by Israel's cabinet to secure the release over a four-day period of 50 women and children now being held hostage by Hamas.
A short time ago, President Biden who helped broker the agreement, he arrived on Nantucket in Massachusetts. CNN's Arlette Saenz is there.
Arlette, what is the Biden administration saying about this deal that has now been reached tonight?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this deal is certainly welcome news to the Biden administration, which has been working around the clock in trying to secure the release of these hostages. President Biden, as you mentioned, just landed here in Nantucket moments ago.
We are still waiting to get a statement from the White House specifically on the contours of this deal. But it comes as President Biden earlier today had rejected this optimism that a deal would soon be reached and that hostages would soon be returned to their families.
Now, the initial contours of this deal are expected to include around 50 people in exchange for a multi-day pause in fighting, four to five days potentially. But one big question going forward is, how many Americans might be part of that deal?
The administration has said that there are about 10 unaccounted for Americans since Hamas' attack against Israel on October 7th. One of those Americans, who is believed to be held hostage, is that three- year-old American girl, Abigail Idan, whose parents were killed in that October 7th attack. Administration officials are hopeful that she might be part of this release. And we will see whether any other Americans might be included as well.
But this deal comes after weeks of painstaking negotiations, involvement from US officials, including conversations President Biden has had himself trying to prod the negotiations along. As the US has said, they remain committed to not just getting those Americans out, but also more hostages with that number, around 240, believed to be held by Hamas.
BERMAN: You know, earlier today, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he name-checked President Biden. He helped President Biden, specifically, for helping to improve the deal from the Israeli perspective. How much have the two leaders been communicating over the past few weeks?
SAENZ: Well, President Biden has been in continual contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the start of this attack by Hamas on October 7th. We know that their most recent phone call had been last week -- one week ago today. And in a very succinct readout of the call, the White House had said that the two men had discussed the efforts to try to get these hostages out.
We also know that President Biden has found other areas to try to get involved in as well. He spoke twice in the past few weeks with the Emir of Qatar. Qatar, of course, has been a key mediator in these talks between Israel and Hamas as they're working to find a way to get these hostages out.
And the White House has said that the president has remained personally and continuously engaged as he is trying to help these conversations along with the hopes that not just those Americans wouldn't get out, but also other hostages as well.
BERMAN: All right. Arlette Saenz, on Nantucket, covering President Biden who just arrived there. Let us know if you hear more from the White House. Arlette, we appreciate it.
With us now, one of the best informed, best sourced correspondents on this story. Axios Political and Foreign Policy Reporter Barak Ravid who has new information right now.
Barak, what have you learned about the specifics of this now approved new deal? And walk us through how it came together at the end.
BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL AND FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: Hi, good evening. I think one of the most interesting things is the dynamic inside the Israeli cabinet meeting tonight because, obviously, there was a big majority for this deal going into the cabinet, but still two of the cabinet parties of the far-right parties came into the meeting announcing in advance that they're going to vote against.
And then during the meeting, one of those parties, headed by Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich, a hard-right politician basically flipped and decided to support the deal, which was a very interesting development.
BERMAN: When do you think hostages could start being released? Are we talking late tomorrow?
RAVID: No, no, I don't think it's going to happen tomorrow because what's going to happen now after this deal was approved is that the Israeli government needs to publish the list of Palestinian prisoners to be released. It needs to be published online so that people could go online, see the names and appeal to court, if they feel that they have been harmed from this release.
So this gives 24 hours for that process. So I think that -- and that's what I hear from many Israeli officials. We are looking at Thursday, sometime during Thursday, that this release on, you know, of the hostages and of the prisoners, and the pause will start. What I hear from Israeli officials is that the pause will start, the pause and fighting will start when the first child crosses the border back to Israel. BERMAN: The pause will start when the first child crosses the border back into Israel. You mentioned that Israel needs to publish a list of the some 150 Palestinian prisoners who will be released, what information do you have on if not who they are specifically, at least what type of prisoners they are?
RAVID: Honestly, I -- most of the Israeli officials I spoke to don't look at those people as, you know, arch terrorists, in most of them are -- it's either women who conducted attacks, like tried to stab policemen, for example, or miners who also were involved in stabbings, in throwing Molotov cocktails.
Again, it's not the planners, it's not those who send people for attacks. And overall, security wise, the Israeli Shin Bet was in charge of security in the West Bank and Gaza doesn't see this as a, you know, big issue.
BERMAN: And Barak, over the last 24 hours, you've been reporting extensively on after the four to five days. What happens after this first four or five day period, because there does seem to be the possibility of more exactly what?
RAVID: Well, you know, and this was also for the first time the Israeli government said that publicly that for any 10 hostages, on top of the 50 that will be released, any more hostages, any 10 hostages will get another day of pause.
Look, the Israelis hope that they will get at least another 20, 25, maybe 30 hostages like that, more women more children. But there are also many question marks. And the question marks are, whether the 50 will be implemented. This is a process that will take a few days.
Any small thing in Gaza can unravel this deal. So I think every day is going to be super sensitive. And if we get to day five, and Hamas will come out and say you know what? We have another 10 people we want to release, they'll get another day of pause. But if not, we will just see how this war will resume very, very quickly.
BERMAN: Does Hamas know where all these hostages are at this point, even the ones being held by Islamic Jihad?
RAVID: Well, you know, Hamas' talking point is that they don't know, that they only have those 50 people and they don't know where the others are, meaning where the other women and children are. The Israeli intelligence services think that this is partially true, meaning there are some hostages that Hamas really don't know -- doesn't know where they are.
But there are many hostages, several dozen, that they know very well where they are. And again, we have to remember, Hamas controls Gaza. So if some gangster family in the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza Strip, is holding a hostage, believe me, Hamas knows about this, and can get to those people.
But now the question is when they'll have four-day pause, they can move around Gaza, whether they'll go to those people and tell them, listen, you need to give those hostages because we need to release them.
BERMAN: Barak Ravid, I know you've been working the phones and email constantly over the last several weeks. And I'm sure you'll be doing it into the wee hours of the morning. Thank you so much for being with us. Let us know if you break anything.
RAVID: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, just ahead, a report from just outside Gaza on what Israeli forces are doing, and now not doing in the wake of tonight's vote. It's a vantage point we will reporting on from the beginning of the crisis. And we'll show you what it looks like now during this very new stage. And military analysts from both Israeli and U.S. perspectives on what the possible terms of the hostage release may mean for the future of Israel's war on Hamas.
BERMAN: Tonight's hostage deal which Israel's Cabinet just approved a few minutes ago calls for a four-day pause in Israeli military operations in Gaza. Now, before the break, Barak Ravid told us that his sources say that military engagement will not stop until the first child hostage crosses the border from Gaza into Israel.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in southern Israel at a vantage point right near the Gaza border, can see into Gaza, and has been watching much of the fighting over the last several days and weeks. Jeremy, what are you hearing tonight?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, just as you were coming to me, John, we heard the sound of outgoing artillery. And moments after this deal was approved by the Israeli government, we heard several barrages of outgoing artillery in the direction of the Gaza Strip, an indication that the military activity by the Israeli military will indeed continue until this pause goes into effect, until those hostages are released from Gaza.
So -- and also one clear point that the Israeli Prime Minister made this evening was that even as he was urging his Cabinet to approve this deal, he was also making clear that the war will continue after this pause ends.
We also need to be clear that if you look at the past of this Israeli Palestinian conflict, typically before there is a ceasefire, before there is any kind of pause in fighting, there is an uptick in military activity. So we're very much here waiting and watching for that possibility.
But, John, I do also want to tell you about a conversation I just had with Gal Hirsch, who is the Israeli Prime Minister's Special Coordinator for hostages. He just told moments ago about this deal, about the discussions in the Cabinet meeting where he said that only one -- only two ministers voted against this proposed deal.
He said that the Finance Minister Smotrich, who appear to be indicating his objections to this deal, actually ended up voting in favor of it. And he also told me that he delivered a message just about a half hour ago to the families of some of these hostages, telling them that the State of Israel will do everything to bring all of the hostages back home.
And he really did want to emphasize that this deal for 50 hostages in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting as well as three Palestinian prisoners for every civilian hostage released from Gaza, that this deal is only the first phase of these negotiations.
He really wanted to emphasize that the Israeli government's position is that they want to get all of the hostages back. And that this military campaign, that these negotiations will not end until that happens. John?
BERMAN: Jeremy, I am curious. You said the official with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that they had -- he had spoken to the families of the hostages. We had the granddaughter of one hostage on about 20 minutes ago, and she said she's had no communication whatsoever from the Prime Minister's Office. So how is the prime minister insofar as we know reaching out?
DIAMOND: Yes, so this is Gal Hirsch, she is the Special Coordinator for hostages for the prime minister. He didn't say exactly how but he said he delivered a message to the families of these hostages. And what's also clear is that, you know, they don't know yet exactly which families of hostages are going to see their loved ones released, he would not get into that.
But I also think it was interesting that when he was talking about the 50 individuals who will get out, he said children and their mothers. We have been reporting that it will be children and women. But I think it was really interesting that he was specifying that it would be children and their mothers.
We know of course of multiple cases of children who are being held hostage in Gaza, and who were taken hostage with their mothers as well. And so that may give us some indication of the families that are most likely to get out in this first round of hostage releases over these four days for those 50 different individuals. That is perhaps an indication there.
BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond right on the border between Israel and Gaza, where artillery fire has continued even after the deal has been reached. Jeremy, thank you very much for your reporting.
With me now is Rami Igra, former chief of the hostages and MIA unit of the Mossad. And retired U.S. Army Major General James "Spider Marks", a CNN Military Analyst. Rami, let me start with you. You've been skeptical of the possibility of this deal as it was being negotiated now that they have reached a deal. What are your opinions on it?
RAMI IGRA, FORMER DIVISION CHIEF OF MOSSAD HOSTAGES & MIA UNIT: Still is -- has been negotiated on the basis that the Hamas wants a ceasefire, Hamas wants to be to be saved from the Israeli military. On the other hand, the Israeli military is determined to eradicate the Hamas.
It is not something that we want to do, it's something that we have to do. There is no way that Israel can continue living in any form with Hamas over the border. Now, this thing was reached because of viscerally public opinion and the belief that the moral duty that the government has is such that it is -- it overrides the main objective of this war. And the main objective of this war is to eradicate the Hamas.
It is a very, very bad deal for Israel in many, many ways. First of all, militarily, it's not an easy deal. How are they going to restart the war in four or five days? Secondly, we know that the Hamas is going to play all kinds of tricks on the way trying to release less prison -- less kidnap personnel that it has.
And on the second hand, it is not an easy deal of the Israeli internal front. Remember there are families that their loved ones are not going to be released. And there are families that have soldiers in the Gaza Strip and they know that fighting in the Gaza Strip in four days' time or in five days' time is going to be a lot more difficult than it is right now.
BERMAN: General Marks, we've talked about this, what is the military impact of a multi-day pause?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The primary impact is that the IDF loses targetable intelligence, it starts to atrophy. The intelligence that they've gathered over the course of days in Gaza begins to crumble around them. Because over this pause, Hamas will resupply, reposition, do everything in their power to increase their security.
And let there be no doubt, this is not being done by Hamas for any humanitarian reasons. This is a transaction to them. And I think we're at the point where the military's got a very, very tough decision to make. You're in Gaza, excuse me, you're in Gaza, you're exposed, you've got Hamas all around you still active in the tunnel network system. It's not been completely taken over by the Israelis by any means.
And so, these Israeli soldiers are targets. That's the challenge. And then at the end of a certain amount of time, as has been described, that four days could turn into five or six days, if they continue to move hostages back across into Israel. That becomes a very, very tough military task.
The Israelis at that point are going to have to transition into a defensive posture. Pause is not a military term. You attack or you defend. They're going to have to start to defend, that changes the mission set entirely. This becomes a very, very difficult task (ph) for military commanders to execute. BERMAN: Rami, is there anything that the Israeli military or Israeli government can do? What can they do to make sure that Hamas lives up to its side of the deal?
IGRA: Hamas is not trustworthy as you can understand. It's a terror group run by psychopaths and they're going to do anything in their power to kill Israeli soldiers and to continue regrouping and re- strengthening themselves as they can.
But the Israeli army has already said, said if any breach of the agreement, even the smallest breach, it will go back into fighting full force. Saying that, I don't see the Israeli military doing that if there's any more hostages to be had.
And this is where we are, we are at a very difficult situation where this deal is a bad deal. But we have to go through it in order to release our people. And this is our moral obligation. But -- I mean, don't fret. I think at the end of the day, difficult as it might be. At the end of the day, the Israeli army will go back into fighting, and Israel must achieve its goal of eradicating Hamas.
BERMAN: Rami Igra, Retired General James "Spider" Marks, thank you both for being with us very, very much.
IGRA: Thank you.
BERMAN: Just ahead, a look at this deal from another perspective from the families and loved ones of hostages, some of whom have been publicly angry with the Israeli government for not as they see it doing enough for weeks to win the hostages release.
BERMAN: More now on the families who've been waiting for tonight's vote and not always happy with the Israeli government, how this has been handled. With me now from Tel Aviv, our Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Matthew Chance, who has been speaking with families all day. Matthew, you've been talking to these families now that they have a deal. Do you have a sense about how they feel?
CHANCE: Well, you're right, John, we've been speaking to families who have got, you know, hostage, loved ones as hostages inside Gaza as the Israeli Cabinet was debating this hostage deal whether to approve it or not. And I can tell you, there were mixed feelings amongst the people we spoke to.
I mean, everyone we speak to there has a terrible, tragic story. We spoke to one woman who'd lost her 16-year-old son, who was killed on October the 7th. And to make matters worse, her 13-year-old daughter was grabbed by Hamas militants and taken into Gaza and is being held as a hostage there.
She was remarkably optimistic. But now is the time because of this deal in the offing as it was there and it's been approved now, of course, that her daughter would be coming home to her. So she's extremely optimistic and happy at that prospect. And very grateful to the Israeli government, she said for, for making that happen.
On the other hand, there were other people there who were less enthused. I spoke to one woman from Kibbutz Be'eri, who was -- she said she was excited about the fact that 50 or more Israelis would be released in this hostage deal. But she was very upset that her own nephew, who's a 38-year-old man was not going to be in that group of abductees who would be released.
I mean, you know, men are not people who Hamas have agreed to release as part of this deal. And so glad for the people who are going to get their loved ones released. But, you know, you have to remember that there are so many -- it was 236 people that the Israelis believe are being held hostage insight inside Gaza.
We're talking about between 50, 70 maybe 80 at best could be released in this as a result of this deal. At least that's the estimates coming to us from the Israeli government. But that still means a lot of people, unfortunately, are going to be left behind being held by Hamas. And that's very painful. It's a constant trauma for people in Israel.
BERMAN: Matthew, we got about 20 seconds left with you. Any sense how much the public pressure has put this through?
CHANCE: I think it's quite -- it's been growing. It hasn't been the priority of the Israeli government, the first priority to get the hostages back that's been destroying Hamas. That's led to a lot of criticism in Israel, that the government hasn't done enough. And this is the first sign that that message is being listened to.
BERMAN: Matthew Chance, thank you so much for being there for us.
There shortly before tonight's official vote, I spoke with Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Carmel Gat and cousin-in-law, Yarden Gat were abducted October 7th from Kibbutz Be'eri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You -- how optimistic are you about this suppose deal?
GIL DICKMANN, FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED ON OCTOBER 7TH: I got to tell you, I can't be sure until it's not only authorized, but actually underway. And until we can actually see babies, kids, mothers, whoever back home.
BERMAN: So what happened when you and other family members met with the Israeli parliament? What did it feel like to finally express your anger directly to government officials?
DICKMANN: I can tell you, my meeting in the parliament was very stressful. Because some of the parliament members that we met weren't at all in touch with what we were trying to convey. And they were actually trying to promote a capital punishment in Israel. While we are trying to get our hostages back home, this is what you're seeing right now. This was an unbelievable discussion, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, a very right-wing minister here in Israel, and they treated us horribly, really horribly.
They yelled at us, they scream -- you're seeing us screaming but it's because they screamed at us first. They, you know, in Israel, the morning families and families of hostages are usually considered sacred in some way, but here they just decided to target us and to treat us as political weapons.
BERMAN: So, you know, I know that the National Security Minister actually hugged you after you asked him not to. What did you say at that point? What did he say?
DICKMANN: Well, I asked them not to put this matter on the table of discussion. Please just remove it, postpone it, don't don't talk about capital punishment now, while there are hostages in the hands of Hamas, of a terror organization.
And he looked at me and said, I'm going to do it anyway. And after we did all that discussion, well, I just begged him, I told him, I beg you to postpone this, then he just rose up and decided that he's going to go and hug me.
And I told them -- I went up, I, you know, I went up myself. And I said to him, please, please don't do this. Please, I whispered, so that he could hear me but I didn't want to humiliate him, said, please don't do this. He did it anyway, he just hit me even harder. He kissed me on the head.
And then then he posted the picture on social media, like it's -- like he's hugging the families of the hostages. That was, I don't want to say humiliating, because I think it's humiliating for him to do such a thing to hostage families and to a person that clearly doesn't want this false sympathy, this plastic sympathy from him.
What we want to see is not more death, and not more empty talks about capital punishment, but clearly the other way around, the opposite, which is seeing life coming back from Gaza to Israel.
BERMAN: I understand you've had text messages from people claiming to know your cousin Carmela is OK. What have those messages said? And do you know who specifically sent them?
DICKMANN: Yes. Well, I got it the first one a few weeks ago, and then there was another one, four or five days ago. They are built the same way. They say, hi, is this relative of Carmela Gat? And I say yes.
And then they -- the WhatsApp conversation started by saying, yes, she's OK. She's healthy. She's in good hands, I can assure you, but I want you to know that we're in a shortage of some stuff and she might get hurt. And this is obvious, obvious psychological terror by Hamas. And it's the psychological terror of the lowest sort. BERMAN: What do you want people to know about Carmel and her sister- in-law, Yarden, who is also being held hostage?
DICKMANN: Yes. So Carmela is occupational therapist. She's 39-years- old. She's the eldest grandchild of our shared grandfather, Eliahu (ph), and now we can say that he loved her the most. And we really miss her here in the family.
We lost her mother. She was also -- she was murdered on October 7th. I actually found the videos myself on telegram. And I really want people to know that she is a loving person, that she -- I believe that she still believes in peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between Arabs and Jews, Muslim, Christian, whoever.
I think she still believes that because that's the kind of person she is and that's the kind of people that we are. I think that the main thing I can tell you about Yarden involves the story of the kidnap because she was taken from the safe room of the house with her husband, who's my cousin and her three and a half year old girl Geffen (ph).
They were put in a car and driven to Gaza. And a few meters before the fence, the car stopped. The drivers may have seen an IDF tank and Yarden then alone took the chance and just broke out of the car, opened the door and broke out and started running.
The service was shooting at them. And Yarden was carrying Geffen (ph), the three and a half year old baby in her arms. And she understood that she couldn't run fast enough so she gave Geffen (ph) to Allan (ph) and said run.
And Allan (ph) took Geffen (ph) and ran. And the last time we saw Yarden was when she was hiding behind the tree right there. And she was actually saving her girl, saving her baby girl and because she knew that Allan (ph) fast enough and she isn't.
I think this tells everything you need to know about Yarden and what a loving mother and a loving person she is. We miss her very much. And Geffen (ph) the three and a half year old, misses her very, very much. We really want her to come back.
BERMAN: We all hope so much that you have them back and soon. Gil Dickmann, thank you so much for being with us.
DICKMANN: Thank you. Good night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It has been quite an hour. Thanks so much for being with us. There yet more new developments out of Israel when the news continues right now with The Source.