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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Israel: Release Of Gaza Hostages Delayed Until Friday; Source: US Has "Working List" Of Who Will Be Freed; WH Official Says Biden Administration Will Watch "Very Closely" To Make Sure Hamas Sticks To Hostage Release Deal; Israeli Government Says No Hostages Will Be Released Before Friday; Two Dead In Vehicle Explosion At U.S.-Canada Border Crossing; Iceland Braces For Volcanic Eruption. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 22, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And tonight, signs (inaudible) are already flaring up. Just hours ago, North Korea tried and failed to launch another ballistic missile from their capital area. And, Kate, we need to check very carefully in the coming days whether this spy satellite actually can conduct reconnaissance over places like Hawaii, Guam, Japan, where US military has more than 50,000 troops stationed. That is what the US is going to be watching in (inaudible), Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Yes, a whole new side of this tension that nobody needs right now. It's good to see you, Will. Thank you so much.
Thank you all so much for joining us. "AC 360" starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Who and when? Those are the two key questions, at this moment, as we wait for the release of women and children taken hostage on October 7th. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
First, the when, which we thought was just a few hours away, a temporary pause in fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas followed by the release of the first 50 hostages from Gaza and 150 Palestinians being held in Israel. Late today, however, Israel's National Security Council announced that the process will not start until Friday. An Israeli official added that this includes the pause in fighting, also, delayed until Friday.
As to the question of who, a source familiar with the matter tells us that the US officials have a working list of 10 hostages they believe are likely to be released on day one of the process. And though no one is publicly naming the 10, administration officials today did talk specifically about three Americans being held.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT MCGURK, WHITE HOUSE COORDINATOR FOR MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICAN AFFAIRS: We anticipate that three Americans will come home. One is the toddler, Abigail, and two other American women. And, of course, then we have about 10 total Americans unaccounted for. But we're not going to rest here. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Abigail is Abigail Idan. She is three years old, but is about to turn four. Her birthday is Friday. Both of her parents were killed by Hamas gunmen on the 7th.
In a moment, I'm going to speak with the daughter of two hostages, both seniors. Her mother is an American citizen.
We begin, though, with "The Source's" Kaitlan Collins and CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward, both reporting from Tel Aviv tonight.
Kaitlan, I want to start with you. On this delay, no hostages released until Friday at the earliest. Why the delay?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: It seems to really, John, just speak to the fluidity of all of this and the fact that they are still figuring out a lot of the details here operationally at least behind the scenes. One reason we are told, in part, that this delay is happening is that Israel still has not gotten the actual list of the names. You know, the White House has been saying that they have a working list of who they believe to be expected among the first hostages to be released.
But Israel itself does not have a concrete list of the names yet. And that just is one factor of what's happening behind the scenes right now, as they're also just trying to figure out operationally what this is going to look like, how these hostages are actually going to be released in what was slated to be about a six-hour period starting tomorrow. Now, we are told it's going to start Friday at the earliest.
Though officials have been saying, behind the scenes, they're confident this deal is still moving forward. They don't think things are falling apart or anything of that nature, but there is certainly a delay. And one that, you know, for the families of these hostages who are waiting to see if it was their loved ones who are going to be released tomorrow, obviously, this is not welcome news for them.
BERMAN: So on that point, Clarissa, what is known so far about which hostages will be released?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically what we know, John, is that the emphasis is supposedly on children and, particularly, very young children. There are preschoolers. There is a 10-month-old baby currently being held hostage. There's the 3- year-old American girl, Abigail Idan, who you mentioned. And also, the emphasis is on their mothers, potentially.
According to the Israeli government, some 40 children under the age of 18 are currently being held in Gaza. We don't know which ones would be released on which day. And certainly, the families who are anxiously waiting for more news also don't know.
But it is important to underscore, I think, as Kaitlan was saying, the Qataris were saying -- and, obviously, they're big players in this whole negotiation -- up until the last minute that they did think that list would come out tonight. And so, it does not appear, at least on the surface, that there's any real breakdown going on here, but there are a huge amount of moving parts.
And this is a very complex operation. You're going to be talking about people being released in Egypt potentially, returned to Israel through three different check points. And when you have so many moving parts, obviously, it can take quite a lot of time to try to lock down all those details -- John.
BERMAN: Yes. Kaitlan, can you talk more about that, these operational details you mentioned? What is known about how this will work logistically?
COLLINS: Well, we are told right now at least for those initial 10 hostages -- and maybe this could change as they are going through this because it is expected to be about 10 people on day one and then 10 successive groups of 10 in the days that follow as this fighting is paused.
But what we're told is that they will be taken to Rafah. That is where they are going to meet Israeli military officers. And, John, it is from there that they will be transferred into Israel, into their custody.
We're told it's not until that they've actually had their identities confirmed by the Israeli military officials that their families will even be notified. And so that's another wrinkle in this is that the families don't know who is coming out first.
Obviously, they can make guesses, based on the fact that, like Clarissa said, it's women, it's children, and if it's a parent of an IDF soldier or a male, they're not expecting them to be the first ones who are released. But I think it's still operationally a question of what that's going to look like.
A lot of this we've seen for the transfers of those who have come out happen in the middle of the night when it's dark outside. The window we were told earlier is about 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM local, which is just when the sun sets here in Israel. So I think those are still the questions that are, by no means, concrete at this point -- John.
BERMAN: You know, Clarissa, I know you've been speaking directly with many of the families of hostages. And we're going to hear more of that later in the program. But what have they've been hearing? How much information have they been getting from the Israeli government?
WARD: I have to say, John, it's really striking just how little information they've been getting. And you can understand that the Israeli government doesn't want to get people's hopes up. But the families that we were talking to today literally told us they learned about this through the news, through television, through messages popping up on their phones.
And they do have liaisons, if you will, from the Israeli government, who have been dealing with them. But there's been a lot of confusion from the get-go.
I mean, take the example of Thomas Hand. This is an Irishman, who lived in the Kibbutz Be'eri, for more than 30 years. His daughter, Emily, who was eight years old on October 7th, went over for a sleepover to a friend's house in another house in the kibbutz. Obviously, the carnage that ensued.
And afterwards, he was told that his daughter was dead. And he went through that process of mourning, only to then be told a couple of weeks later that actually they believed she was alive. And when I spoke to him today, he said, listen, I'm not getting my hopes up. I can't go on that emotional roller coaster, and I'm not going to believe anything until I actually see her with my own eyes -- John.
BERMAN: Just excruciating. Clarissa Ward, Kaitlan Collins, a very long day -- will be a very long several days for both of you.
Kaitlan, we're looking forward to seeing you on "The Source" at the top of the hour.
Again, to underscore, this delay can't be easy for the families of the hostages. Take a look.
These are the parents of our next guest, Iris Haggai Liniado, on October 7th, going out for their morning walk at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Gad Haggai and Judih Weinstein -- that's their names -- both were shot and wounded just moments later.
The ambulance that might have responded could not reach them because Hamas gunmen had shot out the tires. Iris Haggai Liniado joins us now.
Iris, thank you so much for being with us. Your reaction when you heard that there will be no hostages released until at least Friday now?
IRIS HAGGAI LINIADO, PARENTS MISSING AFTER OCTOBER 7TH ATTACK: To be honest, you know, same as many, many families. I'll believe it when I see it. That's how I'm reacting right now.
Even when the whole deal, you know, was popping in the media and stuff, I was -- I always told everybody, listen, this is not the first deal I've heard about. I'll believe it when I see it.
Of course, my heart is pumping. I'm waiting. You know, I heard these rumors about three American citizens being released, but I didn't get anything official. The FBI didn't tell me anything like that.
So, to me, I'm just, you know -- I did actually -- I was supposed to go to Israel Saturday and going to fly in today just because I feel like I should be there right now. But, you know, I'm hopeful. But at the same time, I'm kind of numb. But, you know, what can I do but hope for the best? What can I do really?
BERMAN: What's it been like waiting for any word on your parents? And we should note, your mother has US, Canadian, and Israeli citizenship. LINIADO: Oh, my gosh. There's, honestly, no words to describe this crazy nightmare, honestly. Basically, all the information I have about my parents mostly came from us, the family.
You know, we don't have any intelligence about my mother -- nothing. I actually don't know if she's even alive, to be honest. I have no proof of life.
My dad, we don't have the body. We believe the body is hostage, but I do believe he was murdered that day.
And, yes, you know, the -- not knowing the misinformation, the deal after deal that's being in the media, you know, it's just like it's a psychological war, basically. Hamas knows what it's doing. And it's just messing with our hearts, with our brains.
You know, my parents were all about peace, and mindfulness, and health. And, you know, everybody in my kibbutz, Nir Oz, they just lived a peaceful life. And one day, the whole community was erased.
So, it's just, while I'm grieving my dad, I don't have a body, and while I heard what's going on with them, I'm also hearing about my friends being kidnapped, about Chiri (ph), her two boys, and Duon (ph) and her two girls, and just everybody. I know a quarter of the hostages.
So, honestly, I'm just speaking to you, I have goosebumps, but it's just a nightmare. I can't believe it's 49 days. It's been 49 days, and I don't know if my mother is alive. That's crazy.
BERMAN: It's beyond that. It really is. I can't imagine what it's like to go through all this.
You -- we're talking about your father, who you believe was murdered. Now, as of now ...
BERMAN: ... men aren't being talked about in terms of the release, at least this first tranche, this first 50 people. But the Red Cross, we are told, will be allowed in to meet with the hostages. Do you have hopes that maybe when the Red Cross goes in you'll get some more concrete information about your father?
LINIADO: About my father, I'm more hopeful because I pretty much know he was murdered. Of course, it will be nice to have some kind of proof that I could bury him and kind of close that chapter.
But my mom, for sure, I would love to know if she's even alive and all of my friends who are there right now, you know? Any proof of life. We don't even know who's there honestly. And we just found out that Hamas doesn't even know where all the children are, where all the mothers are. That's the reason that elderly women are being released because they don't know where all the women and children are -- sorry, where all the mothers and children are.
So, you know, I heard you talking about things not being consistent and that the Israeli government won't tell us until the day when they actually have the hostages. But it's such a huge, huge situation. You can't really trust the organization, the terrorists that you're dealing with. So I believe the Israeli government is trying to be cautious because, you know, they just want to see that the first day things are actually happening the way that they are supposed to.
And I believe after that, we will be told the day before about the list as soon as they get them. That's what we were told. But I do believe the first day, they should be cautious because ...
BERMAN: Yes, yes.
LINIADO: ... you'll never know. You'll never know.
BERMAN: I understand ...
LINIADO: You'll never know.
BERMAN: ... you've been through so much already. If by some chance your mother can see this tonight, can watch you right now, what would you want her to know?
LINIADO: Mommy, I want you to know that we're doing everything we can to get you back. You know, your grandchildren are waiting for you. Everybody is waiting for you and waiting to hug you so tight. And I just want to protect you and make you feel like everything's all right.
And don't give up. We're coming for you. We're coming.
BERMAN: Iris, thank you.
LINIADO: I hope so.
BERMAN: Thank you for being with us. And I hope you get the news you've been ...
LINIADO: Thank you.
BERMAN: ... waiting for in the next few days. We really appreciate it.
LINIADO: Thank you. Thank you so much.
BERMAN: Let's get perspective now from Michael Oren, the former Israeli Ambassador to the United States. And, Ambassador, you've been sitting next to me watching this.
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I don't know how you can go on after that. I don't know if I can.
This confusion, why is there confusion? As Iris just said, we're dealing with a terrorist organization. Terrorist organizations do not negotiate in good faith. They move the football. They will play with the emotions of Israelis. They'll torture Israelis. It's part of their terror. It's actually part of their strategy. They want to divide the Israeli people by releasing some hostages, but keeping other hostages.
The Israeli government maybe has a list but it doesn't want to let the list -- even if it has the list, doesn't want to let the people know because they could change -- the Hamas could change it at the last minute. And what if you deal with a family like that that's been informed a day before that their loved one, their child is getting out, but then all of a sudden is not there. And it's part of the Hamas' strategy to terrorize, to terrorize.
And it's -- even now, it's -- they're letting out, say, 50 and getting five days of a ceasefire. And we've talked repeatedly about the danger of a ceasefire. It means basically Hamas gets away with mass murder.
If the ceasefire goes on, Hamas is going to use that period to lay more booby traps, to move equipment around. And it's (inaudible) going to cost Israel in terms of soldier's lives. So you have to say a soldier's life versus a civilian's life. These decisions here are more excruciating than anybody could ever imagine.
BERMAN: So our reporters right now are hearing from people inside the Israeli government that they're not particularly concerned about this delay. It's just part of the process, working out the operational issues right now. Do you think the delay is a sign of something bigger than that?
OREN: I think the delay is what Hamas is about. We've had four hostages released already. We actually know how they get released.
They go to the Egyptian crossing at Rafah. They're met by Israeli officers. They're brought to an Israeli hospital. All right?
So it's not it's in our precedent, this is -- excuse me, it's kind of a bad use of term, but it's not rocket science. It's been done already.
So you bring 10 children or 10 old people to the border, and you do it. It shouldn't be that complicated.
There's (inaudible) true that Hamas doesn't have all the hostages. Some of them are in the hands of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It's an organization totally owned and operated by Iran, but many are in the hands of families. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Palestinians broke through the fence on October 7th with the terrorists.
They took hostages. This is well-known. They will then sell those hostages.
They can sell them to Hamas or they sell them directly to Israel or to another -- a third party. But maybe Hamas doesn't know where they all are. That is definitely an issue. But Hamas itself is about torture. It's about terror, and that's what they're doing to Israeli society right now.
BERMAN: One of the deal -- one of the aspects of this deal, and it's in writing, it was in the Israeli release last night that we had read to us and translated from Oren Liebermann real-time from Hebrew to English is that after this first 50 are released, if that goes according to plan, then if Hamas releases 10 hostages a day, Israel will abide by the pause in the fighting. Do you think that's dangerous to give Hamas the opportunity to keep on turning over hostages?
OREN: It is, of course, dangerous, but ...
BERMAN: But do you think it's worth it?
OREN: ... but it's worth it. That -- Israel has to, on one hand, defend itself, defend the country, restore its internal security because we have 250,000 people who can't go back to their homes. We have tremendous amount of homeless people, too. But you have to weigh that against the commitment of the Jewish state, the state of Israel, to always bring back prisoners.
Now, I was in the army for many years. My kids had been in the army. And we know that when we send our children out to battle, if they -- you know, God forbid -- fall prisoner, the state will do everything, everything to get it back. It's part of our covenant with the state. So we're up against that -- this terrible situation of security for our soldiers, but also living up to that covenant of bringing our hostages home.
Again, historically, I don't know any government ever made decisions like that. Not much choice. But let's be clear about this, at the end of the day, Hamas will not release all the hostages for the very simple reason, they know -- Hamas knows once it released the last 10 hostages, then Israel can then go into those tunnels, flood them with water, flood them with whatever flammable substance that we can find, and that will be the end of Hamas.
So, at the end of the day, a certain number of hostages -- many soldiers will be the get-out-of-Gaza card -- free card -- for Hamas.
BERMAN: Ambassador Michael Oren, thank you for being with us. We appreciate your (inaudible).
OREN: Good holiday. Good peaceful holiday.
BERMAN: Thank you. You, too.
BERMAN: Next, more new reporting on the reasons for tonight's delay. Also, the parents of a wounded 23-year-old hostage and what they want for him and what they want him to know as they wait for the moment when he is, hopefully, in their minds, once again, free.
Later, what first was feared to be a terrorist incident on the US- Canadian border, and what we've learned since then about a fiery high- speed car wreck and explosion. This all happened near Niagara Falls.
BERMAN: As we've been reporting, the process leading to the release of 50 hostages from Gaza is on hold until Friday. And we're not yet clear on the exact reasons why, though one Israeli official familiar with the matter tells us it comes down to, quote, "fairly minor implementation details."
With us now is Axios Political and Foreign Policy Reporter Barak Ravid, who has been talking to his own sources about this. So, Barak, what are you hearing about this delay?
BARAK RAVID, AXIOS POLITICAL AND FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER: Hi, good evening. Well, you know, let's go back few hours, okay?
When Israeli officials convened the group of reporters and briefed them that they hope that the process of the release of the hostages will happen on Thursday morning at 10:00 AM local, several hours passed, and the Israeli National Security Adviser puts out a statement saying the release will not happen before Friday and denies that there was ever any plan to release the hostages on Thursday.
So, as you see, there's quite a lot of confusion on the Israeli side. And I think that when the Mossad Director, David Barnea, went to Qatar today, to Doha, he found that things are not exactly as he thought and that there's still a lot of gaps remaining, mainly on the operational plan of how the release is actually going to happen. Meaning, who's going to do what at what time?
And that's not a small issue. That's not -- it's a technical issue, but it's not a minor issue. And for now, those things are not settled yet.
BERMAN: So how sure are your sources that the hostages really will be released starting on Friday?
RAVID: I -- nobody -- okay. Anybody who tells you that anything is going to happen for sure either doesn't know or just lying to your face. And I don't think anybody can know what's going to happen because, you know, on the other side of this deal is Hamas. And I think if there's someone who's sitting tonight in his bunker and, you know, having fun is Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar, who looks -- who sees, you know, this whole mess.
So I think that we cannot know for sure. We'll have to wait. We'll have to see tomorrow what happens.
A lot of it is between the Qataris and Hamas. They'll need to, you know, settle some of those things between them.
Israeli -- the Israelis think that within 24 hours, this whole thing will be solved, and nobody will remember it, and the deal will come together and be implemented. And, you know, everything will be different 24 hours. But for now, this is definitely not the case.
BERMAN: What about Israel's continued fight against Hamas? What's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying about that now?
RAVID: It's -- and I think it's business as usual, meaning, what I -- and I think we talked about it in recent days. What I hear from Israeli officials is that a ceasefire will start when the first child crosses the border into Israel.
And as long as that's not the case, there's no ceasefire, and things continue as they were in the last 45 days, and we see Israeli airstrikes with the ground operation continues. And I think Israel will also even try to send the message tomorrow through actions -- kinetic actions on the ground, send the message to Hamas that it cannot play for time. And if there's a deal, there's a deal, and they need to implement it.
BERMAN: What about Netanyahu's contact with President Biden? Where is the White House currently on the situation?
RAVID: I think the -- you saw the -- President Biden tweeting about this earlier today and basically saying that this deal needs to be implemented. I think that the message that he sent today in his phone call with the Emir of Qatar, he also spoke to President Sisi of Egypt and to Netanyahu.
The White House readouts are very general, but I think that when it comes to what President Biden wants to see, he wants this deal to go through. He wants this deal to be implemented, mainly because there are American citizens that most likely are going to be released if this deal is implemented.
One of them, Abigail Idan, only four years -- going to be four years old on Friday. And Biden mentioned her several times in -- when he spoke about this. And I think Biden wants to see her home.
BERMAN: Barak Ravid, as always, thank you for your help understanding this.
RAVID: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: So throughout the last seven difficult weeks, "AC 360" has been checking in with Israeli-Americans Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin. Their son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin was seriously wounded on October 7th before being taken by Hamas at the music festival.
Earlier this evening, before we got word of the delay, I spoke with his parents.
BERMAN (on camera): Rachel, it's been almost 47 days since your son, Hersh, was abducted by Hamas. Does this hostage deal give you hope that there may be a way to bring your son home? RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSIC FESTIVAL: Well, I have nothing but hope that any deal will help lead to more deals. I'm also extremely hopeful.
You know, it's all rumors until it happens. Even though this rumor seems to be seemingly very accurate, until I see the loved ones cross over into safe hands, I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch. But certainly, if these children that have been living in darkness, and fear, and trauma for 47 days are returned tomorrow, I will be thrilled and extremely hopeful that more and more will be released.
And obviously, we won't rest until Hersh and all 238 are home. So, you know, we're holding onto our hope.
BERMAN (on camera): You know, the prime minister said today that, as part of the deal, the Red Cross will be able to visit and offer medical support to the hostages who do remain in Gaza. Do you think these visits may be the best chance to find out something, anything about Hersh?
JON POLIN, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSIC FESTIVAL: Yes. So, first of all, it has been 47 days without humanitarian aid getting to the hostages, which is shameful and super-frustrating. Yes, if that, indeed, is part of a deal, that would be really encouraging for us.
Remember, John, it's been 47 days, and we have a lot of hope, but we don't even know if Hersh is alive. So having medical aid get to the people who need it would be really, really encouraging for us.
We've got letters from surgeons about what exactly it is that Hersh needs, what kind of medications he needs to fight off infections. We're hoping to get those to the ICRC, and we're hoping that the ICRC is able to get in and get treatment to Hersh and all the other hostages who need it.
BERMAN: You know, Jon, you talk about the frustration with having the lack of information. And I know you and Rachel have been going through so much just trying to find out something -- anything -- about your son for the last 47 days. Have either Israeli or US authorities given you any update on what they're doing to try to locate your son?
POLIN: So, we know that there are a lot of efforts underway by both the Israelis and the U.S. We feel a sense of support, but that support has not fed into us getting information. I do think that to the extent that maybe somebody has information, they're guarding it for security reasons.
But regardless, it's been super frustrating living in the dark for 47 days without knowing -- forget the details like, where is he? What's he eating? Who's he with? That would all be nice. But I don't expect to know that.
We just want to know proof of life. We want to know if he's alive, is he getting medical treatment. And not knowing that has been one of the hardest parts of this whole frustrating ordeal.
BERMAN: I can't imagine how hard that is. Rachel, you met with the pope today and you showed him the video of Hersh being abducted, with part of his arm missing. Why did you decide to show that video to the pope? And what was his reaction?
GOLDBERG: The video itself is, I think, 50 seconds. And anyone in -- who we have shared that with, has been so moved by it. As you well know, as a journalist, I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth 10,000 words. So, I just thought it could be helpful for him to really understand the severity of Hersh's situation.
And Hersh is a microcosm for the larger situation of the well over 200 people who are there. There are children who are also wounded who are there. There are elderly people who are wounded who are there. We just happen to have this video, thanks to your very own Anderson Cooper sharing it with us. And therefore, I felt that it was important to share it with him.
And it did make an impression on him. And, you know, I felt the whole experience was such a privilege to be in his presence and to have him feel empathy and sympathy and speak with us. We were a group of 12 of the families together there, and it was a really meaningful moment for all of us.
BERMAN: We're looking at the pictures now of this meeting. It truly is an extraordinary moment, one that in many ways I'm glad you got to be there for, but I'm sad for the reasons behind it obviously.
BERMAN: Jon, you've talked about how it's your job now to keep Hersh's story out there, continue to remind the world about him. How are you going to keep doing that?
POLIN: In terms of keeping the story going, I've been fearful for 47 days that this story is going to fall from the agenda, fall off the news cycle, fall off congressional cycles, and people are going to move on from it. And we cannot allow that to happen. So, we are going to continue to go anywhere in the world, talk to anybody who can help us magnify the story. We're going to go anywhere and keep telling the story to get people around the world to speak up on behalf of all the hostages until every single one of them is home.
BERMAN: And we do hope that you get to see your son soon and learn anything about him soon. Jon Polin, Rachel Goldberg, thank you so much for being with us, as usual, again tonight. Appreciate it.
GOLDBERG: Thank you for having us.
POLIN: Thank you, thank you.
BERMAN: So, ahead, we're going to hear from a mother whose son and daughter, 12 and 16 years old, are both hostages tonight.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:36:45]
BERMAN: We have been talking tonight about the young hostages now being held by Hamas. Erez Calderon was 11 years old when gunmen dragged him away. Hamas killers also murdered other members of his family and took his older sister Sahar hostage. Erez turned 12 in captivity. CNN's Clarissa Ward spoke with their mother, as well as the father of nine-year-old Emily Hand, who just recently found out his daughter might be alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARD (voice-over): Even as the first batch of hostages is poised to be released, they are not backing down. Look in their eyes, this protester says, tell them that every day you are doing everything that it takes. For 47 days, friends, family members, and supporters of the estimated 240 hostages in Gaza, have demanded the Israeli government prioritize bringing them home.
Here, they gather in support of Hadas Calderon, whose children, 12- year-old Erez and 16-year-old Sahar were taken on October 7th, along with her ex-husband.
WARD: Tell me what you're going through now. Are you hopeful? Are you anxious? Are you in denial?
HADAS CALDERON, SON AND DAUGHTER ABDUCTED BY HAMAS: All of it. I smile, I laugh, and then I cry. And then --
WARD: Do you know anything? Have you heard anything?
CALDERON: Nobody knows anything. Nobody. Nobody. No information. I have to pray. We have to pray.
WARD (voice-over): Calderon is not the only parent desperately waiting, hoping for news that has yet to come. Nine-year-old Emily Hand's father Thomas was initially told his daughter was killed on October 7th, only to then get the news that she may be alive and held in Gaza. I want to jump through the roof with hope, Hand told us today about the possible prospect of Emily's release, but I also have to keep a level head emotionally. It's a challenge Calderon is all too familiar with.
CALDERON: Every day is tough. Every day is -- all day is tough. I don't want to think. I don't want to feel because it's too painful. You know, when they start to ask me, like, interview, like you, show me the picture of your child, tell me what's the last thing he told you, it breaks my heart because the last thing he told me was, mom, be quiet. I love you. He was worried for me.
WARD: When you think of, God willing, your babies come home and are part of this release, do you worry about how they will be changed by what they have experienced?
CALDERON: They are changed. They won't be the same. They got -- they've been kidnapped brutally away from their beds, from the house, was a safe place. They kidnapped the infants as well (ph).
WARD (voice-over): At the Central Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, prayers for those who will come home over the next few days and a promise to keep pushing for those who will not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And Clarissa, you were talking about the emotional roller coaster these families have been on for more than 40 days now. I have to believe that this delay from the initial hostage release happening Thursday to Friday has just got to make things even worse.
WARD (on camera): It is, John. It's now another 24 hours that they have to wait before they'll get some word as to whether their loved ones may be part of that first batch. And interestingly, when I spoke to Thomas Hand earlier, he said, you know, this is exactly why I am not allowing myself to get my hopes up too much because, emotionally, I just don't have the wherewithal or the capacity anymore to really handle much more of this. And so, he said that, until I literally see these hostages coming back home to Israel, only then, at that point, will I really start to believe that this could actually be happening, that Emily could actually be coming home.
And he also underscored the same point you heard there from Hadas as well, which is to say we don't know what kind of Emily will be coming home. We don't know how she will be changed by what she has seen, by the trauma she has gone through. You mentioned Erez Calderon marked his twelfth birthday inside captivity. Emily also turned nine years old inside captivity, John.
BERMAN: All right. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for that reporting.
Next, if not terrorism, then what was behind this vehicle explosion at the U.S.-Canada border?
BERMAN: New details tonight about the fiery and deadly car wreck at the U.S.-Canada border near Niagara Falls. The FBI and New York's governor say there is no indication that what you are seeing here is an act of terrorism. Here with more, CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. So, not terrorism, john, they say. What is it?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, it looks like an accident. I mean, what we've been able to reconstruct, talking to investigators about who was this individual, where was he coming from, what was his day. He had plans, we are told by investigators, to go to the KISS concert that was cancelled in Canada. He switched to a day at the casino. He left the casino, got into his 2022 Bentley X. This is a car that goes for about $300,000, 208 miles an hour, and 24 gallons in the gas tank.
And then apparently, with his wife in the car, at a very high speed, hit a curb and then a guardrail, and that sent it airborne to the opposite side of the highway and then into an area that was the secondary screening area for the Customs and Border Patrol at that bridge. Now, you can imagine when they say a car exploded at the secondary inspection level that a lot of people would jump to the very likely conclusion this could be an act of terrorism. But going backwards through it, there's no indication in his background or in the event.
BERMAN: Any sense of what would make a car do what it did?
MILLER: Speed. You know, this is a 12-cylinder engine in a car that weighs a lot that's being propelled at a high speed. When you hit that curb and it puts one wheel of the car up in the air and then the jersey barrier, and then it goes airborne. When it lands with that kind of force, this is a high-energy impact when it lands and a full tank of gas. You could see the car disintegrate, which it did. You can see the engine sitting in the middle of the guard area there, and you could see that ball of fire.
BERMAN: So, walk us through the process of determining that something is not terrorism, which is what Kathy Hochul, the governor, and the FBI both said that they saw no signs of today.
MILLER: So, it all begins with the initial reports. And what we learn, it's the first rule of the business, is the first story is never right. And we learn that all the time.
MILLER: Then it goes to, let's go to the videotape. And that is, let's do the video canvas (ph) and see what the video shows us. Within a couple of hours, they had isolated a video where just in the corner of that video, you could see the car at the top of the frame, and you could see it passing all the other cars at high speed, going over the barrier, and then the explosion and smoke. Then, taking that video canvas (ph) backwards to where did this car come from, where did the license plate reader hit it, that brings you to the casino and then looking there.
So, what you're seeing is, as you go backward through the story, the indicators that it could have been two men who had a car rigged with explosives that launched an attack on a secure facility, none of that was there. The further back they went, the clearer it was, it was something altogether different.
BERMAN: John Miller, thank you for your reporting on this. Your smooth and steady reporting all day on this, I might say.
MILLER: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Next, the volcano on the brink of erupting in Iceland as seen from above.
BERMAN: On an especially busy night, we are also watching Iceland, where people fear a volcanic eruption which could come any day or any moment. Our Fred Pleitgen is there with a bird's eye view.
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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Taking off straight to the emergency zone, we're on a mission with Iceland's Coast Guard to the already affected area by what could soon be a massive volcanic eruption.
PLEITGEN: You can see how everything here is on knife's edge, but of course, the authorities are doing everything they can to save the town and save the infrastructure.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The town is called Grindavik. Massive cracks in the roads show places where pressure from an underground magma stream has already burst through the earth's crust. The ground now uneven, as the crew says they've been observing the rift widening in the past days.
ANDRI JOHANNESSON, HELICOPTER PILOT: We see differences between days. We see the -- sometimes we see the crack a little bit wider.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Grindavik was evacuated and could soon be completely destroyed by hot lava, authorities fear.
PLEITGEN: From up here, you can already see just how extensive the damage already is to the town of Grindavik, and that crack that you see runs all the way to the ocean.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iceland is in an area of massive volcanic activity. While this part of the country had been dormant for around 800 years, scientists say, in the past two years, volcanic activity has come back to life with several major eruptions.
We fly over the most recent one, past the mouth of the volcano and over seemingly endless lava fields still steaming hot even months after the actual eruption ended. On the ground, crews are working around the clock to try to build a berm to protect this geothermal power plant. And we also see the world famous Blue Lagoon hot springs. Normally a major tourist attraction, now closed down and also evacuated. The economic toll already immense.
PLEITGEN: What do you think it means for the people there?
HRANNAR SIGURDSSON, FLIGHT MECHANIC: I can't even imagine. Losing their houses and maybe their work, their whole life, it's just -- it's crazy.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iceland's government says a major eruption here remains highly likely and it could happen in a matter of days. Iceland's Coast Guard aviators say they are on alert all the time. JOHANNESSON: In case of the volcano starts, then we will fly over the area to evacuate the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And Fred's with us now. What a view you had. You're near the evacuated town at this moment. What are you seeing and hearing, as this eruption looms?
PLEITGEN (on camera): Hi there, John. Well, one of the things that's actually really becoming a factor now -- and I think you might be able to see and hear -- is the weather out here. There's some pretty heavy winds that are going on and also rain as well. And the First Responders are saying one of the things that's happening is that some of the instruments are actually having trouble monitoring the situation underground, which, of course, is very important right now.
As far as the people who are from this town are concerned, John, we do speak to a lot of people who say right now they have a lot of anxiety. And I think the folks who live in this part of Iceland, they understand that this is all part of living here. You understand you're living on a volcanic island, that you could lose your home at any time. Nevertheless, they've been in limbo for an extended period of time now. And a lot of them are saying they understand they might never see their community, they might never see their town again, John.
BERMAN: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Iceland. Fred, thanks so much. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: A quick reminder of what you can do to help the humanitarian effort in Israel and Gaza. CNN's "Impact Your World" has gathered a list of vetted organizations on the ground.