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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Grows As Half-Million People Flee; Israel Prepares For Next Stage Of War Against Hamas In Gaza; Police: 6-Year-Old Palestinian-American Boy Killed And His Mother Wounded In Alleged Anti-Muslim Attack; Palestinian Health Ministry: 2,800 Killed In Gaza & 9,700 Injured; Jordan Wins Over Some Skeptics Ahead Of Speaker Vote. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired October 16, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start today, of course, with our world lead. And new warnings about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel after meeting with multiple allies throughout the Middle East, trying to get a humanitarian corridor opened for innocence to evacuate to from Gaza before Israel ramps up its attacks on Hamas. Right now, Israel is pointing those civilians towards the southern gates into Egypt, what's known as the Rafah crossing, which at this point, still appears to be closed. Video from this morning shows dozens of families, including babies, waiting next to lock gates.
A U.S. government memo shows more than 250 U.S. citizens also in southern Gaza, waiting for the Rafah crossing to open.
Now, while ell earlier reports suggested that it was Egyptian government refusing to open the gate, when I press the national security advisor Jake Sullivan on this issue yesterday, he blamed the closure on an altogether different group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The Egyptians have, in fact, agreed to allow Americans to depart to get safe passage through the Rafah crossing. The Israelis agreed to ensure that the area around there would be safe, at least as far as they were able to do so. The question, when we tried to move a group yesterday, was actually Hamas taking steps to try to stop that from happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Trucks packed with aid for innocent civilians in Gaza are lined up in Egypt right now. They are waiting for the green light to go into Gaza. Gaza, where shelters are overcrowded, for their shortages of food, and water, and fuel. That is because within Gaza, half a million people have fled to the south from the north in recent days after Israel's military urged civilians there to evacuate and announced its forces were preparing for the next stages of war.
Let's start today with CNN's Clarissa Ward.
Clarissa, you are in Ashkelon, which is just north of Gaza, in Israel. What are you seeing?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, today, the U.N. is saying that essentially, quote, time is running out for the people of Gaza. The situation there, getting more and more desperate by the minute. It has been nine days now that there has been no food, no medicine, no electricity, despite assurances from the IDF that the water had been switched on in the southern part of the enclave. We're hearing from the Palestinian water authority that there is still no water.
I had been in touch with the past few days with a family in the northern part of Gaza, that's the area that was supposed to be evacuated. They were too fearful to leave their homes. They said they had nowhere to go. Today, I've been unable to get in touch with this family at all. My messages to them are not going through.
And all of this happening, despite the flurry and intensification of diplomatic efforts to try to get some form of relief moving across that Rafah crossing. You mentioned that Jake Sullivan had pointed the finger at Hamas. The Egyptians are now pointing the finger at the Israelis, saying they are willing and ready to do this, but that they need some insurances from Israel that have not been forthcoming.
The Europeans have said that they're ready to step in with an air bridge that they have promised $79 million in aid to the people of Gaza. But once again, none of this aid can get where it needs to go to, and the situation is increasingly dire, continued strikes there. People in desperate need of medical attention, and still, no sign of any change on the horizon.
Last night, as we are finishing a long day, it really looked positive that potentially that crossing would open in the morning, if only for a brief window, to at least start the process of evacuating foreign nationals. The U.S. says they're tracking about 253 U.S. nationals currently trapped inside Gaza, but still no movement and no sign as to when we might see some, Jake.
TAPPER: And today, the IDF, the Israeli defense forces, they updated the number of people thought to be held hostage by Hamas. The number is now 199. And you spoke with the son of one of those kidnapping victims today.
WARD: That's right. Quite a few family members of the hostages have basically set up camp, almost, outside the military headquarters in Tel Aviv. They're carrying signs. It's a form of holding vigil, but it's also a form of protest. A lot of anger for many of these families at Israel's handling of this crisis, and a lot a very real concern as well about what this ratcheting up of the violence in Gaza could portend for any kind of deal, or for the possibility that their loved ones will be able to get out safely.
What do you hear from people who you talk to over and over again is, let's focus on prioritizing getting people out who are alive safely, rather than taking vengeance for those who have already died.
We spoke to one man who is the son of Vivian Silver. She is a 74-year- old peace activist who is among those hostages. And her son, Yonatan Ziegen, who spent all morning on the phone with her, as the militants were near her house firing bullets -- they said their goodbyes. And he really urged the Israeli government to try to be a somewhat restrained in their response. He believes this endless cycle of violence could only lead to more violence.
The issue is, though, when you talk more broadly to Israeli people, the drumbeat for war, the desire for vengeance, the feeling of anguish and powerlessness, and a desire to do something decisively to really cripple Hamas once and for all, that seems to be the dominant voice here on the streets of Israel. Much more than those of these families of hostage members who we spoke to, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward in Ashkelon, Israel, thanks so much.
Plans to evacuate Americans from Israel are underway right now. This cruise ship, the Rhapsody of the Seas, left Israel and is currently on route to the island of Cyprus. The ship was charted by the U.S. State Department to help ferry Americans out of Israel, departed earlier this afternoon.
CNN's Sara Sidner was in Haifa, on the northwestern coast of Israel on the Mediterranean, earlier today.
Sara, you spoke with several families who decided to evacuate. Tell us more.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Yeah. It was quite interesting, actually, the juxtaposition, where you're talking about what is happening in Gaza where people are trapped inside, and what's happened with Americans, who, you know, many of whom were pretty annoyed -- is probably the word to use, that is taken a bit of a long time for them to figure out how to get out of the country, the State Department stepping into trader that massive cruise ship from Royal Caribbean to take them to Cyprus.
But as people were coming to the ship, the ship holds more than 2,000 people. There were only about two or 300 people that actually ended up boarding that ship. What you're seeing over and over again, is almost all of the people boarding that ship were families with children. There were a few people, single folks who are getting on, but for the most part, it really was families with children.
And the real thought there is that it is the kids who they are protecting. But there is conflict among the families as they were going towards the boat. Some of them, discussing whether or not they should be leaving, knowing that this is taking their kids to safety, and even some of the children themselves didn't really feel like they should be leaving, because they wanted to be here for the war effort. Let me let you take a listen to one family's dilemma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMUNA, AMERICAN EVACUATED FROM ISRAEL: I don't agree with this trip. I came along because I want to be with my family, but I think that we should stay in Israel with our nation, with our family, and I think we have to show support, and if ever we picked up and left, not everybody would come back.
And what are we fighting for? We're fighting for our country, and for our home to call -- a place to call home.
ARIELLA, AMERICAN EVACUATED FROM ISRAEL: If for some reason the borders are closed, will swim back.
SIDNER: You feel that strongly?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, you know, there is -- clearly, they're coming back. This is a country they now live in. They're American citizens, they've been here for sometime.
But that 14-year-old girl speaking very eloquently about how she feels. But she, of course, going with her parents because she is a minor, back to the United States for a while. Every single family that we talked to said they would return to Israel when it was a bit more safe -- Jake.
TAPPER: What happens when they get to Cyprus?
SIDNER: So, it takes ten hours. That ship is currently in the Mediterranean Sea. As we speak. Once they get to Cyprus, they are on their around.
They have to find ways to leave. Basically, there are flights that can take them out to wherever it is they want to go, whether it'd be in the United States or somewhere else.
But at this point, they have left Israel, they are in the waters, they are on their way to Cyprus. It should not take them too long, with 200 or 300 people, to get to where they need to go.
TAPPER: All right. Sara Sidner in Tel Aviv, thank you so much.
Right now, in Gaza, hospitals are over filling with patients as the critical need for medicine and food and water in fuel continues to grow increasingly dire. The United Nations says Gaza is being strangled by Israel's airstrikes, which the IDF insists are aimed at Hamas, but Palestinian officials say that more than 2,800 people have been killed, more than a quarter of them, more than a quarter, are children.
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more on the worsening humanitarian crisis as thousands of Palestinians try -- try to flee south.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what life looks like in places Israel told families to flee towards for their safety. Or constant bombardment has reduced homes to rubble, and wiped out entire families, these survivors say.
I lost all my relatives. Fifteen people, this man says. We were not on the front line or anything. We were just sitting at home. What have we done wrong?
The U.N. warns there are no safe places. About half a million people fled here to seven gossip afternoon of accusation order by the Israeli military.
But families desperate for refuge are still trapped in the war zone. The dead and injured flooding a health care system on the brink. Civilians are caught in the crossfire. With the death toll mounting, just over a quarter of those killed are children, according to Palestinian officials.
And a weeklong siege is strangling the enclave, the U.N. says, amid fears food, fuel, water, and medical supplies may soon run out.
Some two million people are crammed into this 140 square mile territory. Now, many of them pushed into having even smaller corner of the enclave. About half the population are children.
There are not enough shelters to house the sheer number of civilians, and even those who do fine spaces an overwhelmed schools turned refugee centers, it is little comfort to the youngest victims.
There is no one to protect us, this little girl says. There's no one to come save us. How are we supposed to live? How? Answer me.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to annihilate Hamas after a terror attack by the group left 1,400 killed in Israel. But with Hamas so deeply embedded within Gaza's population, rights groups fear a bloodbath.
LYNN HASTINGS, U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATOR & HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: What we're seeing right now, the direction that Israel is going to, they have said that they want to destroy Hamas, but their current trajectory is going to destroy Gaza.
ABDELAZIZ: Hamas does not answered to the people of Gaza. No elections have been held here since the group seized power in 2007. Still, it is these residents that will pay the price, and with a potential ground incursion expected, that cost is unfathomable.
Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
TAPPER: And our thanks to Salma Abdelaziz for that report. So many reasons are being given as to why aid cannot get into southern Gaza. And why American citizens stuck in Gaza cannot get out. What's the real story?
I'm going to ask a top advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next.
Then, a six-year-old boy stabbed to death near Chicago, his mother severely injured. The latest on the suspect behind what authorities say is a sickening anti-Muslim hate crime.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: And we're back with senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev. He's also the former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Thanks for joining us, Ambassador Regev.
"The New York Times" is reporting that three senior Israeli officials say the plan is to wipe out Hamas's top leadership in Gaza and to invade Gaza City. We haven't really heard what the plan is. We've seen a lot of airstrikes on Gaza.
Can you confirm that that is the plan, to wipe out Hamas's top leadership and to invade Gaza City with a ground force?
MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINSTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Jake, you, of course, know that I'm not going to go into operational details of military activity that is still ahead. I can only share the goal of the operation, which has been stated and I'll state it again. We will dismantle Hamas's military machine and take apart its political governance in Gaza. We will destroy both the military wing of Hamas, its military machine, its terrorist capabilities, and its governmental activities, its nongovernmental structure in Gaza.
TAPPER: How many people is that, do you think?
REGEV: I can't go into numbers, but it means that when this is over, Hamas will be incapable of launching the sort of horrendous attack they did on October 7th. They will be physically incapable of launching such an operation.
TAPPER: So, certainly taking out Hamas's leadership, I understand the point of that. But the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says 2,800 Palestinians have been killed. Some of them, between a quarter and a third of them are children. That's not Hamas's leadership.
REGEV: Can I please offer a word of caution? Now, I know that there is real suffering in Gaza.
There's a war going on. And innocent people are getting caught up in a very difficult situation. I don't minimize that.
But you have to take with a grain of salt any formation that comes out of the Hamas -controlled ministry of health in Gaza. That has to be said. Hamas is not a democracy. It's not an independent health bureaucracy that is trying to do its best. Every doctor you speak, to every hospital director you speak to works under the gun of Hamas. They are not independent. If they speak out of turn, it will pay a price.
It's like speaking to a doctor and North Korea or a doctor in the former Soviet Union. They don't have independent opinions. They have to follow the party line. If not, they face violent consequences.
So, those numbers, they might be, true they might not be true. Hamas, of course, has an interest in exaggerating civilian casualties.
TAPPER: Yeah, so let's assume --
REGEV: And, of course, Hamas doesn't say how many of them were combatants, of course.
TAPPER: Right, right. So, let's assume that you take out the Hamas leadership and their ability to commit atrocities.
Ambassador Herzog told me yesterday that Israel does not want to re- occupy Gaza after the mission is done. So, what happens after Hamas is destroyed? Who would be in charge of Gaza?
REGEV: So, first of all, maybe anything would be better than Hamas. If there were allergens that Hamas had somehow moderated its position, the responsibility of government, of being ruling over 2.3 million people forces Hamas to be a more rational behavior, that was proven wrong. The violence, the brutal, horrific violence that we saw on October 7th show that to be wrong. This is a hard-core, un-reformed, extremist, murderous terrorist organization.
And so, you have to say, if it's like I said this, how could it get much worse? So, we have to hit it hard, we have to -- we have to destroy the ability to attack us. And I have been in discussions where different contingencies have been discussed what happens after.
At this stage, I am not at liberty to discuss those discussions. But I can assure you that Israelis thinking three steps ahead. The most important thing now is that we focus on the total destruction of the Hamas military machine and the dismantling of its political structures.
TAPPER: There's a new report in "Haaretz" that alleges senior officials in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office are barred from working with an Israeli defense ministry task force, which is focused on repairing infrastructure near Gaza because the defense task force is led by a staunch opponent of the Netanyahu judicial overhaul.
Is that true?
REGEV: I have -- I have not read that report. And I am not familiar with any of that. I apologize.
TAPPER: You said that Israel is united right now, very united. So far, Netanyahu has not been able to get opposition leader Yair Lapid to join the unity government. What's going on there? Shouldn't Israel be as united as possible?
REGEV: Well, we've already united by bringing in one major opposition party. As you know, they joined a few days ago, and we've now got a national emergency government with Mr. Gantz who was a very severe critic of Prime Minister Netanyahu stepped in and said at this time of crisis, we have to unite to fight the common enemy.
And I think if you look at the polling in Israel, there's a wide support for that. Move when they crashed the border on October 7th to murderous, they went to left-wing kibbutzim where people in their lives never voted for Netanyahu. And they went two right-wing villages where everyone likes Netanyahu. They didn't care if Israelis are wing left or right wing, religious, secular, what their political views. They kill us because Israelis. They kill us because we are Jews.
The murderous violence we saw on October 7th, that was the largest single active antisemitic violence since 1945 since the terrible years of the Holocaust.
REGEV: We have never seen anything of that scale for what is it, it's more than half a century.
And so, I think for many Israelis, I mean, we will argue about politics just as you and America argue about politics. And we will do it very loudly and we will do it passionately. But, ultimately, I think these attacks by Hamas forced a slap on the face. We have to understand that we Israelis have a common destiny. We have a common situation that we are all together and facing these terrible and horrific challenges.
TAPPER: Yeah. Mark Regev, thank you so much today. I appreciate it.
REGEV: My pleasure.
TAPPER: A horrible story in the United States. A six-year-old boy viciously stabbed to death. He was laid to rest today outside Chicago. Coming up next, a closer look at the allegations of anti-Muslim hate connected with with this gruesome killing.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: An awful and horrible story out of Illinois today, La Grange, just outside Chicago. Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian American boy who was senselessly stabbed to death 26 times was laid to rest today. Police say he and his mother were attacked on Saturday by their landlord allegedly because they were Muslim.
CNN's Whitney Wild has more on this horrific attack that's now being investigated as a federal hate crime.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six- year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian American, laid to rest today.
YOUSEF HANNON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: He's a very kind kid. He would actually jump up and down. When he was dead, he was less worse than his mom. Mom, I'm fine. You know what? He's fine. He's in a better place.
WILD: The boy died after he and his mother Hanaan Shahin (ph) were allegedly stabbed Saturday in the room they rented from 71-year-old Joseph Czuba just outside Chicago.
OUSSAMA JAMMAL, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE MOSQUE FOUNDATION: Their landlord, in an act of hate, shouted the threats and unleashed violence.
WILD: The landlord appearing in court today while that boy's mother remains hospitalized, recovering for more than a dozen stab wounds. Czuba allegedly entered the room he rented to Shahin and her son Saturday morning, stabbing the six-year-old 26 times.
DISPATCHER: The female is claiming that the landlord has a child in another room. Apparently is either stabbing or has stabbed the child.
WILD: Authorities have now opened a federal hate crime investigation.
The local sheriff saying in a statement, both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim, and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis. Outrage erupting over the brutal crime illustrating why federal officials are worried about growing threats.
AHMED REHAB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS, CHICAGO: He paid the price for the atmosphere of hate.
WILD: Czuba is now facing murder, attempted murder, and hate crime charges.
WILD (on camera): Jake, that mother is still in the hospital. Illustrating just how gut-wrenching this is. Again, she is still in the hospital and that meant she could not be here at the funeral, Jake. She could not say goodbye to her little boy back to you.
TAPPER: It's so awful. Whitney, thank you so much.
I want to bring in Rula Jebreal. She's a visiting professor at the University of Miami, a journalist, a foreign policy analyst, and Israeli Palestinian who's loved -- who has loved ones both in Israel and an East Jerusalem right now.
Rula, thanks so much.
How important do you think it is for people in the media, for our political leaders, religious leaders to make this incredibly important distinction between Hamas, and not only the Palestinian people, but Arabs, and Muslims, all other people who somehow might unfairly and wrongly be lumped in with us?
RULA JEBREAL, FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: I think it's crucial. It's paramount. I mean, as we see the rise of hate crimes in America, as we see death threats in Michigan. In Brooklyn, restaurants are receiving death threats. Restaurants of Syrians, Palestinians, Muslim, it doesn't matter.
But it starts with dehumanization, Jake. It starts with the language of officials both in Israel and sadly in the United States where they blurry the distinction, they erase the distinctions between civilians and militants, and they carry this narrative that Palestinians are animals, are Nazis, that the only way somehow, the solution for this conflict to wipe them out, to exterminate them.
I mean, I've been listening to many in the media, and if we ever needed Palestinian voices to actually explain how we got here and where we go from here, it's now. If we ever needed rational thinking, I understand the fear, the emotions. I understand what, you know, and I have empathy and compassion for the civilians who died after that attack. At the same time, we need -- because of the emotions, because we've been there before, after 9/11, we've seen what happens when we overreact. We've seen what happened when we dehumanize and criminalize an entire group of people.
It actually reminds me of, when after 9/11 in the preparation for the war in Iraq, a lot of Americans thought that Iraqis were responsible for 9/11.
JEBREAL: And that led to the invasion and led to building up lies about WMD. There is a threat of extinction. We need to go. There and now they regret these policies.
I remember officials in the Bush administration coming out and saying our policies are creating more terrorists. But I also remember Barack Obama saying ISIS was the direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda and it's related to our invasion and occupation of Iraq. I remember these things, we seemly didn't learn enough.
And I think Palestinians are also invited to defend their humanity and defend their existence over again instead of explaining. And they've been telling us and warning us that this is going to happen without a political solution. They have been telling us, Palestinian and Israeli Palestinians telling us that there's no military solution. [16:35:25]
And if there's confirmation of the failure of the military approach, it's five wars in Gaza.
JEBREAL: And endless crimes and endless subjugation to the Palestinians. Without a political solution, this war will not stop in Israel. It will not -- what happened in Gaza in these days, it will not give keep Israel safe, but it will come back to America.
And it's astonishing the same people who waged a war on America's democracy are the same people who today are telling us to wipe out Gaza. It's the same people who endorse what Putin did in Chechnya, basically, you know, flatten Grozny. And what Assad did in Aleppo.
Nobody is safe with these policies. No Israelis, no Palestinians, and no Americans.
TAPPER: And I think -- and one of the things you're saying there that so important, the idea that when this war operation or whatever people want to call it, when it's over, the idea that the west or the Arab world or whoever can just say, okay, now, we're just going to go back to the way we were. And the Palestinians in the West Bank, and the Palestinians in Gaza are just going to be left to their own devices as they were before, and like, that is not -- that's not a solution.
JEBREAL: No, that's actually why we are here in the first place. I know it's hard in this moment of high emotions to appeal to other people humanity. If we ever need an international law for the protection of the people and to prevent an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, it's now. If we ever needed to pressure governments to speak up to the Israelis and tell them that, you know, you are the strongest army in the Middle East, you are the strongest army in the world, you have atomic bombs, this is -- yes, it's horrific, but it's not an existential threat.
Palestinians are not Nazis. We need to have our media and our colleagues and our friends to pressure also and rebuke and counter the narrative of, you know, the military and the army. They're telling us that there's no civilians. There are civilians. There are millions of people who live in Gaza. They're regular human being.
And today, we hear their calls from the hospital, from -- on the ground who are telling us that they fear to be exterminated. They fear that. And with -- not only asked who are hearing, them the whole region, the whole world is listening to that.
And I think in this moment, that we shouldn't wait for military to conclude whatever they are doing. We know what they are doing, because in their deeds and words are telling us. We need now to pressure as international community, Israelis to act lawfully, to act rationally, more than ever, we need that now. Don't wait, because if we wait, it's going to be too late.
TAPPER: Rula, before you go, I know you have relatives in East Jerusalem slim and in Israel. And I'm wondering how it is for Palestinian Israelis right now in this incredibly awful period after that incredibly awful October 7th attack and now this war. How are your relatives doing?
JEBREAL: Thank you for asking, Jake.
Yu know, some of my relatives work in hospitals. They are taking care of these injured who were attacked in October while listening to, you know, basically other Israelis calling to exterminate Palestinians, to wipe them out. Many of them changed the way they dress because they are -- they fear retaliation.
Many of my -- of these relatives who talk to people in Gaza, in hospitals working in Gaza. And they hear the voices and voice messages telling, you know, basically telling them we are waiting to be slaughtered. We know the world doesn't care about us we are waiting to be slaughtered.
And also, you know, while all this happens, the attacks in the U.S. bank never ceased. Fifty-five Palestinians in the West Bank where Hamas is not there been killed last week and seven days. They have been killed. The attacks of the settlers, and while the government is, you know, the military are doing what they are doing in Gaza.
In the same time, they are building settlements and continue to confiscate land.
People in Jerusalem are terrified, because ministers in Israel and politicians, including the moderate president are telling them there's no civilian. And they are repeating the narrative, Palestinians are Nazis, and injecting this narrative to basically say, you all our enemies, and we will go after you sooner or later.
And you have, you know, ministers like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, and that's why they are appealing to the international community to pressure this government.
TAPPER: That is --
JEBREAL: To stop any kind of retaliation that can, you know, lead to a wider conflict. Also lead to a position where Israel themselves ask what America did after the war on terror. Are we producing more extremists? Are we plunging ourselves enough forever war?
TAPPER: Those lessons from the global war on terror, the lessons from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq need to be -- need to be remembered.
Rula Jebreal, always -- always great to have you on. Thank you so much.
JEBREAL: Thank you, Jake. TAPPER: It is the personal stories to bring the horrors of this war home. We hear from the man desperate to learn more about the fate of his girlfriend who was taken hostage, kidnapped by Hamas. And that story is next.
TAPPER: Moments ago, a spokesman for Hamas which the U.S. classified as a terrorist group said that the group is holding at least 200 to 250 hostages. This is after the group's horrific terrorist attacks on Israel.
We should note, CNN cannot verify those numbers. Israel said earlier today they thought Hamas had 199 hostages. Some of the hostages were kidnapped from the Nova Music Festival, where at least 260 others were murdered by Hamas, making it the worst civilian massacre in the history of Israel.
Twenty-seven-year-old Inbar Haiman was volunteering at the festival and was taken hostage.
Inbar's boyfriend Noam Alon joins me now.
Noam, thank you so much for being with you. I'm sorry that it's under these circumstances.
When did you learn that your girlfriend was missing and what had you learn about what happened to her that day?
NOAM ALON, BOYFRIEND OF HAMAS HOSTAGE, INBAR HAIMAN: So, since Saturday morning, it took me really minutes to understand that she was on a festival that attacked by Hamas. And it took us a few days. We got the testimionials of two guys were with them the moment that she was kidnapped.
There is a video that was posted and published by Hamas. Inbar shown in this video taken by four terrorists. They are holding her and taking her to Gaza.
TAPPER: So, Hamas has posted this video of your girlfriend. You said it's too difficult for you to watch it.
Have any of your family or friends watched it? Have any of them describe what they saw, her condition, anything they left?
TAPPER: What did they tell you?
ALON: Yeah, as I said, my mother and my father did not watch it, because it is possible to see her face. They put out emojis on our face. It's not easy to say her face, for one frame, it's possible to see her face. And it seems like she got hurt in her face. It's not really possible
to understand if she is unconscious or are they had her to take any resist. From the video, we can learn that she was taken to Gaza when she's alive. They wouldn't be holding her if she wasn't alive, of course.
You can see hundreds of people who was murdered and they didn't take any bodies. So, we know she was taken by them. As you said, this video is not easy to watch. But we are looking at the positive side of the video, that it's showing us that she was taken and she's a hostage. She's alive.
TAPPER: I know Inbar is an artist and the community of artist is using art to help get her story attention. Tell me more about that effort.
ALON: Yes. So, Inbar is a well-known graffiti and street artist in Israel. All of the graffiti and the street art community are doing a lot to spread her story, to get more attention to the fact that she was kidnapped. In these days, many graffiti artists and muralists are making lots of arts in the streets, connecting to Inbar.
And they are writing free Inbar, they're writing, free Pink. Pink was her tag, her nickname for graffiti. She was very known for a us. And in these days, all this community and me, as well, as his boyfriend, and also in the graffiti and street artist by myself, so we are doing everything we can as a community to give more attention to her story hopefully to help to bring her back.
TAPPER: Well, I hope you get her back soon. Noam Alon, thank you so much for sharing the story.
ALON: Thank you.
TAPPER: We'll be right back.
TAPPER: In our politics lead. On Thursday, when asked if she would support Congressman Jim Jordan for speaker, Congresswoman Ann Wagner said, quote, hell no. Today, Congresswoman "hell no" Wagner came out in support of Jim Jordan for speaker.
This seems to be a common theme with many of the folks who held principled positions, opposing Jim Jordan for speaker. Jordan, whom former Congresswoman Liz Cheney says, was deeply involved in Trump's conspiracy to steal the election. They seem to be losing those principles over the weekend at least.
CNN's Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill for us.
Melanie, where does Jordan stand now? Can he get to 217?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Jim Jordan is inching closer to the speakership. He made some notable progress today and has flipped several key holdouts.
In addition to Ann Wagner, he's also won the support from two defense hawks who were previously skeptical of Jim Jordan's foreign policy views. And also won the support of some other allies of Steve Scalise, who had to drop out of the race last week.
But it's interesting because in their explanations, Jake, for why they're supporting Jim Jordan, it's not because they think he's the best candidate for the job, it's because they simply just want to be team players and to end the chaos that has rained on the House floor.
But Jim Jordan still has some work to do. There are over a dozen holdouts at this point by our count. He can only lose four Republicans on the floor, but he is vowing to take this to the floor no matter what tomorrow and going to grind down his opposition on the House floor. A similar strategy to what Kevin McCarthy did in January.
But here's also been an intense conservative grassroots campaign, trying to pressure these House Republicans to fall in line. We should note, a little bit more, though, at 6:30, when House Republicans meet for another conference meeting, and we'll see where things stand after that, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Melanie Zanona, thanks so much.
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