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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Biden To Visit Israel On Wednesday In High-Stakes Trip; Fears Of Wider Israel War As Hezbollah, Iran Threaten; CNN Reports, Pentagon Gets 2,000 Troops Ready For Israel Deployment; Mother Of Soldier Killed In Hamas Attack Speaks Out; Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Christie Weighs In On The Unfolding Crisis In The Middle East; Donald Trump Forbidden To Continue His Attacks Against Special Counsel Jack Smith Or Risk Facing Jail. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 16, 2023 - 22:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Today, the federal judge, who is overseeing the election subversion case, in Washington, barred him, from attacking the Prosecutor Jack Smith, what she has done many times, the court or potential witnesses at the risk of facing sanctions.


Trump said that he would appeal that order from Judge Tanya Chutkan, not totally clear what the future of that looks like. But I should note that the former president is also using this limited gag order to fundraise tonight, something he has done repeatedly. Judge Chutkan said that she would assess any consequences if and when Trump violates that order. We'll keep you updated.

Thank you so much for joining us. Very excited now handed over to Newsnight with Abby Philip, which starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Fears are rising of a two-front assault on Israel and a war on a wider and deadlier scale, as the American president gets ready to visit the war zone. That's tonight, on Newsnight.

And good evening. I'm Abby Philip. The United Nations calls the Middle East right now an abyss as the U.S. races keep this war from snowballing into an even deeper geopolitical crisis. And in major developments tonight, President Biden says he will visit Israel on Wednesday in a high-stakes trip as the Pentagon orders at least 2,000 Marines and sailors to prepare for deployment to the region.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: On Wednesday, President Biden will visit Israel. He's coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world.


PHILLIP: Now, this visit comes as Israel is preparing for a likely ground invasion against Hamas, which began the conflict with the devastating attack on Israeli civilians. There are now more concerns, however, including Hezbollah, the Islamist militant group, also deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S., it's far more deadly and powerful men Hamas, potentially, they're attempting to infiltrate from Lebanon, in the north. Meanwhile in Syria, Israel has struck Hamas- friendly targets there. And Iran, which backs and funds Hamas, is warning that a wider conflict may be inevitable if Israel continues its retaliatory strikes.

Now, the urgent questions tonight, would a multi-front assault on Israel force the United States to get even more involved? Would Iran follow through on its threat? And what happens to the fate of the dozens of hostages, and, of course, the millions of civilians who are caught in this crossfire?

Joining me now is CNN's Anderson Cooper, who is on the ground in Tel Aviv. Anderson, the news tonight that President Biden will visit Israel this week, what does that mean for both the U.S. and Israel, and how is that being received over there?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's certainly a huge sign of support by the Biden administration for Israel. The speech that President Biden made last week was very well-received here, many people in Israel, there were billboards put up thanking President Biden for his what appeared to be unwavering support. Certainly, a visit by him here only bolsters that idea.

It's also an opportunity for him to send a message, the president, to send a message to Hezbollah, to Iran, others in the region, of the U.S. support, and perhaps send a message more directly to prime minister and his war cabinet about what the U.S. concerns are about a ground offensive and what they can do to try and meet some of those concerns.

PHILLIP: And, Anderson, there's also this video that Hamas released today about a woman that it abducted. And you spoke with her family today. How are they taking that? I can only imagine it's got to be pretty bittersweet for them knowing that perhaps she's alive, but seeing her there in that video.

COOPER: Yes. Mia Shem is the name of the hostage. She's a French- Israeli and she's 21 years old. Her family, I talk to her mom, Karen, her brother, Ori and Eli (ph), they are relieved to see her. This is the first proof of life that they actually have. They knew she -- they believe that she had been taken, but they didn't know where she might be. They had no -- there was no video of her that they saw of her being captured, as there had been with other families, if anyone had seen their loved ones captured on these Hamas videos that they put out for propaganda purposes. So, this was the first proof of life.

I asked Karen about her thoughts, and she's just desperate to get her daughter home, obviously, let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are begging the world to bring my baby home.

[22:05:01] She's only 21 years old. She just went to a festival party after months that she didn't go anywhere. She had medical problems. She just wanted to have some fun. And she shouldn't be there. So, we are begging the world to interfere and to bring her home and all the others.


COOPER: Israel now says 199 people are being held hostage. Hamas has said the number may be as high as 250. I talked to a former senior Mossad official who was involved in hostage negotiations in the past, and he said it's very possible Hamas doesn't even know how many people are being held hostage in Gaza, that is not just Hamas, there's also Islamic jihad, who earlier said they had about 30 people. And this former official said also that in past hostage takings, sometimes it's been sort of mafia groups that have also seized one or two hostages to get some financial leverage so that there's a lot of confusion on the ground, perhaps, about just not only where these hostages are, but exactly who has them.

PHILLIP: Anderson, thank you, as always, for being there on the ground for us.

And I want to turn out to the frontlines of this war. My next guess left Chicago, Illinois, to take up arms and fight for Israel after his friend was killed in the Hamas attacks. An IDF reservist sergeant joins me now. Andrew, who is not using his last name out of security concerns, is now in Israel. Andrew, we thank you for being here.

I do want to start by asking you about President Biden's visit. He says he will be there on the ground on Wednesday. You are there on the frontlines. Do you think this visit will help or hurt the war efforts that you are engaged in now?

SGT. ANDREW, IDF RESERVIST FROM CHICAGO, NOW IN ISRAEL: I think President Biden coming is a step in the right direction. Obviously, it makes me proud as an American citizen to see our president standing up to terror in this way and I think it's a clear statement that the U.S. stands with Israel against the tyranny of Hamas.

PHILLIP: And we're also learning tonight that the secretary of defense says that they are preparing to have about 2,000 U.S. troops just get ready for a potential deployment to the region. Is that something that you are surprised to hear? Do you think that would be helpful?

ANDREW: I think that's a question that's a bit above my pay grade. What I can say is that the IDF is prepared for all scenarios and, you know, we will be ready for whatever comes at us.

PHILLIP: And speaking of scenarios, I mean, one of the likely scenarios here is that this becomes a broader war. Iran is making threats, Hezbollah, as you know, is also making threats as well, potentially getting involved in this war. For you, are you concerned about what this could mean for Israel, if this becomes not just a war with Hamas but a broader regional conflict? ANDREW: Like I said, I think the IDF is incredibly prepared for whatever comes at us. There're plans and contingency plans that have been made going back years. And I can say as a foot soldier that we've trained for nearly every situation. And so it doesn't specifically worry me. I trust that whatever commands come from above, that we will be ready to execute them to the fullest extent.

PHILLIP: And you are, of course, just 21 years old. You, I presume, had a life in the United States, and now you are answering the call to duty. How do you feel right now as you are preparing for what is to come and now we are over a week after these horrific attacks on Israel?

ANDREW: I am a person that is part of a much larger group of American reservists that answer the call on that fateful Saturday morning in order to come and serve. And, you know, I think that I'm, you know, part of a lot of people that felt a responsibility to come and help Israel in any way that we could possible. People are helping all over the world, whether that's donations, whether that's here in Israel doing things like donating blood, for me, that the most effective way for me to help was to be in a pair of combat boots, and so that's why I'm here.

PHILLIP: Are you worried about your own safety?

ANDREW: I think every combat soldier has a slight amount of fear about their own safety, but it's something you put to the side and you rely on your own training in order to execute the mission.

PHILLIP: All right. Sergeant, thank you so much.


ANDREW: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: And the U.S. says it still knows nothing about the condition of the Americans believed to be taken hostage by Hamas. And while their whereabouts remain unknown, some do believe that they could be held in Gaza's tunnels.

My next guest has actually walked through those tunnels. I want to bring in My next guest has actually walked through those tunnels. I want to bring it Veteran Foreign Affairs Correspondent Reena Ninan.

Reena, these tunnels are a little bit of a source of some mystery but they are believed to be just literally under the feet of the Palestinian people, as you can kind of see here, under buildings, under apartments. We also have some somewhat rare video, this is from 2017. Can you walk us through what we are looking at here, what you've been to?

REENA NINAN, VETERAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Abby, I have to tell you, these tunnels are far more elaborate than the ones I went down. The ones I went down were built by teenage boys that essentially made of dirt, and are probably one-time usage. But you could see the potential of hostages being in these tunnels fortified here with concrete.

What's also so troubling is that, as incredible as Israeli anti- detection systems are for these tunnels, which they do have, it's really hard. Hamas has gotten smarter over the years about their ability to get in and destroy these tunnels. So, you see how fortified it is, the concrete, the fact that they can go down into here and go undetected.

PHILLIP: I will show you a few more pictures here.

NINAN: And you see the dirt around here. The ones I went through were essentially -- I'm 5'4. I was able to go down the whole entire route of these tunnels. And then it slowly started to cave down.

These are far better engineered and constructed, and the tunnels that likely these hostages are, I bet, are potentially the ones that are not intended for one time use. They're intended for this type of warfare.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, the other story here is about the civilians. They are now being asked to evacuate. We're looking here at this evacuation map. There's really only one place for them to get out, and it would be right here. This is the Rafah crossing that leads to straight to Egypt. I'm going to show you another image here. This is what it looks like up close. What are the challenge for civilians you're trying to get out?

NINAN: Well, one, it's incredibly unpredictable and incredibly dangerous. We know that there have been Israeli airstrikes. And so you constantly don't know what could happen in this area. State Department has also said if and when the Rafah crossing eventually opens, what could happen is it will be open for a long extended period of time. It will open quickly and could potentially close.

So, you've got all these people here in the Gaza Strip looking to get out. That's the one exit point right now, is this Rafah, which enters into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula there. So, you've got the unpredictability, it's dangerous, and also, Abby, the fact that we've heard we don't know how long it could be open for.

PHILLIP: And, of course, this is a very significant distance here. It's a small space but it's a significant distance if you don't have a lot of means to get out.

NINAN: If you don't have a lot of means, and also you don't know how long you are camping out there for. So, the fact that these people could be down there trying to get humanitarian aid, the Egyptians also don't want over 1 million people absorbed into Egypt. So, that's a big concern, while they've said they'll multinational people come into Egypt, leave via Cairo, these Palestinians coming through don't have that option.

PHILLIP: All right. Reena Ninan, thank you so much. And ahead for us, much more from the ground, including a mother whose son was killed in a firefight with Hamas. Plus, a landlord reportedly obsessed with this war is now accused of killing a Palestinian-American boy in Chicago because he was Muslim. His story is next.

And Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the presidential candidate, Chris Christie, both join me onset live as America gets more involved in this war.



PHILLIP: A first grader who just celebrated his sixth birthday planned to go to school in America today, but instead his family held his funeral because he was murdered for being a Muslim. His name is Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy living in a suburb of Chicago.

Now, the family's landlord, 71 years old, is now accused of stabbing the young boy to death. Investigators say it was a hate crime, that the landlord targeted Wadea and his mother over the war in Israel.

Everyone now, from President Biden to the Illinois governor, has condemned this attack. In one poignant quote, a local official says it is always the smallest coffins that are the heaviest. A neighbor says Wadea was playful, full of energy, and, above all, innocent and all of this.

It's a tragic statement about violent radicalism and the risk that this war will inflame tensions in unexpected places.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat serving in the United States Congress. Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

This is such a devastating tragedy. And the six-year-old, he just had nothing to do with any of this. When you hear this kind of thing happening in the United States, what goes through your mind?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I think one of the things that is so incredibly important for us to keep in mind, as a country, is that in times of such great geopolitical peril, we cannot allow the importation and the revival of bigotry and racism, of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to really take root and bloom here in the United States. Right now, especially in New York City, there are also reports of Muslim hijabi the, also anti-Semitic attacks in Jewish places of worship as well and it is extraordinarily important that we understand that people are not associated with many the political actors in this current situation.

PHILLIP: I want to just ask you about some other news tonight. President Biden, of course, saying that on Wednesday that he is going to Israel. I wonder, do you think that is a good idea or are you concerned that that might inflame tensions in the region?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I do believe that President Biden, especially with some of his most recent statements, has been playing a constructive role, the ability to acknowledge that we can condemn Hamas and go after and ensure that we target their operations while also advocating for the protection and upholding of human rights in Gaza, in Israel, and beyond, throughout the entire region.


So, our hope is that that stable presence can continue in the momentum of that direction.

PHILLIP: And also, at the same time, 2,000 troops being told to get ready to potentially deployed to the region, is that something that you support the Defense Department doing?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I know that and I truly believe that it is in the interest of every single actor in this region to have a cooling of tensions here. I don't believe that any singular actor wants to see an escalation in violence, an escalation in the volatile -- the volatility of the situation. And I think what is most important is that we focus on the moves that are necessary to achieve that aim. And we know that Secretary Blinken's aim throughout the last several days have focused on that and our hope is that the president's visit will as well.

PHILLIP: I want to go back to something you just mentioned there about Hamas, as all of this kind of kicked off, you and several others of your colleagues released a statement calling on for a ceasefire in the region. But, I wonder, what is Israel supposed to do about Hamas after they've murdered, brutalized, abducted over a thousand of their citizens. Are they supposed to just do nothing?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think what is important to note about a ceasefire is that it's not one-sided. Hamas has been sending thousands of rockets into Israel as well. And what is important for us to identify our goal in terms of what safety means, in terms of what defense means. And I think it --

PHILLIP: But, if I may, Congresswoman, I think the position from Israel's perspective is that there is already an attack and Hamas already committed an attack. After that happened, do you really believe that they should not respond to that?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think what is important, in terms of response, is Israel does have a right to self-defense. I think what we need to take a look at in this situation is if collective punishment qualifies as defense, if the blockade on water, food, electricity, if the dropping of white phosphorus, which is an indiscriminate weapon, qualifies.

So, I do believe that there is a discussion to be had here. I don't believe that an either/or approach is what is necessary, but we should identify what our goal, is which is the cooling of tensions in the region.

PHILLIP: Well, Israel's goal is to rid the region of Hamas. They have been very clear about that. And I certainly take what you are saying about the condition of Gaza right now for civilians who, as you point out, are not synonymous with Hamas. But for Israel to deal with Hamas, which is a force that is actually detrimental to Palestinians, how else are they supposed to address a violent militant, some say a terrorist group, other than to go in there and take them on directly?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, when we talk about going in there, I think we should also keep in mind President Biden's statements as well about what the implications of a potential ground invasion would be. This is an inherently complex situation.

I do believe that Hamas needs to be dealt with.

PHILLIP: But how, I think, is what I'm trying to understand.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And I think what we're trying to figure out right now is that this present situation of collective punishment and indiscriminate attack is one approach. But we are seeing that the issues and the complications of that approach now, can we target them in terms of intelligence? Is there precision? What are the options available are entirely up to the administration and for Israel to examine and explore.

But we need to center the fact as well that there are hostages in this region. There are Israeli hostages, American hostages, there are innocent Palestinians, about 1,000 children have died so far in these attacks. And I think we need to have a conversation about what that how looks like because we have seen what the impacts of that have been so far and we have to try to, I believe, in such a complex situation, thread that needle in a time when there is so much opposition to nuance.

PHILLIP: One of the other factors in this, a couple of years ago, there was a vote in Congress for funding for the Iron Dome. And you very publicly torn, even emotional about your vote, which ultimately was present. You put out a statement to saying that you opposed Iron Dome funding.

I wonder, given everything that we have seen in this last week, the Iron Dome has essentially intercepted thousands of rockets from Hamas. Do you believe now that that funding is essential? Would you vote for it today?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And to be clear, at that time, I had voted present on the Iron Dome funding because what we had seen previously that year in terms of Netanyahu's decisions, which also resulted in the bombing of several buildings that contained media agencies, civilian targets.


However, I do think that, in this present moment, when we discuss support for Israeli defense systems, that is absolutely legitimate. I think it is absolutely something that whose support we can --

PHILLIP: So, you would vote yes today if it came to the United States Congress, additional funding for the Iron Dome?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think if it was explicitly around that. I have concerns about white phosphorus. I have concerns about the respect for humanitarian -- about human rights and ensuring that we have humanitarian aid going through. But on the sole principle of Iron Dome and defense, I absolutely think there's an openness, for sure.

PHILLIP: I want you to respond to something that Republican Candidate for President Ron DeSantis said about the potential for refugees from Gaza. Just take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what Biden is going to do, but we cannot accept people from Gaza into this country as refugees. I am not going to do that. If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all anti-Semitic, none of them believe in Israel's right to exist.


PHILLIP: There is a lot in there, but I wonder, for you, is he touching on something that is perhaps real here? Should Arab countries be taking on the lion's share of the burden to absorb what could be over a million if not more refugees from Gaza?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think there is something to be said about the region's partners being able to support and step up Palestinians. However, that does not abdicate the United States from our historic role that we have played in the world of accepting refugees and allowing people to restart their lives here.

And I also want to address something very specific about what Governor DeSantis said when he said, quote/unquote, all Gazans are anti- Semitic. How incredibly destructive and dangerous that rhetoric is. We just had a six-year-old boy stabbed 26 times this morning because of rhetoric like that. And it is dangerous, it is unacceptable, it is reckless and no leader in the United States of America should be amplifying a message like that.

PHILLIP: Congresswoman, back in Washington, where I think you are headed tomorrow, there is a big speaker's race heating up. Jim Jordan looks to be the person who Republicans will put up for a vote. You joined and all Democrats in voting to get rid of Kevin McCarthy. Any regrets if Jim Jordan is the man who replaces him?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: No. It has never been truly within the integrity and history of this institution for one party to elect another party's member a speaker. We will see if Jim Jordan has the votes. We will see if individuals like Mike Lawler or Marc Molinaro, who represent New Yorkers in Hudson Valley, the Catskills, Westchester County, will actually vote to install a man who voted to overturn the United States' election and who supports a national abortion ban to be speaker of the House, second in line to the presidency.

I have my doubts that the people of New York would really stand prefer that, but, in terms of the integrity of the institution, I think it's important that we support Hakeem Jeffries as speaker of the House.

PHILLIP: Is Jim Jordan it better or worse alternative you Kevin McCarthy?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: It's difficult to say. Kevin McCarthy clearly eroded the institution. He held the entire U.S. economy hostage with the debt limit. He then went back on his word and his deal with the president in doing that. It was Kevin McCarthy that installed this and ultimately made the call for a one-person motion to vacate that led us into this mess to begin with. So, it's difficult to say.

But, I do believe that the entire Republican Party has an institution problem and that they have driven the entire country to the brink in this incredibly sensitive moment.

PHILLIP: All right. Congresswoman, we will see what happens tomorrow. We appreciate you coming into the studio for us.


PHILLIP: Thank you.

And up next, an Israeli soldier is killed during a firefight with Hamas staging dozens of lives. His mother joins me live.

Plus, Israeli families of hostages held by Hamas are waiting for any information about their loved ones, but now anger is growing. A report next from CNN's Clarissa Ward.



PHILLIP: Tonight, as Hamas releases a video of one of its hostages, dozens of other families are anxiously awaiting word of their loved one's fate. And over in Israel, anger is starting to build about the government's handling of this situation. More tonight from CNN's Clarissa Ward.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For days, they have sat outside the military headquarters in Tel Aviv, holding vigil for their loved ones.

Among many family members of those held in Gaza, there is anger at the Israeli government's handling of the crisis and growing cries to make a deal for the hostages' release. Shay and her family are looking for her sister Lichy Albag, a 19-year-old soldier who disappeared at Nachal Os Kibbutz.

SHAY ALBAG, SISTER OF HOSTAGE: We don't know where she is, if she eats, sleeps, where they keep her. We don't know anything.

WARD: So, tell me why are you here?

ALBAG: Because I want someone to look at me, look at all of us.

WARD (voice-over): Earlier today, the government confirmed they believe another 50 hostages are being held in Gaza, bringing the total close to 200. Among them is 74-year-old Vivian Silver, a peace activist and Canadian citizen who lived in the Be'eri kibbutz.


Be'eri was the site of some of the darkest bloodshed during the October 7th attack. Vivian's son, Yonatan, was on the phone with her throughout the morning as the horror unfolded.

YONATAN ZEIGEN, SON OF HOSTAGE: I heard a lot of gunshots outside her window and we decided to stop talking because she was hiding. But at some point, she wrote me that they're inside their house.

WARD: Her house.

ZEIGEN: And that was it. I wrote her, I'm with you. She said, I feel you. And that was the last message.

WARD (voice-over): For nine agonizing days, he has shuttled between optimism and despair as Israel's leaders steal its citizens for an invasion of Gaza. When you look at more than 300,000 reservists being called up, huge amounts of weaponry and military personnel massing at the border, a lot of anticipation about a ground offensive. How does that make you feel?

ZEIGEN: It makes me anxious. I didn't want war before, and I don't want war now. I don't think we can cure dead babies with more dead babies.

WARD: Do you think in Israel that most people agree with you? Do you think people here want war? Nobody wants war, but I think people are willing to accept war, because you'll hurt and you want to stop the pain.

So, you see the demon in front of you and you want to vanquish it. I don't think it's realistic. Whatever we do to Gaza now, it would come back.

WARD: A plea to break the endless cycle of violence and to prioritize rescuing the living over avenging the dead. But in this moment of raw anguish, it's the calls for invasion that are growing louder.


PHILLIP: Clarissa Ward, powerful reporting there. And as Israel now prepares for an unexpected ground operation against Hamas, we are beginning to learn of some of the heroism that was on display a week ago by Israeli soldiers.

Twenty-year-old Yanai Kaminka was an American citizen who was born and raised in Israel. His mother says that he was stationed at a base in Zakeem, which is in southern Israel, not far from Gaza, when the attacks began. Yanai and his colleagues sheltered new recruits and then moved to the front lines.

Defending their base, Yanai and five officers were killed, but they did save more than 90 others and succeeded in stopping Hamas militants from attacking a nearby kibbutz. Yanai's mother, Elana Kaminka, joins me tonight.

Elana, thank you so much for joining me, and I have to offer my condolences to you for the loss of your son. He was killed essentially as a hero, protecting others who were in danger. But as you're sitting here more than a week later, how are you coping with all of this?

ELANA KAMINKA, SON FOUGHT OFF HAMAS IN FIREFIGHT AT IDF BASE: So, my son Yanai, throughout his life, it was a short life, but everything he did was always focused on helping other people. He blossomed when he was helping other people.

And that was throughout his whole life, from the time he was a Scouts Counselor, he did a year of civilian service with at-risk youth before he joined the army and addition to his army service. And also, with his trainees as an officer, he was in charge of basic trainees and he became like their father, like their parent. And he saw the humanity in every single one of them.

We always said he had X-ray eyes and he gave of himself to every trainee. And in this situation, it was clear to me that he would put himself in the front because he saw himself as the person who needs to protect other people and who takes responsibility for other people. And that was a life, that was a line that went through him throughout his life.

PHILLIP: He sounds like an amazing person. I wonder, when was the last time you were able to talk to him?

KAMINKA: We spoke to him about a week before. We were actually away for the week prior to the event. And we spoke to him the day before and planned to come visit him on his base on Saturday.

And none of us could have imagined in our worst nightmares that he would be on the front line in this war and protecting other people's lives and keeping other people safe behind him.

PHILLIP: You were planning to visit him just before this attack occurred?

KAMINKA: Yeah. We hadn't seen him in a week and it was clear to us that we were going to come to his base and visit him and be with him over the weekend when the war broke out.


But he --yeah. And Yanai, not only did he put him, he and his colleagues run out and put themselves in the front line and keep all of their trainees safe, they came under a massive artillery barrage at 6:30 in the morning and they got all of their basic trainees into shelters and they ran out to the perimeter posts and took their place and made sure that their trainees were safe inside.

There were also civilians who'd run into the base to take cover and kept them safe. And also, behind the base there was a kibbutz and they knew that if the Hamas terrorists were able to get through their line of defense, there would be a massacre. And they fought them off for us an extended period of time, which gave the kibbutz behind them time to prepare and to fend off the attack.

And in that kibbutz, there were no casualties. And among his trainees, there was only one casualty. And Yanai and his comrades, they didn't -- they warrant that he was an officer and he didn't put his soldiers in the line of danger and stay back. They put themselves in front and kept their soldiers and the civilians that they were protecting safe. And that was the kind of person that Yanai was.

He always saw the humanity in each and every person that was in front of him. He took the time to talk to his soldiers in the evening, to get to know them, their personal stories. And that's so not common in the military, in a military framework, it doesn't encourage that kind of interpersonal connection.

And for him, that was his life value, to see every single person, no matter who they were and where they were from and what their rank was. And their ethnicity or their gender or their religion and to see them as a human being, as an individual and always to think about the other person before himself. And that was a line that really went with him throughout his whole life.

PHILLIP: There are so many other families that are preparing to see their loved ones deployed right now in this war. Do you have a message for those families? Any words for them tonight as they await this, you know, ground invasion that could be coming any moment now.

KAMINKA: I think the only thing that any of us, that I feel I have to say is no one wants anyone else to die. We lost -- we lost the most important thing to us and the idea of additional lives being lost. I don't care who they are. I don't care if it's another mother losing their child. To me is something that I can't -- that I don't want to see and I can't bear.

And on one hand, this was -- this was a horrible attack on innocent civilians and it can't be fixed. There's no way to fix that. And I can't -- the idea of more lives lost just tears me apart because I know what it means. I know what it means to lose your child.

PHILLIP: Elana, I'm so sorry about the loss of your son, but what you described, his heroic actions, saved so many other lives. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. We really appreciate it.

KAMINKA: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And we'll be back in a moment.



PHILLIP: As President Biden is set to take a high-stakes trip to Israel in the middle of a war, Secretary of State Blinken moments ago announced a plan to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN; SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, and at our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, and them alone, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm's way.


PHILLIP: And joining me to discuss the unfolding crisis in the Middle East is Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor as well. Governor Christie, thanks for being here.


PHILLIP: I want to start on that point by Secretary Blinken that he made there, focusing on the humanitarian part of this. You said recently that you supported Israel's decision not to allow food, water, electricity into Gaza. This new plan, which would allow humanitarian assistance in, do you support that?

CHRISTIE: Look, I think as long as the Israeli government is in concert with us on it, then that would be fine. But I think what we have to do is do everything we can to support their efforts in trying to convey very clearly to Hamas that the terrorist attack done on Israel was completely unjustified and deserves retaliation.

So, if Secretary Blinken is working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and that's a joint effort, then I have no objection to it. But Israel should have the right to make that call.

PHILLIP: But you said last week to Wolf, I think this is where I wanted to understand your thinking, that you thought it was acceptable for the civilian population to be deprived of basically basics to survive -- if Israel wanted that.

I mean, here it seems the Biden administration has applied pressure to prevent that deprivation from happening. I mean, if you were president of the United States, would you have done a similar thing?

CHRISTIE: Well, first off, what I said last week was that Hamas brought this on themselves and brought this on their citizens. And I think the context of that question was, you know, do I think it's justified for Israel to do this? Yes. Given that Hamas came to Israel and killed civilians and kidnapped civilians and still has them in custody, then civilians on both sides are at risk now.

Now, again, as I said, as long as Israel is on course with this and thinks it's okay, I have no objection to it. But I don't think that Hamas should be dictating terms to Israel after what Hamas did to kill civilians and kidnap civilians inside Israel.

[22:50:00] PHILLIP: One of the other things that President Biden has said recently is that he thinks it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza City. On that question, where do you stand? Is it wise for Israel to go in and then find itself in an occupying situation there?

Look, I think that's always hard. And I think they have to make the decision about How much damage can they inflict to the terrorists in Gaza without having to own, occupying, and running Gaza? And that's going to be a military decision and an intelligence decision that the Israeli government should make.

I think President Biden is wise to say, be careful about the idea of occupying Gaza City because getting in is much easier than getting out. But the Israelis need to decide for themselves about how they can eliminate the terrorist threat to their country and their people. And they got to make that call. But I think President Biden saying what he said, you know, was advice, and that's what friends do.

PHILLIP: Lessons, perhaps, from the United States' experience after 9- 11, is that --

CHRISTIE: Well, certainly.

PHILLIP: -- the lesson that we, as a nation, have learned?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, I think that the problem with drawing that analogy is, when President Biden pulled us out of Afghanistan, we see what results that had been which is the Taliban back in place as a government.

PHILLIP: Well, I think that perhaps you're making the point that after 20 years, the Taliban was still around. We waged a war for two decades, and it seemed to not have the effect that was intended.

CHRISTIE: I think the effect that was intended was to make sure that there were going to be no more terrorist attacks from that area on the United States, and that has been a success. I don't think the goal was ever to eliminate the Taliban.

But the question is, given what's happened, are we now seeing an increase in terrorist activity around the world. But saying Afghanistan is the cause of that, but I am saying it's a contributor.

PHILLIP: I want to play for you what former President Trump said about what he would do when it comes to these refugees that potentially could be coming from Gaza. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I banned refugees from Syria, I banned refugees from Somalia, very dangerous places and from all of the most dangerous places all over the world.

And in my second term we're going to expand each and every one of those bans. We aren't bringing in anyone from Gaza, Syria, Somalia, Yemen or Libya or anywhere else that threatens our security. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And Governor DeSantis said something similar, that the United States shouldn't let Gazans in because in his view, they all hate Israel. What would you do?

CHRISTIE: I don't think we should let Gazans in because I think we're doing more than enough to try to deal with that situation in Israel. And I think we need to be supporting Israel.

And for the Gazan refugees, there are a lot of other places for Gazan refugees to go, starting with the border crossing in Egypt, which should be opened, in my view, given our level of support that we give to the Egyptian military year after year after year. The least they can do is open up and allow Gazans to come there.

So, I don't think America should be a place of first option for refugees, especially, Abby, considering that we're taking in 200,000 of folks who are trying to come over the border every month in America under our southern border. I don't think that's what we should be doing.

PHILLIP: It sounds like both of your rivals in this Republican race are suggesting the same thing, that Gazans, just because they are from Gaza, should not be allowed in. That sounds like a different thing from what you're saying.

CHRISTIE: It is different.

PHILLIP: Trump is also connecting it to, back when he was running in 2016, what he then called basically a Muslim ban.

CHRISTIE: Right. It didn't work back then. It was a bad idea back then. What I'm saying is that everyone in the world is going to have to contribute to trying to deal with the aftermath of the terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel.

One of those potential problems is a refugee problem. It seems to me that the Middle Eastern countries surrounding the Gaza Strip can take in those refugees. I don't think that should be an obligation in the United States.

We're there to help to make sure that Israel can appropriately defend its sovereignty, its borders, and its people. And that's a huge contribution from the American people and the American taxpayers. And refugees, in my view, should not have to be one of the things we do.

PHILLIP: All right, Governor Christie, stand by for us. I want to get your take on some other news today about this extraordinary gag order that a judge imposed on Trump in his election interference case. We'll be back in just a moment.


[22:57:09] PHILLIP: Tonight, Donald Trump is forbidden to continue his attacks against Special Counsel Jack Smith or risk facing jail. Judge Tanya Chutkan imposing a limited gag order on the former president in the election interference case saying that Trump does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases.

Back with me now as Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Christie. Governor Christie, this limited gag order issued by Judge Chutkan really is -- kind of extraordinary, just given the former president's old job. But what do you make of the fact that she had to go there?

CHRISTIE: Well, that's him. I mean, Abby, that's him. He's going to always, always push the edge of propriety, the edge of legality. That's why he's under indictment in four different jurisdictions. That's why he's out on bail in four different jurisdictions. And the fact is that a gag order like this is not extraordinary in a criminal case.

It's only extraordinary because you're dealing with a former president of the United States who's running for president. But here's what Republican voters in the primary have to remember. He's a criminal defendant. He doesn't get special rights because he's the former president. He is a criminal defendant indicted by a grand jury of his peers in the District of Columbia.

And so, he can't go out there and start polluting the jury pool by impugning potential witnesses, by impugning the prosecution and impugning the judge. It wouldn't be allowed for any other criminal defendant, and it shouldn't be allowed for him.

But I give the judge credit that she narrowly tailored this so that he can still continue to talk about whether he believes the case was politically motivated. So, she's making an acknowledgement towards his candidacy, but she's not going to allow him to act illegally and unethically as a criminal defendant.

PHILLIP: All right, so here's how Trump responded to all of this. Listen.


TRUMP: What they don't understand is that I am willing to go to jail if that's what it takes for our country to win and become a democracy again.


PHILLIP: First of all, do you believe him? Is he willing to go to jail?

CHRISTIE: It's a complete lie. He's a coward. The last place he wants to spend five minutes is in jail. And by the way, having done this for seven years as the U.S. Attorney in the fifth largest office in this country, no one should want to go to federal prison. It's not a pleasant place.

PHILLIP: But he's playing the victim here for his supporters, clearly.

CHRISTIE: Well, of course he is. He plays it all the time. Look, Donald Trump doesn't want any legitimate debate or discussion about his conduct. Okay, he's not showing up at the presidential debates, so he doesn't have it. He's not interacting with other candidates or really with any kind of network interviews because he doesn't want to do it. He only wants to do is stand in front of a microphone like that, lie, and allow some people to believe it.


But that's why, Abby, we got to have vigorous conversation. That's why I objected to the RNC a couple weeks ago stopping Vivek Ramaswamy and I from having a discussion on another network for 45 minutes to be able to talk about these issues and talk about Donald Trump and what he's been as a candidate.

That's why if your viewers out there care about it, keep me on the debate stage. Go to, donate a dollar, you'll keep me on the debate stage because when Donald Trump shows up, believe me, Abby, the last person he wants sitting there is me.

PHILLIP: We'll see if he does show up at any of these debates. Governor Christie, thank you for joining us tonight.

CHRISTIE: Abby, thank you and good luck.

PHILLIP: Thank you. And thank you very much for watching "News Night". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Hey Laura.

LAURA COATES, "LAURA COATES LIVE" ANCHOR: Hey, so good to see you.

PHILLIP: Looking good over there.

COATES: Oh, well, thank you, Abby. You noticed. Thank you so much. You look great yourself. Such a great show especially at trying times, so informative. Thank you so much.

PHILLIP: Have a great show, Laura.

COATES: We'll see you right back here tomorrow.