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Hamas Releases Hostage Video; Interview With Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV); New Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 11:00   ET



KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: But this is a bigger issue in the world of Donald Trump. It is about this case, these two people suing him, the Justice Department and the administration over what happened to them, their -- Strzok's firing and text messages.

But it also is about Donald Trump, the confidentiality around the presidency, and all of the things he may have to say now about what happened when he was in office as president -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right, Katelyn Polantz following this for us.

Katelyn, keep us posted.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: President Biden showing his iron clad support of Israel, preparing to leave Washington for the Middle East, set to land in Israel tomorrow, a show of solidarity and also very clearly a search for solutions.

Israel is hitting new Hamas targets in Gaza today from the sky. This was the scene just last hour in Northern Gaza. You see a plume of smoke, dust rising after an airstrike.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health, from their perspective, they say that strikes like this one are now damaging and shutting hospitals down. In Southern Gaza, where Palestinians have been told to evacuate to, to flee to, this was the scene outside a hospital there, one of the hospitals still running, ambulances urgently rushing new victims in for care -- John.

BERMAN: So, our reporters who are in the Israeli city of Ashkelon in Israel right here, they have seen rockets fall. Those rockets have been fired from inside Gaza.

And it is important to point out, these are the kibbutzim where some 1,400 people were killed more than a week ago. That is the basis of this current conflict that we're seeing right now between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

One other thing we should note, this is the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza. A senior Israeli official is now saying that they will allow some aid in, but if any of it falls into Hamas hands, Israel says they would stop any aid from going over that border.

And it'll be very difficult to keep Hamas away from whatever crosses from Egypt into Gaza.

Our Sara Sidner is now standing by in Tel Aviv.

Sara, tell us what you're seeing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Yes, here in Israel and across the world, people are seeing a video of a hostage for the very first time, Hamas revealing that on social media.

And we have also heard from the mother of that hostage that has been taken to Gaza. She is injured, you can see in the video. We are not showing that to you, out of an abundance. It is also used as propaganda by Hamas.

But we have been seeing the look in her eyes. She is scared. And her mother for the very first time, who had no idea whether or not her daughter was alive or not, she is now speaking about the fact that this finally showed her that her daughter was alive. She is relieved, but also horrified.

I'm going to go there in just a bit. We're going to hear from the mother of one of the hostages that has been shown.

But we're going to go now to where Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. You see them meeting. There are hands being shaken. You see Antony Blinken there standing in front of the United States flag, this meeting important.

This meeting is important for trying to figure out what to do with the Palestinian population that is in Gaza. But it should be made clear the Palestinian Authority does not have authority, if you will, over Gaza.

That is a Hamas territory and Hamas has been in power there for a very long time. There, you are seeing Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank only, meeting with Secretary of State Blinken.

One of the things that I am sure they're going to be discussing is how to get Palestinians out of Gaza, the civilians there who have been waiting for days, rushing to that Rafah border, which is the southern border. Opened up, it is not yet, and trying to get people to safety and into potentially Egypt as this war continues.

Let's take a listen. That is the picture from Amman, Jordan, just across the border.


I would like to bring in now Clarissa Ward, who has been in Ashkelon for us. And over this day, she has been experiencing a lot of the rocket attacks, the booms of the awful sounds of war there. I am curious from you what is happening there and how significant this

meeting is between President Abbas and the secretary of state, as they try to figure out how to help the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians who are in dire straits at this hour.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, this meeting is an urgently needed one.

The situation in Gaza, by all accounts, is rapidly escalating out of control. We have been hearing a steady stream of strikes on Gaza in the distance, but also, more alarmingly, earlier on today, reports of multiple strikes near that border crossing, Rafah.

That's the border crossing with Egypt. That's where all these intensive diplomatic efforts are focused on trying to open up right now to allow desperately needed aid into that southern part of Gaza.

The issue is that the Egyptians are basically saying there's no guarantee of security as long as there are continued strikes going on. That's from the Egyptian perspective. The Israelis, of course, are pointing the fingers at Hamas. Hamas is pointing their fingers at the Israelis.

And, in the meantime, it's the oldest cliche of war, but it's true. It really is the civilians who are suffering the most profoundly; 3,000 Palestinians have now been killed since Hamas' bloody attacks 10 days ago, the U.N. warning that 600,000 people have been displaced from their homes, told to evacuate to the southern part of the enclave.

But there is not enough electricity. There is not enough food. There is not enough medicine. One of the doctors at MSF, a Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders-sponsored hospital in Gaza saying that they are being forced to perform surgeries at the moment without painkillers.

Now, the mechanisms for establishing a way to get that aid in, to allow foreign nationals out, to allow the most seriously wounded out is the topic that everybody is waiting for some kind of a breakthrough on.

It's complex for many reasons. That's why this meeting, of course, between Blinken and Abbas is so important. Presumably, they will also be talking, Sara, about, if there is an Israeli ground offensive into Gaza, if Israel does carry out on its promise to essentially decapitate Hamas, what kind of power will be established to take over to ensure that there is no vacuum?

So, no shortage of very important, pressing issues for those two leaders to discuss, but, of course, the primary being trying to get that desperately needed aid in as quickly as possible, Sara.

SIDNER: Yes, those are all really important points that you made there, Clarissa.

And I just want to talk about the 600,000 people to give people a sense of how many people that is, because it's hard to get that in your mind.

It is the size -- bigger than the population of one whole city. Oakland, California has about 450,000 people.

All right, we are hearing some blast. I don't know if you can hear that. But, just behind me, we are hearing some very large booms. I don't know where that is coming from. But we're certainly hearing them here in Tel Aviv, which means one of two things. It is either rockets coming over from Gaza being hit by the Iron Dome, or it is blasts in Gaza.

But it sounded like, because of where it's coming from, that it is probably the Iron Dome reacting to rockets coming our way. We did not hear sirens either. Normally, we hear the sirens to warn you.

So, just giving you that update here in Tel Aviv. We are all, and especially Gaza, in an active war zone, because Israel has declared war many days ago, one week ago, on Gaza.

Clarissa, thank you so much for all your reporting there in Ashkelon, which is close to the border with Gaza.

I want to go now to Jeremy Diamond, who is in Jerusalem. We are waiting for President Biden to show up here in Israel. He is going to be heading here. And this was from an invite from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

We also learned this morning that the U.S. has also moved two carrier groups into the region.

Jeremy, can you give us some sense of what that means and also what we are expecting to hear from President Biden when he comes here to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the rest of the Israeli Cabinet?



Well, when President Biden arrives in Tel Aviv tomorrow for this visit, there will be both the symbolism, but also the concrete practical elements of a visit by a president of the United States to Israel at a time of war, the symbolism first of all. This will obviously be a very strong show of solidarity, that kind of no- daylight mantra that we have been hearing from the White House over the last a week and change since this war began.

That is going to continue tomorrow, when President Biden stands shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli prime minister.

But then, of course, there are also the practical implications of the visit, and what perhaps might be announced when the president comes here. It follows visits by his minister -- his secretary of defense, his secretary of state.

And, typically, that would be the lead-up to some kind of announcement when a president actually comes here. We know that he's going to be focused on the situation -- the humanitarian situation inside of Gaza, the situation of Americans being able to leave through that Rafah Crossing into Egypt, as well, of course, as the issue of hostages.

Here's the National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, explaining why the president feels now is the right time to come.


JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: The president believes that this is exactly the right time to go to Israel and to go to Jordan to speak to other leaders in the region about the humanitarian assistance that we want to make sure gets into Gaza, about Israeli plans and intentions going forward, how this is unfolding on the ground, and absolutely to continue to talk to regional partners about those hostages and getting -- and see if we can -- getting them home back to their families, where they belong.


DIAMOND: And this will be the president's second visit to a war zone just this year, of course, after he visited Ukraine earlier in the year.

This visit is unfolding very differently, though. They have announced it ahead of time, rather than making it a secret. The White House says they're comfortable with those security measures. But there is still an element of risk.

Even just yesterday, when Secretary Blinken was meeting with the Israeli prime minister for nearly eight hours at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, sirens, rocket sirens, went off twice during that visit, and they had to go to those bomb shelters.

And as you have been hearing today, Sara, there have been rockets being fired in the direction of Tel Aviv, near south Tel Aviv. So that is a very real possibility, something that the White House has to consider as the president arrives tomorrow.

SIDNER: Yes, there is no doubt, if there is one thing that is true, this is an active war zone all across Israel and, of course, in Gaza.

Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much for your reporting at this hour -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Sara, thank you so much.

Coming up for us: The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as we know and see, is growing. The key point of access, the Rafah Crossing, still closed. How to get aid in and also continue to target the Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel last week, that is the focus of top- level diplomacy right now. More on that ahead.

Plus, back in the United States, there is action on the House floor, Republicans headed there very soon. Will they finally leave the floor with a speaker of the House? New updates from Capitol Hill ahead.



BERMAN: All right, happening now, we're less than an hour away to a vote on the House floor for speaker of the House.

By CNN's count, Republican Jim Jordan has made progress, but he is still short of the votes that he needs, at least on the first ballot. He can only afford to lose three Republicans. And we count right now at least five firm no's.

With me now is Congresswoman Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us.

Jim Jordan has made a lot of progress. If, at the end of the day, Jim Jordan is the speaker of the House, how would you feel about that?

REP. DINA TITUS (D-NV): Well, I certainly don't support Jim Jordan. I don't support him in the good institution or for the good of my constituents in Nevada.

His record is not much of one when it comes to passing any bills, I think one resolution the whole time he's been here. And the positions he takes are contrary to what we need in my home state in Las Vegas too, the abortion issue, the election issue.

He's an election denier. His name was the first one on the petition challenging Nevada's vote in the last presidential election. So we're not that crazy about him.

BERMAN: So, if he does win, though, what regrets, if any, will you have that he has the job? This is a guy who was an election denier. This is a guy who was on the phone with Donald Trump on January 6.

How much better off? Would you be with him than Kevin McCarthy?

TITUS: Well, I wouldn't be any better off than with Kevin McCarthy. But that's in the past. We got to look to the future.

He hadn't gotten the votes yet. The scheduled vote for noon has already been put off to 1:00. And I know he's been working the phones. Probably, Donald Trump's been strong-arming people, because that is his man.

On the meantime, Democrats are united behind Hakeem Jeffries, and we're proud of his leadership. We don't have to be dragged kicking and screaming, like they apparently are on the Republican side.

BERMAN: We just chase down Congressman Jim Jordan in the hallways of the Capitol. Let's listen to what he just said.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We feel really good.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How many ballots are you willing to go? Will you do as much as Kevin McCarthy?

JORDAN: We need to get a speaker today, and we feel really good about where we're at.


JORDAN: I'm sorry. I'm going over to meet with...


RAJU: Does this mean ballot after ballot, the way McCarthy did?

JORDAN: Whatever it takes to get a speaker today.


QUESTION: What are some of the concerns that you have still heard from members?

JORDAN: We have been picking up support every day.


JORDAN: And so it's been -- again, I feel -- I feel confident.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to President Trump? Are you asking him to help you with this vote?

JORDAN: I haven't been talking to President Trump. I haven't talked to the president in a couple of days.

QUESTION: How have the whip efforts been going?

JORDAN: Very good.

RAJU: Why won't you say to Ken Buck that the election was stolen in 2020 -- that it was not stolen?


BERMAN: No answer there At the end.

Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, has asked Jim Jordan to acknowledge that it was a fair election in 2020. He has not done so to Ken Buck's liking.

If Jordan wins, Congresswoman, how will Democrats work with him going forward? And what do you think the impact of having him as speaker might have on the 2024 race?

TITUS: Well, if a speaker who knows if he would certify the election, since he didn't support it last time, and said it was unfair.

But Democrats have been offering a hand across the line for a good while. We say it takes some bipartisan cooperation. We're willing to cooperate. But he's going to drag the party so far to the left, it's going to be difficult to pass some of the measures that are important.

He was opposed to all those good recovery bills that helped Nevada climb from 35 percent to 4 percent unemployment. I don't know what he's going to do. I think that his caucus -- you talk about the moderate Republicans. Where are those moderate Republicans? Why don't they have the courage to stand up to him?

Because we are coming after them with everything that has been on his agenda, Social Security, roll it back, Medicare, roll it back, women's rights, roll it back, environmental protection, roll it back. I don't think that's a winning agenda. And it's going to be hard to get him to kind of come to the middle.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about what's happening in Israel right now.

President Biden is headed there tomorrow. What do you want to see accomplished on that trip?

TITUS: Well, I think it's a good thing that he's going. It's good timing. It's a statement to the rest of the world, and also to the area in which Israel is the neighborhood.

It's a strong statement of our continued support for Israel. It's also a way to establish that we should follow the rules of war. It's a way to try to work on the deal that has been started under Blinken, to look for ways to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and that shuttle diplomacy in the whole area.

He's going to make another stop. I think that's also shores up Blinken's efforts to keep this contained and not have it spread throughout the rest of the Middle East.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Dina Titus from Nevada, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.

TITUS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up...

BERMAN: Kate, sorry.

Just it was very interesting there.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

BERMAN: One of the things she said, it was sort of buried in here, but I want people to pay attention. She said she issued a warning to moderate Republicans.

She said, moderate Republicans, if Jim Jordan wins, we're going to come after you if you don't stand up to him. This could be a campaign issue for Democrats heading into 2024.

BOLDUAN: It's not a, be careful what you wish for, right?

BERMAN: Yes. BOLDUAN: It's like, they're now between the new rock and hard place. Do they want to have a speaker? And if they do, what are they going to do about it with the one that they get?

BERMAN: Interesting.

BOLDUAN: Great interview.

Coming up for us, what we're learning. And we're learning more about those taken hostage by Hamas from the new video released of one of the hostages.

That new video and what we're learning from it -- next.



BERMAN: Israel says Hamas might be holding as many as 199 hostages taken captive in the terror attacks that killed some 1,400 people.

One of those believed to have been taken captive is 21-year-old Mia Schem. She was abducted from the music festival, where hundreds were killed in the attack.

BOLDUAN: CNN spoke to Mia's mother and brothers last night about the video that Hamas released of their sister and their daughter.


ELI SCHEM, BROTHER OF MIA SCHEM: That's all we want, just to get Mia back to us.

KEREN SCHARF SCHEM, MOTHER OF MIA SCHEM: We are begging the world to bring my baby home.


BOLDUAN: With us right now, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen for more on this.

Peter, thank you for coming in. You have had some conversations kind of leading in the past days of what really are the aims and goals of Hamas? The IDF says that these this hostage video being released is psychological warfare on Israeli civilians. What do you think it is?


It's also pro of life that the hostage has been taken. In hostage- taking situations, often, the terrorist group will release a video. Obviously, it's very, very traumatizing for the family.

But, as you know, Kate, you have got 189 hostages. Hamas claims 200, 250. You also have Palestine -- Palestinian Islamic Jihad that claimed 30 hostages at the beginning. So it's still not very clear who exactly has been taken. So, this is a proof of life, a video of one hostage. And we have seen Tony Blinken go to -- go to Qatar and speak to the

Qatari government, which I think is probably.