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Kirby: Israel Will Begin Daily 4-Hour Pauses In Northern Gaza; U.S. Airstrikes Hit Iranian Weapons Warehouse In Syria; Candidates Clash On Abortion In Third GOP Debate. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 13:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The White House says that Israel has formalized the plan to briefly pause fighting in parts of Gaza each day. Meantime, Israeli forces say they've captured a Hamas stronghold in Gaza. Just moments we'll take you live to Israel.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And the Republican presidential candidates minus the front runner, Donald Trump, hold a fiery debate filled with lots of low blows. And it seems they're still struggling to come up with a winning message on abortion.

Plus, the labor movement puts more points on the board. What we're learning about the tentative end of strikes in Hollywood and on the Vegas Strip. We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN News Central.

SANCHEZ: We begin this afternoon with the Israel-Hamas war after weeks of voicing opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza. Today, the White House announcing that Israel is formalizing a plan to allow for four-hour long pauses each day. Windows designed to allow Palestinian civilians to evacuate Northern Gaza. And those breaks will also allow critical humanitarian assistance in to the enclave.

Let's take you live to Tel Aviv with CNN's Jeremy Diamond. So Jeremy, when will these pauses effectively start?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris in some ways they have already begun. Over the last five days, Israel has been implementing what it has termed an evacuation corridor, to allow for Palestinian civilians in the northern part of the Gaza Strip to flee south as the humanitarian situation has deteriorated and as the fighting has, of course grown more intense on the ground with Israeli forces pushing deeper into Gaza City.

But today the White House's National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby, effectively saying that Israel has agreed to humanitarian pauses in areas of the Northern Gaza Strip. And what he is saying is that these pauses will allow for more humanitarian aid to make it into the northern part of the Gaza Strip and also for civilians to be able to flee south. So this appears to be formalizing what Israel has already begun to implement over the last several days, whether or not this is a widening of what we have seen over the last several days, I think still remains to be seen.

What we do know is that tens of thousands of civilians have already made use of these corridors in order to flee south over the last several days. Just yesterday, 50,000 civilians have fled South according to both the IDF as well as U.N. monitors. And so regardless of the language here that's being used by the White House or by the Israelis, it seems clear that at least this will provide some kind of respite for those Palestinian civilians who have been suffering even greater in the last several days and weeks, as we have watched hospitals in Northern Gaza run out of medical supplies, we have seen electricity run out as fuel has become scarce in those hospitals. And this could also, of course, we know allow for some additional mediation on the hostage front as well.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And Jeremy, on that point, we understand that negotiation discussions between the intelligence chiefs for Israel, the U.S. and Qatari officials have continued, what more do we know about those discussions and where they stand right now?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's Boris. And watching the collision of these two things happening at the same time, you know, you can read between the lines, we know that one of the main things that negotiators have pushed for, as they have tried to make progress here is for some kind of tactical pause, some kind of humanitarian pause on the ground to allow more space for these negotiations.

And at the same time, we are learning that the head of the CIA, the head of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service as well as the Qatari prime minister, sat down today to discuss a potential deal to release 10 to 20 hostages being held by Hamas, and in exchange to allow for a three-day ceasefire as well as humanitarian aid to be brought into the Gaza Strip also for Hamas to compile and provide a list of hostages being held.

We have watched of course, Boris, over the last several weeks as these very complex, very fragile talks have appeared to come closer to a potential deal and then we have also watched those talks fall apart. So it is very important to keep that in mind even as we are watching these negotiations move further along today it seems. But it remains to be seen whether Israel is prepared to agree to a ceasefire in exchange for that number of civilians.


Is that a sufficient enough number of civilians for the Israeli prime minister who has said no ceasefire until all hostages are released? Will he be able to agree to that? And will Hamas be able to agree to these terms and to this kind of mechanism as well? The devil, of course, will be in the details. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes. And even as those talks move along, we just heard the Israeli President effectively say that any deal that Hamas has put forward thus far has been unserious. So we'll see where that goes. Jeremy Diamond from Tel Aviv, thank you so much.

We want to take you now to the Pentagon where Secretary of State, rather, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed last night that U.S. forces once they self-defense strike inside Syria. CNN national security reporter Natasha Bertrand is there. Natasha, tell us more about this strike.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Boris, two F-15 fighter jets launched this airstrike on a weapons storage facility that U.S. officials say was being used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as its proxy groups to launch attacks on U.S. forces in the region over recent weeks. And there have been about 40 such attacks by these Iran-backed groups against U.S. and coalition bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17th.

And this was a way for the U.S. to retaliate against those attacks, as well as to try to degrade that Iranian infrastructure that they say is allowing these groups to continue carrying out these attacks. Now, according to Austin, in his statement last night, he emphasized that this was a limited self-defense strike, and that he does not want to see and the U.S. writ large does not want to see this conflict escalate any further. He urged against any further escalation by these groups.

And defense officials revealed last night that they have actually been in touch with Iran directly to communicate to them that they expect Iran to stay out of this conflict and to rein in those proxy groups. And so this was a limited according to the Pentagon, self-defense act. And they, you know, were questioned very repeatedly by the Pentagon press corps, about how sustainable this is because the Iran-backed groups, they have continued launching these attacks in recent weeks, even after the U.S. has launched these airstrikes on these ammunition and weapons depots. And so it remains to be seen whether this really has any deterrent effect. Boris?

SANCHEZ: And notably, Natasha, this also comes on the heels of another Iranian-backed group of Houthi forces in Yemen, shooting down an unmanned U.S. military drone. Bring us up to speed on that.

BERTRAND: Yes, so this happened over the Red Sea yesterday, an unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drone conducting surveillance activity in the region. It was shot down by Houthi rebels. And they are backed, as you said, by Iran. They operate in Yemen. And the U.S. is investigating, CENTCOM is investigating the incident.

But this comes just a few weeks after a U.S. Navy warship intercepted several missiles and drones by the same Houthi-backed forces that were launched. And according to the Pentagon, they were headed towards Israel. And the U.S., as you can see, is taking a kind of a more active effort here to try to intercept all of these attacks by these Iran-backed groups in the region towards Israel and towards U.S. forces. And that is contributing to the major concern here that this conflict could escalate and spiral out of control, something that the U.S. is communicating to the Iranians as well as other people in the region that they do not want to see. And that is, of course, why they have placed all of that military hardware in the region, including those carrier strike groups, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Natasha Bertrand from the Pentagon, thanks so much. Brianna? KEILAR: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that there will be no ceasefire without the release of hostages. The CIA director Bill Burns and his Israeli counterpart, the head of Mossad, met with officials in Qatar today, as they're trying to work out a hostage release. So let's talk now with Leon Panetta, of course, the former CIA director, also former Defense Secretary during the Obama administration. Sir, thanks for being with us. This meeting, that I'm sure you are watching closely in Qatar, obviously a lot of it private, but how fruitful do you think it could prove to be if they discussed a proposed plan for the release of 10 to 20 hostages for a three day ceasefire in Gaza? That really doesn't sound like many hostages for a pretty significant ceasefire.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you've got the right people in those negotiations. The CIA director is involved along with other key officials. And so I'm glad that they're in the process of negotiating. Obviously, the question is going to be, what is the price for the release of these hostages? If it is a ceasefire, then obviously, Israel will have something to say about that as to whether or not that price is something they're willing to pay.

So it's a sensitive negotiation. I guess all of us hope that we can have a successful release of some of these hostages. But, you know, considering the players that are involved, I don't think we can guarantee that that's going to happen.


KEILAR: What would Hamas do with a three day ceasefire?

PANETTA: Well, that's the concern, obviously, three day ceasefire, any kind of ceasefire would give them the opportunity to be able to reinforce themselves and reposition themselves and be able to ultimately continue the attack. So that's obviously what Israel is going to be thinking about. I do believe that some kind of pause in order to exchange the hostages make some sense. But how long a ceasefire goes on, well, I think will be the most controversial issue in these negotiations.

KEILAR: Another U.S. strike on an Iranian weapons storage facility in Syria after dozens of these attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. assets in the region. Is this the limit of U.S. response? Is this really enough to deter these attacks by Iranian proxies that are injuring U.S. troops in the region?

PANETTA: Well, I'm concerned about the number of attacks that we're seeing. We've had about almost 41 attacks taking place by these proxy groups that are supported by Iran. We've actually injured 46 U.S. forces as a result of those attacks. I think 25 are suffering traumatic brain injury. So we are seeing a much more aggressive effort here by these proxy forces. And although I'm glad we responded with the attacks on weapons facilities, I think we may have to consider reacting a lot more quickly when these attacks occur, in order to make clear that we're not going to tolerate those kinds of attacks, and be able to defend our forces. Yet, you know, I know everybody's concerned about escalation. But I think the first priority is to defend U.S. lives.

KEILAR: Yes, these TBIs, as you well know, can be life altering certainly. John Kirby at the White House announced Israel is going to begin daily four-hour humanitarian pauses. Of course, that's already been happening for days. It appears this is just a formalization of what the IDF has already been doing in that time. So what is this announcement? Is this for a domestic audience here in the U.S., Democrats who think that Biden isn't doing enough with the Gaza situation?

PANETTA: Well, I think we have to take it, you know, for what it says, which is that Israel is agreeing to these humanitarian pauses in order to be able to allow humanitarian aid to those civilians who have been injured. And I'm glad that's happening. I think we do have to continue to provide humanitarian aid. At the same time, I don't think in any way, Israel is pulling back from the main goal here, which is to destroy Hamas. I think they're going to continue to go after Hamas.

The only hope we have is that they can do it in a way that allows for these humanitarian pauses to take place at the same time. I think if they do that, I think they'll be much more support for the effort that they're conducting to ultimately destroy Hamas.

KEILAR: How likely is it right now do you think that the U.S. gets sucked into a broader conflict in the Middle East? And why do you think that reacting more quickly to these attacks on U.S. assets that are affecting us troops? How do you think that that would not drag the U.S. into a broader conflict?

PANETTA: Well, there's a fundamental issue here right now, which is the credibility of the United States, the President made clear to all of these proxy forces don't get involved. He said, don't do it. Don't do it. And yet they're continuing these attacks. As I said, we've had 41 attacks. I think the reason we deployed our forces to that region, both our carrier forces as well as our troops on the ground, the Marines that are there as well. It's for the purpose of deterrence, of stopping them from conducting these attacks.

And so we have our power in the region. We have the capability to be able to make clear that we are not going to tolerate these attacks. I think we've sent a clear message to Iran that we're not going to allow these attacks to take place. I think it's very important for the United States to be able to make clear that we are not going to suddenly just simply stand back and allow them to continue these attacks on U.S. forces.


KEILAR: Secretary, we appreciate your time. Secretary Leon Panetta, thank you.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Very good to be with you, sir.

Still to come this hour, President Biden is in Illinois. He is in auto plant that is reopening as part of the deal between the UAW and Stellantis. We will bring you those remarks live.

Plus, Nikki Haley calling Vivek Ramaswamy scum after he dragged her daughter's name into last night's GOP presidential debate. Her adult daughter by the way, we'll have more on that next.

And later the Department of Justice bust a network of high end brothels with an elite clientele. You're watching CNN News Central. We'll be right back.



KEILAR: Now that the dust has settled on Election Day 2023, the 2024 race for the White House is in full swing. Voters heard the pitches from five Republican presidential hopefuls last night. At times, though this debate in Miami felt more like a roast chalk it up maybe to Donald Trump's influence on the party. Except, once again, he wasn't there.

The former president and current GOP front runner made his case at a rally nearby. In a few minutes, it's President Biden's turn. He is again hoping to persuade Americans that his economic policies are working, a message that has yet to resonate, according to polls. He'll deliver the message to a crowd of auto workers in Illinois and with some wind in his sails after Democrats notched major wins across the country on Tuesday. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is there for us. So Priscilla, what are we going to be hearing from the President?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: While the President is going to be trying to sell his economic agenda and talk about the labor movement. As you mentioned there, polls have showed that voters are still dissatisfied with the economy. So the challenge for the President in his campaign is to shore up support and make points to know that the economy is moving in the right direction.

And here in Illinois, Brianna, he is speaking to a friendly crowd and that is union workers. This is a bloc that buoyed his bid in 2020, and one that he will be leaning on going into 2024. And notably, he's going to meet with UAW President Shawn Fain. Now remember, during the UAW strike, there was back and forth between the White House and the union. And the two of them will be meeting at a plant.

And while the -- Fain and -- has not yet endorsed a candidate for 2024, sources I have talked to say that there are positive moves here. The President is moving in the right direction to get that endorsement by visiting the picket line in September, but also by standing with him today. And when asked about this earlier, the President said quote, they're going to be fine, that in response to a question about UAW endorsement, and when that may come.

But taking this big picture, Brianna, Illinois overwhelmingly voted for Biden, in 2024. But it is also a state where there are multiple political headwinds that are converging, be it the economy, or also border security. This is a state where Texas Governor Greg Abbott has sent migrants and that has caused strain in Chicago and some sparks tensions between allies of the President like Illinois Governor Pritzker and the Chicago Mayor, with the White House. And so a lot to unfold here in the hours to come.

KEILAR: How worried are they actually about Illinois? Or is it just that there's a little bit of a hangover when it comes to these states? You know, obviously, some pretty unpredictable things have happened in recent years when it comes to Michigan and the like.

ALVAREZ: Above all else, this is a state where they can sell their economic agenda, again, visiting a plant that was reopened because of union negotiations, and also administration action. So it gives them an opportunity to highlight those accomplishments because frankly, Illinois, overwhelmingly voted for President Biden in 2020. And there are allies, top allies in this state. The governor, for example, was in Miami just yesterday, serving as a surrogate for the Biden campaign.

And so they've remained confident. They also remain confident nationwide, given the results on Tuesday. But they know it's going to be a close election and 2024. And so the President is going to continue to fan out across the country. This job is just another example of that.

KEILAR: All right, Priscilla, live for us from Illinois, thank you so much for that. We'll be waiting those comments. Boris?

SANCHEZ: One day after voters in multiple states rebuked Republican attempts to restrict abortion access, five Republican presidential candidates were confronted with the issue on the debate stage. And they didn't see eye to eye on how to snap the party's post Roe losing streak. Watch this.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we're looking at this, there are some states that are going more on the pro-life side. I welcome that. There are some states that are going more on the pro- choice side. I wish that wasn't the case but the people decided.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a 15-week federal limit. Three out of four Americans agree with a 15-week limit.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to do a better job on these referenda. I think of all the stuff that's happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flat footed on these referenda and they have been losing.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Jessica Dean joins us now. Jessica, it took a while to even get to the abortion questions last night, more than an hour. And it didn't seem like the election results on Tuesday had any bearing on how these candidates responded to the abortion questions.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was kind of remarkable to watch it unfold. Obviously there's so much going on with foreign policy right now and it was very heavy on that front. However, we know Democrats are going to push this abortion issue they see it as a winner going into 2024. And we also know that it's most likely this election, this presidential election is going to come down to a handful of states with a lot of swing voters where this issue is very important. And we just listened to the clips of each of those candidates kind of laying out where they stand on it.


We see somebody like Tim Scott tried to coalesce around this 15-week abortion ban. That's exactly what we heard from Governor Glenn Youngkin in Virginia. He really was trying to find a place that he considered to be consensus on this issue. It's not six weeks, like Governor Ron DeSantis signed in Florida or Kim Reynolds signed in Iowa.

And yet, on Tuesday, Virginia gave Democrats the House and the Senate to block part of his agenda, which would have included that. So it remains to be seen if voters actually see that as a consensus issue. And then, for somebody like Ron DeSantis, Governor Ron DeSantis, who did sign that bill right after he had launched his presidential campaign. And he had then gotten pushed and pushed on a national abortion ban at 15 weeks. And now he's kind of starting to come back off of that. And we heard him really laying this at the feet of anti- abortion activists, saying they haven't done a good job. So there was -- it was kind of interesting to see where they landed on this.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and unexpected swipe at pro-life or anti-abortion groups by Florida's governor there. We also saw some fiery exchanges between Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, how much vitriol was directed at former President Trump though. He was obviously not on the stage last night.

DEAN: Not on the stage, doing his own thing as he has with the past debates. And then of course, this one, and the next one, we now know as well, this is more of the same that we've seen from a lot of these candidates that they don't outright go after him all the time, right, that when prodded or when asked, they will go after him. But it's not typical that they will just launch into that. And so they did kind of takes various swipes at him, but only intermittently, I'll let you listen.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll say this about Donald Trump, anybody who's going to be spending the next year and a half of their life, focusing on keeping themselves out of jail and courtrooms cannot leave this party or this country.

HALEY: I can talk about President Trump. I can tell you that I think he was the right president at the right time. I don't think he's the right president now.

DESANTIS: He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DEAN: And I feel like a broken record saying this yet again. But they all want to be the last person standing if and when Trump implodes. That's kind of the plan, right? And yet, they're all trying to thread this needle, where if you voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and in 2020, that they don't offend you so much that you won't vote for them. It's just a hard needle to thread. And as we keep seeing, Trump remains pretty strong with this Republican base.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And notably, to add to that the only one on the stage that said they would oppose Trump as the presidential nominee, even if he was convicted was Chris Christie, didn't seem like he made many waves last night.

DEAN: Right. And then he remains probably the most outspoken critic, right? And so we have expected that from him. But yes, it's a very key thing that you noticed.

SANCHEZ: Jessica Dean, thanks so much.

We want to go to the Hill now CNN's Lauren Fox, because Republicans there are also butting heads. But over the looming shutdown, that's just eight days away. Lauren, bring us up to speed. Is there any deal in sight?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are all waiting to see what the newly minted House Speaker Johnson decides to do when it comes to making sure that the government is funded past that November 17th deadline. Right now, his deputies and leadership are telling us that they're still looking at all of the options on the table. Over the last several days, Johnson has been meeting with members across the ideological spectrum trying to figure out what could get the unification of the Republican Party that he is now leading.

But the reality is the same divisions that bedeviled Kevin McCarthy when he was a speaker are going to be a problem for Mike Johnson. And we saw that playing out on the floor today as the House was trying to pass yet another one year spending bill. These are bills that are dead on arrival in the Senate, but they've had to pull now two of those bills in the last week.

And that just shows you that there are major divisions between how moderates view spending and how some of these hardline conservatives are viewing it. So we are waiting to see what Johnson does. Meanwhile, in the United States Senate, we expect that Chuck Schumer will take action today take a procedural step and set up a vote for early next week, an initial vote on some kind of stopgap measure to make sure the government is funded really setting up this potential collision between the House and the Senate depending on how the respective leaders in both of those chambers decide to proceed. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Some significant early challenges for the newly minted Republican Speaker. Lauren Fox from Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

[13:29:47] It is the historic drama we've been watching play out for months and now the actor strike appears to finally be over. How soon is Hollywood back up and running? We'll break it down in just moments.