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Ahead of Thanksgiving, Winds, Rain, and Snow Poured in the Northeast; Rush Hour Travel Before Thanksgiving Day; Israel-Hamas War; Ahead of Four-Day Truce, IDF Still Hitting Hamas Infrastructure; Before Ceasefire Begins Tomorrow Morning, Explosions Visible Over Gaza; Israel and Hamas Reach a Hostage Agreement and 4-day ceasefire; 2024 GOP Candidates React to Hostage Deal; WH: During Hostage- Negotiating Process, Biden was "Personally Engaged". Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 22, 2023 - 10:30:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: Today, millions of Americans are all trying to do the same thing, get where they need to go ahead of Thanksgiving. Heading to airports, hitting the roads, all the above en masse. One thing we can all be thankful for, the bad weather that was feared is expected to taper off by tonight. So, what does that mean for you today? CNN's Pete Muntean is at Reagan National Airport outside of Washington D. C. for us. Pete, what are you hearing about all of this right now?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, right now, Kate, we're looking at an airport that's been pretty much at capacity. We are through the first part of the morning rush here at Reagan National Airport, but TSA tells me the airport's designed to handle about 40,000 people in total on any one given day, and we are going to get right up to that limit.

The issue is not really getting through security, but what happens after. The weather's still having a pretty big impact. Here are the latest numbers from FlightAware. We just hit 1,000 delays nationwide today after we saw 5,200 yesterday. So, airlines are right now in recovery mode trying to get all these people from what -- to where they need to go.

The anticipation from TSA 2.7 million people passing through security at America's airports today. The big thing that the TSA is trying to underscore is to not add to any of the delays, if you can help it, and really be on your game going through security. The line here, at some points for standard screening, has gone up to about 25 minutes under the TSA goal of getting you through in a half hour or less. And I just want you to listen now to some of the passengers who took that advice to heart.


LIZ HOLLAND, FLIER: It's pretty crazy, but it could be worse. I'm wishing I renewed my TSA.

MELISSA WILLIAMSON, FLIER: This is crazy, you know. I thought it would be like this. So, I'm actually three hours in advance for my flight. See, that's the way to do it.

MUNTEAN: See, that's the way to do it.

WILLIAMSON: Yes. So, I'm just chilling now.



MUNTEAN: There are a lot of people driving. Of the AAA forecast, 55 million people in total traveling 50 miles or more over the next five days, 49 million people will be driving. The worst time to go is later on this afternoon. If you can hit the road now before 11:00 a.m., that is when AAA says you can still hit a bit of a sweet spot. If not, wait until later tonight.

A lot of people, Kate, simply don't have the choice, though, but to travel on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which they say is the worst day to travel. I talked to a teacher here. She teaches in Montgomery County, neighboring D.C., she said she simply couldn't get the time off. She just had to travel today.

BOLDUAN: Yes. So, are you trying to make up for now what we went -- gone through every holiday cycle with you, Pete? Which is telling me that we should all just be taking off and taking off more time in order to avoid the travel congestion? Thanksgiving holiday --

MUNTEAN: Well, the trend is --

BOLDUAN: -- is now a week long.

MUNTEAN: The trend is that there's more of a wave now. It's not as much of peaks and valleys like big days on Wednesday and Sunday. The TSA administrator tells me it's really a 12-day long period that they count for all of the people traveling. So, we're not -- we're really only at the midpoint right now, Kate. And maybe the worst is still to come. We could see 2.9 million people at airports nationwide on Sunday, and that would be the biggest number the TSA has recorded in its 22-year history.

BOLDUAN: We're going to flip this script. It's either -- the worst is yet to come or the best is yet to come, because we can all spend so much time in airports with some new friends that we have yet to meet, and that will be wonderful. This is one of the great reasons to work holidays like we often do, Pete. We avoid all of these headaches. It's good. You stay there. You're never allowed to leave.

MUNTEAN: Happy to be here, always.

BOLDUAN: He brings a cot and a sleeping bag. He's always happy. We're always happy to be present. And we'll get back to you, Pete.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I always find the lines are longest when I'm in them. That's usually when they piece.

BOLDUAN: So, the common denominator is you're the problem.

JIMENEZ: Yes, I know. It's me. Hi, everyone.

All right. Even with that rain, wind and snow moving out tonight, it could still mess up some travel plans. That's why we got CNN's Allison Chinchar here with a look at your holiday weather forecast. All right. What do we got here?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. So, the biggest issues right now, we're still kind of lingering across much of the eastern seaboard, and that is for the air. But also, if you have travel, say, along Interstate 95, you've still got some patches here that are dealing with some pretty wet conditions. Down to the south, again, the main focus for the heavy rain right now is over the Carolinas, starting to see that wrap up across Georgia and Florida should be a little bit drier second half of the day.

Off to the north and east, we're starting to see it dry out in New York and Philadelphia, but still have some rain around Providence, Boston and even Portland. And then you've got the snow in the interior portions of New England. Now, these low-pressure systems are going to continue to slide off to the east. That main one finally getting back out over open water and seeing things dry out once we get to late tonight and into the day on Thanksgiving.

That means the eastern half of the country for Thanksgiving Day itself likely looks pretty good in most spots. The troublesome area now actually flips to the other half of the country where we've got rain and snow sliding across the Intermountain West, this also pushes into Friday and into the weekend. So, when we're talking about Black Friday and going into the weekend, now you've got snow across the mountain west, also creating some more rain showers across portions of the center of the country.

One thing to note, too, is temperatures are going to drop back. Take Denver, for example, high of 68 today, a very nice day out there. Dropping back to a high of only 26 on Friday, and you've got some snow showers into the mix as well. They can expect the forecast calling for about one to three inches in Denver itself. So, you may have some travel problems there on Friday.

JIMENEZ: All right. Allison Chinchar, all things to keep an eye out for. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, flares over northern Gaza. Just some of what we're seeing with a look into Gaza from our locations in Israel. This as Israel continues its bombardment, though, ahead of the truce setting in as part of this major hostage deal. The breaking news coming up.


[10:40:00] BOLDUAN: We're hours from the first major pause in the Israel-Hamas war. And this, we want to show you, is what we're seeing over Gaza today. Israel continuing its bombardment of Gaza from the air. The pause in fighting is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. local time tomorrow as part of the deal to free 50 hostages from Hamas captivity in Gaza. So, hours to go and it seems a very active scene still right now.

Let's get over to CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He's in Sderot, Israel. Jeremy, what are you seeing and hearing right now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, all afternoon and evening, we have been seeing large plumes of smoke, heavy explosions and also incendiary rounds being fired into the Gaza Strip. We have been hearing the constant thud of artillery continuing today, certainly more active even than it was yesterday. And this is, of course, as we are less than 24 hours away from the expected start time of this pause in fighting in order to secure the release of those 50 hostages over a period of four days. And the Israeli military has telegraphed very clearly that they intend to continue their ground operations up until that truce actually begins.


DIAMOND: In fact, they said that they are being -- carrying out very active operations in the Jabalia refugee camp. And we know right behind us in Beit Hanoun, we have seen heavy activity in the city right behind that, Beit Lahia. We have also seen plumes of smoke coming out of there. And so, it's very clear that they are continuing to carry out these operations up until the moment that this truce begins.

One thing that the Israeli Prime Minister has also telegraphed, of course, is the fact that this is simply a pause in the fighting to get the hostages out, but it is not a full ceasefire. And he has made very clear that after that pause and fighting ends that he will resume military operations, that this war will continue up until the Israeli military achieves its objectives as it's been laid out to destroy Hamas. And also, he has said to secure the release, not just of these 50 hostages, but of all of the nearly 240 hostages who are being held in Gaza.

In the meantime, we know that this has been a nerve wracking, anxiety induced period for the families of those hostages as they wait to see whether their loved ones will be among those released in this first round. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

JIMENEZ: Also, coming up, several Republican presidential candidates are weighing in on the news of the deal between Israel and Hamas. One is actually giving the Biden administration some credit. We'll tell you who, coming up.

Plus, a deal is in place and a time is set. We're going to go back to the Middle East where were learning new details about when this truce will begin and when hostages might be released. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JIMENEZ: This morning, we're learning new details about how this deal to secure the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas came together. There were weeks of painstaking negotiations between Israel, the U.S., Qatar, Hamas.

CNN's MJ Lee joins us now from the White House. MJ, I mean, you have this info on just how involved top administrations, officials have been especially on the U.S. side. So, how involved were they, even the president, in getting to this point?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, we now have a much clearer picture of the weeks and weeks of intensive negotiations that took place behind the scenes that really got us here. What we have learned is that shortly after October 7th, there was essentially a top-secret channel of communication that was established among just a small group of White House officials and Israeli and Qatari officials to discuss the hostage situation, and essentially negotiate with Hamas.

And Omar, last month, we saw the release of those two American women who were being held hostage in Gaza. And when that was successfully executed, we are told it sent a signal to the administration that they basically had a model for how to move forward. And it is when -- that is when they, sort of, set out to try to get out a larger group of hostages. But the challenges that they confronted in dealing with Hamas, they were just immense.

We are told that Hamas, for weeks, just refused to give any identifying information about the hostages, like their age, their nationality, their gender. And it became such a major sticking point, actually, that at one point when the parties felt like they were actually close to a deal, they even talked about whether Israel should delay its ground incursion, but ultimately decided not to because they just weren't sold based on the information that Hamas was not providing. They had no proof of life. They hadn't given any identifying information about the hostages. So, Israel went ahead with its ground and incursion on October 27th.

We are also told that in the last few days or so, Hamas actually ended up going entirely dark. There was a period where they were just completely not responsive. And when they finally resurfaced, they demanded that the IDF take its forces out of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. This was something, obviously, that didn't happen. And then the talks eventually did resume.

So, all of this just goes to show you how intensive and complicated and just touch and go these negotiations were. Not to mention, as you mentioned, the phone calls, the conversations that took place from the president himself and other top national security officials like Jake Sullivan, Brett McGurk, CIA director Bill Burns. All of these folks had a big, sort of, behind the scenes role. And I think what we have now is just a much better sense of why these officials all along had said they were just not even willing to get their hopes up sometimes because they really did fear that these talks could break down at any point.

JIMENEZ: Yes, it gives you an idea of just how significant this diplomatic breakthrough is, at least for the moment. MJ Lee, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: And now, President Biden is getting a "Pat on the back" from some who are, at times, his biggest and harshest critics, the Republicans running for president right now.

CNN's Alayna Treene has more on this aspect of the story for us. Alayna, what are the candidates saying about this deal?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, so far, we've only heard from a handful of the Republican candidates in light of this deal being announced last night. But look, this is tough for them to navigate because this is a deal that Biden helped negotiate. But as you mentioned, we did hear from some of them who said that they recognize this deal for what it is, and that's a win. Take a listen.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We prioritize bringing those Americans home. I will say this is -- and I don't -- and this is probably my first time in a wildlife (ph) -- I mean, we can pat ourselves in the back.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I met with a number of the families whose family members have been held hostage now for over seven weeks.


And, you know, they gave me this dog tag to keep with me. It says, bring them home now. And I think that's exactly the imperative, not only for the Israeli hostages, but for the American hostages that are held there as well. For those people who want to ceasefire, listen, there was a ceasefire on October 6th. It was Hamas that broke it on October 7th.


TREENE: Now, Kate, despite hearing that from Vivek Ramaswamy and Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, not all of the candidates were eager to give Biden credit for this. We did hear from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He was speaking with reporters in New Hampshire yesterday, and he criticized Biden for what he said was not being strong enough in his support for Israel. He said, "He's walking this political dance because there's a lot of energy on the left that is hostile to Israel."

Now, we are still waiting to hear from some of the other candidates, including the current frontrunner, Donald Trump. But as you know, many of these Republican contenders are very pro-Israel. So, we'll have to wait and see on how they respond to this deal.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Alayna Treene, good to see you. Thanks.

JIMENEZ: Coming up, much more still ahead on our top story this morning. Israel and Hamas agree to a deal, but we're getting more details coming in to CNN about how it'll all happen tomorrow morning. Stay with us.