Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Today, Final Day of Current Truce, Talks Underway to Extend; Israeli Military Raid and Clashes Reported in West Bank; Oath and Honor, Liz Cheney's New Book Paints Scathing Portrait of the GOP. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 10:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, will this be the final day of the truce? As we enter the final hours of the six-day truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, there is new hope that new optimism is coming just this morning from a Qatari official.

The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, which has been key in brokering these deals between Israel and Hamas, tells CNN that they are hopeful that they could announce another extension in just the next couple of hours. If not, Israel has made clear that they will resume military operations against Hamas in Gaza.

We are expecting another group of hostages to be released today, even before any talk of an extension. Their families have been notified. And with that, we have learned that the Bibas family is not among this group. Ten-month-old Kfir is the youngest of all of the hostages. They do not know where he is.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Hamas is saying that they do not have control anymore of the Bibas family, troubling for that family. There are the faces though of the 81 Israeli hostages that have been freed since Friday, with ten new releases as you just heard late last night, but still many, many more are being held in Gaza. Israel believes there are 161 hostages still in captivity and the majority of them are Israeli.

Israel's Prime Minister's office released a breakdown this morning of the vulnerable age groups within the 161 people being held, 4 hostages under the age of 18, just children, 4 more are between 18 and 19, which makes them legally children under the United Nations definition. Additionally, 10 more hostages are 75 years or older.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is with us now. Kaitlan, you spoke with the Qataris officials this morning about the state of these negotiations as they are trying to extend this truce for just a little bit longer, this ceasefire. What are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Sara. And we could learn soon whether or not this deal is going to be extended beyond where it is right now, because, as a reminder, this is day six. This is initially supposed to be a four-day deal. But when we got close to the end of day four, they announced it would go on for 48 more hours, and now we are nearing that midnight deadline when that deal would therefore theoretically be expired.

But right now, officials have been working behind the scenes to try to extend it, because right now the terms of the deal are women and children. We have seen women and children coming out. There are still many more women and children, though, who are in Hamas captivity, who are still being held in Gaza. And that's the whole point of why they're trying to extend these talks.

And so we spoke to the spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have been at the center of these talks, including just yesterday, with the CIA director in Doha. He said they are hopeful that when the sixth group of hostages gets released in just any moment now, that then they will be able to announce that there is going to be an extension to this temporary truce.


DR. MAJED AL-ANSARI, ADVISER TO QATAR PRIME MINISTER: We are hopeful that within a couple of hours we would have the release of the final batch, but also we would be able to announce an extension. We are working on an extension that would be guaranteed by the same provision that guaranteed the previous two days, which is that every day we'd have to include at least 10 hostages coming out and 30 hostages -- 30, sorry, prisoners from the Israeli prisons. And we are very optimistic that we would have good news to share today.

COLLINS: Okay. So, you do expect that an extension with the same parameters that are in place right now will be announced once this sixth group of hostages has been released. Is that right?

AL-ANSARI: We are optimistic that we will be able to make that announcement during the day.


COLLINS: He also confirmed our reporting that talks are underway to potentially expand this deal, not to only go on longer, but to include different groups, elderly men, young men, IDF soldiers, potentially both men and women who are being held.

Now, that is going to be a lot more complicated than just bringing the men, the, bringing the women and children home. And we've already seen how difficult that has been. So, we are continuing to monitor those negotiations that are happening.

Joining me now here in Tel Aviv, CNN's Oren Lieberman on this sixth group of hostages.


Oren, obviously, this is around the time each day that we start to see movement, we start to see this exchange actually be facilitated. What are you hearing behind the scenes about what today's hostage list looks like?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right that about now is when we start to see that movement. We haven't gotten indications that it has started yet, but, crucially, we also haven't heard that the deal is in danger of falling apart in the last 24 hours of the deal as it currently stands. So, we do expect some time in the next little bit here we should begin to see the process of transferring the hostages from Hamas to the Red Cross and then into Israel either directly or through Egypt.

Crucially, we're certainly not see anything like we saw yesterday with both sides accusing each other of initiating an exchange of fire, the most serious violation of the truce agreement, and yet even then it didn't fall apart.

The real question here how much can this deal be extended, because at some point, it runs into the cold hard math that there are only a certain number of women and children who remain in Gaza. As we pointed out at the beginning of the show, the Israeli government estimates 161 hostages there, 35 are women, not all necessarily can fall under the agreement of women and children because some might be soldiers, and yet there is a massive effort to make sure the women and children part goes as long as it can and they find terms or a separate agreement or a new part of the agreement to extend the truce as long as possible. Secretary of State Antony Blinken talked about that at NATO today.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We'll be focused on doing what we can to extend the pause so that we can continue to get more hostages out and more humanitarian assistance in. We'll discuss with Israel how it can achieve its objective in ensuring that the terrorist attacks of October 7th never happen again, while sustaining and increasing humanitarian assistance and minimizing further suffering and casualties among Palestinian civilians.


LIEBERMANN: Crucially, and we saw this just a couple of days ago, the Israelis are hesitant to make any announcements about the extension of the truce until they see the day's release moving forward. So, not surprising we haven't heard anything from the Israeli government, even as the Qataris appear very optimistic this can be extended by at least a day or two. We'll have to wait for that release to happen before we can expect some sort of comment or confirmation from the Israelis that the truce might last just a little bit longer.

COLLINS: Yes, a lot of movement expected here. We will be watching it all closely. Oren Liebermann, thank you for that report.

Also in the West Bank, we are seeing it heat up as Israeli forces have now conducted a military raid near the Jenin refugee camp. Video showing CNN overnight military vehicles with sounds of heavy gunfire in the background. The head of Doctors Without Borders says his medical staff was, quote, trapped inside a hospital near the camp as this raid was underway. CNN's Ben Wedeman is with us now. And, Ben, we're now learning that two young men, two young boys, I should say, were killed. What else do we know about what happened here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we understand, Kaitlan, and actually we were in the Jenin refugee camp yesterday before this raid, was that at 9:00 P.M. local time, Israeli military vehicles backed up by bulldozers with drones overhead entered the city of Jenin, surrounded the refugee camp. They declared the entire area a closed military area. They said it was part of anti- terrorism activities.

And we understand that they hit a variety of houses. They're looking for what they call terrorists, but in Jenin, they believe these are fighters against a decades-long military occupation.

Now, what they do when they go in with these bulldozers, they basically plow up all the roads inside the camp, and they go inside looking for these militants. They oftentimes take over people's houses. They lock the residents in one of the rooms or keep them under guard as they use higher positions to shoot down into the streets.

Now, we understand that two people died because the Israeli forces were barring access to the hospital, and another two boys, one aged 9 and one aged 14, were shot dead by Israeli forces.

Now, Israeli media is saying that two senior militants were also killed in this raid that ended at 3:00 P.M. this afternoon local time. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Yes. And we'll continue to monitor that to see if those raids do continue.

Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, thank you for that report.

Kate and Sara, obviously a lot of moving parts happening right now as we're waiting for this release of the next group of hostages that could happen at any moment now.

SIDNER: And we will be watching that. I know you will be. We'll come back to you if and when that happens.


Thank you so much, Kaitlan, there for us live from Tel Aviv.

Families of 161 hostages still in Gaza are waiting. They're hoping, they're pleading for their family members to be set free by Hamas. Shai Wanker is praying his son will be released, but getting men out has been almost impossible, and he is not on the latest list.

Shai, welcome to our show. I know you've been going through it for, what, a month and 22 days now, and I do want to show people the last time, the last images that you saw of your son, Omer. I want to warn viewers that this video is really disturbing, and I know you have seen this before. Omer is the young man. He has been stripped to his underwear. He's in the back of that white pickup truck surrounded by Hamas terrorists lying there. They beat him. He is handcuffed and he's surrounded by Hamas gunmen who then kidnap him and take him to Gaza. Have you heard anything about the status of your son since he was taken?

SHAI WENKERT, SON HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: Good morning, Sara. I didn't hear about my son since the 7th of October, only from this video and the confirmation of the IDF that my son was a kidney but the Hamas. My son has a colitis disease. This is a chronic disease that goes severe when he's getting in a stress situation.

It's horrible to describe it and is in very danger of his life if he's not getting his medicine and if he's not getting a medical aid. I don't see the Red Cross is going inside Gaza to actually to be on his part of the deal that was being with and I don't know what's going on.

The lists are going up and downs but we have to take the sick people and the wounded people out. We saw a few days ago that Alma Abraham, an old lady, that she suffers from illness, she didn't get the right treatment and she got to the hospital in the worst case.

So, I'm very concerned and I'm very worried about my son that he is not in a good condition. So, we have to take the sick people and the wounded out. We have to take everyone out. First they need the children and women as a humanitarian. We have to take the sick people out.

SIDNER: Yes. And I think that that demand that you've made and that that plea that you have made is that your son is suffering from a congenital disease. He doesn't have his medicine. He hasn't had treatment, as you know it. And you have heard nothing for almost two months, which I know has to be the most stressful thing you've ever experienced.

Women and children have been sort of the first wave of hostages released by Hamas. But, you know, in society we often forget, you know, men also are very vulnerable too, especially when they're sick or wounded. What medicine does your son need? Is there any chance that you think that he may be getting some kind of treatment there?

WENKERT: My son needs a Rafassal. It's a medicine that he needs to take every day. Unless he takes the medicine in such a situation, in this stress, it's going severe, as I say. And this is difficult. I don't know if he has a toilet nearby that is very painful, the stomachache, and it's a lot of diarrhea and a lot of -- it's going down -- the hemoglobin is going down, and probably he will need an iron I.V. He needs a medical aid, he needs medical attention from a doctor. It's a very, very big problem for this disease.

SIDNER: Can you lastly just tell us a little bit about Omer as he is going through this horrible time into life as you are suffering through this? Just how he was before, before all of this happened?

WENKERT: Omer is 22 years old and he's a very happy and smiley guy. He's my oldest son. He's a manager of a restaurant. As you can see at the video, he liked to party, like music, and he liked the good life. And, unfortunately, on the 7th of October, the Hamas was doing a massive attack on Israel. And it's a big terror organization that made awful things.

Omer is quite stabilized on his disease, on regular days. But, unfortunately, we saw that he was in a kind of a stress and it was -- he went down the weight by I think 20 pounds less than two, three weeks.


So, you have to understand that this is a very big, big problem. When he's in stress, it's getting worse.

SIDNER: Yes, there couldn't be a more stressful situation. Shai Wenkert, we hope that your son is returned to you safely. Thank you so much and please keep us updated as to what is happening with you and your family as you go through all this.

WENKERT: Thank you, Sara.

BOLDUAN: Okay. Coming up for us, Secretary of State Tony Blinken back and on a mission, saying this morning that his focus during his latest trip to the region will be to extend the pause in Gaza. The new reporting on what's going on behind the scenes, ahead.

Plus, the pope forced to cancel his travel plans on the advice of doctors as he continues to recover. We've got more, an update on his health. We'll be right back.



SIDNER: This morning, CNN exclusively got former GOP Representative Liz Cheney's memoir ahead of its release and we're sharing some of the -- explosive isn't even the word because she's got receipts also in there, details and some of the claims being made.

BOLDUAN: The book is called Oath and Honor, a Memoir and a Warning, doesn't get more direct than that. And in it, Cheney is really unsparing in condemning former colleagues as enablers and collaborators and also calls Donald Trump the most dangerous man ever to inhabit the Oval Office.

Here with us now, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Anchor John Avlon.

There's a lot of color, if you want to call it that, from the other things we do for Orange Jesus to the way she's describing some of the conversations with some of her former Republican colleagues. But some of the things that stick out to you get more to this warning or what could have been the lost opportunities for Republicans to stop Donald Trump, like her conversation with Mitch McConnell, and let me read a bit of what Mitch McConnell said.

She says that she doesn't see -- when she says she doesn't seem -- she says that she thought Mitch McConnell was going to support pushing Donald Trump out. But then she says she doesn't know why it almost, but that he seems to lose his resolve.

What's left for me in this, and I have not yet seen the pages, though, was the why. It doesn't seem she gets to the why that Mitch McConnell lost the resolve.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the excerpts that CNN has gotten exclusively indicates that McConnell thought Trump would go away on his own, that it wasn't necessary to take that extra step of pushing through the impeachment vote.

And there're a lot of rationalizations we've seen from Republicans over the course of Donald Trump's rise. One of the things these excerpts show is the profound degree of cowardice, the hypocrisy, knowing that Donald Trump is lying to supporters, but being effectively afraid of him.

One member of Congress telling Liz Cheney that he's afraid of his family, for his family's safety if he does what he believes is the right thing constitutionally and votes for impeachment.

And Mitch McConnell sets which would have been a tipping point, Trump would be barred from office at this point. McConnell was leaning towards it and then felt he didn't need to go that far, because Trump was on his way out on his own. We've seen that was a disastrous miscalculation.

SIDNER: A huge miscalculation because now he is the leading Republican candidate for the presidency.

I do want to talk about another section of this. I mean, there're just so many things in this in this book, and we haven't even seen it. We've just have the excerpts that have been looked at.

Cheney also -- she writes about that moment when McCarthy goes to Mar- a-Lago to see Donald Trump after he has been told and he says has accepted that he has lost. And in it, and if we can pull that up, he says McCarthy says, Mar-a-Lago, you know, what the hell, Kevin, Cheney is asking McCarthy. They're really worried, McCarthy says. Trump's not eating so they asked me to come see him. What, Cheney says. You went to Mar-a-Lago because Trump's not eating? McCarthy, yes, he's really depressed.

You can understand honestly, you can understand a president who has lost being really depressed but that also denotes something important. He knew he lost.

AVLON: And she says earlier in other people that McCarthy was saying he knew he lost. Look, the reason I think that's a little ridiculous, and Cheney did as well, is this idea of Trump playing the victim and his aids saying, look, Kevin, you got to come console Donald Trump. He's not going to eat unless he shows you, like he's some love sick teenagers just had his heart broken. That's just utter B.S.

BOLDUAN: And that Donald Trump needs Kevin McCarthy to do that. AVLON: Exactly, that's exactly my point, right? You know, typically people would seek solace in family. But McCarthy went down there to kiss the ring, let's be real, and ended up reviving Trump.

So, this playing the victim after you've been the aggressor of his classic Trump move, sentimentality and the need of solace from friends and colleagues is not.

SIDNER: Do you think he was trying to get -- sorry, Kate. Do you think it was trying to get some extra -- I don't know, you're just talking about kiss the ring. It's like, oh, I went there. Remember when I went and helped you, Donald Trump, so that he's on in his good graces.

AVLON: Yes. And how did that work out for him?

SIDNER: Not so well.

AVLON: All right, just checking (ph).

BOLDUAN: The warning part of this book, which obviously is pervasive throughout, and, honestly, is probably the entire point of it, the warning. And what now Liz Cheney's kind of become the embodiment of is the warning of Donald Trump and the warning to democracy.

Part of the conclusion, I'll read this, is an excerpt, every one of us, Republican, Democrat, independent, must work and vote together to ensure that Donald Trump and those who have appeased, enabled and collaborated with him are defeated.


This is the cause of our time.

She has -- she's staying true to form here. There's no question of that. But I'm wondering with this book and with what she has stood for since, honestly, January 6th, is it picking up steam though? Is -- are people following Liz Cheney to take on this cause? Is there a drumbeat or not?

AVLON: You need a certain trumpet. Leadership requires a clear call. And what I think that I wish we had a full screen of that quote, because I think it's essential, Liz Cheney, who's very conservative, lest we forget, is saying we need to build a broader coalition to defend the country and the Constitution from Donald Trump, and that he's been enabled by cowardice in her political party that is utterly unconnected to anything resembling constitutional values, that constitutional conservatism.

One of the excerpts saying that we're not the party Reagan anymore, says Kevin McCarthy to Liz Cheney. We're not the party Bush, we're not the party of Cheney.

This is about -- we're almost 250 years old, one of the longest- lasting democracies in the world. We have faced a lot of challenges, including a civil war. We've never had a leading party candidate campaign as a would-be autocrat. And that is what Liz Cheney is warning is happening within her party as a result of cowardice on the part of people who don't have the spine to stand up to what they know is wrong, including the lies that attempt to overturn our election.

So, yes, this is a time for choosing. We have seen Republicans lose their spine at critical moments, like with the impeachment. What Cheney is doing, is saying, I will be that voice, but we need to build a broader coalition. It requires other people to have as much spine as she does, even a quarter of it.

But this is a critical moment for our democracy. Don't sleepwalk into this election. This is about defending democracy and the U.S. Constitution, in which she has identified Donald Trump as the greatest threat to.

BOLDUAN: And you're hitting on something as we go that's important is the book is coming out. I believe it's December 5th. It's coming out very soon. The timing of a release of a book is never a coincidence. And that says something about what Liz Cheney is trying to do in planting herself, planting her flag, planting -- creating the fork in the road, if you will, for the country as we barrel into the election season.


SIDNER: And it isn't just too about cowardice. It's about power. People who believe that if they stand up against them, they're going to lose their seats, that's about losing power. And that is the part of the issue (ph).

AVLON: Study your -- the Bible and other texts. Fear and greed is the path to hell. Courage and principle is the path to redemption and that's what politically we need to remember in this season, I mean, in this political season, in this moment for our democracy. And we need to rediscover courage and putting principles above partisan short-term interests. That's what we've lost.

SIDINER: You hitting us with the Bible this morning. I mean, there you go. He's on the pulpit.

John Avlon, thank you so much.

And, again, as Kate mentioned the book is coming out December 5th. I'm sure there will be a lot of us picking that up to read it. And Liz Cheney is going to be right here. She will be interviewed on CNN about all those details.

And there are still, in Israel, nine Americans being held hostage by Hamas, including two women. What we know about whether any of them may be released soon.

Plus, a private funeral service for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter set the beginning just minutes. CNN has learned that former President Jimmy Carter will be there. Details ahead.