Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

IDF: Assessing Hamas Claim Youngest Hostage And Family Members Are No Longer Alive; Former President Jimmy Carter Arrives At Wife Rosalynn's Funeral; Expulsion Vote For Rep. Santos Now Expected Tomorrow. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 11:30   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Would need to be shown to confirm this claim, and how. Because Hamas had initially said that it didn't no longer have control of this family and did not know exactly where they were.

MAJ. MIKE LYONS (RET), U.S. ARMY: Yes, Sara, very difficult news. And in some ways, we were getting to this spot for these hostages in the fact from an accountability perspective that we're going to lose track just going to be the number that they took. And I think what Israel is going to look to do is you know proof of life, the -- flying drones, they're going to do whatever they can from an Intel perspective to try to circle back and see what if they can prove this out or not.

Again, I -- it's not going to be the first story on this. I don't -- I don't believe just given the volume of hostages they have, given the fact that they've given some of that already. And again, from an Intel perspective, they're going to clear their desks, use whatever they can to try to figure out where this possibly could happen.

This is easy for Hamas now to blame every lost hostage on an Israeli airstrike. And I think that's -- from their propaganda perspective, that's -- you know, right out of their playbook.

SIDNER: Look, there is both a war that has -- had a ceasefire in place for several days now. But there's also an information war going on here.

LYONS: Right.

SIDNER: Can you speak to us about how powerful the information war is, if indeed, these -- this family was taken in an Israeli airstrike? How this plays out from Hamas's standpoint and from Israel's?

LYONS: Now, with social media being an accelerant right now, there's -- you know, there are stories going on the internet in both cases, and both sides of this. It's not just here in Gaza, it's also in the West Bank. Aid coming in from the United States there.

There's just so many layers to this information propaganda war, that in the -- in fact, you know, Hamas and that kind of network always seems to be out in front of. And I think that's what they're trying to do now. Get out in front of this information and say, look, this is what happened. We lost accountability.

That means it's really not our fault. And in fact, it's the fault of Israel because they ended up killing them in some kind of airstrike. So, again, the propaganda war is something Israel is going to fight every day. Even though there's a ceasefire on the ground, it's going on every day on the internet.

SIDNER: All right. I want to ask you about how you see things proceeding with this news that is devastating to a family and to a community. But also, when it comes to whether or not, because discussions were hopeful, according to the Qataris who were in the middle of these discussions, that there would be more days, more of a ceasefire, and more people that were released both from Gaza and then the Israelis agreeing to release Palestinians as well. Do you think this might change anything, or how do you see this proceeding?

LYONS: So, from the military perspective, I just see Israel once the fighting starts again, starting back with strategic weapons. Surgical airstrikes in that regard. They have to be careful. Other IDF forces are in defensive positions now to see what Hamas has done if they reposition some of their soldiers to the south. I would not think that there would be too surprising. They could look to flank some of the IDF positions that are even in the north. But I don't necessarily think they're going to throw those ground soldiers in right away, just from the psychological impact of it.

And you know, having been on the ground and in a combat zone, it's really difficult to kind of flip that switch to go from this warfighter to all of a sudden in a defensive position, and now all of a sudden get told we're going to start clearing operations. So, I think they're going to --they've got negotiated this work completely at their level on their pace all the way through, and I think they're going to continue to do that. But once it starts, again, I think you're going to see a combined air, land, and sea campaign in Gaza.

SIDNER: Yes. And of course, Gaza, one of the most populated -- densely populated places in the world, there's huge concern for the civilians there. And for the aid. The more days, the more aid hopefully can get into Gaza as well to help the Palestinians who are suffering there. Major Mike Lyons, thank you so much for your analysis. It's really important at this hour. We'll be right back.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Moments ago, former President Jimmy Carter was seen arriving to give his final farewell to his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. That private funeral service now underway in Plains, Georgia. CNN's Eva McKend is outside the church. She joins us now. Eva, the public had their time to honor her, and now the private moment to say goodbye.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. This is the solemn final tribute for Mrs. Carter. Everything began and now ends for her right here in her hometown of Plains. Earlier this morning, we saw busloads of her family members arrive. Her kids, her grandkids, and they surrounded President Carter as he was wheeled into this church, Maranatha. That means so much to them.

You know, on any given Sunday, maybe about a dozen people in this church have had the opportunity to watch worship services here. They would often teach Sunday school here. It was a tremendous source of pride for them when Pastor Tony Logan, who was giving the eulogy this morning when he ascended up briefly to be the lead pastor here. He was the first black pastor of this church. So, after this solemn service ends, they will then process to the family home, and that is where she will be buried.


And not everyone in this tiny town of about 500 in Planes was invited to this service. This is a private service. But they will have the opportunity, Kate, to give their final goodbyes. They can line the streets as the motorcade makes their way from the church to the family home. Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's a very special thing to see. It's great to see you, Eva, thank you so much. Sara.

SIDNER: Coming up. A reminder of what happened on October 7. We'll speak to a young man who was shot during the Hamas terror attack on that day. He managed to escape and survive, but he is talking because he wants to remember his friend who was killed. We'll have that coming up.



SIDNER: We now have heard from the Bibas family who have sent a statement saying they have heard the Hamas claim that their two boys, 10-month-old Kfir, 4-year-old brother Ariel, and their mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike. They say they are hoping that the IDF will refute that.

Here's their statement. Our family has learned of Hamas's latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials.

That is where we are now. They are devastated hearing it. They have been devastated for the past month and 22 days as they wait to hear any news on the youngest of those who have been kidnapped.

Now, to someone who has experienced the terror of October 7, Ahiad Ben-Yitzchak is a survivor. He was enjoying life with friends on the beach on October 7 in Israel when bullets and missiles began to rain down around them. He and his friends tried to escape.

They did manage to get to an army base. They were first turned away but eventually let inside. But they weren't safe at all when they got there. He decided to leave and make a run for his car eventually having to abandon it even after he was shot. He wrote this harrowing story of survival. And he joins us now to remind people of what happened on October 7, and to remember his friend who was killed almost two months ago.

First and foremost, how were you doing? How was your injury? But more importantly, because I see you're standing here before us, how are you mentally? How are you done?

AHIAD BEN-YITZCHAK, SURVIVED HAMAS ATTACK ON OCTOBER 7: I'm fine. And I'm really excited to be here. Like you gave me an opportunity and it's part of my healing process to talk about it. And it's really helpful.

You know, I need some time. I think about it a lot. It's tough. But I'm fine. Like, generally fine.

And most of the time, I'm sad because I just -- I just heard about the Bibas family.


BEN-YITZCHAK: It's the first time I heard about it, and it's break my heart.


BEN-YITZCHAK: But I'm fine. I'm OK.

SIDNER: You're here with us. You're here. You're breathing.


SIDNER: You're alive. And that's really the most important thing.

BEN-YITZCHAK: Exactly. It is.

SIDNER: But this is a lot to go through. I read your -- I thought it was a journal entry. But I think you just had it just kind of came out of you. You wrote it first in Hebrew.


SIDNER: And then it was translated. And I just want to read a bit of that because it really struck me this morning and had me at that point where I was choking up. And if -- I could feel the fear in your -- in your words.


SIDNER: You say in a bit here. You had gotten to this military installation. You'd left because you could see that they were going to be overwhelmed. Basically, the fighting was coming in.

And you say this. I hear the most dreadful boom, as you're running away, pinging echoing against the metal of the vehicle that you had just gotten into. Followed by successive gunshots. Popping sounds of death. Even before I started driving, I thought I had brought extinction to all of us.

Here, we are being slaughtered in an intimate, personal manner more intimate than sex. Whoever is shooting at us, knows us and wants to kill us one by one. We are a target, a price.

They're shooting at us with lust. I know they wouldn't let go. This is a new feeling. The feeling of ending. We have no chance. And here you are.

BEN-YITZCHAK: Yes, I'm a very lucky guy.

SIDNER: How did you get through it? What gave you that sort of strength?

BEN-YITZCHAK: It was a miracle. To be honest, it was a miracle. I didn't thought I could get out of them. Not alive, not in one piece.

But I'm here and I -- and I'm stand both of -- on both feet. I feel really lucky. And I still -- like I am overwhelmed. Like still overwhelmed.

SIDNER: I can see that in your eyes that there's a sense of -- there's too much right, to go through this.

BEN-YITZCHAK: It is. It was too much.

SIDNER: It's too much. You -- speaking of too much, you and some of your friends did survive. You had someone driving, you were screaming at him, you're just trying to get, and then you run into the gunman who are shooting at you and turn around, jump out of the car. It catches fire.

It's something out of a horror movie really. But one of your friends did not survive. Can you tell us about her?

BEN-YITZCHAK: Yes. Her name is Mor Gabai (ph). I missed her a lot. She was walking me with me -- with me. She was a cook like I did.

She was supposed to have a shift the same evening together. She was beautiful. She was so kind. And I just missed that a lot.

It's so sad. I think about her a lot. And she's missing. And I want -- I want people to know the story like for a moment of a memorial. And that's it. She's a very good friend of mine. And it breaks my heart every day to think about her.


SIDNER: Yes. She's not here. You did survive. Your friends did survive. You help them survive. You had no idea but something, sort of, pushed you to make it. And I'm so glad you're here.

BEN-YITZCHAK: Thank you. Me too. SIDNER: And able to share stories.

BEN-YITZCHAK: Thank you.

SIDNER: All right. Thank you, Ahiad.

BEN-YITZCHAK: I'm so glad to be here. Thank you for this opportunity. And thank you for doing this.

SIDNER: It's my pleasure. All right. We have a lot more breaking news to tell you about. You just heard about the Bibas family. You heard about the claim from Hamas. You heard Ahiad's story. And we'll be right back with a lot more.



BOLDUAN: Santos is toast. That is what one Republican says is coming for George Santos and his time in the House of Representatives. There is another push happening now to expel the New York Republican this week after that devastating report released about him by the House Ethics Committee. Here's the take just this morning on the expulsion vote to come from House Speaker Mike Johnson.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): We're going to allow people to vote their conscience I think is the only appropriate thing we can do. We've not whipped the vote and we wouldn't. I trust that people will make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this. I'm concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Manu Raju was on Capitol Hill and had all this. Manu, there have been other efforts in the past to expel -- to expel George Santos. What are you hearing about this one?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a lot of uncertainty about whether there will be a two-thirds majority to kick George Santos out of the House, making him just the sixth member ever in American history to be expelled. Remember, the other five, have either been expelled because they were convicted of a crime, or they're members of the Confederacy. So, this would set a new precedent.

So, some members are joining Mike Johnson. So, they will not support kicking him -- kicking him out. Others say the evidence is overwhelming and he must be removed from Congress.


REP. RYAN ZINKE (R-MT): I think -- I think George Santos is toast. All of us were looking and giving him the benefit of the doubt for him. He's a member. He's elected by a wonderful constituency. And -- but the report, I think, gave veracity of the charges.

REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): Oh, I think the Ethics Committee you know, if you read the report, I think that says it all, you know. And I like the chairman a lot. And if that's it was unanimous, and I think it's the right thing to do.

RAJU: Did you find a vote to expel him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, no.


RAJU: Right now, Kate, is a bit of a numbers game. We expect that they would need about 53 Republicans to change their votes from no to yes, to get to the 290 that are needed to kick him out of the House. Right now, there are 18 members who have publicly said they'll go from no to yes. Nick LaLota, one of the members who were pushing this, told me he expected 150 Republicans to vote yes to kick him out tomorrow. We'll see though if that number -- that prediction comes to pass. Kate.

BOLDUAN: It is going to be really interesting to see, Manu, how this goes, who -- how they just -- how they explain how they're going to change their vote or not. We will see it there with you together. It's good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

SIDNER: All right. Thank you, Manu. We missed John Berman. But we're here together, Kate. It's OK.

BOLDUAN: We are here. He is recovering and he will be back soon.

SIDNER: When he recovers, he's going to be back. Don't worry. Thank you so much for joining Kate and I. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS coming up now.