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Israeli Prime Minister Approves Military Plans For Rafah; Source: Gaza Ceasefire Talks Moving In "Positive Direction"; Jury Finds MI School Shooter's Father Guilty Of Manslaughter; Female Athletes Sue NCAA Over Transgender Policies. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 13:30   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Israel is moving forward with plans for a ground offensive in Rafah, where some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering.

The prime minister's office says that Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the military's plan of action for, quote, "the operational side and for the evacuation of the population."

Meantime, a new round of attacks killed at least 20 people who were waiting for food. At this point, it's unclear who opened fire.

Also today, as part of intensifying efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis, the first aid ship carrying desperately needed food has reached the enclave.

Let's go now, live to Jerusalem with CNN's Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, a lot to cover here. But what can you tell us about this plan that Netanyahu's approved to not only go into Rafah, but also to begin evacuating people from that area?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, we still don't have many details. But what we do know is that the Israeli prime minister and his security cabinet have now reviewed operational plans for a military offensive, as well as the evacuation of civilians from Rafah.

And the Israeli prime minister has now approved those plans, effectively putting in place a plan that he could order the military to carry out. That doesn't mean that an offensive in Rafah is imminent at this point.

We know that it would take as a significant amount of time to actually carry out that evacuation and that preparations needs to be made for the area where those displaced Palestinians from Rafah would be moved to ahead of an anticipated Israeli military offensive.

The Israeli military has said that displaced civilians from Rafah, where there are about one-and-a-half million in Palestinians currently living, would be moved to what they've described as humanitarian enclaves in central Gaza, where there would be food, there will be shelter, field hospitals.

And all of that would be coordinated with international partners. But beyond that, they haven't provided many details about what that would look like or the feasibility of moving so many people to an area that has been decimated, in many respects, by the Israeli military's bombing campaign in Gaza.

And U.S. officials who have been pressing the Israeli government to come up with a feasible plan to carry out that evacuation ahead of a potential military offensive say they have yet to actually see those plans.

The secretary of state, Tony Blinken today emphasizing that it would need to be a feasible plan, that the United States would have to see it before the Israeli military moves forward with such an offensive.

SANCHEZ: Jeremy, the backdrop of all of this is the ongoing talks to try to exchange hostages for prisoners and to do at least a temporary ceasefire fire. What's the status of those talks now?

DIAMOND: Well, over the last several days, we've been hearing that we were nowhere near a deal, there was a lot of pessimism about these talks.

But today, Hamas is providing a new counterproposal, which the Israeli security cabinet began reviewing today. And so there is some sense of momentum, but also very clear that these two sides remain very far apart.


Here are some details that our colleague, Alex Marquardt, confirmed from a diplomat familiar with these negotiations.

Under this proposal was all Hamas would release Israeli women, children, sick and elderly hostages as part of a first phase of this agreement.

In exchange, Hamas is asking that Israel release he's 700 to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including 100 of whom are serving life sentences in Israeli prisons.

That is a very high number. That may be difficult for the Israeli government to actually agree to.

And that sentiment is now being shared by diplomats familiar with these talks, that this may be something that's tough to get, to convince Israel to get on board with.

But at least this is getting the ball rolling again after it appeared that these two sides were at an impasse.

The Israeli government is set to meet once again tomorrow to discuss how these negotiators should move forward. And then an Israeli delegation is, indeed, expected to go to Doha, Qatar, as early as next week to pursue these further negotiations. But an Israeli official telling us tonight that those negotiations are

expected to be very tough. We will see where they lead -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much for the latest from Jerusalem.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The war in Gaza looming large over a meeting at the White House today between President Biden and the prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar.

It's usually a festive annual visit by Irish leaders marking St. Patrick -- St. Patrick's Day. But the Irish leader today restated his government's call for an immediate ceasefire, to allow food, medicine and aid to get into Gaza, for the killing to stop, and the hostages to get out.

He also says, "The way U.S. weapons are being used at the moment is not self-defense." And that is something he says none of them want to see.

Support for Palestinian civilians runs deep in Ireland. Many people there see as a shared history of British colonial rule and oppression.

They also see similarities between the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and their own Catholic/Protestant fight that lasted decades.

A groundbreaking verdict in Michigan as a father becomes just the second parent in U.S. history to be charged in a mass shooting carried out by their child. The precedent this could set, next.

Plus, he may have played James Bond, but Pierce Brosnan couldn't get out of this one. The actor's legal punishment after a misstep on a visit to Yellowstone National Park.



KEILAR: A groundbreaking verdict in Michigan could set a significant precedent for holding the parents of school shooters responsible for the actions of their children.

After about 10 hours of deliberation, a jury found James Crumbley guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 Oxford High School shootings. His son, who is serving a life sentence without parole, killed four people with a gun that his father had bought for him.

Thursday's conviction comes a month after Crumbley's wife, Jennifer, became the first parent ever to be held directly responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child.

The couple now faces up to 15 years in prison with sentencing set for next month.

CNN's Jean Casarez covered these trials for us. Jean, how big of a game changer are these verdicts?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is significant because, just as you said, this is the first time in this country that parents have been charged with homicide. And this was a homicide charge, involuntary manslaughter, resulting in prison time, substantial prison time potentially.

Because they exercised gross negligence in regard to the handling of a firearm in their home, knowing that their child had issues, mental instabilities.

And a conviction for both the mother and the father really creates such a precedent, and prosecutors around on the contrary, can now look at this. And I think the aspect is that when you have this gross negligence -- in Michigan, they have legal duty, meaning a parent has a legal duty to make sure that your child doesn't harm another child.

Not all states have that. Michigan does. But it is definitely something to take notice of all around the country.

Right here in Michigan, in Oakland County, they're focusing on the sentencing because it's next month. It's April 9th, 9:00 sharp.

The courthouse right behind me. it's going to be James and Jennifer Crumbley. Sentencing is at the same time. We can conceivably, I believe, see them in the courtroom together.

But I think it is understandable why it's being done together. Because there's going to be victim impact statements. They are going to be so emotional.

These families have gone through so much, hearing after hearing, defendant after defendant. And they are still standing strong.

And they will tell the court -- and Michigan encourages it -- of what they've gone through, how their life has changed, how it will never be the same, how it impacts them.

And doing it once on April 9th, I'm sure is enough. And they are cognizant of that and respectful for the families, so they wouldn't have to do it two times on two different dates for those two parents.

KEILAR: Yes. We've seen how those victim impact statements can go in Michigan before. So this is going to be very emotional.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much for that report.


SANCHEZ: Now, to some of the other headlines we're watching this hour.

It may have been human error that caused a Latam Airlines flight to suddenly plunge mid-air earlier this week, tossing passengers and crew members around the cabin.


According to "The Wall Street Journal," preliminary evidence shows a flight attendant may have mistakenly hit a switch on the pilot's seat causing the chair to push the pilot into the controls, forcing the plane's nose down.

A passenger on the flight had reported that the pilot claimed he'd lost control of the plane after gauges went blank. That raised concerns about potential safety issues on yet another Boeing aircraft.

We're going to discuss this latest reporting in the next hour. So stay tuned for that.

Plus, videos of election protests are surfacing in Russia. And in one, you can see a woman pouring what appears to be blue dye into that ballot box.

Now, this is, of course, the first election held in Russia since the death of Alexei Navalny. And with most opposition candidates either dead, jailed, exiled, barred from running, or hand-picked as token figures, Vladimir Putin is all but guaranteed to win.

That would make him longest-reigning leader of Russia since Joseph Stalin. We have live reporting from Moscow, coming up.

And 007 actor, Pierce Brosnan, he's been ordered to pay $1,500 for walking in thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park in order to take a picture. That is a major no-no.

Brosnan originally pleaded not guilty, but he's now admitted to his mistake in a new statement.

It reads, in part, quote, "As an environmentalist, I have the utmost respect for and love of our natural world. However, I made an impulsive mistake, one that I do not take lightly. I deeply regret my transgression and offer my heartfelt apologies to all for trespassing in this sensitive area."

Still plenty more to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, including a new lawsuit that could have a big impact on the future of college sports. Why a group of current and former athletes is suing over the organization's transgender policies.

We're back in just moments.



SANCHEZ: A new lawsuit could have a big impact on who can and who can't compete in college sports. It was filed by 16 current and former female athletes against the NCAA.

KEILAR: Yes. And this all stems from the collegiate swimming championship two years ago when a transgender swimmer won the title. And it alleges violations of Title IX involving the NCAA's policy on trans student athletes.

CNN's Andy Scholes joins us now on this story.

Andy, explain why these women decided to file this lawsuit.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Brianna and Boris, yes, there's a lawsuit which involves athletes from several sports. Yes, really stems back to that 2022 NCAA swimming championships.

That's when Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania, won the national title in the women's 500-yard freestyle event.

Now one of the swimmers she competed against at that meet is one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Riley Gains. And Gains has been very outspoken about her views on opposing the inclusion of transgender athletes in women's sports.

Now, Thomas competed on the men's team at UPenn before transitioning and switching to the women's team. And the lawsuit details the shock that Gains and the other swimmers felt when they learned that they had to share a locker room with Thomas at the championships in Atlanta.

Gains and the other plaintiffs say the NCAA's transgender eligibility rules violate Title IX, which is meant to guarantee equal rights for women in collegiate sports. They argued it also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Now they're seeking a ruling to keep the NCAA from implementing its transgender eligibility rules moving forward.

The plaintiffs also want transgender athletes to no longer be allowed to compete on teams that don't match their biological sex.

And for the awards these athletes have received to be given to other competitors.

Now the NCAA responded to the suit, issuing a statement Thursday saying:

"College sports are the premier stage for women's sports in America. And while the NCAA does not comment on pending litigation, the association and its members will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women's sports, and ensure fair competition in all in NCAA championships" -- guys?

SANCHEZ: Yes, a lawsuit with major potential implications for the future of college sports.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much for giving us that update.

Coming up, the latest "KFILE" find. A Republican nominee caught sharing calls for violence against Democrats, including calling for executions.

And what position is she vying for? Controlling every public school in her state. The details on that. And why some other Republicans are running away from her candidacy.


We'll be back.


SANCHEZ: Fani Willis will stay. The judge in Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia letting her remain on the case.

But there is a catch, saying that Willis has to fire the prosecutor she previously had a romantic relationship with while slamming her, quote, "tremendous lapse in judgment."

Plus, scattered defiance in Russia. Voters going to the polls for an election that is neither free nor fair. Those who oppose Vladimir Putin defying the authorities with their own protests.

KEILAR: And buying or selling a home will never be the same again. A settlement will change how we buy and sell homes and possibly save some people tens of thousands of dollars.


We're following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.