Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

IDF: Daily Pauses to Continue for Civilian Evacuations; First- Hand Look Inside Northern Gaza; Vatican to Allow Baptism for Transgender People, Babies of Same-Sex Couples; Manchin Hints at Possible Presidential Run; Growing Concern Over Ethnic Killings in West Darfur; Daily Life Continues in West Bank Amid IDF Raids; IDF Now Recognizes Same-Sex Partners of Fallen Soldiers. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Vause. Wherever you are around the world, thank you for joining us here on CNN.


We begin this hour in Northern Gaza, where Israel has agreed to pause military operations for four hours a day, well short of White House demands, to allow Palestinians safe passage to the South and away from the worst of the fighting.

On Thursday, 80,000 people were able to make that journey Southwards, up from 50,000 a day earlier, joining one and a half million displaced Palestinians there, according to the United Nations.

U.S. President Joe Biden has been pushing Israel for a days-long pause in the fighting, and for an increase in humanitarian assistance for Gaza. The Israelis say these tactical, localized pauses will allow for safe distribution of aid supplies, and despite growing pressure on Israel to declare a ceasefire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that is a nonstarter.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: One thing we haven't agreed to is a ceasefire. A ceasefire with Hamas means surrender to Hamas, surrender to terror. And the victory of the -- Iran's axis of terror. So there won't be a ceasefire without the release of the Israeli hostages.


VAUSE: For the very latest, live to London and journalist Elliott Gotkine.

So Elliott, the U.S. has made it clear that, you know, Israel will quickly lose international support if this Gaza offensive continues as it has. The Israelis, though, seem unmoved by that. These four-hour pauses seem to be, you know, localized and well short of White House demands. And if anything, the offense just seems to be ramping up. ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: John, it's not just short of White House

demands. It's also short of demands from Arab leaders, for example. And the Emiratis and the Qataris reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire right now, in order to allow civilians to get out of harm's way, and also, of course, to offer for more humanitarian aid to go in.

But from Israel's perspective, these tactical localized pauses, as they are calling them, is -- strikes, from their perspective, a balance between allowing Palestinian civilians to get out of the Northern parts of the Gaza Strip, which is the focus of Israeli operations and where their ground forces are. And to enable them to get to the relative safety of the South of Gaza and also to allow for more humanitarian aid in at the same time.

And we've heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there. You have Gallant, the defense minister, also reiterating that this doesn't qualify as a ceasefire.

And I suppose from Israel's perspective, of course, it also has to think about what the Israelis, the Israeli people are wanting, which of course, is the return of those 240 or so hostages still being held by militants, Hamas and also Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. And that there can be no ceasefire.

So in order to not break that promise, and that unwavering commitment to not have a ceasefire, to keep fighting until those hostages are released, I suppose that is one reason why this is simply being called a tactical localized pause.

And as you say, this is falling short of the longer humanitarian pause, for want of a better name, that the U.S. is calling for, and of course, the immediate ceasefire of actions that the Arab world and many others in the international community are calling for, John.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine, live for us in London. Appreciate it.

Dan O'Shea is a former Navy SEAL commander and coordinator of the hostage working group at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So when the Israeli prime minister says no ceasefire, he's referring to a former agreement by both sides to hold their fire while efforts are made to permanently end hostilities. That's not going to happen.

But there have been ongoing talks in recent days between Israel, Hamas, the United States brokered by Qatar which have focused on a plan for the "release between 10 to 20 civilian hostages, in return for a three-day pause in fighting, the entry of further aid and to enable Hamas to compile and hand over a list of hostages being held in Gaza." I guess, you know, that three-day pause isn't going to happen. But if

there is a deal to be done here with Hamas for a mass release of these hostages, will it simply be a reflection of how much pressure either side is under, be it from within Israel for the families of the hostages, or Gaza from, you know, the civilians there who need humanitarian assistance or even the fighters who need to regroup?

O'SHEA: It's a combination of all those things. Both sides are under tremendous pressure. Obviously, Hamas is dealing with the weight of the offensive, which to date has made significant gains in clearing out certain territory. They're taking down the tunnel network.


So they're under tremendous pressure. Hamas grabbed these hostages in the first place, because they're their only bargaining chip. And they're trying to these limit, you know, Islamic Jihad which is offering up, supposedly, two hostages, they said if appropriate measures are met. And what those appropriate measures are met are being debated in Qatar.

Does it mean is it going to be a four-hour ceasefire, a six-hour ceasefire, a ten-hour ceasefire? Is it going to be in exchange for humanitarian relief convoys, which we know have been drastically reduced to get in much-needed fuel, food and medical supplies, and gasoline to keep these generators running?

So there's a thousand and one different demands.

VAUSE: As you mentioned, there's more than one militant group in Gaza holding these hostages. There's Hamas. There's Islamic Jihad.

They did release that video. They chose an elderly woman and a young boy as being potential for release at some point. Why choose those two people? An old woman, a young boy? And also, why make them sort of that message, which was sent out to the people of Israel. Is that some kind of -- you know, what's Islamic Jihad hoping to achieve with that?

O'SHEA: This is classic. And I wrote this after I left Iraq years ago. This is hostage terrorism.

Terrorist groups who use the criminal act of abducting and holding hostages, and individuals against their will to announce their agenda, raise their profile, negatively influence world opinion, disrupt, degrade the political will and decision-making ability of their declared adversary.

Their adversary is Benjamin Netanyahu. And in this case, they have an old Israeli woman and a young Israeli boy, arguably two of the most vulnerable of these victims, a young child and a grandmother, that are putting pressure on Netanyahu himself to call for a ceasefire, so that medical aid and electricity and water can be delivered into Gaza.

Because it's affecting everyone, not just the Gazan citizens, the Hamas terrorists fighting the Israeli offensive but the hostages themselves are feeling this. And that's why a grandmother and a young boy are the perfect messengers for Hamas to reveal, or Islamic Jihad to reveal this message by that proof-of-live video to the world.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to Israel's president. Here, he's talking about his view on hostage negotiations so far, with Hamas. Listen to this.


ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAEL PRESIDENT: There's no real proposal that is viable from Hamas's side on this issue.

I'm saying outright, according to my knowledge up to now, there's no real substantial information that is showing any real offer of any process on the table. And that is unfortunate.


VAUSE: So even if these negotiations end without any kind of an agreement, what's to be gained by the fact that they actually happened, they took place in the first place?

HERZOG: Well, the challenge is, even though negotiations are going on behind the scenes in Qatar, Hamas is not seated across the table from Israeli representative of the Israeli government.

So all this is being done in third-party channels. Between non- government organizations like the Red Crescent, the Red Cross, and then players, key players, both within the Qatari government, we can presume Egyptian government.

But that's the challenge, that there's probably not direct negotiations between Hamas and terrorist organization in Israel, a state. A state actor.

And that's why there's just too much speculation to know what is happening in Qatar, because it's not like it's being broadcast of two states negotiating across the table, like the peace accords in Paris after Vietnam.

And that's why a lot of this is pure speculation, and there -- again, no one knows what's happening, because it's -- it's largely happening behind the scenes.

VAUSE: Dan, thanks so much for being with us. Dan O'Shea there, former Navy SEAL and hostage working group in the Baghdad embassy for the U.S. Thanks for being with us, Dan.

O'SHEA: Thank you.

VAUSE: For 34 days, Gaza has been the target of an unrelated Israeli military campaign by air, land and sea. For the first time in more than 50 years, a major Israeli ground offense is underway. Gaza has never seen anything like this in scale and intensity.

Much of the fighting has been in the North.

CNN's Oren Liebermann embedded with the Israeli military for a firsthand look at the destruction and devastation left behind. First, though, a disclaimer: CNN reported under IDF escort at all times and agreed to their standard request to review all images recorded in Gaza. But CNN did not submit a script to the IDF, and retained total editorial control, over the report you're about to see.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Through the breach, we entered Northern Gaza at the Erez border crossing. The land here, once fertile farmland, is barren. And the trees that might have provided enemy cover, destroyed.

In the distance, smoke from Israeli air strike is a stark reminder that this is day 34 of a war that may stretch much longer. On Thursday, the IDF chief of staff and the head of the country's internal security service entered Gaza and promised strength through cooperation.


"Everyone is doing everything," said General Herzi Halevi. "Just so you can be as strong as possible."

Along our path in Northern Gaza, the signs of civilian life have given way to the constant hum of drones and the distant echoes of artillery.

Our time with the IDF began at the coordination base for the border crossing, the first international media visit at the site. The terror attack on October 7 hit hard here, the scars of machine-gun fire and RPGs still visible.

The base was mostly empty on the holiday, but not entirely. The IDF says nine soldiers were killed here and three kidnapped.

It took 12 hours for Israel to regain control of the base. Now, it's one of the main gates to Gaza.

A month into the war, more than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian health ministry there.

The IDF says 35 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the strip since the start of the incursion. The October 7th attack by Hamas in Israel killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

We stop at an overlook near the town of Jabaliya.

LIEBERMANN: One of the things uncovered here on this Hill near Jabaliya is a meeting point of three different tunnels. And you can see, if you take a look, that's one, two, three. They came together here, and it let Hamas move underground quickly, below the feet and out of sight. LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Colonel Tal, the tank commander, says, "There were many explosives here. There were many trenches. There were a lot of weapons and ammunition. We found here a storage site with many explosives against tanks, RPGs."

Even from a distance, the scale of the destruction is stunning. Public buildings, homes, neighborhoods decimated.

Colonel Tal says, "The area is almost completely evacuated. We don't see civilians in our eyes. We see sometimes terrorists, but the majority of civilians haven't been here in a while. They've all gone South in the direction of the heart of the Strip."

As we talk, we hear rocket fire and see the trails of the launches, triggering red alerts in Ashdod (ph).

After about 90 minutes inside Northern Gaza, we make our way out, hugging the border wall for safety. Even here, so close to the exit, we stop briefly until the dust clears and we can make sure the way ahead is safe.

In the distance, once again, the smoke from another strike.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in Northern Gaza.


VAUSE: When we return here on CNN, the latest climate change data is out, and scientists say it reads like a script for a disaster movie. And it seems we all have a major role.



VAUSE: Welcome back. Two new climate change reports are out, neither surprising but both shocking in what they reveal about how quickly and about how much our climate is warming.

One came from the non-profit research group Climate Central, which says the past 12 months were the hottest in 125,000 years. And there is a direct line between the alarming rate of warming and carbon emissions from burning coal and other fossil fuels.

The other report comes from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, which warns this year's virtually certain to be the hottest year ever recorded. Record after record temperatures smashed by record amounts.

This past October was the hottest on record, beating the previous record by 0.4 degrees Celsius, set back in 2019.


SAMANTHA BURGESS, COPERNICUS CLIMATE CHANGE SERVICE: The only time that we've ever had a bigger difference between the previous warmest month and the current one is last month in September. So October 2023 is almost as shocking as September 2023 was.


VAUSE: A new ruling by the Vatican will allow some transgender people and children of same-sex couples to be baptized in the Catholic Church. Details now from Barbie Nadeau, reporting in from Rome.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Vatican's announced a crucial change in rules for LGBTQ Catholics. Transgender people and babies born to same-sex couples can now be baptized in the Catholic Church in some cases, as long as they continue their religious education and do not cause, quote, "scandal or disorientation to others."

The change is a 180-degree turn from previous rulings in which the Vatican often seemed to slam the door to the LGBTQ community. Pope Francis has spoken positively on LGBTQ issues in the past, saying the church is open to everyone, including members of the gay community.

He also said that criminalizing homosexuality is an injustice.

POPE FRANCIS, LEADER OF CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): This is not right. Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.

NADEAU (voice-over): The new rules are welcomed by Catholics in the LGBTQ community, but they offer conservatives in the church another point of contention.

Before the new baptism decision was announced, conservatives led by U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, warned that too many changes can lead to confusion.

The new rules still mean homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of the church, but they do offer an opportunity for inclusion in an ancient institution that often seems slow to change.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


VAUSE: Well, there might just be another surprise candidate running for president in the United States in 2024.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has announced he will not run for reelection to the Senate next year, a major blow for Democrats hoping to keep his seat in deep-red West Virginia, a state Donald Trump handily won back in 2020.

But here's the twist. Manchin isn't quitting just to spend time with family. He's hinting about a possible run for the White House. CNN's Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Manchin making a decision that will shake up the United States Senate, and have huge ramifications in the battle for control of the chamber, by announcing he will not run for reelection in West Virginia.

He would have had a difficult time winning against Jim Justice, who's the sitting governor, someone who's running in the Republican primary and has -- is the frontrunner in it for the party's nomination. The polls have shown that Manchin was struggling against Jim Justice, but by Manchin stepping aside he will be much harder, if not impossible, for Democrats to win that seat, to keep it in their hands.

That means, if the seat flips red, Democrats will have a much tougher time keeping the majority, right now 51 to 49. And once it goes to the Republican side, it's 50/50.

Also, Manchin a central player for so many years in the Senate, given his conservative politics and the fact that he has been a swing vote on so many key issues.

Just in Biden's first few years in office, being a central player in some of the president's key legislative achievements, whether it's Inflation Reduction Act, or the infrastructure law, or playing a key role in the bipartisan gun safety legislation.

That doesn't mean that he's beloved by Democrats. In fact, he has been on the outs for Democrats for some time. Many progressives, liberals angry at him not agreeing to change Senate filibuster rules, which would have allowed them to pass a whole suite of Democratic legislation, also a whole range of issues he has pushback on them on. Which has made him a pariah among the left.

That has also -- that calls up potentially Manchin running a third- party -- as a third-party candidate in the presidential race.


He suggested it in his announcement video that he's going to try to galvanize, to see if there's a movement of people on both sides of the aisle, where they can figure out a way to work together.

What does that mean? Will he run for president in a third-party ticket? He does not address that. That speculation will only continue. What he says, it is time for him for a new chapter in life, the 76- year-old Democrat was that a huge impact on West Virginia and the politics here in the Senate.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: As Israel's role with Hamas grinds on, U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East are coming under increased fire. At least four missile and drone attacks in Iraq and Syria since Wednesday, leaving three U.S. service members with minor injuries, according to U.S. officials.

Hours earlier, a weapons storage facility in Eastern Syria was targeted by U.S. airstrike. Officials in Washington say it was controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, believed responsible for many of at least 46 attacks on American troops since mid-October.

Disturbing new video from Sudan's West Darfur region is raising concerns of a new surge in ethnically-driven killings. Troops who appear to belong to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are seen rounding up civilians from one ethnic group, who are yelling racist slurs and a whole lot worse.

More details now from CNN's David McKenzie. And a warning: his report, as you would expect, contains some graphic images.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The evidence of alleged atrocities in Western Darfur keep on piling up.

On Wednesday, we brought you these videos geolocated to the outskirts of El Geneina, in Western Darfur. It shows Rapid Support Forces, and other allied militia believed rounding up the people from larger African ethnicities in that city, in some cases abusing them physically, in other cases racially abusing them verbally.

We don't know what exactly happened to these individuals who look terrified in the video. This is all taking place here in El Geneina, in Western Darfur, in the region we believe, close to an Army base where the RSF attacked in recent days.

And I want to show you this disturbing image, which shows at least 12 bodies. We've blurred some of those bodies, but you get a sense of the atrocities that have been happening in that region.

We've managed to geolocate this image to the same area as some of those videos, but we do not know yet whether it's the same individuals you see in the videos that are in the still image. Nor do we know exactly when this image was taken.

The U.S. embassy in Khartoum has said they're deeply disturbed by the eyewitness accounts of ethnic targeting happening in West Darfur. Thousands have been streaming over the border into Chad in recent days, according to Doctors Without Borders.

But there's no sign of the violence abating. And the RSF, who denies any involvement in ethnic killings or targeting in response to our query, says that they will be pushing on to another major center in that region.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


VAUSE: When we come back here on CNN, four weeks of raids by the Israeli military in the West Bank and a growing death toll among Palestinians with fears the violence will only be getting worse. The very latest in a moment.



VAUSE: Welcome back.

Israel says these four-hour-long tactical pauses by their forces in Gaza simply formalizes what has already been happening since last weekend. But now, on a daily basis.

But Israel's prime minister stressed these four-hour windows do not amount to a ceasefire, and there will be no ceasefire without the release of all hostages.

All of this coming is as the Israeli Defense Forces say their troops are now on the ground inside Gaza City, fighting Hamas Jihadists. More now from CNN's Salma Abdelaziz.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you are among those still in Northern Gaza, this is what life looks like now, the heart of a battle zone.

"May God protect us," this man says. "Those who do not have the means to leave, we will have to stay where we are. It's as if they sentenced us to death."

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The Israeli military continues to call on all residents of Northern Gaza to move South. It is the forced exodus of an entire population, Palestinians say.

But some are unable or unwilling to heed the warning. Thousands of them are taking shelter at Gaza City hospitals. Among them patients that can't be moved, families too afraid to travel through bombs and bullets, and medical staff loyal to a duty of care.

Doctor Muhammad Abunamuz (ph) says he has sent his family away, but he will stay behind.

"What can be done? There's no other way out of this. There is no safety," he says. "That's why it's best if I get my family out so I can focus on treating patients."

On Wednesday alone, as many as 50,000 people made the perilous journey South via the time-limited corridors set up by the Israeli military.

REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAELI MILITARY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): They're moving, because they understand that Hamas has lost control in the North, and that the South is safer, a safer area where they receive medicine, water, food. They understand it's an improvement.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But the South is not safe, and hardly an improvement. Israeli airstrikes level homes here, too.

And the conditions for the estimated 1.5 million now cramped in this corner of the enclave are described as inhumane. Thousands of the displaced are living on the street.

"There is no aid, no water. The toilets are closed," she says, "and no bakeries. We get a single loaf of bread every three or four days after waiting in long lines for half a day."

And U.N. shelters are overcrowded. At one site, at least 600 people share a single toilet, the U.N. says. And as for humanitarian assistance, it is so far a drop in the ocean of need.

VOLKER TURK, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: This is the gateway to a hellish nightmare, and then I see in front of me the lifeline that would bring relief and humanitarian assistance, which until now has not been enough, woefully inadequate.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The conditions are so dire that this family says they decided to leave a U.N. shelter and move back into the ruins of their bombed-out home.

"We're still afraid, of course, for our children, but it's the lesser of two evils," this father says. "At least it's better than being surrounded by disease, hunger, and fear. At least here our children are at home."

With three out of every four Gazans internally displaced, the U.N. estimates home is what so many dream of here, but many fear that sense of normalcy will never return.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


VAUSE: According to new data from the U.N., the war between Israel and Hamas could set the Palestinian economy back decades. Already, in just four weeks, the number of Palestinians living in poverty has risen by 300,000.


Poverty in the West Bank and Gaza up 20 percent. In Gaza, employment is down more than 60 percent. And the Palestinian economy now in recession, falling by more than 4 percent.


ABDALLAH AL-DARDARI, DIRECTOR, REGIONAL BUREAU FOR ARAB STATES, UNDP: Not just Gaza. For the Palestinian economy to lose 4 percent of GDP in one month, that's not comparable to any conflict we have seen before. The Syrian economy used to lose 1 percent of GDP per month.


VAUSE: The U.N. predicts an 11- to 16-year setback for Palestinian human development, which includes areas of health, education, growth, and business.

Staying in the West Bank, raids have become a daily occurrence as part of Israel's counterterrorism offensive. And for Palestinians who live there, the violence and restrictions are something they've been dealing with for years. But now, appear to be getting much stricter.

CNN's Nada Bashir has our report. And a warning: her report contains some graphic images.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yet another Israeli incursion into the occupied West Bank. Yet more violence. Palestinians here in the El Am'ari refugee camp taking cover from incoming tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

IDF raids have become a daily occurrence here. Israel's military says it is targeting armed Palestinian groups as part of its counterterrorism operation.

But the number of casualties amongst Palestinians is growing with each passing day, with more than 170 killed in the last four weeks alone, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

In downturn Ramallah, daily life continues, but the impact of Israel's often violent security tactics are felt by all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The occupation has always been an issue. It affects us economically, and it affects our daily lives, too. Each and every day, Palestinians are killed or injured here. There are Israeli raids every day, too, and people are still being forcibly evicted from their homes.

BASHIR (voice-over): The signposts of Israel's decades-long occupation are evident here, from the concrete separation walls to checkpoints and watchtowers.

And a dual legal and political system which, according to U.N. rights experts, privileges Israelis and illegal settlements over a more than 3 million strong Palestinian population. In other words, U.N. and other human rights experts say a system of apartheid.

Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian journalist and analyst living in the occupied West Bank, tells me Israel's repressive tactics were intensifying long before the beginning of the war in Gaza.

MARIAM BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST AND ANALYST: I think it's wrong to try and see it as restrictions getting worse. They have reached the climax of repression and the climax of violence. It's not just getting worse. We're reaching points of no return.

And Palestinians have warned against this in 2021, and these warnings were not taken seriously in the West Bank. There is no capability to fight back. Israel has access and control over movement, entry of resources, and the narrative.

BASHIR (voice-over): But just as violence in the occupied West Bank intensifies, so do Israel's airstrikes on Gaza.

The Israeli government has made clear its intention to rid Gaza of Hamas in its entirety, signaling that Israel will seek to establish overall security responsibility over Gaza for an indefinite period of time, with indications that a system similar to that in the West Bank could be on the table. But such proposals have been characterized by the Biden administration as a mistake.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We must also work on the affirmative elements to get to a sustained peace. These must include the Palestinian people's voices and aspirations at the center of postcrisis governance in Gaza. It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

BASHIR (voice-over): But even under the Palestinian Authority's leadership in the occupied territories, Israel's security presence is pervasive.

Palestinian homes frequently raided, torched, and bulldozed. Palestinian families in a constant cycle of mourning. And hopes for a viable Palestinian state slowly eroded.

Nada Bashir, CNN, in Ramallah.


VAUSE: In a moment here on CNN, how Israel is helping same-sex partners of fallen soldiers grieve and mourn their loss. In a moment.



VAUSE: Dozens of Israeli soldiers have been killed so far in the past four weeks. And some who have same-sex partners. And now, the Israeli government will recognize same-sex partnerships as a widow or widower of a fallen soldier. It's a new development motivated in part by the story you're about to see, an IDF soldier and his fiance, who will never get to see their wedding day.

CNN's Jake Tapper has the story.


OMER OHANA, LOST FIANCE: The officers from the Army came to our house and they didn't say anything, they didn't need to.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was the moment Omer Ohana's worst fears became official. His fiance, and the future the planned together, were suddenly gone, just days before their wedding.

TAPPER: When were you supposed to get married?

OHANA: October 20th. It was supposed to be the weekend of the wedding. TAPPER (voice-over): Omer and his love, Reserve Captain Sagi Golan,

had made a deal, the morning of October 7th, to check in with each other every hour. When the messages stopped coming, Omer turned to their guest list.

OHANA: I called each one of his, each one that was tagged also in the Army in the wedding invites. And I started gathering information about why he isn't answering. Inside of me, I -- we already knew. But we had -- we had hope. Maybe he's injured. Maybe he was kidnapped, and maybe he was taken as a hostage.

TAPPER (voice-over): Omer and Sagi's mother waited four excruciating days before they got the news.

ETI GOLAN, MOTHER OF FALLEN IDF SOLDIER (through translator): I drove to his base, the main base he serves on. And then I got my answer, that they didn't know what was happening with Sagi and some of his soldiers. Then I understood. It wasn't an official answer, but Omer and I already understood what they were saying.

TAPPER (voice-over): Sagi was killed Saturday night at kibbutz Be'eri, while evacuating innocent families from one of the most dangerous and deadly attacks of the war.

GOLAN (through translator): When he saw what those scum humans did there, and when he saw those awful atrocities, he said to his soldiers, We are fighting for our home. We are fighting for our existence. And we will fight until we win.

OHANA: There is nothing that can compensate on this act of all the children and all of the women he saw butchered on the street when he walked there. He died with those images. He died with -- he died after he picked up a little children and hugged him. After he evacuated all of those Israeli families, from the shelters.


TAPPER (voice-over): While working through unimaginable grief, Omer says the fact that he and Sagi were a gay couple made his worst moments even harder, including the fact that there was no place for a same-sex partner to sign on the postmortem paperwork.

OHANA: For his whole life, he volunteered in so many countries, and in so many platforms, and always for equality. With his death, I experienced inequality that I never thought I would feel.

Sadness is always the main feeling that controls your heart. But when you understand stuff, you're also filled with anger.

TAPPER (voice-over): After Omer spoke out about his experience, the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, passed an amendment this week recognizing the same-sex partners of fallen service members as widows and widowers.

They and other common-law partners will now receive the same access to financial, medical, and societal benefits as straight married couples. OHANA: Sagi was a light, and I'm going to remember him as a light. And

everybody will know. And everybody will know.

TAPPER: That light's going to burn --

OHANA: For a long time, but it's going to light the Israeli law book. It's going to light the Knesset. It's going to unify the people.

TAPPER (voice-over): In Israel, only marriages between men and women of the same religion can be performed. Even though Omar and Sagi's marriage would not have been recognized, that did not stop them from planning every detail of the ceremony.

Omer is so grief-stricken, he can hardly tell me that these flowers from his fiance, Sagi's, funeral were the same bouquets intended for their wedding day.

OHANA: It was supposed to be the centerpieces for the -- for the wedding. This is Sagi's suit. The color of his eyes. This is my suit. The white one.

TAPPER: I'm so sorry, Omer.

I'm so sorry.

TAPPER (voice-over): Jack Tapper, CNN, Herzliya, Israel.


VAUSE: Wow. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after a short break, and then Michael Holmes will be here at the top of the hour with a lot more CNN NEWSROOM. Have a good weekend.