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More Than 360 Killed In Israel At October 7 Music Festival; Nowhere In Gaza Is Safe; Israel Rejects Genocide Allegation; Sean Combs Settles In Rape Case; House Ethics Committee Moves To Expel Santos; U.S. And Mexican Presidents Discuss Fentanyl Crisis; Hostages' Families March To Jerusalem And Tel Aviv; Suspect In Death Of Jewish Protester Pleads Not Guilty; Volcano Fears Forces Iceland Town To Evacuate. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired November 18, 2023 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.
Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, U.N. experts have harsh new criticism for Israel's actions in Gaza, saying that it points to a genocide in the making, a charge Israel strenuously rejects.
We'll speak to a family member of an Israeli hostage, who's one of the thousands marching to Jerusalem. Their goal: demand their loved ones return home safely.
Plus, Colorado judge calls Trump an insurrectionist, yet says he can still appear on the Colorado ballot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.
BRUNHUBER: It's been exactly six weeks since the terrorist attacks in southern Israel that led Israel to declare war on Hamas and the site of the Nova music festival became ground zero for thousands of unsuspecting people who were there on the morning of October 7th.
The Israeli media is now reporting that many more people died than was previously reported, citing an Israeli police report. The death toll now stands at 364, up from 270; 17 of those killed reportedly were police officers. About 40 people at the event were taken hostage.
Israeli authorities don't believe the terrorists knew about the festival beforehand. Three weeks into the IDF's ground incursion into northern Gaza, CNN crews in nearby Israel reported seeing heavy activity during the night.
Hamas officials now put the Palestinian death toll in Gaza at more than 12,000 people, including more than 5,000 children.
The crippling fuel shortage and damage from Israeli bombardment have forced dozens of hospitals and clinics to close, according to the Palestinian Authority ministry of health, citing medical sources from the Hamas controlled enclave.
CNN's Nada Bashir has a closer look with how people with nowhere to go are forced to live in the ruins of their bombed-out homes. Her report contains graphic images.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: In the central Gazan city of Deir al Balah, heavily bombarded by Israeli airstrikes for weeks now, the Naji (ph) family is forced to live amid the ruins of what once was their home. Khalid (ph) and his wife were rescued from beneath the rubble. Miraculously, they survived.
But now, with nowhere to go, this family must make do with what little they have left.
When we saw the catastrophe before us, we try to find shelter at a school or anywhere safe. But it was already too crowded, Khalid says. There wasn't anywhere safe to go here. As you can see, it has been raining and there is no aid getting in. I just want somewhere to shelter my family, my children.
The U.N. has warned that some 70 percent of people in Gaza are now forced to drink contaminated water. Raw sewage is said to be flowing through the streets in some areas.
And while the Israeli government says it will now allow to fuel tankers a day to enter Gaza to support water and sewage systems, the entire strip is said to be facing the immediate possibility of starvation, according to the U.N. World Food Programme.
There is no electricity and no running water here. As temperatures drop, this family has no choice but to sleep in the cold.
Khalid's daughter says she put this sheet of nylon to protect her from the wind and rain at night. These blankets, all the family has left to keep them warm. The rest of their belongings tangled and buried amidst scorched, Blackened rubble.
Across northern and central Gaza, scenes of destruction are all that remain. Civilians told to evacuate southwards, the Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas and allowing for evacuation corridors. But even in the south, there is no escape from this punishing war.
The ruins you see here are homes in the southern city of Khan Younis. Amid the destruction, members of the Abu Zanad (ph) family standing helpless. Loved ones, still buried under the rubble.
Every second of every minute, there's another massacre, Khani (ph) says.
Where are the humanitarian ceasefires?
Displaced people, women and children, our family members, are here, buried underneath this home.
They escape the massacres and war in northern Gaza.
BASHIR (voice-over): They told us the south would be safe. On the grounds of southern Gaza's Nasr Hospital, another funeral prayer is held, closed with a message of peace amid unfathomable loss.
With fears growing of an expanded ground incursion, said to be targeting Hamas in the south, after Israeli forces dropped leaflets near Khan Younis, warning people to move to known shelters on Thursday. But with some 1.5 million people already displaced, there is nowhere safe to turn.
And as each hour takes by, there is only more uncertainty and more tragedy.
The wounded rushed to the hospitals crowded halls. Children, battered and bloody, sharing whatever space is left in this panic filled emergency room but as doctors in the south race to rescue the wounded, survivors further north, just like Khalid and his family, struggle to come to terms with this now shattered reality.
Khalid says neighbors thought he was dead when they pulled him from the rubble. Now he says, he wishes he too had been killed in the airstrike. In Gaza, only the dead are at peace -- Nada Bashir, CNN, Jerusalem.
BRUNHUBER: Israel is rejecting an allegation by a group of U.N. human rights experts that its actions in Gaza, quote, "point to a genocide in the making."
On Thursday, the group of experts known as U.N. special rapporteurs said Israel had committed grave violations against Palestinians in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on October 7th. The experts cited the use of weaponry with inherently indiscriminate impacts, resulting in a colossal death toll.
Israel's foreign minister said on Friday, quote, "Israel rejects all allegations made by the special rapporteurs. Israel is committed to international humanitarian law and will continue to take measures to prevent civilian harm in Gaza.
"The only genocidal acts during this conflict are those of Hamas, when they slaughtered, raped and tortured innocent people in Israel on October 7th."
CNN's Eleni Giokos joins us live from Cairo.
The U.N. not mincing words there. Take us through these allegations of genocide.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, we've been hearing a lot from various international organizations and, of course, adding pressure now to Israel to stop the airstrikes, to pull out of Gaza or at least a humanitarian pause, some kind of cease-fire.
I mean, you know, literally every single option is being mentioned here because of the dire situation that's playing out right now in real time. We know the death toll has increased now to 12,000.
The injured Palestinians we're looking at sitting at 30,000 people. These numbers are very difficult to get your head around. But more importantly so in terms of what's happening at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in northern Gaza.
And, of course, the IDF embarked on an operation there; they're inside the hospital, this heavy and intense fighting in and around the hospital as well. And, of course, this hospital still has patients.
We've been hearing from doctors from inside, talking about no food and water and lack of electricity and, of course, diminishing medical supplies. In fact, we also heard from MSF.
For the past week they've been talking about the deterioration around al Shifa, no clear or safe passage out of al Shifa. They're very close to the hospital and have been ringing alarm bells.
More importantly we know those neonatal babies are inside the hospital and in desperate need to get them out. The IDF is saying that they have been making way and creating clear passage for them to exit.
But we're hearing very different realities, that it is hard to get out. But I do want you to listen, Kim, to what the Palestinian U.N. representative is saying and is calling for a cease-fire. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We need a humanitarian cease-fire now. After 40 days we cannot have a humanitarian cease-fire.
How many more of Palestinian children you want to see being killed and women and civilians and sick and wounded before you come to the conclusion of implementing what you are listening to them from all the agencies who are working in the humanitarian field?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: And the agencies, Kim, have all been adding a lot more pressure over the past while.
Even the U.N.'s Martin Griffiths said, "We are not asking for the moon. We are asking for basic measures that are required to meet the central needs of the civilian population."
BRUNHUBER: And then Eleni, ongoing now for a couple of days, a poignant march by families of those taken hostage.
You've been watching this, what can you tell us?
GIOKOS: Yes, exactly. I mean, we've seen in Israel people meeting in Tel Aviv and walking through to Jerusalem, making it very clear to the Netanyahu government that they want their family members back that were taken hostage and now currently trapped in Gaza.
They want them back safe and alive as well. And they're, you know, telling us about the harrowing experiences and the stories and they say that 42 days is far too long, it's too much, it is a nightmare that is playing out in real time.
We know the negotiations are currently underway from our sources, they tell us the Qataris are mediating these negotiations with the U.S., Israel, Hamas as well as the Egyptians.
If there is any breakthrough, it could happen in the next few days. But these take time. And what is important here to note, as well, is that anything that happens on the ground could derail any type of talks that are happening behind closed doors, which we've seen in the past.
Only four hostages have been released through a breakthrough moment a few weeks ago. And now we're looking at a situation where there's hopefully going to be some move.
But Hamas has got a list of demands and who knows who's going to make concessions on either side. But we know what is on the table and we know what is at stake and a lot is going on, Kim, in Gaza right now.
So it will be interesting to see if a breakthrough can happen in the next few days that could include some kind of pause or, even as we heard clearly from international organizations, a full-out cease-fire.
BRUNHUBER: All right, Eleni Giokos in Cairo, thanks so much.
The first plane carrying children from Gaza, who need urgent medical care, has arrived in Abu Dhabi, according to the UAE's state run news agency. The children are suffering from severe injuries, burns and cancer.
They were accompanied by their families. The UAE president is planning to provide medical treatment to 1,000 children from the Gaza Strip.
A Colorado judge labels Donald Trump an insurrectionist for actively stoking the anger of extremist supporters on January 6th but says that won't keep him off the ballot.
Next on CNN, a new challenge for Republican lawmaker George Santos who faces the prospect of being kicked out of Congress. We'll have full details ahead. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Settlements have been reached in the federal lawsuit, filed just a day go, against music mogul Shawn Diddy Combs. His former girlfriend, Cassandra Ventura, accused him of rape and years of abuse.
In separate statements, obtained by CNN, the R&B singer who goes by Cassie, thanked her family, fans and lawyers for their unwavering support, writing, quote, "I've decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control."
Sean Combs issuing a statement, saying, quote, "We have decided to resolve this matter amicably. I wish Cassie and her family all the best. Love."
Donald Trump will be on the ballot in Colorado's Republican presidential primary after a judge rejected an effort to disqualify him based on the 14th Amendment's ban on insurrectionists running for office.
The judge says Trump did participate in the January 6th insurrection but that the ban doesn't apply to presidents. Jessica Schneider has more.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This was a lengthy decision by this judge, 102 pages, she's really scathing, going minute by minute through Trump's actions on January 6th, talking about how his words incited lawless violence.
She said Trump did nothing to stop the violence and how he did engage in an insurrection. This is the first time a court has come to that conclusion. But the judge here stopped short of taking Trump off the Colorado ballot.
In fact, she ordered the secretary of state to keep Trump on the ballot. And that is because of the specific language of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 of that amendment says that certain officials cannot hold office if they engaged in insurrection.
But the judge here noting President of the United States is not specifically listed under Section 3.
She writes this, she says, "Part of the court's decision is its reluctance to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment."
So because the Constitution does not explicitly state that a provision for a prospective president to be removed if they engage in insurrection, Trump must remain on the Colorado ballot.
It's likely the group that tried to get Trump off the ballot will appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. This is a group, by the way, that includes several Republicans. Now they have to file their appeal by Monday, just a few days from now.
But then any appeal really could be heard fairly quickly. There's a good chance that this case could ultimately be heard by the Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court.
You know, we do know, of course, the Supreme Court is solidly conservative and the majority of the justices are really sticklers in adhering to the exact text of the Constitution.
So Trump could ultimately also end up victorious at the Supreme Court. So chances are that he will be on the ballot in all of these states, despite all of these challenges, he's won so far -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
BRUNHUBER: Of course, Trump's legal troubles are far from over. His lawyers are pushing back against a suggested start date for the former president's election subversion trial here in Georgia.
Prosecutors want the case to go to court in August 2024, two months before Election Day. Trump's legal team says that won't work. They're asking the judge to schedule a hearing for oral arguments about the start date. But ultimately the decision on when to begin the case is up to the judge himself.
In a stunning move on Capitol Hill, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee has introduced a bill to expel a fellow Republican from Congress. The move comes after the release of a scathing report into the campaign conduct of George Santos. A new vote to kick him out of Congress could come later this month.
BRUNHUBER: Melanie Zanona has more.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The House is moving closer to expel George Santos from Congress, which would be a largely unprecedented and dramatic step if they were to succeed.
But on Friday morning, Michael Guest, the Republican chairman of the House Ethics Committee, filed a resolution that would expel George Santos. And that is going to tee up action potentially after the Thanksgiving break.
Now past efforts to expel George Santos have failed. It is a high bar; it requires a two-thirds majority for passage. But having the weight of the House Ethics Committee and the weight of this damning report behind it is significant. And already we have seen a number of Republicans, new Republicans,
come out and say they will now support expulsion after previously voting against it.
And meanwhile, the new speaker, Mike Johnson, is essentially giving members a green light to vote their conscience. I want to read you part of the statement that came from his spokesman, Raj Shah.
He said, "The Speaker has reviewed the report and its very troubling findings.
"As members from both parties, members of the Ethics Committee and Representative Santos return to Congress after the Thanksgiving break, Speaker Johnson encourages all involved to consider the best interest of the institution as this matter is addressed further."
So we'll see what Santos decides to do. At this moment, he says he will not run for reelection in 2024, claiming he will stick around and serve out his term as long as he is allowed.
But some Republicans are hoping he resigns before they have to expel him. Santos, for his part, has been defiant, says he is innocent, deserves his day in court and also announced he will hold a press conference on the Capitol steps on November 30th.
But we'll see if that winds up being his last press conference here on Capitol Hill.
BRUNHUBER: On Friday the Biden administration announced a potential multi-billion dollar weapons sale to Japan. The State Department signed off on a proposed deal to sell Japan a long range Tomahawk missile system for more than $2 billion.
This comes after President Biden met with the Japanese prime minister at the APEC summit on Thursday. The U.S. says, if finalized, the new weapons will help Japan respond to current and future threats.
Well, the latest APEC summit is in the books. President Biden presided over the gathering in San Francisco with an eye toward combating the fentanyl crisis and improving relations with China. David Culver reports.
DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Biden ended the first U.S.-hosted APEC summit in more than a decade by reaffirming America's commitment to the countries of the Asia Pacific.
You had 21 economies here, taking part in various days of meetings and discussions that they hoped would lead to perhaps global stability. The focus across the board was on artificial intelligence; it was on enhancing women's place in the workplace and the economy in particular as well as climate. But outside of that, there were three major meetings, really, that we
look at, as some of the big highlights and focus and ones that will ultimately perhaps lead to some change here with relations between the U.S. and several countries.
Among them, of course, Wednesday's meeting between president Xi Jinping of China and President Joe Biden. That meeting resulted in two major agreements from the U.S. side, that they said, China going forward will crack down on fentanyl, a crisis that has impacted many Americans.
And also looking at trying to build a communication route between the U.S. and China's militaries and trying to reestablish those communications after they were severed a couple of summers ago.
So very important from the U.S. perspective. As far as China's focus while they were here and president Xi Jinping in particular, it was about wooing businesses back to China.
Many have left in recent years, concerned with Beijing's many crackdowns on corporations, particularly American and international companies.
And so he spent time, including a very lengthy dinner, meeting with those business executives, including Apple's Tim Cook and Elon Musk, trying to reassure them that international companies have a place within China.
That's obviously incredibly important for China, given its struggling economy. Another of the meetings that took place was on Friday between president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico and President Biden.
The focus there being immigration as well as fentanyl. But the meeting that took place between those two leaders comes after president Xi met with president Lopez Obrador as well.
And that was important because to fix the fentanyl crisis within the U.S., it's going to take a focus of not only the U.S. and Mexico but China's role, of course. And the production of those precursor chemicals that leave China, make their way to Mexico, are then produced into finished fentanyl and smuggled into the U.S.
So to have the leaders of those three countries in one place to discuss that, well, for U.S. officials, that is a hopeful look --
CULVER: -- at what could come going forward, being a resolution of some sort or an agreement to see action follow some of this positive rhetoric.
All in all, President Biden leaving here feeling pretty positive with how APEC took place and handing it over officially to Peru, where they will continue next year's summit. All in all, though, it's a lot of agreement in place, a lot of positive talk.
But the question will be, will substance follow?
David Culver, CNN, San Francisco.
BRUNHUBER: Next, side by side under unimaginable circumstances, the families of hostages kidnapped by Hamas have a clear message to the Israeli government right now. We hear what that is as we speak to one family member in just a few moments. Please do stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Israel now estimates 237 people are being held hostage in Gaza and efforts to secure their freedom are ongoing. Qatar is acting as the mediator in the negotiations.
And on Friday President Biden spoke with the Qatari emir, urging all hostages be released without further delay. According to several sources, the latest sticking point is a demand by Hamas that the IDF cease flying drones over Gaza during pauses in the fighting when hostages might be released.
The Israeli military is expected to reject that demand.
Well, the families of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th are marching to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They're calling on the government to ensure their loved ones are brought home safely.
BRUNHUBER: Family members say they feel like they're being kept in the dark and they're calling on Israel's prime minister and members of his war cabinet to meet with them to discuss the negotiations process.
Gefin Sigal's mother and other family members were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th. She joins us now from a town close to Jerusalem.
Thank you so much for being here with us. But before we start, I just notice your shirt had some pictures on it. Explain who we're seeing there.
GEFIN SIGAL, RELATIVE OF MULTIPLE HAMAS HOSTAGES: Yes, OK. Here is my uncle. Here, we have my mother and her partner. Down there, my cousin. And that's my aunt. Five people were kidnapped.
BRUNHUBER: Five of your family members, including your mother, were kidnapped by Hamas. It's just unimaginable. Now you're trying to raise awareness around this. Just describe the scene to me, describe where you are exactly and who's all there, marching with you and behind you.
SIGAL: We have here marching 25,000 people, wanting them, all the kidnapped people, to be free, bring them back and growing the awareness to bring them back. And we'll keep pressure on the government.
BRUNHUBER: So in talking with some of the hostages' families, we're hearing a sense of frustration.
What have you been told so far by the Israeli government?
Have they spoken to you at all?
SIGAL: Not that much; not specifically to us. They told, as I know from them, all the friends and families that they are doing some negotiation. But there's a lot of problems in it.
First of all, there are not enough people to bring back, not enough hostages. And we need more. We need more people. We need not the families to be separated, children from mothers, not to be separated. But as I wish them all to be free today together.
BRUNHUBER: So you're saying basically that they are discussing a deal for a certain number of hostages to be released but not all of them.
You're saying you want them all to be released all together, is that right?
SIGAL: Yes. And for me, there's no price to my family. As they decide to do some, a cease-fire for a few days, it's OK. But I just want them to be free. Bring them home, everybody, and my family, too.
BRUNHUBER: I mean, it sounds from what the Israeli government is saying, obviously they share that goal. They want all of the hostages to be free. They've demanded that from Hamas.
Do you not feel that prime minister Netanyahu and his government share your priorities here?
SIGAL: I hope it would be but I don't know. I hope so. I think the pressure that we put on it, every protest, it's getting better. They're taking us, the families, more seriously. So I hope so but don't know because it takes -- now it's more than 42 days. It's too much time. Every minute counts. Every minute, it's damage for my family.
BRUNHUBER: Joining a march like this, the one that you're participating in now, you're doing it to raise awareness, to help your mother and your family members.
Does it help you as well in coping with all of this?
SIGAL: Yes, of course, doing and being activist, it's the best. If I stay at home and just do nothing, I will feel really, really bad and I need to fight for the life of my family, any way I can, every way I can. BRUNHUBER: Finally, if you could send a message to your family, to
your mother, to the others who are being held hostage right now, what would you say to them?
SIGAL: That I love them and I hope they hold on. And we do everything we can to bring them home.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, we certainly hope so. We really appreciate talking with you.
BRUNHUBER: And good luck in your quest to bring all of the hostages home, Gefin Sigal, thank you for speaking with us.
SIGAL: Thank you for hearing our story. We want the world not to shut up and to be with us and help us. Thank you so much.
BRUNHUBER: All right, thank you.
Now unfortunately, Israeli forces recovered the bodies of two hostages in recent days, including a fellow soldier. CNN's Nic Robertson has our report.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Yehudit Waiss is the first Israeli hostage discovered by the IDF since their full incursion began almost three weeks ago. The dearly loved 65-year- old grandmother, a mother of five, was already dead.
OMER WAISS (through translator): Yesterday, we were heartbroken for the second time in a stronger way. When they told us about father, there was still hope that mother would return and yesterday, we were told that we will not see our mother and grandmother again.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her husband, Omer's father, Shmuel, was killed October 7th when Hamas stormed their home in Be'eri kibbutz. But even now, her death a mystery. The IDF claimed she was murdered by terrorists.
ROBERTSON: Has the IDF been able to tell you how she died?
WAISS (through translator): They could only tell us she wasn't killed on the day of the attempted rescue. They don't know if she was murdered in Gaza or her remains taken into Gaza.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Early Friday, the body of a second hostage was recovered, 19-year-old IDF corporal, Noa Marciano, discovered, like Yehudit, by the IDF in a building near the Shifa Hospital.
A Hamas propaganda video released this week, that CNN is not showing, claimed she died as a result of an Israeli airstrike. Omer is sure his mother did not.
ROBERTSON: You said you knew for sure that she wasn't killed in an airstrike. How do you know that?
WAISS: (Speaking foreign language).
ROBERTSON: But you know it?
WAISS (through translator): Yes, we have to trust in military. And we trust they do everything to free them without harming them.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): As fighting continues around the Al-Shifa Hospital and across northern Gaza, the IDF estimates another 237 hostages are still missing and are vowing to continue their search and fight in the south.
REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: We're determined to keep advancing. This will happen anywhere Hamas is found. And they're also in the southern strip.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): CNN cannot independently verify events inside Gaza as phone and Internet services are cut due to fuel shortages.
A doctor at the Al-Shifa Hospital was able to reach the Qatari news network, Al Jazeera, telling them, "We lost most of the intensive care patients who were on ventilators due to the lack of fuel and oxygen."
He also claimed there was no water and electricity in the main buildings and said food supplies promised by the IDF are insufficient, hundreds of patients and children suffering.
For Omer Waiss and his family, a new type of suffering now, hope and fear replaced by loss.
WAISS (through translator): We waited for mom for 40 days. For mom, it's too late. We need to try everything we can in order for the hostages to be returned, all of them, as quickly as possible.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): For Corporal Noa Marciano's family, too, a closure of sorts at her funeral in a war of abundant loss, heartbreak is never that far away -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.
BRUNHUBER: A man accused in the death of a Jewish protester made his first court appearance in California. Why he hasn't been charged with a hate crime, that's just ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters marched through New York on Friday, chanting "Free Palestine" and "From the river to the sea," which the Anti-Defamation League says is an anti- Semitic slogan. The rally shut down traffic as people marched from Bryant Park to Penn Station.
Police blocked all of the entrances to the station to stop protesters from getting in. Overall, it was a peaceful demonstration and police say nobody was arrested.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: A man who allegedly attacked a Jewish protester in California has been charged with two felonies, including involuntary manslaughter. He had his first court appearance on Friday. Details now from CNN's Stephanie Elam.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspect, Loay Alnaji, sitting feet from the man, police say, he had a confrontation with moments before; 69-year-old Paul Kessler, a Jewish counterprotester, would die the next day.
Alnaji then answering questions from a deputy, now booked into jail and appearing in court on two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and battery. He pleaded not guilty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIK NASARENKO, VENTURA COUNTY DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Accompanying each of these felony counts is a special allegation that, in the commission of those crimes, the defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury upon Paul Kessler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM (voice-over): That allegation allows for prison time under California's three strikes law. Alnaji was not charged with murder or a hate crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NASARENKO: We did not file murder because there was no intent on the defendant's part to commit one. Simply put, looking at the statements as well as the words that accompanied the act, we cannot at this time meet the elements of a hate crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM (voice-over): The confrontation happened during dueling pro- Palestine and pro-rallies on November 5th in Thousand Oaks, California.
JONATHAN OSWAKS, WITNESS: It's burned into my brain. I know what I saw.
ELAM (voice-over): Jonathan Oswaks says he was at the rally with Kessler in support of Israel and says he saw Kessler knocked to the ground.
OSWAKS: When Mr. Kessler was knocked to the ground, he hit his head on the ground. But there wasn't any tripping and falling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accidents happen. This was an accident.
ELAM (voice-over): Alnaji's attorney claims Kessler was aggressive that day and that his client didn't cause his death.
RON BARNIEH, ALNAJI'S ATTORNEY: While he may have been pushed or hit by a megaphone, that's not what caused his fall because the night when he fell, my client is seen on a video, six to eight feet away from him.
ELAM (voice-over): Alnaji is a professor at Moorpark College. That school district says Alnaji was "placed on administrative leave" to "ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff."
NASARENKO: They are mourning. They are grieving.
ELAM (voice-over): The DA sharing details from Kessler's family, honoring the former medical salesman, who was a pilot and husband of 43 years.
NASARENKO: He leaves behind a son. We want to continue to remember and honor Paul Kessler and the tragic loss of life that has occurred.
ELAM: And Alnaji's attorney asked for a status conference, which has been scheduled for November 29th. And the next time we should see Alnaji in court is for a preliminary hearing scheduled for December 4th -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Ventura County, California.
BRUNHUBER: Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, there's been a shocking rise in anti-Semitism, everywhere from U.S. college campuses to social media. We've also seen a handful of influential rightwing talk show hosts spread anti-Semitic messages and misinformation to their millions of followers. CNN's Oliver Darcy has more on that.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER (voice-over): Anti-Semitic rhetoric is finding a home in rightwing media. Since the onset of the Israel Hamas war, a handful of influential talk show hosts has spread anti-Semitic tropes to their millions of followers.
One of the main charges, the disgraceful notion that a spike in anti- Semitism is merely Jewish people getting a taste of their own medicine after supposedly supporting anti-white sentiment, a reprehensible conspiracy theory that has been denounced by the anti-Defamation League.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any more comments? DARCY (voice-over): Take Elon Musk, one of the world's richest men, who has supported a host of rightwing conspiracy theories.
Musk replied to a user online, publicly endorsing that notion, writing this week, "You have said the actual truth."
It's not just limited to Musk; rightwing media figures Tucker Carlson, Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk have also peddled this idea.
CHARLIE KIRK, RIGHT-WING COMMENTATOR: It is true that some of the largest financiers of left wing anti-white causes have been Jewish Americans.
DARCY (voice-over): Kirk has also floated the conspiracy theory that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew about the October 7 terror attack but chose to do nothing.
KIRK: I'm not willing to say that goes so far that shame that Netanyahu knew or there was intelligence here. But I think some questions need to be asked, was there a stand down order?
Was there a stand down order?
I don't believe it.
DARCY (voice-over): Meanwhile, Carlson and Owens have criticized Harvard donors for supposedly supporting anti-white racism, framing them as hypocrites for now being upset over anti-Semitism.
TUCKER CARLSON, RIGHT-WING COMMENTATOR: Well, wait a second, if the biggest donors that say Harvard, have decided where we're going to shut it down Now where were you the last 10 years when they're calling for white genocide?
CANDACE OWENS, RIGHT-WING COMMENTATOR: And that's the question.
CARLSON: You were allowing this and then I found myself really hating those people.
OWENS: People that are asking the question is where were you --
OWENS: -- as we have endured all of this?
CARLSON: You were paying for it actually.
CARLSON: You were paying for it.
OWENS: You were paying for it. You were OK with it.
CARLSON: As you were calling me my children immoral for their skin color. You paid for that. So why shouldn't I be mad at you?
I don't understand.
DARCY (voice-over): Some conservatives have pushed back against the anti-Semitic rhetoric being spread by their peers. Ben Shapiro, co- founder of "The Daily Wire," which employs Candace Owens, ripped her earlier commentary as disgraceful during a recent speech.
BEN SHAPIRO, "THE DAILY WIRE": The question was about Candace Owens. I think her behavior during this has been disgraceful. Yes. She still works for my company. And I think she's been absolutely disgraceful. I think that her faux sophistication on these particular issues has been ridiculous.
DARCY (voice-over): Owens appeared to fire back in a response drenched in anti-Semitism, suggesting Shapiro opted for wealth over virtue, quoting a Bible verse saying, "You cannot serve both God and money."
CNN reached out to "The Daily Wire" for comment and has not gotten a reply.
The rhetoric comes as anti-Semitic attacks are surging across the U.S. and around the world. Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, spoke out against the commentary coursing through right wing media.
Responding to Musk, Greenblatt said, "At a time when anti-Semitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one's influence to validate and promote anti-Semitic theories." -- Oliver Darcy, CNN, New York.
BRUNHUBER: Some major media companies are reacting after that post from Elon Musk, which you just saw in Oliver's report. Brands including Disney, Paramount and CNN's parent company Warner Bros. Discovery are suspending advertising on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
It follows a similar move by IBM, whose ads were found appearing alongside pro Nazi content. Despite Musk's tweet, X's CEO, Linda Yaccarino, says the company has been, quote, "extremely clear" about its efforts to combat anti-Semitism and disinformation and discrimination, saying, "There's absolutely no place for it anywhere in the world."
When we come back, thousands leave their homes as experts warn a volcano could soon erupt. We'll have the latest details from Iceland just ahead. Stay with us.
(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: Scientists in southwestern Iceland say the high likelihood
of a volcanic eruption continues and that a river of underground magma could explode anytime. Residents from an entire town have left their homes as the Earth rumbles beneath them. As Michael Holmes reports, they say it is an unnerving situation of wait and see.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A town on edge, steam seeps through large cracks in what used to be a main street in Grindavik, Iceland. Residents say it's a hellish sight, the ground hot and unstable. And there is a deserted and eerie feel since the town was evacuated a week ago.
STEFAN VELEMIR, GRINDAVIK POLICE OFFICER: There is some volcanic activity going on, very high activity. So we had to take measures and evacuate the whole town. The town of Grindavik is 3,800 people. And now there's no one living here, from 3,800 to zero.
HOLMES (voice-over): Police have closed off the roads to the town. Geologists say a 15-kilometer river of underground magma is making its way toward the sea and could erupt at any time.
Residents are lining up outside the barricades. No eruption yet means there's still time to retrieve a few belongings. Authorities are allowing a handful of people back in at a time for just five minutes in their homes, precious moments as the wait for what comes next stretches on.
PILOT EINAR DAGBJARTSSON, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: It's like sleeping in a very boring movie but you're stuck there. You can't get out. It's unreal. It's hard to digest.
HOLMES (voice-over): Experts say the area around Grindavik is still experiencing hundreds of earthquakes a day. That's a slight decrease from the thousands of daily tremors in recent days. But seismologists say the threat is still imminent.
FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON, GEOPHYSICIST: There is still a flow of new magma into this crack and it is widening. And this is causing ground deformation on the surface, both widening of a few centimeters per day but also subsidence on vertical movements in the town of Grindavik, causing a possibility for fractures.
HOLMES (voice-over): And it's somewhere along that fissure, geologists say, a volcanic eruption could do extreme damage, with Grindavik at risk of being completely destroyed. But for some residents, waiting to retrieve their valuables, waiting for whatever the lava will do next, the damage is already done.
ASGEIR ORN EMILSSON, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: Yes, honest, I'm not that excited to go back there because I don't think we'll ever feel safe after knowing what has happened there.
HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN.
BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber, I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Please stay with us.