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Inside Al-Shifa Hospital With Israeli Military; Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Dead At 96. Aired; Trump Picks Up Abbott Endorsement During Border Visit; Interview With Rep. Greg Casar (D- TX); Israel: Houthi Rebels Hijack A Cargo Ship In The Red Sea. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 19, 2023 - 19:00   ET



PAULA REID, CNN HOST: The children's organization, UNICEF, says several newborn babies have died there in recent days. But 31 newborns according to Palestinian officials, are now getting urgent medical care at another hospital in southern Gaza after being evacuated from Al-Shifa earlier today. Officials at that hospital say all the newborns are fighting serious infections and 11 of them are in critical condition.

Israel has long said Hamas uses the hospital as an underground command center. Today, the Israeli military released this new video showing the inside of a tunnel on the hospital's grounds. We've reached out to hospital officials about this footage but have not heard back.

CNN's Oren Liebermann got a chance to enter with the Israeli Defense Forces Saturday and he joins us now live from Tel Aviv with more.

Oren, what did you see?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, we spent about six hours inside of Gaza crossing the border fence at 9:00 in the evening and not coming back out until about 3:00 in the morning so the entire time we spent there was at night, and much of the time in Gaza City itself which has been without power for days was in nearly complete darkness, but what we went to see was the newly exposed tunnel shaft.

This had all been revealed by the IDF only a couple of days earlier but we haven't gotten to look inside. And even though it was pretty much the middle of the night and we had to use our headlamps to see it was clear there was something substantial there. Take a look at this.


LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We go in under cover of darkness. And as we cross the border fence, it's lights out across the Gaza Strip. Escorted by a tank, we switch into an armored personal carrier for the final stretch. Even through a night vision screen, you can see the magnitude of the destruction on the streets of Gaza City. We off-load at the Al-Shifa Hospital, pick our way along even center street (PH) or what's left of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feet. Watch your feet. Let's go.

LIEBERMANN: We have to keep our lights off most of the time or risk exposing our position.

CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join this embed with the IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military censors for review.

Now at the hospital compound, we wait inside a structure to make sure the area is secure before moving the short distance to the exposed tunnel shaft.

And here's the entrance. You can see what looks like a ladder accessing to it. And as I step over here, it's very difficult to see how far down it goes. But it looks like there's almost a central shaft for a staircase, and then it -- the shaft of it disappears then down into the darkness.

(Voice-over): We move around the opening for a better look at the shaft itself. What's clear from here is this is meant to go deep underground.

Which direction does the tunnel go?

MAJOR NIR DINAR, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We assume that the tunnel goes out, and it has another corridor to this way.

LIEBERMANN: Towards the hospital?

DINAR: Towards the hospital, meaning it connects the hospital to outside, which implies with the way that Hamas is working, Hamas is going out somewhere, shoot at our forces, and going back inside to a safe place.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We weren't allowed to enter the shaft, but the Israeli military sent special gear down to see where this leads. Inside, the video shows a spiral staircase, and as the camera orients itself, it moves forward into a tunnel. The tunnel makes a sharp left turn and at the end of another path with concrete walls and an arch concrete top, a metal door they say they have not yet opened because they fear it's booby trapped.

IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari says some of the Israeli hostages taken on October 7th were also brought through the hospital. He says the body of Noa Marciano was discovered 50 meters from the compound.

REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We have evidence that they were holding hostages in Rantisi, but also we have evidence that they were bringing them to Shifa hospital. We're still looking for the places they might have held them.

LIEBERMANN: This is not proof of a Hamas command center or headquarters underneath the hospital, but Israel continues trying to build its case that Hamas uses the sanctuary of the hospital for cover, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied. The IDF's ability to continue its operation in Gaza and the

credibility of Israel are at stake here as the number killed in the fighting surpasses 12,000 according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. The IDF says one of its missions is to destroy Hamas, but with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show the terror organization is using Gaza's civilians and infrastructure as cover to justify an ongoing war.


LIEBERMANN (on-camera): Now we couldn't see how deep the tunnel itself. One, it was certainly far too dark for that. But the IDF says the tunnel shaft was 10 meters deep so something like 33 feet, and then the tunnel itself continued for 55 meters so about 150 feet until it reached that metal door.

Also in the daily press briefing the IDF spokesperson whom you saw there a moment ago, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said they've learned more information about three hostages.


First, about 19-year-old Corporal Noa Marciano. They say they know she was brought into Gaza alive, and was then injured in an Israeli air strike that killed her captor. She was taken to Shifa hospital they say based on intelligence where they say she was quickly murdered there. They also did an independent pathological investigation, although it's unclear who exactly carried that out.

They also released this video of two other hostages, and I have to warn you this is a bit graphic here. This is hostage they say is of a Nepali citizen and a Thai citizen both of whom were captured and kidnapped on October 7th. They say this shows that Hamas brought them into the hospital itself right after the attack, part of their use of the hospital.

Perhaps it's surprising that there are Nepali and Thai citizens who were kidnapped but there are a number of them who come here as migrant workers to work on the farms and the fields to earn a living -- Paula.

REID: Oren Liebermann, thank you.

And joining me now is a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Shefler.

Thank you so much for joining us. I want to start with this newly released video purporting to show hostages taken into Al-Shifa Hospital. Can you update us on who these people are?

LT. COL. AMNON SHEFLER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Good evening, Paula. And thanks for having me on. What we're seeing in this video are two civilians that have been brought into the Shifa hospital as part of the systematic use that Hamas does as a headquarter and as a place to carry out terrorist activity. What is it not more than holding hostages than a terror place? And that's what we're seeing in this video and, sadly, that is also

what we've released today about Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old Israeli that was also kidnapped on the morning of October 7th to the Gaza Strip into the Shifa hospital and murdered sadly inside the hospital. So that's what we're seeing. Again, more evidence showing how un unequivocally Hamas has been using this hospital and others to carry out its terrorist activity.

REID: But do you have any additional details about the people we just saw in that video?

SHEFLER: There's 237 hostages that are still being held by Hamas. This is day 43. We're doing everything we can in order to bring them home, of course, we're collecting a lot of intelligence, also sadly from the bodies that we've brought back home collecting some of them right in the vicinity of the Al-Shifa Hospital, and in other ways and we're doing everything that we can to bring them home, and of course, I cannot elaborate on what we have and what we can't, but we are doing everything we can to bring them home.

REID: We're also seeing this video of a tunnel at Al-Shifa Hospital. Is there evidence that it's a Hamas command center as the IDF has claimed exists at the hospital?

SHEFLER: This is clear evidence that this is a command center by Hamas. This very deep underground terror -- tunnel is part of a collective infrastructure that is inside the Shifa hospital. We're seeing here the shaft and how you go down for 10 meters and then a connection to a tunnel that connects to the hospital and to other infrastructure that is in the area.

Now this is on top of everything else that we have found there, arms that include AK-47s, RPGs, explosives, cars that were hidden inside the hospital. The hostages' use of the hospital. This is all part of the infrastructure of how a command-and-control center is and that's what Hamas has done using deliberately this hospital and other civilian infrastructure to carry out its terrorist activity.

REID: Moving away from the hospital for a moment, at this point, do you have control of northern Gaza, and if not, is that the goal, and what would that mean for you?

SHEFLER: We have two goals for this war that Hamas sadly has launched against Israel. One is to dismantle Hamas and, two, is to bring back the hostages. For operational reasons we decided to start from the northern part of the Gaza Strip and specifically the Gaza City. Now we have effective control of that area, and we have dismantled most of the Hamas' operational capabilities in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Now we are continuing to finding more and more Hamas terrorists, more and more infrastructure and dismantling everything that Hamas built in that area so they won't be able to carry out more attacks like they did on October 7th and like they're continuously trying to do but still firing over 10,000 rockets from the whole Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians. REID: My colleague, Oren Liebermann, was reporting from Gaza City,

describing the destruction that he saw there.


So as you expand your operations, is southern Gaza going to look like northern Gaza?

SHEFLER: Sadly, as we know, Hamas is deliberately using civilian infrastructure to hide and to carry out its activity. We've spoken tonight about the hospital, but it's also in the Rantisi Hospital and Al Quds Hospital. And we're also seeing the ammunition in schools, in kindergartens and homes. That is why we're going after Hamas also in these locations that are not supposed to be for fighting. And sadly, war is a very brutal thing and it's very sad that we're in this situation, but Hamas is the one that is dragging this situation to be as it is while Israel is doing everything we can in order to minimize the civilian harm and the civilian damage.

That is why we've called continuously for the people to move to the safe area in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and specifically to Mawasi, which is the western part in the south of the Gaza Strip, and that's why we're continuously also bringing in the aid and the humanitarian, and calling any international organization and country that wants to come in and aid the civilians of Gaza to relieve them of some of the horrifics that Hamas is bringing on them in the southern part.

REID: Well, to that point, the U.N. and other international organizations have talked about the need for humanitarian aid. Is more going to go in, and if so, how soon?

SHEFLER: Continuous aid is coming in, and we're continuously in touch with the different organizations. Over 1,500 trucks have entered into the Gaza. We are providing every day more than two million liters of fresh water to the southern part of Gaza. We're continuously bringing in medical aid and food, and we're trying to mitigate in any way that is needed the humanitarian issues.

We know, of course, that it is difficult, it is war, but we're doing everything we can in order to mitigate that while Hamas, again, is misusing that, having to steal and grab and we're finding the different ways to mitigate that and the last thing that we did in that sense was the fuel that we've also entered now two trucks filled with fuel in order to relieve, again, some of the humanitarian disaster that Hamas is bringing on the people of Gaza.

REID: But as you know, the IDF has faced tremendous criticism for the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza, so how long can your operation continue if this international criticism keeps mounting?

SHEFLER: First of all, any loss of life is saddening and horrible and tragic, and we're doing everything we can in order to mitigate this. I can say this personally, I flew F-16 for over more than 20 years and how much time and effort we go into mitigating every target that we need to strike based on accurate intelligence and aborting missions where there are civilians inside. Sadly, we know, again, that this is what Hamas wants us to do.

Similar on the war on ISIS that brought a lot of civilian casualties because this is what they want to see and show the world. That is why they're hiding behind civilians. But we also know that once we dismantle Hamas, not only Israelis will be safer but also the Palestinians living in Gaza will be safer.

REID: Lastly, I want to ask you where things stand tonight on a deal to release at least a large group of hostages?

SHEFLER: 237 hostages, babies, kids, women, and elderly are held by Hamas. The best, fastest way to bring them home is for Hamas to release them and for the international community to pressure them to do so.

Now we understand that the chances for that are very slim because that is what the horrific terrorist organization Hamas is, and any kind of deal that will be reached by the political echelon, of course the IDF is here to follow through with it and we hope to see all of the civilians back home as soon as possible.

REID: So you're not able to give us an update on the status of those negotiations or any indication if a deal is closed?

SHEFLER: I'm not able to do that because that's the political echelon's decision and the military of course will follow through, but we got very clear guidance from the political echelon. We have two goals, to dismantle Hamas and make sure that they can never carry out the horrifics that they did on October 7th and that they're still trying to do, and to bring home those hostages and that's why we're trying to do both of them.

REID: That is clear but the status of negotiations certainly far from clear.

Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Shefler, thank you again for joining us.

SHEFLER: Thank you.

REID: And tonight, America is remembering former first lady Rosalynn Carter. She passed away at the age of 96. I'll look at her life and legacy next.



REID: Sad news tonight. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has passed away peacefully in her home this afternoon at the age of 96. The Carter Center is remembering her as a tireless advocate for those living with mental illness and as a champion of democracy who looked to advance human rights.

Former President Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton saying she was an unwavering voice for the overlooked and underrepresented, noting that because of her mental health advocacy, more people live with better care and less stigma. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are also honoring the legacy of Rosalynn Carter.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has more from the White House.

Priscilla, what are the Bidens saying tonight?


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the couple is reflecting on their long-standing relationship and friendship with Rosalynn Carter, and the president saying that on Friday, he spoke with the family when it was announced the former first lady was put in hospice care, and he went on to say how the family is feeling now after the death. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, they're really an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office. I talked with the family today, not the family, the family spokesman today in Plains, and I was told that all the family, all the children and grandchildren are with Jimmy. He has integrity, still does, and she did, too. Imagine, they were together, what, 77 years?


ALVAREZ: Now, the former first lady was a significant and influential figure in the White House when her husband held office, and that was captured by the White House in a statement where they said, quote, "Throughout her incredible life as first lady of Georgia and the first lady of the United States, Rosalynn did so much to address many of society's greatest needs. She was a champion for equal rights and opportunities for women and girls, an advocate for mental health and wellness, for every person, and a supporter of the often unseen and uncompensated caregivers of our children, aging loved ones, and people with disabilities."

Now earlier in the afternoon First Lady Jill Biden also reflected on that legacy during an event in Norfolk, Virginia, asking military families who the first couple was with to pray and have her in their prayers over the holidays. But what is clear tonight is that the first couple, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, are reflecting on that warm friendship that they had over the years.

And if you recall, Paula, in 2021, the first couple visited the Carters in their Georgia home. So all of that just underscoring that relationship.

REID: And, Priscilla, we've also heard from former President Trump. What did he say?

ALVAREZ: We have, and as other tributes have poured in the former president has also talked about her legacy and commended her for it saying, quote, "Melania and I join all Americans in mourning the loss of Rosalynn Carter. She was a devoted first lady, a great humanitarian, a champion for mental health, and a beloved wife to her husband." He went on to say, "She leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and national service."

So just another example here of what former presidents from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, have thought about the former first lady and really commending her for her accomplishments over the many, many years.

REID: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you.

In addition to the current and former presidents paying tribute to the former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, the people who protected her are remembering her as well.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now.

Josh, this is so interesting. The United States Secret Service is now responding to her death. What are they saying about the decades-long relationship between the Carter family and their federal protective detail?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula, you know, this was certainly not an unexpected development but no less very sad for the men and women of the U.S. Secret Service. We know that Mrs. Carter had just recently entered hospice care and so as they often do, depending on who they are protecting, they make particular precautions and arrangements depending on, you know, what may actually happen. But, again, nevertheless, very sad for the people responsible for protecting the Carter family.

I'll read you the statement we just got in from the U.S. Secret Service. They say, "Farewell, Mrs. Carter, your compassion, diplomacy and penchant to make society better for those less fortunate was an inspiration for an entire generation. It has been an honor to protect and serve you for all of these years. You were truly a treasure for our nation and our Secret Service family."

And just to talk very quickly, Paula, about that relationship, I mean, think about it, obviously the Carter family, their time in office was four years, but that family spent decades in the post-presidency time serving the public, obviously presidents and their family can decide how they spend their time. Some start, you know, private foundations, some give speeches. Obviously we know the most recent former president is now running for office once again.

But President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter really dedicated their time to outward facing causes, helping other people, obviously Mrs. Carter focusing on mental health. We know President Jimmy Carter focusing on helping those who are less fortunate, very involved in his church. What that meant for the women and men of the Secret Service is that they were also out there involved in these protective missions, ensuring that they were safe and secure everywhere that they went.

And so that relationship was very strong. I'll say that, you know, I've spoken with men and women of the Secret Service. They talk about different relationships.

[19:25:04] I was recently in Texas speaking with a member who served on the Carter detail and he said that it was a delight, that's a quote, delight to serve that family. That's not a word that we associate with these, you know, grizzled federal agents who, you know, obviously are detecting threats but they said it was a delight because the Carter family was really very welcoming of their protective detail. You know, they didn't treat them like servants, they didn't treat them as security personnel. They really treated them as member of the family which was actually, you know, obviously in that statement we just got in from the agency -- Paula.

REID: Yes. Delight certainly not a word you hear often in that context.

But, Josh, I also want to talk about her enduring impact on the U.S. Navy where her husband served. A lot of people don't know that she has long been connected with a Seawolf attack submarine? What can you tell us?

CAMPBELL: Yes, that's right. So the USS Jimmy Carter which is a highly sophisticated attack -- nuclear powered attack submarine assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet has Mrs. Carter as her sponsor. And I'll say just as full disclosure in addition to working for CNN I'm a reservist in the U.S. Navy Reserve with the Pacific Fleet, but that vessel has her name listed as that sponsor, and that role is one that's assigned by the secretary of the Navy to every Navy vessel that is out there.

And that role is honorary but it also involves maintaining constant contact with that ship, ensuring the well-being of the crew, the crew members, and being involved in each milestone in the life of that vessel, and so, you know, we can only imagine, you know, the U.S. submarine force which is deemed the silent service. They don't go out of their way to seek publicity, they often operate on patrols without any publicity.

But wherever they are tonight, we can imagine that once that call goes out on the public address system to that ship notifying them that the sponsor of that ship has now died, that obviously a very solemn, a very sad moment for the women and men of that U.S. Navy vessel but obviously President Jimmy Carter, you know, served time in the submarine force and that also it's worth pointing out that Mrs. Carter, you know, for all the veterans out there, we talk about veterans, we thank them for their service, but think about the families.

I mean, President Carter during his time in the Navy was out on patrol in the U.S. submarine force and obviously Mrs. Carter at home, you know, taking care of the family, helping with veterans causes she continued even in the post-presidency years, so not just something that's impacting federal law enforcement and the Secret Service but a loss truly to the United States Navy -- Paula.

REID: Josh Campbell, thank you for your service and for that report. We'll be right back.




GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): We need Donald J. Trump back as our president of the United States of America.

I'm here today to officially proclaim my endorsement for Donald J. Trump to be president of the United States of America again.


REID: That was Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas endorsing Donald Trump today at an event with the former president near the southern border.

During the visit, Trump said a potential second term in the White House would "make the governor's job a lot easier."

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live in Texas with the details.

Kristen, what are you hearing?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, this is coming at a time this trip to this border town in Texas that we're learning more about what Donald Trump 2025 agenda would look like if he were to be re-elected to the White House, and a big part of that is immigration.

Sources have told me that they want to expand on his hardline immigration policies from his first term, and what that looks like is mass deportations, rounding up of illegal migrants all across the country, putting them into detention camps that would have to be built to hold them until they are deported.

This would require the administration to tap federal and local law enforcement officials to essentially undertake this enormous endeavor.

And we are hearing from sources that Trump's team is already looking for ways to work around if Congress was to perhaps balk at this, particularly when it comes to funding. They've looked at the idea of diverting Pentagon funds to this immigration project so they wouldn't have to go through Congress.

And this is a really big part of what an agenda in 2025 would look like should Donald Trump be the president. We have to note that he is still continuing to inch towards that nomination. He is leading in all of the GOP primary polls, but the big question remains whether this kind of inflammatory rhetoric is something that would actually work in a general election.

We've already heard pushback from the Biden campaign saying some of these plans are "inhumane."

REID: Yes, I want to take a listen to some of what he said on the campaign trail. Let's play this bite.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad, and people are coming in with disease, people are coming in with every possible thing that you can have.


REID: Kristen, what are you hearing on the ground in response to these remarks?

HOLMES: Well, Paula, it is really interesting. This was not a typical Trump campaign event. This isn't one where there are crowds that come in, they RSVP online. This was a very small crowd. It seemed to be law enforcement, Border Patrol. It was heavily curated.

I saw the Land Commissioner was here as well. This was not just your regular voters. So, it was unclear how that message is resonating here in McAllen.

The people on the ground, they of course, were Republicans. They were people who were supporting Donald Trump. Most of the people there that I saw and recognized were people who had endorsed them and obviously, Greg Abbott was endorsing Donald Trump at this event, so it still remains unclear.


And as I'm talking to voters across the campaign trail, this message does resonate with Republicans. However, it still is very unclear how it resonates with Independents, how it would look in a general election. While this might help him in the short term, whether or not this works in the long term, again, remains up in the air, and that's what I'm even hearing from Trump's advisers.

They don't know that this kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric is going to work in a general election.

REID: Kristen Holmes, thank you.

And now I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Greg Casar of Texas to discuss all of this. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic and Progressive Caucuses.

Congressman, thank you for being with us today.

I want to get your reaction to what we just heard from Trump at the border, where he called migrants entering the country "the enemy," and this comes after he has promised what he describes as the largest domestic deportation operation in the country. What is your reaction?

REP. GREG CASAR (D-TX: Well, Donald Trump remains the biggest grifter and con artist that American politics probably has ever seen, and he is out there trying to pitch this anti-immigrant rhetoric, but if you live here in Texas, you know that millions of people live in mixed status families. Families have immigrants and citizens in them. Our classrooms are mixed.

And the idea of continuing to separate families, of massive deportations, not only is it wrong, it would devastate places like Texas.

And so he keeps on trying to do this con artist thing to distract people from the real issues at hand and we need to stop this cruelty Olympics where folks like Donald Trump and Governor Abbott try to come up with an even more and more cruel and inhumane immigration system when we should be trying to create a more just orderly and safe system for everyone.

REID: Well, speaking of Governor Abbott, he has vowed to sign a bill that would make it a state crime for entering Texas illegally, giving local law enforcement the extraordinary power to arrest and order migrants to leave the United States. It is not clear that is going to pass legal muster, but you've called that unacceptable. Can you explain why?

CASAR: This is a totally unconstitutional law, but on top of that, it is not for public safety.

I'm here right now standing on the northern edge of San Antonio in my district, we are about a two-and-a-half hour drive from the border and no one I've ever spoken to in San Antonio or anywhere else in Texas wants our local law enforcement to be hunting down people that they think are immigrants or look like immigrants, and then dragging them two-and-a-half hours to the border, when instead we should be working on solving crime, when instead we should be working on making our communities more safe. This would make our communities less safe, and it would be diverting law enforcement resources.

Again, when Governor Abbott or Donald Trump says that they're for law and order, really what they're talking about is passing unconstitutional laws, separating families, and trying to target communities that are usually poor communities that may not speak English, in order to distract from the fact that really what they're spending their time doing is cutting taxes for billionaires and big corporations, while they try to blame our problems on immigrants or whoever else that can place the blame on.

REDI: I want to turn now to the war between Israel and Hamas. President Biden is resisting calls for a ceasefire. He wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" this weekend. That one is, "not peace."

So you've come out in support of a ceasefire. What do you make of what the president said yesterday in his op-ed?

CASAR: I recently ran a poll here in my own district after I'd come out for a ceasefire, asking where our Democratic voters were, and 80 percent of Democratic voters here in the heart of Texas support a ceasefire and stopping Hamas without the killing of thousands more innocent Palestinians. And I think that's where we need to get to.

I am encouraged by the news that in fact, there are some temporary ceasefire agreements that are currently being negotiated to release some of the hostages. I think we need to get that done, and then expand that to a longer term peace, where we can have sovereignty and safety for Israelis and Palestinians alike without thousands more people dead, be they Israeli or Palestinian.

I think Democrats, Independents, and Republicans increasingly want us to leave these indefinite occupations and wars in the Middle East and instead find lasting solutions for peace, and I expect to continue to see the president and other elected officials continue to move our way as we see more and more members of Congress come out for ceasefire.

REID: Well, I want to talk to you about the number of pro-Palestinian protests which is increasing across the country. This weekend in Sacramento protesters derailed the California Democratic Party's convention, prompted security guards to lock the entrances to the building where it was happening.


In DC this past week, of course, we saw the demonstration outside the DNC that got violent between protesters and police.

Are you concerned that these protests are getting out of hand?

CASAR: There is going to be more and more protests on this issue, as things continue to get worse and worse, and what we need to do is make sure we protect everyone's First Amendment rights, but that everything happen as peacefully as possible.

People have a right to peaceful protest under the First Amendment. It is law enforcement's job to protect that First Amendment right, to make sure that protests are safe for everyone and protesters have a responsibility to make sure no one is in harm's way.

But whether someone agrees with me or disagrees with me as a member of Congress, our commitment has to be to protecting the First Amendment, but recognizing that the First Amendment requires as well that everyone be safe and peaceful, be you a demonstrator on one side or another or law enforcement, everybody has a responsibility to peace.

REID: Congressman Casar, thank you for joining us.

CASAR: Thank you so much for having me on.

REID: And next, Israel says a cargo ship has been hijacked in the Red Sea. Why that raises the stakes in the Israel-Hamas war. That's next on the CNN NEWSROOM.



REID: Turning now to the Middle East, militant groups are adding to the already tense political situation. A militant group of Houthi rebels from Yemen hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea and they're threatening to target more unless Israel leaves Gaza.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has the latest.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, Houthi rebels seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea Sunday afternoon, just hours after the Iranian backed group's military wing had warned that in retaliation for Israel's war on Gaza, they would target any ship flying the Israeli flag or owned or operated by an Israeli company.

The ship we are talking about, the Galaxy Leader flying under the flag of the Bahamas was bound for India from Turkey. Israeli officials insist the Galaxy leader is not Israeli-owned, and that there were no Israelis among the crew.

In a statement, the Israeli military described the seizure as a very grave incident of global consequence. A spokesman for the Houthis later confirmed that their forces had seized the ship, which he described as Israeli.

He said the crew were being treated in accordance to Islamic values and warned that any Israeli ship would be a legitimate target for Houthi forces.

The Houthis along with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, and various militias in Iraq are part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance led by Iran.

Since the war began between Israel and Hamas, the Houthis have repeatedly fired missiles toward Israel, all of which were intercepted -- Paula.

REID: Ben Wedeman, thank you.

And ahead on the CNN NEWSROOM, we'll continue to remember Rosalynn Carter.



REID: Mourners are gathering in Ventura County, California right now to honor Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man who died after a confrontation during a protest over the Israel-Hamas war earlier this month.

Loay Alnaji was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and battery in connection to Kessler's death.

He pleaded not guilty.

CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam has more on this case.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over: Suspect, Loay Alnaji sitting feet from the man police say he had a confrontation with moments before. Sixty-nine-year-old, Paul Kessler, a Jewish counter protester 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.

ERIK NASARENKO, VENTURA COUNTY DISTRICT 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.

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.

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 accompany the act, we cannot at this time meet the elements of a hate crime.

ELAM (voice over: That confrontation happened during dueling pro- Palestine, pro-Israel rallies on November 5th in Thousand Oaks, California.

JONATHAN OSWAKS, THOUSAND OAKS RESIDENT: It is 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While he may have been pushed or hit by a megaphone, that's not what caused this fall, because Mike when he fell, my client is seen on the 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 wellbeing 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 (on camera: And Alnaji's attorney asked for a status conference, which has been scheduled for November 29th and then the next time we should see Alnaji in court is for a preliminary hearing scheduled for December 4th.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Ventura County, California.



REID: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Paul Reid in Washington.

America is remembering the extraordinary life of Rosalynn Carter. The former first lady was politically active. She fought for better treatment for people with mental illness and championed equal rights.

Surrounded by her family, she passed away peacefully this afternoon in her home town Plains, Georgia.

The White House thanking her for addressing society's greatest needs, saying she walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way.

Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia praised the proud Georgian, saying she had an indelible impact on our state and nation.

And earlier tonight, Rosalynn's husband of more than 77 years, former President Jimmy Carter said she was "... his equal partner in everything I ever accomplished," adding that "... as long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved me and supported me."