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CNN International: Israel-Hamas Truce; Israel Has List of Hostages Expected to be Freed Today; Doha Talks Push Towards Extending Truce; Palestinian Man Returns Home Where His Grandchildren Were Killed in an Airstrike. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and warm, welcome to our viewers joining us in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Bianca is back tomorrow, but just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the pause between Israel and Hamas expected to continue into Wednesday, a sixth day, the question is what happens then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not easy for us. It puts the lives of soldiers in threat. But if we can bring more hostages back, we are willing to pay that price.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Russia, electronic warfare has provided an unexpected advantage over Ukraine's more sophisticated weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: GPS jamming is basically brute force.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hunter Biden would appear on Capitol Hill, but here's the catch -- in public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really shaping up to be a showdown between Hunter Biden and the committee.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It is Wednesday, November the 29th, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 11:00 a.m. in Gaza, where the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas is now in what could be its final day. Sources say Israel has a list of hostages expected to be released in the hours ahead. But we're also learning that talks in Doha, with officials representing Israel, the U.S., Qatar and Egypt, are in consensus about working towards extending the current pause in Gaza. Earlier, a Hamas member said the group is striving to extend the truce by using all the cards it has in negotiations. On Tuesday, the 5th day of the truce, 12 hostages were released by

Hamas. That includes 10 Israelis, all adult women except one 17-year- old girl. Two Thai Nationals were also freed. CNN's Scott McLean is following developments and joins me now from Istanbul. What are you looking out for in the hours ahead, Scott?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Max, look, it seems like all the parties here have a vested interest in this truce being extended, but it seems quite delicate on the ground. Especially when you consider the fact that yesterday there was exchanges of fire between Hamas and IDF soldiers inside of Gaza.

The Israelis say that there were two explosives that were detonated at two separate troop locations, and that Hamas opened fire as well. They returned fire, no serious injuries on the Israeli side. Hamas tells the story somewhat differently, saying that this was a field skirmish and that fighters dealt with it. It also says that Israel was clearly in violation of this truce. And that look, it is willing to go along with this truce so long as its enemy, Israel, is willing to do the same.

Israel has made quite clear though that it is gearing up for the second phase of this war, which is obviously hanging over the heads of Hamas, who are pushing for a -- this truce, turning into a more permanent ceasefire. The talks to extend this obviously are as ongoing, as you mentioned, inside of -- in Doha, in Qatar. And the expectation, Max, is that if everything goes well today with the release of 10 more Israeli hostages held in Gaza that Hamas will offer another list of another 10 hostages for tomorrow, and this could be extended.

But there are only enough hostages, women, and children, at least to extend this for another two days. Beyond that, we are talking about men, civilians and we are also talking about Israeli soldiers, some of whom are female. And at the moment Hamas says that there are no talks -- there have been no talks to actually exchange any soldiers.

And it describes two different scenarios. Hamas says you could have a partial deal, which would deal with the civilians or a comprehensive deal which would deal with the soldiers. But it is demanding a much higher price for those soldiers, something that Israel has made clear it is not willing to pay at this stage, meaning emptying all of the prisons in Israel of Palestinian prisoners -- Max.

FOSTER: What are we hear hearing about hostages being traded today?

MCLEAN: Yes, so this is from a member of the Israeli Knesset, Danny Danon. He is also the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. And he says that, look, there are hostages that are with different groups within Gaza.


This is something that we heard also from a diplomatic source who says that there may be 40, 50, perhaps hostages that are being held with groups other than Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. There are other smaller groups as well that may have hostages. But Danny Danon described this in a different way. He didn't describe it as a transfer or being held by other groups. I'll just let you listen to how he described it. Watch.


DANNY DANON, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We have the Bibas brothers that we don't know where they are. The idea that Hamas is actually trading hostages. Can you believe that, Kaitlan? They are selling hostages to different gangs in Gaza. That's --

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Did they sell the Bibas brothers?

DANON: Well, I will not go into details. But we know that they actually sold hostages in between the groups of Hamas in Gaza, in between gangs in Gaza. That's something we never heard about that you sell hostages to somebody else.


MCLEAN: So, selling and trading are the words that he used, Max. The Bibas brothers, by the way, these are Israeli children. One is a 10- month-old boy, one is a four-year-old boy that still have not been returned just yet.

He was also asked about the possibility of extending the truce. He said that perhaps. Days, perhaps a week, Israel is willing to hold fire. He was also asked about the possibility of ending the war entirely in exchange for all of the hostages coming back, and he said point blank, Israel would never agree to this -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Scott, in Istanbul. Thank you. Now, six members of one extended family kidnapped by Hamas have been released and returned to Israel. They include two children, ages three and eight, but their father remains captive. A relative told CNN how the family members are doing.


SHIRA HAVRON, RELATIVE OF SIX FREED HOSTAGES: They're obviously deeply traumatized. We don't know what they saw yet and what they've been through and obviously it's going to be a long process of recovering and healing and we're going to be there for them. And of course, the most important thing is they can't really relax and get comfortable. And you know, get back to reality until Tal is back. Kids need their dad. It's very, very simple.

Obviously, there are strong kids now and they've been through a lot and they're open and they happy to see people and they hug people and you know, they're happy to be back with their familiar surroundings. But obviously their immediate need of their dad is not fulfilled. It's not there.


FOSTER: Well, Shira Havron says it's scary to know the fighting between Israel and Hamas will continue with no guarantees of another pause in the conflict, so getting more hostages out of Gaza has to be a top priority.

When the fighting in Gaza resumes, be it within hours or days, Israeli officials stressed the military objectives haven't changed. But U.S. officials are urging Israel to be more precise when targeting Hamas militants and infrastructure amid growing outrage over a soaring death toll. Almost 15,000 killed, mostly civilians, in less than two months, according to the Hamas controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza. CNN's Alexander Marquardt reports senior officials have been in daily contact with their Israeli counterparts, urging more caution.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: With the pause between Israel and Hamas expected to continue into Wednesday - a sixth day -- the question is what happens then? What does day seven look like? Could Israel start its military operations up in Gaza again, or will Hamas continue to release hostages?

The hope by the Biden administration is that the pause does continue and more hostages continue to come out. The quiet goes on for a bit longer, they hope, and more aid goes into Gaza to deal with the really catastrophic humanitarian situation.

Tuesday saw the CIA director Bill Burns in the Qatari capital of Doha, to work on just that. He has become President Biden's point man on all hostage issues. Meeting in Doha with Qatari officials and his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts. Burns's goal was also to try to broaden the negotiations to more than just women and children and to try to get men and Israeli soldiers out. Which everyone agrees will be much more difficult.

The Biden administration is also urging Israel that if they start their operations up again militarily in Gaza, which they say they will, to be much more careful, to be more cautious, more surgical, and precise. To try to minimize the often-deadly impact on Gazan civilians, most of whom are now displaced.

Alex Marquardt, CNN Washington.


FOSTER: Joining me now from New York, Christopher O'Leary, Senior Vice President for global operations for the Soufan Group. He's also a former director of Hostage Recovery and Rescue -- or rescue and recovery for the U.S. government. Thank you so much for joining us. I just want to get your insight into what might be going into these negotiations.


Obviously, it's all, you know, it's all being done quietly in Qatar. But one of the main issues is knowing who the hostages are. We still don't appear to have clarity on that because Hamas doesn't hold all of them, right? So how does that play into the negotiations? CHRISTOPHER O'LEARY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR GLOBAL OPERATIONS,

SOUFAN GROUP: Yes, good morning, Max. I think you're right. You know, the challenge is Hamas does not hold all of them. But you know, as we've talked about before, information is being gleaned from all of the hostages that have been released. Every one of them is being debriefed by intelligence professionals. Information is being developed. Identifying and trying to locate each of those hostages, even the ones who are not present with Hamas, their absence indicates they're probably with another group.

So, you can focus collection on Palestinian Islamic Jihad at that point. Or you can talk about any chatter that is going on amongst the guards or Hamas leaders as you're being held. So, all of those things are being elicited during debriefs. And will play into the intelligence picture.

FOSTER: Women and children being released so far. At some point, Hamas is going to run out of women and children -- if I can put it like that -- to release and we're going to move on to men, aren't we? And ultimately IDF serving soldiers. So presumably Hamas will ask for a higher price for those. An extension of the truce, perhaps, or more Palestinian prisoners in return.

O'LEARY: Yes, so I think that's where we're going to get to the sticking point, unfortunately. Right now, it, you know, it's pragmatic and practical for both sides, both Hamas and Israel and the international community to try to get as many hostages out as we can. The women and children, I think we will probably accomplish and I think having Director Burns from the CIA over there, who's a consummate diplomat, knows the region. He's very effective.

In this region and with groups like Hamas, I think there's a likelihood we're going to get it extended. We'll probably get all the women and children out. And I think it's reasonable to think we'll probably be able to get anybody with a medical condition out or who has been wounded. So, I'm hopeful to see that, especially American Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who lost his arm during it.

But I think we're really going to hit a difficult decision point with getting other men and IDF soldiers out. Because, you know, this is a commodity for Hamas and it provides them with power leverage and human shields and gives them the ability to protract this, this crisis.

FOSTER: They might be using Gilad Shalit, presumably as a reference point in these negotiations. One IDF soldier who was released in return for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. How do you think Israel, the U.S. may look at that sort of trade when it comes to the IDF soldiers?

O'LEARY: Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head, Max. You know, that's their anchor point in this negotiation for Hamas. You know, they are -- will be asking to release over 7,000 Palestinians from Israeli jails, and we're talking about the worst of Hamas and other affiliated groups, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP. These are terrorists. These are not people who were detained because of maybe suspicious activity. These are people who've conducted acts. So that's a price that's going to be nearly impossible to pay for Israel. I would also advise against it.

If Hamas comes out this victorious on the other side, it's only going to empower their movement, their ideology, erode any control that Fatah may still have on the West Bank and you know it's going to protract this, the Arab Israeli conflict for years to come. Israel needs to accomplish both of their stated goals, which is to find and release the hostage.

And I think some are going to require rescue, but also the dismantling of Hamas. And as you were pointing to just a little bit earlier -- that requires discipline, precision targeting, a counterterrorism approach when they turn back on military operations. Where you're going after Hamas architecture and leadership. Gathering intelligence as you're doing that on each raid. You're doing sensitive site exploitation. You're interviewing the detainees you take off. You're exploiting all that material that you find that allows you to continue to target other Hamas leadership and also finding out the hostages during that process.

FOSTER: Christopher O'Leary I really appreciate your insight today into a very delicate set of negotiations right now. Thank you for joining us so early.

We are following breaking news out of Japan as well. Where the Coast Guard reports a U.S. military Osprey aircraft with eight crew members on board, has crashed off the coast of Yakushima Island.


A spokesperson says what's believed to be the aircraft wreckage has been found, along with what appears to be a deployed lifeboat. One person has being found and taken to hospital. They had no vital signs but have yet to be confirmed dead by a doctor. The Osprey has a history of mishaps, including a crash in Australia back in August that killed three U.S. Marines.

Still ahead, a grieving Palestinian grandfather returns to the home in Gaza where his grandchildren were killed in an Israeli air strike. His heartbreaking story is next.

Plus, cheers in India as dozens of workers trapped under a collapsed tunnel are brought out under more -- after more than two weeks. Details of their rescue just ahead.


FOSTER: The World Health Organization warning that more people in Gaza could die from disease and acute health condition from Israeli air strikes if the medical infrastructure isn't restored. The agency says, hundreds of thousands of people in the besieged territory are suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and cancer, but don't have access to the medications and treatment they need.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society says that around 200 aid trucks have crossed into Gaza since Friday.


But a UN official warns that the aid going in at the moment is just a drop in the ocean of humanitarian needs. A senior U.S. official says the U.S. airlifted more than 54,000 pounds of medical items and food to Egypt to be brought into Gaza.

Meanwhile, Samantha Power, the administrator for U.S. agency for International Development, says these increased aid deliveries to Gaza should continue and become the new normal. Here's what she told CNN's Kaitlan Collins earlier.


SAMANTHA POWERS, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: It's absolutely critical and that is why we are seeking with our international partners to take full advantage of this pause. But also, to make sure that the flow of trucks and supplies continues. That this is not -- that this becomes a new normal where we now have 240 trucks a day going in. That's still only a small fraction of the kinds of supplies that flowed in before this war began. So, sustaining that flow, increasing it further, getting more fuel, more winterization supplies as the climate changes. All of that is going to be absolutely critical.

I convened my international counterparts from all around the world and implored them to increase the amount of funding they provide to UN agencies and non-governmental organizations so that cash and actual resources don't become a limiting factor here. It had been that the inspections and getting supplies in were the limiting factors. You'd hate to see it be just a shortage of money on the part of the World Food Program, or UNICEF for other partners. So that is key to getting again those that that flow going. But it will be ultimately inadequate without commercial traffic as well accompanying humanitarian traffic.


FOSTER: Well, that was Samantha, Power, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas also given many families a chance to return home to retrieve their belongings and, in some cases, the bodies of their relatives. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh follows a grieving Palestinian grandfather who returned to his destroyed home in Gaza, where his grandchildren were killed in an air strike whilst they slept. But a warning this story contains disturbing video.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Khaled and Reem were inseparable. Her grandfather was her whole world. Her favorite game, pulling his beard, and he would pull her piggy tails.

I'll let go, she says, if you let go.

Khaled just can't let go of his little Reem.

Now searching for memories amid the rubble of his life.

This was Reem's doll, he says.

The family was asleep when an airstrike nearby brought down their house in southern Gaza last week. Khaled woke up screaming for his children and grandchildren, struggling to walk in the dark and through the wreckage to find them.

I couldn't find anyone. They were buried underneath all this rubble, he says. My daughter Maysa was here. Her children, Reen and Tarek, were here in her arms.

Maysa and her sister barely survived. After a few days in intensive care, they're now recovering at a relative's house.

I felt something heavy on top of me. I started screaming, Maysa says. I heard Reen screaming next to me. I told her there's something heavy on top of me. I can't reach you. I said my final prayers. And next, I woke up in the hospital.

Maysa woke up to the news her three- and five-year-old children were gone. Their lifeless bodies found together under the rubble.

They slept next to each other that night. They slept early, she says. I told them to stay up a little longer, but they said they wanted to sleep.

At the hospital, I was just numb, she says. I hugged them. I wanted to get as many hugs as I could. No matter how much I hugged them, I didn't get enough.

Their final days lived in a war they were too young to understand. Where they no longer could dress up, go out and play, or get their favorite treats. With their father abroad working, they lived with their grandfather. Reem was so attached to him, and he spoiled her.

They kept asking for fruit, but there's no fruit because of the war, he says. I could only find them these tangerines.

Khaled holds the tangerine he gave Reem, the one she didn't get to eat, and pinned close to his heart her tiny earring.


He breaks down as he remembers their final evening, how his grandchildren begged him to take them out to play. But he couldn't. Airstrikes were everywhere. Khaled says he's not a fighter. They had nothing to do with the war, but like so many in Gaza, his family paid the price.

Khaled held Reem in his arms for one last time. He hugged her motionless body, opened her eyes, and kissed her goodbye.

I was asking her to kiss me like she used to, but she didn't, he says. I used to kiss her on her cheeks, on her nose, and she would giggle. I kissed her, but she wouldn't wake up, he recalls. I held Tarek. I fixed his hair the way he liked it. I was wishing, hoping, they were only sleeping, he says. But they weren't sleeping. They're gone.

Gone a month before her fourth birthday, a birthday Reem shared with her grandfather.

She was the soul of my soul, Khaled says.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Still ahead, a much happier scene in Israel as newly freed hostages are reunited with their families, but doctors say there could be a long road to recovery.

Plus, Ukraine is challenging Russia's edge in electronic warfare. We'll look at the smart devices being deployed on the battlefield.