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CNN International: Negotiating Ongoing In Hopes Of Extending The Truce; Biden Tells Israel To Avoid More Civilian Displacement; Blinken: We Would Like To See The Gaza Pause Extended; NATO Chief, Foreign Ministers Discuss War In Ukraine; U.S. Military Aircraft Crashes Off Japan With 6 On Board; Israeli Military Raid, Clashes Reported In West Bank; Ukraine Steps Up Electronic Warfare Efforts Against Russia. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2023 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello I'm Max Foster in London and this is CNN Newsroom. Just ahead, the latest developments from the Middle East as negotiators are looking to extend a truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. This as more hostages are expected to be released in the coming hours.

Then NATO allies say they won't back down on their support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, even as global attention is focused on the Israel-Hamas war. And search operations underway in Japan after a U.S. military aircraft crashed into the sea. What we know next.

Well, we are watching two important events unfolding in the Israel- Hamas war today. First is the sixth hostage for prisoner exchange expected to happen in a few hours. Hamas allowed an outside journalist to watch today's hostage release, which included an elderly woman in a wheelchair.

So far, things appear to be on course today, with Israel getting a list of hostages that are set to be handed over to the Red Cross. That list does not include a 10-month-old baby, who Israel had hoped to get back in today's exchange.

And we're also watching Qatar, where the U.S., Egypt, and Israel are in discussions about extending the six day old truce. If a deal can't be reached, fighting could resume tomorrow morning.

Let's go straight to our CNN's Scott McLean. I mean, it's difficult to know what's going on in these negotiations, but what do you think they're considering and what might be the sticking points?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max. And look, it seems like the parties involved are showing positive signs that this may be extended. And it seems like everyone has a vested interest. You have the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, saying that he is focused on getting an extension of this truce.

Hamas has made clear that it would like to turn this truce into a permanent ceasefire. You also have last night, a member of the Israeli Knesset, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, saying that Israel could be open to extending this for a few more days, perhaps even a week in order to get hostages back.

He says that the government has signed off on this already until Monday, potentially as long as Monday. After that, the Cabinet would have to meet again to approve a new deal. So it seems like a short extension might be easy, a longer extension, perhaps more complicated.

A source familiar says that if today goes well, the expectation is that Hamas will agree to extend this for at least another day. The difficulty, though, is that there are only perhaps two more days left of women and children to actually turn over in Gaza.

It is not entirely clear how many civilian women are still held captive, which makes it complicated to calculate the exact numbers. But after the women and children have been handed over, now we're getting into civilian men and soldiers, some of whom we know are female and Hamas will demand a higher price for them.

Hamas has said that it's open to a partial deal involving only civilians. It's also open to what it calls a comprehensive deal involving those soldiers as well. But it's demanded that Israel empty its prisons of Palestinian prisoners in order to make that happen.

Danny Danon, for his part, has also said that, look, Israel would not agree to a deal to end this war in exchange for all of the hostages back because it thinks that that just allows Hamas to live for one more day.

You showed that video, I think, of Hamas handing over the hostages yesterday in the dark, people cheering, people recording on their phone. There are Hamas fighters in that video. There are also fighters from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

And part of what's also complicating all of this, Max, is the fact that a diplomatic source says that per 40, perhaps 50 of these hostages are actually held by groups other than Hamas. So all of this adds a layer of complexity.

In fact, Danny Danon called the transfer of hostages within Gaza. He described it quite starkly. He said that it was trading. He also described it as selling and said that this is something that Israel simply has not seen before. Max?

FOSTER: Scott in Istanbul, thank you.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. diplomat is in Brussels meeting with the head of NATO. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine. It says the U.S. will do what it can to keep up the Israel- Hamas truce.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We'd like to see the pause extended because what it has enabled, first and foremost, is hostages being released. It's also enabled us to surge humanitarian assistance into the people of Gaza who so desperately needed.



FOSTER: Well, this comes as the U.S. is asking Israel to avoid further significant displacement of Palestinians if it resumes its ground offensive against Hamas.

Arlette Saenz joins us from the White House. There's some domestic politics going on here, isn't there? Because there are many in the Democratic Party particularly who want this truce to last.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there certainly are. There's members of the Democratic Party, including a few senators who have pushed for a longer term ceasefire in this war between Israel and Hamas. But the focus for key -- for administration officials today is on whether they should extend the current truce, which is now in its sixth day.

Now, as you hear from Secretary of State Antony Blinken there, the thinking is that extending the truce would essentially try to get more hostages out and also surge more humanitarian into -- humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The CIA Director, Bill Burns, was in the region yesterday. And in Doha, he met with Qatari, Israeli and Egyptian officials where there was a consensus that they could potentially work towards another extension in this truce.

The thinking is that if everything goes according to plan today with this hostage release, Hamas could potentially provide another list of hostages that would then be released and could extend the pause for about 24 hours.

They -- a source familiar with the discussion says that they believe that there are enough women and children to extend this pause by another two days. But it also highlights just how involved the Biden administration has been in these negotiations.

In addition to working towards what is happening with the hostages out, trying to get them out at this moment, they're also setting their sights on what happens after this truce ends. Senior administration officials say that they have encouraged the Israelis that when they resume their fighting to be more surgical, more tactical in their approach to targeting Hamas. The goal there is trying to minimize civilian casualties.

One thing officials have also pushed for is trying to avoid these widespread operations in the southern part of Gaza where many people have fled to. The White House believes that they -- Israelis, are listening and that this is something that they continue to press upon them.

Of course, another focus for them for the White House today is waiting to hear whether those two American women will be released as part of this hostage group expected to be released a bit later today. The White House has said they are hopeful that the two American women will be part of it, but they have been so far unable to pinpoint exactly when they believe those women will get out and if that could happen today.

FOSTER: OK, Arlette, thank you.

In addition to Secretary Blinken, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg met with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. The Ukrainian diplomat told reporters Europe could not defend itself without Ukraine and touted its battle hardened army. They'll need to be hardened because take a look at this, the Ukrainian winter weather.

Stoltenberg said Russia plans to use that to its advantage.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Russia has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter. And we see new attempts to strike Ukraine's power grid and energy infrastructure, trying to leave Ukraine in the dark and cold.


FOSTER: Well, Clare's been monitoring all of that. Is that the highlight for you? I mean, what really grabbed you about today's meetings, because they have been able to focus on Ukraine for a while.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think what grabbed me was this was a real concerted effort by Stoltenberg and by Secretary Blinken to shift the narrative from what we've been seeing over the past few months, which is concern in Ukraine and outside of fatigue, right? We're now in the 22nd month of this war.

They haven't seen a major breakthrough, like with the capture of Kherson. That was a year ago, so 12 months without a major breakthrough. So Stoltenberg, he, you know, went through some evidence. He said, look, maybe we haven't seen a major breakthrough, but they have taken back.

He said 50 percent of the territory that Russia originally seized. They have made great progress in the Black Sea, opening up a shipping lane, which has helped with world food security. And Secretary Blinken was even more blunt. Take a listen.


BLINKEN: I heard no sense of fatigue or falling back. On the contrary, a determination to continue to press forward. And there's a good reason for that. I think every ally recognizes that this is a matter not only of doing the right thing, it's a matter of self-interest, including for the United States. There's a clear self-interest among allies to stand for the basic principles at the heart of the U.N. Charter that are being violated egregiously by Russia.


SEBASTIAN: Well, that may be the case, but there's day-to-day politics that is, in reality, getting in the way here. Congress has yet to approve new funding. That means, in the Pentagon's own words, they are having to, quote, "meter out" what is left.

Here in Europe, we are seeing some unnerving signs. For example, a far-right, you know, traditionally pro-Russian leader just won the most votes in the elections in the Netherlands, which has been a very staunch ally of Ukraine.


Slovakia has canceled military aid. Hungary has never sent any, but is sending some pretty unpleasant messages about E.U. aid overall. So this is something that literally everyone who has a stake in this conflict, from commanders on the front line to chief executives of European defense companies, everyone is watching.

And in particular, Max, they are watching what happens in U.S. politics, because they have been the biggest backer in terms of military aid.

FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you.

At least one person is dead after a U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan's Yakushima Island. The U.S. military says the Osprey made an emergency water landing while carrying six people. Japan's Coast Guard said it found what appeared to be wreckage from the aircraft about 3 kilometers from the island. Search operations are currently underway.

Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul, South Korea with more because this operation is ongoing.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Max. I mean, it's after 10:00 at night here. It is dark, but we're hearing from the Japan's Coast Guard that the search mission is ongoing. They have three aircraft, six ships at the area at this point, trying to find anyone else that was on board. There are still five unaccounted for.

Now the cause of the crash is unknown at this point. We heard from Japan's Coast Guard, quoting the U.S. military, saying that it was an attempted crash landing on the water, saying that the pilot appeared to be in control until the aircraft hit the water. And so, certainly, they say the pilot tried his best until the end.

Now, at this point, we are hearing from Okinawa's governor. This is the area of the island where the majority of U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, asking for all Ospreys to be grounded until an investigation has been carried out.

Now, this is not being backed up by Japan's government. Tokyo officials saying that at this point, the priority does need to be on saving lives and trying to continue this search and rescue mission.

But we have seen in the past -- just the past 18 months, a number of accidents and incidents when it comes to these military aircraft. We saw just a few months ago in Australia, three U.S. Marines were killed when there was an accident during military training there. And just last year, five U.S. Marines were killed in training in California.

Just before that, there were also four U.S. service members that lost their lives in a NATO accident in Norway. So this has been a concern for some time, and there is some discussion as to whether or not these aircraft should be grounded while this search and rescue mission is ongoing.

But at this point, officials in Tokyo say their priority has to be to try and find the other five that were on board. Six were on board, one killed. We're hearing from Japan's Coast Guard that the information came just before 3:00 p.m. local time. They did immediately send out a patrol ship but also an aircraft which is when they did identify the wreckage in the water. Max?

FOSTER: OK. Paula, thank you.

More on our top story ahead. Negotiations to extend the pause in fighting continue as we wait for more hostages to be released from Gaza. We'll go live to Jerusalem when we return.



FOSTER: The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas is now into its sixth and what could be its final day. Even as negotiators in Qatar work towards another potential extension. Sources say Israel has the list of another group of hostages expected to be released in the hours ahead.

Amongst those not on that list, a 10-month old baby, his four year old brother, and their parents who were kidnapped on October the 7th. A family member says none are expected to be released today.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins spoke with a cousin.


EYLON KESHET, COUSIN OF HOSTAGES: Are these the enemies of Hamas? Are these the enemies of anyone? Should these children be used as bargaining chips? No, they shouldn't. This is the simple answer. They shouldn't be used as bargaining chips for any political or religious or whatever reason, there is no justification for using them like this. So, we just want them back, really.


FOSTER: Well, on Tuesday, 12 hostages were released by Hamas, 10 Israelis, two Thai nationals. Israel believes there are now 161 hostages still being held in Gaza. Meanwhile, there are reports of clashes in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli Defense Forces say it's conducting ongoing counterterrorism activities in the city of Jenin. The IDF says it won't comment until the operations are complete.

Doctors Without Borders reports two Palestinians died from their wounds in Jenin after Israeli military vehicles blocked ambulances from reaching them. CNN's Ben Wedeman is following developments and joins us from Jerusalem. How concerned are you about what's happening in the West Bank? How abnormal is this?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, unfortunately, Max, this is the normal. This has become what we've seen is that almost 240 -- probably more than 240 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli operations and clashes in the West Bank since the 7th of October.

Now, yesterday evening is dozens of Israeli military vehicles, drones and bulldozers entered Jenin. They surrounded the refugee camp there. They declared it a closed military area, and of course, the IDF is just saying that this is part of counterterrorism activities.

Now, in addition to the two people who died that you mentioned cited by Doctors Without Borders, saying that they died because Israeli vehicles would not allow ambulances to reach the hospital. That's very similar to a case we heard about. We were in Jenin yesterday before the incursion.

We spoke to a woman whose son bled to death on their front door because Israeli forces would not allow medics to take him to the hospital. Now, in addition to the two killed last night as a result of dying outside the hospital, two boys, one aged 14, one aged nine were shot dead by Israeli forces in Jenin.

Now when we were in Jenin yesterday, the residents told us that since August, there have been more than 30 Israeli military incursions inside that camp itself. And of course, that camp is home to Palestinian militants from a variety of factions. Militants, of course, the Israelis, called terrorists. But in Jenin and the West Bank, most people think that these are merely fighters against a military occupation that is lasted for decades, Max?

FOSTER: Meanwhile, we are looking at these negotiations in Qatar. Presumably, they're getting harder as the women and children are leaving because they're going to have to start talking about men and ultimately IDF soldiers. And the nature of those negotiations changes quite rapidly, doesn't it, when you move towards that?

WEDEMAN: Yes, according to the negotiators, if there's an extension, there's only really two more days in which they can hand over captives from Gaza who are either children or women. Then it's a question of negotiating over men and soldiers.


Now, traditionally, Hamas has put a very high price on soldiers. Let's not forget that Gilad Shalit, that Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in 2006, when he was released in 2011, he was released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

So the expectation is the negotiations are going to be much tougher. At the same time, of course, there are elements in the Israeli government who are pushing very hard to resume the military operations, that ground operations in Gaza.

Even though, for instance, we understand the United States is very eager that Israel not use the kind of tactics that it used in northern Gaza where it essentially turned many parts of that, part of the Gaza Strip, into a land -- said lunar landscape of concrete, dust and rubble and left more, almost 15,000 people dead. Max?

FOSTER: OK. Ben, thank you.

Now, every year technology plays a bigger role in warfare that left Ukraine behind, but it's quickly changing as well. Details after the break.


FOSTER: When Russia's war in Ukraine began, Vladimir Putin believed his country had the upper hand when it comes to drones and smart weapons. But now, more than a year into the conflict, Ukraine is starting to level the playing field, as Clare Sebastian explains.


SEBASTIAN (voice-over): It looks like little more than a cluster of TV aerials. And yet this Ukrainian drone has just destroyed a critical piece of Russia's electronic arsenal. The commander who operated the drone says he wanted his video to go viral.

PAVLO PETRYCHENKO, UKRAINIAN DRONE COMMANDER (through translator): On this video, other reconnaissance units will be able to see how such antenna looks like in detail. And in the future, identify them on the battlefield.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Pavlo Petrychenko is stationed on the most active part of Ukraine's eastern front. His unit helping defend the town of Avdiivka from a Russian onslaught.

(on-camera): Why is it so important to destroy these electronic warfare systems in particular?

PETRYCHENKO (through translator): I am grateful to our partners, to NATO, to the whole civilized world who give us these weapons. All these weapons are highly accurate. They are guided by satellite systems. Russia tries to counter these weapons with electronic warfare systems.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): For Russia, electronic warfare, an invisible battleground where electromagnetic waves are used to jam or even alter enemy GPS signals, as well as disrupting radio waves, radar, and even cell signals has provided an unexpected advantage over Ukraine's more sophisticated weapons.


U.S. provided guided missiles. Even some essential HIMARS rocket launchers have been compromised. And drones, the most frequent victims. This, published by a pro-Kremlin news outlet, purportedly shows the moment Russian jammers struck.

KARI BINGEN, DIRECTOR, AEROSPACE SECURITY PROJECT AT CSIS: So GPS jamming is basically brute force power. So think of it, if your stereo is on at home and you've got low music playing and your neighbor is blasting their music next door and you can hear it and it overpowers your stereo.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation who has spearheaded a 100 fold increase in drone production this year says electronic warfare is now a top priority.

MYKHAILO FEDOROV, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION (through translator): The new vision for the development of electronic warfare includes protecting every piece of equipment, every trench, every person. Comprehensive protection of the entire battlefield and the rear using electronic warfare.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Ukraine is playing catch up here. The head of the country's Armed Forces admitting in a recent essay Russia has, quote, "significant electronic warfare superiority".

BINGEN: I think what's been interesting is to see these jamming systems being co-located with Russian forces. I think it's really giving insight into how Russia is integrating them into their military plans and their force movements.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): And Russia's not trying to hide this. The official Defense Ministry TV channel showing off jamming equipment on tanks aimed to prevent enemy drones getting too close. And even on state media, an armored train said to be kitted out with electronic warfare defenses.

(on-camera): Do you think that electronic warfare is one of the things that could potentially turn the tide in this conflict?

FEDOROV (through translator): One tool is not enough to achieve a breakthrough. It needs to be a combination of certain actions. We're never going to have as much manpower as Russia, but technology can change that. We need to continue scaling it up.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining me here on CNN Newsroom. I'm Max Foster in London. World Sport with Amanda is next.