Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

IDF Rescues Four Hostages During Raid in Central Gaza; Palestinians Call Central Gaza "Hell on Earth"; Biden Comments on IDF Rescue During State Visit to France; Biden Welcomes Release of Israeli Hostages; Pro-Palestinian Protesters Rally Outside White House; Strong Show of Unity Between Biden and Macros; Biden to End France Trip with Military Cemetery Visit; Trump Set to Hold First Rally as a Convicted Felon; European Parliament Elections Underway; Trash Talk Between North and South Korea; Justice Thomas Acknowledging Two Trips Were Paid by Republican Megadonor in 2019; Israeli Hostage Rescue and Netanyahu's Future; Blinken Going Mideast Next Week to Push Ceasefire Talks; Big Week in Space Exploration. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired June 09, 2024 - 04:00   ET





ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers watching around the world. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

Ahead on "CNN Newsroom," High-risk rescue. The IDF rescues four hostages during a raid in Central Gaza. But as Israel celebrates the reunions, Palestinians mourn the lives of those killed during the operations. Details on how the mission unfolded ahead.

President Joe Biden commenting on the rescue during a state visit to France. What he had to say in the role. The U.S. played.

And trash talk between North and South Korea. We're live at the Demilitarized Zone with a look at how the latest tensions are unfolding.

An Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp led to emotional reunions for four newly freed hostages and their families. But now, there are questions about the deadly toll of the rescue mission. Well, this was the scene at a hospital in Israel where the four hostages met with family and friends for the first time in eight months.

The Israeli military released this video showing some of the reunions. The IDF says the rescued hostages are in good medical condition, but were taken to hospital for medical examination.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the former hostages and their families. He told one of them, "We didn't give up on you for a moment." Well, CNN spoke with a doctor who examined the four about what they need to recover from the experience.


DR. HAGAI LEVINE, HEAD OF HEALTH TEAM, HOSTAGES AND FAMILY FORUM: They don't need politicians visits for PR purposes. They need some quiet. They need to be able to recover, to think, to regroup, to get more into some kind of a routine. It's personal. It's dependent on the people.

And, you know, I just was in the hospital when Almog visited -- his friends visited him and it was important for him to thanks his friends who were for him for the last eight months working to release him. But still, they need comfort. They need what we call a tender love and care and examine all their medical conditions, but try to get them back to life, try to get them more independent because they didn't have any control.


COREN: Well, despite the rescue, we are seeing new protests calling on the government to secure a deal to free the remaining hostages in Gaza. Many of the demonstrators are also calling for new elections to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Civilians in Gaza are describing the scenes of horror they witnessed as Israel carried out its operation to rescue the four hostages. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the details.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hell on earth is how one Palestinian in Gaza described the situation in the Nuseirat Camp Saturday to CNN as Israeli forces carried out their operation to successfully free four hostages. And indeed, the scene in Nuseirat and the nearby Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital can only be described as hell.

The Israeli operation killed at least 230 people and wounded more than 400, according to doctors in Gaza who spoke to CNN. The hospital was overwhelmed by the injured, many of them women and children. The corridors jammed with staff trying to treat the wounded with desperate relatives begging for attention for those awaiting care.

The morgue is full, the dead, some shrouded in white sheets, others still in their blood-soaked clothing were laid out on the ground surrounded by weeping and praying loved ones.

The rescue operation is being lauded by Israel's friends with little, if any, reference to the Palestinian death toll, but the reaction elsewhere was one of anger. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and the E.U.'s top diplomat, Josep Borel, described reports of what he called another massacre of civilians as appalling.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut. [04:05:00]


COREN: Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now with more on the rescue and the aftermath. Elliot, tell us what more are you learning about this operation?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Anna, from what we understand, this was an operation that was weeks in the planning. In fact, they'd aborted plans to carry out this rescue mission a couple of times previously. But this time, it got the green light. It went ahead around about 11:00 in the morning, local time. Israel taking the view that Hamas would be unlikely to be expecting some kind of daytime operation and that would give them an additional element of surprise.

So, under cover of airstrikes, they knew that Noa Argamani who became the kind of face of the October the 7th terrorist attacks as she was sped away on the back of a motorbike pleading for her life, she was in one building and then 200 meters away were the three male hostages. So, the rescue operation was carried out simultaneously in both apartments.

They went in there, they -- the Israeli defense forces say that they rescued Noa. They took her captors by surprise and rescued her without too much fuss. But then an intense gunfight ensued with those who were guarding the three male hostages. They managed to extricate them from the building. And as they left with the hostages, Israel says they came under intense fire, including from rocket propelled grenades. They were given further cover by airstrikes and managed to get the hostages to the waiting helicopters by the beach and then flown back to Israel for emotional reunions with their friends and family. Anna.

COREN: Elliott, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who, as we saw, has met with the hostages -- released hostages. He has faced enormous pressure from all sides to secure the release of those hostages. This obviously is a win for him. Does it embolden him? Does it buy him time?

GOTKINE: It may embolden him. I don't think it necessarily buys him any time because one of the first things the families of the hostages who were rescued when they met with the prime minister yesterday was, you know, we're very, very grateful that Israel and the armed forces, together with the Shin Bet and the counterterrorism unit of the police, rescued their loved ones.

But let's not forget that it is imperative that Israel get back the remaining 116 hostages who were kidnapped on October the 7th, around a third of whom are believe to be dead. So, there's no let-up in terms of the pressure. I don't think it buys Netanyahu time. It may buy him a few points in the opinion polls, which have repeatedly and consistently shown that were an election to be held tomorrow that he would lose it.

And I think it would also give him and other members of his governing coalition perhaps a bit of vindication from their perspective that, as they've been saying all along, it is military pressure on Hamas that will ultimately lead to the release of the hostages rather than solely negotiation.

That said, the deal that President Biden announced that he said was Israel's proposal for a hostage deal and a ceasefire that would ultimately lead to a full cessation of hostilities that remains on the table, but there are still very large gaps between Israel and Hamas, and they seem to be the same gaps that have been there for months, namely that Israel wants to be able to return to fighting after a temporary ceasefire. Hamas wants guarantees of a complete end to the war, and unless they can square that circle, Anna, there is not going to be a hostage deal.

COREN: Elliott Gotkine, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is hailing the rescue of the four Israeli hostages and vowing to help secure the release of the remaining ones. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has more.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States on Saturday commending Israel for its rescue of four hostages, with President Biden welcoming the news alongside the French president.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I want to echo President Macron's comments welcoming the safe rescue of four hostages that were returned to their families in Israel. We won't stop working until all the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached. That is essential to happen.

ALVAREZ: A U.S. official tells CNN that an American cell in Israel supported the rescue efforts working with Israeli forces. That in reference to a team that has been assisting Israel since October 7th to information gather on hostages. But a source also confirming to CNN that there were no U.S. boots on the ground in this mission.

Now, of course, the U.S. has been pushing for a hostage deal that would also include a ceasefire in Gaza. President Biden himself outlining that three-phase proposal that, again, would include the release of all hostages and a temporary ceasefire and potentially a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

In fact, just this week, U.S. and 16 other countries urged Hamas to close the deal. Just another example of the ongoing pressure by the United States. Senior U.S. officials have also been back to the region to try to give more traction to those talks. And while it's still unclear where those talks will lead, the U.S., at the very least, on Saturday commending Israel and applauding what they called a successful operation.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Washington.



COREN: Meantime, pro-Palestinian protesters are keeping up the pressure around the world. This was the scene outside a museum in Spain on Saturday, as hundreds of demonstrators lay on the ground to mimic casualties in Gaza.

Tens of thousands of protesters also marched through central London. The scenes were similar in the U.S., as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the White House, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a day of high emotion and heavy symbolism here on the grounds of the White House on the South Lawn here at the Ellipse and on the North Side at Lafayette Square Park.

What's going on here behind me is a symbolic court of justice. The Palestinian -- the pro-Palestinian protesters here have prepared what they call an indictment of alleged war criminals from the U.S. and Israel. They're reading some charges here. They have judges sitting behind them on the dais there. Again, a symbolic court of justice for what they believe are war crimes committed in Israel and Gaza.

Earlier, what they did was they unfurled a huge red banner symbolizing what they call a red line. They called it the people's red line, symbolizing what they believe is President Biden not sticking enough to a red line that he drew with the Israelis regarding the incursion of Rafah.

So, this red banner was two miles long in 100-foot sections. It was unfurled and protesters ring the entire White House complex earlier with that banner. That banner is now on the ground here, laid in rows, but it had a lot of writing on it, messages, signatures, that was part of the visual earlier today.

We've got crowds here watching now the mock trial at the ellipse here on the south side of the White House. Earlier, we did witness two statues in Lafayette Park with graffiti written on them by protesters. So, that was part of the kind of a dust up that happened earlier with police moving in and trying to get protesters off of the statue. But that didn't last very long. But two statues in Lafayette Park were -- that did have graffiti written on them.

What these protest leaders tell us they hope to come out of this is a growth of this anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian movement and a lessening of U.S. military and other aid to Israel.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Well, there's much more to come here on "CNN Newsroom." After the break, a strong show of unity between the U.S. and France during President Biden's visit to Paris.

Plus, Mr. Biden's rival for the White House, Donald Trump, is set to hold his first rally as a convicted felon in the punishing Nevada heat. That story and much more, after the break.



COREN: U.S. President Joe Biden will wrap his five-day trip to France just hours from now with a visit to a World War I military cemetery. The same cemetery Former President Donald Trump reportedly said was "filled with losers."

Well, French President Emmanuel Macron honored Mr. Biden with a State Dinner on Saturday. During his toast, Biden called this visit the most remarkable trip and stressed the close bond shared between the U.S. and France.


BIDEN: We stand at an inflection point in history. The decisions we make now will determine the course of our future for decades to come. We have a lot of opportunity, but a lot of responsibility. And it gives me hope to know France and the United States stand together, now and always.


COREN: CNN's Kayla Tausche joins us now live from Paris. And, Kayla, obviously, this trip, an incredibly important one for President Biden. What has he achieved?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the main goal of this trip was to send a signal to the world and to voters and citizens of the United States that the relationship between America and France, and America and Europe more broadly, remains ironclad in the face of conflicts around the world, as well as a rising surge of populism on both sides of the Atlantic.

If that was the goal, then the trip by that measure was a success. When the two leaders delivered statements together, those statements reflected the closeness of the alliance. The closeness of that bond and the areas of alignment on policies like the continued need to support Ukraine, the need to contribute to more collective defenses at NATO, as well as the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. All of those were part of the part of the statements that the president's made as well as the 13-page road map that they released following that.

So, by that measure, Anna, it is safe to say that this trip was a success for both presidents. Now, the hard work is what happens now. The leaders are going to be going to the G7, taking some of those discussions on the road and figuring out what they can get other allies to agree to as well.

COREN: Yes, obviously the optics have been incredibly good for President Biden whilst he's been in France. How has this trip been received back in the U.S., considering there were, you know, plenty of messages aimed at his domestic audience?

TAUSCHE: Messages aimed as well as imagery aimed at the former president and now opponent on the campaign trail for President Biden, of course, Former President Donald Trump. That was one of the main through lines of this trip, was the president trying to strike a contrast with what his predecessor did when he made a similar visit to Normandy for the 75th anniversary and two other visits to France, where he, as you mentioned, did not visit that same ceremony -- that cemetery where World War I dead are buried and reportedly called the American war heroes buried their losers and suckers, something he has denied, but something that CNN has reported on extensively.

It takes a few weeks for anything like what happened this week to be reflected in the psyches and the mindsets of voters back home and to show up in polls to really see whether it made a difference. Right now, the race is really at a dead heat. It's been in a tie for a very long time, with a small share of voters expected to decide the election by that measure, most independents recent polls show that independents favor Trump by about 12 points, but certainly, there's still about six months to go before the election. Anna.


COREN: Yes, those reported comments from Trump truly unforgivable. Kayla Tausche in Paris, we thank you.

The world's largest multi-country election is underway for the next European Parliament. Today, Spain, France, Germany and several others opened their polls on the final day of voting. Millions of people in 27 nations are deciding what the next five years will look like for the European Union.

Italy voted on Saturday, and like some people on the small island of Lampedusa, many Europeans are grappling with issues like immigration and the war in Ukraine.


FRANCESCO FILECCIA, LAMPEDUSA RESIDENT (through translator): I certainly expect a Europe that is more inclined to think about the conflicts in the world. One that seeks not to arm, but to disarm with words. Using words of peace, and not misleading words.

CATERINA CATALANO, LAMPEDUSA RESIDENT (through translator): I was very undecided whether or not to go and vote. Actually, I was thinking of not going to vote, because Europe is not felt here. But in the end, out of a sense of civic duty, I will go and vote. I don't expect a huge change, but some new faces might be there.


COREN: Massive crowds protested in Berlin on Saturday, slamming Germany's right-wing party. Demonstrators carried E.U. flags and signs urging people to vote. Polls are suggesting right-wing parties in a number of European countries will see big gains in this election.

Well, South Korea says it will resume broadcasting propaganda messages on loudspeakers over its heavily armed border with the North today. Well, that's after North Korea once again started sending hundreds of balloons carrying trash to the South. The move by the North comes days after South Korean activists sent hundreds of thousands of leaflets condemning Kim Jong Un over the border. Along with 5,000 USB sticks loaded with trash. K-pop music and k-dramas.

Well, CNN's Mike Valerio joins us now live for more on this. He's in South Korea near the Korean military zone -- Demilitarized Zone. Mike, great to see you. And it would appear the South Koreans not deterred by all that trash that fell across the country.

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anna. And it was striking to see those images, which we'll get to in a couple seconds of the latest balloons falling into the middle of Seoul.

I would say that the South Korean government is not deterred from having some sort of a response here. It's going to be delicate is what we're expecting. But there are so many people like farmers we talked to on Thursday afternoon, Anna, who want this back and forth to stop. They want things to go back to where they were. Like in 2018, for example, the last military agreement between North and South Korea, when both sides somewhat pulled back their military presence from the DMZ.

So, in terms of why we're here and what we're waiting for, it's exactly what you described at the top of our segment, we're waiting for new loudspeaker broadcast from South Korea to the other side pointed towards the North with propaganda announcements.

But, you know, when we talk about propaganda announcements, these are loudspeaker broadcasts of K-pop music albums and also news reports of human rights abuses perpetrated by Kim Jong Un's regime, again, pointed in the direction of the North, in some instances audible for about 20 kilometers. So, to sound the message loud and clear.

But what exactly precipitated this latest heightening of tensions are the photos that we have new this morning of 80 trash balloons reaching the Seoul area, the heart of Seoul. One balloon, there's an image, floating in the middle of the -- in the middle of this megalopolis.

So, South Korea is saying, OK, well, now that you have had this response, we're going to go back to where we were in 2018 before the last military agreement, which since has been technically abandoned as a few -- as of a few days ago. So, we're here at the Gateway Unification Bridge in Paju, South Korea. This is one of the last spots, Anna, you can get you -- where you can travel to get to North Korea before you are restricted from going any further.

All of these cars have civilian permits to work in the restricted zone. So, we're going to be waiting to see what we can hear from these latest loudspeaker broadcasts and we'll be back in the next hour with a check up on that front, Anna.

COREN: Mike, you enjoy that K-pop music. Mike Valerio, there, at the Demilitarized Zone. Thank you.

[04:25:00] Well, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarice Thomas is finally acknowledging that two trips he and his wife took back in 2019 were paid for by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. One trip to Bali on Crow's private plane was the focus of reporting by ProPublica, last year, about 20 years of lavish vacations funded by the billionaire. Until now, Thomas had never previously disclosed the 2019 trips, and didn't place a value on them either.

Our Harry Enten crunched the data and found that Thomas has received many, many more gifts than other Supreme Court justices.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Look at this amount of gifts accepted by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a 103 gifts over the last 20 years. Amount greater than $2 million.

Now, you'll see there are other justices on that list who, of course, have received gift amounts. Samuel Alito north of $100,000, $170,000. But the fact is, the amount that Clarence Thomas, not just the number of gifts, but the amount of money that he has received, I think these numbers will do nothing to quell the idea that Supreme Court justices have to be much more transparent with the gifts that they've received, perhaps have to step back from issuing or taking part in certain opinions, and more than that, will do nothing to quell the thoughts from a lot of liberals who think that Clarence Thomas should not be on the United States Supreme Court.

Now, of course, he's probably not going to listen to them, right? He hasn't listened to them all along. But these types of numbers are something that just puts the political pressure on the United States Supreme Court and that low approval rating that we've seen, that historic low approval rating from the American public. I think this supercharges that, and it's just something that I think a lot of folks wouldn't necessarily have expected, but a lot of watchdogs on the court certainly did, and these numbers definitely bear that out.


COREN: Israel has staged a daring and deadly hostage rescue in Gaza. Will it take some of the pressure off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? We'll ask an expert and have a report from Jerusalem ahead on "CNN Newsroom."



COREN: Well, four Israeli hostages are now free after an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in Gaza. The IDF says the rescued hostages are in good medical condition but were taken to hospital for medical examination. Israel says the raid happened in civilian areas because that's where Hamas was holding the hostages.

But the rescue mission appears to have had a deadly toll. Hospital officials in Gaza say at least 236 Palestinians were killed and more than 400 injured. The IDF says the number killed was less than a hundred. CNN cannot verify the numbers from either side. CNN's Paula Hancocks has more on the rescue mission.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their first video call in eight months. Friends of former hostage Almog Meir Jan welcome the 22-year-old home.

HANCOCKS: He shouted his name, right? Yes, yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hallelujah. We just shouted at each other, yes, yes, yes. You know, we are so happy to see him.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Meir Jan raised his hands in the air in celebration as he touched down on Israeli soil. One of four hostages rescued in what was called a high-risk complex mission Saturday morning in Nuseirat, Central Gaza.

The IDF says all four were taken captive by Hamas militants at the Nova Music Festival on October 7th, where hundreds more were killed. Noa Argamani has become a symbol of Israel's hostages being held in Gaza filmed on the back of a motorbike being taken into Gaza by Hamas militants from the festival, used in Hamas propaganda videos while in captivity. Today, she is free, hugging her father, waiting to visit her terminally ill mother in a separate hospital.

Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv were working as security at the music festival when they too were taken hostage. All four were brought for medical checkups once back on home soil.

HANCOCKS: All four are said to be stable and in good medical condition in this hospital just outside Tel Aviv. Now, Israel's military, security agency and police say that this mission had been planned for weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu giving the green light on Thursday evening.

DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: This was a high- risk complex mission based on precise intelligence conducted in daylight in two separate buildings deep inside Gaza.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the rescued hostages.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We're committed to getting the release of all the hostages. And we expect Hamas to release them all. But if they don't, I'll do whatever it takes and get them all back home.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): The Hostage and Missing Families Forum says 120 more captives remain in Gaza. The way to rescue them is with a ceasefire deal.

DR. HAGAI LEVINE, HEAD OF HEALTH TEAM, HOSTAGES AND FAMILY FORUM: That's not a way we can bring 120 hostages back home. We must, all of us together, the world, follow President Biden's speech and go with the deal.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): But the price paid in Gaza for these rescues has been unquestionably high. More than 200 killed, more than 400 injured, according to the enclave's government media office. There is no clarity on the breakdown of civilian and militant casualties.

This man says, there are children torn apart and scattered in the streets. They wiped out Nuseirat. It is hell on earth.

An endless cycle of dead and wounded rushed into Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital Saturday, a medical center already well over capacity and dangerously understaffed and undersupplied. It is a jarring view of two clashing impacts of one rescue mission.

Paula Hancocks CNN, Tel Aviv.


COREN: Joining me now from London is Gideon Levy, columnist for Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. He was also an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Great to see you, Gideon.

The jubilation with Israel is -- within Israel clearly shared by the prime minister who's been under enormous pressure from all sides to secure the release of hostages. Does this rescue alleviate that pressure and perhaps buy him some time?

GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ AND FORMER ADVISER TO THE LATE ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER SHIMON PERES: No, it buys him only short time. Israel is now in euphoria, but this euphoria will pass very quickly. I mean, it's so human and so natural to be so happy about, really, the release of four people getting united with their families. Nobody can remain indifferent.


Allow me, Anna, just to remind our viewers that 230 Palestinians, at least, paid in their lives for this grave operation, and they shouldn't be forgotten. It's one thing to have the hostages released, but the price was almost unacceptable.

In any case, Netanyahu and Israel will face the reality in a few days again, because most of the problems were not solved. We are still stuck in Gaza. We are -- most of the hostages are not released. And the war goes on without having any clear goals.

COREN: Gideon, does this embolden Netanyahu's government? Will it make them less likely to come to some sort of deal where they would have to give concessions to Hamas?

LEVY: First of all, I don't see them getting to a deal. I don't think they want the deal because this government wants to continue the war at any price. And if this is the priority, then there is no deal. And this has nothing to do with the dramatic events of yesterday. Benny Gantz might leave this government, and still this government is quite solid. And I think that there is a lot of wishful thinking about this government to see them fall very, very soon. They might stay quiet for a long time.

COREN: As you say, the fallout of this rescue, incredibly high. Some would say too high. The IDF claims it killed less than 100. Gaza health officials say it's more than 200 dead, more than 400 wounded. I mean, I cannot imagine that this death toll, whatever it is, collateral damage, as some may see it, you know, for saving these four hostages will help any peace deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he's flying to the region this week. You would have to assume his meetings will be unsuccessful.

LEVY: First of all, about the death toll, does it really matter if it's 100 or 200? Look at the scenes in the hospitals of Gaza. Look at the scenes in the streets. It's horrifying. And by the way, I believe more to the Palestinian figure because they know how many bodies were brought there. I'm not sure the army -- the Israeli army knows exactly how many they are killing.

But in any case, this leads us only for another deadlock. Not that it changed much. We were not close to a deal. And for sure not, you mentioned, Anna, peace. Peace is beyond horizons now. Nobody even mentions peace. But a deal was quite far before this operation and is still very far after this operation. As long as the United States will not be decisive enough and put some conditions to the aid of -- to Israel. As long as this aid continues to flow in an unconditioned way, Israel is free to do whatever it wants.

COREN: Gideon, despite the rescue of these four Israelis, protesters still took to the streets. And we know that the families of some of those rescued hostages, they implored the prime minister to save the other hostages in the streets. in Gaza. Do you see this pressure remaining? I mean, how is this going to play out? As you say, this is momentary, temporary, the relief and jubilation that Israelis are feeling.

LEVY: Exactly. And throughout the last month, those demonstrations were very impressive and had very, very little influence. We have to face it. My heart goes to all those demonstrators, but they don't touch the core issue, and the core issue is stopping the war. The core issue must be stopping the war. It's not the case. They want to see Netanyahu fall, and they want to see the hostages being released. Both are very important goals, but they don't call to stop the crimes, to stop the killings, to stop the war.

Now, unfortunately, this camp of demonstrators is not the political base of this government and not the political base of Netanyahu. And therefore, from their point of view, this pressure is not a real pressure on them, because they are much more concerned with their political base. And let's remember, there is a majority of Israelis who wants to see this war continue. And there is a growing number -- again, growing number of Israelis who support Netanyahu and his government. So, it will not be easy.

COREN: Gideon, just before you go, Benny Gantz, the former defense minister, he appeared to have postponed his decision to quit the war cabinet, cancelling his press conference at the very last minute after the news of the rescues. What do you think he will do and how will that affect the prime minister and his government?


LEVY: I might surprise you, Anna, but I think it's quite marginal and not important. Benny Gantz was in the government in the last months and had very little influence, if at all. He justified joining this government by believing that he can moderate this government and have some influence. You see what this government had done. You see the outcome in Gaza. You see the killed children. You see everything. Benny Gantz wasn't there. He didn't have any influence.

And the fact that he might leave now is not a very dramatic question because this government has still a solid majority, as long as the right-wingers are not leaving. And Netanyahu is aiming everything to the right-wingers, those extreme, racist, nationalistic, right-wing partners, and as long as they stay and they have no reason to leave, this government will continue with Benny Gantz and also without him.

COREN: Gideon Levy, we always appreciate hearing your perspective. Thank you so much for joining us.

LEVY: Thank you.

COREN: Well, one tragic note to what is otherwise a joyous occasion in Israel. The father of one of those rescued hostages, Almog Meir Jan, died in his home on Saturday. That is according to Israel's emergency services. Authorities found Yossi Meir unconscious when they went to notify him of his son's rescue, and he was later declared dead in his home.

Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.


COREN: Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is still more than a week away, but things are already heating up. Some cities in the Southwest are seeing temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And there's not much relief in sight. Our CNN Meteorologist Elisa Raffa has more.


ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Over the last couple of days, we just wrapped up some of the season's first and record earliest 110-degree temperatures for places like Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Now, that extreme heat is easing some as we go into the weekend. We're a little bit closer to average for those temperatures in Palm Springs at 102 degrees, about five degrees above average in Las Vegas, temperatures at 103. By Tuesday, we're going to start to find those temperatures get back up to that 110-degree mark from Phoenix to Las Vegas and Palm Springs as some of that more extreme heat continues to build.

Until then, again, we're on the warm side of things. Above average, still in the 90s in Salt Lake City, triple digits in Las Vegas. Overnight lows still above average as well. Not quite giving you too much relief with those overnight temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s. Just again, getting a little relief at night.

Now, we do know that the summer season is warming since 1970 in Las Vegas. It has a 5.6-degree fever. Summer is literally hotter than it used to be. And what that looks like is more warm and above average days. We have 39 more days that are warm and above average since 1970 as the season is just more extreme and longer. That heat starts earlier and last later as we go through the summer months.

Now, on the overnight temperatures, we actually find some of the biggest fevers. Since 1970, overnight temperatures are nearly 10 degrees hotter than they used to be on average. Now, that's bad news because we just don't get that relief at night after the extreme heat during the day. It would be nice to cool off and get some of that relief so we can kind of cure ourselves from some of that heat sickness at night. But with trends like this, that's just not happening. And for a lot of cities across the U.S., the overnight temperatures are warming faster than the daytime temperatures.

COREN: Two people remain hospitalized in Florida after separate shark attacks at neighboring beaches. One incident left a 45-year-old woman with significant injuries that caused her to lose part of her arm. Another attack, a little later, involved two teenage girls. CNN's Rafael Romo has the story.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It happened in an area that is very popular with tourists, especially in the summer. Watersound Beach and Seacrest Beach are located in an area between Destin and Panama City Beach, Florida. Officials are trying to determine the cause of the two separate shark attacks Friday afternoon that happened in the span of less than two hours and only about four miles apart.

According to authorities, a 45-year-old woman who was attacked just after 1:15 p.m. suffered significant trauma to her midsection and pelvic area as well as the amputation of her left lower arm. And then at 2:56 p.m., two girls between the ages of 15 and 17 were also attacked. The first victim suffered what officials described as significant injuries to one upper and one lower extremity, both requiring the application of tourniquets. The second victim has minor wounds to her right foot.

Walton County officials said what happened is both tragic and terrifying, but historically, shark attacks are exceedingly rare.

RYAN CRAWFORD, WALTON COUNTY FIRE CHIEF: They're highly unusual. And it's extremely unusual for two to happen in the same afternoon within four miles of one another. As the sheriff mentioned, we're reaching out to speak to subject matter experts as to what may -- you know, what may be causing that, what -- you know, that it's -- the Gulf temperatures, the steering current, whatever that is. It is rare. It's exceedingly rare to have three victims in one day.

ROMO: The Walden County Sheriff's Office Marine unit was monitoring the shoreline early on Saturday. Deputy spotted a 14-foot hammerhead in Santa Rosa Beach that morning from their boat. But they say this is not uncommon. Officials also said that before those two attacks on Friday in Walden County, the last one in the area occurred in 2021 and a 14-year-old boy was swimming near the fishing line 40 yards from the shore, and he survived. And then, you would have to go back to 2005 when a 14-year-old girl was attacked on a boogie board 250 yards from the shore and died after being pulled under by the shark.

While the risk of being bitten by a shark is extremely low, Florida tops global charts for the number of shark bites, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's annual shark attack report.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


COREN: Space buffs had a lot to be revved up about this week. Still ahead, one spaceship docks with the International Space Station for the first time, while another picks up samples from the part of the moon we can never see.



COREN: The space race is heating up. The head of NASA says America is in a new competition with China to reap the benefits of exploring the moon. And as Paula Newton reports, both countries took new steps this week to ensure the success of their future moonshots.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perseverance pays off. Crew of the International Space Station welcomed two astronauts and a new spacecraft to its lofty heights last week.

SUNI WILLIAMS, U.S. ASTRONAUT: It was such a great welcome. A little dance party, and that's the way to get things going. And we're just happy as can be to be up in space.

NEWTON (voice-over): It was the first crewed spaceflight for the Boeing Starliner who have successfully docked at the ISS on Thursday and is now part of a short list of U.S. spacecraft like Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, the Space Shuttle and the SpaceX Dragon to successfully carry NASA astronauts into space.

The mission had its glitches. There were helium leaks and a temporary loss of thrusters, which delayed its arrival to the ISS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clock stopped at t-minus three minutes 50 seconds.

NEWTON (voice-over): And two previously planned launches. NASA says it was a historic day.

KEN BOWERSOX, NASA SPACE OPERATIONS: I'm really looking forward to seeing two U.S. vehicles at the International Space Station. I know Butch and Suni will probably get a kick out of that if they get a chance to look out the windows and see a Dragon there, see a Starliner there. It's something that I think all of us should be proud of.


NEWTON (voice-over): SpaceX Starship also reaching new heights. Its fourth test flight was a thrilling success. For the first time completing its journey from liftoff to splashdown. SpaceX says the uncrewed two-stage rocket system achieved several milestones and gathered critical data needed for the ultimate goal of returning astronauts to the moon in NASA's planned Artemis missions. And that's generating a lot of excitement from people following its progress.

LUKE LIPTON, SPECTATOR: I could, like, feel it, you know, vibrating my clothing, which I wasn't expecting. I didn't have any point of reference for how loud it was going to be. So, that was really exciting.

NEWTON (voice-over): But it was an exciting time for China, too. Its uncrewed Chang'e-6 lunar probe, which landed on the far side of the moon about a week ago, successfully transferred samples from the lunar surface into the lunar orbit last week.

From there, they will travel back to Earth later this month, hopefully providing new insight into uncharted territory at a time when technological gains are being achieved to better explore it. A win for space exploration all around.

Paula Newton, CNN.


COREN (on camera): Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. And we'll be back shortly with more of "CNN Newsroom" after the break.