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IDF Rescues Four Israel Hostages from Gaza Refugee Camp; Trump Escalates Revenge Rhetoric Against Opponents. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 09, 2024 - 05:00   ET




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

Ahead on CNN Newsroom. Israel is celebrating the rescue of four hostages held in Gaza. We have details on how the raid was conducted.

Well, that operation taking a heavy toll on Palestinians with the reported death toll now said to be over 200. How the international community is responding.

Plus, President Joe Biden commenting on the mission while abroad as CNN learns the extent of U.S. involvement, as protesters gather in Washington to demand a ceasefire.

Four Israeli hostages are now free after an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in Gaza. But there are questions about how many Palestinians were killed in the operation and how many of those were civilians.

The IDF says the rescued hostages are in good medical condition, but were taken to hospital for medical examination. The four former hostages were reunited with their families in Israel on Saturday.

The Israeli military released this video showing the emotional moments when their families and friends saw them for the first time in eight months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also met with the former hostages and their families. He told one of them, quote, "We didn't give up on you for a moment." And he vowed to get all of the hostages home one way or another.


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, they'll do whatever it takes to get them all back home.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: As Israeli families are celebrating, 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 Borrell, described reports of what he called another massacre of civilians as appalling.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.

COREN: Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now with more on the rescue and the aftermath. Elliott, four Israelis rescued, more than 200 Palestinians reportedly killed. Explain to us the fallout of this rescue operation?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Anna, in Israel, it's been greeted as a major success with euphoric and emotional scenes, as we've seen at the hospitals where those who were rescued were met by their loved ones.

There's also one kind of, I suppose, side story to this, which is that the father of one of the hostages, this is Almog Meir Jan, a 22-year- old who was due to start a job in high-tech the day after when he was kidnapped on October the 7th.

The IDF, when they went to share the news with his father that he'd been rescued, they found that he had died that very same day.


So four hostages rescued, but the overriding message coming from all of those hostages and their loved ones to the Prime Minister when they met with him on Saturday was, we're very grateful, and thrilled, obviously, that their loved ones are home, but they must not forget the 116 remaining hostages who were abducted on October the 7th as part of the Hamas terrorist attacks, about a third of whom are believed to be dead, that the government needs to do everything that it can to bring them back home as well.

So although this will be greeted and has been greeted very joyfully by Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu and some of his allies will see this as a vindication of their belief that it is military pressure on Hamas that will eventually lead to getting the hostages back home, the pressure will remain on Netanyahu to do the deal that can bring them home.

That said, and the United States has repeatedly said this, the ball is in Hamas's court right now to respond to the hostage and ceasefire deal that President Biden outlined just over a week ago. Anna.

COREN: Elliott, as we know, this is the third successful rescue operation since the war began. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he is traveling to the region to try and continue these talks, these peace talks. Will these developments put those talks on ice? Does this embolden Netanyahu's government in its use of military force to defeat Hamas?

GOTKINE: The Egyptians have been quite clear that this operation in the refugee camp to rescue the hostages, not the rescuing of the hostages itself, but the death toll among the Palestinians will in its words complicate and make more difficult the negotiations towards getting a ceasefire and the hostages home.

But I think it's important to note that the two sides are still yards apart, miles apart in terms of their positions because they are diametrically opposed. Israel will not do a deal that commits it to a permanent ceasefire at the outset.

And Hamas will not do a deal that does not see Israel committing itself to a permanent ceasefire at the outset. So unless that circle -- that circle can be squared, if you like, then there isn't going to be a deal. And we have seen this over months and months of on-off negotiations.

And I suppose, you know, it brings to mind the old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. They are continuing to have the same talks and they are continuing to remain apart on the same issues when it comes to getting a deal done.

And so with or without this operation by Israel that saw it rescue four hostages and also a large number of Palestinian deaths as well, according to the Palestinians, it's unclear that that will complicate matters and the negotiations any more than they were already being made complicated.


COREN: Elliott Gotkine, we certainly appreciate you covering this story for us. 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 WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: 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, (D) 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 quote, "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: U.S. officials are denying claims that a temporary pier installed in Gaza was used for Israel's hostage rescue operations.


In a statement, U.S. aid spokesperson says, quote, "humanitarian aid workers are operating in extremely difficult and insecure conditions and any claims of their involvement in this operation are false."

The U.S. central command says, quote, "The pier's only purpose is to help move additional urgently needed life-saving assistance into Gaza." The pier was built by the U.S. military to transport aid into Gaza.

A little later in this hour, I'll speak with a cousin of someone still being held hostage in Gaza.

But after the break, President Biden has one more stop in France before he heads home. We'll look at the symbolism of where he's going next.

Plus, some say the U.S. and its allies should be preparing right now for a great power war. We talk about that with the top U.S. commander in Europe.

And Donald Trump is set to hold his first rally as a convicted felon on Sunday 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. Same cemetery former President Donald Trump reportedly said was quote, "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, I guess the importance, the symbolism of this trip, talk to us about that and in particular about where President Biden is headed today.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, this trip served a clear purpose for both presidents and that was to send the message to adversaries, allies and American voters back home that the alliance between the U.S. and France is as strong as it's ever been at a time when populist forces at home are on the rise and autocratic forces around the world are beginning to challenge Western ideals and the resolve of the NATO alliance.

And to that end, a 13-page roadmap that the two countries produced at the close of this visit underscored first and foremost, the need to continue supporting Ukraine, both militarily and financially and committed to having discussions with the G7 in the coming days to find new and novel ways to do that.

They also called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and reaffirmed the commitment to defend every inch of NATO territory in addition to announcing a new cooperation plan to secure the Indo-Pacific.

So it was a wide variety of policies discussed, but I think that at a high level, it was the symbolism and it was that message sent around the world that was the primary goal of this trip, Anna.

COREN: And Kayla, tell us, how has this trip been received back in the U.S.? You know, we heard President Biden during these speeches and it seemed like there were plenty of messages aimed at his domestic audience.

TAUSCHE: Certainly were. And for the White House, this was an opportunity for them to try to distinguish President Biden from his predecessor and current opponent, Donald Trump, especially on issues of military and defense.

Take Normandy, for instance, where President Biden honored the D-Day heroes for the 80th anniversary. They tried to set up a contrast to when Trump was there five years ago and missed some opportunities to recognize fallen American soldiers.

One more opportunity awaits today when President Biden will visit the Aisne-Marne Cemetery outside of Paris, where he will pay his respects to the American war dead.

You may remember President Trump declined to visit that cemetery when he was here. At the time, weather was cited as the concern, but then his comments about American war heroes was later reported and revealed as one potential reason why he decided not to go.

As far as how this helps or hurts President Biden, well, independents right now still favor President Trump over Biden by a pretty sizable margin, but it could be a few weeks before any change in Biden's low approval rating are reflected in the polls because it takes a little time for, you know, the messaging from trips like this to really sink in and then for some of that data to be collected. Anna.

COREN: Yeah, well, certainly the optics have been incredibly good for President Biden. Kayla Tausche in Paris, thank you very much.

Well, Biden's trip comes against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke with General Christopher Cavoli, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, who was also in France.

And she asked him to evaluate the security situation on the continent now that a war is raging there again.


GENERAL CHRISTOPHER CAVOLI, COMMANDER, U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND: So it's a very serious situation, obviously, right? We've seen large-scale aggression, state-on-state return to the European continent. It hasn't been here for decades. For 80 years, it hasn't been here, really because of the NATO alliance. And so it's a very serious situation.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Do you feel, like many do who I talk to, that Europe, the United States, should be preparing for a great power war?

CAVOLI: Well, the military should always be preparing for war. That's the way we keep the peace.

AMANPOUR: It's more imminent than it's ever been.

CAVOLI: Well, I think, you know, serious times, as we said a minute ago, but the alliance is reacting exactly as the alliance should by focusing on its readiness, by focusing on its plans, and being able to deter any conflict.



COREN: CNN also asked General Cavoli if Ukraine can recover from missing U.S. military aid for months while it was held up in Congress. And this is what he had to say.


CAVOLI: We had things stacked up, ready to ship. So as soon as we got the authority to ship things into Ukraine, we began to do that again within a couple of hours, literary. And so a vast quantity of stuff has been moved in, in a very short amount of time, and it's making a difference on the battlefield, as you can see.

In addition to that, the Ukrainians understood, they're keen observers of U.S. politics and Western politics in general. They understood what was going on, and they cleverly and skillfully and strategically husbanded their resources and managed their operations accordingly.

The fact that the SACEUR, the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, is always an American is just one small representation of how committed we are to this -- to this cause. The United States has always been here. It's always been a member of NATO. It always will be a member, and we're right here.

We have thousands of soldiers that we deployed over here at the initiation of the war in Ukraine so that we could help our European allies to deter any further aggression. And as our allies have generated force, we've been able to pull some of those guys back. But the fact is, when the U.S. is needed, the U.S. is there.


COREN: General Christopher Cavoli, speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

The world's largest multi-country election is underway for the next European Parliament. France, Spain, Germany, and several others opened their polls today on the final day of voting.

Millions of people in 27 European Union nations are deciding the bloc's political direction for the next five years. Well, Italy voted on Saturday. Like some 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 suggest right-wing parties in a number of European countries will see big gains in this election.

Well, back in the U.S., presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is set to hold an outdoor rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, his first since his recent hush money conviction. Temperatures are expected to be extreme. CNN's Elena Trene has the details.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Former President Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail a week after a Manhattan jury found him guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Earlier in the week, he was in Arizona and had a fundraising swing through California. And then on Sunday, he's going to be holding a rally in Las Vegas where temperatures are potentially dangerous for his rally goers.

This event is going to be held outdoors at Las Vegas' Sunset Park. And the Trump campaign is trying to take extra precautions to make sure people are safe. The temperatures currently showing that it could reach 104 degrees on Sunday.

And due to that, they are doubling the amount of emergency medical staff planned on the ground for this event. They're also going to have 38,000 water bottles that they'll be giving out to attendees. They'll have misting fans. They'll also have more magazines to help speed up the security process.

But look, these -- these precautions come after 11 people were transported to the hospital on Thursday around his Phoenix, Arizona town hall. And keep in mind, that town hall was actually indoors. This event is going to be outside. And so it's very much a concern for the Trump campaign.

Now, I also just want to bring your attention to some of the rhetoric we've heard the former president using over the past week. He's done a series of what I would argue are friendly interviews in the days after his conviction. And Donald Trump has really escalated his rhetoric seeking revenge on some of his political opponents. Now, one of the interesting things I find about this is that in these

interviews, some of the hosts have tried to get him to take a step back from that language. However, Donald Trump is doubling down. Listen to what he told Dr. Phil on Thursday.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Retribution is going to be through success. We're going to make it very successful. We have to bring the country together. The word revenge is a very strong word, but maybe we have revenge through success.

Well, revenge does take time. I will say that.

DR. PHIL: It does.

TRUMP: And sometimes revenge can be justified, though I have to be honest. Sometimes it can.

TREENE: Sometimes revenge can be justified. Very strong language from Donald Trump there.


But look, this isn't exactly new either. Ever since Donald Trump was first indicted last summer, he's been saying that he would potentially want to prosecute his political opponents, including people like President Joe Biden. So it's just more present, I would argue, in the aftermath of that guilty verdict last week. Alayna Treene, CNN, Las Vegas.


COREN: The four Israeli hostages rescued in Gaza were held by Hamas for eight months. Ahead, a doctor who met with them explains to CNN what it might take for them to feel normal again.

Plus, how anti-government protesters in Israel are reacting to the hostage rescue.


COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren. This is CNN Newsroom.

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 examinations.

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 100. CNN cannot verify the numbers from either side. An Israeli physician who met the four rescued hostages is describing

their mental and physical health and the recovery ahead. Well, here's what he told CNN's Jessica Dean earlier.



DR. HAGAI LEVINE, HEAD OF THE HEALTH TEAM, HOSTAGES FAMILY FORUM: Well, the important thing that they are back home and clearly it was a very emotional day for them, for the families, for many people in Israel and all around the world.

I spoke with the four of them and with their families. They are much better than our greatest concerns, but I must tell from my experience with the other hostages that sometimes after the first day we see the marks of the long period in captivity in terms of mental health and need for rehabilitation.

To tell you the truth, Jessica, when I see the footage that you are putting with Prime Minister Netanyahu visiting them, that's a great worry because that's not the first thing they need to see when they are now here in Israel. 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.

With the other families, I must say, it's great excitement, but also great worry that this heroic operation will confuse the government from understanding that the only way to bring home back all the 120 hostages is by a deal with the Hamas. And we need, after President Biden's speech, we need all the world leaders to put the pressure on Hamas and its allies to accept the Israeli suggestion on the table to have a deal for ceasefire and release of the hostages.


COREN: Police in Tel Aviv say they arrested 33 people at anti- government protests on Saturday.

Police say hundreds were blocking traffic and lighting fires at one site. Officers say they arrested those who were blocking major roads. The protesters are demanding the government do more to bring home all of the Israeli hostages. Many are also calling for new elections to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Well, joining me now from Israel is Maya Roman. Two of her relatives were taken hostage by Hamas.

Maya, thank you so much for joining us. First, we'd like to hear your reaction to the news those four hostages had been freed.

MAYA ROMAN, COUSIN HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: I'm, of course, elated. Like everyone here and all of the hostage families, getting even a single person back is, for us, amazing. You know, and it comes with all sorts of mixed feelings because our loved one, Carmel, who is still over there, was not released. And we don't know how this release is going to impact the ongoing negotiations. But first, before all those other things, we're just extremely happy to have these people back home with us.

COREN: Carmel, of course, being your sister-in-law. I want to speak about her and your cousin a little bit later. But we just heard from the doctor treating those rescued hostages. He made that passionate plea for a ceasefire.

I mean, what do you want? Do you want to see more daring, high-risk rescues like we saw on Saturday? Or do you, too, want the government to push for a peace deal ceasefire to ensure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza?

ROMAN: I am still advocating for a ceasefire, and so do most of the families, as well as the families of those hostages that came back, who many of them spoke about the need for a ceasefire and for bringing the current deal and making sure it passes. Because as we've seen, these operations come with a great cost for both sides and also do not appear to be the way to release all of our hostages, seeing as there are dozens of hostages still held by Hamas, 120, and most of them are still alive.

And so we don't see how we're going to get all of them back home by military operations. And yeah, and that is why we are hoping that this operation will help drive the hostage deal forward.

You know, right before the operation, we had heard that Hamas did not accept the ceasefire deal. We were working very hard here in Israel to make sure that our government does accept the deal. And I do believe that we've finally gotten to a place where the government was willing to accept this deal, but Hamas said that they are rejecting it.


And so I hope that perhaps this release operation might put more pressure on Hamas and make them come back to the table, as well as all that the American government has been trying and the pressure that has been put on them by Qatar and Egypt.

COREN: Maya, are you also concerned that perhaps this rescue operation will in fact do the opposite, that Hamas will be enraged and that it will further complicate talks and negotiations?

ROMAN: I mean, yeah, you never know. I think it's a problematic situation, whichever way you look at it. But from my understanding, it did seem as though Hamas was not willing so much to accept the deal, despite this deal being very, very close to what Hamas wanted and allowing both sides to have a ceasefire and get our hostages back.

And so I do feel we were at a point where our ability to put more pressure on Hamas is diminishing. People don't necessarily notice this, but the way the world is currently speaking about the situation makes it so that Hamas doesn't have a lot of incentive to reach a deal. For them, they are, you know, they are terrorist organization. Sinwar, known as the butcher from Khan Yunis, is a terrorist who does not care about the hostages or his people. And so for him, the fact that there's international pressure on Israel makes it so that his situation is pretty good. And he doesn't necessarily need to reach the ceasefire deal if he sees that the world is going to pressure Israel to end the war either way.

And so I do believe it was important to get more pressure on him and on Hamas, which again, the American government is trying to do, and I believe is doing all that they can. And I think, I hope that this operation will help, but as you say, you can never know.

COREN: Yeah. Maya, your cousin, Yarden, was released in a hostage swap last year and your sister-in-law Carmel, who we're just looking at her image there, she is still being held in Gaza. What have authorities told you?

ROMAN: Carmel is Yarden's sister-in-law, just to be exact. And we know -- we don't know a lot. What we know of Carmel, we know from the previous hostage deal in November. So that was already six months ago.

But we back then knew that Carmel was due to be released. We believed that the deal was for all the women and children. That was the deal that was struck. And so when Yarden came back, all of us were convinced that Carmel was coming back within a day or two. And then the following day, the deal fell through.

Hamas did not give us the names of 10 women that they were going to release, only seven, and negotiations broke down. That was actually the first time I believe that Yarden broke down since she came back, when we realized that Carmel was not coming back. It's been over six months since then. So things are quite, quite difficult.

In that previous deal, two of the teenagers that were released told us that they were held with Carmel. And so they were able to tell us that she is alive. And they also told us that they were being held in quite harsh physical conditions and that she really helped them. She made them keep a journal. She practiced yoga and meditation with them.

And that really strengthened us to know that she's still who she is. She's a caretaker at heart. And knowing that that's how she continues to be and that she continues to care for those around her really helped us understand that she's still her.

But as I said, since then, it's been over six months and we haven't had any further information about her. So we're obviously extremely concerned.

COREN: I can only imagine how agonizing the past eight months have been for you. Maya Roman, we are thinking of you and your family. Thank you for joining us from Tel Aviv.

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

You'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 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: The cross-border tit-for-tat between North and South Korea resumes with the Hermit Kingdom sending hundreds of trash-filled balloons into the South. When we return, South Korea's response to the North's dirty tactics.


[05:45:20] COREN: Well, South Korea says it will resume broadcasting propaganda messages on loudspeakers over its heavily armed border with North Korea today. Well, that's after North Korea once again started sending hundreds of balloons carrying trash to the South. No hazardous substances have been found in the trash.

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 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 demilitarized zone. And Mike, has the propaganda began?

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, we're not sure, but we do have new video that is in new this hour showing from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff about nine or 10 military vehicles that have loudspeakers that come up from the top of those trucks, the military vehicles, and are prepared to begin blaring South Korean propaganda messages.

So, you know, we've been talking to military officials all day today, and they've said that these messages are going to begin at some point today, but we don't have timing or where exactly they're going to be happening from.

But, you know, Anna, it's important to note that when we're talking about propaganda messages coming from South Korea, we're not talking about old-timey Cold War stuff. We're talking about South Korean soft power, K-pop, news bulletins, audio of those news bulletins that come from the loudspeakers talking about human rights abuses perpetrated by Kim Jong-un's regime in North Korea, heard for as far as 20 kilometers northbound into North Korean territory.

So, what exactly precipitated this? Two things. We had 300 trash balloons come from North Korea late last night into early this morning. One balloon, we have a photo of, landing smack dab in the middle of the Han River in the heart of Seoul. About 80 of those 300 balloons actually made it into South Korean territory.

And then on Thursday, we had a South Korean group decide to send 10 balloons of their own, Anna, northbound towards North Korea that have slices of life of what it's really like in South Korea with those flash drives you were talking about.

Now, we did manage to speak to the founder of that South Korean group. Here's just a slice of what he told us before the balloon launch.


PARK SANG-HAK, FOUNDER, FIGHTERS FOR A FREE NORTH KOREAN (through translator): We send money, medicine, facts, truth, and love, but to send filth and trash in return, that's an inhumane and barbaric act.

VALERIO: So, Anna, to give you some perspective, we're here in Paju, South Korea. We are standing on the unification bridge in Paju, which is one of the last places you can go as a civilian before you head into North Korean territory.

This is one of the bridges when there have been very rare unifications between people in South and North Korea, where those diplomatic moments have happened. Those, of course, fewer and fewer nowadays, but we're going to be here waiting to see what, if anything, we hear. And it's worth noting before we go, Anna, we've been on this story for days. We've been walking around the countryside that borders the DMZ, and I thought it was so notable when we spoke with a farmer on Thursday who said he wants this to stop. He wants this tit-for-tat, the South Koreans sending their balloons and the North Koreans retaliating with trash balloons, just to stop because he thinks that, you know, it won't lead to anywhere and that it's certainly childish. But at this point, we're just waiting to see where is this tit-for-tat going to lead, Anna?

COREN: Mike Valerio in South Korea, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Well, still to come, one team dominated the opener of the Stanley Cup, scoring just minutes into the game. We'll break it down. That's next.


COREN: The Florida Panthers, one win closer to the team's first NHL championship following a brilliant performance in the first game of the Stanley Cup Final. CNN Sports Correspondent Carolyn Manno joins us now with much more. Hello, Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, how are you? You know, after coming up short in last year's final, the Panthers back with a vengeance. Less than 30 seconds into game one on Saturday night, they really proved why they want this so much more than everybody else.

Edmonton Zach Hyman, the leading scorer in these playoffs, getting a golden chance here, but stopped by Sergei Bobrovsky to keep it nil- nil. But it certainly wouldn't be that way for long in this game. A couple of minutes later, Florida captain Aleksander Barkov helping break the ice, feeding Sam Reinhart (ph) for the goal, giving the Panthers the lead. Oilers captain Connor McDavid trying to respond, but he too is denied by Bobrovsky.

And this right here was the story of the night. Big Bob, as he's called, making 32 stops and becoming just the fifth goaltender this century to pitch a shutout in the opener of the Stanley Cup as the Panthers go on to win it three to nothing.

Meantime, the U.S. women's basketball Olympic roster has been leaked, and the most notable absence is WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark. The former college phenom has been off to a bumpy start in the pros so far.

She's put up 30 points on a couple of occasions. She's also had games where she's been held to single digits. She struggled with turnovers in the league's physicality. Every player on Team USA has senior level international experience. Eight have played in the Olympics. Still, you could make the case that at only 22 years old, Clark has created an absolute frenzy of interest in women's basketball, which has already led to a tangible boost in the WNBA's development.

So a big story there. A lot of people have mixed feelings about it. There are three Olympians on the court for a tilt between the WNBA's top two teams, though.

This is last night's Sabrina Ionescu, Breanna Stewart for the New York Liberty facing Alyssa Thomas and the Connecticut Sun. And in this case, two is better than one. Ionescu on fire, training a couple of three-pointers, scoring 10 of her game-high 24 in the fourth quarter.


Last year's MVP runner-up, Alyssa Thomas, just a few inches shy of a triple-double as well. Stealing it from Ionescu, laying it in. So the Sun led entering the fourth, but New York outscored Connecticut by 10 in the final frame, knocking off the last remaining undefeated team, 82-75 the final there.

Staying with women at the top of their game, Iga Swiatek, once again a champion in Paris. The world number one from Poland, beating the 12th seed Jasmine Paolini in a dominant straight sets win on Saturday to earn her third consecutive French Open title and the fourth in five years. And at just 23 years of age, Swiatek already has five majors to her name.


IGA SWIATEK, 4X FRENCE OPEN CHAMPION: It's amazing to be here. I love this place. Honestly, I wait every year to come back here. And yeah, thank you. Oh my God. Sorry.


MANNO: Turns out today, it's the men's turn. Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz trying to get three-fourths of the way to the career Grand Slam at just 21 years of age, taking on Germany's Alexander Zverev, who is looking for major title number one. And you could maybe call him Carlito's kryptonite because Sascha's five and four head-to-head against Alcaraz, including a win in the quarterfinals of this year's Australian Open.

So with the big three out of the way, we're starting to see a lot of these new big names emerge. Carlos Alcaraz at the top of that list.

COREN: Yeah, it's going to be an exciting match, Carolyn. Good to see you. Thank you for that. And that wraps up this hour of CNN Newsroom. I'm Anna Coren.

For viewers in North America, CNN This Morning is next. For the rest of the world, it's Marketplace Asia.