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Erin Burnett Outfront
Israel PM Warns Ground Invasion "Is Coming"; Hamas Operatives Planned Attack Over 2 Years Using Phone Lines In Gaza Tunnels To Avoid Detection By Israeli Intel; ABC News: Meadows Gets Immunity To Testify In Trump Election Case. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 24, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Quote, it's coming. That is the message tonight from the Israeli prime minister about an assault on Gaza. As we're hearing from the grandson of a hostage who was just released, what his grandmother is telling him about her time as a hostage in Hamas captivity.
Plus, breaking news. U.S. intelligence officials revealing what caused that deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza. We have a new exclusive dispatch from our producer inside Gaza tonight. His report, one of the most disturbing yet about the situation he is living on the ground there.
Also breaking tonight, Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, reportedly offering up damning testimony in exchange for immunity for special counsel Jack Smith's case.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. I'm Erin Burnett, live in Tel Aviv tonight.
And we begin with breaking news. We'll have to pay a price. That's the quote, the message tonight from Israel's defense minister speaking to an elite commando unit of the Israeli army, Yoav Gallant, said, quote, prepare for the tasks to come. The war is just starting. And unfortunately, we'll have to pay a price.
They have been clear that that price may involve the loss of life. And it is an ominous warning to more than 300,000 troops, alive, ready, in the prime of their life, massed on that Gaza border. Young men and women waiting for the command to go in and strike Hamas, to take that risk of death to do so.
Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, again, met with those troops because they have been waiting for that command, of course, waiting for 17 days, telling them tonight, quote, we stand before the next stage. It is coming.
The next stage Netanyahu also says today will not be short. And the United States is bracing for what could be a lengthy and bloody battle. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, NSC SPOKESMAN: This is war, it is combat, it is bloody, it is ugly, and it's going to be messy. And innocent civilians are going to be hurt going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Soldiers will die. Fighters will die. Innocent civilians will die.
And some of the innocent civilians that are at risk are the innocent hostages right now being held in Gaza. Many, if not all, underground in the sprawling network of tunnels that Hamas has constructed in Gaza. Tonight, for the first time, we heard from one of them, 85-year- old Yocheved Lifshitz.
She was released yesterday, last night, speaking today about what happened to her. She described being abducted by motorcycle from her home. She was abused and hit with sticks, and then in Gaza, forced underground into Hamas's network of tunnels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ, ISRAELI HOSTAGE RELEASED BY HAMAS (through translator): We began walking inside the tunnels with the wet ground. It was moist all the time. We arrived at a large hall. There we were with 25 people. After two to three hours, they separated five people from my kibbutz Nir Oz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Lifshitz, also talking about a moment that was captured by Hamas, where she is seen shaking hands with one of her captors, as she was being released. When asked why would she would extend such a gesture of grace to one of her captors, she replied, because they treated us very nicely.
Now in a moment, I'm going to speak to Lifshitz's grandson, who has seen his grandmother, he spent time with her, precious moments since she was returned. And, of course, while she is safe tonight, there still roughly 200 hostages being held by Hamas. We still don't know the exact number. That does include Lifshitz's husband.
And Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in Tel Aviv with me to begin our coverage tonight.
So, Matthew, could we now be just hours away from a new phase in Israel's war against Hamas?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very possible. It certainly is Israeli officials have made clear they're not backing away from that next phase, that second phase. But precisely what it's going to look like is less certain. Certainly, we know that multiple sources have told CNN that the United States is trying to persuade Israel, that it may be more efficient or effective, in terms of their objective to destroy Hamas, to use air strikes and special forces raids, in order to achieve those objectives.
Not necessarily a full scale ground invasion.
The other advantage of that strategy would be that it may create more space, more opportunity for these hostage negotiations that have been underway for the past couple of weeks, really, to yield more results. Already, four Israeli hostages have been released from Gaza, four out of more than 220. And so, you know, that is worth bearing in mind.
But, you know, today, one of those hostages, an incredible old woman, spoke to journalists here in Tel Aviv about her experience. Take -- take a listen.
CHANCE (voice-over): This is the extraordinary moment, an 85 year old Israeli grandmother was released by Hamas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's okay, let's go.
CHANCE: In video recorded by the militant group, you can see her shaking the hand of a masked gunman, shalom or peace, she says, as she is lead away.
Back in Israel, Yocheved Lifshitz is speaking about her hostage ordeal.
LIFSHITZ (through translator): I went through. They went on a rampage in our kibbutz, kidnapped me, laid me over a motorcycle on the side, and flew with me through the flowed fields. They stormed our houses, beat people. Some of them, like me, cannot. They didn't distinguish between old and young.
CHANCE: The Hamas attack on her kibbutz of Nir Oz in southern Israel earlier this month left a quarter of its residents killed or kidnapped, including many children, according to Israeli officials.
Yocheved described as she was forcibly driven away with her elderly husband and hit with sticks, on the journey into Gaza. Her daughter, who helped translate her mother's ordeal to reporters, described where her mom and several other Israeli hostages were held, underground in Gaza.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are huge, huge network of tunnels underneath. It looks like a spider web.
CHANCE: The October 7th attacks, many of them recorded by Hamas gunmen themselves, as they rampaged through Israeli communities took an unprecedented toll, leaving at least 1,400 Israelis dead and more than 200, like Yocheved, kidnapped and taken to Gaza.
LIFSHITZ (through translator): The lack of knowledge in the army and Shin Bet harmed us very much. We were warned three weeks ahead of it. They showed us masses reaching the road. They sent fire balloons to burn our fields and the army somehow didn't take it seriously.
CHANCE: A catastrophic lapse in security that left so many Israelis exposed.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, and that criticism of the Israeli security services is widespread in Israel. It is not going anywhere. But what is of more urgent importance is what will Israel do next in the second phase? They said whether or not they would go into Gaza hard in a land invasion, to have a significant impact on what happens to more than 200 hostages that are still inside.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance.
And Daniel Lifshitz is Yocheved's grandson. Of course, Yocheved as you just saw there, is really hostage speaking in Matthew's reporting.
I just want to start first with saying, thank God for you and your family, and I know you're still missing her grandfather, but to have her home. We see just a brief glimpse of the women of zeal and of great grace, and how she treated even her captors.
But you shared some photos that you've taken of the hospital of you and her together just over this past 24 hours. How is she doing?
DANIEL LIFSHITZ, GRANDMOTHER RELEASED BY HAMAS: So, firstly, I saw her yesterday when arriving and my feelings were very mixed because the last time I saw my grandmother, she was a powerful, full of life woman and seeing her like that on the first day in the hospital was from one side, I was really happy and I was feeling like thanks, God, she is home. And from the other side, I saw a woman that had been abused, that is suffering so much, suffered, lost, missing, or she doesn't know and we don't know of her husband in the last 60 years and their house --
BURNETT: She hasn't seen him since they were abducted from the kibbutz? She has not seen him?
LIFSHITZ: The last time she saw him was on the 7th of October, after they had been taken violently out of the house, so they were in the secure room and if you would see the door of the secure room is full of bullets, so my grandfather was holding the door and he got shot in the hand, and when they went out, they took both of them. They took her on the motorbike and they grabbed him outside on the floor, like that, and the last time she saw him, she was on the motorbike held with her legs and her hands, everything was all together, just on the side of the bicycle, and she looked at him, and she saw him the last time on the ground, wounded on the stand by the gate of the kibbutz, which I can't imagine a worse scene than that.
BURNETT: She has spoken, I know, and tried to share what she saw, what she experienced. She said she was with about 25 other people and that in spite of the horror and the abuse that she took, that they were prepared, the captors were prepared for these hostages, mattresses, shampoo, she said, that they were prepared for mass hostages. What else has she told you?
LIFSHITZ: So, what else she told us is that the road there was horrible. She got beaten, she felt like her ribs were broken and when she arrived into Gaza, they moved her into a truck and took her to someplace with another hostages and from their, they just walked them for a very long walk through the tunnels, went down --
BURNETT: A long walk underground? Yeah.
LIFSHITZ: A long walk in a very humid place with some mud and they took them, then there they separated them for some rooms.
BURNETT: So, and in those rooms, there was, did you talk about her interactions with them? I mean, it sounds like she did say there were paramedics, there were things like that that they were prepared for the hostages. Does she -- was she able to tell you more about what every day was like in dealing with that?
LIFSHITZ: So, the story, you know, as I see the story, they were fully prepared, they prepared this place for the hostages, which means they prepared a place for people to make them survive. They give them whatever they needed to survive. They were murdering them outside, butchering them, slaughtering them, cutting heads, but those, they succeeded to capture and kidnap, they were ready to make everything for them to survive as they are the cards to -- for what they want to achieve.
I want to ask you about that image, though, and when she was left, the transfer happened and she reaches back and she takes the hand of one of the Hamas gunman.
Do you find that moment striking and what does it say to the world about your grandmother?
LIFSHITZ: So, first of all, it says about her that she is, of course, a woman of peace, a woman of saying, you know, a goodbye gesture for someone who took her and put her away from the horror she has been at, and saying, you know, me, I saw it as well as shalom and goodbye, and a wish to never have something like that again, and wish for those who stay there to be taken care and survive, and that the governments of the worlds and the leaders, and everyone will do everything to bring those hostages back and send a message for the home of those people who are here, the families of those hostages, to tell them, you know, you still have your possibility to have your family member back.
BURNETT: Daniel, thank you very much for coming into speaking with us, of course, after 2:00 in the morning here in Tel Aviv.
And I'm joined now by Rob D'Amico. He's a former FBI agent, he has 20 years of hostage negotiating experience, talking about what Daniel was talking about, how to bring the rest of these hostages home, now that we know so many of them are underground and the spider web of tunnels. [19:15:00]
Rob, mud -- you know, you heard what Daniel was describing from his grandmother. She was held at one point in a room with she said about six others, minimal food. Daniel was describing it to me. He was saying it felt him like Holocaust food. She's in barely enough bread.
She didn't move locations, though, but leaving the tunnel by walk was very difficult. So, what does this say to you about the remaining hostages?
ROB D'AMICO, FORMER FBI AGENT, WORKED ON INTERNATIONAL HOSTAGE CASES: Well, one, Hamas knows that there were, that they have to keep them alive. They will they were taken for a reason and all they have to -- in order for their playbook to happen. In the tunnels is one of the worst places they can be for Israeli troops, should they ever have to go in and try to rescue them. It is so complex to get surprised, the fact that she said that each hostage at one guard.
Unfortunately, it tells me that that guard is there in case of a hostage rescue to kill the hostage. Normally, you try to minimize the number of guards you have for a group of hostages, you know? Two guards guarding a room of 5 to 10 hostages, but having one on top of the other just tells me that they were preparing for the worst, that if a rescue attempt comes in there, that they're going to eliminate the hostages.
BURNETT: Oh, interesting. So, you read into that they are prepared for -- I'm just going to say this bluntly, Israeli special forces to try to come in those tunnels? And that you perceive it as they would be willing to get into a firefight, to die and to kill the hostages, if such a thing were to occur. Is that -- is that what you are getting at?
D'AMICO: I think it's twofold. I think one, they want Israel to negotiate. So, they want to show them that this would be the hardest rescue operation. One, there are 200, so locating them all, and then having them down in the tunnel where you can't come through walls, you can't do a surprise, then also saying that their guards are 1 to 1 with the hostages.
I think it is both word out to the Israelis, you need to negotiate for them, you're not going to be able to rescue them. And I think if it does happen, that they are willing to die and kill their hostages over a rescue attempt.
BURNETT: Sober thought, right, Rob? Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time.
As CNN investigation revealing how Hamas planned its deadliest assault, we are learning a lot more about this breaking new details. How they manage to do it in plain sight. These new details are crucial. Landline phones planted deep underground, how that actually mattered for surveillance. Astonishing new details broken by our Pam Brown next. Plus, Israel now dropping leaflets in Gaza, promising a reward for
information on the 200 plus hostages remaining. I'm going to speak to an American father whose son is in Gaza, a captive tonight. And then living in fear, we are going to check in again with Mahmoud Shalabi, who is in northern Gaza, and his witnessing, he is living Israel's air assault firsthand. One explosion, just coming 500 feet from his home.
BURNETT: And we're back tonight with our breaking news live in Tel Aviv.
A new CNN investigation this hour shows the Hamas fighters likely use hard-line telephones and underground tunnels to avoid detection while planning their deadly attack. Sources telling CNN that a small group of Hamas operatives avoided using cell phones and computers, and only met in person. That's how they managed to keep their planning a secret from -- well, what's known as the world's top two intelligence agencies.
Pamela Brown broke a story and she is OUTFRONT.
So, Pamela, you have incredible sourcing on this. Your reporting shows why Israel may be part of why Israel was caught so unprepared for what became the deadliest terrorist attack in the country's history. So, what more are you learning tonight?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Right, it is important to emphasize that no matter how you look at it, this was a massive intelligence failure by Israel, but sources are helping to fill out the picture a little bit more about why. How Hamas was able to pull this off. The sources are telling CNN that a small group of Hamas operatives used hardwired phones in the tunnels beneath Gaza to communicate over a period of two years planning this attack. That's according to intelligence shared with U.S. officials speaking to me and my colleagues, Zack Cohen.
So, those old-fashioned land lines allowed Hamas leaders to communicate with one another in secret underground. They avoided using computers or cell phones, in order to keep from being tracked by Israeli or U.S. intelligence according, to the sources. So instead, Erin, they held meetings in person, among a very small group. They stayed off all digital communication. I mean, they relied on old- school technology.
So, this partially explains why Israel, the U.S., were so caught off guard by the attack and how 1,000, more than 1,000 Hamas fighters were able to pour across the border without being stopped, shown here, as we've been showing from the propaganda video released by Hamas.
So all of this communication happened in the miles of the underground tunnel system that you've been talking so much about, Erin, that is beneath Gaza, that the IDF nicknamed the Gaza metro. And another way Hamas was able to keep this under the radar is that
they kept the planning of the October 7th attack a secret, even from other members. So, only a very small group knew about the mission until just before it was carried out, Erin. And that Hamas ground unit commanders and fighters were in training for many months, and they were kept in the state of general purpose, but only found out about the specific plans a few days before the terrorist attack, Erin.
BURNETT: Which is fascinating because I know we've seen those specific plans and they are dated a year ago, right? But it's interesting that they would've been given to them, the man actually on the front lines, not far before. All the detail, one of the things to your point, Pamela, it now makes so much sense. It had a list of phone numbers and it looks like extensions. You know?
BURNETT: Like, office phone numbers, you know? Not actual extensions, which fits with what you're saying. And it's just actually incredible to connect all of these dots. I know that officials noticed that the Hamas training, of course, what's happening above ground, right? It was happening over many months and I know you've been reporting on, you know, that they had built sort of fake kibbutz to practice on.
What are you learning about that and how that was not observed?
BROWN: Right and so, that was one of the big questions, right? I mean, why would that have reads more of a red flag? What wasn't there more preparedness?
And what sources have told me is that some of the training above ground, it was observed.
But it didn't ring major alarm bells and that's because the thinking, I'm told by sources, was, oh, well, Hamas always trains people like this. This is routine. It did not look any different and there's a parallel drawn to the Israeli failure in the 1973 Yom Kippur War when they mistook troop movements from Egypt and Syria with exercises. It appears, based on what we're learning, Erin, that something similar could've happened here.
BURNETT: It's absolutely incredible, but such important new reporting. I mean, really does connect so many dots.
All right. Pamela Brown, thank you very much with all of that breaking news.
And it comes as the IDF tonight is intensified its efforts to track the civilians being held hostage by Hamas. They are now dropping leaflets in Gaza. We are going to show you one of them here, urging Palestinians to contact them with information about the hostages, promising a financial reward, along with, quote, maximum effort in providing security for you and your home. We should note, obviously, the vast majority of the hostages, we
understand, were taken by Hamas and controlled by Hamas, but that there were other people from Gaza who went into the kibbutz and took advantage of the situation, maybe took hostages with the intent of there being a financial gain from it. So, perhaps this is aimed at that very well as anyone who may know information about Hamas.
Joining me now is Israeli American, Jonathan Dekel-Chen. His son, Sagui, who has dual citizenship as well, is being held captive by Hamas tonight. Taken, of course, during this horrific black Saturday.
Jonathan, I know your ex-wife was also taken by Hamas, incredibly though, managed to escape, a small miracle amidst all of this. But your child for both of, your child, your son among the hostages. Do you -- do you think anyone inside Gaza is going to see this pamphlet? Does this give you any hope that someone might then cooperate and share information that could help bring your son and others home?
JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN TAKEN HOSTAGE: Well, it's hard to know, Erin. It seems to me, sitting on the other side of the border, that Israel should and is supplying every means necessary to get our loved ones home. But I do have doubts that, you know, in the context of a terrorist police state that anyone with inside of Gaza would be ready to risk their lives, vis-a-vis Hamas itself, to share that kind of information. But you know, there's always hope that some sliver of information might come out of it shortly.
BURNETT: I know Sagui son has two young children and he and his wife are expecting their third, a moment that hopefully they will be together for with great joy. Four of the hostages have been released. Two of them, from your kibbutz and I know you know them well.
I mean, does this give you hope?
DEKEL-CHEN: Well, I would say this. Certainly, for all four of the hostages who released and particularly the two women who were released yesterday. I am thrilled for the families. In fact, Daniel Lifshitz, who you had on a few moments ago, grew up with Sagui. He and one other of the hostages, another hostage being held from Nir Oz were kind of three musketeers growing up on the kibbutz.
So, I'm absolutely thrilled for them. There's no question.
But clearly, what is going on here, and I think your reporting is showing this, that releases up to now are part of a plan. They are part of a plan of psychological manipulation. It's very cynical. It's probably pretty effective.
You know, from the stockpiles of medications that they have put together, I would imagine from U.N. donations, to tend to these people, keep them alive underground, 70-year-olds, the 80 year olds. They probably have formula for the infants that is stockpiled, that they kidnapped from my kibbutz.
BURNETT: I bet. DEKEL-CHEN: So, it's encouraging in one sense, but I don't think it's indicative of any desire in Hamas to move this forward with additional releases of hostages.
BURNETT: It's amazing -- it's amazing your ability to see the strategy, to see it, to be pragmatic about it. I can only imagine amidst all the emotion you feel.
I know that your ex-wife was also taken captive, which so they actually took her, she was in an electric car headed Gaza, an IDF helicopter shot at the terrorists and driver and killed them. I mean, it's an absolute miracle for her. She survived, she got away.
She told us -- she told us this, Jonathan. Quote, I walk to my house terrified that terrorists would shoot me in the back. I was determined to find my children. It was my war of survival to reach my children and grandchildren. The kibbutz is completely destroyed.
Is there anything more that you want to share with us about what happened? And how she's doing tonight?
DEKEL-CHEN: Well, she's recovering. She was -- she has multiple strap no wounds. And you know, this was a story of immense determination. Her eyewitness account, she was taken not alone on that electric car, but with another ten or so women and children from the kibbutz who don't know what their fate is. Only she was able to escape.
I think, you know, our mutual children and grandchildren are incredibly grateful that she was somehow able to crawl her way back about a mile and a half, surrounded, essentially, by Hamas terrorists who were looting the kibbutz, everything from jewelry to our largest tractor, and picking up straggler captives as they went along.
So, her account and her seeing the kibbutz utterly destroyed, this kind of Garden of Eden botanical garden that they had created in the middle of the desert is now a smoking hulk. It's an experience that very few people, I think, could survive and say anything about.
BURNETT: No, it certainly -- certainly speaks about her fortitude and her strength, and miraculous.
Jonathan, thank you very much.
DEKEL-CHEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Gershon Baskin. He negotiated with Hamas for the 2011 release of IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by the terrorist group for five years. Deshaun is an expert on Hamas and has been speaking with Hamas leadership since the October 7th attack.
So, Gershon, let me begin there because there are very few people in this world who can say that they are doing what you are doing. You are speaking to Hamas daily.
What are you able to share with me about what you're learning about the hostages or anything else, from those conversations?
GERSHON BASKIN, NEGOTIATED 2011 HAMAS-ISRAEL HOSTAGE CRISIS: Let me give you a snapshot of reality of where we are right now and this is an amazing view of the reality that exists in an impossible negotiating situation. It reminds me so vividly of the difficult negotiations that took place during the five years and four months that Gilad Shalit was in captivity. There is a possible deal on the table facilitated by the Qataris and Egyptians for a release of all the civilian hostages in exchange for an Israeli cessation of bombing of Gaza.
But the behavior of the parties involved is reminiscent of a kindergarten classroom, of who should take the first step and who should make the proposal? It's a complex issue that needs to be resolved, but we are talking about saving human lives here. But it is so complex in getting either the Israelis or the Palestinian Hamas here to indicate that they are willing to make an agreement on this, than to get the international players to provide the guarantees that are necessary.
BURNETT: And, Gershon, though, it seemed extremely significant to emphasize you're having conversations with Hamas. So, despite what you described as a kindergarten-like atmosphere in the conversations, is it hugely significant to you that they would be willing to even discuss such a mass release of civilian hostages in exchange for a temporary cease-fire?
BASKIN: They are desperate right now. They have been bombed now for two weeks. Most of the Hamas leadership is underground and they are protected by the civilian population that's suffering greatly and despite the image that many people have, including most Israelis that Hamas doesn't care about their people, they do. And they see the suffering.
Not only that, I would say that we have an endangering situation of regional destabilization. A continuation of the civilian catastrophe in Gaza is igniting the streets of Jordan and Egypt and the West Bank. We can't afford to have the destabilization of those countries.
This war is easily going to expand beyond the borders of Gaza. We need a timeout. A timeout is essential, even if it's temporary.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Gershon, I so much appreciate your time that you would take the time to share and I hope that all hear your message. Thank you very much.
And a new dispatch from CNN's producer, Ibrahim Dahman. Tonight, he shares really, really hard images of what he and his family are witnessing as they desperately try to get out of Gaza. We're going to show them to you.
Plus, the breaking news, Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows cooperates.
According to ABC News, is now providing damning testimony about the 2020 election, in exchange for immunity. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: U.S. intelligence officials saying tonight that the deadly blast at the hospital in Gaza are believed to have killed hundreds was caused by a rocket launched by a Palestinian militant group that broke apart in midair. That warhead then fell on the hospital, confirmed this definitively.
It comes as we receive more dispatches tonight from inside Gaza from Ibrahim Dahman, our journalist on the ground in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. He had moved from northern Gaza when the Israeli defense forces told people to leave and he is witnessing unspeakable tragedy.
He shared with us some images tonight and I want to warn you, and I want to give you some time to decide if you want to see them or not, because what he saw today, what he saw, with his own eyes, it is horrible. It is horrible. But this is what is happening there.
He saw a man carrying a dead child. And the man behind him is saying, quote, she is innocent. And there is someone they're yelling, they do not want the face of that child to be blurred.
You see the smoke plume in the aftermath of a strike. This is what life and death are now like in Gaza, as Ibrahim has been showing you every single night. And as hard as it is to watch that on a screen, imagine for him seeing that with his own eyes.
You remember how he documented his journey out of northern Gaza with his wife, Rasha, and their two young boys? There boys are 7 and 11, and you see them there. And, he's showed you almost some of the incredible difficulties they had faced, drinking water meant for toilets, on the list of horrible things they have endured, and we are going to continue to bring you updates from Ibrahim as the war rages on.
We discussed extensively whether to show that picture of the child. We chose to do so. The family wanted it, because Ibrahim shared it. So ultimately, we believed it was right to show it to you.
Joining me now, Mahmoud Shalabi. He is at his home in northern Gaza, where he's lived for more than 25 years.
You may remember, we spoke with him last week. He's a senior program manager for an organization that provides medical care, for Palestinians in Gaza.
And, Mahmoud, I am glad we speak again. You are still okay. I do know the IDF says it hit more than 400 targets in Gaza in just one day, this past day, and there were explosions, you say, about 500 feet from your home last night.
You are living this. Can you please tell us all what it is like right now?
MAHMOUD SHALABI, SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER, MEDICAL AID FOR PALESTINIANS: Thank you for having me again, Erin. It is really horrific, to be honest with you. With every bomb that falls on my vicinity and my neighborhood, I am asking myself whether my home is going to be the next one to be part of it.
One hundred and fifty meters away from where I live, a house was bombarded yesterday at 7:30 and we started running in the rest.
It was foggy, however, it wasn't actually the weather, it was cement. It was gunpowder. And, you know, small dust part (INAUDIBLE) that we were breathing. We just wanted to make sure that none of our neighbors were hurt during this bombardment.
Just before I open this call with you, another -- another air strike happened, not far away from where I live.
BURNETT: I know you are at home right now, using your precious power, because you want the road to hear what you have to say. You are with your wife and your three young children there, in the darkness tonight. And, I know you talk about your three kids, and use said that they asked the explosions are coming for them next.
Mahmoud, I guess it is a hard question to answer but, how are your children doing?
SHALABI: They are, children. So, the best thing that you can do is just make them forget, momentarily, whatever is happening around them. And, the best thing to do with your children's, for me as a father, and for their mother, not to panic, which is really difficult, and really hard to maintain, amid the bombardment sounds that we are hearing and living.
I have seen children shaking, in fear, after they have been taken out from the debris from their homes. So, I have seen other children panicking, because their moms and dads are -- because what I'm trying to do is maintain my calm as much as I can. And, I pray that my children would come out safe, out of this, but it all falls on my shoulders, and this is a heavy burden to maintain, to be honest with you, Erin.
BURNETT: Mahmoud, it is an unbearable burden. And yet, you are carrying it. You are carrying it for them, miraculously. I understand, we have seen pictures of that small number of aid trucks that have been allowed into the south, in Gaza, through Rafah. Has any of that got into where you are?
SHALABI: So, first of all, it is a miracle that this small amount of trucks has been allowed, during these times. However, what I should state to your viewers is that, 20 to 17 trucks is nothing, in comparison to the 300 to 500 trucks that used to enter Gaza daily.
(INAUDIBLE) would have declared tonight, but if they don't receive fuel, for example, then they would shut down all of their operations, because fuel wasn't part of the trucks that were ever allowed. So, you can imagine if no fuel enters Gaza tomorrow, it would be a catastrophe for all parts of Gaza. But specifically, for us in the north, as we don't even perceive basic food commodities that have been allowed, in whatever have been allowed into Gaza.
BURNETT: Mahmoud, thank you very much for taking the time and using that incredibly scarce power to share this with us. Thank you.
SHALABI: Thank you Erin. Thank you so much.
BURNETT: And next, a mother, her only child was killed by Hamas, at that festival. And, she has a plea tonight, for all of us, as she remembers her son.
Plus, breaking news of Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, striking a deal with federal prosecutors, in exchange for damning testimony. This is according to ABC News breaking this hour.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: Tonight, a mother's plea for peace. Michal Halev lost her son in the Hamas attack, her only child. She last saw him, his name was Laor, inside a bomb shelter, after fleeing from the Nova Music Festival. For days, she believed that her 20-year-old son had survived, but had been kidnapped. For days, they held on to that hope.
But then the tragic news, came that Laor had been killed by Hamas terrorists. But here is the most amazing thing that is incredible loss that Hal faces, she has a very specific message for all of us, and it is a message of peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAL HALEV, SON KILLED IN HAMAS ATTACK: We had a visit of two soldiers, and two social workers, at his father's house. We were -- I was with his father and family. The two sisters opened the door, and they started crying and screaming, we and we all ran, and immediately understood. And then they told us, they had no information about what, we just -- they said that it's certain.
BURNETT: And you still don't know, even now?
HALEV: No, I -- I still wake up in the middle of the night a few times, in a horror and terror, and, we don't know what happened to my son. I am speaking very calmly now, but my -- I am shattered. And my soul is shattered, and my heart is broken, and there is no way to fix it.
BURNETT: His name?
HALEV: His name -- BURNETT: Laor is -- how do you say?
HALEV: Laor --
HALEV: -- which means to the light.
BURNETT: You have described him as a gentle giant.
HALEV: Can you tell me just a little bit more about him?
BURNETT: I meant how he was, he was the light when he came into your life and --
HALEV: Yeah. Yeah, when -- when he was born, I felt like I received a precious diamond into my hands, that I -- all I need to do is take care of him and his well-being, and protect him and keep him safe from the world.
And I keep getting stories now from that specific party, people, survivors wrote to his father, and to me, saying initially, when the whole mess began, he was one of the first to tell people what to do, to show people a way, to give a glass of water to the scared girls that were with him.
And, yes, he was, he is. I can't talk, about my only son as someone in the past. He is a gentle, loving, beautiful human being.
BURNETT: That's an incredible gift, table to be that kind of person.
HALEV: Yeah. And so, it's not only that I lost the light and love of my life, but the world lost an amazing human being. And I really -- I really have a message, actually, for the world, if I can say something, if it's okay.
BURNETT: Yes, please.
HALEV: I want to send out a message to the world, we need to raise lovers, we need to raise children on love. Because my son, he -- he was not a fighter, he was raised on love. And, the people who attacked him, and all of the others in this horrible, massacre, heartless massacre, they were not raised on love.
And, there are also Palestinian mothers, who raise their children on love. But they are held hostage is over there, in Gaza, by the Hamas.
BURNETT: And you are talking with such compassion. Where do you find that? Do -- do you have the rage? Or have you been able to, to deal with that?
HALEV: I don't know about rage. I am, my heart is broken, and I feel like rage leads to more violence. And, I can't bear any more violence in this world.
BURNETT: Every mother with a child knows that it is the greatest gift that any of us will ever have, wherever you're from. I mean, we know that. But yet, for you to see that, that there are grieving mothers on the other side of the line.
HALEV: There is no difference. The Palestinian mother of a child and I, are the same, we are the same. She's -- a mother is a mother.
BURNETT: A mother is a mother.
And Michal told me one thing that she learned about Laor after he died.
She found out that he had a girlfriend. And she has met his girlfriend.
And what she said to me, as -- as any parent, it is something to consider. She said, it meant so much to know the great gift it was to know that her son had fallen in love, that he did not die before he knew what it was like to love another person.
And that was something, surely I'll never forget.
And we'll be right back.
BURNETT: And our other breaking news this hour, ABC News reporting that the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was granted immunity by the special counsel Jack Smith to testify before the grand jury about Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Meadows reportedly telling investigators that Trump was, quote, dishonest, when he claimed he won the election.
ABC says Meadows has met with investigators multiple times, and it comes as Trump's former campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis, began to cry as she pled guilty in the election subversion case, in Fulton County. Emotionally, saying she now has deep remorse, her murder words over representing Trump.
And in New York, Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified in his civil fraud case, the first time in five years that Cohen and Trump were in the same room together.
Evan Perez joins me now, and what has been a day full of breaking developments here.
Evan, what else are we learning about Meadows making a deal with the special counsel, possibly?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this is a deal that would be extremely important to the prosecution, with this trial that is expected to get started in March, of next year. Now, we know that Meadows, of course, was in the room, was with the former president during all of those, times when he was pushing his claims of voter fraud, after the 2020 election.
And we also know that certainly, we've reported that Meadows did testify to the grand jury, in Jackson's investigation back -- we reported that back in June. What ABC is reporting now is that he has met with the special counsel, at least three times, and has provided testimony, including to the grand jury.
And, some of that testimony is damning to the former president, saying that he was dishonest when he claimed, right after the election, that he had one. And also, that he told the former president that -- that there was no evidence, to support his claims of fraud. Of course, Erin, we know that if indeed this is true, that Mark Meadows wasn't the only one who was telling Donald Trump, that he did not have proof for those fraud crimes. That's something that he was hearing from everyone inside of his White House, Erin.
BURNETT: And, Evan, of course, Meadows is one of the 18 codefendants for Trump in that Fulton County case as well where Jenna Ellis today became the fourth person, the fourth person of a code from to plead guilty, and agreed to cooperate. And she did show, obviously incredibly emotionally.
Could we see Meadows, make a similar deal, now that you are seeing this happen again, and again, and again?
PEREZ: Well, it certainly raises a lot of pressure on Meadows and in other, some of the other defendants. We know, of course, Erin, at this point, Meadows is still contesting that indictment. He is still challenging that indictment, in the appeals court -- in the federal appeals court there in the 11th circuit.
So, it is possible that at some point between now and whenever that case gets to trial, that Mark Meadows will have some kind of a -- some kind of terms with the D.A. in Georgia.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan Perez.
And thanks very much to all of you for being with us tonight.
"AC360" starts now.