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Red Cross Says 24 Hostages Have Been Released; First Hostages Released as Israel-Hamas Truce Begins; Those Released Includes 13 Israelis, 10 Thai Citizens and 1 Filipino Citizen; IDF: Released Hostages Back in Israel, Heading to Hospitals to be Returned With Their Families; IDF: Released Hostages Now in Israel. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired November 24, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right, the breaking news at this hour, 24 hostages has been released by Hamas terrorists. 13 Israelis, 10 Thai citizens, and one Filipino citizen. They were moved from inside Gaza over the Rafah crossing into Egypt. A short time ago, we got our first look at some of these hostages. We have video. It includes pictures you're looking at right there, of a little girl in a yellow shirt, one of the 13 Israeli hostages released.
We have other video to show you as well, different vantage points, where you can see some of the people including, again, that girl who was released and then a number of people boarding a bus from a facility -- a holding facility inside Rafa. A number of these people now on a bus on the move, presumably back into Israel.
This is the first part of this pause in fighting agreed to by Israel by Hamas to allow for the release of some 50 hostages over the next several days in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners and a pause in the fighting.
And breaking just moments ago, the identity of two of the Israeli hostages that have been released their names Margalit Mozes who was either 77 or 78. She may have had a birthday in captivity and Adina Moshe, 72-years-old, so to women 72 and 77 or 78. Among those who have been released, we are following the movements of these hostages as they experienced freedom for the first time in 48 days. Let's get to Kaitlan Collins who was in Tel Aviv with the very latest, Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, John. We've just gotten a statement from the IDF confirming that the hostages are back in Israel. They say that they are with IDF Special Forces an international Israel Security Agency Special Forces.
They say that they underwent an initial medical assessment inside Israeli territory and that they will continue to be accompanied by those IDF soldiers as they make their way to Israeli hospitals to be reunited with their families. And for more on the status of those hostages, I want to bring in Eylon Levy a Spokesperson for the Israeli Government. Thank you for joining me sir. Can you confirm all 13 of the Israeli hostages are now back in Israel?
EYLON LEVY, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: The first part of hostages thank God has been released for Hamas's held dungeons are in the hands of Israeli Special Forces. They've received preliminary medical attention and they're now on route to hospitals where they will be reunited with their families or rather should I say what's left of their families.
Many of them of course, their families were murdered on October 7th; some are being separated from relatives male relatives were still stuck inside the Gaza Strip. Definitely a fantastic first step incredibly moving for Israeli society, but let's remember that still leaves 215 hostages inside the Gaza Strip.
And none of us here are free until all of them are free. We are committed to that pledge there will be no one left behind.
COLLINS: You've said that they have gone -- they're gone this initial medical assessment, what have you gleaned from the condition of some of these hostages? How are they doing?
LEVY: We're not speaking publicly about their medical situation. This is a sensitive and ongoing situation. But let's remember these people, these women and these children were brutally abducted on October 7th, by the terrorists who burned, beheaded, mutilated, tortured, and raped these people's relatives and neighbors in those Kibbutzim in Southern Israel.
And since then, they have been held in the dark, and their families have been kept in the dark, though we're not given any access to the Red Cross, we have no information about their condition, no information about who was alive and who might be dead.
So it's important that they get that medical attention. We will of course, be looking for signs of how they may have been abused by Hamas, while they were in captivity, and hope to begin a process of rehabilitation.
You know, there are little children. We don't know. They saw sunlight in the last 50 days. Were they fed properly if they come out malnourished? You know, I don't want to speculate about how awfully they may have been treated. But we're all very anxious to make sure that they are safe and begin a long process of physical and psychological rehabilitation.
Let's remember, while many of them have lost family who were murdered on October 7th, and they still have family in the Gaza Strip as hostages of Hamas.
COLLINS: Were they able to call their families yet? I know that was going to be something that Israel was trying to have happen early on as soon as they were with these Israeli Special Forces. Do you know if that's happened yet?
LEVY: I understand the initial plan was that they would be given mobile phones and allowed to contact their families, but they're being transported now to central Israel by soldiers who have been given special sensitivity training to make sure that they can deal with these children who are completely traumatized.
You know, our soldiers have been told not just to pick up the children to ask them, is it OK, if I touch you? Is it OK if I hold you? Is it OK if I carry you because they have been into the bowels of hell, and back in the last 50 days, and hopefully, hopefully, we'll be able to get them the care they need and give them the first hugs of whole and safe family inside Israel?
And then we can work to get everyone else up and make sure there is no one left behind or bring back everyone men, the women, the elderly, the young soldiers and civilians.
COLLINS: We've been watching these videos, and we've seen what we believe are these hostages. We saw a young girl. We sought two elderly women. Do you have an idea of the age range of these hostages that are the first to be released today?
LEVY: We've seen the victim's families have put out a list. We haven't officially confirmed that but on that list is a little girl as young as two who the victim's families the same were released together with her four year old sister and mother and elderly people, women in their mid-80s, who are suffering with very serious medical conditions and abducted into the Gaza Strip without their medication.
The hostages Hamas has been holding are some of the most vulnerable people in Israeli society who have been held in the most inhumane conditions for nearly 50 days now. And we're hoping and praying for their health. And we hope that they're going to be able to recover having been through an inhumane trauma that nobody, nobody should ever have to appeal.
COLLINS: So just to confirm, because there was a question of whether or not that was the little girl's mother? You say you believe it was a mother, a two year old and a four year old from one family that is part of this group of 13?
LEVY: The State of Israel has not yet published a definitive list of the hostages who have been released. But I've seen that the hostages' families have already begun to speak and identify them and let's just wait a little bit longer until we can get official confirmation on them.
COLLINS: What was the Prime Minister's reaction the Wartime Cabinet's reaction to seeing this deal that they signed off on actually come to fruition today based on largely held, we believe it officials had expected it to go.
LEVY: Look, the deal was not easy. It's never easy to release prisoners from jails who have been convicted of violent offenses. And the prisoners we are going to be releasing from Israeli jails. Many of them have been convicted of attempted murder of stabbing people of shooting people. It's never easy to do that.
But it's a price that we're paying, because we will not abandon our children in the hands of the pedophile rapists of Hamas. Of course, we're happy to have those children home. We understand that this is only the first stage because as we get those 13 Israelis and 12 foreign nationals out of the Gaza Strip that still leaves 215 people inside the Gaza Strip. Their hell, their nightmare continues.
And we're determined to bring everyone back and proceed with caution and continue to apply pressure on Hamas. It was Israel's military pressure that brought Hamas to release those little children. It didn't suddenly wake up in the morning and realize it was evil to hold a two year old child in captivity.
It was Israeli military pressure. And we're going to continue putting that pressure on Hamas until we bring everyone back, make sure there is no one left behind.
COLLINS: Does the way today went give Israeli officials hope that that the rest of this process the rest of the other release of these other 37 hostages will go smoothly?
LEVY: We would definitely like to see the process of releasing those hostages from captivity continue. We're still in very early stages of what is happening today. But we are cautiously optimistic. The plan at the moment is to get the first 50 hostages out over the space of four days women and children in exchange for a four day hostage release pause.
At that point the offer is that for every 10 additional hostages Hamas releases, we will offer another one day pause in the fighting. Eventually we will return. This war has to end with the end of Hamas. We will not leave in power, the terror organization the sick monsters that abducted these children in the first place.
But we are hopeful that we can get as many hostages out as possible. And we've put in place the list of Palestinian prisoners to be released as part of that deal to get as many as 100 out in the next few days.
COLLINS: Eylon Levy, a Spokesperson for the Israeli Government, thank you for joining us so quickly with this breaking news.
LEVY: Thank you. That's perfect good news. Thank you.
COLLINS: And John -- absolutely. And John, of course, this is major news here, an Israeli official confirming that yes, all 13 of these hostages, the first to be released as a part of this broker deal with Hamas are now back in Israeli territory.
They are on the way to hospitals where they will be -- they're accompanied by Israeli military officials. But that Israeli will be reunited with their families. And of course, just a pivotal moment in this day to see this through as we knew they had been released by Hamas in Gaza. They were transferred to the Red Cross. They went to Egypt. And now we do have the Israeli government confirming it. They are all back here in Israel, John.
BERMAN: Back in Israel, the process very much continues. Kaitlan as you said, moving from Gaza, over the Rafah crossing into Egypt. This was some of the first video we saw of that moment as the hostages experiencing freedom right there. You can see that little girl in the yellow shirt among the hostages released.
We have the identity now of a couple more of the hostages not provided by the Israeli government, as you just heard there from Kaitlan but these are confirmed by the families themselves. Emilia Aloni, six years old and her mother Daniel Aloni, who was 45.
We have now confirmed that they had been released to go along with the Adina Moshe and Margalit Mozes, I will say I spoke to Adina Moshe's granddaughter Tuesday night, so a couple days ago. And Adina Moshe's granddaughter, they had no idea whether the grandmother would be among those released or not.
They had just received word of the deal that was brokered. She was hopeful, but said they would not believe anything until they saw it. Now they've seen it. Now they have their grandmother out. Again, these were the pictures moments ago at the Rafah border crossing as they moved out of Gaza into Egypt.
All the hostages we are now told are back in Israel itself. Let's get to Jeremy Diamond actually right now. I can go back, I can show you actually right here where Jeremy is at the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Jeremy what are you seeing right now?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. We are seeing multiple vehicles with flashing lights headed from the direction of the Kerem Shalom crossing point. This road that you're seeing leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing point, pass our position in the direction of that Air Force Base, where Matthew has been and where we understand that these hostages will be taken.
They are no longer hostages, of course now that they are firmly on Israeli territory. And we are seeing multiple vehicles heading in the direction past near where these helicopters are near our position. We don't know yet whether or not anybody will be brought into the helicopters?
Our understanding is that if somebody needs urgent medical attention, then they would be Medivac via helicopter. We don't know whether that is the case. That is why it appears that these helicopters are on standby and we are seeing them now at least the first two vehicles with flashing lights just went past the turn off where they would need to turn in order to get to these helicopters.
Several more vehicles are following behind. They are dipping behind the wall here. One of the helicopters is actually beginning to take off already. You can see that. I think you can see in our shot the helicopter is taking off. [12:15:00]
And several of those vehicles just went past along that road. I don't -- I can't see from my position, what types of vehicles they are. But clearly this was a significant movement of vehicles away from the Kerem Shalom crossing with flashing lights moving in the direction that they would go if indeed, that was the convoy with those recently freed hostages inside.
BERMAN: It would make a lot of sense, Jeremy, that that's what you're seeing as we see that helicopter departing whether it has any of the freed hostages on board or not? We can't be sure. But Jeremy Diamond seeing a convoy of vehicles pass him by. And I can show people on the map where he is in where they might be headed.
This is the Rafah crossing, where he believe the hostages cross from Gaza into Egypt. This is Karim Shalom, where Jeremy is right here not far from Rafah. And this is where we believe they are headed to the Hatzerim Airbase right there.
Jeremy, again, you saw a lot of activity right there with that convoy passing by and the helicopters as well. And you had told us the helicopter was standing by as a Medivac. Just in case they had taken an enormous level of precaution here, yes?
DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. And we did not see those vehicles stop near the helicopter. So you know all indications are that nobody boarded that helicopter, but instead, it appears to have taken off right at the same time as that convoy passed by.
And we know that there was a possibility as well of some of these helicopters, escorting this convoy effectively to this base from the air, just to provide an added degree of protection for these people who 13 women and children who have endured so much over these last nearly 50 days.
Hard to imagine what they may have endured inside Gaza while they were in Hamas captivity, but now at least they are firmly on Israeli soil. We saw a convoy of vehicles leaving from the Kerem Shalom Checkpoint, where we believe that they may have arrived and where they may have crossed into Israel. And shortly we will see whether or not they arrive indeed, at that airbase.
BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond standing by for us at the Kerem Shalom Airbase with a convoy of hostages that could very well be on the move to the Hatzerim Airbase from there, the hostages we're told will be taken to the hostages.
Now freed hostages will be taken to hospitals around Israel, including a children's hospital in Tel Aviv. That is where our Clarissa Ward, our Senior International Correspondent has been standing by for hours. Now, Clarissa give us the latest from where you are.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So John, we are here at the Schneider Children's Medical Center behind me there is a helipad. It's a little bit quieter there now. But we have seen four or five ambulances that were parked up there.
We saw a flurry of activity earlier with a number of medical personnel, paramedics, security personnel as well, some of them on their phones, sort of milling around that area, presumably preparing the area for the potential arrival of these now free hostages.
The people, who are expected to be brought here John, are the children hostages, and children hostages who may be with their mothers as well. So you mentioned that we know now Daniel and Amelia Aloni. Amelia is just six years old with her mother, Daniel, they could well be we don't know, but they could well certainly be brought here.
They obviously were from the near Oz Kibbutz Community (ph) of some 400 people, nearly a quarter of the residents of near Oz were either killed or kidnapped during the October 7th attacks. And we've been talking a lot to hospital staff here John, who have really gone to great lengths to try to ensure that the area in the hospital where these now free hostages will be brought to do not look like a hospital that it feels like a warm and intimate space.
The wording they use was that they want it to feel like a beautiful hotel, that they have lots of toys, and that they have handpicked the most experienced and most relevant staff to work with these children and potentially mothers as well.
They talked about the importance of having the best psychiatrists. There are also social workers who will be paired to each individual family. And now really a heightened sense of excitement obviously still trepidation as well because there is the very real understanding for medical personnel.
And people who work in the hospital, that these children will probably be very different little children to the ones that they were on October 6th, that they have undergone a tremendous trauma. But for those who are not seriously injured, they will be most likely brought here to the Schneider Medical Facility inside there's an area where many journalists have also gathered.
They're expecting to have some kind of press conference or press availability a bit later on once we see those arrivals and that Helipad in the background. Again as I mentioned before, was the focus of significant activity over the last few hours as everybody gets ready for the arrivals John.
BERMAN: Clarissa Ward in Tel Aviv at the Schneider Children's Medical Center right there. We will wait and see if any of those now freed hostages arrives where you are. The Prime Minister's Office just released the name of all 13 freed Israeli hostages. I'm going to read them because I know there are people watching from around the world and these names may very well mean something incredibly important to people who are viewing right now.
Yafa Adar, Ohad Munder, Keren Munder, Ruth Munder, Margalit Mozes, Adina Moshe, you can see them up on the screen right there. Daniel Aloni, Emilia Aloni, who's just six years old, Aviva Asher, Raz Asha, Doron Katz Asher, Hana Katzir and Channa Peri.
Those are the 13 Israeli hostages the names of those hostages who have just been released. This will be an incredible moment for the families who have been standing vigil for them for 48 straight days, but also with the knowledge that some 200 hostages remain inside Gaza. Our live special coverage continues right after this.
COLLINS: We are live here on the ground in Tel Aviv in Israel where we have just gotten confirmation from the Israeli government that all 13 Israeli hostages that were released today by Hamas from Gaza for the first time since October 7th are now safely back in Israel.
They have undergone medical screenings and initial checkup. They are now on their way to Israeli hospitals. They are being accompanied by Israeli Special Forces and it is once they arrive at those Israeli hospitals that they will be reunited with their families.
At least 12 of the 13 hostages who are free today came from Kibbutz near Oz, of course, that was one of the scenes of complete slaughter on that day. A quarter of the residents there were either kidnapped or killed that day and at least 12 of them have now been released. We've gotten confirmation from a spokesperson for the Kibbutz.
Those ages of what we are seeing who we are seeing come across range from 2.5 years old to 80 years old. The 2.5 year old has now been returned along with her sister and also their 34 year old mother also being held hostage. This is huge welcome news for all of these families really for everyone here in Israel as they are watching all of this incredibly closely.
But it is 13 out of the 50 expected in this deal has been brokered between Israel and Hamas. Of course there are still 215 according to the Israeli Government, hostages still being held in Gaza. CNN's Matthew Chance is tracking all of this for us as we are watching these minute by minute developments. Matthew, what are you seeing from the airbase where you are right now?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: While we're waiting at this Hatzerim Airbase in Central Israel, where we're told by the Israeli military, that those 13 Israeli hostages, and the Thai nationals and the Philippine National as well, that have also been released, are expected to be making their first stop inside Israel as they're further processed, given further medical checks, and psychological assessments as well.
And after that process is over. There's also going to be food and drink here. There's going to be showers, available changes of clothes, things like that. After that process is over, we're told that there'll be boarding helicopters at this airbase. The helicopter pad is just a short distance from here. So we'll be able to bring that to you from very close proximity. And they'll be taken away to the various hospitals in Israel, depending on their specific medical needs. But yes, you're right. It's been a long and difficult logistical operation. I haven't heard yet about what the situation is with the Palestinians, who are meant to be released from Israeli jails, after these Israeli hostages were released into Israeli custody.
But we're expecting to have something on that soon. But you know if it does go off, as it seems to be going off, at the moment you know without much of a hitch, then that is a very positive sign. For the rest of the days that have been agreed.
There have been four days of pause of the fighting, plus releases of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners that were agreed in this hostage deal. If this one says if this day goes off without much of a hitch that's very positive for the other days, following in that way as well.
And so incredibly exciting and happy news for many people tonight across Israel, but also happiness tinged with a bittersweet sentiment because there are still so many people of course who remain hostages inside the Gaza.