Return to Transcripts main page
Isa Soares Tonight
Egypt: Three Hundred And Sixty One Foreign Nationals Cross Into Egypt From Gaza; Qatar Brokered Deal Between Israel, Hamas And Egypt In Coordination With U.S.; Israeli Military Is "At The Gates Of Gaza City"; Egypt Receiving Injured Palestinians "One By One"; Empty Beds In Jerusalem Represent Hostages; Russian Strikes Kill At Least Five This Week. Aired 2- 3p ET
Aired November 01, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello and a warm welcome to our continuing coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. I'm Isa Soares in London.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Becky Anderson in Doha in Qatar. And we begin at the Rafah Border Crossing this hour where a limited
number of foreign nationals and severely-injured Palestinians have left Gaza and entered Egypt. It is the first sanctioned movement of civilians
out of the Gaza Strip since Israel's war with Hamas began in early October.
Their departure is the result of a deal mediated by Qatar, involving Israel, Hamas, Egypt in coordination with the United States. To be clear,
this agreement is separate from any hostage negotiation and Egyptian government official tells CNN that 381 foreign passport holders have
entered Egypt through Gaza.
SOARES: We have also seen ambulances, as you can see in your air there, transporting the injured through the crossing. Dozens are already
undergoing treatment in Egyptian hospitals. We know Italian as well as French citizens are among those who have been able to leave Gaza, and we
learned just a short time ago from the State Department that Americans are now leaving too.
And as Becky said, Qatar mediated the deal to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza. And I want to ask -- bring Becky back in, and get your take on
this, because Qatar here, Becky, as you said has been instrumental in all of this. Talk us through this small diplomatic breakthrough.
ANDERSON: Yes, I mean, and this is hard-earned success, and what are extremely difficult talks for the Qatari negotiators working of course with
Israel, Hamas and Egypt on this file in coordination with the United States. Here is what we know, upwards of 500 foreign passport holders were
cleared for evacuation out of Gaza in what is being turned the sort of first 24-hour phase of this operation.
That include citizens of Jordan and a small number of other countries. Earlier in the day, as we understood it from the sources, including those
in the states, today wasn't to include American citizens or dual nationals with American passports. Those who are expected to follow in what is the
next phase on Thursday and beyond.
As we understand it though, some Americans may actually get through that border tonight. When we talk about the Americans, of course, we're talking
about some 400 foreign nationals with families upwards of a 1,000 people. The U.S. officials that we've been speaking to have suggested that as many
as 5,000 foreign nationals now in a position, hopefully, pre-approved to start moving through that border crossing over the next few days.
Isa, also today, the evacuation as you rightly pointed out into Egypt of dozens of critically-injured civilians. These are people in need of
surgical intervention to save their lives. Those services of course, clearly not -- no longer available in Gaza. And so, those Palestinian
civilians have also moved through one-by-one today into ambulances, and then onto hospitals in Egypt.
This deal on foreign and dual nationals, and on these Palestinians who are critically injured is separate to the hostage negotiations, which while
still ongoing, according to diplomatic sources familiar with those talks that I have spoken to, have been made a lot more difficult since Israel
announced the second phase of its war on the ground, of course, and in the air.
Going in today, going into Gaza through that Rafah Crossing, the first U.N. envoy to make it into Gaza since October the 7th. This is what Phillippe
Lazzarini; the head of the U.N. Refugee Agency in Palestine, UNRWA, had to say about what was an extremely short trip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIPPE LAZZARINI, COMMISSIONER-GENERAL, UNRWA: I first went to the school, an overcrowded school, a school which has also been indirectly hit
when 80 people have been recently injured, and one person have been killed. And I was struck by the fact that everyone there was asking for food, was
asking for water. Really, I saw almost every child trying to express the way that they need to eat, they need to have water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: A couple of hours on the ground, but incredibly important for the head of UNRWA to have got some visibility about what is going on, on the
ground. There was a cut in communications again, around the Jabalya Refugee Camp today. So it's been incredibly important to get information. And let's
remember, upwards of 70 UNRWA staff members have been killed since this war began.
The agency at present providing shelter for over 600,000 people, 120,000 people are registered for the agency's health in the Jabalya Camp.
Lazzarini Monday addressing members of the U.N. Security Council, calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The Israelis have categorically
ruled out a ceasefire, a humanitarian pause is being discussed at the Security Council, no indication yet, that, that is a possibility, that,
that is something they would get a majority vote on.
Well, we are expecting to see more foreign nationals make their way out of the Rafah Crossing in the coming days. The U.S. State Department has just
confirmed that some U.S. citizens were indeed able to leave Gaza today. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MILLER, SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT, UNITED STATES: As a result of these efforts and initial group of foreign nationals including U.S.
citizens, departed Gaza through Rafah today. And we expect exits of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to continue over the next several days. We
want to make sure we can get U.S. citizens and their family members out as safely as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand joining us from Washington with more details. This was unexpected, I have to say. Most sources that we've been speaking
to were pretty sure that the U.S. citizens would be -- would be making that evacuation in the second phase. So news tonight from the U.S. that some
U.S. citizens have got through. What do you know?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Becky, and we are getting new information on just who among those U.S. citizens have been
able to depart Gaza and get into Egypt. We are told that one of them is 71- year-old Dr. Ramona Komora(ph), and she is -- she was a pediatric orthopedist who had been making orthopedics for Palestinian children when
the war between Israel and Hamas broke out.
And she, according to her brother who spoke to CNN crossed the Rafah Crossing early this morning around 4:00 a.m. local time. So that is
expected to be very welcome news, obviously, not only for her family, but also for the U.S. government. They are hoping that all of the kind of 400-
plus Americans as well as their family members who want to leave are going to be able to in the coming days.
And so far, they are optimistic. According to our sources, they believe that this process has been going fairly smoothly today, and they expect it
to continue. But look, all of this could be complicated by the strikes that we saw on the Palestinian refugee camp. The deal that was struck, we are
told was struck before that strike happened, and they're of course, where very delicate negotiations going on between all of these third-party
countries as well with the U.S. and Qatar to try to get these people out, particularly those who were wounded.
We saw the Palestinians who were wounded were able to leave Gaza this morning. But all of this, you know, it is very sensitive, it is very
delicate, and it could fall apart very easily. However, again, we are told that U.S. officials are confident at this point that Americans are going to
be able to leave. They began leaving today. They're expected to continue being able to depart in the coming days in different tranches.
And so, obviously, the U.S. watching this very closely to make sure nothing goes wrong here. One question that we have asked the IDF is whether they
have seized their bombing of the area around the Rafah Crossing, ceased hostilities there to allow this to move forward. It does seem at this point
like that is the case, however, they have not officially confirmed that on the record, Becky.
ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand is in Washington. Speaking to the evacuation of U.S. citizens, let me just give you a sense of what we understand to be the
situation at present.
Those who have been pre-approved and made it through that border from Austria, from Australia, United Kingdom, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and
Japan. More as Natasha suggested to come. U.S. officials suggesting that as many as 500 foreign nationals, dual citizens including U.S. dual citizens,
they are hoping will be able to make it through in the days to come. Isa, this isn't an easy -- none of this is easy.
SOARES: Yes --
ANDERSON: This is not an easy process. Just getting through that border is tough. It's not -- it's not like you just open the gate and walk through.
You've got to get through from the Gaza side. You've got to get inside that sort of border crossing, and then you've got to get out on the Egypt side.
The whole process takes a period of time, and clearly, there's an awful lot of concern on the Egyptian side during these negotiations about who exactly
was coming through.
Talk that Hamas were demanding that some of their injured would be released through, can't stand that up as of yet. But clearly, it's those sort of
conversations that have been going on behind the scenes, making these talks so delicate. And as I said, you know, it's important to remember that these
are a different track than the hostage talks, which I've been told --
SOARES: Indeed --
ANDERSON: Are ongoing. But things are tough.
SOARES: Becky, really appreciate the context, all your sourcing as well has been crucial to our news gathering. We'll touch base with you in about 20
minutes or so. Becky Anderson there for us in Doha. Well, the wait for people to get out has been -- as Becky has been saying, excruciating for
family members overseas.
Three weeks ago, I spoke to Mo El-Deeb, he is -- he told -- his British- Palestinian parents, you're seeing there on your screen, were visiting Gaza when the war broke out, and they've been stuck ever since. Mo is back with
me tonight with the latest on his family's ordeal. Mo, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us.
The last time you and I spoke, I think was about two weeks or so ago, I remember you were telling me that your parents had moved from the north,
moved to south, has been recommended, and they were making the journey to the Rafah Border Crossing, almost daily, I think you said, to try and get
some sort of signs if they could get out, they weren't able to, because that was close. What are you hearing now? What are they telling you?
MO EL-DEEB, PARENTS STUCK IN GAZA: So the situation is still the same. They went to the border again today, to no avail. They were stuck at the border
for five hours until they gave up and went back home. It's about half an hour drive essentially through what is a war zone. So it's complete, you
know, guesswork at this point.
SOARES: Are they going almost every day, I mean, what information, what communication are you getting from the foreign office here about, you know,
the possibility for them to get out? Because you heard as our Becky Anderson was saying, there have been many foreign nationals who have been
able to get out. I think was one from the U.K.
EL-DEEB: Sure, so the information we get from the foreign office is never concrete. It's more so, you know, go, your own risk, and it's -- we're in
discussions, but there's never been a clear directive as to make a way to the border, your name is on the list. The advice has been the same since
the beginning. It's we're in talks, and once we have the green light from the Egyptians, then we'll let you know when to go.
In the beginning, it was a lot more vague --
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: But I think now in the last couple of days, it's -- you know, as of today anyway, there was a list which was released with 500 names, none
of which were U.K., apart from one or two NGOs.
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: The rest, yes, so they went on that list. So --
SOARES: So, what are you advising your parents? Are you telling them every day to make this journey? Because like you said, it's not an easy journey
EL-DEEB: So, it's -- I think I'm restraining from doing that a lot more now because of the risks involved. The first two times they went, the border
was bombed. So, I'm very careful and very cautious now as to kind of what information I give them on checking the different groups to see how
credible the information is --
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: From the foreign office. So I've stopped taking direct advice from the foreign office, and I'm just checking the Rafah Border groups and
making sure that it's come directly from the Egyptians.
SOARES: How are your parents doing?
EL-DEEB: It's undescribable, right. They are in what is essentially a slaughter house, right? They are trapped. They don't have food. They've run
out of medicine. My mom hasn't left where she had been sheltering for 15 days. My dad, the last thing he told me is I've seen everything, I've seen
He's waking up every day and pulling people out of rubble. It's -- I can't describe it. I mean, the things I'm hearing from their side, it just -- I
can't sleep, I can't function from right here. I'm pretty sure it's had a massive impact --
SOARES: Sure --
EL-DEEB: On their -- on their -- on their psychological state.
SOARES: Where are they sleeping Mo? Where are they staying?
EL-DEEB: They're sheltering in a center with a family who have been kind enough to take them in.
SOARES: And I'm guessing there have been lots of other families together. In terms of water, food, are they getting all of -- all the essentials?
EL-DEEB: It's very scarce. So, the last thing I heard was that majority of people sheltering there are fasting --
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: Which means just another word for there's no food.
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: The water is very scarce. It's very -- I mean, it's very hard to get water. They're charging their phones and from car batteries. They're
lining up, if there's -- I mean, for a bakery, they line up a couple of hours a day to get food. So it's -- you know, it's basic necessities, they
just don't have them.
SOARES: And your mom, I remember last time you and I spoke, you told me your mom -- I think it was your mom had had a stroke. How are they doing
EL-DEEB: Luckily, it was a minor one --
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: but health-wise, look, they both have health conditions. My dad is diabetic, my mom suffers from stroke, her blood thing is around and his
insulin is finished. So my biggest fear at the time, and it still is, is whether we lose them from a health condition or, you know, from a bombing
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: Whatever it might be. It's just -- there are too many factors at this point. And the fact that they're besieged and can't leave --
SOARES: Yes --
EL-DEEB: Increases the risk of the ultimate goal, the ultimate.
SOARES: And you must be incredibly frustrated being here and not being able to get them out. Are you frustrated by the lack of communication or the
poor communication you've been getting from the foreign office?
EL-DEEB: Absolutely. I, in one word, I feel powerless, right? I've done everything I can, I've done interviews, I've created -- I put out awareness
as to what's going on. But there's nothing concrete. There's nothing which makes me feel like they aren't getting out. It's -- you know, hundreds of
empty promises. I feel like, you know, I feel like I've -- I feel like having a British passport meant something.
That, you know, they had a duty of care at least to protect their citizens. I haven't seen that yet. And you know, I feel like I've essentially lost my
identity in that sense.
SOARES: Mo, I appreciate you taking time to speak to us, and do keep us posted on how they're doing, and hopefully, they can get out as we've been
hearing. It seems that there's a push to try and get dual nationals, foreign nationals out. We'll be hoping that they get out soon. Thank you
very much, Mo.
EL-DEEB: Thank you.
SOARES: Well a massive blast at the Jabalya Refugee Camp in Gaza for the second day in a row. It is unclear how many people are affected, but the
IDF have just confirmed it's the result of an airstrike. They say they were targeting Hamas command complex, we brought you that story yesterday. The
civil defense in Hamas-run Gaza say many people were killed, and that quote, "large numbers are trapped in the rubble".
An Israeli strike hit the same densely populated area on Tuesday, leaving this huge crater. One witness says it felt like the end of the world. A
doctor at the scene told CNN hundreds were killed and wounded. Israel is defending Tuesday's strikes, saying it killed Hamas Commander named Ibrahim
Biari. The IDF says he is one of the people responsible for the attacks on -- the attacks on October the 7th on Israel, which left of course, more
than 1,400 people dead and hundreds taken hostage. Salma Abdelaziz has this report, but we must warn you, it does contain very graphic video.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dust and debris filled the air after an Israeli airstrike. "Ambulance", calls the man carrying a
child. These are the moments after the Israelis military's attack on the Jabalya Camp in Gaza. Everyone is disoriented and terrified. And this is
the result. Several city blocks leveled in an instant.
The scene is apocalyptic. Survivors desperately dig for their loved ones with bare hands. Israel says it was targeting a Hamas commander hiding in
this densely-populated residential area. An IDF spokesperson called the death of innocent civilians a tragedy of war. That tragedy, tearing apart
this community, no one yet knows how many still lie under the ruins.
Shortly after the bombs fell, comms in the enclave were mostly severed. But one Palestinian cameraman was among those able to post on social media. The
anguish is heart-wrenching. The victims small and afraid. Moms and dads would bury their children. "All three of my children are dead", this father
screams. "All three!" Entire families are wiped out. This man holds up the names of 15 relatives killed in the airstrike.
"My whole family, innocent people are dead", he says. Total destruction. Our whole building is gone, 20 stories! This is a massacre.
At a nearby hospital, the carnage is on display. The bodies keep piling up. With her dead children at her feet, his mother prays for strength. Many in
this forsaken enclave feel they have no one, but God left. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
SOARES: Heartbreaking images there. And still to come tonight, Israeli ground forces moving deep into Gaza. Are they on the verge of urban warfare
on the streets of Gaza city? We'll speak with a military analyst after this very short break. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. A commander for the Israel Defense Forces says the Israeli military is at the gates of Gaza city. It's part of
Israel's ongoing ground operation that began, if you remember, last week, moving tanks, bulldozers, infantry men and combat engineers into Gaza. The
number of Israeli military vehicles inside the perimeter is increasing.
And it appears Israeli forces have entered Gaza from three main locations, so you can see there on your screen, including one area about 3 miles from
the center of Gaza city. Well, you look on your map, they're both from the north, the east and the west of the north and then also from the south.
That is according to CNN teams on the ground and video and photos released by official sources.
Well, joining us now is Major General Rupert Jones; a retired senior British Army Officer. He was a deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition
to defeat ISIS In Iraq and Syria. Major General, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us this evening. Let me pick up with that
strike that we have seen on Jabalya Refugee Camp.
The IDF has been defending the strikes, saying that the Hamas commander it was targeting made the strike in their words, a clear military necessity as
well as a legitimate target. What are your thoughts on Israel's decision to drop a bomb on that camp, sir?
RUPERT JONES, RETIRED BRITISH ARMY OFFICER: Well, these are about find judgments, ultimately. And it would appear that the Israelis assess that it
was a legitimate military target, there was a senior commander there, there were Hamas fighters there. But what you always have to do in making the
decisions about these strikes, where there is a big risk of civilian casualties, is make judgments around proportionality.
And you need a strong intelligence basis, you need to take legal advice before you decide to strike. So these aren't -- these aren't binary
decisions. They're fine judgments that have to be taken. And of course, all we can go on is what we are seeing, hearing from the Israeli Defense Forces
and seeing from locals and media on the ground.
SOARES: And as we've been reporting, the Israeli military has two key objectives, main objectives here to dismantle Hamas and to bring home the
240 hostages held by the terror group. You were the deputy commander, as we said, of the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS In Iraq. Just talk to the
challenges here for Israel. Are Israel's objectives being achieved so far, or can it even achieve both of those goals here?
JONES: Well, I mean, they're very ambitious goals. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks about eliminating Hamas. I suspect that his military
commanders would have interpreted that and to meet what I think is realistic, is to try and write down Hamas to such a degree that they're no
longer an effective fighting force, and they can't launch the sort of awful attack they managed to do on the 7th of October.
What we're seeing at the moment is very much the early days. They've secured, as you were just saying, a foothold inside the Gaza Strip. They
appear to be isolating Gaza city, that makes imminent military sense. What they haven't done yet is broken into the city. They're in the fringed, they
are in villages, they're in the surrounding area, but they have not yet broken in to the really difficult city area.
SOARES: Yes, so let's talk about that, if we can, Major General, because as we said, they're at the gates of Gaza city, and that's when they go in --
and now, things you were hinting at here. That's when we're likely to see the fiercest urban warfare. How bloody will this get, and how long do you
think this could take in your experience?
JONES: I mean, the sad reality is fighting in cities is the hardest form of warfare. The Israeli Defense Forces announced that yesterday --
SOARES: Major General, apologies to you, I have to interrupt. The IDF is speaking now, let's listen in.
DANIEL HAGARI, SPOKESPERSON, IDF (through translator): Global intelligence sources, we are uncovering these things. This is our task. We know it's a
big challenge to come, but we will answer it for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Do you know who was on the ambulances towards Rafah and whether Hamas people were on it?
HAGARI: We check everybody who comes and goes. We are managing it in full cooperation with Egypt. I think it's a blessed thing of Egypt to allow sick
people to go and get a treatment in hospitals, and this is -- will maybe allow us in the future to treat people from those hospitals where there are
terror infrastructure to the hospitals in Egypt.
And we will check what is going out, what is going in, and we will continue to do so. Thank you and have a good evening.
SOARES: So we only caught the end of that IDF press conference, but he was asked about the ambulances that were leaving, going in and coming out of
Gaza city. And he said that they've been checking at those that are going in and going out. That comes, of course, as we've seen ambulances going in,
bringing out Palestinian that have been affected and severely injured in some of these strikes that need to be seen -- need to be operated from the
Egyptian side as well as we have seen 300 or so who have left.
To dual nationals, foreign nationals who are left in the last -- in the last day or so. I want to return to my conversation with the Major General
we were just having. Major General, apologies for interrupting there. You and I were talking about the challenges I believe when the IDF gets into
They said that the gates of Gaza city -- talk to us about these challenges, about the urban warfare, how long and bloody this may be.
JONES: Yes, so the sad reality is fighting in cities is incredibly difficult. It's the hardest form of warfare. The Israelis lost 15 soldiers
yesterday alone, and that's outing their kind of the fringes. Once they break into the city, urban warfare, it's -- everything is magnified. The
time it takes -- Mosul took nine months to liberate. The amount of troops you need, the amount of casualties.
The amount of firepower that is used. Everything goes up. And that is just incredibly difficult. And so for the Israeli fighters, they will find as
they go into the city, it's very difficult to maneuver.
They've got their armored vehicles but as they down the streets, there is rubble everywhere. There are craters. It is hard for them to move. It is
hard for them to bring their advanced technology to bear.
It has been very hard for them to identify Hamas in this case.
And when they identify them, can they distinguish them from civilians who are either there on the battlefield or are being used as shields?
So everything becomes very, very difficult. And what happens is that you get drawn to an attritional form of warfare, to protect casualties. And the
risk is they will use more and more firepower. So we should expect it to get very, very difficult. And it will take a significant period of time.
SOARES: Following that strike that we saw on the Jabalya refugee camp, we have started to see condemnation from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other
countries. We have heard, in the last 24 hours from Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, who had this warning. I want to play it and get your
reaction. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we have not seen
since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago.
Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists, individuals or small groups, will draw inspiration from the
events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Major General, how concerned should we be about Hamas serving as inspiration to jihadists around the world?
JONES: I think that we should certainly be concerned about that. And I think that it really plays to how this is handled, not just by the Israeli
government, the Israeli Defense Forces, but how it is handled by all governments around the world.
And I think that it's vital that we all encourage the Israelis to operate within the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law and I'm
not for a moment suggesting that they are not.
But it is vital that they are held to the highest standards, that there is as much transparency as possible. And so in the ISIS fight, we worked
collaboratively behind the scenes with the International Committee of the Red Cross to explain what we are doing, to show our processes.
I think they also need to start to really show the progress that they are making. So we're hearing that we've killed this commander, we killed that
But in overall terms, what is the progress that they are making?
We're staring at maps and that tells us something. But I think that is going to be important to buy them some time.
SOARES: Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, we really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Thank you very much, sir.
JONES: Thank. You
SOARES: We are going to take a short break and we will be back after this.
SOARES: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. I'm Isa Soares in London.
Our Becky Anderson in Doha, Qatar.
ANDERSON: And our top story this hour, a limited number of Palestinians and foreign nationals are being allowed to cross into Egypt from Gaza. They
must go through the Rafah border crossing.
This is the first sanctioned movement of civilians out of Gaza since Hamas attacked Israel on October the 7th. There are also ambulances, transporting
injured Palestinians through the crossing. Many now undergoing treatment in multiple Egyptian hospitals.
This comes after Egypt, Hamas and Israel struck a deal in coordination with the United States. Sources familiar with these negotiations say up to 500
foreign nationals could be allowed out, although U.S. officials say ultimately the number could be in the thousands.
SOARES: And for the last 37 minutes or so, Qatar mediated the deal for these limited evacuations from Gaza. I want to bring Becky in.
Because it is important to note, Becky, that this deal does not include the 240 hostages.
What are your sources telling you about the negotiations?
And I know how delicate this is.
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Look, let's be quite clear. Qatar is uniquely placed to play a big diplomatic role here. It is a strong U.S. ally, home
to a major U.S. military base. They also host Hamas' political leadership, which is in agreement with the U.S., welcomed the Mossad head this week and
the Iranian foreign minister.
So very good but delicate position here in hosting these talks, certainly leading these mediation talks. The evacuations that we are seeing today is
sort of well earned success in what are really difficult negotiations.
The other negotiations, as you rightly point out, are for these hostages. We're talking some 230-plus hostages still being held in Gaza by Hamas and
other groups and indeed possibly civilians holding these hostages as well.
So those talks are ongoing. We were told here, three or four days ago, that those negotiations are tough and they're made even tougher since the
Israelis started the second phase of this war, which was the ground incursion last Friday.
Mediators here have told me that they need a period of calm in order to get these talks over the line.
What we know about the talks?
We know that the Israelis want the names of all of those who have been held, frankly Hamas, as we understand, do not have all of those and so that
is tough. There was always a demand from Hamas for a cease-fire.
ANDERSON: The Israelis have categorically ruled that out. So talks still of a humanitarian pause. That going on behind the scenes, I can tell you at
the U.N. Security Council at this point. And so that is a sticking point.
Also a sticking point about what may come through that Rafah border crossing as far as aid and fuel is concerned. Certainly at one point the
demand was from Hamas for fuel and fuel for northern Gaza.
The other key point here is a prisoner exchange.
What do we understand?
Well, at this point we are told here by the prime minister's advisor that the priority at this point is women and children being held in Gaza in
exchange possibly for women and teenagers being held in Palestinian -- in Israeli jails.
So a lot of parameters, Isa, and it's difficult to understand exactly where these talks are. Diplomatic sources telling me that these talks are
ongoing. Nothing concrete as of yet when it comes to the hostages. But we have had the evacuations.
So as I said, some light on what is a very dark period at this point. Let me get you to Melissa Bell, who is in Cairo. And she has been across
everything that has been going on at that Rafah border crossing today.
What do we know definitively at this point, Melissa?
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we've just been hearing, Becky, in the last few moments, that the first Americans have made
their way out of Gaza into Egypt.
One physician has had her family confirmed that she is amongst those to leave Gaza. But we have heard from the State Department. The first American
citizens have come out.
We heard earlier on the 361 foreigners, dual nationals, with British, French, Italian, Saudi, Jordanian nationals that had made it through the
Rafah crossing into that very difficult and long process of getting their identity papers checked and then (INAUDIBLE) 63 making their way to Cairo.
Others still going through the processing.
And as for those who had not made it yet, remember that there are 491 scheduled to come out today. What we are hearing from officials involved in
that evacuation process is that some of them may simply not have made it to the Rafah gate in time or may have refused to leave, as the rest of their
family members were not on the list.
So it gives you an idea I think of how complicated this process is going to be over the coming days. We've been hearing from American officials that
they believe that there may be up to 7,000 foreign or dual national citizens inside of Gaza.
What we understand as a result of the very complex negotiations you were speaking about, Becky, is that this is a comprehensive deal when it comes
to the foreign dual nationals. All of them are to be allowed out in the coming days.
I think is important to note that, even as we watch these foreigners come through the gate, the other important part of this is that it's the first
Palestinians being allowed to leave Gaza since brutal siege on the enclave was announced by Israel more than three weeks ago now; 81 of the most
severely wounded were penciled to come out today.
We have seen the ambulances going out back and forth and taking them out. These are the very first Palestinians and we understand that there will be
more to follow, Becky.
ANDERSON: These are critically injured, as I understand it, needing immediate surgical intervention, which is not something that they're able
to get in Gaza given what is going on. And these are surgical interventions effectively to save their lives.
And so those evacuated, some of those 81 evacuated through the border as well. Good to have you, Melissa, thank you very much indeed.
You are, Isa, bang up to date with what we understand on the preapproved evacuations, more to come in the coming days of foreign nationals and these
Palestinians who are severely injured and the separate file, we have to be very clear about that.
The separate file that is the hostage file, those negotiations as I understand it still ongoing by the very tough. Back to you.
SOARES: Becky Anderson for us in Doha. Thank you very much.
We are going to take a short break and we will be back after this.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Let's focus now on the desperate efforts to free Israeli hostages held in Gaza. Their rescue a major priority for
Israeli ground troops as they push deeper into Hamas-controlled enclaves.
While a very small number of people have been freed since the October 7th attack, the majority remain captive, possibly hidden in a maze of tunnels
in Gaza. The IDF say there are up to 240 hostages.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing immense pressure to get the captives home. Earlier today, in Jerusalem, a stark display. You are
looking at dozens of empty beds and cribs lining the streets around the city hall.
A reminder of all the people taken by Hamas on that horrific day, October the 7th.
Ofri Bibas Levy's brother, her sister in law and their two sons, one of which is just 9 months old, were taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October the
7th. It is believed they are now being held hostage in Gaza. She joins me now from Golan Heights in Israel.
Ofri, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us this evening. We have seen on the show, we have been reporting here to our viewers,
foreign nationals being able to leave Gaza; unfortunately, no hostages.
We have though seen four hostages being released in the last few weeks, as you would've seen. Four out of 240, important to point out.
Seeing the release, does that give you hope?
Or does this cause you more pain?
OFRI BIBAS LEVY, HAMAS HOSTAGE'S SISTER: I am happy for them. I am happy for the families. But for me, personally, it does cause a lot of pain. It
is hard to see their release. It is part of the Hamas game, their propaganda. It is not part of any kind of negotiation or a massive move to
get everyone out.
Frankly, just hearing what is going on during this, almost a month since my family was taken, Israel bringing humanitarian aid inside Israel, is now
letting people out. And we still don't know anything about our families.
I don't know where they are. I don't know if the baby is getting his formula. I do not know if Ariel (ph) is getting enough food. He's 4 years
old, was having problems gaining weight. He doesn't have reserve in his body. He could get to a malnutrition state really quick.
I don't know if my brother, who was kidnapped, whether he was hurt. He was bleeding from his head. And they hit him with a hammer. I don't know if he
was taken care of. But still, Israel is expected to do all of this humanitarian steps toward the civilians there.
And my family, they are also civilians. They are babies and children and people who are hurt. And we don't know anything about them. For almost a
month now we don't know anything about them. We don't know if they're alive or dead, if they're being fed, if they are being tortured or where they
are. So --
SOARES: I want to bring up a photo, if I can, of your family because one of you, your brother, his wife, I think is 32. And they're beautiful boys,
your nephews; Ariel (ph) 4 and Kafir (ph) is nine months. I think he is the youngest, correct me if I'm wrong, of all the hostages that have been
Like you said they have been gone almost a month.
What worries you?
What goes through your mind?
You were talking about formula, talking about your nephew, the 4-year-old, perhaps losing weight.
What keeps you up at night right now?
LEVY: Just trying to imagine what they are going through.
Do they know that the family is here, doing everything we can to bring them back?
Are they scared?
They are probably underground somewhere, hearing all the bombings and the fighting going on outside. I don't know if they know it is the Israeli
army. Maybe they think it is -- I'm just thinking all the time that they must be really, really, scared.
Hoping that Ariel (ph), the baby, has not witnessed too many horrible things that children should not witness. I'm thinking about Ariel (ph) when
I see my own daughter who is 4 years old and I see her playing in the afternoon or in the House in the morning, going to sleep in a bed.
I'm thinking about him, where is he sleeping?
What has he been doing for the last month?
Is he being held in some dark room underground?
I am thinking about my brother, which is hurt, and probably separated from them. He doesn't know what is going on with them. For sure, he doesn't know
what's going on with him. Just impossible thoughts.
SOARES: Yes, I can't imagine the thoughts going through your head, the scenarios playing out in your head, how tough that must be. I wonder
whether you have met with prime minister Netanyahu.
What assurances has he given you?
What are you hearing from him regarding the push the fight to get your loved ones back home?
LEVY: Personally, I have not met with him. Other family members did. He promised that bringing them back is a first priority, he swore. Obviously,
they cannot say exactly what they are doing to bring them back.
But I have to put my trust in them and believe that it is a priority for them, that they are doing everything they can to bring them as soon as
possible back. Every day, there is more damage to their mental and physical health.
I just hope that they are doing whatever they can. They're saying part of the reason the IDF went inside is to bring them back. So as much as we are
afraid of them getting caught in the middle of the fighting, I hope it will help them to bring them back.
SOARES: We are praying for their safe return, Ofri. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us.
We'll be back, after this.
SOARES: We are going to bring you up to speed.
SOARES: A few other international headlines we are following this hour. Russian attacks in Ukraine killed at least five people on Tuesday and
Wednesday, in the Donetsk region. One man was killed when shrapnel hit his house. Over the past 24 hours, Russian troops carried out nearly 100
attacks in Kherson.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Republican lawmakers appear divided over tying Ukrainian aid to aid for Israel. Still covering that story for you.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is holding rates steady. The second meeting in a row. Interest rates will stay at the current range between 5.25 percent and
5.5 percent. That is the highest they've been in more than two decades.
Chairman Jerome Powell just left a press conference to explain the central bank decision. Economists expect that inflation in the broader economy with
it will slow down in the months ahead. Another rate hike could still be on the table. That is, of course, what everyone will want to see and hear.
His words, what he says matters. It gives us a signal of how they will move in the months ahead.
That does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, Zain Asher will be back after a short break. She will have
much more on the Israel-Hamas war, including the 361 people who entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing. I will see you tomorrow. Goodbye.