Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

IDF Says Red Cross Has Received New Group Of Hostages; Israel And Hamas Clash Again In Gaza, Violating Truce; Forty One Workers Rescued From Collapsed Tunnel In India. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 28, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello and welcome, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, we begin this hour with freedom for 12 more hostages who

spent weeks of captivity in Gaza. The IDF just announced that ten Israelis and two foreign nationals are on their way back to Israel after being

handed over to the Red Cross by Hamas.

This will be the fifth straight day of joyful family reunion, not just for Israelis as well, also for Palestinian families. Thirty more Palestinian

prisoners, women and children are expected to be released soon from Israeli jails under, of course, as you know, an extended truce. Earlier today

though, a clash between Israel and Hamas in northern Gaza briefly violated the truce, but didn't derail it.

Israel says it's using the pause to strengthen readiness to resume its war that says it is willing to extend the truce if hostages continue coming

home. Let's get the very latest, our Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Kerem Shalom in Israel. So, Jeremy, Red Cross now saying that the hostages have

been received and they're en route to Israeli territory. Just bring us up to date with the very latest.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. And the Israeli military is also now confirming that and also adding that they are

indeed -- they have crossed into Egypt via that Rafah Crossing where we have seen a number of times over the last several nights. That has been the

first stop once the Red Cross receives them in Gaza, they go to Rafah typically and then they drive that very short drive less than two miles on

Egyptian territory until they make it to the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which is right behind me.

We have seen them come in convoys, several of these nights in convoys this way on their way either to hospitals in Israel or making a first stop at

the Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel. But tonight, it appears that once again, just like last night, it appears that these hostages are likely to

board helicopters directly to hospitals which we saw play out last night.

I can tell you that because what we just saw over us was four helicopters heading in the direction of Kerem Shalom, landing there, and so we expect

that, that is the likely mode of transportation. There's still the possibility, of course, that they could be coming down this road, but I'm

not seeing the same kind of military activity on this road that we have seen when there have been convoys.

This is of course, the first day of that extended truce between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of additional hostages, additional

Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, and also, of course, crucially, that pause in the fighting. But the question is very quickly

going to turn to, what happens after tomorrow?

Because for now, Israel and Hamas have only agreed to a two-day extension of that deal to allow for ten additional hostages each day to be released,

30 additional Palestinian prisoners. Tonight, there were ten Israeli civilian hostages released as well as two foreign nationals who were not

part of that framework.

But there are active meetings at this moment between a top Israeli-American and Qatari officials as well as Egyptian intelligence officials to work out

whether or not this truce can be extended and also, critically, Isa, whether or not they can start to move beyond the question of women and


There are active discussions we're told among those intelligence chiefs about the possibility of expanding this and beginning to allow for deals

that could see men, fighting-age men and soldiers released as part of the next steps of this agreement. But that is a big question and a lot of

things still need to be resolved. That would be a very prickly matter to be resolved over the coming days.

SOARES: Yes, on that point, Jeremy, do we know how many more children and women are still in Gaza, and whether they can be released until that two-

day truce has been extended until Thursday, let's say.

DIAMOND: We know that there are more, I don't have the exact numbers --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: In front of me, but we do know that there are more women and children held in Gaza. But there is that issue, as you well know, of Hamas

not holding all of them. Hamas does not --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: Have all of these hostages. I believe it's somewhere around 40 hostages were believed to be held by other groups inside Gaza. As we found

out yesterday, one of those groups is the Bibas family, that ten-month-old baby, Kfir Bibas who was kidnapped with his -- with his sibling and his


He is believed to be held by another Palestinian militant group in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis. And so that is one of the issues, is the

Hamas' ability to get those hostages back, to locate them in the first place, but to get them back from those other groups and deal with Israel

with those other hostages in hand.


SOARES: Some good news for ten more Israeli families, two foreign nationals being released as well as Jeremy is saying. That transfer has been -- has

been made. Red Cross now -- the 12 now are in the care of the Red Cross. Well, of course, we'll keep our viewers abreast of all the developments.

Jeremy Diamond for us there in Kerem Shalom, appreciate it.

Well, as more Israeli hostages come home, we are learning new details about their terrifying ordeal in the hands of Hamas. CNN has been closely

following the story of Emily Hand, if you remember, a girl who turned nine years old in captivity. This is the moment she was reunited with her

father, who initially thought she was killed in the October 7th attacks.

He told our Clarissa Ward that Emily is slowly coming out of the nightmare that she survived in Gaza. Have a listen to this.


THOMAS HAND, FATHER OF EMILY HAND WHO WAS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: They said she would be here in a couple of minutes, I was like, wow, I can't believe it.

And all of a sudden, the door opened up and she just ran. It was beautiful, just like -- just like I had imagined it. You know, running together. I

squeezed -- I probably squeezed too hard and certainly when she stepped back a little, I could see her face was chiseled like mine, whereas before

she left, it was, you know, chubby, girly, young kid.

Yes, she's lost a lot of body weight and the color, she -- I've never seen her so white. Down there, and most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her

was, she was just whispering. I couldn't hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips like this close and say, what did you say? She goes --


I thought you were kidnapped. And --


HAND: She thought I was in captivity. They thought they'd kidnapped me. She didn't know what the hell happened apart from that morning. So she presumed

everyone was kidnapped or killed or slaughtered or she had no idea.


SOARES: My goodness, and Clarissa joins us now live from Tel Aviv with more. And Clarissa, all of our viewers will remember Thomas Hand so

vividly, and the pain of course he felt when he thought his daughter had been killed by Hamas. This reunion with his little girl, how did -- how did

he describe it? And more importantly, how is she doing?

WARD: I think it's been truly a roller-coaster for Thomas Hand. We've been communicating throughout. As you mentioned, he originally was told that

Emily was dead, then he was told she might be alive and held in Gaza, and right up until that moment that you saw play out where she run into his

arms, he didn't allow himself to dare to dream that she might actually be released.

And now, of course, you have the tremendous joy of this moment, this reunion that seemed impossible, inconceivable, but you also have a broad

sense of the long journey ahead. Emily is visibly haunted by what she has experienced. She is in reasonably good physical condition. She said she

wasn't beaten or hurt in any way, though you saw she was whispering and was afraid for days to speak because she had been told constantly that she had

to be quiet, she had to be quiet.

It's interesting because Thomas said that he had imagined in his mind that she was being held in the tunnels, as many of the hostages have been. The

underground network of tunnels that Hamas has built, but actually, he told us that she was being held in different houses and moved day-in-and--day-

out as the fighting would get closer or the Israeli army would get closer.

And she was quite fortunate, in that she was taken while she was on a sleepover with her best-friend and her best-friend's mother, and her best-

friend's mother became a de facto mother to her too in captivity and gave her love. And her best-friend also became a source of tremendous comfort to

her. Now, obviously, there is a huge amount of work to do going ahead, and she's had to absorb what happened on October 7th.

She found out that Thomas' first wife, who was like a second mother to her because Emily's mother died some years ago, was killed, was murdered on

October 7th. So I think it's a real roller-coaster of emotions as you can imagine, Isa.


SOARES: Yes, it's -- absolutely. And it's so wonderful though to see him, that hug, that greet, that reunion. A video that we have replayed time and

time again, of course, from -- we're showing our viewers now that moment we have been following of course, is his ordeal, as we have followed so many

families. Clarissa, appreciate it, thank you very much.

And a heartbreaking goodbye, meanwhile, in Gaza. A grandfather struggles to cope after losing two of his young grandchildren in an Israeli airstrike.

Our Jomana Karadsheh has the family story. We want to warn you, some of these images are graphic.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Khalid(ph) and Reem(ph) were inseparable. Her grandfather was her whole world. Her

favorite game, pulling his beard, and he would pull her piggy-tails. "I will let go", she says, "if you let go".

Khalid(ph) just can't let go of his little Reem(ph). Now, searching for memories amid the rubble of his home. "This was Reem's(ph) doll", he says.

The family was asleep when an airstrike nearby brought down their house in southern Gaza last week. Khalid(ph) woke up screaming for his children and

grandchildren, struggling to walk in the dark and through the wreckage to find them.

"I couldn't find anybody. They were buried underneath all this rubble", he says. "My daughter Mesa(ph) was here. Her children Reem(ph) and Toda(ph)

were here in her arms." Mesa(ph) and her sister barely survived after a few days in intensive care, they're now recovering at a relative's house.

"I felt something heavy on top of me. I started screaming", Mesa(ph) says. "I heard Reem(ph) screaming next to me. I told her there's something heavy

on top of me. I can't reach you. I said my final prayers and next, I woke up in the hospital." Mesa(ph) woke up to the news her three and five year

old children were gone. Their lifeless bodies found together under the rubble.

"They slept next to each other that night. They slept early", she says. "I told them to stay up a little longer, but they said they wanted to sleep.

At the hospital, I was just numb", she says. "I hugged them. I wanted to get as many hugs as I could. No matter how much I hugged them, I didn't get

enough." Their final days lived in a war they were too young to understand why they no longer could dress up, go out and play or get their favorite


With their father abroad working, they lived with their grandfather, Reem(ph) was so attached to him and he spoiled her. "They kept asking for

fruit, but there's no fruit because of the war", he says. "I could only find them these tangerines." Khalid(ph) holds the tangerine he gave

Reem(ph), the one she didn't get to eat and pinned close to his heart, her tiny earring.

He breaks down as he remembers their final evening, how his grandchildren begged him to take them out to play. But he couldn't, airstrikes were

everywhere. Khalid(ph) says he's not a fighter, they had nothing to do with the war. But like so many in Gaza, his family paid the price. Khalid(ph)

held Reem(ph) in his arms for one last time. He hugged her motionless body, opened her eyes and kissed her goodbye.

"I was asking her to kiss me like she used to, but she didn't", he says. "I used to kiss her on her cheeks, on her nose, and she would giggle. I kissed

her, but she wouldn't wake up", he recalls. "I held Toda(ph), I fixed his hair the way he liked it. I was wishing, hoping they were only sleeping",

he says, "but they weren't sleeping. They're gone."

Gone a month before her fourth birthday, a birthday Reem(ph) shared with her grandfather. "She was the soul of my soul", Khalid(ph) says. Jomana

Karadsheh, CNN, London.


SOARES: And we want to update you now on Gaza's deteriorating humanitarian crisis. The World Health Organization warns that hundreds of thousands of

people living there with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer could die without access to medication and treatment.


W.H.O. said if Gaza's health infrastructure isn't restored soon, more people will die from disease than Israeli bombs. Well, a medical worker who

has been -- who has really seen firsthand the humanitarian situation in Gaza, is Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah.

I've spoken to him many times here on the show, and I spoke with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon about what he witnessed inside hospitals and

operating rooms in Gaza. Here's a bit of our conversation, have a listen to this.


GHASSAN ABU-SITTAH, BRITISH-PALESTINIAN SURGEON WHO WORKED INSIDE SHIFA HOSPITAL: I'd had 30 years of experience in countless wars. And for me, the

description is, they were a flood, and what I went through in this war was like a tsunami. The sense that every day was worse than the day before in

terms of the resources and the way they were dwindling, and the mounting number of wounded.

Colossal by the end, 35,000. And as a parent, just the sheer number of children, 45 percent. There are days when half of my list was children.


SOARES: And tune in tomorrow for the full interview with Dr. Abu-Sittah. And this just in to CNN. The Vatican says Pope Francis won't be going to

the upcoming United Nations Conference on climate change. The pontiff was supposed to attend the COP28 climate meeting that's kicking off on Thursday

that's happening in Dubai.

The Vatican says he had to cancel because of ongoing influenza as well as lung inflammation. Of course, we'll stay on top of that story for you. And

still to come tonight, an inspirational rescue in northern India after dozens of workers were trapped under the Himalayan Mountains. That

fantastic story after this.


SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up-to-date the breaking news we had in the last 18 minutes. Twelve more hostages who spent weeks of

captivity in Gaza, they have been freed. The IDF announcing that ten Israelis and two foreign nationals are back in Israeli territory after

being handed over to the care of the Red Cross by Hamas.

We heard from our Jeremy Diamond earlier, he was in Kerem Shalom, he said he saw four helicopters landing there. This is where the freed hostages are

expected to rendezvous with the Israeli military. From there, in previous - - in previous transfers, what we've seen is hostages then flown from Kerem Shalom to hospitals depending of course, on their -- on how they're doing

on the health.

But breaking news this hour, 12 hostages on their way, now in Israeli territory and will be handed over to the IDF. So more good news for 12

families. We'll stay on top of this of course, as the news develops.


Now, to India. All 41 workers who had been trapped in a collapsed tunnel in northern India have now been safely rescued. The operation to get them out

took 17 days, mainly because it required rescue workers to drill into the mountain to make an escape route partially by hand. Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi hailed the operation as an inspiration.

And tributes are being paid to former U.S. first lady Rosalynn Carter. Her casket was taken by motorcade from the Carter Center in Atlanta, that's a

short-while ago to Glenn Memorial Church. U.S. President Joe Biden along with first lady Jill Biden are among the dignitaries who flew in for the

tribute. Former President Jimmy Carter who is 99 and currently in hospice care is also -- as you can see there in attendance.

Private funeral services will be held on Wednesday. And still to come on the show tonight, once on the verge of extinction, South Africa's baboon

population is now booming, but it's causing complications with their human neighbors. We'll look at how they're learning to co-exist. That story after



SOARES: Well, just two decades ago, there was fear that the baboon population in South Africa's Cape Peninsula was headed for extinction.

Urban sprawl had taken over the land and people were free to shoot at them. That's no longer the case. In fact, the baboon population is now booming as

CNN's David McKenzie explains, that's brought about new issues around people and baboons learning to live together.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are right whether we -- on top of the road.

MCKENZIE: Takes a bit of luck and a lot of effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Depends on where they're --

MCKENZIE (on camera): So we're looking to meet up with the team that is trying to block the baboons from crossing into the area where the houses

are, but it's a big challenge.

JENNI TRETHOWAN, FOUNDER, BABOON MATTERS: There they are. There they are right in front --

MCKENZIE: There it is, that's a female, right?

TRETHOWAN: Yes, so the team is moving quickly now to block them before they go down.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The troop is on the move. The team from Baboon Matters is running interference.

(on camera): Do they sometimes get through you and get to the houses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sometimes when they get into the thick bushes -- someone told them --

MCKENZIE (voice-over): For now, they've won the battle. The troop settles in, in their natural habitat on the slopes of Table Mountain, doing what

baboons do.

(on camera): This juvenile is foraging in the tree here, trying to get at some ants. And the thing is, just if it gets into the human areas and get

just some waste, it would be like a day's nutrition.

TRETHOWAN: So for them, it's a case of, you know, do they spend the whole day foraging? Or if they get down into human-occupied areas below? If they

get just half a loaf of white bread, it means they can take the rest of the day off.


So, if I said to you, David, you know, do ten minutes of work and then you've got the rest of the day off.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): And these primates are a handful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The baboons are coming down now!

TRETHOWAN: Great, come. So the baboons are coming down, and again we just try to block them here so that they don't go into urban areas.

MCKENZIE: For these highly intelligent animals, even electric fence does little. Across the continent, they're often considered pests, forced into

local extinction on the margins of most urban landscapes, causing consternation and conflict with their human neighbors.

ESME BEAMISH, BABOON RESEACHER, ICWILD, UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN: The best thing is to keep baboons out of the urban spaces and reduce the urban life

with humans. And then we have a real reduction in the number of human- baboon conflict and injury and death associated with it. They're willing to offer medicals --

MCKENZIE: Baboon specialist Esme Beamish says baboon populations in Cape Town were under threat 20 years ago. They've roamed the spectacular Cape

Peninsula for well over a million years. For centuries, how urban spaces squeezed them out of the best foraging land. With careful management and

separation, the baboons began to thrive again.

But human-induced deaths are up again, as a fierce debate rages over individual animal rights on one side and species conservation on the other.

BEAMISH: Some people love baboons, some people hate baboons, so you never might feed a baboon even if inadvertent, and then they ever will go and

shoot the baboons.

DAVID VAN NIEKERK, WINEMAKER, HIGH CONSTANTIA: This is where the baboon problem is.

MCKENZIE: Wine maker David Van Niekerk, baboons are more than just a nuisance.

VAN NIEKERK: There are no more natural predators for the baboons. You've got this massive spread of vineyards, which is obviously going to be food

for the baboons year round. It's everything that we've worked for, and we take a whole year to work for a bunch of grapes. All of my crop is

precious, and now I've got to compete against the baboons.

MCKENZIE: In Cape Town, they've debated paintball guns, flash bangs, fences, and even hunting to keep baboons out.

VAN NIEKERK: Discussions. When we are all retired one day, they'll still be discussing it, and the baboons will still be stealing the grapes.

TRETHOWAN: I mean, it is completely crazy because if you think about it logically, we all want the same thing. People have got different ideas of

how to go about it.

MCKENZIE: Scientists believe that if Cape Town can get it right, then both our species, humans and our primate cousins will be far better off. David

McKenzie, CNN, Cape Town.


SOARES: Thanks very much for watching, I'm Isa Soares in London. Coming up next is a special documentary, "CALL TO EARTH". How people around the world

are finding ways to co-exist with wildlife including Krithi Karanth who works to help communities in India as part of Rolex's perpetual planet

initiative. Do stay right here, I'll be back in about half an hour or so.