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Isa Soares Tonight

U.N. Security Council Meets On Gaza; Volcano Erupts On Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula; A 5.9 Magnitude Quake Hits China; Brother Of Israeli Hostages Speaks To CNN; Escalation In Israel's Occupation Tactics In West Bank; Texas Governor Signs Border Bill Making Entering The State Illegally A Crime. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 19, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, all eyes are trained on the United

Nations Security Council as members wrangle over the wording in a resolution, calling for a halt to the fighting in Gaza. That vote, expected

in the coming hours.

We have the very latest for you. And then, extraordinary scenes, as you're seeing there in Iceland as volcano in the country's southwest violently

erupts after weeks of activity. Plus, search and rescue teams in northwestern China are battling sub-zero temperatures as they hunt for

survivors from a deadly earthquake.

But first this evening, the U.N. Security Council is considering another resolution on the war in Gaza. Right now, expected, in fact, in the next

hour or so as the Red Cross -- as the Red Cross chief accuses the world of a moral failure for allowing the bloodshed and humanitarian catastrophe to


The new draft resolution calls for the suspension of hostilities, not a cessation or a ceasefire in an attempt to avoid another veto by the United

States. Today's -- Israel's President, Isaac Herzog said his country is ready for a humanitarian pause in its war on Hamas to enable the release of

more hostages and delivery of more humanitarian aid.

But he says Hamas is standing in the way. For the people of Gaza, a new truce, well, can't come soon enough. This is the aftermath of a strike on

Rafah near the Egyptian border. Witnesses say children are among the dead. According to U.N., Rafah has become the most densely-populated area in Gaza

after Israel urged civilians, of course, to flee there.

Let's get the very latest from our Jeremy Diamond who joins us this hour from Tel Aviv. So Jeremy, let's start first of all with the U.N. Security

Council vote that is expected in the next hour or so. What are you hearing about the wording here around the vote and how the U.S. may vote depending

on the language, critically?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there have been very intensive negotiations over the wording of this resolution that was drafted by the

United Arab Emirates, and is set to come up at the U.N. Security Council at some point later today, perhaps as early as 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

And the focus is on the language around a pause in hostilities. The initial draft of this resolution apparently called for a cessation of hostilities,

but there were negotiations involving the United States to try and shift the wording to a suspension of hostilities which could potentially gain, if

not the full support of the United States than at least avoid another veto by the United States and allow this resolution to pass.

Earlier this month, the United States vetoed another resolution that came before the Security Council, which called for an all-out ceasefire to the

hostilities. The United States at the time said it voted against the resolution in part because it did not include a reference to Hamas' October

7th terrorist attack.

But this resolution, if indeed, it passes, would certainly send a very strong message to Israel about the growing international outcry over the

humanitarian situation in Gaza. The need to allow more aid to enter the Gaza Strip, and also to provide a respite to Palestinian civilians who have

suffered enormously from the bombing campaign that has continued inside of Gaza.

Now, it's unclear whether or not the United States will ultimately support this resolution, but of course, it comes in the context of the United

States trying to get this message across to Israel that it needs to shift its fighting in Gaza to a much slower tempo, much less intense tempo, to

allow for more humanitarian aid to get into Gaza, and of course, to provide a respite for those civilians.

SOARES: Yes, and if it does go ahead, it will be a binding resolution, I think it's important to point out. Let's focus on what's happening where

you are, because Israeli President Isaac Herzog today saying that Israel is ready, he says, for another humanitarian pause.

This is of course, Jeremy, as Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with families of Israeli hostages. What are you hearing from your contacts about the

possibility here of a pause and a release of more hostages

DIAMOND: Well, there has certainly been a lot of activity over the last several days, pointing in the direction of at least attempts to resume

those hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas, mediated by the Qatari government. We know that as of last week, those talks were really at an

entire standstill.


Not only Hamas unwilling to listen to proposals, but the Israeli government really focused more on its offensive. A lot of pressure has been building

inside of Israel, though, to push the Israeli government to engage more substantially with the possibility of renewing these talks. In particular,

over that incident on Friday with Israeli soldiers killing three Israeli hostages in Gaza mistakenly believing them to be a threat.

And since then, there has certainly been a lot of pressure that has led in part to this meeting that Netanyahu is having today with Israeli families.

But the Israeli President Isaac Herzog, he said that Israel is ready, he said for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid to go

into Gaza in order to enable the release of hostages. Now, Herzog, we should note, his position is largely ceremonial. But it is an important

signal of --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: Where the Israeli government is thinking right now, where their head is at at the moment. And certainly, he's reflecting what is -- what is

happening inside the Israeli government, which is active conversations. The head of the Mossad traveling in the last several days to meet with not only

the CIA director, but also the Qatari prime minister. So, a lot of activity, the question now is, will Hamas be ready to --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: Come to the negotiating table? Will they be ready to deal as Israel continues its offensive in southern Gaza.

SOARES: Very good point, indeed. Jeremy, thank you very much for that. In about 20 minutes or so right here on the show, I will be talking to Liran

Berman, whose twin brothers were brutally taken from him on October the 7th. That interview coming up in about 20 minutes or so.

Well, the land of fire and ice is living up to its nickname today, have a look at this. This -- is this -- are these live pictures? Tell me if these

are live. These are not live, this is Iceland right now where a volcano began erupting overnight.

The bursts of lava lighting up the sky, look, really striking, but this isn't a surprise. There's been ramped-up Seismic activity, as you know, for

weeks that a nearby town was evacuated last month. It's still distressing for people who had to flee, but authorities say there's no immediate threat

and air traffic is operating normally.

They also say there are toxic gases and people need to stay away. They've warned weather patterns could move gas pollution towards the capital,

Reykjavik in the coming days. Our Fred Pleitgen has more on the volcano from Iceland.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Arctic night illuminated as the earth breaks apart from the fissure bursts

its molten core. Weeks of earthquakes led to this display of our planet's fire and force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Following a volcanic eruption, there is always high levels of toxic gases. It's main concern in Iceland now, it's the

distribution of this with the wind.

PLEITGEN: It's never possible to say exactly when or if a volcano like this one near the town of Grindavik will erupt. Officials took no chances

though, evacuating the population after weeks of tremors. Thousands of shakes were felt in November and all knew what they could bring.

Thankfully, none were in Grindavik town when the volcano around 2 miles away finally did erupt. This crack in the surface of our world close to 4

kilometers or more than 2 miles long, spewing lava. Previous eruptions in Iceland have lasted weeks or even months.

HALLGRIMUR INDRIDASON, JOURNALIST: Unfortunately, for the inhabitants of Grindavik, it's impossible to say how long this will last.

PLEITGEN: In the town of Grindavik, the earthquake damage is clear, the lava may follow.

INDRIDASON: If this activity goes on, then the big question is, will Grindavik be inhabitable in the long run?

PLEITGEN: Whether people can ever move back here depends on a new set of geological circumstances being created right now. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, near

Grindavik, Iceland.


SOARES: Well, for more on the volcano, I'm joined by CNN's meteorologist Chad Myers in Atlanta. Chad, great to see you, look, there's pictures that

we've been looking throughout the day on air, a really, truly striking. And it's great to hear there is no immediate threat and the air traffic is

operating as normal. But how long do we know? How long could this last for?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I think this could go on for months for without a doubt. But now, the good news is, today is that the volume of

lava coming out, the magma from underneath is only 25 percent of what we saw last night, where some of these plumes were 150 meters high.

This is coast guard video as they were flying over the lava flow itself. The lava flow did not get to Grindavik, it's about 2 kilometers from there.

But here's what we have. We have Europe here, North America here, Iceland right here on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is where the Eurasian plate and

the North American plate are separating. You always talk about them colliding on the west coast or the ring of fire in the Pacific.


This is separating, allowing the crack, the fissure in the earth to allow the magma from down below to come up through. So here is what happened last

night, here is Grindavik proper, and then further to the north by about 4 kilometers, that's where the earth cracked initially. Right here, just on

this side of the small little plume, and then all of a sudden through here, the crack continued all night long.

And there was a lot of pressure under the earth, and all of those fissures were coming up from the ground and getting longer and longer. Now, at

least, we know that they're no longer getting longer, and there's only about five actual events that are still going, and those events are not

putting lava down toward Grindavik at this time.

Now, that does not mean that in two days, five days or a month from now, another surge of magma can't come into these chambers and make that happen

again. But for now, things have certainly calmed down significantly, those bad gases that they're talking about, keeping people away for a time


There was a no-fly zone for drones, even though everybody was out there with their drone, they would not let them fly because other helicopters

were in the air. Big helicopters looking for where this lava is going, and for now, we know that the lava did go to the left, and it went to the

right, but it did not get to the power plant, and it did not get to the Blue Lagoon, and it did not get south down here toward where Grindavik is.


SOARES: Chad, really appreciate it, I know you'll be keeping a close eye across it. Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: I will.

SOARES: Now, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is touting some of the gains Ukraine has made in the war against Russia. Earlier today, President

Zelenskyy held a year-end press conference in Kyiv. He detailed how far he says Ukraine has come since the war began. Have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): This Winter is different. It has its challenges, unfortunately and losses. But there is

less of it. We are becoming stronger every month. I had a serious business trip, together with my team. I will not say how many, but there will be

Patriot systems in Ukraine defending our country in Winter.


SOARES: And this comes amid mounting regional tensions of another Russia, Russian border, and that's with Finland -- you can see there. President

Vladimir Putin has warned of problems with its neighbor, saying the West, quote, "dragged Finland into NATO". Well, joining us now is the Minister of

Foreign Affairs for Finland, Elina Valtonen.

Minister, thank you very much for joining us here on the show. I understand from my team that you've just returned from Washington. So, let me pick up

on what is being agreed. I think this defense pact has been signed and agreed with the United States. What is the aim of this agreement?

I imagine it's a form of deterrence, but if you can give us more details of what it involves, it'd be fantastic.

ELINA VALTONEN, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, FINLAND: Yes, I'm indeed right back from Washington D.C. where we signed the Defense Cooperation Agreement

with the United States along with the other Nordic countries. We see that this is a good additional pact with the United States, with that or

together with our NATO membership. And that's what we did.

SOARES: And what does that involve?

VALTONEN: Well, basically, the DCA, the Defense Cooperation Agreement, it's just an agreement for more intensified cooperation when it comes to defense

and deterrence. And it's basically a supplement to us being members in NATO. It just helps set out the legal framework for say, U.S. troops

exercising in Finland and for the storage of materials.

SOARES: Right, and the reason I ask you this, minister, is because Russia seems to object to this pact. And in fact, has summoned Finland's

ambassador, and a statement we've got here, if we can bring it up. The Russian Foreign Minister says this. "We will not leave unanswered the

buildup of NATO military potential on our border, which threatens the security of the Russian federation."

He went on to say, "we'll take the necessary" -- steps, "measures", I should say, "to counter the aggressive decisions of Finland and its NATO

allies." How do you interpret then, Minister, those words and those threats?

VALTONEN: Well, Finland is a sovereign -- nation and democracy, we have been that for over 100 years. And we have never posed a threat towards

Russia and will not do so as a NATO member either. NATO is an alliance for defense and obviously is not threatening Russia or anybody else either. And

we made the decision together with Sweden to join the alliance because we were worried about the unpredictable and aggressive behavior of Russia.


SOARES: Speaking of aggressive, there seems to be more threats at least coming from Putin this week. President Putin saying that -- that this week,

that your country was going to have -- I'm going to quote him here, "going to have problems because it joined NATO". Have you seen any retaliation,

any moves by Russia following on from your agreement with United States?

VALTONEN: We have seen though, several acts of harassment by Russia, and of course, we don't know what the motivation is behind these acts. So, we have

seen an increased amount of cyber attacks and now also in recent weeks, Russia has been mobilizing third countries' citizens towards our border to

seek asylum.

And this is a form of a hybrid operation which we can't tolerate -- close our entire eastern border towards Russia. Because obviously, it not only

poses a national threat to Finland, but also towards the European Union and NATO since we are protecting the EU and NATO border here as well.

SOARES: Yes, I wonder if you can give us more details on that, because -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Finland reopened its border with Russia only

to shut it again just within hours, right? So talk to us about the status of that, if that border is still closed and what the threat is here,


VALTONEN: The border will be closed for another month now, and then we will see what happens, whether Russia goes back to normal and -- to actually

prepare, they won't let people without valid documentation reach our border. Because two things. Well, first of all, we can't have outside power

which is hostile to us, which is Russia in this case, decide on our behalf which people -- or well, which people are allowed to cross the border and

enter Finland. We can't have that.

And the second thing is that we have identified that among these people that Russia is sending over, there are also criminals among them. So, we

had to act decisively and together with our partners in the European Union and NATO, we decided that it's the best thing to do to close the border

entirely. And again, we are not threatening Russia at all. So we are just reacting to Russia's hostile behavior.

SOARES: And this is of course all tied to the war in Ukraine. We're two years into this war as we set it up. The reality we've been showing our

viewers is on the frontlines from our correspondent Nick Paton Walsh on the ground. It's harsh, Minister, forces they're facing are cold, bleak Winter,

locked, as you well know in a military stalemate.

Meanwhile, there is nervousness, you know, over wavering, I think it's fair to say over funding. EU funding, U.S. funding, how confident, I wonder, you

are over the aid coming through to Ukraine? And what impact that would have on Ukraine?

VALTONEN: Well, Ukraine has done so far a terrific job, together of course, with the aid the country has received from the West, from the European

Union, from the U.S. And we hope that this aid will prevail. It is very important that we keep on assisting Ukraine in this fight where they are

not only fighting for their own independence, their sovereignty and their territorial integrity for which they have the full right based on U.N. --

based on the U.N. Charter.

But they are also fighting for our values and the western way of life. And you can't have a more aggressive larger neighbor just, you know, invading

an independent country like that. So --

SOARES: Yes --

VALTONEN: Finland has been actively assisting Ukraine based on the GDP. We are among the largest donors, and we are in the process of preparing and

more for 21st military aid package for Ukraine. And we hope that the European Union --

SOARES: Unfortunately, we've lost the minister's signal. But we are grateful for the minister for taking the time to speak to us here on the

show. And joining us tomorrow, when I will be speaking to Spain's Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, that is 7:00 p.m. here in London, 8:00 p.m.

if you're watching in Madrid.

Still to come tonight, rescue efforts in China continuing, freezing temperatures after dozens are killed in an earthquake. That story after

this short break.



SOARES: At least, 126 people have died in northwest China after one of the deadliest earthquakes to hit the country in nearly a decade. State media

are also reporting hundreds have been injured. Electricity in the affected area has now reportedly been restored and this will help provide much-

needed heating as rescue workers deal with sub-zero temperatures. CNN's Marc Stewart reports now from Beijing.


MARC STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Under a dark sky and enduring sub- freezing temperatures, rescue crews shoveled through debris, desperately looking for survivors. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake in northwest China

struck late at night while many people were sleeping.


STEWART: The survivors are carefully carried out from the rubble and rushed to the hospital. They are lucky to be alive as the death toll is rising.

Surveillance cameras captured the moment when the earth shook.

According to state media, the tremors lasted nearly 20 seconds and felt more than 60 miles away from the epicenter. Video on social media shows

people inside buildings running downstairs, fleeing to safety, as lights across the region shook from the ceiling.

At a local school, students inside a dormitory are forced to break open a locked door to escape, while others poured into the streets still in shock,

standing in the dark. Amid frigid temperatures, these students are told to run and jump so they don't get too cold.

And fires are set on a playground to keep warm. The cold weather gripping the area is yet another obstacle to the victims. As the sun rises, the view

from above reveals the extent of the damage. Homes in nearby villages have collapsed, thousands across the region are damaged.

In some places, water and electricity have been cut off. Mobile signals have also been impacted, making rescue efforts even more difficult. While

rescue teams still scurry to find survivors, there is fear this quake may be the deadliest to hit China in nearly a decade. Marc Stewart, CNN,



SOARES: We'll be right back after this.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We are keeping a close eye on the United Nations today, anticipating a vote in the Security Council on a new

resolution that calls for a suspension of hostilities in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution from a bit earlier this month that called for an

immediate ceasefire.

Today, Israel's President Isaac Herzog said his country is ready for a humanitarian pause in its war on Hamas, to enable the release of more

hostages and a delivery of more humanitarian aid. Well, with tensions running extremely high, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with

family members of some of the hostages today.

Frustrated families have been demanding the government do more to help bring their loved ones home. The meeting was called after the IDF

mistakenly shot and killed three Israeli hostages last week. Well, two of them had been taken from Kibbutz's Kfar Aza, which was devastated by the

Hamas attacks on October the 7th.

Our next guest Liran Berman is fighting for the release of his two brothers being held by Hamas. They were also kidnapped from that same Kibbutz. And

Liran joins me now. Liran, I really appreciate you being with us, I cannot imagine what the past 70-plus days have been like for you and your family.

Can I ask, did you meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu at all today? Did your family meet with Netanyahu today?

LIRAN BERMAN, BROTHER OF ISRAELI HOSTAGES HELD BY HAMAS: Yes, hello, Isa, good evening from Israel. No, we haven't met Netanyahu today. The last time

that we met him was about a week and a half ago in a big forum, the cabinet said a big family forum, but it was a week and a half ago.


SOARES: OK, so you spoke to them in a week and a half ago. I wonder what are you hearing from authorities about the whereabouts of your twin


We are seeing a poster of them, Ziv and Gali Berman, behind you.

What are you being told from authorities about their whereabouts, how they're maybe doing, from the 100+ hostages who have been released?

BERMAN: Actually we know nothing and we've been informed nothing for more than 70 days. We have no information about them other than they are


The hostages who got released, it's all rumors but official information we don't have yet. We don't know if they are together, if they're injured. We

know nothing. Nothing.

SOARES: My goodness. Not knowing anything.

No one has seen them at all?


SOARES: How do you deal with that vacuum of information, not knowing about your brothers?

BERMAN: I think not knowing is the worst, the worst state you can be in. The void of knowledge is unimaginable. We heard about how Hamas is treating

the hostages. We just saw, a few days ago, a few nights ago, a video of three elderly hostages in very poor condition.

I don't know -- I don't know if I prefer not knowing or just seeing videos like those, which look horrible. But the void of knowledge is unbearable.

And being in the dark without even knowing if our cause is futile because they are already -- we have no information. I don't know.

SOARES: I'm so sorry, Liran. I'm so sorry about what you and your family and so many other families, of course, are going through because of the

atrocities that have been committed by Hamas. You mentioned the three elderly men that we saw this week and how frail they looked.

We also saw more tragic news for three families, right?

From three Israeli families; three young men, mistakenly killed by the IDF while shirtless and waving a white flag. Two of those young men, correct me

if I'm wrong here, Liran, were -- I think their names were Yotam -- we're showing them on the screen -- Yotam and Alon. So -- on either sides of our


They were kidnapped from the same kibbutz as your brothers.


SOARES: Tell me, am I incorrect on that?

BERMAN: No, no, you're correct, just even from the same neighborhood, not just the same kibbutz. They were neighbors together, in the same


SOARES: My goodness.

When you saw that, that must have shaken you to the very core, what did you think?

BERMAN: It was one of the worst weekends of these entire two months. They were so close to being free and with their loved ones. The news was

devastating. We went to the funeral yesterday, on Sunday.

Now we are back home fighting and back doing whatever we can to release my brothers and everyone else. But it was one of the worst weekends I have


SOARES: Yes. Having survived Hamas and then being killed in that way, my heart goes out to their three families.

I'm sure you would have heard today from president Herzog, who basically said that Israel is ready, he said, for another humanitarian pause. That

would then, he said, hopefully enable the release of hostages.

What are you hearing from the Netanyahu government about that?

What is your message to the Netanyahu government?

There has been pressure increasing that this government focus more on the hostages, prioritize the hostages.

What do you say to him?

BERMAN: I think the cabinet and the government know that, first and foremost, is release the hostages. I trust them, that they will do whatever

it takes to release the hostages first.

If it's by humanitarian cease-fire or military pressure or whatever it takes.


BERMAN: I don't know how, because I'm not a politician, I'm not a military tactician, I'm a civilian, like my two little brothers. So I don't know how

they operate.

I'm doing whatever I can on the diplomatic level, interviewing with you, Isa, and anyone that will help me. But whatever it takes, if it's cease-

fire, then cease-fire. If it's military pressure, then military pressure. I think both ways need to work together to release all of the hostages.

SOARES: Yes. Well, we are praying and thinking of your two little brothers, as you said, Liran. As soon as you have any more details, please come back

to us. Always wonderful to have you on the show and --


SOARES: -- some positive news. Thank you, Liran, I appreciate it. Best of luck.

BERMAN: Thank you.

SOARES: Well, attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea are posing a very real threat to the global economy. We brought you that story yesterday here

on the show. Houthi rebels backed by Iran have assaulted at least 12 ships over the last month.

Several major companies, including oil giant BP have suspended operations in the Red Sea over safety concerns. CNN national security reporter Natasha

Bertrand joins us from the Pentagon.

Natasha, talk us through what the U.S. and its allies are doing here to combat this threat, which is also, as we pointed out just now, an economic

threat from the Houthi rebels.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A huge economic threat, a major threat to international trade and shipping.

The U.S. has basically pulled together an international coalition of countries, who are willing to devote more resources toward protecting the

Red Sea, either with additional ships, aircraft, other kinds of resources like additional staff.

That could potentially help bolster the presence of this international security force that already exists in the Red Sea but that has really been

focused a little bit more on other areas.

So these resources are going to be funneled into this specific area, the southern Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, where we've seen so many of these

attacks taking place. Over 100 attacks in the last four weeks alone on roughly a dozen different commercial vessels there.

The U.S. hoping that this show of force is going to deter the Houthis from attacking the ships. We have not seen that work in the past. We should note

the U.S. has shut down a number of missiles and drones launched by the Houthis in Yemen and they've only continued to launch their attacks.

We'll have to see if this actually works because right, now it does not seem like the U.S. is prepared at this point to strike the Houthis in Yemen


SOARES: Natasha Bertrand with the very latest there. Thanks, Natasha.

We will take a short break and be back after this.





SOARES: France is joining the growing calls for an end to settler violence in the occupied West Bank. The U.K. and U.S. have already imposed travel

restrictions on, quote, "extremist settlers," and the E.U. is considering sanctions.

This comes as the U.N. says 477 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year alone. More than half were killed since

October the 7th. That makes it the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005.

Our chief international investigative correspondent, Nima Elbagir, visited Hebron to see what life is like for Palestinians living there. And a

warning: her report contains some disturbing images.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): We stop at a service station in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. A man in military fatigues demands to check our IDs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): He said I have the right to secure this area.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But he has no identifying insignia, won't tell us who he is but he's got a gun. So we oblige. We're confused. And we're not the

only ones.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): CNN obtained this video from inside Hebron, a divided city, filmed a few days after the Hamas October 7th attack.

The Palestinian man won't comply. He says he recognizes the man with the gun as a settler, not a soldier.

In this tense climate, if a soldier issues an order, you comply.

But is everyone with a gun and fatigues a soldier?

The West Bank is under Israeli military operation. It's also believed to be home to almost 0.75 million settlers, Israeli civilians living in the

Occupied Territories. Settlers consider this part of their Biblical homeland and are expanding into Palestinian Territories.

Even though the U.N. Security Council considers their presence illegal. Yet settlers are integral to Israel's security plan in the Occupied Territories

as Israel Defense Force reservists and settlement security squads.

Responding, the IDF says, security threats in settlements, towns and villages. Palestinians told CNN they consider armed settlers a greater

threat than ever before.

Their remit from the IDF is blurring the lines as settlers encroach on Palestinian land, like, here in the Palestinian village of Suwannee (ph),

where there is a settlement at the top of the hill.

In this video, you see men in military fatigues. The IDF equips both civilian settler security squads and soldiers in the region, as you can see

here. It is almost impossible to differentiate. They point their rifles at residents and then they shoot, according to eyewitnesses.

CNN shared the images we gathered in the West Bank with a senior IDF official, who was unable to tell us who here is in the IDF and who is not.

We asked, how, then, are Palestinians expected to differentiate?

The official told CNN there have been cases of reservists who did not act in accordance with army standards, adding, "There is no place in the IDF

for such behavior. Every case that breaches army standards will be investigated."

Palestinians, the official said, should contact their local brigade. But Palestinian rights activists and local resident Basel Adra says settlers in

military fatigues are forcing Palestinians off their land.

BASEL ADRA, WEST BANK RESIDENT AND ACTIVIST: These settlers come in with their guns and they are pointing it to the heads of the residents. And they

tell them, if you don't leave in 24 hours, we will shoot you.

So the family would understand that they are not playing. It is a serious threat of killing if you don't leave your home. That led for like 35

families to leave. And these settlers have been wearing uniform also.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Settlers have heavyweight support in Israel's far- right government. Itamar Ben-Gvir, minister for national security, settler. After the Hamas October 7th attack, Ben-Gvir loosened gun permit

regulations, making it easier for tens of thousands of Israeli civilians to bear arms.

Bezalel Smotrich, minister of finance, settler, also, post attack, pushed through over US$100 million for West Bank security, including funds for

training and equipping settler security squads. But it's not just arming and equipping.


We witnessed firsthand some of the restrictions the IDF imposed on Palestinians.

Itgida's (ph) house is not even five minutes away from the other side of this checkpoint. But she can't get through.

ELBAGIR: Every day, they tell her to go back. Every day she has to do this extraordinarily long loop to try to get in. She said they are intentionally

making it difficult for us, making it so we have to cross through areas that are hostile to us, to get to our homes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Itgida (ph) picks up a few more things before she sets off home but not too many. It is a long walk uphill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Since the 1990s, the city of Hebron has seen many curfews. The day we visited, there was a curfew in place from 7 pm until 7

am. Itgida (ph) has to go through this checkpoint. Palestinians have to be searched.

Settlers aren't normally checked. Itgida has to walk; settlers can drive. Palestinians need permission for visitors; settlers don't. The IDF says all

these measures are in accordance with their security assessments to provide security for all residents.

Settlers and Palestinians live side by side but the rules for each are very different.

Faiza and her husband have lived in this house for 14 years. They inherited it from her husband's grandparents. Their house is overlooked by an IDF

sentry post yet they fear for their safety.

FAIZA, RESIDENT OF TAL REMEIDA, HEBRON (through translator): The scene is so inappropriate and depressing for our home. You can see up here what

we've had to put in place to protect ourselves from the settlers.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): As we leave Faiza's house, we get stopped by an Israeli soldier. He says we are not allowed to walk along the main road. We

have to go back to the checkpoint to be searched again because we have been inside a Palestinian home.

ELBAGIR: I would just point out a lack of logic, which is that these Palestinian houses, the Palestinians have come through that checkpoint so

they can't possibly have brought in anything.

Just so I can understand, just so I can, please, I'm really confused as usual. So even though we went through that checkpoint -- OK. Even though we

went through that checkpoint, because we have been in the house of Palestinians, we now have to go jumping over people's garden walls.

We can't walk on the streets?

We have to go straight back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were going through the checkpoint and you stay here, it's great. But as soon as you move from different areas --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you need to get rechecked.

ELBAGIR: Now you understand it.


ELBAGIR: Yes. So we need to get re-checked. So right to the route.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you know for next time.

ELBAGIR: OK, let's just go.

Thank you. We will see you in a bit.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): We can't get down. The access to the garden is closed.

ELBAGIR: So the path I can see is the other side of that fence. But if you can see one, I can't.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We can't walk on the street because we've been in a Palestinian house and now we're deemed a security risk. So we are stuck.

Eventually, the soldier has to call in to his superior to give us special permission to walk on the main road.

ELBAGIR: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We head out and back to the checkpoint where we are searched again. A tiny glimpse into what Palestinians navigate every day.

The U.N. says that, post October 7th, over 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have been displaced, forced from home by security restrictions and

settler violence. The U.S. and U.K. are now sanctioning extreme settlers.

But Palestinians say it is not enough. Not when settlers can cloak themselves in the authority of the Israeli state -- Nima Elbagir, CNN,



SOARES: Still to come, tonight Mexico's president is slamming a new law in Texas which makes illegal border crossings a state crime. That story is up






SOARES: Welcome back.

"Inhumane" and "politics driven," those strong words from Mexico's president today, criticizing the Republican governor of Texas Greg Abbott,

who signed a bill into law Monday which makes illegal border crossings a state crime.

The measure is creating fear across the Latino community. In the U.S., nearly 2 dozen lawmakers have written a letter to attorney general Merrick,

Garland, expressing what they call grave concern over the signing of the border bill. Rosa Flores has more on the potential impact.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They're poisoning the blood of our country --

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration stance echoed in Texas, where governor Greg Abbott signed into

law what the ACLU dubbed one of the most radical anti-immigrant bills ever passed by any state.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Senate Bill 4 is now law in the state of Texas.

FLORES (voice-over): SB-4 creates a new state crime for illegal entry into Texas, gives local police the power to arrest and judges the power to

remove violators.

ABBOTT: But the problem is far more than just numbers.

FLORES (voice-over): After multiple attempts, the controversial measure passed a Republican-led legislature.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an un-American.


FLORES: Without a fight by the Democratic minority that erupted into this on the House floor.

STATE REP. ARMANDO WALLE (D-TX): Y'all don't understand the shit that y'all do hurts our community.

FLORES (voice-over): After Republicans cut debate short.

WALLE: And y'all don't understand that. You don't live in our (INAUDIBLE) skin.

FLORES (voice-over): That is Texas State Representative Armando Walle from Houston -- an American with Mexican roots.

He says he fears SB-4 will lead to the racial profiling of Latinos across Texas.

WALLE: Why do we and those of us who look like me, why do we have to carry our passports around?

FLORES: So you think that U.S. citizens could be arrested under SB-4?


FLORES (voice-over): The Republican authors of the bill said there was no need to safeguard the measure against racial profiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racial profiling is against the law anyway.

FLORES (voice-over): Texas has now determined the cost of SB-4. Some county governments fear it's an unfunded mandate.

STATE SENATOR JUAN HINOJOSA (D-TX): We don't agree with the cost that's being shifted over to our local taxpayers.


FLORES (voice-over): Thirty former immigration judges issued a statement, saying the measure is not lawful because immigration is plainly a federal

function. Texas Republican Senator Brian Birdwell voted against the measure, saying it is unconstitutional.

STATE SENATOR BRIAN BIRDWELL (R-TX): We are setting a terrible precedent for the future by invalidating our obedience and faithfulness to our


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe SB-4 is completely constitutional.

FLORES: For Americans outside of Texas --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Representative Walle --

FLORES (voice-over): -- Walle warns SB-4 could be used to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's 2012 so-called "show your papers" law,

which upheld that immigration is a federal function.

WALLE: This is their road map now, now that they have a much favorable Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not in conflict with the precedent set in Arizona versus U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He always visited the Mexican restaurant to buy their tortillas.

FLORES (voice-over): As for Walle, who lost the fight against the law but was one of the strongest voices against it.

WALLE: It fills me with pride.


Because I've had elderly people today tell me that they were proud that somebody stood up to them, stood up for somebody who didn't have a voice.

FLORES: I asked Governor Abbott, point blank, if he is trying to overturn Arizona versus United States, the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that

upheld that immigration is a federal function.

Governor Abbott first said that he believes this law stands alone. It is constitutional.

He said, quote, "We also welcome a Supreme Court decision that would overturn the precedent set in the Arizona case" -- Rosa Flores, CNN,

Brownsville, Texas.


SOARES: Our thanks to Rosa for that.

NASA continues to push the boundaries of technology, this time transmitting a video from deep space back to Earth using a laser.

The star of that video, you ask?

Meet Taters the cat. The ultra high definition video shows a cat chasing a dot from a laser pointer. Not super exciting but the promise of this

technology certainly is.

The distance between the spacecraft which beamed of course, that video and the observatory in California that received it is about 80 times the

distance between Earth and the moon.

Wrap your head around that. That later transmission reached Earth unless in two minutes, pretty astounding.

That does it for us for today. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. I shall

see you tomorrow, bye-bye.