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One World with Zain Asher

Freed Hostage Lived In Hell Under Hamas; Israel Has The Spirit And Willpower To Defeat Hamas; More Innocent Children Sacrificed In War; Jenna Ellis Felt Remorse For Her Wrong Decision In Life; House GOP Nominates Tom Emmer For Speakership; Paul Whelan Sees His Death Sentence; Families Chase Safety Amidst Hell In Gaza. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 12:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, so good to be with you on this Tuesday morning. Coming to you live from New York I'm Zain Asher.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. This is One World.

Well, like being taken to hell. That's how a frail 85-year-old Israeli grandmother describe being a captive of Hamas.

ASHER: That's right. Yocheved Lifshitz is one of two elderly women released by Hamas late on Monday. Her story is both a terrifying, terrifying

account. An important glimpse also of what Hamas is doing with more than 200 hostages they snatched from Israel on October 7th.

She described walking through a spider web of tunnels underneath Gaza where she was held with dozens of other hostages before being separated and kept

with four other people who are also taken from her Kibbutz as well.

Lifshitz says she was beaten and she was being taken away on a motorcycle but her said her captors treated her rather to be well once they brought

her into Gaza.


YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ, HOSTAGE FREED BY HAMAS (through translator): I went through hell that I could have not known. I was kidnapped on a motorbike on

my side while they were driving towards Gaza. As we got there, the people told us that they are people who believe in the Quran, and that they will

not harm us and that we will get the same conditions they get in the tunnels.

We begin walking inside the tunnels with the wet ground. There were guards and a paramedic and a doctor who took care of the fact that we would have

the same medicine that we need. There, we laid on mattresses, they took care of the sanitary side so we won't get sick, and we had a doctor who

came to see us every two to three days.


GOLODRYGA: A visibly frail, yet strong and determined. Eighty-five-year-old Lifshitz had harsh words for the Israeli military and intelligence as well.

Saying that they did not take this threat from Hamas seriously enough. Lifshitz's 83-year-old husband, we should note, is still being held hostage

in Gaza.

ASHER: We will be talking a little later on the show about their experience specifically. All right. An IDF spokesperson says that the military is

ready, and that it is determined for the next stage in this war. Israel says that it has been preparing to pummel Hamas by air, by sea, by ground,

and they expect long weeks of very intense fighting.

GOLODRYGA: This as a U.S. Marine Corps three-star general is in Israel right now to advise the IDF on strategy ahead of a ground incursion. The

New York Times though reports the Biden administration is worried that Israel quote, "lacks achievable military objectives in Gaza."

Sources tell CNN the U.S. is pressing Israel to delay a ground offensive in hopes of getting more hostages out and more aid into Gaza.

ASHER: Meantime, Israeli officials are adamant they are not agreeing to a cease-fire, pretty much anytime soon with Hamas, and that humanitarian

efforts cannot be allowed to impact their mission to dismantle Hamas, which is of course their priority. They say that they are focused on preparing

for the next stage of this war. Take a listen.


PETER LEMER, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: With every day that goes by, we are a more professional force, a more prepared, a better prepared, a better equipped

force. So, we are not in a rush.


ASHER: All right, for more on this I want to bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann, joining us now from the Pentagon. So, Oren, just the fact that

you got this three-star general, essentially advising and overseeing, and helping the Israelis, what does that tell you about the level of

involvement that the U.S. has in this war? Just in terms of overseeing Israel's military planning. And what does that tell us?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you've seen the Biden administration offer whatever support it can to Israel in a number of

different ways.


First of all, there's a diplomatic cover, then the strong statements of support from President Joe Biden himself, as well as other -- as well as

other senior national security officials, including the secretary of state, and defense secretary.

But this obviously goes beyond that and is in a different realm. The White House said yesterday they -- that military officials would offer relevant

experience for Israel's current operations as well as for any of their planned operations or what they're looking at doing.

And that, it seems, is where Lieutenant General James Glynn fits in here. He is a three-star Marine general with decades of experience, including

experience fighting urban warfare in Iraq. And a U.S. official tells us he will offer big-picture guidance. So, this isn't specific tactics. It's how

to think about this from a broader perspective.

Israel hasn't gone into Gaza since 2015. 14. It hasn't arrayed these sorts of forces in decades for at least the options they're preparing. So, Glynn

would be able, it seems, to offer some perspective on how to carry out a fight in very dense urban warfare in somewhere so densely populated as


Now, what Israel decides to do, that part remains unclear. And we reported last week that U.S. officials, as well as other Western nations, are

questioning Israel to set out specific goals for what it wants to accomplish in Gaza and what it wants to accomplish vis-a-vis Hamas. Those

goals haven't yet, it seems, been clearly laid out.

So that is part of the challenge here as Israel tries to figure out what it wants to do and the U.S. offers whatever support it can.

ASHER: Yes, dismantling Hamas is not an easy task. Oren Liebermann live for us there. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, our next guest served as Israel's 13th Prime Minister from June 2021 through June 2022. Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett,

welcome to One World. And Mr. Prime Minister, we should note since this is your first time joining us, we want to offer our deepest condolences for

the heinous, horrific attacks of October 7th.


GOLODRYGA: So it's clear that America's presence in the region is only increasing with more weaponry, as we just heard, a three-star general, and

perhaps even troops. Given that, how much of a say, in your view, should the U.S. have in terms of when and how this war is conducted?

BENNETT: Well, I want to be very clear. We have never asked and are not asking America to send troops to fight for us. We'll do the fighting.

Israel has the ability to defend itself by itself, and we will do that. However, America's help and assistance in this time is quite remarkable.

And as former prime minister and as an Israeli citizen, I'll be thankful to President Biden, the administration, and the great American people. But

we're going to fight the war, and it's our job to dismantle Hamas.

GOLODRYGA: But is there a limit to how much you think the United States should have in terms of a say in the strategy and tactics that the Israelis


BENNETT: Look, we set our own objectives and it's our job to achieve those objectives. So, and I think that's pretty clear. I don't think the American

administration is trying to shift or influence that. We have to eradicate Hamas. We have an ISIS-like state right next to us that wants to annihilate

the Jews and they will stop nowhere, including raping women, dismembering parts of bodies and all the horrific things that have happened.

So now it's very clear. We need to move on and get the job done. I don't see that America will stop us or wants to stop us for that matter, because

I think the administration and the Congress and the American public understand that in essence, we're fighting the same war between the free

world and the, you know, middle age type of brutality and the bar. So it's everyone's war. You had 9-11 and we have the October 7th.

ASHER: Mr. Bennett, I just want to follow up on something you just touched on there, just this idea of eradicating Hamas. Just explain to us how

exactly that works because, of course, you can kill a Hamas fighter. You can kill hundreds, maybe even thousands of Hamas fighters, but you cannot

kill the ideology that brought us to this point in the first place.

If you simply go in on a ground incursion into Gaza and you kill as many as Hamas militants as you can, without dismantling and destroying the

ideology. The ideology that brought about October 7th in the first place. Do you not just end up back where you first started?

BENNETT: Well, the state of goal of the government is to totally eradicate Hamas. I would give a good analogy of the final and total destruction of

Nazi Germany, after which there's a bunch of new Nazis but they're insignificant and you had a new Germany the day after or Japan in World War



So, we're looking and the government has stated for total eradication, total victory.

GOLODRYGA: Mr. Prime Minister, among all of the tragedy of October 7th, I've really been moved by the amount of heroism that we have heard in

stories from Israeli civilians rescuing and protecting their fellow Israelis from further carnage.

I listened to an interview with one man who helped defend Kibbutz Nir Am, and he did that for hours until the Israeli military finally showed up. And

at the end of the interview, he said, our government doesn't deserve its civilians.

Now I know earlier this week you said in an interview, I want to quote what you said, "of course I also bear responsibility. I served as prime minister

for 12 months. There were things that I can't elaborate on that I didn't have time to do that could have dramatically changed the situation. And

then the government fell."

We've heard from the heads of the Shin Bet and the military intelligence also take responsibility. Is it time right now for Prime Minister Netanyahu

to do the same.

BENNETT: Well, you know, I don't want to give advice to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I think things are fairly clear there. Right now, we're at war

and I'm focused not on the day after, but on right now and how we achieve total eradication of this ISIS type regime. Otherwise, our very countries

at risk.

After what happened, we now know it can happen tomorrow. We're not fighting because of what happened. We're fighting to prevent the next one from

happening. And Israel at the end of the day is a remarkable country of robust high tech.

I, myself was a serial entrepreneur in high tech, et cetera. But we're surrounded by, you know, very horrible regimes that and ideologies that

want to kill the Jews. That's simple. So we have to win. And I'm focused on that and not on assigning right now responsibility.

ASHER: OK. So, you're focused. I mean, I've heard a lot of Israelis talk about this, that it's not time for finger pointing and blame. It's really

time to rally together, rally the country together and focus on what's happening right now in terms of this war.

Israel is, of course, at a crossroads right now in terms of the ground invasion where we've talked so much about when and how this ground invasion

is going to start. Now, there are advantages in terms of waiting, because of course, the longer you wait, there is the possibility that more hostages

might end up being released. It's not a guarantee, but there is that possibility.

However, the longer you wait, the stronger Hamas becomes and the more time they have to prepare for Israel's ground invasion. Just walk us through

your thoughts on this. I mean, do you think it's a smart strategy to delay this ground invasion any further?

BENNETT: Well, I think I don't totally agree with one of your assumptions that the longer time passes, the stronger Hamas gets, I think quite the

contrary. We're pounding Hamas now, day in, day out, and they're taking hits. So, you know, I don't want to give operational advice right now to

the military. I served myself as a company commander, assumed commander.


ASHER: Do you think, but Mr. Bennett, do you think that Hamas is readying, readying for this Israeli incursion, just in terms of booby traps, for

example, a lot of experts have said that the longer, the longer Israel waits, then the longer amount of time Hamas has to prepare for Israel to

enter into their territory.

BENNETT: Right, but it depends what you do while you're waiting. If you're just waiting and sitting in your hands, you're correct. But if you're

waiting and actually not waiting, you're acting and attacking them in various dimensions, air and ground and other dimensions, then it's fine.

You know, I think, again, I don't want to give operational advice to the prime minister of Israel. I'm -- I believe that it will be done at the

right time and place. What I will say, though, is that the actual war will take time. I assume it'll be months. And we've got time. We're in no hurry.

We've got time, but what we have to achieve at the end of the day is full disarmament of Gaza. No more Hamas.

And I heard today the chief of the U.N. who said the horrible things. He, sort of, balanced and explain that there's a background to this and

justified Hamas's actions, which is unbelievable. It's a tantamount to someone understanding the Nazi side of things or the al-Qaeda side of



I was shocked that the head of the U.N. gone thrash would do such a thing. I guess it just means that the U.N. is what we thought it is.

GOLODRYGA: Well, to our viewers who may not be aware of what you're talking about, Antonio Guterres just said moments ago that the Hamas attacks,

quote, "did not happen in a vacuum," to which the Israeli foreign minister responded by saying, Mr. Secretary, in what world do you live?

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, --


GOLODRYGA: -- we thank you so much for your time and thank you for coming on the program.

ASHER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Bennett.

GOLODRYGA: We appreciate it.

BENNETT: Thank you very much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, nightmare conditions are still getting worse for Gaza residents. Relentless airstrikes in Gaza overnight has left more than 300

children dead. That's according to the Hamas-run Palestinian ministry. According to one aid agency, at least 2,000 children have died so far since

the war began.

ASHER: The IDF, meantime, saying that they have killed several Hamas commanders. And some of these overnight strikes, you're looking at what's

left of one of those strikes. You can actually see residents, this is in Khan Yunis, just desperately searching for survivors, for loved ones

beneath the rubble. You see a building there that was targeted.

If they do make it to a hospital, the situation may not be any better. Doctors and aid groups warning that all of the chaos, all of the

destruction is just taking a huge toll on Gaza's overwhelmed and overcrowded hospitals.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health say that they are operating at more than 150 percent of their capacity.


ATEF AL KAHLOUT, DIRECTOR, INDONESIAN GAZA HOSPITAL (through translator): If the hospital is not provided with the necessary fuel for the generators,

we are issuing a death sentence, not a natural death. The execution is in the hands of the free world, human rights organizations, and the United

Nations. Everyone is guilty, and they are all guilty if they do not supply the hospital with fuel.


ASHER: All right. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz takes us through last night's bombardment of Gaza. And we, of course, do have to warn our viewers that

some of the images we're about to show you here are extremely disturbing.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Moments after an overnight strike in Gaza. Stunned survivors stumble out. People nearby rush to help. "There's

no ambulance. We have to get people out," a man shouts. Men dig with bare hands. It is dark, dusty. The screams are jarring. "Look at the children.

Look at the children," he says. It is sheer chaos and carnage.

This is the aftermath of just one of the hundreds of bombings a day that batter the Gaza Strip, the scene captured by a journalist. Israel says it

is targeting Hamas and aims to wipe out the group. But Palestinians and aid agencies say it is civilians that are dying by the hundreds.

Drone footage shows entire neighborhoods already leveled by the near constant bombardment. Nothing is spared. Schools, mosques, shelters,

medical centers all struck, according to the United Nations.

Gaza is all too familiar with war, but has never seen it on this scale. And for survivors, there is little life left here. Baby Sanad Al-Halabi (Ph) is

now an orphan, but he's far too young to understand that. "What did this little boy do? An airstrike hit his house while he was sleeping." His uncle

says, "his whole family was killed. He's the only survivor. Stop this. Stop this suffering."

There are calls for Israel to pause hostilities, but the IDF is only ramping up its attacks and preparing for what's expected to be a full on-

ground invasion of the enclave. But Gazans say they can endure no more.

Amar Al-Batah says nearly 50 members of his extended family were killed after they followed Israel's evacuation instructions. "We were hosting our

family from the north, 50 to 70 people, because it was supposed to be safe," he says. "But at dawn, our home was bombed. We don't know what to

do. We've lost our minds."

Gaza is praying for relief. But the cries of anguish here are so far unheard. The bloodshed won't stop.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Now there are reports that Israeli authorities are considering potentially delaying that ground incursion, that expected

ground incursion to allow potentially more hostages out of the Gaza Strip, but they seem undeterred by the reality of preparing for the second stage

of operations.


What's so horrifying for people in Gaza is that those airstrikes are only ramping up. They are only intensifying. Palestinian health officials saying

the last 24 hours are the deadliest yet. More than 700 people killed, many of them children.

GOLODRYGA: It's so important you keep bringing us their stories. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you.

Well coming up for us, we're live in Washington. We'll have the latest on the speaker's race. Remember that?


ASHER: All right, Donald Trump's former campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis, has pleaded guilty in the election interference case in the state of Georgia.

She -- Georgia, excuse me. She pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting false statements. It means she will not face a trial. Prosecutors are calling for

a sentence with five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

GOLODRYGA: Ellis delivered a tearful statement to the judge saying that if she knew then what she knows now, she would not have represented Trump.


JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states, including

Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence. I believe in and I value election integrity. If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to

represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.

For those failures of mine, Your Honor, I have taken responsibility already before the Colorado Bar, who censured me, and I now take responsibility

before this court. And apologize to the people in Georgia.


GOLODRYGA: In August, the former U.S. president was indicted along with 18 allies accused of attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat in

Georgia. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying the charges are politically motivated.

ASHER: All right, we have an update in terms of the House speakers' race. Republicans have actually nominated a House speaker.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. After more than three hours of voting by secret ballot, they have chosen Tom Emmer. But it's unclear if he has enough support to

get elected by the House as a whole.

ASHER: CNN's Stephen Collinson joins us live now from Washington. So, Stephen, this is the GOP whip, the House GOP whip, Tom Emmer. Just talk to

us a little bit more about him. And also, can he really rally the troops around him? Will he emerge when the vote actually happens as the consensus



STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Yes. So Tom Emmer, who's already a membership of the House Republican leadership team, just emerged.

There was seven rounds of balloting to find the speaker. But just looking at the vote count, Emmer got 117 and Mike Johnson, who is more popular with

the right-wing Republicans, he got 97.

So, you can still see that the conference is very split. The question is now, can Emmer get those people that voted to Johnson, almost all of them,

to vote for him, so he has some chance of getting to the 217 votes he would need on the House floor, assuming the Democrats still don't vote for a

Republican to speaker.

So, this is a very split conference. And I think what we need to see now is whether the Republicans decide to do a ballot inside that secret meeting,

to try and gauge whether Emmer can get to that 217, so we don't have to keep going through these embarrassing and chaotic rounds of voting on the

full House floor in the full view of all the American people that just underlines how chaotic and ungovernable the Republican conference is. And

the fact that their majority is completely inoperable and half of the Congress just cannot work.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, we have yet to hear from the former president in terms of his endorsement. It didn't help Jim Jordan cross the finish line. What do

we know about Tom Emmer in terms of his take on the reality of what happened in the 2020 election?

COLLINSON: Well, Tom Emmer is one of the few candidates who are running for the speakership in this round. The seven candidates who actually did admit

that the -- that President Joe Biden won the election, which could be a big problem with the Trump wing of the party, Johnson, the one that he was

opposed to in that final round. He signed a brief in Texas that tried to overturn the result of the election and a number of battled around states.

So, Emmer tried to get Trump's endorsement, but the Trump wing of the party, the far right, which was responsible for failing Speaker Kevin

McCarthy, they're against him because of that. Another issue that could be a problem for Emmer is he's a strong advocate of aid to Ukraine.

There's a lot of suspicion among the far right that Emmer, if he becomes Speaker, could cut a deal with President Joe Biden to allow $60 billion

worth of new aid that the president has requested to go to Ukraine. That's very unpopular with about half at least of the Republican conference. And

to do that, he would have to get Democratic votes to get that through the Congress.

That is exactly the scenario that cost Kevin McCarthy his job, because he went against the far right and used Democratic votes to pass a stop back

stop gap bill to keep the government open a few weeks ago. So, I think there's a great deal of uncertainty whether this will unpick the speaker


The one thing that Emmer does have in his, sort of advantage, is that people are getting very frustrated, very upset, tired. Some lawmakers are

hearing from their constituents that they've had enough of this, so perhaps that plays into his favor.

ASHER: All right, so more people might indeed end up caving in, but it'll be interesting to see if there can be one consensus candidate that all the

factions, all the various factions of the Republican conference can truly rally around.

Stephen, always good to see you, always good to see you.

COLLINSON: Thank you.

ASHER: Thank you so much.


ASHER: Stephen Collinson. All right, still to come, as tiny numbers of hostages are freed by Hamas, we will be asking a former adviser to Israel's

defense minister what exactly is it going to take at this point for all the captives to be allowed to return home.



ASHER: All right, we spent the past few weeks talking about hostages, about bombardment, about humanitarian aid, and of course an imminent, likely

imminent ground invasion. But Israel is insisting that the horror that started this conflict certainly must not be overlooked at all.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. On Monday, the Israel Defense Force showed international journalists a 43-minute video presentation depicting the inhuman brutality

of Hamas' attacks on October 7th. Now most of the video was not released to the public, but this clip was.

It starts from the viewpoint of an Israeli civilian at the wheel of her car. She sees a man in the road and slows down. The man was a Hamas

terrorist who opens fire on her car. As the woman tries to get away, the other terrorists riddle her vehicle with bullets. The car eventually comes

to a stop. The terrorists keep firing to make sure that the driver is dead.

ASHER: Horrific. And another video which actually we cannot show our viewers really depicts two young boys who are terribly injured from a

grenade blast. One appears to have actually lost his eye from the attack. They're crying in their kitchen as a Hamas fighter actually approaches

them. He barely pays them any attention as he opens the refrigerator to get a drink.

GOLODRYGA: Inhumanity. Well, the IDF says it showed the footage to journalists as irrefutable proof of what Hamas did on October 7th. Israeli

officials say some online commentators who they liken to Holocaust deniers are saying that Hamas attacks were not that bad. Just sickening.

ASHER: And today we're also hearing an account of what exactly conditions were like for the people who are held hostage in Gaza from somebody who was

there. Eighty-five-year-old grandmother and Hamas hostage, Yocheved Lifshitz, was released Monday night along with her friend and neighbor, 79-

year-old Nurit Cooper.

GOLODRYGA: Mrs. Lifshitz told reporters earlier that she, quote, "went through hell" when she was kidnapped by terrorists on October 7th and held

in a huge network of tunnels that she says looked like a spider's web.

Our colleague Anderson Cooper spoke to her daughter.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: When you heard the news, what went through your mind?

SHARONE LIFSHITZ, DAUGHTER OF FREED HOSTAGE: It's impossible to describe. My mom, I think she has a good smile. I don't know. I'm so delighted. But

my heart is with, you know, this is a small ray of light in a big story that is still unfolding.


My father is there. There's so many other people. We are waiting for good news about everyone. My heart is with all my friends and loved ones and

everybody else that are still hostage. I think this is a great sign that we are moving in the right direction.


ASHER: Right time now for the exchange. Our next guest is talking to me about what it will take to have all of the hostages finally released


Joining me live now is Ory Slonim, former special advisor to Israel's defense minister. Mr. Slonim, thank you so much for being with us.

There are so many things I want to get your thoughts on here. I mean, firstly, I'll try to figure out how to order them. But firstly, just the

fact that Mrs. Lifshitz, when she addressed reporters, she talked about this idea that yes, initially she was beaten, but the way that she was

treated while hostage in Gaza wasn't necessarily as bad as perhaps all of us were anticipating.

What do you make of what she said in terms of how she's being treated? How much should we read into those comments? And also, what are your thoughts

in terms of what all of this means about whether or not we will see more hostages being released in the coming weeks and days?

ORY SLONIM, FORMER ADVISER TO ISRAEL'S DEFENSE MINISTER: I think that she spoke with the media a couple of minutes after she was released, and she

was kept in captivity in a place that I believe that nobody in the world can imagine, what cruel way of behavior was there.

And I won't judge anything regarding her words. I think that she was very frank. If you know that she left her husband of 85 years old there, she

knows nothing about him. So, I believe that whatever she said cannot be judged and cannot be even criticized or cannot be even understood in that


So, I don't want to -- I don't want to comment on this because I don't know the situation of an old woman of 85, I think, years old coming five minutes

after being in captivity with these cool people outside to the media people. I can't comment.

GOLODRYGA: Ory, I know that you are advising and have been in touch with a lot of these hostages' families, which I'm sure to them gives them great

solace to be able to speak with somebody with your background. What are they telling you now after we've seen four of these hostages released? Are

they encouraged that perhaps more could come?

SLONIM: I think that they're -- I think that they're hoping and our task is to be those who are giving them not a big hope, but keeping them in a

normal situation, which is very tough. And I believe that even if it is two ladies and the other day another two ladies, I think that we all know and

it's including the families, that the releasing of these four ladies is something of the cruel, the most cruel tactic of psychology war against the

people in Israel, against the families.

And I can tell you that after having them back home, the whole thing is starting from together. We would like to have everybody in one group back

home because it's a real psychology war, very cruel one. So, I think it should be stopped by dropping every two days, two ladies living here,

living here or the two of them, relatives, either wives or husbands or kids, whatever. I think it's a cruel way of releasing.

I'm happy with the releasing, but it's a cool way of doing it the way they do it. And I would like to remind you that the group of the people who are

being held there are people, old people above the age of 80, 85. There are mothers with babies of one month. I believe one is below Fortnite. And

there are babies without their mothers.


And there are (Inaudible) that boys and girls, youngsters, went to dance in the desert. And when they were brought to captive, it was so cool to see,

even on TV, the young girls being raped, being raped in front of all of friends. And I want to elaborate more because the cruel that -- the cruel

that event I've ever seen in my life.

And I'm not talking only hostages. I'm talking about, you know, even our Holocaust. Something very close to our Holocaust and when I had that every

of these ugly human being, they're not human being, ugly whatever, they got -- they got some so called salaries of $10,000 U.S. dollars and an

apartment free of charge on any kidnapped human being.

So you can imagine, you know, they were motivated not only by, you know, being Hamas only, but by being paid for such cruel actions. And I think

that such an event never occurred.


SLONIM: Neither in Israel nor worldwide. Now there are there 20, at least 30 people who are not, who have double citizenship of U.S. and other

countries. And I can imagine that these countries are very worried about their citizens. And I know that the U.S. is giving us a big hand, a big

hand with our negotiation with these ugly guys.

ASHER: All right, Ory, we have to leave it there, but thank you so much for your insight. It was very valuable. Thank you, Ory.

SLONIM: Thank you for being with us.

ASHER: Of course.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you. Well, a programming note for you. Be sure to watch our colleague, Cristiane Amanpour's exclusive live interview with Queen

Rania of Jordan. That is coming up in the next hour, 6 p.m. in London, 8 p.m. in Amman, Jordan, right here on CNN.

ASHER: We'll be back with more after the break. Also ahead, an American detained in Russia talks to CNN here, his plea for help and his hopes for

the future.



ASHER: All right, we want to give you an update on what's happening on the front lines just in terms of Ukraine, where the military is saying that its

troops are holding the front line around the city of Donetsk, specifically Avdiivka. That's a small city.

They're saying that despite some small gains made by Russia in a major push two weeks ago, Ukraine is saying that it's repelled 10 Russian attacks

around the city in the past 24 hours. Avdiivka has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after sustaining months of attacks.

GOLODRYGA: Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities have ordered the evacuation of children from settlements in Donetsk and Kherson regions. Officials blame

increased Russian military activity in eastern and southern Ukraine. At least 500 children have died, and more than 1,000 have been injured since

Russia's invasion began in February of 2022, according to statistics compiled for the government.

ASHER: I also want to give you a quick update on Paul Whelan. That's the American who's been imprisoned in Russia for nearly five years. He has

actually spoken exclusively to CNN about the scenes -- behind-the-scenes talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about his situation.

The former Marine, who is also an Irish, British, and Canadian citizen, was left out of two prisoner swaps last year.

GOLODRYGA: At the time, two other wrongfully detained Americans, Trevor Reed and Brittney Griner released. In 2018, Whelan was detained at a Moscow

hotel by Russian authorities who accused him of involvement in an intelligence operation which he denies.

From Washington, CNN's Jennifer Hansler joins us now. Jennifer, you have been talking to Paul throughout his detainment. What did he say

specifically this time and what is his message to the country and the world?

JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Well, Bianna, he told me a little bit about his call with Secretary Blinken back in August, and he

said he was able to convey his feelings about his situation and press the top U.S. diplomat on what is being done to try to secure his release after

nearly five years in Russian detention. He was able to express his disappointment at the fact that he was left behind in those two prisoner


We should note that U.S. officials have said that Russia refused to include him in those swaps, but he did not mince words in his message to Blinken.

Take a listen to what he told me he said.


PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I told him point blank that leaving me here the first time painted a target on my back. And leaving me

here the second time basically signed a death warrant.


HANSLER: Now he said it's because of his age and the conditions of the camp, the work he is having to do, that physical labor at that prison camp

there in Mordovia, Russia, gives him concern about whether he'll be able to get out. And he pressed the U.S., top U.S. diplomat to ensure that he would

not be left behind again.

He said he felt that Blinken was able to convey that message, was able to give him assurances that he would not be left behind, that he is not being

forgotten. And he said he does think that there are efforts underway to secure his release, but he doesn't know how long it's going to take.

Now, we should note that the U.S. has presented Russia with what they call a serious proposal for his release, and Russia has not engaged in a

substantive way on that proposal. That of course came before Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested. So now the U.S. officials

are trying to get both of these men back home after they have been declared wrongfully detained there in Russia. Zain, Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: Of course, we'll continue to be covering their wrongful detainment as well and efforts to bring them both home.

Jennifer Hansler, thank you. We'll be right back.



ASHER: All right, as we mentioned earlier, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have officially nominated a new House Speaker.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, after more than three hours of voting by secret ballot, they have chosen Tom Emmer. But it's unclear if he has enough support to

get elected by the whole House. So we'll continue to cover this story.

ASHER: And in a separate courtroom nearly 1,400 kilometers away, another one of Donald Trump's ex-lawyers is appearing before a judge. But this

time, the former U.S. president is there to witness it. Trump is voluntarily attending his ongoing civil fraud trial in New York. He doesn't

have to be there. He's chosen to be there. And this is where Michael Cohen, Michael Cohen, remember him, is taking the stand now.

GOLODRYGA: This case of all seems to really be getting under Trump's skin. Cohen was at one point considered Trump's right-hand man, spending years in

his inner circle even earning the nickname the Fixer. Well, he's now the star witness against Trump and one of his most vocal critics. Cohen said

his appearance today has nothing to do with a personal grudge.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: This is not about Donald Trump versus Michael Cohen or Michael Cohen versus Donald Trump. This is about

accountability, plain and simple, and we leave it up to Judge Engoron in order to make all the determinations on that.


GOLODRYGA: Before entering court earlier, Trump called Cohen a quote, "proven liar and a felon."

Well, returning now to our top story in the Middle East, CNN's producer in Gaza has given us a firsthand look at life inside the Strip. Ibrahim Dahman

and his family tried to evacuate from Gaza from its southern border with Egypt, but had to turn back.

ASHER: Right. From meeting other families who are in a similar position to having to drink what he's referring to as toilet water, literally drinking

toilet water, Ibrahim shares his story with us now. Take a look.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (onscreen text): Are we going to die today? That's what my son asks me since we fled Gaza City. Life in Khan Yunis is

difficult. We're staying with at least 150 other displaced families from the north, eating bare minimum to survive. We spend our time watching

airstrikes. And filling the water tank. It's like drinking toilet water. Our children drink toilet water.

Because there's no electricity, my children can't see the horror online. And spend their time playing with other children. Over the weekend, we were

told to go to Rafah crossing. So, we loaded our car to try and flee again. On the way there was a lot of destruction. At the crossing other families

full of hope were also trying to escape. But that hope quickly faded. We were told it's now closed.

We were at the Rafah crossing. We were hoping to enter the Egyptian side, but the crossing was closed. It only opened for humanitarian aid.

We make our way back, avoiding the chaos, hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.


We hear airstrikes in the distance. Are you scared?

UNKNOWN (onscreen text): No, I'm not scared.

DAHMAN (onscreen text): But I can see the tear in his eyes, the same that's in mine.


GOLODRYGA: Well, you know, just watching that, it's another important reminder of why it's so crucial to have Ibrahim, why we're so fortunate to

have him there in Gaza, telling us and documenting his story and his family's.

ASHER: Yes, the only hope for so many people who are trapped in Gaza is really the Rafah crossing. That is their hope, and who knows when that

crossing is going to open. It's only open so far for humanitarian aid coming in, but so far no one has been allowed out of Gaza, and that really

is the only glimmer of hope for people who are trapped there on the ground.

All right, that does it for us this hour of One World. I'm Zain Ashera.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. Thank you so much for watching. Amanpour is next. And we'll see you back here tomorrow.