Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
President Biden Speaks; Sources: Two Israeli Hostages Released by Hamas; Palestinian Health Ministry: 12 Hospitals & 32 Medical Centers "Out of Service" After Israeli Strikes and Fuel Depletion; Aid Trickles into Gaza as Israeli Airstrikes Increase. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 23, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking news we are falling for you multiple sources telling CNN the Hamas has released two more hostages after
mediation from Qatar and Egypt. In a statement, we've just received Hamas's that the two were released for humanitarian as well as health reasons.
One source who was briefed on the matter says the two are Israeli citizens. And other says that were released to the Red Cross and Israeli official
says the hostages are not back in Israel as of yet. This follows of course, are you remember the release of Natalie and Judith Raanan just last week
Jeremy Diamond is in Ashkelon. Jeremy, just bring us up to date with the very latest because we know this is very sensitive issue. What more do we
know at this stage about these two hostages?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. Well, this appears to be the result of mediation efforts that have been led by the
Government of Qatar as well as some assistance it seems from Egyptian officials. What we do not yet know is where exactly these hostages are?
Apparently they are two women. We have yet to officially confirm their identities but they are Israeli citizens and they appear to have been
released into the custody of the Red Cross initially, whether they're currently in Egypt or still in the Gaza Strip remains unclear at this
But according to one source, they are not yet in Israel. A Hamas for its part says that it released these hostages, "for compelling humanitarian and
health reasons". They also point to some reluctance on the part of the Israelis to release them. We know that there had been some back and forth
over the weekend between Hamas saying that it was willing to release these two female hostages, and the Israeli saying that they were not going to
play into Hamas propaganda.
But regardless, what appears to have happened now is that this is now the second set of hostages who have been released by Hamas in just a matter of
days with the most recent being on Friday evening, when the first two hostages, two American women, the Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan were
released into Israel.
Now, what we know is playing out in the background of all of this is that Hamas is trying to delay a potential Israeli ground invasion, they have
dangled the possibility repeatedly now of releasing hostages in exchange for humanitarian relief for Gaza, and also for some kind of Israeli
And in the background of all of this, we know that U.S. officials have now also been pressuring is the Israeli government to delay its ground invasion
in order to allow for more time for mediation efforts to get more hostages released.
SOARES: Yes. And on that point, in many ways, perhaps the Hamas trying to show that is willing to engage and release those hostages. So talk to the
pressure, then it leaves Prime Minister Netanyahu to try and delay or have a pause on this offensive here. What is the mood? What are people telling
you on the ground from the conversations you've had?
DIAMOND: I mean, look, it depends who you speak to. There's no question that some of these families of the hostages have urged the Israeli
government to prioritize the release of hostages above any other considerations. The American government has made clear that while it
supports Israel's right to defend itself.
And will be behind Israel if it decides to move forward with the ground invasion. You know, the Biden Administration has made clear that its
priority is also getting hostages in particular U.S. citizens who are still believed to be held by Hamas, to get them released.
At the same time, the Israeli government has made very clear that it is going to move forward with this invasion. They want to deal a blow to
Hamas, like never before they want to destroy a Hamas and ensure that it is no longer the ruling power in Gaza after this military operation.
And so there are bigger picture objectives that the Israeli government has here certainly, beyond getting these hostages released. But at the same
time, there are pressures including from the U.S. government in order to allow these efforts to play out to try and get some of these hostages out
in particular those civilians and dual nationals.
SOARES: Yes, just stay with us, Jeremy, for viewers just joining us. Let me bring you up to date what we've just heard in the last few minutes. Hamas
has released two more hostages have been told in a statement that we have received Hamas's that the two were released for humanitarian as well as
We know that they were released at to the Red Cross. Of course it's really vicious as the hostages is not back in Israel yet not yet in Israel but
there have been handed to the Red Cross and it comes if you remember following the release of Natalie, mother and daughter, Judith Raanan in
Jeremy, we go back to you, just talk to us about how this came about kind of the quiet negotiations here between Qatar, Egypt and Hamas, I'm
DIAMOND: I mean, look, Hamas has a presence, its leader is lives in Qatar.
DIAMOND: And they have a presence and have had a presence in Qatar for quite some time. And so they have typically been the primary interlocutors
with Hamas over the years. The U.S. government, of course, does not speak to Hamas directly because it considers Hamas and has designated as a
And therefore, all of these efforts have had to go through the Qataris as well as the Egyptians who, of course, have a border with the Gaza Strip and
do regularly interface with Hamas officials. So these talks have been happening quietly in the background, there are, you know, rumors and
discussions of potentially larger releases of civilian hostages from Gaza.
But these are complicated and very sensitive matters of course, you know, Hamas has been trying to get some kind of a ceasefire out of Israel in
order to allow for the release of additional hostages. But Israel wants to make sure that it is not moving forward based on Hamas's terms.
And they also want to make sure that they are able to carry out their objective, which is to ensure that Hamas no longer rules Gaza, and no
longer poses the kind of threat that they pose two weeks ago, to Israeli civilians in Israel.
SOARES: And we understand that both are these hostages that were released for humanitarian health reasons. And I'm hearing as well, Israeli official
saying they were both women, Jeremy, and it comes on the day that the IDF and correct me if I'm wrong, it said 222 hostages, people remain in Hamas
custody. Is that right?
DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. Those are the latest numbers from the Israeli government. 222 hostages, we've seen that number go up, of course, as
Israel has been able to confirm that some of the missing people were indeed hostages held by Hamas, what we've also learned is that the Israeli
government has learned that the majority, at least of the Americans are being held by Hamas, not only that they are in fact alive.
And that appears to be some of what is leading the United States to pressure Israel to delay its ground invasion in order to try and get those
SOARES: So, you know where does this leave, then Prime Minister Netanyahu and all the forces that you have the scene Hamas by the border there?
Clearly there he's under so much pressure he wants to break the backs of Hamas. But that pressure from the families because hostages are being
released. So how does he balance both of these, Jeremy?
DIAMOND: Yes, it is a tricky balancing act for sure. I mean, I think that the reality is that the overwhelming mood in this country is to deal a
significant blow to Hamas. Certainly, people would like to see those hostages get home safely. But it does appear that the kind of overwhelming
overriding sentiment in this country is focused on dealing that kind of a significant blow to Hamas.
To ensure that it can never again carry out the kind of shocking and barbaric attacks that he carried out on Israeli towns, on Israeli civilians
killing them inside of their homes just over two weeks ago. And I think that while Israel is willing to delay perhaps for a few days.
It's ground invasion to allow some more time for the release for the negotiations at least to potentially lead to the release of these hostages.
I think if you listen to the rhetoric, saying you're going to see the inside of Gaza troops telling them we will enter Gaza just this evening,
the Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying that this operation will move forward.
It is clear that there is no backing down from this threat to go into Hamas with a significant ground force. The question now is only when?
SOARES: Yes, thank you very much. Jeremy Diamond there in Ashkelon for the very latest. Let's get more on all of this. Alex Marquardt joins me who has
more reporting on this. And Alex, just talk to us how this came about. We know that Qatar, each of their quaint negotiations going on as well with
Hamas, what are you learning this hour?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, so this is both a surprise and not a surprise in that it comes in the wake of the two
American women who are released on Friday. We know that Qatar has been negotiating quite intensely, as well as the Egyptians.
We understand over the course of the past two weeks ever since that horrific attack on Saturday, October 7 and Hamas took back and those we now
understand more than 200 hostages into Gaza, Hamas and other groups and I say that it is a surprise because this is something that was very quickly
announced this afternoon.
And we learned about it from a number of different sources. My colleagues Jenny Hansler, Kaitlan Collins and myself it's not quite clear why these
two women were released in particular, we understand that they are two Israeli women, we're trying to determine whether they are also dual
nationals they have other citizenships.
We're also being very careful about their identities and making sure that we can report what we know when it is most appropriate. But for now, we
understand that these two Israeli women who were in Hamas custody have been handed over to the Red Cross they are not yet in Israel.
So they are in transit, if you will, on their way out. And that this is how it happened last time on Friday, the Red Cross hands them over to the
Israeli authorities, of course, Isa, everyone thrilled to see these two more hostages released by Hamas. But of course, the wish is that the rest
are also released in and as soon as possible -- .
SOARES: And on that point, I know that the U.S. was trying to push Israel to pause really on their incursion into Gaza. Does this suggest then that
Hamas is willing to release them is willing to engage? I mean, does that add more pressure on Netanyahu here, Alex?
MARQUARDT: Absolutely. And that is the message that Hamas is sending that we are willing to engage, we're really willing to release prisoners. And
you can imagine that is going to increase the pressure not just from his, own Israeli citizens, but from foreign leaders as well.
You have dozens of people of different nationalities, we understand and the leaders from those countries are going to be telling are telling I'm told
according to Western Diplomat, Prime Minister Netanyahu to take more time, as I was just told by this diplomat these countries are telling Netanyahu
we have equity in this as well.
This is not just about Israel going in and attacking Hamas for what they did in October 7. They now have all these nationals who they want.
SOARES: Alex, I'm sorry to interrupt. Mr. President, Joe Biden is speaking let's just listen in apologies.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We invented the semiconductors, a little computer chips about the size the tip your little
finger. And effectively everything in our lives, from cell phones to automobiles, refrigerators, to most sophisticated weapon systems we have.
America invented these chips.
But over time, we went from producing nearly 40 percent of the world's chips down to producing just over 10 percent. And as a result of the CHIPS
and Science Act, the semiconductor companies all over the world are investing over $100 billion to bring chip production back to United States.
I've visited almost every major center starting from South Korea on, and they want to be here building the chips here in America. Second, the bill
created what we call tech hubs. As part of the bill, a tech hub is going to -- we're going to invest in critical technologies like biotechnology,
critical materials, quantum computing, and advanced manufacturing.
So the U.S. will lead the world again, in innovation across the board. These hubs all around the country will bring together private industry,
higher education, state and local governments, tribes and organized labor. Today, we're announcing that 31 tech hubs spread across the entire company
SOARES: President Biden talking there about Bidenomics. Alex, apologize, I've been interrupted you you're making the point, we were talking about
the pressure that this puts Prime Minister Netanyahu in, given that we've now seen this will be the fourth hostage being released.
MARQUARDT: Yes, the Israelis are denying that there's any pressure from the Americans, they certainly don't want to be seen as taking orders from the
U.S. And the U.S. doesn't want to be seen as telling Israel what to do. But at the same time, the Biden Administration is not denying these they make
are making clear that they are giving advice.
They're offering their judgment about how to go about doing this. And it is clear that pressure has come about and likely grown today as a result of
yet another release, that they can point to the fact that hostages are being released aid for the second day in a row is getting into Gaza.
And that will pressure will likely mount on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to give more time before they go into Gaza because that
progress is being made, Isa.
SOARES: Yes and of course for our viewers joining us, we now know that two Israeli hostages from what we understand being released by Hamas there with
the Red Cross and they have not been handed over yet to Israel. And it's an ongoing effort. And Alex was just telling us right now, that has been led
by Qatar and Egypt to get them out.
And this comes I think, Alex, is still with us. And, Alex, this comes of course in the same day that we heard the IDF saying the 222 hostages are in
MARQUARDT: Yes, which is the highest number that we've heard?
I mean until now we use over the course of the past two weeks haven't been able to put a specific number on it. We've gotten all kinds of estimates
from dozens to 100 to 200. Now the idea of saying that there are 222. I should make the point, Isa, that, you know, you've got Hamas saying that
they have released on Friday the two women on humanitarian grounds. And that's not to make it sound like Hamas is doing it this out of the goodness
of their heart.
MARQUARDT: When you have 200 people who we understand are split up into different groups held by different groups and subgroups of Hamas. It is
difficult to take care of all of them they certainly want to keep them in good condition. So that they can be used as leverage and so if you have
people who are unwell, who are who are sick, for example, they could be a burden on Hamas.
And it could be in Hamas's interest to unload them essentially. Because at the same time, they think that they're going to be getting some goodwill
from the international community because they're showing they can release people and they know that pressure is going to be added on Israel, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, Alex Marquardt helping us to read between the lines there. Alex, thank you very much. Appreciate it. We're going to take a short
break. We're back after this.
SOARES: And returning to our breaking news if you're just joining us this hour multiple sources tell CNN the Hamas has released two hostages
following mediation from Qatar and Egypt. One source who was briefed on the matter says the two are Israeli citizens. In a statement Hamas said it
released them for humanitarian and health reasons.
And this follows of course you remember the release of two American hostages last week. We'll keep on top of that breaking news as soon as that
any developments of course we will bring that to you. Well, millions of people in Gaza are facing the risk of severe dehydration and starvation as
limited a trickles in.
Another 20 trucks entered Gaza from Egypt on Monday with food and water that is just a tiny fraction of the support that typically arrives, on a
normal day and this is important context here. More than 450 aid trucks into Gaza, workers on the ground so the situation is growing ever direr.
Well the U.S. State Department says it's working with Israel to make sure places like medical facilities are safe for civilians. Health officials in
Gaza say 12 hospitals and 32 medical centers are now out of service due to Israeli air strikes or fuel shortages. That's put even more pressure as you
can imagine on those still open. Our Clarissa Ward has more.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are entering the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. This is just one minute on one
day. But doctors tell us it could be any minute of the last 16 days. It is a scene from how many of the patients is young children.
The reception area now a triage center and everywhere you turn another casualty, every one of these people has been ordered by Israel's military
to evacuate the hospital, including the staff already outnumbered and overwhelmed. And as the punishing bombardment continues, the wounded keep
flooding in. Doctors say there's nowhere else for them to go and no safe way to transport them out.
DR. MARWAN ABUSADA, CHIEF OF SURGERY AT AL SHIFA HOSPITAL: We had them -- . The mass casualty is once or twice a day. But now we have every half an
hour, causalities. So overloaded our emergency department and our OT department and our IBD department are overloaded with a patient.
WARD (voice-over): Dr. Marwan Abusada warns that the situation is about to get dramatically worse. Hospital, he says is just two days away from
running out of fuel needed to power the generators that are keeping the hospital and its patients alive.
WARD: If you do run out of fuel in two days, what will you do? I mean, what can you do?
ABUSADA: I think the international community will be part of the process of killing of our people if they don't act on Israel to allow to, get this if
you will enter into Gaza. What to do for the people who are in the ICU on mechanical ventilator. What about the neonatal unit is, there a small
We have more than 130 in our neonatal ICU units, what to do with them? They will OK with it is I think we are allowing them to die -- . We don't have a
fuel to run our generators in the hospital.
WARD (voice-over): Just a trickle of aid has been allowed to cross into Gaza, and none of it fuel, blocked by Israel. It says over concerns it will
be taken by Hamas. Hundreds of trucks are waiting along the Egyptian side of the border. Diplomatic efforts to establish a continuous humanitarian
corridor have failed. And there is no more time for debate.
SOARES: Dr. Hatem Edhair is the Head of the neonatal unit in Nasser Hospital in Gaza. And he joins me now on the phone. Doctor, I appreciate
you taking the time to speak to us. We've seen as we said enough, just in the lead into that report 28 trucks have made it in and but that is really
just a drop in the ocean. Give us a sense of what you are seeing, Doctor?
DR. HATEM EDHAIR, HEAD OF NICU NASSER MEDICAL COMPLEX: Yes, thank you for having me in your canal, really a difficult time for us as a doctors and
medical provider in Gaza. There are a lot of challenges that are facing us. The most important and most critical now is the lack of electricity that
all our devices or our incubator or our mechanical ventilation or our infusion pump.
Oxygen also will be cut off because we don't have electricity unless we are unless our generator is turned on, because we don't have another type of
electricity other than generator. So if the fuel is not coming in the next few days, we are facing a lot of problems. Maybe many kids, many units will
be died in these a few days. This is the problem.
SOARES: Dr. Hatem that is incredibly hard. Just to wrap your head around. You are saying that as we've been saying to our viewers, none of these
trucks the 28 trucks admitted in today will carry fuel. We know that they will not that's what Israel has asked.
But that has an impact on operations that have an impact on so many children of course who are intensive care in the neonatal department. How
much fuel do you have right now for how many days or are you already running out?
EDHAIR: Really, I don't know exactly how many fuel we have.
Because this is the job of the -- but up as they change the deal day by day with the quantity that we have, so we are in emergency day that we can
decrease our needs to the emergency just emergency. So all air conditions are turned off, all non-emergency lights are turned off.
Thus we use the fuel to turn on our ventilators, our oxygen supplies, our monitors, our change -- sterilization just like that, no emergency no fuel
for non-emergency all fuels that we are used to turn off our generator that you for just emergency situation in our department, as you know, neonatal
ICU consider in the top of emergency department.
So we are in the third department that we are affected by the efficiency of the fuel and stop of our generator.
SOARES: And of course you are the Head of the neonatal intensive care at Nasser hospital.
SOARES: How many children doctor? And this is really important how many children rely, our intensive care right now.
EDHAIR: We are now increasing in number in the morning, we have just 8 children. Now we have 11 children, because we admit we have high admission
rate because all the immigrants from the north area of the Gaza came to southern area of the Gaza in -- . So we have increasing rate of delivery,
increasing rate of premature delivery for the additional rate increases.
Now I have an hour in my medical ICU that I have just 14 beds. I have 11 beds BT with baby. And also I have 10 babies with -- in the room with
mother that repeat from community. All the 10 they be that little baby of the neonatal ICU, most of them are premature baby, half of them on non-
invasive ventilator like see that are non-invasive ventilation that needs oxygen.
That means half of them need urgently oxygen and monitor. Most of them less than 1.5 kg and most of them are pre mature about five of them less than 28
weeks. And most of them are pre mature.
SOARES: And doctor, I'm sorry to have to ask you this question. But I'm guessing this is something that you have thought about. Many of these
children are pre mature. Many of these babies are pre mature, unable, of course to breathe on their own without the constant flow, like you said of
If you've only got fuel, electricity for a couple of days, how do you choose who gets that electricity? Who gets that air? This is must be
something that must weigh heavily on you.
EDHAIR: We didn't really we didn't know this is making a -- on how this baby will lead without oxygen. This is very important for us. We saw them
in the bath. For example one of my children is produced by IVF pregnancy, the family waiting him for about -- . How can I convince the family of this
baby that their child will be dies because there is no oxygen?
This is a disaster for us. I know -- UNICEF, all other organizations that support us in the neonatal units in Gaza should all of them do their
efforts for the shoot to go to impact to the hospital not to other anybody to just to the hospital. And this is very important for us.
SOARES: It's always the innocent children that are impacted by this Dr. Hatem Edhair. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Keep
in touch, keep us posted. And thank you for your work that you're doing. Thank you very much, Doctor. We're going to take a short break. We're back
SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date on our top story. Hamas says it has released two more hostages. One source is telling
CNN the two are Israeli citizens and they were released to the Red Cross. We also know they are women. This follows the release of Americans Natalie
and Judith if you remember. Natalie and Judith Raanan this past Friday.
A U.S. official says Israel has told Washington that more American hostages are alive and sources say that's one reason why the U.S. is pressing Israel
to delay a ground invasion to Gaza. Something, of course, of Gaza that we've been discussing throughout this hour.
The White House says President Biden spoke Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about hostage release efforts. A senior Israeli
officials denied that U.S. is pressing for delay. A National Security Council Spokesperson Kirby spoke earlier. He said getting Americans back
home remains of course the White House top priority. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We have no higher priority than the safety of Americans
that are being held around the world and we're going to continue around the clock to see if we can get them home with their families where they belong.
It is literally an hour-by-hour effort here at the White House and at the State Department to find out where these folks are and to try to make the
effort to get them out and get them back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Of course, you had me pause there. That is John Kirby. You are listening to that. Well, Congressman Gerry Connolly is a member of the U.S.
House Foreign Affairs Committee. And he joins me now. Congressman, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. We've just heard in the
last what I'd say 34 minutes or so. The two more hostages have been released following Qatari and Egyptian mediation. Your reaction, sir.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Well, it's great news to have two more hostages released. But obviously there are over 200 hostages still being held by
Hamas, Israelis and Americans. And we want to see all of those hostages safely returned to their families and loved ones. So, there's a lot more
work to be done. I'm glad Hamas is actually relenting. That's a good sign. That means presumably, they're open to importuning. But great care has to
be taken here ;Less those hostages come to harm.
SOARES: Yes. Many may -- some may say I would say that, you know, Hamas is willing to engage and shows that they want to release hostages. Does this
put more pressure, Congressmen, you think on the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to hold off to pause that incursion?
CONNOLLY: Hard to say. You know, the Israeli government has to respond to this incredibly brutal, vicious terrorist attack on the sovereign soil of
Israel. On the other hand, the Israeli government has to protect those hostages, most of whom are Israeli. And they have a responsibility as the
democratic government to protect innocent civilians in Gaza, who had no part in the terrorist activities of Hamas. So, this is going to be a very,
very difficult task for Bibi Netanyahu who historically has not shown a great deal of nuance when dealing with situations, political or otherwise.
SOARES: Congressman, stay with us for just one second. I want to get to Alex Marquardt. He was getting more information on the hostages. Alex, just
-- what are you hearing?
MARQUARDT: Well, Isa, we have now the names of the two Israeli women who have just been released by Hamas. They are Yocheved Lifshitz. According to
her daughter, she goes by Yohi and a second woman named Nurit Cooper. So we did get a statement from the Lifshitz family confirming that those two
women have been released to the Red Cross. We understand that they are not yet in Israel, but will be handed over to Israeli officials soon, according
to this family statement.
Lifshitz's daughter who released the statement says that, of course, they are very, very happy. I'm paraphrasing here, that her mother has been
released, but she notes that her father is still among the some 200 innocent people she says who are in Hamas custody who are being held
prisoner by Hamas. As we were noting earlier, Isa, the number, according to the Israeli military has now 222 prisoners. We also heard from President
Joe Biden just a short time ago.
He was asked whether there should be a ceasefire to allow more hostages out. He said that we should have those hostages released and then we can
talk. Israel has been very firm they do not want a ceasefire in Gaza right now, Isa.
SOARES: And we've heard, Alex, earlier from Hamas, I believe. They said that they decided to release. them. These two ladies as two ladies, females
for compelling humanitarian health reasons. Do we know any more about this?
MARQUARDT: We don't know anything more about their health. But what we do know is that that statement was put out on Saturday, which is one day after
the two American women, Raanans were released. And at the time over the weekend, we did hear President -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is
office calling what Hamas has said false propaganda that this -- that Hamas was willing to make this release, and now it appears to have happened.
So certainly, the Prime Minister's office will be needing to answer some questions on that. Isa.
SOARES: Yes. And like you and I were saying this is something my guests and I were just discussing. The Congressman and I were just discussing, is what
these signals from Hamas. How do you interpret this, Alex?
MARQUARDT: Well, I think it's certainly -- they know that the pressure will grow on Israel right now. The pressure is going to grow from their own
Israeli citizens now that these two Israeli women had been released. The pressure is going to grow from other countries like the United States,
because we've seen the other Americans released. This is -- Hamas certainly knows what they're doing here. They know that they're going to do to raise
the international pressure on Israel to essentially slow down the launch of their ground invasion, to allow for more hostages to be released -- to
allow for more aid to get into Gaza.
Israel knows that with every passing day people are more and more focused with what is going on inside Gaza. The dire humanitarian situation. So,
this is a very tough spot for Israel, which we understand is quite eager to launch this ground invasion against Hamas, Isa.
SOARES: And what have we been hearing Alex, from Qatar, from the Egyptians even on the negotiations, because they're the ones that two countries
really leading these quiet negotiations and diplomacy here.
MARQUARDT: Well, they're very open about the fact that they are leading those negotiations. But there's not like they're keeping us up to date with
exactly what they're working on. So, for example, right now, we don't really have a good sense of what could come next. There are certainly calls
from President Biden from the Israelis, really from everyone to release all of the hostages. So, could we see the next release be a larger number? It
is certainly possible.
What the Qataris have said is that they will continue negotiating with Hamas. They have said that they're making progress. That the talks have
been productive. But those talks very much be happening behind closed doors, very close hold in terms of who knows what. We didn't have a sense
that this was going to happen today. And so, you know, we're obviously staying in touch with all the parties involved. But right now, the four
main parties that we understand are, of course, Israel, the United States, and then the two who are speaking directly with Hamas are Qatar and Egypt.
SOARES: Alex, appreciate it. Thank you very much. We're going to take a short break. We'll be back after this. You're watching CNN.
SOARES: I'm updating you on our breaking news story. Hamas says in a statement that it's released two more hostages that were held in Gaza
citing compelling humanitarian and health reasons. Multiple sources identified the hostages as Israeli citizens Nurit Cooper and Yocheved
Lifshitz. A daughter in fact, who said that, while I cannot put into words, I'm the reader here. The relief that she is now safe, I'll remain focused
on securing the release of my father and all those some 200 innocent people.
We know it's 222 who remain hostages in Gaza. Like we said they were handed over to the Red Cross at the Rafah crossing. We know that Red Cross has now
transported the hostages out of Gaza. This is what they've said on social media. We'll keep you up to date with all developments on the story. But
important developments and important news for two of these families who have been waiting for any signs of -- to see their loved ones really.
So, we'll bring you up to date on that. Meanwhile, millions of people in Gaza are facing the risk of severe dehydration as well as starvation, as
limited aid trickles there. And another 20 trucks entered Gaza from Egypt on Monday with food and water. And that's just a fraction of the support
that typically arrives. Nada Bashir is in Amman, Jordan. And Nada, you know, 20 trucks, some may say. Well, that's good. It's starting to flow.
But that is a tiny fraction.
We know that to about 450 On average use to make their way into Gaza. You know, just before this conflict start. Iin the last 10 minutes or so now
for our viewers who were listening, I spoke to the head of a neonatal unit who said he's running out of fuel and imagine having to choose what babies
will get -- will get actually live breathing electricity. This is important air in order to breathe. Just bring us up to date with what you're hearing
on the ground.
NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Isa, this is the reality on the ground for many doctors, for many medics that we've been hearing from just
actually last couple of hours. We heard from a British Palestinian, Dr Ghassan Abu-Sitta who is working at the Al-Shifa Hospital. He spoke to
Christiane Amanpour. It's one of the biggest hospitals in Gaza. Around 5000 patients there right now. And he said that without the electricity that
this hospital so desperately needs, this hospital is going to turn into a mass grave.
And look, we've heard those evacuation orders and warnings from the IDF. Many doctors, particularly those from Doctors Without Borders,
international support teams as well on the ground have said that they cannot evacuate all their patients. They have babies in incubators. They
have the elderly who require that medical assistance and they cannot evacuate those patients. And what we are seeing now unfolding inside Gaza
has been described as a humanitarian catastrophe.
The aid that we're seeing coming in now it's just a tiny fraction of what Gaza needs. In fact, over the last two weeks was we've seen Gaza under
siege, less than one percent of the aid that Gaza would typically need has been brought in following the opening of the Rafah border crossing. So, you
can imagine the situation on the ground. We've been hearing from Palestinians inside Gaza, who've told us that they are living a nightmare.
Again, that they've experienced displacement once before the vast majority, of course of people in Gaza are refugees. Displaced after 1948 war -- Arab-
Israeli war. And this is something that they fear deeply. And we've been speaking to Palestinians here in Jordan. Palestinian refugees who still
have loved ones inside Gaza. They are terrified about what they are facing. Take a look.
BASHIR (voiceover): Through the narrow streets of Amman's Jabal el-Hussein Refugee Camp, the mood is clear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Palestine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No America, no America.
BASHIR (voiceover): Established more than 70 years ago, this community is now home to more than 30,000 Palestinian refugees. Just a fraction of the
more than 700,000 who were expelled or forced to flee their homes following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Families in this camp know the pain of exile all too well. Denied by Israel their right to return to their homeland. It is a life sentence to
separation from family, from friends from home. And for those with loved ones still in Gaza, they say it is a sentence to the cruelest form of
ABD MUNIM SADDO DABABCH, PALESTININAN REFUGEE IN JORDAN (through translator): Are we not human to you because we are Palestinian? At any
given moment, I could get a phone call telling me that my sister and her children had been killed. You know, my mother was killed during the Gaza
war in 2009. I hadn't seen her for 12 years.
BASHIR (voiceover): Ali Ameen Al-Ottleh says that he has more than 70 relatives in Gaza that have already been killed in this latest round of
ALI AMEEN AL-OTTLEH, PALESTINIAN REFUGEE IN JORDAN (through translator): Our home is Palestine. We will never forget about Palestine. Imagine being
forced out of your home for 75 years. We have already spent 75 years as refugees. How could you expect the Palestinians to leave their homes and
move to Egypt or elsewhere?
BASHIR (voiceover): Now the prospect of thousands more Palestinians being forcibly displaced to neighboring countries or even further afield has been
condemned by leaders across the Arab world, and has been characterized by both the King of Jordan and other officials as both a war crime and a red
line for the country.
MUSTAFA AL-HAMAMEH, JORDANIAN SENATOR: The Israelis were always adamant about no return of refugees and that's why the Palestinians cling to what
they call Law of Return or the right of return back. So, any eviction, any new mass of Palestinian refugees for us is the repeat of 1948.
BASHIR (voiceover): That fear of history repeating itself of another Nakba or catastrophe, as Palestinians describe it is felt across the region.
Many of Haniah Al-Sadawi's relatives are trapped in Gaza. Now, Hani spends every morning calling loved ones hoping they are still alive.
HANIAH AL-SADAWI, PALESTINIAN LIVING IN JORDAN: I don't even know whether my family is going to be able to go back to their homes if they're going to
have homes to go back to. And of course, the biggest fear is that they're going to be evacuated and turned into refugees. They don't want to move.
They would rather die in Gaza than move.
BASHIR (voiceover): The connection felt by Palestinians to their homeland is hard to overstate. At this church vigil in Amman, a poignant moment of
remembrance. Oh, Jerusalem, they sing. A 1960s melody, beloved across the region, dedicated to the holy city and to the Palestinian struggle. A cause
which has drawn people of all faiths of all walks of life, together with a message of enduring solidarity.
SOARES: And our thanks to Nada Bashir for that report. And we've just gotten pictures of the two hostages released by Hamas. You're looking at
that and they're two Israeli citizens, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz. Let's get the very latest with Alec -- from Alex Marquardt. And Alex, I
understand from the Red Cross they have been -- the two ladies we're seeing in our screen have been transported out of Gaza. Is that correct?
MARQUARDT: That's right, Isa. So that is Nurit Cooper on your left there. She is 79 years old and Yocheved Lifshitz on the right there. She is 85
years old. We have heard from Lifshitz's daughter who said that the two women have been released that they were handed over to the Red Cross at the
Rafah crossing. The Rafah crossing, Isa, is in southwestern Gaza. It borders Egypt and Gaza. It's where the aid has been going into Gaza.
So, we understand from this family statement that the two women were handed over to the Red Cross inside Gaza at Rafa and then transported, we assume,
because it's the Rafah crossing into Egypt, at which point we are told they are soon going to be handed over to Israeli officials. So, this is the
second release of Hamas prisoners. Since Friday, we saw two American women. Judith and Natalie Raanan who were released on Friday afternoon, Friday
evening, local time.
And then this begs the question, of course, Isa, what does Hamas have planned next, in terms of releases? Obviously, they're seeing the pressure
growing on Israel because they have shown a willingness to release more prisoners. And of course, Qatar and Egypt have been negotiating quite
intensely on behalf of the U.S., the other countries who have foreign nationals among the hostages and Israel to release all of the hostages
SOARES: Alex Marquardt with the breaking news there. Thanks very much, Alex. Appreciate it. And, you know, what Alex says there really raises the
question of what happens next in terms of Israel. What does it do? Does it go from this ground incursion? How soon does it do it? Israel's defense
minister says the country is preparing for what it calls a multilateral operation on Hamas from the air, the ground and sea. And it comes hours
after Israel says it hit more than 300 terror targets in Gaza overnight on Sunday.
Palestinian authorities say those strikes killed some 436 people reporting that residential buildings and the Jabalia Refugee Camp run long what was
impacted. All of this comes as troops and equipment builds up as you can see there on the Israel-Gaza border. Our Nic Robertson has the very latest
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): Bristling with battle ready troops. Farmer's fields north of Gaza churn with a
controlled fury of a nation readying for an incursion to strike Hamas. Yet they are waiting with no explanation why.
ROBERTSON (on camera): It feels like that early rush for battle readiness has passed. The troops are deployed standing by. The question is how long
can they be kept out here?
ROBERTSON (voiceover): According to former IDF general Israel Ziv as long as is needed, there are military gains.
ISRAEL ZIV, FORMER IDF GENERAL: We are now improving our intelligence in our capacity of targets.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): But the political calculation here is more complicated.
RON BEN YISHAI, MILITARY ANALYST: I think both in Washington and in Jerusalem, they understand that the legitimation -- legitimization window
is closing quickly.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Civilian losses in Gaza are growing. More than a third of them children. According to Palestinian health officials.
Lengthy negotiations have led to two American hostages released as a tiny amount of humanitarian aid has crossed into Gaza that Israel fears ends up
on Hamas' masses hands. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calculus of when to send in ground troops has never been so fraught under pressure from
the White House for more hostage releases.
YISHAI: Netanyahu is in real problem. He has it he cannot say no to Biden, but he cannot say yes to the -- to the humanitarian aid that drift into
ROBERTSON (voiceover): But he is also under pressure at home too. Military and others hawkish for a decisive blow against Hamas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are finishing preparing, you know the ground force because we've changed plans. We are going to pay for heavy maneuvering.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Netanyahu's dilemma compounded by his dependence on American weapons.
YISHAI: The pressure is from Washington is real. Is real and strong and the Prime Minister says many times to his ministers. Listen, we are getting
from the United States more than you know.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Where less than a week ago these fields were teeming with tanks, troops making last-minute repairs. Today, there are just tracks
in the sand.
ROBERTSON (on camera): There's a soldier's jacket here, bread and a bag. On the table, the question is, where have all the tanks gone? Forward for an
incursion, or back to base for a pause?
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Close to the frontline in Gaza these days, more questions than answers and incursions still highly probable. But when?
Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.
SOARES: We'll take a short break. We'll be back after this.
SOARES: And returning to our top story this hour. Hamas says in a statement that it has released two more hostages citing compelling their words
humanitarian and health reasons.