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IDF: Troops Mistakenly Killed Three Israeli Hostages In Gaza; Hungary's Orban Blocks New Aid To Ukraine; Ukrainian Lawmaker: Without Aid, We Are Going To Lose; Maersk Suspends Shipping Routes Through Red Sea. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 15, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The Israel military accidentally shoots and kills three hostages held in Gaza.
The EU vows to fund Ukraine's war effort despite a veto from Viktor Orban.
And some major shipping companies are halting journeys through the Red Sea after a series of attacks.
Live from New York, on Friday, it's December 15th. I am Richard Quest, and I mean business.
Good evening. The Israeli military says it has accidentally killed three hostages in northern Gaza. The IDF says that three men were shot after
being mistakenly identified as a threat. The bodies have been taken back to Israel and were later identified.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a statement on X, saying he speaks of his unbearable tragedy. Forgive me if I look down while
I read. It's only just come through.
Benjamin Netanyahu says, along with all the people of Israel, I bow my head with deep sorrow and mourn the death of three of our dear sons. This is an
Alex Marquardt is with me in Tel Aviv. What happened, Alex?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, before we get into that, we've just gotten the name of the third man who
was killed today in this horribly sad event. Alon Shamriz was the third hostage, whose name we did not have until just moments ago when we got it
from the Israel Defense Forces. So Alon Shamriz, along with Yotam Haim, 28 years old. The two of them, both of them kidnapped from a kibbutz near the
Gaza Strip, Kibbutz Kfar Aza.
And then there was a third man Samer Talalka, 25 years old. He was kidnapped from another kibbutz.
Richard, this happened in Shejaiya, which is a neighborhood in northeastern Gaza. It is where there has been heavy fighting for the past few weeks. The
IDF has been trying to clear out northern Gaza, Shejaiya in particular, along with the Jabalya refugee camp nearby.
This incident happened earlier on Friday. We don't know if it was during the day or when it was still dark. But what we understand is that these
three men were spotted by IDF troops who mistook them presumably for enemy combatants, fired on them, and killed them.
The troops then went over and looked to the bodies, grew suspicious that they might be hostages. The bodies were taken back to Israel, and they were
identified and confirmed to be hostages.
Now, of course, the IDF tonight, showing incredible remorse and sorrow, but at the same time, they say they still have to investigate. The -- Daniel
Hagari, the main spokesman for the IDF, was asked if, for example, the men, when they emerged, if they had their hands up, if they were speaking
Hebrew. That's something that he did not have the answer to.
Hagari said it was possible that the men had escaped from captivity or that, during the fighting, they had gotten away or gotten left behind, that
perhaps the Hamas militants had moved on and simply left them behind. So there are clearly a lot of unanswered questions.
But, Richard, until now, there were just over 130 hostages who remained in the Gaza Strip with around 20 of them believed to be dead. So just around
110 or so believed to be alive -- Richard.
QUEST: I mean, this is the worst nightmare, isn't it, in a sense from Israel's -- in Israel tonight. When the fog of war, as I say that awful
phrase, these things happen.
MARQUARDT: It really is, and it is fog of war, but also -- it really highlights the fact that this is just incredibly fierce fighting. We've
seen videos, really from both sides, emphasizing how it's such close quarters, it's house to house, it's room to room.
The IDF has had quite a few casualties -- 119 so far. They have had 13 friendly fire deaths which, of course, are tragedies as well one a soldier
is killed by his brothers in arms. And then the other day, there was a single incident, which nine soldiers were killed in one attack by
militants. And so, the IDF is taking heavy losses.
At the same time, they have been accused by the US and others of not being nearly careful enough when it comes to civilians. We had reporting on CNN
just yesterday about the use of dumb bombs, imprecise unguided bombs. Almost half of the bombs that have been dropped on Gaza were dumb bombs.
I actually spoke with the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier today, asking him how he squares, you know, that use -- the high civilian
death toll and the use of those dumb bonds with the US insistence that Israel really does have the intent to keep civilians safe. And the US is
arguing that Israel needs to do more and that they continue to push them to do more. That was one of the main objectives of this visit by Jake
Sullivan, was to tell Israel they need to be much more surgical, much more precise.
And now we know from the IDF that instructions have gone out to all of the troops in Gaza after this horrible incident in which three of the hostages
were killed, instructions how to identify civilians, how to identify hostages, so another accident like this will not happen again -- Richard.
QUEST: Alex Marquardt with me. Thank you very much, in Tel Aviv.
Now, also now in Tel Aviv is Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Mel Gat is one of the hostages held in Gaza. Well, Gil, I mean, the news tonight, of course,
and, first of all, thank God it wasn't your cousin. But what's your initial thoughts after you hear something like that when -- you know, Gil, there's
always that possibility. But now that there's a sharp dose of this reality of the IDF in this case, what do you think? What are your thoughts?
GIL DICKMANN, FAMILY MEMBER HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: We knew this would happen. We warned that that was going to happen. And now, we are keeping on
This is going to happen again if we do not change what we're doing. Israel must put an initiative on the table right now to get all the hostages back
from Gaza because it's impossible to fight a war in these conditions. And it's clear now. The fact that only three hostages were killed, and they are
the people that I've got to know their families and my heart goes to them, and, of course, to the soldiers who didn't mean to hurt innocent hostages,
that the fact that it's only three is, in a way, lucky.
We don't want any of these events to occur again. We demand that Israel .
DICKMANN: . and the US -- everyone who cares about life -- puts an initiative on the table to bring back all of the hostages home right now
DICKMANN: . anything like this happens again.
QUEST: Okay. We'll come to the initiative that you would like to see in a second. But I was interested in your first answer -- bit of your answer
where you said you were warned that this might happen. What did you mean?
DICKMANN: We heard the testimonies of the hostages who came back. They were all very vocal about it in the war cabinet meeting just 10 days ago. They
said that the war conditions in Gaza puts their lives at risk, and it's certain.
We knew that that was a possibility because we heard their testimonies. And we know that the hostages who came back were saved from these conditions.
But the hostages who were there, their life is still in danger. And we know that that's a possibility. We pray that it's not going to happen, but now
it happened. And it's so -- it's just unbelievably sad.
QUEST: But, Gil, this case, of course, it was a complete and utter horrific tragedy and mistake by the IDF, in a sense of they sort of. But if we --
you know, if you look at the conditions of the war being fought at the moment, as you say, one is not surprised if you suddenly hear that one of
the stray dumb bombs or whatever has killed hostages as well.
I mean, this is .
DICKMANN: That's right.
QUEST: . this is urban warfare of the most brutal type. And do -- you know, it leaves me asking you -- and forgive me -- I know the difficult position
you're in, but does it sometimes feel that Israel has -- the government, they want to get hostages out, but if that's the price we have to pay to
beat Hamas, then we might have to pay it?
DICKMANN: No, no. I don't think it's a way of beating Hamas. And I don't think it's a way of a democratic country who cares for life to fight a war.
It's not -- if you sacrifice the lives of more than 100 hostages, that's not a win, that's not a victory. That's not how you win a war, that's how
That's what -- that's why we said from the first moment, the first thing Israel must do before anything else is to make sure that all the hostages
are home first. First thing, that's the most important thing because you can't win.
If you have hostages there, you can't annihilate Hamas. You can't defeat Hamas when Hamas still holds the hostages. That's why you have to put it
first on the agenda.
And most of the Israel public believes this and agrees with us. That's the most important thing. First, get them out, then destroy Hamas.
QUEST: Gil Dickmann, I'm grateful that you, in very difficult circumstances, found time to discuss what is just plain and simply awful.
We first have to talk about tonight, but it has happened, so we need to. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
DICKMANN: Thank you.
QUEST: To CNN, we now have the name of the third hostage accidentally killed. It's Alon Shamriz. He was kidnapped from the Kibbutz Kfar Aza by
Hamas on October the 7th.
In just a moment, Hungary is now being extremely difficult, having blocked an EU aid package for Ukraine. The EU will now do its usual and try and
find a workaround to get the money to Kyiv.
QUEST: To Ukraine now, Hungary has blocked a $55 billion aid package from the EU. It happened at the latest summit. And the president, Charles
Michel, said leaders will now have to revisit the issue at another meeting early this year. Viktor Orban was the one who decided against it.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there are other ways to help Ukraine even if Hungary stands in the way. EU leaders did offer to hold accession
talks with Kyiv. But even that was only done after Orban excused himself -- diplomatically left the meeting.
Bianca Nobilo is in Brussels. The negotiations about the future and accession, that's one thing. Now, this business of preventing aid, how are
they going to get out of it?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The money hasn't not run out yet. Leaders have said that they're optimistic, that at this extraordinary meeting in
January that they'll be able to approve that $55 billion worth of aid.
But if that doesn't not happen, individual member-states could ratify the amount through their own parliaments that they're going to give. Germany's
just doubled down on the amount of aid it's going to give, for example, so they're always around that. But it doesn't give Zelenskyy anywhere need the
amount of reassurance and security that this would've done because this would've tied them over until 2027.
QUEST: I mean, this is core. The accession to the EU is another thing. This is actually -- I mean, what's Hungary's reason for not wanting to give the
NOBILO: It's concerned about its own domestic issues about elections next year. It's long been a thorn in the EU side when it comes to giving more
We know that Orban's allies as well have been over the Atlantic, in America, working with Republicans to hold up aid there as well. Orban is
Putin's closest European ally. So all of this is contributing to this becoming a real headache for the EU.
And, Richard, you rightly point out that potential accession is one thing. That is a promise, a important symbolic victory for Zelenskyy, but that's a
promise of the future. But the question is, how can Ukraine survive in the present without that $61 billion from the US and without this $55 billion
from the EU?
QUEST: Bianca, thank you. Grateful, at the EU summit.
The real problem, of course is, that it's not just the EU that is now pulling back. United States, too, is also having some difficulty getting
the aid it wants to give to the US. US Congress is struggling to pass the aid package, and it's putting Kyiv in a very precarious position.
So no money from the United States, and no money from the EU. And look at this graph. It shows the amount of foreign aid Ukraine has received month
by month tapering off since last winter. And yet, of course, the war goes on.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh taking this all of this into account gives us the gist from Zaporizhzhia.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Richard, even if US and, indeed, EU billions do end up finding their way to Ukraine,
the damage of this delay on both parts has been to Ukrainian morale. This has been a ghastly summer, frankly, for Ukrainian troops, trying to
prosecute a counteroffensive that hasn't had the success they wanted.
Now they face a winter with an invigorated Russia using everything it possibly can -- drones, prisoners -- to attack their positions, but no
longer they feel that pretty much the west, unified, has their back. That's, essentially, the big change that we've seen this week. And I think
it's going to slowly deteriorate Ukraine's readiness here.
It is going to be a fairly difficult winter, but it's going to be, frankly, impossible for them to continue their defense if the US and the EU money
One medic I spoke to had lost a friend in the last months, and he said to me, look, without this aid, we're finished -- Richard.
QUEST: Nick Paton Walsh, tonight, in Ukraine.
Oleksandra Ustinova is a member of Ukraine's opposition. She joins me also tonight. So it's really getting rather tricky, isn't it? Because, you know,
the EU wants to give the money and Orban says no, and they'll do a fudge.
The US wants to give the money, but it's being held hostage. How badly do you need this money or you'll lose?
OLEKSANDRA USTINOVA, UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION MP: Oh, I cannot agree more to the other Ukrainian that you just quoted, we're going to lose. The question
is whether the west is ready for Ukraine to lose, because everybody keeps talking that Ukraine is winning, when Ukraine is going to win.
Well, at this moment, unfortunately, if you look at the morale, you see the number of the munitions that are coming not only to the frontlines, but to
the civilian cities for their air defense systems, it is obvious that Ukraine is going to lose. And it's going to be totally bombed by all the
Shahed drones from Iran and the air missiles .
USTINOVA: . that Russia is producing three times more than they did last year.
QUEST: So why do you think it's got to -- I mean, when the war started, we all talked about war fatigue. And we actually thought that was going to
happen maybe in 2020, 2022. But actually, it's taken longer, but it has happened, hasn't it? The west seems to be saying, well, we'd like to help
you, but sorry, we can't get it -- get you the check.
USTINOVA: So one thing the west does not understand, it is much cheaper to give a check to Ukraine then later to fight in Europe a big war, having
your boots on the ground and your soldiers die. So far, the United States has invested less than 0.5% of their budget to support Ukraine. And with
this money, the Ukrainians managed to almost totally destroy the biggest second army in the world.
And I say this is a really good investment because Russian army has been the number one enemy to the US front.
USTINOVA: So if the United States is saying that Ukrainians are going to win anyway because at the beginning of the war, everybody thought, oh,
well, Ukrainians are going to go down in 24 then 72 hours. We survived and we kept their assets.
USTINOVA: Well, right now, it's different.
QUEST: Okay. So what do you think of Viktor Orban? I mean, without his veto, tonight, you would have 60-odd billion.
USTINOVA: Viktor Orban is a puppet of Putin. And no matter what Ukraine does, no matter what bills were going to be pushing through the parliament
to satisfy him as one of the European countries, he will be backing up Putin anyway.
And, unfortunately, this is a problem for the Europe because right now, EU shows there is a weak spot and there is, unfortunately, is nothing they can
do about it.
QUEST: So one of the issues, of course, is elections. Do you think the elections should go ahead?
USTINOVA: The elections were -- in Ukraine?
QUEST: Yes, yes.
USTINOVA: Well, I can tell you the recent polls, 89% of Ukrainians do not support elections during the wartime because we will not be able to provide
the right to vote for more than six million people who are outside of the country, to more than a million people who are on the battlegrounds. And,
unfortunately, the election is something that is tearing always the country apart, which Ukraine cannot afford at the moment. And the majority of
people, 89% of Ukrainians, think that the election should be held after the war is over.
QUEST: So at this point, I mean, the counteroffensive has now sort of tapered down because of winter. The money -- I think, you know, we all know
the money will arrive eventually a day later and a dollar short, as the Americans say. But I'm wondering if you think the urgency is quite
USTINOVA: I can give you an example. My best friend was killed in the war, and a lot of his comrades and combatants are now fighting there. And they
called me and they said, Sasha, can you explain why we have to put the lives of our best friend to actually get every kilometer that we could last
into? And now we have to give it back because there is fatigue or someone is still thinking whether they should be supporting us or not, and they
don't think that there is an urgency. Well, there is an urgency to our soldiers because they had saved lives to take every kilometer back and now
they have to return.
Second, if there is no urgency, Ukraine will be totally shelled and bombed by the Russian missiles. Russia has managed to produce three times more
missiles this year than they did last year.
USTINOVA: So being under sanction, they produced 1,200 missiles. And they are not actually shooting them right now at Kyiv. They're using the Iranian
drones. Why? Because they want to do a massive .
USTINOVA: . attack with 300 drones and 150 ballistic missiles, totally eliminating Kyiv and other .
USTINOVA: . cities from the map.
QUEST: We'll talk more. We'll follow more. And you are always welcome back on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Thank you so much.
USTINOVA: Thank you.
QUEST: In difficult circumstances, I wish you a good weekend.
In a moment, Wesley Clark, he was the former SACEUR, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. There he is. And now, we'll have -- we'll speak to
General Clark in a moment.
But I guessing, and he'll answer me yes or no when we speak to him, that this is the sort of thing that happens in war, the sort of thing that's
happened in Israel tonight. In a moment.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment.
Shipping giant Maersk has suspended its routes in the Red Sea. It's all too dangerous, apparently.
And I'm going to take you to Italy, to (inaudible). Now, we're going to talk about the business of truffles. Oh, I love a truffle, (inaudible)
marvelous. But we'll only get to the truffles after the news, because this is CNN. And on this network, news comes before truffles.
The whereabouts of the Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny is unclear tonight. The Kremlin's critic spokesperson says he may have been moved to a
distant colony. Navalny has gone missing before, but his legal team claims he has never gone for this long. The convict's family says they are holding
on despite his disappearance.
Vindication in court for Prince Harry. On Friday, the UK High Court ruled his phone was hacked by Mirror Group newspapers from years 2006 to '11. The
court found 15 stories -- sample stories, that were given by both sides, were published using illegally obtained information from hacked voicemails
and private investigators.
A British boy who has been missing for nearly six years is finally home. Alex Batty, now 17, alleges that his mother kidnapped him in 2017 while
visiting in Spain and that she's been hiding him ever since. Motorists found Batty wandering alone in France after escaping a spiritual commune.
Batty returned to his family in England in the coming days.
A top story we're bringing you, the Israeli military says its troops accidentally killed three hostages after mistakenly identifying them as a
threat in northern Gaza. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has described it as an unbearable tragedy. He says, I would like to send
strength to our brave soldiers focusing on this sacred mission.
Colonel Jonathan Conricus is a spokesman for the IDF. He's with me now. Sir, grateful. Thankful, Colonel.
I know the details are few and far between at the moment, and I know that you are investigating. But what can you tell me about how this transpired?
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: Hello, Richard. Thank you for having me.
What I can say is that happened earlier today, in Shejaiya, which is a neighborhood close to Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, and where a
horrible incident occurred. A mistake by Israeli troops on the ground. There was combat on the ground (VIDEO GAP) and what our soldiers saw were
three men approaching them, dressed in civilian clothes. They perceived a threat. And therefore, they responded with fire.
CONRICUS: We learned it became apparent -- Richard?
QUEST: Yeah, look, I get it. I hear what you're saying. But I mean, what -- I guess, where they challenged? Did anyone call out in Hebrew? Just because
you see three civilians, the assumption that they must be the other side, that is going to be what this is about, isn't it? Did they fire without
CONRICUS: The issue here is, I think, deeper than that. And, of course, we are still (AUDIO GAP) investigating. What we see on the battlefield, this
is a report that continues by our troops and you can even see it in the Hamas propaganda videos. They fight in civilian clothing, gym shoes and
That is how they fire RPGs towards our troops. That is how they placed the IEDs. That is how they fire and fight against us. That is how (VIDEO GAP)
And that is the challenge. It makes it more difficult to distinguish between combatant and non-combatant. What we have seen today is an
unfortunate, a very unfortunate incident, probably very much related to the practice of Hamas.
QUEST: So, if that is the case, and I take you at your word, and I do take you, that that is the case, how do you prevent a repeat, or at least
minimize the possibility of a repeat? Bearing in mind that there are still more than 100 Israeli hostages in Gaza. How do you stop it happening again?
CONRICUS: There's more than 100, I think 132 for the last 70 days, 17 of them women and children, many men there as well. And I don't think that --
I agree with you, I don't think that this will be the last such instance that we face a similar scenario.
There are ways, and we have disseminated lessons and guidelines for our troops stationed in Gaza. (AUDIO GAP) cannot share them with you or Hamas
(AUDIO GAP) CNN. I can tell you that this is being clarified with the Israeli troops on the ground in order to prevent such an event happening
QUEST: Okay. The mood tonight, we were talking with one of the hostages' relatives, saying that they were warned that this was a possibility. That
this was potentially, and likely, to happen. I think that is the truth of it, isn't it, Colonel? That in the fog of war these things will happen.
Really, all the IDF can do is minimize the possibility.
CONRICUS: First of all, again, I think that this is a good opportunity to express our deepest, deepest, condolences to the families. We have said so
from the beginning. They will be full transparency towards the families and to the Israeli public. And we are extremely sorry for this tragic event.
The environment that we are fighting in, and the situation (AUDIO GAP) is very challenging. What we have been busy doing ever since October 7th is
collecting intelligence, preparing ourselves, where we have had the opportunity, also executed (AUDIO GAP) Israeli back.
So far, sadly, we've only gotten one live Israeli back and the rest have been the bodies of Israelis that were taken alive by Hamas and only
recovered (AUDIO GAP) killed by Hamas during captivity, another war crime on the list.
But we remain committed to winning this war, defeating Hamas and getting our hostages home.
QUEST: Colonel, I'm grateful for your time tonight, on such short notice. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
General Wesley Clark is with me from Little Rock in Arkansas.
I am guessing, General, that you're not surprised that this happened. At some point, something like this was going to take place.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think that's right, Richard. When you're in close combat like this and you are moving and
fighting against people in civilian clothes, there's going to be something like this. The way I'm picturing it in my minds eye is, think of a squad of
Israeli soldiers, half a dozen guys on the ground, a couple of them with automatic weapons, some rifles.
And they're told, they said, we're are going to go around this corner, the building, the building is wrecked. There's much rubble on the street.
You're going to -- there is people moving up there, watch out.
So, they are on high alert. They go around, sure enough, they are engaged when they go around, they're engaged. And people start shooting at them.
They returned fire.
There is a group of six or eight guys. They see three or four guys shooting at them. They take them out. Turns out that three of them were hostages,
being moved from one location to another by Hamas.
That's one conceivable scenario. It is just speculation. We don't know right now. What this comes down to, what are the rules of engagement that
you are required to hold fire until you're engaged? Can you -- can you engage when you have positive identification of the enemy, or somebody
carrying a rifle at some enemy. Or are there other rules of engagement?
And then it is the discipline of the troops, they've got to follow the rules of engagement. So, you can expect that these troops been pulled
offline, there will be a lot of talk. It will go right up the chain of command.
They will find out what the rules were, where they passed down. Who is in charge? Why didn't happen, and so forth. It is a real tragedy. But,
unfortunately, these things do happen.
QUEST: I always think that, you know, we sit in the comfort of my studio talking about this with you, but, of course, in the reality, of being in
Gaza with the adrenaline of the battle, then it's a very different world.
CLARK: That's exactly right. When you go around the corner of that rubble, and someone has told you that the enemy is around that rubble, you are
going there with a finger on the trigger, with a round in the chamber. Probably got somebody behind you, hopefully, who's actually providing over
CLARK: But maybe you don't. Maybe you are just out there. You are moving carefully by (AUDIO GAP), and suddenly, bang, bang, bang, and shooting
starts. You returned fire.
QUEST: Now, you're former head of -- you're SAC of NATO. Ukraine tonight, so the U.S. is stuck over -- won't give it to money because Republicans are
holding it hostage. The E.U. now and give us money, at least for now, because of Viktor Orban. We had an opposition lawmaker on the program a
moment ago saying that we are losing unless we get this money. What do you make of it?
CLARK: I think we are going to find a way to get the money.
Look, this is the kind of thing that happens in democratic society. It gives the other side the wrong impression, the impression of weakness.
Richard, you may remember, you may know from the history books that in 1940, the U.S. stood by while Britain was being pounded by Nazi bombing.
QUEST: Yeah, yeah.
CLARK: We only passed the friction (ph) by one vote in the Congress. It was that close and there was a strong isolationist sentiment. And President
Roosevelt had to work against it with Churchill. Same kind of emotions are out there now, different rationale, different reasons, but it is basically
the same thing.
But when America gets engaged, when democracies get engaged, they don't let go. Mr. Putin should understand this. He is -- he is provoking the tiger
here with what he is doing in Ukraine. When democracies get a grip, he's run for office on that platform -- Russia is in trouble.
QUEST: General Clark, I'm very grateful, as always. Thank you, sir, for taking the time. Thank you.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, tonight, coming from New York. Glad to have you with us.
South Africa is an auto-making powerhouse. One of the world's biggest carmakers now have based plants in the country. And the reason, of course,
is a quality of the product. High end luxury made cars there are exported to every corner of the world.
CNN's Eleni Giokos.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, Mercedes-Benz, South Africa says, it has exported almost 2 million of the C class models to
global markets, including the United States and to countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
ANDREAS BRAND, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MERCEDES-BENZ SOUTH AFRICA: We started at a point where we only build right-hand drive. Then we edit (ph)
the left hand drive, which opened up the markets based tremendously.
We have been building vehicles for Mercedes-Benz for 65 years now. The C class forms part of our so-called core. We have been building hybrid since
2016. We were the only and first OEM building hybrids here in South Africa. We are fully integrated member with a plant in Bremen and with our
colleagues in China.
GIOKOS: The plant from where more than 100,000 luxury vehicles are exported annually is alongside the port of Eat London at the mouth of the Buffalo
BRAND: We can export to the U.S., which is a strong, strong market for us. So, we are also exporting the AMG to China, which is traditionally a market
which builds for themselves. We are the only plan who can build there. Korea is quite a strong market and then Australia and Europe.
If a car stays in South Africa, it goes to any specific market. We apply Mercedes-Benz product quality to every unit we build.
GIOKOS: Human resources executive director, Abey Kgotle, credits the success of the plant to its people.
ABEY KGOTLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES, MBSA: We have just over 3,000 people based in East London building these beautiful cars out of
Africa for the world. You can look at an operator working at Mercedes-Benz South Africa and that colleague will be able to compete favorably with
anyone within our network across the globe. And that's because of the quality of education, the quality of the training.
BRAND: What we really have with the C Class is a high end product. We have high and technology out there in the front. Without education, you cannot
run a facility like that. So, there are 13.5 billion rand invested, and the core is education.
GIOKOS: The Mercedes-Benz learning academy has over four decades trained thousands of people.
KGOTLE: What the academy does is essentially prepare the skills that we need today, and the skills we need tomorrow. The learning academy is a
very, very important part of our story. That is what helps us remain competitive as an organization.
QUEST: The shipping giant, Maersk, has suspended its routes in the Red Sea. It is all about ship attacks. We'll talk about that and show you why and
where in a moment.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS on a Friday.
QUEST: Maersk, the German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd have suspended their routes through the Red Sea after a variety of attacks at different types on
Now, look at the pictures here, you see. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility. Essentially what they are doing is
attacking the ships believing they are on their way to Israel and that they are supporting Hamas.
Maersk says it's instructed in the vessels in the area to pass -- bound to pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to pause their journey until further
If you look at the map again I'll show you exactly the bit there you can see at the bottom that bit there as it comes up through that narrow 20 mile
gap that you can see at the bottom, that is the bit where they are being attacked.
John McCown joins me, senior fellow at the Center for Maritime Strategy.
That's interesting, isn't it? I mean, if you have got to get from A to B and you have to go through there, what are you going to do?
JOHN MCCOWN, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR MARITIME STRATEGY: It is really throwing a wrench into the supply chains, Richard, to go all the way around
Africa is 3 to 4 times longer. I guess the situation has been escalating. I guess in the past few hours, there are reports that two container ships
were fired upon. The Maersk ship was missed, but there's a giant container ship by Hapag-Lloyd that reportedly was hit by one of these missiles.
MCCOWN: So, that's really going to shake things up.
QUEST: Right. But, you know, the thing is, this is not like the pirates, is it? Where you can send a fleet in to take them through and dissuade the
pirates. If somebody is firing missiles, perhaps even from quite a long distance away, that becomes much more difficult.
So, what can they do?
MCCOWN: Well, the safest thing to do is to avoid the area entirely. Not only avoid Yemen, but to not go through the Suez Canal. The Red Sea is a
very narrow sea body, and to go around the tip of Africa, which, of course, has the effect of quadrupling the distance.
MCCOWN: It has an immediate effect on supply. If you kind of think of shipping as a network, you know, if you have four times as much distance,
you need four times as many ships to move the same amount. So, this is going to quickly escalate into a massive economic problem, causing,
literally, billions a week.
QUEST: John, in the world which you work in, risk assessment, is it your view that this is simply too risky to continue going this route?
MCCOWN: I think, certainly, the news of two container ships, it is not clear -- these were large container ships moving containers from Asia to
Europe, wasn't completely clear that the reason. Initially the attacks seem to be more targeted. Now they seem to be going after almost any ship.
So, this is going to get the attention, I would think, of navies, you know, in various countries. But the initial -- one of the fundamental reasons for
a navy is to protect commercial shipping. This has the potential to have some pretty significant economic affects rather immediately.
QUEST: John, we will talk more as this develops. We will discuss more with you the ins and outs of it. Very interested in what you're saying about the
economic importance of the route and, of course, the consequences.
Thank you, sir, for joining us on this Friday evening. I am grateful.
MCCOWN: Thank you very much.
QUEST: A reminder of the main news this hour. Israel says its military accidentally killed three hostages, mistakenly identifying them as a threat
in northern Gaza. The bodies have been returned to Israel.
In Washington, the White House has said this is heartbreaking.
This is CNN.
QUEST: This weekend, world of wonder takes you to Bari in Italy. I took the opportunity, whilst I was there, to discover a whole new world of markets.
Truffles, truffles! Love `em, enjoy `em, and I discovered just how expensive they are.
QUEST: I can't wait to get in there.
Giuseppe Luli (ph) is an Italian farmer with a difference.
Half of his business is hunting for truffles, whilst the other half is making very large hands, with which you can make spaghetti.
First though, the truffles. Giuseppe and his dogs hunt the truffles throughout the season. The scouring of the dirt hunting for these truffles,
require expertly trained dogs, whose noses are sensitive to the distinctive taste, and who go wild, almost, when they finally find them.
QUEST: Looks as though he is getting uprising, there he is. That all happened so fast.
As for the truffles themselves, of course, they are an extremely valuable commodity. In his fridge back home, he has the proceeds of several days
work. We are talking serious amounts of money.
Something this size would be how much?
QUEST: So, 4,000 a kilo wholesale? And retail, what was this go for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven thousand, 8,000.
QUEST: Wow, you have to put a lock on.
Giuseppe loves his truffles and his dogs. But he realized that he needed more if he was going to make a living. So he noticed that local restaurants
and hotels needed big pans.
Wow, you buy the steel tubes, you fabricate, interesting.
Yes, really big pans. These can feed up to 1,000 people.
Those pans, imagine what you could do with those pans. It could be a problem getting mine home though. Not going to fit that in the overhead
When Giuseppe made his spaghetti, he let me have a go. This is not an easy contraption to use.
QUEST: But it's clever.
It's the perfect consistency of not too hard, not too soft. But not chewy.
That is better.
Once you add truffle as to the top it is a business making a serious profit.
QUEST: Ah, truffle. You can see the rest of the truffle hunt on "QUEST WORLD OF WONDER FROM BARI" starts tomorrow morning at 6:30 in New York,
11:30 in London, 12:30 in Europe.
If you are not an early riser, again, you can watch it at 9:30 U.K., 4:30 - - you can look at the time. You can see them out on the screen. World of Wonder, truffles galore.
Markets holding onto gains, just barely, in the last few moments of trading.
Look at that, you see? Fascinating. Down, then up, and then down. Holding on to 88 -- 90 odd points. That's the range that we've seen so far during
the course of this session.
We will have our profitable moment after the break on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment, Viktor Orban is the longest serving prime minister amongst E.U. nations. He's been there years. He's also now
one of the most powerful and he's not backward and coming forward. We've known that for sometime. But the shenanigans at the latest E.U. Council
takes it to something else.
First of all, Scholz of Germany suggests Orban leaves the room, diplomatically, when they're going to vote to allow negotiations to begin.
So they give Ukraine a bit of a ticket, and the possibility for the future.
But Orban stays, and vetoes the aid package. And everybody else says, not a worry, next year, January, we'll find a way around it. Don't worry, we'll
get the money there somehow. Look into the tea pot, maybe it's in the cupboard over there.
This is no way to run a railroad. The way in which one member nation was able to veto $50 billion worth of money to Ukraine, went on tonight's
program, you heard one of the lawmakers basically say, I'm afraid we don't get the money, were lost.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for this Friday. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable enough that you can truffles.