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The Situation Room
Warnings Of Complete Catastrophe In Gaza as Civilians Trapped; Israeli Forces Ready For Next Phase As U.S. Races To Avert Wider War; Biden Says, Prioritizing Threats Against Jewish, Muslim, Arab Communities; Hamas Releases Video Of Woman It Claims Is Being Held Hostage; Tonight: Republicans Huddle Over Jordan's Speaker Bid; Federal Judge Issues Limited Gag Order Against Trump. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 16, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: CNN has been compiling resources. You can head to CNN.com/impact. You'll find a list of vetted organizations on the ground responding. That's CNN.com/impact to help any of these poor kids in Gaza, in Israel, please go and check it out.
If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, new warnings that Gaza is on the brink of complete catastrophe amid horrific scenes of destruction and increasingly dire shortages of life-saving supplies.
Civilians desperate to leave Gaza trapped with a critical border crossing into Egypt remaining closed this hour.
Israeli forces declaring they're ready to launch the next phase of their response to the Hamas terror attacks with troops appearing poised for a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza.
We're tracking all the military, humanitarian and diplomatic moves, including new U.S. efforts to prevent the conflict from exploding into a much wider Middle East war.
Here in the United States, President Biden says he's making the prevention of hate crimes against Jewish, Muslim and Arab-Americans a priority. The newest target of violence, a six-year-old little Palestinian-American boy who was stabbed to death near Chicago.
Another major breaking story we're following, House Republicans are set to meet this hour about Congressman Jim Jordan's bid to be the next speaker of the House. The GOP hardliner winning over some skeptics, even as his fate remains uncertain in a full House vote expected tomorrow.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room. There's breaking news this hour on the hostage crisis in Gaza, Hamas releasing a video of a woman that claims to be holding captive. Our correspondents are standing by, covering the Israel-Hamas war on multiple fronts.
First, let's go to our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward in Ashkelon, Israel, that's just north of the Gaza border. Clarissa, tell us more about this video just released and what we're hearing from Hamas.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Hamas says now that they have between 200 and 250 hostages. Important to underscore that Israel Defense Forces say it's 199. But tonight, for the first time, Hamas has released a video of one of those hostages.
We are not going to show it for the moment, but it shows a 21-year-old French-Israeli citizen called Mia Shem. She was one of the many revelers at the Supernova Music Festival. In the video, she talks about suffering an injury to her arm.
It's not clear where she's being held. And, of course, it's almost impossible to tell with these types of videos whether people are being forced to say things, whether they're under duress. But, clearly, Hamas is really trying to kind of up the ante here, if you will, Wolf, because there's a strong sense on the Hamas side that they would like to see some kind of a deal. They would like to see some kind of an exchange of Hamas prisoners for some of these 199, by the IDF's count, of Israeli and other nationals hostages who are being held inside Gaza.
We actually went earlier on to the military headquarters in Tel Aviv where there's a sort of permanent sit-in for the past few days of family members of various hostages who are being held, a lot of whom are feeling very angry at the Israeli government's handling of this crisis. They really want to see a deal.
And quite a few of them are also very concerned about the ratcheting up of forces on the border, the ratcheting up of violence inside Gaza. We spoke to the son of a 74-year-old peace activist called Vivian Silver. She is one of those believed to be held in Gaza. Her son, Yonatan Zeigan, sat down with us and told us he is very fearful about what more violence could portend. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YONATAN ZEIGEN, SON OF HAMAS HOSTAGE: I didn't want war before. I don't want war now. I don't think we can cure dead babies with more dead babies.
WARD: Do you think in Israel that most people agree with you? Do you think people here want war?
ZEIGEN: Nobody wants war, but I think people are willing to accept war because you'll hurt and you want to stop the pain. So, you see the demon in front of you and you want to vanquish it. I don't think it's realistic. Whatever we do to Gaza now, it would come back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: And I spoke Wolf to a senior -- or I should say a former senior security official here in Israel. And it was kind of interesting because he basically said that, at this stage, he does not believe Israeli authorities have any interest in making a deal with Hamas with regards to these hostages.
As much as they would like to get these hostages out safely, they are very concerned that they will see a repeat of what they have seen in the past with prisoner swaps, which is that some of Hamas' main leaders have been released and prisoner swaps, have gone on then to be involved in attacks like the one we saw last Saturday. And he said the priority right now is to uproot Hamas wherever they are inside Gaza, and in the process, hopefully, be able to release some of those hostages.
But for the families of the hostages, you can understand that that is very alarming to hear, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very alarming, indeed. Clarissa Ward at Ashkelon, Israel for us, Clarissa, stay safe. Thank you.
Now to the broader humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza amid new efforts to try to get in and try to get those trapped civilians out.
CNN's Erin Burnett is joining us from Tel Aviv right now. Erin, all eyes are on that critical Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. But I take it there's still no sign it's being open by the Egyptians.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All eyes are on it, Wolf. And you're right, it's closed. And Egypt has made it clear through the day, the foreign minister making it clear, they have no reason, no intention at this time of opening. And, obviously, it is the center of so many negotiations because, Wolf, you need aid coming in of course, but also for some people to get out, certainly the United States, is desperately trying to get Palestinian-Americans who are in the Gaza Strip out via that border as well.
So -- and especially as you push people south, right, it pushes down and there's sort of no means to relieve that pressure at all as there is anticipation that this could begin at any moment. The feeling here tonight, Wolf, Just from talking to people and maybe it's just that they've been waiting, and they're still dealing with the emotions of these attacks as more and more news of atrocities come out, that they feel it is time.
The grocery store today, the shelves were almost empty. That was not the case a week ago. It's not that people didn't expect it to happen a week ago. It's just that now there is a feeling among people that we've been speaking to, these are just regular, Israeli civilians that the time has come and that they feel that it is time and there's a new fear. And as rockets come in, a new fear of those rockets, a hesitancy to go outside and very much a city here that is waiting. It is waiting, it is on edge and it is nothing resembling normal here at all, Wolf.
BLITZER: I understand, Erin, you had a chance to visit the Be'eri Kibbutz not far from Gaza where more than 100 Israelis were massacred inside their homes by Hamas. Tell us about that.
BURNETT: Wolf, you know, I would say it is one of the -- it is the most horrible thing to ever see, to walk through there and imagine what happened and to also see in a sense as we're there to video it, we're there to show the world what happened.
We're seeing homes where people died. We're seeing homes that the people that lived in haven't been able to go back to. And there is a real feeling of trespass, as we do that, even as we are filming it for everyone to see.
You see the children's toys just strewn about. You don't know whether the child who owned that is dead or alive, microwaves melted, the outside of that fridge there, all the photos, just completely incinerated, bullet holes, children's homework, al-Qassam brigades, and al-Akbar in graffiti. It is a horrible place where a horrible crime happened.
And as you say, more than 100 people died there. One soldier told me they found a baby on her back. He said about four months old, shot, execution- style in the head. That's what happened there.
And some of the children in Be'eri, but also in other kibbutzes near Oz, where there were atrocities committed as well, there are people still hoping for these hostages that Clarissa's talking about. One of them is a father named Yoni. His wife, his two children, everything he has in this world are gone. And I had an opportunity to speak with him in person. Again, a feeling of trespass, Wolf, but yet he wants the world to know because he wants them back.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YONI ASHER, SAYS HE SAW FAMILY IN HOSTAGE VIDEO: I'm realizing that I got to see the gates of hell. I got to see how hell looks like. I don't know if there are any more tears left in me, but it became real, it became clear to me that I saw hell. I saw what hell looks like.
When I saw the images, Erin, every minute is forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Wolf, if his daughters both will have birthdays in January, turning three and five, and his wife, they are all gone. And just to imagine what life is like for that man without them, that is the situation for those families here, as it is so hard for the whole world to even comprehend what happened here.
As now, there is such, such dispute and such anger about what the response will be. Wolf?
BLITZER: It is so heartbreaking to hear those stories. Erin, thank you very much. And this note to our viewers, Erin, of course, will be back right at the top of the hour for more of her program, Erin Burnett Outfront. She's reporting from Israel.
And as Israel battles Hamas, it's also exchanging new fire with Hezbollah attackers based inside Lebanon to Israel's north.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Southern Lebanon for us right near the Israeli border. So, what's the latest, Ben, where you are?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's been another day of cross border fire and counter fire. Hezbollah says they've made five strikes on Israeli positions. Israeli jets and artillery has been back in action again, striking the Lebanese side.
But we understand that because of these rising tensions, Israel has ordered the evacuation of 28 communities along the border with Lebanon in hopes of avoiding civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, the nervousness about a possible war is reaching Beirut. Today, the Canadian foreign minister put out a tweet or a message on X, I guess we can call it, advising Canadians in Lebanon to look into the possibility of taking a flight out of the country because those flights may no longer be available.
Today, Swiss Air announced it was cancelling flights to Lebanon. Lufthansa, the German carrier, has already canceled flights. And we've heard this evening that Middle East Airlines, the official carrier of Lebanon, is moving five of its jets to Istanbul as a precautionary measure against a possible war, keeping in mind, of course, that in July 2006, when Hezbollah and Israel went to war, one of the first things the Israelis struck was the airport in Beirut. Wolf?
BLITZER: And what is Iran saying about all of this, Ben?
WEDEMAN: Well we are hearing lots of messages from the Iranian foreign minister who has finished a tour of capitals. He's been to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Doha in Qatar.
Now, his last statement is somewhat worrying. He said that any preemptive action in the next few hours is possible. He said anything is possible. No side can remain indifferent.
His message has changed as he's gone around the Middle East. He met with Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister, when he was in Beirut. And he said the point of my visit is to maintain calm in Lebanon. But now he's suggesting that perhaps the so called axis of resistance of which Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas are all members may launch some sort of preemptive strike somewhere. It's rather vague but it certainly indicates that they aren't going to be sitting on the sidelines. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, very, very worrisome indeed. Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon, stay safe over there, Ben. Thank you very much.
Just ahead, there's breaking news -- our breaking news coverage of Israel at war will continue. I'll speak live with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner. He's been fully briefed on what's going on.
There's more breaking news we're following right now, multiple U.S. defense officials are now telling CNN roughly 2,000 American troops have been ordered to prepare for potential deployment to Israel. Those forces would operate in what's being described as a support role only, helping the Israelis with logistics, but not in direct combat with Hamas. And this comes as a U.S. Marine Rapid Response Force is already heading toward waters near Israel.
Let's discuss this and more with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
These moves come, as you well know, just as two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups are also heading to the Eastern Mediterranean. What do you see as the potential extent of U.S. military involvement in this war?
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Well, first of all, sending these two carrier groups, both based out of Norfolk, Virginia, I might add, I think, shows a strong, strong show of support for Israel and I think a very clear warning to the Iranians.
In terms of the brief that you just mentioned that you've got reports on, I have not received that brief yet. We're going to get a full update tomorrow at the Intelligence Committee. I want to make sure, though, that the Israeli intelligence, the American intelligence is focused on how we can eliminate these Hamas terrorists who created such atrocities.
But I also want them focused on making sure that the violence doesn't expand to the West Bank, that the Palestinian Authority security services continue to do their job there and to keep the eye on obviously Hezbollah in the north.
So, a lot to be grappled with right now and that's where our focus is and that's where the intelligence community focus is.
BLITZER: Half a million Palestinians have now left northern Gaza as Israeli troops gather on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza. You're a member of the so-called gang of eight and you're receiving U.S. intelligence briefings, the highest level U.S. intelligence briefings, all the time. What do you expect this full-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza to look like?
WARNER: Well, first of all let's remember we can have empathy for innocent Palestinian citizens that does not translate into sympathy for the Hamas terrorists. The Hamas terrorists frankly in Gaza, they were losing popular support at record levels. And remember it is Israel who has warned these Palestinians to leave the northern part of Gaza.
We are trying to work with the Egyptians and others to get that gate open to south so at least Palestinian-Americans can get out. Again, I think Hamas is putting some limitations on that. But it's going to be very tricky to go into a dense urban setting and clear out the remnants of the Hamas leadership, particularly since they've built literally a warren of caverns underneath them, a lot of that part of Gaza and particularly Gaza City.
BLITZER: Yes, those tunnels that they've built underground. There's a growing, clearly a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza right now as Israel cuts off vital supplies. At least 2,800 people have died there, we're told, many of them women and children, that according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Is Israel, Senator, doing enough to protect civilians in Gaza.
WARNER: Well, I had a report not from an Indian that there were actually Israel's turning some of the water back on and Hamas was shooting at some of the Israelis that were performing that. Now, again, I heard that second hand so I want to try to get a confirmation on it.
But, remember, it is -- the Hamas leadership has had no pity at all for the Palestinian people. They have put their military bases under mosques, around homes. They have frankly tried to restrict the Palestinians from the northern part of Gaza, from migrating down to the south, where it appears there will be less violence. So, again, I think you can have appropriate empathy for innocent Palestinian citizens.
But I don't think at all that should translate into any kind of sympathy for Hamas. Hamas are cold-blooded murderers, terrorists. They have terrorized the Palestinian people and obviously the 1,300-plus Israelis that have been killed and literally hundreds that are now being held hostage.
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction, Senator, to President Biden's comments when asked whether Israel should again occupy Gaza. Listen and watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it would be a big mistake. Look, what happened in Gaza in my view is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Even if Israel were to successfully destroy Hamas and Gaza, Senator, does the U.S. have a clear sense of what happens next?
WARNER: I'm not sure anybody has a clear sense of what happens next across this region. It's been volatile for years. I think, you know, Israel, remember, did occupy Gaza. They chose to pull out and leave Gaza. I think the president is right. How do you maintain that level of occupation in that dense a community?
And, again, remember the point that I hope the press starts reporting more that the Palestinians in Gaza prior to these terrorist attacks were dramatically expressing their resentment of Hamas They had not gotten any of the services. There had been monies going to relief of these citizens, these Palestinian citizens. Hamas would skim off much of that relief. I think it was clear that one of the reasons why Hamas took this heinous act was to try to protect their own viability in Gaza.
BLITZER: I don't know if you heard but Israel's Security Chief Ronen Bar has taken responsibility for failing, Israel's failing to thwart the initial Hamas attack, saying today, and I'm quoting him, the responsibility, he says, is on me.
CNN found that Hamas actually trained for the attack at one site less than a mile from the border with Israel. How did Israel and the U.S., for that matter, failed to see this terror attack against Israel coming?
WARNER: Well, Wolf, that is a great question, and it's a question that I know the Israelis, I know frankly our services as well will focus on. But we have active conflict going on inside of Israel. I want every Israeli intelligence asset and any American intelligence assets we can bring to the table as well, looking at how we root out the Hamas leadership, maintain a level of calmness as much as possible on the West Bank and don't allow this conflict to bleed into the northern part of Israel and from Lebanon.
I think we've seen. I mean, we all -- I happen to see, literally it was prescient about 12 days ago, the movie, Golda, about some of the activities of the Israeli government figuring out what went wrong in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. I know the Israelis will seek out what went wrong. Clearly, there had been a number of brigades moved from the border to the West Bank because of some of the unease there and some of the, frankly, the Palestinian security services stepping back in certain areas. I think that will have to be looked at. But there will be time enough to do those investigations. Let's focus on the crisis at hand right now.
BLITZER: There will be plenty of commissions of inquiry down the road. Senator Mark Warner, thank you, as usual, for joining us. We really appreciate it.
WARNER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, we'll have reports with the latest developments in Israel's war against Hamas. We're also following the murder of a six- year-old little Muslim boy here in the United States, which authorities now allege was a hate crime.
Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on a video just released by Hamas that claims to show one of its hostages.
Let's go to CNN's Anderson Cooper. He's live in Tel Aviv for us. Anderson, what are we learning about this video?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this has just been released. It shows a French-Israeli woman named Mia Shem, who's 21 years old. She was kidnapped from the Supernova Music Festival from the attack that took place there. As you know, that was the single deadliest attack on October 7th when some 260 people were killed. It's not clear how many people were kidnapped from that site, but we know of several who were. She apparently was taken from that.
The video shows somebody bandaging her arm. In the video, she then appears talking to the camera. She says that she was operated on for three hours, that she's getting medications, and she talks about wanting to come home as soon as possible.
Clearly, Hamas has chosen this video. They made a point of showing somebody bandaging her arm. They want to make it seem as if that hostages are being well cared for, getting medical treatment.
We should point out, we know people who have been kidnapped, who have had their hands blown off by, or in one case, hand blown off by Hamas gunmen who threw grenades into a shelter. So, that is the level of treatment they have been giving to people they have taken hostage. But in this video, they are showing her being bandaged, and she is speaking directly to the camera, Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, I also understand you'll be speaking to a representative from a refugee organization working inside Gaza right now. You'll be speaking to this representative on your show later tonight. What can you tell us about this?
COOPER: Yes. He's actually now -- he's evacuated from Gaza City down with his family, with about 20 members of his family to the south of Gaza for the safety of his family. So, we wanted to talk to him about that journey that he made, why he chose to make it, because, as you know, Hamas has been telling people not to leave, but he has chosen to bring his family of about 20 people down there, and what he has found in the south.
Obviously, that is an area that Israeli Defense Forces had told residents of Gaza to move to. We'll get a sense of what life is like for this family that has just relocated down there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson Cooper reporting live from Israel, thank you very much. Anderson, of course, will be back at 8:00 P.M. Eastern for his
program, Anderson Cooper 360, later tonight.
Anderson, if I still have you for a second, I understand we're just getting permission to show this video, this French woman, we're just going to show the picture of this French-Israeli woman who's being held hostage by Hamas. This is just a still photo of her.
COOPER: This is not from, yes, we should point out, from my understanding, this is not from this is not from the video. This is just a picture of Mia Shem, who's 21, who's being held.
BLITZER: Yes, we hope she's -- yes, all right. Well, thank you very much. Anderson will be watching later tonight.
Meanwhile, there are new scenes of destruction in Gaza, I should say, and they're coming in to CNN, as aid workers are warning that the territory is now in the brink of what they're calling complete catastrophe.
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has an update on this humanitarian crisis that's growing worse by the day.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is look looks like in places Israel told families to flee towards for their safety, where constant bombardment has reduced homes to rubble and wiped out entire families, these survivors say.
I lost all my relatives, 15 people, this man says. We were not on the front line or anything, we were just sitting at home. What have we done wrong?
The U.N. warns there are no safe places. About half a million people fled here to Southern Gaza after an evacuation order by the Israeli military. But families desperate for refuge are still trapped in the war zone. The dead and injured flooding a health care system on the brink, civilians are caught in the crossfire, with the death toll mounting, just over a quarter of those killed are children, according to Palestinian officials.
And a week-long siege is strangling the enclave, the U.N. says, amid fear of food, fuel, water and medical supplies, they soon run out. Some 2 million people are crammed into this 140-square mile territory, now many of them pushed into an even smaller corner of the enclave. About half the population are children.
There are not enough shelters to house the sheer number of civilians. And even those who do find spaces in overwhelmed schools turned refugee centers, it is little comfort to the youngest victims.
There is no one to protect us, this little girl says. There is no one to come save us. How are we supposed to live? How? Answer me. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to annihilate Hamas after a terror attack by the group left 1,400 killed in Israel. But with Hamas so deeply embedded within Gaza's population, rights groups you fear a bloodbath.
LYNN HASTINGS, U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATOR AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: What we're seeing right now, the direction that Israel is going to, is going in, they have said they want to destroy Hamas, but their current trajectory is going to destroy Gaza.
ABDELAZIZ: Hamas does not answer to the people of Gaza. No elections have been held here since the group seized power in 2007. Still, it is these residents that will pay the price. And with a potential ground incursion expected, that cost is unfathomable.
ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Wolf, for the latest death toll we have, according to Palestinian health officials, is 2,800 people killed, at least in just about a week of this offensive. Hundreds of them are children. Meanwhile, aid very desperately needed. Humanitarian aid still sits in Egypt right on that border crossing. Aid agencies saying that every hour that aid, that very needed medical aid is not allowed into Gaza, more lives are being lost.
BLITZER: What a horrible situation, Salma Abdelaziz, thank you for that report.
Back here in the United States, a horrible, horrible story, a six- year-old little Palestinian-American boy was laid to rest today in Illinois after he and his mother were allegedly brutally attacked by their landlord. The landlord now faces murder and hate crimes charges.
CNN Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild is joining us from just outside of Chicago, where the boy's funeral service took place today. What more, Whitney, have you learned about the victims of this brutal attack?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the family describes this boy as so typical. He loved to run, he loved to play soccer, play with his friends, loved his family. He was so sweet, so good-natured, Wolf, that even after he was stabbed 26 times, even after he was approaching his own death, he was so good-hearted, he tried to assure his mother that he was okay.
WILD (voice over): Six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian- American, laid to rest today.
YOUSEF HANNON, VICTIM'S UNCLE: He's a very kind kid. He likes to jump up and down. When he was dead, he was less worse to his mom. Mom, I'm fine. You know what? He is fine. He's in a better place.
WILD: Police say the boy was stabbed to death by his landlord just outside of Chicago in an alleged anti-Muslim attack.
OUSSAMA JAMMAL, FORMER PRESIDENT, MOSQUE FOUNDATION: Their landlord and an act of hate shouted the threats and unleashed violence.
WILD: The boy's mother, Hanaan Shahin, was also stabbed more than a dozen times and is still being treated in the hospital. She was unable to attend her son's funeral today.
The landlord, 71-year-old Joseph Czuba appearing in court today. Czuba allegedly entered the room he rented to Shahin and her son Saturday morning, stabbing the six-year-old 26 times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The female is claiming that the landlord has the child in another room and apparently is either stabbing or has stabbed the child.
WILD: Authorities have now opened a federal hate crimes investigation. The local sheriff saying in a statement, both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.
Outrage erupting over the brutal crime.
AHMED REHAB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS, CHICAGO: He paid the price for the atmosphere of hate.
WILD: Illustrating why federal officials are worried about growing threats aimed at American-Muslims and American-Jews since the Hamas terror attack in Israel.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: Countering terrorism remains the FBI's number one priority and we will not tolerate violence motivated by hate and extremism. And we're going to continue to do everything in our power to protect the American people.
WILD: A six-year-old's funeral, more evidence that threat is all too real. Czuba now facing murder, attempted murder and hate crime charges.
WILD (on camera): Wolf, if this is a very real threat nationwide. In Michigan, a man was arrested for making threats against Palestinian- Americans. That happened in Dearborn. That is home to one of the largest Arab-American populations in the United States. Wolf?
BLITZER: What a horrible, horrible story. Whitney Wild, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, in his first U.S. television interview since the war began. I asked him about any potential negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Plus, I'll speak live with a New York woman with six relatives among the captives being held hostage in Gaza. She's taken her plea for their release to the United Nations.
BLITZER: Right now, we're following breaking news on the Mideast hostage crisis after Hamas released a video claiming to show one of its captives.
I discussed the fate of the hostages and efforts to free them with the Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Here's a portion of that one-on-one interview, his first on U.S. television since the war began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
What can you tell us, Mr. President, about Israel's efforts to bring them home? Is Israel open, for example, to any deal to negotiate for their release?
ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: So let's first understand what type of hostage, who are these hostages? Babies, pregnant women, elderly people with dementia, even with their caretakers, families, innocent civilians from 30 -- from 36 nations, people who were killed or abducted, from 36 nations. Okay?
There is Natalie from Chicago who came with her mother to spend the weekend of the holiday in Nahal Oz, in a kibbutz on the border -- incidentally, a kibbutz advocating peace all throughout its history. And she is there in Gaza. And nobody knows her whereabouts, and so many other Americans and so many other people.
And this -- and this living in knowing what's their whereabouts is hell. Obviously, this paradise place turned into hell. And it is our obligation to move it from being hell back to being paradise. Part of it is to bring back the hostages immediately with no conditions, back to Israel.
There is, incidentally, a big international effort on that respect. And I must say that the American administration and President Biden has been incredibly supportive, and we are utterly grateful to him, the American nation, and all our friends and supporters throughout the world.
BLITZER: So how do you get those hostages out of there?
HERZOG: It's a complicated situation, because you're dealing with people who have -- who do not obey any rules of international humanitarian law in any way or format. For years already they have been holding Israeli soldiers, bodies, citizens from previous rounds. Not even telling any information about their fate, whereabouts, and how they're feeling.
Some of those hostages now need special medication, special treatment. They have -- they need their personal needs. Some of them are in extremely fragile medical situation.
So we are doing whatever we can to release them. We have met with the families of the hostages. It was extremely painful meeting. What can you say, what can you say to a newly wed whose wife was kidnapped and abducted and 3 months old baby is at home not knowing anything surrounding her.
What are we saying to families where grandparents, children, grandchildren are all abducted out there? What do you say to these families? Some members, six, seven, five members of a family gone, all of the sudden, abducted to the cellars of the enemy.
So we are trying our best. We are trying our best, of course, to identify and understand their exact fates or various sources, and we are demanding from the international community unequivocal condemnation and demand for the release of the hostages immediately, with no conditions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Relatives of the Hamas hostages are making global appeals for help to try to free their loved ones. A New York woman with six abducted relatives took her case to the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALANA ZEITCHIK, SIX FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: I am pleading for your help to bring my family back. We don't want more bombs or rockets or blood or tears. We want our family back immediately, and we want peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Alana Zeitchik is joining us now from New York.
Alana, I am so, so sorry for what you and your family are going through now. I understand your cousin Sharon, her husband and her three kids are being held hostage in Gaza as well as your cousin Danielle and her daughter.
You learned they were alive as of Friday. Can you update us, Alana, on what you know now and how you and your family are doing in this incredibly painful time?
ZEITCHIK: We don't know much more than that. We know they're alive and we know that they're there, and we are waiting for more information. We would like to speak to someone in the government for more information.
We are in a state of desperation is I think maybe the best word I could possibly use for it. But, at the same time, like, all we're doing is trying to take action and share more about our story and try and get people to listen to us. BLITZER: People are listening. I understand your aunt last heard from
your cousin Sharon in a voice message around noon on the day of the Hamas attack.
Can you tell us what Sharon said?
ZEITCHIK: So, she was explaining -- well, not explaining, she was telling them that smoke was filling the house in the bomb shelter. And she said we're not going to get out of here, we love you. And that was it.
BLITZER: So, so sad. We heard your very powerful advocacy for your family's release at the United Nations. What more, Alana, do you want to hear from both the American and Israeli governments?
ZEITCHIK: I want to hear that the hostage release, all of them, right, every single hostage is the number one priority. I also want to hear specifically from the Biden administration, perhaps, some of my officials in New York, I would love to have some conversations so we can know what's actually going on there. We're very concerned about what the conditions are.
There's babies, there's babies who are in diapers. Like, I have, you know, cousins who are in diapers. What are they doing, how are they? We want some more contact.
BLITZER: Are you hopeful at all that your family will make it out of Gaza safely?
ZEITCHIK: It's hard to say. I'm hopeful because they're alive. But I know that they're in the hands of evil, and they're in the hands of people who don't have a conscience. They are not -- there is nothing for us to compare this to. So, not in recent history, at least.
So, I don't know. Hopeful is something that I go back and forth on. Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel completely lost and desperate.
BLITZER: Alana Zeitchik, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to your family. I wish -- I wish we were meeting under different circumstances.
And, to our viewers, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're also following breaking news here in Washington. House Republicans, they're huddling right now behind closed doors as Congressman Jim Jordan vows to hold a speaker vote as early as tomorrow, even if he's short of a majority.
Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju. He's got details.
Manu, I understand Jim Jordan won over some key holdouts earlier today.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and at the moment meeting behind closed doors trying to close the deal, trying to get closer to that 217 mark tomorrow. He told me earlier today that he plans to go to the floor even if he does not have the votes to be elected speaker. He believes that ultimately, he will get there.
Potentially, there could be multiple ballots, even though he had said previously that he'd only go to the floor if there were 217 votes. But this comes, at a time where Republicans are growing increasingly desperate trying to figure out a way out of this standoff, trying to figure out if they can get the votes, ensuring that Jim Jordan can't lose more than four Republicans on the House floor.
He had lost 55 in a secret ballot election on Friday. But he has narrowed the gap substantially. The moment the question is how close he is to only losing four Republican votes.
But, Wolf, I have spoken to several Republicans on the way in to this conference meeting and several of them are still opposed to Jim Jordan's speakership including Don Bacon. He's a congressman from a swing district in Nebraska and told me he plans to vote against Jim Jordan and for another candidate tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Are you a hard no?
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I never use the terms hard no, no, or never, never, but I am opposed. There are good reasons to be both ways on this. Our country needs a speaker. We have a major international problem. We got to support Israel. I can't abide by the fact a small group violated the rules to get what they wanted, now I'm supposed to play by the rules.
So I think we've got to have consequences and you got to stand up to this. That's what Americans do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And that last part is really on driving so much of the tension. He was referring to the eight Republicans who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, almost two weeks ago in that historic and unprecedented vote. The argument is from those members like Don Bacon, why should they get behind Jim Jordan, given the fact that those same hard liners are backing Jim Jordan. They say they should go back to another candidate, should go back to Speaker McCarthy, some of them said.
And even one congresswoman, Mario Diaz-Balart, who I just talked to on the way in, wants Steve Scalise who would have been the replacement to Kevin McCarthy to run for speaker. He said about efforts to try to pressure him to back Jim Jordan. He said if anybody is trying to get my vote, the last thing you want me to do is try to intimidate or pressure me because then I close out entirely -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow. Manu Raju, thank you for that update.
Other news we're following right now. The judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal election subversion trial has just issued new restrictions on Trump's ability to speak about the case.
Our chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is on the story for us tonight.
Paula, walk us through the judge's order and how it impacts the former president.
PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these are the first significant restrictions on Trump's speech, and these come ahead of his expected federal trial here in Washington, D.C. related to his alleged role in January 6th and efforts to undermine the 2020 election.
As the criminal defendant, he already had certain restrictions on what he could and could not say. For example, you can't threaten or harass witnesses, but in recent weeks, the government asked for a longer list of restrictions, an expansive gag order after Trump made attacks against prosecutors, against witnesses and the court itself.
Now I was in court today for over two hours as Judge Tanya Chutkan heard arguments from Trump's prosecutors and from Trump's own attorneys about the possibility of a gag order here.
Now, Trump's attorneys emphasized the fact that he is running to be president, and that any restriction on his, quote, political speech would be censorship. But Judge Chutkan, she dismissed that argument. She made it clear, she said, look, his First Amendment right yields to the orderly administration of justice.
She says, I have a courtroom to run. I have to oversee a trial, and at the end of today's hearing, she took to the bench and announced that she would be imposing a limited number of additional restrictions.
He is now barred from making certain comments or targeting court personnel, potential witnesses, the special counsel or his staff.
Now, the government, though, didn't get everything that they want. And there are no restrictions on the former president, attacking President Biden or the Justice Department or even the District of Columbia itself, something that prosecutors had argued could potentially taint the jury pool.
BLITZER: Paula, what would the consequences for Trump be if he were to violate any part of this order?
REID: That's a great question, Wolf, and it's not really clear from what the judge has given us. Now, she has listed some possible repercussions. For example, financial penalties, home detention or revoking his release, which suggests the possibility of detention.
But the logistics of doing that to someone who is running for the White House, a former president, Wolf, is just unclear how she's going to enforce this.
BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting, thank you very much.
To our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.