Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Israel Says, No Gaza Hostage Release Before Friday; New York Governor Says, No Indication Border Explosion Was Terror Attack; Appeals Court Mulls Limited Gag Order In Trump's Federal Election Subversion Trial; Major Advertisers Flee X Social Media Platform After Elon Musk Post Endorses Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 22, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the agonizing wait for the release of hostages from Gaza just got a little bit longer. Israel now says no captives will be returned before Friday. The pause in hostilities with Hamas also delayed.
Also breaking tonight, New York Governor Kathy Hochul says there is no indication of terrorism after a vehicle explosion in a major U.S. border crossing with Canada. We'll bring you all of the late-breaking developments and all of the details we're getting on the investigation.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel, and you're in The Situation Room.
All right, first up this hour, the breaking news here in the Middle East, where an Israeli truce with Hamas and a long-await hostage release have both just been delayed.
I want to bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He is joining us from Sderot, Israel, not far from the border with Gaza. Jeremy, what else can you tell us about this delay?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, nine hours from now, we were expecting that the first pause in fighting in this war between Israel and Hamas was set to take effect. A few hours after that, we were expecting the first hostages being held in Gaza to walk into Israel. And now, Wolf, we have learned that all of that has been scuttled for at least 24 hours, as Israel's National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi announces in a statement that the start of the release process, he says, will take place, according to the original agreement between both sides and not before Friday.
I am also told, Wolf, according to an Israeli official, that the pause in fighting will also be delayed until Friday. So, no pause in fighting, no release of hostages until Friday, and that also means, of course, that those Palestinian prisoners, three of whom who are supposed to be released for every one Israeli civilian hostage, that also will not take place until the rest of this comes into motion. This comes, Wolf, as we have been hearing over the last several hours some of the details of how this deal would be implemented, three different points in the Gaza Strip where some of these hostages were expected to be able to cross into Israel, and yet at this hour, Wolf, all of that has been scuttled for 24 hours, we believe.
The anxiety, of course, is there for the families of these hostages who have been waiting to hear whether or not their family members were going to be a part of that initial list of 50 hostages and now, Wolf, it appears that they will have to wait longer.
BLITZER: Jeremy, have you seen any major activity, military activity in Northern Gaza today?
DIAMOND: Well, Wolf, over the last few hours, and you just may have heard a boom behind me now, that is outgoing artillery being fired in the direction of the Gaza Strip. And throughout the day today, we have seen Israeli military activity. We have watched as there were large plumes of smoke, especially in the daytime here, ongoing fires burning from apparent Israeli strikes. We have also seen those illumination flares lighting up the night sky, indicating the movement of troops and material, Israeli operations very much continuing in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
And that is what the Israeli military told us earlier today. They said that they would continue operating in the Gaza Strip, continue fighting Hamas, continue blowing up those tunnels that they have been discovering inside Gaza up until the moment when that truce actually goes into place. And now, Wolf, it appears that they will have perhaps 24 more hours to continue those operations and also, of course, for Hamas to continue fighting the Israeli force that is inside the Gaza Strip. We expect the fighting to now continue into tomorrow. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Jeremy Diamond reporting for us, Jeremy, thank you very much. Stay safe over there.
Right now, I want to bring in our Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt. He has more information about the U.S. involvement in this deal.
Alex, U.S. officials, I understand, have a list of hostages expected to be released by Hamas. What more do we know?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they are calling this a working list. That's according to a U.S. official who spoke with our colleague, M.J. Lee.
The list does not contain names but it is who the U.S. believes would be released in the first ten on the first day that does have some identifying factors, like nationality, gender and are age.
Of course, the major concern for the Biden administration is getting out as many Americans as possible. And the hope is, the expectation is that in this group of 50, the initial group of 50 women and children, there would be three Americans, two women and one young child. The child that we've been speaking about so much, Abigail Edan, the three- year-old who turns four later this week.
Now, how is this all going to unfold, Wolf? Well, we're told the night before every release, and now we know that first release has been pushed back to Friday, that both Israel and Hamas will release lists of people they plan to release, hostages and those prisoners in Israeli prisons.
Then the hostages will be handed over to the Red Cross in Gaza. They will be taken to the Rafah crossing with Egypt. There, Wolf, they will be met by Israeli soldiers who will then confirm their identities. And only then, Wolf, will the families be notified that their family members have been released.
Those Israelis, the women and children, will then be flown by helicopter to hospitals within Israel for medical attention and they will -- presumably, some of them will need long-term medical attention because many of them are believed to be dual nationals.
They will also be able to speak with diplomats from those countries, in the case of Americans who will want to return to the U.S. The State Department says that they will make that as easy as possible for them. Wolf?
BLITZER: I know the U.S. military has also been supporting Israel militarily, Alex, with its own drones over Gaza. Those, I understand, though, will stop flying during this upcoming pause? What can you tell us about that?
MARQUARDT: This was one of the demands in this negotiation, Wolf, that Israel and the U.S. stop flying surveillance drones over the Gaza Strip. Now, we understand that during this pause, when it happens, that those drones will vacate Gazan airspace for six hours every single day.
We knew that was going to be the case for those Israeli surveillance drones, which you can literally hear buzzing over Gaza. We now understand, according to a top national security official, that that will include American drones as well that have been flying over Gaza to help the Israelis gather intelligence on these hostages.
But, Wolf, I am told by both experts and officials that even if those drones are no longer in Gazan airspace that certainly Israel has other capabilities to peer into Gaza and keep tabs on Hamas. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex Marquardt reporting for us, thank you very much, Alex.
Alana Zeitchik is joining us right now. She -- six of her members were kidnapped by Hamas back on October 7th. Alana, thank you very much for joining us.
We've discussed this many times. I understand the first hostage release won't happen at least until Friday at the earliest. I am sure you are incredibly disappointed by this late-breaking news. Does this also make you anxious that this hostage release might not even actually happen?
ALANA ZEITCHIK, SIX FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: From the beginning I've been cautiously optimistic. I've not gotten ahead of myself, so I've continued to be anxious for their return and, you know, this certainly doesn't help.
BLITZER: Most of the hostages released are expected to be children. Among your six cousins being held in Gaza, they include three-year-old twins Emma and Yuli and a five-year-old Amelia (ph). Do you know whether they will be included in this first deal?
ZEITCHIK: I don't know. We've not been given specific confirmation from the government. So, based on what we've heard, I am hopeful that they will be included, but we have no confirmed -- like, we just don't know yet.
BLITZER: It's all so heartbreaking even talking about it. What worries you most about your cousins given the length of time they've already been held hostage in Gaza?
ZEITCHIK: I'm worried about their physical well-being, but, of course, I am also extremely worried about the mental well-being and the trauma that they've experienced at the hands of Hamas. And I believe that there's going to be -- once they return, which is I believe will happen, there is going to be a tremendous amount of work that we need to do to help heal them from all of the mental trauma and anguish that they have experienced.
BLITZER: I suspect you're absolutely right.
Has your family been given any recent updates at all on any of your six cousins being held hostage still right now?
ZEITCHIK: No, we have no updates. We don't know anything. What I hear is what everyone else hears on the news.
BLITZER: How have you and your family, Alana, been doing over the next several weeks in this incredibly painful time?
ZEITCHIK: It's like a roller coaster of emotions. You know, we're just living day by day with this cloud over our head and there is a great emptiness that we feel constantly. And we are just so desperate for them to come home and for them to come back to us and go back to Israel where they belong. I just want to see them hug my aunt and be with her again.
BLITZER: I assume you support this deal even though it only includes the release of about 50 hostages, leaving the vast majority, maybe another 200 or so, still Gaza, is that right?
ZEITCHIK: Yes. I mean, what I can do? I am very concerned that David, my husband, Shalon's (ph) husband, will be left behind because he is a man. So, we don't know if he will be included somehow because he's a father of these young children, or not. So, we will not rest until every single hostage comes home.
BLITZER: It is so important. Alana Zeitchik, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to you and your loving family. Thank you very much for joining us.
ZETCHIK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead, there's more breaking news we're following, the urgent investigation into a vehicle blast at the U.S.-Canadian border. What we are learning about the explosion as the New York governor now says there is no indication of terrorism.
BLITZER: There's breaking news on the U.S. border with Canada, a vehicle explosion rocking a major crossing between the two nations. The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, now says there is no indication of terrorism as authorities gather new information. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): I saw the video of an airborne vehicle. That was absolutely surreal. You actually had to look at it and say was this generated by A.I., because it was so surreal to see how high in the air this vehicle went and then the crash and the explosion and the fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our experts to discuss. Joining us, CNN's Chief Law Enforcement Analyst John Miller and former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. Guys, thanks for joining us.
John, I'll start with you. The New York governor says there's no indication this was a terrorist attack. What do you think happened here? I know you've been checking.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, investigators have been going backwards through the day of the person they believe to be the driver of that car, and what they see is a 56- year-old man from the area, he lives in a very upscale island that's not far away, who had intended to go to the Kiss concert, which was canceled, then changed his plans to a casino, where he spent some time, and then leaves the casino and then drives at a high rate of speed along this road in Niagara Falls, hits the divider, goes airborne as the governor said, and lands in an explosion.
Authorities believe he was in the car with his wife. This was a Bentley two-door Excelsior X (ph). This is a car that goes for about $300,000 new. So, it does not, as Matt Miraglia from the FBI, indicated, the special agent in charge in Buffalo, who runs the joint terrorism task force up there, does not have any of the earmarks of terrorism. It looks much more, as they have been able to go backwards through it, like a terrible accident. The question is how and why, and they're still looking at that, but they don't believe there is a criminal or terrorist nexus here.
BLITZER: Interesting. Andrew, the car had a very high rate of speed, hit a curb and then exploded on impact. What does all of this say to you?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think as we've developed more detail about what happened and certainly the details that John just laid out for us are strongly indicative of a terrible accident, a terrible, active, reckless or irresponsible driving. You combine that with a car like that, Bentley, which is an enormously heavy vehicle and very, very powerful.
Once that vehicle is in the air, when it lands, an explosion is entirely possible, as it would be with any car. But to see the distance that this vehicle traveled, the height that it got over to clear that fence and them of course, landing at the customs inspection booth there, it's just -- we are very lucky that we didn't see a greater loss of life. That's, of course, unsettling that these possibly two people who died in the accident, but it's investigators' responsibility now to really piece this thing together and see what circumstances led to this moment.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, John, the Buffalo airport took a significant step of actually shutting down all incoming and outgoing international flights, at least for the next two days. Was this an overreaction? What's your analysis?
MILLER: Well, it's really an interesting question, Wolf, because what we saw today was a very quick reaction, and that's in the context of the governor's warning of a heightened threat of terrorism the day before, numerous warnings from the FBI and the NYPD and the NCTC that we are in a heightened threat environment. So, we saw that quick reaction, shutting down the bridges, canceling international flights into Buffalo.
The real question here isn't on the front end. That reaction was great and that's what you want. What's on the back end, which is did they bring it down fast enough once they began to realize this has none of the markers of a planned terrorist plot. It's likely an accident.
And did they wait too long to relax those measures? If there's a criticism, it's on the back end, but the front end is where it matters.
BLITZER: Andrew, what are law enforcement agencies likely looking for right now as they try to look into the identities of the two people inside the car who died?
MCCABE: Once those two are fully identified, Wolf, I am sure that they are subjecting them to the same sort of investigative focus that they would give to any people who are associated with suspicious activity that could potentially be connected to terrorism.
I know they feel they've ruled that out at this point, but, nevertheless, that investigation of these two people goes on and it involves submitting their identifiers to all law enforcement and intelligence resources, all of the holdings of the FBI and the partners and the intelligence community across law enforcement to look into things like criminal records or whether or not they've shown up on any intelligence radar in the past. They'll look into whether the interviewed family members, business associates and people who may have known them well or seen them before this happened to try to get a sense of what they were going through at the time. But, likely, this will be resolved with a brief, but thorough investigation.
BLITZER: We shall see. Andrew McCabe, John Miller, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, there's more news we're following. We're going to get another live report from here in Israel where the anxious wait for a major hostage release has just gotten even more nerve-racking for the families. Their return as well as a truce with Hamas both delayed by at least a day.
BLITZER: We are live here in Israel with our breaking news, the truce between Israel and Hamas now delayed along with the first major release of hostages from Gaza.
Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is with me here in Tel Aviv. She's got details. What are you hearing about these delays, Clarissa?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we've heard now, of course, from the National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby. He says the hope is that this deal will be implemented in the next 24 hours, but he said no one is doing a touchdown dance yet. There is a lot of work to be done. The devil will be in the detail.
This is coming on the back, of course, of the Israeli National Security Council's statement saying that nothing's going to happen before Friday. They didn't give a reason for the delay. It is notable, though, because the Qataris, who have been so central to this agreement, have been saying really up until the last minute that they expected to see that list tonight of who those initial detainees or hostages that would be released would be.
At the same time, Wolf, I think it's important to emphasize there is no sense at the moment that this is because of some breakdown in the talks or breakdown in the agreement. It's just more, it seems, that more time is needed to get all those moving parts into place.
BLITZER: I know you've been speaking with family members of these hostages who were being held by Hamas in Gaza. It must be so frustrating to them, even a short delay like this, if it happens.
WARD: I think they have just been on such a roller coaster, Wolf. And we have been speaking to a number of families, all of them have such heartbreaking stories. They are trying not to get their hopes up too much, but at the same time, of course, they can't help but fervently believe that maybe, possibly, their loved ones will be free soon.
WARD (voice over): Even as the first batch of hostages is poised to be released, they are not backing down. Look in their eyes, this protester says. Tell them that every day you are doing everything that it takes.
For 47 days, friends, family members and supporters of the estimated 240 hostages in Gaza have demanded the Israeli government prioritize bringing them home.
Here, they gather in support of Hadas Kalderon, whose children, 12- year-old Erez and 16-year-old Sahar, were taken on October 7th along with her ex-husband.
Tell me what you're going through now. Are you hopeful? Are you anxious? Are you in denial?
HADAS KALDERON, MOTHER OF HOSTAGES: All of it. I smile, I laugh and then I cry and then I --
WARD: Do you know anything? Have you heard anything?
KALDERON: Nobody knows anything, nobody. No information. I have to pray. We have to pray only.
WARD: Kalderon is not the only parent desperately waiting and hoping for news that has yet to come. nine-year-old Emily Hand's father, Thomas, was initially told his daughter was killed on October 7th only to then get the news that she may be alive and held in Gaza.
I want to jump through the roof with hope, Hand told us today about the possible prospect of Emily's release, but I also have to keep a level head emotionally.
It's a challenge Kalderon is all too familiar with.
KALDERON: Every day is tough. Every day, all day is tough. I don't want to think. I don't want to feel because it is too painful, you know? When they start to ask me, like interview, like you, show me the picture of your child. Tell me what last thing he told you, it breaks my heart because the last thing he told me was, mom, be quiet, I love you.
He was worried for me.
WARD: When you think of, God willing, your babies come home and are part of this release, do you worry about how they will be changed by what they've experienced?
KALDERON: They are changed. They want to be the same. They've been kidnapped away from their beds, from the house, it was a safe place. They kidnapped their infant in this day (ph).
WARD: At the central Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, prayers for those who will come home over the next few days and a promise to keep pushing for those who will not.
WARD (on camera): And those families are back on that emotional roller coaster now, waiting to hear perhaps another 24 hours, Wolf, before they will get any news, possibly longer. We spoke to Thomas Hand, and he said, I won't believe it until I see it, but I won't stop fighting.
BLITZER: So heartbreaking to hear all of those stories. My heart goes out to them. Clarissa, thank you very much for that excellent reporting, Clarissa Ward reporting.
For more on the hostage deal in the Israel-Hamas War, I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me first get your reaction to the hostage deal being at least delayed temporarily. Are you concerned that this deal could fall apart?
REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Hi, Wolf. We should all be concerned that this deal could fall apart at any moment. The state craft required to get here has been some of the toughest in modern memory and it's a testament to the courage and conviction of the families of the hostages with whom I've met and I've just been so moved by their pain and by their hope. It's a testament to Joe Biden's skilled state craft and also his wisdom in resisting these misguided calls for a ceasefire. Because if he had ceded to those calls and put pressure on Israel to prematurely declare a ceasefire, there would have been no leverage to get these first hostages and certainly no leverage to get all of them home.
BLITZER: Are you satisfied, Congressman, with this particular hostage deal and do you have any concerns that Hamas will use this upcoming pause to gather their strength to further attack and kill people in Israel?
AUCHINCLOSS: Well, Hamas has told the world that they plan to repeat October 7th. They walked through a ceasefire on October 7th to commit those atrocities, including murdering children, and they declared that they intend to do so again. So, no, I have no trust in Hamas. But, yes, this deal is acceptable because it's bringing hostages home. But this truce is temporary and Israel should maintain its priorities, number one, rescuing the rest of the hostages, and then, number two, destroying Hamas, because unless Hamas is dismantled, this cycle of violence is going to continue for years on end.
BLITZER: As you know, Hamas has been recognized by the United States government as a terrorist organization for years. Are you concerned, Congressman, this deal could incentivize the taking of hostages by terrorists? AUCHINCLOSS: That's always a concern in these negotiations, it's one reason why it has taken 47 days to get to this deal and, of course, terrorism should never be rewarded, which is why Hamas cannot be left standing at the end of this military operation.
If Hamas' mid-level senior military leadership is able to regroup, is able to launch further attacks against Israel, is able to terrorize the Palestinian people with the same sadism that they have practiced for the last decade-and-a-half, then deterrence will not have been reestablished and the cycle of violence will continue. This is underlining why it is so critical that Hamas cannot be part of any post-war governance in Gaza.
BLITZER: As part of this deal, as you know, additional humanitarian aid is also going to be sent to Gaza. Do you believe Israel is doing enough to limit the toll this war is taking on innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza?
AUCHINCLOSS: All war is a nightmare and every civilian death is a tragedy. Israel is abiding by the law of armed conflict. Israel is allowing at some risk to the Israeli Defense Forces for pauses and for humanitarian corridors to be opened up.
But the real onus on responsibility to protecting Palestinian lives is indeed on Hamas itself, because unlike Israel, Hamas does not abide by the law of armed conflict. Hamas uses its own people as human shield and Hamas has taken hostages, which has required this military response.
If Hamas truly cared about the Palestinian people they would release the hostages unconditionally and they would abide by the law of armed conflict by engaging with IDF as combatants as opposed to hiding amongst civilians.
BLITZER: The White House says President Biden was personally engaged in the negotiations leading up to this expected truce and this release of some hostages. Your House Democratic colleague, Dean Phillips, who is also challenging President Biden for your party's presidential nomination, says he would have turned this deal down. How do you respond to him?
AUCHINCLOSS: Nobody should be scoring political points on Israel right now. I didn't agree with it when Speaker Johnson tried to do it a couple of weeks ago by conditioning aid to Israel. I don't agree with it if Democrats are trying to do it. Democrats should be taking heed of the lessons from the Republican Party on Ukraine.
The Republicans have divided themselves on Ukraine. They have politicized the issue. They have played to their base on this issue. And it has been to the detriment of Ukraine, of the United States' global standing and it has been to the benefit of Vladimir Putin. And Democrats should be very mindful this we do not repeat that mistake and do the same with Israel and Hamas. Both Democrats and Republicans need to return to Washington after Thanksgiving. We need to remember that politics stops at the water's edge and we need to support fellow democracies in Ukraine, in Israel and in Taiwan, as well.
BLITZER: Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss, thank you so much for joining us.
AUCHINCLOSS: Happy Thanksgiving.
BLITZER: And just ahead, hundreds of credible threats against the judge and clerk in former President Donald Trump's New York civil fraud case. How this new development could impact Trump's ability to speak out on the case.
BLITZER: At any moment, a federal appeals panel could decide whether to restore the limited gag order against former President Donald Trump in his federal election subversion case. Meanwhile, we are also learning the judge and clerk in Trump's civil fraud trial in New York had received hundreds of credible threats as the New York attorney general is asking the appeals court to reinstate a gag order on the former president.
CNN's Paula Reid is joining us right now. Paula, what are you learning about these threats?
PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, here, we're talking about the judge and his clerk. Now, this is the judge who is overseeing Trump's New York-based civil fraud case, and we are learning that he and his clerk have faced hundreds of threats that have been deemed to be, quote, serious and credible.
And I put some hard numbers on this. His law clerk who has been singled out by Trump online with baseless allegations, she received, we are told, between 20 and 30 calls per day to her personal cell phone. She also receives between 30 and 50 messages from social media to her personal e-mail addresses.
Overall, the judge and his staff, we've learned, received hundreds of harassing messages, phone calls, e-mails and in these new filings, the court says that they're having to, quote, constantly reassess and evaluate what security protections to put in place to ensure the safety of the judge and those around him.
And, of course, at the heart of this, there is a debate on the gag order. The judge put a gag order on former President Trump restricting his ability to comment and attack court staff specifically. A New York-based court of appeals has put that on pause and the court wants it to be kept in place. That's part of how we're getting this new information about the extent, the breadth and the depth of these threats. Now I will say we have learned what has happened since that gag order was lifted just last week. The number of messages, the number of threats has once again increased. And this new filing also reveals that about half of the harassing messages that law clerk received were anti-Semitic.
BLITZER: All right, Paula, thank you very much, Paula Reid with that update. I appreciate it very much.
Coming up, we are getting new details on the Palestinian prisoners expected to be released in the upcoming hostage deal between Israel and Hamas. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news here in Israel. The last minute delay in the Gaza hostage release. The agreement with Hamas now pushed off until Friday, at the earliest.
CNN's Nima Elbagir has more on the Palestinian prisoners set to be released, as part of the deal. She looked at a radio station families used to communicate with their loved ones.
MURAD ABU AL SABAA, RADIO ALYAL PRESENTER (translated): We will work to extend the program for in light of the difficult conditions of the prisoners and after the cut of all communication with their families.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A lifeline, keeping some connection between families torn apart. Callers send in voice notes to radio presenter, Murad Abu Al Sabaa.
CALLER (translated): How are you, Auntie Hannadi. I love you.
ELBAGIR: Radio Alyal has dedicated its airways for years to the families of the thousands of Palestinians desperately trying to reach out to their loved ones, held in Israeli prisons.
The young listener's aunt, a Palestinian activist, was arrested by Israeli authorities, along with thousands of other Palestinians after Hamas's deadly October 7th attack. The station is trying to support the families, so desperately waiting for any news from inside Israel's prisons.
AL SABAA (through translator): We have three phone lines here to receive messages from families of prisoners. Because of the volume of the calls, people were not getting through. So, we've started making promo announcements. If you can't get through, send us a voice memo over WhatsApp.
ELBAGIR: In the horrifying aftermath of the Hamas attack, Israel not only carried out mass detentions of Palestinians, but is denying prisoners all family contact. This is the only way their families can reach out. The sheer volume of messages, evidence of the realities of imprisonment here. Israeli law allows Palestinian prisoners to be detained indefinitely, without trial or stated charge.
The families don't even know whether the prisoners get to hear their messages, but that does not stop them from sending them.
The Israel-Hamas hostage swap, exchanging 150 Israeli held Palestinian prisoners, women and teenagers, for 50 Hamas held hostages, means that for now, there is some of hope for both Israeli and Palestinian families.
We are going to meet a Palestinian lady who, one of their loved ones is coming home. But is ever, in this context, and this situation, it's never that simple. Families on both sides, even those who are awaiting the return of those who are loved are also dealing with the reality of those who won't be coming home.
Iman al Barghouti's sister-in-law Hanan (ph) was arrested alongside her three sons. The sons remain in prison. Hanan is on the list to come home. Iman said neither she nor Hanan is involved in the policies of this war, yet they suffer i's consequences.
IMAN AL BARGHOUTI, WIFE OF PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONER: Her sons, they get married, so they have kids. They are waiting to see their grandmother, you know? She has a beautiful relation with them. She loves everybody.
ELBAGIR: In the midst of Iman's joy for Henan, she's beginning to hope that her husband, Nael Barghouti, the longest serving Palestinian political prisoner, could also be released in a swap.
AL BARGHOUTI: It is a happy day for us. We know that this is really the start because that means that my husband will come. My husband Nael who is in prison now since 44 years, when he was arrested, it was the first time in 1978.
ELBAGIR: The Barghouti family is revered by many Palestinians deemed a threat by the state of Israel. Valuable enough to Hamas that they were included in the 2011 Israel, Hamas deal, among 1,100 Palestinians for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, after Hamas held Shalit for five years.
Who else was swapped on that day? The man Israel says is the architect of the October 7th Hamas attack, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, a fact that haunts every move Israel makes, as it negotiates for the release of more Hamas-held hostages, as families on both sides wait.
ELBAGIR (on camera): However ebullient Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have sought to appear in his press conference, discussing the hostage swap, the reality is this brings complications. It brings with it the specter of the Hamas leader that was freed in the previous 2011 prisoner swap. It's also brought with it extraordinary scrutiny, as to just how many Palestinians Israel is keeping without communication with their families, without trial, and without charge, and how long and intense to keep them for -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nima Elbagir reporting for us, Nima, thank you very much for that report.
Coming up, more news we're following. Major companies are pulling their advertising from the social media service, formerly known as Twitter, after a controversial Elon Musk post raised serious concerns about antisemitism on the platform.
BLITZER: X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, is under siege right now after a post by its controversial owner, Elon Musk.
Brian Todd is following the story for us.
Brian, did Musk finally go too far?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of advertisers, major advertisers, Wolf, who believe he has. And they're keeping Musk and X at arms length, not only over his apparent associations with antisemitism, but also over the placement of ads next to some disturbing content.
TODD (voice-over): An advertiser exodus, a mosque meltdown. Whatever you want to call it, the world's richest man and his signature company are in crisis tonight.
Elon Musk's X, formerly known as Twitter, is bleeding major brands who are at least temporarily pulling their advertising on X.
KARA SWISHER, HOST, "ON" AND "PIVOT" PODCASTS: I think big advertisers are really worried about not just being placed by bad content, but the general toxicity of the site.
TODD: Major brands like Apple, Disney, IBM, NBC Universal, Paramount, Paris Hilton's 11:11 Media, and CNN's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, have all suspended their advertising campaigns on X. The ultra popular NFL has denounced hate speech and conveyed its displeasure with X, but has not pulled its advertising.
How did all this escalate? Recently, the left leaning watchdog group Media Matters issued a report indicating that some ads for major brands appeared next to neo-Nazi hate speech on X.
At around the same time, Musk, himself, ignited controversy when he publicly agreed with an antisemitic post on X, which claimed that Jewish communities push hatred against white people. Musk responded by saying, quote, you have said the actual truth.
IMRAN AHMED, CENTER FOR COUNTERING DIGITAL HATE: It's really about a guy who's imposed his will, his identity, his stamp, you know, bending the way the platform works to his desire.
TODD: Imran Ahmed and his watchdog group, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, are frequent critics of X for its handling of hate speech. Musk and X have sued the center, accusing it of a scare campaign to steer advertisers away from X. The center denies that and is countersuing.
Ahmed says big companies who advertise on X face a dilemma.
AHMED: They are giving money to one of the biggest spreaders of anti- LGBTQ+ hate, antisemitic hate, anti-Black hate, but also that they just, you know, it's becoming a brand threat to companies to say, I advertise on Twitter.
TODD: This mess has put increasing pressure on X's new CEO, Linda Yaccarino, to resign. Musk brought Yaccarino in because of her talent for cultivating advertisers. Yaccarino defends the company, saying X has been misrepresented in all of this.
But analysts say she can't control her boss, the man who bought Twitter for $44 billion last year.
LANCE ULANOFF, U.S. EDITOR IN CHIEF, TECHRADAR: Musk put Linda Yaccarino in place, but he's not cede the control. He continues to tweet whatever he wants and sometimes when he sees something where something would seem to report antisemitic information, he's like, yeah, he kind of just tweets out his instant response, and I know for a fact that he said he tweets in the middle of the night. He does not think this stuff through.
TODD (on camera): Elon Musk maintains he's not antisemitic and the X platform has removed the ability of pro-Nazi accounts to monetize. But instead of apologizing for his conduct and acknowledging advertiser concerns, Musk has slammed his critics. He's filed suit against Media Matters, which says it stands by its reporting -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you very much, Brian Todd.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.