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Hours Away From Israel-Hamas Truce, Initial Hostage Release; Anxious Families Awaiting Hostage Release After Delay; Officials: IDF Fires Back After Hezbollah Launches Attacks On Israeli Military Base; Prominent Celebrities Named In Sexual Assault Lawsuits; "On A Knife's Edge" Amid Fears Of Volcanic Eruption. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 17:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the anxious wait for the first major release of hostages from Gaza after an agonizing delay. Israel and Hamas once again on the verge of a temporary truce expected to begin just hours from now. If all goes according to plan, it would mark the first pause in the hostilities since the war began and could potentially could set the stage for even more captives to come out.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel, and this is THE SITUATION ROOM Special Report.

Let's begin our coverage right now here in the Middle East where we appear to be on the cusp of a critical moment in the war. Thirteen hostages' now just hours away from returning home, if the agreement between Israel and Hamas holds firm. CNN's Oren Liebermann has the latest.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nearly seven weeks of war, it is the storm before the calm. Final hours of fighting in Gaza ticking down until a pause in the conflict separate early Friday morning. Thirteen hostages', women and children will then be freed by Hamas on Friday afternoon transferred to the Red Cross and then back to Israel.

GILL ROMAN, HOSTAGE RELATIVE: We are waiting for the day by day basis to wait for a phone call to see if our loved ones are coming back.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Under the agreement, the pause in the fighting is scheduled to last four days, a total of 50 Israeli women and children will be released in stages in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. The spokesperson for country's foreign ministry expressed hope that the deal could be the basis for a longer pause.

MAJED AL-ANSARI, QATARI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: We are hoping that these four days would work as a proof of concept for effective de-escalation measures including expanding, extending this humanitarian pause but also getting to a more sustainable saleable truth.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Hundreds of trucks are waiting at the Rafah border crossing outside of Gaza ready to enter the strip as a part of the agreement. Nearly 80 percent of Gaza's population is displaced, facing critical shortages of food, water and fuel. These trucks will provide only a fraction of what's required.

For Gazans, the pause in fighting is a brief respite after weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment. As of Tuesday, more than 12,700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, based on numbers from the Hamas controlled Ministry of Health, which have not been officially updated because of a breakdown in communications. On Thursday, Israel detained Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of Al-Shifa Hospital, the IDF says he was questioned about alleged Hamas activity at the hospital. The IDF released footage of additional tunnels they say were uncovered below Gaza is largest medical facility. Health officials in Gaza have consistently denied Hamas use the hospital for military purposes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting with the new U.K. Foreign Minister David Cameron said the pause in fighting is not the end of the war.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We'll continue with our war ends aiming to eradicate Hamas because Hamas has already promised that they will do this again and again and again.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The prime minister's office said in a statement that it had notified the families of the first 13 hostages to be released. Gil Dickmann says he's holding his breath even though his loved ones are not in that initial group.

GIL DICKMANN, HOSTAGE RELATIVE: I'm actually myself very excited to hear about the kids that are coming home and hostages that are coming home and -- but after saying that, I can't really believe anything until I see them free and home.


BLITZER: Oren Lieberman is with me here in Tel Aviv.

Oren, we're only a few hours away from this agreement supposedly about to be implemented. What's been the latest, as far as military activity in northern Gaza is concerned?

LIEBERMANN: Our colleague Jeremy Diamond is in Sderot watching over northern Gaza and has seen a tremendous what appears to be an uptick in Israeli military activity, heavy artillery strikes in northern Gaza where the IDF has said they're operating and going after the northern branch of Hamas's division there. And according to reports on the ground, there are a terrifying number of strikes. We've also spoken with a Palestinian journalist in northern Gaza who says 20 were killed in a strike on two buildings in the Jabalia refugee camp. The IDF hasn't commented on that specifically, but we know that's where they're operating.


Crucially, Wolf, just because there is activity, there is fighting right up until that deadline, which is seven hours from now, that does not mean the deal is off. To some extent it was expected that there would be fighting in the IDF, said they would continue to operate until they get the order to stop fighting and move into defensive positions.

BLITZER: I know you've been speaking with family members of the hostages. What are you hearing from them?

LIEBERMANN: Still very difficult moments now. There are only 13 families out of this initial group of 50. And out of a much larger group of nearly 240, who have gotten the notification, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office that their loved ones should, if everything goes well here, come home tomorrow. That means even the other 37 families in that initial batch of 50 in this agreement haven't heard anything, which means more agonizing hours of waiting, hoping that there is good news at the end of this. We have spoken with a few of them who have said, look, we're happy that that somebody is coming out and that this process has begun.

We won't necessarily believe it until we see it. But it seems like this process is moving forward. And we hope it expands beyond the initial 50 to all the women and children and from there hopefully grows into the elderly men and from there beyond that. Is that reasonable to think at this point, still very difficult to come to that conclusion definitively. The IDF has warned that there going to be changes up until the last second and even as the agreement plays out over the next four days of the pause in fighting.

BLITZER: So all those hostages come out. Oren Liebermann reporting for us. Thank you very, very much, Oren.

For more on Qatar role, and it's a critical role in these negotiations, I want to bring in CNN's Becky Anderson. She's joining us from Doha, Qatar.

Becky, you were there at the news conference, ask some important questions to the Qatari Foreign Minister. How important is Qatar's role in getting these hostages released hopefully in just a few hours?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: It's been absolutely crucial. I mean, Qatar have a reputation and a built of mediation. And they -- it's part of their foreign policy. And they've spent a long time building that up through the Afghan role. I was here eight weeks ago when the Qataris have mediated the release of the U.S. hostages from Iranian prison, Afghanistan, Sudan, they have a role in mediation.

But this, the team tells me, has been really difficult, intense, complicated, really, really tough at times. And that is because these two sides, these two groups, so Israel on one on the one side and Hamas on the other simply do not trust each other. There is no trust between the two. And that is what's made these talks really difficult. I've been back and forth -- into Qatar.

Over the past weeks, we thought we get there -- we got there at one point. Twice we thought we got there and then things fell apart. So this is absolutely crucial. They say their work is not done, but this is the biggest diplomatic breakthrough since this conflict began, if this works as the plan has suggested. But I did ask the spokesman for the foreign ministry today who held that press conference, Majed Al- Ansari, whether he expected any further delays, this is what he told me.


MAJED AL-ANSARI, QATAR FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: We are hoping that we don't see any delays. And I think we've reached the point now where everything is in place and we are ready to go on the ground. So we are hopeful that, as I told you by 07:00 a.m., tomorrow, everything will stop and we'll have this beginning with the humanitarian troops or pause.

When it comes to the -- what delays -- what were the reasons of delays, I can tell you that the discussions over the details and the schematics of how this will happen are very difficult and very detailed, because we wanted, as I said, to make sure that nothing would cause harm in the process of getting the hostages out but also that the parameters of the agreement are agreed upon in the operational sense between both sides. And that took a lot of, you know, discussions between both sides. But we are happy to report that the discussions happened in a very positive environment where both sides showed their commitment to the agreement itself.


ANDERSON: It was about 48 hours ago, Wolf, you will remember that this -- that there was an announcement that there was an agreement they got this across the line. And then we waited to find out when this truce would begin and when these hostages would be released. We have those scheduled times now. We just hope that this comes together. Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope. Becky, I know we're also learning more from Israeli officials about the Palestinian prisoners who will be released by Israel on Friday in exchange for the hostages What are you learning on that front?


ANDERSON: Thirty-nine women and young men under the age of 18 they will be released from a prison in Haifa and taken into the West Bank down towards Ramallah where they will be met by the RC -- ICRC, their health will be checked and then they will be returned home. This is an exchange, of course, it's been described as a three for one exchange. So we're looking at 11 hostages released by Hamas tomorrow, 39 released by the Israelis from Palestinian prisoners.

We do know that Hamas has the list of names but we also know that the Palestinian prisoners group, the committee who would overlook those who were in prison who keep a tally of those who are in prison, have not been given those names. So very unclear whether the families of those Palestinians will know that their women and young men are being released tomorrow.

BLITZER: It's an important part of this arrangement to be sure. Becky Anderson, reporting for us from Doha, Qatar, thank you very much.

And now to the US reaction to all these major developments in the Middle East. Our Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is tracking the story for us from Washington.

Alex, I understand the Biden administration says there are 10 Americans likely among the hostages. What are U.S. officials know about the release starting tomorrow?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they know that of those 10, Wolf, that there are three who qualify for this first phase of hostage releases, that there are two women and one young child who they hope to get out in the next few days. What they're less clear on is whether they will be part of this initial 13 expected to be released tomorrow, but they're hopeful they're expecting that those three Americans would come out in the coming days. Now, the youngest is three year old Abigail Edan. She has been talked about a lot by President Biden. In fact, she turns four, tomorrow, Wolf.

The U.S. has also said that they will not, unlike the Israeli government, they will not be telling American families that their relatives are coming out. Because of how fluid this situation is, they say they want to confirm that those American citizens are out of the Gaza Strip or at least in safe hands before they alert the family. So we can expect that once American citizens make their way out of Gaza or on their way out of Gaza, that those families will be alerted. Once that has been confirmed by American officials or Israeli officials, but the Biden ministration insistent that they have been in very close contact with these American families. There was a Zoom call with the families a couple of weeks ago with President Biden himself. A senior Administration official said that it was one of the most gut wrenching experience, one of the most gut wrenching things that he had heard happen in the Oval Office.

Now, President Biden himself he's in Nantucket for his Thanksgiving holiday when asked by reporters whether that young Abigail Edan would be out tomorrow, he just put up his hand and said fingers crossed, Wolf.

BLITZER: Right. So, Alex Marquardt, reporting for us. Thank you very, very much.

I want to get some analysis now from former State Department Middle East Negotiator Aaron David Miller, and CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger, who's also with the "New York Times."

Aaron, I'll start with you, do you see this hostage deal as being the first step to a much larger deal to secure the release of more of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza? AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER STATE DEPT. MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: If -- first of all, thanks for having me, Wolf. If this one goes well, the next four days are relatively problem free. And there's no broken trust, let alone a renewal of hostilities in this -- in the truce. Yes, I think it could lead to a larger release, same pattern.

The problem, of course, is going to be Hamas will still have -- even if it leads to 100, which is extraordinary and extremely welcomed to the hostages and their families, Hamas will maintain control of at least another 100. And the game -- the cruel game here I think is very clear, to dribble our hostages over time by time, rearm, regroup and hope that international pressure, including from the United States, leads to pressing the Israelis to constrain diminish or even end their ground campaign. That I think is the real challenge ahead. But for the moment, we'll know in a matter of hours whether or not the Qatari brokered negotiations and actually succeeded. I truly hope so.

BLITZER: Yes, we all hope that it succeeds, that all those hostages can come home.

David Sanger, what stands out to you about the framework of this hostage deal between Israel and Hamas?


DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well a few things jumped out at me. First of all where the Hamas started on this was a return of hostages and in return for a complete cessation of the bombing of the Palestinians. I suppose quite a piece of diplomacy to move to something that is basically a three to one deal, three Palestinians released for each Israeli, or in this case is some Israeli Americans as well. That's a quite a piece of diplomacy. And as Aaron suggested, there's the hole a little bit expand to more.

Pardon me. And that's -- that would be great news, if we can make that work. The downside to it would be if, in fact, they can't make anything happen after the next few days, after the next five or six days of additional hostage releases. And if that happens, then we're in a different world where the Israelis got to decide whether or not to pursue their bombing campaign. And as Aaron points out, that's going to be a really, really hard call, because if they do, Israel will be charged with starting this war up again.

And Hamas, I'm sure will make the case that there were more hostage releases that were possible, but cut off by that. And that could be a really difficult domestic position. On the other hand, Hamas isn't going to give up all the last of these hostages, they are their leverage.

BLITZER: Good point.

Aaron, the hostages are clearly leverage for Hamas. So how does Israel negotiate for their release, while at the same time continuing to fight this war and try to destroy Hamas?

MILLER: It's the cruelist dilemma, Wolf. And David referred to it, and you witnessed it, you've talked to the hostage families, you understand that the dilemma the Israelis face is how to, I won't use the word avenge, but how to prevent this from ever happening again so 1200 Israelis won't be or any Israelis won't be cruelly murdered sadistically and indiscriminately. Balanced against -- that commitment to the dead, Wolf, balanced against the commitment to the living, which as you know, Israel puts a premium on redeeming their people, dead or alive from the battlefield. And that I think, is the cruelest choice of all that the Israelis are going to have to make.

I think that if David's correct, and in fact that the deal breaks down, the Israelis are going to continue their ground campaign as intensely as they possibly can and look for operational opportunities, perhaps, to rescue hostages, but that seems to be extremely difficult. And frankly, Wolf, I don't think the Israelis have a good answer for the dilemma that they face.

BLITZER: It's an extremely delicate moment right now. Aaron David Miller, David Sanger, guys, thank you very much for joining us.

Coming up, after weeks of uncertainty, families of the hostages face the agonizing hours of waiting and wondering. In a moment, I'll speak with a man who lost family members while others were taken hostage. This is THE SITUATION ROOM Special Report.



BLITZER: As we await the start of the truce between Israel and Hamas, I'm joined now by Omri Almog, whose sister and three of her children are among the hostages, her husband and their oldest daughter were killed by the terrorists.

Omri, my heart goes out to you. Thank you so much for joining us right now. Your family, obviously very close family, what's going through in your mind right now as we await to see what happens in the next few hours?

OMRI ALMOG, FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: You know, in the beginning for the first 10 days they were missing. So we hope from October 8, basically, when we found out that the family of six and four missing people, so we hope they are alive. And right now it's in this crucial moment in all the situation. I mean, my parents and my brother in law and adoptive parents is just waiting patiently. We have people from the army that is in contact with us and they talk into us and we understand the situation.

And we'll say in a few hours, tomorrow morning is in Israel when we siege fire what happened. So, we hope, we have patient, we nervous, but the best is in front of us. I mean whatever happened is said and it's behind us. Now we have to look forward and imagine a hand and the three kids coming back to us.

It's -- the government in Israel, the prime minister in Israel, this is his fault and this is his -- he needs to do it for the families to start to rebuild Kfar Aza in the families and -- to close this gate, to finish the situation for some families so they can start. There is over 230 hostages. But I hope the prime minister and his people doing the best they can. And it's the top priority, part of this war is to bring these hostages back.

BLITZER: So if this initial group of hostages comes home, and of course we hope your loved ones will be among them. I suspect they're not, necessarily. Are you --

ALMOG: Tomorrow they're not but we hope for the next few days they should be on this list.

BLITZER: Well, are you optimistic there will be more batches of hostages released in the next few days?


ALMOG: I believe this organization is a torture cruel organization. They don't think like us, they don't behave like us. But I believe this is part of what they want, to release some people and to siege fire. I mean, they -- the worry is difficult for them very much, I hope. So, we'll see, we'll see.

There's four fires, and then we can keep going till 80 people. So, we'll see what happened.

BLITZER: How's your family dealing with all of this? It's so painful just to hear these stories.

ALMOG: It is. It's almost 50 days. I left everything, I live up north, I take my family, my wife, and we are only two brothers. So, I'm with my parents. And the lost of Nadav, my brother-in-law, is huge, and Yam, the oldest daughter.

We're just trying to do the best as we can every day. I try to do the best I can, each person is different. My parents is very nervous. But we just try to spend the hours together and to support each other to go through this a moment and feelings and it's crazy. It's crazy.

It's beyond the imagination, of meaning for us a few times, it's a zone war. And these people, these kids, they took kid out from bed -- from beds in the morning with pajamas, they're not part of this conflict. They just should be where they should be in the house and somebody just came in the morning, took them out. You don't know where are they, you don't talk to them. And there's so many -- you know, I went to the European Union, I talked to people, I talked to the Red Cross, I talked to UNICEF, there's so many people that they supposed to support kids all over the world that doesn't do anything, that it's a shame.

It's a shame but I hope the world understand now what this organization did on October 7. It says something that we have to take these people off this planet. This is so important the world to understand, to give us the time to do that, because it can happen to anywhere in Europe, in -- anywhere, anywhere. If -- this is a how it looks when 20 years. Israel doesn't do anything. They -- we try to buy quiet, we try to buy peace, and we couldn't, we couldn't. We -- they deceive us by so many things. And then now we understand that, we understood that. Now we need the world to give us this opportunity to finish this once and forever.

BLITZER: Omri Almog, we hope your family will be reunited soon.

ALMOG: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thank you very much for joining us.

ALMOG: We hope. Thank you.

BLITZER: Omri Almog helping us appreciate the enormity of this horrible, horrible situation.

Up next, we're going to have much more on the anxious wait for the hostages as new tensions flare on Israel's northern border with Lebanon. Stay with us. This is THE SITUATION ROOM Special Report.


BLITZER: As we close in on an unexpected truce between Israel and Hamas, the IDF is still striking targets inside the Gaza Strip. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more for us. He's joining us from Sderot in Israel not far from Gaza. Jeremy even though we're just a few hours away from this truce, and let's hope it happens. You've been seeing lots of military activity close to where you are in northern Gaza.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. Less than seven hours away from this expected truce. We are still hearing heavy military activity inside the Gaza Strip. There has been some heavy bombardment from the Israeli forces into Gaza over the last several hours, a clear uptick in activity ahead of this expected truce.

Of course, this was expected, the Israeli military made very clear earlier today that they plan to continue their military operations to continue hitting Hamas targets inside of Gaza up until they get the order to stop before that expected 7:00 a.m. local time truce. And one IDF spokesman earlier today described the current situation effectively as business as usual. And we are continuing to hear active fighting in northern Gaza in the area of the Jabalia refugee camp as well as Beit Lahia, two of the -- two areas in northern Gaza.

And also there have been strikes in southern Gaza as well. All of this as we expect the hostage release to take place several hours after that 7:00 a.m. truce around 4:00 p.m. local time. We are expecting that they will be taken out of Gaza at several different points potentially, and reunited with their families after that at the hospitals, perhaps where they are taken for medical evaluations.

But what is ultimately clear is that this is merely a pause in fighting to get these hostages out. The Israeli prime minister and his defense minister making very clear that they intend to continue this war perhaps even for at least two months after this pause ends in order to achieve their military objectives. Wolf?


BLITZER: Jeremy Diamond in Sderot, Israel for us not far from Gaza. Thank you Jeremy. And please be careful over there. Other tensions we're following here in the Middle East, Hezbollah and the IDF exchanging fire today near Israel's northern border with Lebanon. CNN's Ben Wedeman is joining us live from Beirut right now. So what's the latest Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the last few days actually, Wolf, have been pretty intense on the border and today perhaps one of the most intense. Hezbollah claiming almost two dozen strikes on Israeli targets along the border in one instance on they -- say they fired 48 Katyusha rockets on the Ein Zeitim infantry base on the Israeli side.

Hezbollah claimed that they killed four Israeli soldiers. But there's no comment on that from the Israeli side yet, although one Hezbollah fighter was killed according to the group. Now in response, the Israelis launched a series of drone, artillery, helicopter and airstrikes throughout the day. They said they hit Hezbollah's military infrastructure and rocket launch sites.

Now, Al Jazeera Arabic has cited a Hezbollah source saying that Hezbollah will actually abide by the four-day truce that goes into effect at tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. local time, even though Hezbollah is not part of the agreement worked out by Qatar. Now also, we saw the Iranian foreign minister was in Beirut, he met with the leader of Hezbollah. And he also said on one of the local television stations that if the truce in Gaza does not hold the scope of this war, will expand. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ben Wedeman reporting for us from Beirut. Thank you, Ben. Appreciate it very much. Turning now to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza where civilians are begging the world to pay attention to their plate. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has our report and I want to warn our viewers, some of the images are very disturbing.


AYAT KHADDOURA, VIDEO BLOGGER: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Life before the wars felt like a distant memory for video blogger Ayat Khaddoura. They were the days when she'd smile in her videos, taking her followers behind the scenes of her work in Gaza. For weeks now, her posts have been about life at a time of war.

KHADDOURA (through translator): We now wake up at 5:00 a.m. to queue for bread. We now walk more than six kilometers to fill up a gallon of salty or fresh water. We charge our phones on the streets using the solar power we can find. We crave our favorite foods, but there's no power, no gas or water. So we have to make do with canned foods.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Ayat showed people how Gazans survive. Neighbors sharing the little they have to bake bread in clay ovens. And at times, it was about how close death felt as bombs rained down on Gaza.

KHADDOURA (through translator): This might be my last video. They dropped leaflets asking people to evacuate the area. Most people fled. People were running in the streets like crazy, not knowing where to go. The situation is terrifying. God have mercy on us.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): As the war intensified in the north, Ayat didn't leave. The safety they were told to evacuate to the South was an illusion. Nowhere in Gaza is safe, she said.

KHADDOURA (through translator): Death and destruction is everywhere in Gaza. The occupation has no mercy on anyone, not the elderly, not the children, not the women, no one. All civilians are under fire in Gaza. Where are the decision makers? Where's the world? Gaza is being annihilated? We are dying. Someone do something. Enough.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): But these desperate cries of so many like Ayat haven't stopped this seemingly endless nightmare for the people of Gaza, where burying their dead has become there every day, where every moment feels like it may be their last.

On Monday, it was Ayat's, killed along with other family members in a night of intense bombardment of Beit Lahia. Her last video, the haunting words of a 27-year-old with a final message from Gaza to the world.

KHADDOURA (through translator): We're humans like everyone else. We had big dreams. Now our dream is if we are killed, we are a body in one piece so we can be identified buried in a grave not body parts in a bag. When will this war end? Who will remain to tell people what happened to us, what we lived through, what we've witnessed?


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


BLITZER: Our thanks to Jomana Karadsheh for that report.

We're going to have much more just ahead from Tel Aviv as well as today's other news, including New York State, a deadline has prompted a flood of sexual assault allegations and denials by prominent political and entertainment celebrities. We have details coming up.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv where we're awaiting the start of a truce between Israel and Hamas, as well as the release of some Israeli hostages. We're also following other important news back in the United States, including a deadline that's prompting a flood of shocking allegations of sexual assault against very prominent political and entertainment celebrities. CNN's Jean Casarez has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City Mayor Eric Adams firing back after a document was filed in New York Supreme Court accusing him of a 1993 sexual assault.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: As I indicated, it's absolutely not true. This is something that has never happened. I don't even recall meeting the person.

CASAREZ (voice-over): The three-page civil summons alleges sexual assault, battery, gender-based employment discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by Adams, with defendants including the city of New York and the NYPD.

The 30-year-old claim brought under New York's Adult Survivors Act allowing a one-year window for victims of sexual abuse to legally come forward regardless of the statute of limitations. It is just the latest in an avalanche of claims against high profile men among others as the look back window closes this week.

Penthouse model and actress Sheila Kennedy filing suit against lead singer for Guns and Roses, Axl Rose, alleging in 1989 in a New York City hotel room, he violently sexually assaulted her. The attorney for Axl Rose saying simply put, this incident never happened. Rose has no recollection of ever meeting or speaking to the plaintiff and has never heard about these fictional allegations prior to today.

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: It was like something you never heard about.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Academy Award winning actor Jamie Foxx accused in a civil suit of offensively touching a woman at a popular New York City rooftop restaurant in 2015. A spokesperson for Foxx in a statement saying, the alleged incident never happened. Saying the claims were brought in a previously dismissed case. We are confident they will be dismissed again. And once they are, Mr. Foxx intends to pursue a claim for malicious prosecution against this person and her attorneys for re-filing this frivolous action.

Joan Tarshis has the latest to file suit against disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. She told CNN in 2014, Cosby gave her a drink. She passed out.

JOAN TARSHIS, BILL COSBY ACCUSER: When I came to, it was the next morning and I was in bed with him naked.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Cosby's spokesperson had no comment on the allegations. And Cassie Ventura longtime girlfriend of Sean "Diddy" Combs accused the rapper and producer of years of sexual abuse, rape and trafficking in a suit that was resolved amicably one day after the filing. Combs representatives saying, was in no way an admission of wrongdoing does not in any way undermine his flat out denial of the claims. Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: And thanks to Jean Casarez for that report.

We're watching a lot of news right now. And this just coming into CNN, musician and producer Sean Combs has just been hit with another sexual assault lawsuit. The suit accuses Combs of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman who says she was a victim of revenge porn. CNN has reached out to Combs and Bad Boy Entertainment but has not heard back.


We have much more ahead, we're reporting tonight from Tel Aviv. We're watching other news including the latest signs of a volcanic eruption that may be imminent in Iceland. Observers say everything is in one town is on an ice edge.


BLITZER: In Iceland right now, authorities are keeping very close watch at a town where cracks are opening in the ground. And there are fears of an imminent volcanic eruption that could destroy everything. CNN's Fred Pleitgen filed this report after getting a look from overhead.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Taking off straight to the emergency zone, we're on a mission with Iceland's Coast Guard to the already affected area by what could soon be a massive volcanic eruption.

PLEITGEN: So you can see how everything here is on knife's edge, but of course, the authorities are doing everything they can to save the town and save the infrastructure.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The town is called Grindavik. Massive cracks in the roads show places where pressure from an underground magma stream has already burst through the earth's crust. The ground now uneven, as the crew says they've been observing the rift widening in the past days.

ANDRI JOHANNESSON, HELICOPTER PILOT: We see differences between days. We see the -- sometimes we see the crack a little bit wider.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Grindavik was evacuated and could soon be completely destroyed by hot lava, authorities fear.

PLEITGEN: From up here, you can already see just how extensive the damage already is to the town of Grindavik, and that crack that you see runs all the way to the ocean.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iceland is in an area of massive volcanic activity. While this part of the country had been dormant for around 800 years, scientists say, in the past two years, volcanic activity has come back to life with several major eruptions.

We fly over the most recent one, past the mouth of the volcano and over seemingly endless lava fields still steaming hot even months after the actual eruption ended. On the ground, crews are working around the clock to try to build a berm to protect this geothermal power plant. And we also see the world famous Blue Lagoon hot springs. Normally a major tourist attraction, now closed down and also evacuated. The economic toll already immense.

PLEITGEN: What do you think it means for the people there right now?

HRANNAR SIGURDSSON, FLIGHT MECHANIC: I can't even imagine, you know. Losing their houses and maybe their work, their whole life, it's just -- it's crazy.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iceland's government says a major eruption here remains highly likely and it could happen in a matter of days. Iceland's Coast Guard aviators say they are on alert all the time.

JOHANNESSON: In case of the volcano starts, then we will fly over the area to evacuate the people.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Reykjavik, Iceland.


BLITZER: Our thanks to CNN's Fred Pleitgen for that report, important report. We're watching it closely.

And stay with us, we're live here in Tel Aviv, counting down to the start of a truce between Israel and Hamas, which should result in the release of at least some Israeli hostages. But this has not been a quiet day in Gaza at all. An update on what we're seeing and hearing as our situation room special report continues.