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Hamas Releases 11 More Hostages On Fourth Day Of Truce; Israel And Hamas Agree To Extend Truce By Two Days; Suspect In Shooting Of Three Palestinian Students Pleads Not Guilty To Attempted Murder Charges; Arrest In Vermont Shooting Of Three Palestinian Students; Elon Musk Meets With Israeli Leaders Amid Backlash To Antisemitic Content On X. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 27, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will attend, as will former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former First Ladies Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.

Our coverage of Rosalynn Carter's memorial service will start tomorrow at noon Eastern. And I will be anchoring that.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer, who is in the Situation Room Live from Tel Aviv. I'll see you tomorrow at noon Eastern.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, Hamas releases 11 more civilian hostages from Gaza on this, the fourth day of the temporary truce. At this hour, eight children and three adult women are back in Israel, where hospitals are preparing to treat them after more than seven weeks in captivity.

The pause in hostilities has officially been extended for two additional days, opening the door for more releases. But there are new questions right now about this very fragile agreement.

Also tonight, my special interview with the uncle of a 13-year-old hostage who was freed on Saturday without, repeat, without her mother, despite demands from Israeli officials.

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.

The breaking news this hour, moments ago, Israeli hostages began arriving at the hospitals here in Tel Aviv just hours after Hamas released 11 more civilians from Gaza. With a trace of extension now in effect, we expect additional captives to come home in the immediate days ahead.

CNN correspondents are standing by here in the Middle East as well as back in Washington. They have new details.

First, let's hear from CNN's Oren Liebermann, who has a closer look at all of today's very dramatic developments. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A nation celebrates once again as more Israeli women and children feel freedom. Fragile truce now extended by 48 hours, sealed with the release of hostages.

Already some of the freed hostages, like Margalit Moses, are being discharged from the hospitals, ready to head home.

MARGALIT MOSES, RELEASED HOSTAGE: I need to tell you how amazing you are, really, for everything you have done.

LIEBERMANN: Meanwhile, others rejoice in their first moments of reunion. Maayan Zin waited 51 days to see her two daughters.

Among those freed over the weekend, four-year-old Israeli-American Abigail Edan, still the only U.S. citizen to be released from Gaza, all of Monday's group from the devastated community of Nir Oz.

The truce agreement now set to be extended by two days. Hamas will release another 20 Israeli women and children, and Israel will release 60 Palestinian women and children from prison. Humanitarian aid will flow into Gaza, and the temporary ceasefire will last a bit longer.

YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: We will return to fighting. We will apply the same force and more. Therefore, this is the mission now.

LIEBERMANN: The pause revealing a hellscape in parts of Northern Gaza with barely a building left untouched. A few days of quiet in the devastated Palestinian territory does not mean any peace.

ABDEL QADER MOHAMMED AL-KAHLOUTI, DISPLACED PALESTINIAN: I came from the north. There is nothing left in the north. The north has become a large plain. Nobody knows where their houses are. We don't know what happened to us. Overnight, we became displaced from the north to the south.

LIEBERMANN: Aid trucks are bottlenecked at the gate to Gaza, an eager relief for the crushing humanitarian crisis beyond the border. In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians have rallied as women and children have been released. But according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, nearly twice as many have been detained as have been set free since Friday. At best, this remains an uneasy truce between two sides that vow to keep fighting as the sun sets on the first stage of disagreement.


BLITZER: And Oren Liebermann is with me here in Tel Aviv. Oren, what do we know about the locations of these 11 hostages who have just been released?

LIEBERMANN (on camera): Wolf, we saw that video a moment ago. That was one of the helicopters landing at the Ichilov Hospital, which actually isn't that far away from us right now. That, according to the Ministry of Health, is where today's group of 11, 3 women, 8 children, are being taken today.

We also heard from the IDF a short time ago that a number of other helicopters left Kerem Shalom. They'll also be headed to this hospital. They've undergone their first group, or their first batch, I should say, of preliminary health checks to make sure they're okay.

Obviously, they'll follow up on those checks as they get here, and that will include not only physical health checks, but also mental health checks.

One more point that's worth making, when this process began, Israel released a list of 300 names, Palestinian women and children, who could be released from Israeli jails in exchange for the release of prisoners.


The prime minister's office just added 50 women to that list, saying they too could be released if this process continues and if more Israeli hostages are released.

We know the process will continue for at least 48 hours. It seems Israel is at least preparing for the possibility of it continuing beyond that. It will require a massive diplomatic effort to get but at least some of the pieces appear to be moving into place.

No guarantees yet, but a tremendous amount of international effort will try to get it over that line. First, of course, Wolf, let's see the next 48 hours.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's see what happens in the 48 hours and let's hope all of those hostages eventually come home and home soon. It's very important.

Oren Liebermann reporting for us, Oren, thank you very much.

Right now, I want to bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He's over at a key border crossing where the hostages were brought back into Israel today. Jeremy, what did you see today and what's the status of these freed hostages right now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if we have witnessed Israeli hostages coming into Israel via this Kerem Shalom crossing and entering Israel via motorcade convoy the first two nights of this hostage release scheme. But tonight, Wolf, was the first night that we saw helicopters landing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing and then taking off shortly thereafter with hostages aboard and landing later on at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Wolf, we saw these helicopters coming in right by our position landing at Kerem Shalom before departing shortly thereafter. This is actually the second night in a row, Wolf, that these hostages have been brought directly into Israel from the Gaza Strip, bypassing that initial stop in Egypt via the Rafah crossing. Yesterday, we saw that that happened near central Gaza, but today, happening at this Kerem Shalom crossing, which has actually been shut down between Israel and Gaza since that attack on October 7th. So, a very notable moment, a very notable development in the way in which these hostages are being brought back into Israel.

Now, we know that these hostages are now being brought to a hospital, but where they are going to face all kinds of care, psychological, medical, et cetera.

The question now, Wolf, is how will this continue over the coming days. We know that that truce has now been extended for two additional days to allow for the release of 20 additional civilian hostages, but then questions remain about the days to come after that.

We know that Hamas does not have all of those hostages in its captivity, that others are with other militant groups as well. So, a lot of questions about their ability to bring them in.

BLITZER: And, Jeremy, what's the situation inside Gaza for civilians during this temporary truce?

DIAMOND: Well, Wolf, these last four days have offered a much needed respite for the people of Gaza who have suffered continuous nonstop bombardment over more than seven weeks inside the Gaza Strip. It has been an opportunity for people inside of Gaza to kind of take stock of what they have left, to bury their dead, in some cases, and to try and retrieve belongings from their homes, some of which, of course, have been turned to rubble.

But there have been hundreds of aid trucks that have been able to enter Gaza in recent days, also providing much needed aid, including in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, which has not seen much aid enter it until this humanitarian pause went into effect. Much more aid, Wolf, could still come in if this truce is extended.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Jeremy Diamond reporting for us, Jeremy, thank you.

No Americans are among the hostages released today, something I pressed a key White House national security official on earlier in the day.

Here's John Kirby. Listen.


JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: It's difficult to know and to ascertain specifically how they go about making up these lists. We are working very, very hard to keep this flow of hostages going. We're glad to see that there's a two-day extension, and we certainly would hope that in the next two days, in this next couple of installments, that we'll see some Americans coming out.


BLITZER: Let's go to Washington right now where our Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is joining us.

Alex, what more can you tell us about why American hostages weren't released today and where the U.S. goes from here in order to try to get them home?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you can certainly sense the disappointment from the Biden administration. There was an expectation that during this four days of pause, when these 50 women and children were to be released, that those Americans would get released at the same time.

There was an expectation, President Biden said this several times, that three Americans would get released during those four days. There was young Abigail Edan, the four-year-old, she turned four in captivity, and two American women. That did not happen.

Now, you heard John Kirby there confirmed to you that no Americans were released today, talking about how he hopes the flow of hostages will keep coming.


There's certainly a hope from the Biden administration that during these two extra days that not only will more aid go into Gaza, that more hostages released, but specifically that these two American women will be released as well.

You have to imagine that Hamas understands the value of these hostages, understands the value and the potential of holding onto these American hostages so that they can get more of a pause. And, Wolf, certainly, the Biden administration is applying pressure to Hamas to get these American hostages released.

We know that earlier today, President -- that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Qatari counterpart. We also know that over the holiday weekend that President Biden spoke with both the emir of Qatar as well as the prime minister of Israel about this extension in the pause and about getting those Americans home.

BLITZER: All right. Alex Marquardt reporting from Washington, thank you.

Coming up, I'll get reaction to the latest hostage release and the extended truce from a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Also ahead, my special interview with the uncle of a 13-year-old little girl released from Hamas captivity, but without her mother. Why Israel says that's a clear cut violation of their agreement.



BLITZER: You're watching CNN's breaking news coverage of the Israel- Hamas truce now extended by an additional two days as more hostages are released.

Let's bring in Mark Regev, he's a senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mark, thanks very much for joining us.

These 11 Israeli hostages, first of all, what, if anything, can you tell us about their condition?

MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: So, obviously, they've just arrived and they go through thorough medical inspections when they arrive. We want to make sure that they're okay. And, of course, psychological, we have to see how they are from the point of view of their psychological state. After being over 50 days hostages held by Hamas, it can't be easy, especially for the children. We can presume they've gone through a level of trauma.

BLITZER: So, the temporary truce has now officially been extended for, what, another two days, another 48 hours. What's it going to take from Israel's perspective to extend it even more, to keep this truce going?

REGEV: So, there's a cabinet decision from last week, which said four days, as agreed, four days at the beginning.

BLITZER: So, the first four days have now --

REGEV: Yes, 50 hostages that finished tonight. And then it was open- ended in that Israel agrees to the continuation of this special humanitarian pause each day for ten hostages. So, in many ways, you could say Hamas is going to decide how long this humanitarian pause lasts for, because as long as they keep releasing hostages ten a day, the humanitarian pause will continue. So, people who want to see the pause continue should be putting pressure on Hamas continue to release hostages.

BLITZER: CNN has confirmed that there are nine American hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza. What's it going to take to get those nine American hostages out?

REGEV: That you have to ask Hamas. They're deciding who's coming out. At the moment, the criteria is to give preferential treatment to children and women, for obvious reasons, and I think that will continue for the time being.

And I don't know. I remember the Americans talking about there were two women amongst the Americans, and so maybe they'll be coming soon. I hope so.

BLITZER: Why do you think only one has been released so far?

REGEV: That you have to ask Hamas.

BLITZER: Would you think there's a political decision on the part of Hamas or anything?

REGEV: It's very difficult sometimes to read Hamas. The only thing we can say for certain, Wolf, is that they are brutal and they are fanatical. We saw today they released twins, three-year-olds. What sort of people kidnapped three-year-olds? I mean, you have to be sick. You have to -- there has to be something wrong with you.

And, unfortunately, that's the enemy we're dealing with. And you have to have nerves of steel to deal with these people. Every time we get one of these releases, it's like pulling teeth. It's never easy. There are always last minute issues, always last minute problems. Hamas is a terribly difficult interlocutor.

BLITZER: Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and you probably know this, says the military will fight with even stronger force when combat resumes against Hamas. Is there any concern that these sorts of comments could disrupt a continuation of the release of hostages?

REGEV: On the contrary, this -- when the fear that Hamas has of Israel resuming combat actually is an incentive for them to continue with the pause, because they know that when Israel goes back to the campaign against Hamas, we will be destroying their military infrastructure, we will be taking out and eliminating their senior leadership, their senior command, they will be on the receiving end of massive blows from the IDF. And that motivates them now to keep this time out, this humanitarian pause to go longer.

So, actually, the two goals of destroying Hamas militarily and at the same time getting hostages out, they complement each other.

BLITZER: A different but related matter, there's an increased amount of violence unfolding right now in the West Bank. Israeli settlers are going after Palestinians right now. You've seen all those reports, very disturbing. President Biden has even complained about what's going on in the West Bank. How concerned are you about this?

REGEV: The prime minister has spoken about this, and he says he opposes 100 percent any vigilante violence and he's gone to the settlers themselves and he said this has to stop and he said the police and the law enforcement community will bring people who break the law to justice.

He says, though, it's important not to blame the entire settlement community. The overwhelming majority are law abiding, taxpaying citizens, they're good people. There's a small minority who are involved in these activities, no tolerance for them.

But, Wolf, if one looks at violence on the West Bank, it's not even matched. The terrorist violence -- but if you look at the terror coming from the Palestinians -- and what are we doing today? You've got -- unfortunately, you've got Hamas cells across the West Bank.


And we've been pre-empting, we've been arresting people in the middle of the night, we've been taking out Hamas, extremists, dealing with the terrorists there to keep the situation calm and compared to what's going on in Gaza, we're succeeding. We're managing to keep the level of violence in the West Bank low and that's a good thing.

BLITZER: Let's hope it stays low, keyword, low. Mark Regev, thanks very much for joining us. REGEV: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: All right. There's more breaking news we're following, including my emotional, very special interview with the uncle of a young teenage girl released by Hamas this weekend, without, repeat, without her mother.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news here in the Middle East. The newly extended truce between Israel and Hamas, with Hamas releasing more hostages, Israel is handing over Palestinians in its custody.

CNN's Nima Elbagir reports, Israeli law allows Palestinian prisoners to be detained indefinitely without a trial or formal charges.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The moment a mother finally sees her daughter for the first time after eight years in an Israeli prison, the relief, the anguish, the utter joy.

Malak Salman was part of the first wave of hostage prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.

MALAK SALMAN, RELEASED PRISONER: It was painful because I was leaving the sisters I made inside prison and I feel like my freedom was paid for with the blood of the 14,000 Gazans killed.

ELBAGIR: Malak, then 16, was charged with an attempted stabbing of Israelis. Israeli authorities say no one was injured and yet she was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to ten years. When her family appealed, it came down to nine.

Malak served almost eight of those years, spending the remainder of her teenage years behind bars. Her family maintains her innocence.

Fatina, Malak's mother, had dreamed of this day for years, to embrace her daughter, to share that joy with her community. She says this was denied.

FATINA SALMAN, MOTHER: The Israeli authorities were with us from 2:00 P.M. They surrounded the house and ripped down the decorations of any display of celebration. They stole the joy of my daughter's release.

ELBAGIR: To be released doesn't mean you are fully free. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is himself found guilty in 2007 before he was a minister, of incitement to racism against Arabs and supposing a terror organization, Ben-Gvir instructed Israeli forces to use an iron fist, preventing Palestinians from celebrating the release of their loved ones, saying the prisoners were terrorists. ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER: Expressions of joy are support for terrorism. Celebrations of victory give strength to those same human scum, those Nazis. The policy here is very, very, very clear, not to allow these expressions of joy and resolutely strive to make contact and stop any support for these Nazis.

ELBAGIR: Another scene of Israeli forces removing well wishes and journalists at the home of a released Palestinian prisoner taking a heavy-handed approach, as ordered by their national security minister.

In Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, they were able to defy Ben- Gvir, celebrating the release of Fatima Shahin and others from the city. Fatima left her home walking and returned almost seven months later with life-changing injuries, shot by Israeli soldiers and accused of attempted murder.

FATIMA SHAHIN, RELEASED PRISONER: They accused me of carrying out a stabbing. It's not true. They opened fire on me. I was hit in the spine with two bullets. Two vertebrae were damaged. They replaced them with titanium. I cannot feel my legs or stand up. They also removed five centimeters from my liver and one kidney.

ELBAGIR: For months, Fatima's family says they were denied access, even as her detention stretched on.

SHAHIN: It was forbidden for my relatives to visit me or even the lawyers. I was not allowed to make any calls.

ELBAGIR: Israel says Fatima attempted murder and yet she was only detained, not charged. She didn't go to trial. She wasn't given any opportunity to defend herself. And this is a story we keep hearing again and again from released prisoners that they aren't given due process. And yet this crime exists alongside their names.

The Israeli Prison Service responded to these allegations saying, National security prisoners who were released from the Israeli prison during the past two days were serving time for serious crimes, such as attempted murder, assault and throwing explosives. All prisoners in IPS custody are held according to the law.

That's not true. CNN broke down the numbers in a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners identified by Israel as eligible for release. 80 percent are listed as just detained, which means they have not been formally sentenced.

Israel operates two systems of law in the occupied territories, Palestinians under the military, Israelis under civil law, creating a low bar for the arrest of increasing numbers of Palestinians. And as Israeli hardliners, like Ben-Gvir and others in this far right government, seek to characterize every Palestinian as a terrorist, that number is rising every day.


Nima Elbagir, CNN, Jerusalem.


BLITZER: And thanks to CNN's Nima Elbagir for that report.

And this just coming in right now, according to the Israeli Prison Service, 33 Palestinian prisoners have been released today. We're following all the breaking news.

But coming up next, my interview with Yair Rotem, his niece, Hila Rotem Shoshani, was released from Gaza on Saturday without her mother, despite demands from Israeli officials to keep parents and children together. Watch this.


BLITZER: I know this is a very emotional, very sensitive time for you and your loving family. And, obviously, if there's anything very sensitive you don't want to discuss, we totally, totally, of course, understand.

You're here at this hospital in Ramat Gan. This is a major hospital outside of Tel Aviv because your 13-year-old little niece, Hila, is here. She was released, she was a hostage. She was released by Hamas. She was supposed to be released together with her mother, your sister, Raaya. But Raaya is still being held by Hamas. So, what goes through your mind?

YAIR ROTEM, UNCLE OF GIRL RELEASED BY HAMAS WITHOUT MOTHER: What goes through my mind is what is the reason for not releasing my sister as well? I mean, they were held into captivity together with another girl called Emily that was kidnapped with them. They were together in the same place.

The agreement between Hamas and Israel says that you don't separate kids from their parents. And Hamas just ignored that and just chose to release Hila and Emily without Raaya, which is Hila's mother.

BLITZER: Which is a clear violation of this agreement. According to the IDF, they said it was specific in the agreement that if little children are with their mothers, the mothers have to be released together with the little children.

So, let's walk through when you reconnect with your niece, Hila. How did that feel?

ROTEM: It feels great. First of all, to just see her with my own eyes, to see that she's not hurt, she's -- to see that she communicates, that she's not hurt in anyway, she can smile, she talks to me, she hugged me. So, I feel it's the same kid.

She's a little bit distant now. She's a little bit cold. She talks about things that happen like it's in third person, like it happened to someone else. She says she's so horrible things, but she says it with a straight face. It's like she's describing a scene from a movie that she watched somewhere.

BLITZER: How were you informed that your niece has now been freed? ROTEM: Yes, they just told us the names the night before that. So, we knew my niece is going to be released, and we knew that my sister is not on the list. 100 percent she was supposed to be released together with her mother, not separate.

BLITZER: And she is here now, your niece, in this hospital in Ramat Gan?

ROTEM: Yes. Hila is here in Ramat Gan. We're taking care of her. We have wonderful stuff here in the Safra Medical Hospital in Tel- HaShomer. They're doing everything to help us. They have a whole team of doctors and psychologists and PTSD experts and nothing is left behind. They're taking really good care of her.

BLITZER: And she's now celebrating today, is that true, her 13th birthday?

ROTEM: Yes. Today is Hila's 13th birthday.

BLITZER: She knows it's her birthday?

ROTEM: Yes, of course. Actually, I was surprised to see that she knows. Like I thought maybe she doesn't even know what day it is. And she said, no. From the first day, we counted the days. So, we know what day it is.

BLITZER: And this must be so sad for her knowing that her mother is still being held hostage. You've talked to her about this.

ROTEM: Yes, I talked to her about this. She doesn't cry, but she tells me everything in a really cold way. She tells me, yes, mother is here and they came and they took us and they didn't give us a lot of time to prepare, but I had time to give her a hug and Raaya, my sister, her mother, was crying when the girls, the children left and, yes, that's how it ended. And Raaya is still there.

BLITZER: And how is she doing?

ROTEM: Hila is doing okay. She's physically okay. She speaks. She answers questions when we ask her, even about some bad things that she saw. She tells us everything that you know. She tells us the story of how they got kidnapped from their home.

BLITZER: Tell us about that. What happened on that day, October 7th, that Saturday morning?

ROTEM: So, October 7th, Saturday morning, we woke up to the sounds of I think it was Iron Dome probably intercepting Hamas missiles.


And then we also have alarms in our Kibbutz Be'eri. So, everybody went to the safe rooms. And pretty quickly we started to get messages in the different WhatsApp groups of people saying, we have terrorists here, they are in my house, I hear shooting, that person is dead, this person's house is on fire, help my house is being set on fire, I can't breathe, where is the other army?

BLITZER: And you were there at Be'eri, at that kibbutz, together with your sister and your niece?

ROTEM: Yes, I was there, but I was in my home and they were in their apartment. So, my house, the terrorist didn't get to my house. I locked myself in the safe room and my sister in her house, she locked herself in the safe room. But the terrorist came and they went in the house and she probably assessed her chances and she thought I might as well give up and this way maybe I saved myself from dying. So, she decided to not fight with the terrorist.

They probably opened the safe room door without any problem and she just gave up and went out with the two girls. And she actually prepared some shoes for them to wear because she sensed that they were going to be kidnapped because there were messages in the other groups as well.

BLITZER: So, you say the two girls, you mean Hila and Emily?

ROTEM: Yes, Emily Hand.

BLITZER: Emily Hand. She was with together with Hila the whole time?

ROTEM: Yes, they were together while they were kidnapped. They were walked through the kibbutz, through some neighborhood, and eventually they got into a car and they squeezed them into a car. She said there were like ten terrorists on the car.

And they were sitting on them and on the side with the doors open straight to Gaza. She saw places she knew in near our kibbutz on the way.

BLITZER: This is what Hila told you?


BLITZER: And then she was held hostage captive for, what, almost 50 days. And then finally she's released and she has to say goodbye to her mother because your sister, her mother is being held still to this day?

ROTEM: Yes, that's right. She had to just say goodbye to her mother. She don't know what is going to happen with her mother. The mother doesn't know what happens with Hila. I'm sure my sister, Hila's mother, don't know what's going to be next. Are they going to set her free? Are they going to jail her again? Are they going to murder her?

BLITZER: It's such a painful experience and my heart goes out to you and your family going through what you're -- every minute must be so painful just thinking about this.

ROTEM: Yes, it's really nerve-racking, and the things we have to deal with. You can see my eyes are a little red because I'm just dealing with messages and interviews all the time to try to pressure the international community to help us in this situation, to talk with Hamas and tell him, stop this thing. It's not right, it's not human, it's a cynical abuse, it's a cynical violation of the agreement. And I do whatever I can. But, fortunately, I'm not the mediator. Qatar and Egypt are, so they are the ones who need to press Hamas.

BLITZER: Are you convinced that Israel, the United States and everyone else is doing enough to try to reunite this mother and daughter?

ROTEM: Judging by the results, they are not doing enough because there was a violation of the agreement. So, where is my sister now? I urge all the parties involved to pressure Hamas to just respect the deal, respect their agreement, do whatever they need, do the right human thing, you know, not be cynical, show us that we can do business with them, you know, when we're talking about ceasefire, you know? We need to respect it, they need to respect it, stop playing those games.

BLITZER: And you heard their excuse, Hamas, that they didn't know where the mother was.

ROTEM: Yes, that is ridiculous because Hila and Emily, the first thing that they said when they met me was, yes, we've been with Raaya the whole time, my sister. And Hila also told me, look at my hair, my mother cut it for me when we're in captivity. So, they were together and, you know --

BLITZER: I know there's a fear out there that other children still being held by Hamas will be released, but their parents, their mothers and fathers will continue to be held hostage by Hamas. What do you think about that?

ROTEM: Well, it's really heartbreaking. I mean, they already did it once. What prevents them from doing it twice or three times, you know? We see that they have no problem of violating their agreement.

BLITZER: Yair, is there a final thought you want to share with all of our viewers right now about what's going on?

ROTEM: So, today is Hila is 13th birthday. We hope that she will celebrate it with her mother in Israel.


That thing was about to happen, but then Hamas decided to break the agreement and to violate it. So, Raaya is not here now. She's still in Gaza and Hila is here and she's celebrating without her mother. That's the only thought I have in my head now and, you know, my heart goes to her.


BLITZER: And my special thanks to Yair Rotem for that interview, and we'll be right back with more news.


BLITZER: A suspect has now been arrested in connection with the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont. He's been charged with attempted murder.

CNN's Polo Sandoval looks at the shooting that's now being investigated as a possible hate crime.


MAYOR MIRO WEINBERGER, BURLINGTON, VERMONT: The Saturday evening shooting of three young Palestinian college students visiting Burlington on their holiday break was one of the most shocking and disturbing events in the city's history.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After shooting in Vermont left three young Palestinian men scarred forever, at least one of them still in critical condition, the suspect now charged with three counts of attempted second degree murder. Forty-eight-year-old Jason Eaton even was arraigned at Burlington this morning, and pleaded not guilty and being held without bail.

CHIEF JON MURAD, BURLINGTON POLICE: Upon knocking on one door, the ATF agents were greeted by a man who stepped out of the door towards them with his palms up at waist height and stated something to be effective I've been waiting for you. ATF agents said, why is that? The gentleman said in some substance, I would like a lawyer.

SANDOVAL: The three victims, each 20 years old, are Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University in Rhode Island who now has a bullet lunged in his spine, Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania who was shot in the glutes, and Tahseen Ali Ahmed, a student at Trinity College in Connecticut still has a bullet in his chest.

Police say the students were walking down the street Saturday evening while visiting one of their relatives for Thanksgiving.

MURAD: They were speaking in a mixture of English and Arabic, which is their want. Two were wearing keffiyehs, and they had no knowledge of this individual, have not encountered him before. He stepped off a porch and produced a firearm and began discharging that firearm.

SANDOVAL: Amid rising reports of targeted violence against Jews and Palestinian since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the shooing immediately prompted calls that should be considered a hate crime.

ABED AYOUB, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIMS' FAMILIES: I believe the family's fear that this was motivated by hate, that these boys were -- these young men were targeted because they were Arabs, that they were wearing keffiyehs, I think that is our fear.

SANDOVAL: Federal officials investigating whether it was a hate crime at the eyes of the law. Families of the victims say they thought their loved ones would be safe here.

RODDY TAMIMI, UNCLE OF VERMONT SHOOTING VITIM KINNAN ABDELHAMID: Kinnan grew up in the West Bank, and we always thought that that could be more of a risk in terms of his safety. And sending him here would be the right decision, you feel somehow betrayed in that decision here, and you know, we're just trying to come to terms with everything.


SANDOVAL (on camera): Less than 24 hours after recovering a weapon from inside the suspect's home, the investigators have been able to establish ballistic links between that weapon, and the casings that were recovered here on the street where the shooting happened, Wolf.

The next step for prosecutors, establish a motive. Without a doubt, with three young innocent men in the hospital, this was a hateful attack as prosecutors said today. But the challenge will be moving this was a hate motivated attack. And that is difficult in court, according to prosecutors, Wolf.

BLITZER: Polo Sandoval reporting for us. Thank you, Polo, for that good -- excellent report.

And coming up, controversial tech billionaire Elon Musk visits here in Israel, as he and his social media platform are under a lot of fire right now for antisemitic content.



BLITZER: Tech billionaire Elon Musk met with Israeli leaders here today, as he tries to quell the backlash over endorsements of an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X, his social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

Brian Todd has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the terrorists infiltrated into the kibbutz itself.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wearing a flak jacket, and walking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Elon Musk, billionaire owner of X platform, tours a kibbutz in southern Israel that was targeted by Hamas on October 7th.

The kibbutz is the home of four-year-old American dual citizen Abigail Edan, whose parents were murdered that day, and who just was released by Hamas.

Musk looks at bullet holes in the ceiling, captures images with his cell phone, musk said Hamas needs to be neutralized, and spoke of the need to combat hateful propaganda.

ELON MUSK, OWNER, X: We have to do whatever is necessary to stop the -- I mean, essentially these people have been fed propaganda since they were children. TODD: Musk's trip to Israel comes less than two weeks after he

publicly agreed with antisemitic conspiracy theory posted on X. A user accused Jewish communities of, quote, pushing dialectical hatred against whites. Musk responded, quote, you have said the actual truth.

Now, observers say, he is in damage control mode.

ERIC DEZENHALL, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST: Going to Israel and meeting with the prime minister in the middle of a crisis is a very high-profile way to try to cauterize the problem he has been having.

TODD: That problem, an exodus with advertisers from X, since his tweet on antisemitic theory.

Huge brands like IBM, Disney, Paramount, and CNN's parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, also suspending their ads on X.

DEZENHALL: Will this visit cure everything? No. But, I do think it'll show his critics that he is in the game. It will show advertisers that he is not yet defeated.

TODD: Musk was scolded by Israeli President Isaac Herzog about the content on X.

ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: The platform which you lead, but fortunately, there's a harboring of a lot of old hate which is Jewish hate which is antisemitism.

TODD: Esther Solomon, editor and chief of the newspaper "Haaretz" in Israel, posted on Musk's own platform, that Musk is blatant antisemite who should be persona non grata in Israel, and said of Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu, quote, profane, venal, bilious, both of them.


Another editor, more sympathetic to Netanyahu, asks whether Musk produce results.

AVI MAYER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JERUSALEM POST: The proof will be in the pudding. We'll have to see what happens in his platform, which indeed has been turned into a platform of all sorts of hate, targeting a variety of groups, perhaps most prominently antisemitism.


TODD (on camera): Since that controversial tweet, Elon Musk has said that any claims that he is antisemitic couldn't be further from the truth. He's also disputed reports from anti-hate groups that there's been an overall increase of hate speech on X over the past year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us -- Brian, thanks very much.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: As newly-freed hostages arrive at Israeli hospitals, we want to take a closer look right now at the eight children and three adult women released from Gaza today. They include, Eitan Yahalomi, age 12, Sharon Kunio, age 34, Emma Kunio, 3, Yulio Kunio, also 3, they're twins. Karina Engel, 51, Mika Engel, 18, Yuval Engel 11, Sahar Kalderon 16, Erez Kalderon, 12. Or Yaakov, Yagil Yaakov 13.

We're so glad they are all coming home.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.