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Police Arrest Protesters At University Of Texas At Austin; Columbia University Says, Suspensions Of Defiant Student Protesters Under Way; Now, Campus Unrest Over Amid Crackdowns On Student Protests; Now: Campus Unrest Boiling Over Amid Crackdowns On Student Protests; Sources: Hamas Discussing New Ceasefire & Hostage Release Proposal. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 29, 2024 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Survived multiple serious wounds and refused a medical discharge.


Puckett was presented with the Medal of Honor in 2021. He died last week at the age of 97. May his memory be a blessing.

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Our coverage continues now with one. Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door and a place that I'd like to call the situation room. I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, campus unrest boils over as colleges across the United States attempt to crack down on protests against the Israel-Hamas War. Police confronting and arresting demonstrators at the University of Texas at Austin, and in New York, Columbia University, announcing it has begun suspending students who defied an ultimatum to clear encampments. We'll talk live with the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, this hour.

And CNN is on the scene of the growing turmoil and dissent on multiple campuses from coast to coast. The crisis in Gaza sparking a crisis right here at home that we're covering from every angle live and in depth this hour.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is a Situation Room special report.

All right, first, let's go to the University of Texas at Austin. That's where CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us.

Ed, we've seen multiple arrests on campus in the last few hours. What's happening right now?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have seen dozens of arrests take place. We don't have an exact number so far on the number of arrests that have taken place on this campus, but right now, as the protest group that had set up camp in the South Mall of the university here in Austin, state troopers and local police cleared that crowd out.

Now in that bus that you see there in the distance that says, out of service, that's actually one of the buses that was used to bring in state troopers. And now many of these protesters have essentially been chanting at the officers to get off campus and for the better part of about a quarter of a mile through campus here. They are basically trying to get this bus off of campus.

Now, the troopers had already cleaned out the campsite. It appears that they were already shutting down operations, but these protesters, in very tense situations here this afternoon, chanting at these officers to get off of the campus. At one point, we heard a number of what have sounded like tear gas canisters that were deployed to disperse the crowd, but that has continued. We've seen a number of students or protesters pepper sprayed here.

But this scene continues to move as this bus is essentially going in reverse. It would not the way that it would normally have just driven out of campus. But because of the crowd of people that is surrounding the bus, they are pushing it and forcing it to go in reversible to back its way out of this area of campus where the roads are very tight, very difficult situation.

So, the tent situation here continues as we wait to see if this bus full of state troopers is going to be able to safely get off the campus here at this moment. Wolf?

BLITZER: Do we have any idea, Ed, how many students have actually been arrested at the University of Texas?

LAVANDERA: We don't know yet. We were counting as the arrests were being made. We got up to about 15 or 20 and kind of lost count. And then some people were allowed to leave the protest area. So, we do not have an official number on the number of people that were arrested.

But that campsite in the area where the protesters had set up ground had dozens and dozens of people inside of it. So, some people were allowed to leave without being taken into custody. Other people were taken into custody. But at this point, we just don't have an official number yet.

BLITZER: And, Ed, I know that some students have been arrested, but have other students been suspended from the university?

LAVANDERA: As far as we know, we do not know of any students that have been suspended. The group that organized the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, the student organization that organized the protests last week, that organization has been temporarily suspended. We do not know the level of their participation in what has unfolded here today.

University officials, in a statement just a short while ago, said that it was another group that had organized the protest that escalated into this situation here today, but they did not name that group, so we're not exactly clear as to just who it was involved.

And that university officials are also quick to point out that they believe that the majority of the people who were involved in the protest on the campus here today were not students.


So, that's another detail we're having to dig into here as we get more information on just who was arrested today.

BLITZER: I know you're constantly getting more information. Ed, I want you to stand by. We'll get back to you. But right now, I want to go to CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's over at Columbia University in New York City.

Miguel, some protesters who defied a demand to clear encampments are now being suspended from the university. Is that right?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know exactly how that's going to work. The university said as of 2:00 P.M. Eastern Time today, if they did not clear that encampment, they face suspension or expulsion. So, there's tension inside campus.

There's also tension outside campus. There were several dozen protesters at one point today. Only a few left now. But the tension here at Columbia University and the standoff is not clear how it will be resolved.


MARQUEZ (voice over): Protesting students at New York's Columbia University standing their ground in their pro-Palestinian encampment after they say talks between protesters and the administration broke down.

SUEDA POLAT, STUDENT NEGOTIATOR: We were engaging in good faith negotiations until the administration cut them off under threat of suspensions.

MARQUEZ: Protesters inside and outside the Ivy League campus after a deadline passed refusing to leave until their demands were met.

POLAT: President Shafik claimed that we had had constructive dialogue, the university will not divest from Israel.

MARQUEZ: Encircling the protest encampment on college grounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here to protect the students.

MARQUEZ: Even after administrators set a hard deadline today to clear the way for a graduation ceremony.

The tensions on display outside Columbia's main gates as well. One woman forcibly removed by the New York City Police Department.

The pressure ramping up during final exam week, the university threatening suspensions and expulsions, but promising protesters, they would be eligible to complete the semester in good standing if they sign a form promising to abide by university policies through June 2025.

The tactic and earlier police involvement in moving protesters has failed to disband the encampment. Protesters saying --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: these repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians.

MARQUEZ: The majority of Columbia students just trying to get through finals.

ROY KAY, COLUMBIA STUDENT: These circumstances have made things especially difficult. Most of my classes actually last week have been canceled outright.

MARQUEZ: The groundswell of protests here growing in recent weeks. It set off a wave of protest encampments at universities nationwide.

State troopers pushing back against protesters at the University of Texas today, coming after nearly 60 arrests last week. Emotions rising with graduation just weeks away.

But for many colleges, the fallout continues. Emory University's faculty now calling for a vote of no-confidence of President Gregory Fenves after two professors were arrested and students faced pepper balls and tasers.

The president saying in a statement today, he found the videos to be deeply distressing and apologizing to students for an earlier statement in which he said the people behind the encampment on the quad were not members of the Emory community.

Coming at a time many universities are struggling to balance the right to free speech while protecting their students' ability to pursue their education.


MARQUEZ (on camera): So the question is where this goes from now from here on forward. Columbia University two weeks ago arrested 108 students that then caused this backlash and the anger across the country and the encampments at other universities.

The university is saying that they will not call police in immediately, but protesters say they're not going to leave unless they are forced out. The question now is when will push come to shove? Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, we'll stay in touch with you as well, Miguel Marquez over at Columbia University in New York.

Joining us on the phone right now, the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. I know this is an incredibly anxious and busy time for you. We're showing our viewers right now some pictures from the University of Texas at Austin. This is happening right now. This as Columbia University in your city of New York has begun to threaten, at least, to start suspending students as demonstrators are still standing their ground. What do you make of these scenes?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY) (voice over): Well, first, I want to, I want to push back on the comments that was made that because the police department went on Columbia grounds after they were asked to come in, that has sparked this wave of protest. That is not true. You've had over 500 protests in the city that were peacefully managed by the New York City Police Department dealing with after the massacre on October 7th.


And we're going to continue to respect the school's abilities to determine how they want to resolve these, these issues.

Protest is part of the foundation of our society. I protest as a young person and a college student to dismantle apartheid. We know what protest is. But it's not illegal to protest, but it's immoral to call for the destruction of a group or race or ethnicity. And I think that is what's put the consciousness of many people in this city.

BLITZER: So, Mayor, what's your message to the students at Columbia right now? As mayor, how are you monitoring this situation to ensure that all the students, the faculty, and the others on the campus are safe?

ADAMS (voice over): If you do an analysis, you are seeing that there are no injuries to students. There are no injuries to the protesters. The police department has maintained the discipline that is needed. We cannot go on college grounds without the permission of the faculty, the president and the other members of the institutions.

If they request us to go on to dismantle tents or any illegal behavior, we'll do so. Or if there's an imminent threat to someone's life or serious to property, we will also go on the grounds as well.

BLITZER: As you know, Mayor, Columbia University vowed not to bring back a NYPD to the campus after it arrested more than 100 protesters last week, saying it would be, quote, counterproductive and further inflaming what is happening on campus. What other resources can New York offer to help to try to de escalate this situation?

ADAMS (voice over): Well, first, their request of not having police back on the grounds, that comes with an asterisk. They did request we go to -- NYPD goes to the various entry points because they were finding that a large number of people who were on the grounds did not attend the school.

You're seeing that there are individuals who are not students that are playing a major role in the organizing and some of the disruptive behavior, like we saw at NYU, where bottles and chairs were thrown at the police while they were there. And so our goal is to continue to have the meetings, the conversation and bring people together of various religious and ethnic groups to see how we can play a major role in turning down the temperature so that we can all live in a uniform manner. Allow people to voice their concerns, but we should do it without some of the disgusting hatred tones that we heard, and we will not tolerate any violence in the city. There's no room for hate in this city.

BLITZER: Let's hope that happens. Mayor, thanks so much for joining us, the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, good luck to you, good luck to everyone in New York right now. I appreciate it.

ADAMS (voice over): Thank you. Take care.

BLITZER: Thank you. And just ahead as Columbia University begins suspending some protesters, I'll talk to a lead student negotiator about demonstrators' demands of the university.

And we'll also go live to Los Angeles at a major walkout by UCLA students.

Stay with us. You're watching a Situation Room special report.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news we're following, as tensions are clearly escalating right now at the University of Texas in Austin.

I want to check back with CNN's Ed Lavanera. He's on the scene for us. Ed, give us an update.

LAVANDERA: Well, we continue to kind of monitor the situation where the heavy law enforcement presence that was here on the campus is trying to what appears to be just leave the situation. There were dozens of state troopers that were brought in as well as other local police officers.

And after the encampment area was cleared in one part of campus, they started being followed by many of the protesters that were protesters that were outside of that area. And it has become rather tense. At some point, some sort of -- we've seen a number of officers pepper spraying some of the protesters that have been following and essentially forcing one bus full of state troopers to back its way out of out of the area.

We had heard a couple of loud explosions where it's not clear if it was just a sound disbursement or if there was any kind of pepper spray or any kind of irritant that was involved in that, I just don't know at this point. But we did see a number of people who were trying to get their eyes treated for something that was sprayed on them. So, some sort of dispersant might have been deployed at some point, but we don't know as this continues to unfold. But here you can see this line of officers that have been trying to keep officers away from this bus. And this is the bus that has brought in many of the other officers that were here that were being used in the crowd control and arresting many of the protesters that had set up the camp in the pro-Palestinian protest that started several hours ago.

But we're now well into the disruption here on campus, so four or five hours now that this has continued, and really not exactly clear. Part of the group that was following the officers broke into two parts. One group following the officers and chanting at them to leave the campus, another one went back to the original area where the encampment had been set up. We've lost sight of that, so we don't know exactly what's unfolding in that situation.

But, clearly, the tensions continue to escalate and continue to be very high here on the campus of the University of Texas, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll stay in close touch with you, Ed. Thank you very much for that update.

We're also following the breaking news over at Columbia University in New York, where students at the campus encampment are beginning to face suspension from the university.

Joining us now, a lead negotiator for the student coalition are at Columbia University, Mahmoud Khalil.


Mahmoud, thank you so much for taking a few moments with us.

What have you heard from your fellow students at Columbia about these suspensions? Is there any police involvement as far as you know right now?

MAHMOUD KHALIL, STUDENT COALITION LEAD NEGOTIATOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: So, as far as now, there's no police involvement. This was mentioned in the president's email two days ago when she assured the community that NYPD -- bringing NYPD onto campus would be counterproductive. And this is, again, our position as well.

The students, of course see, see this as an, as another threatening intimidation tactic from the university to make them clear the area and stop their activism against the war in Palestine.

BLITZER: What does it mean for you, Mahmoud, as a Palestinian student at Columbia University to see these protests unfolding at schools all across the United States? How does this moment resonate for you personally?

KHALIL: Of course, I'm very humbled by the support of all these people, especially as a student who is not protected at this university. And the fact that now hundreds of thousands of students across the United States and the world, they are revolting against their administrations to divest from the Israeli occupation is a huge thing.

What we're witnessing right now is an anti-war movement across Israel. It's not only on college level, it's more of an international and national level.

BLITZER: Why are so many of your fellow students participating in this movement, especially at Columbia University where you are a student, despite the possibility of retaliation from the university?

KHALIL: Because, well, over the past six months, these students, they have witnessed the killing of over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza. And despite all of this, the institution, Columbia at least, has only pushed one narrative, an anti-Palestinian narrative on campus. They feel that they are alienated. They feel that the university is very biased against them, against their activism. And rather than the university answering to their demands, the university only did more repression and more disciplinary against this.

And now Columbia sees this as an internal disciplinary matter rather than an anti-war movement on campus that's asking to bring Columbia to its moral and ethical principles.

BLITZER: Mahmoud, as you know, threats and fear of violence have driven many Jewish students from the campus at Columbia. What do you say to people who say the campus is now an unsafe place for Jewish students?

KHALIL: Once again, I would say the liberation of Palestine and the Palestinians and the Jewish people are intertwined, that they go hand in hand. Anti-Semitism and any other form of racism has no place on this campus and in this movement. In fact, if people come to this encampment, it's more of a community for students where we had a lot of pro-Israel actually students come in into the encampment.

They broke bread with other students and also it was more of a multi- religious space where we had Muslim prayers. Yesterday, we celebrated the Shabbat and -- sorry, that was on Saturday. And yesterday, we had a sermon as well. We also, over the week, every day, we celebrated that the Passover which is led by Jewish Voices for Peace, who are an integral part of this movement at Columbia University.

BLITZER: Mahmoud Khalil, thank you so much for joining us. Stay safe over there. We'll be in touch. I appreciate it.

KHALIL: Thank you. And still ahead, another take on the Columbia protests. I'll talk with the president of a campus student group supporting Israel.



BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, as tensions rise at college campuses from coast to coast. Right now, I want to go live to Los Angeles and the protests on the campus of UCLA.

CNS's Nick Watt is there for us. Nick, there was a walkout, I understand, on campus earlier today. Give us the latest developments.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we're in right now is, amazing to say, an uneasy calm, but it's a calm with essentially a buffer zone between the outside world and the encampment.

Now, earlier you mentioned the walkout. Those people marched into Royce Hall there, you see, one of the iconic buildings here on campus. Hundreds of them, I would say, a lot of students, some faculty making their voices heard.

Now, here, we've been speaking to some Jewish students who are just upset and annoyed that they can't walk around on their own campus. The reason for this, this camp has been here since Thursday. It was pretty small to start with. Then the counter-protest started and there was a bit of friction between the two sides. One barrier was put up. They breached that barrier Sunday. There were some scuffles between the sides. And that's when the college brought in this buffer zone, and it is still here. We are not allowed to cross.

Now, the pro-Palestinian side -- sorry, the pro-Israeli side tell us they're not planning anything big for tonight. But what they do have, yesterday afternoon, they set up this video screen here just by the pro-Palestinian encampment.


That is showing -- you can't really see in the sunlight, but those are scenes from October 7th. They're showing -- they're playing testimony from October 7th. And it is loud. And that is probably going to go on through the night.

So, how this ends, it's unclear. I mean, the protesters say they want divestment. The U.C. University system says that's not going to happen. They're trying to balance freedom of speech, safety and also the mission of this college, which is, after all, let's not forget, to educate and to learn. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Watt on the campus of UCLA, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with Congressman Ro Khanna, Democrat of California. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Let me get your reaction, first of all, to what we're seeing, not just at UCLA, but at the University of Texas at Austin and indeed across the country where colleges, universities are cracking down on demonstrations. How should these universities be approaching the protests on their campuses?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, if we have to start with remembering Kent State and Jackson State and not be calling armed police or the National Guard or just threatening to expel or suspend students if they're engaged in free speech. At the same time, there needs to be absolute moral clarity that anti-Semitism is wrong, Islamophobia is wrong, you can't have people chanting to globalize the Intifada or to say that Zionists don't deserve to live, and there needs to be very clear moral condemnation of that.

BLITZER: The Biden campaign, as you well know, Congressman, has been relying on you, among others, but especially you, to reach out to younger Americans. Take us inside those conversations you've had. What are students telling you about their concerns with President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas War, and what's been your message to them?

KHANNA: Wolf, one of the things I hope people would look at is, I was in Wisconsin, and I went to six campuses, from Eau Claire to La Crosse to Stevens Point, and young people, Arab-Americans and Jewish Americans, were having conversations in such a constructive, wonderful way. We're going to be putting out some of the videos, because I don't think the American people understand how thoughtful some of the students are in many of the campuses. They see some of the protests.

But, look, I mean, the young people there had a concern about abortion rights. That was the number one issue. They had a concern on economics. Of course, they're concerned about Gaza. They want the war to end. Many of them want a permanent ceasefire and a release of the hostages, and I've conveyed that to President Biden's team.

BLITZER: Our new CNN poll just released this weekend shows 81 percent of voters under the age of 35 disapprove of President Biden's handling of this war in Gaza. How does the president turn that around and when his actions so far are clearly not breaking through?

KHANNA: I think he's started to turn it around by holding Netanyahu accountable, by empathizing with the extraordinary loss of life of women and children. I know from talking to President Biden, standing there, seeing his expressions, that he feels the responsibility and the gravity. But the two things I think he needs to do is make it clear to Netanyahu that we cannot have offensive weapons if he goes into Rafah in defiance of what our military is saying is, is not a good strategic move.

BLITZER: As you probably know ahead of next week's State Department deadline to determine whether U. S. weapons are being used by Israel in line with international law, do you believe Israel has violated international law? And if so, what consequences should there be?

KHANNA: Well, I leave that for the State Department, for the international bodies, and for the lawyers. But I do think, as President Biden himself has said, the bombing has been indiscriminate. And the biggest consequence should be not having more offensive weapons. I have voted consistently in the past for aid and for Iron Dome and David's Arrow, but to give more bombs and offensive weapons if Netanyahu continues to defy the administration, I just don't agree with that. And I think if they hold that accountability, they're going to start winning a lot of these young people back.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Congressman Ro Khanna of California, thanks so much for joining us.

KHANNA: Thank you. BLITZER: Just ahead, more news more breaking news, I should say, on the college campus protests that are going on, as the president of Emory University in Atlanta is now facing fallout after student arrests.



BLITZER: We're back with our special coverage of campus unrest across the United States. The president of Emory University under fire and facing a no-confidence vote after student demonstrators were forcibly arrested.

CNN's Nick Valencia is on the scene for us in Atlanta. Nick, tell us more about the protests at Emory and the fallout.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, not the level of intensity that we've seen across the country or even here that we saw last week, where the site behind me, this quad area, was the site of violent protest by the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol troopers, which were invited on campus by the university president, Gregory Fenves.

That decision has been protested and continues to be so by the students and faculty here through a no confidence referendum that is now being put forward to the rest of the faculty of the letters of College of Arts and Sciences, that referendum will be tallied by Wednesday, but I mentioned that fallout continuing.

We caught up with one of those professors who was detained. I want to show you the video of another one of those professors who was detained, however, (INAUDIBLE).


BLITZER: We'll get back to Nick shortly, but that was really, really awful to see how those police officers were bringing that woman, a university professor over at Emory, down like that.

I want to get back to Columbia University right now and the protests there. We're joined by the president of a Columbia student group supporting Israel, Eden Yadegar. Eden, thank you very much for joining us.

You left campus earlier than you were planning to. Why did you feel the need to do that?

EDEN YADEGAR, PRESIDENT, COLUMBIA STUDENTS SUPPORTING ISRAEL: Thank you so much for having me, Wolf. Unfortunately, there's a crisis unfolding on Columbia's campus right now, and this doesn't come as a surprise to the Jewish community. We have been sounding the alarm for months. And right now, we're witnessing the culmination of what has been six months of pervasive anti-Semitism that has been completely ignored and avoided and sidestepped by our university leadership. And, unfortunately, as a result, now Jewish students have been harassed, have been assaulted, have been stalked on campus. My friends were threatened to go back to Poland. Other protesters on campus have thrown rocks, water, and fake blood at Jewish students. A friend of mine had his Israeli flag stolen, set on fire, and then when he tried to stop the mob from doing so, he was cornered, shoved, and hit.

We've been barred from entering places on our own campus, particularly in regards to the South Lawn where the encampment is. And, you know, this is our campus as well, and these are things that have happened on our campus, and our leadership has failed to keep Jewish students safe. And so that is a big part of why I left early for Passover.

BLITZER: Columbia University, as you know, Eden, has begun to suspend protesters. Do you support this? Does this step from your perspective go far enough?

YADEGAR: Unfortunately, Columbia has conditioned its students to believe that they can repeatedly violate rules without consequences. That's what we've seen over the last six months. And so now we see students within the encampment claiming that they run this effing university, which was something that was said last night. And now they are explicitly admitting in press conferences that they will not be moved unless it is by force.

So, I think it is unfortunate that we've gotten to a point where suspensions are necessary, but the university has proven incompetent in dealing with this situation and in following through with their words. So, despite the fact that they have, as they should issued, many suspensions, they've actually gone back and reversed many of them, which signals to the Jewish community that we are an afterthought and that our safety isn't a priority.

BLITZER: The protesters say they want to express their opposition to the war against Hamas and Gaza and the deaths of Palestinian civilians there. This is something you have concerns about as well. What's your message to the students in this encampment?

YADEGAR: I think there are some very interesting parallels actually to be drawn between the strategies that we're seeing being used in the war between Israel and Hamas and what we're seeing on campus right now.

So, as an example, Hamas has been offered multiple ceasefire deals by Israel and has rejected all of them. At Columbia, those protesting with the encampment have been in negotiations with the university despite repeatedly violating university's policies and codes of conduct and despite being offered several proposals from the university to try and meet in the middle, these protesters have flat out rejected them.

And I think what's so important to note is that one of the proposals that the university offered was to invest in health and education in Gaza, and that included providing support for displaced academics there. And so it makes me wonder if the goal of this movement were really to improve life for Palestinians and Gazans, why on earth are they rejecting that? I wouldn't have rejected that. I think the majority of my Jewish peers wouldn't have rejected that.

And it's been made incredibly clear that, you know, this movement functions around shutting things down rather than building things up. They are unwilling to collaborate, and even when they do collaborate, because they've put themselves in a situation in which the university has cowered to this mob, they are rejecting proposals that would help the very people they claim to be advocating for.

The hypocrisy I find to be incredibly astounding, but it is really no wonder that this mob of pro-Hamas protesters has rejected these opportunities that are actually trying to help the people of Gaza because that is not their focus.

BLITZER: Eden Yadegar, thank you so much for joining us. Stay safe over there. I never thought I'd have to say stay safe to a student at Columbia University.

But go ahead and stay safe. Thank you very much for joining us.

YADEGAR: Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: And coming up, we'll get an update on the Israel-Hamas war right at the center of these campus protests as a new proposal to free Israeli hostages and others, and pause hostilities remains on the table right now.


BLITZER: Breaking news unfolding right now on college campuses across the United States as protests against the Israel-Hamas war are clearly spreading, prompting new crackdowns and the arrests.

Lets go live to Jerusalem right now. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us.

Jeremy, first of all, what's the reaction in the region to the unrest in the United States right now, as new talks on the fate of Hamas hostages and a potential ceasefire are clearly underway?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly in Gaza, there's been a lot of gratefulness for these protests. Some Palestinian students even writing on their tents in Rafah thanking these college protesters.


In Israel, there's been a lot of dismay about what they view as misguided protests.

But amid all of this, Wolf, there may be a path out, a way out of this conflict. And that is with these renewed ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas with the new Egyptian proposal trying to push things forward.


DIAMOND (voice-over): Smoke from the latest Israeli airstrike rises near the tense of the displaced in Rafah, and it could get much worse.

Israel is threatening a major ground offensive here.

But far from the bombs and bullets, another path is emerging. Egypt putting forward a new framework worked for ceasefire and hostage deal.

SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: But there is a proposal on the table up to the two sides to consider and accept. But certainly the objective is ceasefire.

DIAMOND: Under the latest proposal, an Israeli source and a foreign diplomatic source tells CNN that Hamas would release between 20 and 33 hostages, in exchange for a pause in the fighting and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners over several weeks. Palestinians would also get unrestricted access to northern Gaza, a new Israeli concession.

Israel and Hamas would then agree to what diplomats are calling the restoration of sustainable calm. A one-year ceasefire that would see Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza, and the release of the remaining Israeli hostages.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Hamas has before to proposal that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel. And in this moment, the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and a ceasefire is Hamas.

As Israeli officials expect Hamas's leader in Gaza to respond in the coming days, hostage families are driving up the pressure on the Israeli government.

AVIVA SIEGEL, FREED HOSTAGE: I know that feeling of losing hope. Bring Keith back to me. Bring back my hope. Bring Keith and all the hostages, their lives back. We can't handle anymore. We've had enough.

Failing to reach a deal, only promises more pain for those hostage families and more unspeakable grief in Rafah. Israeli airstrikes, killing 22 people overnight in Rafah, according to hospital officials, including five children, nestled among the body bags, the small body of one year-old day Daif Ala Abu Taha (ph) is impossible to miss. He was among ten members of his family killed overnight.

We were sitting in our homes not doing anything, his uncle says. Everyone was asleep in their beds. This is who they're targeting. This is their objective. This is the generation they're targeting.

The stakes of ceasefire negotiations all too clear.


DIAMOND: And tomorrow, Secretary of State Tony Blinken heading to Jordan. And after that, he will head into Israel to try and push forward those ceasefire negotiations -- Wolf. BLITZER: Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem for us -- Jeremy, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back with more news.



BLITZER: The anti-Gaza war demonstrations unfolding in U.S. campuses right now invoke memories of past student unrest in this country.

CNN's Bryan Todd is taking a closer look at that for us.

Brian, give us some perspective on the protests now and then.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, with hundreds, if not thousands of college students, campuses across the country staging these protests that are going on now we thought that some historical context could be helpful here.

Now, throughout the 1960s, you had students from Cal Berkeley to Columbia, to Kent State University in Ohio protesting against the Vietnam war. They marched on campus, they occupied buildings.

One day in 1969, students at Harvard University pinned to list of demands on the door of the Harvard president's house. And at one point, they led as faculty members, they occupied buildings, including university hall, and led faculty members out the door there.

But a big difference between those protests and the -- in the '60s and early '70s and the protests going on now was simply the level of violence, the scale of the violence. The current pro-Palestinian protests have been for the most part, very peaceful, but in the Vietnam era, as you've seen some of these videos, while the protests started peacefully, many of them turned violent. Students barricaded themselves in buildings. They fought with police.

In 1968, students at Columbia University and its affiliate Barnard College, they took over several campus buildings and even briefly took the dean hostage before police cracked down on them, sometimes violently. The most infamous this episode though, occurred at Kent State University in Ohio in May of 1970. That's when Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on student protesters. They killed four of them and they injured several others.

But maybe, Wolf, a better comparison to what's going on now in the tactics of the current protests -- well, that comparison might have taken place in the 1980s. Students across the country protested on campuses against apartheid in South Africa. They called on schools to divest themselves from companies and groups that supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. That was much like students are doing now, calling on colleges to divest themselves from Israeli companies.

And then as now, Wolf, Columbia University at the very center of that movement, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, as far as those protests in the '60s and '80s are concerned, what actual change did they bring about?

TODD: They actually did bring about more change, Wolf, than many people really believe. The protests of the '60s, those -- put those images up there again, well, they led Columbia University to cut ties with an arm of the Pentagon that was doing research for the Vietnam War. And also some colleges altered or ended military recruiting on campus as a result.

Now as for those anti-apartheid protests in the 1980s, they lead Columbia University and many other colleges to divest themselves from doing business with South Africa, and the U.S. government later followed suit, Wolf.

So, these protests, you know, you look at what's going on now, a lot of people wondering, can they have a difference in the war and what's going on? We'll see.

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

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.