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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Hamas Releases Two Israeli Hostages Held In Gaza; Grieving Son Sees His Home For The First Time Since His Family Was Killed; Retired Israeli Military Leader Describes Helping "Lucky Minority" Escape Music Festival Massacre. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 23, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For information, on how to help the humanitarian efforts, in Israel, and Gaza, CNN's Impact Your World has gathered a list of vetted organizations, on the ground, responding to the crisis.

You can go to You can also text the word, RELIEF, to the number 707070.

CNN's coverage, in Israel, continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. And welcome to THE SOURCE. I'm Kaitlan Collins.

Tonight, two more hostages have been freed, 17 days after they were kidnapped, by Hamas.

We've just obtained new video, of the two Israeli women, who were released, taken to a medical center, in Tel Aviv, tonight. They are 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, whom you can see here, and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz.

Both were kidnapped, along with their husbands, from -- with their husbands, from the kibbutz, Nir Oz, near Gaza, on that deadly day. Their husbands, I should note, were not released, tonight, and instead do still remain captives, of Hamas.

These two women were released, we are told, to the Red Cross, at the Rafah Crossing. That's between Egypt and Gaza. This happened just in the last several hours.

And this news comes three days, after the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan. That was last Friday. And now, they are expected to be back on their way, to the United States, this week.

Over 200 hostages do still remain, in Gaza, tonight. A number that we do know includes American citizens.

CNN has now learned that the White House, meantime, in the background of all of this, is quietly urging Israel, to delay its invasion of Gaza, in order to buy more time, to potentially get more hostages out. The White House has been extremely careful with how they've been talking about this, in recent days. That much was evident, as President Biden, today, as he was speaking with reporters about this, quickly corrected himself, after the mere mention of a ceasefire.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We should get the -- we should have a ceasefire -- not a ceasefire, we should have those hostages released, and then we can talk.


COLLINS: A White House spokesperson also followed up, on that clarification, on CNN earlier saying that the Biden administration does not believe that this is the time, for a ceasefire.

Now, just to fill you in, on those two women, those two hostages, whose families are obviously so grateful, tonight, that they are safe, and that they are now in Israel, in the care of the IDF.

What we were told about sources, how this all came down is there were some behind-the-scenes negotiating, happening between the Egyptians, and the Qataris. That's what sources told us.

Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz are now in a medical center. They are undergoing check-ups, obviously, to make sure that they are OK. That's something that we saw happen, with Judith and Natalie Raanan, when they were released, last Friday. Their family members are waiting for them, we are told.

But of course, this news is bittersweet, for a lot of families, out there, a lot of the relatives, of other hostages, who still have no news, about their loved ones. It is believed to be 218 hostages that are still in Gaza, tonight.

Anderson Cooper joins me now, live from Tel Aviv.

And Anderson, I know you got to speak with Yocheved's daughter, Sharone. What did she tell you?

COOPER: She was -- she's obviously overjoyed, about the news, about her mom. She was actually at the airport, about to board a flight, to come here, to Tel Aviv, to see her mom. She's going to be landing shortly, if she hasn't already gotten here. She's obviously still thinking very much about her father, who is in custody, and all the other hostage families.

Let's listen in.


SHARONE LIFSCHITZ, MOTHER YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ RELEASED BY HAMAS: It's impossible to describe my mom. I think she has a good smile. I don't know. I'm so delighted.

But my heart is with, you know, this is a small ray of light, in a big story that is still unfolding. My father is there. There's so many other people. We're waiting for good news about everyone. My heart is with all my friends, and loved ones, and everybody else that are still hostage.

I think this is a great sign that we're moving in the right direction.

COOPER: Your father is still being held hostage. Have you had any information about him?

LIFSCHITZ: No. I don't know any information on this. I'm waiting to hear what my mom says, and what -- I do not know.


COOPER: And Kaitlan, when I asked her, what her message was, to all the other families, of the hostages, many, from her community, from Nir Oz? She started to cry. And she clearly is thinking very much of them, tonight, and the pain that they are experiencing, and very much wants all of these hostages to come home.

COLLINS: Yes. It's such a difficult moment, to be so overjoyed, for your own family. And at least, I mean, for her, it's still bittersweet because her father is still being held, tonight.

And Anderson, I know, I mean, you mentioned Nir Oz, the kibbutz, where these women were kidnapped. That's where Hamas came in. They killed many people there. They slaughtered many people there. They took others hostage.


I know you went inside Nir Oz. What did you see when you were in there?

COOPER: Yes. I mean, as you see, from the images, it's all still like it was, on October 7th, when people were slaughtered, and when the gunmen finally left, this is how they left it. There's blood stain, still on people's floors, in safe rooms, where they were shot, or they were killed. People kidnapped.

I talked to Ms. Lifshitz's grandson, who saw her at the hospital, tonight. He was flown in from a lot (ph). That is where most of the community of Nir Oz has been moved to. They're basically living together, in a hotel there.

These kibbutzim are very close agrarian communities. This family has been there. They were part of the founding of this kibbutz, back in the early 50s, I believe. So, they are very, very tightly knitted together, these families. They grow up together. They live there much of their lives.

And they are together now in exile, essentially, and all waiting for word, of loved ones, who are missing or, you know, and many of whom are still being discovered as dead.

COLLINS: Yes, they've all been displaced from their homes.

And, I mean, these two more hostages, now, it's a total of four, who've been released, by Hamas, since last Friday. I mean, there's still so many other families that are waiting on words of their loved ones.

And well our reporting is Anderson, is that the White House has been quietly, and not directly telling them, but trying to get Israel to delay this planned ground incursion, into Gaza, because they're worried about the hostages. They're worried about not being able to get them out.

But obviously, the IDF has continued its aerial strikes, in Gaza. I mean, what is the latest that you've seen on the ground, in Tel Aviv, as far as what that response looks like, militarily?

COOPER: And, I think, a couple of Israeli officials have publicly said that they're not getting that message, from the U.S. Of course, remains to be seen.

Look, the question is, does this drip-drip release of two hostages, one night, two hostages, several nights later, does that add to the pressure to delay?

Certainly, Hamas would like to see a delay, a ceasefire, altogether. They are very eager to get fuel supplies in there. There's a lot of humanitarian organizations, who obviously would like to see a ceasefire. They want to get more relief supplies, coming over the Rafah border.

But look, there's more than the 300,000 troops amassed, on the border. It would be very hard to imagine a long-term ceasefire, a long-term pause, given the state of readiness it appears, to be on the brink, here. But again, that's going to be a political and diplomatic solution, if there is one.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see.

Anderson Cooper, thank you for that.

I'm joined now, by former Israeli ambassador, to the U.K., and current Senior Adviser, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev.

Thank you, for joining me, Mr. Ambassador, for being here.

We are being told that the U.S. has advised Israel, to delay its ground invasion of Gaza, in order to allow for more time, to get other hostages out. Is that something that the Israeli government is receptive to?

AMB. MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: So, we want to get the hostages out too. They're our people. But we believe the best way to do that is to keep the pressure up on Hamas. This terrorist organization isn't suddenly going to become humanitarian, and release hostages, because it's the right thing to do. They're going to release hostages, because they're under pressure.

And so, we believe, upgrading the pressure, on Hamas, that's the Military pressure, that's the diplomatic pressure, on their allies and supporters, abroad, that's the right way to get people out of this. We increase the pressure? We'll see more people released.

COLLINS: Well, I am hoping you could clear something up. Because, on Saturday, the reporting was that Hamas had offered to release two hostages. They provided names. It was widely reported, in the media, the regional media, at least.

But the Prime Minister's office said that that was, I'm quoting the PMO's office, now, said it was "Propaganda lies."

Of course, we did just see these two women, released today.

Did Israel initially reject that offer? Can you explain what happened here?

REGEV: I think this is Hamas' disinformation. It's not logical, logical at all, to presuppose that Israel would refuse to accept hostages released. It's just ridiculous. It was psychological warfare.

Anyone they release, we'll, of course accept. And our demand is that, there's more than 200 people held hostage. We don't just want one or two released. We want them all released.

They should all be released, unconditionally and immediately. And before they're released, they should all be seeing the -- visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has asked to see the hostages. But of course, Hamas has refused that.


COLLINS: Yes. Of course, everyone wants all of the hostages home. I spent a lot of time, with their families, last week.

But is Israel telling Hamas, via intermediaries, that Israel will only take bigger groups of hostages? Or has that changed?

REGEV: No. Israel's message is clear. We will keep hitting the Hamas Military machine. We'll keep applying the pressure.

We think, first of all, one, we're going to defeat Hamas, on the battlefield, and destroy their Military machine. But that pressure is also instrumental, in speeding up the release of the hostages.

COLLINS: Is it accurate that Israeli government officials said that they want all the hostages released, before fuel -- the delivery of fuel is allowed into Gaza, as it's being reported, tonight?

REGEV: So, fuel is a difficult issue. Israel has given the green light for medicine, for water, for food, humanitarian aid, for the civilian population. Obviously, we don't have a problem with that.

Fuel, unfortunately, is essential for the Hamas Military machine. They need it for their rockets. They need it for their underground terror network of tunnels. And we understand that.

And we had a documented case, last week, where a fueled, I think, six tankers, CNN reported, went in through the Rafah Crossing, with Egypt. And then, that fuel, a large proportion of it? And it was said, of course, the fuel is going to generators, in hospitals, to help save lives. And yet, Hamas, at gunpoint, stole a large proportion of that fuel. And then, we presume it was diverted to their Military machine.

And we've said to the Americans, and President Biden has addressed this issue, publicly, is if supplies that are meant, for the people of Gaza, that are supposed to alleviate human suffering, are in fact stolen by Hamas, there must be consequences.

COLLINS: But is the delivery of more fuel, tonight, conditional, on the release of all the hostages?

REGEV: No. At the moment, we have no interest in more fuel going to the Hamas Military machine. And we have not authorized fuel.

We've authorized medicine. We've authorized water. We've authorized foodstuffs. We've not authorized anything else. And we're in a state of war, with Hamas. And we have no interest whatsoever in helping them beef up their Military machine.


REGEV: On the contrary, we want to destroy their Military machine.

COLLINS: So, just to be clear, even if they released all the hostages, that doesn't change your mind, on fuel being allowed into Gaza. Is that right?

REGEV: The government decision is that fuel doesn't go in, because it'll be stolen by Hamas, and it'll be used, by them, to power rockets that are fired into Israel, to kill our people.

COLLINS: We've all been talking about when this ground invasion is going to occur, of course, what that is going to look like. We've heard from the U.S. that they've urged the Israeli government, to delay it.

Do you believe that a ground invasion, if it goes forward, makes the release of more hostages less likely, sir?

REGEV: We don't take a ground incursion lightly.

First of all, there's the fate of the hostages.

And secondly, we know that our young soldiers, going into battle, it'll be dangerous. I mean, Hamas has dug in. They've got their underground network of tunnels. They've got their booby traps. They've got their bunkers. It'll be difficult fighting. And I'm realistic. I know that those young soldiers, going into battle, will face life-threatening situations. And unfortunately, not all of them will come back alive. And that's sad reality. Though, I was speaking to some young soldiers. And they're committed to this. They know it needs to be done. They know that we cannot continue to live beside this terror enclave.

So, in a ground incursion, to Gaza, we take it very seriously. We know the risks involved both for the hostages, and for our fighting men. But this has to be done.

Let's be clear. Israel refuses to go back to the sort of reality, of 6 AM, on October 7th, where we live next to this terrorist enclave, and they can inflict this sort of deadly horrific, gruesome violence, that they inflicted upon us. We refuse to live that way anymore.

We will destroy Hamas' Military machine. And in so doing, not only do we better protect our own people, and safeguard their security, but I believe we create opportunities, for a better reality, for the people of Gaza who, for 16 years, have lived under Hamas rule, which has only brought them hardship, and suffering, and impoverishment.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, there are still major questions, though, about what happens, to the Palestinian civilians, if Israel is successful. And no one has really articulated, who would be in charge of Gaza, if that does happen.

But when you look at what happened? And President Biden being in Tel Aviv, last week, sitting in on that Wartime Cabinet meeting? How much influence does the U.S. have, over when and Israel does move forward with that ground invasion?

REGEV: Look, America is our best friend. It's our strongest ally.


And in Israel, people have appreciated greatly President Biden's forthright support, and not just in his words, but in his actions. He is giving us the tools, we need. He is replenishing our armaments, so, we have the tools we need, to defeat Hamas.

And by moving those two carrier groups, to the region, he's shown that he wants to deter others, who might see the war, in Gaza, as an excuse, to attack Israel, on another front.

I mean, we have nothing but praise, for President Biden. And of course, when you have a good friend, you listen to what they have to say.

But Israel is a sovereign country. And we'll make our own decisions, according to our own assessment, of our national security.

COLLINS: You are a Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

When we hear from some officials, or some former Military officers, who say that they believe he should resign, over how this was handled, over the government's role, and lack of a response, a slow response, on that day?

When you speak to him, I mean, does he accept responsibility, any responsibility, for what happened, on October 7th, in terms of how the government handled that?

REGEV: I mean, in Israel, there's no shortage of former officers, and they've all got their own opinions. And you'll have a whole range of opinions --


REGEV: -- across the spectrum.

But, I think, it's clear we have to do serious -- when this is over, yes, when we've defeated Hamas, then there's going to be, of course, an intense public conversation, in Israel, about lessons learned, and mistakes made.

I mean, first of all, we were surprised, intelligence didn't get in time, that Hamas was going to launch this brutal, murderous attack that they did, on October 7th. I mean, they massacred us, because we weren't prepared. And there wasn't the warning.

Second, we have to ask, why is it that the fence that we'd spent so much time, building, and the technology and so forth, which was supposed to be an impassable barrier, that they passed it so quickly, and relatively easily?

And thirdly, is the question of why did it take us so long, to clear out those terrorists, who infiltrated into Israel? And it's true there were a lot of them, over 1,000. But still, it took us days, as you will recall, for us, to clear out our own sovereign territory, from Hamas terrorists, who were roaming and killing, and keeping people hostage, and so forth.

So, for all these reasons, and more, we need to have serious investigations. Ultimately, we have to learn from our mistakes. And the only way you learn from the mistakes, is by studying exactly what happened. And there will be lessons learned.

But to be fair, I think the focus, today, has to be, on winning this war. We didn't want this war. It was forced upon us. But having been put in this situation, we will win it. We'll win it on our terms. And there's definitely going to be, when this is over, a serious process of looking at lessons that need to be learned.

COLLINS: Ambassador Mark Regev, thank you, for your time, tonight.

REGEV: Thanks for having me, Kaitlan, much appreciate it.

COLLINS: And I should note, as far as his comments there, on fuel? What we here, at CNN, know is that no fuel has entered Gaza, in these aid trucks, since the war began. It's our understanding that the Ambassador was referencing what we heard, from an IDF spokesperson, earlier, alleging that Hamas stole fuel that had already been in Gaza. Coming up, on the rest of THE SOURCE, tonight, the kibbutz, where Nurit and Yocheved were abducted, it's about seven miles north of another one, on the Gaza border. That's kibbutz Kissufim. I visited it this weekend. The IDF allowed a small group of foreign press, inside, to bear witness, to the brutality that happened there. That story is next.

Also ahead, an update from Gaza, where more aid trucks have arrived, today. But no, it is not nearly enough, for the civilians, who live there.



COLLINS: So far, 2,000 children have been killed in Gaza. That's according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

I want to pause here, before we go any farther forward. Because I want to let you know that what you're about to see is graphic. It's very disturbing. These are images and videos of children.

In the morgues, in Gaza, some of the tiny bodies that you see have names, written on their limbs, which parents did, so that their children who were killed, their bodies could later be identified, in morgues, like this one.

And this comes, as some doctors in Gaza say that they are operating, on patients, without using painkillers, because their supplies are dwindling.

And today, 20 more trucks if humanitarian aid, entered Gaza, through that Rafah border crossing. But the United Nations has made clear 100 per day is what would be needed, for all of the civilians, who are there.

So far, as you just heard, from that Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, none of them have included fuel, given the concerns that he says that Israel has, about what Hamas would do, to use it for its Military capabilities.

But without that fuel, Gazans are running out of power, tonight.


DR. GHASSAN ABU-SITTAH, BRITISH-PALESTINIAN SURGEON: And we are just waiting, for the electricity, to run out with the few. And then, that will be the death row of the health system. And without a -- without electricity, you know, this hospital will just be a mass grave.


COLLINS: Joining me now is the Executive Director of UNICEF, Cathy Russell.

And I'm so glad you're here, tonight. Because you're hearing, from these doctors, from people, in Gaza, who are saying, without fuel -- the Gaza Strip runs on fuel.

And you just heard the Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister say no more fuel is going into Gaza, at this time.

I mean, how much of an impact does that have, on the people, the civilians, in Gaza?

CATHERINE RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Well, I think, in general, and the images show that it's just such a horrible, terrible situation, for the people, who live there.

And the fuel is important for two reasons.

One, because they use it for generators, and the generators provide electricity or power, essentially in the hospitals, so the incubators that are keeping babies alive, right now, depend on fuel.

And at the same time, we need fuel, for the humanitarian workers, who are trying to do their work there, and provide some support. So, if they can't get around, they're really limited, in what they can do.

So, it's just all in all a catastrophic situation, on the humanitarian side, and very, very worrying for us.

COLLINS: But what happens to those babies. Preemie babies, they have to have oxygen. They have to be connected to it constantly.


COLLINS: It's not something you can just turn off for a little bit and turn back on.


RUSSELL: No, you can't. And I think, for now, they're managing with the teeny little bits of fuel that they have left. But, at some point, it will run out. And, I think, at that stage, we can just imagine what happens, to these children. It's really just a terrible, terrible situation for them.

COLLINS: The concern that we heard, from the Adviser, there, was saying that if they allow fuel, to get into Gaza, then it gets into Hamas' hands. They steal it. They don't let it go to civilians. They instead let it go to their Military capabilities.

I mean, would the United Nations be able to monitor that? And are those concerns warranted? What do officials say about that?

RUSSELL: This is the challenge. I think it would be hard, for the United Nations, certainly, to monitor it.

But, I think, if you step back, wars are always very difficult. You have to make trade-offs all the time. But there are humanitarian rules that apply in law -- I mean, in war. And essentially, the idea is that civilians shouldn't suffer, right, that we should try to do our best to protect them. And that means making sure that they have food and water, that they have access to health care. And, I think, that is an obligation on all of us, regardless of the fact that we're in a war.

There are wars all over the place. But at the same time, we have to make sure that, civilians, and from the perspective of UNICEF, especially children, are protected.

Because children don't start wars, right? And they're powerless, to stop them. But they suffer so much, in these conflicts. And, I think, all of us, as an international community, have to come together, and figure out a way, to make sure that they are harmed as little as possible, in these situations.

COLLINS: And part of that, I mean, UNICEF is calling for a ceasefire.


COLLINS: They say it's needed for humanitarian purposes.

You heard how carefully President Biden was talking about a ceasefire, earlier today.


COLLINS: He mentioned it, and he quickly said, "Not a ceasefire."


COLLINS: "I'm saying, release all the hostages, and then we can talk."


COLLINS: Israel, though, does not seem to have any interest in moving forward with one.

What happens to civilians, if there is no ceasefire, in Gaza?

RUSSELL: Well, first of all, we desperately need a humanitarian ceasefire. We have to be able to move supplies, into these areas. These children, who are there, don't have water, right? They don't have food. They don't have medicine. None of us can tolerate a situation like that.

We have got to figure out a way that these hostilities can stop, for some period of time, so the humanitarian workers can move in and do it safely as well. I mean, we can't have humanitarian workers, being killed while they're doing their work, which unfortunately, has happened.

COLLINS: And they are being killed.

RUSSELL: Yes. So, I think there really needs to be an effort, to try to make sure that there is access, by humanitarians, so they can save lives of children, and others, who are stuck, in this situation.

COLLINS: If there was one, I mean, what would that look like? Would it be for a few hours, so that aid can get in, so humanitarian workers can come in? I mean, what is the kind of help?

RUSSELL: Yes. I think we'd have to obviously negotiate it. And it would be challenging. And, as you can see, from the efforts, to try to get things, over the border, right, supplies, in through Rafah, everything is very complicated to try to do.

But there has to be a commitment, to say, yes, we are in a conflict here. It's a, you know, there are very, very complicated reasons for that. But at the end of the day, we have an obligation, to try to help protect innocent civilians.

And again, from UNICEF's perspective, particularly children, who have absolutely nothing, to sort of bring to the table, in terms of responsibility, but a lot to bring to the table, in terms of vulnerability, and exposure.


RUSSELL: And as we see, with the numbers, many children are dying.

COLLINS: A lot of what we've seen from inside Gaza has come, from people's videos, from their phones. I mean, there's not a ton of press on the ground there, because it's so difficult to get inside.


COLLINS: From what you've heard, from these humanitarian workers, who are in there, I mean, can you just kind of tell everyone else, the snapshot of what they're seeing?

RUSSELL: Yes. I think what they're seeing is some of the imagery that you're seeing, which is that people, who are desperate, they are really terrified, by what's happening around them. You see these images of children running, trying to get away, parents carrying children, I mean, it's devastating.

And we have staff, who work there. I've been on calls with them. They're in this very horrible situation, where they're there, as humanitarian workers. But their ability to help is really limited. And they're also subjected to the same sorts of challenges, right, that the population is subjected to. So, it's a really terrible situation.

They also, typically, in a case like that, we would move, what we call surge, sort of bring new staff in, take staff out.

COLLINS: And you can't do that.

RUSSELL: We can't do any of that. So, it's a very difficult situation. And I think something has to change. And I think we have to really prioritize the rights, and the interests, of children, and other innocent people, who are there, and kind of stuck in this absolute horrific nightmare.

COLLINS: Cathy Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, thank you, for coming.


COLLINS: And please tell your workers, we're thinking of them.

RUSSELL: Excellent, yes.

COLLINS: Thank you for sharing that tonight.

RUSSELL: Thank you. Thanks so much.

COLLINS: Of course, the images that we have been seeing, out of Gaza and Israel, are deeply impacting everyone. We've heard from so many people, who have been watching our coverage.

For more information, on how you can help these humanitarian efforts, with a list of vetted organizations that are on the ground, responding, including UNICEF, you can go to, or you can text, RELIEF, to 707070, to donate, tonight.


Of course, while I was on the ground, in Israel, we saw evidence, of the atrocities, that were committed, by Hamas, firsthand, at a kibbutz, where more than a dozen people were killed. The images are haunting, and so are the stories behind them.

We talked to those who survived, about their family members, who did not. That's next.


COLLINS: Tonight, we are learning new details, about the two Israeli hostages, who were just released, in recent hours, by Hamas. Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz were abducted, from their kibbutz, along with their husbands, who still remain hostages, tonight.

This war is being fought not on some remote battlefield, but in quiet communities, where families previously grew their crops, and raised their kids.

Just yesterday, an Israeli soldier was killed, and three others were injured, during a raid, in the area of kibbutz Kissufim, near the Gaza Strip.

I was there just 24 hours before, where you can see Gaza, from people's backyards. About 10 reporters were taken inside this kibbutz, to see the horrific aftermath, of the October 7th attack.


I want to show you what we saw. But I do want to warn you that some of what you're about to see is graphic.


COLLINS (voice-over): Kibbutz Kissufim sits less than three miles away, from the Gaza border, a quiet community, where residents grow avocados, and raise poultry, and their families.

But as the sun rose, on Saturday, October 7th, the kibbutz that around 300 people called home, became the site of a massacre, as Hamas militants stormed inside, and murdered 14 people, kidnapping four others.

Major Marcus Sheff, a reservist, in the Israel Defense Forces, watched from home, as the brutal attack unfolded, that day. Now, he's leading a small group of foreign press, into the kibbutz, for the first time, wanting the world, to bear witness, to the atrocities, firsthand.

MAJ. MARCUS SHEFF, IDF RESERVIST: You know, the shock is still there after two weeks. We've seen the damage. And yet, it's still hard to absorb the full horror.

COLLINS (voice-over): The stench of death is thick in the air, as you walk along the tree-lined streets. But if you didn't look too closely, you'd never guessed that a slaughter took place here.

Then, you notice the bullet hole, in Gina Semiatich's door. The 90- year-old grandmother, who loved gardening, was in her bathroom, when Hamas militants, shot her in the head. Her blood is still smeared, on the entryway, two weeks later.

COLLINS (on camera): If you didn't look over here, it would just look like a regular home, on a Saturday morning, orange juice out, the newspaper, her mail, some cookies.

And when you look over here, at the kitchen, you can see if people have gone through it. They opened all the cabinets. There's still cups in the sink. Her kettle is still out. And Gina is one of several, who was brutally murdered, in her kibbutz, on that Saturday morning.

COLLINS (voice-over): The Zak family lived just down the street. Parents Itay, Eti, and their 14-year-old son, Sagi, were at home, when the attack began. Their older children, Hadar and Tamir (ph) were away.

We reached 24-year-old Hadar, on FaceTime.

COLLINS (on camera): What's through there? What's -- what was through that window?

COLLINS (voice-over): This is the first time he's able to see the charred remains, of his family's home.

HADAR ZAK, PARENTS AND BROTHER KILLED BY HAMAS: Someone from the kibbutz told me that he opened the mammad [safe room] and he found my dad laying on the ground with my dog just watching the doors so the terrorists won't come in.

COLLINS (voice-over): The bodies of his mother, and little brother, were found hugging each other, in the nearby bomb shelter, where they asphyxiated, after militants set their home on fire.


COLLINS (voice-over): Just days before, Sagi was dancing his heart out, at a Bruno Mars concert, in Tel Aviv.


ZAK: I'm 24. We have 10 years between us. It's hard for me to say my little brother because he was my child.

COLLINS (voice-over): Hadar, and his sister, Tamir (ph), are now orphans. His grief, and his anger, is palpable.

ZAK: It's kind of absurd to me that you guys showed it to me first, and not someone from Israel, you know what I mean? I love my kibbutz, my kibbutz is amazing. But the government, I have no words to describe the disappointment.

COLLINS (voice-over): Just 24 hours later, in the Kissufim area, an IDF soldier is killed, and three others wounded, during a raid, ahead of Israel's expected ground invasion, in Gaza. An ominous warning shot of what is yet to come.


COLLINS: It's difficult to watch.

And I do want to note that we got permission, from these families, to go into their homes, something that felt invasive to be there, but it was so important, to them, and to Hadar, to be able to see his house, for the first time.

I want to express our gratitude, for them, for letting us in, to see their pain, and to tell their stories, as well as to Major Marcus Sheff, for taking us, inside that kibbutz.

Of course, on October 7th, there were heroes, who sprung into action, that day. Among them was a retired Major General, in the IDF. He's here, to tell his story, next.



COLLINS: Tonight, Israel is vowing to destroy Hamas, after its brutal attacks, across the country, on October 7th.

That morning, when Yair Golan, the former Deputy Chief of Staff, of the Israel Defense Forces, and a former member of Israel's parliament, realized what was going on, he didn't hesitate. He put on his uniform, and he ran into danger.

He's reluctant to be called a hero. But he rescued several people, that day, from the site of the Nova music festival.

Earlier, I talked to Yair, about what he saw, when he arrived on the scene, as these Hamas fighters, were still attacking. This is what he told me.


YAIR GOLAN, FORMER IDF DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: All in all, I took out six guys, out of the Nova festival.

And I can tell you that this, what I saw, on the scene, was really, really, really terrible. It was a massacre. Dozens of dozens of terrorists penetrated the -- to the center of the festival, and killed everyone. And those who managed to escape were really the minority, the lucky minority.

It was, you know, scenes that I never saw, in my long history in the IDF. And I saw a lot, I can tell you, I saw a lot.


GOLAN: So, it was really, really terrible.


And then, I decided to stay there, in the south. And the day after, I went through different kibbutzim, our special villages along the Gaza Strip. And what I saw there was, again, a massacre, babies and women, and old people, people who did nothing wrong, in their life, were massacred, brutally.

COLLINS: Do you believe that Israel is prepared, that the IDF is prepared, to go into Gaza, right now?

GOLAN: It's not a matter of believing. It's a matter of knowing. The IDF is well-prepared. I visited last week, the troops along the border. I talked to, tanks commander, infantry leaders, and so on. Yes, we are ready.

I think that the main problem, today, in Israel, is that political echelon, unfortunately. And while it's easy to define, what are the Military goals, of this coming campaign, unfortunately, it's very hard to define what are the political goals, of this campaign.

And therefore, in an ideal world, we would change the government, before going to war. And I think that Benjamin Netanyahu failed so terribly, that he should resign, from his position, as soon as possible.

COLLINS: I know this is all really personal for you. I think -- I want everyone to know, two of your own sons have been mobilized. One is going to the north, one to the south. I mean, with that here, what do you -- what are you thinking about that? GOLAN: As a parent, it's terrifying. I was not afraid, in my life, for the sake of my life. And I fought a lot. When the adrenaline is in your blood, you feel so competent. And even when you're afraid? It doesn't paralyze you. But this anxiety, to the sake of your sons, this is devastating. This is really, it's really hard.

But we have, right now, no other alternative. Right now, we need to fight Hamas. And we need to be prepared, well-prepared, for an opening of the Northern Front, fighting against the Hezbollah. And hopefully, Hezbollah will understand that it could be a terrible mistake, for him, to attack Israel.

COLLINS: What did you say to your sons, when you recognized and realized that they would be mobilized?

GOLAN: Well, truly, we have discussed it quite a lot. And we came to the same conclusion.

Right now, we have no other alternative. Because, this is our country, we are going to protect our citizens. We are going to fight for our sovereignty. And we are going to fight for the homeland of the Jewish people, and free and democratic state.

And this is a good enough reason, to be determined, and to be courageous, and to be as good as possible, concerning fighting for the destiny of Israel.

COLLINS: Yair Golan, I know you've said that you don't feel like your actions that day were heroic. But I think a lot of other people, who have heard your story, people in Israel, they feel differently.

I want to thank you, for being here with me, tonight.

GOLAN: Thank you very, very much.


COLLINS: Of course, what is happening in Israel has ramifications, on Capitol Hill, where tonight, it is day 20. Still, there is no Speaker of the House.

Now, one of the new candidates has just dropped out of that race, as lawmakers are meeting inside that dome there, to decide who could be the next Speaker. That's next.



COLLINS: Eight House Republicans have just finished making their case, to their colleagues, hoping to become the next Republican House Speaker.

The Majority Whip, Tom Emmer, is considered to be the leading candidate, tonight. But he has a little bit of a Donald Trump problem. The former President claims he is staying out of the race, tonight, though he did suggest maybe one candidate.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I said there's only one person that can do it all the way. You know who that is? Jesus Christ.



COLLINS: It might take a miracle, for them to get a new House Speaker.

Melanie Zanona is live, on Capitol Hill.

Melanie, what's the latest, coming out of there, tonight?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Kaitlan, someone is going to be the nominee, tomorrow. But as we have seen before, that is no guarantee that that person is going to be able to win, on the House floor, because some of the GOP's highest profile members have been unable to get it done.

Now, despite that, there are still eight candidates, who are in the race. All of them made their pitch, behind closed doors, for the rest of the Republican conference.

And at this point, Tom Emmer is seen as a potential front-runner. He's a member of leadership. He's a House Majority Whip. He also ran the NRCC, for multiple cycles. But he has had to work, in recent days, to tamp down expectations, that he is not close enough, to former President Donald Trump. So, that is a potential problem for him.

The other person that's in this race that we're keeping an eye on is Byron Donalds. He's a Florida Republican. He's a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. He also has support, from the rest of the Florida delegation. But he's only a sophomore member. And so, there is a lot of skepticism about whether he is ready to step into this very big job.

Yet, despite being 20 days now, into this crisis, there is still a lot of concern in the party that they are not going to be able to quickly unify.

Let's take a listen.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): It's going to be very difficult, but we have to get there.


REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R-FL): It's not good. Because they're not a few (ph) the mindset out there, they don't want to work with Democrats. But it might end up to be a point where that's the only way. We got to get the government open. People are very angry. REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): But we're going to have to figure out how to get our act together. I mean, big boys, and big girls, have got to quit making excuses, and we just got to go get it done.


ZANONA: And so, now that the candidate forum is over, the next steps, is House Republicans are going to meet behind closed doors, tomorrow morning, at 9 AM. And once again, they are going to try to elect a Speaker nominee. It could take a couple rounds because of so many candidates still in the race.

But at this point, it is unclear if and when a floor vote is going to happen. And until they do, critical issues, like funding the government, aid for Ukraine, aid for Israel, all hanging in the balance.


COLLINS: Indeed it is.

Melanie Zanona, thank you.

Amid all the chaos that we have been seeing, in recent weeks, recent days, amid all the pain, that we have witnessed, overseas, there's something uplifting that will put a smile on your face. We'll show you that, next.



COLLINS: In these difficult times, of course, there is always hope. "The Hope" is literally the name, of Israel's national anthem. Hatikvah is what it is, in Hebrew.

A few nights ago, here, a young Canadian pianist, named Kevin Chen, served up some of that hope, at a concert, at New York City's Carnegie Hall. He surprised the audience, with a performance of Hatikvah. Israel's official account, on social media, shared the footage, online, thanking Chen, for playing that.


COLLINS: I want to thank you so much, for joining us, on this busy night, here. We'll be back, tomorrow night.

Of course, "CNN NEWS NIGHT" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.