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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Israeli Cabinet Approves Hostage Release Deal; Hamas: 150 Palestinian Prisoners To Be Released From Israeli Jails As Part Of Hostage Deal; U.S. Kills Hostile Forces After Iraqi Air Base Attack. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 21, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GIL DICKMANN, FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED ON OCTOBER 7TH: Saving her baby girl, because she knew that Alon is going to run fast enough. And she isn't.
I think this tells everything you need to know about Yarden, and what a loving mother, and a loving person she is. We miss her very much. And Geffen, the 3.5-years-old misses her very, very much. We really want her to come back.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: We all hope so much that you have them back, and soon.
Gil Dickmann, thank you so much, for being with us.
DICKMANN: Thank you. Good night.
BERMAN: It has been quite an hour. Thanks so much, for being with us.
There are yet more new developments, out of Israel. And the news continues, right now, with THE SOURCE.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: This is THE SOURCE. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Kaitlan Collins, on assignment, tonight.
Israel's cabinet just approved a deal, to free some hostages, held by Hamas, in Gaza. It was approved by a significant majority, according to a source. And as part of the deal, at least 50 hostages, women and children would be released, in exchange for a four-day halt, in Israel's air and ground campaign.
The statement, from the Israeli government, made no mention of the release of Palestinian prisoners, thought to be a key part of this deal.
We have team coverage, with the very latest. Matthew Chance is live in Israel. Becky Anderson is in Qatar, which has been a mediator, in the talks. And Chief National Security Correspondent, Alex Marquardt is with me here, in Washington.
But let's start with CNN Chief Global Affairs Correspondent, Matthew Chance, in Tel Aviv. So Matthew, the cabinet met, for several hours, finally approving the deal. What do we know?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, seven hours, which is, how long it took the 38-member cabinet, to debate the various details of the deal that was agreed with Qatari mediation, of course, with the Palestinian group, Hamas.
It involves the release of 50-plus hostages, from the Gaza Strip, over a course of four days. There'll be what the Israeli government says is a lull in fighting. They don't want to call it a ceasefire. But that's effectively what it will amount to, for that period.
And it was -- there's a possibility of that lull in fighting, being extended by a day, for every 10 further hostages, the Palestinian group, Hamas, decide to or agree to release. And so, that was the essence of the deal.
In exchange for that, of course, the Palestinians will be getting the release of -- they didn't mention this, the Israeli government didn't mention this. But the expectation is, is that some 150 or so Palestinian prisoners, in Israeli jails, will be released, in a staggered way in, alongside the releases of hostages. And so, that deal has now been done, it seems.
There is a pause, a legal pause that has to be implemented now, for at least 24 hours, to allow appeals, in the Supreme Court of Israel, appeals relating particularly to the release of Palestinian prisoners. That's something that is a legal obstacle that remains.
But it's not expected to stop this deal, going ahead, because as far as we're concerned now, a significant majority, as we've been hearing, from our Israeli sources, of the Cabinet, approved this deal. And it has essentially been greenlighted, Pam.
BROWN: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you so much, to learn how this is all going to play out.
So, for more on that, let's go now to CNN's Becky Anderson, in Doha.
And Becky, you have been following the negotiations, for days, talking to your sources. Explain how this deal was reached.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes.
BROWN: And what it looks like now and moving forward.
ANDERSON: Well, let's talk about what it looks like now, and moving forward, before we back into how we got to where we are today.
What we understand, and what we know now is that this deal has been approved, by the Israeli government. What we don't have is any detail on one, when this pause will start, and therefore, when we are likely to start seeing these hostages released.
In fact, that is one of the reasons that the Qataris, the mediation team here, hasn't actually officially announced that this deal is now in play. And as I understand it, from a diplomatic source, very close to those talks, they've said that the details on when the pause starts are still unclear.
So no response yet, no statement yet, from this Qatari mediation team, who has been working night and day, I have to say, in mediating between Israel and Hamas, with support, from the United States.
We know that the Mossad head, David Barnea, has been in here. Bill Burns, the head of the CIA, been working very closely, with both Israel and the Qatar mediation team, to try and get these talks, over the line.
So, when this pause will start is still unclear. My understanding is, the hope is, that this will be within 24 hours.
This deal, this proposal on a deal, was delivered to the Israelis, 24 hours ago now. So, the Israelis have known about the complete details, of a deal, as delivered by Qatar, and agreed upon by Hamas now, for 24 hours. As we've been reporting, it's taken seven hours to get it through the Israeli government, to get approval, on this deal.
So, as we wait, at this point, for details, and when this pause will begin, and obviously, details on therefore, when we will see the first hostages, what we do understand, what we've been told by diplomatic sources is, it is very likely, you will see a lot of children, in this first phase.
And it does sound now, is if we got close to the numbers, of that 50, we're looking at something like 30 children, or young teenagers, 12 mothers and eight other women, at this stage. So, this is very specifically designed, around women and children, being held by Hamas.
How did we get here? Well, it's been many, many weeks, in the making. The Israelis, from the outset, have absolutely demanded, as we understand it, that the names and the IDs of people, of being held by Hamas, would be delivered to the mediators. And then, anybody else that they could identify, and provide some proof of life, of being held, possibly by other groups.
That now seems to be in play. That seems to be something that's been agreed upon by Hamas, which is a demand that the Israelis had made.
On the flip side, as we understand it, a week ago, when the Israelis started their assault, on Al-Shifa, the raids on Al-Shifa, that became -- that provided a really difficult period, for mediators, because Hamas was absolutely determined that they were not going to sign up to a deal, while those raids were going on.
Of course, those raids were completed, by the Israelis, to -- as far as the Israelis are concerned, just on Sunday or Monday of this week. And that is when this proposal went back to the Israelis, as I say, on Monday night, Tuesday morning, very early. And we are now what 5 o'clock in the morning here, on Wednesday. And this deal now agreed, in principle, by the Israelis.
But be clear, there is no detail as of yet, provided by the Israelis, nor the Qatar, have an announcement yet, until they get detail, on when this pause begins. And that, at the moment, is still unclear.
BROWN: Yes, it's still, we should remind our viewers, still a very delicate situation, even with the approval, from the Israeli government, and the other side, until these hostages cross the border, right? It's not essentially a done deal.
BROWN: Becky Anderson, thank you so much, for your tireless reporting, working overnight, there, in Doha, to bring the latest to you.
Alex Marquardt is here with us now, in Washington.
You heard Becky make mention of the U.S. role, in all of this. Netanyahu, for his part thanked President Biden, for his help, with getting a better deal, essentially. So, tell us more about Biden's involvement, and the U.S. administration at large.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think that comment, by Netanyahu, earlier tonight, before going into this cabinet meeting, was quite telling. And what he specifically said, in thanking President Biden, was that, as you say, that he helped Israel get a better deal, more hostages, and Netanyahu said, at a smaller cost to Israel.
Now, the U.S. had a central role here, for a couple of reasons, not least because there are some 10 Americans, who are believed to be hostages. They are missing.
The youngest among them is someone, who has been mentioned, by President Biden, young Abigail Edan. She's just 3-years-old. She's turning 4, on Friday. There is a hope, there's an expectation that she would be released in in this first phase, of these 50 hostages that we believe will be coming out, in the coming days.
But of course, the U.S. also plays an extremely pivotal role, a strong role, in that part of the world. They have a lot of leverage, with the different players, involved here, speaking directly, of course, with Egypt, with Israel, with Qatar.
Now, the U.S. does not speak with Hamas, because it is considered to be a terrorist organization. That is why Qatar has been deputized, essentially, to carry out the conversations, with Hamas. But where needed, when needed, the U.S. can put pressure, on those different countries.
Now, some of the senior-most members, of the Biden administration, have been involved, in trying to get this deal, across the finish line. We saw the most senior Middle East adviser, for the White House, Brett
McGurk, he just got back from a tour of the Middle East that included a stop, in Qatar, where he talked about the hostage negotiations.
Bill Burns, who Becky just mentioned, the Director of the CIA, he has been absolutely pivotal, and central, in these negotiations, talking with his Israeli counterpart, meeting with his Israeli counterpart, with the Qatari Prime Minister, in Doha.
We understand from the White House that President Biden has requested updates, daily, regular updates, and deciding when to personally get involved. He has made numerous calls to the leaders of Egypt, of Israel and of Qatar.
Now, we do hope that there will be -- the Administration is certainly hoping that some Americans will be part of this release. But we can certainly expect the U.S. to continue its participation, as they continue to negotiate, for what we believe will be still the vast majority, of those hostages, were still being held by Hamas.
BROWN: And that's important context too.
Thank you so much, Alex.
And as Alex mentioned, it's believed 10 Americans are held hostage. And that that youngest American is the 3-year-old little girl, Abigail Edan. She could be released, in this potential deal.
Abigail's great aunt, Liz Hirsh Naftali, joins us now. We should note, President Biden appointed Liz, to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, last year.
Thank you for coming on.
In the wake of this approved deal, have you heard anything, from officials yet?
LIZ HIRSH NAFTALI, GREAT AUNT OF 3-YEAR-OLD HOSTAGE ABIGAIL EDAN: We have heard what you have heard. Just listening to the people speaking before me is basically the only information that we have at this time.
BROWN: How hopeful are you that Abigail will be released?
HIRSH NAFTALI: Well, I am very hopeful. Our family is hopeful.
And it's been 45 days, since Abigail was abducted, taken to Gaza. 45 days ago, her mother and father were murdered, by Hamas terrorists This little 3-year-old is somewhere in Gaza.
I hope that she is with the mother that was taking care of her, at that time, with her own three kids. And I just hope that Abigail is being taken care of and loved, and that this deal will follow through, and that these hostages, these children, will be back home, with their families, in the next couple days.
BROWN: Again, we don't know who exactly will be released, as part of this deal, other than the majority being children and women. But of course, you must prepare for this possibility, right, and of course, holding out hope that Abigail will be released as part of this deal.
What are the discussions like, among the family, right now, about welcoming her back in, after going through such a traumatizing experience, for a 3-year-old? I have a 3-year-old. I just can't imagine.
HIRSH NAFTALI: Exactly. You have a 3-year-old. Can you imagine that your 3-year-old would be with--
HIRSH NAFTALI: --another mother, and her three kids, for 45 days? I mean, it's excruciating. And for our family, we have spent the last seven weeks, seven weeks, worrying, wondering, praying, hoping.
Abigail has a sister, who is 6, a brother who is 10. These two children saw their parents both be murdered. They spent 14 hours, in a closet, on the 7th of October, hiding.
The one thing that we all hold on to is that hope now, that Abigail comes home, she comes home by Friday. Friday is her fourth birthday. And that's -- there's nobody that's giving up hope. It's just that we actually need to see Abigail come out. And then, we will be able to be -- to believe it.
It's, we've had, we've spent all day today, and we've watched the news, and we've joined the news, and we're still at this place, where we haven't seen -- we don't know any details about any of our hostages. And so, I hope that starting tomorrow, we'll start to learn more, about these hostages, and that we'll start to see children, women be the first group that is released.
BROWN: We all are hoping and praying she will be released, and be able to celebrate her fourth birthday, on Friday, with her family.
Liz Naftali, thank you, for coming on. We are all just thinking about you, and your family, right now, as we await more word, about who will be released, as part of this deal. Thank you.
HIRSH NAFTALI: Well, thank you. And thank you for -- thank you for sharing this story.
BROWN: So, what will a pause, in the fighting, mean, for the overall war? Would it be a setback for Israel, or Hamas? What Prime Minister Netanyahu is saying, tonight?
And an IDF spokesman is here, with me next, with more, on this breaking news. We'll be right back.
BROWN: Back with our breaking news. Israel's cabinet voting, to approve a hostage release deal, with Hamas, after nearly seven hours of deliberation.
And this just in, from Hamas. In a statement, it says, as part of this deal, 150 Palestinian prisoners will be released, from Israeli jails. According to Hamas, the prisoners, to be released, are women and children, aged 18 years and younger.
Joining us now, to discuss all of this, is IDF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.
Thank you for coming on.
First off, what can you tell us, about this new hostage deal just been approved, by the Israeli cabinet, tonight? And when can we expect the pause to begin?
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCES: Thank you for having me.
I think that there's a process of it coming into effect. I understand that there's also a short time window, for people to appeal. But that is really outside of the bounds of the military.
What we will be focusing on is, of course, on Hamas and its military activities. Until we will be told to do so, by the Israeli government, we will continue fighting Hamas. And when such a deal will come into effect, we will respect that.
But we will be very vigilant, on the ground, because we have the bad experiences with Hamas, from 2014, when they violated an internationally-brokered ceasefire. So, we know that we will have to be vigilant, on the ground, as we see this unfold. Hopefully, we will see the safe return, of Israeli hostages, from 46 days of captivity, at the hands of Hamas.
BROWN: When do you expect the earliest would be, for any of these hostages, to be released, potentially? And would Israel wait for the hostages, to actually cross the border, before the pause goes into effect?
CONRICUS: Yes. So, those details will still have to be worked out. The government just approved it. Now, we will have to translate it, on the ground, to activities.
I can assure you that we will be respectful of any agreement. And we will honor the commitments made by the Israeli government. I can only hope that our enemies will do the same. Based on their past behavior, I am not so hopeful, and we will be vigilant.
Hopefully, this will happen, as soon as possible. Every minute matters. And for the families, waiting for the loved ones to return, these children, women, babies and infants, that have been in Hamas captivity, for so long, for them, every minute matters. And we will do everything to facilitate it as fast and as seamlessly as possible.
BROWN: I know, you said the details are still being ironed out, and you're speaking on behalf of the military.
But I have to ask, do you have a sense of who the hostages are that could be released, beyond just children and women? We just spoke to the great aunt, of the 3-year-old little American Girl, Abigail Edan. There's a lot of questions about what names are on that list, to be released. Has Hamas handed that over?
CONRICUS: Not that I'm aware of, at this stage.
And I can think and assume that Hamas will continue with their psychological warfare efforts. And they will make things as painful and as excruciating as they can, for the families. I don't think that they will be humane and fair. They after all, they abducted civilians. So, why would they begin to act humanely, now?
But at the end of the day, we will get the list. I do know that all of the people, on the list, according to what I have, are Israelis. Some of them with dual nationalities, but all are Israelis.
BROWN: So, some of them with dual nationalities, do you know if any of the dual nationalities are American?
CONRICUS: I don't have confirmed information about that at this stage.
BROWN: OK. What about the list of Palestinian prisoners? I mentioned at the top that Hamas has said, as part of this, 150 Palestinians, prisoners, will be released. When will we find out the names of that? Because, as you pointed out, there's a 24-hour appeal process, for anyone, who wants to go to court about this.
And tell us about how they were selected. I mean, history has told you, in the past, with the release of the Israeli soldier, I believe, in 2011, a Palestinian prisoner that was released as part of that, is believed to be part of the mastermind, of this terrorist attack, on October 7th.
CONRICUS: You are absolutely correct.
Yahya Sinwar, the Butcher of Khan Younis, and the mastermind behind many of the horrible things, that are unfolding, since October the 7th was indeed released in that latest hostage deal.
The corporal, Gilad Shalit, was returned to Israel. And more than 1,000 Hamas captives and prisoners and terrorists were returned. Hopefully, we are not going to make that same mistake.
And what I know is that the Palestinians that are being freed, from prisons, are not at all that caliber of terrorists that we were talking about before, not serious offenders. And once I will have that list, of course, we will be able to share it. I do not have that list just yet.
BROWN: And you don't know when it will be released, correct?
CONRICUS: Momentarily, I suppose.
CONRICUS: But, as you said correctly, there's this process of appeal, which needs to be followed. And then, I think everything will be made official.
BROWN: Are you worried that the pause in fighting, for the hostage release, could be a setback, for the IDF, and give Hamas time to regroup?
CONRICUS: Yes. One would hope that Hamas has been asking, or pleading, for this pause, for many days, now. One would hope that they would use it in order to care for civilians, in the southern Gaza Strip, and take care of their needs. But I think one would be naive in doing so.
And Hamas, they don't care about the Palestinians. They don't care about their humanitarian needs. And I fear that Hamas will use the pause, in fighting, in order to try to resupply and regroup.
And, of course, we would rather continue to apply pressure on Hamas, continue to fight them and defeat them, in their strongholds, as we are doing in northern Gaza City.
But this pause is of course for a very, very important cause. And that is why the IDF said clearly, on record, to the Israeli government that we do support it. And of course, we want to see the hostages back. And any means in achieving that is worthwhile doing.
We will be vigilant, on the ground. And we will continue to monitor Hamas' activities. If they will try to violate? Then, of course, we will be ready for any such violation, and respond accordingly.
BROWN: All right, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, from the IDF, thank you so much.
CONRICUS: Thank you for having me.
BROWN: Much more, tonight, on the major breakthrough, in this war, a former Israeli National Security Adviser is here with us. And he can help walk us through this deal, and what comes next. We'll be right back.
BROWN: And back with our breaking news. Israel's newly approved deal, with Hamas, that would see the release of at least 50 hostages, women and children, in exchange for a four-day truce.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Sderot, Israel, right near the Gaza border.
Jeremy, what have you learned?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Pam, Israel's cabinet has finally approved this deal that would see the release of 50 women and children, in exchange for a four-day pause, in the fighting.
There is also a component of releasing Palestinian prisoners as well. A 150 Palestinian prisoners, also women and children, is effectively three prisoners, for every one civilian hostage that is being released. And hundreds of trucks of aid are expected to enter Gaza, much needed aid, at this hour.
Now, I'm told that this deal was approved, by an overwhelming majority of the cabinet, although I am told that Itamar Ben-Gvir, the National Security Minister, far-right member of Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, voted against the deal, along with another minister, from his party.
I also just spoke with Gal Hirsch, who is the Special Representative for Hostage Affairs for the Prime Minister. And he told me that this is only the first phase of hostage release. He really wanted to emphasize that point.
And in fact, tonight, I'm told that he delivered a message, directly to the families, of those hostages, to let them know that the government will do everything in its power, to bring back all of the hostages, beyond the first 50, who are expected to get out, over these four days.
But if Hamas releases additional hostages, 10 hostages per day, could earn them an additional day of truce, for every 10 hostages. And that could certainly materialize, as we look forward to this.
What's also important to keep in mind is that the Israeli Prime Minister, and his government, tonight, making very clear that this pause in fighting is not a permanent ceasefire. And that in fact, they will resume their fighting against Hamas. They will continue their effort, and continue to try and reach their objective, of eradicating Hamas, once this pause in fighting ends.
BROWN: All right, Jeremy Diamond, bringing us the latest. Thank you so much.
Let's get more perspective now, from Eyal Hulata, who has served as a National Security Adviser, to past Israeli Prime Ministers, and just got back from Israel.
So you have fresh perspective here, after having just been there, talking to officials. What do you make of the cabinet's approval of this deal?
EYAL HULATA, FORMER ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Good evening, Pam.
So first of all, it's been a long deliberation, in the cabinet. And as expected, they approved it.
This deal has been negotiated for weeks now. Israel has insisted that we get a larger group -- the largest group that we could, and within this, to have all of the children and women, and the mothers of those children, are released together. Hamas tried to break that into groups, in previous weeks.
So, at this point, this is -- seems like this is going to happen. Of course, when it happens, we'll believe it, because Hamas has been playing with our emotions and psychological warfare throughout this time. And it has broken its promises, many times before.
So hopefully, this will be the case. The cabinet approved it. And 24 hours, I assume, we'll start seeing the hostages released.
BROWN: And 24 hours you believe?
HULATA: It's on Thursday.
BROWN: Thursday morning?
BROWN: OK. So, as part of this deal, it's going to include women and children. Do you know how many will still be held in captivity, in Gaza, women and children, after these 50 are released?
HULATA: So, we believe that this should be the entire group of children, their mothers and the women.
BROWN: That Hamas has? So, all of the women and children?
HULATA: Yes. I mean, we know who were taken. Hamas has said that they will release all of them alive, which is something that we'll need to see, when it happens. Of course, there's also elderly, sick people, wounded, injured.
There's, I mean, a total of 240 of hostages, over there. The focus on women and children and the elderly first is, of course, because we want the more weak people, to come back home, the more fragile, and that's more important to bring them back.
But this won't stop. As your Correspondent says, Israel will continue the pressure on Hamas, until we get back all of the hostages, and until we eradicate Hamas, from ruling Gaza. There is no future for Gaza, as long as Hamas is still there, controlling and terrorizing its own people, not only us.
BROWN: And we should also note, so the 50 is what is believed Hamas has under its control. But, of course, there were other groups, in Gaza, holding hostages. And my understanding is that during this pause in fighting, Hamas will try to get those hostages back. And if there are women and children--
BROWN: --perhaps they could be.
HULATA: Yes. So, Hamas, I mean, they tried to make it as if they don't control all of it. But Hamas is the ruler of Gaza. And they will be able, and I'm sure that they have already taking them back. As you'll recall, in the second week, or just after the beginning of the ground invasion, we rescued one of the captives, right, a female soldier, because we knew where she was. She was held by, in an apartment, somewhere in the north of Gaza.
After that incident, Hamas grouped them together, to be in more control, because they're bargaining. These are bargaining chips for them. As horrific as it sounds, this is what they do.
At this point, I think the IDF believes that Hamas knows where they are, and they're controlling them. And hopefully again, we'll start getting them, Thursday morning.
BROWN: Yes. I mean, the hostages are really what's giving them--
BROWN: --so much power.
HULATA: They've been for 45 days in tunnels. Just imagine.
HULATA: There are babies there, 3-months-old.
BROWN: I can't. I can't. A newborn.
HULATA: There's probably a newborn, hopefully. I mean, you know? We'll know.
BROWN: As part of this release.
HULATA: This is part of it. And 45 days, in tunnels, it's just outrageous.
BROWN: Eyal Hulata, thank you so much.
HULATA: You're welcome.
BROWN: More reaction, tonight, to this approved deal, with a cousin of two believed hostages, a husband and wife, one of them American. What's going through his mind tonight as he and so many others await word?
BROWN: Back with our breaking news. The horror, and dread, for the families, of those kidnapped, by Hamas terrorists, on October 7th, is tonight, making way for a new sliver of hope.
The deal between Israel and Hamas just approved, by Israel's cabinet, opening the door, for dozens of hostages, including little children, who could be back, in their loved one's arms, within the next 48 hours. Joining us now is Boaz Atzili, whose cousins, Aviv and Liat, are presumed to be held by Hamas, after their home was burned to the ground.
Thank you for coming on. I'm sure you're feeling so much emotion, right now. What are your thoughts? How are you feeling about this new deal, tonight, to get these Israeli hostages? And are you concerned Liat could come back home, and not Aviv?
BOAZ ATZILI, COUSIN OF HOSTAGES AVIV AND LIAT ATZILI: Yes. It's really a swirl of emotions, like from what we know of the deal, it seems like men are not included in it. So Aviv, my cousin, is likely to not be released, tonight, or in the first wave. If Liat is -- will be released, that will be great.
But we don't know that. We don't know the names. We didn't get a list of names or anything. As far as I know, the Israeli government doesn't know the name either. So, we're really hoping that, every hostages that released is a really good news, for the family, in particular, the children.
I met last week, with the family of Abigail, the little girl that I think you just, in the program, and that kind of heart-wrenching. So, if they can go back, they can go back to their families? That's a great start. I really want everybody to come back.
BROWN: Has the IDF or any Israeli official been in contact with you, or your family?
ATZILI: At least, as of a few minutes ago, I don't know that they have. And I'm not like next of kin. So, they will contact the parents of the children. But as far as I know, not yet.
BROWN: Tell us about who Aviv and Liat are? For those that love them most, what would it mean to have them home again?
ATZILI: Yes. So, Aviv and Liat are a wonderful couple. They're both 48-year-old. They live in Kibbutz Nir Oz, which is close to the Gaza Strip. And the kibbutz, as you probably know, was completely taken over, and they destroyed, on October 7th.
Aviv is a mechanic. He is kind of running the mechanic workshop of the kibbutz, fixing agricultural machinery. And he's also an artist. He takes like pieces of scrap metal, or old machinery, from the workshop. And you can see this, art right (ph) now, and he paints like a tiny miniature, of fields, of tractors, of the animals.
BROWN: Yes. We see it right here on the screen.
ATZILI: It's really interesting canvas, yes. And he just had his first exhibition, in a studio, in Tel Aviv, that was ironically closed, on the Day, on October 7th.
Liat is also 49-years-old. She's an American citizen. Their three kids are also American citizen. Liat is a high school teacher. She teaches history and civics in the Regional High School. And she's also an instructor, in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Israel.
They love to travel. They love to have a good laugh. Here in the picture, you can see them, in last August, in New York, when we last met them. They came for a trip to Yellowstone, actually.
ATZILI: And to visit plains (ph) in Connecticut, in Oregon, in New York.
BROWN: Oh, they're clearly a beautiful couple.
And we appreciate you coming on, to reflect on them. And we are all thinking about you and your family, as we await word, on which hostages will be released, as part of this initial deal, we're learning about.
Thank you so much, Boaz.
ATZILI: Thank you, Pam.
BROWN: Well, there have been dozens of attacks, on U.S. forces, in the Middle East, since this war broke out. The latest, just last night, in Iraq, where ballistic missiles were fired, at an air base. The Pentagon says the U.S. has launched precision strikes, in response, against Iran-backed militants there. The threat of a wider war, when we return.
BROWN: Let's start with the breaking news, tonight, Israel agreeing to a deal, with Hamas, to release hostages.
That, as we learned the U.S. military has taken retaliatory action, in the Middle East. Officials tell CNN a U.S. aircraft fired on, and killed hostile forces, after Iranian-backed militants launched a ballistic missile attack, on an air base, in Iraq.
And tonight, the U.S. is confirming that it launched more precision airstrikes, at two facilities, used by Iran-backed groups. The Pentagon says American troops, and allies, in Iraq and Syria, have been attacked, more than 60 times since October 17th.
Joining us, tonight, retired Lieutenant General Mark Schwartz. He served as the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
All right. So, we have a lot to get to. I want to start with this breaking news, though.
Before the deal was reached, our reporting was that the negotiations -- included in the negotiations was talk about suspending surveillance of drones, over Gaza's airspace, for part of each day. Think it was six hours. If that remains the case, how will that impact Israel's efforts, to keep eyes on Hamas?
LT. GEN. MARK SCHWARTZ (RET.), FORMER SECURITY COORDINATOR FOR ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Well fortunately, Pamela, the Israelis have a broad range of intelligence-collection platforms.
So, it would be more difficult, if they can't fly directly overhead, to collect. But they also have intelligence surveillance platforms that can look outside of Gaza, into Gaza, and still collect. So more difficult, but certainly, not going to be a major issue, for the Israelis.
BROWN: What about though, that the posture that this puts the IDF in? As these hostages are being released, and there is a pause in fighting, though, they're going to go into more of a defensive mode, right? They've been on the offensive there. So what kind of risk, what kind of challenges does that present, for the Israeli military?
SCHWARTZ: They certainly are going to be more vulnerable than, if they were, continuing their offensive, certainly. So, they're going to have to take that into account.
I think they'll also have to re-establish their intelligence baseline, after this pause, whether it's four or five days or longer. That's not unusual. And they certainly have the capability to do that.
But, there is certainly risk, because they're not -- they don't -- they're not going to be maintaining the initiative, during this pause, obviously. So, there's concern.
But I would also say that, the Israelis have dominated, from the air, the ground, since they started their offensive. So, I don't think it will take long, for them to re-establish, the offensive, and going after their tactical objectives, once the fighting resumes.
BROWN: All right, so let's broaden out a little bit and talk about what else is going on, in the region.
Is there anything the U.S. can do, to prevent these attacks, by Iranian-backed groups? I mean, it seems as though these retaliatory strikes, they're not really acting as much of a deterrence, because as we noted, there have been 60 attacks, since October, mid-October.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. There is more that can be done. And there's a range of options that are available to U.S. Central Command. And certainly, those discussions, I'm confident, are ongoing.
You're right. They haven't proved as a deterrent. And I think that if the attacks continue, that we will also escalate, primarily in Iraq, and primarily in Syria, probably not Iran. Certainly, we haven't hit that threshold yet, from my assessment.
BROWN: But of course, there is that concern, right that this is going to spill over, into a broader conflict? The IDF and Hezbollah say they exchanged more fire, across the Israel-Lebanon border yesterday.
What do you think the U.S. can do to stop this conflict from escalating, beyond Gaza and possibly into Lebanon?
SCHWARTZ: Well, we've had, you know, we had Director Burns, in the region, obviously, Director of CIA. So, I'm sure there's a lot of discussions ongoing, with both our allies, in the region, so Saudi Arabia and others, and also probably directly, with our adversaries. So, I imagine there's a lot of behind-the-scenes dialog, and discussions, about what the repercussions are going to be.
Beyond that, I think, demonstrating that we're not going to stand for attacks, against U.S. forces, and our allies and partners, in the region, which we've done. And it hasn't stopped the attacks. But I think every time that that happens, I think they're -- the Iranians and their proxies are reassessing, what -- how high they want to escalate.
BROWN: All right. Lieutenant General Schwartz, thank you for coming on. Happy Thanksgiving to you.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
BROWN: Coming up, new information, about the Americans, who could be part of this hostage release deal, and some really interesting behind- the-scenes details, on how this all went down. We'll be right back.
BROWN: And we are back with the breaking news. A deal with Hamas, to release 50 hostages, kidnapped on October 7th. And we have some new details, coming in, about the painstaking negotiations that transpired, to get this deal approved, on all sides.
According to sources, a week ago, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, grabbed the arm, of President Biden's Mideast adviser, Brett McGurk, as he walked out of a tense meeting, of the Israeli cabinet, saying quote, "We need this deal."
And now, we know a deal has been approved, by the Israeli government.
Joining us now is CNN White House Correspondent, Arlette Saenz, who is traveling with President Biden, in Nantucket.
Arlette, what more can you tell us?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President Biden and top officials, of the administration, have been working around the clock, on these painstaking negotiations, to try to secure the release, of these hostages.
President Biden, earlier today, having said that, he believed that they were very close to that deal. And tonight, they have, in fact, Israel has approved this deal, to move forward. Now, President Biden is here now, in Nantucket, where he's spending the Thanksgiving holiday. We're still waiting to hear specifically, from the White House, if there will be any type of statement, this evening.
But it comes after President Biden had been personally engaged, in these talks. That's according to senior administration officials. Since the beginning of this attack, that Hamas had launched, against Israel, President Biden has repeatedly spoken, to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
And today, Netanyahu said that he had asked the President to get involved in these negotiations, and said that the President himself had helped improve these talks.
Now, in addition to speaking to Netanyahu, President Biden also spoke with the Emir of Qatar, twice, last week, and really pushed him, as Qatar has served as the main mediator in these talks.
But this all comes as people will be watching, very closely, to see how many Americans might be included, in this deal.
This deal is expected to include 50 women and children. It's possible the U.S. says that three Americans could be released. And that includes that 3-year-old girl, Abigail Edan, someone that President Biden himself has talked about, in recent days. And the hope, the Administration says, is this could also potentially pave the way, for other releases, down the road.
But it's clear that this is welcome news, for the White House, as President Biden had been quite hopeful that they would be able to get to this moment. It will take, they say, about 24 hours, to implement this deal. And then, it's a question of exactly when and how many Americans, will be included, as part of this release.
BROWN: Yes, right now, the thinking is potentially as early as Thursday morning. But it's still fluid. So, we're still waiting to find out more on that.
Arlette Saenz, thank you, for bringing us, the latest.
And thank you, for joining us, tonight.
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