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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Soon: Israel-Hamas Brief Truce Begins In Hostage Deal; Families Currently Being Notified Of Names In First Releases; Soon: Temporary Truce Begins, 13 Hostages Released After; Israel Expects At Least 2 More Months Of Fighting Hamas; Palestinian Evacuated From Gaza: "We Die Every Night In This War"; Medical Aid Group: 80 Aid Trucks Entering Gaza From Egypt. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I am secretary-general.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): The only concrete certainties today in Gaza, rebuilding what is destroyed will take years and, in Israel, that no one will feel safe until Hamas is gone.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "SITUATION ROOM": And a special thanks to Nic Robertson for all his excellent reporting. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

THE SOURCE with Kaitlan Collins starts right now.


KAITLAN COLLINS: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins, live from Israel tonight as this is a special edition of THE SOURCE. We are here on the ground, in Tel Aviv. Hours from now, a temporary truce is slated to begin and desperate families on both sides of the Israel and Gaza border will hopefully get an answer to their prayers. For some, it's an anxious wait that could be coming to an end as Hamas does plan to release at least 13 hostages on the first day in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners.

Israel has continued to pummel Gaza tonight, but all the fighting is supposed to stop at midnight Eastern, 7:00 AM local. That, of course, what that pause is going to look like if everything goes according to plan, and that is a big if here.

The pause is going to last four days and about 96 hours of no fighting between the two sides, and at least 50 hostages will see freedom. A Qatari spokesperson described the fragile pact as the first glimmer of light after 47 brutal days of war. But the situation remains tenuous here on the ground. As I noted,

cameras have been seeing explosions, bursts of gunfire in the final hours before this temporary pause is set to begin. And today, the IDF detained the director of that Al-Shifa Hospital, of course, the largest medical complex in Gaza City. They claim that Israel has been claiming that has been used by Hamas as a military headquarters. I should note hospital officials have denied all of those accusations.

Here with me tonight is CNN's Matthew Chance talking about all of this deal. Matthew, obviously this deal has not been a given. We saw it get delayed yesterday. Do things look like they're on track right now based on what you're hearing from sources?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they look like they're on track, yes. I mean, the list of 13 Israeli citizens has been handed over to the Israelis from Hamas via the mediators in Qatar. And the expectation is that, you know, at some point tomorrow, that will start happening. Those releases will start happening.

But, you know, it is a very complicated logistical operation. There are lots of moving parts. And we've seen already this week the deadline for the pause in fighting. Well, the start of the pause in fighting to be moved back 24 hours. It's meant to start on Thursday morning. It's going to be Friday morning now.

And, you know, the Israeli military, the IDF, is warning that this deal could change, because it is so complicated. But yes, at the moment, we're on track for the first pause to take place, the first batch, the first group of 13 hostages to be released. And, of course, the -- three times as many 39 Palestinian prisoners in return.

And so that's going ahead at the moment. But, you know, the whole country is really waiting very anxiously, very stressfully about whether it actually takes place or not.

COLLINS: And so basically, tomorrow will serve as like a template of what future hostage exchanges could look like. What are we expecting once those hostages are actually, you know, on the move? What is that going to look like for them?

CHANCE: Yes, I mean, it could serve as a template. I mean, certainly, what the Israelis are saying 50, at least, possibly more, possibly 80. But we're talking about women and children at this point. And so even if you get 50 people released, there's still going to be, you know, 190 that are still left behind.

We're talking about soldiers. We're talking about adult males. You know, and I expect there are lots of, you know, families, for instance, who have got adult male relatives who are held captive inside Gaza.


CHANCE: And they're despondent. They're, you know, happy for the people that are going to come out, but despondent that, you know, their relatives, their loved ones are not coming out. And so yes, it's -- you know, it's a tenuous situation. It's very mixed feelings amongst people here.

COLLINS: And do we have any idea how long it could take or the actual process of getting them from point A to point B to being back here potentially even in Tel Aviv?

CHANCE: No, but there's lots of stages in that logistical operation. They're going to have to obviously be rounded up by Hamas, first of all, and then brought to the Rafah Border Crossing into Egypt where they'll be received by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC.

You know, at that point, they're going to be handed over and brought into Israel. And it's not until they're inside Israel, according to, you know, the Israeli sources I've been speaking to. The Palestinian prisoners are going to be released not until the hostages are in Israeli hands will the prisoners be released.


They'll then be taken -- the hostages will then be taken to hospitals near Tel Aviv here for checkups and for medical treatments. And, of course, you know, they're going to be debriefed. There's going to be a lot of attention paid to their not just medical welfare, but their psychological welfare as well because going through so many days of trauma, you know, here, it's going to be an uphill task ...


CHANCE: ... getting those people back to any sort of semblance of normality.

COLLINS: Yes, they've spent 47 days in darkness and God knows what.

Matthew Chance, I know you'll stay on top of the reporting. We'll come back to you as you learn more. Thank you for that.

Also, tonight, all sides are really preparing for this first hostage release. And a big question is whether Americans will be among that first group to be freed. Officials are hopeful, but we have not heard anything firm from the White House.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is tracking all of this from Washington and joins us now with the latest on the intelligence front. Alex, obviously, major questions here from the White House. You know, the White House believes there's 10 Americans that are likely among the hostages. Have they gotten any indication about whether or not they could be included in this first group of 13 civilians to be released?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The indication that they have, Kaitlan, is just that there are three Americans expected to be in the first group of 50. So when these 50 women and children come out in the four following days, they believe that two of them will be American women, one will be the -- one will be an American child, Abigail Idan. She was 3 years old. But where you are, Kaitlan, today is her fourth birthday, so she is turning four in captivity.

Now, the Israeli government has said that they are alerting the families of the 13 to be released tomorrow because they are Israeli citizens. We, at CNN, did speak with Abigail's family earlier today to an aunt, and she said that she had not heard from either the US or the Israeli government. So that may mean -- may, because this is so fluid -- that Abigail will not be among that first group of 13.

Of course, as President Biden said earlier today when speaking with reporters on his Nantucket Thanksgiving holiday, fingers are still very much crossed -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, they absolutely are. And if not, you know, that first group, hopefully, a second if it goes well.

Alex, the other part of this agreement that is expected to go in a place here in just a matter of hours from now is that no drones will be flying over Gaza. And that matters because that's been a key way that the US and Israel has been getting intelligence of what Hamas has been doing. What more can you tell us about what that's going to look like?

MARQUARDT: Well, this was one of the demands in the lead-up to this deal being struck in the negotiations. We understood that Hamas had demanded that both American and Israeli surveillance drones stop flying over the Gaza Strip.

Now if you're in Gaza, I've been there for previous wars, you can hear them. You can see them buzzing right overhead. And those have been key -- we've been told by intelligence and military officials -- at tracking Hamas movements, at trying to figure out where those hostages are.

So the understanding that they have come to during this negotiation is that, for a period of six hours each day during this pause, those American and Israeli surveillance drones will stop flying overhead. That will give Hamas the capability of moving around, of releasing these hostages, handing them over to the Red Cross without what they view as prying eyes.

Now, at the same time, I've been speaking with officials and experts who say, Kaitlan, that even without those drones overhead, that certainly Israel has other ways of peering into the Gaza Strip to keep tabs on Hamas during this pause -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Well, we'll keep an eye on that as well. Obviously, that's going to be lasting throughout that four-day period for brief periods at a time. Alex Marquardt, thank you for that reporting.

Of course, what is at the center of all of this as we talk about what this temporary agreement is going to look like are the families -- these families that are desperately hoping for the first release of many of the hostages, hoping their loved ones will be among them.

Joining me now is Ahal Besorai. His teenage niece and his nephew were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Be'eri on October 7th during those attacks. And, Ahal, I just -- I think it's hard for anyone to even know what's going through your mind right now as so many families are waiting to hear about this. It's your 13-year-old niece, your 15-year- old nephew that were both taken hostage alongside your brother-in-law. Have you learned -- what have you learned tonight about whether or not they are in this group?

AHAL BESORAI, NIECE AND NEPHEW KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: So we learned that they are not in group. You know, we got a phone call from the IDF to inform us that they won't be in this group. And that the situation, you know, it's very difficult.

And, you know, even if they are released, the dead will be stayed behind. The mom, my sister was murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. So even when they are released, and hopefully, they will be released as part of these 50 hostages, mothers and children that are going to be released. But obviously, they will be coming back, you know, without their dad and the mom is -- has been -- was murdered. So very difficult.


COLLINS: Yes. So even if they are released, it's still something. I mean, there's still so much trauma there. What's your concern about whether or not they could be split up if some of them are released, but maybe not with your brother-in-law?

BESORAI: You know, it's a very difficult situation. I know they will be split, you know, because they announced it's only children and mothers. So obviously, my brother-in-law is just a, you know, 50-year- old Israeli citizen. And obviously, because he is a male and because he is Israeli, he will not be released. So it's very, very sad state of affairs.

You know, that -- but, you know, I'm not surprised to learn this, you know, because we deal with such a sadistic and evil terrorist organization, on the other hand, Hamas, you know, that killed and murdered my sister.

So, you know, we are not surprised that this is the way it is handled. You know, they just manipulate and try to play with us Israelis and parents of the hostages in this sort of way. You know, this is something that we have to take.

And we're hopeful, you know, that they will all released and Hamas keeps to its agreement, you know, with Qatar, with Egypt, you know, overseeing -- by the US, you know, that they will proceed with this sort of agreement and release them at the end of the day, maybe even 20 more, because, you know, they will want to extend this ceasefire over and above these four days.

And this is why I'm sure they keep, like, a few other hostages that they will then release later in return for maybe one or two more days of ceasefire.

COLLINS: You keep mentioning your sister. And I know it must be so painful to be dealing with not only your family members being held hostage, but also, you know, processing the loss of your sister.

I know you came back to Israel for her funeral. Your father, your other sister, all of them still living in Kibbutz Be'eri. And you took this video of your sister's house. I want everyone to just see what the damage in this video, you know, to see what this home looks like of where your family members were. What was it like for you to see that in person?

BESORAI: It was really devastating. You know, I was brought up and born on this kibbutz. I was living there until I was 25. So I -- it's a very small community.

I know everybody who lives there. I know the place. And first, as you come into the kibbutz, you know, before I even reached my sister's home, it's just devastated by this vicious and sadistic terrorist attack that happened on October 7th by Hamas.

And then, you know, I got to my sister's home. And, you know, I was there with my boys from London just in April. And we were sitting there, you know, and watching, I don't know, football or, you know, something of this nature with the kids of my sister, with my sister, with her husband, you know, bonding with them in some sort of way.

And, you know, my niece, she just was prepared for a bar mitzvah, you know, that was happening in June. We were there in April. You know, so it was all sort of celebratory sort of environment of us together in this house that you've just seen now burned to the ground.

And then, you know, I come and I see something like this, it's just heartbreaking. You know, it's really, really heartbreaking.

And, you know, they did it in order -- they were hiding in the safety room in the house. And they burned the house down in order to force them out.

And then, you know, they were seen all coming out of the house by a neighbor, you know, who are hiding on the roof, alive. You know, and ...


BESORAI: ... we assumed that my sister is alive initially and not taken hostage. You know, so now that they found that she was murdered and they found the body, you know, I am under the belief, you know, that they might have murdered in front of the kids, you know, because they were all together, and maybe they tried to do something to one of the children or maybe to my niece, and my sister couldn't take it and, you know, maybe retaliated, and maybe then they shot her in front of the children. I have no evidence of it.

But, you know, running these scenarios in my head, this is something that comes to mind. And, you know, it's -- and then you can imagine that they come back leaving the dead behind if they're coming as part of the 50 hostages, that come into, I would really call it, broken home or empty home or, you know, no mom, no dad, you know, being exposed ... COLLINS: Yes.

BESORAI: ... to so much trauma at such a young age, you know?


So it's very difficult for me as an uncle, you know, just to comprehend all this, you know -- even this, you know, that was close (inaudible).

COLLINS: Well, luckily, they have a great uncle. And we're just thinking of you as you're processing your sister's death and also just hopeful that you'll be reunited with your family members.

Ahal Besorai, thank you for coming on and sharing that with us tonight.

BESORAI: Thank you so much, Kaitlan. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: Absolutely. Up next, I'll be joined live by the IDF spokesman about what we are expecting to happen in just a few hours from now. What could be next on the battlefield ahead of this pause?

Plus, the former national security adviser to former President Trump, John Bolton, will join us, why he says this is a bad deal.

I'll also take you live inside Gaza, where the suffering has only gotten worse. It's almost unimaginable. The bombardment has only continued to intensify up until that deadline tonight.


COLLINS: The pause in fighting in Israel between Israel and Gaza will begin in just a few hours from now in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. But worries still loom that that deal could potentially fall apart before the hostages are released.


Joining me now is the IDF International Spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. Thank you so much for being here, sir. You know, we just spoke last night about these developments that are happening.

We have seen Israel continuing to hit targets in Gaza tonight. Should we expect this fighting to continue right up until that midnight Eastern 7:00 AM local deadline?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL JONATHAN CONRICUS: Good night, Kaitlan. Thank you for having me again. I think so. You know, it's a very dynamic combat environment. And, of course, if we will have opportunities, tactical opportunities to take out senior Hamas terrorists like we just did a few hours ago, then I think we will take those opportunities.

But being true to our commitment and the agreement decided upon by the government of the state of Israel, when the hour comes, we will cease offensive operations and take a much more defensive posture in order to facilitate the safe repatriation of our hostages that have been spending the last 47 days in Hamas captivity.

COLLINS: The IDF, as you just noted, they said that you've killed this Hamas naval commander in a strike today. How many senior Hamas operatives does the IDF believe have been killed? Do you have a precise number?

CONRICUS: We're talking about a few dozens. It all depends how we define "senior." Unfortunately, there are a lot of important military commanders in Hamas, both battalion commanders, brigade commanders, but also specialists like the naval force and the anti-tank missile array and engineers and many others. Really, a lot of combatant commanders. And I -- the -- it's in the upper amount of dozens that we have taken out of important enemy combatants.

COLLINS: Okay. But you don't have a more precise number than the upper amount of dozens?

CONRICUS: Let's say getting close to 100. That's a -- the last assessment that I read.

COLLINS: Are there any concerns about whether or not these strikes, what's happening up until that deadline could derail this deal or is that not a concern of the IDF's?

CONRICUS: Well, everything is a concern. And, of course, we approach every task and opportunity knowing fully well that it is an important and sensitive time in making those necessary calculations.

This specific target was a very important target for the future of the combat operations. And I suppose that is why the decision was made by senior officers to indeed go ahead and strike. But it's very important here to be clear.

We agreed on this temporary pause in operations in order to facilitate the safe repatriation of our hostages. And we, of course, are not going to jeopardize it. But we will remain vigilant on the ground in a defensive posture in Gaza, knowing fully well that Hamas will -- our working assumption is that they will try to leverage the situation to replenish their combat positions, and perhaps to challenge us, either with using Gazan civilians as human shields by some kind of provocation or by directly attacking our forces. And, of course, we will be ready for that.

COLLINS: Okay. So it sounds like you have a lot of concerns about whether or not Hamas will hold up its end of this deal. We're told that there's essentially this truce line that's going to go in place in Gaza once this begins -- once this temporary truce begins between Hamas and Israel. Does that essentially mean that the IDF will not move south during this 96-hour window?

CONRICUS: So what we are going to do is to remain in our positions, our estimated positions as we are now. But, of course, we will not be stopping. So you won't see any significant maneuvers by the IDF, but you would also see it may be reported that there will be troop movement, because to be static on the battlefield is a very bad thing to do, unwise. And therefore, we are not going to be static. We will be moving, but you will not see any significant combat activity, not on our behalf, unless we are attacked, of course.

COLLINS: How concerned are you if the -- if Israeli forces in Gaza are going to be moving around during this? I mean, how concerned are you that that gets misread by a Hamas fighter that something happens that -- at this agreement to have no firing gets breached?


CONRICUS: That shouldn't be used as any kind of pretext. And as long as we don't initiate contact -- tactical contact with the enemy, then that shouldn't be used as any kind of pretext for attacking or derailing the situation.

Listen, it's very clear who we're dealing with.


CONRICUS: We're dealing with a murderous and lying organization. They may try to manipulate the situation. They may try to use civilians. They may try to use any kind of pretext of our movement or not. The bottom line is we are going to honor our word here. And it is within our interests to see this deal completed successfully, because we're hoping to get our people back.

COLLINS: Prime Minister Netanyahu has said the war will continue. We heard from the defense minister today saying they believe two more months of fighting could happen after this hostage deal is completed. Do you believe that IDF will go back to battle in Gaza, or is there is a chance that this temporary pause turns into a permanent ceasefire?

CONRICUS: I believe and sincerely hope that we continue to complete the mission, which is our intention. Those are the plans, and that is what we are preparing for. There is a very important mission here that needs to be completed for the sake of Israelis, for the sake of regional stability, and also for the sake of Palestinians in Gaza.

We need to get the job done. We need to rid -- free Gaza of Hamas for the sake of Israelis and for the future of the region.

COLLINS: Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus saying that you do believe the IDF has killed about an estimated 100 senior Hamas operatives. Thank you for joining us, and thanks for your time tonight.

CONRICUS: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Up next, we're going the hear from the former national security adviser in the US, John Bolton, who says he believes this is a bad deal for Israel. He'll join us live as our special coverage on the ground here in Israel continues.


COLLINS: We are now just hours away from what is supposed to be the start of this temporary truce in this war between Israel and Hamas. This deal does not come without criticism. Even here in Israel, there have been questions about making this deal. The former Trump National Security Adviser, John Bolton, says that it is a badly flawed agreement, and he joins us now.

Thank you so much, Ambassador, for being here. You have been critical, because essentially, if I believe this right, and tell me if I'm wrong, you think that Hamas gains more from this than Israel does. What exactly about this deal do you think is so bad?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there are many specific provisions that I think are badly misguided, but fundamentally, what's going on here is that Hamas is playing a game of psychological warfare against the people of Israel and the people of the United States as well. They're trying to distract Israel from its strategic mission of eliminating Hamas and trying to focus on the question of the hostages, the question of -- the condition of civilians in Gaza.

Obviously, this is a heart-wrenching situation, and you can feel nothing but compassion for the families of the hostages. But in cold fact, Israel's strategic mission here is much more important. But if the Hamas effort can help break the morale, can help break the resolve of the Israeli forces, what they really want to do, and this is the real play, is to turn this four-day pause into a permanent ceasefire.

Now, I don't think they're going to achieve that at the first iteration, but they're trying to put the onus on the Israeli forces if and when they begin hostilities again. They are playing, I think, a surprisingly sophisticated psychological game here. I don't think this one event is necessarily going to be the alpha and omega. But if this sets a precedent that undermines Israeli resolve to achieve what they're legitimately entitled to achieve, the elimination of Hamas as a threat, it'll be a huge victory for the terrorists.

COLLINS: So the flip side of that argument, and something that I was reading today from Haviv Rettig Gur, a writer here for the Times of Israel in Tel Aviv, he basically believes that Hamas agreed to this deal out of desperation. Why do you think Hamas agreed to this with Israel?

BOLTON: Well, I think on balance, in a military sense, Hamas is the beneficiary more than the Israeli side. Certainly, as you heard from your previous guest, the Israelis are going to move people around. They're going to change troops out. They're going to do a number of things. They will take advantage of the pause as well. But it's Hamas that's getting pounded here.

I don't think we know the full amount of devastation that the Israeli forces have wrought, but it's Hamas that needs the break. And the longer they can make that break, the better off they'll be. I don't think people should forget that at the beginning of this war, the Biden administration sent military advisers to Israel that said, look, learn from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Don't rush in pell-mell. Take your time. This is very complicated. Using the examples, particularly of Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq, which took nine to 12 months for American and Iraqi forces to secure. We're seven weeks into this. There's a long way to go. But if Israel's resolve can be weakened and broken, they'll never get to the amount of time they really need to accomplish the stated objective of eliminating Hamas.


COLLINS: That is, I mean, quite an objective. They're not just saying they want to demean or diminish Hamas. They have used words like eliminate and eradicate Hamas. We heard from the Defense Minister earlier saying that after this pause, he believes it'll take two more months of fighting. Do you realistically think that Israel can achieve that goal within two months?

BOLTON: Well, you know, I read that comment as well. I understood that to be saying to the Israeli forces, we've got two months of intense struggle ahead of us. I didn't see it as limiting it to two months. But part of the psychological campaign, part of the propaganda effort here, is to undercut Israel's ability to get to that stated objective.

For example, the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, said a couple of weeks ago that Israel as an occupying power, which it's not, by the way, in the Gaza Strip, but as an occupying power, did not have a legitimate right of self-defense. Meaning, implicitly, that everything Israel has done since October the 7th has been illegitimate, since it doesn't have the right to self-defense.

A senior U.N., quote unquote, "human rights official" said the same thing about a week ago. That's going to be part of the argument here to say, you've gone far enough. You don't have to eliminate it. Just sit down and negotiate with them. You can see it coming. And what I worry about is the pause, if it begins in a few hours, is just the opening wedge to achieve that objective.

COLLINS: So you think that once Israel has agreed to this pause, once it starts just literally in a matter of hours from now, that basically the international criticism of Israel restarting its military campaign will be so high that they may not actually do it?

BOLTON: Well, I think the Israelis are pretty immune to a lot of blabbering internationally. What I worry about is that the White House is losing its resolve. There's no secret. If you read in American papers, you can see many of the pro-Palestinian elements of the Democratic Party are saying they want the pause to be transformed into a truce or into a ceasefire.

A lot of these words become interchangeable after a while, and that's the objective. And I think Biden recognizes he's got a severe problem because of the schism within the Democratic Party. So domestic U.S. politics are going to play a role here. And if the mood can be shifted talking about the anguish of the hostages, nobody really talks about the 190 hostages who are not going to be released in the next four days.

You know, this can have a significant impact. I think, really, the questioning that Medvedev has started off of the legitimacy of what Israel is doing is just going to be amplified. What the Israelis need to do, and frankly, what the United States needs to do is reinforce the legitimacy of self-defense. Permitting Israel in this situation not to minimize the threat, but to eliminate the threat.

And the threat really is not just Hamas. Ultimately, think of Hezbollah in the north. For almost the entire seven weeks since October the 7th, they've been shelling targets in northern Israel. All of this under the watchful eyes of the mullahs in Tehran. This is a much bigger conflict than just in the Gaza Strip.

COLLINS: Yes. And Hezbollah is not party to this temporary truce, of course.

Ambassador John Bolton, as always, thank you for your time. Thanks for joining us tonight on Thanksgiving.

BOLTON: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

COLLINS: What we do know is happening right now as we approach this deadline is the bombardment inside Gaza has only continued. This is a temporary truth. That is what Israeli officials say. Key emphasis on the word temporary there. But the suffering inside Gaza is only getting worse. Of course, questions about that aid that is expected to go in. Nima Elbagir will join me live next with her reporting.

Plus, the New York Times's David Sanger here on why this deal is so fragile as Israel is warning every single moment here is critical.



COLLINS: The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas in this war is set to begin in just a few hours from now, midnight Eastern, 07:00 a.m. local. With this pause in the fighting, vital aid is expected to be able to flow into Gaza at a much faster rate and with much more than we have seen in just the last several weeks alone.

For insight into what has been happening on the ground there, what life is like inside Gaza, listen to this injured Palestinian man being evacuated, talking about what he and so many others have endured so far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We pray for martyrdom, but the fear, this fear, I can't describe it. We die every night in this war. You hear the sound about to strike, and we don't know where it would hit. A missile destroys a block. So imagine what happens when we are hit with three missiles.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: CNN's Nima Elbagir is in Jerusalem. Nima, I mean, just hearing him say the, quote, "we die" every night in this war is so chilling. And as he's talking about this daily life, what else did we hear from him?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL: Well, what we've been hearing from many of those who have made it to the south of Gaza, so not even in the epicenter of the intensifying bombardment is exactly along those lines. And even more heartbreakingly, in the recent U.N. report around the food situation inside Gaza City itself, the U.N. is saying that parents now are skipping meals. They're not eating.

They're putting aside what they can for everyone else around them. The idea that you are measuring out your last meals, counting down the days, not knowing when there will be a respite.


Hopefully, they dream, they believe this truce will come into action in a number of hours and they will get that brief window of respite. But in the lead up to that respite, Israel has escalated its bombardment. And given how many people have died under that level of intense bombardment, civilians in Gaza, Kaitlan. It's horrifying to think that when the morning breaks and hopefully there is a truce for everyone involved in this conflict, that they will be counting their dead, Kaitlan, in Gaza.

COLLINS: Yes, which, I mean, they've had difficulty even going and going outside to get the bodies of people who've been killed because they're so scared for their own lives. The one, you know, part of this that I think is not even being talked about enough is the amount of aid that's supposed to be going into Gaza as a part of this temporary truce.

We've seen this long line of trucks at the Rafah crossing waiting for this to begin. What do we know about how much more is going to be going in and whether or not it's even close to being enough for the people who are there?

ELBAGIR: Well, unfortunately, the answer to that question is it's not enough. Aid agencies have made very clear that even though this may look like a lot lined up, I think it's some 90 something trucks, the reality is, given the needs and how isolated and essentially sealed away from any support, any refuge, any help civilians in Gaza have been.

The U.N. has said that they will do everything they can to take advantage of every single moment of this truce. But in the back of everybody's minds is the specter of the statements that we keep hearing from the IDF. That the minute this pause is over, they plan to return to their primary objective of destroying Hamas, an objective that has resulted in the death of thousands and thousands of civilians.

And that's before we factor in what agents -- aid agencies are going to find, right? As you said, they're burying their dead where they can in pretty shallow graves. There's an attempt at, I think, at one large mass grave, but there are fears of disease. The sense is one aid worker we spoke to who asked not to be named for fear of jeopardizing this little window of opportunity, said, I worry that we are walking into hell. And the worst thing is, we will walk out again and leave those people in there, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: The worst thing for any aid worker to have to experience and to see amid these major questions. We'll continue to follow this as we get closer to that.

Nima Elbagir, great reporting and thank you for that.

Up next, we're going to talk about what to expect if all 50 hostages that is the broad outline right now, are released in the next few days. What Hamas may be refusing to give up? Of course, there are many more than 50 hostages.

Also, why the high-wire act that the Biden administration has been walking over the next few hours as they have been deeply involved in this, what that looks like from the U.S. perspective.



COLLINS: Right now, we are just about hours away from the deal to release more hostages. The question, if that is the, you know, what that is going to look like, how that holds. What we do know is it's the end product of weeks of stop and start negotiations and very difficult conversations.

Among them are reportedly contentious phone calls that have happened between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They've had more than a dozen calls since October 7 happened.

Joining me now for perspective on this is CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger, a New York Times White House and National Security Correspondent. David, great to have you here. You know, as we're hearing -- and he's also the author of "The Perfect Weapon", I should note. David, as we are hearing what this is going to look like, what Israel could do at the end of this pause. I mean, do you believe that Israel is going to be facing a lot of international pressure once these 96 hours are up to not restart their military campaign in Gaza?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY: I do, Kaitlan. And, you know, it comes right out of that discussion you were having a few minutes ago with John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser. Listen, we understand the first two steps of this. I mean, tomorrow, if all goes well and we all hope and pray that it does, that you'll see 13 hostages released, and that will take its way over the next four days up to 50.

And there's even the possibility built into the agreement that it could be extended a few days and that you could negotiate some additional releases, although presumably the price for Israel would be higher because you could be releasing then some of the elderly, and then perhaps people begin to be of military aid and so forth.

But it's clear Hamas is not going to release everyone because that's their leverage to keep the Israelis from starting up again. And Israel then will face a really vexing choice. Because if it begins the bombing again, as Prime Minister Netanyahu seemed to suggest when he said the war will continue, it will clearly be the focus of a good deal of international criticism.

That in the midst of hostage releases or at the end of them, they went right back to a strategy of bombing that the United States has said has resulted in far too many Palestinian deaths. And I think that's the core of the tension --


SANGER: -- that you've heard between Netanyahu and Biden.


COLLINS: And David, you know, we know that there was pressure here at home on Prime Minister Netanyahu. He was meeting with the families who were saying, find out a way to get our loved ones home. But how much do you think Israel agreeing to this 96 hours pause in the fighting to get these 50 hostages out had to do with pressure from the White House?

SANGER: Well, we know a few pressure points. We know that the Hamas was demanding a five-day cessation of the firing. Israel said it would go no more than four. And Biden had to get on the phone to the Qataris and say, that's as much as we're going to get.

And at various moments, he's had to go pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu as well over the numbers and how many Israelis would be -- I'm sorry, how many Palestinians held by Israel would be released in return for these Israelis and the three Americans.

But those are relatively small tactical details. The question to my mind and to the minds of many American officials, particularly Pentagon officials, is whether Israel's got a long term strategy here, because think of the big issues on which we still have significant disagreement.

First of all, whether they resume the bombing at this kind of level. Second, if they actually achieved their strategic objective of degrading or dismantling Hamas, would Israel for some period of time, run Gaza? You've heard Netanyahu say they would have to. You have heard that Secretary of State Blinken say repeatedly that can't be, that while Hamas can't run it, we need to come up with someone else.

And the best idea they have is a Palestinian Authority which can barely operate, as you know, on the West Bank. So we're going to have some big strategic differences with the Israelis ahead. And I just have to hope that the same group that worked out this hostage deal, Brett McGurk, who's the special adviser to President Biden on this, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Council head, have also worked out -- begun to work out with the Israelis, what the longer term plan is.

COLLINS: Yes. And we know President Biden told the Egyptian leader yesterday, they don't want the displacement of the Palestinians. They don't want them having to be moved. A lot of key questions ahead.

David Sanger, thank you for joining tonight.

SANGER: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Of course, those are the big long-term questions. We are now also looking at what is happening in the short term as we are hours away from this temporary truce. We're going to speak with the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. coming up.

Also, a former FBI agent who specialized in hostage cases overseas. Questions about what is next in the immediate hours here. This is CNN's special live coverage.