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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 Release; Medical Aid Group Says, 80 Aid Trucks Entering Gaza From Egypt; CNN's Nic Robertson Reports On October 7th Hamas Attack On Israel; CNN Follows Close Developments On The Ground In Tel Aviv. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 22:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Kaitlan Collins, live tonight from Israel. This is a special edition of THE SOURCE, because hours from now, a deal, if Israel and Hamas can keep it.

Weeks of negotiations have led both sides to this point where we are right now. If everything falls, what has been a very delicately choreographed script, some families will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief. But failure would spell heartbreak for many of them.

What we know right now is that 13 Israeli hostages who have spent weeks in Hamas captivity are now scheduled to have freedom. Dozens of Palestinian prisoners are also slated for release in exchange for the release of those hostages. All of that is happening in addition to what is expected to be a complete pause in the fighting in Gaza, as we have seen aid trucks already lining up at the Rafah crossing to go into Gaza, desperately needed aid there, as you just heard.

But we've already watched one delay to this deal followed by an intense burst of fighting happening on the ground in Gaza. We should also note this is only roughly a quarter of the number of the Israeli hostages that are being held by Hamas, leaving many other families left to wonder if or when they'll ever be able to see their loved ones again.

We also know that President Biden has been very hopeful tonight as this clock is ticking towards that expected release of the first group of women and children in hostage in Gaza.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is in Nantucket, where the president is spending his Thanksgiving with his family. And, Arlette, as we heard from President Biden earlier tonight, he was asked about the release of these hostages. What did he tell reporters?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, President Biden is striking an optimistic tone as the White House is hopeful that this hostage release will go forward as planned on Friday.

Now, as he was out visiting firefighters here in Nantucket on Thanksgiving Day, the president said that he would be prepared to speak a bit more about this and this process after that release is conducted on Friday. But one thing that White House officials have been watching very closely is trying to figure out whether any Americans will be part of this initial release. It's expected that there could be three Americans released in total with that 50 women and children figure, two women that are American, and also there is that three-year-old Abigail Idan. Abigail's parents were killed in the October 7th attack by Hamas.

President Biden today told reporters that he is keeping his fingers crossed that she will be part of this initial release that is expected to take place on Friday.

Now, U.S. officials are expected to start notifying the families of any American hostages who are released once they are departing Gaza. That is according to a U.S. official. Essentially, what needs to happen is an American official or a trusted third party needs to set eyes on these hostages if they are Americans, and that is when the U.S. will begin notifying the families if their loved ones are coming out.


But President Biden has been very focused on the execution and the implementation of this deal. Of course, he had had phone calls over the course of the past few weeks. But just yesterday, as he had spoken with the emir of Qatar, where they specifically talked about the implementation, and the White House is hopeful that this will move forward tomorrow and that there could be very soon the release of not just that larger group but also specifically Americans as well.

COLLINS: Yes, something everyone in the U.S. is also watching closely. Arlette Saenz in Nantucket, thank you for that report.

To one of the families anxiously awaiting and watching as the clock is ticking as we near this deal, Maya and Yadin Roman join me now. Their relative, Yarden, was kidnapped by Hamas. I should say their cousin was kidnapped, Maya as well.

You know, that you've been going through the emotions with this that every hostage family has been dealing with, I mean, these tragic 47 going on 48 days now. But you've been told that your cousin is not going to be part of this initial group of 13. What did you hear?

MAYA ROMAN, COUSIN HELD CAPTIVE BY HAMAS: We were told this evening that not to expect her back tomorrow. I think it's a good that the government is updating even the families whose relatives won't be released because we, of course, have been waiting to hear, even though we understood that Yarden might be part of a later group released if she'll be released in this round at all.

Yarden is a young mother who saved her daughter when they were both kidnapped and is currently separated from her daughter.

COLLINS: Because she gave him to her husband.

M. ROMAN: She gave her to her husband, yes, as they were attempting to flee their captors. So, she's currently separated and we're really hoping for her to be reunited with her child. But we don't know if it will happen this time around.

It's very hard every day to, you know, try not to hope too much, but still you have that kind of maybe and then, yes. So, it was very hard today and we expected to be a hard week.

COLLINS: Yadin, I mean, how's it been for you? Because I know it's, these hostage families have spent so much time together as they've dealt with this process. You're happy for the 13 who are going to get their loved ones back, but knowing also that you're not one of them.

YADIN ROMAN, NEICE HELD CAPTIVE BY HAMAS: I think people have to realize that for every person in Israel, this is a personal story. Everybody knows somebody who's killed or been hostage. It's a small country. And everybody knows somebody that is -- I'm amazed that I knew -- I know about this all the time, but I'm amazed by the number of people who call me or meet me and say, wow, this is happening.

So, it's a very, very personal story. So, even for the people who don't have somebody who's going to be released or maybe will be released or something like that, people in the country are actually in agony. It's an agonizing deal. We're dealing with somebody who's really erratic. I've followed him for many years. He's erratic. And you really don't know, even if this deal is already signed and put together, nobody knows if this will really happen.

Now, these stories that are coming out, I don't want to call them -- they're tragic stories. Yarden here, you have a mother who manages to escape after she's been kidnapped with her child. Then she says, they're going to get me. So, she gives her child to her spouse. They run off and she gives herself out. And she doesn't know if it worked or if it didn't work.

So, these are tragic stories. They're coming out more and more and more. As we hear more about this, we're getting more and more tragic stories. And then when you have a deal like this, I don't envy the people who have to make the decision. I don't envy the people who have to decide, we're going to take a deal where not everybody is going to be released. We don't know what's going to happen to the rest, or we continue fighting and then we will get the people released. I don't envy the people. You hear in Israel, people who are against the deal. You hear in Israel, a lot of people.

COLLINS: We do hear that. I wonder what you make of that because we do hear some criticism or skepticism of the deal at best because they're worried it will allow Hamas this time to regroup, but then you meet families like yours and you just want to get your loved ones back.

Y. ROMAN: It's a two-pronged story. So, on the one hand, people are saying, let's finish this thing, what we started, and get rid of the Hamas. And on the other side, people are saying -- and in order to do that, we have to continue fighting without any truce. And on the other hand, as a country, that everybody knows everybody else, there's no way that a deal is on the table that the people have to make the decision will not take it, okay?


They will not be able to politically survive if they're not able to make the decision will not take it. They will not be able to politically survive if they don't take a deal on the table, even the deal that was there a week ago and was not finished and half-baked and so on, and they didn't take it. They're scared.

And when you see Bibi on television, he's explaining why he didn't take the deal a week ago. He has to explain. He has to say, why I didn't do this a week ago and I'm doing it now and then come up with all sorts of excuses because there's no way that the country cannot take a deal that when it's on the table, even though it's a bad deal.

M. ROMAN: You know, for us as a family, we do feel that any deal is important because we believe that one deal can lead to another, that we want to start seeing people coming back, even if Yarden will not be home this week. We hope that the beginning of getting people back will also lead to her coming back to us as quickly as possible.

COLLINS: And you mentioned, she doesn't even know, she handed off her baby not knowing what was going to happen. How is her baby doing tonight?

M. ROMAN: Her daughter, Geffen, is truly amazing. But it's hard. It's very, very hard for her. They are extremely, extremely close, and she's been without her mother for 47 days.

COLLINS: And how old is she?

M. ROMAN: She's 3.5 years old.

COLLINS: And is she asking?

M. ROMAN: She's asking she -- we don't have to tell her what happened because she was there. So, she saw what happened. She was with her father, who after they escaped, they had to hide for 12 hours, no food, no water, to be completely silent, which is amazing that they were able to do that, and then to come back to the kibbutz and find the IDF forces and be able to call us. So, she's been through the trauma of the actual kidnapping. And now she's been through the trauma of missing her mom.

She does ask -- we tell her that her mom got lost and she knows that everyone is looking for her. Now she has this thing where she has to be the one who opens the door. But she never looks at who is on the other side of the door. So, all of us are at the same house all the time. And she always runs up, opens the door and doesn't look. And for us, we're pretty sure that she's expecting to see her mother on the other side. And she's at the same time really scared that she's not there.

COLLINS: That's heartbreaking.

M. ROMAN: It is, yes. COLLINS: I can't even imagine what the two of you have been through, what your whole family has been through. And, obviously, we are all hoping that she is reunited with Geffen very soon.

I want to thank you for coming on, you know, knowing that you're not getting the news that you wanted when this is happening. We hope that you'll join us when you do get the news that you do want. Maya, Yadin, thank you very much.

Y. ROMAN: Thank you very much.

M. ROMAN: Thank you so much.

COLLINS: Thank you both for your time tonight.

Of course, there are many families dealing with this same issue tonight, finding out that it is not going to be their loved one who is in this initial release of the first 13 hostages that are going to be making their way back to Israel tomorrow.

The deal is complicated. It is delicate. There are still a lot of questions about what could happen at the last minute.

Joining me now is a man who has negotiated hundreds of hostage negotiations, former Navy SEAL Commander and Coordinator of the Hostage Working Group for the U.S. embassy in Iraq, Daniel O'Shea.

Daniel, you know, there are so many risks here at play. What about notifying the families, as Israel has done here, of the 13 names that are on that list, you know, with the caveat that they are still in Hamas control as of this moment?

DANIEL O'SHEA, FORMER NAVY SEAL COMMANDER: That is the challenge. And I can tell you family members and many of whom I met after my tour ended in Iraq, I got to meet family members back in the state, some of whom lost their loved ones, some who got their loved one home. And communications from the government, or I should say a lack of communication, was always one of the first and the most ardent complaints that a lot of these families had.

So, I understand the need to share that information, but from my side, that is nothing we would have ever presented to these families because you're giving expectations and high hopes that can be dashed because this is such a tenuous situation.

Yes, we should be cautiously optimistic, but I would be very hesitant. Less information shared is better, to be frank, because a lot of things could go wrong.

COLLINS: Well, so then what do you think is the right way? Because I think part of this is, you know, either the families aren't all here in Israel, they need to come back, if that is going to be their loved one who is the one being released, what do you think is the right way to go about this?

O'SHEA: Well, the point is when you raise information about what families are being released, then you turn everyone else into, you know, asking more questions.


It's very challenging, but the goal is to raise the value of the hostage in the eyes of the hostage taker and diminish the value, perceived value of those hostages. And when you have all this press and speculation, the president weighing in, all that does is raise the stakes and gives Hamas even more power about holding on these hostages.

So, it's a tightrope. It's a balancing act. But I just know that this deal was not made directly between Hamas and Israel. Both have sworn to wipe each other out. This deal was made through third party intermediaries and backdoor channels. And I just would be very cautious going forward and tell -- you know, let's get the these first batch of hostages out and hopefully that lays a groundwork for a few success. But this could this could turn -- it could go wrong very easily. And it's less information before you actually have accomplished something is a smarter course of action, in my experience.

COLLINS: How fragile do you think this deal is based on that lack of trust and the fact that there is this third party intermediary in the form of Qatar, which was the country to confirm the details of this as we learned them earlier today in a press conference?

O'SHEA: Listen, you're dealing with not just one group. Hamas has hostages, Islamic Jihad. There probably may be even criminal or splinter groups that might have some of these hostages in Gaza. So, there's just so many variables. And even a third party actor, Hamas, what if Hezbollah shoots a missile from the West Bank to throw this all under stray (ph), a checkpoint at Israeli defense holder might have a car come up too quickly and fire off around. So, the ceasefire is very tenuous and it would not take a lot for it to end before the, quote, four days that was agreed upon.

But we will see what happens. But, again, I don't have -- I would proceed with caution on giving expectations and hope to these families. Because if they don't get their loved ones back, it's going to -- the fallout will be pretty catastrophic, frankly.

COLLINS: Yes, it is. And you see all -- you just heard from those family members there, Yadin and Maya, of course, of what this means to them.

Daniel O'Shea, thank you for your perspective.

O'SHEA: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations will join me live here on site in Tel Aviv on what preparations Israel is taking, if that worst case scenario that Daniel mentioned there does happen, if this deal is breached.

Stay with us. We'll be back in a moment.



COLLINS: And our coverage continues here in Israel, where we appear to be on the verge of what could be a critical moment in the war that we have been watching play out. 13 hostages are now less than two hours away from the start of what is expected to be that return home. We know that they are expected to be released around 4:00 P.M. local, 9:00 A.M. Eastern. if this deal between Israel and Hamas holds firm, and that is a big if there.

Already the Red Cross says that there are a large convoy of aid trucks that are ready to go into Gaza the second that that temporary truce goes into effect.

Perspective now from former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who is also the former Israeli deputy defense minister and a member of the Likud Party. Thank you so much for being here, Ambassador. Good to talk to you again.

Are you confident that this deal is going to hold?

DANNY DANON, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: We can never be confident when we speak about Hamas. We saw what happened only yesterday. But it looks like that within two hours, we're going to have a pause. Actually, in 15 minutes ago, there was a rocket flying into our southern communities. But we will wait and see. And then we're going to wait for the hostages to come back.

There would be no celebrations in Israel, because the majority of the hostages will still be in Gaza after almost 50 days. But the families were notified, though, that the hostages should come to meet them. And we hope that we will see more hostages coming, more than the 50 that were committed in the agreement.

COLLINS: And, of course, Israel has continued to hit Gaza, which the IDF says they'll do up until when that truce begins as well.

Is it accurate that Israel is going to wait until those 13 hostages are actually in the custody of the Red Cross, which is where they're being handed over to before those 39 Palestinian prisoners are released?

DANON: Yes. We have done it in the past. There is a mechanism to do it between the Egyptians and Israelis. So, yes, we can do that mechanism. And I believe that we will see them coming home for their families only in a few hours.

There are a lot of tension in Israel. You know, there are babies. You know, we are waiting to see the babies. Some of the babies are in Gaza without their parents who are massacred. So, you can imagine the anticipation to receive them back home.

COLLINS: And I imagine some of these 13 are expected to be those children that are being held.

DANON: Indeed.

COLLINS: Okay. So, as we're waiting for what that's going to look like, you know, you mentioned there's 90 other hostages that are not going to be released in this period from what we know right now. One thing that Prime Minister Netanyahu said recently is that the Red Cross was going to be able to go in as part of this agreement to tend to those hostages, the ones that are not going to be released. We have not heard a lot about that lately. Is that still on the table?

DANON: Well, I have zero expectations for the Red Cross. We haven't heard them so far saying anything, or we didn't even one Israeli hostage in Gaza. And also, you know, with Hamas, it's very tricky. Because if you look at the language of the agreement, it speaks about vegetation of the hostages, providing medicines to them, and now they are saying that it was not understood.

So, we expect that we will receive full reports about all the hostages. We want to see evidence that they are alive. And in the situation where they need medical help, we expect the Red Cross to go there and provide that support.

COLLINS: But you're doubtful that the Red Cross is actually going to do that.

DANON: I'm very skeptical both about the Red Cross and about Hamas.

COLLINS: The other part of this agreement is that aid is going to be going into Gaza, desperately needed humanitarian aid. I believe it's up to 200 trucks per day as part of this agreement that is expected to go on. Is that actually doable? Is Israel actually going to be able to -- is there a mechanism in place to allow that much aid into Gaza and actually see that happen?


DANON: Yes. You know, if you look at the numbers before the war, we allowed a similar number of trucks to go into Gaza, but that was through a checkpoint that we had control over. Today, the checkpoint is under the control of Egypt.

We will inspect also those trucks. I think it's doable. We're going to have to work out with the Egyptians to allow it to happen.

COLLINS: Who is inspecting those trucks and monitoring that aid as it goes into Gaza?

DANON: So there are two stages, the trucks coming from Rafah from the Egyptian side, they come to Israel, we have a mechanism to look that there is no weapons on the trucks, then they go back into Egypt, into Gaza. But it's very close. It's in the proximity of few kilometers between the checkpoints.

COLLINS: I've been speaking to sources at the White House who are saying that they want Israel to open the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza to help facilitate the entry of even more aid. You're shaking your head, no? DANON: It will not happen. Enough. We are going to allow aid to come into Gaza but Israel will not be connected to Gaza like before October 7th. We allowed tens of thousands of Gazans to come and work in Israel. We allowed trucks to come for our ports. That's over. So, if anyone wants to support the people in Gaza, it's more than welcome to do it, but it should send the material to the Port of El-Arish and to start to speak with the Egyptians about it.

COLLINS: Okay. So, that's a flat no you're saying to that request that is coming from Washington.

What everyone has been talking about could happen here at the end of this 96 hour pause is that Israel has difficulty restarting its military campaign in Gaza because you're facing so much international pressure not to do so.

DANON: We are paying a price because we had a very strong momentum of the military. But I can assure you that we will continue with the military operation. We are not going to stop. It's only the beginning. We are very successful on attacking targets in northern Gaza, but we are going after Hamas in Khan Younis, in Rafah, in the central part of Gaza. We are determined to finish the job this time.

COLLINS: So, it will restart is what you're saying?

DANON: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Ambassador Danny Danon, as always, thank you for staying up late for us. It is very late here in Israel. So, we are counting down the time when this is going to happen.

Up next, we have a sobering, also a disturbing look at the war from the ground. CNN's Nic Robertson will show us why he says in all of his years covering wars, the scale of the destruction this time is like something he has never before seen.



COLLINS: It has been 47 days since Hamas' terror attack on Israel. CNN's Nic Robertson has been covering it all. He has a view from the ground of the destruction that this war has brought and why he says he'll never forget what he has seen. I do want to warn you, what you're about to see in Nic's report at times is graphic and disturbing.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Minutes after leaving the plane in Tel Aviv, the sirens have gone off. People are taking cover. We got off the bus. People are taking cover. And you can hear the intercept missiles banging in the air. It's October 7th, 14 hours since Hamas' attack began. No one knew what to expect.

A few hours later, three and a half miles from Gaza, there's Iron Dome being fired up all around us right now. It's illuminating -- the sky here. The bangs of the Iron Dome intercepting the rockets that are being fired from Gaza just a couple of miles away. The coming days reveal Hamas' horrors. More than 1200 dead.

ROBERTSON: Look at all these shell casings that are scattered around on the ground here. This gives you an indication of the intensity of the firefight.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): More than 300 at the Nova Music Festival. A rocket shelter there, where some were mercilessly killed in cold blood, had the biggest impact. Six weeks later, we happen to be passing as Israel's recovery specialists clean it out.

ROBERTSON: This is bringing back a lot of painful and difficult memories. The last time I was here six weeks ago, it was still full of human flesh and remains. And I'm looking inside, and it seems worse -- the grenade splatter, the gunshots that are in the wall here, they're bigger, they're worse. I'm just looking at it. That night I was really emotionally beaten by what I saw here. I don't know. It's clean. But I don't think I'll ever forget it and that feeling.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Equally unforgettable, the scale of suffering and death inside Gaza. An average of 2000 people a week killed. Two thirds of them women, children and the elderly. The worst I've ever witnessed while covering a war. My only access to Gaza with the IDF, revealing an apocalyptic landscape where every building appears crushed, collapsed, shot up, burnt or blown apart, nothing untouched by the war. Destruction on a scale I've never encountered before.

ROBERTSON: More rockets coming out, more rockets coming out. Guys, more rockets coming out.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): For weeks from a balcony a mile from Gaza, witnessing the destruction, explosion by explosion, day after day as the IDF followed political orders to destroy Hamas.


And Hamas emerging to fire rockets back through these long weeks, talking to, with families of hostages, hearing their pain.

UNKNOWN: It's excruciating. We don't know if he's healthy or wounded. We know nothing.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And sharing difficult moments.

UNKNOWN: It's not going to be easy.

ROBERTSON: Guys, siren!

ROBERTSON (voice-over): With victims returning to where Hamas attacked them.

UNKNOWN: They were lined up and they were -- I saw one of my friends. She was begging for her life. ROBERTSON (voice-over): So, what next? Ceasefire, hostage release, maybe. But it won't be all hostages and the hold in fighting is unlikely to last. Israel fears Hamas will exploit the pause to regroup. Hamas will do whatever it takes to survive, including not handing over all the hostages.

Israel vows to completely destroy Hamas and release the hostages. A tactic show fighting Hamas is a priority and is far from finished. The implication judged watching the past six weeks. For some hostage families, more days and more weeks of agonizing wait.

For Gaza's besieged civilians, continuing misery. Gaza is still cut off from the world. The vast majority of its 2.2 million citizens displaced, crowded in the southern end of the enclave. Humanitarian access on a scale to match the scope of their need is absent. Israel vows to route Hamas there too. Most of Gaza's hospitals are out of action. International pressure on Israel is mounting.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I am Secretary General.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The only concrete certainty is today. In Gaza, rebuilding what is destroyed will take years. And in Israel, but no one will feel safe until Hamas is gone. Nic Robertson, CNN, Sderot, Israel.


COLLINS: That's an incredible perspective there from Nic Robertson. Nic thank you for that report. Back here on the ground, hours from now, hostages are slated for freedom from Hamas, at least 13 of them. The question is, is the roadmap a path to peace or a one-off? We're going to speak to a top Israeli journalist next.




COLLINS: In just hours from now, a tense peace is expected to settle over Gaza for at least 96 hours or so as the first batch of 50 hostages will hopefully soon be on their way to freedom. First time that they'll have felt that since October the 7th. The deal is the result of weeks of intense diplomacy, but the question is, can it open the door to a broader peace?

I want to bring in Israeli journalist Amir Tabon, who is a diplomatic correspondent for "Haaretz" and also a survivor of this attack. Amir, it's so great to have you on. I've been wanting to talk to you about this for so long. I wonder if when you look at the outlines of this deal, the skepticism, the criticism of it, do you feel like Israel really had any choice but to take this deal?

AMIR TIBON, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, "HAARETZ": Hi, Kaitlan. Thank you so much for having me. I think right now, Israel is facing a situation where we only have bad choices. After the October 7 attack, which as you said, I personally felt, together with my family, because I'm a resident of the Gaza border area and our civilian community was attacked and 14 people, my neighbors were murdered and five people from my small community were kidnapped.

And when we look at the broader picture, we know what happened on that day. Israel only faced bad choices. And we had a choice to make this deal and to start getting back some of our people, mostly women and children, even though it comes with a price.

We're going to have to stop the fighting, stop the momentum of the military for at least four days, release Palestinian prisoners, many of them convicted of violent actions, attempted murder and things like that. Personally, I'm not going to say it's a good deal, but I think it's inevitable. I think we had to do this because the choice of not doing this and leaving behind our people, women and children, especially in the hands of Hamas, to me as an Israeli citizen was unacceptable.

From the first place, we have to admit that these people were not properly protected by the government of Israel on October 7, and now we have a commitment and a duty to bring them back. So, in a choice between the impossible and the terrible, we chose the impossible.

COLLINS: And this is supposed to be a 96-hour pause. We'll see if it gets extended from there. But you've been doing reporting and hearing concern about the humanitarian and medical catastrophe that could also put pressure on Israel when it comes to restarting that military campaign in Gaza. What are you learning?

TIBON: What I've been hearing from Western diplomats, people who represent governments that so far have supported Israel and have told Israel, we support and we understand your need to defeat Hamas, they're expressing a lot of concern about the humanitarian and medical situation in southern Gaza, in the area where most of the civilian population in Gaza has centered around.


They're warning about the possible outbreak of a disease. A lot of people with the issues in their digestive system, some skin rashes or things like that. And I think the reason they're speaking out specifically with me as an Israeli reporter is that they want Israel to continue the fighting and to defeat Hamas, and they don't want a humanitarian crisis that will make it much more difficult for Israel to do so and for their governments to continue offering support.

And I do want to say, Kaitlan, that we've seen President Biden, so far, offer very, very important and very, very steady support for Israel. And also, his administration was involved in putting together this temporary ceasefire, the hostage release, and then the increase of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which is also very important.

The administration has put a lot of effort into all of that happening. I think they want to, first of all, avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, avoid some kind of a complete collapse of the aid systems. And of course, bring back these women and children from the hands of Hamas. So, it's a very complicated move, but at the end of the day, it will help a lot of people on both sides of the border.

COLLINS: Yeah, everyone is going to be watching this so closely. Amir Tibon, thank you for joining to share that perspective and that reporting tonight.

TIBON: Thank you for having me. And again, thank you to everyone in the U.S .who contributed to this option now for us to finally get back our people.

COLLINS: Up next, we're going to get an update from the front of the other major war that is happening -- how Ukrainian civilians are helping with a new type of battle that is happening there, drone warfare. We have an inside look right after this.




COLLINS: We are just moments away from a temporary truce happening between Israel and Hamas. But elsewhere tonight in Ukraine, there is no end in sight to the fighting. This week, an irritated Russian President, President Putin, rejected the obvious, that Russia is pursuing a brutal war of aggression in Ukraine. CNN has been tracking stories of sacrifice that are happening there, and Anna Coren reports on the ordinary men and women who are now teaming up with drone operators to fight back for their country.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the outskirts of Kyiv, the soldier puts on a pair of goggles.

UNKNOWN: Welcome to Open TX.

COREN (voice-over): She's part of a unit testing the latest batch of drones that have just arrived. Some work, some don't. But this is the place to find out, before they're delivered to Ukrainian troops on the eastern and southern fronts. Some of these drones are from civilians, produced in homes on kitchen tables. They can be used for reconnaissance or assault missions.

COREN: Drones have become a critical component of this war and are absolutely essential to every single Ukrainian unit on the front line. And while civilians are working with private companies and the military to produce as many drones as possible, these soldiers say they are not nearly enough.

COREN (voice-over): As Russia's full-scale invasion approaches a second year, there is now a critical shortage of drones. China's decision to shut down exports of parts, citing national security concerns, is part of the problem. However, the biggest issue is Russian electronic warfare.

A Ukrainian official tells CNN, the military uses roughly 30 to 40,000 drones per month. They're cheap and expendable. But soldiers on the ground say they need at least 10 times more. A grassroots army of civilians are heeding the call, including Vera and Oleksandr, encouraging others to do the same.

Their operation has taken over their one-bedroom apartment. He makes drone parts with his 3D printer, while she creates camouflage dressings for soldiers' helmets. Their work acknowledged by grateful troops in Bakhmut, who sent them Ukraine's coat of arms made of bullets.

OLEKSANDR SIERKOV, CIVILIAN DRONE MAKER (through translator): Instead of getting married and having a wedding, we spent that money to start making drones. Now, we are happy without gold rings, but with the drones.

COREN (voice-over): Companies like Victory Drones are training up civilians online to help build these little birds to then distribute to the military.

HENNADIY, VOLUNTEER, "VICTORY DRONES": If you attach the payload to the bottom, if you attach the battery on top, you have a perfect shell which is a guided missile.

COREN (voice-over): Volunteer and soldier Hennadiy says to compete with Russia's industrial output, Ukraine must innovate or there will be no future. He's already lost his best friend, seen here in this video, singing lullabies to their children. He knows too well the painful price of this rule.

HENNADIY: When I'm saying innovator die, I see eyes of people from my unit I lost already.


And obviously, we have to win this war because otherwise the sacrifice was fruitless.

COREN (voice-over): Even the next generation is getting involved. The military has begun training school kids, some as young as first graders.

SOPHIA (through translator): My name is Sophia, I'm six years old. I like flying drones and protecting the country.

COREN (voice-over): And there are even plans to make this part of the nation's education system. Anna Coren, CNN, Kyiv.


COLLINS: And thank you, Anna Coren for that important report from Ukraine tonight. I want to thank all of you for watching on this Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a good time with your family. Of course, we are following close developments here on the ground in Tel Aviv -- that expected hostage release and the first real significant pause in the fighting to happen since October 7th, all set to take place in just hours from now. All of that is coming up here, continued coverage on CNN.