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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

24 Hostages Released on Day 1 of Israel-Hamas Truce; Freed Hostages Reunited with Their Families And Getting Treatment In Israeli Hospitals; Israel Prison Service: 39 Palestinian Prisoners Released As Part Of The Hostage Deal With Hamas; Truce Holding Overnight In Gaza Amid Hostage Deal. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 24, 2023 - 20:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to a special edition of THE SOURCE. I'm Kaitlan Collins, live here in Tel Aviv, alongside my colleague, Pamela Brown, who is in Washington.

Israel now has the list of hostages who are supposed to be released tomorrow, and we are just hours away from day two of this expected four-day truce. I should note, we are getting new reporting in now. We are told there are several children who are on that list for tomorrow. Of course, the final group remains to be seen. That is something that we will learn as it happens in real-time, as we did today, with this first group of Hamas-held hostages being back on Israeli soil.

What we know is happening right now is they are getting medical treatment across multiple different locations here in Tel Aviv, where they have been reunited with their families. They are also including, at this children's hospital that is right outside of where I'm standing right now, 24 hostages in total, which are 13 Israelis, 10 Thai citizens, one Filipino, all evacuated from Gaza today and released by Hamas after being held there for several weeks.

Israel's chief nurse described today's events as emotional, saying there was not a dry eye in the room when five of these hostages were reunited with their families after a very long period of time.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. And no Americans were included in today's release, but President Biden says he's hopeful that at least a few will be freed in the coming days.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't know when that will occur, but we're going to be expecting to occur. And we don't know what the list of all the hostages are and when they'll be released, but we know the numbers that are going to be released, so it is my hope and expectation it'll be soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And of the 10 Americans that are unaccounted for, do you know all their conditions? Are they all alive?

BIDEN: We don't know all their conditions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: By the end of this four-day pause in fighting, 50 hostages are expected to be freed. Also, part of the deal, dozens of Palestinian prisoners are being released, and critical aid is now making its way into Gaza.

COLLINS: I want to go to our CNN Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who is here with me now. And, Clarissa, we're seeing, you know, new images, not just what we have seen and what the media has seen as part of this is happening today, but also Hamas is releasing a video of when it was handing off these -- the hostages earlier today. What all do you see in this video?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, the usual caveat that we weren't there. CNN wasn't there at any of these locations, so we can't really speak to the voracity or exactly what's happening in the video.

But what it appears to show, it's been put out by Hamas' social media channels of less than two minutes. There's no audio. We've seen that before. It may be because they're trying to disguise or not reveal the voices of some of the Hamas militants who appear in the video.

But you see the handover taking place to the Red Cross. You see one of the Hamas fighters sort of trying to put his arm around a young boy. We believe that is nine-year-old Ohad Munder, who was one of the young children released today.

You see another scene in which one of the Hamas militants actually picks up one of the elderly hostages and carries her into the vehicle that's waiting for them. And I think it's important to underscore that, of course, for Hamas, this is something of a propaganda opportunity, right? They really want to show that these hostages have been ...


WARD: ... treated well. They want to obviously downplay the trauma they've been through and try to use this to maximize leverage for them.

COLLINS: And you were outside a children's hospital all day today, as we were watching in real-time, these hostages make their way from Gaza to Egypt and then finally here to Israel. What did you see?

WARD: It was a pretty extraordinary moment, Kaitlan, I must say, as these two helicopters flew into the compound at the Schneider Children's Medical Center. And there were actually large crowds of people who had gathered just to observe this moment.

It was partially a sense of happiness and hopefulness, but also kind of somber and emotional, and a lot of effort had gone to trying to preserve the dignity and the privacy of the hostages who arrives. So they had put these screens up that basically protected the hostages as -- or the freed hostages as they disembarked from that chopper. We do know, of course, that there were eight individuals at that

specific hospital from three different families. And I want to play a bit of that sound that you mentioned from Israel's chief nurse who was talking about the situation at the Wolfson hospital, where the other five Israeli hostages were taken and the mood from staff when they first received those five hostages -- Kaitlan.



DR. ANAT ENGEL, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WOLFSON MEDICAL CENTER: I think that there was no one in the room that could hold his feelings and stop crying because it was a very emotional and exciting event. They met their families, and they met a very professional -- a team here that was very good, prepared to receive those hostages.


WARD: And it was the same thing at the Schneider Medical Center. They said that they hadn't slept at all last night. They had been trying to prepare everything perfectly to make sure that it was as sensitive and as comfortable an environment as it could be for these hostages after that ordeal.

COLLINS: And the -- so, four children today, you know, we're learning there is expected to be several children in tomorrow's list. We don't obviously know that until we've actually seen that happen, but that's what we're hearing.

I mean, they're going to extra care with these kids. I mean, obviously, the adults have been through traumatic experience as well. But these are kids. Some of them lost their parents, some of them watched this happen when they were abducted on that day.

WARD: And some of them are just learning about the scale and scope of what happened on October 7th. They're just learning that they lost their loved ones.

And this is something that the hospital is very sensitive to. They talk to us about the fact that they tried to create an ambience and an atmosphere in the specialized unit so that it wouldn't feel like a hospital. It wouldn't feel clinical. It wouldn't feel intimidating or overwhelming.

They wanted it to feel, in their own words, like a beautiful hotel. They had put a lot of toys there. And most importantly, they had hand- picked the staff who are the most experienced in dealing with, you know, childhood trauma.

They had the top psychiatrists. They had social workers -- a social worker for every single family that was admitted. So, really trying to go above and beyond to be as sensitive as possible and understanding the reality that the trauma is real and that the children who emerge from those helicopters are probably very different children than they were seven weeks ago when they were first taken hostage. COLLINS: Yes, it's hard to even think about the road that they have

ahead of them. Clarissa Ward, thank you.

And, of course, that is just the beginning of this. Israel has now confirmed the identity of these 13 citizens that were released today, obviously, children among them. They are all women and children.

They were held for nearly seven weeks. Yaffe Adar is 85 years old. She was the oldest person to be taken hostage on October the 7th. She lived on Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with 11 other hostages that were also released today. That kibbutz saw some of the most severe damage on that day.

A fourth of its residents were kidnapped or killed. Margalit Mozes is a 77-year-old mother of three, a grandmother of 10. She's a cancer survivor who also suffers from diabetes. She's been without any kind of medicine for the last several weeks.

Also, 79-year-old Hanna Perry, a diabetic and a mother of three. One of her children was murdered on October 7th. Another tonight is still being held by Hamas.

Some of the youngest hostages were also among those who were freed today. As you heard Clarissa mentioned there, nine-year-old Ohad Munder, who celebrated his birthday last month while in captivity. He, along with his mother and his grandmother, they were all released today.

His grandfather is still believed to be being held by Hamas tonight. It just speaks to what a bittersweet moment this is.

Daniel Aloni and her 5-year-old daughter, Amelia, they are now free tonight, back here in Israel. They have been kidnapped alongside four of her other family members who are still in captivity tonight.

The last Daniel's family heard from her was a message on WhatsApp that said, quote, "Help! We are dying."

Doron Katz-Asher, along with her two daughters, Aviv and Raz, also back in Israel tonight. Her husband last heard from her the day of that attack when she called him to say there were terrorists inside her mother's home. She and her children had been sheltering there.

Also, 76-year-old Hanna Katzir, 72-year-old Adina Moshe also among those released today. Many -- a lot of happy news for those families of those hostages who are now back and safe, and being medically- evaluated.

I'm joined tonight by IDF Spokesman Major Doron Spielman. Thank you so much for being here, sir. You know, what do we know tonight as these hostages have been reunited with their families, but also taken to these hospitals and these medical centers? What do we know about their conditions right now?

MAJOR DORON SPIELMAN, IDF SPOKESMAN: Thank you for having me. The physical side of the hostages, thank God, seems to be pretty much in order. None of them have life-threatening ailments that was identified at the initial medical check.

Now, I think, as you very covered it so well, they're going to be going through a mental roller coaster. Again, this is the side that we don't see. This is the side that's going to take time to unfold. They're reuniting with their families. And these are all people who do not know the extent of October 7th.

What the entire world knows, these 13 people and the other 11 foreign nationals do not understand what has happened, the conflict, the more than 1,000 people that were killed, their relatives that were missing and killed, that they don't have homes to go back to. This is what these people have to go through.


And it is going to be a process from a health perspective that's going to be unfolding. And as a nation, we're going to be embracing these people. And then we have to realize tomorrow and the next day and the next day, as God willing this moves forward, we'll need to multiply this again and again.

I think this is a challenge that few countries have had to deal with on this type of scale. And that's what we're trying to prepare for.

COLLINS: Well, given how long that process is going to take, I mean, what kind of services is Israel prepared to offer to these hostages as you're not just in the short-term, but dealing with the long-term trauma of what they've just been through?

SPIELMAN: These people will be taken care of in many ways for life. Israel, unfortunately, is not new to trauma. We've had rocket attacks from Hamas for, you know, 20,000, 30,000 rockets. We have many people who have gone through trauma and shock, maybe not to this degree. And Israel, unfortunately, knows this area very, very well.

When it comes to this, we provide ongoing support, counseling, psychological, financial support. And there is a community of families in this country that are survivors of terrorism that come and work with these families. And they almost joined a community of people that gives them support. It is one of the strongest parts of Israel. This is perseverance. And we embrace these people when these horrible things happen.

Again, what we're hoping for, as this is you mentioned, it's a bittersweet moment. I think those are the correct words. Here, we're going to be working day and night for years to come with these people.

Really, the question is the people that we don't know about. We don't know, as the president said, if they're dead or alive. We don't know where those other 220 hostages are. And when this pause ends, we're going to go back to our operational goal of trying to defeat Hamas in order to put pressure on them, to hopefully enable those people to come home as well.

COLLINS: Well, before this pause is over, if all expectations go as planned right now, there are still 37 more hostages at least, maybe more nationals, as we saw several of these other nationals also being released that were also being held hostage today. Based on how the first round go, what is your assessment of how the next hostages that are expected to be released in just a matter of hours from now, tomorrow, how that's going to go? Any issues that you have seen on the horizon?

SPIELMAN: I think the biggest fear is that Hamas is going to break this framework, break this truce. We certainly are upholding it. The IDF are not firing. We're not in an offensive position, we're in a defensive position.

Hamas has insisted that we're not doing surveillance. So they're up to no good. Obviously, they're not, you know, turning into a human rights organization overnight. And they're not going to probably mend their ways. And the biggest fear is that this truce will be broken by them because we will protect any Israeli civilian.

From an ongoing perspective, we will be evaluating the health, the physical and mental health of everybody that comes out of there. And also, it's important to note, trying to gather more and more intelligence what is the fate of all those other people in Gaza, including the Americans and the other 20 countries that are represented. So that is what we're here for.

It's somewhat spontaneous, and we're going to have to deal with the punches as they come, but we are positioned to do so. We have the professional staff. And we are experienced. That is exactly what we'll try to do.

COLLINS: Obviously, these hostages are processing a lot, the ones that are back in Israel tonight. But have you learned anything from them about the condition of how those other hostages are being held if they were indeed kept underground? Anything about what the last several weeks have been like for them?

SPIELMAN: It's going to be an ongoing process. We are, of course, going to be debriefing every single one of these hostages, but it has to be done so delicately because they were certainly kept in the dark. Otherwise, we would have seen them, most of them with that Hamas video that you showed and correctly explained that it's a propaganda piece.

If you -- we noticed Hamas only shows us when those people are coming out of the cars, and they're carrying those elderly women, and putting those arms around Ohad. Those same people dragged them into Gaza. And we don't see the journey of those people.

Those people were taken from the heart of Gaza, southern Gaza most likely, underneath the ground, taken out from tunnels that go for miles and miles until they reached daylight, until their eyes adjusted. And then they were taken in the car. Only when Hamas found that last 30 seconds did they show that video.

And so the trauma that these people have been through is probably something none of us can imagine. It's going to take time to unfold. And when we're able to assess this from an intelligence point of view and debrief them, we'll do so. And, of course, we will act on that and it will improve our success, hopefully, at bringing the rest of the hostages home.


COLLINS: Can you confirm what we're hearing that Israel has, indeed, gotten that list of names that are expected to be part of the hostages released tomorrow?

SPIELMAN: I've been hearing the media reports. Just like yourself, I don't have the specifics. It would follow reason, similar to yesterday. And what happens is an ongoing process, where certain families are ultimately notified.

This is, as we can imagine, such a tense process because you have the families of 230 people, all of whom are waiting for their children, for their wives, for their mothers, for their grandmothers. And therefore, the process has to be done with enormous sensitivity to prepare the family whose relatives are hopefully coming home and also prepare them that, until they're in their hands, nothing is for sure.

We do not trust Hamas. As the president of the United States said, Hamas doesn't give a damn about these people. And I quote him, and he's correct. Therefore, we prepare them. Until they're in their hands, we don't know, and we have to support the other families. Also, at the same time, the relatives are not on that list.

This is a horrific situation. It harkens back to lists of World War II and the holocaust, who's in and who isn't. But there's a ray of hope, which is that we're getting some of our people home.

COLLINS: Yes, certainly, a bittersweet moment for some of these families. Major Doron Spielman, thank you for your time tonight.

SPIELMAN: Thank you very much.

COLLINS: The other exchange that we saw happening today that was also part of this deal, three Palestinian prisoners in Israel being released for every single freed hostage. That is part of this agreement. Today, we saw 39 of them returning, being released from being held in these Israeli prisons.

CNN's Nima Elbagir is in east Jerusalem. And, Nima, obviously, we have been watching this just as closely as watching the hostages being released. What more do we know about these 39 Palestinian prisoners? And what it was like when they were released today?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question. Unfortunately, for Palestinian families, they have not been able to express the joy that so many of us have watched the hostage families express because Israel's national security minister issued a diktat, which has been successful to varying degrees.

In the West Bank, they weren't able to control the Palestinian crowds away from prisoners. They heard they were issued a diktat that any Palestinian expressing joy over the return of these prisoners that that was, in and of itself, a terrorist act because he said, these are terrorists. And therefore, this is a celebration of a terrorist victory.

Except when you look through the list, Kaitlan, by the Israeli government's own reckoning, out of the 24 women released and the 15 minors, most of them were detained for extensive periods of time, in some cases, without any charge. Six of them were under administrative detention, which allows Israel to just continue holding Palestinians indefinitely.

And of those who were sentenced, there's a lot of concern around how those trials went forward. A young lady, Malak Suleiman, who is from east Jerusalem here, at 16, Israeli officers said they searched her bag and found a knife. She was sentenced to jail for convicted murder. And her parents have spent all these years trying to get this to the Israeli supreme court.

Today, when her mother was welcoming Malak home, she could not do it outside. And I want you to take a look at this video, Kaitlan. This is the moment that mother and daughter were reunited.

(MALAK SULEIMAN screaming and crying while hugging her mother.)

ELBAGIR: You can hear the anguish, the hopelessness and kind of joy that perhaps is almost, in a way, sad because you didn't expect that this government -- these ministers are demonizing Palestinian pain and establishing that they are terrorists so that they can make no distinction between Hamas and Palestinian civilians -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. You can almost see just the disbelief in the mom's face there as she's being reunited with her. Nima Elbagir, it's quite a moment. Thank you for that report.

Up next, I'll speak to one of the families of the hostages who was not included in today's release. They are continuing to hold out hope that their loved ones will come home, right after a quick break.



COLLINS: As many families are being reunited with their loved ones, for others tonight, the anguish is continuing because they are still waiting on the word of the fate of their loved ones, who are still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza tonight.

Joining me is one of those family members. Moshe Lavi, his sister Lishay Miran and her two daughters were rescued by IDF soldiers on October 7th. But Hamas is still holding his brother-in-law, Omri, hostage in Gaza. And he joins me tonight.

I can't even imagine the mixed emotions that you and your family felt as you watched these 13 Israeli hostages, the Thai nationals, the Filipino, all making it back to Israel tonight. What was that like for you?

MOSHE LAVI, BROTHER-IN-LAW HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: I think, for us, for me, it was a relatively happy day in the midst of this ongoing tragedy, nightmare we're experiencing, because we saw finally some development of releasing a significant number of hostages -- seeing these people, some of the most vulnerable hostages returning home.

But what happened is it's mixed with our personal agony and despair for the fact Omri will not be returning home and most likely not any time soon. He will not be included in this deal. And many like Omri -- and I speak on their behalf here today as well -- are still waiting for verdict. They're in, like, a purgatory, if you may, waiting for the sentence of whether they can return home or not.


COLLINS: I know you met with Red Cross officials today. Did they give you any indication of a hope of, you know, whether or not they will actually be able to go and tend to these other hostages who are not being released? There's been some skepticism here in Israel about whether or not that will -- that contact will actually happen.

LAVI: Yes. I met with the head delegate of ICRC to the UN earlier this week, not today. But at the time, they were showing us what they are doing in order to ensure they can receive proof of life and be able to visit the hostages in Hamas captivity.

We believe that the agreement included for allowing the ICRC to visit the hostages. But according to recent reports -- and we are fed by the media. Sadly, we're not fed by officials who are confirming this. The Red reports today that Hamas will not honor that clause. And we worry that, indeed, the ICRC will not have access to them.

My sister wrote a letter to Omri. I've read it yesterday. My heart broke. I really hope you'll be able to receive that letter, at least that, and eventually, of course, return to us -- return to her.

COLLINS: Can you share some of what she wanted to say to him with us?

LAVI: She shared with him developments at home, how Alma is already seven months old now, how Roni is already speaking.

Sadly, also sharing some of the violence she experienced on that October 7th, when Hamas terrorists barged into their home and abused them and their daughters, but also share their hope, their optimism, how much she misses him -- misses him dearly, and how much she and Roni every night have a ceremony of going outside looking at the stars and cry for Omri to return. And they're waiting for that moment where they won't need to cry out of despair, but cry out of joy and hug him, hold Roni and Alma together.

COLLINS: That's just heartbreaking. How are the kids doing? I mean, without their dad there, I just can't even imagine.

LAVI: Yes, it's very difficult. I will start by saying all our family is displaced. All the immediate family was displaced on October 7th -- my parents, my other sister, and her family.

Luckily, my parents were able to reunite with my sister, Lishay. And they're with her, supporting her right now and supporting the girls as well.

Alma is only seven months old, so she's not able to really express the trauma she went through. But Roni, as a two and a half years old, definitely can. Lishay and Roni received that professional support they need at the moment. And we are there for Roni.

This week, Roni received some gifts from her uncle in America, myself, and she was so joyful. I think it was one of the first times I saw her so happy. It filled my heart with such warmth after such a long time. But she needs more than that. She needs her dad to return home.

Omri was the one who took care of the girls on a regular basis because he let Lishay develop a career in an academic institution in Israel, where she was heading a program to integrate Bedouin -- Muslim-Israeli citizens in academia. So, he was raising the girls as part of his daily routine. And so Roni misses him so much.

COLLINS: Yes, he's a girl dad. You're a great uncle. And I'm grateful to you for coming on to talk tonight about something that is so painful and bittersweet for your family. And we will make sure that we are continuing to ask Israeli officials -- all the officials we are speaking to -- about that Red Cross contact with your brother-in-law, the other hostages.

Moshe Lavi, thank you for your time tonight.

LAVI: Thank you. And just one last message from me. I want to call for all the relevant stakeholders, the Israeli government, the US government, Qatar, all the other international stakeholders, international community, and the wider public to understand this is humanitarian plea. The hostages are above any toxic political discourse. Let's unite to bring them home to their families. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you for that. Thank you for joining us.


As we looked at this group of hostages who were brought, no Americans were included in that. The White House had been hopeful that they would be. None were there in those final numbers. We did hear from the President shortly after though is hostages made it back on Israeli soil saying today is only a start. The question, of course, is will they be on tomorrow's list? Back in a moment.


COLLINS: You are now watching a special edition of the source tonight. I'm Kaitlan Collins live in Tel Aviv. Right now, 24 hostages are free tonight after nearly 50 days of captivity in Gaza. None of them are American. And while President Biden said today that he makes no guarantees, he does remain hopeful that at least some of the hostages who are released as a part of this deal that has been struck between Hamas and Israel will be Americans.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is covering the President as he is on his Thanksgiving vacation in Nantucket where we heard from him today. Arlette, what else did we hear from the President?


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, President Biden welcomed the news of this first wave of hostages released by Hamas saying that this is just simply the start of the process. But he said officials do feel like things went well.

Of course, everyone had been focused on the actual implementation of this deal and whether the protocols and plans that they had agreed to would be followed, and President Biden today say that things are proceeding as they had hoped.

But so far, even as there are about two dozen hostages who had been released, there were no Americans who were included in that figure. President Biden to that day, said that he was still hopeful that they would be able to get three Americans out that includes two women, as well as four-year-old Abigail Edan, whose parents were killed in the October 7th attack by Hamas.

But President Biden was not able to provide any detail on what exactly he believes those Americans would be led out. He said they don't have a list of names. They don't have a timeline just yet. And we are still waiting to hear from the White House tonight whether they have set eyes on that list that was provided to Israel on Friday going into Saturday.

But President Biden did say that he is hopeful as Americans and other hostages will get out. He also said that there is a chance that this four-day pause could potentially be extended even longer to get more hostages out. He said he may be even more than the 50 women and children that were initially agreed to.

The President also use this speech as a chance to thank his counterparts. They had worked within the region, the Qataris, the Egyptians, and also the Israelis, saying that he is hoping to maintain that contact to ensure that this deal stays on track.

COLLINS: Arlette Saenz we'll continue to check in with you as we are hearing the President he's getting briefed.

Joining me now is former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Good to talk to you again tonight, Ambassador. What do you make of just first on the release of these hostages today? What these people are coming home to as so many of them are just now going to be able to find out about, you know, the depths of the horrors on October 7th?

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Good to be with you, Kaitlan. Indeed, and I think there's a marked contrast between the release of hostages to Israel and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. First of all, you're talking about a one-hand hostages, innocent people who are taking separated of the families, in some cases, their families were killed, as opposed to people who were tried as accessories to terrorism or people actually tried to carry out terrorist attacks and released. And, you know, they come home to Palestinian families that are celebrating. Our hostages are coming home to sadness, to -- there's nobody rejoicing. Everyone is relieved that these people have been brought home. But as long as we have 170, 180 hostages remaining in Gaza, no one's going to be rejoicing tonight.

And so there's a sense of that relief, but also have great tensions and the trenches are just not of the families of the hostages, it's the families of the state entirely because there's a tremendous risk being taken here. Clearly, Hamas is going to use this time to reorganize, to regroup, to set more booby traps.

And we're -- the government is in a position of a one-hand, gaining a life of a hostage but on the other hand risking and perhaps losing a life of soldiers. And that's a grave risk. And also, the long term risk that if this pressures mount on Israel to agree to a longer ceasefire without a hostage release, then it can risk a situation where Hamas wins.

Hamas gets away with mass murder. And Israel will not be able to restore its internal security. We have 250,000 people have been removed from their homes, can't go back to their homes, because Hamas has promised if it gets away with that mass murder to try again and again. So it's full of risks, full of tensions. We're very happy these hostages are coming home. But it's far, far from the end.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, I should note some of those Palestinian prisoners, they were held on no charges. They were being detained, but it wasn't clear what their charges were. But given what you just said, what President Biden said earlier that stood out to me, he said the chances are real based on what he saw today that this pause could turn in to a longer ceasefire, could open the door for that. Do you -- what do you make of that? Is that something that Israel is open to?

OREN: Yes, Israel said that it would give an extra day of ceasefire for every 10 hostages released. I think that would be a good deal. But we can't delude ourselves. At the end of the day, Hamas is not going to release all the hostages, because that is their ultimate human shield.

If Hamas were to lose all the hostages, then we could proceed to, for example, flood the tunnels with sea water. That's what the Egyptians used to do, and do away with Hamas. We can't do that. So Hamas is always going to keep these hostages as its, you know, sort of get out of Gaza free card.

And the end could be, I mean, ideally, something similar to what happened in 1982 in Beirut, when the Israeli army laid siege to that city, and the PLO under Yasser Arafat was evacuated from that city on ships.

OK, Hamas can go wherever the heck they want to go. They can go to Algeria, then go to Libya, just give us all the hostages back. I think that was a deal that Israelis would accept. But barring that, the army is going to have to proceed with its stated objective of destroying Hamas. [20:40:07]

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see what the pressure internationally on that looks like, of course, still taking this a day at a time.

Ambassador Michael Oren, as always, thank you for joining tonight.

OREN: Thank you, Kaitlan. Good night.

COLLINS: The release of these hostages also means a temporary pause in the fighting, as you heard the ambassador say there. But today, the Israeli military told people who were in southern Gaza not to move north. It's something trying to do amid that pause in the fighting. What could be on the horizon in Gaza? We'll dig into that right after a quick break.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The truce in Israel and Gaza remains a tense one. Israeli forces clashed with dozens of Palestinians outside a prison in the West Bank. Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd before 39 Palestinian women and teenagers were released.

I'm joined now by Retired U.S. Army Major General James "Spider" Marks. Thanks for coming on. So, tell us, first off, give us the big picture look. At what this sort of pause is like for Israeli troops, especially those within Gaza, and the potential setbacks that this could lead to for them?


MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Pamela, first of all, the thing of a pause of ceasefire while troops are exposed in Gaza really surrenders the momentum of the IDF to Hamas. You want to maintain -- once you've achieved some momentum in combat on the offense, you want to maintain that offensive posture, you want to keep going, you want to keep conducting those missions.

The last thing you want to do is cease work, stop, start to dig in and revert to the defensive posture, which is the only alternative at this point. And that's what -- there is no pause in the military doctrine. And there is jargon that describes pause, either attack or you defend. And now the IDF is defending in place.

What that gives Hamas? Really, I would say, bluntly, Hamas wins in this particular case. They get to resupply, they get to reposition, they get to improve their positions, they get to improve their sniper positions, the use of their ambushes, many call them booby traps. They continue to have a posture that, over the course of this pause, this ceasefire, they will only improve and the IDF will lose that momentum. That's what's most significant.

I think, Pamela, at the strategic level, what we are seeing, very sadly, is the change of the center of gravity from the destruction of Hamas to the recovery of hostages. And right now, we're seeing that this pause, the return of hostages, the exchange of prisoners, is going to take time. There might even be an extension of this time.

And the IDF is -- and the international clamor is for the return of the hostages and the cease of the destruction of Gaza. I don't think anybody loves Hamas, but a lot of people love the Palestinians, and they should. But the challenge is Israel cannot extract Hamas from the Palestinian population. And that's what we're ending up with right now.

BROWN: Right. And you point out that Israel has said it could extend this pause depending on whether Hamas would release more hostages. So the longer a potential pause goes, does it just become harder and harder for IDF to get back to the posture that it was in before?

MARKS: Yes, it does. It's like you're stuck in the mud. How are you going to get out of there? How are you going to return to the offensive when you know that your enemy has improved his position over the course, you know, this interregnum from they were getting -- really, they were on their heels considerably to a point where they have now been able to bolster themselves.

It makes it incredibly difficult. And the IDF is a professional military. I mean, they'll be able to handle this, but it really surrenders the momentum. And you have this sense of atrophy. And morale in combat is so incredibly important. And I would guarantee at the 18 and 19-year-old soldier level, they're sitting there wondering, what did we give up?

Of course we're going to get hostages back. That's a strategic discussion. But the soldiers are at risk. They're still in the middle of Gaza. They are targets --

BROWN: Right.

MARKS: -- for Hamas.

BROWN: And just really quickly on that because we're running out of time, but there's other groups as well, other Islamic jihad groups in Gaza. So, like, what if one of them takes a shot at a soldier, you know, what happens then?

MARKS: Of course. And -- yes, exactly, Pamela. And I would guarantee you there is no trust between the IDF and Hamas. Absolutely zero. And there's very little control over Hamas soldiers on the ground. And all those other terrorist organizations, they don't take directives from anybody except at the strategic level from Iran. That's where their funding comes from.

But on the ground, you have the level of chaos that you just described. That's what makes it so risky.

BROWN: Yes, very delicate, fragile, tenuous situation right now.

Thank you so much, Major General James "Spider" Marks. We appreciate it.

And we also know that 39 -- MARKS: Thank you.

BROWN: -- Palestinian women and children were released from three prisons as part of this agreement. What we're learning about them, up next.



BROWN: Today, 39 Palestinian women and minorities were freed from Israeli prisons as part of the agreement. Crowds gathered in the West Bank cheering the release. But as CNN's Nada Bashir reports, the joy is complicated by the fear and the anguish over the deaths in Gaza.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A joyous celebration as 23- year-old Malak Suleiman finally arrived home in East Jerusalem after six years in an Israeli prison, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison at the age of 17 for attempted murder.

Police say they found a knife in her possession near the old city of Jerusalem. It is a charge she and her family have long denied.

Suleiman is one of 39 prisoners, all women and minors released from jails in Israel on Friday in exchange for the release of two dozen hostages who had been held by Hamas in Gaza.

(on-camera): We saw many of those detainees now released, those prisoners now released, rather, being carried on people's shoulders to the municipality building where a number of their family members were weighted among them. 15 miners who are released are being carried up this road on people's shoulders, too much cheering and celebration, even fireworks being set off.

We've also been speaking to people including relatives who say they didn't want to see these crowds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This celebration is not necessary. They need to be mindful of us in Gaza. This celebration is wrong. I am torn to pieces. Have a little mercy on us. They can be joyful but the joy is in the heart because we are dying in Gaza. Have some respect for us a little.

BASHIR (voice-over): The release of this first group of Palestinian prisoners comes as Israel and Hamas begin a four-day truce. A window of desperately needed respite for civilians in Gaza.


According to Hamas run health authorities in Gaza, nearly 15,000 Palestinians in the enclave have been killed over the last seven weeks alone. Israel says it is targeting Hamas in response to the terrorist attack of October 7th, which killed more than 1,200 Israeli citizens. But in Gaza, it is civilians that are paying the highest price. More than 8,000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, including more than 3,000, according to the Palestinian commission for detainees and ex-prisoners affairs, held under administrative detention. Meaning, no clear charges, and no clear legal process.

But for those gathered in the occupied West Bank on Friday night, this is a welcome moment of in their eyes, long overdue justice.

UM TARIQ, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN CITIZEN: People want to gather and be together in this moment. And, however, folks internalize that in terms of their own emotional sort of reaction to it, that's that's for them to speak to. But I think people want to be here to be together to welcome home these prisoners. And that's part of the spirit of being Palestinian.

BASHIR (voice-over): With over 100 Palestinian prisoners still set for release over the next few days, scenes like this are expected to continue. There's some say at too high a price.

Nada Bashir, CNN, in Jerusalem.


BROWN: And next hour, the very latest on what's to come and tomorrow's hostage release, it's set to begin in just a few hours. We're going to speak to an Israeli official live. And for family members whose loved ones were murdered on October 7th, what has today been like for them? We'll find out ahead.