Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Four-Year-Old American Abigail Edan Among Hostages Freed Today; Group Of 17 Israeli And Foreign Hostages Released; Interview With Israeli Ambassador To The United States Michael Herzog. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired November 26, 2023 - 12:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I said when I spoke about this deal on Friday, this has been the product of a lot of hard work and weeks of personal engagement for me and my team. We've been in close contact with the leaders of Qatar, Egypt and Israel, speaking with each one of them repeatedly over the past few weeks to help secure this deal.

We spoke again yesterday with the emir of Qatar who I owe a special thanks to, in order to keep the hostage release on track and push for Abigail to be a part of this release, and I'll be speaking again shortly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and we continue to remain personally, personally engaged to see that this deal is fully implemented and work to extend the deal, as well.

For weeks, I've been advocating the pause in the fighting for two purposes, to increase the assistance getting into the Gazan civilians who need help and to facilitate release of hostages. We know that innocent children in Gaza are suffering greatly, as well because this war that Hamas has unleashed has had such consequences. Thousands have been killed.

And from the earliest days of this crisis, I've worked closely with President Sisi of Egypt, the Israeli government, King Abdullah of Jordan, and leaders throughout the region, the expand the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance, to help innocent Palestinians in need who are not part of Hamas.

Under this deal, the fighting in Gaza has now been paused for three days. Over that team, 58 hostages have been released including Thai, Filipino, and Russian nationals. Dozens of families have been reunited, and we worked urgently, urgently to take advantage of the pause to surge aid into Gaza. We've moved approximately 200 aid trucks into Gaza each day, loaded with food, water, medicine, fuel, and cooking gas.

More is needed, but this is delivering life-saving results. Critically needed aid is going in and hostages are coming out, and this deal was structured so that it can be extended to keep building on these results. That's my goal. That's our goal to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into -- into those -- who in need in Gaza.

We've seen this is the day by day approach, hour by hour process, and nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is being taken for granted, but the proof that this is working and worth pursuing further is in every smile and every grateful tear we see on the faces of those families who are finally getting back together again. The proof is little Abigail. More than 20 other children 18 years and younger have been released. They've been released through this deal, as well. They've endured a terrible ordeal. They can now begin the long journey toward healing.

I'm going to continue working with the emir of Qatar, President Sisi of Egypt and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to do everything possible to see the hostages are freed, all of the hostages.

I am grateful for the personal partnership as we go through this deal they just mentioned. As we work together to see all of this implemented and now to try to extend it further. I'll continue working with all our partners to take the hard, but necessary steps to build an integrated and more prosperous and more peaceful future in the region. A two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long- term security of both Israelis and Palestinian people, to make sure Israel and Palestinians alike live in equal measure of freedom and dignity. We'll not give up on working toward that goal.

But thank you very much. Thank God she's home. Little -- I guess can't imagine the enjoyment and the -- I just -- I wish I were there to hold her.

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have an update on the other Americans who are being held and any sense as to when they will be released?

BIDEN: We are hopeful, but I don't have anything firmly to tell you at this moment.

REPORTER: Sir, do you expect that if you are able to use this momentum to extend the pause, have you extracted any guarantees about proof of life or other hostages or do you have an expectation of how much longer you can push this pause?

BIDEN: Well, look, you know the deal calls for every -- for every ten hostages released we'll extend another day. So I'm hopeful this is not the end, that it's going to continue, but we don't know, and -- but I get a sense that all of the players in the region and even the neighbors that have been directly involved now and looking for a way for the hostages to be released and Hamas is completely -- how can I say it, no longer in control of any portion of Gaza.


REPORTER: Do they have control of all of the hostages or are there still other militant groups you have to deal with?

BIDEN: We think there are other militant groups, but we're not certain.

REPORTER: Mr. President, how is Abigail doing? What her physical condition? Do you have any information?

BIDEN: I haven't gotten that information. I just wanted to let you know. They were going to cross into Egypt, as you recall. That was en route, but an older, non-American elderly woman is very sick and was in need of immediate medical help so they arranged for her to cross directly to Israel to take her to a hospital.

All I know is she has been held. I don't know. I haven't seen a photograph and I've just been in communication with my team, but she is safely ensconced in Israel, but there is a lot more work to be done.

REPORTER: How many days would you like to see the pause go on for?

BIDEN: I would like to see us move to a point where we are able to -- well, let me put it this way, I'd like to see the pause go on as long as prisoners keep coming out.

All right. Thank you very much. I know we have to call you -- I know he calls me with only ten minutes or so. That's the notice I get because we didn't know -- I don't want to be having this press conference if they weren't physically, even when they were in the Red Cross ambulance, I didn't want to do it because they were not out. They were still in Gaza. So I don't thank you enough, but thanks for your patience.

REPORTER: We're here any time, sir.

REPORTER: Happy holidays.

BIDEN: Happy holidays to you, guys.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: You've been watching President Biden speak from Nantucket, Massachusetts, to deliver the good news, very good news that 4-year-old Abigail Edan is now back in the hands of Israelis.

She is an Israeli-American child. Her parents were murdered by Hamas terrorists in front of her. She was just 3. She just had her birthday.

That, of course, happened on October 7th. Abigail is part of the today's 17 hostages released by Hamas to begin making their way home. This is according to the Israeli Defense Forces. This group includes 17 hostages total, 13 Israeli citizens and three Thai citizens and one other and they are all now in the care of Israelis.

In the exchange, Israel will release 13 Palestinian prisoners on Sunday. That is according to an official out of Qatar. This is all coming as we learn more about the conditions where these hostages are being kept, that at least some did not get enough food and have signs of malnourishment.

Let's go straight to CNN's Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, I just want to underscore what the really important good news that this baby, 4-year- old girl is now back in Israel, that this is not a time to praise Hamas. It's to remember the barbaric actions to kill her parents right in front of her and then take her hostage. And, of course, it's wonderful that she is okay and will be okay, but just to remember all those who were killed and did not make it out.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's exactly right, Dana. I mean, as -- as great as it is, as incredible as it is to know that she is now out, it is important to remember that she has been orphaned by the terrible terrorist attack that Hamas carried out 50 days ago on October 7th. But nonetheless, Dana, we are learning that the convoy of 12 Israeli hostages, one of them was already flown directly to a hospital because of that urgent medical situation that the president just talked about, but 12 of those Israeli hostages freed as part of this deal between Israel and Hamas are, in fact, now, in a convoy on the way to the Hatzerim air base.

And, in fact, Dana, we expect that they will be coming down this road on their way to the air base and hopefully we'll be able to take those pictures live, but it is such an incredible sentiment not only to see that these hostages are being freed and as we see the pictures of newly freed hostages being reunited with their families. I mean, for me, the image of 9-year-old Ohad (ph) sticks in my mind as he runs into his father's arms and we are seeing more of those images. And thankfully. we will see those images tonight and tomorrow, as well.

But we have shown the fragility of this truce between Israel and Hamas, the number of issues that arose as those hostages were waiting to be released and think about the fact also that their families had been notified that they would be released.


And then there's this multiple hours of delay which must have been excruciating for those families. Thankfully, eventually, that deal did come to fruition. Those hostages were released.

And today, Dana, we did not get any indication that any major issues arose in the implementation of this deal and the fact that they were able to change plans, it seems, rather than taking through the Kerem Shalom crossing, taking them instead to a point in central Gaza for them to cross over into Israel because of the urgent medical situation does show this deal does appear to be working. The implementation of this deal appears to be working and now, Dana, the question is whether or not this will be extended.

Tomorrow will be the fourth day of the pause in fighting, the fourth day that we expect of hostages being released and there is the possibility to extend that into a second phase and we will see whether or not these officials, these mediators are able to secure that so more hostages can get out of Gaza.

BASH: OK. Jeremy, thank you so much. Let us know when you see the motorcade go by you. We appreciate it.

And for more on all of this, maybe to help answer one of those questions that Jeremy just put out there, is Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog. Thank you so much for being here.

First, your reaction to what we're seeing here and to what President Biden just said, which is, effectively, that this deal with returning hostages, pause in the Israeli military action, is working.


This is the third day that we see the release of hostages. And we welcome the release of each and every one of them and would like to see more. Tomorrow is the fourth day. And if Hamas is willing to or able to release additional hostages, then there will be an extended pause.


And what the president also said is that he hopes that this pause will continue as long as the hostages are freed. So, you think that it could be extended day by day, not just...

HERZOG: It could be extended day by day. We -- the deal was 50 hostages, four days of pause.

And for each and every -- if they produce 10 hostages, they get another day of pause. So that's the key. That's the deal. And we will see tomorrow if they are willing to release additional hostages.

BASH: Thirty-nine Palestinian prisoners, we're told, were released today.

Do you intend to, along with the potential release of Israeli hostages or civilian hostages who are held in Gaza, to continue to release Palestinian prisoners?

HERZOG: The short answer is yes.

Let me just refer to that and remind everybody that the prisoners that we released are people who are convicted for participating in terror attacks. Let's don't forget that Yahya Sinwar was released in such a deal by Israel in 2011. Look what you got.

BASH: Yes, well, a lot of them are accused. Some of -- are -- some are convicted, but some have not yet been adjudicated. I think that's fair to say.

HERZOG: They went through a legal process in Israel. We didn't kidnap them.

BASH: That is true.

HERZOG: We don't arrest people just for nothing.

BASH: That's a very important distinction.

The American Abigail is -- the fact that she turned 4 in captivity, and she -- as I mentioned, her parents were murdered in front of her. It is incredible news that she is back. There are other Americans, dual citizens, who are in Gaza.

Do you have any indication that any of the hostages who just came over across the border are also American?

HERZOG: We know only about Abigail in this deal. We know about at least two additional American women held in captivity by Hamas.

But we can't tell whether or not they will be released in the coming days, because Hamas gives us a list every day for the next day. So we will see. I'm hopeful that they too will be released.

BASH: So, as far as you know, just to put a fine point on it, of the 17 hostages that just came across the border, only Abigail is an American?



The family of one of the hostages already freed before today told CNN that this hostage lost more than 13 pounds after enduring days with little food during her captivity. What is Israel's understanding of the condition of the others who have been released?

HERZOG: We are taking all of them to hospitals, where they undergo medical and psychological tests. They were kept in deep tunnels in very bad conditions.


So, even though they got food and so on, we all understand what it means to be in such a tunnel for -- for dozens of days. I don't envy anybody.


And do you have any idea yet -- understanding their health and welfare is the number one priority, but do you have any idea yet whether they have any information that they even know about that they were aware of where they were being held?

HERZOG: They are being debriefed, but I don't think this is something that we want to discuss in public.

BASH: I understand.

This initial exchange has just been men and women held in Gaza. Do you know if there's any discussion under way to expand that to male hostages?

HERZOG: This deal pertains to women and children. That's the deal.

And to the extent that Hamas is willing to discuss an additional deal pertaining to men, we just have to wait and see. Right now, we're in this deal.

BASH: But have you gotten any indication about whether or not Hamas is willing?

I mean, I understand that what you said, what Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser for President Biden, said to me this morning, was that this is in Hamas' court whether or not this truce will be extended.

HERZOG: It is their court. And we will have to see whether or not they are willing to extend the deal...

BASH: Do you have any indication...

HERZOG: ... to additional categories.

Right now, I think it's too -- it's premature to discuss that.

BASH: Premature, even though it's just a day away?



If Hamas does not agree to extend the truce, will Israel immediately resume its military campaign in Gaza?

HERZOG: So, let me be very clear here. This is a pause. It's not a cease-fire.

Israel cannot and will not allow itself to stop pushing against Hamas to remove that threat following October 7, because we cannot allow ourselves to have Hamas continue to rule Gaza, rearm, regroup and strike again. And they will do so, because they did so five times since they took over Gaza in 2007. And they are saying that they will do so.

So we have to continue to dismantle their military infrastructure and their leadership in Gaza, and we will not stop.

BASH: So the answer is, yes, the military operation will resume.

HERZOG: The answer is, yes, the military operation will resume, not before we ascertain that we released as many hostages as we can.

The court -- the ball is in Hamas' court, as Jake told you. But once we reach the conclusion that they are unwilling to release more hostages, we will resume our operations in Gaza.

BASH: Talk about the balancing act between that and the very real frustration, anger and pain that you are understandably hearing from the families of hostages who still have their loved one across the border in bad conditions in Gaza.

HERZOG: This is a very big issue for Israel. Israel is in a national trauma since October 7, and we still have following this deal close to 200 or around 200 hostages held in Gaza.

And, of course, the families are in pain, and they are anxious, and they expect the government to continue to work for their release. I will say that all of us in Israel believe that this deal was made possible by our military action in Gaza, because it applied tremendous pressure on Hamas and got them to release hostages.

And we will have to see how we take it from here.

BASH: There are twin goals -- and you just mentioned them -- that at times are competing with one another.

You want to completely eliminate Hamas, particularly its military capability, but also return the hostages. Are those twin goals actually achievable at the same time?

HERZOG: I don't think that they contradict each one.

As I said, we believe, we strongly believe that this deal was made possible by our military pressure. And that's what we intend to do. We intend to continue to pressure Hamas in order to get the release of all of our hostages.

BASH: I want to ask you about civilian deaths inside Gaza.

The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Ministry of Health says more than 14,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, including thousands of children. Now, I understand, A, that Hamas uses civilians as human shields, and, also, you say that those numbers can't be trusted.

So how many Palestinian civilians does Israel think have been killed so far?

HERZOG: We're not sure about the exact number, and I don't think anybody knows the exact number.


Those figures are put out by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

BASH: Right. So, that's why I ask you.

HERZOG: We're not sure. And it's not beyond them to lie about the numbers. And nobody really knows what is a breakdown between innocent civilians and terrorists.

Many of the terrorists also put on civilian clothes. And nobody really knows.

BASH: Well, let's just talk about children.

HERZOG: So, obviously...

BASH: They're not terrorists.

HERZOG: Obviously -- obviously, there are civilians killed in that war. And that's very tragic.

And we -- it's a tragedy, the loss of every human life. It's not our intention to hit them. We cannot provide immunity to Hamas just because they hide behind civilian population or build a whole terror infrastructure, 500 kilometers of tunnels underneath civilian population, not as shelters for the population, but as shelters for their leadership, rockets and so on.

That's the sad reality we face in Gaza. What I'm saying is that...

BASH: But it sounds like you're saying too many civilians have died.

HERZOG: Yes, there were -- there were -- every civilian loss is a tragedy.

What I'm saying is, this is the unintended consequences of a legitimate war that we are fighting in Gaza. We are doing everything possible to minimize civilian loss of life. We do not target civilians. And I think time tell what is the exact number and how many are terrorists.

I will tell you that, on October 7, Hamas sent 3,000 terrorists into Israel. We are still counting the bodies of Hamas terrorists from that day. We already have over 1,100 terrorists, the bodies of terrorists, in Israel.

And I tell you that Hamas counts them in the number of people dead in Gaza. So, I urge everybody to be cautious. I'm not saying there's no collateral damage, there are no civilian casualties. There are.

But, again, this is the -- the unintended consequence of a legitimate war.

BASH: Yes, and we are cautious, which is why I wanted to ask if Israel had a number.

Thank you. I know you're a very busy man. Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate it.

HERZOG: Thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

And again, more hostages are headed home as we speak and for some it's bittersweet. My next guest has family now split between Israel and Gaza. We are covering the breaking news out of Israel. Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Seventeen hostages are on their way as we speak, home, from Gaza. Among them 4-year-old Abigail Edan. CNN has reporters working the very latest on this story, talking to

their sources and physically at the area where we believe these hostages are going to come through.

Jeremy Diamond is one of them.

Jeremy, what are you seeing right now?

DIAMOND: Well, Dana, we are seeing the first police car in a long convoy that we believe is likely carrying these recently freed hostages. Twelve Israeli civilians who were taken hostage 50 days ago recently just crossed into Gaza, and I think we are seeing them now as we arrive. I will move out of the shot so you can capture this moment of these multiple vehicles we're seeing a police car followed by a van, several vans, it appears -- and let's just pause and look at these images.

See if -- yeah. There's people waving. There are people waving from inside these busses, and you can see some of the vehicles again with them, against the Israeli ambulance and the Israeli Red Cross equivalence.

And you just saw multiple vehicles going by. We saw people waving from one of those vans with windows in it and there are long convoys, vehicles with flashing lights and some Israelis who just came here to celebrate this moment. Bee we know that there are people positioned at various junctions en route to the Hatzerim air base where we understand that they will be going there and then bring helicopters from there, Dana, in order to go to hospitals across Israel.

These hospitals have been preparing for their arrival with psychological, social and medical services at the ready. They have established creative rooms, effectively quarantining off portions of the hospital for these hostages to be with their families. And again, there is such an enormous effort with the Israeli government here, but also every single person in Israel feels involve in the release of these hostages, mostly because it is extremely rare to run into somebody in Israel who doesn't know someone who was either killed or taken hostage or injured in the terrible day of October 7th.

And so many Israelis feel united in the sentiment of watching these hostages be able to come home and now, Dana, as we've been talking about the question is, can this last? Will more hostages come home? Will more families feel the joy of seeing their loved ones finally come home for the first time since October 7th?

BASH: I mean, wow, Jeremy. Thank you to you and to your crew there for bringing the world this moment, this moment which is one that people have been waiting for. One of the moments people have been waiting for, for seven weeks now.

I want to ask you, and we just saw live, the whole world did, the convoy coming by and you also mentioned that unlike the previous hostage releases, this was in a different part and this is mid-Gaza. Can you explain that again and also the fact that I believe one of the hostages was taken by helicopter to the hospital? DIAMOND: That's right. We don't know exactly where they crossed over,

but our understanding is it is near the central part of the Gaza Strip.


I can tell you that there is an entrance to Gaza that Israeli forces have been using effectively down this road and that is indeed the direction where they came from, and our understanding is that this was a sort of last-minute change or at least a change that happened earlier in the day.

Over the past two days we've seen all of the hostages go through the Rafah crossing in Egypt, going into Egypt and driving less than two miles to the Kerem Shalom crossing, which isn't an official crossing, but there is a gate to allow people in. They came through there and went into Israel. On Friday, they went to the Hatzerim air base. Yesterday, they went directly to hospitals across Israel.

But today, there was a change and the president talked about this saying there was an urgent medical situation. Our understanding is that one of those hostages needed urgent medical care and was taken by helicopter directly to a hospital in Israel. We don't know which hostage, we don't know what their current condition is, but obviously, some last-minute changes were made and the fact that they were able to pull it off does present enormous promise for the days ahead.

BASH: Jeremy, thanks so much for that excellent reporting and presumably, Abigail Edan was in one of those cars coming through and the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. just told us moments ago that they believe she is the only American citizen being released today.

Jeremy, thank you so much.

I want to go now to Cairo. That's where CNN's Larry Madowo is.

Larry, we just saw what was going on in Israel. You are in Egypt because that is where foreign hostages who were being released today, who are non-Israeli citizens are coming.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. We just saw a short while ago, through the Rafah Crossing, three Thai nationals and one Russian who both were released outside of this framework who have come through the Rafah crossing into Egypt. They got into the bus and are headed to Israel. This is the same crossing that a lot of the hostages, that all of the hostages released yesterday went through, today it was a different direction.

But these are foreign nationals released by Hamas have come through the Rafah crossing into Egypt and onward into Israel. It is important to note that these were part of those released Friday that came out of detention and out of Hamas hands and into Israeli hands and eventually we are seeing this going on, as well.

A spot of the wider pause in fighting which a lot of aid organizations have been calling for. Before October 7th, about 455 aid trucks got into Gaza every day and that almost stopped completely. It's began in a trickle in late October, and since Friday, we've seen hundreds of trucks carrying much-needed humanitarian aid come into Gaza with water, with fuel, with medical supplies and relief items that so many people badly need, 1.7 million people in total.

And so, so far, today, the Egyptians tell us 120 truck made it through the Rafah crossing into Gaza and the Palestinian Red Crescent has confirmed that at least 100 trucks made it to northern Gaza. Now, that's important because yesterday. Hamas delayed the release for several hours complaining partly that not enough aid going to northern Gaza and that's been worst affected by the aerial bombardment and the fighting that happened over the last 50 days or so.

The U.N. is warning that there's a risk of dehydration there, that there is a risk of diseases breaking out, people don't have water, people don't have food and they're consuming water from sometimes unsafe places and that's why this aid is necessary not just for the people but to run the humanitarian infrastructure, the food distribution facilities to run the hospitals and other places where a lot of people have been temporarily settled as they figure out what the next move is, Dana.

BASH: Yes, understandable. It was interesting to hear the president -- President Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan talk about the excruciating detail that they need to go through and the pain that they need to go through as they bring this aid, much-needed aid to civilians across the border into Gaza to make sure that the Hamas terrorists don't take it and use it for their war effort.

Thank you so much. Appreciate your reporting, Larry.

And we're going to take a quick break. We have much more on hostages who are on their way home and what we are learning about their ordeal. That's next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The just-released Hamas hostages are back in Israel. You are looking at them now.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is at a kibbutz outside Tel Aviv where many of those hostages will reunite with their families -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dana, this is a community here at a kibbutz north of Tel Aviv where many of the families of kibbutz Kfar Aza near Gaza have come together since the terror attack on October 7th. I want to be clear here, the families of the hostages released are not here, but these are families they were friends with, a family from the community.

And as you can see behind me there, they have a big screen up. They have been watching very closely all of the developments here as pictures and images and videos have come up of the newly released hostages, they have cheered and we have heard the applause and the cheering and happiness multiple times here over the course of the time we've been here, the past 45 minutes or so.

And this is, why they're here, to be together on this day as their friends, families and hostages and loved ones of the hostages are able to get together at the hospitals where they will meet their own families here and they have celebrated those moments with joy.


Those families coming together again, trying to become more whole again and that's what we've been watching here and we will watch over the course of the day. Every time including those images pop up, you'll hear that applause here. Every time it's the video, including the videos of the crossing and pictures that will come out, you will see that applause here.

It's worth pointing out and I'll step out of the way. You can look in here. You can see on the big screen there all of the families tightly packed, everyone is watching so tightly and closely the developments because these are what they've waited for over the course (AUDIO GAP) it's obviously not everybody and there is still hope for moments of reunion again, but you can feel it here.

BASH: Yeah. I mean, you can feel it through the screen, even with a little bit -- a shot that's a little bit rough, we can still feel it and your description is amazing. Thank you so much for that, Oren.

Let's check in on a family who, in part, was freed this weekend. Eighteen-year-old Noga Weiss and her mother Shiri. They were released yesterday and we want to get right to their cousin Adam Baker to talk about this wonderful news.

Adam, thank you so much for joining us. We are very happy to hear your good news, although I understand that it is bittersweet for lots of reasons, but let's start with Shiri and Noga.

I know that you have not been able to speak to them. What's your understanding of how they're doing?

ADAM BAKER COUSIN OF FREED HOSTAGES SHIRI AND NOGA WEISS: Thank you, Dana. They're traumatized. They are not ready to speak to anyone. Their father is still messing. There's no sign of him, there's no body, there's no official claim that he's a hostage and so that is worse than an open wound.

Their uncle was murdered and he was part of the defense team of the kibbutz, kibbutz Be'eri, and their nephew went out and he was murdered. They're slowly, from what I am being told this from the trauma team that is with them, so I can only imagine that it's going to be close to October 7th all over again for them, and it's only the second chapter of a book that we don't know how many chapters it's going to have.

It's not the end. It's not the middle. It's just the beginning. BASH: The kibbutz Be'eri is one of those where the most brutal,

inhumane, barbaric, I mean, choose your word of horror that that happened, and the fact that Shiri and Noga were taken away. I mean, it is true, until you said it the way you did, it's important to remember that these hostages, as far as we know have been in a bit of a time warp and we don't know what they knew or didn't know on October 7th. We knew that young Abigail who turned 4, we understand that she witnessed her parents being murdered, but we don't know about your cousins.

What else are you hearing -- please, go ahead.

BAKER: You're exactly right. They came out probably thinking that they had a whole family, hoping like all us. I have to, for me, believe that Ilan is alive and for some reason he's not being claimed on a hostage list because for me if there's no body, he's alive. That's what I'm hoping.

I can add that my cousins who spoke to our cousins, mutual cousins this morning, physically and outwardly Shiri and Noga seem fine. Whether or not they were subject to brutalities, we don't know. Again, I have to believe that the hostages were treated better than the people who were murdered, beheaded, raped, burned alive and left behind in kibbutz Be'eri, so that's my mindset.

BASH: They certainly seem to be. I can't even imagine the ordeal that you or the rest of your family have been going through and are still going through because as you said Ilan is still missing.

What has this ordeal been like for the loved ones who have -- like you, who have been in captivity?

BAKER: Well, if I may, our connection goes back for me -- to 1969. The great-grand parents of Noga were the cousins of my grandmother.


And we went to visit them when we spent our summers in Israel every Saturday and they treated me and my brothers like we were their grandchildren. And their children and their grandchildren are just the nicest, warmest, most open, welcoming people. We would go to see them they piled up plates of food and all their neighbors would come to see us and they treated us like we were family even though they were just friends.

So when I'm alone I will tell you, if I think about it, I cry. I try to be strong in front of my wife and children. My children are 20 and 17, but when I'm alone, it's -- it's horrific because I told your producer I've been in kibbutz Be'eri, I've been in Rafah. in Hebrew we call it Raphael. I've been Sikkim, where there is attack. I've been in Erez crossing.

I've been with my family in terrorist attacks and this could have happened to us.

BASH: Yeah. BAKER: But for apparently luck. So it's a trauma for us. Ambassador

Herzog called it a national trauma for Israelis. He's right, but it's a national trauma for Jews.

BASH: Well, it's an international trauma for Jews. That is exactly right.

BAKER: Yes, yes. Yes. Sorry.

BASH: No, no, no. I'm adding to it. I completely hear you.

I want to thank you for sharing your story and the good news about Shiri and Noga and that they are at least physically apparently okay, but the mental and emotional wounds, that's a different story, as you mentioned. Thank you very much for coming on. Appreciate it.

BAKER: Thank you for having me and thank you for continuing to cover the story.

BASH: Thank you.

And there is just one day left of a truce between Israel and Hamas. What could happen next? We'll talk about that, in a minute.



BASH: An update. You're looking at pictures in -- at the border, rather, between Gaza and Egypt. Foreign nationals who were held by Hamas terrorists inside Gaza are now crossing into Egypt.

We are back with our breaking news coverage of today's hostage release. Let's break down what we've seen so far today with my panel. Thank you all for being here.

Colonel Leighton, I want to start with you because one of my outstanding questions in my interview this morning is with this show, in this hour was what happens when this current truce is over?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, Dana, that's really the big question. The way the Israeli forces are positioned right now it's pretty clear that they're going to continue their mopping up operations in Gaza City. They are in there now and control is not total no matter what anybody says. This is a very fluid situation and even though Israeli forces are the preponderance of military power in the north they are not the only power in the north and that's, I think, where the next step is.

Israel has indicated that they will move into the central parts and even the southern parts of Gaza. So we're going to see if this truce does not hold, we're going to see some fighting in these areas.

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's going to get really complicated because absolutely they will be moving south. They've said that and this is a question of what is going to happen to these Palestinians that have already moved south? Can't move back north, not being allowed to and there's really no place for them to go.

And so I think that the real conundrum is going to be what will the Biden administration do at that point when things get really messy? And we saw, I think in Biden's talk today to the press, he switched the order of what was the priority and he talked about aid to the Palestinians as the number one thing, the hostages, the number two thing, really shows that protecting the civilians is on his mind.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah. I think Biden has also faced internal criticism, State Department and in his own staff at the White House, people asking, you know, the pictures of the Palestinians dying, when did they get the food, the water, the medicine that they need and there's been a lot of emphasis as there should be on the hostages being freed, but not so much on getting some relief to these people who now the IDF has said once they restart attacks they're going to be telling the Palestinian people to shift from one location to the next and shifting 1.7 million people to the next that's not efficient. People are going to get caught again.

BASH: Yeah. I want to -- we've been talking about what's going on in Gaza which is understandable because of the show we also understandably have been talking about the hostages released, but I want to take advantage of the fact that you are here and you are an intel person about the fact that Jake Sullivan, the president's national security adviser told me they have no idea where the other hostages are, the men, who are --

DOZIER: Right.

BASH: And some of whom are American citizens, as well.

SANNER: Right and also women and children. So of the 50, they're still at least or more than 90 women and minors among this 240 and so we have more after the 50 are released and then the men. We have no idea.

Now we certainly are hearing that the Israelis are interviewing and debriefing as gently and they have to go slowly here, right? And they'll find out some things, but Hamas also has been working very, very hard to make sure that they don't have any good intel.


BASH: Yeah.

SANNER: Plus, the fact is that not all these people are being held. And you heard Biden say, look, some of these are held by other groups and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as Kim pointed out earlier today is demanding the release of all Palestinians. So --

LEIGHTON: That's one of the big issues there. Which group do you deal with?

Hamas is an umbrella organizational though it is not officially that kind of an organization, it is really symptomatic of the divided, political nature of Gaza itself and that's really going to complicate the intel picture as well as intel operational picture. BASH: Ten seconds.

DOZIER: What we are likely to see in the next few days is another four to five days of releasing of women and children, and after that, it's going to get harder and it's likely that Hamas is going to ask for war to release the men and all of which it considers current or former IDF soldiers.

BASH: Some of them were captured in their uniforms. It was pretty clear.

Thank you all for breaking that down. I appreciate it.

And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

The news continues next.