Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Could 12, 2024

Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Could 12, 2024

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan: 

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken 
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas 
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland 

Click on right here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”   

MARGARET BRENNAN: I am Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: America’s relations with Israel face a critical stress check amid accusations that the ally probably violated worldwide regulation in its battle with Hamas.

Israel has issued further evacuation orders for the million Palestinians who’re both residents or refugees from the north now residing in Southern Gaza. A whole bunch of hundreds have fled the area within the final week, as Israeli Protection Forces step up their floor marketing campaign in opposition to Hamas within the metropolis of Rafah.

Plus, the pressure between America and one among its closest allies intensifies, as President Biden takes drastic measures to move off a full-blown Israeli invasion of Rafah. Prime Minister Netanyahu says, in the event that they must, Israel will go it alone.

We’ll speak to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and two key senators, Arkansas’ Tom Cotton and Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen.

Lastly, saving Specialist Sckak’s mom, a narrative about how a gaggle of particular operations veterans helped a fellow serviceman’s household get their mom out of war-torn Gaza.

It is all simply forward on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We’re studying extra in regards to the dire humanitarian scenario in Gaza, as hundreds are fleeing what was as soon as a protected zone, the southern metropolis of Rafah. The challenges going through the Biden administration from a diplomatic standpoint proceed to develop too.

Though the U.S. helps Israel’s proper to retaliate in opposition to Hamas for the brutal October 7 assault that killed greater than 1,200 individuals, there are deep issues in regards to the Palestinian dying toll, as even Prime Minister Netanyahu conceded that his forces have in actual fact killed extra civilians than members of Hamas.

We start this morning with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who joins us from the State Division.

Good morning, Mr. Secretary. I do know army consultants say Gaza is as sophisticated and difficult a battlefield as any fashionable warfare has seen.

However, again in December, President Biden stated Israel performed indiscriminate bombing. In February, he stated Israel’s offensive was excessive. After which, this previous week, he was requested on CNN about pausing the supply of three,500 bombs. This is what he stated.

(Start VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the US): Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of these bombs and different methods wherein they go after inhabitants facilities.

I made it clear that in the event that they go into Rafah, I am not supplying the weapons which have been used traditionally to cope with Rafah, to cope with the cities, to cope with that drawback.

(Finish VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, is Israel residing as much as worldwide humanitarian regulation requirements?

ANTONY BLINKEN (U.S. Secretary of State): Effectively, first, Margaret, good morning.

The report that – that we put out lays out among the issues that we have had all through this era relating to humanitarian help, significantly the early months after October 7, and, relating to the usage of weapons, issues about incidents the place, given the totality of the injury that is been finished to youngsters, ladies, males, it was affordable to evaluate that, in sure cases, Israel acted in methods that aren’t in line with worldwide humanitarian regulation.

It is also essential to notice that Israel itself has accountability processes to get at this. There are lots of of ongoing inquiries taking a look at completely different incidents which have taken place since October 7. There are legal investigations which are going ahead.

Not like most different international locations on the earth, Israel has the flexibility, the means and the actions to self-correct. However we have been on this each single day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you’ve been ready then to conclude that Israel has violated U.S legal guidelines and weapons-sharing agreements?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: No, what we have concluded is, within the case of the – the usage of weapons, as you stated, that is a very complicated army atmosphere, wherein you’ve an enemy, Hamas, that dedicated essentially the most atrocious terrorist assaults on Israel on October 7 after which retreats to Gaza, hides behind and beneath civilians, in hospitals, colleges, mosques, house buildings.

And that makes it very troublesome to find out, significantly within the midst of battle, precisely what occurred and to attract any remaining conclusions from anybody incident. So, we have now a variety of incidents that we proceed to take a look at to attempt to get the very best evaluation. The Israelis themselves are doing the identical factor.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Our assessments might be ongoing.

However, as I stated, given the totality of what we have seen, by way of civilian struggling, by way of youngsters, ladies, males caught on this crossfire Hamas is making who’ve been killed or been injured, it is affordable to evaluate that, in a variety of cases, Israel has not acted in a fashion that is in line with worldwide humanitarian regulation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So – so, I perceive you are still accumulating proof.


MARGARET BRENNAN: However, on the coverage, are you able to make clear? As a result of even the lead Democrat on Home Armed Providers says it isn’t clear.

Is the usslowing down the supply of any weapons to Israel at this level past the three,500 so-called dumb bombs?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: As , Margaret, many of the inhabitants from Gaza displaced from the north and from Central Gaza has gone to Rafah.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: There are about 1.4 million individuals there. And we stated to Israel that we can not, is not going to help an operation in Rafah, a significant army operation, within the absence of a reputable plan to guard civilians.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And so they nonetheless have not delivered it.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: We’ve not seen that plan. We’ve not seen that plan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So – so, are you slowing the supply of any weapons past these 3,500 bombs? Are you pausing, for instance, precision munitions, as some Republicans have claimed?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Proper. The reply to that – the reply that’s no.

What the President stated and what he is been clear about in non-public conversations with the Israelis, which, sadly, leaked to the press – so the president responded forthrightly when he was requested about it. However what we have been clear about is that, if Israel launches this main army operation into Rafah, then there’s sure programs that we’re not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation.

However, at current, the one factor that we have delayed and are holding again are these high-payload bombs, as a result of we’re in an ongoing dialog with Israel, given the impression that these weapons can have after they’re utilized in densely populated areas, together with an space like Rafah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you continue to would possibly ship them?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: So we’re in an energetic dialog with Israel about that. We’ve actual issues about the way in which they’re used.

However here is one thing else that’s critically vital, Margaret. We imagine two issues. One, you need to have a transparent, credible plan to guard civilians, which we’ve not seen.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Second, we additionally must see a plan for what occurs after this battle in Gaza is over. And we nonetheless have not seen that, as a result of what are we seeing proper now?

We’re seeing elements of Gaza that Israel has – has cleared of Hamas, the place Hamas is coming again…


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: … together with within the North, together with in Khan Younis.

As we have a look at – at Rafah, they might go in and have some preliminary success, however at – however doubtlessly at an extremely excessive value to civilians, however one that isn’t sturdy, one which’s not sustainable.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: And they are going to be left holding the bag on an everlasting insurgency, as a result of numerous armed Hamas might be left, it doesn’t matter what they do in Rafah.

Or in the event that they – in the event that they go away and get out of Gaza, as we imagine they should do, then you are going to have a vacuum, and a vacuum that is prone to be stuffed by chaos, by anarchy, and finally by Hamas once more.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: So, we have been working for a lot of, many weeks on growing credible plans for safety, for governance, for rebuilding. We’ve not seen that come from Israel.

We have been working with Arab international locations and others on that plan.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: We have to see that too. We’ve the identical goal as Israel. We wish to ensure that Hamas can not govern Gaza once more.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: We wish to make certain it is demilitarized. We wish to ensure that Israel will get its leaders.

That is what we’re decided to do.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: We’ve a special wad and, we expect, a more practical, sturdy approach of getting that finished.


SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: We stay in dialog with Israel about precisely that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, your nationwide safety memorandum that you just signed says Israeli civilian hurt mitigation efforts are – quote – “inconsistent, ineffective and insufficient.”

The prime minister himself stated Israel assesses the IDF killed 14,000 terrorists and 16,000 civilians. Does the U.S. share the Israeli evaluation that extra civilians have been killed than precise terrorists?


And I believe the report makes clear that, whereas Israel has processes, procedures, guidelines, laws to attempt to decrease civilian hurt, given the impression that this operation, this battle in Gaza has had on the civilian inhabitants…

MARGARET BRENNAN: And but you are still surging weapons to Israel.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: … that these haven’t been – these haven’t been utilized persistently and successfully.

There is a hole between the acknowledged intent and among the outcomes we have seen. However, as a result of it is so sophisticated, within the midst of a battle, and significantly within the midst of a battle the place you’ve an enemy that hides in civilian infrastructure, hides behind civilians, to make remaining determinations on these particular person incidents, we’re trying on the totality of what is occurred.

We expect it is affordable to evaluate, based mostly on what’s occurred, that there have been acts which have been inconsistent with Israel’s obligations beneath worldwide humanitarian regulation. However we’ve not drawn definitive conclusions. We have to pursue these investigations, simply as Israel is doing itself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, thanks to your time this morning.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation might be again in a single minute. Stick with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re again now with Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton.

Senator, welcome again to this system.

SENATOR TOM COTTON (R-Arkansas): Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You simply heard Secretary Blinken clarify the administration’s coverage. He says Hamas completely doesn’t abide by worldwide regulation. Israel is inconsistent with worldwide humanitarian regulation, however he stopped wanting saying they’re violating weapons-sharing agreements.

Does this make sense to you?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: No, it would not make any sense in any respect, Margaret.

It appeared like a bunch of weaselly, mealymouthed politics. He stated it is affordable to evaluate.


SENATOR TOM COTTON: He stated that like three or 4 instances. It is like he was coached to say that, as if it was some magic talisman to assist them stroll the political line they need between the pro-Hamas wing of their occasion and the huge pro-Israel majority of the American individuals.

The report that they put out Friday evening, after information deadlines handed, was very clear. There isn’t a proof that Israel is violating worldwide regulation. All civilian casualties in Gaza are solely the accountability of Hamas.

In reality, Israel’s in all probability doing greater than any army in historical past to keep away from civilian casualties.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Effectively, truly, it says: “The U.S. intelligence neighborhood notes safety forces in Israel have inflicted hurt on civilians in army or safety operations doubtlessly utilizing U.S. supplied gear. U.S. assesses Israel may do extra to keep away from civilian hurt.”

So, it would not say they are not doing it. It says they can not, for some motive, come to a transparent conclusion.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: It – Secretary Blinken’s personal – no, Secretary Blinken’s personal report says there is not any proof, that they can not attain that conclusion.

Ben Cardin, the senior Democrat on the Senate International Relations Committee, agrees that the report says there isn’t a proof.


SENATOR TOM COTTON: In reality, he additionally says that Joe Biden was incorrect to impose this de facto arms embargo on Israel.

Once more, Israel is doing greater than any army in historical past, in all probability, to stop civilian casualties. If Hamas didn’t disguise behind and beneath civilians, there would no – there wouldn’t be civilian casualties.

For that matter, if Hamas merely surrendered and turned over all these hostages…


SENATOR TOM COTTON: … there can be no extra civilians struggling in Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is what President Biden says as properly.

However I – I imply, I do know you are a lawyer. You went to Harvard Legislation. You have been an Military officer. You deployed to Iraq. You deployed to Afghanistan. It has to hassle you when the Israeli prime minister says himself that they killed extra civilians than terrorists…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … hundreds extra civilians than terrorists.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: It troubles me deeply that Hamas is utilizing these civilians as human shields, as a result of that’s their technique.

Bear in mind – Margaret, keep in mind…

MARGARET BRENNAN: So ought to U.S. – however – however to that time, although, as a result of the US gives billions of {dollars} in weapons to Israel, ought to it have a say in how these weapons are used?

As a result of the – the needle Blinken appeared to be attempting to string right here was to say it was very particularly tailor-made by way of withholding these massive bombs, the three,500 bombs.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Effectively, the explanation Israel wants these bigger bombs is as a result of Hamas has buried tunnels – or they’re holding hostages and the place its leaders are holed up deeply underground.

They’re additionally doubtlessly delaying the kits that permit these so-called dumb bombs to change into sensible precision bombs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The JDAM kits that they are reviewing.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: And – and, apparently – and, apparently, based mostly on reviews this morning, the administration even says they’re withholding intelligence in regards to the location of senior Hamas leaders and, subsequently, hostages, to incorporate doubtlessly American hostages, from Israel to attempt to pressure Israel not to enter Rafah.

Take into consideration that. They’re…

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White Home denies that, and John Kirby briefed the opposite day that the U.S. is sharing intelligence…

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Effectively, Margaret…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … together with the situation of Yahya Sinwar, who has not been killed within the seven months of this battle.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: It was in “The Washington Publish” with – with 4 officers conversant in it. The Washington Publish is just like the message board for this administration and the Democratic Get together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You imagine that the intelligence neighborhood is withholding info from the Israeli army?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: I – I imagine – I imagine that Joe Biden is prepared to try this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you’ve any proof of that?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: I imply, he is imposed – he is imposed a de facto arms embargo on Israel and sanctions on Israelis.

Within the meantime…

MARGARET BRENNAN: They’re sending weapons this weekend. That is not an arms embargo.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: And, within the meantime – he simply stated final week that he is not going to ship offensive weapons. We don’t know what he’ll withhold.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He – that was, as – as we simply exchanged with – with Secretary Blinken, not a really clear assertion in that CNN interview.

Democrats have stated that.


MARGARET BRENNAN: However what Blinken stated there was, it was simply that one single cargo.

You are saying you don’t imagine the secretary of state when he says that?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Margaret, in March of 2022, Tony Blinken got here in your present, this very present, and stated the US can be completely tremendous to see fighter jets despatched to Ukraine.

Joe Biden instantly reversed Tony Blinken’s assertion on this present. So what Tony Blinken says on this present can’t be credited, when Joe Biden is on the market imposing a de facto arms embargo on Israel, on the identical time he is letting arms embargoes on Iran expire.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You realize $26 billion in emergency funding was simply authorised by the president. And there may be not an arms embargo on Israel and there may be not a block on intelligence sharing with Israel. You realize that.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Joe Biden stated final week that he’ll cease supplying offensive weapons that can be utilized in an city setting. That’s the solely setting in Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In the event that they go into Rafah.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: However that’s the solely setting in Gaza. And so they have to enter Rafah.

It – Joe Biden’s place is de facto for a Hamas victory at this level. Israel’s purpose is to destroy Hamas, which dedicated the worst atrocity in opposition to Jews since World Struggle II.


SENATOR TOM COTTON: Hamas’ purpose is to outlive. In the event that they do – if Israel doesn’t go into Rafah and destroy Hamas in Rafah…


SENATOR TOM COTTON: … Hamas will survive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Effectively, the Biden administration says they’ll go into Rafah. It is how they do it.

However I – I wish to ask you extra broadly, as a result of individuals like Senator Van Hollen, who’s going to be on right here, will speak in regards to the precept and the spirit and the that means of U.S. regulation. And that previous presidents have withheld army assist to Israel to pressure adjustments in conduct. President Reagan did that. President Bush did that.

Why do you’ve an issue with President Biden doing it?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Effectively – properly, first off, if you speak in regards to the precept and the spirit of U.S. regulation, it sounds to me like they are not speaking in regards to the letter of U.S. regulation, as a result of Tony Blinken’s personal report concluded they didn’t violate U.S. regulation.

Ronald Reagan’s choice to pause the supply of fighter jets within the Nineteen Eighties was completely completely different from what occurs right here – what has occurred right here. Israel is preventing a battle of survival in opposition to a terrorist group that dedicated the worst atrocity in opposition to Jews since World Struggle II.

Within the Nineteen Eighties, an Israeli ambassador had been focused for assassination. Ronald Reagan knew that the pause of fighter jets wouldn’t intrude with Israel’s preventing…


SENATOR TOM COTTON: … as a result of they’d loads of fighters. He didn’t pause munitions. Joe Biden will not be sending munitions in the course of a capturing battle that is a battle of survival.

And have a look at the broader context.


SENATOR TOM COTTON: Israel knew that Ronald Reagan had its again within the area. He sank half of Iran’s navy. Joe Biden has persistently given Iran lots of of billions of {dollars}…


SENATOR TOM COTTON: … of sanctions aid that precisely funded teams like Hamas and Hezbollah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that they dispute that, and they’re nonetheless sending weapons.

However, final month, Donald Trump informed “TIME” journal “Bibi Netanyahu rightfully has been criticized for what occurred on October 7.”

Do you agree with that evaluation? Are you comfy with any criticism of the prime minister?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Look, I – I – I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu and different senior Israeli leaders have acknowledged they’ve accountability for the failures on October 7.

And so they’ve stated, as is the Israeli customized, when this battle is over, there’ll in all probability be a fee of inquiry to determine precisely what went incorrect to make sure it would not occur once more. However President Trump stated simply final evening that he would completely present Israel with the weapons they should end the job.

This might have by no means occurred on President’s Trump – Trump’s watch, it did not occur on his watch.


SENATOR TOM COTTON: And if – if he have been president, this battle would have in all probability already been over, with a lot much less civilian struggling in Gaza, as a result of he would have backed Israel to the hilt from the start.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Effectively, that is a debate on counterfactuals for an additional day, Senator.

Nevertheless it’s good to have you ever right here in particular person. Thanks to your time.

We’ll be proper again.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we go now to Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Senator, the White Home is constant to ship weapons to Israel. However as you’ve got heard the secretary of state say, they’re narrowly – tailoring this to withhold particular form of munitions.

Does this coverage and the administration’s clarification of it make sense to you?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Maryland): Effectively, Margaret, it is good to be with you, and Blissful Mom’s Day.

And let me simply say that, , Senator Cotton completely misrepresented the place of President Biden and the Biden administration.

So, I believe the president is totally proper to withhold these huge, huge bombs that could possibly be utilized in Rafah. Bear in mind, the president of the US warned Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly that, if there was an all-out invasion in Rafah, that the US would make coverage adjustments.

And Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly ignored the president of the US, ignored the president’s efforts to attempt to scale back civilian casualties, ignored our efforts to attempt to get extra humanitarian help into Gaza, and ignored the precedence of attempting to deliver again the hostages.

So, sure, I help the president’s actions right here, I believed, that have been essential to take.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You, although, have been a part of this nationwide safety memorandum that we talked about with the secretary. You assist tailor it.

And also you stated after it got here out that: “The experience and evaluation of the State Division has been swept apart to facilitate a predetermined coverage consequence based mostly on political comfort.”

Are you saying that Secretary – the secretary of state’s incapability to conclude something on this report is a political alternative, not based mostly on reality?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Effectively, I imagine the details and the regulation present what numerous impartial teams that the administration typically depends on reveals.

So, Amnesty Worldwide, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, an impartial activity pressure that was established to evaluation the details and the regulation all concluded that, if you have a look at a few of these incidents, they – these clearly have been violations of worldwide humanitarian regulation.

So, whereas I recognize the truth that, as Secretary Blinken stated, the administration decided that it was affordable to conclude that violations of worldwide regulation had – had occurred…


SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: … I believe there’s sufficient on the books to have the ability to level to particular circumstances and make particular determinations.

And, on that rating, the administration did duck the laborious questions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Effectively, particularly, do you worry that this report helped primarily give political cowl to Prime Minister Netanyahu to proceed to do what he is doing?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Effectively, I worry that, by not offering an unvarnished accounting of the details and the regulation, we have now primarily acknowledged that what is going on in Gaza, so, for instance, with respect to the supply of humanitarian help, and the overall restriction of supply of humanitarian help for the reason that starting of the battle, by not calling that out flatly and saying that there have been arbitrary restrictions placed on it, I worry that we have now set a really, very low bar, a really low customary for what’s acceptable.

And I believe that may come again to hang-out us. So, sure, Margaret, I fear that we did not name out very clearly the truth that these restrictions on humanitarian help, which is resulting in lots of of hundreds of individuals on the verge of hunger – over 25 individuals already starved to dying, together with children.


SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: I do fear that that has primarily allowed a low bar to go, with out pointing it out very clearly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: However, this week, the previous Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley stated: “Earlier than we get self-righteous about what Israel is doing, we should not overlook the uskilled numerous harmless individuals in Iraq, in Syria.”

He stated, the uskilled 12,000 harmless French civilians, bombed Hiroshima, Nagasaki, 69 Japanese cities.

What do you make of statements like that? As a result of Prime Minister Netanyahu says one thing very comparable.

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Effectively, Margaret, there is not any doubt that – excuse me – the United – the US has not been excellent, removed from excellent.

However, since World Struggle II, we have adopted many extra measures to attempt to limit civilian hurt. And we attempt to enhance it on a regular basis. And, in fact, after World Struggle II, the world adopted the Fourth Article of the Geneva Conventions…


SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: … which is designed particularly to guard civilians in battle.

So, …


SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: … Milley can – can speak in regards to the issues that occurred in World Struggle II.


SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: However the world tried to be taught among the classes after World Struggle II.


We will take a break and are available again and end this dialog, Senator.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We might be proper again.

Stick with us.



We return now to our dialog with Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Senator, we have been speaking in regards to the Biden administration, however I wish to seek advice from what’s taking place in our personal home politics proper now associated to Gaza.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on one other community this week that the failed diplomacy of her husband’s administration was a – the very best missed alternative for a Palestinian state. She stated that earlier than. However she stated, scholar protestors do not know very a lot in regards to the historical past of the Center East or frankly about historical past in lots of areas of the world, together with in our personal nation.

What do you make of the characterization and the issues proper now amongst so many younger voters?

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Effectively, I believed, Margaret, that Secretary Clinton’s feedback in that regard have been fairly dismissive of scholars’ issues in regards to the terrible humanitarian disaster and excessive civilian dying toll in Gaza.

And I ought to level out that we must always have the ability to hold two concepts in our head on the identical time. One is the best of Individuals to peacefully protest. But additionally the necessity to ensure that college students really feel protected on campus. And, in fact, we additionally must ensure that we stamp out anti-Semitism and hate wherever we see it.

However I imagine that the good majority of the scholars who’re protesting are following very carefully what’s taking place in Gaza. They see what’s a really excessive civilian dying toll. And so we are able to actually revisit historical past and previous negotiations, however I imagine that the overwhelming majority of the scholars, not all, and there are some – there are some very unhealthy parts which are concerned, in addition to on the counterprotest facet, however I imagine that the scholars do perceive what’s taking place in Gaza with respect to the civilian casualties.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Van Hollen, thanks very a lot to your perception at present and your response.

And we’ll be again with extra FACE THE NATION –


MARGARET BRENNAN: And a really particular Mom’s Day story.


MARGARET BRENNAN: On this Mom’s Day we have now a narrative from Gaza that is in contrast to any we have heard earlier than. Zahra Sckak, a 44-year-old Palestinian girl residing in Gaza Metropolis, escaped the battle due to her American sons, one among whom is an Military specialist. A number of the issues Zahra has to say about how Hamas and the Israeli military have been treating civilians are laborious to listen to, and even tougher to verify because the preventing continues and international journalists are largely barred from the realm. Zahra’s story, in contrast to so man, that we’re studying about from this area, does have a considerably comfortable ending.

We sat down together with her final month and Zahra informed us she left Gaza in late December with nothing however a small backpack and the identical garments she’d been sporting for the reason that battle started.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You did not deliver something from your property with you?

ZAHRA SCKAK (Palestinian girl who escaped battle): No it is – , if it isn’t, , broken, it is burned.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And there was – you could not salvage something?

ZAHRA SCKAK: I imply, if you happen to bought out alive, it is like an enormous factor for you, sure.


MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): In 1998, Zahra Sckak and her husband Abedella, moved from Gaza to the U.S., the place their three sons have been born. Ten years later, the household returned to Gaza Metropolis. As their son’s grew from little boys to younger males, all three determined to stay within the U.S., whereas Zahra and Abedella remained in Gaza Metropolis.

After Hamas’ brutal assault on Israel on October seventh, Israel struck again and ordered over 1,000,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza to move south because it ready for a floor invasion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did not you permit?

ZAHRA SCKAK: There is no place to go there. We will simply stay on the road, ? I imply, we do not have something to do with Hamas. So, we’ll be protected. We all know that each battle, it comes and move, like, , only a time frame. We did not know that that is going to be completely different.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Israeli forces invaded Gaza in late October. By mid November, they have been getting near Zahra’s dwelling. At some point, from the window of her constructing, Zahra says she noticed no less than 4 pedestrians and two vehicles carrying households blown up with out warning as they tried to cross the road.

ZAHRA SCKAK: And we tried to scream from the window, inform them, no, do not move this line (ph). He did not even hear us. He simply handed and immediately, , blow up. And all of the physique – like that, it was full, the automotive. And it have numerous like a mattress and that they are shifting, like this stuff. And the girl simply got here like with all her – like her physique, like stuffed with blood. She’s the one one alive between her children and the driving force and like that. She began screaming, telling all people, kill me. Like, sure, kill me with my – with my household.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Simply to be clear, as a result of deliberately firing on civilians –


MARGARET BRENNAN: With youngsters could possibly be a battle crime.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you imagine that was deliberate?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what you’re saying?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. As a result of, I imply, just about occurred in entrance of me like that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it doable it was a mistake?

ZAHRA SCKAK: How come? If it is mistake from, like, one half, what in regards to the others? Civilians simply strolling, two ladies simply strolling by, one boy. Come on, like, , it – there’s one thing like incorrect about it.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): When requested about Zahra’s account, the Israel Protection Forces replied, quote, “the IDF will not be at battle with civilians in Gaza, the IDF is at battle with Hamas. Hamas has embedded itself in civilian infrastructure. The Space referred to is an energetic fight zone and with the intention to mitigate hurt to civilians, an analysis was carried out.”

At her dwelling that night, Zahra says gunfire shattered the home windows and shells hit the constructing.

ZAHRA SCKAK: With all this like noise and when the shell begin, one after one like that, we simply begin to crawl down – downstairs, simply go down the primary flooring and hid someplace.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You and your husband?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. Whereas we’re crawling down, it is just like the capturing did not cease and the shells, like, one after one like that. And you’re feeling your own home begin to burn, , as a result of I imply every part is scorching round you. You possibly can’t even contact something.

The bomb stored going till the second day within the morning. You realize, my husband begin to, like, to fade as a result of, I imply, he is diabetic. His sugar was low like that. So one thing’s going to occur to him if I did not get him out.

Now that is the – , the principle factor I could not get out like that, ? As a result of, I imply, all of the rocks like that, it coated the exit the place we have been like hidden. So, that what took me like some time prefer to get out. And it was three days handed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have been three days beneath the rubble?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. And it is like a miracle, I swear, like, ? What occurred to us, it is like, it felt like – such as you died and also you simply went again to life once more.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): With assist from a neighbor, Abedella walked with Zahra to this constructing owned by his household. Within the decrease stage of a weightlifting middle referred to as The Tremendous Gymnasium, Abedella’s brother and dozens of different relations have been taking shelter in an area with no electrical energy or working water and one lavatory.

It was right here that Zahra found Abedella’s foot had been injured through the assault on their dwelling. He was shivering from what gave the impression to be an an infection. As a result of preventing, it was days earlier than she may get to a hospital.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On the hospital, there have been no antibiotics.


MARGARET BRENNAN: No painkillers.

ZAHRA SCKAK: No, by no means.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nothing. They gave you nothing?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Precisely. Sure. Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As a result of they’d nothing?


MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Al Ahli Ara (ph) hospital was overwhelmed with sufferers.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Whereas we’re like ready to get to him, into the operation, he handed away like whereas he was sitting down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ready for the surgical procedure?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Proper. I could not imagine it at first. The physician stored speaking. And he informed me, you have to be comfortable. And I stated, like, why? I imply, why you’re saying like all that. And he stated, as a result of, I imply, he handed right here within the hospital, not on the street like others. So, you have to be comfortable. I did not like perceive like that he is gone or, , as a result of, I imply, he is the one one for me in Gaza. And I felt that loneliness is rather like, like, what is going on to occur to me? So, I began to hit him. I swear. Like, I hit him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You hit the physician?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Due to what he was saying. ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As a result of he was telling you, you have been fortunate?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Precisely. He simply saying lots of people simply come and decide him up and, . However I could not let go like that. I, , stored like holding him. And all people stated, let go. And I could not that straightforward like that. I simply – I do not know.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): At that time, Zahra’s eldest son, Fadi, was residing in California. He had been struggling to remain in contact together with his mother and father.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you concentrate on that final time you have been in a position to communicate to your father, do you keep in mind numerous it?

FADI SCKAK (Zahra Sckak’s son): I do not assume I am going to ever overlook it. He was, , screaming on the – on the telephone, , begging for mercy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you ever say goodbye to your father?

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Fadi had been in contact with the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem to assist get his mother and father out of Gaza. He was informed the U.S. would attempt to get them permission to go away Gaza via the Rafah crossing within the south, however couldn’t assist them journey via the battle zone to get there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is a really irritating factor to be informed by essentially the most highly effective authorities on the earth.


MARGARET BRENNAN: I can not enable you.

FADI SCKAK: Sure. And I imply –

MARGARET BRENNAN: As an American citizen.


MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): His father’s dying made him extra decided to assist his mom.

FADI SCKAK: And after he handed, I knew that, , nothing issues extra prefer to me than saving my mom from there. As a result of, truthfully, she – she didn’t need to undergo that. I ought to have been the one there.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Again at The Tremendous Gymnasium, roughly per week after her husband died, Zahra says two armed males she believed to be from Hamas killed three Palestinian ladies when civilians sheltering there defied the lads’s orders to go away.

ZAHRA SCKAK: All people was like, , did not imagine what occurred precisely with that. It identical to – even when it occurred in entrance of you, they stated, if for – like in the event that they’re Israeli individuals, sure, like, we are able to imagine it like that. However they’re one among us, like, ? We’re – they’re Palestinian like us. Like, they’re doing this?

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): In an interview, the proprietor of The Tremendous Gymnasium denied that the incident occurred there.

So did a Hamas spokesman, who informed us, quote, “Hamas has by no means attacked civilians.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: Hamas says it’s preventing for the Palestinian individuals.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Islamic Jihad says they’re preventing for the Palestinian individuals. Did you see, from what you witnessed, any assist being given by these teams to the Palestinian individuals?

ZAHRA SCKAK: Under no circumstances. I swear, it is like, they’re careless about their individuals.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): More and more determined to get his mom out of Gaza, Fadi turned to the Michigan based mostly Arab American Civil Rights League.

ALICIA NIEVES (Legal professional, Arab American Civil Rights League): Our calls, our emails are of simply essentially the most extremely unhappy tales that you might think about from Individuals speaking about their household who’re in battle, in energetic, stay fight.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): One in every of their attorneys, Alicia Nieves, first realized about Zahra’s case in mid-December.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What number of Palestinian Individuals that of are able like Fadi the place they’re attempting to get family members out now?

ALICIA NIEVES: There are hundreds proper now which are attempting to –


ALICIA NIEVES: Sure. What struck me about Fadi’s case was that it stated that his brother was an energetic U.S. army member. And I believed, at that second there was a chance that one thing not possible may occur, which is, we are able to truly get any person from northern Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you assume the truth that his brother was energetic responsibility Military made a distinction?

ALICIA NIEVES: As a result of I had expertise in a earlier battle the place I used to be launched to army veterans that have been demonstrating a willingness and a functionality to extract individuals from energetic battle zones. I knew this was a time to make a name to the veterans that I knew to see if there was any approach that they may assist on this scenario.


MARGARET BRENNAN (on digicam): After we come again, how a staff of particular operation veterans bought Zahra Sckak out of Gaza.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Legal professional Alicia Nieves linked with the Particular Operations Affiliation of America, a company made up of former army and intelligence professionals who’ve expertise volunteering to assist civilians get out of battle zones, together with Afghanistan and Ukraine. However Gaza posed some uncommon challenges, particularly the a part of Gaza Metropolis the place Zahra Sckak was struggling to outlive. However the rescue staff began planning, and Fadi bought via to his mom to assist inform her, assistance is on the way in which.


MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): In December, Zahra Sckak despatched this photograph of herself to her eldest son, Fadi, who informed her a gaggle of individuals she’d by no means meet wanted it to establish her and rescue her from Gaza Metropolis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will need to have thought, that is not possible.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. However once I noticed the primary message from Brian, sure, this is without doubt one of the staff, in that minute, I began to imagine.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Alex Plitsas is a member of the Particular Operations Affiliation staff that took on Zahra’s case.

So, what was the scenario on the bottom if you started planning this escape? How intense was it?

ALEX PLITSAS (Member, Particular Operations Affiliation Of America): It was extraordinarily intense. At that time Zahra was trapped behind Hamas traces in an enclave in northern Gaza. So, it was an energetic fight zone.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Plitsas is a military fight veteran and former counterterrorism official on the Pentagon. He labored with former Inexperienced Berets, intelligence professionals, and a Marine fluent in Arabic, all of whom have been keen to assist Zahra’s center son, Ragi Sckak, a 24-year-old Military specialist who was serving in Korea whereas his mom was in Gaza.

ALEX PLITSAS: And so for us it felt form of private. And we simply pictured ourself in these sneakers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, why cannot the U.S. authorities do what you are doing?

ALEX PLITSAS: There are not any U.S. authorities staff of any form, both army or civilian, on the bottom inside Gaza. Having had expertise in such a work in authorities and understanding what the legalities are, we’re form of in a position to step into the – within the void and attempt to set it up the best approach.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): The group of particular operators got here collectively shortly in December.

FADI SCKAK: My mom, she’s simply afraid.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Simply days earlier than, Fadi Sckak had made a really public plea for his mom on U.S. tv.

FADI SCKAK: Each wakening second is difficult to, , think about shedding her.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Issues began to fall into place round Christmas. Prime officers on the State Division reached out to Israeli and Egyptian officers to safe their help for the particular operations staff to hold out the mission.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Israeli army, simply to be clear, had that can assist you get Zahra out of Gaza, is that right?

ALEX PLITSAS: We did need assistance from the Israeli authorities for approval to maneuver within north Gaza, as a result of it may be extremely harmful if you attempt to function as an impartial actor, particularly in a battle zone.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, are you able to inform us among the choices you thought of?

ALEX PLITSAS: Every thing was on the desk by way of choices to get them out. Hamas nonetheless had shoulder-fired, , RPGs or small arms fireplace like AK-47s that would have hit helicopters, and that – that kind of rescue actually wasn’t possible. And then you definitely have a look at maritime operations, are you able to are available over the seaside? And also you notice, as you begin to transfer via, you need to eradicate a few of these choices that aren’t real looking.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On this case, was somebody driving up a automotive, a automobile of some type, to maneuver her round?

ALEX PLITSAS: That was a very – the one real looking choice. However you may think about, , attempting to get vehicles and gas inside Gaza is troublesome.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Utilizing satellite tv for pc imagery and coordinating with a number of governments, the staff of operators fastidiously deliberate the mission.

ALEX PLITSAS: I used to be working from an encrypted chat platform sitting in my front room in Connecticut. You realize, my different teammates have been form of unfold across the U.S. However collectively we labored our authorities contacts and so they stepped in and helped.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): However they referred to as off the rescue twice as a result of circumstances on the bottom weren’t proper.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is loopy making.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. I do know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are getting all excited –




MARGARET BRENNAN: After which nothing occurs.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Proper. However they stored me like actually like a robust like that, simply telling me that I will maintain you. Like, , simply no panic. I imagine it from the primary time like that they’ll do one thing. They care about you, ? MARGARET BRENNAN: These are individuals you by no means met.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Precisely, sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: 1000’s of miles away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Who’re attempting to assist get you out.

ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure. You see it is like a – phrases, like, can like specific how a lot, , you have to thank them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When individuals hear the time period “particular operators,” they consider some out of the film motion scene. Is that what we must be picturing right here in north Gaza?

ALEX PLITSAS: Individuals have seen too many motion pictures. They’re pondering, , you are going to see G.I. Joe present up in an enormous truck. What you want are individuals who can mix in, within the space. So, native nationwide, Palestinian Arabs who communicate Arabic with a Gazan accent who’re – have a motive to be the place they’re alleged to be and every part else is basically what you form of want there to be quiet. That was who was on the coronary heart of the operation.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): A community of trusted drivers bought Zahra Sckak and her brother-in-law, who’s a U.S. citizen, out of Gaza Metropolis and all the way in which to Rafah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are you seeing as you are driving via north Gaza?

ZAHRA SCKAK: You do not know that that is Gaza or someplace else. Like, , there is not any avenue, there is not any buildings. It is – , it is like all floor –


ZAHRA SCKAK: Sure, Gaza was like not Gaza anymore.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): On December thirty first, Zahra Sckak made it via the Rafah crossing into Egypt, the place U.S. officers met her and expedited a inexperienced card for her.

Fadi met her in Cairo.

FADI SCKAK: You may simply inform by taking a look at her she’s been via hell. Like, I may actually see her bones. And it was very seen. And that was simply, , I did not know what to say. And, sure. Nevertheless it was very comfortable second for me simply to have the ability to be subsequent to her and to know that she’s protected.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): By February, Zahra Sckak and her sons have been reunited within the U.S. That is the primary Mom’s Day in ten years that she’ll spend with all three of them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, if Zahra’s so hadn’t been within the U.S. Military, what would have occurred to Zahra?

ALEX PLITSAS: Shed’ nonetheless be caught in north Gaza, together with a variety of folks with no technique of getting south, no meals, no water, not entry to medication. And whether or not she would nonetheless be alive in the intervening time, I merely could not inform you.

MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): We have been in a position to affirm facets of Zahra’s story via relations, photographs and printed accounts. However with the battle nonetheless raging, we couldn’t discover a second witness to the incidents wherein she describes what sound like battle crimes in opposition to civilians, dedicated by each the Israeli military and Hamas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are elements of what Zahra shared with us which are very laborious to verify. Do you assume she’s telling us the reality?

ALEX PLITSAS: I discover Zahra to be an exquisite human being. I believe she’s an individual of integrity. And I believe for me to second guess her or the Israelis or Hamas or any of them I’d be speculating as a result of I wasn’t there. However I actually do not discover her to be any person who’s lower than truthful.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you hope individuals at dwelling who hear your story perceive about Gaza?

ZAHRA SCKAK: We’re not only a quantity, ? We’re like a human being, like that. I imply we like deserve higher life. The individuals, like, over Gaza, I imply, it isn’t their option to undergo this battle.


MARGARET BRENNAN (on digicam): State Division officers say that thus far they’ve helped get 1,800 individuals out of Gaza, most of them U.S. residents or authorized everlasting residents. U.S. officers inform CBS Information that there are, quote, “energetic inside company conversations about what extra the U.S. can do to assist the Palestinian individuals caught within the crossfire like Zahra Sckak.”

We wish to thank two of our “60 Minutes” colleagues, producers Andy Courtroom and Annabelle Hanflig for his or her assist getting this story on our broadcast. And we additionally wish to thank FACE THE NATION producer Richard Escobedo and editor Matt Jeffries.

That is it for us at present. And we wish to want the entire moms on the market a cheerful Mom’s Day, together with my mother and my mother-in-law and all of the mothers who work on this broadcast.

Thanks all for watching.

Till subsequent week, for FACE THE NATION, I am Margaret Brennan.

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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