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Tug of War

CNN reporters take us on-the-ground in Israel to document the escalating conflict and what it means for the rest of the world.

A frayed rope is about to split in two

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Is Enough Being Done to Help the Hostages?
Tug of War
Oct 10, 2023

As Israel and Hamas trade rocket fire over the skies of Israel, there is growing concern for the at least 100 hostages the terror group claims it has taken. In this episode, CNN International Anchor Becky Anderson tells us about the families of the missing she has met and what they are asking for from Israeli and US authorities. 

Episode Transcript
David Rind
Hey there. It was an eventful Tuesday in Israel. So let's get you caught up.
David Rind
Late in the afternoon, Hamas sent out a warning to the residents of Ashkelon to leave the southern Israeli city by 5 p.m. local time. Not long after the clock struck five, we saw why.
John Berman
Okay. This is video from moments ago. You can see rockets being fired from Gaza.
David Rind
Hamas sent up a huge barrage of rockets from Gaza towards Ashkelon. Israel's Iron Dome fired up intercepts and then Israel carried out its own airstrikes on the Gaza port.
Clarissa Ward
This is now, by my count, about the fifth or sixth time. We have had volleys of rockets being fired here at this city
David Rind
Israeli fighter jets also struck the only border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, meaning Gazans looking to flee have no way out. Meanwhile, in Washington.
President Joe Biden
We must be crystal clear. We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel.
David Rind
President Joe Biden made his most extensive remarks to date on the conflict. He confirmed that at least 14 Americans have been killed. And he said American citizens are among those being held hostage.
President Joe Biden
We will make sure the Jewish and democratic state of Israel can defend itself. Today, tomorrow, as we always have, it's as simple as that.
David Rind
There's actually some interesting backstory into what he just said. There are White House team reports that in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden did not warn Netanyahu against potentially going into Gaza to wage a ground response. One official said, quote, We are not urging restraint right now. That word restraint. That is not something we're hearing from families of those taken hostage by Hamas either. They just want their loved ones back. And today's episode, we're going to hear from some of them.
Whatever any government needs to do in order to make that happen. Please make that happen.
David Rind
'From CNN, this is Tug of War - I'm David Rind.
David Rind
Joining us today is CNN's Becky Anderson. She's an anchor for CNN International and the managing editor of our Abu Dhabi bureau. She spoke to me from Tel Aviv on Tuesday. It was about 11:00 at night there. And I started with a question some of you may be asking, why is Hamas taking hostages?
Becky Anderson
It's very difficult to understand the why of any of this, because this is this is uncharted territory. It's unprecedented. This is a military group, a militant military group that was effectively managed sort of back into a box every time we see a conflict here. And there have been many conflicts over the years and I've covered most of them. But this is a a group that has changed its tactics. Some would say it's become more sophisticated. But clearly part of the plan was to take hostages. One of the things that Hamas wants is the release of its prisoners that are being held in Israeli jails. And when we go back to 2011 and the release of Gilad Shalit, who was the soldier, the Israeli soldier held for five and a half years, the negotiation for his release was the exchange. Of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners. Prisoners associated with the militant jihadist groups here said that, in a nutshell, is why I believe they're doing this.
David Rind
So tell me about this press conference you attended earlier today.
Becky Anderson
We now know that there are Americans being held as hostages, dual citizens, American Israelis being held by Hamas or presumed to be being held by Hamas. And we met the families of four of those.
Rachel Goldberg
My name is Rachel Goldberg. I'm Hirsch's mom.
Becky Anderson
Hirsch Polin Goldberg is 23 years old, lived in Jerusalem, originally from Chicago.
Rachel Goldberg
I normally don't use my phone on the Jewish Sabbath, but it was an emergency and I needed to know where my son was.
Becky Anderson
He'd been at the rave, the music festival in the desert on Saturday morning.
Rachel Goldberg
And when I turned it on, there were two texts in a row from Hirsch at 811. The first one said, I love you. And immediately at 811 also it said, I'm sorry.
Becky Anderson
'And that's the last time his parents heard from him. Sagui Dekel-Chen is 35 years old. He lives on a kibbutz. These are communities where they grow their own food. They look after each other. It is generations of families who live together. And these kibbutz have been overrun, many of them by these by these gunmen.
Ruby Chen
This family and my family is now missing. We have a missing person of our family.
Becky Anderson
Itay chen is 19 years old. He's a reservist in the IDF. He was deployed to the border and he was last heard from on Saturday morning.
Nahar Neto
My mother is an exceptional human being.
Becky Anderson
Adrian Netta is 66 years old. She's lived on the Be'eri kibbutz for nearly four or just over 40 years. She's a midwife. She spent her entire life caring for other people.
Nahar Neto
We once calculated that my mother has brought in thousands of lives into this world. When Hamas walked into my mother's room in Be'eri, they saw that alone, but they did not see a human being.
Becky Anderson
She was last heard from on Saturday morning. Just four of the American citizens that we know are being held or at least are missing, presumed to be held by Hamas.
All we ask from the Biden administration and the secretary of state, Blinken, is to act to the immediate release of all hostages.
Becky Anderson
The bottom line is that they are appealing to the US administration, to Joe Biden himself and the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to help them, help them with information and help them get their loved ones released.
David Rind
Right. That's what I wanted to ask. Have these families heard anything from officials say that they've gotten any kind of information that would give them, you know, any idea of what's going on with their loved ones?
Becky Anderson
The Hamas militants broke the borders and started their rampage at 630 on Saturday morning local time here. It is now 10 to 11 at night on Tuesday night. And they have had no communications either with the Israelis or with the US government.
Rachel Goldberg
And we've spoken to eyewitnesses. We know that he was injured in a gun battle.
Becky Anderson
And it was really interesting to hear from the mother and father of Hirsch Polin Goldberg, the 23 year old who lives in Jerusalem and was at the Saturday morning rave.
Rachel Goldberg
Terrorists came to the door. They were throwing grenades in and shooting machine guns. And we know that Hirsch's arm from the elbow down was severed.
Becky Anderson
His parents, Jon and Rachel, were very clear today about what it is that has happened since Saturday morning.
Rachel Goldberg
And he got up and he walked out with five other people, young people from the music festival, two young women, three other young men. They were put on a pickup truck and driven away by Hamas.
Becky Anderson
Rachel explained to us that the information that she has has been gathered by her and friends through social media videos and speaking to a number of eyewitnesses who were at that rave. That is how she. As a mom has pieced together where she now believes her son is.
David Rind
She's doing like open source social media investigation by herself.
Becky Anderson
By herself. She's had nothing from authorities as far as they are concerned.
David Rind
More of my conversation with Becky Anderson in just a bit.
David Rind
Welcome back to Tug of War.
David Rind
So for the families who believe their loved ones are being held in Gaza, how are they approaching the prospect of a possible ground invasion by Israel into Gaza?
Becky Anderson
That's clearly going through their minds, and it's a question that I asked at the press conference today.
Becky Anderson
There's also talk of an imminent ground incursion at this point. Just how concerned are you?
Becky Anderson
A difficult one for them to answer. I spoke to Adrian, the 66 year old son Nahar, and clearly that is why they are so desperate to speak to and get communication with the U.S. and Israeli governments, but specifically the US government.
And remember that the US government has direct responsibility to the lives of the US citizens that are held hostage by these terrorists. So whatever any government needs to do in order to make that happen, please make that happen.
Becky Anderson
They genuinely believe that the US should be involved, can be involved. If the US get involved, they must be able to help militarily, diplomatically. They are desperate for something to be achieved, some sort of negotiation, some sort of narrative track to try and get these hostages released before that incursion starts. And we don't know for sure that there will be a ground incursion. But as we speak, there are some 300,000 reservists called up, many of whom have, as described to me by the IDF today, saturated the southern border. The strikes are swingeing and intense. We hear the booms from here. These parents are absolutely petrified that this ground incursion will start and that they will never get their loved ones back. And look, to be quite fair and with the greatest respect to the Israelis. This is clearly a real complication to what otherwise might have been, you know, a fairly sort of obvious next tactic. If the air campaign had worked, the next tactic would have been a ground incursion, one assumes. But this is that these hostages are clearly complicating that.
David Rind
Becky thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Stay safe.
Becky Anderson
Thank you, sir.
David Rind
Tug of War is a production of CNN Audio. This episode was produced by Paola Ortiz and me. David Rind senior producer, is Haley Thomas, and Steve Lickteig is the executive producer of CNN Audio. We'll be back tomorrow with another update. And in the meantime, you can head over to or the CNN app for the very latest on this story of tomorrow.