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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Israel Orders Complete Seige Of Gaza, Hamas Threatens To Kill Hostages; Hamas Claims 100-Plus Hostages, Including Army Officers; CNN Visits Israeli Hospital Treating Victims With Severe Injuries. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 09, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is still a question about how much money that the US will request to give to Israel, that will take some time to play out.
But Wolf, if this persists into next week and beyond, then the questions will be how quickly can they move on this new aid package for Israel because other issues are still waiting as well, including aid to Ukraine, funding the federal government by mid-November, all huge questions looming over this divided House Republican Conference as they struggle with their way forward.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Manu Raju, thanks very much.
AC 360 with Anderson Cooper live from Israel starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is 3:00 AM in Ashdod about 19 miles from Gaza and you may not be able to pick it up from the microphone I'm wearing, but you can hear the steady booms of shells of being fired into Gaza by Israeli Forces.
We have also, throughout the day seen rocket fire coming to Ashdod, to Ashkelon to our south, Hamas saying they have fired 120 rockets into the two cities today.
Israeli warplanes have been pounding numerous locations in the territory, hitting targets that Israeli officials describe as strategic to Hamas, but causing what appears to be also widespread destruction in densely populated neighborhoods.
Today, Israel's Defense minister ordered the military to put Gaza under what he called complete siege, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to his people tonight warning that what we've just seen is the beginning of his campaign against Hamas, just the beginning.
Hamas for its part warned it will begin killing hostages that they have taken and broadcasting those killings if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning.
It is here as we did last night when we have to warn you about some of the images you'll see in the hour ahead, because again today, new stories and new videos have emerged that show unmistakably, the sheer barbarity of Hamas gunmen, unleashing and what they unleashed on innocent civilians up close, slaughtering hundreds.
There is so much sorrow here shrouded in the waking nightmare for those who are missing loved ones or worse, who have witnessed their abduction either in person or on video that they see on social media. People like a woman named Efat (ph), who saw these images of her cousin, Shiri (ph), Shiri's two young children, Arielle just three years old and Kafir just a year old taken by Hamas militants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YIFAT ZALLER, COUSINS KIDNAPED FROM THEIR HOMES: Thank you. Our institutions of the world that help kidnapped civilians, please do something to force Hamas to release them alive.
This is a precedence. Nothing like this happened before. We need everyone's help. We need the president of Turkey, we need the king of Egypt. We need everyone to help us, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, Hamas claims it is holding more than a hundred men, women and children including young children as we've just shown you, captive and is threatening to kill them. Islamic Jihad which operates in Gaza as well says they have 30.
Israel has cut off Gaza, is hitting it by air. Israeli Forces are building near the border ahead, perhaps of a potential invasion. More than 900 Israelis have been killed that we know about, nearly 700 Palestinians in Gaza, and there is no telling what daylight here in a few hours will bring.
Clarissa Ward joins me now from Ashkelon, a city just south of here. She spent some of the day, daylight hours running for cover with her team in a roadside embankment taking cover from rocket fire nearby.
This is video of that moment that you're looking at. Now, Clarissa is with me.
So talk about just a little bit where you were because you were very close to the border crossing where the initial -- some of the initial invasion took place.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson.
So we had gone right down to the Gaza border to link up with the IDF. They wanted to show us the first area where those Hamas militants were able to breach the border and storm in, guns blazing in these pickup trucks, and there was just this line of cars that had been shot up, abandoned. Many people killed, one of about 80 breaches in that border.
While we were gathering some of our footage, the siren started to alert. We heard a large number of missiles being fired off from Gaza. We obviously tried to get down and get cover as soon as possible.
I think really, the major takeaway here is that we experienced a small sample of what life is like for so many people on both sides of this border -- Anderson.
As the tempo just continues to ratchet up and up with no end in sight, and no clarity as to where this is going -- Anderson.
COOPER: Clarissa, the strikes from both sides have obviously been continuing today. Have you seen really changes in the tempo of the rockets in recent hours?
WARD: So, it's been a little bit of a mixed picture, I will say, after 24 hours of relentless bombardment, we had a few hours this evening where it was a lot quieter. That has changed in the last hour or so as you noted at the beginning of your show, we've been hearing a lot of jets in the skies, we've been hearing quite a few strikes in Gaza, which is in that direction behind me.
We haven't heard so many of those rocket attacks, which we had been hearing on a pretty consistent basis throughout the day. And I think the real question now is sort of, you know, where does this go next? Obviously, the focus is on the hostages, which you mentioned and talked about at the beginning of your show, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech for the Israeli people. He talked about the importance of coming together of unity, and how this is not going to be quick, not going to be easy.
But he didn't answer the question that so many are speculating now about as to whether or not we're going to see some kind of a ground offensive or incursion inside of Gaza -- Anderson.
COOPER: Israel's Defense minister said today that he's given an order for Gaza is "complete siege." Talk a little bit about what that might actually look like.
WARD: Well, the blockade of Gaza has been in effect for well over a decade now, 16 years. But what he was talking about today was a real tightening of that. I believe the expression he used was no food, no fuel, no electricity and you can imagine for ordinary civilians in the Gaza Strip, there are two million people who live there, about a million of them are 18 or younger.
The absolute fear that they are experiencing now, the ferocity of the bombardment that has been going on throughout the day, the lack of any real place for them to seek refuge or to leave the Gaza Strip, because it is blocked off on the Israeli side, but also on the Egyptian side.
And the images that we have been seeing that have been coming out from social media, from some of our colleagues on the ground just showing the scale of some of the destruction that we are seeing inside.
COOPER: Benjamin Netanyahu said today or late today that the IDF is going on the offensive against Hamas "like never before." I mean, this region has obviously been in conflict for years.
I mean, what does that escalation potentially look like? Obviously, a ground incursion would be the most obvious.
WARD: I think the ground offensive is what everyone has been anticipating. We've already crossed the Rubicon, Anderson, in terms of being an uncharted territory, never having seen anything like this certainly in the 20, or something years that I've been covering this story. But people who've been living here for a lot longer say they've never seen anything like this.
We've seen a huge amount of armor, weaponry, manpower, personnel being moved down from Israel, alongside that border. And primarily, initially, it seemed to be a response to dealing with the Hamas militants who were continuing to run amok in areas along that border. There were hundreds of them who infiltrated and it took a couple of days before the Israeli Army felt that they had a decent grip on that.
But now the question is as they remain poised there, do they push further in and frankly, to what end? What would that look like? What would it mean for the hostages who are inside the Gaza Strip and would it potentially actually really put an end to this bloody cycle of violence that has been many decades in the making -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Clarissa, I appreciate you and your team's efforts today. Thank you.
A short time ago, I spoke with a woman named of Avital Alajem. Her friend and neighbor Adi is missing. Adi Kaplun (ph) is her name. The story of Adi's kidnapping is sickening and it's also unique in that Avital and Adi's two young children were also taken, forced to walk to Gaza with the gunmen, with Hamas gunmen, then they were, for reasons still unknown released.
We spoke just a short time ago.
COOPER: Avital, can you just walk us through what happened when your home was attacked.
AVITAL ALAJEM, ABDUCTED AND RELEASED: Yes. We were hiding in the shelter, Haim Kurtzman (ph), who is a friend of mine living next to me and me, we were hitting in the closet, hiding in the closet, and then the terrorists came and they bombed the door.
The bullets -- and they all entered into Haim Kurtzman's body. So I was saved, thanks to him.
And then they pulled me out of the closet. They told me to cover myself. So I just took three skirts and put them on me, one on my legs, one on my shoulders and one on my head, and they took me to my living room.
COOPER: So wait, so the person you were with in the closet was shot.
ALAJEM: He was murdered. Yes.
COOPER: And you were shot as well.
ALAJEM: I wasn't. I wasn't. I was saved because he was next to the door and they shot him and they saved -- I don't know why they just took me out of there and I was saved.
He absorbed all the bullets into his body. And when I went out, I saw him dead.
COOPER: They took him to the living room.
ALAJEM: They took me to the living room, and then came more terrorists with the children of my friend, Adi, which is, she is still missing.
They gave me Eshel (ph), which is his four-and-a-half months old and Negev (ph) who is almost four years old, both traumatized and they just gave them to me.
And from there, they took me to another home and it was a family in the shelter and they tried to convince them to go out of the shelter, and they told me what to tell them in order to come out. Thankfully, they did not listen not to me, not to the terrorist, obviously.
COOPER: And these children, they must have been terrified. Were they crying? Were they silent? I mean, this is --
ALAJEM: They were traumatized. They were shocked. Negev has a bullet -- had a bullet that crossed his foot, and Eshel, the baby he was breathing so much gunfire and his lungs were absorbing so much. Both of them were traumatized. And they were just quiet. They kept like, you know, gazing at the terrorists with terrified eyes.
From there, at a certain --
COOPER: You're talking about a five-year-old child and a four and a half month old child.
ALAJEM: Four years, almost four years old child and a four and a half month, almost five months baby who is still breastfeeding. His mother is missing.
COOPER: How many terrorists were there?
ALAJEM: About eight.
COOPER: And they burned the neighborhood. They burned the kibbutz.
ALAJEM: They burned everything that they could. The cars they broke everything. Everything is ruined.
COOPER: Where did they take you then?
ALAJEM: It just moved me from one house to the other. And then at a certain point, they just took us through the fence. They created a hole in the fence and then we started walking to Gaza.
More terrorists came with us now with the boys. Yes. Negev was on the shoulders of one of the terrorists and I was carrying Eshel. And we just walked. They kept on saying quick, quick and they shouted. Negev just cried the whole situation, wanted to go down. Eshel was on me just fell asleep. I think it was just the survival mode, I guess as a baby. He is just a baby.
COOPER: What was going through your mind?
ALAJEM: I was sure that we're -- I knew that they are kidnapping us. I just kept on saying to myself that maybe some women over there will take care of us and maybe they will be a little bit human to us.
I also realized that there will probably be more people from Israel that they kidnapped and that I have to -- I have to be with the kids. They're gorgeous kids of my friend, of my dear friend who is still missing. I knew that my life is going to change, but I didn't care. I just looked at the kids all the time to see what's going on with them and that's it.
And then we crossed the border. And we were like about two kilometers from Gaza. I already saw the houses and then they told me to go, they released us.
COOPER: Do you know why?
ALAJEM: I don't know why. Everyone is asking me that. I really don't know why. I don't know.
I thank God for that, but I don't know why they say, my -- the kids' lives and life, they just told me to go and then we started walking back.
I wasn't sure where was I and then we entered the gate here and there was more terrorists there. They saw us and then I took the kids to like a little hill of sand and they didn't do anything to us. They just kept on going to Gaza.
And from there, we continued walking. You have to realize that Negev, the four-year-old, he was wounded. So he couldn't walk, he was crawling. He was crying. It was a traumatizing experience.
COOPER: You said he was wounded. Was it in his foot? You said a bullet had grazed his foot.
ALAJEM: Yes. Yes, yes. A bullet crossed his foot. Yes.
COOPER: What happened then? I mean, you arrived back. You see more terrorists leaving? What do you do?
ALAJEM: They didn't do anything to us. They just -- they saw me, I took the kids aside and they'd let us just go. They went back to Gaza. And then we just continued walking through fields. I saw tanks and I heard lots of bombs. There was shouting, shooting.
We just kept on going. I knew that we have to come back before it will be dark and then we entered the fence of the kibbutz.
I had to bend the fence in order to get in back to the kibbutz because they already fixed the fence that was broken. Probably the Army did that.
And then we entered this house of one of the neighbors and that's it. And we called the father of the kids who was sure that his family, his whole family was gone.
COOPER: Gosh. And what about Adi? Their mother, Adi Kaplun. I know -- I understand she was taken alive.
ALAJEM: We don't know.
COOPER: Have there been any pictures of her videos or anything?
ALAJEM: They didn't send anything. We have pictures from before the kidnapping, but we don't know what's going on with her. We don't know. She's missing.
I don't know. I hope she was taken alive. I hope so. We are all hoping that, but we don't know. We don't know anything. The situation here in Israel is so chaotic right now. There are so many missing people and there are so many murdered and everything is ruined.
So many people are traumatized. We don't know what's happening with Adi. We're praying that she comes back. I really hope that she comes back to Negev and Eshel, but we don't know.
COOPER: How are you? How are you holding up? I mean, I cannot imagine -- how do you cope with something like this?
ALAJEM: It's a very difficult question to answer. It's just been two days. I feel it's like been two months of my life. I don't know. We're just hanging there for each other and hoping that this situation will be over.
We are overwhelmed, all of us. No one is expecting the worst and this is the worst of like, the worst scenario that we -- I just -- you see, I'm not coping yet. That's healing -- the healing process is not, it will take time.
COOPER: The two kids? How are they doing? I know they are with their father. They're safe, as safe as anybody in Israel.
COOPER: But how -- have you seen them? how are they doing?
ALAJEM: Yes, yes. Yesterday, we came to Jerusalem and they got medical care, and today, I saw them and they were released in they're better. And they're better. They're much better.
COOPER: Avital, I'm so sorry for what you've been through. Can you tell us about your neighbor, Haim? Who was murdered? What was he like?
ALAJEM: He was a wonderful person. He was a talented person. He was a funny person. He was a -- he was someone who wanted to live. His name is Haim. Haim in Hebrew is life. That's the meaning of his name and he gave life to this planet because he saved me and I was able to save two kids.
He just got back from a journey in India. He was a DJ. He was a professor of philosophy. He was a brilliant person. So beautiful and so gorgeous. He was a good friend.
He was a good soul in this world. Yes, we're just shocked. I'm not able to understand that he's not with us. The picture of him dead is in my head. And yes, he was a wonderful person. He had a very good heart.
COOPER: And he was shot to death in a closet.
COOPER: Well, Avital, I'm so sorry for what you've been through and I wish you strength and peace in the days ahead.
ALAJEM: Thank you. Thank you so much. And I hope that things will be a bit more clear here. It's chaotic right now.
COOPER: Avital, what do you want people to know about Adi, your friend, the mother of the children?
ALAJEM: That she's brave and she has such a good heart. She wouldn't hurt a soul. She always -- she's always smiling and she's always giving and she's so kind and gentle.
She's such a good mother. I mean, she just had a baby. He's four-and- a-half months. She's just a beautiful soul really. Such a good friend. Such a good mother. He needs her. He needs her. They both need her.
They ask -- the big one is asking and she just needs to come back. She needs to come back home.
COOPER: I hope she comes back home. Avital Alajem, thank you.
ALAJEM: Thank you.
COOPER: And we're back with Clarissa Ward.
Clarissa, let's talk about the chaos here, which is the thing that adds to it is now Hamas is threatening to kill hostages in the event that Israel attacks targets without warning.
In addition to that threat, Hamas is saying that they will not negotiate the fate of their hostages while under Israeli fire. It would seem that they're looking to hold those people right now as human shields to try to prevent a large scale Israeli attack, and also as perhaps bargaining chips that they can use for Palestinian prisoners later on.
WARD: That's right, Anderson.
I think, the anticipation has been that there would be some kind potentially of a deal vis-a-vis prisoner release. We know from our colleagues in DC, Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt, that the Qataris have been actively engaged in this and trying to help facilitate or broker some kind of an agreement.
But whenever you're in these situations, and you're trying to make very, very difficult agreements, against the backdrop of continuous bombardment and rocket fire, it becomes exponentially more dangerous for those people who are being held.
And you watch that clip and your heart just breaks for these families who really, very few of them have any idea what's going on, where their loved ones are, if their loved ones are even alive.
We've spoken to family members who said that they've been learning about this stuff from social media, because there is such chaos around the events of Saturday still and who was taken and who was killed and where they may be held and whether they're still alive, and the agony of these families that are going through this protracted state of horror of not knowing, it really has such a powerful effect on the psyche, not just of those families, although, of course, primarily with them, but really of the entire country.
And for obvious reasons, for Israelis, the issue of hostage taking is deeply emotional, and so one can only imagine what it is like for people to sit and wait through these days hearing that bombardment, knowing that every strike could be potentially on one of their loved ones -- Anderson.
COOPER: Clarissa, thank you.
Next, a closer look at how Hamas functions, how it came to power and who supports it now. We'll be joined as well by "New York Times" columnist and author, Thomas Friedman who began reporting from this region decades ago and has been focused on ever since.
Also later, my conversation with Maayin Zin (ph) whose two daughters were taken by Hamas.
COOPER: In his address to the country today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said and I quote, "We always knew who Hamas was. Now the rest of the world knows." And to the extent that the world has now seen the kind of deliberate inhumanity that Hamas practices and now openly revels in, that is true, in that one sense, we do know Hamas. But even if the deeds speak for themselves, they don't say enough
about what gave rise to this organization, what drives it today and ultimately how it may be defeated without planting the seeds of the next Hamas.
So for some background, here is CNN's Sam Kiley.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slick propaganda, a blatant threat and published last year. Hamas gunmen training on motorized paragliders. They also showed meticulous planning for fighting in built up areas, all an historic failure of Israeli intelligence.
Hamas videos of the start of their assaults from Gaza were published within hours of its launch. Once a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, a Sunni movement, won Palestinian elections in 2006 on a platform of social reform and resistance to Israel.
Driven by corruption and incompetence rivals, Fatah, launched attacks immediately against the movement, which denies the right of Israel to exist at all. In the end, Hamas won control of Gaza. And its grip on the enclave of around 2 million people tightened as Israel and Egypt largely sealed it off, causing intense humanitarian problems.
Hamas responded with waves of rocket attacks against Israel that got worse as the years went by. Israel counterattacked from the air and with ground assaults that left thousands dead and Hamas still in charge. But Iran's influence has been key to Hamas' military power.
FABIAN HINZ, IISS: The Iranians have trained Palestinian engineers in how to establish rocket manufacturing in Gaza. We know that the Iranians have provided certain production equipment which you need for the production of solid propellant rockets to Gaza and to other places as well.
KILEY (voice-over): Israel knows it must battle Hamas on its own turf in urban areas, latticed with explosive traps and riddled with secret tunnels. And Hamas will draw on the experience of Iran-backed Hezbollah, which ravaged Israel's armor in 2006, all the while trying to protect the lives of at least 130 hostages that Hamas says they will kill if Israel's attacks continue. Dealing with violent groups backed by Iran, a country that's bent on destroying Israel and building a nuclear weapon that could do just that.
Sam Kiley, CNN.
COOPER: Some perspective now from New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist Thomas Friedman, who's been covering the region and writing about it since the 1980s, whose bestselling account from Beirut to Jerusalem is considered required reading for students of the Middle East.
Tom, why do you think this attack happened now? Why did Hamas choose to strike now? Was it divisions within Israel that they sensed the looming Saudi deal?
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: I have to believe that the looming Saudi deal was a big factor in this, because we're talking about something that would have been a fundamental geopolitical shift in the region. Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel opens ties up between Israel and really the rest of the Muslim world, possibly Indonesia, Malaysia. It would be a huge strategic shift.
But more importantly, Anderson, it also would have had to been done as part of a deal that would have, I think, strengthened the legitimacy of Hamas' arch rival, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Because that normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia could only have been done if Israel also made concessions to the Palestinian Authority, giving it greater control over certain areas in the West Bank, administrative control, putting some kind of freeze and settlements down, and basically reviving hopes for a two-state solution.
So I think both of those were in play. And at the same time, I think it sensed that Israel was completely distracted by a needless judicial coup inside, and the two came together properly.
COOPER: The big question, of course, about the level of Iran's involvement, you know, U.S. officials say they haven't seen a smoking gun, but certainly, Iran supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad, certainly.
FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, again, no one, I think, has a smoking gun, but at the same time, Iran's overriding interest in not seeing its two arch enemies. Israel and Saudi Arabia forge an agreement together, I think is really apparent there.
Otherwise, the thing is even beyond being barbaric, even more senseless and stupid than it appears, if Hamas just did this on some fling for no apparent reason other than had the resources. It's now, you know, visited just tremendous destruction on itself, on Palestinians in Gaza. And maybe lost a strategic number of weapons that it will hopefully, you know, never be able to threaten Israel again.
So I can only believe it has something to do with that Iran -- with that Saudi-Israel normalization deal.
COOPER: The Israeli government's called for a complete siege of Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke today, did not specifically talk about a ground incursion, but certainly that would seem to be in the cards, or certainly a strong possibility. We all know that the difficulties of that, the inherent dangers in that.
We know the international outrage that will grow, the -- as conditions deteriorate in Gaza and the civilian population suffers, Israel risks a lot by a ground invasion, not just in blood of their people, of their soldiers, but also in actually being able to get what they want. I mean, it doesn't -- it can actually go in -- it can actually play into the hands of Iran, can't they?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, in these kind of moments, Anderson, I always ask myself, and I'm sure Israel is asking itself, I hope it is. What does my enemy want? And then let's do exactly the opposite. So what do Israel's enemies want right now? Iran and Hezbollah and Hamas.
They want Israel to occupy Gaza, get enmeshed in a door to door, house to house fighting there, kill a lot of Palestinian civilians, and completely erode the moral high ground that it has right now, which does have real value. That's what they want. They don't care less about their people. If they did, Hamas would have been governing Gaza in a completely different way.
I hope that Israel can achieve its goals of restoring its deterrence, getting its hostages back, but doing it in a way that is not going to play in the hands of Hamas. These are hard calls, I recognize, but you don't want to underplay it. You don't want to overplay it. But I hope Israel does not have to go into Gaza and -- or if it doesn't go far or deep.
COOPER: Is it possible, though, for Israel to avoid going into Gaza? I mean, if they want to stop Hamas' military capabilities moving forward from being able to do the same kind of attack, what other option is there?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think the -- one of the things that Hamas has done, again, which sort of leaves you wondering what they were thinking, among many things, is that they've shown Israel every vulnerability it had and gossip. And they did that for the purpose of inflicting, you know, 700, 800 civilian and military casualties on Israel.
But now, where are you, Hamas? How are you better off? How are the Palestinians of Gaza better off? But you've just shown Israel, blessedly for Israel, that it had all these vulnerabilities. They will -- the Israelis will study this. They will close them. Hamas has now fired off a lot of weapons, also shown Israel what new missile technology it had.
So I think there's a lot of things that Israel can achieve in the long run that will leave Hamas much more weakened without having to go in and try to reoccupy the place. Because if -- you know, maybe there's only one thing worse than Hamas controlling Gaza, and that's nobody controlling Gaza or Israel having to control Gaza.
And so, you know, this problem hasn't been insoluble for so many years for a reason. And, you know, I think this is a time for Israel to do deep thinking about how deep it gets in. I'm sure they are, but I think this is really some critical decisions have to be taken here.
COOPER: There are, I'm sure, plenty of civilians in Gaza who oppose Hamas, who don't like the Hamas regime, and yet they don't really have anywhere to go. I mean, Israel -- you know, the IDF will say go to other areas, but it is so densely packed, it is very difficult for civilians in Gaza.
FRIEDMAN: And that's why, you know, Anderson some problems are kind of insoluble. Unless Israel wants to completely occupy Gaza and nurture a completely different kind of Palestinian government there and stay there, probably multiple generations it would take, it's going to have to deal with some form, most likely, of Hamas.
I think the point is to put Hamas in a situation where it can never do this kind of attack again, where it's on the defensive in international circles and is deterred. But I think deterrence is the only outcome here. You're not going to remake Gaza.
You know, the notion of, you know, of completely transforming that situation through military means is just not going to happen.
COOPER: Tom Friedman, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.
FRIEDMAN: You bet.
COOPER: Coming up next, we're going to take you to a hospital, helping those with injuries from the war, and share the story of a young father critically wounded, trying to defend his home.
COOPER: At the top of this hour, we mentioned that some of the images coming to light of what happened in the terror attacks on Saturday are -- they're just hard to fathom, let alone watch. Want to show you something that was captured on a dash cam of a car. One of the cars in the desert near that music festival where more than 260 people, according to Israeli authorities, were slaughtered.
Now, in this video, you see this armed gunman with an assault rifle run into the frame, gesturing and firing toward a man who's at the bottom right of the frame. Unclear if the man is hit. A moment later, he's dragged away.
Then at the center of the frame, another person, a gunman appears or a person is taking cover. You can see him beneath the back end of that car. Now remember, this is in the desert. People have no place to shelter, no place to hide. The person moves slightly a couple of times, another gunman opens fire on that person. Close range.
We don't show you that. The person stops moving. Then, a short time later, other gunmen begin to loot, going through their victims pockets, going through the car, taking what they can, and then taking at least one of the passengers, a woman who seemed to be hiding in the backseat. They pulled her out and they took her away. We don't know what happened to her.
That, of course, is only part of the picture. We want to take a moment now to highlight the new reality for thousands of people wounded in this conflict. More than 2,500 in addition to more than 900 killed in Israel so far. Palestinian officials reporting nearly 700 people killed there, more than 3,700 wounded in Gaza.
CNN's Becky Anderson went to a hospital in Tel Aviv that's treating victims.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The sound becoming ever more present for so many families caught in the crosshairs of war. Families like the Shindlers praying that their beloved Amekai (ph) survives. The 33-year-old was at home with his wife and six kids when militants attacked the area around his house.
As he tried to fight back, he sustained heavy injuries and is now in critical condition. He lives in a kibbutz called Kerem Shalom in southern Israel, right next to the border with Gaza. The location miss steps away from where Hamas militants bulldozed through the border, tearing down a section of the fence.
An image that has come to define this historic moment in the decades long conflict.
They threw a grenade on the door in front of him. He flew on his back. I thought he died, so I didn't even cry for help, his wife told me. His face badly beaten, one arm amputated, the other left with only two fingers on his hand.
He's being treated here in Sheba Medical Center, the largest in Israel. It's been taking in victims with the most severe injuries. So far, the hospital says over 150 of the nearly 3,000 wounded have arrived here since the fighting began on Saturday morning.
Yoel Har-Even, a director at the hospital, says the types of injuries he's seen are mostly gunshot or shrapnel wounds and blast injuries. There are currently 42 patients like Amekai (ph) in critical condition. And the situation, he says, could get much worse.
(on-camera): We are looking at the potential for a ground incursion. Should that happen, what sort of numbers can you expect here, and what sort of injuries?
YOEL HAR-EVEN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL DIVISION & RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT: Unforeseen, but it probably will be triple or quadruple numbers. It can get worse, but we are ready. And this is what we are training ourselves for many, many years.
ANDERSON (on-camera): Sadly, this is not the first conflict. How are things different?
HAR-EVEN: It's the combination of civilians and military. So usually in the last conflict, most of the casualties were army soldiers.
ANDERSON (voice-over): And for Amekai's (ph) family, this isn't the first time they're going through this pain. Over a decade ago, they lost Amekai's (ph) 24-year-old brother after he was shot by militants during a flare up of tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.
He had his whole life ahead of him, his mother says. Such wickedness, such cruelty. It takes me back 13 years coping with this massacre, this monstrosity. It's so difficult. But despite the horror, they remain positive. They have no other choice.
We believe Amekai (ph) will get out of this alive, and everyone else who was injured will, too. We want peace. This is all we want, his wife says.
A desperate plea for hope echoed by so many other innocent families on both sides of this conflict.
COOPER: Becky Anderson joins me now from Tel Aviv. So this hospital is clearly preparing for whatever influx of patients may come.
ANDERSON: Yes, you're absolutely right. And just to underscore, this is the largest hospital in Israel. It's here in Tel Aviv, and it's been accepting the very worst injuries, those patients that are most critically injured, and they're getting injured, as this young man was in the kibbutz right on the border with Gaza, treated there first with whatever people can treat them with, and then moved to this hospital.
And so that's where he is at the moment. They say that they can cope with whatever the scale of injuries that are likely to come in going forward. But, you know, in discussions with the director, it was clear he's really concerned about what those injuries might look like and the scale of those injuries, if indeed there is an incursion in Gaza.
I mean, he said that's his --
ANDERSON: -- real concern, the scale. He said it could be two, three, four times the numbers that we are looking at just now. And this is after, what, just three days.
COOPER: Becky Anderson, thanks so much.
Next, what the Israeli Defense Force has to say about the threat from Hamas to kill civilian hostages if airstrikes -- or target Gaza without warning. I'll talk with a spokesperson for Israel's Defense Forces.
COOPER: Well, again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that strikes on Gaza are, quote, just beginning, and the Israeli military would attack Hamas with a force, quote, "like never before", as the militant group threatens to kill civilian hostages and broadcasted if Israel airstrikes continue without warning.
Joining me now is Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an international spokesperson for Israeli Defense Forces. Lieutenant Colonel, appreciate you being with us again. So the threat by Hamas about killing Israeli hostages, how would that impact the way the IDF approaches things in Gaza?
LT. COL. (RES.) JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Yes, it's not a surprise, I think, to hear such a threat from an organization that has been planning and willing to take civilians, drag them into Gaza and use them as bargaining chips. So it doesn't come as a surprise. And it is an extremely complex situation that we are dealing with at this stage.
Public sentiment in Israel and outcries of families that are looking for their loved ones, seeking information, seeking clarity, is of course, very clear and very evident in Israel, and it influences events. However, judging by the activity on the ground, I think that it is rather clear what the IDF is doing. We have not stopped firing at Hamas from the air, despite events, and I am not sure that we will stop firing.
I think we're in such a delicate and complex situation that will require very hard decisions by our senior commanders, not only related to this topic, but by other topics as well. This, for sure, being the most sensitive and difficult issue, a dilemma. But the -- and I know that you just spoke about it with Thomas Friedman and you've discussed it with others.
The issue here is that we have been tasked with mitigating or making sure that Hamas doesn't have any military capabilities at the end of the war, and that will be achieved. What happens on the way and how we implement that task will be seen, but at this stage, we continue to strike from the air, and there are plans to, of course, expand that. And the troops, the reserves, and the regular units that are amassing along the southern border are readying for their tasks.
COOPER: You you said earlier on CNN today that Israel now has full control of the sovereignty of its own territory in the south, there may still be fighters here and there. What about the wall, the actual border itself, which was breached at a number of locations that was whittled down over the last several days?
We're coming on now 72 hours once it's dawn here, it'll be 72 hours since this terror attack, large scale began. Are there still breaches in that border that you are very concerned about?
CONRICUS: Yes, the border fence and the whole defense system along the border is being amended as we speak. There are earth moving equipment, there's earth moving equipment and heavy engineering tools that are being used. And our engineers are hard at work with patching up defense and reestablishing our defenses. In support of those operations are combat troops.
We even had helicopters, attack helicopters hovering above, and we have aerial support with armed drones and tanks in covering positions, to name but a few things. That is, of course, a very, very basic concern, because it is through these many openings that the Hamas terrorists were able to create in our fence that the hundreds of Hamas terrorists were able to pour in and to bring about the destruction and killing that they did in Israel. So that has been amended.
I'm getting reports of additional clashes in southern Israel between our troops and Hamas units. There are still attempts of Hamas to breakthrough and to send different suicide missions into Israel to kill civilians or to kill soldiers. And there's information of that as well, happening as we speak. So by no means is the southern area of Israel quiet and returned to stability. That is definitely not the case.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are trying --
COOPER: Let me follow up with you on that. You said -- and I want to see if these are two different things, you said that there are clashes between units, Hamas units and Israeli forces. Is that inside Israel itself, or are those clashes of units attempting to breach the border?
CONRICUS: Both, actually. There are Hamas terrorists that have tried in multiple locations to breach the border, in locations that were breached before or in other locations. They have been thwarted, all of them. And there are other reports of ongoing battle between Israeli troops and Hamas terrorists inside Israel as well, probably terrorists that were either left behind or have been able to infiltrate by other means.
There is a thick fog of war in this current situation, and it seems as if Hamas is very, very committed in trying to inflict more damage, kill more civilians and military in Israel. We are responding to that. Southern Israel is now saturated with Israeli troops, and we will see again.
It's always simpler when the light comes up, when the sun rises, and we'll be able to get a better picture of what's going on. I think that today, later today, there will be good opportunities for the world to see the carnage because we're going to allow access to other news agency.
I know that CNN reporters have been down there and interviewing people and showing. And I hope that other outlets will do the same and show the world what really is -- or what happened in southern Israel and why we are in this situation.
COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel Conricus, I appreciate your being with us tonight. Thank you.
More now on the people who are waiting for word of those who've been taken. The situation here is so chaotic that, as we've been seeing, often the first indications people have that their loved ones have been kidnapped is when they appear in videos posted by Hamas or Islamic Jihad on sites like telegram. That's how Maayan Zin found out that her former husband, Noam had been taken, along with his new family and her daughters, 15-year-old Dafna and eight-year-old Ela.
COOPER (voice-over): When we met Maayan Zin she was scrolling online, looking at hostage videos, searching for new pictures of her captured daughters.
(on-camera): When you learn that your daughters were missing?
(voice-over): My sister sent me a photo of my older daughter, Dafna sitting on a mattress in Gaza, she says. She saved it on her phone. It was posted by Hamas. The writing, in Arabic, says, dress her in prayer clothes. It's better.
I thought at first that it was some kind of Photoshop the Arabs did, Maayan tells me. I didn't think such a thing could be possible.
(on-camera): You didn't believe it?
MAAYAN ZIN, DAUGHTERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: No. My daughter? No.
COPPER (on-camera): How does she look to you here?
ZIN: Afraid. Shocked.
COPPER (voice-over): Maayan was shocked when 30-minute Hamas video live streamed on Facebook. Her former husband, Noam, has a leg wound and is taken away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I know here, I not (INAUDIBLE)
(Speaking Foreign Language)
COPPER (voice-over): Armed gunman questioned his partner Dikla, her son Tomer and Maayan's two terrified daughters.
They're my whole lives, those girls, she says. They're everything I wanted all my life. This is my existence to be a mother. It's all I wanted. I didn't want to be rich. I didn't want to be married. I didn't want anything. I wanted to be a mom.
To feel close to her daughter, she wears a tie-dyed dress, Dafna made for her. Her coffee mug was a gift from Ela.
ZIN: I love you.
COPPER (voice-over): Maayan has given DNA samples to authorities, but says she's heard nothing since then. She's desperate and just wants her daughters and all the hostages returned.
I hope my daughters are watching this and I'm sending them a hug, she says. I believe everyone will return and for Noam and Dikla to know that we're here, the whole family together, supporting each other, cooperating and working together to get them back.
COOPER: CNN's coverage continues from Israel.