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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Joe Biden Addresses Nation On Israel, Ukraine; Biden: U.S. Aid Package For Wars "Help Us Build A World That Is Safer, More Peaceful"; Biden Says He's "Heartbroken" By Gaza Hospital Explosion And That Israel Was Not Responsible. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 19, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And while it's a speech directly to the American people, it's meant to be accessible.
It's not about Congress. It's not about the budget. But the backdrop is the fact that there is a real leadership vacuum on Capitol Hill, and there are real debates about levels of federal spending that have cast into confusion, the government's ability to fund itself beyond the middle of November.
So the president has a real sales pitch to make to the American people, to leadership on Capitol Hill as the White House prepares to send up a package north of $100 billion in the coming days.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Kaitlan, President Biden's popularity here in Israel has soared since this attack began both for the speech he gave and also for the speech he gave here and the visit here, first time a president visiting during wartime. What do you expect tonight?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It is kind of remarkable how tied he is to everything that's happening here and we will see what that looks like, of course, once Israel does go into Gaza as we expect them to do.
But I was just thinking about this today, as you know, obviously, as Kayla was noting, this is going to be a bigger speech on multiple fronts -- Ukraine, Taiwan -- just democracy, period, and how the US fighting helping these countries fight these fights, keeps US troops out of it, keeps the US out of it, to a degree. But he is so closely tied to this.
When he came here yesterday and sat in on a Cabinet meeting, not just any Cabinet meeting, but a wartime Cabinet meeting that we have never seen a US president do something like that with another government, sit in on their Cabinet meetings, and giving these strong speeches talking about the US support here.
And I was thinking with the way that he is -- President Biden has talked about approaching Netanyahu, how we saw this in 2021, when, of course, there was a 21-day infighting, and he has always had this idea that keeping Netanyahu closer helps moderate him to a degree. And we certainly -- I mean, we saw him literally hug that Netanyahu when he got off the plane here.
And I just think --
COOPER: I wasn't sure who was hugging who. It seemed like Netanyahu went in first.
COLLINS: Yes, he kind of embraced him and I was reading some Israeli journalists today who were saying, you know, that it was kind of a bear hug. It's not always meant to just show your embrace, but it's also a sign of restraint of how to tell you what to do next, and how to moderate and it's just not --
COOPER: Let's listen in to the president.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, my fellow Americans.
We're facing an inflection point in history. One of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come. That's what I'd like to talk with you about tonight.
Now earlier this morning I returned from Israel. They tell me I'm the first American president to travel there during a war. I met with the prime minister and members of his cabinet, and most movingly, I met with Israelis who had personally lived through the horrific horror of the attack by Hamas on the 7th of October.
More than 1,300 people slaughtered in Israel, including at least 32 American citizens. Scores of innocents from infants to the elderly, grandparents, Israelis, Americans taken hostage. As I told the families of Americans being held captive by Hamas, we're pursuing every avenue to bring their loved ones home. As president, there is no higher priority for me than the safety of Americans held hostage.
The terrorist group Hamas unleashed pure unadulterated evil in the world, but sadly, the Jewish people know, perhaps better than anyone, that there is no limit to the depravity of people when they want to inflict pain on others.
In Israel, I saw a people who are strong, determined, resilient and also angry, in shock and in deep, deep pain.
I also spoke with President Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and reiterated that the United States remains committed to the Palestinian people's right to dignity and to self-determination. The actions of Hamas terrorists don't take that right away.
Like so many others, I'm heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at the hospital in Gaza, which was not done by the Israelis. We mourn every innocent life lost. We can't ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity.
You know, the assault on Israel echoes nearly 20 months of war, tragedy and brutality inflicted on the people of Ukraine, people that were very badly hurt since Putin launched his all-out invasion.
We've not forgotten the mass graves, the bodies found bearing signs of torture, rape used as a weapon by the Russians, and thousands and thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken into Russia, stolen from their parents.
Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common. They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy -- completely annihilate it. Hamas' stated purpose for existing is the destruction of the state of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.
Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and innocent Palestinian families are suffering greatly because of them.
Meanwhile, Putin denies Ukraine has, or ever had, real statehood. He claims the Soviet Union created Ukraine. And just two weeks ago, he told the world that if the United States and our allies withdraw -- and if the United States withdraws, our allies will as well -- military support for Ukraine would have, "a week left to live." But we're not withdrawing.
I know these conflicts can seem far away, and it's natural to ask: Why does this matter to America? So let me share with you why making sure Israel and Ukraine succeed is vital for America's national security.
You know, history has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going. And the cost and the threats to America and the world keep rising.
So if we don't stop Putin's appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won't limit himself just to Ukraine. He's -- Putin has already threatened to remind -- "remind Poland" that their western land was a gift from Russia. One of his top advisers, a former president of Russia, has called Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Russia's Baltic provinces.
These are all NATO allies. For 75 years, NATO has kept peace in Europe and has been the cornerstone of American security. And if Putin attacks a NATO ally, we will defend every inch of NATO, which the treaty requires and calls for.
We'll have something that we do not seek. Make it clear -- we do not seek -- we do not seek to have American troops fighting in Russia or fighting against Russia.
Beyond Europe, we know that our allies, and maybe most importantly our adversaries and competitors, are watching. They're watching our response in Ukraine as well. And if we walk away and let Putin erase Ukraine's independence, would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened to try the same.
The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world: in the Indo-Pacific, in the Middle East, especially in the Middle East. Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it's supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region. And we'll continue to hold them accountable, I might add.
The United States and our partners across the region are working to build a better future for the Middle East. One where the Middle East is more stable, better connected to its neighbors, and through innovative projects like the India, Middle East and Europe rail corridor that I announced this year at the Summit of the world's biggest economies, more predictable markets, more employment, less rage, less grievances, less war when connected. It benefits the people. It would benefit the people of the Middle East, and it would benefit us.
American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, if we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it.
That's why tomorrow I'm going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America's national security needs, to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine. It's a smart investment that's going pay dividends for American security for generations, help us keep American troops out of harm's way, help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren.
In Israel, we must make sure that they have what they need to protect their people today and always. The security package I'm sending to Congress and asking Congress to do is an unprecedented commitment to Israel's security that will sharpen Israel's qualitative military edge, which we've committed to: The qualitative military edge.
We're going make sure Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel. We're going to make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading.
Look, at the same time, President Netanyahu and I discussed again, yesterday, the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can. The people of Gaza urgently need food, water and medicine.
Yesterday, in discussions with the leaders of Israel and Egypt, I secured an agreement for the first shipment of humanitarian assistance from the United Nations to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. If Hamas does not divert or steal this shipment, these shipments, we're going to provide an opening for sustained delivery of lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians.
As I said in Israel, as hard as it is, we cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution. [20:10:10]
Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity and peace.
You know, and here at home we have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has given too much oxygen, fueling racism, a rise in anti-Semitism, Islamic-phobia, right here in America.
It's also intensified in the wake of recent events that led to the horrific threats and attacks that both shock us and break our hearts.
On October 7th, terror attacks have triggered deep scars and terrible memories in the Jewish community. Today, Jewish families worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their faith walking down the street, or going out about their daily lives.
And I know many of you in the Muslim-American community, the Arab- American community, the Palestinian-American community and so many others are outraged and hardened saying to yourselves, "Here we go again with Islamophobia and the distrust we saw after 9/11."
Just last week, a mother was brutally stabbed. A little boy here in the United States, a little boy who just turned six years old, was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea. Wadea, a proud American, a proud Palestinian-American family.
We can't stand by and stand silent when this happens. We must without equivocation denounce anti-Semitism. We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia.
And to all of you hurting, those of you who are hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you: You're all America. You're all America.
This is in a moment where -- you know, in moments like these, when fear and suspicion, anger and rage run hard -- that we have to work harder than ever to hold on to the values that make us who we are. We're a nation of religious freedom, freedom of expression. We all have a right to debate and disagree, without fear of being targeted in schools or workplaces or in our communities.
We must renounce violence and vitriol, see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.
When I was in Israel yesterday, I said that when America experienced the hell of 9/11, we felt enraged as well, and while we sought and got justice, we made mistakes. So I caution the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage.
And here in America, let us not forget who we are. We reject all forms, all forms of hate, whether against Muslims, Jews, or anyone. That's what great nations do. And we are a great nation.
On Ukraine, I'm asking Congress to make sure we can continue to send Ukraine the weapons they need to defend themselves and their country without interruption, so Ukraine can stop Putin's brutality in Ukraine.
They are succeeding. When Putin invaded Ukraine, he thought he would take Kyiv and all of Ukraine in a matter of days. Well over a year later, Putin has failed, and he continues to fail.
Kyiv still stands because the bravery of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine has regained more than 50 percent of the territory Russian troops once occupied. Backed by US-led coalition of more than 50 countries around the world, all doing its part to support Kyiv.
What would happen if we walked away? We are the essential nation.
Meanwhile, Putin has turned to Iran and North Korea to buy attack drones and ammunition to terrorize Ukrainian cities and people.
From the outset, I have said I will not send American troops to fight in Ukraine. All Ukraine is asking for is help, for the weapons, munitions, the capacity, the capability to push invading Russian forces off their land. And the air defense systems to shoot down Russian missiles before they destroy Ukrainian cities.
Let me be clear about something.
We send Ukraine equipment sitting in our stockpiles. And when we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores, our own stockpiles, with new equipment. Equipment that defends America and is made in America. Patriot missiles for air defense batteries, made in Arizona. Artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and so much more.
You know, just as in World War II, today, patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.
Let me close with this:
Earlier this year, I boarded Air Force One for a secret flight to Poland. There, I boarded a train, with blacked-out windows for a 10- hour ride each way to Kyiv to stand with the people of Ukraine ahead of the one-year anniversary of their brave fight against Putin. I'm told I was the first American to enter a war zone not controlled by the United States military since President Lincoln.
With me was just a small group of security personnel and a few advisers. But when I exited that train and met Zelenskyy, President Zelenskyy, I didn't feel alone. I was bringing with me the idea of America, the promise of America, to the people who are today fighting for the same things we fought for 250 years ago: Freedom, independence, self-determination.
And as I walked through Kyiv with President Zelenskyy, with air raid sirens sounding in the distance, I felt something I've always believed more strongly than ever before: America is a beacon to the world, still, still. We are, as my friend Madeleine Albright said, the indispensable nation.
Tonight, there are innocent people all over the world who hope because of us. Who believe in a better life because of us. Who are desperate not to be forgotten by us. And who are waiting for us.
But time is of the essence.
I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. We can't let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.
In moments like these, we have to remind -- we have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. The United States of America. And there is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity, if we do it together.
My fellow Americans, thank you for your time.
May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.
COOPER: That was President Biden speaking roughly 15 minutes laying out plans that he will be sending to Congress to support both Israel and Ukraine and making a case for what is at stake for Americans and for the world.
Back with Kaitlan Collins here in Tel Aviv, also Kayla Tausche, also joining us to CNN is Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon and senior military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Kaitlan, let's start out with you.
Early on, he was linking essentially Vladimir Putin and Hamas both supported by Iran, but he says wanting to destroy a democratic neighbor.
COLLINS: Yes, a neighboring democracy. That was the line that stuck out to me the most beyond the one of what he said, the lessons that he believes should be imparted for Israel, similar to what he believes the US did after 9/11.
Of course, you know, he is someone who voted for the Iraq war as a senator. He has later said that he regretted that vote. And he seems to be trying to clearly send that message. He was doing so when he was here, and tonight saying that Hamas and Vladimir Putin are very different.
Obviously, Hamas is this terrorist group that the US says, operates out of Gaza. Putin is a world leader, but he was saying that they both have the same goal.
And he was using that link to say this is why we should continue funding, not only Israel and the Iron Dome that we've seen intercepting rockets that have been fired over Tel Aviv, but also in Ukraine, talking about continuing to push for that fight and pushing back against those who have said maybe we shouldn't be funding Ukraine.
He said it's okay to ask those questions. He gets why people do. But this is why he's explaining why it's important in his --
COOPER: He is also trying to sell it as a good investment and that was literally a term he used, both because as a member of NATO, he talked about Vladimir Putin's comments made about Poland, also Russian officials comments about Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
COLLINS: And he referenced something that Putin said a few weeks ago that didn't get a lot of attention, which was that if the US and other Western allies stop helping Ukraine, stop supporting Ukraine, that he believes they'd run out of funding within a week and it would completely eradicate their forces, they're fighting forces and the support that they have.
COOPER: Kayla Tausche, the president also spoke very clearly about anti-Semitism in the United States and Islamophobia.
TAUSCHE: And he warned the American public to essentially side with their better angels to avoid some of those divisions, and to avoid some of that hatred.
But what I saw most in its simplest form in this speech, was the president trying to make an argument of democracy versus dictatorships. It's a very lofty argument, but he's trying to distill it down to a kitchen table conversation, and it was that investment line, Anderson, that you just pointed out, that stuck out most to me where he said this is a smart investment that will pay dividends for decades to come.
And he lays out a very clear cost if this investment isn't made and that is the involvement of US troops. He says, I do not seek to have US troops fighting, he said specifically against Russia, but he also alluded to US troops potentially fighting in the Middle East and suggested that if these wars widen beyond Ukraine's borders, beyond Israel's borders, that there is the potential or the likelihood for US troops to become involved and that is a very clear cut argument to try to make to the American people.
He talked about the fact that if Putin is allowed to continue, that this war could go into NATO territory, at which point the US would have no choice to become involved. And that's just a very, very stark argument to make to the American people about why this is needed, not only for this generation, but for generations to come.
And to that point, Anderson, he made about some of the divisions here at home, the noise that you're hearing right now behind my live shot are some pro-Palestinian protests that are happening just right outside the White House gate, people with megaphones, with messages for the media. We're trying to listen to that as well as the president's speech at the same time, but clearly, you know, these are conflicts that have struck a chord here at home, not just overseas.
COOPER: Yes, Ben Wedeman, who is joining us from Lebanon tonight. Ben, the president also spoke about Palestinians, both in the United States, Palestinian-Americans, and also his concerns about Palestinian civilians, and his desire and his insistence on opening up corridors and getting humanitarian supplies across that Rafah border, which he hopes he says if Hamas does not attempt to steal the beginning aid that will flow in perhaps as soon as this weekend, not Friday as had been earlier expected, that that would be a continuing flow of humanitarian assistance -- Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, we'll see if that happens, because there were high expectations it was going to happen tomorrow, Friday. Apparently, it's not perhaps on Saturday and until that starts to happen, there is going to be a feeling among many, particularly in Gaza, that these are hollow promises, because at the same time that the United States is promising to get that aid into Gaza, at the same time, the United States is militarily and rhetorically strongly backing Israel in its offensive against Hamas in Gaza and that's going to continue.
Therefore, words from the American president are going to continue to ring hollow not just in Gaza itself, but across the broader Middle East where we've seen protests in almost every country and we're expecting more to come.
So the words sound good, but until there's actual aid arriving on the ground in Gaza, actually relieving some of the suffering of the people there, it's going to be hollow words -- Anderson.
COOPER: General Hertling, you've spent your life in uniform. I'm wondering what you think of what you heard tonight.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I'm taking all this in, Anderson, and seeing several of you in a combat zone right now, while some of us are in either DC or Washington. And I picked up on the initial words of the president when he said we are at an inflection point, and from someone who spent four decades in uniform, I firmly believe this is one of the most dangerous times in our history.
The things he pointed out, first of all, in just summary, others are seeking our help. He tied both Israel's actions and Ukraine's actions to a fight for survival, a fight for protection of their people, a fight for freedom and dignity.
And then what he also said was that others are watching, both our friends, our foes, our competitors. And, you know, what he then did, which I found very moving was he tied all of that, not to the money, not to what is expected, and not to the capacity of Americans to help, but he tied it all to what should be our values, our human dignity, our respect for one another, our religious freedoms and our freedoms writ large. Whereas this is an appeal, certainly, and it's a warning that he's going to send packages, as he called it to Congress to find what it really is, I think tying back to that inflection point, is saying, this is a time for action as Ben just said.
People in Ukraine, people in Israel are depending on us as that beacon of hope that he described and it is important that we turn the light on and we support them as best as possible because they reflect who we are as a people.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto, your thoughts?
SCIUTTO: Well, it is notable today that the president making clear the US does not want to get involved in direct conflict with Russia over Ukraine, or indirect conflict, say with Iran over the war in Israel, but what we saw today was just how dangerous the possibility is at least of escalation.
You had a case off the coast of Yemen, we reported earlier, where missiles were fired from Houthi rebels. They are Iran-backed. The question at the time, were they fired at the US destroyer or elsewhere? The US destroyer took them out, took several of them out.
We learned later that in fact, those missiles appeared to be headed towards Israel, a chance of opening up another front against Israel, not just from the north, say with Hezbollah, also backed by Iran, but here Houthi rebels to Israel's east.
At the same time today, we saw US forces fired on in Syria, and in Iraq, again by what are in effect proxy forces for Iran. And you have two US carrier groups now in the Eastern Mediterranean, so while US forces don't want to be directly involved, they are in this region now supporting Israel, but they're also in the line of fire and they can be vulnerable.
Hezbollah has thousands of missiles it can target those ships. The Houthis have many missiles, as we saw today, and you have those Iranian proxy forces in Syria and Iraq that could put US forces based there into danger.
That is the issue here that you could have a multi-front war around Israel, you could also whether they want to or not find US troops and sailors in danger if that war expands.
COOPER: And Nic Robertson, as the president was talking, you are down in Sderot, I believe tonight and what have you been hearing?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we've been hearing artillery fire going in and a steady and intermittent, but steady salvo of artillery shells that were sort of bursting above the ground, then coming down and sort of red fragments before you could hear the explosion as they detonated on the ground.
We saw a multiple number of those, unsteady explosions in the background right now. So you know, the president speaking, Israel is acting.
This is a moment here where the conflict in with Hamas can enter a new phase. I'm not sure that it's going to go into Gaza, whether the IDF will take it into Gaza tonight, but you just feel it here. The troops are close to the wire. The tanks are firing through the fields where the troops were expected to go into in the coming days.
We've heard the guns firing the troops guns, heavy machine guns, small arms fire, explosions still going off behind me. Drones in the sky, fighter jets in the sky. While the president was speaking, the tempo of war here feels like it's really moving ahead -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, the money is going to Congress or the request is going to Congress. What happens there? What is the dysfunction in the House? How does that impact this?
COLLINS: What we've heard from some sources that we've been talking to, some senators is that maybe they would pass this package first, and then send it over to the House to up the pressure on them, because the Senate is in pretty much agreement. There are a few voices who disagree, but they're pretty much agreement on sending Ukraine aid and Israel.
I mean, you've seen Mitch McConnell has been one of the few people who has come out repeatedly and made the argument for funding Ukraine.
But this request is going to Congress tomorrow. It is not going to get passed anytime soon, unless they can figure out what they're doing with the House speaker. And we saw they're going to have another vote tomorrow. We are told we believe around 10:00 AM is what our Hill team says.
But what President Biden is asking for cannot be granted right now because there is no House speaker and therefore there is no action happening in the House.
COOPER: I mean, it is incredible. It's an extraordinary situation, given the -- I mean, you just heard General Hertling saying this is maybe one of the most dangerous times in our history.
COLLINS: At an inflection point, and just the idea that President Biden was just down there in a hotel basement that doubles as a bomb shelter, meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the war cabinet yesterday, and I was told that this got brought up, what's happening on Capitol Hill.
The Israeli senior government officials were talking to the president about that and how it is going to affect the $10 billion that he is asking for, for Israel, and he assured them that he thinks in the end, I mean, it's almost certain he's going to get what he's asking for, especially on Israel. But the idea that this is an impediment and that this is a roadblock is just remarkable in and of itself.
COOPER: There are a lot of folks in Congress who would like to separate the Ukraine and Israel aid. COLLINS: Well, and there are some Democrats on the progressive left who don't want to give Israel unconditional aid as they've framed it. I mean, you've seen how they've been talking about this.
I'm thinking of people like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, all of these other progressive left lawmakers who have also questioned the US unwavering support for Israel in the way that it goes and especially with what you've seen with civilians in Gaza.
And President Biden acknowledged that multiple times tonight saying A., that the Palestinian civilians are not Hamas, they are not one in the same, but also saying that he told Netanyahu that he needs to abide by the laws of war and therefore not target civilians and make sure that that's part of that. That's been a point of disagreement from what you've heard from Israeli officials and how they're conducting that and this sense of palpable rage and he was saying, don't be blinded by your rage. He said, essentially argued that America was after 9/11.
COOPER: Nic Robertson in Sderot, there was a government official here in Israel today, I believe a finance minister, but correct me if I'm wrong, who said something to the effect that the IDF now has the green light and it's up to them of when this operation will begin. Is that accurate? Does that actually -- is that, a, is that exactly what he said? And also, is that the truth? Is it actually now the IDF's decision? Has the ball been handed to them?
ROBERTSON: Yes, I was asking him, the economy minister, and he said quite specifically, the -- and I pressed him on this issue, you know, is it still a political decision that has to be taken if you're going to go into Gaza? And he was, no, the political decision's been taken.
The green light by the politicians has been passed, has been given to the military and it's up to them on their own terms when they feel that they're ready to go in, when they've got the military assets in the place that they need them, when they feel that they -- when they feel that everything is correct, then they can go in.
We just don't know when that time precisely is going to be. And they are beginning to get a vision of what they're going to do when they go in, which is, we know deconstruct Hamas. But one of the things is put a massive, much bigger, much wider, much stronger sort of zone around Gaza, the whole 50 miles of that Gaza fence.
That's going to have a huge exclusion zone built into it, which will essentially be a free fire zone, a kill zone, if you will, when no one will be able to go into it. So, what happened two weekends ago absolutely cannot happen again.
So the plans are advancing. We don't get many details, but absolutely now, it is down to the military to make the next move when they want to call it, Anderson.
COOPER: And General Hertling, I mean, given, again, your four decades of military experience, what do you expect this operation to look like?
HERTLING: Well, we can talk about Israel and what the operation might look like, compare it to what's happened in the past. But Anderson, I don't mean to get too sappy, but I'd like to get back to trying to tie this all together.
I, honestly, believe we're in the first chapter of a new book of American history. There are two fights going on by two of our friends, Ukraine and Israel. They need our help. In this kind of situation, good people help their friends because they see the world like we do. They want sovereignty, they want peace for their nation, they want to secure people, and they're depending on us to help them out.
So, actions in Israel, the continued actions in Ukraine, we'll judge that on the battlefield. But it just goes back to what the President is saying tonight, is that we need to help them both regain their sovereignty and their territory and their freedom.
COOPER: General Hertling, Nic Robertson, Jim Sciutto, Ben Wedeman, Kayla Tausche, thank you. Kaitlan is going to be back at the top of the hour from Tel Aviv.
Next, new intelligence and a new CNN analysis of everything we know about Tuesday's explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City. Later, what we saw today at kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the settlements very close to the Gaza border about 1.5 mile from the Gaza border You can see it through the fence which saw so many men, women and children murdered or taken hostage from Nir Oz.
This was the first time reporters were allowed in based on the security situation. I went there. I spent much of the day there. I'll show you some of what I found.
COOPER: President Biden had to quickly adapt his visit here yesterday in the wake of reaction to that explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. Fallout from the blast and loss of life set off protests in neighboring countries and scuttled a planned meeting with Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders in Amman.
Tonight, using new video, new images from the ground and information from our sources, CNN has done its own analysis of what happened. Alex Marquardt joins us now with that. First off, though, what's the latest on what the U.S. and Israeli intelligence have determined?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they are very much on the same page now. We have just gotten a new unclassified intelligence assessment that was put out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. So, this is what the U.S. intelligence community now believes happened at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.
Now, their analysis echoes what Israel says, that Israel is not responsible. That's based on reporting, intelligence, missile activity, open source material. They even say that some Palestinian militants talked about this being a rocket from a group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That's according to intercepted conversations. And that rocket, they say, caused structural damage at the hospital. Sorry, limited damage. But it did kill hundreds of people.
Anderson, I want to show everyone where we're talking about. This, of course, is the map of Gaza. This is northern Gaza. The hospital sits right in the middle of northern Gaza. As you know, Israel has told people to leave the north and head to the south.
We've also heard this vigorous defense by the Israeli military of what happened in the strike. They accuse Islamic Jihad, as well, of firing that rocket. And they argue that the damage that we have seen at the strike site is not consistent with the strikes that their air force have carried out in Gaza.
COOPER: There's also now more video of the strike, talk about how that's sort of helped figure out what happened.
MARQUARDT: There is some remarkable video, Anderson. This is really the most extraordinary. I want to play this just so everyone can hear it. So a loud whoosh followed by that massive explosion. We have geolocated the site of this blast to the Ahli hospital.
But from this clip and from that sound we just heard, experts say that they can't glean too much about what the projectile is exactly. They can only really say that it caused that huge explosion.
Take a look at this. This is another piece of video. It is a key piece of evidence. It's from Al Jazeera News, just before 7:00 p.m. They caught this on a camera that was facing eastwards. You can see that dot soaring into the sky. We have determined that this was a rocket that was fired from the ground south of Gaza City.
It then exploded high above Gaza City right there. That's an explosion. And our military analyst, Cedric Leighton, says that this is consistent with a malfunctioning rocket. And then, six seconds later, this camera is going to pan down and we will see an explosion on the ground. We have also geolocated that to the hospital.
We can't say that the rocket that we saw up in the sky is related to the explosion, but we have geolocated this spot to the hospital. And then, we have seen the aftermath. Eyewitnesses have described bodies, parts of bodies, strewn all over the place.
The health ministry, which as you know is controlled by Hamas, they have claimed almost 500 Gazans killed. This new intelligence assessment that we saw today, they say the number is lower, closer to between 100 and 300 on the lower end they say. But, of course it is, as they say, a staggering death toll. Anderson?
COOPER: And what about from the aftermath, anything more we can learn? MARQUARDT: Lots of aftermath video. So we've seen all kinds of charred vehicles. We have seen damage to the buildings. You can see the windows blown out there at the hospital. But none of these buildings have been leveled. This one's pockmarked.
Belongings strewn all over the place. Inside the hospital grounds, blood soaked sidewalks. Lots and lots of damage. But the experts we've spoken with, Anderson, have looked at this damage. They say that this does not look like an airstrike.
This is a new piece of video that CNN obtained exclusively. A crater in the parking lot at the hospital. This appears to be where the projectile struck. As you can see, it's relatively small. And again, these experts say that a crater this size is not what you would see after a missile strike from a jet or from a drone. It could be, they say, from a smaller rocket.
I also want to show you these satellite images from before and after the strike. This is from above, of course. This is the hospital. This is the parking lot that we've been looking at before the strike. And this is after the strike. And afterwards, we see this blackened parking lot, the charred vehicles.
But there is no evidence of a major crater. And that is very important. There is nothing visible here that points to a crater from an airstrike.
Now, Anderson, since those horrific attacks by Hamas back on October 7th, we've seen thousands of Israeli airstrikes all across the Gaza Strip. This is what they usually look like, flattened buildings, huge craters.
Now, could Israel have used a smaller munition, perhaps an artillery shell, at the hospital? Experts say that is not outside the realm of possibility, but as we now know, the U.S. and Israel are saying it is unlikely, given what else we've seen and what we know.
So, all together, CNN has reviewed dozens of videos that have been posted on social media, aired on live broadcasts, and filmed by a freelance journalist working in Gaza, which show the blast and its aftermath.
We have undertaken a thorough analysis of that footage which suggests that the devastating explosion was not the result of an Israeli airstrike. And we have these weapons experts who say that the visual evidence points to the possibility that it was caused by a rocket.
Now, importantly, this does not prove the assertions made by Israeli and U.S. intelligence, but it is consistent with their claims that this was an explosion due to a local rocket that misfired. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, appreciate that. Appreciate the detail.
Perspective now from Rami Igra, a former division chief for Israel's intelligence agency Mossad. He ran the hostages and MIA unit. Rami, do you think the consensus about the source of the hospital explosion in Israel and the U.S. intelligence community and our reporting, do you think it actually changes public opinion in regions where we've seen some of these protests? Doesn't seem likely.
RAMI IGRA, FORMER DIVISION CHIEF OF MOSSAD HOSTAGES & MIA UNIT: No, well, you can't preach to the converter, as you know. And the converted are -- they use this, as I said to you yesterday this kind of thing is used by terrorists all the time. I would add to your report, there's 450 missiles up to now have misfired in the Gaza Strip and fell in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli army spokesman not only presented all the info that you have presented, but also intercepted a call between two Hamas activists speaking between themselves and reasserting that the truth is, this is a jihad missile, which was fired from the back of the hospital. And malfunctioned as it flew away.
COOPER: I should point out, I mean, neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad has presented actually any evidence. And in your knowledge, have they ever admitted a misfire of a rocket? I mean, they are firing rockets from the middle of a city, from streets all over the city, from buildings, right next to residential buildings and in residential buildings.
I've been in Gaza City where rockets were being fired from buildings close to where I was reporting from, and you see them. People know where the rockets are being fired. They -- people who live there know where these tunnels entrances are at times. Has anyone ever taken responsibility for a misfire on -- from Hamas or Islamic Jihad?
They have in the past, but not in the middle of the war part of the tactic here is they're looking to create a major humanitarian crisis that will bring about a
IGRA: They have in the past, but not in the middle of the war. Part of the tactic here is they're looking to create a major humanitarian crisis that will bring about a ceasefire.
They slaughtered men, children, women, elderly on Saturday the 7th, and now they want us to cease fire to stop punishing them. But the Israeli resolve is to enter the Gaza Strip, house by house, activist by activist.
So six after the war, we won't have Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Not only there would be a fire, a clear firing zone, it was -- there would not be any Hamas activists to fire missiles at anybody. It is inconceivable that we should continue living with these -- with this kind of situation.
Where Tom, Dick and Harry in the Gaza Strip will decide to put the -- put all the people that live in Tel Aviv, including yourself right now, in a shelter. COOPER: We mentioned earlier that the Israeli finance minister said today that the Israeli government has given, quote, the green light to the army to wipe out Hamas. I don't know if he was authorized to say that. I talked -- I asked Mark Regev about it, the spokesperson for the prime minister. He would not comment on that. Do you believe the next phase is imminent?
IGRA: Yes, the Israeli government a week ago declared that our purpose in this skirmish is to eliminate, uproot, destroy the Hamas. The only way that you're going to do this is by entering the Gaza Strip. And as I said before on your program, go house by house and eliminate Hamas activists.
This is going to be a lengthy, slow war. It is not easy. This is not a blitzkrieg situation. This is a very thorough clearing off the Gaza Strip. And we could all remember that a lot of these activists live on the ground. The population that create the humanitarian crisis live above ground and not allowed to go to the south and be relieved.
And the activists themselves, they live on the ground and wait for us. We know this. The army is being prepared. The army is waiting for the go ahead. In the meantime, the Israeli Air Force is clearing the Gaza Strip as best it can.
And if you look at the pictures in the Gaza Strip, you see that this is being done. And we're close to the moment where the army will invade the Gaza Strip and clear it out.
COOPER: Rami Igra, thank you for your time.
Next, I spent the day at a kibbutz Nir Oz, where so many people, civilians, men, women, children, were attacked and murdered or kidnapped on October 7th. It's the first time that journalists were allowed to go there because of the security situation. Burned out cars, torched homes, blood on floors in people's homes. It's all still there. I'll show you some of it ahead.
COOPER: President Biden's message tonight, supporting the fight against Hamas, also increasing relief for Gaza came as our Nic Robertson told us. He could see and hear evidence of machine gun fire and flares near where he is in Sderot, just outside Gaza. I'm joined now by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an international spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces.
Colonel, as I mentioned, Nic Robertson reported, seeing tank fire, flares, hearing machine gun fire, is tonight any different than any other night?
LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Thank you for having me again. Thank you for having me. Tonight, we continue to strike Hamas targets. We continue to hunt their commanders. We continue to apply pressure on their military infrastructure and to mitigate their military capabilities to launch attacks against us.
We've thwarted a few attacks. And we continue to, as I said, strike their commander. So it is a night that is definitely abnormal. But it's become the new normal since the bloody Hamas attack on the 7th of October.
COOPER: I've kind of lost a little track of time, but I recall maybe a week ago, I think it was the IDF had said that there had been an operation into Gaza to gather information and to -- yes, to kind of soften up the ground and find out information. Have those operations actually in Gaza been continuing, whether it's probes or whatever you might term it?
CONRICUS: Yes, you're not the only one that feels the blur of the days as this war goes on. Yes, the idea has indeed done several tactical incursions into the Gaza Strip, the perimeter close to the border with the purpose of finding parts, bodies and any other piece of information that could help us solve and understand the fate of all Israelis that are currently either dead or missing.
And there's still more than 100 Israelis that are unaccounted for. And that activity, together with a lot of other intelligence driven activity, is designed to shed more light on the fate of each and every Israeli. We have 203 confirmed hostages. And we have more than 100 people that are still unaccounted for.
COOPER: When -- today, we learned today that the idea of family yesterday, and we're going to have more reporting on this in just a moment after we talked to you, that two of their loved ones to their family members have been -- their bodies were found and that they are in fact dead.
The large number of missing people, some of -- are some of those people just simply unidentifiable remains that you have yet to be able to determine who they are? Or does missing mean automatically kidnapped?
CONRICUS: No, missing does not mean automatically kidnapped. Definitely not. And our forensic analysis of the remains, dental analysis and many other types of high tech analysis of the physical remains they're ongoing.
I don't want to get too graphic, but many of the bodies are extremely difficult to identify for sad, sad reasons. And that is why it's taking so long. And that is why there's a large number of unidentified bodies that are -- and that's also why the number of missing are so high because some of the bodies have not been found and some have not been identified and it's ongoing.
We are aware of the tremendous pain that the families are going through, the unknown. waiting for some kind of certainty and clarity. We're trying to provide it. It is a national effort. No resource is spared in order to shed light on the situation. We're collecting the intelligence, understanding who is abducted, who is missing, who is dead. Hopefully, and we have said this before, we are going to bring all of those hostages back just as we're going to dismantle Hamas and win this war.
COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, thank you.
I want to focus now on on kibbutz Nir Oz up to a quarter of this. Some 400 people who once lived on the kibbutz are dead or missing. And as we mentioned, two more people who lived there were declared dead yesterday. An American Israeli grandmother and her granddaughter. They've been missing since the attack on October 7th.
I spent much of the day today at the kibbutz because of security concerns. As I mentioned, it's the first time journalists were allowed to go there. I'm going to have a more extensive and detailed report tomorrow because there's a lot of families I want to tell you about and what we now know about what happened to them there.
But I want to show you just a brief glimpse at what I saw today, and some of the video might be hard to watch.
COOPER (voice-over): Carmela Dan (ph) was 80 years old. Her granddaughter, Noya (ph), just 13. As we saw today in Nir Oz, when Hamas gunmen attacked this kibbutz, few homes, it seems, were left untouched. The destruction is everywhere.
Some 400 people once lived here. Now, according to an IDF spokesman, as many as a quarter of them are dead or unaccounted for. There are still three members of the family missing. Carmela's former son in law, Afar Calderon (ph), and two of his children, 16-year-old Sahar (ph) and Erez (ph), who's just 12.
This video was posted online after the attack, showing Erez Calderon (ph) being dragged away by gunmen. One of whom appears to have blood on his hand.
Today, in Nir Oz, we geolocated where the video was shot.
(on-camera): This is the last known location of Erez Calderon (ph). He was 12 years old. He was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen. And he was videotaped as they were dragging him away in this direction. This is the fence to the kibbutz and Gaza is only about 1.5 mile away.
You can see an explosion that's just taking place in Gaza off in the distance. So the gunman didn't have far to take him in order to get him back into Gaza.
(voice-over): The IDF has not released any information about Erez (ph) or any other missing members of his family.
(on-camera): What's clear here is that it wasn't that civilians were just caught in crossfire. It was -- civilians were the targets. I mean, men, women, children were the targets.
LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Yes. I mean, they came in and they came in to people. It was right after a holiday. It was a holiday weekend. So there was a lot of grandparents that came here to see their children. Children to see their grandparents. Horrifying, Anderson. I'm still in shock.
COOPER: As I said, I'll have more of a full report from Nir Oz tomorrow. And I just want to mention that we checked with the family of Erez Calderon (ph). They are OK with us showing that video of him being taken by gunmen and hope that showing it helps to bring him home or raise awareness of what's going on. We're going to have much more, as I said, from Nir Oz tomorrow.
Now an update on a story that we brought to you last week. Maayan Zin, the mother of two girls captured by Hamas, says that her former husband, his new partner, and the partner's teenage son, who were also believed missing, have now been confirmed as killed by Hamas after the attack on their kibbutz. Maayan Zin's two daughters, 15-year-old Dafna and 8-year-old Ella, are still believed to be held hostage.
She said she first learned her daughters were missing when her sister sent her a photo of her oldest Dafna sitting on a mattress in Gaza. The image was posted by Hamas. Here's what she told me last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAAYAN ZIN, DAUGHTERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS (through translator): 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 be rich. I didn't want to be married. I didn't want anything. I wanted to be a mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: By the way, that tie dyed shirt that Maayan is wearing, she says to feel close to her daughter. She wears that because it was made by her daughter, Dafna. She did the tie dying for her mom, and she uses a coffee mug that her other daughter, Ella, gave her.
It's the closest she can be to them. We'll be right back.
COOPER: CNN's coverage from Israel continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.