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Interview With Sister Kidnapped Near Gaza Alexandra Ariev; Interview With Survived Attack At Israeli Festival Amit Ganish; Interview With IDF International Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus; Interview With Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni; Interview With Former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy; Interview With Oxfam Humanitarian Worker Omar Ghraieb; Interview With Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary General Jan Egeland. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 09, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the nation this hour as his country lays wartime seized to Gaza after a devastating
and unprecedented slaughter by Hamas inside Israel. And the number of Israelis confirmed killed in the attack continues to rise. As fears grow
for the people taken hostage, my conversation with a woman who says her 19- year-old sister was kidnapped by Hamas. And we speak to a survivor of the massacre of that music festival in Southern Israel.
Also, ahead, how this attack unfolded and what happens next. I speak to an IDF of spokesperson to veteran politician, Tzipi Livni, and to a former
head of Mossad.
Then, Palestinian deaths mount inside Gaza. That story, as the Israeli strikes continue in the territory.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The United States and its allies have declared unwavering support for Israel after what the state calls its 9/11, it's Pearl Harbor moment.
Today, Israel declared a "complete siege of Gaza." The defense minister saying no water, no food, no electricity, no fuel will be allowed in. As he
says we are fighting barbaric terrorist.
This comes on the third day of anger, agony and despair spare in the country after Hamas launched a surprise assault from Gaza on Saturday,
that's killed more than 700 people, taken dozens hostage, and left thousands more injured, and these numbers are all expected to rise.
Gaza is being hit with near continuous air strikes as Israel has declared war. So far, more than 550 Palestinians have been killed, with thousands
more injured according to the Palestinian health minister inside Gaza. And there are concerns of a broader conflict as the Israeli Defense Forces
reveal it is also striking within Lebanese territory.
The scale of the attack, the worst single day of death since Israel was founded in 1948 means everyone knows someone who's been impacted. Many of
them directly. Like Alexandra Ariev who says her sister was snatched and taken hostage by Hamas on Saturday. 19-year-old Karina was serving at an
IDF base when it was overrun early Saturday morning. And I started by asking Alexandra how she and her family are managing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRA ARIEV, SISTER KIDNAPPED NEAR GAZA: I'm devastated. My parents are crying all day long. I'm the one who is taking action, trying to do
something. I am trying to reach the press, like you, I'm trying to talk about it. I am trying to reach governments. Other countries. I want
everyone to know the story. I want the girls that are kidnapped, that are missing, if they can see us, we don't know, but if they can see us. So, we
want to tell them that we are strong for them and that we will do anything so they will be returned safe and sound.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me exactly what happened. Your sister Karina, what is the last you heard her? We have some really disturbing video which shows
several women, we blurred some of their faces, but your sister is the one with a bloodied face, and there's unpleasant sound in there, including your
dogs. Tell me what you know.
ARIEV: I know only that my family saw this video on Telegram yesterday. I think yesterday we lost track of time. We saw that on Telegram. My mother
was the first one to identify my sister. My father and I, we just, you know, swiped the video, but then we concentrated about it and we identified
We went to anyone that we could, if it's the police or the army, and we waited a lot of time, nearly 24 hours or more. Until some senior officers
of the army came to our house and they told us that it is confirmed by some means, I don't know exactly which ones, that she is held by a terror
organization, and we don't know which one or --
AMANPOUR: But what you thinking now is that she has been taken into Gaza and she is a hostage?
ARIEV: Yes. We believe that in almost 100 percent because we didn't got any match with the DNA from the corpses found on the base she were serving at.
AMANPOUR: OK. This is just -- it's so awful. So, you're telling me that she's a soldier, I think we know that. That tell us about what happened on
the base. It's an all-woman base, right? How many people were there? How many people survive? How many people do you know, if you do, were taken
along with her?
ARIEV: So, the base, her duty is mainly a female duty. So, there are no men practically on the base. Sometimes there are combat soldiers that are there
on the base doing their staff, they're changing every few months. The girls do not have any armory with them, only the male one, ones who come there.
And then, the bases on the border with Gaza.
I know that there were at least 20 girls on Saturday, at the base. The last call my sister made was on the 7th of October, Saturday. 6:30 a.m., she
called me, then my parents. And she basically called to say, goodbye. That she loved us. And she told us that they're in a bomb shelter because of the
missiles and the bombing. And then, after the bombing, there was a raid on the base. They heard the terrorists that they're going through the base
near them and that they heard shooting. We guess that the terrorists shot all the male or female who did -- that were able to get a weapon. And they,
they hurt the other girls. And two of them, they abducted them.
At the video -- in the video, we can see -- I know you blurred the other faces, but clearly, we can see three girls, maybe there are more and we
know that they are identified by their families.
AMANPOUR: Alexandra, one of the other things that we've translated, the two men who were speaking in the background of this video, one of them says,
this is nothing. We are just starting. What is your government or your military doing to help you? Do you think there are there any negotiations?
What can you tell us about any efforts now that they've told you about to try to get your sister and other hostages back?
ARIEV: It's really awful what I'm going to say, but nothing. They didn't tell us anything. There are no negotiations currently going on. Not ones
that we're aware of as families of the abducted. We don't have any more new information and we really what the Red Cross humanitarian organization to
get in there and to get confirmation of who are the abducted ones, civilians, citizens and soldiers. The same and together status. Are they
alive? Are they wounded? Is there any humanitarian and human needs that they are supplied with? Water, food, blankets?
We want these organizations, we want the governments to hear us, to raise awareness for that, that we need to know if they're alive. They are so many
people that do not know where are the children. Citizens or soldiers, as I said, they do not know anything. The army or the government, they don't
contact them their. They are sitting. It's about 60 hours. I opened some WhatsApp groups of parents and people. I'm in some of them. And they just
don't know anything.
AMANPOUR: Alexandr Ariev, thank you very much for joining us. And you are getting your message out through us. So, thank you very much.
ARIEV: Thank you very much, Christiane. I appreciate it and I send a big hug for everyone.
AMANPOUR: A devastating slaughter that's drawn the world's condemnation was at the music festival in Southern Israel early Saturday morning. Nada
Bashir has this report on the horror that unfolded and the anguish of the families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): This was Israel's Nova music festival in the early hours of Saturday morning. But in the distance,
rockets seemingly intercepted in dawn sky. The festival then brought to an abrupt, terrifying end as Hamas gunmen launched a deadly rampage, killing
hundreds and taking dozens hostage.
RICARDA LOUK, MOTHER OF SHANI LOUK: And they were just shooting at them and taking them by force. They were waiting. My daughter tried to get to her
car, then they had military people standing by their cars and was shooting. So, people couldn't reach their cars, even to go away. And that is when
they took her.
BASHIR (voiceover): 21-year-old Adi Meizel was also among those targeted in the ambush. Her mother hope she could still be alive, held captive in Gaza.
But fears time is quickly running out.
AHUVA MEIZEL, MOTHER OF ADI MEIZEL: I'm a mother who has been looking for her daughter. She is missing. I believe she is hurt. She's bleeding
somewhere. And like me, there are more hundreds of families that are looking for their beloved. I'm a mother. I want to protect my kid. That's
all I want to do and I'm sure that all mothers in the other side, in Gaza, and everywhere, that they are not to mean, are thinking the same thing.
BASHIR (voiceover): Dashcam footage geolocated by CNN shows Hamas gunman at the site, shooting and killing people at point blank range. The site of
Saturday's massacre now stands eerily quiet. Charred cars line nearby streets.
Hamas claims it has captured more than 100 Israeli citizens. Though no exact figure yet from the Israeli Defense Forces. The result, dozens of
families left in anguish, all hoping against hope for a miracle.
MIRAV LESHEM, MOTHER OF MISSING DAUGHTER (through translator): She called and said, mom, they're shooting at us. The car is hit. We are all wounded.
I don't know how you feel, but the nightmare of a parent sitting and hearing her child saying, mom, come and help me, and we cannot do a thing.
Nothing. Only to be with her on the phone and say to her, Romy, I love. Romy, hide.
BASHIR (voiceover): But as their anxious wait continues, questions are also beginning to mount as to how an attack of this scale was allowed to take
URI DAVID, FATHER OF MISSING DAUGHTERS (through translator): What is happening is unbelievable, simply unbelievable. I joined -- we join in the
grieving of all the families. We demand answers. Not all the answers will be happy ones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that was Nada Bashir reporting. Joining me now was somebody who was at the music festival when it was attacked and who managed to
escape. Amit Ganish, thank you so much for joining us. I mean, you must still be in a state of trauma. How are you today?
AMIT GANISH, SURVIVED ATTACK AT ISRAELI FESTIVAL: Yes. Today I'm good, but I am sad for my friends that no one knows where they are.
AMANPOUR: Amit, walk us through what happened. When did you first understand that the festival was being stormed and you were under attack?
GANISH: OK. At six and a half in the morning, we heard rockets and we saw them in the sky. And after 30 minutes, approximately, we hear the
terrorists. They shout Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar and yallah, yallah. And they were running to us with their guns, with a lot of shooting, like --
and me and my best friends, we're all together. And they start to run to the other side. And fortunately, there was a car that took us. The driver
said to us, get into the car right now.
And my best friend's boyfriend didn't get into the car and I don't know either what about him, until now. The driver took to the right side and we
saw a big unit of terrorist shoot at us with their guns. And he turned to the other side. And on the other side was another big unit of terrorist,
they shoot to us. So, the driver was the biggest fighter that I've ever seen in my life.
He stopped the car, and everybody in the car, we were nine people in little car. We started to run, to hide. Ran into the forest. And my friend who was
with me ran after me.
AMANPOUR: Wow. Amit, when you got to the forest, and we're looking now at this -- I mean, the carcasses of the cars that have been blown out and
destroyed, so you couldn't even escape many people in vehicles. When you got to the forest, were you safe there or did they chase you into the
GANISH: OK. When we got to the forest, first, we ran from the terrorist because they were shooting after us. They -- we understood that we want --
they want to kill me, to kill my friends, to kill everyone they see. So, we hid in a little tree. We didn't make any sound for nine hours. We stayed in
the tree, and that's how we saved our lives.
AMANPOUR: Wow. You had to be completely quiet as a mouse to survive. And my very last question, how long did it take? Was there any official help that
came, the military, police, I don't know?
GANISH: OK. I think you know what happened, what happened there. I called to everyone I know, to my mother, to my father, to everyone in my family. I
don't -- I didn't have a lot of battery but with little left battery that I have, I called the police a lot of times, but there were a lot of
terrorists so they didn't succeed to get us. About -- just about nine hours, the news and a biggest man, biggest angel, Ramy (ph), found us in
the forest. He rescued us.
AMANPOUR: Wow. Amit, thank you. Thank god you had a guardian angel.
GANISH: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, we are hearing now from Israeli military radio that the death toll inside Israel has risen to at least 900. So, let's get reaction
to that from the IDF spokesman, Jonathan Conricus. And he's joining me from Tel Aviv. Welcome to the program.
Can you confirm, first of all, that number?
JONATHAN CONRICUS, INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, IDF: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: That is -- welcome. What is 200 more than we have been reporting most of this day.
CONRICUS: Yes. Since these are unprecedented times in the history of our nation, then things are moving very quickly. The numbers of Israeli
casualties, the death toll of this heinous attack are rising. And I can only assume that the sharp spike in the number of Israeli casualties, by
the way, the overwhelming majority of them are civilians, not military, I can only assume that the big jump in the numbers is because we have been
clear in Southern Israel and have started to process and name and identify the countless corpse that we have found -- in various corpses that we have
found in various locations in Southern Israel, the massacre at the music festival, but also in each and every Israeli community around the Gaza
There are horrific scenes, horrific scenes of mass executions by terrorists, taking Israeli civilians and just executing them at point
blank. Things that we have never seen and witness before at this magnitude.
AMANPOUR: Jonathan, we were showing some live pictures. Israel continues in its state of war and the blitz on Gaza. So, we're seeing live pictures
there. I want to know from you, whether you can tell us, definitively, whether Israel has full control back of its own territory, whether around
the fence, whether in the kibbutz, in the villages, in the bases, all of those that were infiltrated on Saturday, or are they still Hamas terrorists
CONRICUS: As far as I know, and this is based on very recent information, yes, we have established -- reestablish control of the Southern Israel and
we have confirmed that there are no active areas where there are terrorists fighting or trying to kill Israeli civilians. That doesn't mean that there
is not -- that there are not skirmishes along the border, and attempts, additional attempts by Hamas and the Islamic jihad to infiltrate into
Israel along the border, those attempts continue.
But I just -- I can confirm that at this stage that we have finally, after 48 extremely long and painful hours, been able to declare, together with
the other security forces, police, et cetera, that Southern Israel is now back under the sovereign control of Israel. And from here on, we will
continue to defend along the border and mitigate any attempts to attack and infiltrate. And we will focus our efforts on bringing the fight to Hamas.
AMANPOUR: So, first, I want to ask you about that fight. Everybody assumes that there's going to be a ground invasion, a ground intervention to
continue that fight. But I want you to talk about the hostages. We spoke to, at the beginning of this program, the sister of one of those hostages.
She was 19 -- she is 19 years old. She's been taken and is a hostage, as far as her family knows, as far she was told, inside Gaza.
Hamas and Islamic jihad say they've got about 130. Do you know yet how many Israelis or any other nationalities have been snatched from your territory
and taken into Gaza?
CONRICUS: Yes. We are aware of dozens of Israelis, civilians. And when I say civilians, I say women, children, infants, elderly, and even disabled
persons that have been taken brutally by Hamas, paraded on the streets of Gaza to be ridiculed and harassed and attacked and manhandled. And
unfortunately, already, also reports of people that have been killed.
The situation is unprecedented in its severity. And this is -- it creates, of course, a consideration for Israeli decision-makers how to proceed. On
one hand, needing to extract an extremely heavy price from Hamas. We have been ordered by the cabinet to make sure that at the end of this war, take
it how long as it needs to take. At the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have the military capability to inflict any damage on Israeli
And we have also been tasked to make sure that they cannot continue to govern the Gaza Strip. These are the two tasks that the government has
decided on. That is what the IDF is preparing. We have already called up more than 300,000 reserve troops, which is unprecedented in speed and
scope. Never before in our history have we called up so many in such a short time. Those troops are now preparing, equipping, learning their
tasks, and getting ready to execute the missions.
At this stage, of course, it wouldn't be wise to advertise on CNN what we're going to do, and what we're not going to do. But I can only say these
are our tasks and we will implement them.
AMANPOUR: So, it's pretty obvious, from what you say, what's planned and what is coming. I just want to sure that I understand. For the first time
in your many, many years of war with Hamas, in your -- this is now your fifth, and this is the worst, you are planning to decapitate Hamas in every
which way, not going to leave them in, not going to have a truce, not going to do what you've done in previous instances?
CONRICUS: According to the directives given to us by the government, we are going to deny Hamas any and every military capability in the future. You
must understand, and I think that you understand this very well, but the viewers may not understand it, we are not in another round of escalation
with a terror organization. We are at war.
The amount of Israeli casualties that have been inflicted by murderous jihadi beasts that have come across our borders to kill our women and
children is unprecedented. Never before in our history has this happened. And as such, our response will be unprecedented.
AMANPOUR: Jonathan, you know, I know what a siege is, like I know what it's like to be bombarded in a siege at war. And I want to know from you, how do
you think this will unfold for the civilians inside Gaza?
The defense minister, your boss, has said today that there is a total closure of Gaza. No food, no fuel, no water, no electricity. What do you
think is going to happen on a civilian and humanitarian level? And are you prepared for that?
CONRICUS: What we are prepared to do is to make sure that the situation changes fundamentally, and that Hamas won't be able to execute another
attack against Israeli civilians. And that is our focus. Now, I understand the concerns, I understand the question, and I understand that this is a
topic that is very concerning for many around the world. But I'm sure that you cannot expect us to be feeding and providing electricity and fuel and
food to the very same enemy that has just come across our borders to butcher our civilians. Surely, you cannot be expecting Israel to do this at
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to answer the two -- at least the two eyewitnesses and victims that we spoke to earlier at the beginning of this program.
There is a lot of talk from them, from our social media, about how long it took your forces, whether they be military, whether they be security,
whether they be police, whether they be medical, to rescue the people who are under attack for hours inside Israel? Can you explain why -- how
stretched is your military? What happened?
CONRICUS: Yes. Those questions are very relevant. I understand where they come from and I understand all of the outcries in Israeli society, of
parents that are waiting to hear about the fate of their children, civilians and military. And of civilians who were stranded and felt
defenseless inside Israeli communities and waited, and waited for the backup that took a long time to arrive. All of this is, of course, an event
at a magnitude that we have never experienced before and it will take a very long process of review, investigations and reckoning by the IDF, and
we will have to provide very sincere and hard answers to the people who trust in us and rely on us for our security.
And this is an extremely important topic, maybe even as important as actually getting the job done, and setting the record straight with Hamas.
This is very important. But it is not our focus now. It will be the primary focus once the last bullet is fired and once the last Hamas terrorist is
either dead or surrenders, then we will avail ourselves to focus on that extremely important and valuable task of providing answers, explanations,
and lessons learned to our Israeli civilians.
And I can assure you, this will be a process like none -- like we haven't seen before. But it is not what we're focused on. We are focusing --
focused on fighting, on setting -- on defending our borders and on putting the efforts against Hamas as we're speaking. That is what we're doing now.
But I can really --
CONRICUS: -- want to assure you that it is at the top of the understanding of the priorities at all levels of the IDF. It is abundantly clear that
there will be extremely tough answers to be given to our Israeli civilians.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, indeed. And they're asking those questions. We hear you. Jonahan Conricus, spokesman for the IDF, thank you very much for being with
Now, joining me now is Tzipi Livni. She's a longtime Israeli politician, a former foreign minister. She was actually the negotiator for peace talks
with the Palestinian authority as justice minister in a previous Netanyahu government. And now, we welcome you from Tel Aviv.
Tzipi Livni, the bloodiest day in Israel's history, we don't still know the final tally, 900 dead is what we have lately just heard. Could you ever,
ever imagine this happening?
TZIPI LIVNI, FORMER ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: No. This is a nightmare that turned into our reality. And just listening, looking at the pictures, it is
heartbreaking. And I cannot take those pictures out of my brain and heart. And this is something that happened to us.
And the day after, now, the focus is how can we fight against Hamas and change the realities on the ground in the south part of Israel. But I think
that it would take us time to absorb the magnitude of the whole.
AMANPOUR: Tzipi Livni, you've been around a long time, in many different government positions and through previous conflicts. As you heard, this is
not a previous conflict, there's nothing similar, according to the Israeli government and military, this is a different page.
How did one of the world's most sophisticated militaries, most powerful armies in the world, most sophisticated intelligence agents, as far as we
all now, how did this happen? And the reason I'm asking is how is the same military and intelligence going to do what you say has to happen now, and
that is end this story?
LIVNI: First, Hamas defined that this is a new page. I mean, we had rounds of -- they targeted Israelis and they acted in terror. But what we saw now
is -- was a massacre. Entering into houses, shooting babies, families. Abducting families, babies, children, elderly people. This is something
that we cannot act like we used to do in the past, in different rounds against terror. And therefore, this was their decision to do so and we have
no other alternative.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And my question really was, Tzipi, how did you get caught? You must have been thinking -- and I know everybody wants to say that this
is something we have to investigate and have an after -- you know, and after review.
LIVNI: Of course.
AMANPOUR: But how did your system get so -- you know, so dupe, so caught off guard?
LIVNI: I don't have the answers.
LIVNI: And for sure, there will be inquiries the day after. But now, we are all focused that Hamas will pay the ultimate prize. And later, we'll have
all the inquiries possible.
AMANPOUR: OK. You --
LIVNI: To better next time. Hopefully, that we will not face another round like this.
AMANPOUR: So, you've heard, again, we've had the IDF spokesperson on. I want to ask you an important question because many, many hostages have been
taken, children, women, elderly, we understand even people who wore holocaust survivors, just they have been yanked out of their homes and
taken into Gaza. And they are being held.
AMANPOUR: And I'm going to just read something to you, because I need to put this to you, the -- let me just get this. Basically, Hamas has said
that they would execute civilian hostages if the attacks in Gaza continue without warning. What kind of a position does this put your nation in?
LIVNI: The situation is difficult. And this is clear. But now, it is time that Hamas will pay the ultimate price. The role of the International
Community now is really important. I know that Hamas probably don't care about the International Community as such, but they do care about Qatar,
about other countries that support them with money, about Egypt. And they think that the first mission and role and -- is to force them, to release
the abducted people that they are holding.
Don't threaten Israel anymore, because there are things that we need to do for the sake of Israelis in the future, for their life and security. And
it's -- I mean, decision-maker are now facing really difficulties, not even just describing the situation. But yes, now, the goal is to make Hamas pay.
Containment with Hamas didn't work. So, as we said before, this is -- and this should be a new page.
Hamas cannot control Gaza anymore. They cannot -- we are not willing to pay this price anymore. By the way, the Palestinians in Gaza are paying the
price because Hamas controls them. And I think that this is the moment to remind that the entire International Community that we left Gaza Strip. We
dismantled all the settlements, we pulled out our forces. We were talking about greenhouses and we've got the green flag of Hamas and terror and
Islamist group that are not recognizing the right of Israel to exist.
And for those listening to us, and I know that there are some that now are under the shock of these horrific pictures, but later will say, but maybe
they are freedom fighters. No, they are not. If they want to give freedom to their own people, what they need to do is just to stop violence and
terrorism, to recognize the rights of Israel to exist and to accept and to abide to Oslo Agreement. These are the requirements of the (INAUDIBLE) for
so many years.
And therefore, they are (INAUDIBLE) these whole should be stopped. Israel should be supported by the International Community when we will take the
right steps to do so. And other players in the International Community can influence and they have different leverages on Hamas to do so as well,
especially right now, concerning the abducted citizens that they are holding.
AMANPOUR: Tzipi, can I ask you a political question, which is a national unity question? Obviously, you are an opponent, a political opponent to the
prime minister. Others are as well, but they are calling like Yair Lapid and et cetera, Benny Gantz, you know, call on us, we'll join you, we'll
help you. The government of national unity. It doesn't appear, at least yet, that that has been taken up. Do you think that's a good unnecessary
LIVNI: It's not helping the prime minister. I mean, there are different reasons why I believe that Netanyahu shouldn't be the prime minister, but
now, as an Israeli, I hope that I'll see in the decision-making cabinet those that have more experience, experts on security, regardless to their
political affiliation. This is needed. It's not just a message of unity to Israelis that are united now. And you should see, you know, the volunteers,
they are helping each other.
LIVNI: And I would like to see these days in the security cabinet those that can help getting the right decision. The day after I said that now
Hamas needs to pay the ultimate price and later, there are political prices that would be demanded.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, indeed. Tzipi Livni, thank you very much indeed.
Now, as we said, the Gaza Strip is being pounded hard, as we heard earlier. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth. And residents,
civilians fear there is nowhere to hide. Ben Wedeman now has this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Moments after an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp, desperate calls for help. The
dead, the dying and the injured covered in dust and blood. Israel's wrath is now unleashed upon Gaza.
The Israeli say, Ahmed Shamala (ph), hit the building without warning. They didn't ask us to evacuate. They didn't say anything. Suddenly, we heard the
air strike and we ran to the building and found it had been completely collapsed.
Around 7,500 people in Gaza have already been displaced, according to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which deals with Palestinian refugees. In this
cramped strip of land along the Mediterranean, 2 million Palestinians are now in the crosshairs of an enemy bent on revenge for Hamas' surprise
attack, which left hundreds of Israelis dead and thousands wounded and dozens now in Hamas captivity.
By mid-afternoon, the death toll in Gaza was approaching 600, with almost 3,000 wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Gaza and Israel have gone to war many times before since Hamas took control. This will not be yet another brief outbreak of attack and
counterattack before it return to the status quo. Israel is massing troops in armor on the outskirts of Gaza, preparing in all likelihood for a ground
invasion on scale not seen before.
And now, Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, has ordered what he called a complete siege of Gaza, cutting off all food, fuel, and
electricity. That in a place where according to the World Food Programme, 63 percent of the population was food insecure before this war began.
So much has happened since Saturday morning in Israel and Gaza, and it's only the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's only the beginning indeed. And the Gaza health officials say that some more than 500, nearly 600 Palestinians have been killed so far.
Of course that was Ben Wedeman reporting.
And what's shaken Israelis to the core and Israel's allies is, as we've been talking about, the total intelligence failure on Saturday. So, we turn
now to Efraim Halevy, the former director of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
Mr. Halevy, welcome back to our program. Look, you've described this as a total surprise. There was no early warning of any kind. I mean, given your
decades of experience, can you explain how that can happen?
EFRAIM HALEVY, FORMER MOSSAD DIRECTOR: It could happen if those who are planning whatever they have in mind cloaked all their activities in such a
way that nobody is able to monitor what they are doing.
AMANPOUR: So, that's what you think it is basically? That they were training and planning in a non-electronic kind of manner. There was no
mobile phones or some others have alluded to?
HALEVY: No. I believe also that some of the equipment that are being used are no regular basis to monitor what has happening in Gaza somehow failed
at a certain point in time. Without those who are operating it realizing that they were no longer receiving a full picture of what was going on.
AMANPOUR: I see. I don't know how much of this is true, so I'm going to -- or accurate, I'm going to ask the question. Are you aware of information on
how Hamas planned for this? How these plans were kept secret? We've talked a little about that, but how long? Reuters, for instance, site source close
to Hamas saying that the organization misled Israel by "giving a public impression that it was not willing to get into a fight or confrontation
anymore with Israel while preparing for this massive operation."
Do you think that that's accurate analysis? And do you think that Israel kind of thought it had Hamas in a box, that it was more concerned about --
you know, Hamas was more concerned about, you know, economic survival and getting visas and passes for workers into Israel while simultaneously
HALEVY: That's exactly what happened in actual fact. It was not only the fact that every day many, many thousands were leaving Gaza to work in
Israel. It is also a fact that Israel opened its hospitals for treatment of people in Gaza. In many cases, giving the best treatment that can be given,
whether it's in the operating room or elsewhere.
And I think that in this, Israel more or less was extending a hand to Hamas without saying it in as many words. And they, at the same time -- and at
the same time, as receiving all of this, they were planning something totally different and they were able to keep it secret.
AMANPOUR: You know, nobody really wants to go to the political and intelligence yet. As we've heard, the unified message from your government
is that we will ask those important questions later. We will do an after an action review later. Now, the mission is war and total elimination of Hamas
capabilities in all areas.
But my question to you is, as the former head of Mossad, what went through your mind? Why do you think -- I mean, we've talked about, you know, the
ideas around the intelligence failure. But also, it took so long for officials, as I spoke to, to get to the scene of the crimes. What's going
on in your country right now, do you think? And do you believe -- are you confident that your system can take the war in the way that we're being
told -- for the goal that we're being told?
HALEVY: I think that the system suffered a very, very seismic shock. I think they are now recovering very quickly. I think that the people who are
in command are capable of reading the forces in battle against the Hamas. The steps that are now being taken concerning activities in the Gaza Strip
show that within a very few days they will be probably begging for water and for other facilities, which they would not be offered. And I think that
they will then realize that they have made a tragic mistake, from their point of view, although they were so proud of what they had done up to now.
AMANPOUR: You have also said, and you said it on CNN this weekend, "We didn't know they had this quantity of missiles and we certainly didn't
expect that they would be as effective as they were today." So, that's what you said. And I want to know then from your intelligence perspective, what
do you think is additional threats from outside? Do you believe that Hezbollah would get into these fights? Do you think it'll erupt on the West
Bank and in other areas?
HALEVY: There are indications, at least, at this particular point in time, that Hezbollah is not intending to enter the fray. There was an incident
this afternoon on the border in the north, there was a confrontation with a group of Palestinians. There was a battle fought. And the Hezbollah made it
very clear that they were not part of this, and they were not interested in hackling and then raising the tension in the north, up to a point where it
might lead to something very, very different.
AMANPOUR: That's a very interesting analysis and assessment of just what happened up there at that border. Efraim Halevy, thank you so much. Former
director of Mossad. Thank you very for joining us.
And next, we're going to go live to Gaza to speak to the Oxfam humanitarian worker, Omar Ghraieb. He is joining us by phone. And we want to welcome you
to the program. Can you first, Omar, start by telling us what you are witnessing right now. What has been happening all day today?
OMAR GHRAIEB, HUMANITARIAN WORKER, OXFAM: Yes. Thank you for having me, Christiane. A lot is happening. You are witnessing a compounded round of
escalation. So, 600 Palestinians have been killed across the Gaza Strip and over 3,000 are wounded. And of course, the numbers are escalating by the
minute. So, Israel also declared a full closure of Gaza, which means no entry of food, or fuel, or medicine, really compromising the entire
situation even more.
What we witnessed is very heavy airstrikes, hundreds of military airstrikes by Israel across the Gaza Strip, by land, air, and sea, including some of
Gaza's destroyed essential water and sanitation infrastructure. Which really raises the fear that Gaza will run out of drinkable water. And keep
in mind that the drinkable water is already scarce. But we're seeing a lot of targeting to (INAUDIBLE) building, houses, towers, and, you know, this
also affecting the displacement. So, yes. It's been a tough couple of days.
AMANPOUR: Omar, on Saturday, after this assault, Netanyahu told "residents of Gaza to get out now, because we will operate everywhere and with full
force." And you may have heard some very, very tough, you know, comments about what's coming from our Israeli IDF spokesman and others on our
So, my question to you is, where are civilians meant to go? Where are they going? Are they getting the warnings in time?
GHRAIEB: Actually, we're having the same questions, honestly. The Gaza Strip has no shelters, has no bunkers, and have no safe zones. So, when
people hear that, I'm not sure they know exactly where to go. Considering that it really impacts our cascading across the whole of the Gaza Strip.
So, I'm not sure how people will perceive this, and what to do with it.
I don't deem it as really beneficial to people, because, you know, the Gaza Strip is a small coastal (ph) in place, and it's all compromised with
(INAUDIBLE) people have, you know, no place to go besides the (INAUDIBLE). So, it doesn't make sense to me.
AMANPOUR: Do you -- are you all bracing for a ground assault? And as you've mentioned, I mean, basically, what the defense minister said that there is
a total siege on those, you know, lifesaving food, water, fuel, electricity. Are you bracing for a ground assault? And again, have you got
anything to compare that with, in your experience, in the past?
GHRAIEB: Of course, I witnessed all the past escalations or most of them, and just to talk to you from a personal perspective, it's like bringing all
the past bombardments and compounding them into one really 10 times or 100 times more intense and fiercer (ph) escalation against the Gaza Strip,
which is really causing everybody, you know, to really frantically think of what might come next, and what to do to (INAUDIBLE), you know, basically.
AMANPOUR: Are you -- you know, again, everybody is going to start focusing in a few days, no doubt, on the humanitarian situation. The U.N. World Food
Programme called for the creation of humanitarian corridors. But that doesn't seem likely possible at all now. Would you agree with that?
GHRAIEB: What really matter on ground is for the ground to tell you what are they needs. We're close monitoring, of course with very dangerous
actually being on ground and, you know, closely at best. So, we're monitoring to see what's exactly happening so we can hopefully be
(INAUDIBLE) where we can immediately prepare and get humanitarian responses.
GHRAIEB: But for now, nothing is clear, and, you know, the country (INAUDIBLE) anything.
AMANPOUR: Omar Ghraieb, we'll keep checking in. Thank you very much, Oxfam inside Gaza City. Thank you for joining us.
So, for more on all of this, I'm joined by the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland. He's in Oslo, Norway. He's been
speaking to his team who are on the grounds in Gaza.
Jan Egeland, welcome back. I mean, you are a veteran, I'm sorry to say, of so many of these horrendous situations. In terms of humanitarian, how do
you foresee a state that is declaring war on a murderous attack able to protect civilians? How -- what do you think is going to unfold?
JAN EGELAND, SECRETARY GENERAL, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: I think it's a horrific situation, it's going to be much, much worse in the coming days.
Yes, it started with terror. There's no other way to describe men going into Israel and killing civilians in the hundreds, as they did.
But now, a siege on an entire population? There are 2.4 million people in Gaza, it's like no other place on earth they are crammed together in a
small area, which is smaller than the municipality of Oslo. Where I'm sitting 1 million of the 2.4 million are children. And then, they declare
now, the Israeli side that they will cut food, water, electricity, fuel? It's going to amount to war crimes if children are going to starve and die
in hospitals because of lack of electricity, for example.
AMANPOUR: As you know, war crimes have been committed by Hamas against civilians inside Israel with the slaughter of innocence there.
EGELAND: Absolutely. Absolutely.
AMANPOUR: What are you hearing from your actual teams on the ground?
EGELAND: What I'm hearing on the ground of our 52 courageous aid workers inside Gaza is that they desperately want to start relief work for -- with
those -- with children who have lost their apartments because of the intense bombardment. But we cannot under this indiscriminate bombardment
plan and execute relief work.
We need some calm, that's why I support the call for humanitarian corridors. They should come both from Israel, which has declared that they
don't want to kill children, they don't want to starve children. So, let's have humanitarian corridors.
Secondly, we need safe zones where there will be no bombardments. Even the UNRWA schools have had bombardment very close to them. My colleagues,
several of them, have had apartments now damaged. They had to flee. Relief workers had to flee.
Five, this morning, where in -- an entire neighborhoods that were declared as targets of attack, the whole entire neighborhoods. And they also had to
flee. It's beyond belief, really, what's happening.
AMANPOUR: Jan Egeland, I mean, put on a diplomatic hat for a moment. Is there anywhere, you think, that there can be any "de-escalation" or is it
just obvious that Israel is going to have to take this war finally to finish off Hamas in Gaza, and you think that that's possible?
EGELAND: Well, number one, the violence can end tomorrow. There can be talks that would lead to all of the hostages from Israel being released.
The latest outrageous statement by Hamas is that they will start to kill hostages if there are more bombardment.
The U.S., Egypt, and the Gulf countries have to mediate something that gives security guarantees for Israel, but also a lifting of the siege, some
hope, some future, some possibilities for the youth of Gaza that have no hope.
EGELAND: They fuel bitterness in the neighborhood with the policies they've had now for many years. In 2014, 2,000 civilian Palestinians were killed in
the bombardment from Israel at that time. There's been too much blood and violence for too many years between the two peoples.
AMANPOUR: Jan Egeland, thank you so much. And of course, you heard Tzipi Livni and many people saying that the death and destruction of Palestinian
people inside Gaza is fully on the shoulders of Hamas.
Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London. Our coverage continues.