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Interview With IDF International Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus, Interview With Interview With Former Head Of Israeli Defense Intelligence Retired Major General And ELNET Forum Of Strategic Dialogue Chair Amos Yadlin; Interview With Survivor Of Music Festival Massacre Sahar Ben-Sela; Interview With "Black Wave" Author And Columbia University Institutive Of Global Politics Distinguished Fellow Kim Ghattas; Interview With Palestinian Poet Mosab Abu Toha; Interview With Guatemalan President-Elect Bernardo Arevalo. Aired 1- 2p ET
Aired October 11, 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.
Israel announced an emergency government as it musters its troops on the border with Gaza amid reports of Hezbollah infiltration from the north.
Then, as the horrors of the Hamas attack come into stark clarity, I speak to a wounded survivor of the festival massacre who says his friends were
shot in front of him.
Plus, I'm joined by Middle East expert and bestselling author Kim Ghattas looking ahead to this war in light of painful Middle East history.
Also, ahead, lights out in Gaza as Israel's retaliation reduces parts of that city to rubble. We have a special report.
And I speak to a Palestinian writer in Gaza City who says his pregnant cousin died in the recent strikes.
Later in the program, my conversation with Guatemala's president-elect on the dim hope for peace in the Middle East and the crisis with his own
people surging to the U.S. border.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Israel has announced an emergency wartime government. President Biden had another phone conversation with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin
Netanyahu, as the nation builds up its military forces on the Gaza border. Here's what Biden said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This attack has brought to the surface the painful memories and scars left by a millennium of anti-Semitism and
genocide against the Jewish people. And this moment, we have to be crystal clear, there is no justification for terrorism. No excuse. And the type of
terrorism that is exhibited here is just beyond the pale. Beyond the pale.
As I said yesterday, my commitment to Israel's security and the safety of the Jewish people is unshakable. The United States has Israel's back and
we're going to be working on this all through today and beyond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, as we know, he sent his U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region. He'll be apparently landing in Israel tomorrow. And
the atrocities committed by Hamas on Israeli border communities is coming into ever more grisly focus.
A government spokesman now confirms reports that babies and toddlers were found with "heads decapitated" in the Kfar Aza kibbutz in Southern Israel.
At least 1,200 people have been killed in the assault, according to the Israeli military.
In Gaza, lights have all but gone out as the main power plant has shut down for lack of fuel, and Israel continues to avenge its dead with waves of
massive airstrikes. More than a thousand people have been killed so far in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials there. The Israeli defense
minister says he has "released all restraints on the IDF."
Meantime, people in Northern Israel near the Lebanon border are being ordered by the IDF to go to bomb shelters. And joining me now is the IDF
spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus. Welcome back to our program.
Jonathan Conricus, can you confirm to us first the fears that everybody had about an expansion of this attack against Israel? Is there -- how can you
describe what's happening to the north and the fact that Israelis have been told to go to shelters there?
JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Yes. Hello, Christiane. Thank you for having me. It is a complex and very fluid situation in
Israel. We are fighting on at least three fronts, Gaza, Lebanon and the Golan Heights, Syria.
And I can inform that just minutes ago we told the Israeli public that the alarm that sounded, it was a result of an aerial intrusion, but that there
is no current threat to Israeli civilians and that they can exit their bomb shelters.
AMANPOUR: So, just to be clear, you feel that it is secure in that northern border and even, you know, further, you know, towards the West Bank, the
occupied West Bank and the Golan?
CONRICUS: No, what I said is that we are in an extremely fluid and dynamic situation.
CONRICUS: We're fighting in Southern Israel. There are continuous attempts by Hamas. And I supposed the Islamic jihad to send across terrorist into
Israel. And there are many reports of clashes incoming terrorists and Israeli troops, so far with good results and no Israeli civilians killed.
The difference between Saturday and today is that now Southern Israel is saturated with lots of Israeli troops, and that's why the terrorists are
not being able to kill civilians. On the north, on the Lebanese border, the situation is very tense. Alarms just sounded all over Northern Israel and
the all clear has been sounded, yet the situation remains volatile.
Yesterday night, rockets were fired, most likely by a Palestinian militia from Syrian soil onto Israel. They did not cause any damage and we
responded, retaliated with fire against the source of fire. So, there are three open fronts which are active, dangerous. We are deployed along them,
monitoring the events and ready to respond to any assault against Israeli sovereignty and civilians.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you then? I don't know whether you can answer this, but in -- today, it's been announced inside Israel that there is an emergency
wartime government cabinet. Benny Gantz, the former defense minister, has joined. Can you tell me what that's going to mean as you ramp up and
bolster forces for what everybody else presumes is going to be a ground offensive into Gaza?
CONRICUS: Yes. It's usually wise for a man in uniform to stay away from politics, but I will say that on the, let's say, spiritual level or the
level of morale and cohesion for our troops, I think that is an important message. I personally welcome it And I think that the political unity
reflects what I've seen on the streets in Israel of an actual unity where people are now coming together setting silly political differences aside
and focusing on the tremendous task that we have ahead of us, and that is defeating a very, very cruel enemy in Gaza.
AMANPOUR: Can I --
CONRICUS: So, I hope that the politics -- yes, sure
AMANPOUR: Sorry, sorry. I just want to ask you because you are in uniform. You are a government spokesman. So, I need to -- a military spokesman --
ask you about reports from the U.N. -- UNRWA is saying that 11 of its staffers were killed in the airstrikes in Gaza today. And as you have
heard, you know, obviously, there are many voices from inside Gaza, saying how much actually civilians also are being caught up in this. What can you
say about the 11 U.N. dead?
CONRICUS: I think any civilian casualty is regrettable and unfortunate, and definitely not something that we aim to achieve. And that's -- that has
been our practice and policy for as long as I've been in service and before that. However, it must be said, and I know that you've heard this before
and the viewers have heard it, but I would like to repeat it, Hamas hides all of its infrastructure behind civilians. They use their civilians as
human shields, and they have designed their entire operational concept on having civilians between them and us.
And unfortunately, what happens when we are targeting military targets, targets that are qualified as proper legitimate military targets underneath
civilian infrastructure, we try our best not to strike civilians, but in some cases, there are unfortunate consequences.
I can assure you that we remain committed to the law of armed conflict. We will continue to conduct ourselves as such. But I think we have to be very
clear about what it is we're facing. There's an underground city underneath the Gaza Strip, dug by Hamas of an elaborate tunnel system, which allows
Hamas to continue to fight as they're firing rockets and sending terrorists into Israel. They're hiding behind their civilians.
AMANPOUR: Jonathan Conricus, thank you very much. IDF spokesman.
And now, we're going to bring in the retired major general and former head of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin. He's also joining us from
Tel Aviv. Welcome to the program.
You heard what I was asking the IDF spokesperson. And obviously, it's very, very tough to figure out how to avenge this mass murder while also, as he
says, respecting the laws of war. And also, as President Biden has said that that must happen and all your E.U. and U.N. supporters as well.
So, what do you think, Amos Yadlin, might happen in the coming up as these massacres are avenged when the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, says they've
removed all restraints from their soldiers? What do you think that might mean?
MAJ. GEN. AMOS YADLIN (RET.), FORMER HEAD OF ISRAELI DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AND CHAIR: Christiane, we have to remember what happened on Saturday, more
than 1,200 of Israeli citizens were killed brutally by the terror organization called Hamas. And by the way, by citizens from Gaza that
It was a pogrom. People were killed in families, children, women, women were raped, people were killed, babies were beheaded. This is something
that you should not put behind you. It's very much like September 11th, and it's very much like your war on ISIS.
And when the U.S. attacked Mosul or Raqqa, there were some collateral damage. And this is what is going to happen to Gaza, because Israel, that
helped the people of Gaza by letting them come to work in Israel, by letting them have the Qatari money, were misled by unbelievable, brutal
government of Hamas, and this government of Hamas is going to pay the way the Nazis paid in Europe, the way ISIS and al Qaeda paid when they attacked
Americans. So, we changed the rules of the game.
However, we will continue to fight according to the international law, as American forces fought according to the international law. And the
international law is saying, if you want to win the war, you have to target your enemies and there is the proportionality principle that allow that
some collateral damage will be there to achieve the objective of winning the war.
AMANPOUR: Amos --
YADLIN: And we are in war.
AMANPOUR: I know that. And I now want to ask you, from your perspective and from what you know from your position, what is the actual objective? I
don't know whether an actual objective has been announced by the prime minister other than, you know, obviously avenging what happened and also
decimating and changing the rules of the game, decimating Hamas. And as one IDF spokesman said today, changing the rules of the day.
What exactly does that mean? Does that mean, you know, fighting until there's no longer Hamas in charge or anywhere able to exert any authority
YADLIN: Yes. Changing the paradigm. The paradigm was we can live with Hamas. It is a deterred organization. It's -- we may need to have a mini
war around every four or five years, but they will not go to a full-scale war.
This paradigm was wrong. We allowed them to build up a military that threatened Israel and destroy the whole region of Western Negev, this is
not going to happen again. So, to your question, the objective is to reduce Hamas' capability to threaten Israel to the minimum possible. And this mean
destroying the military power and destroying the government's power.
AMANPOUR: So, does that mean, Amos Yadlin --
YADLIN: Exactly as the U.S. --
AMANPOUR: -- does that mean Israel then, what? Then what happens? Does Israe -- is Israel also counting in the possibility of going back in and
ruling? What happens when that happens?
YADLIN: We will do what is needed at that time. We are still in the process of clearing Western Negev from Hamas murderers and restore the defense.
But, in the same time, the Israeli Air Force is conducting a very aggressive bombing campaign against any target that belongs to Hamas in
And unlike the past, we are not giving a specific warning. In the past, we used to pick the phone and to call the terrorists and say, please evacuate
your apartment. Not anymore. Anything that's connected to Hamas, command post, intelligence, logistic, production will be targeted all over Gaza
until we will reduce the capability to threaten Israel close to zero, close to zero.
And I must tell you another thing. We are living in the Middle East. As we saw when you are weak and your enemy taking over, it's a pogrom. We need to
show, to demonstrate to other enemies, like Hezbollah, like Syria, like Iran, that anybody who is dreaming about duplicating what Hamas has done
will suffer some things that we haven't dreamed about. And Gaza is a way to rebuild our deterrence So, it's going to be a very, very aggressive
AMANPOUR: I hear you loud and clear, and I guess everybody will be hearing you. So, I guess I want to ask you, you're saying very clearly to rebuild
the deterrence, because I'm assuming you agree what happened on Saturday knocked the superiority of Israel, you know, on its head. I mean, the idea
that the military, the intelligence, everybody was caught so much by surprise destroyed the decades old myth of Israel's superiority.
I assume that's what you're saying and you need to regain that. But how do you imagine, as head of -- former head of military intelligence, that that
happened in the first place?
YADLIN: I tell you again, there will be an aerial campaign against any target belonging to Hamas in Gaza.
YADLIN: And there are thousands of them. And then, don't rule out a military move on the ground. Because I'm a big believer in air power. I'm a
fighter pilot in my background. But there are places and missions that cannot be done from the air. So, don't rule out ground operations that,
once again, will go to every place that we know that Hamas are there, especially their leader that ordered -- the leaders that order the attack,
they will not be in Gaza at the end of the day. They will not be in Gaza.
AMANPOUR: OK. Amos Yadlin --
YADLIN: And --
AMANPOUR: I want to continue but --
YADLIN: -- once again, we pay attention to the notes. Pay attention to the notes, because what is happening in Gaza may affect the notes, but we can
speak about it tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Yes, we are keeping an eye on it, by the way, and we did ask the IDF spokesman and thank you very much, indeed, for your -- for being with
Now, we told you earlier about the horrors committed. You've heard Amos Yadlin, you've heard the IDF spokesman repeat what happened, committed in
the Kfar Aza kibbutz in Southern Israel. The IDF took journalists there after the Hamas massacres, including Correspondent Nic Robertson. And a
warning, his report contains graphic content.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): The drive into Kafr Aza is chilling. Evidence of Hamas' butchery everywhere. This
Israel Defense Force general shocked at what he found.
MAJ. GEN. ITAI VERUV, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I thought about General Eisenhower that come to the death camp in Europe, and the first thing that
he said is, bring the press. Young children.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): He did the same, inviting about 50 journalists.
VERUZ: You will see. It's a big massacre. A big disaster.
ROBERTSON: Have you ever seen anything like this in your career before?
VERUZ: Never, never.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Less than a mile from Gaza, 70 Hamas fighters stormed in here early Saturday. Some even flying.
ROBERTSON: They're telling us this is one of the paragliders that flew in here. You can see the engine here. The propellers here made of carbon
fiber, the fuel tank up here and the frame of it and the seat at the front.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): The IDF in control now after a two-day battle. Hamas lie where they fell. Only now the extremes of their barbarity becoming
apparent. 700 plus civilians lived here. How many were killed, still unclear. How they died, brutally apparent. Some decapitated, they say.
VERUZ: Killed babies in the front of their parents and then killed the parents. They killed parents and we found babies between the dogs and the
family that killed before him, they cut head of the people.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Each body bag, silent sentinel to the intelligence failure that allowed Kfar Aza and other communities near Gaza to be
overrun, and motivation for troops too.
VERUZ: we wait to the switch, to switch ourselves from the defense to the attack because, you know, we defend our people and until now we collect
ROBERTSON: You say you're going to attack. Will you be going into Gaza? So, we can see it here. Look, it's just --
VERUZ: You know, now, I look to the next hundred yard, this is my --
ROBERTSON: You take care of the next hundred yards?
VERUZ: Next hundred yard. And I fight to the next hundred yards and then look forward.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Forward to a possible showdown with Hamas. How and when, still to be determined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's Nic Robertson in Kfar Aza. And the infamous rampage through the outdoor music festival killed at least 260 partiers, at least.
Many are still missing, and the stories keep coming out. Sahar Ben-Sela barely survived. He's shown here dancing with friends just hours before the
massacre. And I spoke to him from hospital in Tel Aviv. And a warning too, his story is difficult to hear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAHAR BEN-SELA, SURVIVOR OF MUSIC FESTIVAL MASSACRE: I want to make it clear first thing -- first, it was a peace festival and we did nothing to
provoke them. We just was dancing and having fun. I can't forget the moment that when I got in the festival and I don't know anyone there. It was
something like 30 or 4,000 people. And just I got into the entrance and just a guy that I don't even know came to me and started to hug me and
bless me for coming for the festival.
We had a small camp next to us of German people from Germany, just a tourist, who came all over the way from Berlin or wherever they came and we
make drinks together, we had laughs, just so much happiness.
AMANPOUR: What happened to you? Tell me how you got wounded.
BEN-SELA: I have a good one. It's a big story. The first moment that we realized that there is missiles, I was really calm at first because it's
not the first time that I've seen missiles. I was fighting in Natsuki (ph) town and I was doing -- I've been serving the army. And then, I start to
watch the missiles. And one of the producers of the festival just jumped on the fence and screamed that the terrorists are coming in legs -- in leg,
just they come in on land and not air for missile.
And then, the panic began. It was a big panic. Everybody was jumping on the fence, everybody ran to their cars, and there was a lot of fire out there,
just -- even in the biggest worst scene that we've seen in movies, I can't explain how much -- how many bullets and missiles were flying around us.
Not the big missile like RPG and everything, it was RPG all over. I was fighting in a war and I've never seen so many RPGs, seriously.
AMANPOUR: And how did you get shot, Sahar? How did you get shot?
BEN-SELA: Part of the story. We tried to go to another place and they turn us around again. And then, we saw a policeman standing next to a shelter
and a lot of cars. And the policeman look at us and say, there is nowhere to run, they are all over the place. Get inside the shelter, it's the only
We got inside the shelters with something -- I remember 30 or 40 people, but my friend says that it was 60 or even 50 or 60 people. And we got
inside the shelter. It was something like two meters at all, like just two meters square. And we got inside and then the shooting started and the
policemen tried to calm us down. It's not the terrorists, it's the IDF, but the shooting was on us. I could see the shots. I could feel on the stones
of the shelter, I could feel the bullets.
BEN-SELA: And the screams, it's not IDF. It's not IDF. And then, just look at us and say, stay inside. Pull out the gun. And then it was massive shots
all over the place. We can see in the entrance of the shelter a lot of bullets flying inside, but they couldn't hit us because they can't turn
left, because it was an entrance and then left to the shelter. A small, something like --
AMANPOUR: So --
BEN-SELA: -- meter.
AMANPOUR: -- Sahar, it sounds to me like you were directed to take shelter, but you were like a cornered animal in this shelter. because that's where
BEN-SELA: We didn't took shelter. It wasn't a shelter. It was an animal slaughter. It's like they take all the animals to one place and shoot them
all. And then, the policeman got shot and ran away. And he killed one of the terrorists but got shot and ran away. I found him on Soraka (ph) Life
and God, the policeman. Oh, one second, sorry. Then they drop the first grenade. Drop inside. It was exploding the entrance.
AMANPOUR: I'm sorry. if it's too much, don't talk.
BEN-SELA: No, it's OK. No, no, it's OK. I need to tell about this. Just a second, please. Thank you. After the first grenade, after something like 45
seconds, he dropped the second grenade and he hit the wall, hit my head and flow to the back of the row -- of the people in the back row and explode on
them. And there was something like a lot of smoke inside.
And then my friend -- girlfriend start to choke and she wanted to go out. And she start to run away from the shelter. We tried to catch her. I
remember, I was in the second row of the people. I tried to catch her with my hand and it was slipping. And she tackled, I think she tackled the
terrorist. And he shot her dead from the zero -- from zero --
AMANPOUR: Point blank, point blank.
BEN-SELA: Point blank, yes. Thank you. From point blank. And after he shot her dead, he just got inside. I could never forget the face of it. It was
smiling at us. It looks like the devil. He just looked at us, point the gun, the machine gun in front of the girl face and just start to spread
everything around. All the people.
I was in the second row. All the people in the first row and the second row shot dead. I just opened my eyes and opened my mouth and start to go down
the wall because I got -- I understood that I got hit, but didn't understand where yet because it was blood all over and screaming. And from
all the adrenaline, I got hit in my body, but I can't really understand what happened.
And I think his gun was broken, that's why he stopped to shot. And there was a third grenade inside the building but it didn't explode. We found him
on the floor. We say that we don't want to touch it, so it won't explode.
AMANPOUR: You know what, Sahar, I'm just pleased that you made it out. What a complete and utter horror.
BEN-SELA: I wish it was horror. In horror movie you can go out somehow. We didn't have no choice. I saw their kids, that their bodies full of bullets.
A girl that -- all her body parts on the floor and she was crawling to her boyfriend and dead boyfriend and start to kiss him until she got -- she
died by herself.
AMANPOUR: Wow. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for you. I'm so happy that you survived and we wish you all the best and we thank you for this story,
because as you say, it's important for people to hear what happened.
BEN-SELA: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you, Sahar.
BEN-SELA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
BEN-SELA: I just really want to make it clear. Just a last thing, it wasn't a war. It was a slaughter. Seriously. It wasn't a war. It was a big
slaughter that they didn't care about animals or people, they didn't care if you're a Jew or American, a Christian, even not a Muslim, they killed
them, even Muslims, they killed them. They didn't care about anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was our conversation -- my conversation with Sahar in a hospital in Tel Aviv. It's too difficult.
Ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's arrival in Israel on Thursday, a plane full of U.S. munitions landed there today. At least 22
Americans have been killed also in Israel. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirmed today.
Joining me on these developments is bestselling author and journalist Kim Ghattas. She's a contributing writer for the Atlanta -- Atlantic rather,
and she has extensively covered the U.S. State Department as well as the Middle East. Welcome from Beirut.
Kim, clearly this is, you know, very, very emotional stuff and we put warnings on because it is really, really hard to listen to and I just
wonder, you know, your reaction to all of this since it's been unfolding. You're a journalist as well, and, you know, since Saturday.
KIM GHATTAS, AUTHOR: Christiane, it's been awful to watch these images coming out of Israel of -- as your guest previously was describing a real
slaughter, the images are horrific, the context is horrific and what's unfolding now as well with the Israeli army bombing Gaza only reminds us
that the cycle of violence in this region seems absolutely endless.
We've been living with this, including here in Lebanon, for so many years. It's very worrying to see the potential for a regional conflagration
because, you know, we've spoken about the different players that are involved here beyond Hamas on the ground and there are, of course, real
risks that this becomes a regional conflagration.
I'm speaking to you from Beirut, where, of course, people are very tense as well. We've lived through war before. I grew up in the civil war. We've
been through war as well between Hezbollah and Israel. People have been leaving Southern Lebanon today out of fear that there might be an
escalation on that border.
So far, it appears that Hezbollah is choosing to very carefully signal its support for Hamas, but is still restraining -- from refraining from
entering this conflict fully. But of course, you know, miscalculations happen. It can happen at any minute.
AMANPOUR: And we obviously spoke to the IDF of spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, earlier about that, and he explained what had been going on up
there. I want to ask you to react to what the national security adviser, the U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said regarding the
deployment of these now two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean. Let's just let's just say -- let's just play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Let me be clear. We did not move the carrier for Hamas. We moved the carrier to send a clear message of
deterrence to other states or non-state actors that might seek to widen this war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, we just talked about other state actors like -- non-state actors like Hezbollah, but state actors like Iran. And there has
been a suggestion by an Israeli official, I think it's not named, that Iran gave a green light. Now, the U.S. says it has no proof of that and has yet
not been able to confirm that. What are you hearing from your part of the neighborhood?
GHATTAS: There is, of course, a longstanding relationship between Hamas and Iran. Hamas officials themselves and militants have said that they get
weapons and funding from Iran. The relationship has been uneasy over the past years because of Iran's involvement on the side of Bashar al-Assad in
Syria, Hamas took a step back from that but is getting closer again.
And over the last year or so we've heard a lot about the unification of France, that is encircling -- that means encircling Israel with fire from
Southern Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Gaza, and of course, the presence of Iranian assets and Hezbollah and Iran and militants as well in Syria.
That's what we've been hearing from Hamas and Hezbollah.
Now, it's been very interesting to hear the different statements coming out over the last few days from the different groups and from Iran. There was a
very clear effort by Hezbollah to say that they support their brothers in - - from Hamas, that they -- this is also a message to any country that is efforting to normalize relations with Israel. They're thinking about Saudi
Arabia, of course.
But what struck me most was one of the statements from Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of Hamas, saying that this shows that Israel cannot protect you, you
Arab countries who are seeking to normalize. And that, to me, sounds very much like a veiled threat.
But what struck me even more is the denial from Iran itself, from the ayatollah, Ali -- the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, saying that Iran was
not involved in this. And it sounds to me when you put that together with statements from the United States, from Washington, D.C., including from
the secretary of state, saying there's no evidence of Iran involvement, but they must be complicit, it sounds to me like everybody is worried that this
could reach a regional conflagration, including the Iranians, and they want to take this step by step. But as I said, Christiane, the risk of
miscalculation is absolutely there.
And Hamas' game plan is frankly unclear. I mean, this sounds like a kamikaze operation, like a last stand, because they know they're going to
get hit hard. And unfortunately, Palestinian civilians are going to suffer.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it's terrible, as you say, for the civilians there as well. More than a thousand, we understand, from their authorities have been
But I want to ask you this. You wrote a piece in "The Financial Times," subtitle, "Every fresh attempt to wipe out Palestinian militant groups only
forges more extreme iterations." So, you know, you talked about Lebanon, you know, to drive out the PLO 1982 and on and on and on. And we don't
quite know. We haven't really -- I've tried to press all the officials, what is the end game here? Is it to put Israel back in charge of Gaza? What
do you do when you decapitate and remove Hamas? What remind -- us of how this extremism has got worse and worse over the decades.
GHATTAS: Well, when the Israelis invaded in 1982, they thought they could clean up Lebanon from the presence of Palestinian militants, the PLO. And
to that extent, that was successful because the PLO did leave. Of course, it led to devastation in Beirut, a siege. No food, no water, no fuel for
two months. You know, we're hearing that again about Gaza. It led, of course, to the absolutely horrific massacre in the Palestinian camp of
Sabra and Shatila carried out by Israel's Christian allies.
But in the bigger picture, it caused the complete opposite of what Israel was hoping to achieve. It wanted to -- Sharon, Ariel Sharon, the defense
minister at the time, wanted to change the Middle East. He thought he could defeat the PLO, make peace with Lebanon, bring Syria to its knees, because
Syria took a real beating as well during that invasion with its forces in Lebanon bombarded by the Israelis. And what did you get instead? You get
the crystallization of the Axis of Resistance, as it's known today.
It was the birth of Hezbollah. It was the arrival of Iran in the Levant. Two days after the Israelis invaded, a plane load of Revolutionary Guards
from Iran arrived in Syria and then traveled onwards to Lebanon. And of course, Syria found a role as the spoiler of America's agenda in the region
in alliance with Iran.
The idea that you can decapitate a militant group hasn't worked for Israel. That's what they keep trying to do. They've done this in Lebanon, not just
in '82, but also in 2006 with Hezbollah and it doesn't work. It doesn't work. There has to be some restraint, and that is also the responsibility
of the International Community because we must remember the civilians who will pay the price in Gaza, who really have not many places to go to.
And we must think about the bigger picture, without any concessions at some point to the Palestinians to address the core of the issue, which is the
occupation, we will keep seeing these cycles of violence with extreme ideas on both sides. Very violent militancy by Palestinian groups like Hamas, but
also the rise of, you know, extreme right-wing governments like Prime Minister Netanyahu's government.
AMANPOUR: And as we've asked every official so far, there's going to be a lot of investigation after the fact as to how this happened and how that
government clearly had its eye off the ball, according to everybody inside Israel and those who are watching from outside. Thank you, Kim Ghattas.
We told you that Gaza's main electric plant has shut down. And now, the Ministry of Health there is saying hospitals on generators will run out of
fuel by Thursday. These facilities are already overwhelmed as Israel continues to hammer Gaza with retaliatory strikes against Hamas positions.
But so many others are getting killed as well, according to the ministries there, more than 1,100 people have been killed, according to the Ministry
of Health, and that includes four paramedics whose ambulance was reportedly bombed. There are some of our colleagues as well.
I'm joined by Mosab Abu Toha, who is a Palestinian poet and writer, and from 2019 to 2020, he was the visiting poet in -- and librarian in
residence at Harvard. In an opinion post for "The Washington Post," he writes, in Gaza, no one can believe their eyes.
So, Mosab Abu Toha, welcome. What is it that you cannot believe -- did the light just go off? Tell me what you're experiencing in Gaza right now.
MOSAB ABU TOHA, PALESTINIAN POET: For the light that's coming to us from the explosions of bombs that is dropped -- that are dropped by Israel from
time to time. And we are running out of water, running out of electricity. We are running out of medicine. And we are full of fear of what has
happened and what's going to happen.
AMANPOUR: Have you -- you know, you've obviously lived through many rounds of this. How does this compare with previous times that there have been
these airstrikes and other, you know, military operations inside Gaza?
TOHA: Well, I think Israel is focusing on some areas from time to time. Just yesterday, they started bombing an area that's just a few kilometers
away from me. About 20 people were killed. So, they kept bombing that area for about two hours.
And just earlier yesterday, they also bombed every male (ph) neighborhood, which is considered as the richest and more most secure areas in the Gaza
Strip. But now, I look at the pictures on Facebook and different media, and I cannot recognize whether this building was a hospital, whether it was a
clinic, whether it was a tower, or maybe a pharmacy, or a kindergarten even. They changed the landscape by continuing to bomb a place for hours,
nonstop. And also, by pulling down houses on tops of the people inside of them.
Now, by just a few hours ago, the minister of the interior (INAUDIBLE) published a statement that says that about 23 families, 23 whole families
were wiped out from history. And we don't know who's next. Because in my house now, I have about four families. I have my family, my brother's
family and two sisters of mine who moved -- who had to move to our place because the house was critically damaged by a neighboring bomb. We have 10
children inside the house.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something?
TOHA: The oldest is eight years old.
AMANPOUR: Mosab --
AMANPOUR: -- you said in the article you wrote for "The Washington Post," the images of the dozens of Israeli casualties and prisoners haunt me. How
did the militants cross such a closely monitored border? How could they kill all these soldiers and take so many others as prisoners? You can only
assume that Israel will kill hundreds, even thousands of civilians in Gaza. I've never felt so terrified.
So, you knew that when Hamas -- you know, you knew what was going to happen after this unprecedented attack inside Israel?
TOHA: Of course. Yes. I mean, I know as a Gazan more than anyone else at Gaza, because Israel has been mad at us, has been bombing us and killing
hundreds and hundreds without any militants from Hamas from the Gaza Strip, infiltrating and invading the neighboring Israeli towns and cities. And
now, with this kind of invasion, land invasion by the Gaza militants -- and I could imagine that if they killed 1,000 or 2,000 in May 2021, they would
kill maybe 10 times more than that.
I would expect that, because Israel killed us without Hamas going into Israeli cities and prisoners, especially soldiers. I mean, this is very --
this was, of course, very humiliating for Israel.
AMANPOUR: All right. Mosab --
TOHA: And this terrifies us because Israel --
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. I heard what you said, it terrifies you. Thank you very much for being with us
Now, on a different angle, today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned the world is in a situation where war can break out at any
continent at any time. As multiple conflicts dominate headlines right now, a political crisis is brewing all across the world from the Middle East in
Guatemala. The nation's attorney general is attempting to overturn the results of the latest election after the opposition secured a surprise
Bernardo Arevalo won the presidency in a landslide, promising to fight against corruption. And I spoke to the president-elect earlier about the
crisis unfolding in his country and also in Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President-Elect, welcome to the program.
BERNARDO AREVALO, GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you very much, Ms. Amanpour. It's a pleasure to be a host in your program.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. Listen, I want to ask you because we're talking in the midst of a terrible crisis halfway around the world, but I know that your
father was, you know, the first democratically elected president of your country. And on his watch, Guatemala was one of the first countries to
recognize the State of Israel in 1948. And you yourself have been a diplomat there. I wonder what you're thinking and feeling about this
unprecedented crisis right now.
AREVALO: Well, I think that it is a terrible crisis that once more makes it absolutely evident the need to find a peaceful and just solution for peace
in that part of the region.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about that because you know what's going to happen. I mean, far from peace, Israel has declared war in an effort to,
you know, avenge itself for mass murder. How do you think it's going to unfold? You know that region very well.
AREVALO: ?Well, I'm -- I think that we have seen all around the world that the need for peace arises precisely from moments of deep crises as this
one, painful as they are. We need to actually really understand that the violence that is now prevailing in the region after the terrorist attack by
Hamas makes it absolutely necessary that everybody renews effort to try and find a just peace in the Middle East and look and just at the moment in
which this looks more difficult and remote because of the level of violence that is currently going on just because of that and precisely because of
that. We need to make it very clear that a peaceful solution needs to be found as soon as possible so that the peoples in the region can live in
peace and security.
AMANPOUR: You know, a year ago you met with the representative of the Palestinian Authority, and you tweeted, the solution to the conflict
between Israel and Palestine is the creation of a state for each people, within the framework of international law and peace negotiations with
So, do you still believe a two-state solution can be extracted from the ashes of what we see today? And actually, you know, the U.S. had taken its
eye off the ball. The Israeli government was, you know, thinking of other things like its own domestic crises and there's been no movement to that.
Do you think it's still a possibility?
AREVALO: I think that that is the solution that was envisaged in 1947, 1948. And I think that is still the best available plan for a peaceful
solution in the region.
AMANPOUR: Let me move on to you because, of course, this is all about democracy. You have been elected and yet, the -- you know, your own
attorney general is being accused of preventing you from taking your seat. There are Guatemalan people in the streets for the last two weeks now. What
is going on in your own country? Is democracy going to be upheld? Are you going to be able to take your legitimate seat?
AREVALO: I believe that democracy will be upheld fundamentally because there is a very wide support among the population for a change, a change
from the corrupt governments that we have been having in the last 20, 25 years. And this has been very clearly expressed in the elections and in the
support that this transition has been enjoying ever since we won the election resoundingly.
What is happening is that precisely there is an entrenched clique of corrupt politicians that are using their remaining control over state
institutions, in this case, the attorney general's office, to try to somehow derail something that has already been clarified and decreed by the
electoral authorities that there is a president, vice president-elect in the country and that they should take oath of office on the 14th of
They have been making efforts, and this is what's generating the political crisis that we are currently facing.
AMANPOUR: The protests turned violent, and you describe the situation happening as a coup d'etat. Can you explain?
AREVALO: Yes, well, the coup d'etat has nothing to do with the -- you know, the infiltration of violent elements into what has been almost completely
peaceful campaign of protest by the people in the last weeks.
My comments on an ongoing coup d'etat refer to the way in which the general attorney's office is trying to alter electoral results and, you know, break
constitutional order through this illegitimate law firm that is conducting against the electoral authorities and against our government.
AMANPOUR: How will you be able to fight corruption, which is what you ran on?
AREVALO: Well, first of all, because once we take control over government, over the executive branch of government, the funding that has been oiling
the machinery of corruption has been that of the infrastructure projects in the country, which have been the ones that have been, you know, diverted
into all sorts of corrupt schemes between politicians and corrupt businessmen at different levels, local level, national level.
And what we are doing, we are closing that possibility with everybody is very clear that there is going to be simply no way to engage in corrupt
businesses using the infrastructure funding from the government. And this is transforming the scenery because what has been the key element to make
the corruption system work is going to disappear.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that corruption, as well as poverty and danger, you know, violence, is that part of what is making Guatemala basically
represents the largest number of Central Americans who are trying to get into the United States? According to the U.S., some 233,000 arrived at the
borders last year. Do you have a plan to stop them, and how?
AREVALO: Well, there are two ways to address the problem, the issue of migration. One of them is actually to bring development to the regions of
the country that has -- have been abandoned, particularly in the last 20 years, which have seen no significant investment in any type of
infrastructure, development, infrastructure, schools, agricultural projects, health facilities for the population in those regions where there
is no -- simply no economic option for them and those they escape away from the country and go into the United States.
So, we have a very clear propose to invest particularly in those most deprived areas in the western highlands in the -- of the country and two
other regions in which we have the pockets of poverty, of malnutrition which are driving the population out of the country.
AMANPOUR: As you know, President Biden has just issued a set of waivers and release funds to continue building sections of the wall along the Mexico
border. He doesn't believe it'll work, but this is what he said.
BIDEN: I want to answer one question on the border wall. The border wall, the money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to
reappropriate, to redirect that money. They didn't. They wouldn't. And in the meantime, there's nothing under the law other than they have to use the
money for what is appropriate. I can't stop that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the border wall works?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Biden doesn't believe the border wall works. And apparently, the Mexican president also says that it's "a regression that won't solve
the problem." What do you think? Do you think a wall will work?
AREVALO: No, I think that a wall will not work. What we need to do is to address the root causes of the problem and then try to find ways in which
we can manage the current migration through ways that can enable them to legally find work, in this case, in the United States. And that's why we
are already in the visits that I had to the United States and in conversations, that we are having with U.S. Officers here, exploring the
possibility, for example, of expanding working business significantly so that together with -- to the investment in development they'd have to --
they can begin to be more practical and sustainable solution to the issues of migration, certainly better than a wall.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you a Trump question. If he becomes president, do you think he would issue those work, you know, temporary work programs and
AREVALO: Well, we believe that what we are seeing is that there is a high demand for labor, both agricultural and industrial in the United States at
this point in time. And what we're trying to match is precisely the -- that demand with the offer that exists in these areas of the country, which then
can enable that we have a legal, you know, way in which people can go work in the United States, then go back to their communities here and so on and
so forth, so that it actually resolves the issues of labor demand on some parts in the United States, but also provide livelihoods to this population
while our development plans actually begin to yield results.
AMANPOUR: And just one final question. I don't know whether you consider yourself part of the Global South and where that all happens. But you can
see what's going on. There's a huge difference of opinion, of allegiance, of narrative from the Global South and the Global North, whether it's over
Ukraine and even now over the Israel Palestinian crisis. What do you think are the dangers of that massive global split?
AREVALO: Well, I think that actually one of the challenges that we have as an International Community is to find our ways back into finding more
integrated ways to address the world challenges. I think that splits and widening splits are dangerous in any condition, and that we should actually
try to come back and begin to build a more consensual and integrated approach to different problems around the world. Otherwise, what we are
going to see is only deepening problems and an inability to effectively deal with them collectively at the international level.
AMANPOUR: President-Elect, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
AREVALO: Thank you very much, Ms. Amanpour. It has been a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the president-elect's last point is such an important want to end on.
That is it for us, for now. Thanks for watching. Coverage continues. Goodbye from London.