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The Lead with Jake Tapper

White House: 20 Or More Americans Unaccounted For; Biden: Israel Has A Right To Defend Itself After Attacks; At Least 1,000 Killed In Hamas Attacks On Israel; Israel's U.N. Ambassador: Hamas Holding 100-150 Hostages. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 10, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's -- I'm so sorry for your loss. Your son sounds like such an extraordinary young man. And there are so many people who will be glad to hear his story and know that he helped save their lives as well.

Izhar Shay, you buried your son today and it is heartbreaking. Thank you for spending time with us on this -- on this awful day.

IZHAR SHAY, SON YARON KILLED SATURDAY IN BATTLE WITH HAMAS: Thank you for having me here. And thanks for tribute to our family, to our son's memory.

COOPER: Izhar Shay, thank you.

Thank you for joining us.

I'm Anderson Cooper in Tel Aviv, alongside Boris Sanchez in Washington.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start this hour with breaking news. The White House says 20 or more Americans are missing in Israel. This is an addition to the 14 Americans killed, this is after the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas.

U.S. officials say it's not clear if all of these 20 Americans missing are being held hostage, just that as of now, they're currently unaccounted for. This announcement came just minute ago after a speech by President Biden where he pledged support for Israel against what he called, quote, the pure, unadulterated evil, unquote, of Hamas.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price. And let there be no doubt, the United States has Israel's back. We'll make sure that the Jewish and Democratic state of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow and as we always have. It's as simple as that.


TAPPER: This afternoon we learned that that evil of Hamas has resulted in more than 1,000 deaths in Israel so far, mostly of civilians. The death toll also tragically includes a number of civilians from the town of Kfar Aza in southern Israel. Israel military says Hamas killed civilians in town, slaughtered them.

It is the scene one Israeli general described as worse than anything he's seen in his 40-year career.


MAJ. GEN. ITAL VERUV, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I heard during my childhood about the pogrom of Jews (ph), and then the Holocaust, of course, all of my family came from Europe, and they are survivors, et cetera, I never think I would see with my eyes picture and things like this.


TAPPER: Fighting has erupted in recent hours as the sun began to set. CNN teams on the ground in the Israeli town of Ashkelon, which is north of Gaza on the coast of the Mediterranean, captured this video of what they described as a relentless tempo of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel followed by loud booms of Israel's Iron Dome self-defense system.

And drone video from over Gaza earlier today shows the scale of the destruction from Israel's air strikes against Gaza. Palestinian authorities say homes, schools and hospitals have been hit by the IDF and more than 100,000 residents of Gaza have been displaced.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Ashkelon, Israel, just a few miles north of that border with Gaza.

From where you are, Clarissa, you could see Hamas pummeling the city with rockets all day. It was so close to you, in fact, that it damaged your car.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. We had seen on Hamas's Telegram channel that they were warning people to leave the city by 5:00 p.m. We got here just about five minutes before that and right at the top of the hour a relentless bombardment began. That basically continued on and off for several hours. At a certain point, I think we lost count of the number of times that the sirens went off, you would hear the missiles and you could hear, of course, the Iron Dome intercepting the vast majority of those missiles.

It's always very difficult to get a precise sense of how many are intercepted versus how many make landfall. But there seems to be a consensus here at least that while the residents of Ashkelon are no strangers to rocket fire, while they have shelters on every floor of every hotel and public buildings, they haven't really seen anything on the scale of this kind of a sustained bombardment. So, very much a sense of tension here on the ground and in Ashkelon and indeed throughout many of these cities that are near to the border where the rocket fire has been continuing.

Of course, on the other side of the border in Gaza, it has also been a brutal day, continued bombardment.


The death toll there climbing now above 800 people. And no sense that any of this is going to stop. In fact, quite the opposite. It appears, you know, from what we've heard from President Biden, from what we heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, that the specter of a ground invasion is entirely possible if not likely, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward in Ashkelon, Israel, thank you so much.

At least 900 people have been killed in Gaza since Saturday, according to the Palestinian ministry of health. Buildings have been flattened, food and water cut off. More bodies pulled from the rubble today. This is after Israel fired at least 200 rockets overnight into the densely populated area in retaliation for the atrocities committed by Hamas over the weekend.

As CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, top Israeli military leaders say it's nearly impossible to determine if they are striking Hamas or innocent civilians as Hamas embeds itself within the Palestinian population.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Gaza City neighborhood once known as El Raml (ph), the sands, reduced to ashes. Its residents retrieve what they can, which isn't much.

Israel continues to pound this strip, targeting it says Hamas infrastructure. Residents in shock are asking why?

I got married this year, says Yahya Al-Ahwal. What did I do? What have we done? You destroyed an entire neighborhood. He says he never fired a rocket.

And this is one of the most densely populated patches of land on earth, bombs crashing into crowded neighborhoods, rarely differentiate between fighter and civilian.

The death toll rises by the hour, while Gaza's hospitals are overwhelmed with the wounded, including infants.

Around 40 percent of the population of Gaza is under the age of 15, according to the CIA. The information ministry in Gaza reports that nearly 170 buildings have been destroyed and more than 12,000 residences damaged, and tens of thousands have fled their homes seeking shelters in the U.N. schools converted into shelters.

And an oven in this bakery in Gaza City is shut down, many of the shelves empty. Life here was already difficult and now the future looks bleaker than ever.

Gaza will take five years to raise its head after this, says Wahiba Sirsawi. And after five years, there will be two or three more wars. It's a catastrophe.

And amidst all this, somewhere in Gaza, Hamas knows there, are more than 100 Israeli captives with fates unknown.

Tuesday afternoon, Israel struck Gaza's the only port used principally by fishermen. At the same time, Hamas unleashed a massive volley of rockets toward Ashkelon. The abyss approaches.


WEDEMAN: And this evening, we heard from a spokesperson from the Israeli military who says that several rockets were fired from Syria into the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, landing in open territory. He said that the Israeli forces responded to the source of that rocket fire with mortars and artillery, Jake.

TAPPER: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem for us, thank you.

The Hamas terrorist attack over the weekend was followed by a promise by the Israeli military of swift and devastating retaliation, and a warning to Gaza residents to leave any -- any area near Hamas which would be quite difficult since Hamas is embedded within the Palestinian population in Gaza.

On Saturday night, I asked a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces just where Gazans are supposed to go given the closed off border and that has made Gaza in the words of a former British prime minister an open air prison. Here's his response.


LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: But they should go south. They could go to the shore and they could be in locations that are not close to Hamas facilities.


TAPPER: More than 2 million Palestinians live in Gaza. About half of those are children.

Let's bring in Haneen Okal. She's a Palestinian American from Union County, New Jersey. She is currently stick in Gaza City with her three children. They are eight, two and a 2-month-old. They cannot get out.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Has the embassy been able to give you any help to get out.


[16:10:00] Yes. We tried to contact the U.S. embassy so many times and unfortunately, they couldn't help us at all. I contacted them through the phone, via email. I texted and I called different numbers, but nobody -- I couldn't hear back from any.

They said that we're going to call you back within 24 hours or so, a couple of hours, but they couldn't -- they couldn't at all call us or we didn't get any information from them. I applied -- I submitted a form through the website, but that didn't work as well.

And I don't know, with what happened with Eres Crossing border and what is happening with the Rafah border. I don't know if we're going to make it. But I am absolutely looking forward to the help of the U.S. embassy. We're all here feeling abandoned that -- and we're feeling that we're left alone. So we really are looking for the U.S. embassy to help the U.S. citizens who are living in Gaza.

TAPPER: That was just an Israeli air strike that we just heard? That was just an Israeli air strike that we just heard?

OKAL: A what?

TAPPER: We just heard a sound like a bomb or a missile. Is that what we just heard?

OKAL: Yes. That is happening 24 hours. All time they are bombing all around from south to north, to the center of Gaza. Everywhere. Bombing is everywhere.

TAPPER: Your kids, how are they doing with that?

OKAL: It is terrible. My kids are very scared and they're afraid of what is going on. I have to explain all of the time. I have to calm them down and trying to make them feel comfortable, safe and trying to make them busy with other things so they can't feel afraid or scared.

But like they are, like what happened with me, for example today, I was going trying to get out from Gaza, I was going to the Rafah border and while we're going there, we tried multiple ways to get out of Gaza, going to the south. We couldn't make it at all.

So my son said all of the locations destroyed, his favorite places, he was shocked with what he saw. So, we had to see all of that and we had to go into what we say -- okay. So it was like, you know, you're going to death. Yes.

TAPPER: There needs to be a way for you to get out. You're not Hamas. You're an innocent person and you have three kids. You need to be able to get out.

You heard earlier the suggestions from the IDF spokesperson, I spoke with on Saturday night, where are innocent Palestinians supposed to go, he said to go the south and go to the shore.

Is that at all realistic? We just heard about your attempt to go to the border crossing in the south and that didn't work. Is there any where for you to go to escape this barrage of missiles?

OKAL: No. No, we tried everywhere. They say go to the shore. And then they bomb the shore next day. They say go to north and then they bomb the north areas the next day. Like everywhere. They're bombing everywhere.

So no place is safe here in Gaza Strip. And it is like -- it is just terrible and very, very, you know, very hard to explain, because they're bombing everywhere.

TAPPER: Well, I hope --

OKAL: It is just a place for -- or a place that is close to Hamas. They're bombing places that are not related to Hamas, like -- I don't know, everywhere.

TAPPER: Haneen Okal, we have your number, I know that the White House watches this show. The White House can call me and we will put them in touch with you. You and your kids need to get out safe.

OKAL: Uh-huh.

TAPPER: And you need to get out safe as soon as is humanly possible.

Please stay safe. Stay in touch with us. We're going to do everything we can to help you.

OKAL: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

TAPPER: And we'll make sure that the White House gets that information whether they're watching or not.

So, what could an Israeli ground invasion to Gaza look like? Well, Israel has saturated the southern border with troops and tanks and called up more than 300,000 reservists to fight. Where that operation stands right now, that's next.



TAPPER: Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are on the move as Israel prepares for a possible ground invasion into Gaza. In total, more than 300 Israeli troops have already been called up to fight, to retaliate against the Hamas terrorist attack over the weekend.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Ashdod, Israel, which is north of the Gaza border, tracking the largest mobilization in Israel's history on such short notice.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As militants infiltrated Israel, Israeli forces are still fighting to eliminate the threat. We are here right outside of the Israeli town of Metalsem (ph) where

we have been hearing repeated exchanges of gunfire over the last ten minutes or so. These exchanges, we haven't seen who exactly they are between, but we do know that Israeli forces have been continuing to try and clear some of these Israeli towns around the Gaza Strip from those Hamas militants.

The IDF later confirming they killed two Hamas terrorists in the battle. But minutes after it ended, Israeli defense forces rushed a casualty into an ambulance.

Okay, okay, we're going.

But the soundtrack to life in most Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip today wasn't gunfire, but rockets.

In Sderot, the booms punctuate the stillness of the day.

Just come into a shelter here where we could take cover from this Iron Dome interceptions, and, of course, they're intercepting active rockets coming from Gaza.


The booms are very loud. They are directly overhead.

Twenty minutes later, another barrage of rockets headed for the city of Ashkelon.

All right. We're in the city of Sderot where we could now see that barrage that Hamas promised at 5:00 p.m., appearing to head over in the direction of Ashkelon. Now, that is exactly where Hamas officials said about an hour ago that they would fire rockets in that direction.

But there is also another sound in towns like Sderot.

Israeli troops and reservist mobilizing to the Gaza front, part of a massive call up of more than 300,000 reserve troops. Preparation for a potential ground invasion of Gaza. For some, this moment feels different.

ARYEH EASTMAN, RESERVE PARATROOPER: When we came in with a concept of, you know, full control, this one started with much more, obviously, confusion and -- and the playing field is different. That's certainly -- but I think in the last two days, the momentum has shifted.

DIAMOND: And the entire country is jumping into action, with those out of uniform with troops bringing food and supplies to troops.

After days of tragedy, also a sense of resilience.

I'm not afraid at all, she said. When it will be my time, it will be my time.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DIAMOND (on camera): And, Jake, driving through these towns bordering the Gaza Strip, one thing is clear, that the situation right now is far from stable. And it could get much, much worse.

As we drove through these towns, we continually have this kind of eerie sense of calm, punctuating only by those sirens here on the Israeli side, the rockets and also as we're hearing tonight, that steady rumble of Israeli air strikes hitting the Gaza Strip.

But the question is, what is going to come next? Three hundred thousand -- more than 300,000 Israeli reservists have been called up, one of the largest mobilizations in Israel's history. Most folks here seem to think that a ground invasion is imminent but Israeli officials have yet to actually confirm that. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech last night to the Israeli public made clear that he plans to take unprecedented action against Hamas, but he has yet to give an order on an invasion -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Just now, during Jeremy's report, we could see a number of explosions over Gaza. And another scary night for the innocent Palestinians there. Families of those missing or held hostage in Gaza are understandably growing more anxious and frustrated by the day.

CNN was there as many of those Israelis and Americans voiced some of that frustration today. They're desperate pleas for Hamas to return their loved ones, that's next.




ERAN LITMAN, DAUGHTER MISSING AFTER HAMAS ATTACK: We don't know if she's alive, if she's wandering, if she's hiding, or that.

MORAN ALONY, SIX FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED IN HAMAS ATTACK: We went to the missing persons center. We gave them all of the information that we had and since then we're waiting.

JESSICA MIRANDA, BOYFRIEND MISSING AFTER HAMAS ATTACK: If somebody knows anything, please let us know. We need Ben back. We need him back. I need him back.

YAHALI RICARDO, SISTER MISSING AFTER HAMAS ATTACK: I just need to hold her. I really need to see her. I'm calling and I'm asking people where is my sister and nobody can give me answers.


TAPPER: Can you imagine? Shock and fear turning into anger and frustration, as Israeli families search for their loved ones. This is four days after that deadly act of terror by Hamas.

Many of these people still have not heard a word from the Israeli government or military.

CNN's Becky Anderson is in Tel Aviv.

And, Becky, you heard from some of the families today, what are they asking of Israeli and U.S. authorities?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: They are pleading for help and information. And they are urging the U.S. government to help negotiate the release of these hostages. Just let me explain what happened today.

We heard from families of four dual citizens, U.S. and Israeli citizens who are missing and presumed to be held hostage by Hamas. We heard from the son and daughter of a 66-year-old nurse from the parents of a 23-year-old who was at the rave on Saturday morning.

We heard from a -- the father of a boy named Sagi (ph), and he's a grown man, he's 35 years old, he has two kids and his wife is pregnant with their third. He lives on the kibbutz in Oz. This is a kibbutz that was overrun on Saturday morning. There is video on the social media of militants rampaging through a military base very close to this kibbutz and they're rampaging through the kibbutz itself, which has been reduced to rubble.

It was a kibbutz of 400 people and we spoke to Sagi's dad today who said that they have heard nothing from Sagi since Saturday morning.

He's father is flown in from the U.S. to try and illicit some sort of information about what is going on with his son. And he is pleading for help from both the Israeli and the U.S. governments. Have a listen to what he told me.



JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, SON MISSING SINCE HAMAS ATTACK: The United States administration and its various services have relationships in the world with countries that Israel does not. And it could be helpful for the United States and its various parts engage with those friends, those acquaintances to help in negotiate in some way secure the release or at least get solid information.

My children and grandchildren who were on the kibbutz. So Sigi's young family and another young family experienced a living hell for the better part of 20 hours. These are young children. And young men and women who cannot be anything other than traumatized by what they witnessed. My job now as a parent is to try to put the pieces back together.


ANDERSON: Put the pieces back together he said is the job that he has now. And he also feels as a father that he has a responsible to do whatever it takes to try and get his son released. Jake, that was a community of 400. And as far as Jonathan knows, there are only 160 survivors of that massacre there on Saturday morning.

The fourth family member, let me tell you that we heard from today was the father Ruby of a boy called Itai (ph), who 19 years old and is a reservist in the IDF, and he was down on border and hasn't been heard of since Saturday as well.

So members of four families, four individuals who have been taken -- presumed to be taken hostage by Hamas and they just need help. They have heard nothing from either -- or they certainly hadn't when I spoke to them this afternoon, from either the Israeli or U.S. governments -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Becky, yesterday, you were at a hospital in Tel Aviv overwhelmed. How are they prepared to treat any additional casualties because, you know, after a potential ground incursion?

ANDERSON: Well, the director of that hospital told me that he never seen anything like this. This is the biggest hospital in Israel. It is the hospital in Tel Aviv. And it is generally where you'll get the most serious victims coming in and that is exactly what is happened this time.

And for -- from so many of the incidents in this massacre, mostly people were dealt with on the sigh first when eventually the army got to them and that was some 10, 12, 15 hours in and then evacuated to this hospital. He said he expects to see three, four, five times the numbers that he's currently seeing at present.

He said the difference between what they're seeing now and what they've seen in conflicts in the past here and, of course, there have been numerous conflicts here in the past, generally in the past the serious injuries and the burns an the gunshot wounds that they've seen are from soldiers, unfortunately this time, it is civilians and soldiers. And they are not overwhelmed, they could cope at this point.

But clearly he's very concerned about the prospect of a ground incursion and what will happen and what sort of price will be paid by the people there in Gaza. Both these hostages potentially and civilians.

TAPPER: Becky Anderson, thank you so much.

Gaza is coming up on the midnight hour where we're monitoring the night sky when once again explosions have sent large plumes of smoke up. Daylight might reveal what was hit.

How should the U.S. respond to this brutal war? We're going to talk with a member of Congress who was a Middle East analyst for the CIA.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead. As if it needs to be said, Saturday was the deadliest day for Jews in the world, since the Holocaust, since then. And at least 1,000 people have been killed in the Hamas attacks, mostly civilian. Among them, 14 Americans as of now.

The U.S. State Department says it is in contact with many Americans still stuck in Israel and wanting to get out.

Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan is with me. She's on the Armed Services Committee and used to be a Middle East analyst in the CIA.

Thanks so much for being here.

Your office has gotten calls and texts about Americans trying to get out of Israel, trying to get out of Palestinian territories. I don't know if you saw earlier, but we were talking to the Palestinian American woman in Gaza, trying to desperately get out.

So far, the American government has not particularly been helpful. There really isn't a way to get out of Gaza. What are you hearing from your constituents and how concerned are you about their safety?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, I mean, I think there are more American passport holders in Israel than any other country in the world. So getting those American passport holders out if they want to come out is a huge endeavor. We know that carriers aren't leaving from Ben-Gurion Airport. We've had some other international flights canceled today.

I've been helping people over the Jordanian border over land and the Jordanian government has been amazing in helping to facilitate that. Church groups, individual students, parents, it's just been a huge effort and I know every member of Congress is dealing with that same onslaught of requests.


TAPPER: Could Egypt help at all with the Palestinian Americans stuck in the Gaza Strip? Because --

SLOTKIN: Certainly. I think -- I think Israel will have to be a part of that conversation and I don't know where they stand on that. But certainly that is a border area, yes.

TAPPER: So you have lived in Israel, is that right?

SLOTKIN: Lived in Israel, lived in Jordan, yeah.

TAPPER: When you were with the CIA?


TAPPER: Just in different times in your life. When the attack happened, the Israeli defense forces were mainly located in the West Bank or at home. Does this surprise you how much Israel was caught off guard and how slowly it -- the rescues came for Israelis? Could more lives have been saved if troops weren't so positioned in West Bank?

SLOTKIN: Well, look, we're going to have a lot of time to go over how an intelligence failure like this happened. Think about our 9/11 Commission. Think about getting these senior members experienced, you know, bipartisan group together to take a deep look at this. They're going to have to do the same thing. They did the same thing after the 1973 war when they were caught off guard.

A big sort of Supreme Court justices and everything. So they'll have plenty of time. But, obviously, it's a failure and they're going to have to grapple with this. One thing was to not know it was coming, not to have human intelligence sources embedded with Hamas to sort of tip off the Israelis, which is kind of the gold standard for intelligence community, not to have signals intelligence of what they were saying to each other across telephones, across computers, walkie- talkies, whatever.

But then there was the second conversation about their military preparedness. Were they over-committed on the West Bank side? Were they focused that way and not on Gaza?

TAPPER: Yeah, why they were there also, just --

SLOTKIN: And why, right?

TAPPER: Just protecting the settlers who were --

SLOTKIN: I think that is a very serious question for the Israeli government. But there is going to be plenty of time for that. I think right now, people are in I think right now people are in shock and still finding out today, including members of my own staff, if they have friends and loved ones and cousins who are missing, who are, you know, injured.

And so I think that the time will come for that. And it will be a serious like ground-breaking thing for the Israeli government to deal with that.

TAPPER: So you have a Democratic colleague from Michigan, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. She's the first Palestinian American to serve in Congress.

And she released a statement that said, quote: I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost. The path to peace must include lifting the blockade and ending the occupation and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating dehumanizing conditions that could lead to resistance. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.

What was your reaction when you heard Congresswoman Tlaib's statement?

SLOTKIN: Well, first of all, I mean, I handle my issues with other members of Congress privately, right? I have lots of private conversations. But I think for me, it shouldn't be hard to condemn terrorists and terrorism, right? And that doesn't mean you don't have beef with the Israeli government,

right? Lots of people, we saw a fifth of the Israeli population had beef with the Israeli government but it should be easy, especially with the details coming out to condemn terrorism and terrorists and Hamas is a terrorist organization, they do not represent all Palestinians. We shouldn't connect those two.

So, I -- to me, I think that was the hardest part, not just about that statement but a number of statements that have come out from organizations and individuals. I don't -- I don't question whether someone has the right to be angry at the Israeli government, I question their inability to condemn grievous, grievous violence and that's what I think has been difficult.

TAPPER: There does seem to be, look, we spent a lot of time in -- during the Trump years looking at anti-Semitism on the right. This does -- these last few days have been a real eye-opening period for a lot of people. A lot of Democrats and a lot progressives in terms of anti-Semitism on the left. A lot of people who see more shocks at dehumanizing language used by world leaders to describe Hamas than what Hamas actually perpetrated on Saturday.

SLOTKIN: Yeah, I mean, look, anti-Semitism should be stamped out wherever it is, on the right, or on the left. And we shouldn't look more glowingly on it if it comes from our side, right? So Republicans need to strongly condemn the grievous anti-Semitism that I've seen on their side and we need to absolutely go after anti-Semitism on the left.

And that it should just -- it should just be a standard thing and not a political thing, whether you condemn it or not.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you so much.

For days now, we've heard how Hamas storm into the musical festival Saturday and killed hundreds of people, raping people as well -- raping women. My next guest was there.

There's also some new video showing the callous cold-hearted actions of the terrorists there.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Of the 1,000 people killed in the terrorist attacks by Hamas, more than 260 were at the Nova Music Festival on Saturday. Some were killed at point blank range. They're belongings were looted, their actions seen in the car's dash cameras parked at festival. That video was obtained by CNN today.

Amit Musaei was at the festival when it came under fire and he joins us now.

Amit, I mean, words --


TAPPER: Words fail.


I'm so sorry you went through this. I'm glad you were okay.

Can you tell us what happened that morning?

MUSAEI: So, me and the three of my friends, we were at the music festival, which is very close to the border with Gaza. Towards 6:30 a.m., while we were dancing on the dance floor, the music suddenly stopped and we thought it was -- it was something with the electricity, but then we but then we realized that they were shooting rockets at us from Gaza.

We tried to find a shelter. There is no safe zone as this was an open space. We were basically in the desert with some eucalyptus trees.

We lied on the ground and tried to find shelter, but we realized there is no way to find shelter in such a great open area. While the security personnel on the festival started to aim us to leave the space and to start to escape, me and my friends were probably the first group of people who realized we need to go into our vehicles to start the engines and to flee out.

Now, this was a festival attended by thousands of people, 3,500 people were there, not just Israelis. This festival was also inviting a lot of global guests in collaboration with a Brazilian festival, so there were a lot of foreign people attending.

Many of them didn't know even what to do. They didn't understand what is happening, as us Israelis, we are kind of used to rocket attacks in Israel. So we know what we should do.

Anyways, me and three of my friends, we met by our camping site, and we started to run towards our car, actually my car is quite a new vehicle. I'm a tour guide. It's a four-wheel drive that I'm using to drive my tourists from place to place, and this vehicle failed to start, which later on possibly saved me from something else.

So we were basically escaping from the rocket attack and we made our way out, so we had to drive a bit on the -- not on the paved roads, and we found a way out towards the roads in the Gaza envelope area, while my friends asked me where I'm aiming towards, I told them I'm aiming away so if rockets are coming from southwest, which is the location of Gaza on the map of Israel, I'm driving to northeast towards the rising sun.

And over there we found after maybe 10 or 15 minutes' drive, while trying to call to our friends, which were on their way, they told us that they are in a shelter but there are shootings. Now, we didn't realize yet that those shootings were not rockets. They were meaning gun shootings.

TAPPER: Right, because of the terrorists on the ground, right. Yeah.

MUSAEI: Yeah, so as we found a way towards the shelter, towards a gas station and a coffee place, which is a building and this is where you want to hide by, you want to hide by a wall that can protect you.

En route, we saw a GMC Savannah, so it's a wide truck, and we saw that all the windows were shattered. We didn't even realize what just happened to this car. I imagined that this car was hit by a rocket.

Later in time after realizing what really happened at the festival, we understood that most likely one of those pickup trucks that possibly you have videos of that were carrying terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel, they were driving on that road possibly a minute or two before we took this road, and they shot down the vehicle and all the people that were there. Possibly they even manage kidnap some of the people. We saw only one body, and it was not the driver. It was by -- the driver's passenger.

TAPPER: And I know that you have three daughters, and one of your daughters, her friend is missing, was kidnapped.

MUSAEI: So we were expecting friends to join us, and they had not been yet in the festival. They were -- they found shelter in a place very close to one of the settlements in the Gaza envelope, and unfortunately they were encountered terrorists, most likely from a blank distance, and those two friends, they are my best friends, and they are the parents of my daughter's besties.


So I have a 10 years old, they have a 10 years old. I have an 8 years old, and they have an 8 years old. They are the best friends. Those two friends of mine that are gone missing, we don't know what happened to them.

We just found their vehicle, I think it was two days ago in the morning. We found their vehicle. We probably have videos.

All right, so I just want to emphasize that the attack was like the attacks that you understand and know like ISIS.

TAPPER: Yeah. Yeah.

MUSAEI: They were butchering people, and they were abusing the bodies of people. Those are not people. Those are not animals. Those are monsters.


MUSAEI: And they are representing the people that are in the Gaza Strip. This is the ruling entity in Gaza.

TAPPER: Amit Musaei, I'm so sorry you went through that, and it's so horrible, and I hope that you hear from your friends soon. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

MUSAEI: Thank you very much, and I hope America will continue to support us.

TAPPER: We'll be right back.