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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Now: Repeated Explosions Light Up Gaza Skyline; Survivors Return To Music Festival Site; Now: Repeated Explosions Light Up Gaza Skyline; Brother Of Hostage Kidnapped By Hamas Speaks Out. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 27, 2023 - 17:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm standing on a rooftop looking out over Tel Aviv. It's nearly midnight here. And tomorrow marks three weeks since the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas caught this country, and frankly, much of the world by surprise.

The major breaking news tonight, explosion after explosion rocking the Gaza Strip as the Israel Defense Forces announced they are expanding ground operations into Gaza and, quote, "operating forcefully on all fronts." The IDF says hundreds of 1000s of soldiers, Israeli soldiers, are surrounding the borders of Gaza in the air on the ground and in the sea.

Gaza residents tell CNN that these airstrikes are the most intense they have witnessed since the beginning of this conflict almost three weeks ago. And phone service that connects Gaza to the outside world has now apparently been completely cut off because of the intense bombardment. These are live pictures we're bringing you the skyline over Gaza where we have been seeing explosions all day. This operation coming hours after Israel's Minister of Defense told me and some other reporters that Israel was, quote, "waiting for the best conditions to start its ground operation," unquote. Exactly what those conditions were, he would not make clear.

Earlier today, sources told CNN that a breakthrough had been made in hostage negotiations as 229 people, according to the IDF, are still being held by Hamas, kidnapped on October 7, the IDF says the talk of a breakthrough was, however, only rumors. So now, what, of course, is the big question. Now what? U.S. officials insist that hostage talks will continue. The White House says it is still inactive conversations with Israel about what they're calling a humanitarian pause to allow for the release of hostages. CNN's Nic Robertson is just outside the border of Gaza in Sderot, Israel.

And Nic, you saw and heard all of this unfold tonight, the intense bombardment by Israel, not to mention an intense increase in rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Absolutely. And as we all wonder what it means to have the best conditions for going in, we think of the clearing operations to preparing operations that we've been told the incursion last night, the incursion the night before the increase in these ground operations that we appear to be witnessing tonight are all a sort of a preparation, it appears, for a larger incursion. It certainly creates that impression. The IDF is certainly giving that impression.

I was just glancing up to the sky here, Jake, before we're speaking here, noticing that the sky, the moon rather, is getting fuller and fuller and fuller. And we're oftentimes we think of the times when a ground incursion by night, ground military operations by night can be at the military's advantage. And oftentimes that's at time of a full moon and is getting fuller and fuller, must be getting close to a full moon. But as for tonight, it was about six or seven hours ago, the really intense barrages of artillery pushed off. We could hear two big batteries of artillery opening up from where we were into Gaza.

And then something we hadn't heard as intensively a tool so far, and that was tank fire from very close to this location, round after round after round of tank fire. And just as night was falling, as dusk was falling, this huge swath of smoke billowed in here from Gaza carried on the wind up from the sea. But it's exactly the sort of smoke that the military would use to move troops, move equipment without the enemy being able to see it. Now, we don't know that that's what it was for. It did have an accurate taste, it did tingle in the nose. But it really created that impression of heavy bombardment. There's smoke and the possibility of another ground incursion following on tonight from previous nights.

And you just heard that explosion there again, Jake. There was a real pickup in artillery fire, I would say, within the past hour or so and it is still not over yet. And the barrages of outgoing rockets absolutely in the middle of all that intense fire Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing out towards central Israel, firing over us here, Iron Dome was firing out defensive rockets that take down the incoming rockets from Gaza. And we also saw Iron Dome intercepting rockets to the south of here. So, still rockets being fired out long range all the way to central Israel where you are, Jake.


TAPPER: Yes, Iron Dome was intercepting a bunch of Palestinian rockets aimed at population centers here in Tel Aviv all day, at least three or four alarms spreading throughout the day. Nic Robertson in Sderot, thank you so much.

Let's go now to CNN Chief National Analyst, Jim Sciutto, who's in northern Israel, where Israeli troops are facing off against Hezbollah.

Jim, what are you seeing on the ground there, as this heavy bombardment by the Israelis of Hamas in Gaza is underway?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, today, two attacks by Hezbollah, I should probably call them attempted attacks by Hezbollah on Northern Israel. One that fell to the ground here did not injure anyone, one that seemed to go off course into Syria. Reports later this evening of some shelling around Golan, that coming from the Syrian side, it seemed. But not to any increased paste from what we've seen in recent days, and that's despite a very high level of alert among the IDF forces here that we've encountered. And it's interesting, because there was a statement a short time ago coming from a senior Hamas where they show -- expressing what I suppose you could describe as --

TAPPER: We're hearing some explosions there, Jim. These are some big explosions in Gaza right there.

SCIUTTO: I can hear those as well.

TAPPER: Big explosion right there, yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: I can hear that as well.


SCIUTTO: Well, the point I was going to make is that Hamas as it is under fire there, as you're witnessing, as we're witnessing tonight, those Israeli airstrikes, Hamas leadership appears to be underwhelmed by the reaction among its brothers in arms in the region. The Hamas leader said, for instance, regarding Hezbollah, he said Hezbollah now is working against the occupation. But he added, we appreciate this, but we need more in order to stop the aggression in Gaza, we expect more. It appears that Hamas expects more retaliation as it were from Hezbollah in the north and from other Iranian proxies in the region. They haven't seen it yet.

That doesn't mean that as we see this increased in Israeli activity in Gaza tonight the last several hours that that doesn't spark something. But it's notable that it has not yet and that Hamas officials have notice that and are, in effect, complaining publicly that they don't have the support they expect. Now, I don't want to minimize what we have seen because, you know, those Hezbollah threats, those strikes so far have basically emptied the northern part of Israel towns up here, many of them that we visited under mandatory evacuation, many 10s of 1000s of Israelis fleeing south. And I should note, as we discussed earlier, Jake, U.S. forces in the region are also under threat. Iranian proxies firing on them in Iraq and Syria. So, that doesn't mean they are not firing back, but from Hamas' perspective, not to the degree that they'd hoped for.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The former CIA Director and former Secretary of Defense under President Obama, Leon Panetta, joins us now.

Secretary Panetta, good to see you. What do you make of these expanded the IDF ground operations this evening? Do you think that this is a good idea?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, I think it's part of their military operation now, which is to go ahead and hit the targets that they want to hit in Gaza, and at the same time, be able to move their tanks forward so that they can be in position to basically conduct whatever kind of operation the Israelis decide on. I think we have to be careful to jump to any conclusions here because this is going to be a well-planned operation. This is not going to be just something that they pull out of their hat. And for that reason, I think we have to be a little bit careful about assuming what exactly is going to happen. I'm not so sure it's going to be a full blown military invasion, it could very well be setting up a buffer zone and conducting targeted attacks into Gaza. We don't know the answer to just exactly what operation follows next.

TAPPER: I don't mean, this next question is either praise of Israel or criticism of Israel, but when you look at how they are conducting this war against Hamas, the airstrikes, the refusal to let fuel in because of the chance it could end up in the hands of Hamas and be used for rockets to be used against the Israeli people. Do you see any real material difference in how the Israeli government and the Israeli military is handling this from how the U.S. might be handling such a crisis?

PANETTA: You know, it's tough to draw assumptions, Jake, as to just exactly how each country would handle it. I mean 9/11 was a Hamas attack on the United States in terms of a terrorist attack. And it was soon after that happened that we sent forces into Afghanistan to go after Al-Qaeda. And that was pretty much a CIA type operation with Special Forces.


So whether the United States would be doing this differently or not -- I just -- I think it's really hard to jump to any conclusions here. I think the Israelis have dealt with Gaza before. They've been to Gaza before. They know that the problems they're going to face. I think you mentioned this, you're talking about 2 million Palestinians. You're talking about tunnels --


PANETTA: -- throughout that area. You're talking about suicide bombers and booby traps. They know what they're up against. And I'm assuming they're taking steps to deal with that challenge.

TAPPER: Yes. All right, Secretary Panetta, thank you so much for your insights, really appreciate it.

We're going to get back to the breaking news out of Gaza. But let's go to Lewiston, Maine because authorities are giving an update right now on the Maine mass shootings.

MIKE SAUSCHUCK, COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: The venues you can you can put that all together yourself. Peyton Brewer-Ross, 40 years of age. Joshua A. Seal, 36 years of age. Bryan M. MacFarlane, 41 years of age. Joseph Lawrence Walker, 57.

Arthur Fred Strout, 42. Maxx A. Hathaway, 35. Steven M. Vozzella, 45. Thomas Ryan Conrad, 34. Michael R Deslauriers II, 51.

Jason Adam Walker, 51. Tricia C. Asselin, 53. William A. Young, 44, Aaron Young, 14, his son. Robert E. Violette, 76 and his wife Lucille Violette, 73. William Frank Brackett, 48 years of age. Keith D. Mcneir, 64. Just have a moment of silence, thank you.

Thank you for that. I truly, truly appreciate it. And we do again, appreciate that to the family. They did give us those photos. I did not, however, have any of the family members pronounce any of those last names, so certainly no disrespect, intended, if in any way, screwed up the pronunciation.

So to move on, I would also like to address the numbers of the victims that we -- that I confirmed earlier today with the number eight. And I will tell you that some miscommunication on my part I was wrong. In talking to our detectives, we had a list for people that had been identified and family members that had been notified. It's also a separate list that involve a family advocacy in whether or not they had been plugged into that. So the reality here is that all 18 of those victims, everybody that we listed here today, everybody has been identified, and their families have been notified. So we were in contact with them.

I would expect some more information later tonight. And I'll definitely talk about it tomorrow morning at 10:00. Reference to Family Information Center, a new location and some material around that exactly what services will be available at that particular time. But I definitely wanted to make sure that I correct that mistake from earlier.

So, several other updates from this morning's briefing, I know that Shannon (ph) has sent along the aerial maps that we showed or tried to show here on the board. So you have received those. I also think that we had -- Shannon is correct this as well, but the Jeb Scott (ph) boat ramp, the proper name there was the paper mills trail in Miller Park (ph) boat launch. The address was correct at 501 Lisbon Street. The Jeb Scott is a little bit further down the river apparently and we certainly like and appreciate everybody working with us to make sure that we had the proper location, the proper terminology for that.


And other additional updates, the boat launch search of the river, the Androscoggin, they're still out there right now. And they'll be there as long as they can based on the light. And as we mentioned earlier, we're talking about sonars, and grid searches and things of that nature. That's time intensive, it's taken them a while to work through there. They want to make sure they do it right.

So, we're not going to finish that search this evening. I would be surprised if you ever saw divers in the water overall. But tomorrow, we will have additional dive resources available to us from out of state as well as some additional in state teams. So, again, we'll discuss that a little bit at 10:00 tomorrow, but no surprises. We expect that to go over. And that we'll have some assets there tomorrow. They did do a bunch of flyovers this morning, as I mentioned, they did the sonar searches some side, some ROV, and we'll be back on that tomorrow. The bar scene itself, they continue to do their on scene investigation there as well as at the bowling alley. They did check those wood lines. They may be back in there tomorrow as well but that is progressing as expected.

And I think another major piece of updates for you now is to talk about the shelter in place order and where that's going effective immediately. And I'm not a big reader of orders, but I think this is important that you hear this directly from a couple of different sources. We're going to put out a release, there's going to be a cell phone geofence release to some folks. We've used that a couple times already during the active shooter as a warning and otherwise, but the shelter in place order is rescinded except hunting is prohibited and the towns of Lewiston, Lisbon, Bowdoin and Monmouth beginning Saturday 10/28/24 until further notice. The state police continue to search in Lewiston, Lisbon, Bowdoin and Monmouth, for the suspect, Robert Card, and recommend individuals remain vigilant.

Businesses may choose to open or remain closed. Commissioner Camuso from IF and W is here to help us answer any additional questions about that hunting piece. It was asked this morning, and it was a good question. And I told you at that time that we were working on an answer for that. And what that means is that the general shelter in place has been rescinded specifically hunting again is prohibited in those four towns, and those four towns only. And it's important that I mentioned that because the rest of the state is allowed to continue with their resident only day on Saturday, tomorrow.

And what does that mean? That means that they're going to be communities that hear gunshots from time to time, because they're going to be hunting. So we would ask everybody to use caution in that and not think that every one of those gunshots is directly regarding this particular crisis situation, this investigation. So clearly, if they think that they're suspicious, if they're concerned, they can certainly call their local agencies. But I would ask them to think about that where they're located, when did they hear that? If they're 150 miles north, do they need to call their 911 center and create a response?

And I think I would say no to that unless they have another set of facts, a fact pattern that we believe them that there's a direct connection between that gunfire and what they've heard to this point. So, we had mentioned why we made that decision initially because of the crisis in the situation that we had. Those four towns in particular, clearly with Lewiston, and the two tragic situations here, the two locations we've already talked about. And then you have Lisbon with a boat launch boat and where the suspect live. In Monmouth, there's other family connections in that particular area as well.

So this is not to say that the crisis is over, the emergency is done. We can go about our lives as life is good. We want our folks, we want our residents to remain vigilant and to pay attention to what we share for information. I again focus on what we share is in the Department of Public Safety in the city of Lewiston, because we continue to see a lot of information from a lot of different places that is far from accurate.

I would also say in that regard when we say that we're going to meet you here at 10:00. We're going to meet you here at 10:00. And when we say we're going to notify you, we're going to notify you in the afternoon if we're going to get together and what time that is. I just encourage you to believe that until I prove you wrong, and I won't. And I say that because we've heard some other stuff.

There's going to be a press conference at 1:00. And then our PIO who's incredibly busy gets 100 e-mails it says is it's going to be 01;00 or is there going to be this -- and you've got a job to do, I get it, and we're trying to help you do your job. And if you could help us do our job that would be greatly, greatly appreciated.


So that is some of those pieces for updates from what we worked on this morning. A couple of additional things, neighborhood canvasses as an example, I did not speak to that. So we talked about large deployments of officers in various locations, what would that look like? Neighborhood canvasses could be a couple of officers knocking on the door. And that's going to be happening at various locations around this particular area in multiple towns.

Again, if somebody's using their own common sense and they say that doesn't seem right, then sure call. But you could have two uniformed officers or two officers with clearly displayed badges jumping out of a mark car to come talk to U.S. detectives. There was a question this morning around arrival times at the two locations. And we had done some research on that, which was hot off the presses walking out the door to come here today. So spare time, as we had mentioned earlier, that initial 911 call was occurred at 6:56pm.

And by the CAD system or the computer aided dispatch system, so somebody calls in on a radio and he says now I'm out at that location, the first officer, the first Lewiston officer arrived based on that system at 07:00 p.m. So four minutes later. The reality there, however, is that there were four plainclothes police officers that were shooting on the range. And that general area that hear that call come in, and they're walking into the bar and or rather the bowling alley and about a minute and a half. So, they don't have radios, they weren't uniform, they hear it as they're at the range, they respond to the address immediately and then they address the threat and in clear the building.

For that same location, right spare time, as an example you have Lewiston is a self-contained police department, they work with everybody. So it's not uncommon to see, you may see police in town, but they don't have specific areas to patrol. Calls came in to dispatch centers for the Department of Public Safety that would control the Maine State Police as an example at 06:57, so a minute ish later, and we didn't have necessarily troopers right inside the town. So 11 minutes later, our first Trooper arrives, which is not uncommon, actually. And that's a pretty good response time, considering it's an urban atmosphere and troopers aren't here. The second set of calls, as we've discussed came in at 07:08. So this is the Bar and Grille. And the first Lewiston officer is responding there at 19:13 or 07:13 p.m., so five minutes later. And then really it becomes exponential after that, as an example. Should have mentioned this earlier, but spare time, a minute after those initial officers respond eight more there.

Now we're saying now everybody's starting to roll in about the same time and about 10 officers are responding to the Bar and Grille immediately thereafter. You got the first folks and then people are just showing up from the police department and other locations. And that particular call for service for the Maine State Police through Department of Public Safety dispatches, we got that second call at 07:10, about two minutes later than the Lewiston center received it and we had officers responding and arriving three minutes later. So why is that? They're already flying to the first address and now we got a second call, and now they're diverting to that second call.

So it's obviously going to -- they're in town and they're running hard to that location. So, those are the arrival times that I was asked about earlier today. I think based on the list that I made this morning, I think that's all we had for information. And I'll just call that kind of updates and follow ups, things that I knew you were asking. There were some additional questions from the general public, which has been good for us to receive those through these, right, they get a chance to see stuff and then they reach out and say what does this mean.

We had a bunch of people reach out about that shelter in place, and what does that mean, and what should I do and what does that look like. And rather than answer those through conversations with city staff, city leadership, police chiefs, we decided to resend that order again but recommend that people remain vigilant as they move forward. So I do appreciate them reaching out. And all of that contact has something to do with our ultimate decision. You know, where do we go from here.

So, with that in mind, that's the information that I was asked and the information that I can update. We do have, I believe, the suspect picture up here as another -- as another piece. And the reason that we did this is because it's been quite some time we've seen that photo and you have a bunch of different photos. This in fact has more than a physical description of his height and weight and his more official hair and eye color. You could guess it that based on some of the photos that you see, but why do that if we can directly give you that information?


So, if you could freshen up any material that you have there, it does, again, show that round hooded sweatshirt and dark colored cargo pants that are in the photo that we had released earlier, which showed him walking in to spare time with that firearm. So, I think that's the information that I wanted to get out to you today. I appreciate you coming back or holding on. I know you have long days and long nights, so that piece, you are going to be around anyway, I'm sure. But I am again, happy to try to take some questions and answers. The chief is here as well. But we did want to keep this tight as from operational standpoint. So, yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I want to go back to this timeline about --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: - four officers were at the range (ph), I think Friday. So can you just go over that again just that scene.

SAUSCHUCK: Yes, sure. So, officers are required to qualify a certain number of times a year, right? So, in this particular instance, the officers are in plainclothes, they're shooting at a range right around the corner, the call comes in, they hear that, and they're going to respond, which just speaks to when these things happen everybody's gone. You could be a detective, the chief bail out of the station, you could be whoever, everybody goes. So, being Lewiston officers they go, that's we know what that is, everybody gets in the car and they immediately go to spare time to help in any way they can not knowing that, in fact, they're going to be the closest there and the first out.

So that cuts almost two and a half minutes off the original or the initial uniformed police officers response. And that's not uncommon from a police standpoint. Sometimes you got months where you're thinking, well, I'm right around the corner, all this stuff happens. And sometimes there's, I'm on the other side of the city when other stuff happens. We're very, very lucky that the officers were that close, because I think you save lives with time responses.

And in an urban atmosphere, depending on where everybody is and how busy the night is, that response could have been much longer than that.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other than plain (ph) credible sightings of the suspect by either law enforcement or the public since the shooting took place.

SAUSCHUCK: Yes, so we have, again, 530 plus tips and leads that have come in. Some of those have been sighting. Some of those have been -- and I would say as simple as but, hey, I've got a naked (ph) house that's in this location, I own a barn that I'm afraid to go to, there's something over here that concerns me. So those things run the gamut. And I'm also going to use that opportunity to the FBI supervisory agent in charge, Jodi Cohen, who has been with us during these press conferences, we gave that digital video information out this morning, there's already well over 100 entries in that system.

So that's means you're putting that information out. And the general public is grabbing hold of that, wanting to be involved in sending that information in. So I thank you for that. And we certainly thank the FBI for their assistance with that kind of material. So we've got all kinds of -- if somebody may say some --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have law enforcement seen him in the last few days?

SAUSCHUCK: We have not. Law enforcement has not seen him in the last two days. But again, in that stack of that 500 plus you may have somebody that says, hey, we see somebody that looks like that.

TAPPER: We've been listening to an update from officials in Lewiston, Maine where tragically 18 people were killed in a pair of mass shootings on Wednesday night. There is still a manhunt underway for the suspect, 40 year old Robert Card. Official say they are searching the river where his boat was found.

We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back with our live coverage from Israel.

Up next, to return to one of the key sites where this war started, the music festival where Hamas attacked October 7 killing more than 260 innocent people. The emotional moment where I went back with two men who were there that day. That's coming up.


TAPPER: We're back in Tel Aviv, Israel. And we've been watching tonight a constant bombardment of rockets lighting up the night sky over Gaza. The strikes are direct response to what we saw almost three weeks ago, of course when thousands of people were at this very moment headed to dance and listen to music at Israel's Nova festival. They were from all over the world. This was supposed to be a festival of peace and love. And a town called Re'im, Israel right near Gaza.

And for a while it was until early that morning at 6:30, when terrorists from Hamas launched their surprise attack on Israel. They slaughtered more than 260 people at that festival. They kidnapped even more. I traveled to the site of the festival along with two young men who experienced the horror. They walked me through exactly what happened on that horrible day.


DOR KHAN, NOVA FESTIVAL SURVIVOR: You know, Shye, my heart is like jumping like 600.

TAPPER (voice-over): It has been an uneasy journey back to the place you barely got out of alive.


TAPPER (voice-over): To a place where so many others did not.

WEINSTEIN: I don't believe I traveled here after almost three weeks.

TAPPER (voice-over): This is the first time, Shye Weinstein.

WEINSTEIN: It's so hard to tell where everything was when it's not standing.

TAPPER (voice-over): And Dor Khan. KHAN: I was over there something like that.

TAPPER (voice-over): Have been back to the site of the Nova Music Festival, since 260 People were slaughtered here on October 7th. It was an overnight party to celebrate peace, an easy place to make new friends. Shye was taking photos with his vintage camera.

WEINSTEIN: And I remember I saw your white jacket. I'm like, oh, he looks like a cool guy. And I tapped on your shoulder.

KHAN: Around 3:30, 4:00 in the morning, it was.


TAPPER (voice-over): The next memory is more permanent.

WEINSTEIN: It started right at 6:27, 6:28.

KHAN: 6:26, 6:28, yes. But I saw it in 6:29.

TAPPER (voice-over): And that's when they say the terrorist attack began with rockets.

WEINSTEIN: You know one rocket, two rockets three, four, five makes me nervous. But these rockets weren't stopping.

KHAN: And I saw from there all the missiles flying like hundreds to this side, other side. And all the sky became to be fireworks.


WEINSTEIN: So between 6:30 and 7:30, 7:45, we were here packing up, deliberating whether or not we should leave, or we should wait for the Iron Dome or what.

TAPPER (voice-over): And then came the sound of gunshots.

KHAN: Were heard faraway guns like, I don't know what they said in English, but --

WEINSTEIN: Machine guns.

KHAN: Machine guns like, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. We heard it.

WEINSTEIN: Gunfire like really fast, like pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa, and then nothing.

KHAN: Shye, you're driving?

WEINSTEIN: I'm absolutely OK to drive.

TAPPER (voice-over): Shye and his friends began to flee along with so many others.

KHAN: Security passed through all the areas sitting and all the area with people and said like evacuate immediately, evacuate immediately. And I stay inside because all my equipment was here.

We're back and we wait over here. And then they start coming from over there. They start shooting everyone in this area that come from this stage, it was a bar. Here it was a small stage. And friends of my brother, he'll be down of this stage.

TAPPER (voice-over): They were just shot -- they were shot over there?

KHAN: Yes, hide downstairs and got shot over there. They're found in like, four days, five days after it.

WEINSTEIN: All of us hear collective gunfire from all around not one specific place. And they're like we have to go now.

TAPPER (voice-over): As both men made their escapes, they saw the atrocities the terrorists had already committed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scariest moment of my life.

TAPPER (voice-over): Scenes many survivors later shared for the world to bear witness.

WEINSTEIN: More cars on the side of the road, belongings all over, doors open. And there's bodies from left to right in the middle of the road that we have to go around. And the bodies are like, face down in their blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody down.

WEINSTEIN: We eventually passed some cars. And there's car facing us on our side of the road, facing the wrong side, a silver car. And I remember looking into it and I see the driver slumped back in his seat and he has a hole in his face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mori (sp?) don't stop.

WEINSTEIN: And this is like if we were faster, we would be dead. If we were slower, we might be dead.

TAPPER (on camera): You're driving through trees?

KHAN: Through trees, inside roads and we found IDF car, bulletproof and it was switched on. And it was half broken from the front. If not were soldier over there but we found a gun with M16.

You see the bathroom?


KHAN: Over there we hide.

TAPPER (voice-over): Dor would later hide, at kibbutz Be'eri, were more than 120 residents were murdered.

KHAN: We opened this door because you don't have any lock over here, you can see no lock and no key. So hold it here and I was in this position all the time, for six hours.

TAPPER (voice-over): Door pulled this bloody knife off a dead body just to give himself and his friends some hope of survival.

(on camera): This is awful.

WEINSTEIN: It's awful is not even a good enough word to describe it. There's no word in the vocabulary that can describe how heinous what happened here was.

TAPPER (voice-over): And later they would learn the fate of those who had stood right next to them just hours before.

WEINSTEIN: I remember as you're packing up an older guy. His name is Ron Schaeffer (sp?) and he was cool as a cucumber. He's like in a hammock just talking to us as we're figuring out whether we should go, totally relaxed, not anxious, not sweating, nothing. And he spoke to me spoke to my cousin. I took a photo of them together. A really great guy. And only later in the week after the festival that I learned, because I'm trying to find people, I get home from the festival Saturday, Sunday, Monday I start looking for people, I post on social media, post on Facebook, I post on Instagram like I post all my photos, I get developed and do you know these people? Do you recognize them?

They were at the festival. Please, you know, put me in contact with them or their families. I want to know what happen to them because I'm terrified like I now have 106 or somewhat photos of dead people who I just made friends with, who I just connected with.

KHAN: The lady from here, one 60s to escape, one she's in Gaza right now. I know.

TAPPER (on camera): She was kidnapped?

KHAN: Kidnapped, yes. And the ladies from here we can which one of them, she succeeds also to run and the other one Rami (sp?), she's died. They killed her. Yes, I buried like 40, 50 people.

TAPPER: You buried 40 or 50 friends?

KHAN: Yes.

TAPPER: What do you think about coming back here? Was this a good idea? Was it a bad idea?

WEINSTEIN: It helps me that in a way that I can see what we went through. And that we survived and we got out, you know, my friends are all alive. Thank God. We all escaped together.



TAPPER: More than 260 innocent men and women were killed at the Nova Music Festival and an unknown number were kidnapped by Hamas. The next night at a YouTube concert, Bano told the audience to quote, sing for our brothers and sisters who themselves were singing at the Supernova Sukkot Festival in Israel. We sing for our kind of people, music people, playful, experimental people. And then Bano change the words to the 1984 song pride in the name of love, quote, early morning, October 7th, as the sun is rising in the desert sky, stars of David, they took your life, but they could not take your pride, unquote.

While I was sharing that piece, we heard continuous explosions over Gaza as the IDF is expanding its ground operations against Hamas, the people who perpetrated the horror. We just told you about some of the most frequent explosions we've heard since the show started, an hour and 40 minutes ago.

I'm joined now by Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Ambassador, do you believe this expanding ground operation in Gaza is the beginning of the full invasion that we've been hearing about? What exactly does expanding ground operations mean?

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, good to be with you, Jake. And that seeing that last segment about revisiting the place of the Nova massacre, it's very moving. I get very much choked up about it. And we recall why all of this is happening. I'm talking about 1,400 Israelis, including 260 young people at this festival, massacred in cold blood, tortured, mutilated, beheaded, burnt at the equivalent of suddenly 52,000 Americans if you do it like proportionally, so get a sense of why this is happening.

Logistically, tactically, this has to happen eventually. Again, I think we've talked about this earlier. We have 360,000 reservists called up. That is an immense amount of people. There are people in their 20s, their 30s young men and women, they have left their families, they have left their jobs, now going into the third week, that's not sustainable.

There is the clock going of international opinion and international pressure for a ceasefire and understand the ceasefire, you know, sounds really good at ceasefire, you know, let's not shoot at one another. But for Israel, that means something close to death. It means that these people can never go back to their homes in the South that Hamas wins gets literally away with murder, but mass murder, we can't restore our deterrence power. So the message is going to go out to our enemies, whether Hezbollah and the North, Iran to the east that we are, you know, we're fair game, we're not going to defend ourselves, the international community is going to prevent us from defending ourselves. So there's that clock spinning as well.

TAPPER: Wait, I understand, yes, I get the arguments for the ground operations. I'm just trying to translate what the IDF said when they said they're expanding operations. I'm just trying to understand does that mean ground operations have begun?

OREN: Well, ground operations have begun the question is whether it's all the ground operations have begun. And I don't think the IDF is in the front of sort of broadcasting its intentions to Hamas. Remember, we're going into a war here. And so it could be establishing a bridgehead like a beachhead from which other operations can then expand into the Gaza Strip. They've created a cordon, the area -- the Israeli Air Force has been bombing, very intensive, certain area to clear out that area, so that our forces can advance.

We understand here, everybody in the city understand this, better understand that this operation is going to cost us, that soldiers are not going to go to battle and they're not going to come home. So the Israeli army has to do two things. It has to, you know, defeat Hamas and get the hostages released. But it also has to preserve as much as possible our soldiers life. We're not going to spend them.

TAPPER: Are you sure that the ground operation is the best way to get the 229 hostages out?

OREN: I don't think there's a best way at all. I think there have been some negotiations with Hamas. Hamas's demands were so, you know, astronomical.

TAPPER: What were they?

OREN: They, for the best I know, it was released of all the prisoners, Hamas terrorists in Israeli jails.

TAPPER: How many are there?

OREN: Hundreds maybe several 1,000. It is only releasing some of the hostages, not all of the hostages and a ceasefire. And so like almost on every single demand, it's almost impossible for Israel. And I think that our decision makers concluded that Hamas was just playing for time, and they were going to keep on releasing terrorists, you know, hostages one at a time getting a very high profile, sort of coverage for and more and more pressure for that ceasefire.

Keep in mind, it's not impossible that in Israeli ground incursion will actually increase the pressure on Hamas. Think about -- to release the hostages. So it's not, you know, it's not so black and white that if we stay out, we have a better chance of releasing them. It could be by going in we'll have a better chance of releasing them.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren. Over and over now, the strikes keep hitting Gaza, aimed at Hamas. We're hearing the explosions from the cameras set up showing the skyline.


Just in, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut just urged Americans there to leave Lebanon. More of the breaking news that's next.


TAPPER: And we're back now live from Tel Aviv as we are hearing near constant bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces trying to target Hamas. Airstrikes have intensified greatly in the past half hour or so. The White House says despite the increased strikes, White House officials are still trying to work with allies in the region to get hostages released about 229 of them. The IDF says among them, someone that we have previously covered on THE LEAD, Yarden Roman, you see her in the picture there, she was kidnapped by Hamas along with her husband and their three-year-old daughter.


They were visiting family at kibbutz Be'eri near the Gaza Strip. We just showed you, kibbutz Be'eri, about 125 people were killed there. A horrible slaughter there by the terrorists of Hamas. Now her husband and daughter managed to escape, but Yarden is still missing. And joining me again, is her brother Gili Roman. And Gili, it's good to see you again. What is your reaction to these intensifying airstrikes on Gaza? I'm wondering if you worry that that's going to make it more tough to get your sister home? Or you don't know if it will have an effect one way or the other? What do you think?

GILI ROMAN, SISTER KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Look, worrying is mostly what I do since they have been kidnaped her. Yes. This is my main occupation. And every day, we have significant worries, every day can be a day, I'm sorry, for the language can be a day of rape, can be a day of torture, it can be a day of dying or dead or illness. Every day is that worry. So and most of my worries comes from the treatment of Hamas and my disrespect or I don't know which stronger word to use, to what I think the Hamas might be using.

So I have more, let's say, respect to what our military is doing. And I hope that they're very calculative in their actions. Of course, it also worries me that I have much more trust in them in what they're doing and how they are trying to operate than whatever happens inside of Gaza.

TAPPER: Yes. I know you traveled with the IDF to kibbutz Be'eri. I was there yesterday. Have they given you any new details about anything they might know?

ROMAN: No, I don't think that they will soon. And if they do have I don't think that they need to share with me at the moment. I think that they need to use it in order to save her. When I was there with them, it was the first few days because every day I tried to go with them to search for her because she tried to escape with her husband and her small girl. And they managed to arrive and we didn't know where she is.

So for almost a whole week, I was there every day trying to go out with them to find her. And when we finally concluded that she's not there, and she'd be -- she -- they took her again inside Gaza. So we stopped. I don't think that we have more information than that. It's very sad to say but this is the most that we can have right now. The rest is in the hands of the brutal people inside of Hamas that are holding her and only them can provide us proof of life. So understand the situation that we are in who holds the information and the thing that we are holding most dear. It's in their hands. So I don't think that ideas will help at this point.

TAPPER: So driving around Israel, you see the wanted posters everywhere of Israelis who have been kidnapped more than 220 of them, everywhere, bus stops, people put them up. It's a sign of love. People want their loved ones back. And people in the United States and in London and all over the world are putting up these posters. And I'm wondering if you've seen that. And I'm wondering also, if you've seen that there are actually people, and I don't understand this, but there are people that are tearing them down. And I'm wondering, what you -- if you want to say anything to those people?

ROMAN: Yes, I think that the posters are more than sign of love. They're a sign of commitment that we are committed here and also in the U.S. And in many places I've been --

TAPPER: To civilians and to humanity.

ROMAN: To human beings, there is a commitment and also to people who are in the frontier of the Western world fighting right now, the Jihadistic ambition to eliminate us, fighting for our shared values. Those are the people who are captured right now. Those are the people who are part of our nation in the frontier of this fight. So I think that people are either committed or they're trying to show the lack of commitment.

And I think that this is a very big misconception of some people in the West. I also came from Germany. I've been there for a whole week because my sister is also a German citizen. And we got a lot of support and commitment, but we also see the same reaction that we are talking about, which are horrific. Basically, a lot of them are anti- Semitic, or just really misconception of Western values that they fail to understand that this is not a regional conflict is not small conflict between Palestinians and Israel. It's much bigger conflicts of values. It's an ideological war that we are holding out right now for the whole world.

So I think people need to imagine if they because we are talking about the U.S. brought their -- part of their army here, their ships. Yes. It's not by mistake, right, it's a show of commitment. But it's much more than just a friendly gesture that we really appreciate. It says that we might be on the verge of something much bigger, much larger scale, might be almost maybe World War III between the West. Yes. We hope not but we know it might be possible.


And in this situation people need to ask themselves, because in this kind of war, you don't always win. So if it will be escalate to that, every person that tears this posters need to ask themselves, if this war will happen, in which side do you want to win? Do you want to Iran and Russia to win, that is the world that you want to live in, because this is what we are fighting for right now. This is what we're fighting for.

And I think I have a lot to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I deal with it a lot with the Head Office of International School for Peace. There is a lot to say about it. This is not the case. This is not the case in front of Hamas. This is not the case, of course of the jihad and in front of Iran. This is not the case. So people need to understand that this commitment, these forces is a sign of commitment, and if you tear them down, it just means that you are on the side that want Iran and maybe Russia and other very militant Jihadistic actors to win the possible war.

TAPPER: We hope that Yarden comes home soon, Gili. And we're on the side of humanity.

ROMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

Wolf Blitzer is up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM" and he's live from Jerusalem. Thank you so much for joining us and I will see you tomorrow.