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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Israel Admits Airstrike On Ambulance Outside Hospital In Gaza; Blinken: We Need To Do More To Protect Palestinian Civilians; Biden Speaking About Maine Mass Shootings; Donald Trump Due To Testify Monday In New York Civil Trial; Hezbollah's Leader Warns Of Wider War In Middle East; Secretary Blinken: Israel Committed To Dealing With Settler Violence Against Palestinians In West Bank; Photojournalist Documents Horrors Of Hamas Attack. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 03, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv where Israel has just claimed responsibility for an attack outside a hospital in Gaza City. Videos from the scene show multiple dead and injured people on the ground near the al-Shifa hospital, which is Gaza's largest medical facility. Israel says Hamas was using an ambulance convoy outside the hospital to transport operatives and weapons.

And all this comes just hours after the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met here in Israel with top Israeli officials. And while Blinken once again defended Israel's right to respond to the horrific terrorist Hamas attacks of October 7th, he delivered a strong message that suggested the White House' support for Israel is not without limits.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've been clear that as Israel conducts its campaign to defeat Hamas, how it does so matters. It matters because it's the right and lawful thing to do. It matters because failure to do so plays into the hands of Hamas and other terror groups. There will be no partners for peace if they're consumed by humanitarian catastrophe and alienated by any perceived indifference to their plight.


BLITZER: Secretary Blinken also called for what he said were humanitarian pauses to get much needed aid into Gaza and more hostages out. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rejected that idea saying Israel will not agree to any temporary cease-fires unless all hostages are freed.

Today, we also heard from the leader of Hezbollah speaking publicly for the first time since 2006 and warning Israel that its war against Hamas could expand. Hezbollah, which operates at the Israel-Lebanon border, has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces in recent weeks.

I want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson. He's joining us from Sderot Israel right now that's near the Gaza border. And CNN's Jim Sciutto, he's in northern Israel not far from Lebanon.

Guys, standby for a moment because President Biden is speaking in Maine on this mass shooting, and I want our viewers to listen and hear what he has to say.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all the people of Maine, we've done -- Jill and I have done too many of these. Jill and I are here on behalf of the American people to grieve with you and to make sure you know that you're not alone. We just visited a memorial at the restaurant, and we're here at the bowling alley where we met with the first responders standing behind me.

You know, we'll never forget the trauma they experienced and as I said can't express how much we appreciate what you did. And also, the members from the -- the nurses and doctors at the hospital who took care of these folks, I don't know how -- how they do it.

We're also meeting with survivors and families of the victims who have -- who will never quite be the same. No pain's the same, but we know what it's like to lose a piece of our soul and the depths of a loss is so profound. Some of us have been there.

Eighteen precious souls stolen, 13 wounded. Children, grandchildren, spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents, bowling coaches, union workers, beloved members and advocates and friends of the Lewiston deaf and hard-of-hearing community, all of them lived lives of love and service and sacrifice.

We also remember the survivors who will forever carry the physical and emotional scars of this. They should be embraced and I know you will and I know you do. You know, as we mourn today in Maine, this tragedy opens a painful, painful wound all across the country. Too many Americans have lost loved ones or survived the trauma of gun violence.

I know because Jill and I have met with them in Buffalo, in Uvalde, in Monterey Park, in Sandy Hook and all -- I've done, anyway, too many to count, too many to count, from places that never make the news all across America.


It's about bringing people together, different voices and perspectives for an honest conversation on what's to be a long road to recovery. You know, I've been at this a long time. I know consensus was not only possible. This is about common sense, reasonable, responsible measures to protect our children, our families, our communities, because regardless of our politics, this is about protecting our freedom to go to a bowling alley, a restaurant, school, a church without being shot and killed. Let me close with this. The Scripture says the Lord is near to the

brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, saves the crushed in spirit. Our prayer is that the crushed in spirit survive this more rapidly than otherwise. You know, as we gather here today, we know your hearts are broken because -- but we also know your spirits are strong. The way this community has come together, the way this state has come together has been a marvel to the rest of the country.

So God bless those who lost, those who have been wounded. May God bless the first responders as well as the nurses. I told the nurses, docs, if there's any angels in heaven, male and female nurses are the ones in heaven, docs let you live, nurses want -- make you want to live, for guys I spent a lot of time in ICU.

So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now I'd like to invite Senator Collins to come up and say a few words as well. Senator?

BLITZER: All right, we've been listening to the president of the United States, President Biden speaking in Lewiston, Maine, the site of last week's horrific mass shooting.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the scene for us in Lewiston.

Omar, President Biden is now set to meet with some of the victim's families. Set the scene for us as we're watching all of this unfold.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Wolf. President Biden just finished those remarks not too far from us right now, and as we understand he is going to meet with the families of some of the victims killed in these pair of shootings that happened a little bit over a week ago now. Just based on the people we've spoken to, it appears that they're glad that he's here to at least be the consoler in chief as he's done many times. And even as President Biden mentioned in his remarks he's had to do it at places all across the country, whether it's Buffalo or Uvalde or Monterey Park as well, and so, he offered that familiar wound that was opened yet again after these particular shootings.

To give you a sense what he's done today, he's met with first responders, nurses, some of those that were on the front lines of these pair of shootings and then went over to Schemengees Bar and Grille which is one of the sites where this mass shooting actually happened and then made his way to here, where we are, at the bowling alley, which is the first place that those pair of mass shootings actually unfolded.

And, of course, many people were wondering potentially if he would bring up the fight that typically comes after these types of shootings over how to prevent this type of shooting from happening again in the future. It hasn't had the best prognosis in places like Congress, not the biggest amount of progress. And he even broke it down to a much simpler level saying regardless of your politics, this is about protecting the freedom to go to a bowling alley, to go to a restaurant. And wherever you go throughout this particular town, you see signs

offering support, Lewiston Strong, be nice, as this community tries to process what isn't ancient history but what just happened last week, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, heartbreaking mass murder in Maine, and we're watching the impact of that right now.

We're going to have much more on this story coming up later, but right now, I want to get back to the other major news we're following. The news right here in the Middle East, in Tel Aviv, where Israel has just claimed responsibility for an attack outside a hospital in Gaza City.

I want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson once again. He's in Sderot, Israel, right near Gaza, and CNN's Jim Sciutto. He's in northern Israel right near Lebanon.

Nic, first to you. Tell us what Israel is saying about why it targeted this spot and why right now.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross and hospital officials, a convoy of ambulances had formed to take people, injured people from the hospital as part of an evacuation to the south, to the humanitarian zone that Israel has indicated that they should try to move to.

Now, the IDF was saying that they believe there were Hamas operatives and Hamas was smuggling weapons and operatives aboard those ambulances if you will, taking an opportunity to get these valuable assets out of the north of the country because Israel is beginning to constrict and control the north end of Gaza. And that's why they target it.

But, of course, the images we all see now show a huge civilian casualty toll around. Hospital officials talk about that high civilian casualty toll as well from this particular strike, and the death toll as we know from civilians in Gaza is now over 9,000, a casualty toll over 22,000 people. So when Secretary Blinken is in Israel speaking about the need to avoid civilian casualties, this, again, after a week of strikes in Jabalia Camp twice controversial, the IDF again going after they say Hamas targets, command and control centers, senior commanders, high civilian casualties.

This is another instant of that and appears to be part of the process, if you will, that is closing the window for Israel to -- to continue operations to try to crush Hamas at the moment, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Nic.

I want to go to Jim Sciutto. He's on the other side of Israel, up in the north, right near Lebanon.

As you know, Jim, the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke publicly today for the first time since 2006 and he warned that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon could escalate and escalate dramatically.

What are you seeing on the ground where you are? You're not very far away.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: A relatively quiet night, I will say, Wolf. Far different from last night when there was definitely an uptick in rocket fire, artillery fire from southern Lebanon, including from Hezbollah fighters. And there'd been an enormous amount of anticipation in advance of Nasrallah's speech, fear I might even say among residents here in the north, but of whom have fled, frankly. Also, the Israeli military that Nasrallah would definitively announce that Hezbollah was going to join this war, open up a second front on Israel.

And while as you said he did at least hold out that possibility, at some point, he did not order it today. And that was notable and he's been quiet today in the wake of his speech. He did praise the October 7th attacks, remarkable, notable, horrible thing to hear given how depraved those acts were.

But at the same time he also put distance between Hezbollah and the Hamas attacks by saying he used the phrase rather it was 100 percent a Palestinian operation, in other words saying at least publicly, claiming publicly that Hezbollah was not involved in the October 7th attacks and saying it was not aware in advance either, saying that he was not bothered by that, that he understands that Hamas needed the element of surprise. But that daylight is interesting because it would seem he did not want to associate himself with carrying out those attacks at the same time that he was not today as some anticipated, announcing he was joining Hamas in its war in Israel. That could change at any time, but it was not the -- it was not the alarming event some had been worrying about.

BLITZER: Certainly still a very, very tense situation up north. We're watching as well as in the south in Gaza.

All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you. Nic Robertson, thanks to you as well.

Pamela, back to you.

BROWN: Thank you, Wolf.

We're also following a big week in court. First, Don Jr. and then Eric, and now, Donald Trump is next up on the stand. What to expect when the former president testifies in the civil fraud case against him.




ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: My father is certainly going to be here. I know he's very fired up to be here, and he thinks that this is one of the most incredible injustices that he's ever seen, and it truly is.


BROWN: Well, that is Eric Trump today after two days of testimony paving the way for Monday's historic moment. Next week his father, former President Donald Trump, is expected to be called to testify under oath in the $250 million civil fraud trial against the Trump family business.

I want to bring in former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams to try to go over all of this, what's happened so far and looking ahead to what's next on Monday, big day.

So both Eric and his brother, Don Jr., accused of knowingly participating in this scheme to inflate their father's net worth. And we heard them on the stand this week both of them said, look, we just left it up to the accountant, right? But these were senior executives in the company. Is that enough of a defense?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not unreasonable to say I was relying on the words of either my accountants, my attorneys, the people who are doing the math or whatever else. The problem is that you have to push them and ensure that the information that they're providing you is accurate and up-to-date.

So what would have saved them would have been if there'd been an e- mail or something one of them had sent saying can you assure for me that the information you provided is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge? I think what we've seen in the testimony they just kind of looked the other way, and it doesn't appear they really won the judge over that argument.

BROWN: So do you think this is a preview of what Trump might say come Monday, or do you expect he will take the Fifth?

WILLIAMS: No, this is absolutely a preview of what Trump might say because I to think the argument that -- I was not -- I certainly wasn't in the weeds of this because I was president of the United States and I could not have known the specifics of what was going on.

Now, with respect to the Fifth Amendment, this is a civil trial, and whenever a civil trial happens, taking the Fifth Amendment can be used against you. The judge can regard taking the Fifth Amendment as what's called an adverse inference of your guilt.


And so, the mere fact that he to takes the Fifth could be a sign that, wait a second, he might be hiding something. Not in a civil case, you don't want to do that.

BROWN: Let's just take a set back for a second. How big a deal is it that the former president of the United States will be taking a stand on Monday?

WILLIAMS: That's the amazing thing on all of this, Paula. We -- I'm sorry.

BROWN: That's okay. I get confused with Paula all the time. I'm always flattered.

WILLIAMS: We lose sight of the reality the fact the former president is mixed into any of these legal matters, and it is immense and profound. It certainly doesn't change the underlying substance of the case. You have somebody who's accused of inflating the value of properties in a real estate case.

But he's the former president of the United States, and that is something we should all stop and pause and say wait a second, what is going on.

BROWN: And he's taken such a big interest in this case, right? He's been showing up, right, day after day and listening to people on the stand. Now he's going to be taking the stand Monday, and it's not just about money, right? It's about the future of his businesses and about the future of what he's really identified so much with, his brand, his business. It's a massive deal and now his daughter is also expected to take the stand next week.

WILLIAMS: She absolutely is. Now, she's not a defendant. She initially was but removed because she's seen as less tied to the subject matter because she wasn't in the weeds of the day to day of the Trump Organization.

Now, that said she's a first-hand witness who is the sibling and daughter of the people at the center of the trial. Of course she could have valuable information about the -- the manner in which the Trump Organization kept its books or some of their finances.

BROWN: Also, you have Trump's legal team repeatedly attacking, a law clerk working for a judge. In response the judge expanded the gag order to extend to Trump's attorneys from discussing communications that he had with his staff. What's going on here?

WILLIAMS: Look, I was a law clerk for different judges. It is what -- the thing that they're picking on is that she keeps whispering to him and providing information to the judge. That is so basic and so fundamental to our system of law that judges have law clerks who assist them and research and making their way through trials.

These attorneys know full well, one of them, Christopher Kise is a former I believe solicitor general of Florida, he knows what law clerks do, and it is insulting to the process that they are picking on career staff member of this judge and criticizing her in public in a way that could actually lead to her getting hurt or harm.

And so, judges don't like putting in place gag orders, but you just don't attack staff and court personnel. That's the golden rule in the law, and it's silly they're doing it, and it's good the judge entered this gag order.

BROWN: All right. Elliot Williams, thank you so much.


BROWN: We're going to go back to Israel next. One of the latest calls for a cease-fire is coming from a group of Democratic senators. Wolf speaks with one of them just ahead.



BROWN: Welcome back to our special live coverage from Tel Aviv, Israel. The growing death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza now beginning to cause major division within the Democratic Party over how the Biden administration is pressing the Israeli government.

Today, 13 Democratic U.S. senators are calling for a humanitarian pause on the fighting in Gaza. The goal is to get desperately needed water, food, medicine, fuel, and other aid to the 2 million civilians living in Gaza.

One of those senators and joining us right now, Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

As I'm sure you know, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today said his government will only consider a temporary cease-fire in Gaza under one condition. Hamas, he said, Hamas must free all of the 240 hostages.

What do you make of this?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Wolf, of course, we want to work to release all the hostages, but what we are calling for and what Secretary Blinken and, of course, President Biden by extension have been calling for is a humanitarian pause, which as you said is simply designed to allow desperately needed assistance, water, food, medicine to the 2 million Gazans, including half of them children, who have nothing to do with the horrible Hamas attack on Israel of October 7th. That doesn't mean that Israel can't continue to prosecute the war against Hamas, but it does mean take a step, allow the humanitarian assistance to go through.

And it is very disturbing that Prime Minister Netanyahu rebuffed directly Secretary Blinken's request while he was there.

BLITZER: It wasn't just Blinken. President Biden has been saying stuff like that as well. The secretary of state, he's here in Israel -- he was here in Israel today saying more must be done to protect innocent Palestinian lives.

Is the Biden administration, Senator, pushing Israel do you believe hard enough on this issue?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think they need to push even harder, Wolf, which is why I was glad that Secretary Blinken was in Israel today, really making that very important point. Everybody recognizes that Israel has the right to defend itself. Everybody recognizes that they have a right to go after Hamas after the horrible attacks of October 7th.

And also, everyone recognizes it's hard to do when Hamas hides among civilians. That said, the civilian death toll is unacceptably high. You see these bombs dropped on refugee camps. You now have 70 percent of the casualties and deaths, women and children.

And so Secretary Blinken is absolutely right to say you have to find a better way to prosecute this war against Hamas and for now also allow that humanitarian pause so that the 2.2 million civilians who had nothing to do with these attacks are not deprived entirely of water, food, and medicine.

BLITZER: The leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, as you probably know earlier today, came out with his speech in Beirut with some very tough language, warning clashes at the Israel, Lebanon border in his words have a realistic possibility of escalating into a broader Middle East conflict.

How concerned are you, and you're a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How concerned, Senator, are you about that possibility of this war expanding?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think we always have to worry about the war expanding. That is why President Biden very rapidly deployed U.S. carrier groups to the region to create that deterrence, to say to Hezbollah, say to Iran, say to other maligned actors in the region beware, do not escalate. So as I read Nasrallah's comments and you reported them, they indicated he wasn't at least for now planning to escalate, but it is of course something we always have to worry about, be prepared for, and do our best to deter.

BLITZER: Yeah, and we keep hearing President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu basically say to Hezbollah and Iran, their sponsor, don't. That's just a strong warning to them not to do anything right now.

Let me quickly turn to another subject while I have you, Senator. Just a little while ago as we all heard here on CNN, President Biden spoke in Lewiston, Maine, the site of two mass shootings just last week. He said he thinks consensus is ultimately possible on gun reform in the United States. You've seen this issue brought up time and time again up on Capitol Hill especially after there's been a mass shooting in the United States, and sadly there are way too many of them.

Do you think that's possible that serious common sense gun reform can pass the House and Senate?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Wolf, God, I hope the president is right about this time. You know, sadly, every time we see a mass shooting, we see some people saying they may reconsider. We have people calling for more prayer in some cases, but despite the urgent need to pass a ban on assault weapons, to have universal criminal background checks, to take common sense actions to prevent these kind of things including red flag laws, despite the massacres, we don't get any action.

And it's been Republicans -- I mean this is a fact, not a political statement. It's a fact that Republicans have blocked our efforts time and time again to enact common sense gun measures. So I hope it's different this time. I -- I haven't yet seen the evidence of that.

BLITZER: All right. We shall see what happens next. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, thanks as usual for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And while there's certainly so much attention of what's going on in the Middle East in Gaza, another hot spot in the region is also seeing major violence. We'll have details, and that's next.



BROWN: While much of the world remains focused on Gaza, there is increasing violence in the West Bank, often at the hands of Israeli settlers.

BLITZER: Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned those actions earlier today.

CNN's Nada Bashir reports on the rising tensions.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Armed and threatening, this is the face of Israeli settler violence in occupied West Bank. It's these acts of aggression which are chasing Palestinian families out of their homes.

Piece by piece, the Palestinians in the village pack their lives away never to return. The settlers come at night while we're sleeping. They beat us and try to kill us. They try to force us out of our homes. I can't sleep anymore. I'm too afraid.

Families in this village, what's home to some 140 Palestinians, tell us they have been left with no choice but to flee their homes.

What's happening now is another Nakba, a catastrophe. I'm 60 years old. I've lived mere my entire life.

And despite the fact that settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal by many in the international community, they continue to grow and expand with the backing of Israeli authorities.

We inherited this land from our forefathers, we've lived here for generations. Now it's only getting worse. The war in Gaza has only encouraged the settlers.

According to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, at least 15 Palestinian farming communities have been forcibly displaced since October 7th.

YEHUDA SHAUL, ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The real thing influencing the life of Palestinians here is the outpost up there. BASHIR: Yehuda Shaul, an Israeli human rights activist says

encroachments on Palestinian land are rapidly advancing, and personal attacks in the occupied West Bank have only intensified.


SHAUL: The next stage is not only attacking Palestinians when they're out in the field, going into the communities, into the homes, burning houses, slashing water tanks, beating up people, threatening women, children, and elderly. And the result of it is what you see in front of our eyes.

BASHIR: People leaving.

SHAUL: Entire communities packing up and leaving. Settlers are taking advantage that all eyes are on Gaza, they accelerate their violence.

There is no protection from the Israeli army. There's no protection from the Israeli police. In many cases the Israeli army is accompanying the settlers, and in many cases the settlers are the army.

BASHIR: In the nearby village of Atuba (ph), a remote Palestinian community, Israel's military keeps a watchful eye. IDF soldiers never too far away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you need to go.



BASHIR: Sorry? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to go right now.

BASHIR: Why are we not allowed to film?

This village knows the price of settler violence all too well. Palestinians here say their attacks are edging closer each night. They come and threaten us saying we have to leave or they'll be back to target us. They're all armed. They never come here without weapons.

In the last week alone, residents here say Israeli settlers have slashed this villages water tanks and cut through local power lines, an effort NGO workers say to pressure Palestinian families to leave the area.

ELAD ORLAN, CO-FOUNDER, COMET-ME: What we're seeing now is that under the cloak of the war that's happening now, the settler activities, settler violence has increased tremendously over the last few weeks.

BASHIR: This crisis is not new to the Palestinian people, but it's a crisis that is deepening. Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip said to be emboldening violent settlers.

Across the southern Hebron Hills, there are fears that smaller more remote Palestinian villages could be next.

But for Palestinians in Herbet Anota (ph), it is already too late.


BASHIR (on camera): And it's not just the increase in settler violence that we're seeing here in the occupied West Bank and across Jerusalem, but we are also seeing an intensification of IDF raids just last night. At least nine Palestinians were killed in IDF raids. And there's a real fear this violence could escalate further.

BLITZER: Nadia Bashir, reporting from Jerusalem. Nada, thank you very much for that report.

And coming up in the next hour, in "THE SITUATION ROOM", my emotional interview with Gali Idan. On October 7th, Hamas terrorists murdered her 17-year-old daughter and held the rest of her family hostage for hours, streaming it all on Facebook. Then they kidnapped her husband. She shares her emotional account of what happened and what her family is doing to try to bring her husband home. That's coming up next, next hour in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Pamela.

BROWN: Wow, we'll be watching for that, Wolf. Thanks so much.

Up next, Jake Tapper's conversation with a photographer whose work captures the pure evil of Hamas on October 7th. A warning the images you'll see are graphic and very disturbing.



BROWN: Images from Hamas' October 7th attack on Israel are hard to see but essential to document. Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren was granted exclusive access in the days after the attack and shared some of his work with Jake Tapper. A warning some of the images you're about to see are graphic.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Ziv Koren joins me now.

So, Ziv, how did this start? At first it was just you and some photographers going to where the action was, where the story was, where the news was.

ZIV KOREN, ISRAELI PHOTOJOURNALIST: We first heard about and we only had a glimpse of seeing some terrorist arriving in Sderot, and we decided to try to get into Sderot, bypassing the police barricades going off-road. Which if we knew then how dangerous it was I'm not sure we would have done it the way we did. But when we arrived to Sderot, it was just piles of dead bodies everywhere.

TAPPER: Pile of dead bodies.

KOREN: In the car, outside of the cars, just full of dead bodies. We didn't see one person who was actually alive until we got to the police station where there was still exchange of fire between Hamas terrorists and police and military.

TAPPER: Wow. And then you embedded with the IDF and started going with them and you've seen some pretty awful things.

KOREN: I travelled with the -- I was embedded with the counter terror unit that was fighting in Be'eri and Kfar Aza.

TAPPER: That's two of the place -- for people who don't know, that's two kibbutzim where some of the worst atrocities have happened, kids killed, bodies burned, just some of the worst -- worst things that have happened.

KOREN: And that was horrific, and it literally took me through the path where they fought two days before and they were still going from house to house, literally cleaning it, meaning going with the guns and trying to see if maybe there were other -- because there were still Hamas terrorists pretty much everywhere at that point, and it was quite dangerous. But we really wanted to see what was happening in these kibbutzim, and being exposed to the atrocities that took place in these places, that was just unbearable.


TAPPER: Did you take pictures of everything you could, or were you looking for photo journalistic shots? What were you looking for?

KOREN: You know, as a photo journalist, I don't have the option of thinking while I'm photographing what is too graphic or what can make it to the paper. You shoot everything because the story needs to be told.

TAPPER: Right.

KOREN: And it's not a job, it's an obligation to tell the story. I've been a photo journalist for over 30 years, and I've been traveling everywhere to tell stories sometimes of my people, sometimes in different countries. But this time it hit hard, you know, in my backyard, and I have the obligation of telling the story of what happened on October 7th.

TAPPER: And some of the most poignant pictures you've taken have been these tough Israeli soldiers, IDF, counter terrorist unit, confronting the fact that -- that these people -- the dead Israelis that they're coming across were people who were celebrating the holidays, had families.

KOREN: So there was one very special moment when we entered one of the houses in Kfar Aza, and there were still as I said going with the guns, checking that, you know, it's not booby trapped, and you can enter the house and half the house is burned and it's all totally messed up.

And the soldier, which, by the way is -- he has a yarmulke but he's a religious soldier and fighting the counter terrorism unit. He gets to the table and he sees the challah bread table and just bursts into tears. And his commander is like -- he put his head on his commander. It was a very emotional moment to witness.

TAPPER: You see body bags. You saw all sorts of horrible scenes.

KOREN: Everywhere, everywhere. It's just insane.

TAPPER: And then also obviously you got to go to one -- one moment that was nice, which was this wedding.

KOREN: Exactly. So one smile out of these almost a month of hard work around the clock of trying to capture as much as I can from these atrocities because I don't shoot just for tomorrow's newspaper. I document for history. Like when we would look in a hundred years looking back on what happened on October 7th, my picture will be the ones who will appear.

So, as you said I found out there was supposed to be a wedding and the groom was called on duty to the army and obviously the wedding was canceled. And then a week later, they decided to actually do the wedding on site where he's based, and they -- the couple arrived, the groom and bride arrived on an APC, and they had a traditional wedding inside the base with all his soldier friends and some family members. And it was a very cute moment for a second.

TAPPER: When General Eisenhower was fighting the Nazis, at one point he arrived in a concentration camp and he knew how awful the Nazis were, but even he was shocked by what he found and he invited -- he invited the news media to document everything he saw because he knew people wouldn't believe it. He knew that people wouldn't believe it and they would deny it.

And even though it was documented, people are denying the Holocaust today. And even though this atrocity was documented, people are denying it three weeks later. What are some of the worst things that you've seen?

KOREN: We've seen, you know, the brutal murder, executions, you know, not only on location, but when I recently traveled to the base where they're still keeping over 200 bodies that were not identified yet.

TAPPER: Because they can't -- they don't even look human.

KOREN: Exactly. And a lot of the people that were in the party, for example, mostly youngsters were burned to the ground. You can hardly trace any parts of bones, you can get a DNA test from them, and there's one container that is just full of body parts, heads, and limbs, and parts in bags with just numbers of people that were celebrating a holiday just, you know, a week or two before.

It's just -- you cannot even say animals because even an animal kills when it's hungry or it's being attacked or it's frightened. Not just for the sake of it. It's just -- you know, it's the unhuman act of killing innocent people, kids and babies, and kidnapping babies.

[16:55:03] I mean, in our worst nightmares I don't think we were able to even think something like this could happen.

TAPPER: Ziv Koren, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it. Thank you for bearing witness.

KOREN: Thank you.


BROWN: Jake Tapper with that report. We'll be right back.


BROWN: Today, a judge sentenced a former State Department employee appointed by Donald Trump to nearly six years in prison for his part in the January 6th Capitol riot.

Federico Klein was convicted earlier this year of assaulting multiple police officers. One of them was Sergeant Aquilino Gonell who gave a victim impact statement in court today, saying Klein repeatedly attacks him with the police riot shield. The judge called Klein's actions shocking, egregious and a betrayal of his office.

Well, coming up Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION", Senators Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, and Bernie Sanders plus the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. That is Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and noon.

Our coverage picks up with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" live from Tel Aviv. Have a great weekend.