Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Strikes Underway As Israel Warns It's Just the Beginning; At Least 11 Americans Killed In Israel, Some Likely Hostages; Hamas Threw Grenades Into Shelters, Shot Into Cars At Festival; Families Of People Abducted By Hamas Appeal For Help. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 09, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: He ended up giving them actually his car and getting in a different ride to go to his son's kibbutz. That is where, of course, he then fought with Hamas as well to get to his son. He said he did that because he knew that if he didn't do it, that no one else would, and that was his primary concern.

It is one of the few stories out of this that you have seen that has been just one small, gleaming hope out of everything that we've heard coming out of Israel.

Of course, we will continue to cover it all here on CNN. Hopefully, we will have him on so you can hear from him himself about that.

Right now, CNN News Night with Abby Phillip starts.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Retaliatory strikes are underway tonight as Israelis compare this devastating attack by Hamas to the terror of 9/11. This is the deadliest attack against Jewish people since the Holocaust with a degree of barbarity not seen since ISIS. Israel's prime minister is warning now that vengeance over the next few hours and days will reverberate for generations.

I'm Abby Phillip and this is News Night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fine. You're fine. You're fine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're okay. You're all right. You're all right.

WARD: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the Iron Dome, okay? That's the Iron Dome.

WARD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they're rolling.


WARD: Hi, John. So, forgive me, I was slightly at inelegant position but we have just had a massive barrage of rockets coming in here not too far from us. So, we have had to take shelter here by the roadside. We're just about five minutes away. Gaza is in that direction. We can hear now a lot of jets in the sky. We could also hear the Iron Dome intercepting a number of those rockets as they were whizzing overhead and making impact in that direction, not too far from here. We came to this location because this was ground zero.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: People understand that this is where to go to get safe, but outside of here, smashed water bottles, broken shoes. And as I step inside here, you're overcome by the smell. And what is clear that happened here, people came in here to get shelter. There's gunshots and impacts all over the wall.

I don't think we'll go in too far, John, if we just step out and let me describe what we're seeing, because it is a very horrific testimony to the absolute carnage, rampage and utter, utter brutality of Hamas, that people were hiding in there. And it's absolutely clear from the blood on the walls, the bullet holes in the walls that they just went in there and shot these innocent people, cowering and hiding away from them.


PHILLIP: Those are harrowing scenes out of Israel today, where a nation is still being terrorized as war breaks out. The Israelis say that at least 900 people have been killed and nearly 3,000 more have been wounded. The number of U.S. citizens among the dead rises now to 11 and the number of Americans being held in hostage is still a mystery.

Many loved ones are still missing after being kidnapped and Hamas is now threatening to execute hostages on live television if Israel strikes Gaza without warning.

Now, tonight, we will speak with some of the families of those who are missing or who managed to escape alive.

Now, back in Washington, the White House is tonight in white and blue in support of Israel as the president and his administration says that the U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people.

CNN is, of course, live across the region that is now at war but we begin tonight with CNN's own Anderson Cooper who is live in Ashdod, Israel.

So, Anderson, Netanyahu today promised that these airstrikes are just the beginning. He says this will be a generational impact. And today we saw so much activity both in the skies and on the ground. What has been happening as you have been there in Israel?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Well, it's about 5:00 A.M. here right now in Ashdod. We're about 19 miles from Gaza. And I can tell you, just as you have been speaking, I've been hearing the sound of Israeli bombardment into Gaza itself. I think it's artillery. We have heard fighter jets flying over this area from time to time tonight followed by explosions as well down in Gaza.


But it's this low rumble even from 19 miles away. You can hear it emanating from that direction.

So, there is a lot of activity. You can hear planes now right now in the air, fighter jets in the air. Very likely we may hear, again, some distant explosions because of that. You probably can't hear it just on my mic. But it is a very fast-moving situation.

Look, Abby, in about an hour, we will be at 72 hours since this terror attack began. It began at 6.30 A.M. Saturday morning across multiple fronts, air, sea, land, as we all know by now. And we're still very much in a situation, particularly along the Gaza border, where Israeli forces are still engaged, according to an IDF spokesperson I talked to just in the last hour, still engaged with Hamas gunmen who they believe have sort of been left behind either intentionally or weren't able to make it their way back into Gaza after the initial terror attack, after the initial incursions.

So, they are still, they say, engaging. There are also still multiple attempts, according to the IDF, of gunmen from Hamas attempting to get through breaches in the border. Israeli authorities are moving to patch up and have been continually moving to patch up and bolster the areas that were breached. As you know, there were multiple fronts breached across the border. But there are still some areas of concern.

So, it's still a very fluid situation, a very kinetic situation. Obviously, the bombardments that we have seen of by artillery and also fighter jets of Gaza has been relentless and by comparison to other times we have seen Israel and Gaza exchanging rockets, an overwhelming amount of firepower directed toward Gaza. Rockets have continued to be fired from Gaza as well into Israel.

So, this is still a very, very fast moving situation. It's not really clear. You know, we didn't -- you talked about the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a lot of people expected maybe because he was making an announcement today, he might launch, he might be announcing the beginning of a ground incursion. He did not. He didn't go into any kind of specifics like that. It doesn't mean one is not being planned, but he's certainly not telegraphing that at this stage.

So, it's unclear. You know, Israel has said they want a complete siege of Gaza, no food, no water going in, no electricity, and that they can do. The question is to really eliminate the military capabilities of Hamas. One can do a lot of damage by air to infrastructure, but we have seen plenty of times when there have been heavy bombardments of Gaza over the last many years, and Hamas remains.

So, if they really are going to try to completely degrade and eliminate their military capabilities, it's hard to see how that may happen without some sort of ground incursion. But, obviously, as we all know, the cost of that, the potential cost in human life is huge.

PHILLIP: It will be, it seems almost no matter what, a tremendous cost on all sides of this conflict.

One of the aspects of this, there's one aim that is about degrading Hamas, eliminating a Hamas even, but the other is what happens to all of these hostages. The numbers, over 100 according to an Israeli official just in the last hour, that's a significant number of people who are unaccounted for. And they are, as far as we know, potentially in Gaza.

What are you learning about how that is affecting the plans going forward for both parts of this mission that the Israeli Defense Forces now have?

COOPER: Well, it's something the Israeli military has to take into consideration. They -- I've talked to IDF spokespeople about it. They really don't go into details about that. Obviously, they would like to try to rescue as many people as possible, but this is not new. They have seen this done before.

We have seen multi-year negotiations to get Gilad Shalit back. That took many years in the exchange of him, an Israeli soldier, for, I think, more than a thousand Palestinians in prisons in Israel.

So, the price of this can be high.


Hamas has said that they are not going to be negotiating anything about hostages until the fighting is done, until a military activity by Israel has ceased, that basically there will be a time for negotiations later down the road. But it is an impossible situation. You cannot have ground incursion into -- as you know, Hamas has already said, that they will start executing hostages and videotape that, put it out online if Israel attacks without warning specific targets.

So, it's something Israel has to take into account, but it's an impossible situation trying to save all those people's lives and also at the same time have a military incursion into Gaza.

PHILLIP: Yes, you also spoke with a woman who was nearly one of these hostages. She was kidnapped but was later released by the terrorists. What did she tell you about that harrowing experience?

COOPER: Yes, it's really extraordinary. She was taken -- she was hiding in a closet. One of her neighbors was hiding with her. The neighbor was shot to death in the closet. They removed her from the closet. They handed her two children, one, I believe, was four years old, the other was about four and a half months old, not her children, children from her neighbor, a woman named Avi, a friend of hers.

These children were traumatized, obviously, not even crying, so traumatized they were just silent and stunned. She held these children. These gunmen took her house to house, trying to you -- told her what to say to other families who are hiding in their homes, trying to get them to come out of their homes. So, they could either kidnap them as well or shoot them. We don't know. Few of the families would actually come out despite her pleas at the hands of these Hamas gunmen. They then began to bring her into Gaza, walk her into Gaza carrying these small children. And then for reasons, she still doesn't quite know, they let her go and they let her leave with the children.

The children's mother is still missing, whereabouts unknown, don't know if she's dead, don't know if she has been held hostage. The children are safe now with their father.

Here's some of what she had to say.


AVITAL ALAJEM, ABDUCTED AND RELEASED: They just moved me from one house to the other. And then at a certain point, they just took us through the fence. They created a hole in the fence. And then we started walking to Gaza. More terrorists came with us and I was with the boys.

Yes, Nagav (ph) was on the shoulders of one of the terrorists and I was carrying Eshel (ph). And we just walked. The captain kept on saying, quick, quick, and they shouted. Nagav (ph) just cried the whole situation. He just wanted to go down. Eshel (ph) was on me, just fell asleep. So, I think it was just a survival mode, I guess, as a baby.


COOPER: Avital Alajem, she is obviously traumatized herself by all this, still trying to figure out what the next steps is, as are so many people here. I mean, there's not anybody in this country who does not know somebody who is being held hostage or who is missing or who has died or who is now joining the fight. It is -- again, we are coming on 72 hours since this terror attack began and the ripple effects of it are just widening out by the hour.

PHILLIP: Yes, and the victims, so small in the case of those just a few month old children and the elderly as well. Anderson, thank you very much for being with us and stay safe there.

I want to go now to the maps with CNN Chief National Correspondent Alex Marquardt. He's over here at the magic wall with me.

So, Alex, talk to me about where things stand. I mean, we were just talking to Anderson about the constant bombardment by the air into Gaza and then from Gaza. What are we seeing on the ground as this war now is underway?

MARK MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're starting to see really, Abby, is that really fierce response that Prime Minister Netanyahu promised with major questions about what happens next.

This up here is the northern border of Israel with Lebanon. Major questions right now about whether Hezbollah, another militant group like Hamas, that is also backed by Iran, whether they get involved in this fight and open up a second front in this war.

We saw missiles being fired by Hezbollah into Israel today after Israel carried out an airstrike and killed a small number of Hezbollah fighters.


But the vast majority of what we're seeing is happening down here around Gaza, in Central Israel. I want to zoom in on there.

So, what we know now from the Israelis is that they have managed to take back all of the communities around Gaza that had been attacked by Hamas gunmen.

This is the Gaza Strip. It is controlled on three sides by Israel. There's a naval blockade along the water, but there are two sides that are covered with fences and walls, and it's through those fences that those Hamas attackers were able to get out and kill so many people.

Again, now the Israelis are saying these southern communities are safe. We're starting to see -- we have been seeing hundreds and hundreds of airstrikes all along the Gaza Strip. As you've noted, the death toll has been growing. Some 900 Israelis killed so far, almost 700 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

PHILLIP: So, this is really -- first of all, just to point out here, the fronts in this attack over the weekend, it's really extraordinary and unprecedented, and it's one of the reasons why this is receiving such a strong response from Israel.

We have seen some attacks now inside of Gaza. This is a very tiny swath of land, but a couple of million people. What are we seeing there?

MARQUARDT: Well, this is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. And the big question now is whether the air strikes eventually are evolved into a ground incursion. We will certainly continue to see more airstrikes.

Our reporting teams have told us that they have seen a buildup of Israeli troops, of tanks, of armored personnel carriers, of long range artillery around Gaza.

The Israelis could very, very quickly build up that force. They've drafted some 300,000 reservists into duty. And this is why a ground incursion and continued airstrikes could be so deadly because this is so incredibly dense.

I've been in this -- in Gaza during the wars in 2012 and 2014. There are -- it's a maze of roads, of refugee camps, of high rises, people really packed together. You have some 2 million Palestinians living here. Around half of them are children in just 140 square miles. And so civilians will almost certainly be killed as this Israeli offensive continues. And Hamas has now warned that if civilians are killed, if there's no Israeli warning, that they will then execute some of the dozens of hostages we know they have on camera and then broadcast that, a really chilling message from Hamas.

PHILLIP: But Israel has been warning before these attacks.

MARQUARDT: Yes. So, what Israel says they do are essentially two different things. When they carry out these airstrikes, and this is some video of all the -- some of the hundreds of airstrikes that have been taking place all across Gaza, they do two things. One's called a roof knock, where they'll send in essentially a small missile that will warn the residents of that building to get out.

The second thing is Israelis have a lot of the phone numbers of these Palestinian residents, they'll actually call them, either speak to them or there's a message that plays in Arabic saying, you have a few minutes to get out of the house, you need to evacuate now.

So, Israel is saying that that's what they're doing. Hamas is claiming that those messages aren't getting through and that Israel is killing civilians.

PHILLIP: There was also an attack, an Israeli attack on a mosque in the last day or so. Tell us about what we know about that.

MARQUARDT: There have been several, and I want to highlight where we're looking at here. It's the Al-Shati refugee camp in the northwestern part of the Gaza Strip.

So, here, we have some remarkable befores and after. This is the Al- Susi mosque in that camp. You can now see it is just a crater. Then there is the Al-Gharbi mosque, also in this refugee camp. This is a drone image that was taken, that is the before of a satellite image, now obviously completely in ruin, completely destroyed. And then this is the third mosque, the Yasin mosque, in the same refugee camp.

Why is Israel targeting mosques? Well, they claim, as they have in past conflicts, that Hamas is using civilian infrastructure, whether it be residential buildings or even mosques, they're holiest places, to hide their forces, but mainly their weapons. Of course, we've seen thousands of missiles being fired into Israel. So, Israel is saying that these mosques in Gaza are legitimate targets.

PHILLIP: Alex Marquardt, thank you for all of that. I appreciate it.

And we are watching the skies in the region tonight as the strikes do continue.

Plus, President Biden is now set to speak tomorrow on this unfolding war in Israel.


Hear what the White House says about the possibility of boots on the ground from the United States in the region. And I will speak with a father whose daughter is now missing after going to that music festival where so many Israelis were kidnapped or killed or barely escaped.


MICHAL OHANA, 27-YEAR-OLD VICTIM: I lied under the tank because they surrounded us from every direction.



PHILLIP: As the skies continue to light up over Gaza as Israel launches retaliatory strikes, tonight we are learning chilling new details about what happened when Hamas attacked that music festival, including how they threw grenade bombs into shelters and shot into passing cars.

CNN's Nic Robertson is covering all of that and more and he joins me now. Nic, what are you seeing tonight?

ROBERTSON: Abby, all through the night, we've been hearing the sound of the fighter jets flying on their way to Gaza, the sound of impacts. There was a moment in the night for maybe a couple of hours where those impacts sort of eased off, but then they picked up again. We were able to see huge flashes on the sky from Gaza. We were just literally a couple of miles.

They go to fighter jets again, just a couple of miles from the border. You can see the huge flashes illuminating the skyline. You can hear the huge detonations, some of them really heavy and dense. There was artillery fire as well.

But I think the other big takeaway that we've seen throughout the day today is the increasingly organized movement of large units of troops and armored fighting vehicles, their howitzers, in some cases, these sort of mechanized howitzers, they look like tanks, but their artillery guns are huge and can fire accurately over a very long distance.


And I think the takeaway from seeing them is all these groups and units of troops moving in there, they've got a lot of supplies with them. And that's really indicative of the fact that they're moving into positions where they're ready to stay in the field for some time, additionally giving security along that Hamas border to make sure there can be no more infiltration.

I think we're still some ways away from perhaps a ground incursion. And perhaps the last thing takeaway that I take away from today is the brutality of the execution of those 260 young music festival goers that Hamas attacked on that first night in the early hours of the morning. And we can see where a group of those partygoers were literally chased into a concrete shelter, and as they were in there, gunned down, perhaps a grenade thrown in as well, just a horrible scene.

And when you step into that and you look at it and you see the holes in the concrete and the blood on the ceiling and on the walls, the smell, the blood on the floor, you just understand this cold, callous brutality that was intent on killing that put terror into the hearts of those young people in the moments before they died.

And those, I think, are the takeaways from today, that movement of troops and that brutality that executed so many young people. Abby?

PHILLIP: Nic Robertson, thank you for that.

Brutality is a word you'll be hearing a lot tonight, I think.

I want to bring in now Eran Litman and Yali Ricardo. EIran's daughter and Yahali's sister, Oria (ph), was one of the many people who were at that music festival and have gone missing since that horrific, horrific attack. Eran and Yahali, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. I'm so sorry for what you and your family are going through.

Eran, could you please just tell us, when was the last time you spoke with your daughter, Oria, and what did she say to you?

ERAN LITMAN, DAUGHTER MISSING AFTER ATTACK IN ISRAEL: Yes, that was Saturday morning. She was speaking with Yahali, me, boyfriend, (INAUDIBLE) and with the police. She told us it's an escape and they're one way with the car until Mefalsim kibbutz. They were shots. She was always with Sharon Rafael and Shahar Mansoor (ph), he died in their hands. They even sent me a picture. She told us that she's missing us, she loves us. And we told her to run away and to hide. They couldn't drive anymore. The car was broken. It's turned over for 360 degrees and landed back on their wheels.

And then she told us that she's hearing fires and people coming. And then at 8:34 we lost connection with them. We couldn't speak with them and they didn't receive any text messages, since they are missing.

What is tragedy is that Sharon's (ph) brother, Ellie (ph), she came the day after to look for her. He found the car, he was looking for them and informed his parents and now he's missing as well.

PHILLIP: Did I hear you say --

LITMAN: My daughter and two -- two and sister and brother are missing together. And one was killed.

PHILLIP: Yes, did I hear you say that he died in her arms? And can you tell me a little bit more about --

LITMAN: That's what she told us.

PHILLIP: Yes. LITMAN: She sent me a picture of Shahar (ph). He was dead. She was holding him. The other girl was holding as well. Sharon (ph) was holding. It was very difficult to watch it and to say it.

PHILLIP: Since that moment --

LITMAN: No one has --

PHILLIP: Go ahead.

LITMAN: It's terrifying. No girl should pass this experience and we don't know if she's alive, if she's with them (ph), if she's hiding, or bad or in the border, in the Hamas' end. We don't know.


PHILLIP: Yahali --

LITMAN: To be strong, to survive, and waiting to get official information what happened to her. And we want you to know that in Israel, we had a lot of disagreement between us.

But now, and even if we do not trust our prime minister and our government, we are not now all united. We trust Hezy Levy, the general manager of the army, to bring quiet to Israel and to do the best to bring all our children back.

PHILLIP: Yahali, can I ask you about your sister? Tell us about what she was like and what you want the world to know about her as you wait to hear word about her whereabouts tonight.

YAHALI RICARDO, SISTER MISSING AFTER ATTACK IN ISRAEL: Well, she was so cool. She is so cool, right? She had fun all the time. She was very bright, very smart, always at parties and I just need to hold her. I really need to see her. And I'm searching and I talk to every connection that I have that are searching her in the fields where it's filled with terrorists and it's not safe there but they're going there.

I went to search her in all the hospitals. I'm calling anyone that I can. I went to a place that I know that there's more than 300 bodies and when I arrived there, there were eight more trucks filled with bodies and I asked him let me search her because I'm calling and I'm asking people where is my sister and nobody can give me answers and nothing I do can help.

All I do is just to search. She texted me, they're shooting at us and I wake up from the -- and asked where she is and this is the reply. She sent me the picture of Shaha just filled with holes.

LITMAN: And blood.

RICARDO: I don't know how to bring her back. I don't know what to do. I feel so helpless and there's nobody that I can talk to because everywhere I go, they block me. Literally blocking me to go inside, literally stopping me to search my own sister. Okay, you're not going to do this. It will take you days. Fine, I'll

go through the bodies because I know how to recognize her elbow. I don't need to -- a DNA test, I can see her.

But they won't let me do it. I don't know what else I can do or what anybody can do, just find her. I keep calling her. Maybe the line will work, maybe now it's going to. I don't know what to do. Nobody can and I cannot describe the pain I feel because I don't even want to connect to my own emotions because I know that I will fall apart. It's like a part of my own body is missing. I don't know where's my little sister.

PHILLIP: We all feel the pain that you both are experiencing right now. I'm so sorry. Heran, if your daughter can hear you right now as we're speaking, and this is broadcasting around the world, speak to her. What do you want her to hear from you tonight?

LITMAN: I would tell her to be strong, to wait. Zen is knowing. The war will take one day, ten days, twenty days. It will be over. There will be negotiations and we'll exchange prisoners. So, she has to be strong. I hope that the Hamas troops will obey the Geneva rules and behave well to the prisoners. And I hope that we can hug her back.

PHILLIP: You are both so strong yourselves, and I'm sorry once again for this incredibly painful experience that you and your friends and your loved ones are going through. Eran Litman and Yahali Ricardo, thank you both very much.

LITMAN: Thank you very much for having us.

PHILLIP: And we are now monitoring the skies above Israel and Gaza City tonight where strikes are continuing to intensify. We'll take you right back there live. Plus, a family member says Hamas murdered their grandmother, posted that footage online and then burnt down her home.


We'll speak live with her grandson next.


PHILLIP: We're closely monitoring the skies above Israel and Gaza City tonight, where retaliatory strikes are underway against Hamas after that horrific attack in Israel this weekend. We're also hearing the horrific stories of torture and murder by Hamas. And among its victims is Bracha Levinson.

She is a mother of two daughters, a grandmother to nine, murdered inside of her home. Hamas used her phone to take pictures of her lifeless body and post them on her Facebook page. The horror left there for her family to discover. Here is what's left of her home, burnt to the ground.

And joining me now is Braha's grandson, Yoav Shimoni, along with Israeli filmmaker, Guy Nattiv. He won an Oscar for Best Director for the movie, Golda, which was about the life of Golda Mir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, particularly during the Yom Kippur War. Yoav and Guy, thank you both for being here. And Yoav, in particular,

I'm so very sorry for what your family has lost in your amazing grandmother. Can you tell us more about what you believe happened to her when Hamas attacked?

YOAV SHIMONI, GRANDMOTHER KILLED IN HAMAS ATTACK: So, from my understanding, because I have seen everything from Canada and we were messaging in the family group chats as the missile started to make sure everyone knew all right, to make sure that she's in the shelter.

And I also received the communication from my mom with her right before the attack happened. They were communicating to make sure everyone's fine. She was actually concerned about us and about the rest of the family's safety during the missiles.

And about 10 minutes after that conversation ended, my sister commented on our group chat that there was a weird video on my grandma's Facebook. And then that is when we all discovered it.

And what I can assume is that right after the missile started, the terrorist infiltrated through the fence as my grandmother's house is in a kibbutz called Neva Oz, which is less than a kilometer away from the strip.


So, I assume she was the first point of contact where the terrorist infiltrated and then came into her house, shot her down, took her phone, and then posted her dying video on Facebook.

PHILLIP: That is just an absolute horrific piece of information that you just shared with us. We're looking right now at pictures of your grandmother's home. You were just there in Israel a few weeks ago.

And you just mentioned that this kibbutz that she lived in is so close to the Gaza Strip. What was it like to visit her there? And did you ever get the sense that she was concerned about her safety in that proximity to the Gaza Strip?

SHIMONI: No, so yeah, as you said, I was there two weeks ago for Rosh Hashanah and it felt fine, it felt safe. We knew there was maybe a bit of tension. We heard back then that there was maybe starting tension rising in the Gaza Strip. But even throughout this even more tense situations where there's full-on missile attacks on the Kibbutz and the rest of Israel.

She's always been in high spirits. She was always super happy. She was super confident. I called her everytime and she would be like, hey, don't worry, I'm in the shelter, I'm fine. Like nothing will happen. Just make sure that you're okay, that you're all good.

And those were also her last messages. She was always an optimistic person. She really loved her community, the kibbutz and just besides what just happened to her, everything that community has gone through, the murder of the families at their homes, babies, the kidnapping of 70, 80-year old women who just had surgeries and stuff like that. Those are all personal stories I know from my grandmother's, like

neighbors. And I cannot imagine how those families feel right now when they have complete uncertainty of their family members and where they are as your previous guests have spoken about.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Guy, Yoav's family is just one of the many that you've spoken to since this attack. And I was just on your social media page. It's dedicated to these victims, to the missing, to their families. What are you hearing about your family and about other families that you're in touch with and what they're experiencing tonight?

GUY NATTIV, ACADEMY-AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR "GOLD": Well, my family is safe right now. But you know, I'm just getting all those people from Israel just writing me, please post this and post that, post about my sister, about my father, my grandmother is missing, my little sister, my baby, my, you know, horrific stories from this massacre, from the party, from the kibbutz, from everywhere.

And I decided to dedicate myself to -- posted on my social media so the world can hear and know what is going on, that this is not a freedom fighter. This is not about liberation of the Palestinian people. These are monsters. This is Daesh, ISIS. This is like a second Holocaust. And that's why everybody in Israel calling it the second Holocaust, because that's what happening right now.

They're slaughtering our families, our women, our babies, they kidnapped little kids. You heard it from, you know, from everywhere, but I want to, I want to have, I want to have my social media and everywhere here in the States, in the world, so people can hear about that. That's my goal.

PHILLIP: Yoav Shimoni and Guy Nattiv. Thank you both very much. And Yoav, thank you so much for being with us tonight. And I'm sorry once again for your loss tonight. We'll be back in a moment.

SHIMONI: Let me share my story.

PHILLIP: We'll be back in a moment.




PHILLIP: Tonight, Israel remains under attack as the world witnesses the terror unfolding. It's also watching for signs that this conflict could ignite further hostilities across the broader region.

In an extraordinary show of solidarity, President Biden, along with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. released a joint statement condemning Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism.

And also tonight, the Biden administration told CNN that there are no plans right now to put U.S. boots on the ground. But it is sending a show of force, deploying the Navy's most advanced aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean in a message to any groups considering fanning the flames of a broader regional conflict.

And with me now is Morgan Ortagus, the former State Department spokesperson and also Klon Kitchen. He's a former intelligence officer. Thank you both for joining us on a historic week here for the world.

Morgan, this concern about a broader conflict is very real. We've already seen some movement from Hezbollah in response to Israel's limited Israeli strikes. How big of a concern should that be right now for the world?

MORGAN ORTAGUS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Listen, it's got to be in the forefront of everyone's mind. You obviously have in the South, in Gaza, where Israel is going and has started today, their response to Hamas and their attempt to root the terrorist threat out of Gaza.

Of course, in the North, when you look at Hezbollah in Lebanon, this is sort of what Iran does in the region. You know, Iran doesn't like to directly confront. They like to use various Shia proxy groups.

So, whether it's Hezbollah in Lebanon, there were Shia militia groups in Iraq in the last administration that were attacking our embassy. They like to do this through the Houthis in Yemen. They like to fund, train, and equip terror groups to spread their influence and their ideology.

And the one thing that all of these countries have in common that are under Iranian influence is really in many ways, they're almost failed states. You know, these are not the crown jewels anymore of the Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, places that used to be where you wanted to go and travel to in the Middle East. And sadly, under Iranian influence, we have just seen them decay in terms of civil society and government infrastructure.

PHILLIP: Help us understand here when we talk about Hezbollah and what it would mean if they actually got more actively engaged.


My understanding is that their firepower is so many more times that of Hamas. What would that mean for the United States in terms of how it might force the U.S.' hand in this conflict?

KLON KITCHEN, FORMER ITELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, it makes the whole situation much more dangerous. So, Iran, historically, exercises much more significant control and influence with Hezbollah.

And previous engagements between Hezbollah and Israel in various intifadas have showed that Hezbollah is very capable. They have done a lot of damage to Israeli armored personnel carriers and other tanks and that kind of thing. And it's been a real tactical problem for Israel in the past.

So, if they were to get formally involved, it means two things. One, a more dangerous enemy, and two, a much more significant risk of a -- expansion of the conflict through the region.

Because what Tehran is likely going to intend to do, they are absolutely going to be stoking Hezbollah into that type of posture. Because what they want to do is provoke a wider conflict so that they can ultimately bring the United States into the conflict, as well.

Morgan, as we speak here, there's no U.S. Speaker of the House. There's a rift in the Republican Party over funding Ukraine. And I saw today some analysts raising the possibility that it is in Russia's interest for this conflict to kick off in the Middle East, that it'll strain U.S. resources.

Where do you think this all goes? First of all, will Republicans need to get their act together sooner? And do you think you can count on this Congress to properly fund both conflicts, Ukraine and also backfill Israel here?

ORTAGUS: These are all very fair questions. And I think you have seen a number of Republicans, especially those in the Senate, call on Republicans in the House to make a decision, decide who is going to be speaker. There's also a number of confirmations that are up in the Senate, including the ambassador to Israel.

And other diplomatic positions around the world I know is very frustrating. The last administration tonight get our ambassadors are our assistant secretaries confirmed. I think that needs to stop on both sides of the aisle in Congress and get these people through these key positions to, you know for the President.

And as it as it relates to you know where we where we're headed in this in the Congress in terms of funding and payment, you know, historically that the United States Congress has funded Israel's security needs, security assistance on bipartisan levels. In fact, when President Herzog was here in Washington just a few months ago, I went to the Congress.

And one of the things I thought was so encouraging is that you saw Republicans and Democrats who are not agreeing on anything lately standing up and giving multiple standing ovations to President Herzog, the president of Israel. So, I am hopeful that there is going to be support for Israel.

But we also have to get our own munitions going here in the United States. You know, we need to reinvigorate our factories here, our production lines. We have to get Americans doing this. And we're woefully unprepared.

PHILLIP: That's a really important point. Klon, President Biden speaks tomorrow. Quickly, what should he say?

KITCHEN: Well, I think what you're going to hear the President say is he will reiterate his support for Israel. I think you may hear an outline of some of the specific support that he'll be providing in terms of munitions and other arms, certainly intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. But he's also going to sound a cautious note and try not to

unnecessarily inflame the situation. That's a tough calculus, but I think that's the thing he's going to be trying to land the plane on tomorrow.

PHILLIP: Yeah, it's going to be -- landing the plane is a great analogy for all of this. Klon and Morgan, thank you both very much. And stand by. We are seeing lights over the sky in Gaza as Israel carries out more retaliatory strikes. This is CNN's special live coverage.




PHILLIP: Disturbing new details about Israeli music festival that was targeted by Hamas on Saturday. There's new dash cam video that reveals that the militants shot concert-goers at point-blank range and then looted their belongings. As of tonight, at least 260 bodies have been found at that site.

And my next guest had multiple friends at the rave and was supposed to be there himself. Isaac Thomas joins me now. Isaac, incredibly, you have friends who did make it out. Tell us about how they managed to survive.

ISAAC THOMAS, LOST FRIENDS AT ISRAEL MUSIC FESTIVAL: Well, when people just started realizing that there's a danger over there, they started seeing the rockets, people started running everywhere. Me, personally, I've been going to music festivals for many years. I've danced together with Palestinians, with Lebanese and music festivals throughout the world.

What happened over here is a massacre on a global level that was carried out by a terrorist group. People need to realize these are not freedom fighters that are fighting for something bigger. These are terrorist groups that attacked civilians, attacked people on their highest point of their life, dancing with music. This can happen anywhere in the world.

People had no idea, people never imagined that such a thing is possible. People started running everywhere. There was a huge chaos. I know people that got out. I know people that no one has heard from them yet.

The stories that come out of there are absolutely horrifying. The things that the survivors saw are things that they will never forget for their entire lives. And the world needs to see this.

This is not, you know, I'm for peace, for love, many aspects of the Palestinians, I'm all for, but this is not a free Palestine situation. This is a terrorist group that is run by Iran and they're taking the Palestinian people hostage because their retaliation is going to be something that we have not seen before. The Hamas is taking the Palestinian people hostage. Their leaders are

not even in Gaza. They're in five-star hotels, flying private jets in Qatar. I mean, these people are not, have nothing to do with trying to free Palestine.

They just carried out one of the biggest massacres since their holocaust and people need to realize. People are protesting on the streets of the U.S. Pro-Hamas people are brainwashed that anything to do with free Palestine.


This something that the world has never -- marched the streets of the U.S. claiming that ISIS were freedom fighters of Iraq. No. The world recognized that ISIS is a global problem and the world needs to wake up.

This music festival had Americans, had British, I mean people from Thailand are killed and missing, people from around the world. This is a humanitarian crisis that the world needs to get involved.

PHILLIP: It very much is a humanitarian tragedy on a global scale, as you just rightly pointed out. Isaac Thomas, thank you for joining us. Thank you for sharing your story with us. And thank you for watching. "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Abby, a very tough evening.