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IDF: More Than 700 Israelis Killed In Hamas Attack; 260 Bodies Found At Music Festival Site After Hamas Attack; IDF: Now Conducting "Wide-Scale Strikes" On Hamas Centers In Gaza. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 09, 2023 - 09:00   ET



STEVE LEDER, SENIOR RABBI, WILSHIRE BOULEVARD TEMPLE: This is not just a brutality and a senseless war, it's against all Jews. It's against all good people everywhere. And we have to defeat this enemy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Rabbi Steven Leder, thank you for joining us this morning.

Thanks to all of you. We will see you back here tomorrow morning. CNN continues the breaking news coverage right after this.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: We continue with the breaking news this morning. Nine U.S. citizens are among those who have been killed during this unprecedented attack on Israel. As of this hour, Israeli's military says it has retaken control of all communities around Gaza and is calling for a complete siege of Gaza, no food, no water, no fuel, no electricity. CNN swatted Israeli troops and heavy armored vehicles heading towards the border.

At the same time, Hamas continue sending a barrage of rockets into Israel. We're showing you new video there of rockets being launched from Gaza City this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: More than 700 people have been killed in Israel. Thousands more are injured. The death toll in Gaza we are told is up to 560. This morning, rockets hit what looks to be a residential street in Israel. We're also seeing horrifying video of the moments that Hamas terrorists ambush and kidnap Israeli civilians. Some, you know what, we're going to take a break from this video right now and go right to Clarissa Ward. Clarissa is on the ground right now. Clarissa, tell us what's happening.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. So forgive me I have a slightly an 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 for this entire operation of carnage. Hamas militants came on a pickup truck. This was the first place where they breached that border wall. And they basically drove down this strip, just spraying lead wherever they went. We saw, in fact I was just grabbing it before that happened and we had to hit the deck, but heavy weaponry being used.

They're saying we can get up now. Where are we moving to? Sorry, just one second, guys. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- just come up and go this way. And then --

WARD: All right, so now I can show you the scene here. This is where those militants first came opening up fire on all these vehicles. There's a baby carriage down there turned over on its side. You can see over there, Clayton, if you just show in the distance there some kind of strikes looks like in Gaza as well. Return fire or is that the smoke from the rocket launchers, forgive me. It's a little difficult after being crouched in a ditch to know exactly what's been going on.

But yes, multiple casualties along this area. You can probably see the scale of the damage that was done to these vehicles. A lot of them just blew up with the force of the ammunition they were taking. And they're just now towing away, the actual pickup truck that was carrying those Hamas fighters. And that was some resistance. Careful Clayton. There were a couple of bullet holes in the window shields -- in the windshield rather. So they stopped the car. They got out of it. And they just went on this shooting spree.

This is also they believe, where a lot of hostages were taken. They just got out of this, started grabbing people, started shooting people and taking them back to that side of the border. John?

BERMAN: So Clarissa, I'll give you a chance to catch your breath right here. You're headed closer to the Israel-Gaza border. You heard some rockets being fired from inside Gaza, maybe some of them, many of them, hopefully all of them being intercepted. What is around you in terms of civilian life? Are the Israelis back in their homes?


WARD: Not here, they're not. This was, you know, the city of Netivot is just over there, which was a pretty buzzing city. But almost everybody has left at this stage, or they are spending most of their days in a shelter. And this has really become a kind of an area where the only vehicles in life you see are ones like this. Israeli military, Israeli personnel, Israeli army being moved and deployed all up and down along this border, fueling speculation that some kind of a ground offensive could be imminent, although obviously, that is complicated by the fact that there are a lot of hostages. They're just moving us out of the roadway here.

Oh, another one. You can see where they shot up this car here just completely, completely destroyed. We don't know we asked how many lives were lost here. It's very difficult to get a sense of who might be alive, who was taken as a hostage. But you can imagine the visceral terror as the scene was unfolding, John.

SIDNER: Clarissa, this is Sara, let me ask you about you have not only been there where you're seeing rocket fire still coming in. But you actually went to the site where there was this festival and that awful video of people running for their lives and being slaughtered by Hamas militants? Can you give us some sense of what you saw there?

WARD: So we visited there yesterday, Sara, I'm just going to step out of the way there's an ambulance coming this way. We visited there yesterday. And again, just carnage, you can still see the dead bodies of those Hamas militants all over the approach to that kibbutz where thousands of young revelers had gathered celebrate the end of the High Holidays, they were dancing through the night, until at about 6:00 in the morning, when the militants started firing a barrage of rockets overhead, then they actually infiltrated the dance party.

Sorry, I'm just going to move us over here. Again, we're trying to keep out of the way of these guys and let them do their job. I also wonder if someone in the control room can turn around that video that just showed the initial moments we were taking shelter there when that barrage of rockets came in. But the scene at Re'im, that kibbutz that you're talking about was just nothing short of horrifying. And the fear that so many families still have, they don't know Sara, if their loved ones are even alive.

And Israeli volunteer group that identifies human remains said at least 260 bodies were found. But there were thousands of people there. And there are still families desperately looking, desperately hoping and not knowing where their loved ones are.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: What you're showing in stark relief right now, Clarissa, is to escape it is that this isn't a terrorist attack from just this weekend. This is ongoing. Take us back to mean when we came to you, you were you'd hit the deck with your crew, what is happening, what was happening around you? And what does it tell about this ongoing situation?

WARD: Yes. So just as we started this live shot, the red alert went out, which means incoming is imminent. We tried to run to the shelter, we didn't quite make it because we could already hear the rockets whizzing overhead. So we had to sort of jump into a ditch over there. And wait until the barrage pass. We could hear the Iron Dome being activated overhead. But it really just gives you a sense that even with the most sophisticated military technology, the Israelis are still up against a really tough fight.

And the Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that himself. He has told the Israeli people, you got to prepare yourselves for a long fight, for a tough fight. At the moment, the focus is obviously on trying to ensure that any Hamas militants who were able to infiltrate that border have successfully been pushed out and to repair the breaches of the border, dozens and dozens of breaches all along that border.

And of course, then to try to win back the release of these dozens of hostages. Hamas saying more than 100 hostages, the Israeli military here on the ground telling us they don't know if these guys are alive. They don't know what the situation is with regards to their whereabouts, to their health. And so it's a very, very delicate calibration that the Israelis have to engage on trying to thread the needle between issuing a fearsome response to this unprecedented act of aggression while at the same time trying to protect the lives of those who may be held hostage in the Gaza Strip.


BOLDUAN: Clarissa, thank you so much. We'll get back to you. As always, keep going and stay safe. Clarissa is in southern Israel very clearly. We're going to get over to Nic Robertson. But first, John is over at the magic wall to show where we're talking about where Nic Robertson is. This is the scene of the music festival, that music festival massacre. The control room can show John at the magic wall so we can show them. So John, these in Re'im were.

BERMAN: Yes. This is where Nic Robertson is right here. This is where the music festival was Clarissa by the way. We're not giving the exact location up in this area right here. But this is where Nic Robertson at the site of the music festival, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. All right, let's get to Nic Robertson now. Nic, talk to us about what you see there. And also just more and more horrific stories that are coming out of that massacre.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There's a lot that we can see from here very quickly, Gaza is just over there. A few miles away, you can see the smoke raising. We're seeing multiple impacts over there in Gaza. But I'm going to ask John to spin the camera around now, on these vehicles here. There's a situation about to develop here. Now the people here pulling the bags from the vehicles of volunteers getting the identification documents of all those young partygoers who were who were at the party.

They were they were -- this is where they were shot up. All these vehicles were shot up. The soldiers here come over to make sure that these people have authority to do what they're doing, literally smashing the windows here. I mean, this is unfolding around us here right now. But these people didn't -- it's OK. It's OK.


ROBERTSON: No, we're explaining.


ROBERTSON: We're explaining. OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Don't talk to me like that. You can't you see that I'm like this. What is it?

ROBERTSON: They're collecting the documents. It's OK, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about collecting. What the window, what's the reason. ROBERTSON: But this is up to him, not me. I'm not involved in that. So this is an unfolding situation as we talked about there. Passions, as you can see, they're really high. And with really good reason, because this is where those young people had parked their vehicles for that party on Friday night, Saturday morning. And this is where they rush back to when Hamas raced in here to start killing them. And this is where they were shut up.

And you can see car after car after car after car here. We see their bags being taken out. But we've seen documents lying at the side of the road. It's confusing an active situation, there are soldiers here. There are angry and upset civilians, there are volunteers taking the documents away. But look up here, more and more of these vehicles. And it just really gives you that sense and understanding of the horror, the horror of the moment when, in the early hours of the morning, suddenly, the party goers found themselves being attacked by Hamas brutally murdering them.

We'd listen to testimony of doctors who treated some of the wounded and the dying. And they were trying to escape. They were trying to get away. It's hard to overstate the horror of what was happening here. But you only have to look at the way the vehicles are parked. The way that you can see people are trying to throw themselves in to drive away here in desperation and just cut down. And then the situation unfolds further down the road here more shut up and destroyed vehicles. There's more of the party goes were trying to leave.

But I can tell you the situation here is very dynamic. It's very fluid. It is changing. And as we've been driving in here, just to get to this spot, we pass an area where Hamas fighters, terrorists were shot and killed by Israeli Defense Forces, their vehicles are lying at the side of the road. Their bodies are still lying at the side of the road. And we've also seen the biggest deployment that we've witnessed so far of Israeli military defense forces with tanks, Howitzers, armored personnel carriers deployed out in the field dozens and dozens of them. That's the biggest deployment that we've seen so far.

And while we were driving down here, we've seen a lot more reinforcements on their way. So this is an area that's getting -- that's having increasingly more and more troops put in here, very close to Gaza, as we're talking about over here. And, again, that's the impact of airstrikes there on Gaza. And they're ongoing. We hear the fighter jets in the skies above us. And then you'll see a plume of smoke raised up from over there. And the reason that these people are rushing in to take away the possessions of all those who were killed, injured during the Hamas killing spree.


They're rushing in. And they're doing this at high speed, because they're very concerned about the security situation here. And what they're trying to do is to bring inflammation and relief to some of those families who have no knowledge of what happened to their loved ones. But you've just witnessed what it's like there at the moment. There are -- there's multiple things going on. And tensions are high, concerns are high. Most of the civilian population has been evacuated from around here.

SIDNER: I was going to ask you about the civilian population there because we are watching a woman there with a backpack trying to get whatever she can. We're -- are people being allowed to come in and do this? Or were they nearby? Do you have any sense of what's happening with the security there because obviously, you're very close to the border? Rockets have been coming over this morning. We just saw Clarissa Ward hit the deck. It is a very dangerous situation.

And I know that there are also I think you just showed when you swung the camera around a place where people can hide. They have shelters, but you know, with a barrage of rockets, you just never know what's going to happen. So is it opened so that people can come in there right now?

ROBERTSON: It's not open at all. There's -- there are military checkpoints to get in here, several of them. So you'll get questioned by the military to get in here. There are military encamped literally just across the road from us. They came and checked us as well. So we can be sure that if these people got here, they got here with a position -- with a permission of the military who control this area. It's not -- it's an area where the civilian population has been advised to get out of. It's an area where the government has been quite literally bussing hundreds of civilians out of at least 20 of the villages that are close to this area along the border because of that fear, very real fear reality of possible Hamas continued incursions even though this morning, Israeli Defense Forces said that they had taken back and secured control of this area, you still go past checkpoints here where some of the checkpoints are very twitchy.

They are very concerned. They will come at the vehicle with their weapons, absolutely at the ready to check you. And while we've been here, that there are multiple different military units coming through, multiple different police units coming through here. You just get the sense of this is at the leading edge of massive military deployment, the situation is fluid because it has never stopped being fluid since the manner the attack took place down here.

It's the lead elements. This is so far from being an established set, if you will, ready for an incursion already military maneuver. It is fluid. It is in the flow. And you've just witnessed some of it here.

BERMAN: Nic, before we let you go very quickly, you did say that an IDF spokesman this morning said that Hamas terrorists had been cleared from the region. But have you seen any evidence of ground fighting still taking place or even heard any evidence?

ROBERTSON: No, we haven't. And late last night in the early hours of this morning, it was still happening. And we were witness to it. And we haven't had that same experience today. Obviously, even with the number of teams that we have, we're not everywhere all the time. But that goes without saying of course, that we've been moving around a lot, but we haven't seen any active engagements.

And I would say the posture of the troops who we met just around the corner controlling this area, they were a little bit more relaxed in some of those two hours ago on outer perimeters. Here, they're on high alert. They don't get me wrong. They're absolutely on high alert. They're ready, but slightly more relaxed. So I don't think they feel there's an immediate threat. We're just going to ask John to spin around here and take a look.

So we've been talking about the heavy armor here. This is one of Israel's main battle tanks, Merkava battle tank I think. I don't want to give it the wrong description, but I would estimate that's what it is from this distance. And increasingly we're seeing tank like this deployed in the area. We've seen dozens of these tanks already this morning.

So if you saw the camera shaking that was because the ground was literally shaking. I don't think, John, even you and your skills can hold a camera still during that. That just gives you a sense of the power of those military machines. The reality is, is going to take a lot of them to maintain security here and if there is going to be an incursion, it's going to take a lot more than the dozens that we've seen so far today, John.


BOLDUAN: Yes. Nic Robertson there with the car alarm still going off around you. You see that massive, massive military equipment coming right down the road. Nic, thank you so much. We're going to have much more of our continuing coverage. The breaking news coming out of Israel, the war in Israel. Israel at war, we'll be right back


BOLDUAN: All right, welcome back just moments ago, CNN'0s teams on the ground near the Israel-Gaza boarder. They had to take cover jump in a ditch because of what was happening overhead. I'm going to show you these moments. Listen to this.



WARD: They're telling to take shelter. OK.


WARD: Yes, yes.


WARD: Get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down. Close, close, close. You're fine, you're fine, you're fine, you're fine, you're fine, you're fine, you're fine, you're fine. You're OK. You're all right. You're all right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the Iron Dome. OK. That's the Iron Dome. WARD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we want to (inaudible), yes.

WARD: Guys, are you seeing our situation guys?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear the shells?


WARD: Stay down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to stay here.

WARD: Fuck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to stay here.

WARD: Guys come to us. Oh, fuck, fuck.


SIDNER: All right --

BOLDUAN: Multiple rockets, multiple rockets, her team.

SIDNER: And we should be clear, lying on the ground keeps you some distance but there is no guarantee. This is a terrifying situation for the reporters that are there, for the families that are there, for the army that is there. It is a terrifying situation, because nothing guarantees your safety when a rocket is coming over, nothing, except for the Iron Dome.

But there are so many rockets being sent over from Gaza, that the Iron Dome can't get them all. And so there is always the possibility that you are going to be hurt or you are going to be killed. So those situations that you see Clarissa and her team in, you know, they are raw, they are real, and they're terrifying. And they're still doing their job just as the army is doing this job and just as civilians are trying to get to safety.

BOLDUAN: Let's get to Tel Aviv right now where Becky Anderson is standing by there Tel Aviv in the middle of the country. And Becky, I know you have been hearing the air sirens all day long.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. I mean, where Clarissa is about 75 clicks kilometers down the coastline to the south here from where we are in Tel Aviv. And they continued and this is a really intense bombardment by the Israelis today. We continue to hear the booms of what is going on as the IDF target military sites in Gaza.

On the flip side, of course, we have been witness to the Iron Dome intercepting outcoming fire from Hamas, targeted on central Lebanon where we are -- sorry, central Israel, where we are here in Tel Aviv. Sirens going off here in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem today. We had an engineer at the airport coming in about four hours ago. I'm not sure we've got the video to show you but they hit the deck as there was an enormous boom and an enormous amount of smoke.

Hamas taking responsibility for those rockets fired into central Israel today. And I've got line of sight from here, up the coastline to the north towards Lebanon. And we do know, in the past couple of hours. And we've seen the smoke. We've witnessed the impact, as it were of Israeli IDF helicopters striking what they called armed operatives, who had breached the Israel Lebanon border. So what I'm trying to explain here is, you know, the intense of the ratcheting up of what is going on not just in Gaza at this point, but up this coastline targeted by Hamas militants, and then the IDF needing to do its work up to the north.

There have been reports of some 15 strikes to the north by the IDF not clear where those armed operatives are from which group. There are a number of groups that they could be affiliated with in Lebanon, but that's the sort of -- that's the enormity of this scale here. And we've been talking about how we are in uncharted territory at this point. And we really are.


I mean, with three days in, 50 odd hours into this, 4,000 or more rockets fired by Hamas, strike after strike after strike by the Israelis on military headquarters in Gaza. Now, we are witnessing more than 20 armored vehicles and we've witnessed this ourselves at CNN moving towards the border with Gaza. So this begs the question what happens next.