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Erin Burnett Outfront
Israeli Strikes Hammer Gaza, Ground Offensive Appears Imminent; Israel Releases Graphic Photos Of "Babies Murdered" By Hamas; Israel: No Food, No Fuel Into Gaza Until 150 Hostages Returned; U.S., Qatar to Block Iran's Access To $6 Billion For Now. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 12, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, live from Israel. Troops massing and no word of the hostages tonight. Israel's prime minister making the case for spitting Hamas out like ISIS, showing unspeakable pictures of a baby and children slaughtered.
Plus, rushing to fight militants, hand to hand with a pistol. A retired Israeli general tells us what he witnessed. You'll hear his incredible story of taking on the attackers.
And deception overdrive. Rockets said to be fired by Hamas actually footage from a video game. Israeli jets bombing Gaza actually video from fireworks in Algeria. We fact-checked the viral videos that are masquerading as facts.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. Welcome to a special addition of OUTFRONT. I'm Erin Burnett live in Tel Aviv tonight.
And we begin with the breaking news, ready to invade. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a large scale strikes on Gaza. Even over the past 90 minutes, we've heard more than 15, 16 explosions there.
At this hour, we are told more than 360,000 Israeli reservists have been called up, and are at or heading to the Gaza border. We can see that influx today.
Netanyahu making his case for retaliation to the world, meantime releasing horrific new images of children, of a baby.
Now, CNN has decided to only show one of these images. And we are only doing one because they are horrific, but we want to warn you this is very graphic, we do believe that it is important to if you choose to take a look at it, that you do that you see what took place inside Israel up and down that Gaza border, now seven days ago.
And this one image that we are going to show you, it is a tiny body, bullet holes wriggling the onesie. The other photos, I can tell you also show tiny mangled, bodies, one is completely charred.
They are horrific. And it is why Netanyahu is going after Hamas with fury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas is ISIS, and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those words spit out, you could feel the palpable rage from him.
Netanyahu speaking after meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken right here in Tel Aviv earlier today. Standing side by side with Netanyahu, Blinken urged caution as Israel prepares what appears to be a ground invasion on Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The prime minister and I discussed how Israel does this matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorist by striving for a different standard, even when it's difficult, and holding ourselves to account when we fall short. Our humanity, the value that we place on human life and human dignity, that's what makes us who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Blinken urging Israel to avoid harming civilians, as the death toll in Gaza is also rising now, over 1,500. That's according to Palestinian ministry of health.
The grim reality besides any number right now is that life, for the people in Gaza, and the 2 million of them, is going to get much worse. Today, along the Gaza border, we saw groups of IDF troops moving into what is essentially become a buffer zone.
The IDF is continuing to move in heavy equipment, we saw that troops, tanks. We were stopped actually untold there were what the IDF says wasn't a serious incidents, just ahead it was actually in a small town called Kesaphem (ph). We could hear Israeli artillery firing on Gaza there as we waited continually.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BURNETT: Artillery firing across this desert terrain, and where we were, that terrain you're looking at was just a few miles away from the location of the festival where 260 young people were slaughtered by Hamas.
And we met a survivor at a checkpoint. Roni Aharon and her father were there. They were bringing food to an IDF special forces counter- terrorism unit. Now, Roni is 21 years old and she was working as a bartender at the
music festival. Some of her friends did not survive. She is now in the reserves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You are ready to go?
RONI AHARON, SURVIVED MUSIC FESTIVAL ATTACK: I wanted to go, I cannot give my soldiers right there, and I'm here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, you are going to hear more of her story later. But this mass outpouring of support, what you saw her and her father coming up with all of this home cooked food is actually crucial for Israel in this war. It gives you a sense of what the undertaking is.
Roni and her father bringing food. A few miles away from there, we passed a massive barbecue at a gas station. So, we pulled up to see what was going on, it was full of soldiers. Because the reality of it is, when, you think about what's happening here right now, calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists to fight suddenly means the entire country has to support the logistics. And that's what we are actually seeing on the ground.
And we have a team of reporters standing by. Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT. He is live in Sderot, along that Gaza border. Matthew Chance is here with me in Tel Aviv.
And I do want to begin with you, Nic. I know you just heard some big explosions. What is the very latest from where you are?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, earlier this evening, Erin, it was quite quiet here. We were not hearing many impacts in Gaza, but I would say in the past hour or so, it has really picked up a lot. Those detonations, that sound as if they are from missiles that are fired from the jet fight -- that are released from the jet fighters because we hear the jets going overhead, they are so big, the reverberations, are quite literally shaking the front of this building. And they're impacting two miles away.
So, to your point earlier, that really gives you an idea of just the scale of the impact, and the effect that will be having on the population of Gaza over there. And this impact, they keep -- they keep coming. You see the flashes over my shoulder. Listen.
Listen to this.
(SOUND OF EXPLOSION)
ROBERTSON: Yeah, you see the flashes over my shoulder here, and then you get those reverberating explosions. That one perhaps a little bit more distance than some of the other ones.
But to your point as well, that there are now, all of these volunteers helping bring supplies into the Israeli forces as they begin to move forward and set up that stronger buffers out as you call, it's a sort of new frontline if you will, as well as these missile impacts that we are hearing here. We were seeing today, we were down by one of those artillery units that you were talking about firing shells into Gaza.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Israel's nearly a merging front line in the war with Hamas, heavy howitzers just dug in. Firing on the terror group a few miles away in Gaza. Part of Israel's massive military buildup since Hamas's attack Saturday.
Many of the 300,000 reservists called up already deployed ahead of a highly anticipated ground offensive, into Gaza.
These are exactly the same gun positions the Israeli defense forces used in their last major confrontation with the Hamas back in 2021. The question now, will this confrontation be different? Will Israel actually be able to crush Hamas as the prime minister says he wants to do?
The military offensives (INAUDIBLE) before and won't be easy now. The Palestinian death toll and unintended consequence Israeli shelling and missile strikes is climbing.
Thursday, staunch ally, the U.S. cautioning care.
BLINKEN: The prime minister and I discussed how Israel does this matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists from striving for a different standard, even when it's difficult.
ROBERTSON: And it will be difficult.
Israel is still reeling from the deadliest, most barbaric attack on its citizens since the state was founded. Anger at Hamas is high, so too pressure on the prime minister to act divisively. He's calling for more international support as he plans his offensive.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations. No leader should be them, no contrition harbor them. Those that do should be sanctioned.
ROBERTSON: In the meantime, Hamas is still getting into Israel. This gun battle with them late Wednesday.
DORON SPIELMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: There were multiple incursions by Hamas terrorists yesterday, I drove right through Sderot during the time and three terrorists were out again, looking for civilians to kill.
ROBERTSON: The tempo of fire here far higher than in 2021. A drumbeat that seems to signal a ground offensive, all but inevitable. Even so, it's outcome is far from certain. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTSON (on camera): So, all these impacts that we are hearing right now, there are these the softening for an upcoming offensive and the next couple of days, or is there something that's type of firepower is going to be used over a longer period of time? A week or two weeks perhaps before enough troops are in place for whatever move Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to take. It is not clear, but the impacts must not be having a physical effect and that's at the moment, but a psychological effect. As I say, the reverberations here are huge.
BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you very much.
As Nic mentioned, the Palestinian death toll is climbing tonight, and it's impossible to really get any numbers that you know are real, of what's really happening in. In a sense, it's essentially closed off, but the Red Cross is warning that Gaza's hospitals risk turning into morgues to use their exact words. The entire territory is running out of fuel, the U.N. says that food and water supplies are running low as well, and obviously, that's going to continue because when we say this is getting worse, it is. Israel has said it will not allow food and fuel into Gaza until the 150 hostages are returned, and there is no word of them tonight, except that they are in Gaza.
The IDF spokesman tells us that they are likely underground, scattered locations. And uncertainty about their faith causing Israeli forces to pause a full-on assault, but not the strikes that you hear, of course, happening where Nic is this evening. We've heard nearly more than a dozen now, just joining from Gaza where we are in Tel Aviv. I counted about 16, 17 sort of lost count, to be honest with you.
Gaza is one of the most densely packed places on Earth. So, every one of those things that we hear is life and death for someone a few miles away. Gaza has nearly 2 million people living in 88 square mile piece of land and Matthew Chance is here with me tonight.
Matthew, it's a place you know incredibly well. You've covered this region for many years, from various places. So, when you look at what we are looking at now, right, this massing along the border that we've never seen anything like that before, Gaza closed with no one able to, you know, no in, no out, no aid. How bad could this get?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it could get pretty bad. I mean, it's already pretty bad inside Gaza.
CHANCE: I mean, whole districts of that densely populated city have already been laid to waste, turned into rubble, the pictures we're getting from inside Gaza, and the testimony we're getting from inside Gaza as well is absolutely horrifying. And you're right, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
And remember, the forces that are being mobilized on the border of Gaza, 360,000 Israeli troops, that's twice as many as Russia had before, when it went into Ukraine, a country many times bigger than Gaza, of course. So, it gives you the idea of the scale of the operation that Israel is anticipating. It's going to be -- I mean, dramatically life-changing for the people on the ground in Gaza. No one is being allowed in and out at the moment.
And depending on the reaction of countries in the region, it could really change the face geopolitically of the entire region.
BURNETT: So, what's your view of where this does go? When you think about, that twice the number, more than twice the number of the Russian troops, that were amassed in the Ukraine border and a border of just miles.
BURNETT: Right? Of just miles, the amount of force ready to go in.
CHANCE: I mean, we will see, won't we? I mean, we saw Tony Blinken there, U.S. secretary of state --
BURNETT: Urging caution.
CHANCE: -- glaring at Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that this is -- how this is conducted is what defines democracies -- essentially to paraphrase it.
And look, depending on what Israel does will depend on what the countries in the region react like, but obviously Israel's full as you know of not horror, but also rage and anger and the brunt of that is really being felt on the streets of Gaza right now, which is to say, are being -- are being leveled as we -- as we stand here in Tel Aviv.
BURNETT: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you very much.
And joining me now is Major Ben Wahlhaus. He is the spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces.
And, Major, I appreciate your time. So, you know, when you hear us talking about the situation in Gaza, and you look at your troop readiness along that border, and we see more and more material moving in throughout the day, how far along is Israel? As you see it tonight in your goal to take out Hamas?
MAJ. BEN WAHLHAUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: Well, our forces there around caution operating against Gaza, they have one mission. Their mission is to wage war on Hamas. That's the mission we have been given, and we'll carry that in any way we need to.
At the same time, Hamas's war is a war against civilians. It started as your viewers have seen now, with this massacre of women, children, entire families, almost entire communities wiped out. They've abducted scores of Israelis, Americans and others and took them into Gaza, and they are continuously find rockets indiscriminately into our civilian population centers. So, it's clear that this is something that we have to stop and that's
what our forces are going to do.
BURNETT: Major, there have been multiple incursions by Hamas terrorists on Israeli land, even over the past couple of days. You know, today, we were stopped at a checkpoint neural we were told was one of them. And this time, do you believe that there are any cells of terrorists still inside Israel?
WAHLHAUS: Well, that's what our forces are doing in the south as well. They are going through all of the areas with Hamas terrorists invaded, over 20 towns, cities, they invaded hundreds of terrorists, and they are making sure that there will be no presence of Hamas terrorists left. At the same time, we are experiencing attempts of continued, attacks up on the sea as well. And our forces are down there repelling those as well.
BURNETT: So, obviously, one crucial thing that Prime Minister Netanyahu said today was that ISIS is Hamas. That's what Hamas has become, and I know that today, the IDF released a photo of an ISIS flag that you say was found with Hamas attackers at kibbutz.
Do you believe that the two terror groups, Hamas and ISIS are actually integrated at this point? Are they sharing leadership? Is there an actual technical link between the two?
WAHLHAUS: Well, I think that would be splitting hairs. We don't need to talk about that. We just need to say the acts that they're doing. Both groups -- their aims is to kill as many civilians as possible. Both groups, their aim is to sow as much terror as possible.
But I think one of the big differences is that Hamas is being controlled in Gaza for almost 20 years, 20 years when they could have been supporting their population, building their territory, and instead, all we've got from it is terror.
And, we saw your reporter who's over in Israel feeling the reverberations of the attacks on Gaza, that just emphasizes how close to home this is for us. This is not millions of miles away. These are our neighbors. This is our backyard.
You cannot have ISIS in your backyard. You cannot have Hamas with its capabilities in our backyard.
And so, our mission is to stop that.
BURNETT: Major, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
WAHLHAUS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, he was on a bike ride when Hamas attacked, and within minutes, retired General Israel Ziv drove toward the attacks were armed with only a pistol and he began to fight.
And as you see, as our crew met the general, the air raid siren suddenly blared.
Plus, this hour, Israeli's prime minister saying that Hamas is the same as ISIS. So, is it? We have a special report on that and what you see here, this is a video that claims to show a Hamas fighters shooting down an Israeli helicopter. Only this is a fake. It's actually from a video game, but it is quickly spreading online. It is igniting tensions.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: The tension at the border of Israel and Gaza. It is palpable tonight. You can hear it where Nic Robertson is. You can even hear the thuds of the explosions in Gaza from here in Tel Aviv. It comes as we are learning tonight about the incredible bravery of retired Israeli general who headed straight into the Nahal Oz kibbutz, which is just a few miles from Gaza as it was under attack on Saturday morning.
And along the way, General Ziv, armed only with a pistol, encountered Israeli soldiers outmanned and outgunned. I spoke with him. He was deeply emotional as he told me about the horrors that he witnessed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: General, that morning, Saturday morning, you -- was this the gun, what gun did you have?
ISRAEL ZIV, RETIRED GENERAL, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: This is new. The gun that I had was a little bit more simple. It was this one.
BURNETT: That was your pistol. You were about to go for a bike ride.
BURNETT: Take your pistol with you?
ZIV: No, I live next to Kalsava (ph). It's like an hour and a half from here, I was biking my bike at 6:00 like every Saturday. And we had the alert, and I thought it might be some rockets or something simple but we already know.
ZIV: Then I had a call something very serious and heavy is happening. So I took that, the uniform waiting for such occasion in the cabinet, and took my gun and went to Gaza to engage, to lead the forces.
BURNETT: So then what did you do?
ZIV: We had very few forces, very few units so engaged with the units. We went from place to place to see what is going on. Along the way, there were a lot of engagements, huge amount with the Hamas, yes. A lot of close contact engagements. So I was with the soldiers,
shooting with them when a soldier was injured next to me, I took his gun and shot. And we focused from place to place all day long and at night. And then later on, into the evening, Saturday night, more units came so I had to engage them into the situation and have them to manage with the battle in of the kibbutzim.
BURNETT: And, General, what did you see? What did you see them doing at the kibbutzim?
ZIV: No, it's terrible. My whole military career, I have not seen such a horrifying and terrible things, you know, of killing, I saw women holding their children and being shot by holding them. People were hiding under furniture and got murdered. I saw few people, the heads were chopped, the children.
Sorry. It was terrible, terrible, terrible. And we failed, we failed. I feel ashamed. We failed to protect them. They live here, the first line of all Israel, of sovereignty, and we failed. We failed to defend them. It is personal humiliation and national humiliation at the same time.
BURNETT: General, it is hard for anyone to hear what you're saying, imagining what you saw, you had to see it. Can you even un-see such things? Could you even comprehend as you thought happened, it was a human being doing these things to another human being?
ZIV: Nothing of that is human. It's animals. Only animals do such a thing.
I have never seen such a thing. This is really low -- only animals can do. It's only animal can do. I -- it is nothing human you can see in the act. You know, it's burning, burning people.
I went that afternoon and later to the festival, hundreds of people and kids -- you know, 16, 17, 18 are massacred, are dead.
And you saw because I know when you kill someone from close contact, some of them tried to escape. So, they are waiting for them to get to the car and shoot at them in the car when they are trapped. And you saw -- you know, just overwhelm, the amount of bullets and later on they tried to bring the burn the car with the bodies. Animals. Real animals.
And we cannot have them as a neighbor. I mean, you know, if they act jungle law, we have to act also with it because we are in the same jungle and we cannot have the jungle in our own homes.
BURNETT: How many Hamas fighters did you see? How many did you see? How many did you killed?
ZIV: Myself with my own eyes, dozens of them.
BURNETT: Dozens? ZIV: Yeah. But I think 1,500 Hamas, I did not know it then, what we learned later is there were at least 1,500 people or more, some of them more commander type, first line of a terrorist, some of them are second, and even civilians. They call civilians to take guns and go to the kibbutzim. And you know, rob and rape, and do whatever they want. And we killed many of those.
By the way, all of them came with weapons.
BURNETT: General, thank you very much.
ZIV: Thank you for asking and being here with us. Thank you very much
BURNETT: General Ziv did not hold back criticizing his own government and his own military. He called what happened Saturday a complete failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZIV: It's a total collapse. I'm not going to say any excuses. It's total collapse. It is systematic collapse. It's the intelligence, it's -- the whole defense system, the defense system has a lot of elements, you know? It's defense, it's the technology, it's the deployment of the army, it's the backup, it's so many things. It all collapsed.
So we cannot say any excuses is not acceptable. We have to inquire it. We have to investigate it. We have to learn very seriousness. By the way, none of the scenarios, where the idea that Hamas formed from terror organization would act as an army.
What we think today is that Iran is behind it. Their plan is copy and paste of Hezbollah. They have a similar plan in the north and take over, exactly the same thing we have seen here. But then again, we should guess or learn or take under serious assumption such things could have happened. And we didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And they didn't.
Well, OUTFRONT next, the U.S. and Qatar quietly agree not to release $6 billion sent to Iran as part of a deal to free Americans. Wasn't a mistake to make that money part of the deal?
And also, a grueling wait for answers. A mother waiting for word, two of her children kidnapped along with three other members of her family, all missing tonight. Has she heard anything about where those hostages might be?
BURNETT: All right. We are back with our breaking news live in Tel Aviv tonight.
We have newly released video of Hamas' assault on Israeli kibbutz. This was obtained from cameras found on the bodies of dead Hamas members. They were wearing cameras.
This is the same kibbutz where the IDF says that older people, women and children were brutally butchered in ISIS wave action. It's how they describe it exactly. It comes as Hamas has drawn repeated comparison to the terrorist organization ISIS.
And this is a crucial question, because ISIS mean something to the world, something horrific. Is Hamas really morphing into the new ISIS?
Sam Kiley is OUTFRONT. And a warning that in this report, there are some images you will see are extremely graphic and disturbing.
NETANYAHU: Hamas is ISIS and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Benjamin Netanyahu long compared Hamas to the vicious resume of ISIS that established obedience through mass murder, lavishly filmed to spread maximum terror. The Israeli prime minister's office published graphic teachers of dead babies on social media and bloodied crib following the Hamas invasion of civilian kibbutzim.
His outrage is harnessed to galvanize international support.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The brutality of Hamas, the blood thirstiness brings to mind the worst -- the worst rampages of ISIS.
KILEY: Israeli forces are poised to invade Gaza, ahead of ongoing air strikes that have killed at least 1,400 Palestinians already.
The U.S. has an aircraft carrier standing by off the Israeli coast. More than 1200 people killed by Hamas in last weekend's assault from Gaza, more than 200 were Israeli soldiers, the rest were civilians, many of them children, toddlers, and babies, inevitably inviting comparison with the reign of the so-called Islamic state. But Hamas has all long history of targeting the innocent, including women and small children in suicide bombs especially. But it has no pretensions to Islamic caliphate like ISIS.
How can you explain why Hamas even by the standards of Hamas, killed so many civilians, so many children, so many toddlers? Is there something that is a surprise?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened now, killing civilians and killing children, I don't know why it happened even though that is not even compatible with Sunni Islam.
KILEY: Hamas, unlike ISIS, hasn't turned its atrocities into propaganda videos but it has threatened to execute hostages on television.
The movement is supported by Iran but many other governments in the region have banned the Hamas brand of political Islam.
In online press conference, Hamas official attempted to disown the atrocities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were clear instructions from the top commander of al-Qassam brigades to avoid targeting civilians or killing them.
KARIN VON HIPPEL, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF RUSI: I'm not sure about the ISIS comparison, I think it is too early but I think it is the case they were planning this for years and thinking through what they can do because everything else they had tried has not worked. But, certainly, this is not going to work either. I think this will spell the end of Hamas.
KILEY: That is Israel's intent, but it's a prediction that's been wrong before.
KILEY: Now, Erin, most of those Hamas fighters would have anticipated not going back into Gaza and some experts I've spoken to said in the midst of this chaos, that perhaps surprising success in military terms against Israelis, they lost their minds and lost their discipline and went on a rampage.
But I have to say Palestinian experts are baffled by the level of carnage unleashed by Hamas.
BURNETT: All right. Sam, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan.
And, Ambassador, we just heard the expert in Sam's reporting say that it's not exactly accurate to directly compare Hamas to ISIS at this point. Why do you believe they are wrong?
GILAD ERDAN, ISRAEL'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I don't think it is so important to discuss thoroughly whether they are exactly, exactly like Daesh or more similar to the Nazis. The fact is their charter calls for the total annihilation of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, that they should butcher every Jew that they encounter. For many years, we've seen them preparing , turning the whole Gaza Strip into a war machine. They tried many ways, indiscriminately to fire thousands of rockets and missiles at our towns and cities. They failed only because we developed defensive, you know, missile system to protect and defend our children.
So, then they dug terror tunnels into to try to infiltrate our territory and then we built the underground wall. So now, unfortunately, sadly and tragically, they succeeded and they did what they wanted to do which means to butcher, to slaughter every civilian that they saw.
And you described it, I don't intend to repeat the terrible atrocities that were committed. So, that's why we believe that they should be treated exactly like Daesh. And without a total obliteration of their terrorist infrastructure, this war cannot end.
BURNETT: Daesh, of course, another word for ISIS.
Ambassador, Prime Minister Netanyahu, though, has vowed to turn Gaza into ruins. You know, he speaks with the rage and fury I know he feels and you feel and others feel, but he's talked about avenging this attack, these are words he's used. In fact, he said, quote, what we will do to our enemies in the coming days will resonate for generations.
And then, today, when he appeared with the Secretary of State Antony Blinken here in Tel Aviv, Antony Blinken said that how Israel does is matters, with democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard.
Ambassador, do you agree with that? Do you agree how Israel does this matters when it comes to 2 million people of whom many, of course, are women and young children?
ERDAN: Of course, Israel never wants to harm civilians and what is happening in Gaza is a tragedy. Israel is a law-abiding democracy. We abide by international law.
But, you know, all of your viewers, they should ask themselves, what do you expect democratic state being threatened with annihilation by its neighbor? And it is a neighbor we withdrew from its territory 18 years ago, they decided to turn all of their territory into a war machine to achieve their goals and they hide and store their weapons within populated areas.
We have no other choice. We are fighting for our life. We are fighting for our existence.
If we do not obliterate their -- this war machine, their terrorist infrastructure, it will happen again. We will face these atrocities, not only Israel, by the way. It's a battle not against Israel. Israel is, you know, is at the forefront of fighting terrorism.
But it happened before in 9/11. It happened in many other countries around the world. This is a war against the civilized world and we are at the forefront.
BURNETT: Ambassador, you confirmed earlier this week there were up to 150,000 hostages in total. And a spokesperson for the IDF told me last night that he believes those hostages could be held underground, scattered in various areas, that Hamas may have not been known to use before to evade Israeli intelligence. Ambassador, I know you can't share that intelligence with us if you have any now, but can you tell us if you have any more information on where the hostages are? Whether they're dead, whether they're alive tonight?
ERDAN: Unfortunately, as you emphasized, I won't be able to share it.
I'm just saying that again, that we expect when we're talking a lot about international law, the first demand that we expect the Red Cross, the U.N., Security Council will have its meeting tomorrow afternoon, to, first of all, discuss the humanitarian situation of our hostages, women, babies, the elderly, all of them re being kept totally against severe violation of international law. Those calling on Israel to respect international law first, they have to demand Hamas will release all of the hostages, first and foremost, first of all.
BURNETT: Ambassador, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.
ERDAN: Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: And as you listen to the ambassador, I want to bring Wolf Blitzer, who, of course, all of our viewers knows the story better than anyone out there.
And, Wolf, I want to ask you about what we learned today. That the United States and Qatar, which, of course, has been crucial in negotiating so many of these deals or agreements that may involve hostile powers, in this case Iran, that the U.S. and Qatar have reached quiet understanding that Iran will not be able to access the $6 billion that were part of the deal to free Americans detained in Iran. Obviously, there were many extremely critical in this aspect of the deal in the first place, but it was $6 billion and now those funds are frozen.
Wolf, does it -- does it make a difference? Does this do anything?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I think it sends a powerful message not only to Iran but others that even the Biden administration, which negotiated this freeze on the $6 billion Iranian money supposed to go to Qatar and then it would only be used according to the U.S. Treasury, which would control the money, for humanitarian purposes for food and medicine or medical supplies along those lines. But now, the Biden administration has apparently agreed with so many others that $6 billion could be fungible. If the Iranians get the $6 billion through Qatar, through this program, they could free up $6 billion that they have to use for food and medicine in other areas and free it up to do other things.
And I think the Biden administration now realizes that is a mistake. Given what they see as Iran's complicity in this Hamas attack on Israel, they say there is no direct evidence that -- there are no compelling evidence that Iran was directly involved with Hamas in this war, but they think over the years, the support that Iran has given Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations makes them complicit in this, and so, they don't want to be seen as providing any money for whatever purpose to Iran right now. And they probably sensed it was a mistake to begin in this direction given the fact that for several administrations, Iran has been seen as the number one state sponsor of terrorism.
BURNETT: Yeah. So, Wolf, when you see these thousands of troops lining up near the Gaza border, 360,000, unprecedented and the weapons coming unprecedented. And you hear the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu's mouth, always bold, always offering threats but this time there is a rage and fury behind it.
When you see all of this, Wolf, and you have been here before, you were here in the most recent conflict with Gaza, you've been in the tunnels. We all remember seeing you go down there and see those tunnels, do you think there's any chance this could de-escalate at this point?
BLITZER: Well, there's, of course, a chance, but it's a really tiny, tiny chance. My own suspicion, based on everything I know and I've covered these wars in the Middle East for a long time, when Israel mobilizes, activates some 300,000, maybe close to 400,000 reservists, to send them to the front line, they are there now, almost certainly something is going to happen.
So, my suspicion is what we're seeing now is about to get worse. An Israeli ground invasion of Gaza is going to take place, and it's my suspicion right now and who knows about could escalate this entire conflict.
BURNETT: All right. Wolf, very much appreciate it. Sobering but thank you.
And next, a story that we told you about at the top of this show, she was at the festival with Hamas attacked and she is survived. Now she wants to join the fight.
Plus, this viral video reportedly showing Israel attacking Gaza, only it's not, it's not at all. It's fireworks from a soccer celebration in Algeria. We have a special report tonight on the fake videos that are going viral, viral around the world right now with deadly consequences.
BURNETT: We're back with breaking news in Tel Aviv at the White House tonight ruling out, ruling out, sending military personnel including Special Forces into Gaza to free American hostages who right now, besides me, are being held there.
Hamas fighters at this hour holding 150 hostages in locations across Gaza.
Well, my next guest, Hadas Kalderon, believes that five of her family members are among them, being held by Hamas tonight, including two of her children. And we'll show you these images. This is her 12-year-old son Erez being kidnapped by gunmen. And Hadas wants the world to see this -- incredibly disturbing footage -- but it shows them holding his arms dragging him away.
Also missing tonight are other numbers of Hadas' family, her mother, her 16-year-old daughter, her 13-year-old niece and ex- husband. Look at that, her family. Her family is now missing family members in separate homes of the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nir Oz, which is right near the Gaza border. That's when, of course, they were taken.
Hadas was alone in another home of the same village where she was able to hold off Hamas fighters for eight hours surviving the terrifying assault by locking herself inside the safe room in her home. When she came out to look for them, of course, they were gone.
And Hadas is OUTFRONT with me.
And, Hadas, I am -- I'm so sorry for the horror you endured and the feeling of all feelings when you came out of the room and looked for them and they were not there.
I know it has been seven days, have you heard anything, has the government been able to tell you anything about where your missing family members might be, are they okay, have you heard anything?
HADAS KALDERON, TWO CHILDREN, EX-HUSBAND, MOTHER AND NIECE ABDUCTED IN ISRAEL: I didn't -- no, I don't know anything. I just have hope that is what I have left. The hope to stay alive and the hope they behave nice to them and they take care of them. They are in a safe place. All I have is hope.
BURNETT: Hadas, the IDF has told us that the hostages they believe are being held underground and obviously, your son, your daughter, your 80-year-old mother, they may all be underground. That's got to be hard in and of itself to think about that, what you think it could mean for them?
KALDERON: Listen, I don't see news -- I can't -- I can't see news. So I don't know the information that you just said. I don't want to know, I don't want to see, I just want my children back.
If I start to think about all of the situation and if they are underground or whatever, I can't -- I can't survive. I just make a picture and I believe and I know they are coming back. I know the whole world is 24 hours around the situation, I know that all of the world is fighting for them and the other children.
And I'm very, very thankful to all of the support. I believe the American government and Qatar and the French government and the whole world is doing their best. My mom, she's American citizen, by the way.
I hope that the American government do her best. She's 80 years old. She's not young. She's not healthy.
And what can I say? You know all the information already, yeah? We have a pogrom. And it's like a massacre, family just gone. Full families, children, grandparents, children -- parents, babies, dogs. They even shoot dogs. It's cruel.
BURNETT: Hadas --
KALDERON: It's against any law. Yeah.
BURNETT: It is. You are in our thoughts and prayers for those -- anyone who prays as we think of you and what you are enduring, what are you going through. I hope you will be getting some good news and I hope soon. Hadas, thank you.
KALDERON: I just say that I don't have a voice anymore, you can hear that. I don't even have any tears anymore. I just want you to take my voice and take my words and tell the whole world and ask the government to go there and pick them and to release the children and elderly, to release them immediately.
Every moment they are still there, it is a huge danger. They must be released. It is not there war. You cannot make war on children's back. What has happened to our world?
BURNETT: Hadas, thank you very much.
KALDERON: It is crazy. Thank you. Thank you very much.
BURNETT: Thank you.
And tonight, surviving a massacre and wanting to go and fight. That story is next. Today, we met Roni at a military checkpoint near the Gaza border handing out food to soldiers. We'll be back.
BURNETT: So, Roni, you are helping the soldiers now. You've been feeding them ever since the attack.
AHARON: It makes good to me, I just feel relief and feeling good after what I -- what I saw there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is waiting to join the army because she is in the reserve.
BURNETT: You are in the reserve?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is trained soldier to drive vehicle for the army.
BURNETT: And you're ready to -- you are ready to go?
AHARON: I wanted to go, I can't leave my soldiers right there and I'm here.
BURNETT: Roni, tell me what happened. You were at the festival, right? Just a few miles that way. And what happened? AHARON: I was working there and everything was fun and lovely and
everyone was so happy and kind and just wanted to enjoy and dance and enjoy life, and then at 6 1/2 in the morning, it's just rockets begun and everyone don't understand what is happening. And then the shooting started and we just don't want -- we don't know what to do and everyone just run out everywhere, everywhere they are in the bar, in the bushes, in the trees.
BURNETT: Could you even see who was shooting at you?
AHARON: I am not but my friend, yes. They saw big tenders (ph) with terrorists on them, with big guns. And they were so evil and just wanted to hurt people and people who just came to enjoy, to dance, to -- I'm so sad because my friends died there.
It's fine, thank you.
BURNETT: I'm sorry.
AHARON: We just wanted to live happy life. We just wanted to celebrate. We just wanted to dance and enjoy. Then they are coming and shooting everywhere and I'm scared for my life and my father and my mom don't stop calling and they worry, they are worried about me and they come to and pick me up.
And if they don't come to pick me up, anyone don't do this, anyone. I was dying. It is a miracle that I'm standing here to talk to you. It is a miracle.
BURNETT: It is a miracle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.
BURNETT: And, yet, Roni, you are so brave knowing what could happen, you are ready to go to fight.
AHARON: Yeah, yeah. I just wanted to do, to go to the army back and I want the proud again.
BURNETT: Roni says she is ready to fight, are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with her, I'm with her.
BURNETT: Roni, what do you want the world to know ?
AHARON: I want them to know there are really terrorists that do horrible things. Babies and very old men --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not terrorists. It's devil sons. It's devilish.
AHARON: I can't realize it. It's is horrible. It's very, very -- it is hard for me to see this and to think about because every time I think about this, I'm shaking and I'm crying. I can't sleep at night. I sleep in mom and dad's bed together because
I can't sleep. Every noise, everything sounds to me like shooting, everything. It's traumatic. It's bad.
BURNETT: Roni, thank you very much. Thank you so much for talking to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
AHARON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are brave. You are brave. I know.
AHARON: Thank you so much.
BURNETT: Also tonight, our Donie O'Sullivan on the viral videos about this war that are having huge impact. They are completely fake but they're having dire consequences.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One video shows a rocket purportedly fired by Hamas. Another video claims to show Israeli jets bombing Gaza. But neither is real.
This video is actual footage from a videogame called "Arma 3", and this is video of soccer celebrations in Algeria. It is part of the tidal wave of viral mis and disinformation circulating around the Israel and Hamas conflict.
Adi Cohen works with MEMETICA, an online threat intelligence service. He's been monitoring misinformation like this, a fake BBC news report that falsely claimed Ukraine had provided weapons to Hamas.
This is relatively sophisticated stuff. I mean, it's got even the same kind of graphics as the BBC News only would have.
ADI COHEN, COO, MEMETICA: Right. I think what happened over recent years, it becomes very easy, affordable to mimic those graphics visualizations.
O'SULLIVAN: In response to the false news report, BBC told CNN in a statement, world of increasing disinformation, we urge everyone to ensure they are getting news from a trusted source.
Just hours after the Hamas attack began on Saturday, this began circulating on social media. Fake White House memo falsely claiming the U.S. was immediately sending billions of dollars in new aid to Israel.
This is like old school disinformation, fake White House document circulated pretty widely online.
COHEN: Right. I do want to point out it is old-school tactic we have seen multiple years by now -- but with the current tools, you can also create it very quickly and make it more believable.
GRAHAM BROOKIE, DIGITAL FORENSIC RESEARCH LAB, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: There's new information every second and every minute and every hour and a lot of room for error as things develop on the ground.
O'SULLIVAN: Graham Brookie tracks disinformation with Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab.
BROOKIE: And this conflict is hyper connected. Israel is very, very connected country so we're seeing an enormous amount of misleading content coming out of this conflict as the world's eyes are watching.
O'SULLIVAN: Twitter known as X is a major source of misinformation, partly because of the changes Elon Musk made to the platform since he took over, including laying off key employees.
On Thursday, European Commission announced it was opening investigation into disinformation on X about the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
COHEN: Another component because several platforms scaled-back moderation, it is much easier to spread rumors, unsubstantiated rumors, false information very quick.
O'SULLIVAN: But this isn't just information war, it is a real war and false information can be fatal.
BROOKIE: And that disinformation is extraordinarily harmful, including putting folks' lives at risk.
O'SULLIVAN: Now, Erin, Twitter says, now X, of course, says moving around resources within the company after it did all those layoffs to try to address some of these concerns. Look, by no means is this problem exclusive to X, but it is pretty pronounce on that platform at the moment, what I would say is the real tragedy of all of this is we have seen the real footage from Gaza, from Israel, it's tragic enough, there's no need for these fake videos and images to add to the chaos, concern and confusion.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Donie. I appreciate it.
And thanks very much to all of you for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson here in Israel starts now.