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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Israeli PM: Airstrikes on Hamas in Gaza "Just the Beginning"; U.S. Defense Official: U.S. Offering Israel Special Ops Planning & Intel Support for Hostage Rescue Effort; Hamas Released Training Video Months Before Surprise Attack. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 10, 2023 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good day to our viewers in the United States, and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Tuesday, October 10th. And it is 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, noon in Israel, where the country is at war with Hamas after militants waged coordinated attacks over the weekend, killing at least 900 Israelis, including 11 Americans, and taking more than 100 hostages.

In retaliation, Israel Defense Forces pounded Gaza with airstrikes, hitting more than 200 targets overnight, and sealed off the strip from food, fuel, and supplies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says this is just the beginning.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The savage attacks that Hamas perpetrated against innocent Israelis are mind-boggling, slaughtering families in their homes, massacring hundreds of young people at an outdoor festival, kidnapping scores of women, children, and elderly, even Holocaust survivors. Hamas terrorists bound, burned, and executed children. They are savages.


HUNT: Gaza's health ministry reports more than 680 Palestinians have also been killed. Hamas militants are threatening to execute hostages, and televised that if Israel continues to strike us out without warning.

In the meantime, the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces also sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the northern border with Lebanon, in anticipation of a Hezbollah attack.

President Biden is set to deliver remarks to the American people today about the evolving situation.

Let's bring in CNN's Becky Anderson. She is live in Tel Aviv.

Becky, good morning.

This day four, and the IDF just gave an update on efforts to control the border fence with Gaza. What's the latest?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yeah. Let me just explain what is going on here as we speak. You talk about those 200 targeted attacks by the IDF overnight on Gaza. We have seen the fighter jets or heard the fighter jets in the air. We continue to feel and hear the low level rumble of what is likely those targeted attacks, and the iron dome intercepting anything that is coming out of Gaza. I can't stand out the fact there has been any rockets out of Gaza today, but the sound we are hearing could either be these targeted attacks, or oftentimes it is the inception of the Iron Dome.

But let's assume that this is the targeted attacks. What if the IDF is doing at present is trying to completely destroy Hamas's infrastructure, so it is attacking as they say these military targets. It is also as you rightly point out, trying to ensure that the border around Gaza is absolutely secure. They describe it as mostly completed. That is important. What the IDF and the defense minister here has announced, is this total siege of Gaza.

That can't be completed to the Israelis minds unless about border wall which was breached on Saturday morning is also secure. Those communities around Gaza, the Israeli communities, of course, secured and protected. Most of those have been evacuated now.

So that's the story it seems at this moment, as far as the Israeli side of the border is concerned. We now know of course that there is this total seizure of electricity, fuel, food. So we rarely now have to wait to see how it happens in the hours ahead, as to how the Israelis expect to affect the next stage of this, border, effectively controlled, targeted attacks, and the effort just to destroy the Hamas infrastructure.

We now know, of course, that a ground incursion is not off the table. There are tens of thousands of IDF troops who are amassed on the southern border. As you rightly point out, 10,000 troops on the northern border with Lebanon now to try and assuage any infiltration by any group, either Hezbollah, or any group associated with Hamas and a number of groups in Lebanon, any group that might try and breach the border to the north -- Kasie.


HUNT: Becky, can I ask you about this threat to begin executing hostages? Because we're people who are not as familiar with the region. In the past, Israel has often, when they struck Gaza, Hamas militants would be using and putting that might include civilians. The civilians would be notified. They would leave and the building an infrastructure is destroyed.

And, basically, Israel, it sounds like to me, please give us your reporting on this, they're no longer giving those warnings. Hamas has come out and said, okay, if you don't do that, we're going to start executing hostages on TV. What is the latest on this?

ANDERSON: Yes, these warnings in the past and in military terms, there is a double time for soft top, that is a small missile or devices dropped on a target to effectively warn residents that the larger attack is to come. And Hamas suggesting that is not happening. There is no warning to effectively -- their suggestion is residents of Gaza and their threat is that they will then assassinate hostages as a result of this.

Look, this is difficult for the IDF from their perspective, they say they are intent on denigrating the entire Hamas military infrastructure. They say that in conflicts of past, it is regular as far as the IDF is concerned for Hamas to be housed in its military equipment to be housed in buildings which also accommodate civilians. So that is a really difficult situation for the IDF. Not one that they won't have anticipated.

But their effort is to degrade this infrastructure, complicated as it is of course by the 100 to 150 hostages we still don't have specific numbers from the IDF. But it is a very tricky situation, and that threat of course will be taken very seriously by the Israeli forces here.

HUNT: It's all terrifying. Becky Anderson, thank you very much for that report. Stay close. I know you will.

All right, coming up, here what the U.S. is offering to Israel to potentially help rescue hostages. Plus, how the Israeli government missed warning signs of this major Hamas attack. The clues are right there.



HUNT: Welcome back.

A U.S. official tells CNN that the U.S. is offering Israel special operations planning and intelligence support to bolster the effort to rescue hostages taken by Hamas. The support would not entail U.S. troops on the ground, to underscore that.

And let's bring in former director of communications for U.S. national intelligence, Shawn Turner.

Sir, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

Can you help us understand what the meaning of this development is? The fact that the U.S. is out there saying we are going to provide with these supports?


You know, a lot of people are wondering whether U.S. military support would look like to Israel as we see this strike group moving through the area. You know, it is going to be really clear that no one should expect to see U.S. military forces on the ground in Israel. What we can expect to see is an immense amount of intelligence surveillance -- intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance support. So what that means is when we think of the fact that if Hamas is going to continue this fight, they are going to need to resupply at some point.

As you all have been reporting, Israel is cutting off the Gaza Strip, so there won't be food, water, electricity. So when we think about that supply line, the ability to get that resupply in, the United States is in a good position to disrupt those supply lines, to provide Israel with the intelligence needed to disrupt the supply lines which will obviously have a significant impact on limiting Hamas's ability to continue to fight.

We know that a lot of the rockets are being made in the Gaza Strip, but ultimately, at some point, they're going to need to get additional resources. And the United States can help with that.

HUNT: Can you help us understand from an intelligence perspective? Clearly, this was a massive intelligence failure for a service -- you know, the Israelis pride themselves on their intelligence in the region.

Is this the United States saying, okay, we're going to step up and use our intelligence capabilities in a way we don't normally because we let you guys handle it? I mean, is this an "ask" that came from the Israelis? You just help me understand what it's normally like, and why this is different?

TURNER: Well, you know, normally, when it comes to intelligence assets, intelligence collection resources, the Israeli defense forces are very good. The Israel would have had the best possible intelligence as it relates to Hamas. And the United States and Israel share intelligence. Certainly, there is an alliance there.

What we are seeing there is the result of an intelligence that is not the kind of intelligence that Israel would normally have. What I mean, intelligence is like a game of cat and mouse. Terrorists -- bad actors, they're always looking for a new place to communicate or staying a step ahead.

The way that this happened, Kasie, is that the Hamas basically had to communicate without the use of electronic devices. They had to come up with a system to communicate that would stay out of the site of Israeli Defense Forces. When you do that, you did not have a human diligence on the ground, sometimes you can do some significant planning.

But in this case, what the United States is going to, do step in and provide that ISR -- intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance -- that will help the Israelis understand what decisions Hamas might be making as they continue to take this fight to Israel.


And also provide this oversight that is necessary if we do see a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, Israel is going to need all the intelligence it could possibly get, it's a very difficult fighting environment. HUNT: Yeah, it's a really interesting point when you underscore that

they had to talk to each other the old-fashioned way in order to blind the intelligence services of the West and of Israelis obviously.

Shawn Turner, thank you very much for bringing here. I hope you come back.

TURNER: Thanks. My pleasure.

HUNT: All right. Warning signs of an imminent attack on Israel completely messed by their intelligence service as we were just discussing.

CNN takes a closer look ahead.



HUNT: Welcome back.

Hamas's attacks suggest a massive intelligence failure for Israel as it appears blindsided by the launch of thousands of rockets across the border. The Israeli government says it did not see this coming, but the signs were there.

CNN's Sam Kiley has more.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slick propaganda, a blatant threat and published last year. Hamas gunmen training a motorized paragliders. They also showed meticulous planning for fighting in built up areas, all an historic failure of Israeli intelligence. Hamas videos of the start of their assaults from Gaza were published within hours of its launch.

Once a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, a Sunni movement, won Palestinian elections in 2006 on a platform of social reform and resistance to Israel.

Driven by corruption and incompetence, rivals Fatah launched attacks immediately against the movement, which denies the right of Israel to exist at all. In the end, Hamas won control of Gaza, and its grip on the enclave of around 2 million people tightened as Israel and Egypt largely sealed it off, causing intense humanitarian problems.

Hamas responded with waves of rocket attacks against Israel that got worse as the years went by. Israel counter attacked from the air, and with ground assaults that left thousands dead, and Hamas still in charge.

But Iran's influence has been key to Hamas's military power.

FABIAN HINZ, IISS: The Iranians have trained Palestinian engineers on how to establish rocket manufacturing in Gaza. We know that the Iranians have provided several production equipment which you need for the production of solid propellant rockets to Gaza and to other places as well.

KILEY: Israel knows it must battle Hamas on its own turf in urban areas littered with explosive traps and riddled with secret tunnels. And Hamas will draw on the experience of Iran-backed Hezbollah which ravaged Israel's armor in 2006, all the while trying to protect the lives of at least 130 hostages that Hamas says they will kill if Israel's attacks continue, dealing with violent groups, backed by Iran, a country that's bent on destroying Israel and building a nuclear weapon that could do just that.

Sam Kiley, CNN.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in now, CNN's Max Foster who is live in London.

Max, good morning.

Pretty ominous warning there. But look, at the bottom line of the reporting we saw just there from Sam is that there were clear warning signs that were missed. Just look at that video they put out months before of Hamas fighters training on those paragliders. I mean, this was a big mistake.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Again, when you consider, you know, Israel has the biggest intelligence services, multiple agencies really in the Middle East, it's extraordinary that they didn't see this thousands of rockets coming and multiple operations that you saw demonstrated here back on Saturday. It is quite extraordinary.

Very interesting to see how someone close Hamas puts it in a report that "Reuters" has compiled. We haven't verified who these sources are. But they really interesting article they put together suggesting that the groups fighters were being trained and drilled, often in plain sight. A lot of it was filmed. They even set up a mock Israeli settlement in Gaza. WE asked the IDF about that. They said they weren't aware of that.

But the more interesting part of this, that it was combined with a separate intelligence operation which was really an intelligence tactic, which was giving any public impression that Hamas wasn't willing to go to a fighter confrontation with Israel, not getting involved in some operations perhaps Islamic jihad were involved in, just showing that they are appreciative of the visas that they were getting for example, and this was all combine of course with a reaction that the Netanyahu who government had, judicial reform, and also, you know --

HUNT: Yeah.

FOSTER: -- deepening settlements in the West Bank.

HUNT: Yeah. No, you know, that's what I was going to ask you about because on the one hand, you just, you know, very clearly outlined here is what Hamas is doing, here's the strategy they are imploring. But on the Israeli side of the border, you have a lot of domestic political disputes. I mean, members of the military resigning in protest.

It seems clear that there were reasons why the apparatus in Israel would be degraded, that was the responsibility of the Israelis.


FOSTER: I mean, it was huge domestic focus, wasn't it, the judicial reform. And it took up a huge amount of time. And as far as the Palestinian issues were concerned, they were very focused on the West Bank and the growing those settlements there because a lot of support for the Netanyahu government there, and also for that tactic, that strategy, that policy if you like. And if things were quiet in Gaza, and they weren't picking up on any of these intelligence failures, then they were frankly distracted by judicial reform. That's what a lot of the accusations are in the Israeli press right now.

HUNT: Well, I do think we should be clear, Max, for our audience here in the U.S. it often can be very contentious to call this judicial reform. We should underscore they were essentially trying to dramatically reduce the power of the judiciary, and Benjamin Netanyahu, of course, facing the charges himself.

Max Foster, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I'm sure we will see you tomorrow. Appreciate it.

All right, Israel's prime minister issues a stark warning. They are just getting started in Gaza after the Hamas terror attack. We'll have a live report just ahead.