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Laura Coates Live

CNN Covers War In Israel. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 09, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ISAAC THOMAS, LOST FRIENDS AT ISRAELI MUSIC FESTIVAL: This is something that the world has (INAUDIBLE) march the streets of the U.S., uh, 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 --


THOMAS: -- 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 HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you, Abby. A very tough evening. Good evening, everyone. This is Laura Coates Live. It is 6:00 in the morning in Israel. Israelis are waking up not knowing what today is going to bring.

But here is what at least we know so far. The Israeli military is going on offense against Hamas with the force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows will be like -- quote -- "like never before" after a devastating surprise attack that has left at least 900 people dead in Israel.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): We have begun, and I emphasize we have only begun to strike at Hamas. The images of the devastation and destruction from the Hamas strongholds in Gaza are just the beginning. We have eliminated many hundreds of terrorists, and we will not stop there.


COATES: At least 260 people were killed at an all-night dance party celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, shot as they tried to escape. I'll talk to one woman who was on the phone with her friends when the shooting started and has not heard from them since. More than 680 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza's health ministry. Hamas claims to be holding more than 100 hostages and said civilian hostages would be executed without any warning, and the killings broadcast if Israel targets people in Gaza without giving a warning.

Now, the White House says the United States has -- quote -- "no intention to put U.S. boots on the ground in Israel, but President Biden will -- quote -- "do what he has to do" -- unquote -- to look after national security interests.

Here with me in studio tonight to put help everything in perspective and context is CNN national security advisor and analyst Peter Bergen and CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier. But I want to begin on the ground in Jerusalem where CNN's Jeremy Diamond is right now. Jeremy, the sun is rising momentarily. It's day four of this horrific conflict. How is the Israeli government responding?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, just as Hamas's surprise terrorist attack this past weekend in Israel was unprecedented in scale, the Israeli government is also making very clear that its response, its military campaign in Gaza is also going to take on new proportions never before seen.

Israel has already formally declared war on Hamas, and we have heard the defense ministers say that they are now officially laying a full siege of the Gaza Strip, allowing no food, water, electricity or fuel into that enclave.

And the Israeli prime minister in an address late Monday night making clear that he wants to eliminate Hamas, making clear that this military campaign that his government is now waging will be unprecedented in scale.

And what really shows us that it is perhaps going to be unprecedented to the fullest extent is what has yet to come and what we are seeing building on the ground. More than 300,000 Israeli military reservists have been called up.

We have seen tanks, artillery formations building up around the Gaza Strip, and all of this a potential sign, a potential sign that Israel could be preparing for some kind of ground invasion of Gaza, an invasion perhaps the biggest in scale since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip back in 2005.

But what is clear amid all of this, we have watched the Israeli death toll has risen to over 900, according to Israeli defense forces. And in Gaza, we have watched as that Palestinian death toll has risen to over 680 individuals.

And what we certainly know, every time there is a conflict between Israel and Gaza, innocent Palestinian civilians are so often caught in the middle with nowhere to really go, a few bomb shelters to speak of, and certainly we know that civilian casualties typically take their toll in these conflicts.

[23:05:05] COATES: Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. We'll keep with this. Please keep us informed.

It has been one of the most shocking attacks in the first few days of this war. One was the assault of an all-night music festival in a rural area near the Gaza-Israel border. One minute, people -- they're dancing, they're celebrating the holiday of Sukkot. Then suddenly, you've got the sound of rockets, the sound of sirens followed by gunfire. At least 260 people were killed. Now, some survivors reportedly were taken hostage as well.

Joining me now, Noa Frimer, who her friends -- they had been missing since the attack. Noah, thank you for joining us this evening. We're all watching what has happened. Please tell us about your friends who have been missing. When was the last time you spoke to them?

NOA MIRIAM FRIMER, FRIENDS MISSING AFTER ATTACK ON ISRAEL MUSIC FESTIVAL: Hello, Laura. Thank you for having me. My friend, my best, best friend, sister, sisterhood, and her husband, and another good friend of them, they -- yeah, they went to the festival on Saturday morning. Some friends of them were already there.

The middle girl, in the middle, her name is Shiraz (ph), and she is like my childhood friend. We were talking like a few hours before. And in the morning, like -- it's Saturday morning, we all sleep, and they have never reached the festival.

And you know this festival, it's 3,000 people celebrating, dancing a parade dance because all these beautiful people came with the only thing they can -- it's love in their hearts, to celebrate and to pray for peace because we all want peace, we all want quiet times, you know. And they went and they made the friends of them that -- they were at the party already. They told me they made a food for them and they waited for them.

And last time, one friend was talking to Shiraz (ph) and she told him, we are at this place. They were in a place very close to the party and she said, we are hearing a bombing, we are hearing a shooting, people shooting at us.

And the other girl, Celine (ph), she was texting with her husband, and she's writing to him like, yeah, they're shooting at us, they're shooting at us, we hear bombing.

My friend said, I hear the powder, you know, the burning powder. They can smell everything. They feel everything. And Celine (ph) was telling her husband like, oh, I see soldiers, I see soldiers, I do like this.

And since then, we never heard of them. We don't know either they kidnapped, either they not with us anymore. We don't know nothing. You know, we keep the faith, but we don't know. And it's like we don't sleep really since then.

The families are -- Adir (ph) and Shiraz (ph) have also two little girls asking, what about our parents? When they are going to come back? It's really hard even to do -- you know, this reality. I'm sitting here and talking with you about it.

COATES: How hard has it been, Noa, to get information, any information about where they are or what may have happened?

FRIMER: You know, in our Torah, it's written, and you choose life, to ourselves, to everyone. So, we always want to keep the faith. We are strong. We have faith. So, until like we have no choose, we keep the faith.

But it's hard. It's hard. You cannot even imagine, you know. I don't know if someone ever invented a word to describe what happened there because massacre, it's understatement, you know.

You talk about the festival. But the festival, it's all over the south. And you know, like, first of all, they thought it's a bombing. And unfortunately, we are used to this bombing like the people in the south. It happens all the time. We know we have time. We're running to the shelters. It's like something we know how to deal, you know?

So, in the party, nobody was -- believed that this is what happened. We all thought it's a bombing. They all thought it's a bombing, and they just do what they need to do in the case of bombing. But then they realized it's shooting, it's a massacre, and it's a horrible event to tell you what happened there.

Even until yesterday, I don't know. They were taking bodies out of the festival. Like three days, four days, they still taking out bodies from this festival, you know?


And all these people just want to dance for peace. They just want to dance for having a better reality for everyone.

COATES: Noa, it's so difficult. I know for you to even describe this and to have spoken with their families. Um, Celine (ph) has a child, I believe, at home as well, and you've grown up with Shiraz (ph). What is your message?

FRIMER: Celine (ph) was just finishing her maternity leave, you know. She -- my message -- my message, I tell you that, Laura. We all are under the same sky. You know, the world is the one global village. All of us under the same sky. We saw it on the COVID time. Now, with the climate, you know, we see that if something happened, it happens to all of us.

And every country has a gift, you know, because it's a universe. Uni, it's one, we all one, and it's like a puzzle. And every country has its own gift like Israel has this gift that if something happens somewhere in the world, we just go and help everybody, taking our forces and do whatever we need to help.

The United States has this gift of helping everybody also in business. The Arab people have this gift of hospitality and you know they respect the old people and they have such a beautiful legacy of this thing.

We really think about Gaza like a (INAUDIBLE), you know. If they're taking their (INAUDIBLE) -- I have a dream. I can go there and, you know, be a tourist in everywhere, you know? We believe -- we believe in peace. But I have to say that every country has the right to defend on their existence. It's very important to us to keep alive, you know. And I just want to say something in your permission.


And just a new reality to come.

COATES: Noa Frimer, thank you so much for sharing your friend's story and your thoughts today with us. And our thoughts are with you. And we are seeing on the screen right now your friends. Thank you so much.

FRIMER: Praise, praise. And if somebody saw something, these are the pictures, and we don't know what happened to them. They're still missing and a lot of people. A lot of people are still missing. Thank you, Laura, for having me.

COATES: Thank you so much.

There is new video tonight, and I warn you that it is disturbing. It captures just some of the brutality of the attack at the music festival site. Militants around a bomb shelter screaming at a shirtless man standing outside of it. Now, it's unclear what exactly is being said, but he squats on the ground, and they begin kicking him. His fate is unknown.

One militant then throws a grenade into a bomb shelter. A man runs out trying to escape the grenade's explosion. He runs out of the frame, but the militants immediately fix their guns on him and begin firing. His fate tonight is also unknown.

Shocking violence by all accounts, by our own eyes. I want to bring in Peter Bergen and Kimberly Dozier in the conversation as well. I mean, when you look at what has happened here, Peter, it's -- in hearing the accounts and the stories that are being told, it is so significant. It is such a moment. And we are four days watching what's happening right now. Give me a sense of how you are viewing this.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, let's assume that there are at least 100 hostages. One of the hardest things to do is to mount a hostage rescue operation. First of all, you have to know where the hostages are. That seems pretty obvious, but that can be very hard.

Then let's say you find them. A hostage rescue operation, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. I've looked at quite a number of those hostage operations by jihadist groups. When a rescue operation is attempted, in 20% of the cases, the hostages are killed either by the people trying to rescue them or by the hostage takers. So, even if you have an operation, lots of things can go wrong.

COATES: When you look at this, Kimberly, I mean, and just see what could go wrong, as he's explaining, there is potentially a strategy.


And now having claimed all of these hostages, knowing full well about what impediments it creates for the Israeli soldiers and the government to then retaliate.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYT: The hostages are essentially human shields because everything and anything that the Israeli defense forces do from here on out might injure or kill them. Hamas has even threatened to execute them live on camera.

Meanwhile, you have these families and friends of the missing. The government has told them that they will be informed in the next 48 hours if their loved ones have been found identified dead.

A friend of mine said they heard a motorcycle come up the driveway, go to a neighbor's house, wailing, break out inside. That's how the notifications are being delivered. And it's taking a long time to get around the country and get to everyone who is related to those who've been killed.

So, people want to know. People like Noa, they want the answers, yet they don't want that knock at the door, not that one.

COATES: Please stick around, both of you. We're going to have this conversation and continue and really rely on your expertise. We've got a lot more to talk about.

Next, we're going to go to the magic wall. We're going to break down what's happening on the ground right now as the war enters now its fourth day. As we go to a quick break, take a look at the White House tonight. It is lit up in the colors of the Israeli flag.




COATES: Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes after surprise attacks by Hamas that have left at least 900 people dead. More than 680 Palestinians have also been killed, according to Gaza's health ministry.

So, what's happening on the ground right now, and where is this conflict headed? Let's get right now to CNN military analyst, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton. He's at the magic wall. Back with me also, Peter Bergen and Kimberly Dozier as well. Let's begin with this, Cedric, because -- what is happening exactly on the ground right now? Are there still fights in the streets of Israel?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Yes, there are, in fact, Laura. And let's take a look at this because there are some interesting things that have developed here. The location of the festival that everybody talks about, where the 260 people were killed, is right about here, just southwest of Be'eri.

All of these towns have had folks from Hamas actually showing up here in each of these areas. Some of them still have pockets of Hamas fighters in them. Others have been cleared. And the Israelis are saying that they have pushed out most of them now.

But in the latest briefings from the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, they still have some areas where they are fighting them in one and two elements. So, that's one area where you can see this hasn't been quite cleaned up yet, basically, Laura.

COATES: Israel is saying, the government is saying that over 4,000 rockets were actually fired into Israel. How have they been responding?

LEIGHTON: So, one of the key things that has happened with this is you take a look here. These are the areas in red with -- the red dots are the Hamas attacks in Israel. The explosion graphics right here are where Israeli aircraft and artillery have struck targets within Gaza.

So, what that looks like is actually kind of interesting because this is a pilot's eye view of what's going on. And you can see how they go in, and they actually target certain areas in all of this Gaza territory right here. You see one explosion right there. You can see that they're going after road intersections, they're going after specific buildings.

This is the kind of thing that targeteers go after. And what they're trying to do is they're trying to, in essence, limit the activities of Hamas. They're trying to move them in a certain direction and, of course, take out as many of them as possible.

COATES: Peter, on this point, you've raised the point that the last time Israel attempted to go in, it did not work out the way they had hoped.

BERGEN: Well, no, the last time they went into Lebanon in 2006, eventually, Israel withdrew. And I think there's a larger point. Urban warfare is very hard. I mean, right now, we're in an aerial campaign. But you look at when ISIS was embedded in Mosul, which is a city of roughly the same population size as Gaza, it took many, many months with a major Iraqi army operation supported by U.S. air support throughout before ISIS was removed.

So, one of the hardest operations you can mount is urban warfare. We've seen that very recently. So, if it becomes a ground incursion, we're in a very different kind of operation.

COATES: On that -- go ahead, Kim.

DOZIER: I was going to say, one of the reasons that they are leery of going in on the ground in Gaza is because it's tightly packed. Hamas knows that they're coming and will have pre-positioned weaponry, et cetera.

But also, one of the reasons they withdrew originally from Gaza is because once you get in there, what do you do? Do you stay? Then it becomes a counterinsurgency situation where you're always going to be in friction with the local population.

So, what is the goal of this operation going to be? Are they just going to go in and try to get the hostages and take out as much of the Hamas military infrastructure as they can and then leave? Well then what happens with Gaza? Who rules it next? Hamas has ruled it with an iron fist since it won with elections and hasn't held any since. So, they have all of these questions to ask. But right now, the public is asking them, get our people back. So, that is pressuring this operation.


COATES: Cedric, is this -- is this confined, as we speak right now, to Israel's borders? Is it outside of the borders now?

LEIGHTON: So, let me do one quick thing before we get to that point. Laura, this is something that's really important to get a visual on because this is a mosque and normally, you wouldn't target a religious site. But in this particular case, this is the before, this is the after picture. According to the Israeli Defense Forces, this was a command and control node for Hamas.

Now, getting to who else is playing in this field, you have, of course, the area right here, this is Gaza. You have the Golan Heights, which is Israeli-occupied territory of Syria. And there's a large presence of pro-Iranian elements in Syria. The government itself is pro-Iranian. Hezbollah is here in Lebanon. And then you have Iran itself right over here.

And all of these players are really part of a much bigger picture. They support Hamas. They support what Hamas is doing against Israel right now. And the risk is that it makes for a bigger conflagration, possibly in the future, with all of these forces coming to bear. And don't forget, the U.S. is steaming its carrier group right here in the Mediterranean.

COATES: Cedric Leighton, thank you. Peter and Kim, stay with me. I want to get more into as well when we come back about why the mosques themselves were targeted with Kim as well.

Next, Israel has faced one conflict after another since its founding 75 years ago. But is this war winnable and can it bring peace to the region?




COATES: You're looking at sunrise over Gaza City on the fourth day of this war. And just moments ago, we saw an explosion on the horizon. But how do we get here? A full-blown war. Joining me now is Robin Wright, a contributing writer for "The New Yorker," who's been covering Israel since the 1970s. Back with me also is Peter Bergen and Kimberly Dozier. Very glad to have you here as well.

There's so much, Robin, to unpack about what we're seeing right now, and specifically when you're looking at this war and where things are. I mean, Israel has been embroiled in conflict since its modern founding back in 1948, and you've been reporting on the region since the 1970s. I do wonder, how did we get here?

ROBIN WRIGHT, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict goes back a long time, goes back 75 years. But the recent iteration, the war -- all the wars since 1973 have pitted Israel against militias, non-state actors, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO, and that is a much harder challenge than fighting another state as it did against Egypt and Syria in 1973 when there was an address to go to a government to deal with a peace process that could be negotiated with international partners.

Israel has found that the absolutist ideologies of particularly Hezbollah and Hamas are much harder to deal with, that you can win temporarily, short-term, you can beat them back, destroy their arsenals, but they come back because they're based on fury and passion and religious ideology.

And so, while Israel is bound to make significant military progress eventually, the question is, can it really win in conventional terms? And it's not even clear what winning would mean for Israel and even for a certain degree to what for Hamas.

This is -- you know, this is going to be much more difficult, I think, than anything Israel has faced, at least since the war, its longest war with Hezbollah. And I think that a lot of it is unpredictable and fluid, and in many ways, a much greater challenge than its earliest wars between 1948 and 1973.

COATES: And naturally, if terror was the goal, judging success becomes almost diabolical in nature. But there have now been at least four conflicts with Hamas since just the 2000s. The terrorist organization calls for the destruction of Israel. So, if that is the end game there, is there any negotiation that's even to be had here?

WRIGHT: There's negotiation that you can do. A temporary ceasefire, which is what's happened in the past. The pattern was always Hamas would fire rockets, Israel would fire back with its air power, and there would be -- after several days, several weeks, there would be eventually a negotiated settlement usually by Egypt and Qatar.

But this one is much tougher. And it's the lesson that the United States also learned in fighting a ragtag militia in its longest war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and, again, with ISIS where -- you know, ISIS is still operating in Iraq and Syria and has franchises now across the world. So, this is something that -- you know, the long- term strategy is still very unclear, even if the short-term goals are obvious. COATES: Kim, I know you had some thoughts as well with Robin.

DOZIER: Yeah. Robin, what do you think was behind Hamas's strategy here? Is it to get the attention of the rest of the Middle East when -- during the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the younger generation, wasn't paying much attention to them? What is their end game?

WRIGHT: Well, wars are always a result of a confluence of factors.


And I think there are a number of things here, whether it was the prospect of Israel making peace with Saudi Arabia, whether it was the, you know, the kind of inflammatory language from some of the hardliners in the Israel government about what to do, uh, around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third holy site in Islam, whether it's the deprivation, the economic realities of a tough life in Gaza for the majority of Palestinians.

So, I think this all comes together and it coincides with capability. This is where we see Iran's increased role in training army, equipping and funding Hamas as well as other militias in the Middle East. So, if there is not, I think, a single one reason -- and this has been coming for a long time.

We've seen -- you know, the irony of all this is that Israel actually supported the creation of an Islamist movement in the late 1980s as a counter to the Palestinians because they thought a religious group was safer than a nationalist group. And the same thing in Lebanon. It went into Lebanon to defeat the PLO and as a byproduct was the creation of Hezbollah.

So, we've seen this trend line evolve. There's a trajectory that you can all -- as you know well, you can understand when you look at the politics and the modern history in the confrontations in this region.

COATES: Peter, I know you mentioned the idea of normalization being impacted or perhaps being a part of the undercurrent here. What is your thought?

BERGEN: Um, yeah, I mean, the Saudi-Israeli normalization, which Mohammed bin Salman, the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, said on Fox just two weeks ago, that a deal was almost imminent, clearly, that's going to be dead.

And so, the subsidiary target here, obviously, the main target is Israel, but I think the subsidiary target is basically ending this potential of normalization between Saudi Arabia, the two -- the site of holiest site in Islam, and Israel, brokered by the United States which, of course, Iran -- Iran's three main enemies. Iran has some influence on this situation. It's not clear if they were directly involved in this attack. But clearly, Hamas and Iran have a long-term relationship. So that deal, I think, is basically dead.

DOZIER: And one of the ways that normalization was able to move as far as it has so far is because the public, they'd forgotten about the Palestinian issue. And this right now is dominating all the headlines across the Middle East, making it a lot harder for rulers just to steamroll over public opposition.

COATES: Really important point. Robin Wright, thank you so much for your depth knowledge as well. Peter and Kim, stay with me.

The toll of this war is shocking, and we are just days into the conflict. At least 900 people are dead in Israel. More than 680 Palestinians dead as well, according to Gaza's health ministry. We have a report from Gaza, next.




COATES: You're looking at live pictures of Gaza City this morning. It's just past 6:40 a.m. there, the morning after a chilling warning from Hamas. Civilian hostages will be executed and the killings broadcast if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning. That's according to the spokesperson for the armed wing of Hamas, which claims that it's holding more than 100 hostages, they say, including Israeli army officers.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has our report on the ground in Gaza.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp, desperate calls for help. The dead, the dying, and the injured covered in dust and blood. Israel's wrath is now unleashed upon Gaza.

The Israelis, says Ahmed Shamalakh, hit the building without warning. They didn't ask us to evacuate. They didn't say anything. Suddenly, we heard the airstrike and we ran to the building and found it had completely collapsed.

Around 75,000 people in Gaza have already been displaced, according to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which deals with Palestinian refugees.

In this cramped strip of land along the Mediterranean, two million Palestinians are now in the crosshairs of an enemy bent on revenge for Hamas's surprise attack, which left hundreds of Israelis dead and thousands wounded, and dozens now in Hamas captivity. By evening, the death toll in Gaza was approaching 700 with almost 4,000 wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Monday evening, the spokesman for Hamas issued a grim warning. They'll start executing their civilian hostages and broadcasting those executions if Israel targets people in Gaza without warning.

Gaza and Israel have gone to war many times before since Hamas took control. This will not be yet another brief outbreak of attack and counterattack before a return to the status quo. Israel is massing troops and armor on the outskirts of Gaza, preparing in all likelihood for a ground invasion on a scale not seen before.


And now, Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered what he called a complete siege of Gaza, cutting off all food, fuel and electricity. That in a place where, according to the World Food Program, 63% of the population was food insecure before this war began. So much has happened since Saturday morning in Israel and Gaza, and it's only the beginning. Ben Wideman, CNN, Jerusalem.


COATES: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much. Back with me, Peter Bergen and also Kim Dozier. When you look at those images that we've seen today and just now from Ben, how is this being perceived in the Arab world?

DOZIER: Well, when you look at things like the before and after picture of a mosque that the Israeli Defense Forces say openly, we took it out because there was a command and control center inside, it becomes a he said, she said situation. Who do you trust? In Israel, they believe the defense forces. Across the Arab world, they think a holy site just got hit and it's like, well, show us, show us the intelligence.

That combined with all of the pictures of the destruction and the reports that -- you know, there are 2.3 million people inside Gaza, very tiny place. And they've been -- there are no exits. They've been going to U.N. schools. That's an area that's supposed to be safe. They're saturated. There are more than 100,000 people in all the schools. There's no room. So, people don't know where to go. That is inflaming tensions across the Arab world. Anger.

Muqtada al-Sadr, a top Iraqi cleric and politician, has called for attacks against Israel and America because of what's going on there. And we're only a couple days into this. This is going to get worse.

COATES: Why the United States?

BERGEN: Why the United States?

COATES: Why is it being called to be attacked as well?

BERGEN: I mean, you know, I'll note that the military advisor to Ayatollah Khomeini is, you know, encouraging Hamas and saying until they liberate Jerusalem and Palestine, the war isn't over. So, I mean, just to add to what Kim is saying, I mean, the region is going to be angered by these pictures.

COATES: Well, you look ahead and we're going to get more into the intelligence aspect of what has happened and how this happened. We know some of the historical context of how we got to here. But now in terms of a lot of the criticism of how did this happen now, in particular, Peter Kim, stand by please. That is the question tonight. How could Israel's military and intelligence be caught so off guard by this unprecedented attack? Was it a security failure or something else? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



COATES: Tonight, as we hear more of the devastating details about what happened as this war began, there are a lot of questions, including questions about what the intelligence was ahead of the attacks.

Back with me, Peter Bergen and Kim Dozier. Peter, when you look at this stepping back, there's the immediate, almost knee-jerk reaction to say, it's unprecedented and it went undetected. How could they have not anticipated it? Is it that simple?

BERGEN: We don't know yet, but -- I mean, after 9/11, you recall, everybody said there was an intelligence failure. After the 9/11, commission was formed. About over a year later, much against the Bush administration's attempts to make sure it didn't happen, it became clear the CIA was constantly warning the Bush administration in the summer of 2001 about a possible attack, not clear where it was going to be, but the Bush administration really did nothing during that time period.

Now, the Netanyahu government is going to come under considerable pressure from Israelis about how did this happen. My guess is that because this usually happens, you will see there's usually a lot of noise, but when you look back, there are a lot of signals that you missed.

And something this big, surely there were signals that were missed and surely there will be pressure from the Israeli public to find out what happened and how this -- because it couldn't have come just without any kind of warning at all.

COATES: I mean, there's the actual detecting of the intelligence. There's the interpretation of it and time for deterrence. Then there is the policy decision-makers who will act on the intelligence, who may or may not believe that it, in fact, is imminent. And then you've got, of course, the intelligence apparatus in Israel, certainly well- known to Hamas, and were they able to maybe circumvent, knowing what was at stake?

DOZIER: Well, there have been some reports from Hamas that they tricked Israel. That they made it look like they were happy with the economic concessions that Israel had offered. Meanwhile, they were planning this attack. But Hamas has, prior to that, always signaled that they were going to carry something like this out.

There has been criticism inside Israel that the Netanyahu government, which includes members of the West Bank settler movement, was too focused on the West Bank, militants in the West Bank, and that it was a concentration of resources on the wrong part of the country and a failure of imagination that a certain arrogance that they just didn't think Hamas would be able to do something like this.

COATES: What -- you know, the president is going to speak tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. What are you expecting to hear from the president of the United States because certainly there are conversations about the intelligence in Israel. Will he be called on what we should have anticipated or known as well?

BERGEN: Very possibly. I mean, the United States has the best, you know, the National Security Agency can listen to every conversation in the world.


So, why didn't the United States -- maybe the United States did have some indications. But presumably, he'll say what you'd expect him to say, which is we support Israel. He'll talk about the 11 Americans that we know to be dead. He may talk about Americans that we suspect are being taken hostage. I imagine those will be the things he talks about.

COATES: We can't forget there's also a war in Ukraine. I know we don't have much time, Kim, but do you anticipate there being an impact on the ability to provide aid to both nations?

DOZIER: The National Security Council spokesperson this afternoon said, we're a large country, we can do both at the same time. So, I think Ukraine is getting phone calls to reassure it right now, we're not going to take the eye off the ball. But in Biden's speech tomorrow, watch for warning to Iran without naming Iran. Just a warning that don't make this any worse than it already is.

COATES: Kim, Peter, thank you so much for staying for the hour. It was important to hear your perspective. And thank you all so much for watching. Our live coverage continues after this short break.