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Laura Coates Live
Casualties Of Israel-Hamas War Rising; Israel Defense Forces Asks People To Leave Gaza; Students In U.S. Reacts To War In Israel; Families Held Captive By Hamas. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 12, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNKNOWN: This is CNN Breaking News.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good evening. This is Laura Coates Live.
We've got breaking news tonight. Gaza is under intense bombardment by Israeli strikes tonight. The Israeli Air Force is pounding targets all across Gaza with punishing airstrikes ahead of a potential ground operation with hundreds of thousands of troops that are massing at the border.
We know it's stand at least 1,500 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health. That number is rising, according to the ministry, since the Hamas assault on Israel that killed 1,200 people.
I want to go right now live to CNN's Elliott Gotkine, who is on the scene for us in part and talking about these issues and has been really staying abreast of all these issues.
Elliott, what do we know about these strikes tonight?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's just a continuation of Israel's retaliatory strikes in the wake of this attack by Hamas, which began in the early hours of Saturday morning. Israel has repeatedly said that it is targeting infrastructure, weapon -- weapons storage facilities, and also, individuals, members of Hamas and the people that it holds responsible for carrying out this attack, which has left at least 1,200 people inside of Israel dead, and of course with 100 to 150 hostages that were taken by Hamas from Israel back inside Gaza.
So that's the situation now. I suppose it's a bit more of the same. We'll get some specifics. The IDF hasn't said specifically which targets it is trying to hit right now. But certainly this, I would say, is more of the same.
COATES: Part of the same is not knowing where the hostages are, not knowing when a ground is, well, that ground entrance where the troops will actually happen, not knowing essentially when the end of this will be. But what do we know right now about the situation inside of Gaza as we really are seeing more of these bombardments every day?
GOTKINE: Laura, it's clearly a dire situation inside Gaza for the people of Gaza who of course weren't, it wasn't them that launched this assault. It was Hamas, which the U.S., the U.K., the E.U. and Israel designate as a terrorist organization, which attacked Israel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
But Israel's perspective, certainly this time around, is look, the gloves are off. Israel has to, it feels, destroy Hamas completely, if it can, in order to prevent anything on the scale of what we've seen in the past few days happening again. And the result, sadly, is what we see in the Gaza Strip, which is, you know, buildings destroyed and a rising civilian death toll. And of course, also the humanitarian situation deteriorating rapidly as a result of Israel's blockade on Gaza.
Israel not letting in electricity, petrol, gasoline, excuse me, and water either and the humanitarian situation deteriorating. But Israel's stance is we are not going to give these things to our enemies. If someone else wants to give them to our -- to the Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, that's fine.
But Israel doesn't want to do anything to try to help Hamas or other militants inside the Gaza Strip or to make the situation any better for them. Of course, it wants to increase the pressure, not just militarily, but also from the people of Gaza onto Hamas and the militants that set this off with that attack on Israel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
COATES: Elliott Gotkine, thank you so much. We are going to keep an eye on whether this does intensify into something more, and we'll keep showing you what is happening. We're going to be bearing witness this hour.
But I want to talk about something in particular. You know, Israel and Gaza, they're nearly 6,000 miles away from where I am in Washington, D.C. and maybe farther from where you live. And you may be tempted to start to emotionally distance yourself from all of this and turn away, because it's 6,000 miles away, because it's happening somewhere else, you might think, because it's got nothing to do with our lives specifically here.
Now, I think you'd be wrong about that, of course, not just because of the personal and frankly, the human reaction that doesn't really know any geographic boundaries, but also because the political reverberations of war, even a distant one, is significant.
Now, if a war is kind of like an earthquake, then the seismic activity, really, it's felt everywhere, and there are aftershocks everywhere, and that includes right here in America. The shock from the images. The shock from the innocent men, women and children slaughtered in their own homes. Shock from the kidnappings, the hostage takings. Shock from the civilian casualties. Shock from what we just described as the humanitarian crisis that's really already spiraling out of control.
And already food insecure people now at risk of starvation as Israel is cutting off electricity, water, and fuel until the hostages are returned safely home. Now we're not only just seeing this, we here are also talking about it. Some are even debating all of this.
I mean, beyond the condemnation of terrorists, there are debates happening right now about the causes of the tension in the region. There's been finger pointing that's turned into very heated rhetoric. And let's be honest, the complexity of the history of the conflict is a minefield.
And one that many of you are having a very hard time at home trying to navigate in your daily conversations out of fear maybe of saying the wrong thing, however it is you define wrong. And at the same time, we are also trying to assess whether any of this could compromise our own national security.
Now, thankfully, homeland security officials have been quite clear. They say there's no specific or credible intelligence that indicates any threat to the United States. But we live in a world where it's not too far-fetched to prepare.
And frankly, in light of the conversations and how they have become so easily inflamed, cities and universities have been scrambling to get ahead of all of it. I mean, in New York, security is being ramped up in the wake of a former Hamas leader releasing a video message encouraging the Muslim world to, quote, "show anger," unquote. tomorrow.
Mayor Eric Adams has been calling for vigilance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY): I want every New Yorker, especially Jewish New Yorkers and other groups, to know there are currently no credible or specific threats against our city. But with large-scale protests planned for tomorrow, we must remain vigilant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: U.S. Capitol Police, they are also boosting security on Capitol Hill, although they also There are no known specific threats toward the Congress tomorrow. And frankly, police all across the country. They've been boosting security in communities from Los Angeles, to Chicago, to Houston, to New Orleans, to even Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, you may have noticed that emotions are running high on college campuses across this country. Columbia University, for example, is closing its campus to the public today with peaceful rallies taking place. Students who were pro-Israel, roughly about what, 20 yards or so away from students who were supporting Palestinians.
At Harvard, you had some students who signed a statement blaming Israel alone for the deadly attacks by Hamas. Then a truck displaying what purported to be the names and photos of those students appeared near the campus. The university's Jewish student organization condemned the billboard truck and any attempts to intimidate students.
And that's just a few of the schools and perhaps a tip of the iceberg. Now, I have to reiterate again. Frankly, I want to reiterate again, as far as we know, there are no known specific threats currently, and I -- and we hope that it stays that way.
But tensions are high, from college campuses to synagogues to mosques. And no matter what you believe, no matter how many miles away the war might be, the conversations will be on the front line.
So let's have one now. I'll start with CNN's Nick Watt. He's been talking to students on college campuses about the tension that they are feeling. Also, he's going to tell us how seriously we should take our security right now. Former FBI Deputy Director and CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe.
Nick, let me start with you, because we've seen how tense it is right now across college campuses. What are students telling you about what they're feeling about the conflict?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, listen, a college campus is a perfect place for all of these emotions to be on show. We have students here from Israel, we have many Jewish students here at UCLA, and of course many Palestinian students.
And emotions are running high, and both sides think that they are absolutely justified and absolutely right. So it's a bit of a powder keg to use a cliche. Listen, you know, amongst the Jewish students, a lot of them have friends and family back in Israel who they are worried about. They are obviously in shock over those attacks Saturday morning.
And there's also, you know, as is common amongst Jews, this feeling of, you know, Israel is the only country in the world that they see that can guarantee them safe harbor. On the Palestinian side, of course, they talk about 75 years of occupation, and they are also hugely fearful for their friends and family in Gaza and what's going to happen to them over the coming days, weeks, months. as the IDF hits back at Hamas.
And there's a backdrop to all this, which I've been covering for a couple of years, of a rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses in this country. Some of that tied to pro-Palestinian groups.
And you know, something happened here at UCLA on Monday, one student group, the Cultural Affairs Commission, made a statement and included in that statement was this. We honor the Palestinians on the front lines, taking their land and sovereignty back.
Now this organization said, listen, we're not anti-Semitic. We draw a distinction between Judaism and Zionism. A lot of Jewish students do not see that distinction. They see this all as anti-Semitism.
So, there was a day of resistance on a bunch of campuses today, including right here at UCLA. There was also the other day we were at a pro-Israel rally just off campus. We spoke to people, take a listen to what a couple of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: I mean you're holding an Israeli flag, is that something you'd be OK doing on campus?
UNKNOWN: Oftentimes on campus I feel scared to hold a flag if I'm not with a big group. There's a lot of anti-Semitism on campus and it's always felt at all times.
UNKNOWN: Palestinian students were screamed at, harassed and I quote, they've been called, they were called terrorists and someone stated that they will rip their (muted) head off. The peaceful nature which you know Palestinians try to approach the issue is completely overlooked.
WATT: OK. Saturday morning was not peaceful. So, what's your reaction to the incursions into Israel Saturday morning?
UNKNOWN: I think that we have to contextualize it with the entirety of the 75-year occupation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: So, as I say, both sides think they're very right, both sides are scared. For now, it is largely just a war of words. And as you said earlier, let's hope it stays that way. Laura?
COATES: You know, you think about a campus as the, as the Supreme Court has described as the marketplace of ideas, and thinking about the space for students to learn and converse, and an area the debates are ongoing right now.
But this also, there's a lot that exploded over an incident at Harvard. And students signed a statement that was blaming Israel for this attack. Now, not every student, obviously. There were a group of students who did this. But now some of those same students' information and photos are being posted online.
And I might add Harvard has said, look, no individual student organization, much like every college campus, speaks for the entirety of the university. But how did it get to that point where the photos of students, the names of students who had signed on were posted online, essentially doxed.
WATT: Yes, I mean this escalated pretty fast. So just a few hours after those attacks Saturday morning, a group of more than 30 student organizations at Harvard put out a statement and I'll read how it began. It began, we, the undersigned student organizations hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence. Now, Jewish student leaders I've spoken to say that is just anti-
Semitic, that is justifying. The murder of Jews just said in a slightly different way than we've heard over previous decades and centuries. So that obviously cuts to the quick for Jewish students.
So, there was a backlash, and one hedge fund boss actually posted on Twitter asking Harvard to name the people who had signed this letter, the people who were members of this group. That didn't happen, but a conservative group hired a truck and drove it around Harvard Square with the names and pictures of these kids who are members of these groups on the truck.
The hedge fund guy by the way said he wanted to know the name so that he or anybody else wouldn't inadvertently hire these people in the future, but as you mentioned, listen, Hillel, which is a Jewish organization at Harvard, they said listen, this is not helpful. This is really not helpful for the discourse and the education that we're trying to get to. So, yes.
WATT: Gutsy. Gutsy. Laura?
COATES: Nick, it's intense and really absolutely is. Thank you so much for your reporting. I'm going to turn to Andrew McCabe. Because, you know, just thinking about this situation and public doxing more broadly, we know in the era of social media and cancel culture more broadly, but also in very trying times where there's heated rhetoric and emotions can be inflamed. How dangerous is the notion of this doxing?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it can be very dangerous, right? Let's call it what it is. Doxing is an effort to intimidate and threaten the subjects of that activity. And it can certainly act as a call for intervention, maybe violence, harassment, for others to perform those kind of activities towards the people who are the victims of the doxing.
So there's -- you can't. There's really no credible argument to say, doxing is merely a part of the exchange of ideas and this is part of the debate. It's not. It's over the line. It's intimidation. It's harassment.
COATES: This is a really important point. I want to come back to this as well. Nick Watt, Andrew McCabe, thank you so much.
I Want to bring in New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He's been covering conflict in the region since he lived in Egypt in the 1980s. Nick, we're getting in reporting from Israel that told the U.N. to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip in the next 24 hours. Explain to us exactly what this means now. NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I fear that means
that there'll be a ground invasion, which everybody is expecting, but, you know, there's still been a ray of doubt about that. And boy, you know, a ground invasion of soldiers into Gaza, I think, you know, will be disastrous on many fronts from my point of view.
There are tunnels underground, much of Gaza, so it -- and there are fortifications that will help Hamas fighters fight back. They're obviously going to be dangers to the hostages. And so, you have risks to the hostages and to the soldiers moving in. And then of course, a, you know, catastrophe for the civilians.
Gaza does not have underground bomb shelters. It doesn't have any sort of facilities like that for people. And in the past when there have been either ground incursions or bombings, the suffering has been enormous. You know, in a very, very densely populated area in which almost half the population is children.
COATES: You know, the idea of what this might look like, and I think it's very astute to point out where we don't know the hostages are. We don't know their location. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the region as well. Other dignitaries in the region going there to demonstrate support physically, and also, diplomatically.
And as you point out, the dense population. I mean, I can't understate or overstate this enough. We're talking about crowded areas. If you look at an aerial map of these zones, the ins and out and the narrow ways in which to actually get around and no bomb shelters for at least civilians, what would that look like if there were a ground invasion?
KRISTOF: So, we've seen some examples, you know, for American soldiers it was Fallujah in Iraq, which was a disaster for the Americans. It was a disaster for the Iraqi fighters. And it was a particular disaster for the -- for the local civilians. The Russians in Grozny, you know, there are many examples. And none of them have gone particularly well militarily. And in each case, the civilian casualties have been enormous.
And, you know, the Israeli -- Israel obviously faces this enormous challenge and it has -- it has been struck with this horrific terrorist attack. It wants to hit back at Hamas and Hamas is keeping, you know, it's basing itself right among civilians. And it's very difficult to prevent civilian casualties.
But when you go in with a ground invasion, then it's unavoidable that vast numbers of children and innocents are going to be killed I'm afraid. I'm afraid, you know, we've already had about 1,500 Gazans killed, we believe. I'm afraid that that will now mount very, very quickly if there is indeed a ground invasion.
COATES: And there is already, I mean, it's dire in Gaza. It's been described in a variety of ways for quite some time over the last at least 16 years. Someone described it as an open-air prison, I think was the term, that there's a humanitarian crisis, of course, that is also happening. And there's no deal, as of now, to evacuate citizens. Do you think within the next 24 hours, this alert to the U.N. is
signaling that there actually will be that way and that path out for those who are innocent and not going to, obviously, hopefully be collateral damage?
KRISTOF: I think it's unlikely that there will be some kind of exit. that, you know, Egypt could, at various points, have helped people in Gaza.
It could have allowed trade. It could have allowed more people to flow back and forth through its crossing, the Egyptian crossing with Gaza. And it has not done so. I don't think that it wants, you know, many of the 2.2 million people in Gaza to be entering Egypt. So, I don't think that it wants to have that conversation.
And you know, I mean, when Israel talks about evacuating the people of northern Gaza, where are they supposed to go? There's, you know, there's no housing. People are already crowded. There's no shelters. People are going from place to place to place.
And well, recognizing the Israeli need to respond to Hamas, I worry that this is going to be Fallujah redux, or Gorgani (Ph) redux, or Aleppo redux that, you know, things we've seen before where there is just a catastrophic human toll without necessarily creating the military advance that you mentioned.
And also, you know, you, look, you mentioned the, the preexisting human toll. You know, right now, even before this, the per capita income in Gaza is lower than in Haiti. I mean, the level of just day to day poverty and suffering is already enormous and now the bombs are dropping.
COATES: This is assuming when you talk about evacuations, people that can move, that can get out, that are in, that are not in hospitals, that don't have other conditions making it impossible. There's such the tension in this. This is why all of this.
Nicholas Kristof, thank you for being here. It's so important to really flesh out and discuss because there is extraordinary nuance. A lot of questions about what comes next.
We're going to keep following our breaking news tonight, everyone. Gaza under intense bombardment by Israeli airstrikes. Israel telling the U.N. tonight to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip within 24 hours.
COATES: Our breaking news tonight, Gaza under intense bombardment by Israeli strikes, as we're learning that Israel has told the United Nations to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip within 24 hours.
I want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, I'm so glad that you're here to help try to explain and unpack because you hear this news. And of course, we all begin to lean in. Are these strikes the prelude to a ground invasion in the coming, at this point, hours?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it could be especially, Laura, with that warning that Axios is reporting about this, you know, them being told, the U.N. being told, and also, interestingly enough, the equivalent of a Department of Public Safety in Gaza, in other words, the police force, being told to evacuate people south of Gaza City.
So that becomes very interesting, because the areas that the Israelis told, the U.N. and the Gaza police to evacuate from are the most populated areas of Gaza. You're talking over a million-plus people. That would indicate more than the actual bombing itself.
That warning would indicate that is a prelude to a possible, at the very least, incursion into Gaza. Whether or not it's a full-blown invasion, that remains to be seen based on what comes next here, Laura. I think what we're seeing is the beginning of something like this.
It's 6:43 is the time. It's about a little less than, a little more than 15 minutes from now we'll have a sunrise in Gaza. Usually, these kinds of things happen just before sunrise. And that is, I think what we're looking at is this motion, you know, with the air power to take out certain things.
I noticed certain targets were being hit multiple times. And then you have the possibility of ground forces coming in right after that. So it remains to be seen if this is just a warning or if the Israelis are actually going to follow through with some kind of movement on the ground.
COATES: I want to be on the same page as you and forgive the layman in me. But what is the distinction between an invasion and an incursion for what you've just described?
LEIGHTON: Right. So, it's basically a matter of scale. When I look at invasion, I think of things like D-Day or something like that. Now, you know, it's probably splitting hairs semantically, you know, what the distinction is, but obviously the movements into Gaza are going to be nowhere near what happened in World War II at D-Day.
LEIGHTON: But, you know, incursion would be a limited movement forward. An invasion would be a full-scale takeover. I think that's probably the easiest way to differentiate between the two.
COATES: That really helps to understand, and as you said, this normally happens around sunrise. I assume there's some military advantage to doing so around that time.
But as you mentioned, the population, Colonel, I mean, if nearly two million Gazans are trapped, if they can't get away from the bombs into Egypt, for example, I mean, is there any way that an invasion or an incursion or whatever the term we will use does not put civilians in harm's way. And we have to add on to that, we don't know where the hostages are if they're in Gaza.
LEIGHTON: Exactly. Exactly, Laura. And there is no escape valve. So, you know, not only are you putting pressure on the Hamas itself, the people that are holding the hostages captive, but you're also putting pressure on the civilian population.
The psychological stress, let alone the physical stress, these stresses are going to be enormous on these people, and it's going to create some really serious problems in so many different ways. And you've already got the power cut off, you've got food services cut off, you've got all kinds of resupply efforts, medicine.
All of this is nonexistent right now in Gaza in terms of it being able to be supplied or resupplied. And that, I think, is going to be a real serious issue. And so what the Israelis seem to be looking at is some kind of quick capitulation of the Hamas forces. I don't know if they'll be able to achieve that, but that seems to be what they're going after.
And in essence, what they want to do, Laura, is they want to take out the civilian support structure that surrounds Hamas. In other words, the people that just happen to be there, you know, whether it's the mailman or the grocery store around the corner or anything like that, all -- if all of that goes away, the theory is that then they will not be able to survive the Hamas entities that are in Gaza at that point in time.
And that then, in essence, would force the terrorists to abandon their plans to, you know, for further incursions into Israel, and of course abandon their plans to keep the hostages. So, we'll see if that all works out. But that's -- that's kind of, I think, what the theory seems to be of the Israeli movements at the moment.
COATES: I mean, with the clock ticking 24 hours. Colonel Sergeant Leighton, thank you so much.
LEIGHTON: Yes. You bet, Laura.
COATES: I found exasperated by it, frankly, because I mean, 24 hours from now and what we've seen over the past almost one week, the bombardment, the intensification of the bombardment of Gaza by Israeli airstrikes.
We're seeing a lot of images coming up, and of course, the reality of war is, if it hasn't already, is most assuredly settling in for everyone now.
Also ahead, here Kibbutz was burned to the ground. Nearly a dozen of her relatives are missing. And one of her family members actually spoke with Hamas while trying to find her missing family member. That story is ahead. [23:35:00]
COATES: So we are watching now this intense bombardment of Gaza tonight by the Israeli Air Force with hundreds of thousands of troops that are amassing at the border.
Let's bring back Andrew McCabe, and also joining our conversation tonight is former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is also a colonel in the Air National Guard.
Let me begin with you first, Andrew, because during the break we were talking a little bit about that U.N. announcement that we're learning more about. Do you think that meant to warn all the civilians to get out or the U.N. personnel exclusively?
MCCABE: It's a really good question. And obviously we need to get additional clarity on that reporting, but my suspicion is this was the government of Israel telling the U.N., get your U.N. people, peacekeepers, any staff, humanitarian aid workers that they might have in Gaza out within the next 24 hours.
A broader warning towards the civilian population general is not a chance that could happen within 24 hours. There doesn't appear to be any sort of diplomatic resolution as to where those people would go, who would host them, or how they would get there.
COATES: I mean, lean into this and your expertise as well, Congressman, because you've also been a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee as well. So, you obviously understand the nuances of diplomacy.
There may not be that vehicle here with the people that we're talking about, of Hamas, who have engaged in this horrific behavior. But when you're looking at this and noting what Congress can or cannot do right now. What's going through your mind?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what's going through my mind is we have to empower the absolute destruction of Hamas. I mean, I know that what's going on in Gaza is tragic, and there is a, and of course we all know Israel should do everything they can to avoid the human casualties and the civilian casualties and the tragedy that's going to come.
But what we saw was, what did we say, it's 10 or 20 times what the impact per capita of 9/11 on us. Hamas has made it clear that they basically want to destroy the state of Israel and the innocent people. And so now it's about allowing them to do what they have to do to root out Hamas.
Now, that doesn't mean that they're going to invade and occupy Gaza from here out. I think they probably don't want to. They tried that before. But to be able to go in and root out Hamas the best they can and maybe allow Gaza to set up a different government or whatever the plan is. But I think what's clear is that what's happening now is unsustainable.
COATES: Well, how do you empower that? What does that look like? In layman's terms, to empower is that -- is that aid? Is that -- is that weapons? Is that diplomacy? What?
KINZINGER: Well, it's basically all of it once Hamas is out. So keep in mind how Hamas came. So, Israel gave them their autonomy, they elected Hamas initially and then they didn't have an election I think since 2006. So they're capable of doing something like that. But it is very clear that they are not a partner that can be dealt with or even tolerated in that area.
And so, look, there's no easy answer here, but I'm going to tell you if that would have happened here in the United States of America, it would be very tough for me to assume that there was some negotiation that could happen to make this any better. Because I think the only answer to a cancer in the body is to take out the cancer. Do the best you can to protect the rest of the body, but cancer metastasizes.
COATES: I mean, with the factor and of course who's on the ground now. Not only the people of Gaza there, and of course innocent civilians who do not support, and certainly are not Hamas. But you also have, you know, major figures like Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the region. You've got Secretary General Lloyd Austin coming to the region, I think, within a few hours.
Does that complicate when this sort of announcement comes in, either the decision to have them go or to be still in the region?
MCCABE: I would expect that high-level U.S. government officials knew that this warning was coming. So, they have the ability to plan their travel, their appearances in the region around those risks.
COATES: You agree.
MCCABE: Yes. Yes. So I think -- I think they probably have that. They have that covered. But I just -- I just have to say, to tell on to what the congressman just said. There is not a negotiating position, a realistic or imaginable negotiating position with Hamas. And it's because they've made it clear that they seek the elimination of the state of Israel.
So, Israel is not in a position to try to achieve a purely diplomatic resolution with a terrorist entity that seeks their obliteration from the planet.
KINZINGER: Well, I'm sorry, please, go.
MCCABE: No, I think -- I think you're right. But the question is bringing that entire range of capabilities, of assets, of aid, of, you know, addressing the humanitarian issues into the region for the purpose of eradicating.
KINZINGER: And I think where diplomacy can work is, well, this would be kind of the stick diplomacy, which is, having a U.S. aircraft carrier, two carrier strike groups in the region, to make it clear to Iran and Hezbollah to not expand this war. That's the stick version of diplomacy. That's very important.
To make it clear through partners like Qatar, through Saudi Arabia, to make it clear to Iran that they can't enter this. So, there's diplomacy that can happen it that way, but Hamas is out. They're out of the picture. And I think -- I think Israel's made it clear, I think the United States has made it clear that as an organization they are done. And even if there's somebody that calls themselves Hamas after this is all over will never be recognized again by anybody.
COATES: It's chilling to think about --
MCCABE: It is.
COATES: -- what's at stake and all that is ahead and the uncertainty, the instability, and what you both describe.
Thank you both for being here tonight. I appreciate it. Adam Kinzinger, Andrew McCabe.
As I mentioned, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he was in the region, and not only was he there, he was actually meeting with families of victims who were killed or even taken by Hamas. That happened today. And he's been vowing to do everything he can to release those being held hostage.
Joining me now is Abbey Onn, an American living in Israel. I mean, she was one of those who spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Five of her family members, you see them on the screen right now, ranging in age from young to older. They were kidnapped.
Abbey, thank you for joining us again. I appreciate you taking the time in this very difficult moment. You have family hostages who are likely in Gaza. What is your reaction --
ABBEY ONN, FAMILY KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Yes.
COATES: -- to the evacuation warning that we've heard hearing about tonight?
ONN: Scary. I think that we have been hoping for a diplomatic solution for perhaps a civilian corridor to get hostages out before something like this happens. I can tell you from the meeting yesterday we felt deeply supported by the secretary of state. I think you probably saw his press conference. He spoke from his heart about the fact that this is professional and personal for him and let us as people who are dual citizens know that this is a true priority for the United States.
And I really hope that him being in the region and his team being in the region will help ameliorate whatever is about to happen.
COATES: Abbey, we saw part of that press conference with Netanyahu by his side, of course. What was the feeling in that room? You were there. Were -- what were others asking of them during this meeting and what was said?
ONN: I can tell you that to a person, everyone said thank you to the secretary of state and to President Biden for the support from the U.S. We have felt deeply seen the unbelievable way that the State Department and the FBI have come together and coordinated to support our families in this time is truly surprising and really encouraged us.
And everyone, you know, everyone was able to tell their story, was able to say their family names, was able to show photos and videos and to humanize this, which at the end of the day, these are civilians and it's a human issue. And the secretary of state did not stop a person once.
COATES: I remember in our conversation yesterday just the significance of even naming and having the names be said of the people, not just thinking about it in very broad strokes as civilians or victims or those who have been kidnapped, recognizing the individual people. And they are your family members. They are your loved ones as well.
And I wonder, just given the presence of people like Blinken and Secretary Lloyd Austin is arriving in hours as well, we understand. Do you feel like there are enough leaders and resources that are involved? Did other people in the room feel that way?
ONN: I think so, yes, because it's not just the people that are in front of us. We are constantly contacted by the United States government. We have updates, we have information, we have meetings.
And I really do feel on behalf of the U.S. government that we're being supported.
COATES: Let me ask really quick though, Abbey. Compared to others who are, you are a dual American, Israeli citizen.
COATES: For those who are not who are Israeli citizens, are you hearing from people in your community and people you're in conversations with that they are having a similar experience from their own government?
ONN: I think, unfortunately, less. I think the Israeli government and military, which is far above my pay grade, is dealing with an atrocity that could not have been imagined. And as far as we understand, this is not nice to say, but the catalog of bodies has been a massive clog in the process of helping them get to do the other necessary things.
So, I would say that we haven't felt them in the same way, which is why we are so grateful for the U.S. government. But that being said, and I've said this before, Israel and the Jewish community are small and strong, and in times like this come together in an amazing way. And the people in my neighborhood and in my community are fundraising
and finding gear and feeding soldiers and taking care of one another. And for that, I'm so grateful.
COATES: Abbey Onn, thank you so much for sharing.
ONN: Thanks for having me.
COATES: There is much more ahead on breaking news. The Israeli Air Force pounding Gaza with strikes tonight. And ahead, a home burned to the ground. And another family, 11 people, including three young girls missing. And a phone call with a terrorist may be the only clue to what happened.
COATES: Our breaking news, the Israeli Air Force pounding targets across Gaza with punishing airstrikes ahead of a potential ground operation, with hundreds of thousands of troops massing at the border. And Israel telling the U.N. to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip within 24 hours.
That as tonight, so many families in Israel are searching for answers. What happened to their loved ones who were taken as hostages? And where are they now?
With me now is Shaked Haran, 11 of her family members, including her parents, sister, and young nieces remain missing. Shaquette's entire family lived in Kibbutz Be'eri on the Gaza border. It was one of the first sites overrun by Hamas terrorists, and more than 100 bodies were found there just this week.
Shaked, thank you so much for being here. It's so painful to even hear about what it is your family has gone through. Your grandmother is the only one who was not kidnapped in the attack. She apparently was moved to a field far away until the IDF soldiers came. How is she tonight?
SHAKED HARAN, 11 FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: She's with us. She's, it's hard to say that she's OK, but she's with us. She's safe.
COATES: This is so dramatic, I'm sure, to even consider. But I understand that a family friend who was trying to help find the missing family members, one of them actually called and spoke to someone in Hamas. What did they say?
HARAN: So my family was all together in the shelter. There were eight people in the shelter, and another aunt and uncle in another shelter. The last we heard of them was 11:30 Saturday morning. They said, my father texted us that they're in big trouble and that they love us. And that was the last we heard of them.
So, a good friend of my father tried to call his cell phone for over 100 times, nonstop, repeated phone calls. Eventually, someone answered, we don't know who, and shouted in Arabic to begin with, and then said in Hebrew the words, khatuf (ph), khatuf, Hamas, gila chalit (ph), Gaza. Meaning, hostage, hostage, Gaza, gila chalit (ph), and that was the only indication we received of them being taken by Hamas.
We have all sorts of other information bits and pieces, but actually no one is giving out official information. Hamas hasn't released any sort of information regarding the hundreds of people it's taking into the Gaza Strip, so we just have these bits and pieces.
COATES: I can't imagine what it must feel like to know that someone you know had direct contact with someone who may have even been involved in the kidnapping of your family member.
And tonight, I mean, the IDF believes that hostages are being held in underground tunnels, Shaked, 300,000 Israeli reservists are mobilizing for what could be a potential incursion into Gaza. What do you think this could mean for your family members who may be there?
HARAN: I mean, it's a big question. My family members that are there include, well, including my baby niece and my nephew and my cousin.
My niece is only three years old. And most of the hostages taken from my Kibbutz are old people and young children. And it's important to say that my family is only one part of it. And my larger family, the family of the Kibbutz is, we don't even know the numbers, but it's tens of people that have been taken, most of them are old and children.
And I don't know to answer your question. I think this is the point where the international community should take action. I think as long as Hamas is keeping our families their hostage, it's also keeping the citizens of Gaza hostage under this crazy war.
And the first step of everything should be releasing the hostages and at least the women and the children that are held there. We have no idea where they are, what is their condition. Nothing, nothing. If they -- my parents, my uncle was disabled and has crucial medicine, if he's receiving his medicine, we don't know anything.
And I think this no information is another terror attack. We have no idea. We just have no idea. It's been a week and no one has been passing official information.
COATES: Shaked, that is going to stick with me and the pictures of your family members we have been showing on the screen. It's just unimaginable to think of what you are enduring and the idea of the lack of information being a kind of a second terror attack. It's indescribable.
Shaked, thank you so much for joining this evening.
HARAN: Thank you. Thank you very much. And again, I really -- I really hope that the international message would be that the hostages first should be released. And I think it will also be good for all the Gazan citizens out there. Thank you.
COATES: Thank you so much. Thank you all for watching. Stay with CNN for more on our breaking news. Gaza under intense bombardment by Israeli airstrikes. Our live -- our live coverage continues after a short break.