Return to Transcripts main page

Quest Means Business

Israeli: Airstrikes On Gaza Only The Beginning; Hamas Threatens Hostages; Desperate Search For Hostages Taken By Hamas; Israel Orders Complete Siege Of Gaza; Israel Moving Military Equipment Toward Gaza; Nine Americans Killed In Attacks In Israel. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 09, 2023 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And there's the scene in Gaza at 10 o'clock in the evening. You can see the red of the fires burning as they

have for several hours. We will get into many details as to what caused it, how many explosions and the current situation.

It is day three of the crisis that was sparked by the deadly attack on Israel by Hamas. The fires light up the night sky and will continue to do

so for many hours. It's only 10 o'clock. So one assumes there is much more military activity from the Israelis still to come.

Good evening to you. I'm Richard Quest in New York. We will have all the coverage of the events of the day.

A few moments ago, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said near constant airstrikes on Gaza, the sort of thing you're witnessing just now

are only the beginning of Israelis response.

If you want to see what it's like, this is what it was like earlier in the day, the sheer number of strikes, and the explosions taking place in Gaza.

They have been raining down, you can see the explosions individually there, and then other one, over the course of the day and across into the border.

CNN teams have been watching Israeli military equipment move into the area all day ad that raises the specter -- a real specter of a ground invasion,

which would appear to be preparing for, although of course, that's by no means certain.

Israel's Defense minister has ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, depriving it of electricity, fuel, and food but it is believed water is

still being allowed.

And the number of people who have died on both sides in this war is rising sharply with every update. Israeli officials say the attack by Hamas killed

at least 900 people and Palestinian officials say nearly 700 have subsequently died from the strikes on Gaza.

Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem.

You listened and your simultaneous translation of the Israeli prime minister gave us a good understanding. What was the important bit of what

he said?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we didn't get any indication that there's a ground invasion coming and he was talking about how Israel needs

unity right now, this is a reference to of course, the last few months of divisiveness in Israeli society, saying that Israel needs to come together.

He called for opposition leaders to immediately sit in an emergency unity government, the likes of which was seen on the Six-Day War saying they

should do so without any preconditions because we do know that at least one of the opposition leaders, Yair Lapid, had called as one of his conditions

that they lose the extremist elements of this government like Itamar Ben- Gvir, like Bezalel Smotrich.

But Benjamin Netanyahu calling on them to sit with him without any preconditions. He also said right off the outset, he said that the rest of

the world is seeing what Israel knew Hamas to be like. He said Hamas is like ISIS, saying that they have committed atrocities against civilians,

against children, against the elderly, against the disabled.

But then he did say that while their response in Gaza will continue, he said that Israel will only win if its people are all united altogether.

QUEST: When you look at this, I mean, the sheer pictures that we're showing at the moment -- the bombing of Gaza tonight -- a very tight, small,

dramatically overcrowded area, but when I saw the aerial bombings landing on the various building, there is absolutely nowhere it would appear to


GOLD: No, I mean, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth and the Gazans there, they don't have access to bomb shelters, they don't

have access usually to protected places.

I mean, even the tunnels that Hamas has underground are used for Hamas. They are not used for the civilians. Often, the only place that the

civilians can run to are to the hospitals or to the UN schools, and even those are not necessarily safe.

And now, there is the situation not only of the aerial bombardments, but also Israel has vowed to cut off Gaza from electricity, from fuel, and from

food shipments coming in and out of the strip.


So at some point, there is going to be potentially a humanitarian crisis on the ground in Gaza, a place that already has issues with food security

before this even started, even when the borders were somewhat open and snippets can come in and out.

Now, there is going to be a major issue without electricity, without food, without fuel, and without potentially even water.

QUEST: One final thought, the way in which Netanyahu spoke this evening, warning of so much more to come, but it raises the question, who's his

constituency here? The Israeli people expect what from him?

GOLD: I mean, he was speaking to the Israeli people, because not only is he speaking to the people who oppose him politically, but also because there

has been a lot of anger in recent days towards the Israeli government and towards the Israeli security establishment for just how did they let this

happen? The intelligence failures.

There are a lot of families who are angry, who feel as though they haven't been -- the families of the missing who feel as though they haven't been

contacted or have been -- that have had enough support from the government.

People questioning, you know, why did a massive military response to the border region takes so long in their eyes? And so I think he's trying to

shore up support for the Israeli government, rally people around the Israeli military, because that is something they're going to definitely

need in the days ahead.

Three hundred thousand reservists have been called up, a lot of families in Israel, not only directly affected by either knowing somebody directly who

was killed because in a country of nine million, having 900,000 people killed means most people know somebody who was affected by this.

But now 300,000 reservists, almost everybody in Israel is going to have a family member or a good friend who has been called up to serve.

QUEST: Hadas, thank you. Ten o'clock at night, and there's many more hours of hard work ahead.

The IDF says it has destroyed more than 900 targets since its counterattack began. Hamas is now threatening to kill civilian hostages if those attacks

continue without warning.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is with me.

There's the interesting part. It says without warning. Now, is this a tacit -- I mean, not understandable -- acceptance that the attacks are going to

happen anyway, but to mitigate it, require the warning or hostages will feel the wrath.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What Abu Obeda, the spokesman for the military wing of Hamas was saying that if Israel does

not do this, this tactic of sometimes they'll call up people on their mobile phones in their houses and warn them of an impending strike or do

what's called a knock-on-the-roof where a small explosive is launched on top of the roof to warn people to leave. It doesn't appear that they've

been doing that recently.

So Abu Obeda came out and said that if the Israelis do not give warning to the civilians of Gaza of impending strikes, Hamas will begin to execute one

by one the civilian -- Israeli civilians that it is holding and broadcast those executions. This is something we have never seen before in this long

and bitter conflict.

And what we're seeing, of course, is today this afternoon and into this evening, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza is intensifying. Earlier today,

the Israeli said there were 130 strikes, obviously, there are many, many more at this point.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Moments after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's Jabalia 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.

(AHMED SHAMALAKH speaking in foreign language.)

WEDEMAN (voice over): "The Israelis," say 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 UN 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' surprise

attack, which left hundreds of Israelis dead and thousands wounded and dozens now in Hamas captivity.

By mid-afternoon, the death toll in Gaza was approaching 600 with almost 3,000 wounded according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.


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 counter

attack before we 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's 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 Programme, 63 percent of the population was food insecure before this war began.

So much has happened since Saturday morning in Israel and Gaza and it is only the beginning.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And as the violence rages around Gaza, tensions are skyrocketing on the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah this evening, has

acknowledged that three of its fighters were killed by the Israelis. Hezbollah said that they hit a military installation with rockets within

Israel. The Israelis have yet to comment on that.

But we do know that earlier in the day, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, its fighters based in Lebanon that is, claimed to have conducted an operation

on the border with Israel and then we've seen various Israeli artillery and helicopter strikes on the Lebanese side of the border.

Now, Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister has said that Lebanon doesn't want to become involved in the fighting going on in Israel, but

certainly, it may not be his choice -- Richard.

QUEST: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem. Thank you, sir. The Israeli opposition leader, Yair Lapid says an incursion into Gaza is not off the table. The

IDF said on Monday, fighting is taking place on Israeli soil at the moment, but Lapid says operations will continue. And in his words, there's not a

single terrorist trying to kill innocent Israeli citizens.

Merav Michaeli is the leader of Israeli Labor Party with me now from Tel Aviv.

Firstly, I hope -- I mean, friends and your family have been safe and all are well.

MERAV MICHAELI, LEADER OF ISRAELI LABOR PARTY: There isn't one of us that doesn't know someone who lost someone or is still looking for one of his

dear ones. It's a devastating blow. It's so harsh. It's so appalling.

This attack is really just appalling. It's ferocious, it's horrible and it's cruel. It's amazing. Of course, now, it got all of Israeli society

unified, standing together, determined to win this war that was imposed on us.

It brought all the protesters, all of Israelis from every sector and from every part of the country together, and we're fighting this in order to win


QUEST: So, the idea of a unity government or a national government or some reconstruction of the existing coalition, what does Labor want besides a

seat at the table?

MICHAELI: Labor under me, as someone who was always in opposition to Netanyahu and never sat with Netanyahu wants Israel to win, wants Israel to

regain its security. And we said and I said that, we will support whatever will contribute to regaining the security of Israel and to winning this


This is the only thing we care about. Politics right now is not important for us. We don't want necessarily any jobs in any government. What we want

is to make sure that we are safe again, and that we are strong again as we are, as we should be.

This for us, for Labor, is really the only thing. Labor is the party of the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who believes that a peaceful solution to

the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in Israeli interest. We will continue to fight for that. But right now, unfortunately, we have to fight a war and

we will support whatever will help winning it.


QUEST: Right and that includes of course what seems highly likely which is a ground incursion, a very sizable ground incursion, even though it's not

entirely clear, other than the return of hostages, what the endgame would be, what the end purpose would be, other than to make matters arguably


MICHAELI: I wouldn't speculate on, you know, military moves or other strategic decisions that will be made. I was -- I spent five hours on the

Security and Defense Committee this this morning and afternoon, discussing the possibilities and I wouldn't as I say -- as I said, I wouldn't

speculate on it now.

But what I am saying is that the unbelievable number of hostages and kidnapped people, many, many of them civilians, children, little children.

And by the way, the stories that I've been hearing in hospitals about little babies arriving brought to hospitals without their parents who were

murdered and they were just left on the ground sometimes and you know, just abandoned without anyone in the world.

So this is certainly something that we'll have to see how we deal with. It is a completely unfamiliar territory for us dealing with so many hostages,

but what I have been doing today is calling out for my -- the leaders of my sister parties around the world, telling them to reach out to Hamas, to do

whatever they can in order to make them A., free the little children that they have kidnapped, and B., allow all those hostages that they have, get

medical treatment and see the Red Cross as they should.

QUEST: I'm grateful for your time tonight. Thank you.

Coming up in a moment, Hamas has taken the hostages you were hearing about, threatening their lives. In a moment, the brother of a jewelry designer who

was seized by the militants.


QUEST: Palestinian militants have captured an unknown number of civilians and are holding them in Gaza.


Speaking moments ago, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will do everything it can to get them back. The IDF says the

hostages include grandmothers and children. Their families are distraught, not surprisingly, of course, and are looking for answers.

Nada Bashir shows us in this report.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice over): This was Israel's Nova Music Festival in the early hours of Saturday morning, but in the distance,

rockets seemingly intercepted in the dawn sky.

The festival then brought to an abrupt, terrifying end, as Hamas gunmen launched a deadly rampage, killing hundreds and taking dozens hostage.

RICARDA LOUK, MOTHER OF SHANI LOUK: They were just shooting at them and taking them by force. They were waiting. My daughter tried to get to her

car and they had military people standing by the cars and was shooting so people couldn't reach their cars even to go away, and that's when they took


BASHIR (voice over): Twenty-one-year-old Adi Maizel was also among those targeted in the ambush. Her mother hopes she could still be alive, held

captive in Gaza, but fears time is quickly running out.

UHUVA MAIZEL, MOTHER OF ADI MAIZEL: I'm a mother, who has who is looking for her daughter. She's missing. I think I believe she's hurt. She's

bleeding somewhere. And like me, there are more hundreds of families that are looking for their beloved.

I'm a mother, I want to protect my kids. That's all I want to do. And I'm sure that all mothers in the other side, in Gaza, and everywhere that they

are not me, are thinking the same thing.

BASHIR (voice over): Dashcam footage geolocated by CNN shows Hamas gunmen at the site shooting and killing people at point blank range.

The site of Saturday's massacre now stands eerily quiet, charred cars line nearby streets.

Hamas claims that has captured more than a hundred Israeli citizens. There are no exact figure yet from the Israel Defense Forces. The result? Dozens

of families left in anguish, all hoping against hope for a miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She called and said "Mum, they're shooting at us. The car has hit. We are all wounded." I don't know how you

feel, but the nightmare of a parent sitting in here and her child saying "Mum, come and help me" and we cannot do a thing. Nothing. Only to be with

her on the phone and say to her, "Rami, I love you. Rami, hide."

BASHIR (voice over): But as their anxious wait continues, questions are also beginning to mount as to how an attack of this scale was allowed to

take place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What is happening is unbelievable, simply unbelievable. I join, we join in the grieving of all the families.

We demand answers. Not all the answers will be happy ones.


QUEST: Social media is being flooded with harrowing videos of the weekend's events.

This one appears to show an Israeli hostage, Moran Yanai (ph) is a jewelry designer who was at the Super Nova Festival.

Yanai's captors can be heard saying "Jewish dogs. We caught one." And now her family is pleading for more information.

Lion Yanai is Moran's brother. Lion is on the line.

Now, sir, thank you. I'm grateful in what must be the most harrowing of times and difficult times for you. But I think it's important we hear from

us because it will give the perspective of just how dreadful this is.

Do you have any more information? Have you heard anything more about your sister?

LION YANAI, SISTER KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: No, unfortunately, we haven't. We've just been trying to scan the networks and many friends are trying to find

any information, but we couldn't find any.

Only a couple of films that showed that she had been kidnapped and that's it. We're looking for her and we'll keep looking. We're not -- we're not

losing hope.

QUEST: And the government has been in touch, has told you -- is keeping -- I mean, they don't know themselves, but do you at least feel that there is

a line of communication between you and the government?

YANAI: Yes, there is. Well, we went to the authorities and we gave them everything we had, which is not much, but we have a good feeling and we are

keeping in contact with them. We didn't get information from them, just giving them information at the moment.

But we are hoping that soon, they will have some information to give us back, so my sister will come back home hopefully healthy and safe.


QUEST: When you see the military preparations that are clearly being made, and you hear -- I mean, as you may have heard, Hamas has basically said, if

you don't give us a warning of where you're going to bomb, we will start taking it out on the hostages. What would your message be to Netanyahu now?

YANAI: Well, I'm not focusing on that, actually, I'm just focusing on my sister. I am not a political person, all I want is that the good thing will

happen and she will come back. She is out there with innocents that have been kidnapped and their location are unknown. That's it. That's my only

hope at the moment.

I'm not -- I'm not giving you thoughts. I'm focusing only on my sister at the moment.

QUEST: Do you worry that if there is a large scale invasion or incursion by Israel into Gaza, that will make the situation worse for your sister and

the other hostages, assuming it could be much worse?

YANAI: Well, as always, as I told you before, I'm only focusing on my sister, whatever the decision, the government decision, well, until now, I

counted on them. I'm sure they know what they're doing. I hope that they thought about doing the right thing. So I can only spend time looking for

my sister.

QUEST: Tell me about your sister, please. Tell me -- we're looking at some pictures of her. We're seeing her wearing, I assume some of the jewelry

that she was -- tell me more about her.

YANAI: Well, she's a jewelry designer, as you can see. She is a loving person, always smiling, always happy, always refreshing. She loves humans,

she loves animals. She used to take action saving animals from the streets, from whatever. She's always willing to give out to her friends, to other


And she's a great person. She's a real loving and kind person, very young spirit.

QUEST: This must be just incredibly difficult for you and your family.

YANAI: It is.

QUEST: I mean, you know, I can sit here and sort of say, I can't imagine what it's like, which I'm sure you can understand. But give us -- give me

an idea of what you're going through, of the depths of despair that you can feel, but tinged with hope, of course at all will be well.

YANAI: We, you know, we've all said and we are all worrying, but we all have the faith. And my parents are a little bit they have less faith, but

most of us still have the belief that you will come back home safe and that's what we want.

We want to say to the word that we want -- we demand that our family and the other innocents will come back home and help us doing that. Hopefully

it will help and somehow it will happen as soon as possible so everybody would come back, back home safe, hopefully, mentally and physically and

that's what we are counting on.

There's no point being sad or afraid of something, but we are on only focusing on bringing back our loved ones.

QUEST: I look forward to when she comes back, talking to her and seeing some of her jewelry designs, sir. I'm grateful for your time tonight. Thank


YANAI: Yes, thank you very much. Thank you.

QUEST: This is CNN.



QUEST: The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning that the near constant airstrikes on Gaza is just the beginning.


The Gaza Strip is under heavy bombardment tonight as Israel ramps up its war footing, it's all good. A complete siege, cutting off food, water,

electricity and fuel. So, for 900 people in Israel and least 700 in Gaza are being killed. U.N. Secretary General denounced what he called the

abhorrent attacks by Hamas, whilst urging humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in the line of fire.

Nic Robertson, one of the first to arrive is in Sderot in Israel. Nic is with me now. So, you've been seeing a considerable amount of military


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We have been rinsed throughout just a couple of kilometers, a couple of miles away from the

border with Gaza. And through this day, we've seen bigger concentrations than we've seen before of military troops. We just saw a big convoy drive

down the highway here, take a left turn there, which takes them towards Gaza. They're going to secure the border and then think that they're on

their way in.

That they're going to secure that border that Hamas broke through just a couple of days ago. When I step out of the way, just so you can see this

other armored column here of troops that's arriving here. And this is very indicative of what we've been seeing through the day. This is another

deployment of military hardware. And there they go. Look, these tracked- armored personnel carriers.

In a moment, it'll get too noisy for me to speak. Well, let's see, maybe they're going to -- maybe they're going to pull up here and deploy. Right

in here, right next to us. It's not clear. But these are armored personnel carriers. And when you see them moving forward, you know, that you've got a

number of infantry troops that will be deployed inside them.

So, we're looking at one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. We're looking at an upwards of 10 of these armored vehicles that appears in this

column. So, a significant number of troops and forces about to be deployed in here in this location. That's just a couple of miles, couple of

kilometers from the border with Gaza. We don't know how long they're going to stay here. But this is again, perhaps, you know, in this particular

location that we're at, perhaps the first big military concentration that's moved in here to help secure it.

We've seen on the move as well. Big numbers of tanks. I saw an area with 20 tanks at it today. We haven't seen anything like that in the previous

couple of days.


So, literally, you're witnessing here the troops arriving here. They're being deployed clearly closer to Gaza. But this very much what we're --

what we're seeing here at the moment, Richard.

QUEST: And the numbers involved there, Nic, would you expect there to have to be considerably more if we are talking about a ground invasion?

ROBERTSON: Oh, yes. If you're talking about the sort of ground invasion that we're -- that we've witnessed here before, it takes a lot more troops,

a lot more organization. You have to have a lot of fuel ready to go for them, you have to have a lot of food ready to go for them, you have to have

an operational order ready. They have to have specific mission orders that they have to be positioned at the border securely before they deploy


You want to have a large number of troops on a large number of different places. But if you're going to be involved in perhaps a quick Snatch and

Grab operation of whatever magnitude that is, it may not be for hostages, it might be a Snatch and Grab of a Hamas Commander. We don't know. We don't

know what the Israeli military is planning. But this is indicative of more forces making this border area more secure.

Remember, it was only this morning, only this morning. And this is the second briefing of the day where Israeli Defense Force spokesman said we've

actually secured this area from Hamas militants. We were in this town last night and late into the night, less than 24 hours ago, there were still

operations underway in the town because there were Hamas militants on the loose and the border was not secure.

Now the border secured but this will give it extra security, extra tight race, if you will. Make sure that Hamas militants can get in.

QUEST: OK. So, if that's sort of the situation, you've been there, you've witnessed this many times over the years. To you, does this feel quantum


ROBERTSON: I feel that we're going into the territory that we've been to before. Not 2021, per se where there was a 10-day offensive that involved,

howitzers involved, artillery it involved -- it involved fighter jets. I sense that this deployment is going to be bigger. Certainly, the call up of

reservists that the Prime Minister has announced 300,000. We understand the Israeli Defense Force will be calling up.

This is much bigger than going back to 2021. But going back to the military incursions we've seen more than a decade or so ago, this would be in line

with that, look, these vehicles are on tracks. They move troops and towards the enemy. They move them over rough terrain, that armored on the side.

These are the vehicles that are going to be the spearhead, part of the spearhead of any force that advances into contact with Hamas.

These troops can be deployed in many ways to sit near the border and secure it. But this type of troop also has a function and that is to be mobile,

infantry, aggressive, taking the fight to the enemy. Again, what the intent is behind them. We don't know.

QUEST: Interestingly, every driver sort of waved at you as it's gone past our camera and they continue to do so.

ROBERTSON: They do and we're looking at -- it looks like a tank here we're looking at or propelled armored howitzer.

QUEST: My goodness.

ROBERTSON: This is -- it's not a tank, it's armored artillery. That gun barrel can tilt up quite high, much more so than a tank and it can lob an

artillery shell really accurately over a long distance. A tank fire straight. That thing will fire up in an arc and bring it down with great

accuracy. So, this is a real -- what you're looking at here is the Forster that punches probably above its weight.

These troop transporters, troops go into combat in these vehicles. They go into combat and they're fully protected as they do. Quite a deployment here

around this particular town, Richard.

QUEST: And the knowledge of whether Israel has fully regained control of all its territory is still somewhat murky.

ROBERTSON: You know, it may be murky because it's hard to prove a negative. How do you prove that there aren't a couple of Hamas militants lying in a

hedge row that had been told wait three days on pop up with your -- with your A.K.-47s and go and kill people.


It's hard to prove that but when you have this number of troops in this -- in the -- in the border area, if anyone pops up, they're going to be in

contact with Israeli defense forces and to use a euphemism, the Israeli Defense Force use, neutralized very quickly. Hamas when they came across

the border, three days ago, two days ago, now Saturday morning. There was not this type of military force deployed around here.

But they would not get away with what they got away with on Saturday. So, I think this area, by virtue of that is a lot more secure than it -- than it

clearly was on Saturday morning, Richard.

QUEST: Nic Robertson who is been watching the events and bringing us the very latest pictures. Nic, did the -- one final -- one final question. I do

want to just get your perspective again, because you've been there so many times. And you've covered unfortunately (INAUDIBLE) the hostage question.

Now, Hamas says that it will harm the hostages, if Israel continues to bomb without warning.

The pictures we've seen over the last few days, this -- it's almost like an aerial carpet bombing of parts of Gaza at the moment. It's just a sheer

huge number of bombs have been dropped. It -- Hamas is almost saying, look, we know what you're going to do. But you -- but warn us so that we've got

prevention of life.

ROBERTSON: You know, I think this was predictable that Hamas was going to do this. And there may be a tragic inevitability to the fact that they will

want to prove that they mean what they say. And they will -- they will move forward with that threat if the situation arises. When the Israeli Defense

Forces have targeted and they've targeted -- and I think it's -- I think it's important to state this point, precision weapons in the past.

They have literally banged knocked on the door. They call it knocking on the door. They use a small charge on the roof of the building to make sure

until the residence basically has got two minutes or whatever the time is to get out of the building before we hit that building. And we've seen some

of the targeting here over the past few days. This is not mitigating against civilian casualties that are civilian casualties.

The numbers are in the hundreds. These are big numbers. They're not insignificant. They're civilians. They're not Hamas. Hamas hides amongst

the civilians. But what the Israelis typically have done here is collapse infrastructure with precision targeting. It's that knocking on the door,

that small charge on the roof of the building telling people they need to get out. If that is not being used, this is what Hamas is telling us about.

And one takeaway I've got from this, Richard. Since we were first became aware of this threat by the Qassam Brigades by military wing of Hamas and

Islamic Jihad have said a similar thing. Since they said that a couple of hours ago, I think we haven't heard as many airstrikes. I think the

airstrikes have gone down. I think we're in one spot. I can't tell you what's happening across the whole of Gaza.

I've heard artillery rounds going in. Smaller and perhaps that is beneath the bar of the warning and threat that Hamas is giving. We don't know this

is terribly tense, terribly tense. The threats are real, the stakes are real. But are we in a moment where there's some -- there's some talking

going on behind the scenes? Again, and what's the nature of that talking? Let's not get carried away.

But I don't think anyone is willingly going to throw away the lives of hostages. And certainly, Prime Minister Netanyahu is cognizant of that and

the military here, the IDF are saying that they will do absolutely everything to get the hostages freed.

QUEST: Nic Robertson, very grateful, sir. As always, for your expertise. Thank you.

Joining me is the CNN Military Analyst and retired U.S. Colonel -- U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good to see you, Cedric. Thank you for

joining us. I want you to watch the pictures. You may not be able to see it in too much detail, but the pictures of the military hardware. I don't know

whether you can see these pictures, Cedric. But we have seen a lot of armored carriers and not tanks, as Nic put me right.

Certainly, armored troop carriers all moving closer to the border but not in numbers that would suggest this is actually an invading force.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Right Richard? Yes, I can see the pictures and you're looking at several varieties of armored personnel

characters coming into what looks like an area that is fairly close to the border.


And they, you know, they are clearly looking to concentrate them in some type of formation or maybe in a holding area where they can then move

forward into a potentially move forward into Gaza. I -- they, you know, they look like they're being marshaled in a certain direction. And that, of

course, is indicative of preparatory work for a potential incursion into Gaza. Whether this is, you know, the precursor to something there or if

there's a limited effort going on or if this is simply a show of force, I think that remains to be seen. But that is -- that is what we appear to be

seeing at the moment.

QUEST: Apparently, I'm done we've been told. The -- one of the first shots we didn't show was of a tank. So, they are arriving as well. This level of

military activity. I mean, I think when I heard you speaking yesterday and others. There seems to be a consensus amongst you that (INAUDIBLE) that

there will be some form of ground campaign.

LEIGHTON: It does appear that way, you know, the way in which the political rhetoric is shaping up, coupled with the military movements of all of the

different pieces and then you have the preparatory work being done by the Israeli force as it bombs, set of targets in the Gaza itself. Those

indicate to me that they are clearly preparing to enter Gaza territory at some point. Now, sometimes this can be -- these things can be pulled back,

and they can, they can be made less escalatory. But in this particular case, they seem to be ready to go in that direction.

QUEST: We saw earlier in the day, the aerial shot, it came to us from -- it's from the Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF, but it does show and we're

looking at it now. It's almost, you know, World War II like sort of bombing, bomb, bomb, bomb. One goes off after the next in very close

quarters. This is what I'm assuming you would expect to see.

LEIGHTON: Yes. There are, you know, there are several things that come out as a result of a campaign like this. But normally, at least in my

experience, what you've done -- what we do is we take a look at and go through a series of areas that we believe it should be targeted. And then

we evaluate whether or not those are legitimate targets. In the case of Gaza, they've got a fairly limited area to work in.

But one of the things that you see is that they are going after certain junctions in roads, they're going after certain buildings. And in that

shot, which you write is very reminiscent of some of the shots that you had during World War II. They're going after a lot of different concentrations.

So, it appears as if they're going after certain set targets from a predetermined list. And that is what, you know, what would result in

something like we saw there.

QUEST: Now you're a military man. And I'm guessing, you know, this is where the sort of the military options hit the political realities. The hostages,

a hundred or more hostages. That completely -- well, tell me if I'm wrong. Changes the equation of what Israel can do, as it prosecutes force.

LEIGHTON: Yes. It certainly does change at least the order of things. And what we're looking at here is, if you have a set of, you know, locations

where you believe that hostages are being held that you will try to go and get the hostages from them. Now, it may be very difficult, if not

impossible to do that in some tactical situations. But what they're looking at, I think, from an Israeli point of view is a situation where they can

actually find the hostages and they may particularly be looking for the most vulnerable or the most important -- the hostages, so perhaps a, you

know, ones who are -- that they know might be medically distressed.

Those are the kinds of things that we might be looking at from a military standpoint. Of course, on a parallel track, their diplomatic efforts to

feed them and their -- which we hope are working. I -- and they're also our political efforts. And when the political and the military will often, you

know, have colliding interests in this particular case, it may be desirable from a military tactician standpoint to go after a certain target.

But from a political standpoint, it may be too sensitive a target or the repercussions of going after that target maybe once that a, you know, are

not really in the calculus of the political leadership.


They may not want to do it because it's too risky for political or diplomatic reasons. So, there are all kinds of things and then it can be

the reverse as well where the political leadership that will go after something that is maybe not as militarily significant, but there's a

symbolic significance to it. That all of those things are possible.

QUEST: I'm grateful for your time, sir. Thank you. Colonel joining us from Washington.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Richard.

QUEST: And still ahead. The U.S. is pledging support to Israel. The aid from Washington that's being sent right now. And the question of course,

the ever -- never ending aggressive of the political dysfunction on Capitol Hill and how that might delay future assistance.


QUEST: President Biden's pledged unwavering support for Israel, we've since learned that at least nine U.S. citizens have been killed in the fighting.

According to the White House. the President told the Israeli Prime Minister assistance is on the way and that includes of course, the U.S. carrier

strike group heading to the eastern Mediterranean. Steps will also be taken to bolster fighter squadrons. But any further immediate U.S. help remains

in question.

Washington is currently at a standstill. Congress is unable to act without a house speaker. Let's talk to our Pentagon Correspondent. Oren Lieberman

is with me. How much wiggle room does the President have on his own to actually assist?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Some but Richard, as you point out, not infinite wiggle room. And frankly, maybe not even all that much

wiggle room. Israel is one of those cases where the U.S. and the President are allowed to send in and transfer aid relatively quickly and without the

need for additional approval. Congress has to be notified within 30 days I believe.

But aid can move in quickly. And according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has already started moving quickly. But when it comes to additional

funding. Funding that might need supplemental bills, funding that I mean -- might need Congress to act there. There is an enormous and at least perhaps

right now impossible to pass road bump. And that's just because the speaker -- the House doesn't have a speaker here.

So, legislation can't get through, no matter how much of a bipartisan issue Israel tends to be. And that in the long term, not the short term but in

the long-term, Richard, that could be a serious problem.


QUEST: The ability then to get a speaker. I mean, this is where politics and geostrategy all sort of come together. I read reports that, you know,

both sides are now saying we need to sort this out because -- but let's wait and see what actually happens when the Republicans meet. Where --

what's the fear at the Pentagon on that score?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the Pentagon knows full well that at some point, this might need supplemental funding. But the Pentagon also won't get involved

in the politics of this. It might talk to Republicans and Democrats through the legislative affairs office here to try to make sure there is bipartisan

support, but it's not going to get in and wade into the political weeds and try to arrange some sort of negotiation that gets a speaker.

That's not DoD his role. In fact, quite the opposite. A functioning Congress is supposed to tell DoD what to do. Richard, I'll point out one

other way in which congressional dysfunction affects the military. And that is the hold on military nominations coming from Republican senator Tommy

Tuberville. That very much to is affecting not this specific case but the wider region. For example, those holds include the commander of Fifth Fleet

which is U.S. naval forces in the Middle East.

He's supposed to become the deputy commander of central command. That position to is also on hold. Important policy positions in the Middle East

for the U.S. Defense Department are on hold. It is all affected by what's happening across the river here in Congress.

QUEST: Oren, thank you. Grateful for that. Now, CNN's Clarissa Ward went to the site where Hamas launched its initial attack. While surveying the area,

she and her team heard several loud booms and then were forced to take immediate cover.





WARD: Get down (INAUDIBLE) get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fine. You're fine. You're fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fine. You're fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're OK. You're all right. You're all right.



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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's come up and go this way and then --


WARD: All right, So now I can show you the scene here. This is where those militants first came.

QUEST: Clarissa Ward, I'm delighted to tell you that Clarissa and the entire team are well and safe and continuing with their duties.

I'm Richard Quest. Our breaking news coverage of Israel's war on Hamas continues. Coming up next. It's "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper.