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Quest Means Business

Biden: Hamas' Actions Are Pure Unadulterated Evil; Israel Pounds Gaza With Airstrikes As Hamas Launches More Rockets; Nova Music Festival Survivor Speaks To CNN; Hamas Rocket Attacks Continue Into The Night; Sullivan: U.S. Does Not Expect Israel Will Pursue "Siege". Aired 3-4p ET

Aired October 10, 2023 - 15:00   ET



JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We do not, as of the moment I'm standing here at the podium, have confirmation of that.

We are talking to our Israeli counterparts on a daily basis about this question. We're looking back through our intelligence holdings, to see if

we have any further information on that. We are looking to acquire further intelligence.

And if there is an update to that, I'll share it with you. But as I stand - - while Iran plays this broad role, sustained, deep, and dark role in providing all of this support and capabilities to Hamas in terms of this

particular gruesome attack on October 7, we don't currently have that information, we will continue to look for it. And if we find it, we will

share that with you. Yes.

ED O'KEEFE, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Jake. Looking back at the last few days, how did Israel miss this attack?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Jake Sullivan there at the White House, the briefing on the latest events. He is just saying that --

describing Iran as having a sustained, deep and dark relationship in all of this, but there is no evidence or obvious evidence yet of Iranian

involvement in the attacks of the 7th.

This is CNN is breaking news coverage. I'm Richard Quest. A very good evening. Good day to you.

Pure unadulterated evil is how President Biden described Hamas' actions after Saturday's unprecedented attacks in Israel and we are learning new

details about Saturday's assault on the music festival and the kibbutzim near the Gaza border.

US defense officials say Hamas brutally butchered women, children, and elderly in southern Israel, describing the killings as a massacre.

President Biden, referring to those atrocities and slaughter spoke extremely forcefully in defense of Israel and its response, he warned

others not to make a dangerous situation worse.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stand ready to move in additional assets as needed. Let me say again, to any country, any

organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word, don't. Don't.

Our hearts may be broken, but our resolve is clear.


QUEST: Sam Kiley is with me. Sam, we're going to do this in three parts if we may. We'll just start we'll obviously with the president and Sullivan,

then we'll look at what we know from the latest happening in Israel, and then of course, the atrocities that we're getting more details about.

Start with Jake Sullivan, and more important perhaps, the president, sheer evil is how he described it. Atrocity on an appalling scale. The president

has no higher priority.

This was -- he went between fury and pain at the same time, it is extraordinary.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really was Richard and I think I'd add a third emotion there, which was sort of threat,

frankly, to any country or organization thinking of exploiting this. Don't, don't, don't.

And before he said that, of course, he reminded the world that the carrier group was being -- what he said assets, but that includes a carrier group

that is being moved to the Eastern Mediterranean, there as a threat, as a reassurance to Israel and a threat to any nation or organization that might

be tempted to exploit Israel at this time as a military target.

He is clear, a finger point there is towards Tehran, by way of South Lebanon and the Hezbollah organization that Iran has also been backing

along with Hamas for many years.

And of course, the Israelis have been massing troops on their northern border with the Hamas-controlled territory now, because they're of concern

that there may be exploitation by Hamas, I beg your pardon, by Hezbollah out of South Lebanon -- Richard.

QUEST: So that's the president in a sense, and that's the political bit in Washington. The stories -- I mean, not the stories, the atrocities that we

are hearing about from those communities at the border that are only now being discovered the kibbutz with a hundred dead.

Well, what are we learning more -- and of course our hostages, let us not of course forget those. What have more we learned in the last few hours?

KILEY: Well, the day began, didn't it, with -- I think I'm pretty right correct in saying at least three firefights continuing with either stay

behind Hamas operatives or PIJ-Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, or new infiltrators from the Gaza Strip. It's not clear which, so the combat, the

war aspect of this is continuing on Israeli territory even as the IDF was taking journalists, among them my CNN colleagues into locations that they

described as effectively frontline locations where these massacres had occurred.


Be'eri, a very small kibbutz, I've been to it, halfway down, if you like the Gaza Strip not far from the Gaza Strip itself, almost total

annihilation of all the people there. A hundred people murdered; among them women, toddlers, children, the elderly, and of course, young men and older

men who'd been alongside women fighting them off.

Elsewhere, similar scenes unfolded, the appalling scene seen at the music festival where 260 people were murdered and we've seen dashcam footage of

them, of Hamas throwing grenades into bunkers, as if they were clearing in a combat zone enemy bunkers.

These are civilians hiding in a concrete hole in the ground murdered by Hamas -- Richard./

QUEST: We're running out of adjectives, in a sense to describe this. I mean, I want to just focus on this. The families of those taken hostages

are pleading with the US and Israeli governments to do something.

A short while ago, seven of them spoke at a press conference. One man said his 66-year-old mother was sitting on the porch when she heard gunfire. He

said he was on the phone with her as it happened, and then the call dropped, and he had not heard from her since.

The reality is, these people are, we just don't know what's happened to them.

KILEY: No, but I think it's striking how these Israeli and other national relatives remember that a number of these hostages have got dual

nationality, or indeed sort of entire foreigners, from the wide range of different nations abducted into Palestinian-held Gaza, are human beings

with personalities and pictures attached to them.

The Anglo-Saxon world tends to encourage the families of the hostages to stay quiet and stay out of the news, and that is manifestly in my

experience never worked. And clearly, the Israelis and their friends are trying to manifest these people into the minds of the international

community, into the minds of leaders in Israel and the United States who could bring pressure to bear.

But perhaps more importantly, into the minds of Qatar and Egypt, who do have lines of communication into Hamas to remind Hamas that any more

atrocities are going to substantially undermine their cause, and indeed, potentially the wider Palestinian cause at a time when Palestinian citizens

who did not elect Hamas to control Gaza, other than back in 2006 are suffering the consequences of these atrocities as well, more than 800

killed there, as the IDF or Israeli Air Force goes on the offensive.

And of course, it could -- those numbers could go up drastically with the ground assault -- Richard.

QUEST: I'm grateful. Sam Kiley, thank you. Sam Kiley watching and bringing all the events together.

Kevin Liptak is at the White House. I got the transcript. I've got a rough transcript of what the president was saying. The extent of the atrocities

every hour, we hear more. But it is this commitment that the US is saying, we stand with Israel. Do not think of acting further, if you are. How did

it strike you as being different in tone of Biden to what we've seen?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I certainly think that the president for the first time sort of characterized how he saw the Israeli

response unfolding and he said that if what had happened in Israel had happened in the United States, you'd expect the response to be swift,

decisive, and overwhelming and that's really kind of the first time that we've heard directly from the president, laying out any particular

expectation of how this is all going to unfold over the next several days.

And certainly, he used the emotion of the images from the ground, to sort of relay to Americans why this is important, and why they should be paying

attention and why the US is getting involved in the way that it's getting involved, including this deterrence effort with the carrier strike group.

So President Biden really sort of laying out his expectations for how this is going to all unfold. And he also said, I think, importantly, that he

expected the rule of law to be followed.

And if we're sort of tracking the long history of President Biden's sort of relationship with Israel and the expectations for Israel, I think that's

important because certainly President Biden is not outwardly encouraging any restraint here and officials we've talked to you said that in his phone

calls with the prime minister, that is also the case, he isn't necessarily telling Benjamin Netanyahu what to do, but he is making clear that the US

expects that the rules of war will be followed, that civilians won't be targeted.


I think that's sort of an important line for him to lay down as this response sort of gets underway.

QUEST: The tone and the message, but now he has to actually carry it out. He basically -- well, he said Israel not run short of assets. We've got the

carrier group going there.

So do we have any idea what they're planning to send? I mean, what munitions? What missiles? I assume Israel can ask for what it needs.

LIPTAK: Yes, and the things that you hear specifically talked about right now are replenishments for the Iron Dome system and artillery. There is no

sense at this point that Israel is running low of those things. Israel is an incredibly well stocked country when it comes to arms. But certainly the

president wants to make clear that the US will be there in case they do need it.

And he did say specifically, and this is the first time that we've heard him say this is that he will go to Congress to ask for more assistance for


So that was sort of a new aspect of that sort of putting some meat on the bones of what he's been saying throughout the weekend, which is that Israel

may not want for anything as this unfolds -- Richard.

QUEST: Grateful to have you with me talking about this, Kevin. Come back, when there's more to report from the White House.

The Nova Music Festival was by far and away perhaps the most obvious of the atrocities that we've heard about. The 200-plus dead, the festival that was

in celebration of peace. The carnage that remains after the break. Someone who survived the attack from the festival and how he escaped.


QUEST: The true horror of what happened at the Nova Festival over the weekend. The storytelling just keep getting worse.

The video you're looking at now is the aftermath of Hamas' attack. Israeli officials now say at least 260 bodies, and the evidence seems to suggest

Hamas just opened fire, simply opened fire on civilians and threw grenades into nearby bomb shelters where those party goers were taking cover for

their life.

Watch this video. It's disturbing, but it's important because it brings home just the evidence of the barbaric nature of what's happened.



QUEST: A moment of pause to think about what that was like for those involved. And you can see the moments the attacker throws a grenade inside

the shelter before opening fire. What happened to the man is currently unknown.

Our next guest, Gilad Karplus, who was working as a massage therapist at the Nova Festival when Hamas attacked. He could see the rocket fire on the

border, and he could hear the gunfire, including the sound of rocket propelled grenades.

He and his friend and her girlfriend escaped. He was hit by a piece of shrapnel in the back of their head, they made it to a nearby kibbutz where

they sheltered for hours before being rescued.

He joins me from Hadera in Israel. I'm grateful to you, sir. Thank you, Gilad.

I know this is painful to even just talk about it, in a sense, but hearing from people like you will truly bring home the atrocity and the nature of

evil that you all faced.

So I ask you to bear with us and tell your story.

Now, Gilad, what we can't really visualize is what it was like when you decided it was time to leave and the militants and the murderers were

arriving. What could you see?

GILAD KARPLUS, ESCAPED HAMAS ATTACK AT NOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL: What could I see? First of all, thank you, Richard.

What I could have seen? It was a question of just understanding and reassessment of the situation. The thing is that, as I said, for a couple

of interviews before, the location and the region in the area of the Gaza border, the people that are familiar with this area are used to rockets. I

think that they used, you can say, even a kind of a psychological trick to just get people's focus on the rockets.

And as they used that diversion, they poured in from two different locations, terrorists, that summed up to a very, very terroristic area, and

they came pouring in.

QUEST: Right. Were those terrorists? Were those terrorists? Again, we just seem to have lost -- now, your back. Were those terrorists just throwing

grenades and shooting indiscriminately? Basically, mowing down the people in front of them.

KARPLUS: I personally did not see any grenades thrown, but there were sounds of RPGs in the area. There were sound of --

I'm sorry. Someone is trying to call me. They don't know that I'm in an interview right now. So please bear with me.

Can you hear me?

QUEST: Yes, I can hear you sir, and please don't apologize, but do continue.

KARPLUS: Richard, so we just heard from two different locations the fire that has been coming, the sound of it was higher and higher, so we knew

something was strange, something weird was happening.

QUEST: Right. And then when you decided -- as you were escaping, you found that -- you came across an empty IDF vehicle. There was a weapon in it

jammed with blood. But you continued. You must have been terrified during that drive.

KARPLUS: You don't have really time to think about those things. You're in a survival mode. When you're inside the survival mode, you don't think

about fear, you think about reaction, about action, about doing something so you can stay alive.


When you find a weapon, even if it doesn't shoot, it's still a weapon you can use against somebody, so at least we had something. And I still had

those same two bullets in my pocket, even when I got later on into the emergency room.

So I want to stay armed after this situation, because I fear for my life right now when I go to that area, I know it's unsafe. I want to make sure I

won't be in that situation again, but we're going back --

QUEST: You went to this kibbutz where you were there for hours before being rescued. And again, Hamas had been -- the militants have been there, and we

know the carnage that flowed. But I presume, just basically kept very still very quiet.

KARPLUS: Yes, of course, and all that, I was doing same time as I was bleeding from my head and I thought I had a bullet inside not a shrapnel.

So I did not know really what was what was my health situation and we didn't feel like anyone was coming for us right now because of the war


And as we were waiting inside there, we heard terrorists going through one house to another, and just shooting the place, shooting people. And in an

hour or so, I believe, I can't really recall how long it took them, but there was one point where we understood that we were completely, completely

surrounded by terrorists all around.

And by luck, I don't know what was the reason they just didn't come inside and found us. Even we took breath like we didn't breathe from our noses,

when we breathe, we breathed through our mouths.

QUEST: Can I just -- I want to drive home this point and forgive me, but again, you just said that when the terrorists came into the kibbutz, they

were just literally open shooting at people. I mean, this was -- this was not precision. This was just machine gun fire at any and everyone.

KARPLUS: The world needs to understand, those terrorists came looking for blood, in their view from god, you know, from their Allah and it is

unjustified by any rule in this world.

No one can justify murder of children, of women, of pregnant women, of elderly. It's unimaginable and I think no world, no more country can accept


QUEST: I'm grateful you joined us, Gilad, thank you very much. I mean, I can't even -- I can't even begin to let my mind go to the circumstances

that you've faced. But I'm delighted that you're safe. I'm sure you know, people who have either been killed or badly injured, and I'm grateful

you've joined us tonight.

Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time.

KARPLUS: Richard, may I add one more message to the world, please?

QUEST: Of course, you may. Of course.

KARPLUS: I want to the whole world that in the times that we live in today, I think that politicians all around the world in the Western world

especially need to do a double check on themselves and what they're doing for their own people.

I'm not talking about my own politics, because it's very complicated, but I'm talking in general. People need to do more and talk less. Do more

action for their own people and make sure everyone are safe and have their lives well, it's --

QUEST: I'm grateful.

KARPLUS: Thank you.

QUEST: Thank you, Gilad. The message is being received.

KARPLUS: Thank you.

QUEST: Let's continue to talk about what was happening in the kibbutzim when the attacks took place.

These kibbutz are very close to the border. An Israeli general has described the harrowing moment when the military found dead bodies in a

kibbutz attacked by Hamas.

Now, bear in mind, this scenario that he is talking about of the kibbutz, I don't know whether it was the same one where Gilad was, but I am pretty

certain, the conditions where Gilad was had been just the same as the general was talking to Nic Robertson.



MAJOR GENERAL ITAI VERUV (RET), ISRAELI MILITARY: What I saw, hundreds of terrorists is full armed, full gear, with all the equipment and all the

ability to make a massacre go from apartment to apartment, from room to and kill babies, mother, father in their bedrooms.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You were telling me some of them when you went in, their hands were tied together.

VERUV: Some even locked themselves in the protection in the rooms, but they bombed the house and people ran out with their children and they killed

them. They killed babies in the front of their parents and then killed the parents.

They killed parents and we found babies in between the dogs and the family that killed before them. They cut head of the people.

ROBERTSON: And this is the first time -- I mean, when did you secure this area here? Was it late last night?

VERUV: So we fight here, wave after wave of terrorists until yes, last night.

ROBERTSON: And is this area here -- we're looking at the border, is this completely clear? Can you be hundred percent sure, no Hamas activity?

VERUV: I learned in the last three days that hundred percent, it is not part of the game, but we try as we -- you know, as we can and now, it's

more secure and we wait to switch -- to switch also from the defense to the attack, because you know, we defend our people and until now, we collect

their bodies.

ROBERTSON: You say you're going to attack. Will you be going into Gaza? So we can see it here, look at -- it is just on the horizon.

VERUV: You know now, I look to the next hundred yards. This is my --

ROBERTSON: You take care of the next hundred yards.

VERUV: Next hundreds yards and then I hike to the next hundred yards, and then look forward.

ROBERTSON: Did anything in your career prepare you for what you saw here? I mean, we've come in and houses are blown apart.

VERUV: So first of all, I prepare myself to everything and yes, I have also skills also, but I never saw and I never imagined that something like this

could happen. I never could imagine.

You know, I heard during my childhood about the war in Europe and the Holocaust, of course. All of my family came from Europe and their survival,

et cetera et cetera. I never think that I would see my eyes picture and things like this.

ROBERTSON: And how do you feel about that now that you've seen it? I know you're a 39-year career professional in the military. You've been out,

retired, out of service for eight years.

VERUV: It's not time for feeling, it's time to do and make our mission. Maybe later on, we'll take time to think about ourselves and about our

assault, now, I only want to fight and defend and attack. And --

ROBERTSON: Can you get the hostages back, do you believe?

VERUV: I hope so. We have the commitment. We do our best.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

VERUV: Everything.

ROBERTSON: Major General, thank you very much indeed. Thank you.

We have been around -- walking around this area here for the past I would say 30 minutes or so. It feels like a fluid situation. There's gunfire,

there's explosions, but we're told it's for -- it's for our protection, and that there is no imminent threat here.

But look over here, look at these burnt out vehicles here. Again testimony to the ferocity of the fight here.

We've just seen bodies that are being taken out of some of the houses, of some of the young families that were here being loaded and taken away.

This is really only just the clear up phase. This is now a militarized area. There are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of troops now in this,

what was, until Saturday morning a peaceful village.

I mean, just look over here at the houses. Don't go in, there are some bodies still of Hamas here, so we won't show those.

These houses here, you can see everything, all strewn outside, lives briefly upended, killed in some cases.


QUEST: Nic Robertson reporting.

Now, if you take a look or you see the skyline of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, the cities are still lit up and it seems that these normally bustling

cities are eerily quiet. The war is casting its shadow.

Jerusalem's deputy mayor will be with me after a short break.



QUEST: Hamas fighters have been firing a barrage of rockets at the Israeli port city of Ashkelon a few hours ago. Take a look. Then you have the night

sky being lit up. That, of course, is the Iron Dome defense system which has been busy since this afternoon when Hamas warned people in Ashkelon to


Some rockets got through. This is the aftermath of a strike on a car park.

All evening, air raid sirens are going off in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas. The Iron Dome missile defense system is the backbone if you will of


CNN's Jeremy Diamond witnessed it kicking into action.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here in Ashdod, we just heard the sirens going off, indicating that rocket fire is coming in from Gaza. We

have yet to hear those Iron Dome interceptions yet, but they should be coming momentarily. That is typically the cadence that you hear in these

types of situations.

We are just going to pause for a brief moment. There it is.

And you can hear that was the Iron Dome intercepting. You can see some of the smoke there left from those Iron Dome intercepts up in the air above



QUEST: Jerusalem is another city that is usually bustling. Now the streets are almost empty as the war rages. No longer the sounds of people milling,

instead the sound of sirens. Shops and schools are closed, and locals described feeling anxious and shock.

With me is Jerusalem's deputy mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.

Deputy Mayor, I'm grateful for your time and what must be a very busy day for you.

Before we deal with wider issues in terms of the rest the country, let's just talk about Jerusalem and the security situation there and the feeling

of being under threat from rockets or attacks continuing.

FLEUR HASSAN-NAHOUM, DEPUTY MAYOR OF JERUSALEM: So actually, rocket attacks in Jerusalem is a rare thing because we have about 40 percent Arab-Muslim

population and, of course, Temple Mount, Haram al-Sharif, which is the third holiest Muslim site.


We don't get a lot of rocket fire in Jerusalem normally.

And so, on Saturday morning, when we woke up to rocket fire and it was -- and it wasn't just a one-off siren -- there were about five or six times in

a row, we had to scuffle into our shelter with my children, I knew that something was wrong here, because Jerusalem is really now and again it is

rare that we have sirens indicating rockets.

Yesterday, we had two, and today has been quiet, but Jerusalem, there is something else going on of course, because within our 40 percent Muslim

Arab community here, most of them are a peace-loving people, but there are some Hamas sleeper cells, some radicals.

And we know where they are in which villages they are, and so we have increased security in order to make sure that we don't open another front

here in Jerusalem.

QUEST: You see, that is the worry, isn't it? That what Hamas has done in Gaza will be -- could not be accelerated, it is so dreadful -- but it will

be increased if it will by actions from husband up in the north and, of course, if this has been so well-planned, other cells of Hamas militants

waiting to murder in Jerusalem.

HASSAN-NAHOUM: We have our finger on the pulse. Like I said, the mayor held an income urgency meeting a few days ago. He's increased security,

especially in the areas that we know that there is some Hamas or at least radical people over there, and so far, so good.

There were some scuffles. There were some hooligans taking advantage of the situation, but we soon quelled it, and for the moment, there is a tense

calm I would say.

QUEST: Right.

HASSAN-NAHOUM: But, you know, you know Israel and normally everything is bustling and everything is very quiet. The only place that it is busy right

now is in fact the supermarket, because we have been told to stock up for three days in anticipation of perhaps more rocket fire.

QUEST: Before I let you go, Deputy Mayor, I hope your family, your friends and your family, I mean, I know everybody knows somebody who has been

affected by this, but please to god you are well, or you're all safe.

HASSAN-NAHOUM: Well, unfortunately, one of my friend's son has been captured. He has been kidnapped. He hasn't got a. He lost an arm in being

shot, and he's also an American citizen, and so we pray that Hersh Goldberg Pullen (ph) comes back in one piece.

And we pray that the whole world puts pressure on Hamas to release innocent -- innocent victims, innocent citizens. This has been the biggest attack on

citizens in the history of the state of Israel and we really were in shock for two days, and now, we are beginning to recover with defiance, with

resilience, and hope to be able to get our innocence back as soon as possible.

QUEST: Deputy Mayor, I'm grateful for your time. Ma'am, thank you.

CNN's Clarissa Ward was reporting from the city of Ashkelon. It's a port, when the air raid siren went on, almost immediately after they sounded,

there were explosions across the site.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're going, I just get a step of the way slightly so that we can try to get our camera and

make sure that we have a little bit of coverage here. But again, this is just constant. Every ten, 15 minutes, it seems, you hear the sirens and you

don't have a huge amount of lead time honestly to get to a shelter before you usually start to hear those rockets.

Now, I will say that the siren just stopped, and we are not actually hearing any rocket fire at this precise second, but I do hear what sounds

like potential intercepts in the distance there.


QUEST: Clarissa is with me now. I mean the Iron Dome is doing its job doing its job arguably better than anybody could have expected, but the sheer

number of rockets and missiles being sent from Gaza, where on earth did Hamas get them from and how did no one no?

WARD: Well, I think that is sort of the burning, or one of the many burning questions at the moment, Richard. On that first day on Saturday more than

2,000 of them were fired and everybody was kind of aghast. How is this possible? How did they get so many?

And we have really continued to see a huge amount of rockets being fired off since then, although I will say here in Ashkelon, it's really been in

the last five or six hours that there's just been wave after wave, barrage after barrage. I have honestly lost count now of how many times we have

heard those sirens and how many times we have seen behind me, as you just showed in that clip, the night sky being lit up with the Iron Dome

intercepting many of those rockets.


It is important to underscore that it doesn't actually intercept every single one of them. There have been reports of multiple impacts, one and a

woman's house as she was in a shelter. She is okay in the sense that she is unharmed. But you can understand why in his speech, President Biden said

that it is a priority now to make sure that Israel gets what it needs in terms of more interceptors, so that the Iron Dome can keep doing its work.

I would also just say that even notwithstanding the tremendous capabilities of the Iron Dome, this sort of endless volley after volley or barrage after

barrage of rockets does have a palpable effect on the city like Ashkelon. It is impossible to return to any semblance of normalcy here when every

half hour or 45 minutes, you may be running into a bunker to take shelter.

Of course, people here are used to this, in a sense. They have experienced rocket fire for many years. This is not something new to them, but everyone

that we have spoken to says that they are certainly not used to seeing this volume, this ferocity.

And again, coming full circle back to that question of how many do they have? Where were they being stored? How was it not known, and how many may

be left still, Richard?

QUEST: Clarissa, we saw you yesterday or the tape of you taking shelter, taking cover during a rocket attack. We are hearing the most horrific

stories of what people have found in the kibbutz, along the border, in the various towns. As Israel comes to terms with that, can you feel -- can you

feel the tension rise as everyone waits for what will be the next stage of this however Netanyahu decides to move forward, probably with a ground


WARD: I think that everybody who we have been speaking to, and it's important to underscore again that there are a lot of differences of

opinions here, right? This is a democracy and not everybody sees things in the same way, but one unifying factor certainly has been the horror and

terror of people with regards to what happened and some of these kibbutzes, what happened at the Supernova Music Festival, and what is continuing to

happen to the more than 100 we estimate, it's not exactly clear, hostages who are believed to be held in the Gaza Strip. It's not clear how many of

them are still alive, what condition therein, where they are being held. Nor is it clear what the prospects for their release are.

And so, I think that you have this tension between an obvious desire from many people to try to deal with the problem of Hamas once and for all, to

the extent that is even possible or will be possible through means of some kind of a ground incursion or invasion, and then on the other hand, and

understanding of the very real risks that might carry for these hostages who are still being held in those areas.

And I should add as well, what impact has this, you know, relentless bombardment of Gaza that we have been seeing, it's a little bit quieter

now, but both for the past 48 hours or so, Gaza has been smashed day in and day out, that death toll now soaring. Again, raising real questions about

the fate of those hostages who they are continuing to hold, Richard.

QUEST: Clarissa, grateful for your time tonight, and I fear that you have a long night ahead even though it's only a quarter to 11:00 where you are in

Ashkelon. Thank you, ma'am, for joining us.

In a moment, the various intelligence aspects of a possible grounded corrosion, what role did Iran have an all this. The former Israeli

intelligence official believes that it's all part of a much larger plan and plot of evil -- in a moment.



QUEST: The intelligence failures by Israel's forces and others are now legendary, and will be the subject of many investigations, commissions, as

Israel and the United States and others try to work out how did everyone manage to miss this atrocity, and these attacks?

However, there's also the question of who else is behind it? What role did rain play in all of this?

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser in the U.S., says that although there is the deep dark sinister sustained presence of Iran,

there's no direct evidence that they were involved in these attacks.

Avi Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official, author of "Inside the Middle East", joins me now from Tel Aviv.

They may not have had their fingers on the trigger, but you are pretty certain that Iran, in some shape and form, assisted here and is part of

what you call a ring of fire.

AVI MELAMED, FORMER ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: Yes, Richard, thank you for having me. This is the accurate definition, the ring of fire. Let me

just say it in a wide context, the murderous, brutal regime in Iran is aspiring to become a regional superpower. It's part of this master plan the

regime has been building, arming, financing the armies of terror across the Middle East, from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza Strip.

As part of its plan, its master plan, this regime that wants to eliminate the state of Israel has created a network of proxies, like Hezbollah in

Lebanon, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the Gaza Strip around Israel's neck. This is the ring of fire that we are talking about.

And according to this master plan of the Iranians, that ring of fire is supposed to be simultaneously activated when the day come to attack Israel

from all directions, using rockets, missiles --

QUEST: Right, right.

MELAMED: -- drones, infiltration militias, and so on and so on. This is the master plan of the brutal, murderous regime in Iran.

QUEST: So, would you -- I mean, are you surprised at this stage, thank god we haven't seen, but are you surprised we haven't seen more agitation and

action by Hezbollah, by the forces in say, for example, Lebanon, that could distract or split Israeli forces?

MELAMED: Well, Richard, that's a great point. As of now, of course we are following very closely to see what will happen at the Hezbollah front. For

the time being, the Hezbollah is applying some sort of a tactic, that is basically trying not to push the limit too much, but on the other hand,

Hezbollah and its master, the Iranians, are concerned with the growing possibility that Israel is about to eliminate the Islamic Jihad and Hamas

in the Gaza Strip.


QUEST: All right.

MELAMED: And Hezbollah and the Iranians will find themselves in a situation where they will need to make a decision if they're going to participate in

the war. Once again, I need to reiterate, Richard, Hezbollah is a cornerstone in the structure of the ring of fire that you mentioned before.

That Iran has been building. The capacities of Hezbollah are triple or quadruple in comparison to the Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

QUEST: All right, sir.

MELAMED: Hence, you can understand the significance of the twist.

QUEST: Let me just finish asking, how do you think Shin Bet, Mossad, CIA, FBI, all the various intelligence forces missed this?

MELAMED: Well, Richard, this is one of the most significant questions. Obviously, this is a question that everybody is asking.

I think at this point, though, that there are more questions about it rather than answers. But I think there's something very significant to

emphasize. The only way to offer Israelis and Palestinians a future of hope, rather than dooming them for a future of hate, despair, and death,

the only way to do that is by eliminating Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

President Biden in his very powerful speech tonight was very clear about it. This is a pivotal moment. This is the moment where --

QUEST: All right.

MELAMED: -- we, civilization, are facing the evil, the sheer evil, as President Biden said. This is the time to do that.

QUEST: All right. I'm grateful, sir. We'll talk more. Thank you for joining us.

This is CNN, the news continues.


QUEST: Some pictures tonight from Gaza. As you can see, more activity. Israeli fire going into Gaza. It's only 11:00 at night there, and so one

would expect this would continue for some hours to come, as we prepare for what's next.

A top White House official Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, says he doesn't believe that Israel will be besieged. Now, those comments

seem to contradict what the Israeli government has already said, the idea of a siege has drawn criticism from human rights groups.


Jim Sciutto is with me.

Jim, the U.S. now is totally 100 percent, no blue water between them and Israel, but also adhering to the rule of law. Is that a very veiled way of

saying to Netanyahu, don't go too far?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: I think so, but I think the issue of the word siege is semantic here because my perception when Israeli officials say that Gaza

is now under siege, related to Israel immediately cutting off water, fuel, electricity, that being, you know, in some terms a siege, listening to Jake

Sullivan, it struck me that what he was describing there was whether Israel was considering a full, perhaps even reoccupation of Gaza, and it seemed

again that what we're dealing with what little they are willing to share publicly based on their many private conversations. It seemed like the U.S.

was giving into indications that it will not be a full retaking of Gaza.

And that came with other comments, to your point, Richard, from Jake Sullivan saying that the president and Netanyahu have spoken about the

importance of distinguishing between Hamas targets, terrorist targets, and civilians there, given the breadth and presumed length of this coming


Now those may be connected, right, in that the U.S. is giving full support, you heard President Biden repeat that, we stand with Israel, we stand with

Israel, offering military support but also continuing to communicate about the importance of avoiding civilian casualties, and the rule of law.

That is a complicated answer, Richard, but that was my reading of hearing what may seem like daylight on the issue of a siege between them, but is --

might give us some indication as to what Israel is communicating about with next steps here.

QUEST: Jim, I'm grateful. Jim Sciutto is in Washington --

SCIUTTO: Thanks.

QUEST: -- thank you, sir.

And so as we conclude this hour of coverage, it is coming up to 11:00 at night in Israel and Gaza, and one would expect or one would believe that

the military activity will continue for some hours to come. After all, remember what the Israeli prime minister said yesterday, this has only just


And because the news never stops, neither will we. This is CNN.