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CNN Live Event/Special
"Significant" Number Of Israeli Civilians, Soldiers Taken Captive; Mother Of Kidnapped Kids Heard Youngest Tell Terrorists: "I'm Too Young To Go There"; Jake Speaks To Mother Whose Kids Were Kidnapped; Mother Of Kidnapped Children: Israel Defense Forces Took Long Time To Arrive & Take Charge; U.S. Officials Raise Concerns Over Israeli Intel After Hamas Attacks; Netanyahu: Israel Embarking On "Long & Difficult War". Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 07, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, I'm Jake Tapper. You're watching our special continuing coverage of Israel at war tonight. Israel is firing back at Hamas with strikes on cities in Gaza after the stage terrorist attack. Unlike anything Israel has ever seen before one Israeli airstrike hitting near a Palestinian mosque.
Israel also intercepting a number of rockets by Hamas tonight, near the Gaza border. Intense fighting is still underway. At least 300 Israelis were killed and at least 1500 wounded after Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented attack by land, by air and by sea, focusing on Israeli civilians taking the country completely by surprise.
A fresh round of rocket attacks in Tel Aviv and other areas this evening. It is almost daybreak in Israel now just after, 5 am local time. Let's get the very latest now from CNN Correspondent Hadas Gold in Jerusalem. Hadas, tell us what it's like on the ground right now.
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as we speak, I can hear what must be fighter jets overhead of us in Jerusalem. We've been hearing them all evening long. It has been quieter for us in Jerusalem than it was earlier today when we were getting several rounds of sirens.
And we could hear rocket explosions over us in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv also getting a barrage of rockets earlier in the evening. But most of the activity rockets wise have been focused lately on Southern Israel. We know of a direct hit on a hospital in Ashkelon no injuries reported there.
But there are injuries reported elsewhere. What's been the latest just in the last few minutes is Israeli police have confirmed that they have regained control of Sderot. Sderot is one of the more well-known Israeli cities. I don't know if it's a city or a town. It's a pretty small community, just right by the border with the Gaza Strip.
That so many journalists often go to, when there's these sorts of conflicts. And that's where they set up shop to report from. And there had been ongoing gun battles with militants there since the early hours of what is now yesterday morning. And just in the last few minutes, police have confirmed that they have regained control.
They said that militants had essentially taken over the police station in Sderot, but they now have control of Sderot. Once again, we are still seeing reports though, of other gun battles and with militants in other parts of Israel. But this is the number one priority right now for the Israeli military is actually just gaining control.
Once again, of these Israeli communities that were infiltrated by what Israeli military have said could have been hundreds of Hamas militants who not only infiltrated as you noted by air, by land by sea, but then also took prisoners of war took hostages with them. We know for a fact that there are soldiers and civilians who have been taken hostage and taken back into the Gaza Strip.
We don't have specific numbers. But we expect those numbers to be in the dozens. That's an addition to the hostages that were taken within Israel itself. So militants would have entered homes and things like that, and we're keeping hostages within homes there. That's why we have this death toll and injury toll about 300 Israelis killed more than 1500 wounded.
We expect those numbers to rise. Meanwhile, the Israeli military is striking in the Gaza Strip. They've even actually sent out a warning to civilians in certain areas of Gaza, telling them to leave those areas and go further into cities as a way of sort of warning them that something is coming.
What's also very interesting is what we've just heard from the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He sent a message in the last couple hours or so saying that we are embarking on a long and difficult war. He said the first phase that is going to be ending soon, hopefully, is to regain control from these militant infiltrations. That right now he says they are starting the offensive formation.
He also said that among decisions that the cabinet has made is the stopping the supply of electricity, fuel and goods to the Gaza Strip. So Israel controls almost all of the electricity supplies for the Gaza Strip, they are cutting off the electricity. This is obviously as an attempt to try to cut off the Hamas organization's ability to communicate to work together.
But of course, it also affects the civilians in the Gaza Strip in terms of Palestinian casualties. We know that those are in the high to hundreds with more than 1600 injured so far. We don't know the breakdowns of how many of those were militants who may have been killed actually on Israeli territory, because we do know that there were quite a few militants who were in Israeli territory, how many of those are civilians. But right now, this is a very quickly unfolding situation. I think the next stage of this is going to be this military response. As of right now, Jake, we don't have any indication that a ground incursion is happening by Israeli forces into Gaza. But the Israeli military is saying that they are preparing for that.
This is a very complicated situation, because Israel obviously wants to go after the Hamas militants, their organization and their heads in the Gaza Strip. But now they're Israeli civilians and soldiers, some of whom may be dead, some of whom are expected to be alive being held in Gaza.
And Hamas has said they're holding them in strategic locations. So any airstrike that Israel undertakes in Gaza, they need to be aware that there could be Israeli civilians or soldiers there as well, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, we're going to be talking in a couple minutes with a mom, who has two teenage children who were taken hostage by Hamas just a nightmare scenario. Hadas Gold, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. The Israeli defense forces say that a senior officer was killed during the fighting a 42 year old Colonel Jonathan Steinberg, led to the Nahal brigade, which is one of the IDF main infantry units.
I'm joined now by the Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Ambassador Oren thanks for joining us. What is Israel looking for from the United States in this situation?
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Good evening, Jake. Good evening and I'm going to express my condolences to the Steinberg family. I knew General Steinberg, extraordinary man, extraordinary defender of Israel and the Jewish people. What Israel is expecting from the United States now is to stand for score with us.
That was very much the essence of President Biden's speech today his statement, which was extraordinary. I don't think Israel could have wanted anything more to say that United States will stand solidly with Israel. It will give Israel everything it needs and if I can unpack that for a second.
In every round of fighting we've had with Hamas and dealing with Hezbollah in Lebanon. We tend to run out of certain types of ammunition without preposition beneath the state of Israel, in large amounts of American military equipment, including ammunition.
We asked administrations during wartime can for the keys, as we say to these Israel -- , and we are allowed to go in and take what we need. We write it down and pay for it later. It's replenished. There's only one time back in 2014, where that permission was denied during another round of fighting with Hamas and Biden administration did not accede to our request for some types of helicopter ammunition.
But it's very, very rare. I think that what we understood from President Biden statement today was that whatever we need, we're going to get, and I'm very sorry to say that we're going to need a great amount. TAPPER: Do you have any concerns about the U.S. government's ability to provide what you need, given the political paralysis in Washington. We don't even have a Speaker of the House right now.
OREN: It is a concern. And I was asked on the Israeli press again and again, what are the ramifications of the crisis in Congress? One of them is the ability of Israel to request emergency aid for certainly for aid systems like Iron Dome, and we've done that in the past. I think that'd be very difficult right now, if Congress is dysfunctional. There are other considerations.
Reports have stated that the United States has removed large amounts of munitions from those pre-positioned munitions under the state of Israel and have transferred them to Ukraine. I can't be completely convinced that the Hamas wasn't aware of this, especially as the current conflict can very easily mushroom into a regional conflict involving not only Hamas in Judea, Samaria, the West Bank, but more importantly, more crucially, Hezbollah in Lebanon.
TAPPER: There are obviously questions being asked by citizens of Israel about the intelligence failure and about the military readiness questions about whether or not the IDF was positioned too much on the West Bank and not enough in other parts of the country with the complete.
And utter understanding that the fault of what happened today lies with Hamas and the terrorists who committed these barbaric crimes 100 percent. What is your understanding of these failures of intelligence and questions of readiness?
OREN: I think it's, you know, it's unassailable, that there was a failure here. It's going to be too early to start finger pointing right now, I'm sure in Israel, everyone is accountable in Israel. No one's above that type of responsibility. That's been our experience in previous rounds of fighting.
But right now, they just realist is kind of focused on defending itself, on defending his territory, and clearing our territory of terrorists of restoring our hostages to their homes, to their families, defending our homes, the family, Jake, you know me, know my family. They're all in bomb shelters tonight.
Everybody, my kids, my grandchildren are all in bomb shelters tonight. And by the way, they've all known people who are already fallen victim to this as a small country. There's been lots of comparisons with 9/11 you've heard them. And in what was never comparing tragedies, everyone's tragedy is their own.
But proportionately we've lost in one day, probably twice as much as Americans lost in 9/11. So everybody knows somebody. And it's intensely personal and tragic.
TAPPER: The hostages that were taken. I don't know how many it hasn't been disclosed, how many, it might not even be known, truthfully, at this hour, we're going to be talking to a mom, in a few minutes who has two teenage kids who were taken hostage. That really complicates the response, because the targets that the IDF would otherwise focus on might have Israeli children, women and elderly hostages there. How can those hostages be rescued?
OREN: Well, we have Special Forces that are trained to do precisely that. But surely this will figure into Israel's decision making as to the subsequent stages of this fight. The Israeli public will be overwhelmingly in favor of a non-return to the status quo ante. We've now had that status quo restorative for five rounds of fighting with Hamas, it is not productive.
Israel is ready to make a fundamental change in that status quo, at a great price to Israeli lives, certainly. And we have no desire to inflict casualties on the other side, but we have an enemy that is usually using its civilians, and now our civilians, as human shields will have to take that into consideration.
But we cannot endure this anymore. This is literally inseparable for any modern nation, certainly, the State of Israel. And my assumption would be aid that Israel will take further steps to read Hamas through Gaza of Hamas. And then the big question, will Hezbollah sit on the sidelines?
I have my doubts of Hamas and Judea and Samaria, sit on the sidelines, will radical elements among the Arab population of Israel sit on the sidelines. We have to be paired with the possibility of a multi front war, which will drag on and be immensely costly. We have no choice.
TAPPER: Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, thanks so much for your time. Coming up a woman who says Hamas kidnapped her children. She'll join me, her story is unbelievable. And it's heartbreaking and it is after this break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of Israel at war in response to Hamas terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians who are looking at video of Hamas terrorists taking innocent Israelis captive. Tonight the families of many of those civilians are pleading for help to get them back home safely.
Joining me now is a mother whose two kids were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists this morning. We are not going to identify her or her children for their safety. Thank you so much for talking to us. I cannot imagine what you're going through. Please tell us what happened this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On 6 am in the morning, we all woke up to the red alert -- . Unfortunately, it was too late since I was away. They were alone on the security room. Unfortunately, they used to back and now they were with me on the phone and by about 8 o'clock in morning. They said they assigned to the gun shooting.
TAPPER: They heard gunshots outside?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And I started getting messages, text from other people saying that terrorists are walking around free and trying to breaking into houses. About a -- they heard the door break. They said someone is breaking the door. Someone's breaking it. Oh, they were scared to death.
I can't even imagine what they felt. And I wasn't there to help. I was on phone. And I said just be quiet. Stay quiet. Stay in security room and lock the door but the doors don't really lock. They're not meant to give a solution because that's kind of situation. You will never thought terrorists would walk down three now faces about quarter nine.
I heard online on the phone the door break. I heard terrorists speaking in Arabic to my teenagers and younger saying to them I'm too young to -- 16, 12 so very, very hard to hear someone off the line.
Well, that was the last time I heard from them. There was a very, very hard day. Many, many people from our sites and from other places we're taking. They took babies, they took two years olds, five year old, mothers just did nothing wrong. They were just sleeping in the bed, thing even more have roofed.
If they just don't have any goals, they just it's something that you don't do. You know, I always tell my kids when he saw -- that the kids in Gaza are struggling and having a hard life a lot more than that now. I'm not sure I'm to be fair more about this. They took people over -- say took six people.
They took people who were shot, wounded, drag them into Gaza. Don't kidnap citizens just like that you don't, you just don't? Just -- how cruel they are and how sorry I'm very young sorry.
TAPPER: You don't need to apologize. I can't imagine what you're going through. I have two teenagers myself. I can't imagine what I know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- what I'm going through. You know, what I'm worried about is what they're going through.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I noticed they eat. I don't know if they had to make the drink. I don't know if they're together. I don't know if they're part. I don't know if they're dressed. I don't know if they're tortured. I don't know anything.
TAPPER: Has anyone from the military or the government come by to say anything to talk to? Any of you know, well --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- no, but I can't really blame anyone. It was a very, very difficult day in Israel. Hundreds died, thousands wounded, and probably hundreds taken kidnapped, to Gaza Strip. We don't even know how many. It's a very, very hard day. So it's going to take it's obviously taking time to get all the people and has everything reorganized in some ways.
TAPPER: It might be --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no connection and information at all.
TAPPER: It's what we've heard people in Israel say that this is like Israel's 9/11 or Israel's Pearl Harbor just a day that will live in infamy to use the language that President Roosevelt used about Pearl Harbor is it that mag that a day of that magnitude? Obviously for you it is the worst day of your life, but for the country. Is it of that magnitude?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. -- I don't know I can't be compared to anything. And it's obviously a day that will be remembered for a very, very long time. And there's obviously a lot to learn and it's not the time now to deal with that. The time now is to release all those innocent people for folded hostages first, for nothing.
I mean the people we keep here now for those people who were doing tests, who were dealing with test.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mostly men. Unbelievable that they just fit they can hold anyone that you want and do anything that just as I said was, have rules, even more says rules.
TAPPER: This is obviously the fault of the terrorists who did it. And I don't want my next question to be interpreted in any other way. But I have heard and read questions from Israelis about where was the IDF?
Why was the IDF not in the area? Why did it take so long for the IDF to get to the eastern part of the country? Why were so many of them on the western part in the West Bank, etcetera? Is that something that you're thinking about? I mean, you were talking about how your safe room is not. It was set up not for terrorists to be able to stroll down the street and walk into your home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TAPPER: Is that something that you're thinking about?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, there will be time that all these questions will need to be answered. And the IDF definitely took long to arrive and took long to take charge. We've learned later that the main base is supposed to be giving answers for a situation to this area was also under attack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And many commanders were shocked. So I'm not trying to make any excuses for them. We were waiting for them. And people were staying in security rooms, begging for help. Certainly, there's an ultimate for the IDF and for other problems, the government for the country itself.
They obviously lost faith, our faith. He was also you know, we had to have some faith in the countries and in the government and the IDF in order to live here in first place. A lot of people are asking me why, how I can live in a place like that.
TAPPER: Right --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- anyone could ever imagine this is going to happen?
TAPPER: No, I certainly --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one in Israel could have this nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even thought about because as I said war has rules.
TAPPER: Well, we're going to stay in touch with you. And we're all going to be thinking about you and your teens tonight and praying for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much for having me. And I hope they will all be released soon. They're only innocent once people, adults, babies, women, children and elderly people. They had nothing to do with the war in Gaza. They have nothing to do there.
TAPPER: Yes. Thank you for talking to us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a big -- to fight if they want to fight be honest. Take time on your side.
TAPPER: Thank you for talking to us tonight. We appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much for having me.
TAPPER: A Former Israeli military official calls what happened today a Pearl Harbor tight moment. Up next, the Former Director of National Intelligence joins us were warning signs missed and what our intelligence officials doing right now? Stay with us.
TAPPER: The terrorists of Hamas are flaunting the success of their surprise attack on Israel by releasing various propaganda videos. This video for example, has been geo located and authenticated by CNN. It shows dozens of Gaza terrorists to standing on descending on an Israeli military base with guns and grenades even drones dropping explosives.
The videos are heavily edited to hide their identities, but they do offer the first glimpse into how they pulled off this specific ambush killing several Israeli soldiers. At least six soldiers all of them women were then taken prisoner. Israeli officials say these are unprecedented attacks on their country.
And all of this does raise questions as to why no one, not U.S. intelligence, not Israeli intelligence, not Egyptian or Jordanian no one apparently saw this coming. I'm joined now by retired General James Clapper, a CNN National Security Analyst and the Former Director of national intelligence for the United States. Thanks so much for being here. Was this an intelligence failure?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jake, I think writ large that it's hard to characterize it any other way. I would observe though, that I think I understand completely what happened, you need to go to the next level of detail. Was this a case where the entire intelligence community of Israel was caught completely ignorant?
Or they had some evidence, which may not have been compelling enough for a policymaker commander to take action? I think he spent decades in the business of trying to impart warning to government decision makers. It is difficult sometimes if you can't present the evidence that sufficiently compelling.
And the nature of intelligence work whether hours or Israelis is you're always dealing with a certain degree of uncertainty, you don't have complete perfect knowledge. So I don't know about this. It's early but in the post mortems, I just think we need to consider that the other and this is a philosophical comment, I guess.
Is that people having a hard time getting around their heads around a threat that they haven't experienced. And this attack by Hamas, which reflected I think, a degree of sophistication of planning, multi- dimensional air, Ground Sea and cyber. I think that took the Israelis by complete surprise that they did not assess Hamas was capable of doing that.
U.S. intelligence community was critiqued. And I think I guess importantly, set up for failure to connect the dots in our 9/11. I think this has to be regarded as their 9/11. And for a failure of imagination, well, it isn't a lack of imagination on the part of our intelligence community or their intelligence community is, how do you end part evidence that sufficiently compelling for a decision maker to do something?
TAPPER: Yes. Beth Sanner, Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence was on earlier you know her well. Obviously and one of the things that she seemed to be suggesting was that perhaps Israel when it comes to Gaza, which is basically an open air prison.
I mean, it's there isn't people aren't they're not going back and forth in the good between the Gaza Strip and Israel as they once did, or as they do with the West Bank? That maybe Israel just realizing, you know, too much on signals intelligence, drones and spyware, and not enough on human intelligence, because we just don't, the Western world, and Israel just doesn't have the spies in Gaza anymore. CLAPPER: Well, I can speak historically, here. I don't have current inside baseball. But last time I visited the West Bank and toured along the line between Gaza and the West Bank, or Israel. I was blown away with the suffocating surveillance that the Israelis maintained all along the Gaza Strip, and Shin Bet, which is the Domestic Intelligence Organization.
At least most of the impression I came away with was they had really great insight into what was going on in the Gaza. Now, that's some years ago, whether Israel has become more pre-occupied with the West Bank took their eye off the ball with respect to Hamas. I don't know. But at least at one point, I had great insight into Hamas.
I think Beth pointed out the difficulty of conducting human operations in the Gaza. That's a tough place for Israelis to operate, but they certainly used and whether they depended on it too much. I don't know. But they certainly had visual surveillance, overhead surveillance, signals intelligence meeting cell phones and this sort of thing. Perhaps, I would surmise Hamas went to school and all that.
TAPPER: Yes. --
CLAPPER: And a part of this very secretively.
TAPPER: Yes, Beth suggested that Hamas wasn't using cell phones, they would just meet and --
CLAPPER: I'm sure they went radio silent.
CLAPPER: And perhaps all I think, Israel's intelligence would be wise to that. You know if the coms go radio silent, you know, they're communicating some other way, probably in person.
TAPPER: What do you suspect or how involved do you think the Iranians and or the Russians may have been? Obviously, Hamas has met with both in the last year publicly, openly.
CLAPPER: Yes. It's possible. And I'm sure folks in Moscow are happy about this, you know, this is a distraction from Ukraine. Perhaps this will lead to more military armaments support to Israeli on the part of the United States. So that's going to put a strain on our system, which is already under stress supplying Ukrainians, no politics aside.
So I just, I don't know the extent to which they are involved. This is one area where the U.S. intelligence should be assisting. You know, I was felt like the Israelis knew their own neighborhood, like a glove, and there's no way we could replicate that. But in the larger region, notably with Iran involvement, I think we may have some insight there.
But I wouldn't overanalyze that at least you know, at this point. I think we need to know more of these from open sources.
TAPPER: All right. James Clapper, always good to see you, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Coming up, next, we're back on the ground in Israel for all the latest from there. Plus, new details on President Biden's phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What steps the U.S. is taking? After this quick break, we'll be right back.
TAPPER: The Israeli Defense Forces say that its navy has foiled an attack in the area of Zikim Beach. CNN Nic Robertson is Zikim. Nic, its early morning in Israel tell us the latest.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the latest we're hearing is that the police station in Sderot that had been taken controller by Hamas militants about five miles or so in that direction is now back under Israeli Defense Force control. We've seen a lot of tanks being transported into the area into closer to Gaza.
We've seen civilian buses empty going in, and then some of them coming out. It appears as if some of the civilian population now that area is what fully under government, Israeli government control. Some of the civilians are being bused out of that area. But this is becoming a very active spot again right now helicopters in the air, jets flying overhead.
We've had a few more missile interceptor missiles fired from Gaza intercepted overhead here. But I think now as we wait for the daylight to break in the next hour or so that will bring a real perspective on just the movement of troops that's going to be anticipated here and then a movement again, of more heavy fighting vehicles which is beginning to pick up pace, Jake.
TAPPER: Let's bring up the map again to show people where you are in Zikim, Israel. I just want to show where you are in relation to Gaza if we can bring that up. You are just north of Gaza. There you are. Do we have Zikim beach anyway? There you are. You're right just north of the Gaza Strip. How much is life change there in just 24 hours?
ROBERTSON: Everyone here has been told to stay at home, stay close to shelter and be ready to use the shelter. The word from the Israeli government is you have no reason to be out of your home at this time.
So people are very aware they need to stay home and be close to shelter the roads have been empty, the stores that we were driving past early on taking the southern coastal highway to come down from Tel Aviv that the stores were pretty much all shuttered. People's lives have changed in this area in a way that they probably won't reclaim that previous normality.
Not for a long time. That's what the Prime Minister says he'll do, which is push out the Hamas militants, which seems they'd be pretty much under control and happening secure the border, but to be able to bring that sense of normalcy back that people lost this morning. Jake, I think that's going to take a long time. And of course, part of that is going to involve. It appears a significant Israeli military push to take out those Hamas leaders and that could take a few weeks to put into place.
TAPPER: Nic Robertson, thank you so much. Tonight the White House is condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas, President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by phone earlier today. Let's bring in CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Kayla Tausche. Kayla what has President Biden's response been?
KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the White House is working around the clock to figure out how best it can support Israel at this moment in time. You mentioned that call between the two leaders that happened today.
And I'm told that, on that call Prime Minister Netanyahu made a specific request for military aid and the President Biden directed his team to provide that support, including additional intelligence support. That is clearly one area where the U.S. is Monday morning quarterbacking trying to figure out exactly, how this happened?
And where there was such a significant lapse, which I know you've been discussing with your guests throughout the evening? As they tried to figure this out, there have been questions as to whether there was a third country like Egypt that had this intelligence and it was simply overlooked.
A Senior Administration Official said that simply was not the case. But earlier today, President Biden in no uncertain terms said that there would continue to be rock solid and unwavering support for Israel. And here's the President in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, when I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, I told him the United States stands with the people of Israel, in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAUSCHE: But of course, this all undermines the administration's agenda in the Middle East where National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said just one week ago, it's quieter than it's been in two decades. And there have been talks ongoing, Jake, to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
And as to a suggestion that perhaps those talks served as a provocation to Hamas. The administration says that Hamas will not derail any progress that's being made, even though that pact is still months away.
TAPPER: Does the United States Government, President Biden, others have any plans to announce more specific assistance for Israel? TAUSCHE: That is something that is under discussion at this moment, Jake, a senior official tonight said that that could be ready as soon as tomorrow, although I'm told by a separate source, that it's not quite ready and could be at least another day after that we will see you know, as both sides are trying to accelerate this package.
But there are fraught relations at this very unique moment of time in Washington. There's no Speaker of the House of Representatives. And there's no U.S. Ambassador to Israel, although some senators are suggesting that when the Senate comes back in session that confirming that nominee Jack Lew, the Former Treasury Secretary, as Ambassador should be the first order of business.
So how that calendar comes together will be important, but there is an expectation from the administration that there would be strong bipartisan support for a new security package. It's just getting all the ducks in a row to be able to pass it, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Kayla Tausche at the White House for us. Thanks so much. Coming up, Israel's Prime Minister says they're now embarking on a long and difficult war. So what will that look like? Stay with us.
TAPPER: The Israeli military says as many as 1000 Hamas terrorists took part in Saturday's surprise attack. Now Israel's Prime Minister says the country is embarking on a long and difficult war against Hamas. I'm joined now by Former State Department negotiator in the Middle East for both Democratic and Republican administrations Aaron David Miller.
Aaron, good to see you, you've been there for other attacks on Israel. How does what we're seeing today compare with what you've been there for in the past?
AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OF MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: Jake thanks for having me. It goes well beyond anything that Israeli has seen and certainly anything that the United States has seen. For more than a decade, a series of Israeli Prime Ministers including this one pursued a pretty risk adverse strategy toward Gaza, containment -- and sticks and occasionally when Hamas reacted with rockets.
The fight got pretty brutal I can 2021. I think you're witnessing since this Israeli Prime Minister not just on this issue, but on others has become not risk averse, but risk ready. We've seen with the judicial overhaul and the policy of trying to pursue annexation of the West Bank and -- but name.
And I think given the brutality and the savagery and the stories have yet to be told, and the ongoing fights, the blood is up. I think that the Israelis had reached the conclusion that risk aversion when it comes to Gaza is no longer feasible, or desirable. And I think what you're going to see it'll take some days maybe longer is a change of strategy. I think what's coming is a pretty dramatic air sea and ground attack against Gaza designed to do three things. Number one decapitates and or eliminates as much of the Hamas leadership as possible. Israelis pursued targeted attacks on Hamas leaders before pretty successfully.
This is going to be something I think, much more ambitious. So you destroy infrastructure, you decapitate the leadership. And you said goal number two is you send a powerful message to Hezbollah that you Israelis are now prepared to be risk ready.
The problem with all this, Jake, is as you know, the day after. Even if the Israelis are successful, what happens in terms of Gaza? What authority prevails there?
MILLER: Israelis occupy 363 square kilometers with 2 million people. The Egyptians aren't going to be very supportive here. And the Palestinian authority is not capable of returning to Gaza, and wouldn't if it's done on the back of an Israeli tank, or an F-16. So I think that's the real problem and that's what's dissuaded so many Israeli leaders from a more ambitious strategy.
TAPPER: Is there any possibility that the leaders of any other Arab country, whether Jordan, or Egypt or the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi, that any of those countries would do anything? Let's say that there is a Gaza in the future, with 2 million Palestinians desperate for leadership and a functioning society.
And let's assume that it just to posit for the sake of this discussion, that the Hamas leadership has been eliminated. Is there any room for those other Arab Israeli countries to step in and fill the breach and help? I mean, I know that there's room for it, would they ever do? It is my question.
MILLER: I mean, I think they contribute to reconstruction assistance quite generously under the right circumstances. The question is how does the Gaza story end? Does it end at a massive Israeli incursion which decimates Hamas, but ends up killing hundreds, if not thousands of Palestinians, not to mention losses for the Israeli Defense Forces in an incredible one of the most densely populated areas on Earth?
I think you are also going to run into the problem of Palestinian self-determination, on their own determination, to rule themselves. So no, I think this is Gaza is like a lost child right now, as you pointed out, it's an open air prison and employment is over 50 percent terrible, psychological and social problems.
I think that that we're watching a situation without a determined or definitive and I can say with great authority, Jake. I don't make predictions, but this situation is going to get worse before it gets much worse. We're in for a very, very rocky ride over the next several weeks, or even months.
TAPPER: Aaron David Miller, thanks so much, always appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: And the next hour more on what appears to be a massive intelligence failure for Israel as some are calling this attack Israel's 9/11. Stay with us.