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CNN Live Event/Special
Israel: At Least 300 Dead In Surprise Hamas Attack; U.S. Officials Raise Concerns Over Israel Intel After Hamas Attacks; "Significant" Number Of Israeli Civilians, Soldiers Taken Captive; Hamas Hits Israel By Air, Land, & Sea In Surprise Attack; Israel: At Least 300 Dead In Surprise Hamas Attack; Biden: U.S. Support For Israel "Rock Solid And Unwavering". Aired 11-12a ET
Aired October 07, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Jake Tapper and you are watching special CNN coverage of Israel at war.
Israel's cabinet convened late this evening after the surprise coordinated terrorist assault by Hamas that so far has left at least 300 Israelis dead. Many of them civilians and 1,500 injured. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his government that Israel is, quote, embarking on a long and difficult war forced upon us, unquote.
Netanyahu went on to say, quote, the first phase ends by the destruction of the majority of the enemy forces, end quote, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel and we will win.
CNN's Hadas Gold joins me now live from Jerusalem. Hadas, thanks so much for joining us. What's the latest?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we are still receiving reports of intermittent rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel. Although they have slowed down quite dramatically compared to what we were experiencing just about 20 hours ago when they were such regular air raid sirens here in Jerusalem. We had at least five or six rounds and had rockets exploding overhead here. But it's been quieter for those in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but there's still activity going on in southern Israel.
Just in the last hour or so, the Israeli police have confirmed that the militants in Sderot, which is a town right on the Gaza border, that that situation has been cleared. They were holed up apparently in the police station there. This had been an hours-long gun battle with the militants there. The police have now said that they have secured Sderot.
It is not clear yet whether the Israeli authorities have cleared all of the Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza border that had militant infiltrations. This has been their number one priority is to clear all of the militants, because as we've been hearing and seeing from residents there is just the harrowing experiences of militants, which may have been hundreds of militants entering Israel, infiltrating these towns, shooting randomly and indiscriminately on the street, going into houses, holding hostages, and even taking some Israeli civilians.
We also know soldiers are among those as well. Hostage and back into Gaza. We don't know an exact number of how many of these hostages were taken into Gaza, but they are likely to be in the dozens. The Israeli officials have not confirmed a number. We know that Hamas says they have taken them to strategic locations across the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military is conducting air strikes on Gaza. We've seen several buildings that have been destroyed by these airstrikes. The Israeli military has told some civilians in Gaza to leave certain areas and seek shelter elsewhere. We know that tens of thousands of Israeli military reservists have been called up.
No indication that a ground incursion has happened yet, but I they're -- I can't imagine a scenario where there won't be some sort of activity on the ground. I can't imagine this will all be conducted from the air as we have seen in previous conflicts, because we're at a different level of war here. And because there are Israeli civilians and soldiers, some children as young as three years old who are allegedly being held by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announcing that in addition to this going to be a long and potentially drawn out war, they've also decided to cut off electricity to the Gaza Strip. This will provide most of the electricity to the Gaza Strip. This is obviously as part of an effort to try to hinder the militants' operation, but it also, of course, affects the civilians there as well.
The death toll on both sides is in the hundreds. The injuries are in the thousands. And we expect those to rise for both Israelis and the Palestinians over the coming hours and days. Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Stay safe.
Tonight as casualties climb, in Israel, Iran is celebrating. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted this disgusting message, quote, God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the resistance forces throughout the region. He did that with a video of Palestinian terrorists Hamas attacking if memory serves attendees of a peace concert, attending, again, just revolting the words of Iran Supreme leader.
Thousands of Iranians gathered on the streets of Tehran to celebrate the bloodshed, to celebrate the innocent civilians murdered as Iranian state media showed parliament members cheering death to Israel. Obviously, that does not represent the Iranian people writ large who are in many ways prisoners in their own country, but it is also true that long held hatred of Israel has only grown as Israel has inched towards normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia in a U.S. back deal that would have been troublesome for Iran. Iran is Shiite and the Saudis are Sunni, and those two sects are at odds quite often. As the Washington Post's Max Boot noted earlier today, quote, "Indeed, while we don't know for sure why Hamas chose to strike exactly now, this could well be part of a larger attempt by Iran and its proxies, including Hamas, to prevent historic reconciliation between Jerusalem and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Max Boot is also a senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations. He joins us now. Max, thanks so much for joining us.
The U.S. officials say it is still too early to say definitively if Iran was directly involved in this attack, but we do know that Iran funds and arms Hamas. We know that Iran does not like the idea of Israel and Saudi Arabia forming any sort of diplomatic alliance. Put this into the larger perspective, if you could.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, the larger perspective is that, Jake, is that you basically have two blocks competing for power and influence in the Middle East. On the one hand, you have Iran and the so-called Shiite crescent with its proxies being very prominent in Iraq, being very prominent in Syria, being very prominent in Yemen, and also, of course, in the Palestinian territory, and in particular, Hamas receives major support and arms and money from Iran.
On the other side, you have Israel and the Sunni states, especially the Saudis and their Emiratis, with U.S. backing, who are very much attempting to contain Iranian influence and power. And that is what is responsible for this historic reconciliation, which has already happened between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, and that is now in the process of occurring between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
But, clearly, Iran, with its brutal proxy wars, is able to basically come up the works. And that's what they're trying to do, I think, right now is to prevent that reconciliation by creating this horrific war in Israel's backyard that will inflame the entire region.
TAPPER: Iran obviously arms and funds Hamas knowing, wanting Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks. I'm not sure of this relationship, how much Iran would know in terms of the details what Hamas was planning on carrying out.
What can you tell us about that? Would Hamas say, hey, this is what we're planning on doing? Or is it more just like a relationship where Iran just gives them the funds and expects that they will use the funds for no good?
BOOT: Well, in general, I think Iran does provide the funds and munitions and expects them to be used for no good. For a major, major operation like this, my guess would be that the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, probably was involved in planning and signing off for this.
They certainly exercise a fair amount of control over organizations like Hezbollah. I think less so over Hamas, but nevertheless, there is a substantial relationship. But again, we can talk about Iranian complicity. [11:10:10]
But the question is, Jake, what do you do about it? And, of course, we already have a lot of sanctions on Iran. We could try tightening those sanctions, but the reality is we've found in the last few decades is that it doesn't take that much money to sponsor terrorism. You can -- you're never going to be able to cut off all the money that Iran uses to support these extremist groups. And, of course, the only other option you really love to it is then to go to war with Iran, which is the last thing that anybody wants.
TAPPER: You point to a 2017 RAND study in your column today noting how Israel wanted to deter Hamas from attacking, but not to the point where Israel was willing to topple Hamas, the regime.
What was the calculation then, and I assume this war, what happened this morning, changes that calculation?
BOOT: I would assume so. I mean, up until now, the Israeli calculation has been that they will retaliate for Hamas attacks, but they don't want to go to the extent of actually destroying Hamas because they don't know what's going to come after Hamas.
And basically, the Israeli security establishment position has been better than the devil you know than some other devil that may come along down the road. And their concern has been that if Hamas is not there, you could have an even more militant organization, hard as that may be to believe. But there are even crazier organizations like Al- Qaeda that could take over or you could have just share chaos.
Or in some ways the worst thing from the Israeli perspective is to have to go back in and to reoccupy the Gaza Strip because, of course, Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005. And most Israelis have no desire for another costly and brutal occupation.
But if you destroy Hamas and there is no effect of authority over the Gaza Strip, somebody has to roll. And, unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority is probably too weak to do that. The Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, they're not going to -- I don't see them providing troops. Certainly not working with the Israelis to pacify Gaza.
And so basically, at the end of the day, Israel is going to be left with this terrible dilemma in whatever military operations they undertake it.
Yes. They can militarily defeat Hamas. There's no question that the Israeli Defense Forces are going to be much stronger than Hamas. There's going to be horrible, terrible, brutal fighting that's going to go on. And there will be heavy casualties on both sides.
At the end of the day, I don't doubt that the Israelis will prevail tactically and militarily. But then the issue becomes now what? How do they create any kind of peace and order going forward in Gaza if they completely eliminate Hamas? That has been basically the question which has held Israel back in the past. But right now, I think what Israel is finding out is that the status quo is not as sustainable as they thought. That they thought they had deterred Hamas from these kinds of major attacks and clearly they had not. And so now they're kind of running out of options and having to kind of go all out in a military campaign without a clear end game.
TAPPER: And the one certainty seems that whatever comes next will be worse for the innocent Palestinian people. The people -- the two -- there are two million in the Gaza Strip and their lives have been miserable and they're about to get worse.
BOOT: Absolutely. And Hamas leadership shows no sign of caring at all about the people that are rules over because if they did care, they would know that this would bring catastrophe and horror to the people of Gaza. But that's clearly what Hamas wants because they derive political and military advantage from war with Israel.
But there is no advantage for the ordinary people of Gaza who are already some of the poorest and most suffering in the world. And they're going to suffer some more just as you've been seeing today Israeli suffer. It's just this never ending, heart-rending cycle of violence with no end in sight.
TAPPER: Max Boot, thank you so much for your insights. Appreciate it.
Coming up, how did Hamas pull this off without Israel knowing that this was coming? Even a senior U.S. military official said America was not tracking any sort of imminent attack on Israel in the last several days. We're going to pick up that -- pick up that story with our intelligence analysts, next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: A senior U.S. intelligence official tell CNN that Hamas' ability to coordinate these terrorist attacks on Israeli towns, without detection, raises concerns about blind spots by the U.S. and its allies.
I'm joined by CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller, and CNN senior national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Thanks to both you for being here.
Juliette, the big question in Washington right now among the intelligence analysts, how did Israel not even remotely see this coming?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And it's the right question to ask even amongst this tragedy. One asset for Israel's own protection, because obviously, terrorists will take advantage of what's clearly intelligence and preparedness gaps.
What I couldn't believe when we started to hear the news was the extent of the attack by Hamas, the thousands of -- or hundreds of bombs the physical excursion, the drone excursion, the paragliding excursions, the water excursion, everything simultaneously that didn't -- was neither detected nor as significantly responded to as quickly as you would have thought the Israelis were really were able to do.
And so that kind of organization, which looks seems to me more like Mumbai and the attacks in India, a decade ago, is actually, without getting picked up through signal or human intelligence, is a gap.
I just don't know how Israel lost that storyline in terms of at least getting some understanding of what Hamas might be up to and the coordination it would have taken to plan this successful of an attack into Israel.
TAPPER: And, John, I mean, you spent the last 20 years working in intelligence and what Juliette points out there is exactly right. Not just -- I mean, the planning had to have been extensive to have such a successful operation, but then beyond that, the inadequate response in terms of how long it took for the IDF to get to some of these towns and kibbutz really showed not just an intelligence failure, but a readiness failure.
I can't hear John. Okay. So I didn't know.
KAYYEM: I can't either.
TAPPER: Okay. So I didn't know if that was just my earpiece or, John, we're having trouble with your -- with your sound. I don't know what the problem is. You're -- you seem to be muted.
Juliette, let me go to you while we figure out John -- while we figure out John's sound.
TAPPER: How long would an operation like this have had -- have been in the works? I mean, this -- the extent of the planning.
KAYYEM: Yeah. Well, it's the manufacturing and the acquisition of and/or the acquisition of the bombs, which does not happen overnight. It's the hiding of them. It's the ability to plan that many individuals simultaneously.
I mean, these things -- let's just put right on Israel's order. So we're not talking about, you know, a foreign terrorist organization in Afghanistan planning and an attack in the United States. Israel is well known for its signal intelligence. It's well known for its infiltration of Hamas of paying members of Hamas to get information.
And so the planning would have been -- would have been months. They clearly also targeted a particular day. The anniversary of the Yom Kippur War and the Holy Holiday as well. And all of that takes coordination. It doesn't -- this is not a -- this is not an uprising. This is a coordinated attack.
And to what you were saying, I wrote today in the Atlantic. This isn't just an intelligence failure. It's an everything failure. I mean, it is -- it is before it happened, while it's happening, and the hours after for a country that everyone had looked at as being, you know, choose your verb, right? The harshest, the best counterterrorism efforts in that area.
TAPPER: And we had Beth Sanner, the former deputy director of national intelligence on earlier and I asked her about the why she thinks the hostages were taken all these civilians, in addition to members of the Israeli military. But kids, we had a mom on earlier, a few minutes ago who was talking -- who had two of her kids were taken hostage. And she's just beside herself.
Why do you think they took all these hostages? We don't know how many, but probably in the hundreds. Do you agree with Beth Sanner that it's just an act of terror? It's just about terrorizing the Israeli people.
KAYYEM: It's a -- look, there's something performative about this in terms of the attack that makes it similar to 9/11. They want a lot of people watching. They wanted those videos of those individuals, the young women, the children being taken, the horrifying future that is probably in store for them, if they are still alive. They want how to make -- they want Israel to have to make a calculation that no country wants to ever make about how aggressive you go and the possibility that your own civilians will be killed in that process.
And knowing what we know now about potentially Israel's lack of intelligence about what's going on in Gaza and with Hamas means that they may be going in without much clarity about where people are. This is exactly why they did it. They wanted to put some sort of barrier, some sort of check on what's clearly going to be because it's already been announced a very aggressive air. And eventually, we assume ground war by Israel. So that's the nature of it.
Look, we -- they want people watching horrified. That is -- that is the nature of the kind of terror that Israel and the world faces.
TAPPER: John, I'm told your sound is now working. Where do you think the U.S. and intelligence communities are going to be most directly looking at in terms of trying to figure out the blind spots that they had?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I think they're going to be looking at what did we miss, how did we miss it? And as General Clapper pointed out earlier, you know, we've been there before. The real thing is, now is not the time. This is the time when we need to refocus on collection, analysis, and finding actual intelligence.
That's what the Israelis need to do, which is not time to get into the blame game. They've got to keep their intel people focused, and they can get to that later and they will. And it's important.
But over the next few days, what they have to be looking at is, we've got this problem we're focused on in the south by the coast. We have to watch out for a potential Hezbollah incursions as an -- as an Iranian proxy from the north and that we make sure we have forces that are available to be up there without stripping everything to one location.
They've got to be looking at their punishment operation that they're organizing in retaliation for this surprise attack. But they also have to be mindful of, as Juliette pointed out a minute ago, what about these hostages and where will they be held? And will they be used not just as bargaining chips, but as human shields at places that are the new or alternate command and control locations for Hamas? So it's a -- they have a lot on their plate in the next few days.
TAPPER: How much do you think the Iranians played a role in planning this operation?
MILLER: That's a really interesting question because by doing nothing the Iranians have a role and that they bank roll Hamas by, you know, amounts of a hundred million dollars a year. They give them the design for these missiles. They teach them how to build them in factories. So Iran's hand is always there. The real question is because of our intelligence collection on Iran, which is usually pretty effective, the operational security of this operation, given the scale of it by land, by sea, by air, by incursion into Israeli towns was on such a scale that secrecy here on the Hamas part was paramount.
It's not just an intelligence failure on the part of Israel, Jordan, the United States, all of the people who pool intelligence, but it's a success on the part of Hamas in terms of operational security, bringing Iran in operationally could have added to that risk. So I'm sure Iran is poised to do things like help, right now, with cyber- attacks if they haven't already been involved in the cyber-attacks and in other ways, especially with their proxies like Hezbollah.
TAPPER: All right. John Miller and Juliette Kayyem, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.
The Israeli Defense Forces say as many as a thousand Hamas terrorists took part in today's surprise attack on Israel. We'll be back in a second with military perspective on how this attack was waged and how Israel might respond. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Good evening. I'm Jake Tapper. Back with our special coverage of Israel at War.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war after Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on the Jewish Sabbath also on a Jewish holiday, Shemini Atzeret, firing thousands of rockets, shooting civilians, kidnapping many civilians, along with some Israeli soldiers.
The death toll is expected to continue rising. So far, the Israeli government says at least 300 Israelis were killed and 1,500 injured. Israel has been firing back overnight with strikes in Gaza, in the region.
Day is now beginning to break. The state of Israel, since its founding in 1948, is widely known to have some of the most sophisticated military and intelligence capabilities of any country in the region. It has thwarted numerous plots over the year -- years and with American funding assistance, its Iron Dome has given Israeli some sense of security from air attacks. This time, of course, Hamas went decidedly low-tech in many ways using bulldozers, gunmen using paragliders, trucks, motorcycles, a multi-pronged attack that as far as we know, Israel and the U.S. just simply didn't see coming in anyway.
Let's bring in retired Air Force colonel and CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton, and CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Oren Liebermann, who before he moved here was our Jerusalem correspondent.
Oren, I've seen a lot of, especially academics and journalists in Israel saying, one of the reasons why the response from the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, was took so long, was it so much of the IDF is on the eastern part of Israel, in the West Bank, protecting settlers, you know. And there's a whole geopolitical part of that.
Instead of on the western part of the country, and I mean, this -- what's your response? Is that -- is that accurate?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: I can't say exactly where the IDF has positioned its forces. They're not about to say we have X number here and Y number here, but let's talk about where we simply have seen the IDF. They have operated repeatedly in Jenin in the West Bank and Tulkarm they carried out a raid recently. That's simply where we have seen their focus.
And now when you ask the question of, did they have the forces to stop this on Gaza? That answer is a resounding no. And it wasn't just the failure of intelligence to see it coming, it was then the failure of the military to stop it once it started and the failure of the military to respond.
Sure. There are tremendous Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, but it doesn't look like Israel is near the point where it can start a ground incursion because the forces simply aren't there.
TAPPER: Right. And we see reports from Israelis on the ground saying, it took hours and hours and hours before the IDF was there to rescue them. And the only -- recently, we're able to take back some of these towns and kibbutzes (ph).
LIEBERMANN: And there is still some fighting ongoing from what we're seeing. And that gets to, first, how quickly Hamas struck and the numbers. To think a thousand or up to a thousand Hamas terrorists could have crossed the border in different ways, across what was supposed to be a smart border, a fence with motion detectors and motion sensors that was supposed to stop tunneling. And they came across with a bulldozer, paragliders and through the sea, and Israel was never able to pick up on this in advance. TAPPER: So, Colonel, we know how it started. We don't know how it's going to end. Or where it's even headed right now. Israel is -- I don't know if you heard the Israeli military spokesman earlier today saying, you know, I said -- Netanyahu said, you know, any innocent Palestinians get, you know, get out of Gaza because we're going to attack or at least get away from the areas where Hamas hides.
Well, I mean Hamas is embedded with the civilian population and Palestinians and -- there's nowhere to go. They can't get out.
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Exactly.
TAPPER: It's an open air prison. He said, well, they should go near the beaches, et cetera. I mean --
LEIGHTON: That's completely unrealistic. And what that seems to indicate to me, Jake, is that the Israelis are planning some kind of an attack that will go after what they think are, the command and control nodes of the Hamas leadership.
Now, as you absolutely correctly said, all those command and control nodes, all those places where they have their offices, where they live, it's all among the rest of the population.
TAPPER: Well, he said it too, the idea. I mean --
LEIGHTON: Yes. They're all right there.
LEIGHTON: And there is -- there is no way that they can avoid civilian casualties in a scenario like that. So what the Israelis could be doing is they could try to at least threaten this. There will be airstrikes for sure. There could be some ground incursions into Gaza. They may try to seal off the tunnels. They may try to do some other things there. But the tunnels weren't what was used in this particular case. It looks like right now.
And so what they'll have to do is they'll have to perhaps have some limited incursions. But the thing that they're going to have to really watch for is how are they going to get the hostages back. That is going to be, I think, one of the most difficult things for them to deal with on the Israeli side at this point.
TAPPER: Yes. Egypt could bring -- could help out here if they wanted to. But per ushe, none of the other Arab countries really want to be part of the solution.
LIEBERMANN: Egypt has been a key player here in the past, especially in my time there when we saw what were much smaller escalations. Egypt stepped in, along with the U.N. to an extent. And they could be ended pretty quickly in 24, 48 hours.
In the past, you've seen Turkey play a productive role. Qatar play a productive role. Who plays that role now? Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is trying --
LIEBERMANN: -- on the phone with everybody, but I don't know that a phone call and diplomatic efforts are cutting this off in some fashion.
TAPPER: You now -- were a Pentagon. You were our Jerusalem guy. Now you're a Pentagon guy. Are you hearing any concern from military folks here in the U.S. about what's going to happen?
LIEBERMANN: Not yet. Right now, it's unequivocal support. You've heard that from Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, all the way up to President Joe Biden and others in the National Security establishment.
Where this goes from here? I don't know that the U.S. knows that answer yet. Frankly, I don't know that Israel knows that answer yet, because it all depends on what's your goal in Gaza. And that's incredibly difficult and Israel knows that.
And as Colonel Leighton pointed out, the hostages there complicate any calculation you try to make.
TAPPER: Well, they seem to be suggesting that the goal is they want to get rid of Hamas. It's no longer containing Hamas. They want to end Hamas.
LEIGHTON: Yes, I think that's an impossible goal, quite frankly, Jake. I mean, Hamas is embedded within the population in Gaza. And if you don't have the hearts and minds, you have nothing. You also have a situation where the whole educational structure, the whole social structure, is really interwoven with Hamas and other groups like it. And those groups have connections to places like Iran. They have connections to places beyond that.
So it's going to be a real problem for them to do anything like this. This is going to be a real sociological dilemma for the Israelis. They're not going to be able to complete this in any effective way.
TAPPER: All right. Colonel Cedric Leighton and Oren Liebermann, thanks to both to you. Appreciate it.
We're live in Israel next for the latest on how the country is retaliating after that terrorist attack unlike any it has ever seen before. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Today's unprecedented terrorist attack was marked by Hamas crossing Israel's southern border with Gaza, storming Israeli towns and kibbutzes and killing soldiers and civilians alike, towns such as Zikim.
CNN's Nic Robertson is in Zikim right now. You can see it in the map there. It's the northernmost dot on the map north of Gaza.
Nic, it's sunrise there in Gaza -- or north of Gaza. What is the situation like there as the new day begins?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. There's a sense that we're seeing a little more buildup of the Israeli military forces. We've seen the tanks going. We've talked about that. We've seen a few howitzers, armor personnel vehicles going in. But it's nothing compared to what is expected to be deployed here.
But with daylight, there are people coming here to try to see their family that they -- that they lost contact with yesterday. Gentlemen standing behind me here really wants to get in touch with his son and his former partner, his former wife, who are -- who are in one of the communities close to -- close to Gaza. These are areas now that the Israeli Defense Forces believe that they have secured.
The police station in Sderot, just a few miles away, was secured a little earlier. But it's still hard for people to get in touch with some of their loved ones, and that's a concern. So we're seeing a few people showing up this morning here to this -- to this checkpoint, asking for permission to go through. That's not happening yet, and this is still a controlled zone, Jake.
TAPPER: Are you hearing much from the people who live there about what they've been through?
ROBERTSON: We haven't been able to get in there yet. We believe that some people have been coming out on buses. The Israeli Defense Forces helping them evacuate the area. We do hope to be able to get into some of those communities later, but it's not clear when we'll get that access.
So at the moment, we don't know. We haven't been able to talk to people who've gone through that horrendous and horrific and harrowing experience of the past 24 hours. And it was about 24 hours ago, of course, for this all unfolded.
TAPPER: Yes. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
Let's bring in Ted Deutch. He's the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, a former Democratic Congressman from Florida and a lifelong pro-Israel activist. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
So we're learning some new details through a video that CNN just authenticated. We're not going to show it because it is so disturbing. It shows an unconscious woman, an Israeli woman, being paraded around by Hamas terrorists. One of the terrorists has his leg draped over her waist, and another holds a clump of her hair. He's cheering Allahu Akbar. Another man is seeing spitting on her head.
CNN has confirmed, this is a German-Israeli duel national. I know -- I'm sure you've seen a lot of these horrific videos on social media and other media platforms today. What's your reaction? I know you if you've seen this one to this one or to any of the others you've seen.
TED DEUTCH, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Thanks, Jake. I have seen that video and I've seen a number of the others.
Look, what happened in Israel is nothing short of a (inaudible). You know what that is. I know what that is throughout the history of the Jewish people. These are massacres of Jews. This terrorist strike this terror army went into Israel and slaughtered 300 Israelis.
And for perspective, I mean, Israel is a small country. You know that. For perspective, in American terms, that would be as if over 10,000 Americans were slaughtered.
And the barbarity and the brutality that we witnessed in videos like this. And in the stories that we've heard from friends and relatives in Israel, and again, small country, small Jewish community around the world, so many of us have been in constant contact with people that we know across Israel.
This horrific action was carried out by a terror group that has no -- that was intent on trying to do something horrific and slaughtering Jews. And I'll just say this. What that shows is the difference between this terror group and what we're going to see in the coming days. And that's the last point on me, Jake. The fact is that going forward, Israel is going to take the necessary action to protect its citizens just like any other country in the world would just like any person around the world would expect from its leadership.
And every casualty, every fatality in that battle as a result of what happened by Hamas is Hamas's fault that the Israeli soldiers will regret every loss of life. These Hamas thugs, these terrorists, these disgusting awful attackers, they relish in it. And the desecration of bodies and the treatment of live bodies, the hostages that are now in Gaza and the parading around of dead bodies as well.
It's disgusting. It's something that every person who has some sense of decency around the world should look at. And so reason that so many world leaders are standing firmly and clearly with Israel as we all should.
TAPPER: When you were a member of the House of Representatives, you were a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee. You would have been privy to some U.S. intelligence.
What do you make of the fact that neither U.S. nor Israeli intelligence had any idea this was coming?
DEUTCH: Jake, when I chair the Middle East subcommittee for 10 years, I would have responded exactly the way I'm going to respond now, which is there will be -- there will be plenty of opportunities to try to figure out what happened here. But I'm respectfully going to suggest that this isn't that time.
This is a -- this is a moment when one of our closest allies, a country that sits in a place that is exposed to dangerous regimes is under attack. That's what happened yesterday.
Again, I think there'll be lots of -- I know throughout the -- throughout the day, there have been people trying to figure out exactly what happened here. It's a really important exercise, but we need to focus on what's happening at the moment. And that's the fact that this terror we came in has now launched over 5,000 rockets all across Israel, 1,900 plus 2,000 people already acknowledged to be injured.
And reservists from around the country, some multiple generations within the same family being called up in the citizen's army that Israel has to defend their country. That's what we're focused on at the moment.
TAPPER: What do you think Congress can do without a Speaker of the House? Obviously, Israel is going to want aid, help, additional supplies. The former ambassador, Michael Oren was on earlier saying that one of the things that the U.S. often does in situations like this is help with ammunition. Replenish -- help Israel replenish ammunition and then Israel pays it back at a later point in time.
But right now there is literally no Speaker of the House. And it is unclear how Congress, which the House, obviously, as you know, needs to be the first one to begin the process of authorizing any a package to any other country. What happens?
DEUTCH: Yes. I -- obviously, I don't know exactly how that will work out. I do know a couple of things though in terms of how Congress in the White House are approaching this. We heard in Congress from Greg Meeks. I thought he made clear that -- he's in your conversation with him, the ongoing discussions he's having with leadership about how this would get done. And I trust that it will. I have no idea how.
But I do know that the statements from a -- from a huge number of members of Congress, a House and Senate, just like leaders around the world have been incredibly supportive of Israel and the face of this horrific attack and the -- most importantly, Secretary Austin and the President of the United States made clear the commitment of the United States to Israel's security.
I don't know. There are a lot of things that I don't know about what's happening in Congress. Jake, we're all trying to figure that out. There's never been a moment where a Speaker of the House has been kicked out. That's something that the internal politics in which they'll have to figure out.
But at a moment like this, when a close ally is facing the kind of risks in the aftermath of this really terrible massacre, we're going to have to figure out how to do that. And Congress will have to figure that out. And I'll look forward to the conversations that I'll be having with my former colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike who are -- who are dedicated to doing what's necessary to stand with our ally.
TAPPER: Former Congressman Ted Deutch, thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.
DEUTCH: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up next, it was supposed to be an all-night dance party celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, but it turned into a dawn of terror. Our coverage of Israel at War continues. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In a matter of just minutes, the citizens of Israel went from enjoying their lives to fleeing in terror as dawn broke. Today, hundreds of young people were attending a music festival on some rural farmland near the Israel-Gaza border.
You can see in this cell phone video the confusion as they began hearing sirens and then rockets. Confusion that quickly turned into panic.
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TAPPER: A frantic dance for their lives. It was supposed to be an all- night dance party, celebrating the joyous holiday of Sukkot. Instead, you see cars packed with terrified young people snarled in traffic. The woman who took this video tells us she's still trying to get in touch with friends who were at the festival.
And just a few moments ago, we heard what appeared to be new explosions in Gaza City where it's now just before 7:00 A.M. Take a listen.
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TAPPER: Our reporters on the ground are working to get the latest details in CNN's for continuing coverage of what's going on in the region. We'll have much more after this break.