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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN International: Israel At War. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 08, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
U.N.IDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome everyone. I'm Isa Soares in London. And we are continuing with our big breaking news this hour.
Happening right now, the U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting as intense fighting rages between Israel and Hamas. You're looking at live pictures there from the U.N. Now, these are closed door meetings taking place in New York and it comes after Hamas militants launched a surprise attack, Saturday, into Israeli territory killing hundreds of people. That meeting taking place at the U.N.
We are monitoring that U.N. meeting as soon as there's any developments, anyone speaks on this, of course, we will break bring in the news as it breaks. So do stay right here for that.
In the meantime, a major announcement coming from Israel, just a short time ago, a declaration of war against Hamas. And right now we can confirm this is propaganda video from the Palestinian militant group. Let me show you this.
It shows paraglide, as you can see there, and a barrage of rockets launched from the field in Gaza. This was early, we're being told, in the attack. Hamas says its fighters are still in several Israeli cities, as you can see there on your map. Officials and others are trying to estimate the death toll. A government minister tells CNN he expects the number of people killed in Israel to considerably surpass 600.
In response to the attack, Israeli airstrikes have been pounding Gaza. And you're looking right now on your screens footage of nighttime explosions. Palestinian health officials say at least 413 people have been killed by the Israeli bombardments.
The shock terror attack by Hamas has led to the deadliest day in decades for Israel. And I want to bring in as we look at these pictures to CNN's Hadas Gold who's live for us in Jerusalem. So, Hadas, the death toll, as we just stated there, rising almost hourly. Just bring us up to date on the very latest and what the Netanyahu government has being saying.
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I don't think that Israelis have seen a day like this in their history, because even when you look at previous wars that maybe over the course of the war had higher death tolls. First of all, many of those deaths were likely soldiers. And in this case, we understand that it's likely many of these deaths we've have so far, north of 600 are civilians who have been killed. We are starting to get names and faces of Israeli soldiers of members of the Israeli police force.
But just the sheer numbers of those who have been killed in just about 36 hours is something that Israelis have essentially never experienced in the 75 years existence of this country. More than 600 killed, more than 2,200 have been injured, and this will likely rise because as you noted, this is still an active situation. There are still militants believed to be in some of these communities in Southern Israel, there are still rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel. And also those numbers do not count the hostages that were taken by Hamas militants into Gaza itself.
We don't have a firm number on the number of those hostages taken. But we do know that many, many civilians are among them, including women, including children, including young toddlers, including elderly and, of course, including soldiers as well. We do not know the status of many of these hostages. We've seen some, of course, very disturbing videos of some of these hostages are in the Gaza Strip and we just do not know their conditions at all.
And what's really amazing is to see that so far, the death toll appears to be higher on the Israeli side than on the Gaza side so far. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, they believe that more than 400 Palestinians have been killed so far as a result of the Israeli actions. There are more than 2,300 injuries. We don't know how many of those killed are considered to be militants or civilians because the Israeli officials have claimed that they have killed dozens, if not hundreds, of Hamas fighters as well. But this is a very quickly developing situation.
And then on the political side, we have the Israeli government declaring war for the first time since 1973. There are calls for an emergency unity government. The opposition leaders have said they're willing to set aside their political differences that have been so heated over the past few months, and sit in this emergency unity government. But that has not happened yet. There has not been an emergency unity government created yet. There are still a lot of questions from Israelis, why, why not, why didn't this happen yesterday.
And, Isa, there's a lot of anger right now at the Israeli government, at the Israeli security establishment, not only for how they miss the obviously intelligence, massive intelligence failure, but also a lot of anger because Israelis, especially the families of those who have been killed or missing or not yet identified feel as though that there hasn't been enough communications with them.
They have been giving these really emotional press conferences, talking about the last moments they were on the phone. Many of them with their missing family members when they were abducted or killed. Now, there is a, you know, a person who has been appointed in by Benjamin Netanyahu as a coordinator for the missing, for the hostages. The families have been instructed to go to a certain stage, a certain location within Israel, to register with the Israeli police.
And, Isa, what's really heartbreaking in this instructions from the police as well, is they're asking the family members to bring items that might have their missing family members DNA, that that could help them match potentially bodies, potentially parts, with their missing family members DNA to help identify them.
SOARES: My goodness. I can't imagine what all these families are going through, Hadas. And, Hadas, you said this is an active situation. There's a lot, of course, we still do not know and we're waiting for answers on. But Netanyahu, in terms of political context here, has been called in the past Mr. Security. And there you raise some of the questions that people, not only anger, but questions about security failures, intelligence failures.
But for now, though, Hadas, how much of a political test will this be for Netanyahu, who was called like, you said, political unity?
GOLD: Yes. First of all, Mr. Netanyahu has been called Mr. Security, likes to call himself Mr. Security. But in reality, Benjamin Netanyahu is a very careful person when it comes to military operations. He does not like to get neck deep in these military operations. He's very careful with them. That has been his sort of modus operandi while he has been Prime Minister. That is what he is known for.
And that's why I don't -- that's why I think this is such a test for him, because he is up against the wall here. There is going to be a question almost not -- not if but when a ground incursion will take place for him. And this is also this is a huge moment for him.
Up until two days ago, we were discussing how Benjamin Netanyahu will likely be known potentially for maybe even bringing peace with Saudi Arabia, normalization that his note in the history books will be about normalization with the Arab countries. I think now, he will potentially be better known as the golden year who, of course, was Prime Minister during that Yom Kippur War, versus potentially whatever achievements there might be a normalization with Arab countries.
SOARES: And, Hadas, do stay with us because we have some breaking news in the last few minutes. Hamas, it says it is holding 30, 3-0, 30 captors in Gaza, this Islamic Jihad Secretary General says at least. Hamas is holding at least 30 captive in Gaza who were capturing this deadly attack on Israel on Saturday. And it goes on to say, and I'm quoting them here, the Islamic Jihad movement currently has more than 30 prisoners, and they will not return to their homes until our prisoners, it goes on to say, are liberated.
It adds, Israel must surrender to this reality and the shortest way to avoid losses, further losses of prisoners and casualties is to acknowledge their defeat.
I'm not sure if we have Hadas still with us. But, Hadas, if -- we do not have Hadas. But let's get the very latest then. Magen David Adom is Israel's National Emergency Medical and Disaster Service, members of this organization on the front line right now helping people injured or impacted in some way by the Hamas militant attacks. Uri Shacham is the Deputy Director and Chief of Staff of this organization and joins us now from Kiryat -- oh no, Israel. Thank you very much, sir, for taking the time to speak to us.
I mean, we just had some breaking news in the last few minutes. Hamas says it's holding at least 30 captives in Gaza. My colleague, Hadas Gold, was talking about the state of anger the country is feeling right now. Your reaction.
URI SHACHAM, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CHIEF OF STAFF OF MAGEN DAVID ADOM: Listen, I've been serving in Magen David Adom for the last 30 years, ever since I was a younger teenager. I never saw the sights I've seen in the last couple of days. Having 600 civilians murdered by terrorists. This is something that was unknown.
Having Magen David Adom ambulance shot at by terrorist, killing Magen David Adom EMTs while they were doing their job saving lives. This is something that was never seen. A Magen David Adom ambulance was taken to Gaza, and instead of saving lives of civilians in Israel is somewhere where it's on -- no, this is something that we never encountered. Nevertheless we have to cope with because this is the reality for the last couple of days when Israel is at war.
SOARES: And, Uri, give us a sense of you as a sense of what your team has been doing on the ground. I mean, I imagine you're going into homes, your going to neighborhoods, took us through the operation here on the ground, Uri.
SHACHAM: Yes. Well, the operation consists of responding both for rocket attacks where people are hit by shrapnels, going into scenes where people are being shot, being -- having all kinds of shooting wounds, and putting our team's lives in danger in order to save others. As I mentioned, this is something that I haven't been seen in Israel up until now.
Nevertheless, we reinforced our teams in the south part of Israel. And we keep in mind that in -- any minute now, something can develop in the northern part of Israel. So it's not only taking care of wounded people in the south part of Israel, but it's also putting in mind something can develop from the northern part, as well as being prepared for responding on for attacks on Tel Aviv or Jerusalem with long range missiles.
SOARES: And, Uri, what kind of injuries have you been seeing and what are you needing right now?
SHACHAM: Well, I mentioned penetrating wounds, both from rocket shrapnels, both from shooting incidents. We have quite a number of civilians that suffer from injuries to the lower limbs because they were running to shelter and falling down the stairs. The most urgent needs is additional ambulances to make sure that we can respond also for large scale incident. And if anybody wants to support, please go to redstarforisrael.com. That's redstarforisrael.com. Magen David Adom is prepared. We are here for the people of Israel and we hope for peaceful times,
SOARES: Uri, appreciate it. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, Uri.
SHACHAM: Thank you very much.
SOARES: Well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning Gaza residents to leave in order to ensure their safety. But the reality is that there are a few places for them -- for any residents to go. Our Salma Abdelaziz joins us now. And, Salma, just talked first of all to what is happening inside Gaza. What are you hearing right now?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the most important is the news that you just broke, Isa, there. That there are 30 captives, at least 30 captives being held right now by Hamas. Hamas has said in recent statements that those captives, those hostages have been distributed, again, according to the organization have been distributed by the militant group across the Strip.
Of course, Israel fears that that means there'll be used as human shields, kept deep into areas that are of strategic importance to Hamas specifically to prevent Israel from carrying out strikes, ground incursion and military operation. Take a look at how that has begun.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): These are the first moments to what Prime Minister Netanyahu warned will be a long and difficult war. Airstrikes in the densely populated Gaza Strip that the Palestinian Health Ministry says left hundreds dead and thousands more wounded. Israel's military says it is targeting headquarters belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and released this video. Netanyahu vowing to avenge the hundreds of Israeli lives lost with more ferocious firepower to come.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: All the places which Hamas is deployed, hiding and operating in, that wicked city, we will turn it into an island of ruins. I am telling Gaza's people to leave those places now because we will take action everywhere.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But destroying or severely deterring Hamas will prove extremely challenging for Israel's army. A significant and unprecedented number of Israeli citizens were captured by the group, according to the Israeli military. This disturbing social media video, geolocated by CNN, shows a victim hands appear to be bound in captivity. And Hamas claims the hostages are distributed across the Strip Israel believes to be used as human shields.
Israel's military is pressing on. With air assaults already underway, the IDF said it is preparing for a potential ground invasion, and that all options are on the table. Thousands of Israeli reservists have been called up for the task.
Israel's army is telling Gazans to clear the way for their operations, ordering families to leave their homes and providing locations for evacuation. But with the conflict short engulf the whole of the strip, for most, there is no way out. Gaza is largely isolated from the world by an Israeli air, land and sea blockade, and Egypt's southern border closure.
Electricity, which is mostly provided by Israel, was cut off and internet disrupted, unclear how long services will be severed. And with Hamas leadership reportedly going underground, the trillion people living in the 140 square mile territory have nowhere to turn. Fears growing that an unprecedented attack on Israel could yield unprecedented bloodshed in Gaza.
ABDELAZIZ: Now, there is the short term and the long term here, Isa, of course. In the short term, Prime Minister Netanyahu's focused will absolutely be getting those hostages, getting those captives out of Gaza. That is an extremely difficult task. You are talking about them being deeply entrenched into the Gaza Strip where there is right now no Israeli military presence, what does that look like and how do these assaults continue without potentially putting those innocents at risk.
And then, there's the longer term goal here, Isa. You have to wonder if Israelis can feel safe, living near Gaza ever again after this surprise assault, and how can the Israeli military bring back that sense of security to that region.
SOARES: Such important context. And we heard there in your piece, and you raise it, that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Salma, has been telling residents of Gaza to get out. Just break it down for us, can they get out? Is there a way to leave?
ABDELAZIZ: That's the crucial, crucial point here. You have 2 million people who are essentially trapped, most of them, within the Gaza Strip. This is a heavily blockaded area. It is held on one border by Egypt. People are unallowed to cross from there unless the Egyptians open it, highly unlikely of course. It is blockaded by air, land and sea from Israel already in the course of the last couple of days since this assault began. Israel has cut off electricity, some services have also been cut off, including the internet. And travel restrictions are extremely fierce.
Yes, the Israeli military gave certain locations within Gaza for some Gazans to flee to. But as we've seen in the past, with any conflict on that enclave civilians are absolutely caught. They are absolutely trapped in the middle, the bloodshed will be horrendous. And that is what is so terrifying for families inside Gaza. Especially when you're talking about a protracted conflict with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, these militant groups deeply entrenched within the Strip.
So to answer your question shortly, no, Gazans cannot get out of Gaza by and large. That means that civilians are in the crosshairs. SOARES: Salma Abdelaziz with the very latest. Thank you very much, Salma. We'll have much more of this breaking news after this break. Do stay right here with CNN Weather continuing coverage.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. The Israel Defense Forces are saying they will do anything to get captives back from Gaza. They are working to establish the exact number of people that have been taken hostage. They include women, children and even grandmothers. Some of them are American citizens. And a warning, the following video, geolocated by CNN to a neighborhood in Gaza, is disturbing.
And it shows a woman with bare feet being pulled from the trunk of a jeep. You can see they have a Jeep, by a gunman, and then forced into the backseat of a car. Her face is bleeding and her wrists appear to be cable tied behind her back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORON SPIELMAN, IDF SPOKESPERSON: What I can tell you is that we're not going to stop until we exhaust every means possible of doing so we will not leave any person behind, and we will do anything to make that happen. That's what's changed over the last 24 hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And that was Doron Spielman of the Israel Defense Forces talking to our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, who is now near Ashkelon in Israel. Nic, give us a sense of what you are seeing of what you're hearing on the ground this hour.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. We're moving around a bit heavy so we're actually now back again, just outside Sderot where I interviewed the Israeli Defense Force spokesman there.
This is a medical facility, a field medical facility, literally, dozens of ambulances were here in the last couple of hours. They've been here, over 24 hours. They've been treating the casualties. They've been going out to sort of the areas where people have been injured, have been killed, and trying to rescue and save them. Bringing them back here, sending them out by helicopter, sending them off to other hospitals, just trying to save people's lives.
Dozens upon dozens of doctors, and I was speaking to one of those doctors earlier. And the emotion that he was sharing and the experience that he was sharing was so powerful. He's used to, as a medic, going in after terrorist attacks in Israel, and trying to save people's lives and trying to help them nothing he said have prepared him for what he was seeing over the past 24-36 hours. A level of barbarity, he said.
A 90-year-old woman shot in the chest. People, young people just stabbed, throats slashed. He said that some people have been killed with rocket propelled grenades, a sort of thing that's use for blowing up a building, not killing people, as well as so many people shot. He is quite clearly affected by what he has witnessed here.
But I think that's the whole experience here, everyone, that people that have been caught up in it, the people trying to help them out. And the population in the town of Sderot where we were earlier on today, who most of them seem to have gone the streets were deserted. There were a few people staying in their houses. And they were staying in their houses because they are still afraid to come out.
There were troops still on the streets. They're searching for possible Hamas infiltrators. Still, in that town, there was a small gunfight not far from us, at one point, an explosion in another building. So this is an ongoing situation, and it has been. And it certainly seems that for the security forces and for the medics who have been redeployed from here to other areas close to the Gaza Strip. It does seem that this is something that's not going to be wrapped up quickly. Because to find all those infiltrators coming across the border from Gaza, the Hamas infiltrators, it's hard to prove a negative, how do you prove you've got them all. You don't know how many there were, you don't know where they're hiding.
So this is going to be quite a long job. I think that's what we're witnessing here tonight, Isa.
SOARES: And, Nic, we played a little clip there of your interview with Doron Spielman of the Israel Defense Force, IDF, who said Israel do anything to get captives to get captors back from Gaza. In the last 20 minutes or so we've heard the Islamic Jihad is holding 30 captives in Gaza.
What are you hearing from the Israeli side regarding the hostages here?
ROBERTSON: Yes. They're staying away from giving numbers. And there would be reasons for that, quite simply that there are still missing people to be accounted for. And any number they give out, if it was too big, would be used by Hamas. It's not clear if Islamic Jihad telling the truth that they actually know how many people have us have, is Hamas telling Islamic Jihad, these are competing organizations. And they might be together in fighting and hating Israel, but they're competing organizations. So even that messaging, I think, really needs to be tested.
What the Defense spokesman, Major Spielman, told me, he didn't want to comment on the numbers. And what we continue to hear is dozens. That's the number that the Israeli Defense Forces are giving, dozens.
And again, we cannot stress too much how uncharted this territory is, that this has never happened before, but also how much of a huge propaganda tool it is going to be for Hamas going forward. The leverage of having hostages for them is huge. And the more they have, the bigger the leverage. So Israel will be very careful about how they deal publicly with that sort of number. SOARES: Yes. Let's talk about that, Nic. I mean, right now, as you clearly stated, the Israeli operation is on kind of defensive mode with Hamas still fighting inside Israel. When it does become, if it does become, an offensive operation, what would that look like? A land incursion into Gaza, difficult but also potentially blooded, as Salma was saying, it's a densely populated area. What would that look like?
ROBERTSON: I think there will be a lot of staging of troops and heavy armor, and battle equipment, tanks, armored fighting vehicles. There will be a lot of support in terms of over watch, in terms of helicopter gunships, in terms of fighter jets, in terms of drones. There would be a massively significant uptick in force presence in this area. You would see big sand berms being built so that the -- so that Hamas in Gaza couldn't see what the Israelis were preparing behind those berms.
But yes, Hamas hideout in the civilian population in Gaza, that is very dense. And what the objective that the Prime Minister has set out to go after the Hamas leadership and cripple, and bring down that organization will be very tough, potentially costly on the Israeli side, potentially very costly in terms of Palestinian lives too.
SOARES: Our Nic Robertson for us there near Ashkelon. Thanks very much, Nic. We'll touch base with you in the next few minutes.
Right now we have breaking news coming in to CNN. Israeli medical services telling us to 260 bodies have been recovered at a festival cider. Our Hadas Gold has got the latest. What are you hearing? What details you have, Hadas?
GOLD: Yes. This is according to the ZAKA Israeli emergency medical services, who now are saying, well, we had essentially been expecting now that more than 260 bodies have been recovered from that music festival. This was called the nature festival. This was a music sort of rave festival that took place in the kind of nature desert, not far from the Gaza border. And videos we were seeing from just before the attack started taking place.
You see essentially a rave party, DJs, hundreds, if not thousands of mostly young people dancing all through the night. They were still dancing at 6:00 before this attack started taking place. And then, we know that the rockets started being launched, the militants had breached the border, and they attack this specific festival.
And from what we've heard from survivors from this festival, they are describing militants just swarming them, shooting them at random and even using things like RPGs against them. There are a lot of harrowing stories from these young people as they tried to escape this festival. And we knew that there was going to be a large number of casualties there just from the survivors as they were leaving describing what they themselves saw.
We also know that quite a few of them had been kidnapped by the Hamas militants, taken captive in Gaza. This is the music festival we've seen some of those harrowing videos of for example, that young woman on a motorcycle was being taken away by the militants. We don't know how many people from the festival were kidnapped. But now we are getting a sense of the numbers of casualties and this is massive. 200, more than 250 killed in this festival alone. Keep in mind that the overall death toll now is over 600.
So it does seem as though from what we can tell, this may be the largest sort of mass casualty of this specific event. This may be actually the largest mass casualty event in Israeli history, is to have this number of dead in one single place. Isa?
SOARES: And we've seen scenes, Hadas, we've all seen the scenes of civilians were this open music festival, very freely, as you can see there. Then at one point, they were running for their lives trying to escape, which is horrific and incredibly -- an incredibly scary. And this happened, remind me, early on, right? Right at the beginning on Saturday, early hours on Saturday morning, is that right?
GOLD: Yes. Essentially, this rocket started, I think around 6:00 or 6:30. And from, you know, I don't have the exact timing of when the militants entered the festival but it wasn't long after. And the other difficult thing is, these people were in the middle of nowhere, essentially, and a lot of them had gotten to the festival by buses, by shared cars or the likes.
And so, when they were trying to escape, many of them did it on foot, and many of them, you know, piled into whatever cars they could that were being attacked. When we've seen images from essentially where a lot of these cars were parked, a lot of these cars are completely burned out, riddled with bullet holes. We're also hearing stories of some of these festival goers who escaped and just essentially hid -- like hid in the bushes, hid wherever they could in the middle of nowhere for hours on end until they could potentially reach safety. Really harrowing stories from some of the people were there, and many of them saying that they left people behind.
In fact, one of the family members of the missing, who gave a press conference just a few hours ago on all of the Israeli television channels. He said that he had two daughters who were at the festival. He said that they called him when the militants entered, and were speaking to him on the phone while they were laying face down on the ground. He said that he told them on the phone to essentially don't breathe, be as quiet as you can, face each other hold each other.
And he said that he was on the phone with them for about 30 minutes. He said he heard men speaking Arabic around them. And he said the last thing he heard of his daughters when he said it was about four deep breaths. That just gives you an idea of sort of the harrowing stories we're hearing from the family members of those that are missing. And 260 bodies is what we have so far that were found there.
That of course also does not account for the injured who may be in hospital right now. So we have this death toll on the Israeli side of more than 600, Isa. I do think we should expect the death toll to rise quite dramatically, especially as the situation continues. SOARES: Yes, indeed. Hadas Gold there for us. Thanks very much, Hadas. If you're just joining us, let me just reiterate the breaking news that we've just had in the last few minutes. This is from the Israeli rescue service ZAKA telling CNN that at least 260 bodies were found at the music festival site. We will show you some of the pictures there, just outside Reim. This is a following Saturday's Hamas attack that happened.
We've been told the rockets began around 6:30 AM. This is music festival outside rural farmland in the Gaza-Israeli border, is supposed to be an all night dance party. But as dawn broke, they started hearing the sirens and the rockets. 200, at least 260 bodies were found at this music festival. We're going to take a short break. We're back after this.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Israel's government says it is at war with Hamas. Nightfall in Gaza has brought an eerie orange glow, as you can see there, as Israeli missiles pound the area, seeking revenge for the horrific attacks Hamas unleashed on Saturday. An Israeli government minister told CNN he expects the death toll to far surpass 600 Israelis. Thousands of others have been injured. The IDF is still conducting door to door searches and battling the last remaining Hamas fighters who snuck into Southern Israel on Saturday.
The U.N. Security Council meanwhile is holding closed door meetings right now hoping to deescalate the most serious conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in decades. Our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley has years of experience tracking the conflict in the Middle East and joins me now from London.
And, Sam, let me start off first with the breaking news we've had in the last, what, five minutes or so. That according to ZAKA, which is an Israeli rescue service, at least 260 bodies have been found at this music festival in Israel. This happened in 6:30 AM on Saturday morning. One can only imagine that the numbers, the casualties will continue to rise. We're now at 600 but this is just astounding, 260 bodies found at this music festival according to Israeli rescue service.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. An extraordinary statistic for what may well have been an opportunist attack by Hamas. So, did they plan their operation including the Nova concert close to a kibbutz that was close to the Gaza Strip. It hardly beggars belief that they will be able to be so sophisticated. But this has been a devastating attack, a highly sophisticated attack. And clearly they were able to somehow disrupt or dismantle the Israeli Defense Forces communication systems so that when there was a breakout through the fence, over the fence perhaps by paraglider or under it by tunnel, even by sea, these militants were able to get in sufficient number to commit an atrocity like that, and then to carry on fighting into today.
KILEY (voice-over): It's official, Israel has declared war and this is what it looks like. Israeli troops in combat against Hamas infiltrators near the port city of Ashdod. Scenes like this, civilians murdered by Hamas, and militants dead on an Israeli roadside today were inconceivable until yesterday, when Gazan militants swarmed out of the Enclave.
Israel's death toll has climbed past 600, and the Israeli Defense Forces say hundreds of Palestinian fighters have been killed. But they fight on, so Israel has evacuated 22 towns and kibbutzim from around Gaza. Hamas claimed to have launched a second wave of infiltrations. The IDF intercepted a seaborne assault at Zakim.
In the biggest town close to Gaza, Sderot, an Israeli commander told CNN that militants were still attacking.
SPIELMAN: As I'm speaking to their seven different locations that they are trying to infiltrate into Israel. Their desire to come in here and to continue doing this, it's like a kamikaze.
KILEY (voice-over): A massive surprise attack focused on killing and kidnapping. Noa Argamani shouted don't kill me as she was snatched from her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, from a music festival near Gaza. The families of the victims wanted these images shown. Their fate is not known, but both Hamas and Israeli officials have said that large numbers of hostages have been abducted into the Palestinian enclave.
Complicating what Israel has promised will be a devastating response to the Hamas attacks. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says that the death toll there is at least 370. And as Israel has masked forces and continued airstrikes ahead of a likely ground assault, Hamas has called for regional conflagration.
In the Lebanon, Hezbollah launched a token attack on Israeli forces who responded in kind. But in Egypt, two Israelis were killed alongside their local guide, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, shot dead by a local.
KILEY: Now, Isa, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which is not part of Hamas, but is an equally radical movement with a very strong presence in Gaza also backed by Iran. They have put out a statement to CNN saying that they have 30, 30, 3-0, Israeli hostages which is a remarkable enough number if it weren't also considering that so far Hamas says that they have dozens. We haven't got any confirmation as to how many Israeli and other national hostages they have taken into the Gaza Strip.
So clearly the issue of hostages there, many of them like Noa in that film and her boyfriend taken from that festival. But not only them, toddlers, mothers, men, children, the very elderly also taken into Gaza. One woman was transported into Gaza in a golf cart alongside her abductors, Isa.
SOARES: Thank you very much. Sam Kiley there with the very latest. We'll take a short break. We'll be back after this.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. An Israeli military spokesman tells CNN that Israel will do anything to 30 citizens taken hostage and reunite them with their loved ones. But the wait for families so far has been agonizing. And you heard our Hadas Gold talking about the (inaudible), they were just waiting for more information.
We've learned this hour that Islamic Jihad is holding more than 30 captives in Gaza. Earlier, Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs is confirming that Americans are among the missing. Have a listen to this.
RON DERMER, ISRAELI MINISTER FOR STRATEGIC AFFAIRS: I think it's scores of hostages, I can tell you there's also American hostages as part of that number as well. I don't want to get into a specific number. But these are women, they're children, they're elderly, they're Holocaust survivors. This is sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Oren Liebermann joins me now from Washington with more. So, Oren, we've heard in the last few hours that Americans, you play there, among the scores of hostages being held in Gaza. We've also heard now from Islamic Jihad, saying they're holding more than 30 captives in the last hour in Gaza.
What are you learning from US officials? We know how many Americans are being held? What are they telling you?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We don't have a number on how many American hostages are being held. And it is worth noting that American hostages are likely to be American Israeli dual citizens, of which there are a very large number in Israel. I don't know a specific number but it is one of the largest American populations overseas that live there.
So as we wait for an updated number, we did just get an update. And I look at my computer screen here for this. We've learned according to an internal US government memo reviewed by CNN that there are at least three Americans who have been killed following the attacks in Israel across the Gaza border, and a number who are believed to have been taken hostage or captured whether they are alive or dead, that information not available at this time.
But these are also very early and preliminary numbers. And given the fact that Israel isn't able to say yet how many were taken hostage, it's very likely that that number could shift up or down, but given the situation simply looking at the situation a number that will very likely go up, Isa.
SOARES: I know you say across all the latest lines for us. Thanks very much, Oren Liebermann there with the very latest. We're going to take a very short break but we'll continue our breaking news coverage after the short break.
SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date on the latest developments in the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel says that at least 600 of its people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks by Hamas militants who invaded from Gaza. Israeli rescue service, ZAKA, it says in the last, what, 20 minutes or so, that at least 260 bodies were found at a music festival site in Israel. It is believed dozens of Israelis have been taken hostage and carried back into Gaza.
Israeli forces are still conducting, from what we understand, house to house searches to try and ensure that no Hamas fighters remain in southern Israel, so very much to learn active situation.
The Israel government has declared war on Hamas and began merciless bombing campaign as you can see there in Gaza. Authorities there say at least 400 Palestinians have been killed so far.
And while this is all been unfolding at the top of the hour, what you some live pictures, the U.N. Secretary Council has been holding an emergency meeting is that intense fighting rages on between Israel and Hamas. Ahead of the closed door meeting in New York, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. said his country is suffering ruthless terror attacks from Hamas. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILAD ERDAN, ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This is Israel's 911. This is Israel's 911. And Israel will do everything to bring our sons and daughters back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: While the permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, also spoke ahead of this meeting. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIYAD MANSOUR, PERMANENT OBSERVER OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE TO THE U.N.ITED NATIONS: This is not a time to let Israel double down on its terrible choices. This is a time to tell Israel it needs to change course, that there is a path to peace, where neither Palestinians nor Israelis are killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, my next guest has written several books on the Middle East and says the surprise Hamas attack on Israel will have region wide security's repercussions. Steven Cook is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He joins me now from Potomac, Maryland. Steven, appreciate you taking the time this Sunday to speak to us.
Just as we head into the night, it's, what, 10:50 or so, in Israel. What are your immediate thoughts? How do you see this developing here?
STEVEN COOK, SENIOR FELLOW COU.N.CIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it seems pretty clear that the Israelis are gearing up for a very, very significant military operation. That will include the introduction of significant number of ground forces into the Gaza Strip, given the number of Israeli casualties killed and wounded, and the damage done to Israel's deterrent.
It seems incomprehensible that the Israelis would pursue their military operations along the same lines that they have over the course of the last decade, relying predominantly on air power and artillery. As the Israeli government itself has said, there is -- everything has changed now. And I think we can expect a long campaign that may in fact result in Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.
SOARES: Right. So you're talking about a ground offensive here. But in the last, what, 20 minutes or so we heard Islamic Jihad saying that it's holding more than 30 characters in Gaza. Hamas says it has more than a dozen. I mean, talk to the challenge of this because at least trying to limit the civilian casualties here was also bearing in mind, the hostages.
COOK: Yes. And this does pose a very significant dilemma for the Israelis on the ground. But it strikes me that even with hostages in the commitment to rescue all those who have been taken by either Islamic Jihad or Hamas, the Israeli public writ large is not going to countenance anything other than an invasion of the Gaza Strip in order to destroy Hamas, which is the strategic objective here.
SOARES: And talk to the conflict and how it could spiral, whether you thought that it could spiral into the wider security concerns here, Steven?
COOK: Well, of course everybody is watching the northern border. We know that Hamas, which is affiliated with Iran, is in possession of in excess of 100,000 rockets that can reach every part of Israel if that northern border were to come under fire and there would be a widening of this conflict, it would spell a significant, significant disaster for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Gaza Strip, and potentially bringing in other actors, including the Iranians.
So there is a very, very significant danger, which is why the reports of the American Fifth Fleet moving into -- the American Sixth Fleet moving into the Eastern Mediterranean are an important indication that the Biden administration is concerned about this as well.
SOARES: Yes, absolutely. Everyone is keeping a close eye. The big question is, how much, to what extent was Iran helping here, helping Hamas behind, even in material terms. These are all questions we're still waiting to find out. Steven Cook, appreciate you taking the time to speak to us this evening.
COOK: Thank you.
SOARES: We're keeping a close eye on all the breaking news development as you've heard in the last, what, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, I should say, Israel medical service saying 260 bodies have been recovered at a medical site. We've also heard in the past hour from Islamic Jihad, who say they're holding more than 30 captives in Gaza. We had heard from Hamas saying that holding a dozen or so.
Numbers at 600, more than 600 people are being killed in Israel, at least 370 Palestinians. Stay on top of this breaking news story. I'll see you on the other side.