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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN International: Interview with Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Spokesman Major Ben Wahlhaus; Hamas Rocket Attacks Apartment Building in Ashkelon; Hamas Video Shows Paragliders and Initial Barrage of Rockets; Loud Explosions Heard Across Israel; Hamas Has Taken Hostages into Gaza; Israeli Security Cabinet Declares State of War; Interview with Atlantic Council Senior Adviser and Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker; Hamas Targets Southern Israel with "Major Missile Attack"; Ashkelon Takes Direct Hit Amid Gaza Rocket Barrage; Rockets Intercepted in Tel Aviv Sunday Night; Interview with IDF International Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus; Israel's U.N. Ambassador: "This is Israel's 9/11"; U.N. Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 08, 2023 - 19:00   ET



Can you confirm, Major, that Hamas has just said they have taken additional Israeli hostages on this day, Sunday? Can you confirm that?

MAJ. BEN WAHLHAUS, ISRAELI DEFENCE FORCES (IDF) SPOKESMAN: Well, this is a very fluid situation. It's something that's ongoing as we speak, rockets being fired on, we're still fighting down south, people are still inside their homes, inside their safe rooms, inside their bomb shelters.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Richard Quest in New York. And a warm welcome to all of you watching us wherever you may be around the globe. In the past few hours, Hamas militants claimed they've launched a major missile attack on Ashkelon in Southern Israel. Israeli police say they're responding to a direct hit on an apartment building there.

It comes as Israel's reeling from a horrific discovery, at least 260 bodies have been found at a music festival site near the Gaza border. The numbers have been given to us from the Israeli Rescue Service, Zaka. The victims were killed, of course, after the Palestinian militant group launched surprise attack.

Fighting is fierce in Israel. There are more than 700 people dead, and that's the latest numbers just given to us a few moments ago. Thousands of people are wounded. And we are confirming that this is Hamas propaganda video, it shows paragliders and a barrage of rockets launched from a field in Gaza. Now, this was in the early moments of the attack.

Tonight, and over into the night, Israel's responding, they're pounding Gaza with airstrikes. Salma Abdelaziz joins me now from London. Mighty vengeance is how the Israeli president described when called and he said the country was at war, it's very early days still, but what's happening tonight?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, still just 48 hours, nearly two days into this sustained attack from Hamas, the militant group still clearly able to inflict damage. You mentioned those rockets that just landed a few hours ago in Ashkelon, yet, another reminder that Prime Minister Netanyahu's goal to break Hamas' is back is not going to be achieved easily, Richard. Take a look at how the operation inside Gaza is unfolding so far.


ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): These are the first moments of 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 that 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 (through translator): All of the places which Hamas has deployed, hiding and operating in, that wicked city, we will turn it into an island of ruins. I'm telling Gaza's people to leave those places now, because we will take action everywhere.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): 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 militant group according to the Israeli army. This is disturbing social media video geolocated by CNN shows one of those victims, hands appear to be bound and in captivity.

And Hamas claims the hostages are distributed across the strip. Israel believes to be used as human shields. Still Israel's military is pressing on, with air assaults already underway, the IDF says it is preparing for a potential ground incursion and that all options are on the table. Thousands of Israeli reservists have been called up for the task.

Israel's arm telling Gazans to clear the way for operations, ordering families to leave their homes, and providing locations for evacuations. But with the conflict sure to engulf the whole 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 to the enclave, and internet disrupted, unclear how long services will be severed. And with Hamas leadership reportedly going underground, the 2 million people living in the 140 square mile territory have nowhere to turn. Fears that an unpreceded attack on Israel could yield bloodshed in Gaza. (END VIDEO CLIP)


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Fighters who have been able to infiltrate across hours of this operation, Richard, is tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza displaced more than 400 killed according to Palestinian officials, hundreds more are wounded. And you can only imagine with every one of those air assaults, with every one of the retaliatory strikes that the families of those hostages inside Gaza, they're flinching, they're worrying that their families are caught in the crosshairs of that assault.

QUEST: And do we know how many hostages there are? I've heard numbers anything from 50 to 100. Do you have any more information?

ABDELAZIZ: Israeli officials are absolutely scrambling to try to get that information, how many, who are they, what are their needs, what are their ages, what is the information they can get? All we know so far is that Israeli officials say that there's an unprecedented number of hostages inside Islamic jihad, that's one of the militant groups claims it has more than 30, Hamas has said it has dozens. And you can imagine these individuals now are spread deep into entrenched in across the Gaza Strip in areas that may be of strategic importance, essentially, being used Israel fears as human shields.

QUEST: Thank you. It's midnight where you are, but please come back when there is more to report in the hours ahead.

On the question of the people who have been captured and held hostage, the numbers believed to be dozens that have been captured. And the Israeli military says it's being captured that's complicating its response to the militant groups' deadly attack. Because children and grandmothers are among those being held captive. CNN's Hadas Gold brings us that part of the story.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Palestinian militants kidnapped a group of distraught women and children, in videos posted on social media, it's terrifying to watch. Even more so if the people who are being abducted are your family

Yoni Asher is safe in his home in Israel, but he says he's terrified for his wife and two young daughters, abducted by Hamas militants from his mother-in-law's home near the Gaza border. He says the last days have been difficult, he hasn't slept and desperately wants to send this message to their captors.

YONI ASHER, FAMILY ABDUCTED BY HAMAS: I want to ask of Hamas, don't hurt them, don't hurt little children, don't hurt women. If you want me instead, I'm willing to come.

GOLD (voiceover): His anguish felt by families across Israel. As videos a merge of other kidnappings, Israeli officials say Hamas has taken dozens of Israelis captive, including women, children, and the elderly. Hamas says they're keeping them in locations across Gaza.

Many hostages were taken while attending an outdoor music festival near the border with Gaza. Witnesses say militants fired at them as they tried to run away, while rockets were flying overhead, many did not make it out, as this next disturbing image shows.

More than 200 people were killed at that festival, Israeli officials say. One video shows militants separating a couple at the festival, the woman named Noa Argamani, is taken away on a motorbike. Leaving her partner with his hands bound surrounded by captors. The families of both victims say they want the video to be shown in hopes of finding them. But Noa's roommate says it's still extremely distressing to watch it.

AMIR MOADDI, FRIEND OF NOA ARGAMANI: It's very difficult when you see someone that is so close to you and love them so much being treated like this, it's very difficult to see it, it makes you, like, shocked.

GOLD (voiceover): The Israel Defense Forces say they are doing everything it can to find the hostages and to further protect its citizens, to evacuating communities around the Gaza Strip, but tells our Nic Robertson the safe return of the missing is a top priority.

DORON SPIELMAN, IDF SPOKESPERSON: What I can tell you is 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.

GOLD (voiceover): Israel has opened a missing person's command center so that friends and family can register people who are unaccounted for, and they have been advised to bring items that could be used for DNA matches. It's an agonizing wait.

This mother pleads for help to find her son missing since Saturday. She says, I want my child. I want you to help me find my boy. A pain shared now by many Israeli families, not knowing if a loved one is dead or alive, or ever coming home.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.



QUEST: Ambassador Kurt Volker is with me in Washington. Former U.S. ambassador to NATO and a senior adviser with the Atlantic Council. Let's just follow on from that last report. Bearing in mind the unique nature of this hostage, the numbers involved, it is going to be impossible, my word, impossible to expect Israel to show any form of restrain as it tries to get them back.

KURT VOLKER, SENIOR ADVISER, ATLANTIC COUNCIL AND FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: I completely agree. I think that Israel has shown restraint up until now, it had an ongoing terrorist threat from Hamas for years. And they have tried to defend themselves against it, they pushed back on it periodically, but this crosses the line. And I think they will both secure their own territory. They will do their best to retrieve any hostages that they can. But they will also be relentless now in going after Hamas and trying to do everything they can to eradicate it.

QUEST: As do they do that, what's the goal? I mean, I listen to the prime minister and the sort an obviousness in what he says, but then everybody knows that this just worsens the cycle of violence. But I don't think Israel cares at that point now?

VOLKER: Well, I'm not sure they have much of a choice. They had, as I said, acted with more restraint and this is what they get. And so, with this situation I think they now feel that they have to do everything possible to eliminate Hamas, it's readership, any organizational structure that's there in Gaza and perhaps even the West Bank.

QUEST: Do the other regional players, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi, obviously, Egypt, Jordan, do they look the other way? I see nothing for the moment based on the idea that there are no lovers of Hamas either.

VOLKER: Well, they're not. And they recognize -- I think all of those states that you mentioned recognize that ultimately behind this attack, behind Hamas is Iran. And Iran is their adversary as well the greatest threat that they face in the region. And so, I think they understand the situation that Israel is facing.

They face a delicate balance because they don't want to be appearing to be sympathetic to attacks on Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza. Yet, at the same time, I think understand what's really going on here.

QUEST: The Iranian aspect, when we talk about Iran helped, supported, planned, whatever, what do we mean? I mean, how close do you think Iran was in the planning, if not execution of this attack?

VOLKER: Yes. I would say we have to assume it is 100 percent.

QUEST: Really?

VOLKER: This is about financing. Yes, of course. Hamas has no immediate source of financing other than that coming from Iran and through its proxies. This is a massive amount of weapons that they've done. A lot of planning going into this. And there are reports in the European media already of meetings in Beirut as recently as a week or two weeks ago where the final greenlight was given, and that would be with Hezbollah and Hezbollah's backers, Islamic Republic.

QUEST: So, now, turn to, say, for example, Russia in all of this and the complexity gets a little bit deeper, doesn't it? You know, the old -- my friend's friend is enemy or whatever that phrase is. My enemy's enemy is my friend. Here you've got Russia, which has been obviously keeping as good a relation as they can with Iran. But at the same time, they have a strong relationship with Israel, or at least half historically in recent years a strong relationship. Now, where does Russia fit into this? VOLKER: Well, you're absolutely right. Historically, Russia has tried to play both sides of a conflict and benefit from that. Increasingly, however, Russia has become dependent upon Iran. They are using Iranian drones as one other principle means of attacking Ukraine every night. And they're not able to produce them without Iranian help. So, they've had to side more and more with Iran. And that's why, I think, we see relative Russian silenced right now as these attacks on Israel go on.

QUEST: Final thought though, because of your role with Ukraine in negotiations, is this the moment we're all looking one way, Russia decides to escalate, do the unthinkable, to use weapons of mass destruction, whatever you may like? Is this where Russia decides we've got a moment?

VOLKER: Well, I don't think Russia has the ability to escalate in any conventional way. If they have that ability, they would already be doing it. They know that their forces are gradually losing on the ground.

Use of nuclear weapons will be crossing a whole other threshold for Russia. One that they probably themselves don't want to do. So, I'm not sure that it leads us there or that this is cover for any kind of Russian use of nuclear weapons.


And indeed, in the West, I think what we're seeing here is a parallel. An indiscriminate, deliberate attacks on civilians by a terrorist force, whether it's Palestinians and Israel, or Russians in Ukraine, it is equally repulsive, and I think it's going to wake up the western sensibilities yet again that we cannot allow this to go on.

QUEST: Ambassador, very grateful for your time this evening. Thank you, sir.

VOLKER: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

QUEST: We will take a short moment. I'll update you with the latest headlines, of course, from Israel after this break.


QUEST: Israel's ambassador to the United States has told us that Hamas militants have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel since early Saturday. Now, early hours ago, Hamas said it was carrying out a major missile attack on the Southern Israeli town of Ashkelon. As retaliation, for the Israeli Defense Forces, which are now targeting Hamas safehouses.


Clarissa Ward is in Ashkelon, being hit by those latest strikes. What was it like?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Richard, I should say, we just heard a series of booms in the distance and we are hearing reports from our colleagues in Gaza that Hamas have just fired a series of rockets out, potentially towards Ashkelon. So, we may hear something soon.

But as we were driving into the city a couple of hours ago, you could see the night sky was really lit up by that Iron Dome as it attempted to intercept a pretty relentless barrage of rockets that was coming in. As far as we know, at least two of them did make a direct impact. One actually not far from here, and that was a particularly loud bloom. But the Iron Dome has been extremely effective in neutralizing the vast majority of them.

What I will say is very striking, here in Ashkelon, is that you really do not see anyone, unsurprisingly, out on the streets, partly because it's the middle of the night, but partly because the city has come under pretty sustained attack, and many people are choosing to stay in their shelters, go down to wherever they can, where it feels a bit safer and more secure, and wait for this nightmare to end with the very real knowledge that that end may not be coming anytime soon, Richard.

QUEST: The difficulty of what comes next and where Hamas is getting this extraordinary number of rockets, from where. And my last guest, Ambassador Volker basically said, in his view, Iran is pretty much 100 percent behind, it is financing it, it is helping them get the weapons, that they are in lockstep.

WARD: Well, that seems to be the consensus with many people. Certainly, I think everyone has been taken by surprise by the ferocity of these barrages of rockets and particularly, by these long-range missiles, which, of course, are much harder to source and much harder to hide, by the way.

The question that's being posed again and again is, how did this all happen? Presumably, taking place, the planning at least, over the course of many months in an area right up along of the border where the Israelis can literally see-through state-of-the-art technology, cameras, sensors, what every blade of grass is doing. How on earth did this happen without the foresight or knowledge of Israeli intelligence?

But I will say, despite those very real questions being asked, the more pressing concern that we find when we talk to people on the ground here, Richard is, firstly, let's deal with getting these Hamas militants, who have still been able to continue infiltrate across that border out of Southern Israel once and for all.

We were driving along today near the border, saw -- had to turn our car around because a firefight was ongoing between Israeli forces and presumed Hamas militants. So, that is the priority. And then, of course, the other priority is to find these hostages. It's not yet known exactly how many there are. The term that is being bandied about a lot is dozens, but we don't know where they are. We don't know who is alive. We don't know where they are being held, or what the terms of their release might entail.

And so, that obviously then complicates, Richard, efforts for some kind of larger assault or ground offensive potentially into Gaza to try to really dismantle Hamas' leadership. I will say though, that we saw a huge amount of heavy military hardware, moving into those areas along the border. Definitely an increased military presence there, Richard.

QUEST: So, give me your assessment. On that balance, on that balance between marginal restraint or at least accommodating the fact that they are all hostages versus massive vengeance, in the prime minister's words, how does Israel? Because, yes, I mean, people may want the vengeance, but they don't necessarily want to start seeing individual bodies being paraded dead because of the ferocity of the Israeli response.

WARD: Right. And this is the tightrope that Israel has to walk at the moment. Obviously, they are desperate to get those hostages out, to get them out alive, if can possibly be done, to give at least some closure to the loved ones of those who might be dead. At the same time, they also feel a very strong need to exact some punishment on Hamas for this really unprecedented act that's been taking place over the last now 40 hours, I guess.


And so, how do they kind of thread that needle, really remains to be seen. There is a lot of speculation that maybe there will first be some kind of a swap, a prisoner swap, of some sort before you would see a ground incursion.

I would just say at this stage, we really don't know. The only thing that we do know, at least according to the Israeli government and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is that Israel's leaders are stealing their people for a long, tough, grueling war. No one is expecting this to be wrapped up in any kind of a timely fashion. And I think there is an appreciation for most of the Israeli people that we speak to on the ground that this is going to be tough and it's going to take some time, Richard.

QUEST: Clarissa, it's late at night, but I suspect you have many more hours of work ahead of you. Thank you for joining this. Clarissa Ward in Ashkelon.

WARD: Thank you.

QUEST: We will continue. We're going to be talking to the spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces after they struck a Hamas compound in Gaza.



QUEST: Now, you will appreciate and understand that it's a very complex, fast moving, and often difficult to follow the events taking place in Israel and in Gaza. So, an official has told us -- tells CNN that Israel will do anything to get hostages back from Gaza. Dozens of people are believed to have been captured by Hamas fighters over the weekend.

The locations are across Gaza, tunnels, basements. It's rabbit warren, if you will. A lot will complicate the response of Israel to the attack. We know, so far, and we'll get an update shortly, that more than 700 people on the Israeli side have been killed.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States has told us that Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel since the attack started. And some of those rockets, well, this is them being intercepted in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

And, just -- hold on. In just a few miles away, you can also see them being intercepted in other parts. A couple of hours ago, explosions were heard across Central Israel and the suburbs of Tel Aviv, as Hamas claimed to target Ben Gurion Airport, according to CNN teams on the ground.

CNN's Sam Kiley is reporting on the events of the weekend. The images you are about to see, many of them are disturbing.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): 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 from an Israeli roadside today were inconceivable until yesterday, when Gaza 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 in kibbutzim from around Gaza. Hamas claimed to have been 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.

MAJOR DORON SPIELMAN, IDF SPOKESPERSON: As I'm speaking to you, there are 74 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 (voiceover): Hamas' 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 debt death toll there is at least 370. And as Israel has massed forces and continued airstrikes ahead of a likely ground assault, Hamas has called for regional conflagration. In 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.

Sam Kiley, CNN.


QUEST: With me now from Tel Aviv is the international spokesperson for the IDF, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. I didn't realize it's very late there, 2:30 in the morning. So, I am grateful that you are with us.

Before we get into any nitty-gritty, can you update me? Is there any new numbers in terms of the death and casualties that you can tell me?


JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF International Spokesperson: Well, I will start with the sad part, and that is that the numbers are dynamic, and I am sure that in the morning, they will move. As we continue to count the dead or murdered Israeli civilians in the various communities. And hopefully, in the morning, once we will conclude fighting and regain control over each and every community in town in Southern Israel, then we will be able to establish a more final number.

We are still officially talking about 700 dead Israeli civilians and more than -- civilians and soldiers, and more than 2,100 wounded Israelis. Those are the numbers, and these are numbers that you and I, we know that unfortunately all too well --


CONRICUS: -- these are abnormal numbers. These are not numbers that have ever been recorded in Israeli history. These are numbers that indicate that we are in a totally different situation, somewhere that we haven't been ever before.

QUEST: How much or how deep and far, do you still have to go to regain control and eliminate or expel any remaining militants on Israeli territory from those who came over? How much more work is there to do?

CONRICUS: Yes, the issue is that there were approximately, we assess, 1,000 Hamas terrorists who crossed from Gaza through various crossings into Israel. And out of those 1,000, approximate, we were able to kill -- we have been able to kill more than 400. But there -- once we close the border and started to regain control, after a few hours of events, then there are many terrorists who were left in (INAUDIBLE) and have no way of getting out.

And what we are seeing, in the last hours, or actually the last day, is sporadic appearances of terrorists who understand that there is no way to go back to Gaza and they then choose to try to attack civilians or to engage with Israeli security forces. So, the Israeli South is still unstable. We are talking about the area and the closed proximity to the Gaza Strip, the envelope, within a few kilometers of distance. By the way, crossings, I don't know, we haven't spoken about this, but the most of those ISIS inspired white Toyota trucks that the terrorist used in order to get into Israel, most of them crossed from the pedestrian humanitarian crossing in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, which is called the Erez Crossing. The same crossing that provided the livelihood for about 20,000 Palestinian workers who have been working inside Israel over the last many months. So, that is an irony and cynicism rolled into one.

QUEST: The -- you are a military man, and no military man likes to fight unless absolutely necessary. You are also familiar with this whole concept of escalation. And the massive response that Israel is undergoing at the moment, whilst understandable in its facts, is only going to basically take us further down towards the gates of hell.

CONRICUS: Well, if speaking about, you know, an Israeli general, a day and a half ago, said that Hamas opened the floodgates of hell on Gaza. And Hamas is responsible for everything that happened, for the killing of Israeli civilians and for what is going on in Gaza now. Now, that by no means indicates that we are not going to fight according to the laws of armed conflict. We will. Because that is who we are.

But what is happening is that we are going -- we have been tasked by the Israeli government to take out all of Hamas' military capabilities. So, this isn't against civilians, this is against Hamas' military capabilities and their governing capabilities. And the end state is a situation where Hamas has neither of those two.

QUEST: One final thought, there's a question that occurs to me. Bearing in mind what you just said, Colonel, earlier, a moment or two ago, that is unprecedented. Israel has never seen anything like this. If two weeks ago, I had said to you that a thousand Hamas militants would invade Israel, and more than -- that's about 1,000 people dead, you would have told me that wasn't possible, wouldn't you? But it is and it has.


CONRICUS: Yes, I would have told you that that is an exercise plan gone off the charts, and somebody who has been overly enthusiastic with providing a difficult scenario for the IDF to deal with in an exercise. That is what I would have told you. And the situation is, in many places in Israel, really unthinkable. And it takes time for us to wrap our heads around it. The reality is very, very surprising, unfortunately. And there's a lot of soul-searching and professional (INAUDIBLE) stuff will be -- have to be given by Israel as to how it -- the idea of how we got here and how we can avoid this in the future.

But that is not our focus now. The focus is looking forward and making sure that the images that we have seen and been appalled by, by Israelis being dragged on the streets of Gaza, that those images never ever occur again. QUEST: I'm grateful for your time tonight, sir. Thank you very much. Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Concicus --

CONRICUS: Thank you.

QUEST: -- joining us. It is late at night in Israel. About 20 past 2:00 in the morning. Thank you, sir.

Israel's U.N. ambassador has called Saturday's assault by his country's version of 9/11. Ahead of a critical meeting with the U.N.



QUEST: Here in New York, there was no action taken following the U.N. Security Council emergency meeting over the events in the Middle East. According to several Security Council members who spoke after the meeting, they said Israel's ambassador to this country's suffering ruthless terror attacks, and referred to Saturday's assaults as Israel's 9/11. Our Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth is with me now. How did it go?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: I guess you could say, as expected, somewhat. It is just too hot, too raw, too soon to have the council members, all 15 of them, agree, even on a statement where they do need that unanimity.

Perhaps in a few days, a statemen is possible, condemning violence of all sorts. A little too soon to tell. The deputy United States ambassador, Rob Wood, did not really expect a statement and was glad that he heard several countries in the closed-door discussions come out against what Hamas has done.


ROBERT WOOD, DEPUTY U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: When you say protecting civilians, we are very much concerned about the impact of this invasion by Hamas, not just on civilians right in that immediate area, but in the region. This conflict could grow, and we don't want to see that happen. And obviously, our thoughts are with all civilians that are hurt. But what we need to focus on is this ongoing terrorist violence being committed by Hamas.


ROTH: The lone Arab country on the Security Council, the United Arab Emirates, called for a closed-door discussion rather than an open forum meeting. The ambassador told reporters that there was progress made to this point.


LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH, UAE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think the situation is stark and the council members are highly concerned. But we understand that right now we are in a very dynamic situation and a complex situation and in a state of flux, and that all council members have to use both their international but also their bilateral channels to try to offer calm and de-escalation.


ROTH: Unlike some of the other flare-ups, Richard, involving Hamas and the Middle East, this time there are hostages, citizens of other countries who maybe around the Security Council or certainly U.N. members. Back to you.

QUEST: Richard Roth at the United Nations. In Washington, the defense secretary of the United States, Lloyd Austin, announced that he is sending the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, strike group, to the Mediterranean.

The move is intended to show America's support for Israel. Also, more fighter jets are being sent to the region. The Pentagon -- our Pentagon correspondent, Oren Liebermann, is with me.

Two questions for you to think of. Firstly, what does this aircraft carrier -- I mean, how does it help the situation, firstly? And secondly, I believe Israel is asking for different missiles, both guided and Iron Dome.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Let's deal with those separately, of course. So, the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, including a cruiser and a number of destroyers, it is not going to take part in whatever Israel's campaign will look like here. Quite the opposite, President Joe Biden said yesterday that no other parties should try to use or exploit this situation, that was a fairly direct reference to Hezbollah and Lebanon, Iranian-backed militias in Syria, even if he didn't name them explicitly.

And this is the deterrents, that comes with that message. The carrier strike group heading towards the Eastern Med towards Israel, as well as the fighters. Again, these F-35s fighter jets, F-15s and other not heading to Israel, but they've -- some of them have already been in the region because of Iranian aggression, and that is why they will remain there, some deploying earlier ahead of schedule, some staying longer. But again, that's a message to Iran, not only Iranian-backed groups in Syria, but also, for example Iranian naval assets operating near the Strait of Hormuz, a critical waterway there.

And then, Richard, to your second question, Israel requesting from the U.S. precision guided munitions and Iron Dome interceptors, I think the second one of those is obvious, Iron Dome has been critical in intercepting rockets fired from Gaza. But Israel has been using precision guided munitions to strike Gaza from the air. So, that's what they may very well need more of.

A key point in Israeli military official made here is that as the campaign expands, and how it expands, there may be a need for different types of munitions. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been very close contact with his Israeli counterpart, and will continue as those requests come in and as the situation changes.


QUEST: Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon in Washington, grateful, sir.

Israel's prime minister has vowed to turn parts of Gaza into rubble. A number of people who have died from the incursion is now at staggering high levels. Israel is at war.


QUEST: Well, 2,000 people are dead following the powerful earthquake in Western Afghanistan. The news bringing you, that's according to the Taliban. It was a 6.2 magnitude quake and it struck on Saturday, west of the City of Herat. Such as they are finding more bodies in the rubble.

According to the Taliban, more than 1,200 people have been injured and 1,300 homes completely or partially destroyed.


An IDF spokesman tells us more than 700 people are now confirmed dead since Hamas militants launched the attack on Saturday.

Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes, and the government formally declared war on Hamas three hours ago. Hamas said it was launching a massive missile attack on Southern Israel. There have been explosions, many of them reported in the City of Ashkelon.

And video on Israeli social media seems to show a rocket lodged in the ceiling of an Israeli apartment.

Those are the -- that's the news. I'm Richard Quest, because the news never stops, and neither do we. This is CNN. I'll be back in a moment.