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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Biden Condemns "Act Of Sheer Evil"; Amb. Herzog: Israel Under No Legal Obligation To Provide Gaza Anything Except Basic Humanitarian Needs; Biden To Call On Congress To Surge Funding To Israel. Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired October 10, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
YIFAT ZAILER, FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: I try to be strong and strong and speak clearly. But I'm devastated. I'm devastated. I'm sorry. I don't know what else to do.
We need institutions, from the world, we need someone, to take care of those captive people, civilians. I've been lost of words, really. Every hour, every day, it's getting worse. We know that the first days are the most important.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's OK. Take your time.
ZAILER: I want my family. If, by any chance, they're watching this, I want them to know that we love them, and we're doing everything, we can, to get them. I want them to be strong, and to know we are strong. We want this to end, in the best way possible.
COOPER: Well hours after we did that interview, Yifat sent us this picture that they just found online. It shows Shiri's, her cousin, Shiri's husband, Yarden, with blood on his head, and his hand, seemingly in captivity.
This photo that they've seen now, is the first proof of life, the family has gotten, in more than three days, since he went missing. But they don't know his whereabouts, right now.
CNN's coverage from Israel continues.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: This is THE SOURCE. I'm Kaitlan Collins.
Tonight, Americans are among those, who have been taken hostage, by Hamas, a disturbing development that was confirmed by President Biden, today, who was about as angry as I have ever seen him, since taking office, in a speech, where he condemned, the slaughter of at least 1,200 people, in Israel, a death toll that was just updated, moments ago. President Biden denouncing the attack, by Hamas as quote, "Sickening," "Evil," saying terrorists butchered innocent people, and compared the rampage to the worst of ISIS. As he condemned the terrorism, in Israel, he also defended Israel's absolute right, as he put it, to defend itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This was an act of sheer evil.
This is terrorism.
We must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel.
Israel has the right to respond -- indeed has a duty to respond -- to these vicious attacks.
I just got off the phone with -- the third call with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I told him if the United States experienced what Israel is experiencing, our response would be swift, decisive, and overwhelming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The President did not urge for Israel to have any restraint, in those remarks. He also pledged ongoing support, from the U.S. I should note that after that, the first plane that was carrying U.S. ammunition actually landed in Israel, tonight.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will be flying there, tomorrow.
Right now, we know that 20 Americans are unaccounted for, tonight. But officials say it's unclear how many exactly are being held hostage.
The families, of at least four missing Americans, are pleading for help, today, in Israel. They say that they're frustrated, with the lack of information, or even contact, from officials, both in the United States, and in Israel.
We'll speak to a family member, of one of those victims, tonight, or one of those, who is missing, tonight, I should say.
But first, Israel is not letting up, when you look at what is happening, on the ground. The IDF striking more than 100 Hamas targets, again, in Gaza, today. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble. At least 900 people have been killed, in the counteroffensive, so far.
Hamas is also firing hundreds of rockets towards the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, earlier today. Many of them were intercepted, by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. That is a system that the U.S. is promising, to help keep funding, tonight. And it's important to keep reminding the world, of the horrors, and the savagery, of these attacks, by Hamas. My colleague, Nic Robertson, spoke to an Israeli general, about what he saw, after arriving at a kibbutz, in southern Israel that had been terrorized, by Hamas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. ITAI VERUV, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: Some people came out with their children and they killed them. They killed babies in the front of their parents and then killed the parents. They killed parents and we found babies between the dogs and their family that killed before him. He cut head of the people.
I heard, during my childhood, about the pogrom in Europe, and the Holocaust, of course. All my family came from Europe, and they are survivors et cetera, et cetera. I never think that I would see in my eyes picture and things like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I want to get straight to Anderson Cooper, who is live, in Ashdod, Israel, tonight.
Anderson, obviously, unfortunately, what is really coming into clear view, today, is just the size and the scope of the atrocities that have been committed, I mean, just even more clearer view, I guess, since Saturday, I should say. U.S. officials that we've been speaking with are openly getting choked up while talking about it.
What have you been seeing on the ground?
COOPER: Yes, look, the early indication was 260 people or more killed, slaughtered, at that music festival. That was a sign of things to come. That was a horrific loss of life, at one single event, with thousands of people, who had been gathered, killed, in just horrific, very personal, face-to-face awful ways, grenade being tossed into a bomb shelter, people being stabbed, all sorts of slaughter.
But what we're also now seeing at Kfar Aza, that kibbutz also near Oz, another kibbutz, all these kibbutzes, which are very close, to the border, they were among the first places attacked, as Hamas breached the border, in multiple locations.
And I mean, frankly, the savagery that we have seen, taking place, in those, from survivors' accounts, and evidence on the ground, as you just heard, from that General, it really is coming now into focus. You have very personal killing, of families, of people with their hands tied behind their backs.
In many of these kibbutz, in all of these kibbutz, they're right in the border. They're used to rockets. They're used to kind of the threat. They all have safe rooms, in their houses. Many people would escape -- tried to escape, to the safe room. But many, it happened so fast, it was so early, in the morning, they were caught unaware. There's one account of, at the kibbutz, where Nic was, of a family,
which put their two children, in a cupboard, and then, the family was slaughtered. The children survived, in the cupboard. They were only -- they were rescued, hours later, when neighbors heard them -- heard them screaming, were able to finally get to them.
So, again, this is, these stories are really now just emerging, today. And it just it speaks to the brutality that people here experienced. And it's really, I mean, it's hard to imagine. And yet, you hear the same thing, over and over and over again, from people, at different locations.
COLLINS: Yes. I mean, you hear them talk about these safe houses, which are supposed to protect them, from those incoming rockets, which are unfortunately part of everyday life, not terrorists, coming into their communities. I mean, given that though, it just makes the stories of those, who were able to survive, almost unbelievable.
And I know you spoke with a man, who had escaped, from the Nova music festival. He was crammed into a bunker, with 50 other people. And what I couldn't get over, when I was listening to you, talk to him earlier, is how he said, he pictured Jews, who were killed, in the Holocaust, while he was inside that bunker.
COOPER: Yes, this is a man. His first name is Rafael. He was at that music festival. He said he ended up in this shelter, small bomb shelter, essentially, used to protect against rockets. It ended up with about, he said, 40 to 50 people crammed inside.
And then, the terrorists came. And they tossed some sort of device, inside, he said, that the room filled up with smoke, he said, gas, people were suffocating, he said.
Listen to some of what he told me.
RAFAEL ZIMERMAN, SURVIVED MUSIC FESTIVAL ATTACK BY PLAYING DEAD IN BUNKER: I just protected myself. And after hours of that, I just covered myself, with dead people, a lot of dead people. So I stayed for there, inside, like for hours, like just waiting for die, you know? I just wanted to die in peace because I suffered so much, so much, the gas.
I just, inside -- in the middle of the gas, I just remembered, I don't know how was. But now, I know. I know how was. I just started to think how was in the Holocaust, with the Jews. Like, in 30 seconds, you are dead, and you don't have option. You cannot breathe. You cannot. It's crazy. It's crazy. A person (ph) for the help, I don't know, how in my life.
Everybody was like dead, with the bodies, on the floor, not sitting. I was like covered with the people. I was like dead, like with the dead people. And on the top of them, and without move, because if I move, I know then probably they're going to catch me.
COOPER: He said that six people have got out of that bomb shelter. He has shrapnel wounds, in his back. And yes, it's incomprehensible.
Kaitlan, back to you.
COLLINS: Yes. It's just hard to even hear him, someone so young, and just as he was saying, at this music festival, talk about how that ended for him, and so many others.
Anderson, thank you.
Meanwhile, President Biden confirming, in overall an angry speech today that 14 Americans have been killed, in this attack. His National Security Adviser says that 20 more are still missing tonight.
The White House has been reaching out to those families, of those, who are unaccounted for, as intelligence agencies are also working, with their Israeli counterparts, to try to locate them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I've directed my team to share intelligence and deploy additional experts from across the United States government, to consult with and advise the Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery -- recovery efforts, because as president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: One of those Americans who is missing tonight is Adrienne Neta. She is a 66-year-old, who was born and raised in Fresno, California. She moved to Israel, in 1981, and now lives in Be'eri, in southern Israel, near the Gaza Strip.
Her son, Nahar Neta, is joining me now, was at that press conference, earlier.
Thank you, for being here, on such a painful subject. Have you heard any update, on your mom, tonight?
NAHAR NETA, MOTHER ADRIENNE NETA IS MISSING FROM KIBBUTZ BE'ERI, MOTHER ASSUMED TO BE KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS ATTACKERS: No. The last topic that we had with my mom is when the call got disconnected, with her, between my siblings and her, when the terrorists barged into her home. That was Saturday morning, around 9:45 AM.
COLLINS: So, you and your siblings, you had been on the phone, with her, as Hamas was in the community, and then entered her home. I mean, what did you hear? What did you and your siblings hear, on the other end of that call?
NETA: So initially, it was just bombardment, a lot of bombs, a lot of noises. And then, my mom started to report that she's hearing a lot of shouting, in Arabic, outside of her home, along with a lot of shooting. At this point, we urged my mom, to go into the safe house, safe room that she has, in our house, which she did. And we stayed on the line.
Eventually, we heard the terrorists attack the house, and barge into the safe house, safe room. There was a lot of screaming and shouting in Arabic. No shooting, though. And that's where the call got disconnected. And that's the last that we heard, from my mom, or any other information regarding her whereabouts.
COLLINS: I heard you say earlier that she has seven grandkids. I bet she's a great grandmother. I know, you said she's a nurse as well. What else can you tell me about what your mom is like?
NETA: Yes, very special person. Very few people having devoted their life to taking care of other people, as a nurse, first in communities, around the area, and later on at the regional hospital in Be'er Sheva.
A happy woman, very active, very sporty. Retired about a year ago, and really devoted her life, to the grandkids, and being very involved in their lives. In addition, she was volunteering, at the small farm that takes care of youth that kind of got rejected from all other educational systems, and was very much involved, with those kids as well.
Yes, came from California, in the early 80s, started a family, rooted in Israel, and in the kibbutz, where we lived.
COLLINS: What made her move to Israel? I know you said you grew up in that kibbutz. What made your mom move there?
NETA: Yes, so my mom just followed my dad. He's from over there. And they met in the U.S. And she fell in love with him, and with the idea of the country of Israel. And then, and she came, and joined him, and started our family, in the kibbutz.
COLLINS: What kind of -- I mean, to hear about the atrocities that have happened, in these communities, where everyone? I know it's not just a typical neighborhood, where you kind of know your neighbors, and say, "Hey." I mean, they all work together, for the good of the community.
I mean, did you ever think that something, like this, could happen, where your mom lives?
NETA: No, not in my worst dreams. I mean, it hasn't been a calm part of the country, for a while now.
But usually, it's about bombardment and missiles coming from the Gaza Strip. And the community learned to deal with that part. You go to the safe room. You close up. And you're safe. As terrible as that may sound, we got used to that. And we then we learned how to flourish, and how to thrive, in this environment. But this ferocious and murderous attacks, by Hamas terrorists, killing women, children and elderly, in their beds, in our kibbutz, and in our community, we did not expect that. And, yes, it's not something that you can imagine, in your worst dreams.
COLLINS: Nahara you said something today that stunned me, which is that you have heard, and had zero communication, with the Israeli government, about your mom. It has now been over three days.
Is that still the case, tonight, that you've heard nothing from them?
NETA: Yes. I'm afraid to say that with the Israeli government that that is still the case. We did submit all the information, to the Missing Persons department, the people, who are taking care of it. But we have not received any information back, to date.
We are in touch with the American Embassy, in Tel Aviv, who have reached out. I've not provided any information. But they have reached out, along with the State Department that reached out, to let us know that they are aware of the situation, and are following it closely. But still, did not provide any information, regarding the whereabouts of my mother.
COLLINS: Well, we know Secretary Blinken will be there, in the coming days. Hopefully, you will get a meeting with him, as well, Nahar.
I mean, we are thinking of all of you and, of course, your mother, tonight. Thank you, for coming on, to share about her, tonight.
NETA: Thank you very much.
COLLINS: On the ground, in Israel, as a response to this attack, and what we've seen the Prime Minister pledging, tens of thousands, of Israeli forces, are on the move. More than 300,000 reservists have been called up. Israel says it is preparing for the next phase, in this war.
We'll be back on the ground, in just a moment, with Anderson Cooper, for an update.
COOPER: And welcome back.
We are in Ashdod, Israel, tonight, about 19 or 20 miles or so, from the border with Gaza, which is in that direction.
And even from this distance, you can feel the impact, of artillery shells, landing, inside Gaza. We have seen a barrage of rockets, coming out of Gaza, today, as well, in areas around Ashkelon and elsewhere.
But even from this distance, all throughout, there's this steady just pounding, booming, you can actually feel it, from 20 miles away. CNN's Matthew Chance is on the ground now, for us, in Tel Aviv.
Matthew, let's talk about the next phase of what we may see here. Obviously, the IDF is not telegraphing what their intentions are, what their plans are. There has been a massive call-up of reservists. There have been large-scale movements of equipment, personnel as well.
The big question, of course, is there going to be a ground incursion, into Gaza, to really affect change, to try to get hostages, to try to decapitate the leadership of Hamas, or completely destroy their military capabilities? Hard to see how an operation here does not involve some level of activity on the ground.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And actually, I think that the Israeli officials have made it pretty clear that a ground offensive is on the cards, although they're not being absolutely definite, about when that's going to happen.
But you just look around. You see the fact that Israel has -- well, first of all, is furious, and is filled with horror and rage, as we've been reporting. But it's also mobilized, or called up 300,000 reservists, another 60,000, in the past 24 hours.
It's deployed something like 35 battalions, of its armed forces, around the country, in what looks like preparation, for a land attack, against Gaza. And so, yes, they're not saying, "Look, we're definitely going to do this," right now. But all the signposts indicate that a ground offensive into Gaza is the next step, in this war.
Perhaps, they're waiting for U.S. forces, to build up, off the coast of Israel. There's already a carrier fleet there. There's another one, potentially, on its way, as well, to provide some sort of support, perhaps, in case there's a regional backlash, against a ground offensive.
And I think that might be what they're waiting for, because other countries, the Hezbollah, in Lebanon, for instance, has said, if there's a ground attack, they would look at striking Israel as well.
And so, it's a risky strategy. But politically, for Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Israeli government here, it looks like it's got a lot of support, amongst the Israeli public.
COOPER: Yes, certainly does.
Matthew Chance, thank you very much.
Our coverage continues, from Israel, tonight. For more, on what's coming up, in Israel's war, to crush Hamas, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. is joining us next.
COLLINS: Tonight, tension is building, over just what Israel is planning, to strike back, at Hamas. Of course, we've already seen near constant airstrikes, on Gaza.
But Israel's Defense Minister has now ordered what he calls a, quote, "Complete siege" of the Gaza Strip.
And there are questions, tonight, over exactly what that means, especially after this comment, earlier today, from President Biden's National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: My understanding is that is not. The concept of siege is not something that in fact is going to be perceived by the Israeli government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That comment, from the White House National Security Adviser, came just a short time, after President Biden, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke by phone, for what has been the several time, in recent days.
And joining me now is the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Herzog.
Ambassador, thank you so much, for being here, tonight.
You heard Jake Sullivan's comments, today, saying that they do not believe that Israel is pursuing a siege, in Gaza.
But, of course, the Defense Minister of Israel said, there is going to be a complete siege, which includes cutting off power, food, water and fuel.
How do you reconcile those two statements?
MICHAEL HERZOG, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: So, let me explain the situation.
We are at war. This is the fourth day of the war. The war was waged on us, imposed on us, by Hamas. And we all have seen the scene, and the massacre of civilians.
The border, right now, between Israel and Gaza is closed. This is a war zone. And we are under no legal obligation to provide them with anything, say, for the basic humanitarian needs, for their sustenance. And we comply with international law.
Let's talk about facts, talk about electricity. The 10 electricity power lines, delivering electricity, from Israel to Gaza, were destroyed by Hamas rockets. I can go on and on.
The passage between Israel and Gaza, which serves their humanitarian purposes, was destroyed by them. So, they cut their own humanitarian lifeline. They have a lifeline, coming from Egypt, the border with Egypt.
But everything we are doing, we are applying pressure, on Hamas, having waged war on Israel. But we are complying with international law.
COLLINS: We are told that there are 100 to 150 hostages that are being held, in Gaza. Yesterday, you told Wolf Blitzer that there are not negotiations happening, for their release. Is that still the case tonight, sir?
HERZOG: Yes. We are still in the process of forming a picture, about the number of hostages, their identities, their situation, their medical situation, who is alive who is not alive, unfortunately. And there are not only Israelis, there're also Americans and others, among them.
We ask the international community to call upon Hamas, to release them, unconditionally, because taking hostages is a war crime.
And we are in close touch, with the U.S. administration, to get a better understanding, of their situation. We are not talking about negotiations, with Hamas.
COLLINS: Do you--
HERZOG: We are currently at war with them.
COLLINS: Ambassador, do you believe that some of the hostages have been killed?
HERZOG: We're not sure about the situation. And so, I want to be careful, in the way I respond to that, where again, we're still forming our picture, trying to better-understand their situation.
COLLINS: There are victims, families, some of those, who, their relatives are missing, tonight still. And they say they haven't heard from the Israeli government.
Is the government committed to reaching out to all of those, who have family members, who are missing, who they still have questions, about where they are?
HERZOG: So, first of all, we're still counting the bodies. We have over 1,000 bodies, on the Israeli side, as I said, massacred by Hamas. And we haven't completed the process, of identifying them. So, we don't say 100 percent know, who is missing, on the Gaza side, of the border.
We are in touch, with a lot of families. And we're in the process, of opening a call center, where any family can call, provide information, and get information, from our authorities. And we are also in touch with the relevant corresponding American authorities, in this respect.
COLLINS: Ambassador, there are obviously civilians, in Gaza, where you talked about what the Israel response is going to be there. Some of those, who are still, in Gaza, tonight, include Palestinian-
Americans, people, who are visiting. One of them is a mother of three young children. She spoke to Jake Tapper, earlier. And this is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANEEN OKAL (ph), PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN STUCK IN GAZA: Today, I was going, trying to get out from Gaza. I was going to Rafah border. And while we're going there, we tried multiple ways, to get out of Gaza, going to Rafah, to the south. We couldn't make it at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Obviously, Ambassador, you can hear what sounds like, like rocket fire there, in the background.
My question is where are those, who are either visiting Gaza, or who live in Gaza, the civilians, the innocent civilians, not members of Hamas, where are they supposed to go?
HERZOG: So, we're in touch with the Egyptian, and U.S. authorities, to facilitate the exit of foreigners, from Gaza, American citizens, and others. And I believe they will find solution. I cannot relay to their freedom, for them, inside Gaza, because Gaza is a war zone. But we will facilitate their exit.
COLLINS: Does that include the Rafah Crossing?
COLLINS: Because I believe it was hit today.
HERZOG: It's -- the Rafah Crossing is temporarily closed. But I think there is a way of getting people out. And this is the only crossing that can get people out.
HERZOG: Because the border with Israel is totally closed. They're still fighting along this border. The Crossing itself was destroyed by Hamas. So, the only way out is through the Egyptian border.
COLLINS: And Ambassador, this is important. Do you believe that Egypt is going to a allow them, to cross, the Gazans?
HERZOG: I cannot speak on behalf of the Egyptian government. But I am confident that they will allow it.
COLLINS: Ambassador Michael Herzog, that's some news there. Thank you very much, for your time, tonight.
HERZOG: Thank you very much. COLLINS: Also, we have new video, just in, that shows the aftermath of the massacre, at a music festival, on Saturday, where at least 260 bodies have been recovered.
So many families, tonight, are still desperate for answers, on their loved ones, who were at that festival, and never came home.
Wolf Blitzer spoke to one of their families, and joins us next.
COOPER: (inaudible) of terror, from the music festival, in Israel, where Hamas militants murdered at least 260 people. As we're getting this new video, in the aftermath of massacre -- the massacre, Wolf Blitzer spoke to two Israeli brothers, who are desperate, to find out if their 22-year-old brother, Ori, is still alive.
COLLINS: (inaudible) festival, in a vehicle. He had picked up two other people, along the way. This is what his brothers told Wolf.
SHAY ARAD, BROTHER MISSING IN ISRAEL: Ori called again to our father, told him that he's surrounded by many terrorists that are shooting on them, with machine guns, Kalashnikov, and hand grenades.
He updated my father that he must take an action, he must confront them, because he don't want to stay like a duck, on the road. He don't want to leave the crowd, and hiding in the bushes.
Sped up against them. But they shoot the car. He lost control. And as a result, the car flipped twice. And he lost his conscious, while the two girls, in the car, had minor injuries.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
ARAD: The girls pretended to be dead. But after 20 minutes, our brother, Ori, started to regain his conscious. But the terrorists noticed it. And in an act of pure evil, I don't have any other word to describe it, they shoot him again, in a scene that's taken from the Holocaust period, or something like that.
COLLINS: And Wolf Blitzer joins us now.
Wolf, I mean, these brothers, unfortunately, as we all know, and who we've spoken with, they're not alone, in what they're going through. So many people have lost loved ones, are still searching for them.
It's hard to think that, Wolf, you and I were just there, a year ago, when President Biden visited Israel. I mean, how deeply, do you believe in, from what you've heard, has this just shaken Israel? BLITZER: I've been calling friends, in Israel, every day, since this war erupted, Saturday morning. And it clearly has shaken the Israeli people, of all political -- of all political stripes. They're so, so disappointed that the Israeli intelligence community, the Military, failed to appreciate what Hamas was up to. And this horrible massacre has occurred.
By all accounts, a 1,000, more than a 1,000 Israelis were killed, in just one day, by these Hamas terrorists. And it's something that the Israelis didn't necessarily believe, was in the cards. But it clearly happened. So, it's really shaken the people of Israel.
And then, when they see all the stories, that have been reported, in Israel, being reported here, being reported all over the world, these human interest stories about these mothers, who are missing their children, the children, who are missing their mothers, and grandparents, all these little kids, who were killed and captured? It's just so heartbreaking, to hear about all of this. And the people in Israel, clearly, are shaken by this.
COOPER: Right. Wolf, many of our viewers know you're the son of Holocaust survivors. We saw a Holocaust survivor taken captive by Hamas. This attack has -- some have called it, here, in Israel's 9/11.
Can you talk about how different this feels, from previous attacks, in Israel?
BLITZER: Well, there have been wars, full-scale wars, in Israel, with Egypt and with Syria. And I've covered those wars.
There have been a lot of terrorist incidents. But usually, those terrorist incidents were a suicide bomber goes into a Sbarro Pizza, pizza place, in Jerusalem, blows himself up, but kills a whole bunch of Israelis, in the process.
This is different. And, I think, it's really the first time we've seen these terrorists go into a kibbutz, for example, and just start killing everyone. Little kids, adults, grandparents, just everyone, killing as many people as they possibly can.
And that incident, at that musical festival, that was going on, where the 250 people, young people, mostly young people, who were just attending a music festival, were killed brutally.
And this is a new development. I think it's unprecedented. If you speak to Israeli experts, they'll tell you that as well.
COLLINS: I mean, Wolf, the anger, you could just hear it, in President Biden's voice, earlier. I think it, as covering him, I think it was the angriest I've ever heard him, since he has taken office.
And it certainly seemed to be, and you obviously covered the White House, Wolf as well, one of the most forceful statements, from a U.S. President, in support of Israel, that we have ever seen.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. And I've covered a lot of these presidents. And I've heard many presidents make very powerful, important statements, about Israel, over these many years.
I wrote a book on, U.S.-Israeli relations that came out in the 1980s, called "Between Washington and Jerusalem" that Oxford University Press published. And so, I've studied this area.
And I don't think I've heard an American president speak with the emotion, and that pro-Israel attitude, as we heard, today, from President Biden. He was extremely powerful, extremely sympathetic, to the Israelis.
He said what the Israelis wanted to hear he promised that the U.S. would be there for Israel, no matter what. That's precisely what the Israelis want. They don't want necessarily U.S. boots on the ground. Israel has never really asked for that. They don't need it. But they need the U.S., for military support. And that's what the President is promising them. And that's what the Israelis will get.
COLLINS: Yes. And we saw some of that support, arriving tonight.
Wolf Blitzer, in Washington, Anderson, Cooper, in Israel, thank you both.
COLLINS: Also, tonight, of course, there is a cliffhanger, happening, in Congress, as things are about to get very intense, in that dome, in the next 24 hours. It is truly anyone's guess, tonight, what is going -- guess what is going to happen.
How the Speaker battle that is playing out in Washington could affect military aid, that, Wolf was just mentioning, to Israel? We'll speak to a lawmaker, next.
COLLINS: President Biden, tonight, calling on Congress, to take urgent action, to support Israel.
But the House still, I should note, can't take any legislative action, given there is still no House Speaker.
The two main contenders, for that job, Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, made their case, to fellow Republicans, tonight, behind closed doors.
The House Conference -- the House Republican Conference, I should note, is set to hold secret ballot elections, as soon as 9 AM, tomorrow morning. But it is still not clear, tonight, here, at 9:49 PM, if either of them can get 217 votes, which would be needed.
Republican congressman, Mike Lawler, is here -- of New York, is here, and joins me now.
Congressman, first let's start on aid to Israel, because President Biden is asking Congress to take that urgent action. How does that happen, given there is no House Speaker, tonight?
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Well, this is precisely why Kevin McCarthy never should have been removed, as Speaker, to begin with. You had eight Republicans, and 208 Democrats, team up, to remove a duly- elected Speaker.
And look, events change at a moment's notice. And if you're going to do something, like this, you better have a plan. And I think that's part of the challenge here, and the frustration, and the anger, among many of us, who did not want to see this happen.
Obviously, we need to elect a Speaker, so that we can get back to the work of the American people. And aid to Israel is going to be the top priority, as soon as we can get the House floor open, again.
I think it is imperative, obviously, that we stand with our closest ally, in the Middle East, a beacon of democracy, Israel, and fight back against Hamas, a terrorist organization, funded by Iran, and backed by the Mullahs, and the Ayatollah. And we need to hold them accountable.
You have 14 Americans killed, hundreds of Israelis killed. Women, children beheaded. It is shameful. It is disgusting. It is barbaric.
And we have members of Congress, who can't even denounce it. Rashida Tlaib, tonight, walking through the Capitol, refused to comment, on children being beheaded. This is what we're dealing with right now, in America.
You had the DSA having a rally in support of the Palestinians. And people holding swastikas, in Times Square. It is shameful.
LAWLER: I have hundreds of constituents, hundreds, who are stuck in Israel, right now, and cannot get home, because commercial airlines are not operating, in Israel.
I've called -- I've spoken to the White House. I've spoken to the State Department. We need to get military airplanes, into Israel, to help evacuate, citizens of the United States, who want to come home. This is a perilous--
COLLINS: And what has the State Department said about that, Congressman?
LAWLER: This is a perilous situation. Frankly, the Administration didn't really get on the issue, of the airlines, until today, in my conversations. And I've been raising this issue, for two days. We--
COLLINS: But what did the Administration say, when you talked about this idea? I mean, we've heard from people, who are in Israel, that are trying to
get home, and having a lot of difficulty, either finding a flight to anywhere, but much less to the United States.
I mean, what did the State Department say to your request?
LAWLER: They said they're working on it. And I have to tell you, we need to work faster. You have thousands of Americans, who are in Israel, right now. Obviously, we have people, who are being held hostage. I think we need to do everything, in our power, to get those folks home safely.
This is a very dangerous situation. For the first time, in 50 years, Israel has declared war, and justly. And we need to do everything, we can, both from a financial standpoint, from a military standpoint, and from a humanitarian standpoint--
COLLINS: Yes. Well Congressman, to do that?
LAWLER: --to support Israel.
COLLINS: And I should note that what we've heard, from the Administration? And we've been asking them these questions, obviously, about these 14 Americans, and the -- that have been killed, and obviously the 20 more that Jake Sullivan said, today, were unaccounted for, in his briefing.
But let's talk about the -- being able to pass a support, to Israel, which is what you have the capability of doing, if you get a House Speaker.
Your party met behind closed doors, tonight, to talk about who could be the next House Speaker. Was any consensus reached? What happened in that meeting?
LAWLER: Look, both announced candidates made their case, to the Conference. A lot of people asked questions. Both of them gave direct answers, to the Conference.
We're going to be meeting, tomorrow, at 10 AM, following a classified briefing, on the situation, in Israel, and have a vote. And we'll see if someone could get to, 217 votes, within the Conference.
COLLINS: And who will you be supporting?
LAWLER: I have not declared who I will be supporting. I think at the end of the day--
COLLINS: Have you decided?
LAWLER: Not yet.
I think, at the end of the day, we need to obviously unify, we need to elect a Speaker, and get back to governing. There are a lot of challenges, facing the American people, from spending, and our porous southern border, to the crisis in Israel, Ukraine, and so on. COLLINS: Yes.
LAWLER: So, there are a lot of challenges ahead that we need to get back to, the business of governing. And obviously, I'm hopeful that we can unify and elect a Speaker, so we can do the work of the American people.
COLLINS: Well, are you confident that that will happen tomorrow?
LAWLER: Look, we are going to have a vote. And we'll see where it falls, and then take it from there. I am not going to put a timeframe on this. I think the reality is, obviously, many folks are very frustrated, by what happened, last week. And, ultimately, the Conference is going to have to come together, behind a Speaker.
COLLINS: But just to be clear?
LAWLER: And we'll see what happens.
COLLINS: It doesn't sound like that there has been any consensus reached, as of tonight. Is that what you're saying, Congressman?
LAWLER: Well, we haven't had a vote. You have two candidates that are running. And so, the vote will take place, tomorrow. And we'll see what comes out of that. I don't think anybody can say how that vote is going to land.
COLLINS: OK. Congressman Mike Lawler, we will be on Capitol Hill, tomorrow. We will see what does happen, in that secret election ballot, tomorrow. Thank you, for your time, tonight.
LAWLER: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up next, many Israelis, in America, are rushing back, to join the fight, Israeli reservists, including this New Yorker. We'll tell you his story, right after this.
COLLINS: Tonight, one Israeli man, and his one-way ticket are making headlines, in the war effort.
Noy Leyb lives, and works here, in New York City. But when he learned of Hamas' surprise attack, on his home country, he packed his bags. Noy booked the first flight that he could, back to Israel. He arrived there, on Sunday evening, joining his elite paratrooper unit.
He explained to CNN, why he decided to leave New York. And this is a quote from him. He said, "It's just feeling that it's my duty It's my calling." Of course, he is one of many, of the reservists, who have joined up, to fight, and go with their country, following those devastating attacks, from Hamas, on Saturday. We'll continue following it, all here, on THE SOURCE. Thank you so much, for joining me, tonight.
"CNN NEWS NIGHT" with Abby Phillip, starts, right now.