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State of the Union
Interview With Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper; Interview With Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides; More than 600 Believed Killed in Hamas Attacks. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 08, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Our porous Southern border, where you have millions of migrants crossing over in just two-and-a-half years, six million in fact.
The Democratic policies have failed. And voters do not want one-party rule. Yes, we need to work in a bipartisan way, but if any of my Democratic colleagues think that somehow this is going to end with Hakeem Jeffries being speaker, they're wrong.
It is going to be a Republican speaker. And we're going to get back to the work of the American people.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: And I don't think he was suggesting that. He was suggesting changing the rules to make it easier for you...
LAWLER: Oh, some of my -- some of my -- some of my Democratic colleagues have been pushing for four or five of us to vote for Hakeem Jeffries.
BASH: I see.
LAWLER: That's not happening.
BASH: I understand that.
Congressman Mike Lawler of New York, thank you so much for joining me.
LAWLER: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BASH: It is the top of the hour. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the State of the Union is holding its collective breath.
You are watching a special live hour of CNN breaking news coverage, Israel at war. A top Israeli official just told me that more than 600 people are dead and more than 2,000 are injured after Hamas terrorists swept into Israel.
Several Americans are reportedly dead. And an Israeli official says dozens of Americans are among the hostages brought back to Gaza. We are talking about hostages who are largely civilians, mothers, fathers, children, grandmothers, sisters, brothers.
Now, 36 hours later, Israel has formally declared war and is still battling to clear Hamas terrorists from inside its own borders. Watch this heart-stopping video of a firefight in the middle of a highway.
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BASH: Hundreds of videos are being seen across social media showing the world the horrors of this attack.
And, in response, Israel is retaliating against Hamas in the form of relentless bombing on Gaza cities.
We want to get some perspective now from some Israelis who are living through this terror.
Esther Marcus is a resident of a kibbutz located near the Gaza border and joins me now.
Esther, thank you so much for being here.
You are currently on a bus with your family evacuating.
ESTHER MARCUS, ISRAELI CITIZEN: That's right.
BASH: Can you describe what you have witnessed in the last 36 hours?
MARCUS: Well, it began yesterday, 10 to 6:00 in the morning, which, as you know, is a Shabbat, a Sabbath, and a religious holiday.
The first thing I heard was the Iron Dome, which immediately creeped me out, because we haven't heard that for a while. And then it was just pandemonium, and, within seconds, we were told we had to get into the safe room, which, obviously, we have done many times before, that we have had to go into the safe room.
But we have only ever gone in and stayed there 10, 15 minutes, maybe an hour or two. But, this time, we were in that safe room for 26 hours. We went in yesterday at 6:00 in the morning. We were only allowed out this morning at 9:00.
And even while we were -- it wasn't just about being in the safe room. We had to lock all our doors, close our windows, be in darkness. We could only just have a bit of light in our safe room. And when I say we were in the safe room, I'm talking my husband and I, our married daughter with her husband and two small babies, and my other married son and his daughter.
So that's a whole bunch of us in the room. And all we can hear is shooting going on outside, which were the terrorists walking around our houses. And it was just terrifying. And, obviously, we had to keep the babies as quiet as possible, which is a huge challenge, and, at the same time, keep ourselves as calm as possible in order not to put our anxiety and stress onto them.
And it just went on and on and on. At the beginning, we didn't really know what was going on outside of the walls. And then slowly, but surely, the news started creeping in. And as hard as it was for us, I now understand that it was even harder for other people that terrorists actually came into their -- physically came into their houses, set fire to their houses.
And it was just awful. And on our people, the terrorists infiltrated, and they killed foreign workers, whose bodies have still not been moved, even, because the situation is going on. There isn't even time, and it's considered a security hazard, to move the dead bodies of these foreign workers.
So, Esther, I'm -- I can't even imagine what that was like to be in that safe room for more than 24 hours, especially, as you said, with your grandchildren, who are babies. And it's not easy to tell babies to be quiet.
When you finally did emerge before you got on the bus, where you are now, what did you see?
MARCUS: So, when we came out and we started watching the news, it just went from bad to worse. And it was just all about taking care of ourselves.
I also run the hot line for our local resilience center. I'm in charge of the therapy center, where we have been giving therapy for people, all the residents in the area, families, children, teaching them how to cope when we have rocket attacks and when bad things happen.
So I was constantly getting phone calls as well.
MARCUS: But the main thought was to, obviously, get the children as far as possible to get them to safety. And then we started getting organized ourselves, and when we were supposed to leave, we then couldn't leave, because, again, there was a scare, that there was an infiltration.
We had to go back into our safe rooms. And, eventually, at the -- 3:00 this afternoon, we were able to get on the bus...
BASH: Yes. Well...
MARCUS: ... which we're still on now.
And everybody's just completely freaked out, shaken up. BASH: I can't even imagine. I can't even imagine.
Thank you for sharing this story.
BASH: Thank goodness that you and your family are safe. We all wish and hope that you have a safe journey up north.
MARCUS: Thank you. Thank you.
But it -- however bad it is for us, it's obviously worth for others. And our prayers are really that all the hostages come home safe and sound. And, wow, just a crazy thing...
MARCUS: It truly is for us, as you have already expressed, that 9/11 -- and it was actually the day after my birthday. My birthday was the 6th of October, which was the Yom Kippur War.
BASH: Oh, no.
MARCUS: And it happened on the 7th.
MARCUS: ... forget. But I'm sure we will get through this as well, as we have with everything.
MARCUS: Thank you.
BASH: Yes. Israelis are very resilient, resilient people. And I appreciate you telling your story.
Thank you, Esther.
MARCUS: Thank you. Thank you. Bye-bye.
BASH: And up next: Is there a diplomatic way out of Israel's new war?
A former U.S. Ambassador to Israel will join me ahead.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Just into CNN, we have information that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's office says he has just left Israel. The Democratic senator arrived there on Friday for several days of meetings. He was in Jerusalem when Hamas launched its attack. He sheltered in place and is now safely on his way back home. Very good news there.
Joining me now to talk about the war in Israel is the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides. We should disclose that he is married to CNN executive vice president Virginia Moseley.
Thank you so much for coming on.
First of all, you left your post in July. You are still very much in touch with the people who worked for you there on the ground, in addition to Israelis. What are you hearing?
TOM NIDES, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: It's heartbreaking.
I have been on the phone for the last 24 hours talking to my former colleagues, their families, their kids. I have many, many friends there. Most of them have been sheltered in place. Some are worried about their cousins. Many of them have had -- their family members have been called up to reserves.
Reservists as old as 50, 55 years old have been called up. This is affecting every single person in Israel. And it's heartbreaking, and it's senseless. It's beyond -- it's beyond words. And I can't -- as someone who spent a couple years there, I can't express my anger and frustration and just -- just my heart breaks for all these people.
BASH: Understandably so.
And you have, of course, been in touch with the staff. You're talking about the Israelis, mostly, but the U.S. staff, the Foreign Service officers and the like.
NIDES: Oh, without question.
BASH: How are they doing?
NIDES: Yes, I have had multiple conversations with my former DCM Stephanie Hallett, who's the charge d'affaires, who's doing a fantastic job of managing this.
Remember, the staff, the operation in Israel is quite large, probably the largest in the world. So not only do you have our -- the families of Americans, but Israeli local people there.
Her job is not only to communicate with Washington, but communicate with the expat community that's in Israel, the Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Americans that are in Israel living every day, and then to be -- work with the staff. Staffs are scared. I mean, they wake up every day, they're sheltered in place. This --
again, when you say these kinds of things, you look at it on -- you're watching on TV, and you don't realize the impact this is having on every single person who lives in the state of Israel. And, for me, it's -- the anger is -- it's quite in deep inside of me.
BASH: Yes, I can imagine.
And what about the Americans who we now know, according to Israeli and American officials who have been on this program today, are -- who have not only been killed, but are hostages? Do we have any more information about them?
NIDES: No, I have been told the same.
Obviously, we don't know the numbers. I don't think people actually understand exactly where they are. Some, sadly, are probably dead. Some of them have been captive.
I mean, just look at the visuals. Look what's happened. These people, this -- Hamas are a bunch of monsters, throwing kids and elderly and women and children and parading them around. What -- who does something like this?
And the reality of this is, is, the behavior and what you're seeing is only a part of it. And, obviously, the days ahead are going to be painful, but do not underestimate the strength of the Jewish people. Do not underestimate the strength of Israelis to rally, to come together, to basically try to make this as good as it possibly can and get those hostages free out of Gaza, which is going to be in itself a massive operation.
BASH: Well, that was going to be my next question. It's -- there's a dual track, it seems, just pure retaliation, and then getting the hostages out, the untold number of hostages out and doing so safely.
That is a very, very tricky task.
NIDES: I mean, I think what people should understand, first and foremost.
Hamas does not speak for the Palestinian people. In Gaza -- I don't think people understand, 15,000 Gazans leave every day to go work in Israel. The reality is, Hamas is very, very unpopular in Gaza. And they don't speak for any of these people. They speak for themselves. They speak for terror.
They have one objective, which is destroy the state of Israel. Their second objective is to bring a bunch of their friends in the region to also join it, which, thankfully, so far hasn't happened.
But, at the end of the day, Israel will do what Israel needs to do to get these hostages out and to protect the state of Israel and the people that, sadly, have been captive. BASH: You, having been there for a couple of years representing the
United States, you lived and worked through some very tumultuous times inside the Netanyahu government.
How much do you think -- and this is a question that I have been asked. I asked Ron Dermer about this earlier -- how much do you think that government was distracted, to the point where they were caught flat-footed?
NIDES: This is not the time to speculate.
The good news is, the bad news is, there will be plenty of recriminations here, guys. They're going to -- there's no lack of Israelis relitigating and thinking about how we got here. The most important thing is -- right now is to get the men and the women and the kids out of Gaza to safely secure the borders and to make sure those people are brought home to the loved ones.
And there will be plenty of time to think about why this has happened. Listen -- and I applaud, obviously, President Biden.
We all knew -- and, certainly, as someone who was his representative in Israel, that he cares deeply, deeply about the state of Israel. He says you don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and he really means it. If you listen to what he has said, he's standing by the state of Israel to do the needs that Israel may need in these very, very difficult weeks ahead.
BASH: There will be time to look back when it comes to the Netanyahu government. The
Question looking forward is, what is going to happen with the Israeli government? Questions about a new coalition government. How viable, how realistic is that?
NIDES: Listen, as someone who has called for compromise many, many times, I think, in a wartime setting, which is what's going on right now, I think it would be, as someone who's been there, it would be terrific to get Lapid and Benny Gantz back into this government to work together to protect the state of Israel, to protect the people of the state of Israel, take -- get politics out of this, get them out of this.
BASH: How possible is that?
NIDES: Listen, I don't know. I'm not there, obviously. But I know...
BASH: And you know the players.
NIDES: I know the former prime minister -- that would be Lapid -- has suggested a coalition government. I know the former Defense Minister Benny Gantz has also suggested and worked towards that.
Listen, if -- again, at a time of crisis, not dissimilar what happened to us at 9/11, countries come together, people come together, Israelis come together. It's time to take politics and get it out of the way and focus on what's most important, is the security of the state of Israel and the security of those people who are now captive by these lunatics in Gaza, get them out and get them home.
BASH: How worried are you about -- you mentioned this -- about the north, just, for example, Hezbollah and the organizations like Hezbollah, maybe even -- we had Mike McCaul on earlier wondering about whether the Taliban is going to somehow find a way to take advantage of this inside of Israel.
How worried are you about this expanding in an even more dangerous way?
NIDES: Listen, I can't -- I'm not going to speculate at this point.
I mean, clearly, Hezbollah has decided at this point not to engage in a forceful way. I don't believe they will. I think, ultimately, they know the costs that will be paid. Israel is not going to step aside and let the Hezbollah attack Israel. So, make no mistake.
I have been in these meetings with the Israelis. They mean business about this. And, by the way, America's got Israel's back. This is not -- they're not just thinking about the Israeli security. Joe Biden has said over and -- and I think Secretary Blinken said on your show this morning, I think Jake Sullivan and Brett McGurk, all the people that are focused on this, we have got Israel's back.
And we will make sure -- to the best of our ability to make sure none of these other players get involved in this, all the people that are focused on us, we have got Israel's back.
And we will make sure, to the best of our ability, to make sure none of these other players get involved in this, to make sure they stand by and stand aside, as Israel does what they need to do to get those hostages out of Gaza.
BASH: How worried about you about the Saudi deal, which has been a main focus of not only the United States, but of Israel and Saudi, falling apart, and whether that that was part of the goal here by the Hamas terrorists?
NIDES: Listen, I have been a big promoter of the idea of a potential Saudi deal, because I thought and I still believe, how grand would it be -- again, it's hard to think about this in this current environment, but again, in time -- in the future, we will see -- to get a Saudi deal with Israel?
There's a reason why the haters don't like this. There's a reason why Hamas doesn't like this. They don't want stability. They want to destroy the state of Israel. And if the Saudis normalize with Israel, it wouldn't be just Saudi Arabia. It would be many other Muslim countries.
BASH: You think it's still on track?
NIDES: This is clearly a setback. I don't think any of us should be under any illusions of this.
But, again, difficult things take difficult -- for you to keep focus on and making sure that the people that are working on this are focused on the endgame. And if there is a chance that this could happen, we will see what happens after we get through the current crisis.
BASH: Last question.
Markwayne Mullin, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, I asked him how important it is to confirm Jack Lew, who President Biden wants to be your successor, quickly so he can get over to Israel. And his answer was that the people in your former office are quite capable, and, basically, there's no rush. He wants to meet with Jack Lew, and others do too.
What are your thoughts?
NIDES: Jack Lew should be confirmed tomorrow. Jack Lew will be a spectacular diplomat. He was a spectacular public servant.
Jack and I actually switched jobs when we were deputy secretaries of state together. I think Jack will do a great job. And we need people on the ground. Yes, Stephanie Hallett is doing a great job, and she will continue doing a great job. More is better than less. And Jack will make a phenomenal ambassador.
BASH: Tom Nides, former ambassador to the -- to Israel, U.S. ambassador to Israel.
As of July, you are back. Thank you so much for coming in.
NIDES: I'm honored. Thank you.
BASH: Appreciate it.
And up next, a look inside Israel's war strategy. We're going to go to the Magic Wall and talk to a former U.S. defense secretary next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
As we follow the unfolding war in the Middle East, I want to get straight to Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann.
Oren, you now cover the U.S. Pentagon. You spent years in Jerusalem as CNN's correspondent there. You know the region incredibly well. What can you tell us?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, let's look at a few major factors here, one, where the fighting is still ongoing, where Israel is looking to reclaim its territory that was captured by Hamas terrorists, and then at evacuations.
First, to the fighting, we will take a look at hot spots here. And just to give you a sense of distance, this village of Ofakim is 14 miles from the Gaza border. So these are just a few miles here. Some villages are even just a couple hundred meters away from the border.
This is where we're seeing ongoing fighting with Hamas terrorists that crossed -- came across the Gaza border in different ways, so, Kfar Aza, kibbutz Be'eri. And there's also an order in Sderot. Sderot, it's worth noting, is a major city there on the Gaza border.
There's an order there from the IDF that came out a short time ago for residents there to remain inside their homes, so an ongoing concern, even where there isn't active fighting, but a concern on the part of the Israelis, that there could be other terrorists that they're still looking for as this is ongoing, now well past the 24-hour mark.
In terms of evacuations, Israel has ordered evacuations. You can see these are the different spots here. This once again is Ofakim, 14 miles away, but all along the border there ordering evacuations and trying to make sure that there is essentially room to operate as the Israeli military still going through here and still trying to fight its way through what has been an incredibly stubborn resistance from Hamas terrorists who came across the border early yesterday morning, Dana.
BASH: And, Oren, you have been focusing rightly on Gaza and the Israeli neighborhoods inside cities, inside and kind of near Gaza.
Let's talk about the northern border. Walk us through what happened there already and what is potentially a danger there.
LIEBERMANN: So that -- and we will zoom out here -- here's where we're looking at, the Lebanon border. This is not only Southern Lebanon, obviously. It is also a Hezbollah stronghold.
This is where they are the strongest. And just like in Gaza, where you're looking at distances of a few hundred meters, it's the exact same distance you're looking at, Israeli communities right up on the border, Lebanese communities, Hezbollah also right up on the other side of the border.
So, earlier today, Hezbollah took responsibility for firing several mortar rounds at an Israeli bunker or outpost there. Israel retaliated. The fear is that although that little back-and-forth looks like it has ended, the fear is what could come if Hezbollah becomes involved in a larger fight, because they are exponentially more powerful and have exponentially more weaponry than Hamas in Gaza.
The last figures I remember getting from the Israelis, something like 140,000 unguided rockets and 10,000 guided missiles that at least have some measure of precision. The concern here is that, if Israel decides to carry out a ground incursion -- and that seems to be the threat right now -- that Hezbollah is threatening or appears to be threatening to get involved.
And that could spiral very quickly, worth pointing out, Hezbollah even more so backed by Iran than Hamas.
BASH: Such important points and critical data points as well, when you're talking about the weaponry that Hezbollah has sitting on the other side of Israel's northern border.
Thank you so much for that, Oren.
BASH: Let's talk more about this with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Secretary Esper, let's start where I just left with Oren, talking about 140,000, at least, guided rockets. They're guided by or supported by Hezbollah in the north of Israel. You have that. You, of course, have what's going on in a very active way inside Israel and across the border in Gaza.
How concerned are you about this spiraling and escalating and expanding?
MARK ESPER, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Sure, Dana.
First, let me say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the Israeli citizens who were killed and injured and captured in these terrorist attacks and to their families as well. So, I think they're all in our hearts.
Look, I think Oren laid it out fairly well. Clearly, the immediate task is to get the situation under control in Israel, make sure that all the militants still running around are killed or captured. I know the IDF is currently doing that.
But the first major test is going to be, how do they approach Gaza? I think, based on previous experiences -- and, of course, this is unprecedented, but, based on previous experiences, we know that the Israelis are going to go into Gaza. They're going to seek to decapitate Hamas leadership, knock out bunkers, storage sites, weapons, et cetera, et cetera.
And the key is, it has to look like a material defeat for Hamas, given what they have done, given all that's happened here in the past 30 hours or so. The challenge is, they're holding dozens of Israelis captured as hostages, men, women, children, the elderly. And this will really complicate things as to how they proceed.
And so the question is, do they go in really hard, really heavy, do some other stuff? Another option is, do they try and push back the settlements within the Gaza borders currently to create more of a dead man's zone, a no-man's land, so that people can't cross in the future? And while all this is happening, they have to make sure Hezbollah
doesn't do anything from the north to try and create a second front. And we know, in the last 12 hours or so, there was an exchange of rockets up in Northern Israel, Southern Lebanon shot by Hezbollah. Israel responded.
And they got to continue to look east toward Iran as well.
BASH: Well, let's talk about that, about Iran and the concerns about Iran just generally.
And, I mean, we have seen the reaction. It's not a surprise. They're -- the government there is applauding what Hamas did. Not a surprise, because Hamas is funded by Iran. You just heard that -- Oren talk about Hezbollah being even more of an Iran-backed group.
So, I know that this is something that you are very concerned about. When I say this, I say Iran.
Well, look, all roads lead back to Iran, right? It's the biggest supporter, funder, trainer, weapons supplier of Hamas, certainly of Hezbollah as well. They're stirring up problems with the Houthis in Yemen. The problem with Shiite militias in Iraq goes back to Iran even.
The problem that the U.S. military faces, the challenges we face there goes back to Iran. Now, the immediate task, of course, is to deal with Gaza. And I'm sure the -- Prime Minister Netanyahu will focus on that. But, at the end of the day, the strategic challenge here is once again Iran.
And until you really take them on and figure out how to cut down the supply of weapons and money and training and everything, then you're going to continue to fight this problem in one way, shape, or form over and over and over again.
BASH: As the former defense secretary, one of them in the Trump administration, which we will talk about in a second, just strategically, what should and probably what is the Pentagon doing right now to not just monitor the situation, but help Israel?
ESPER: Well, certainly, the outreach has already happened by Secretary Austin, I'm sure by the chain of command as well, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to express privately our support for them, to ask them what they need, how we can assist.
It's done publicly as well. I think the immediate things that the Israelis are going to be asking for will be continued intelligence, both tactical on the ground and strategic, what's happening in the region. And then I think you could probably look at some point with requests for munitions, maybe air defense.
We know that President Biden, I guess, has mentioned this already. There's a movement in the Senate to pull together an arms package as well. All of it, of course, is complicated by the disarray in the House. But I think those are the things that are happening.
And, of course, the U.S. Central Command has to be on alert to make sure that U.S. forces in the region are protected, first and foremost, and, secondly, that we're providing support not just to the Israelis, but other friends and partners in the region as well.
BASH: Last question.
I mentioned that you were Donald Trump's defense secretary. You were definitely not a fan of his, based on that experience that you had inside his Cabinet. If he were reelected in 2024, how confident are you that he would be able to handle an international crisis like this?
ESPER: This is a different one, in some ways, because it involves Israel, and there obviously is decades of a close relationship between the United States and Israel, our very closest ally and partner, a lot of shared values and interests.
But, that said, look, Trump ultimately puts himself first. I don't think he understands always the necessity of America leading, of helping our friends and neighbors in the world. And it's not just with regard to Israel. I have spoken before about the challenges that he presented with NATO, Korea, Japan and elsewhere.
So -- and, also, the key will be is, who does he bring in around him? That scares me just as much that he's going to put in uber-loyalists who will put their loyalty to him first, before the Constitution or before any foundational values that speak about America's leadership role in the world and our responsibility.
So, look, there are a number of issues there. I think -- that's why I think the Republican Party, my party should focus on the two, three, four, five nominees that we have seen in the debates so far that I think could do a good job, could bring the party together and can defeat President Biden in 2024.
BASH: Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experience and your insights.
ESPER: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: We're going to talk about the next steps of what is going to happen in Israel and in the region more broadly.
Some of the most -- foremost experts will be here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DERMER, ISRAELI MINISTER OF STRATEGIC AFFAIRS: Nobody makes peace with the weak in the Middle East. They make peace with the strong. It is our strength that will bring our neighbors, our Arab neighbors,
closer. And, believe me, none of these Arab neighbors -- put aside everything that they said in their official staples that come out.
Believe me, these countries who are partners in the region and who are forces for civilization, who want to move their countries into the 21st century, they all want to see Israel win and defeat these terrorists. It was an awful day and a horrific day for Israel. I think it's a horrific day for them.
Israel, a strong Israel, is good for them. A weak Israel is bad for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That's Israel's minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, speaking with us here on STATE OF THE UNION earlier today.
I want to bring in our panel to discuss what could be coming next.
Joining me now is Susan Glasser from "The New Yorker," David Sanger from "The New York Times," and CNN's Kimberly Dozier.
Thank you all for coming in on this very, very dark day, as I called it earlier.
Susan, I'm going to start with you.
You -- we have had you on talking a lot about Russia. You have also been stationed in the Middle East. This is something that we haven't seen before, so I'm not going to ask you based on precedent, because it is unprecedented.
Having said that, you understand how these things tend to go. We are going to be in for a very, very bloody few days and even more.
SUSAN GLASSER, "THE NEW YORKER": That's right.
I think the term here is war. It's not another in these episodes that we have gotten used to of retaliatory strikes, the cycle of rockets, and going back and forth. We're looking at, I think, a major military operation.
Israelis already signaled today that they're moving into an offensive phase of their operation, even as we understand that they're still fighting to clear out the militants from the initial attack. But what is that offensive phase of the operation look like, number one?
Number two, are we looking at the prospect of a wider regionalization of the conflict? Number three, of course -- and that's not a priority while you're still in an active fighting phase. But the ripple effects from this are going to be significant in terms of not only the pending peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which looks up in the air, but I think it has just enormous follow-on consequences, including politics inside of Israel.
But, right now, it's too soon for that, and I think what we're focusing on is how many hostages are there?
GLASSER: And what is Israel going to be willing to do. Is anyone going to be able to step in and mediate?
I know Egypt and Jordan have been asked to do so. Will they be able to get the hostages out?
BASH: Kimberly, you witnessed and experienced the horrors of war. And you were injured and luckily survived. It was in a different place. It was a different time, a different war, a different everything.
But, as we talk about this, it is important to put the human element into it...
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes.
BASH: .. particularly when you're talking about civilians, who not only were killed, more than 600, according to Israel, but those who are currently across the border in Gaza being held hostage.
DOZIER: I have spoken to friends inside Israel, as I know we all have, who right now are furiously texting, reaching out on social media, trying to make sure everyone they know is safe.
But everyone knows someone who is missing someone. One of my friends said: "We heard a motorcycle drive up to a neighbor's house and then wailing from inside."
They're getting notifications of loved ones who've been killed. They are all sharing on social media videos of, in one case -- this has not been verified by CNN, but it's tearing around Israeli social media -- a video of an Israeli 5-year-old child being ridiculed by Palestinians.
The effect of that is, people are angry. They're scared. They're angry at their government. They're angry at their military for not keeping them safe. And they're asking for a tough response.
The problem with that is, Hamas spokesmen have told reporters inside Gaza that these hostages have been taken into tunnels. Only way to get someone out of a tunnel is to send in a ground invasion. But then what? The Hamas fighters might trigger the tunnels to collapse.
The Israelis, they don't want to run Gaza again.
DOZIER: Do you leave Hamas in charge? If you have -- allow elections again, Hamas might well get reelected.
So you have this conundrum on top of a conundrum. Hostages are human shields, but you can't leave them in there. DAVID SANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": They're in a really tough spot.
And they're in a tough spot because, while the declaration is of war, this is a terror attack that to them feels, I think, very much like 9/11 felt to us, in some ways, given the size of the population, even bigger.
But Kim and Susan are exactly right. You can send in troops, even if you decided that you were going to sacrifice the hostages, which I think would be a really hard decision for Israel to make. But then what do you do once you're there?
We have all learned in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, you can invade, but occupying is another thing. And, as Kim says, the Israelis, if they wanted to occupy the...
BASH: They have been there, done that.
SANGER: They have done this in Gaza before, and they don't want to be staying there.
Their focus, of course, has been overwhelmingly on the West Bank, as you were discussing before with Tom Nides, and they don't want to let that explode. And then beyond that is, if we determine in the end that Iran played a significant role -- clearly, they have been a supplier to Hamas over the years -- how -- what do they do about that?
I mean, how much do they want to expand this? You don't want this to turn into a regional war. So I think the thing to look for in the next few weeks is whether or not you can see whether Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden stay on the same page here, because, right now, President Biden is saying, you have got to do what you need to do to protect everyone.
But, at some point, the U.S. is going to be calling for de-escalation, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to feel like he's got to reestablish deterrence. And those are two very different things.
GLASSER: Yes, I think David is making a really important point.
But, again, the question is for Israel and not for the United States, which is a very difficult one, which is, what is a long-term sustainable situation? Unlike in Afghanistan or Iraq, the United States could leave, because that's not our neighbor.
This is something that is a permanent problem that is affixed, by definition, at this point to the state of Israel. And in, that sense, it's a much more existential crisis that Israel is just at the beginning of going through, frankly, because it's not only the failures that led up to this.
And there were failures, right? And that will be a big reckoning in Israeli society. But it's even beyond that, because it goes to this question of, were we living in a kind of a dream world of our own reckoning that's coming crashing down upon us, the unsustainability of the status quo? In some ways, it was always -- always this challenge that was going to come.
BASH: You mean the idea that it's been -- quote, unquote -- "quiet " to use...
GLASSER: The idea that Gaza was on any kind of a sustainable path, this is not sustainable.
And, in some ways, it was always a question of, what was going to be the crisis that would trigger a reckoning? Is that this that reckoning? I don't know. But it's a terrible crisis.
And, to David's point, Israel's a country of just 10 million people. To have hundreds and hundreds dead like this, we're talking already about a scale of death that is far beyond 9/11, something like -- the equivalent in the United States would be more than 20,000 dead. It's a horrific loss of life.
DOZIER: And, meanwhile, in the Arab world, this is playing very differently.
It's the video of the 11-story building that housed Hamas radio getting bombed that's playing. And a new generation of young Arab people are being introduced to images of the Palestinian freedom fighter that had been supplanted by the wars in Iraq and the wars in Afghanistan.
And they are seeing Hamas fighters challenge the mighty U.S-backed Israel and really causing pain.
BASH: Such an important point.
SANGER: There's -- it's also the element of what message is sent by the intelligence failure here.
And this is a failure at many different levels. But over the years, we have all come to assume that the Israeli intelligence services, the Israeli military had wired every bit of the Gaza. Gaza is not a very big area. It's basically half the size of New York City, if you take in all of the boroughs, right?
So we have seen the Israelis do remarkable things. They picked out bomb-makers out of a crowd, out of -- out of cars and so forth. It seemed like they had the place laced with informants.
And not to pick up a thing here, not the chatter, not the missiles and rockets that were coming in, that seems truly remarkable to me. And I think it's going to be more than just a reckoning. I mean, I think this is going to be a politically huge question for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
BASH: Such an important discussion.
Wow, I feel very lucky that I had the three of you, your -- with your experience and your big brains, here to explain and put everything in context. Thank you so much.
We're going to take a quick break.
We are going to take a step back and take stock of the losses we're talking about.
BASH: October 7, 2023, for every Israeli, it's a date that will echo an eternity for its brutality and the country's return to war.
Sounds a generation of Israelis hadn't had to live with are now the soundtrack to their new reality.
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BASH: The back-and-forth of bullets. The blare of cop car sirens. The lingering quiet amid the smoke trails of black soot, the telltale signs of artillery-ravaged buildings.
The new war is barely a day old, and the death toll in Israel is already impossible to bear, more than 600 dead. The timing, 50 years after Israel endured a war with multiple Arab nations, is pointed.
In the half-century since, much has changed. The cruelty has not. This next picture, you cannot unsee. It is very explicit. You might want to look away. It is from the Nova music festival, Jewish bodies lined one by one in a tent after Hamas terrorists indiscriminately slaughtered dozens, maybe more.
In Judaism, we say a prayer over the dead, the Kaddish. Today, there are lots of families whose faith is being tested as they say those words. May the one who brings peace to the universe bring peace to us.