Return to Transcripts main page

The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper Reports From Israel In "Terror In Israel" For The Whole Story With Anderson Cooper. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 15, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.


COOPER: Stay with CNN a special edition of "The Whole Story: Terror in Israel" starts right now.

Welcome to "The Whole Story." I'm Anderson Cooper in Tel Aviv. One of the worst scenes of slaughter during the Hamas terror attack on Israel was at the Supernova festival, a dance party just 3.3 miles away from the border with Gaza. More than 3,000, mostly young people had gathered in an open field. It became a killing field. The site of a single biggest loss of civilian life in Israel's history.

Over the course of about six hours, terrorists killed more than 260 people there. Many were slaughtered at the site, others were ambushed or hunted down as they tried to flee. We still don't know how many party goers were kidnapped, and how many of those people may still be alive, being held somewhere in Gaza.

Hamas has posted hostage videos online and desperate family members in Israel have resorted to scrolling through jihadist videos searching for any images of their loved ones. Only now is the whole story of what happened at the Supernova music festival coming into focus.

Using videos from multiple sources and eyewitness accounts from survivors, we've been able to document how coordinated this attack was, and just how brutal. Some of what you'll see tonight is tough to watch. But it is for now the most complete look at what took place that we've reported so far.


COOPER (voice-over): It was 6:00 am on Saturday morning, October 7, the sun was rising over southern Israel.

MAYA ALPER, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I was standing with a friend and we looked together at the sunrise and I told her, Look how beautiful she is. What a magical sunrise. What a magical day.

COOPER (voice-over): Thousands of young people had been partying through the night at the Supernova festival, a trance music rave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made the video on my social of minutes before the attack and the crowd goes crazy raving. I've been in a lot of festivals -- one of the best ones, so before the attack.

COOPER (voice-over): After analyzing dozens of videos --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They start to shoot at us.

COOPER (voice-over): And interviewing survivors, CNN has been able to piece together how the Hamas terror attack unfolded, 70 miles south of Tel Aviv near Re'im, about 3.3 miles from Israel's border with Gaza. Festival organizers had been setting it up for days. But some partygoers didn't learn the location until shortly before the rave began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually, trance festivals, you don't give the location until the last day, because trance festival originally were illegal in most of the countries. So we never give the location until a couple of hours before. This is a tradition in this trance culture.

COOPER (voice-over): There were police and event security on site, but partygoers had been asked to leave any guns at home.

YUVAL TAPUHI, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: They asked all of the people that attended to the event to be calm and peaceful. Don't bring any weapon. Usually, you really don't think that you need to bring a weapon to a party. It's a nature party. It's supposed to be the most safe place that we all know.

COOPER (voice-over): 31 year old Hai Cohen was going to skip the party, but changed his mind after a friend convinced him not to.

HAI COHEN, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I told her listen, I'm really, really tired. Try to maybe sell the tickets or take other friends with you. She send the message to the organization and the organization told her it's too close to the event and it's not possible to change the ticket anymore. And then she wrote to me, It's a destiny. You done have a reason to afraid. I would like you to come with me. And then I wrote to her, OK, I'm in.

COOPER (voice-over): 31 year old Gal Roz (ph) traveled to the party with two friends and met up with his other friends Avi Natan Or (ph), and his girlfriend Noa Argamani.

GAL FAV, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I told her, I've been asked on about this party. I pushed him a bit to come with me, because we enjoyed some festivals like this before.

COOPER (voice-over): Also enjoying the festival a 22 year old restaurant manager named Omer Wenkert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His vision is, of course, to be professional, to be the owner of the restaurant eventually and to have family.

[22:05:00] COOPER (voice-over): Shani Louk, a 22 year old German-Israeli citizen had come as well.

RICARDA LOUK, SHANI LOUK'S MOTHER: My daughter is very artistic, she likes drawing, she's a true artist. And she likes music festivals and she likes to dance.

COOPER (voice-over): Another partygoer was Elkana Bohbot, husband and father of a three year old boy.

URIEL BOHBOT, ELKANA BOHBOT'S BROTHER: Elkana, he has a huge heart. He has a big laugh. He has an ice cream shop. He's a very smart guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He loved life. He went to celebrate life.

COOPER (voice-over): The celebration was supposed to go on all day. But at 6:30 am the music stopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The music shut down. It sometimes happens. In the first seconds I was like, Yes, sure, the electricity shut down.

TAPUHI: And, you can see these little blobs of light in the distance, and you think, like, OK, this is maybe fireworks?

COOPER (voice-over): This video was taken at exactly 6:30.

TAPUHI: Like 20 seconds after that we realized that those lights are not fireworks. This is missiles, this is rockets.

H COHEN: I remember police guy take the microphone, and say in Hebrew, (Foreign Language), which mean, Red siren, red siren. Please go to the shelter. What? You know, like we are in open field. What shelter? When you're in open area like that, the best thing that you can do is to lie on the ground and put your hand on your head.

COOPER (voice-over): Partygoers could hear the rocket warnings.


COOPER (voice-over): But many were not concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

COOPER (voice-over): It's far away, it's far away, a man in the parking area says. Don't worry.

ALPER: For a lot of Israelis alarm is not something that you get so excited and scared about.

NOAM COHEN, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I didn't got nervous because I used to it. Because in Israel every few months from Gaza, from -- you know, we're surrounded by enemies. So I used to see so many rockets over my head. So I was chill.

COOPER (voice-over): Rockets aren't unusual in southern Israel, but armed paragliders are. TAPUHI: Between the rockets you can see them coming from above. But I didn't think it was any kind of danger. We saw the paragliding from far, but we didn't think -- we never occurred that they carry terrorist inside of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Foreign Language).

COOPER (voice-over): You can hear a woman asking, What's happening.


COOPER (voice-over): It was around 7:00 am and some partygoers were already trying to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand something really getting wrong when I start hearing the live shooting. The live shooting, I could recognize by the type of the shootings that this was terrorists and not IDF power. There are three types of shooting. One is like single: pow, pow, pow. One is going like a line: pow, pow, pow, pow, pow in a rhythm. And there is like open fire: tatatatatata.

There is rules in IDF how you shoot, and very carefully. So I could understand this not IDF. This is terrorists attacking us and shooting us. So, it is far away, but you could hear that. And, then I understand, yes, we need to get the (bleep) away from here.

COOPER (voice-over): Inor Kagno (ph), a 25 year old photographer got to his car and out of the parking area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was like small jam of cars. But the policeman between the field and the main road stopped us.

COOPER (voice-over): He says, they told them there was shooting on the road north and he should head south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was probably one of the last ones who escaped that without getting the live shooting on me.

ALPER: Just decided that I want to drive away from here.

COOPER (voice-over): Maya Alper was working the festival and got to the parking lot around the same time as Inor.

ALPER: I got into my car, which because it was like really close to the exit, so I didn't get stuck that much in the traffic of people going out. So I was able to get out of the party space and into the road. And I thought -- I thought I was safe.

COOPER (voice-over): Unlike Inor, Maya drove north toward Tel Aviv. But Hamas gunmen were already on that road ahead of her. They had arrived on motorcycles and in trucks, armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, and quickly closed in from three directions. This drone video shows the traffic jam of cars trying to leave, would prove deadly. [22:10:00]

TAPUHI: The cars were stuck. And then a few moments later, an officer coming towards her way terrified -- terrified for his life and he's screaming, like, There is terrorists, they are shooting people. You need to leave your cars, leave everything here and run, Run, run for your life.

COOPER (on-camera): Hamas came from the west. They also were coming from the north and from the south. So heading east through this open field was the only way for many people to try to get out. Problem was it's an open field, and there were easy targets. It's not yet known how many people were shot running away or in hiding places nearby. But it was early and the slaughter had just begun.




COOPER (voice-over): Hamas gunmen had breached the fence, separating Israel and Gaza, in multiple locations according to the IDF.

By 7:00 am, they were along this entire stretch of highway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

COOPER (voice-over): Police and festival security exchanged fire with the heavily armed attackers, but they were outgunned and outmanned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

COOPER (voice-over): As chaos spread, a traffic jam in the parking area made it difficult for anyone to drive onto the main road and get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go! Go forward! Go Forward!

HAI COHEN, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: You cannot go from everywhere. Only one line to the roads.

COOPER (on-camera): You really get a sense of just the chaos that took place here as partygoers started to realize what was happening. Many rushed to the parking lot, trying to get into their vehicles, but they never made it out.

COOPER (voice-over): Those who were able to drive north or south quickly realized Hamas gunmen were waiting for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language) (bleep). They have snipers! (bleep).


FAV: We got on the road, then we ran into an ambush. They shoot about eight to 10 gunshots on the car.

ALPER: A lot of cars started to turn around and honk and be like, turn around, turn around.

H COHEN: I remember that I'm holding the wheel, OK, and I'm telling myself, get ready, buddy. They're coming.

COOPER (voice-over): At 7:39 am, this dashcam video shows the Hamas gunmen firing into a car on the road just north of the festival site. The car accelerates and more gunman shoot at those inside. This gunman also shoots repeatedly and at least three shots hit the dashboard. Car accelerates faster, and this gunman fires as well. The car crashes into another vehicle parked on the side of the road. It's not known how many people were inside.

There were at least eight bomb shelters on the road north and south near the festival site.

AVI MAYER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE JERUSALEM POST: This is a part of Israel that is under constant rocket barrage and it has been so for decades. And so there are many sites throughout the region that have these fortified concrete structures that are used for protection. Many of the participants found one of those structures and went inside, assuming that they would be safe.

COOPER (voice-over): Inor Kagno, who'd driven South, pulled over to hide in a shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its just a room, on like three meters on three meters, closed from every side, one door. We were like 14 people that -- I could hear shooting again. Shootings that I recognize that are their shooting. But it was like now very close, like very close.

COOPER (voice-over): Inor, decided to make a run for it. He was lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took a decision that I think probably saved my life.

COOPER (voice-over): At this shelter, just north of the festival, you can see Hamas gunmen throwing a grenade inside. A man runs out, trying to escape. He was immediately gunned down.

19 year old Noam Cohen recorded this video inside another shelter a few miles further north in Alumim. The concrete room was packed with people. You can hear the panic in their voices, asking what's going on? Are there Israeli soldiers nearby?

N COHEN: We got into the shelter with like 30 people. And then after five minutes inside the shelter, we just hear enormous, like, boom, like explosion, grenades inside of our shelter.

COOPER (voice-over): We aren't going to show you the videos he recorded next. They are among the most gruesome we've ever seen.

N COHEN: The deadliest kind of the grenades -- that -- those kinds of grenades that throw pieces all over -- metal pieces, screws. I don't know what they put in there. I saw my friends exploding in front of my face.

COOPER (voice-over): Noam says, he hid under body parts to survive. That's him, terrified, but alive.

N COHEN: It was a horror movie.

COOPER (voice-over): We found the shelter in the town of Alumim. Someone had put a curtain up over the doorway, but nothing could hide the smell as you enter. My cameraman, Neil Holdsworth, who's experienced a lot of war, began to retch and had to step outside.

COOPER: There's bloody handprints on the wall. There's blood smeared on the walls. See, probably these are either bullet holes or from the grenades that were thrown in here.

COOPER (voice-over): Body parts have already been collected from here, but blood-soaked clothes and shoes remain.

COOPER: This looks to be a bloody handprint. This shelter is no more than 15 feet long, maybe five-and-a-half, six feet wide. The idea of so many people packed in here, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, terrified, screaming, it's incredible that anybody was able to survive.

COOPER (voice-over): CNN has identified at least four different shelters where festivalgoers were shot or killed with grenades.

Back at the festival site, the butchering continued. Roughly two hours after it began, dashcam video retrieved from abandoned cars in the parking area show heavily armed Hamas gunmen moving around, shooting freely.


This body camera video shows a gunman shooting repeatedly and systematically into portable toilets where people had hidden. This photo from another toilet nearby shows bloodstains on the wall and on the ground.

At 9:23 am, nearly three hours into the attack, this dashcam in the parking area records a bloodied hostage being led away. Then under the car, you can see another man hiding. He moves slightly than stops. A gunman runs right up to him and shoots him point blank in the head or upper body.

When we return, the festival goers kidnapped by Hamas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The objective was to not only kill a lot of Jews, but also to capture Jews.





MAYER: There are those who were killed and those who have gone missing and are presumed being held hostage in Gaza. We're talking about couples, we're talking about young people. We have families who are begging for information.

COOPER (voice-over): Elkana Bohbot, Noa Argamani, Avi Natan Or, Shani Louk, and Omer Wenkert are just some of the festivalgoers who were kidnapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation is brutal. Omer is 22 years old, civilian, restaurant manager. He has nothing to do with the situation.

COOPER (voice-over): Ricardo Grichner's (ph) nephew, Omer Wenkert was last seen in the back of this pickup truck. His family wants the world to see this video. Omer had been stripped of his clothes and was being hit repeatedly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you don't know anything is devastating. The parents are devastated. They cannot sleep, they cannot eat. Omer's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language). Tzi says there is no harder thing that a Holocaust survivor can hear. She is 82 years old. She's not ready for this -- hearing this kind of dreadful news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language).

COOPER (voice-over): It's not known how many people were kidnapped from the festival. But in total, Israeli authorities have said as many as 150 men, women and children may have been taken from multiple locations.

Many families have had to scour jihadist videos online looking for any sign of their loved ones.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have heard from families of those that are believed to have been abducted. Essentially, piecing together on their own what they believe happened, using their last messages from their loved ones, using photos that others took and using other survivors who were potentially with them and trying to piece together exactly what happened in the final moments before they were taken by Hamas.

COOPER (voice-over): Hamas posted this video of Elkana Bohbot, tied up and terrified. This is the only image his brother has found of him.

BOHBOT: All of his friends that go to this peaceful music festival, I'm trying and trying and keep trying till someone -- one of them told me, I just saw your brother on the video. This video coming from the other side -- from Gaza side.

COOPER (voice-over): Hamas posted this video of Noa Argamani forced onto a motorcycle. She's screaming don't kill me, reaching out to her captured boyfriend Avi Natan Or. The couple had earlier sent out this photo, while hiding near bushes at the festival.

SHLOMIT MARCIANO, NOA ARGAMANI'S FRIEND: We suppose they probably were hiding for three, four hours begging for help. They started hiding after hearing the massacres and shooting.

COOPER: Shlomit, you're a childhood friend of Noa's, talk about what is she like?

MARCIANO: Noa is one of a kind person. She's very caring, down to earth. Very fun, very ambitious. She takes her studies very seriously. Her mother, Laura (ph) is suffering from cancer, and she's really helping her, taking care of her.

COOPER: (inaudible) what would you want your daughter to hear right now, if she might hear -- what do you want her to know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're waiting for her at home.

MARCIANO: I want people to know that those are innocent people that were just wanted to have fun. And they just been slaughtered, been killed. Hundreds of people are missing. And my best friend is one of them. We want to bring her back as soon as possible. We need all of the kidnapped people here.

COOPER (voice-over): Most of the estimated 150 hostages were taken from the festival in various kibbutzim, small farming communities very close to the Gaza border.

GOLD: We've all seen the videos of hostages being taken away. And most likely they went back into Gaza, the same way that they came out, through the breaches in the fence. There's really no other way to get in or out. We don't know the exact number of hostages that were taken from the festival.



COOPER (voice-over): Shani Louk's mother saw her daughter in this sickening video. She had been stripped and appeared unconscious, lying in the back of a pickup truck, with one gunman's leg draped over her waist and another holding a clump of her hair. A mob shouted, God is great, and someone spat on her. Her mother, Ricarda, is determined to find her.

LOUK: I mean, after the video we really couldn't be sure if she survived this. The way she was thrown on the pickup, it looked really bad. Yes, we recognized her (inaudible). And then we all saw it, my son, my son, my family. We all started crying and screaming. And that was really horrible.

We know that they tried to use her credit card in the afternoon from the Gaza Strip, and then in the night they tried to use it again.

COOPER (voice-over): Days later, Ricarda said, someone told her Shani might still be alive. She wouldn't say who it was. LOUK: We heard information that she is alive and she has a bad head injury and is in the hospital. That's all we know, and that gave us hope.

COOPER (voice-over): Coming up, how some survived the festival massacre.

ALPER: I heard bullets whistle near my head and ears. And I looked around me, and I realized I can't out run them. I felt safe when birds started to land on my bush. And I was like, well, if the birds can't see me, then Hamas can't see me either.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Foreign Language).

COOPER (voice-over): As Hamas gunmen roamed the festival grounds, slaughtering unarmed civilians, many partygoers tried to escape on foot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language) (bleep)

COOPER: They realized that Hamas was on the road, both on the north and south. They abandoned their vehicles, and they just started running across the highway and through the open field.


ALPER: I heard bullets, whistle near my head and ears. And I looked around me, and I realized I can't outrun them.

TAPUHI: We ran for 5 hours in the fields. One of my friends were barefoot. We tried to call the police. And I remember clearly, she told us, you are surrounded everywhere. In every living area, there is shooting, there is gunshots, there is killing. It's -- I don't know when cops will be there to help you, because all of my cops are already dead. And you haven't got shot yet, then you're lucky and just hide. Just hide.

COOPER (voice-over): They hid in the sparse bushes and shrubbery in fields outside the festival grounds. Some sent WhatsApp messages to loved ones and took photos, like this one, thinking it might be their last. This couple survived. Many others did not.

RAZ GASTER, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ARTIST BOOKER: People messaged, after message, we are hiring in this bush. We are hiring in that bush. Come and help us. Please, please, please, help us, help us, help us. The terrorists are closing on us. They were sending us messages, writing us don't call, because the terrorist will hear where we are.

FAV: My fiancee, I was in touch with her, and she told me don't get near to the settlements. The terrorists are concentrating there. They butchered there people. Don't get into this. They're doing massacre there. Just stay in the field. Find a good place to hide and just stay there and be quiet. And that's what we did.

COOPER (voice-over): Who lived and who died was often a matter of luck. 25 year old Maya Alper hid in bushes for 6 hours.

ALPER: As I laid at the bush, I heard the woman that was with me scream. And I looked back and I saw her falling to the ground and falling to the ground screaming, and the terrorist was literally a meter and a half for me. And he was smiling so big, and he put his hands in the air, like, he just won the lottery.

After seeing, like, the huge smile that the terrorist had when he shot the woman that was with me and she fell for it, that don't see us as human beings. We're not human beings for them. We're not. So I kind of closed my eyes and smiled so big. And I was like, well, I don't want to know if I'm going to die, but I anna do it with a smile. And I prayed to everything I knew in every way, and I was just so calm and peaceful.

My eyes closed. And I heard them stop right near me. I heard them changing, like, that -- the bullets in their guns, and it was so close to me, I could smell them. And they just kept going. They didn't see me. And after a couple of minutes, they just left.


COOPER (voice-over): Maya's hiding spot was near a kibbutz called Be'eri where terrorists murdered men, women, and children. Only later, would Maya learn that her younger brother, soldier in the army, was fighting to retake control of Be'eri as she was hiding.

ALPER: 6 hours straight, hearing gunshots, and bombs, and alarms, and screams of woman and children.

COOPER (voice-over): To survive, Maya says she leaned on meditation and breath work, which she's been practicing for years.

ALPER: Breathing properly again. I keep praying for myself. I'm so proud of me. I truly am so, so, so proud of me. I doing such a great job. Everything is in your mind.

COOPER (voice-over): She recorded this on her phone for her mother in case she died, to show her that her last moments were calm and peaceful.

ALPER: I just went out, but I'm already out. I can feel the shower. I can feel the hot water on my body. I can feel the clean sheets on my skin. I can feel my mom hugging me. I'm feeling it all. I'm there already.

COOPER (voice-over): After several hours, Maya began to feel hopeful that she would make it out.

ALPER: I felt safe when birds started to land on my bush. And I was like, well, if the birds can't see me, then Hamas can't see me either. At the army, I was a tank instructor, so I'm very familiar tanks. I felt the entire earth shakes so much. It was a whole different kind of shake. And I saw the tank, and I had this huge breath of relief, like, OK, the tanks are here. We're saved.


TAPUHI: Police lady told us, Most of the terrorists, they're addressing as a soldiers as cops, and as security guards. So just don't trust anyone.

ALPER: I saw a group of soldiers. I saw the uniform of the IDF. But I shut up. I didn't say anything, because I knew that they might have killed soldiers, and they might have just put their clothes on to try and get us to go out. So I kept my mouth shut, and I tried to listen, and I heard them talk in Hebrew without an accent. So I start screaming help, help, I'm here.

Then the soldier told me to -- I'm coming with them to Be'eri and I looked at him. And I was like, I sat in that bush for 6 hours. I know what's going on in there. I'm not going in there. If you want, you can leave me with water and I'm going back to my bush. Like, I'm not going in there.

COOPER (voice-over): And that's when a car pulled up in the distance. It was a group who'd been rescuing people since the earliest moments of the attack.

ALPER: Arabic, Israelis are the people that got me out. We lived together. Like, really, it's Hamas. It's 2 different things. It's not Muslims. It's not Arabic. It's Hamas. That's the problem. That's who we're fighting. That's who we're protecting ourselves from. We're all coming together, every single person on this land, it doesn't matter if they're Christian, Arabic, like, Muslim, Jewish, we're all coming together.

COOPER (voice-over): Coming up.

COOPER: It's pretty clear to you at this point that Hamas knew this festival was taking place here. It wasn't just an accident that they happened upon it.

DANIEL AGARI, IDF REAR ADMIRAL: It's a plan. It's an architect plan.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not an uprising. This is a coordinated attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This kind of attack really had to have been planned for months in advance. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A devastating attack, a highly sophisticated attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't a random grouping of fighters.

H COHEN: My brother send me a videos of Hamas terrorists attacking police station in the (inaudible) city.

COOPER (voice-over): Hai Cohen was at the Supernova Festival when the terror attack began. When rockets first appeared in the distance, he and others lay on the ground, thinking they'd waited out. But then he got a warning from his brother. This wasn't just rockets. It was terrorists inside Israel.

H COHEN: But not like two or three guys, something like 10 terrorists. And it was never happened in Israel. Never. And I told myself, OK, buddy, listen, get ready. It's going to be ugly.


COOPER (voice-over): That's when Hai and his friend ran to his jeep and drove over an open field until they a safe stretch of highway. They were lucky and Hai knows it.

H COHEN: They knew everything, every single matter in that area, they knew, because they attack in perfect way. Sorry that I'm saying that. But they did it perfectly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a very severe. It's not planned last week. This is months at least in the planning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of fore planning by Hamas militants, even paragliders flying over the Gaza offense, and in to Israel property.

MAYER: These motorized gliders, which help them, seize the element of surprise and get even further into Israel before anyone was able to respond.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It was almost precision flying, toward an objective. You would not expect that from a terrorist group.

COOPER (voice-over): Months before this terror attack, Hamas, and its affiliates posted propaganda training videos of armed gunmen flying paragliders, practicing takeoffs, landings, and assaults. Metadata analyzed by CNN reveals this training actually took place more than a year ago.

HERTLING: They had trained on how to use them in formation and then use them to get to a location to contribute to the attack. That that is rapid insertion. The Western militaries call that an airborne assault. When you go quickly behind enemy lines and you're not expected there, this is exactly what those paragliders we're attempting to do.

COOPER (voice-over): Gunmen and cars, motorcycles, and on foot closed off the exits, north, south and west around the festival site.


ALPER: They knew to block the roads. They knew what they were doing. They had so much weapon. They were super organized.

HERTLING: It's just a typical military approach to try and secure the objective. You normally as a as a force, try and surround the enemy on at least three sides. Hamas was able to successfully block that road, damage the cars and any kind of vehicles that the concert goers had to get out of the area. This was a very good and practiced maneuver on an area that they wanted to secure and attack.

COOPER (voice-over): Secure, attack, and target.

COOPER: What's the scene been for you?

DANIEL AGARI, IDF REAR ADMIRAL: It's horrifying. You know, it's a music festival. When I was a teenager, I came to this kind of music festivals.

COOPER: There were more than 3 thousand people here.

AGARI: I don't have any other recall of memory in the history of Israel, since it was established, of for this kind of event. When you go in here and you see the massive planning of the event, people -- terrorists flying in the air, coming with sliders, others coming here to the road.

COOPER (on-camera): It's pretty clear to you at this point that Hamas knew this festival was taking place. It wasn't just an accident that they happen upon here.

AGARI: It's a plan. It's an architect plan.

HERTLING: I know it was well advertised, but it also requires short term intelligence collection to get that, Hey, there's going to be a concert at this location in a week, let's plan our operation around that or at least have that as one of our targets. That's the kind of thing than an advanced military does.

MAYER: The fact that the Hamas forces, came from multiple different directions indicates to authorities that Hamas knew it was taking place and went there with the intent of killing as many of the concertgoers as they could possibly kill.

H COHEN: I think at least, one week, at least -- you know, before festival, you're doing test event for the music and for the speakers. So they knew that we are there. Definitely. Definitely they knew that we are there. It was ready, like, elite special forces, soldiers, they was ready.

COOPER (voice-over): Ready for a massive terror attack, the senior Hamas official claims, was two years in the making. CNN has geolocated at least six training sites across Gaza. Two of them a little more than a mile from the most fortified and patrolled section of the Gaza- Israel border. They were training, it seems, in plain sight.

ALI BARAKA, SENIOR HAMAS OFFICIAL (via translator): All the while, under the table Hamas was preparing this big attack.

COOPER (voice-over): According to satellite imagery, some camps were enlarged by converting farmland into more terror training areas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see the scale and the scope of some of those camps --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Militants trained at least six sites across Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- including camps just over the border with Israel.

COOPER (voice-over): All planned, it's believed, by a shadowy Hamas commander known as Mohammed Deif, the guest.

MKHAIMAR ABUSADA, CHAIRMAN DEPT. OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY IN GAZA: From the beginning of his life he was very much interested in flighting the Israel occupation.

COOPER (voice-over): He's known as Deif, the guest, because it's claimed he moves location every night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that was very clear that when they went to this music festival, just a bunch of young people partying in the desert, they did so with the intent to murder as many of the participants as they possibly could. It's quite obvious that that was their goal, and they did it quite effectively.

HERTLING: Having seen what happened, that this is the first step of a larger plan that Hamas has. And I think the Israeli defense forces also understand that. And that's why they are in a really hard planning process for how they are going to execute their operations against Hamas inside of Gaza, because they know that it was purposeful, not only the killing outside the gate, but the taking of hostages and going back inside the gates of Gaza. And I believe Hamas is planning for a much longer term conflict compared to what they've done in the past.




COOPER: I'll be reporting from Israel all this week with the latest developments on the war. Next Sunday night on "The Whole Story" we'll bring you an in-depth look at Hamas and its history and how I was able to pull off this attack. Thanks for watching "The Whole Story." I'll see you next Sunday.