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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper

The Whole Story: Terror In Israel. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 21, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 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 (voiceover): It was 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 7, the sun was rising over southern Israel.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made a 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: After analyzing dozens of videos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They start shooting at us.

COOPER: 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 party goers didn't learn the location until shortly before the rave began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually to dance festivals you don't give the location until the last day because trance festival originally will 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: There were police and event security on site. The 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 break any weapon. Usually you really don't think that you need to bring weapons to a party. It's the nature of party it's supposed to be the most safe place that we all know.

COOPER: 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: We 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.

Then she wrote to me, it's a destiny. You don't ever reason to be afraid I would like you to come with me. And then I wrote to her OK, I'm in.

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

GAL ROZ (ph), SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I told Avinatan about this party. I pushed him a bit to come with me because we enjoyed some festivals like this before.

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

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

COOPER: 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 the tool artist, and she likes music festivals and she likes to dance.

COOPER: Another party goer was Elkana Bohbot, husband and father of a three-year-old boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elkana, he has a huge heart. He has a big laugh. He has an ice cream shop. He's a very smart guy. He loved life. He went to celebrate life.

COOPER: The celebration was supposed to go on all day. But it's 6:30 a.m. the music stopped.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you see these little blobs of light in the distance and you think like OK this is maybe fireworks. [22:05:03]

COOPER: This video was taken at exactly 6:30.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like 20 seconds after that we realized that those lights are not fireworks. This is missiles. This is rockets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember police guy take the microphone and say in Hebrew, which means a 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 is that you can do is to lie on the ground and put your hand on your head.

COOPER: Partygoers could hear the rocket warnings.


COOPER: But many we're not concerned. It's far away, it's far away, a man in the parking area says. Don't worry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 get nervous because I used to because in Israel every few months from Gaza from, you know, we surrounded by enemies so, I used to see so many rockets over my head. So, I was chilled.

COOPER: Rockets aren't unusual in southern Israel, but armed paragliders are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 afar but we didn't think we never occurred that they share a terrorist inside of them.

COOPER: You can hear a woman asking what's happening. It was around 7:00 a.m. and some partygoers were already trying to get out.

ANOR CAGNO (ph), SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I understand something really getting wrong when they start hearing the live shooting. The live shooting I could recognize by the type of the shootings this is what terrorists and not IDF power. There are three type of shooting. One is like single, pow, pow, pow. One is going like line, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, in a rhythm. And there is like open fire.

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

COOPER: Ainor Cagno (ph), a 25-year-old photographer got to his car and out of the parking area.

CAGNO (ph): There was like small jam of girls, but the policemen between the field and the main road stopped us.

COOPER: He says they told him there was shooting on the road north and he should head south.

CAGNO (ph): That was probably one of the last one who escaped that without getting the live shooting on me.

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

COOPER: Maya Alper was working the festival and gone to the parking lot around the same time as Ainor (ph).

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: Unlike Ainor (ph), Maya drove north toward Tel Aviv. But Hamas gunmen were already on that road ahead of her. They'd arrived on motorcycles and in trucks armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, and quickly closed in from three directions.

As this drone video shows the traffic jam of cars trying to leave would prove deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cars were stuck. And then a few moments later, an officer coming towards your way terrified, terrified for his life and he's screaming like there is terrorists. They're 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 they 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 (voiceover): Hamas gunmen had breached the fence separating Israel and Gaza in multiple locations according to the IDF. By 7:00 a.m. they were along this entire stretch of highway. Police and festival security exchange fire with a heavily armed attackers that were outgunned and outmanned.

As chaos spread 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 (voiceover): Those who were able to drive north or south quickly realized Hamas gunmen were waiting for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have snipers.

GAL RAV, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: We got on the road. Then we ran into an ambush. They should 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.

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

COOPER: At 7:39 a.m. this dashcam video shows a Hamas gunmen firing into a car on the road just north of the festival site. The car accelerates and more gunman shooting those inside. This gunman also shoots repeatedly and at least three shots hit the dashboard. Car accelerates faster.


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: Ainor Cagno (ph) driven South pulled over to hide in a shelter.

CAGNO (ph): Just a room like three meters on three meters closed from every side, one door. We were like 14 people there. I could use shooting again. Shooting that I recognize that they're shooting, but it was like now very close, like very close.

COOPER: Ainor (ph) decided to make a run for it. He was lucky.

CAGNO (ph) I took a decision that I think probably saved my life. COOPER: At this shelter just north of the festival, you can see Hamas gunmen throwing a grenade inside and then 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 Alameen. Concrete room was packed with people you can hear the panic and their voices asking what's going on? Are there Israeli soldiers nearby?

COHEN: We got into 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: We aren't going to show you the videos he recorded next. They are among the most gruesome we've ever seen.

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

COOPER: Noam says he hid under body parts to survive. That's him. Terrified but alive.

COHEN: It was a horror movie.

COOPER: We found the shelter in the town of Alameen. 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 (on camera): There's bloody handprints on a 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 (voiceover): Body parts have already been collected from here but bloods of clothes and shoes remain.

COOPER (on camera): This looks to be a bloody handprints. The 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.

COOOPER (voiceover): CNN has identified at least four different shelters or festival goers were shot or killed with grenades. Back 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 a.m. 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.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: 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 (voiceover): (INAUDIBLE), Noa Argamani, Avinatan Or, Shani Louk, And Omer Wenkert are just some of the festival goers who were kidnapped.

RICARDO GRICHENER, OMER WENKERT'S UNCLE: The situation is brutal. Omer is 22 years old, civilian, restaurant manager. He has nothing to do with the situation.

COOPER: RICARDO GRICHENER and his nephew Omer Wenkert was last seen 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.

GRICHENER: Like you don't know anything is devastating. The parents are devastated. They cannot sleep. They cannot eat.

COOPER: Omer's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

GRICHENER: Tzili says there is no harder thing that a Holocaust survivor can hear. She's 82 years old. She's not ready for this hearing this kind of dreadful news.

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

URIEL BOHBOT, ELKANA BOHBOT'S BROTHER: All of his friends that go to this peaceful music festival. I'm trying to try 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: Hamas posted this video of Noa Argamani forced onto a motorcycle. She's screaming don't kill me reaching out to a captured boyfriend Avinatan Or. The couple had earlier sent out this photo while hiding your 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, your childhood friend of Noa is, 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 motherly Liora is suffering cancer. And she's really helped -- helping her taking care of her.

COOPER: And Liora, what would you want your daughter to hear right now? If she might hear. What do you want her to know?

LIORA ARGAMANI, NOA ARGAMANI'S MOTHER: Well 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. Can we need all of the kidnapped people here.

COOPER: (voiceover): Most of the estimated 150 hostages were taken from the festival and various kibbutz seem 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 of 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: 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.

RICARDA LOUK, SHANI LOUK'S MOTHER: I mean, after the video, we really couldn't be sure if she survived this the way she was thrown on the pickup. It looks really bad. Yes, we recognize her and had to choose. And then we also had my son, my family, and we all start crying and

screaming and that was really horrible. We know that they tried to use a credit card in the afternoon from the Gaza Strip. And then in the night, they tried to use it again.

COOPER: Days later, Ricardo 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 that she has a bad head injury and is in a hospital. That's all we know. And that gave us hope.

COOPER: Coming up, some survived the festival massacre.

MAYA ALPER, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: I heard bullets were so near my head and ears. And they looked around me and I realized I can't outrun them. I felt safe when birds started to land on my bush. And I was like, well, if the birds can see me, then Hamas can see me either.





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

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

ALPER: I heard we still near my head and ears and then looked around me and I realized I can't outrun them.

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

COOPER: They hid in the sparse bushes and shrubbery and 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: Equals message after message. We are hiding in this bush, lying 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 terrorists will hear where we are.

GAL RAV, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: 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 butcher their people, don't get into, they're going 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: Who lived and who died was often a matter of luck. 25-year-old Maya Alper hid in bushes for six hours.

ALPER: As I laid at the bush and 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 terrorists had when he shot the woman that was with me, and she fell for it, that they 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 want to do it with a smile. And I pray 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 and their guns, and he 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: Maya's hiding spot was near a kibbutz is called Be'eri where terrorists murdered men, women and children. Only later would Maya learn that her younger brother, the soldier in the army, was fighting to retake control of Be'eri when she was hiding.

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

COOPER: To survive, Maya says she leaned on meditation and breathwork which she has 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'm doing such a great job. Everything is in the mind.

COOPER: 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 want out, but I'm already out. I can feel the shower. I can feel the hot water o my body. I can feel the clean sheets of my skin. I can feel my mom hugging me. I'm feeling it all. I'm there already. COOPER: 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 see me, then Hamas can see me either. And the army I was a tank instructor. So I'm very familiar with tanks. I felt the entire earth shakes so much. It was a whole different kind of shape. And I saw the tank and I had this huge breath of relief like OK, the tanks are here. We're safe.

TAPUHI: Police lady told us most of the terrorists, they're dressing as 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 her 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 talking to Hebrew without an accent. So I started 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 six 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: 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: Israelis are the people that got me out. We live together. Really, it's Hamas. It's two different things. It's not Muslims, it's Arabic. It's Hamas. That's the problem. That's what we're fighting. That's who we're protecting us 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 (on camera): Coming up. 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 have upon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a plan. It's an architect plan




JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is not an uprising. This is a a coordinated attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This kind of attack really had to have been planned for months in advance.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A devastating attack a highly sophisticated attack.


HAI COHEN, SUPERNOVA FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: My brother, send me videos of Hamas terrorists attacking police station in Sderot City.


COOPER: 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 wait it out. But then he got a warning from his brother. This wasn't just rockets. It was terrorists inside Israel.

COHEN: Like 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.

COPER: That's when Hai and his friend ran to his jeep and drove over and open field until they reached a safe stretch of highway. They were lucky and Hai knows it.

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

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: This was a very civil it's not planned last week. This is months at least in the planning.

KILEY: A lot of for planning by Hamas militants. Even paragliders flying over the Gaza fence and into Israel proper.

AVI MAYER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE JERUSALEM POST: This motorized gliders, which helped them seize the elements 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: Months before this terror attack, Hamas and its affiliates posted propaganda training videos of armed gunman flying paragliders, practicing takeoffs, landings and assaults. Metadata analyzed by CNN reveals this training actually took place more than a year ago.

HERTLING: They hadn't trained on how to use them information, and then use them to get to a location to contribute to the attack. 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 were attempting to do.

COOPER: Gunmen in 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 force, try and surround the enemy on at least three sides. Hamas was able to successfully blocked 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 an attack.

COOPER: Secure, attack and target. What's the scene been like for you?

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

COOPER (on camera): There were more than 3,000 people here.

AGARI: I don't have any other recall of memory in the history of Israel since it was established on 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 gliders. Others coming here to the road.

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

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 most new was taking place and went there with the intent of killing as many of the concert goers as they could possibly kill.

COHEN: I think at least one week at least, you know before festival you 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.


They was ready like elite special forces soldiers. They was ready.

COOPER (voiceover): Ready for a massive terror attack. A senior Hamas official claims was two years in the making. CNN has geo located 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. According to satellite imagery, some camps were enlarged by converting farmland into more terror training areas.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You see the scale and the scope of some of those camps.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Including camps just over the border with Israel.

COOPER: All planned, it's believed by a shadowy Hamas commander known as Mohammed Al Deif, The Guest.

MKHAIMAR ABUSADA, CHAIRMAN DEPT. OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY IN GAZA: From the beginning goes by he was very much in interested in fighting the Israel occupation.

COOPER: He's known as Al Deif, The Guest because it's claimed he moves location every night.

MAYER: And 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.

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.