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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper

The Whole Story With Anderson Cooper: Inside Hamas. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired November 05, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Whole Story." I'm Anderson Cooper in Tel Aviv. The October 7th attack by Hamas which the U.S. labels a terrorist organization left at least 1,400 people dead. More than 200 people are being held hostage according to Israeli officials, and many more people are still unaccounted for.

In response, Israel began a bombing campaign in Gaza. According to the Hamas controlled health ministry, more than 4,000 people have died there so far. The story of Hamas is complex. Its roots date back to the formation of Israel in 1948. It has many factions, including the so-called military wing which perpetrated the terror attack.

Over the next hour, CNN's Sara Sidner brings us the whole story on Hamas from how they were formed, what their ideology is, and how they have evolved over the decades. We want to warn you some of the images you'll see in this hour may be disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pure, unadulterated evil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't even try to comprehend these monsters.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot expect that Israel will continue to blockade Gaza. Deprive them of their freedom and assume that they will not, at some point, resist. At some point it is going to boil over.

RONEN BERGMAN, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: October 7th was different. October 7th changed everything.

NATHAN BROWN, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: What happened on the 7th was absolutely unprecedented. Hamas has certainly targeted Israeli civilians before. That's not new. What is new is simply the scale and just the ruthlessness.

SARA SIDNER, SENIOR NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How do you define Hamas? Who and what is Hamas? BERGMAN: Hamas primarily is a social, religious, political movement.

BROWN: Hamas is seen by most Palestinians as part of their social fabric. There are plenty of Palestinians who cannot stand Hamas but they recognize that some of their neighbors, some of their family members are Hamas supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

BROWN: Hamas has several different aspects to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

BROWN: It is -- it certainly does have a military wing, but it also has a political wing. It has social services. It sees itself as a movement. It calls itself the Islamic Resistance Movement and the movement is a comprehensive one.

TAREQ BACONI, AUTHOR, "HAMAS CONTAINED": Hamas is a nationalist movement that's committed to the notion of armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Out of all the different Palestinian factions that exist, Hamas is the only party that has an organized military and a very well-resourced military force. So, what that means is that for many Palestinians, Hamas is the only party that can actually defend Palestinian civilians against Israeli aggression.

LAILA EL-HADDAD, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST: That's the reality. That is how many Palestinians view and consider them, a line of defense.

SIDNER (voiceover): Since 2007, Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip, a 25-mile-long, seven-mile-wide stretch of land with more than 2 million people largely cut off from the world by an Israeli blockade. An area humanitarian rights groups have called an open-air prison. But the rise of Hamas and what led up to its massacre of more than a thousand men, women, and child in Israel is a story that begins long before Hamas ever existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This did not start on October 7th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troop reinforcements disembark to help in the protection of the Holyland from disorder.

BROWN: When British had a mandate to govern Palestine after World War I and the mandate said a couple things. It said, you should prepare the territory for independence but you should also facilitate a Jewish national home.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: The British try various mechanisms to make them agree on some kind of supplement. BROWN: And the British found they couldn't do both, so they gave up. They just left after World War II. And they handed the problem over to the U.N. and said, we can't deal with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Palestine problem moves into another stage of discussion.

ZAKARIA: The U.N. sets up a commission that comes to the conclusion that the best solution here is to take this land and to divide it, roughly speaking half to the Palestinians, half to the Israelis. The Jews accept that deal. The Arabs do not.

BROWN: And so, war broke out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arabs and Jewish nationals fought each other bitterly and relentlessly.

BROWN: As a result of that war, the State of Israel declared itself and took control not simply of the territory that the U.N. had allotted to it but some other territory as well. A lot of which had significant Palestinian population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new Jewish state, Israel was born in a bath of blood.

BACONI: The birth of the State of Israel for Palestinians is called The Nakba, which means the catastrophe, because in order to pave the way to establish Israel as a Jewish state, there needed to be a mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. More than 700,000 Palestinians fled outside of the land of Palestine and Palestine was essentially decimated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arab captives are held for evacuation to offer. Women flee with what belongings they can carry.

BROWN: And Israel said, essentially, we're not allowing them to return. So, you may have thought you were leaving for a week but you're never coming back.

SIDNER (voiceover): By the end of 1948, a newly formed Israel had claimed 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine. The Palestinians who hadn't fled to neighboring countries settled in the remaining 22 percent of land that Israel had yet to conquer.

ZAKARIA: What is left is the West Bank and Gaza. So, the Egyptians control Gaza, the Jordanians control the West Bank. And that's how it was until the 1967 war when Arab armies are massed on Israel's border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're at the frontier of the Gaza Strip just a mere kilometer away.

BACONI: 1967 is one of the biggest historic moments in the Middle East. Israel launches a surprise attack against Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Israeli forces have routed the armed might of their Arab neighbors.

ZAKARIA: The Israelis conquer the West Bank and Gaza. And this is a moment of great exhilaration in Israel because they feel as though they have defeated the Arab armies in an extraordinary military success. They have not figured out what they're going to do with the millions of Palestinians on that land.

SIDNER (voiceover): After the six-day war, the millions who fled to Gaza and the West Bank in 1948 are officially under Israeli occupation.

BROWN: Which left all these people in Gaza and the West Bank citizens of nowhere. They weren't citizens of the Israeli State, and so they were just stuck.

DANIEL BYMAN, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE: Palestinians began to say, we need to liberate ourselves.

CROWD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SIDNER (voiceover): Throughout the '70s and '80s, bursts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis were common place. The Palestinian Liberation Organization which is formally recognized by the world was led by Yasser Arafat who was operating in exile outside the Palestinian territories. But inside Israeli occupied Gaza a new resistance movement was underway.

BACONI: The First Intifada was one of the biggest mobilizations of Palestinian civil society and actors against the military occupation. And the idea was that they would disrupt the occupation apparatus. So, they refused to open shops. They blocked highways. They refused to give tax. It was is a period of significant agitation.

SIDNER (voiceover): Around the same time, Islamists within Gaza and the West Bank were shifting focus to a more aggressive approach towards their Israeli occupiers. And a new armed resistance group would emerge, officially known as emerge officially known as Hamas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

BACONI: Sheikh Yassin was a spiritual leader in the Gaza Strip and was one of the earliest founders and leaders of the Muslim brotherhood chapters in Palestine. And when Hamas was established in 1987 he emerged as the leader of the movement and in some ways the spiritual guide of the movement.


SIDNER (voiceover): Unlike the secular Palestinian resistance known as Fatah, the newly established Hamas was not interested in liberating Gaza and the West Bank alone. Instead, it set out to eliminate the State of Israel altogether as outlined in its 1988 charter. A goal that made Hamas an outsider to any peace negotiations, including the Oslo Accords.

BROWN: The Oslo Accords really set off earthquakes in both Palestinian and Israeli society.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: As our wars have been long, so must our healing be swift.

BACONI: What the Oslo Accords ultimately resulted in was that the PLO recognized the State of Israel, and so conceded 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine, and in return the Israeli government recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

There was jubilation globally and many Palestinians, despite this historic concession, believed that this might pave the way to the establishment of a state on 22 percent of their land. But this was by no means noncontroversial or unchallenged. And for Hamas specifically this was something that they were fundamentally opposed to.

BROWN: Those negotiations never really got off the ground. And one of the reasons was this upsurge of violence.

SIDNER (voiceover): One of the deadliest attacks to derail peace came in February of 1994, just months after the signing and historic White House photo op.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Jewish settler entered the mosque while Muslims were worshiping there. The dozens of dead and scores of injured were rushed to hospitals in nearby towns.

BACONI: That was a turning point because Hamas then decided to begin employing suicide bombings as a form of resistance.

SIDNER (voiceover): 41 days after the mosque attack, Hamas responded, detonating its first lethal suicide attack, killing seven Israelis at a bus stop.

BYMAN: The big reason Oslo failed was violence. The perception on both sides is that their adversary is not serious, Israelis saying Arafat is not completely stopping terrorism. Palestinians say the Israelis are dragging their feet on a pull out. They are increasing settlement building even as they're making promises that they're going to leave.

ZAKARIA: The fundamental reason Hamas has gained strength is that the Palestinian authority, which is their competition, has been seen as feckless, corrupt, and unable to deliver on its core promise, which was a Palestinian state.

SIDNER (voiceover): But to the west, Hamas was not a negotiating partner. Instead, it became a threat. In 1997, the U.S. officially designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization.

HANAN ASHRAWI, FORMER PALESTINIAN LIBERATION ORGANIZATION OFFICIAL: If you protest nonviolently and so on, you are shot at. You are imprisoned. And so, they left only one avenue actually, which is armed resistance.

ZAKARIA: Hamas has decided that it is going to use violence. It is going to use violence against civilians. It is going to be brutal. SIDNER (voiceover): Over the next decade Hamas continued its violence and it would meet more violence in return.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will they go home with a deal? The latest from Camp David.

SIDNER (voiceover): This wooded Maryland retreat of U.S. presidents, Camp David, was the site of a potentially historic summit in the summer of 2000.

ZAKARIA: You had Yasser Arafat, the legendary leader of the Palestinian liberation organization, who had a lot of credibility with Palestinians. You had Ehud Barak, very distinguished Israeli military figure, now prime minister. And you had Bill Clinton.

SIDNER (voiceover): Their goal? End decades of hostilities, forge a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If they cannot make progress now, there will be more hostility and more bitterness.

ZAKARIA: It seemed as though they had kind of come to an agreement, and then Arafat pulls out at the last-minute, best we can tell because he believed that if he did this, Hamas would gain power.

BYMAN: So, the Israeli story on Camp David is that the Israeli prime minister offered significant concessions and the Palestinians said no. The Palestinian view was that they were set up at Camp David. That Israel and the United States made offers they knew that Yasser Arafat could not accept, and as a result they were made to look bad.

SIDNER (voiceover): Just two months after those talks failed to get an agreement, a former Israeli defense minister who many Arabs call the Butcher of Beirut for Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon made a provocative, heavily guarded visit to the Temple Mount. A holy site in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is also a flash point of contention over who should control it, Israelis or Arabs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The violence that observers believe to be inevitable erupted.

SIDNER (voiceover): Just the first sparks of what became the Second Intifada, a violent and deadly conflict between Israelis and Palestinians over Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Second Intifada would last nearly five years. A half decade fight in which Hamas became known for their routine use of both terror and destruction. BYMAN: Over time, more and more of Israel came into range as Hamas's weapons got better and better. Also, the number of rockets and missiles increased.

SIDNER (voiceover): Israeli forces demolished over 4,000 Palestinian homes and arrested thousands. Israel shut down and bombed ministries and infrastructure, trying to coerce Palestinian leaders to end the violence. Between 2000 and 2005, there were over 4,300 registered fatalities, with a Palestinian to Israeli ratio of just over three to one. Finally, in February 2005, came this announcement from the Palestinian authority and Israel.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE (through translator): We have agreed with the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cease all acts of violence.

SIDNER (voiceover): Later that year, Israel unilaterally began implementing its so-called disengagement plan to evacuate Israel's settlements, and military posts from Gaza and a section of the West Bank. Thousands of settlement residents lost their homes.

EL-HADDAD: It was both a physical but also a psychological disengagement on behalf of the Israelis from Gaza. It was no longer their problem.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That was a very, very difficult, painful step for Israel to take, to pull settlers out. And how did Palestinians respond? By shooting rockets. And there is some truth to that. It's also true, though, that when Israel pulled out of Gaza, it continued to envelope it in a blockade.


SIDNER (voiceover): A blockade to isolate Hamas and attempt to prevent smuggling of weapons, but it also severely limited the transport of basic necessities for Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

BACONI: The blockade was quite horrific. There was an immediate collapse in the quality of life in Gaza. Medicines, food items, water, all of the items of a normal life were immediately suspended. And the immediate impact was a significant increase in poverty and destitution.

EL-HADDAD: The years directly after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, leading up to the Palestinian elections in 2006 saw an unprecedent wave of violence. I remember being in the city where I was raising my young son and feeling unsafe to simply go out about my daily life in the streets.

SIDNER (voiceover): And from Gaza, Hamas continued to terrorize Israel.

BACONI: So, Israel was operating under the assumption despite 2 million Palestinians being imprisoned, it could still expect calm. What Hamas was doing was during this period shattering that illusion, so every few months if not years, it would fire rockets in order to force Israel to reconsider.

SIDNER (voiceover): In 2006, nearly a year after the announcement of the ceasefire, elections for the Palestinian legislative council were held in Gaza.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This fitted (ph) and smelly bleak tunnel is --

SIDNER (voiceover): CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour covered that election and its aftermath.

AMANPOUR: It was very clear that that election was insisted upon by the administration of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice and that group of Americans who believed that the Iraq War of 2003 would bring democracy to the wider Middle East. This was a very flawed assumption. And the Americans insisted on this election, even though the Israelis and the Palestinian authority, the legitimately, internationally accepted and recognized Palestinian authority, warned the United States not to let this election go ahead because they feared the Hamas would prevail, and that is exactly what happened.

SIDNER (voiceover): The Hamas victory was resounding, winning 76 of 132 seats in the legislature. Shocking results for the U.S. and Israeli officials, bringing to power a group the United States had designated as a terrorist organization. But a group that had been making a difference in the lives of every day Palestinians.

AMANPOUR (voiceover): For many Palestinians, Hamas is a lifeline. For two decades, they've built a grassroots network of affordable social services, like this medical clinic that charges $2 a visit.

AMANPOUR: They provided education. They were very well entrenched with the citizens and civilians. So, that is one of the reasons why Hamas won in Gaza in 2006.

BYMAN: So, after the 2006 election and Hamas victory, there are questions on the scope of Hamas' power, if it's still under the Palestinian authority or is it independent? And there are questions about who runs particular parts of Gaza. Hamas is worried that there will be a coup. As a result, it effectively does a coup.

SIDNER (voiceover): The coup in 2007 known as the Battle of Gaza was relatively brief, bloody, and left no doubt that Hamas was not a part of the Palestinian authority which governed the West Bank. Hamas was a much more extreme and violent group now solely in charge of Gaza.

BYMAN: It seizes power in Gaza in 2007 and it violently goes after the individuals associated with the Palestinian authority. Some are thrown from windows. Many are arrested, tortured.

EL-HADDAD: But one thing is clear, Hamas managed to do what Fatah was unable to do prior to 2005, which is to secure the streets in Gaza. To put an end to the rampant lawlessness that we were seeing.

SIDNER (voiceover): Having Hamas in charge of Gaza meant the blockade would continue. BYMAN: So, the cut-off of goods going in and out of Gaza have a big impact on Hamas. They make it hard for Hamas to provide any clear prosperity to ordinary Gazans.

BROWN: I visited Gaza in 2012. You might have power for a couple hours a day, and these conditions were getting worse and worse and worse. Inside the Gaza Strip, Hamas was not a popular movement. There is no elections. There's no way to get rid of them or anything like that.


So, people in the Gaza Strip just lived with them.

SIDNER (voiceover): And the conflict between Israel and Hamas would not abate, Hamas attacking Israel.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That was the explosion. We just heard one explosion going off. I think it came from that direction over there.

SIDNER (voiceover): Israel firing on Gaza.

SIDNER: You look to your left, destruction.

SIDNER (voiceover): I reported from both Gaza and Israel, telling stories of destruction and dismay.

SIDNER: Around 3:30 this morning here in Gaza City, a massive explosion. We know there have been at least four bombardments.

SIDNER (voiceover): And it would only escalate in 2014 after the Israel security agency identified Hamas members as responsible for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers from a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. And weeks later, the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teen whose body was found in Jerusalem.

CROWD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SIDNER: Outrage and anger on both sides would not be contained erupted in the 2014 Gaza war.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Israel put together an operation which consisted of about 50 days with 70,000 Israeli call-ups for the defense forces. They went in to Gaza, and on three different axes, in the north, in the center, in the south, it resulted in 66 Israeli deaths of soldiers, six Israeli citizens. U.N. estimates 2100 Palestinian and Hamas deaths during that same operation. It was after that that the Israeli government really started taking a different look at Hamas and what they were doing in the Gaza Strip.



[22:31:04] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed. More than 60 Israeli soldiers were killed.

ROBERTSON: Going in in 2014 into Gaza after that sustained bombing, you just have this huge sense of the utter scale of the destruction. It was really hard, near impossible to find anyone who genuinely supported what Hamas had done.

SIDNER (voiceover): I hope God won't let anyone taste our suffering, this woman in Gaza said.

BYMAN: In the West Bank where the majority of Palestinians lived, the year 2021 was a very bloody year.

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: A flash point has definitely been the possible eviction of some Palestinian families, some of which have been living there for generations.

SIDNER (voiceover): According to the U.N., since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election in 2009, there were over 14,000 instances where Palestinians were forcibly removed from their land by Israeli settlers. This includes East Jerusalem.

GOLD: There are sirens going off all around Jerusalem right now. This usually means that there is the potential of rockets coming in.

BACONI: In 2021 was the first time that the Palestinians mobilized as a single people, demanding a single thing, which is to dismantle Israel's regime of apartheid. And for Hamas, it becomes the military power that is protecting the mobilization of Palestinians.

SIDNER (voiceover): Israel, once again, fires back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 11 days of bloodshed. 11 days that killed almost 250 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas run Palestinian health ministry, and 12 Israelis.

ZAKARIA: Conditions in Gaza since 2021, in particular, had been hellish.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: If there is a hell on Earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza.

SIDNER (voiceover): Children make up nearly half of Gaza's population in part because Palestinians there simply don't get a chance to grow old. The unemployment rate for adults there is well over 40 percent.

ZAKARIA: The Israeli blockade is very tight and it makes it very hard for people in Gaza to have normal lives of any kind. And it is also true that when the Israelis have allowed things in those materials are often used by Hamas to turn into weapons.

SIDNER (voiceover): July 19th, 2023, less than three months before Hamas' surprise attack on Israel. Gaza is stronger. Its army is mightier. And its weapons are more advanced, said the spokesperson for the Al-Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

GINA LIGON, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM INNOVATION: There is a lot of evidence that shows that they are going into educational institutions to look for people who would be willing to die for the cause. But there's also evidence that they look for people with engineering aptitude and ability to design different types of explosive devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

CROWD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SIDNER (voiceover): Hamas has had no shortage of military recruits. Back in 2013, I visited a military training class at a Gaza high school. A visit facilitated by Hamas' education ministry.

SIDNER: One of the things these high school students don't need to be taught is what it feels like to be in war. They have all experienced it. And they all believe that the fight between Gaza and Israel will never end.

SIDNER (voiceover): I've lost three people dear to me in the war, said this one teenager. Therefore, the seat of martyrdom grew in us for the next round.

What has also grown is the labyrinth of tunnels underneath Gaza.


HERTLING: Over the last 10 years, Hamas has actually expanded the tunnels. At one point, it was probably 100 miles or so. Now, it's exponentially greater.

SIDNER (voiceover): We work around the clock inside the tunnel, said a spokesperson for one of Hamas' armed allies.

ROBERTSON: The tunnels are vital because they allow them to get to the firing positions for the rockets. They allow them to move ammunition.

LIGON: It is about half the size of the New York subway system. It's almost like they've built an underground city under there.

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Look at the military leader, commander of Hamas, Mohammed Deif, he's been out of sight. And as far as anybody knows, he has been living in these tunnels for the last 20 years.

SIDNER: Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, also known as El Deif which is Arabic for The Guest.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is known as the guest because for many, many years now he is reputed never to have spent the night in the same place twice.

SIDNER (voiceover): Yahya Sinwar is essentially El Deif's boss, the leader of all of Hamas in Gaza.

KILEY: There is an argument that says that Hamas' line has hardened certainly since 2017 when Sinwar took over. He had spent 20 plus years as a prisoner of the Israelis. He speaks fluent Hebrew. He is able to really understand the workings of the Israeli Defense Forces.

SIDNER: Hamas' hardened leadership combined with renewed foreign support.

KILEY: There were meetings between Sinwar and the head of Egyptian intelligence in Gaza itself. He also built up the support that they were getting from Iran.

BYMAN: Iran has provided millions, tens of millions, probably more to Hamas.

ZAKARIA: Iran benefits from it. It allows it to portray itself as the protector and defender of the Palestinian cause.

KILEY: Qatar does not endorse Hamas' military activities but it does provide a lot of humanitarian support which Hamas inevitably would like to take credit for. Giving the broad impression to the Israelis that Hamas was really now focused on much more political activity.

SIDNER (voiceover): Many experts say, Israel was focused on political activities of its own when it comes to Hamas.

AMANPOUR: Netanyahu weirdly has preferred to engage with Hamas than with the Palestinian authority.

ZAKARIA: We now have some good reporting out of Israel that says that Bibi Netanyahu at various meetings said, this is a way to ensure that there will never be a Palestinian State because we keep the Palestinians divided. We slowly take more and more of the West Bank.

AMANPOUR: I asked a senior Palestinian, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. He told me, it is because Netanyahu and the increasing far-right coalition in Israel want to dehumanize the Palestinians, want to separate them, and want to ensure that they have a continuing narrative that is Palestinians are not partners for peace. Look at Hamas.

KRISTOF: It is people like Netanyahu whose hardline policies have strengthened Hamas and given them some credibility among Palestinians.

SIDNER (voiceover): But just how do Palestinians feel about Hamas?

BACONI: The ideological commitment to Hamas has to be separated a bit from the fact that Hamas is the only military power that's able to protect the Palestinians from Israeli aggression. So often, for Palestinians who do not support Hamas ideologically, they would still support Hamas' resistance.

EL-HADDAD: The Palestinians aren't looking at the carnage and the death and the destruction of their lives and everything that they know and love around them and say, hey, we're blaming Hamas. They're looking at all of this and seeing this as part and parcel of the underlying problem, which is Israel's control over their lives. Israel's denial of their freedoms. Israel's long-standing occupation and theft of their land.

ASHRAWI: Nobody wants to see civilians killed. Nobody does. But the question is, why do people cry foul when it is Israelis and yet for decades Israel has been killing Palestinian civilians? Nobody says anything.

ZAKARIA: Is it true that Palestinians who live under Israel's broad authority, do they live under separate law? Do they face many, many more constraints on their freedoms than Israelis do? The answer is, yes, Palestinians are treated differently.

SIDNER (voiceover): Before the October 7th attack, according to the U.N., in 2023 alone, 227 Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers and the Israeli military.

BACONI: The belief was if the only effect of Gaza was a few rockets every few months, we could live with that. And that assumption was fundamentally overturned on October 7.

SIDNER (voiceover): When we return --

LIGON: The Israeli army weren't able to communicate.

BYMAN: This is definitely a whole new level of terror.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

CROWD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SIDNER (voiceover): Hamas has been trying to wipe out Israel and Israelis for nearly three decades. But their October 7th attacks at the Gaza Border, on Israeli military bases, at a music festival, and on more than 20 villages and towns are unlike anything it's ever done before.

BYMAN: This is definitely a whole new level of terror. The number dead --

SIDNER (voiceover): At least 1,400 people killed in Israel.

BYMAN: The number of wounded.

SIDNER (voiceover): 3,400 so far.

BYMAN: The number of those who have been kidnapped, that's off the charts. SIDNER (voiceover): Around 200 hostages, possibly more, were taken on what was the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the holocaust.

BYMAN: To put it in American terms, 1,400 Israelis dead is about 40,000 Americans dead.

SIDNER (voiceover): The scale of the attack was staggering, so was the level of preparation. Made clear by documents discovered on the bodies of slain terrorists and shared with CNN by Israeli officials.

[22:45:00] This document advises attackers to kill anyone posing a threat or causing a distraction, to keep captives away from arms or means of suicide, and to use them as cannon fodder. Hamas also knew the exact number of armed guards at a kibbutz called Mefalsim. This document says, there were at least 20 civilians and 10 soldiers.

YARDEN RESKIN, KIBBUTZ MEFALSIM RESIDENT: They knew about the other three or four entrances to the kibbutz. They knew everything. Where the generators are. They knew where the armory is.

SIDNER (voiceover): It was a similar story at this kibbutz Nahal Oz which is next door to a military base.

BERGMAN: They killed, I think, 40 soldiers, some of them in their sleep. Then when they took full control of the military, they went to start butchering the civilians of Nahal Oz.

SIDNER: They knew exactly what they were doing, Hamas.

BERGMAN: If you look at the orders, we have some of their written commands, they knew everything.

SIDNER (voiceover): And they had knowledge about military targets, too.

BERGMAN: 10 Hamas perpetrators on five motorcycles. They come to the secret intelligence base, it's not on the maps. Not just that, they know where is the back gate that is unmanned. They explode that gate. They go in. They're looking for the bunker, the secret bunker where the servers are. They go left and right, and they don't find it, so the commander said to his assistant -- the other soldier, give me the map. And he gives him the map of the base of the secret intelligence base.

SIDNER: What happens once they get to where they are ordered to go?

BERGMAN: This is a bunker that protects secret service. The bunker is heavily fortified but someone forgot one of the doors. So, they get in, they throw hand grenades. They kill some of the soldiers, then they found two soldiers hiding under the bed and they murdered them.

LIGON: Being able to go into where your communication servers were caused a lot of chaos where people in the Israeli army weren't able to communicate with each other for hours after the attack happened. BERGMAN: Israel was sick with the sin of vanity and completely underestimating the enemy.

SIDNER: When you say vanity, I mean, do you mean Israelis chutzpah? Israel's -- not being humble enough to realize that the enemy of Israel is smart, capable, and could do something this terrible?

BERGMAN: Yes, all of the above.

SIDNER (voiceover): Once the attacks happened, details, brutal details were spread across social media. A clear sign Hamas has grown and evolved, not just militarily, but also in how they invoked fear and spread terror.

BERGMAN: One of the main purposes of this operation was to create the videos. The Nukhba, the special operation unit of Hamas, they were ordered not just to kill civilians and kidnap, but to perform the most horrific acts that a human being, as much as you can call someone a human being, can do to another one, document that, and send it over to central command of Hamas, that in its turn put this on social media. Those videos, they were meant to break the spirit, the morale of the Israeli public. Shortly after the attack happened, I entered Be'eri.

SIDNER (voiceover): An Israeli kibbutz where some of the most horrific atrocities occurred.

YOSSI LANDAU, ZAKA SEARCH AND RESCUE: There was one terrorist body over there. And we went and just right next to him was a body of this 14, 15-year-old, head chopped off.

BERGMAN: I don't want to get into the details of what they have done to people in the hours until they killed him.

SIDNER: Torturing, all of it.

BERGMAN: More than just torturing. The evil, you know, I'm writing a book on Nazis. You read the descriptions. You just cannot comprehend how someone can do those things.


And then you come to Be'eri and you see things that are so much worse. I think that what Hamas did was to sentence this region to live on its sword for many, many generations if not forever. Because I don't know of many Israelis, even the most liberal left wing that after this would sign a peace accord with any Palestinians. They would just not trust them because of the atrocities.

SIDNER (voiceover): Ahead.

EL-HADDAD: There is no safe place in Gaza anymore.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israel's military dropped leaflets from the sky earlier today, warning the 1.1 million civilians living in Northern Gaza to evacuate the area.

EL-HADDAD: There is no safe place in Gaza anymore.

SIDNER (voiceover): Mohammad Galayeni (ph) a British citizen who lives in Manchester, England was on a family visit to Gaza City when he was forced to evacuate south.

MOHAMMAD GALAYENI (PH), BRITISH CITIZEN, ON A FAMILY VISIT TO GAZA CITY: We were told to come here because -- by the Israeli army because it's supposedly safer -- for our safety. But it doesn't feel safer. There is bombing all around us every day.


And truly, I don't -- I go to sleep, I don't know if I'll wake up. I go out, I don't know if I'll come back safe. Food is running out in the shops. And we've not had power for more than a week. The water supply depends on power.

ZAKARIA: For Palestinians, all of this movement out of their homes evokes memories of the 1948 expulsion.

GALAYENI (PH): The nakba is something that permeates the psyche of Palestinians just like the holocaust permeates the psyche of Israelis. People left their homes just like we did a week ago and they thought it will be over, we'll be back in 10 days, everything will be fine. And they've been dispossessed of their lands ever since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The humanitarian crisis in Gaza seems to be growing worse by the hour.

GOLD: The dead are piling up. All of this is only the beginning as those troops, hundreds of thousands of them Israeli troops are amassing on that border.

SIDNER (voiceover): As the world watches and waits, the death toll is already staggering. This CNN graphic detailing fatalities in the conflict over the past 15 years shows more Palestinians have died each and every year. And the latest violence moves in the same direction, with profoundly more loss of life on the Palestinian side since the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th.

But the question remains, why did Hamas strike now, likely knowing the devastation that it would provoke in Gaza? Hamas spokesman name checked events at the Al-Aqsa Mosque earlier this year as motivation for their attack.

GOLD: Hamas has called this operation the storm of Al-Aqsa, this is a reference, of course, to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is also known as Temple Mount, a place so holy to both Jews and Muslims here in Jerusalem. SIDNER (voiceover): Earlier this year, Israeli police raided the third holiest site in Islam during the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover.

GOLD: Just Israeli police stepping inside the mosque is considered incredibly provocative and aggressive.

SIDNER (voiceover): But many Middle East experts say, the timing of Hamas's attack had more to do with the country that is home to Mecca, the holiest of places in all of Islam, Saudi Arabia.

KRISTOF: Hamas was really concerned about the Saudi moves to build ties with Israel and the U.S. One concern was that the Saudi money would then bolster the Palestinian authority, its revival in the West Bank.

ZAKARIA: Hamas looks at this world of an emerging alliance between the moderate Arabs and Israel, and decides we're going to blow this whole thing up.

BROWN: If the scale of civilian casualties in Gaza is high or if there is protracted conflict, there will be strong pressure within Hezbollah and within Iran to say, we've got to wipe the conflict.

HERTLING: We've already seen Hezbollah firing rockets. We've seen uprisings in the West Bank.

BROWN: So, the possibility of escalation is very real.

KRISTOF: I fear Israel is doing exactly what Hamas wants, which is an invasion, which may well make Hamas more popular.

ZAKARIA: Nothing would be a greater setback to Hamas than, after all of this, an Israeli-Saudi normalization. That is the strategic prize for Israel.

Diplomatic and political progress in the Middle East have often come in the aftermath of wars.

KRISTOF: When I was a young reporter. It would have been very difficult to imagine that the Spanish government and Basque extremists could sit down together and work things out. That happened. It would have been very difficult to imagine Northern Ireland being at peace, and that happened. I have this little ray of hope that it has happened elsewhere in the world.