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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Deadly Terror Attack in Israel. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 8, 2016 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:10]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with this breaking news in our world lead. Three people have been shot dead and at least six others are wounded. Some are right now fighting for their very lives in a terrorist attack at a popular market in the heart of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

Israeli police now say two suspects are in custody. One of them was shot. There has yet to be any claim of responsibility from any specific terrorist group as of now.

CNN's Phil Black is with me now live in Jerusalem. Also here with me in the studio is CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Phil, let me start with you. What do we know at this point? Bring us up to speed.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, it was around 9:30 local time at the Sarona Market. This is a popular place in the city of Tel Aviv.

It's filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, young people out having a fun time on a Wednesday evening. That was when two shooters were involved in this incident. And they have shot a number of people, of which we have only recently heard three of them have been killed.

The police are now saying with some certainty that there were only two attackers involved. One of them was shot and injured and is currently being operated on in hospital. The second person was captured at the scene. The area has now been closed off. It is being searched.

One of the priorities for the police is to ensure that there is no further risk from any sort of improvised explosive device or anything like that. And, meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has gotten straight off the plane from a visit to Moscow with the Russian president and gone straight to the defense ministry for meetings there.

Interestingly, the Defense Ministry is very close to the scene of this shooting tonight, Jake. TAPPER: Tel Aviv is a thriving metropolis, very secular in many ways. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of a European city. Tell us more specifically about Sarona Market.

BLACK: So it is an open area, as I say, where young people effectively go to have a good time, not young people exclusively, but it's all about outside cafes and restaurants, drinking, socializing, eating.

It's about going out to have a good time in the lovely balmy evenings you get here at this time of year. And that was the scene there tonight, no doubt.

So, it in a sense that classic soft terror target. The potential there for harm is obviously quite extreme. And what we have seen here -- and this is what makes it interested -- is something of a coordinated attack involving more than one person. And the other interesting point to note is that it involved a firearm.

What we have been seeing here a lot lately have been smaller individuals using unsophisticated methods, often knives, cars, whatever they can get their hands on to attack Israelis. This is different. This is a firearm of some sort. It appears to be multiple people at least and it appears to be a degree of coordination in a city that I think, as you're touching on there, it's more secular, it's more separate.

It's not to say that attacks don't take place in Tel Aviv, but it does sit at something of a distance from the violence that you usually see in either Jerusalem or across the West Bank, Jake.

TAPPER: CNN has at least three correspondents in Israel right now covering the conflicts and life in that country.

Let me go to Oren Liebermann, who joins us.

Oren, as you know and as you covered, often a lot of the terrorist attacks committed against Israelis are committed in the city of Jerusalem, which includes East Jerusalem, disputed or occupied city, or at least neighborhood. Tel Aviv, it's rarer. Tell us more about what you know about the event.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not just rare. It's far more rare.

Tel Aviv has largely been insulated from the attacks that we see mostly in Jerusalem, in the West Bank. And yet we have seen attacks in Tel Aviv and they have been very large in that sense terrorist attacks.

There was a Palestinian who went on stabbing rampage, killing not an Israeli, but an American citizen, in Jaffa, which is the southern section of Tel Aviv. And then on New Year's Day, there was another attack in the heart of the city that left a number of Israelis wounded and dead. But Tel Aviv has, for the most part, been insulated from this. And

yet on a night like tonight in an open area, in a crowded open area in Tel Aviv, you get this explosion of violence. Police still vigilant. They're asking anybody who sees anything suspicious to report it to police.

So, although they say they're not looking for anything else on that point, at this point, they are remaining vigilant following this terrorist attack.

TAPPER: And, Phil Black, let me go to you. We are expecting to speak with the spokesman for the Jerusalem police in just a second.

[16:05:08]

But tell us what you're seeing on the ground in terms of the response by either the police or the Israeli Defense Forces or both.

BLACK: Well, so far, the security is obviously always very high here in Jerusalem.

It is everywhere. Less obvious perhaps in Tel Aviv and in particular in that market area there, but what you will see certainly in the coming hours and days will be a response from the Israeli security forces, depending on to what degree they believe there is a continued threat and depending on what sort of statement they want to make in return.

Key will be where these attackers came from, whether it was somewhere here in Israel itself, one of the Arab communities or Palestinian communities here, or from the West Bank, in which case you will certainly see military operations, to get to the bottom of this, looking to see who was responsible, who was involved in the planning, and key to this is where did the weapon come from, Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Phil Black, thank you so much.

And, Jim Sciutto, let me bring you in for a second.

As we were discussing with Oren, a lot of the terrorist attacks in Israel recently has been almost individual lone wolves incited by terrorist leaders in the region, no doubt, but individuals, teenagers in some cases, stabbing innocent bystanders. This appears to be a more sophisticated, for want of a better term, type of terrorist attack.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, in that you have two gunmen and guns, right, because so many of the attacks have been knives.

But this is not isolated. There was a January attack on New Year's Day. Two people were killed. That was a shooting. That was an Israeli Arab who was then arrested for that attack, captured alive. As far as this attack is concerned, the latest information I have is that there three people were killed, five people badly injured at this point, which, of course, raises the possibility that the death toll could rise, and that the two attackers were captured alive, both of them alive.

That's the latest information I have from Israeli authorities from the ground there, which would be remarkable, to capture both attackers alive, which would then give you the opportunity to capture intelligence as to where they came from and how they carried out this attack.

So, the sad fact is that, yes, Tel Aviv has been more insulated from this kind of violence than, say, Jerusalem closer to the border with the West Bank, but not -- certainly not completely insulated from it. You have had deadly attacks, even one earlier this year.

One other point I would make about this site, a point that's been made to me a number of times, is that this shopping mall is directly across from the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. So, this is a -- what you would imagine to be an area that has a larger than usual security presence.

You have been to Tel Aviv. I have been to Tel Aviv. You know that there's frankly a large security presence everywhere you go and you have a lot of people who carry their own private weapons.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: But this would have an unusually large one.

TAPPER: It's almost like a mall near the Pentagon in our parlance.

SCIUTTO: Exactly. Exactly.

TAPPER: Joining me now from Jerusalem is Micky Rosenfeld. He is the Israeli police national spokesman.

Thank you so much for joining us

What is the latest you can tell us?

MICKY ROSENFELD, ISRAELI POLICE SPOKESMAN: What I can confirm is that just after 9:30 Israeli time, which is just after an hour-and-a-half ago, two terrorists opened fire using automatic weapons in a very busy restaurant area in the center of Tel Aviv.

There was no specific warnings that we had received about any type of terrorist attack that was going to take place, not in Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv. Immediately, our police units, special patrol units that were in the area responded, engaged and made contact with those terrorists. One of the terrorists was shot at the scene and arrested.

And the second terrorist was surrounded and arrested. They are both being questioned now as to see where they came in from, where they managed to get into the area from.

That's something that has been part of the ongoing investigation. And over the last hour, in fact, our police units have been searching across the different areas, the market area, the open stores area to make sure that there's no third terrorist in the area.

Until now, we have confirmed there's no further threat in the area to any of the civilians. And we're now carrying out security assessments as to how these suspects, the terrorists got into the areas. But, unfortunately, what we have confirmed from the hospital, that unfortunately three Israelis were killed in that terrorist attack.

TAPPER: And so three are dead, you're saying, and we have heard that five are wounded, some very seriously. Is that correct?

ROSENFELD: That's correct.

Altogether, nine people were taken to hospital being injured from the scene after they were shot, five of them being taken to hospital in serious -- moderate to serious condition. And, altogether, nine people were evacuated to the hospitals, which were opened up immediately.

That's the drill. That's what we normally do. And we're still working in and around the different areas of Tel Aviv, which is still being cordoned off. We have searched different bags and suitcases to make sure there's no further explosive devices or any explosive devices that could be a further threat to the members of the public.

[16:10:00]

And we're going to obviously carry out a thorough investigation to try and find out how those suspects, how terrorists arrived in Tel Aviv, where they got hold of those automatic weapons from, and how they managed to get inside the Tel Aviv central area late in the evening.

It's relatively warm, hot weather. A lot of people were out. A lot of civilians at the time were walking around, drinking in the bars and the restaurants at those specific hours.

The situation, however, is totally under control. And we're now both working in the different areas to make sure there is no further threat, trying to get the situation back to normal, but obviously the area still being cordoned off and a large number of police officers still in the area.

TAPPER: What can you tell us about reports that the terrorists, the gunmen, were wearing some sort of costume when they went into the Sarona Market?

ROSENFELD: That's something that we're looking into, what they were wearing, how they were dressed, how did they get into the area, if they were dropped off via vehicle or they got in via public transport.

What it is important for us to focus on is to see which areas of the country they came from. Either they were from the Tel Aviv area or were they are familiar with the Tel Aviv area and what's going on, on the ground. Why did they choose that specific area to carry out the attack this evening?

Were they possibly from the West Bank area Judea and Samaria? That is also something that we're looking into. A lot of intelligence and security gathering being focused on at the moment, but what we have confirmed is unfortunately this evening three people have been killed, two terrorists captured, but the situation under control at the moment just over an hour-and-a-half after that terrorist attack took place in the heart of Tel Aviv.

TAPPER: So, no confirmation right as of now about whether or not they were wearing costumes. But I'm sure you will bring us up to speed when you know more.

Micky, can you tell us about the victims? Do you have any idea who they are, how old they are, whether any of them were from another country?

ROSENFELD: At this moment in time, what we have confirmed is three people have been killed.

That was the confirmation that we received unfortunately from the hospital this evening. They all arrived in critical condition. Until now, not all of the families have been notified, so working carefully and cautiously on that issue.

It's very sensitive. But as far as the police operations are concerning, we're making sure there's no further danger in the Tel Aviv area. And at the same time, we're also coordinating with the different emergency services and the hospitals to deal with these types of situations, which, unfortunately, we were very familiar with, although I can confirm that over the last few months, there's been less attacks that have taken place both in Jerusalem as well as in the Tel Aviv area.

There hasn't been an attack in months in Tel Aviv. There was no clear, concrete security or intelligence that we had received about any attack in Jerusalem this evening, in Tel Aviv this evening.

TAPPER: Do you know if these two murderers, these two terrorists are specifically affiliated with any organization or group?

ROSENFELD: That's something that we're looking into. We will have to find out exactly where they came in from. That's the first stage of our investigation.

The second stage of our investigation is to try and find out how they got to the area, did their families know about their movements, what is the connection between them, do they know each other, how did they coordinate the attack -- that's all part of the ongoing investigation, which will no doubt continue throughout overnight.

TAPPER: All right, Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the police there in Tel Aviv, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

A very difficult time right now in Israel, with three dead and five others wounded, some of them seriously, in a terrorist attack in an open-air mall, this breaking news, Tel Aviv market shot up by two terrorists, right now, as I said, three dead, others wounded, may not survive. We're going to have much more on this situation in Israel after this very quick break. Stay with us.

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[16:17:45] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Covering breaking news this hour: a Tel Aviv market sent into chaos by terrorists. What we just learned from Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld is, at least three victims are dead and five more are critically wounded, another transported to the hospital in custody.

There are two terrorists, one was shot and detained at the scene. Police called the weapons used by these gunmen automatic weapons. They are trying to figure out how they got these guns, how these terrorists made their way in to Tel Aviv and this market undetected.

CNN reporters are covering the story wall to wall. Let's start with Phil Black. He's in Jerusalem.

Phil, what are you learning right now?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, at this moment, Jake, what we understand is that the death toll from this attack remains the same. It has been three people that are being confirmed killed as a result of this attack that took place at this busy night food market in central Tel Aviv. A buzzing place where young people go to eat, drink and socialize.

Like so much of Tel Aviv, this is a city that is famous for its night life. This is all about socializing. So on a warm summer's evening at 9:30, these two gunmen I believe to have struck. One was shot and injured at the scene and is now undergoing surgery at hospital. Another person was captured and arrested, and as we're talking about, multiple injuries. At least three people have been killed and five injured, so far less seriously.

The police are trying to work out how this happened, where these people came from, to what extent. This coordination extends either beyond Israel and perhaps to the West Bank as well. And meanwhile tonight we understand that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is at the defense ministry building having gotten straight off a plane from Moscow. Serious meetings there. The defense ministry location is right across from the location of tonight's shooting -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Black in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

And let's talk on the phone with CNN's Elizabeth Cohen. She is, as I understand it, joining us now on the phone. She's in Tel Aviv, right near the Sarona Market right where this took place at roughly 2:30 Eastern United States Time, around 9:30 at night in Israel.

[16:20:05] Elizabeth, tell us what you're seeing. Tell us what you know.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Jake, what I'm seeing is a very heavy police presence. They have blocked off all traffic to the areas. There are police and ambulance. You can hear the sirens for quite some distance.

To tell people a little bit about this area, the Sarona Market is a relatively new, very upscale, very fun area of Tel Aviv. It's very crowded, especially on an evening or a weekend.

It's a place where people in Tel Aviv feel safe. It's gotten a lot of store brands that Americans would know, a lot of restaurants and places to buy expensive clothing. It's not the kind of place where you would ever expect for this to happen. It's also in a very crowded and dense area -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

And, Elizabeth, in terms of Tel Aviv, there was a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in January, I believe in New Year's Day. I believe two Americans were killed in that attack. But, generally, in the last year or so, most of the terrorist attacks against the Israeli people have been, I believe, in Jerusalem.

COHEN: Right. I think over time that certainly has been true. I think the ones that you're referring to were towards the beach, which is a little bit further south of Tel Aviv.

Yes, I think the big difference in this country between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I think Tel Aviv often feels like it's separate from some of the terrible things that go on here. But I think tonight, it doesn't feel so much that way.

TAPPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, stay with us.

I want to turn now to Aaron David Miller. He's a former Middle East peace negotiator, currently vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Also here with me in studio is CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Aaron, let me start with you. We are just learning that it has been confirmed that these two terrorists w committed this atrocity at this mall, at the Sarona Market at 9:30 p.m., roughly, in Israel, in Tel Aviv, that they were disguised and they were wearing the garb, the costumes of orthodox Jews as a way of presumably getting in undetected.

Tell us more about the fact that the spokesman for the Israeli police said that they had no chatter, no intelligence, no information about a pending attack and why that may be significant.

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: First, Jake, my condolences to the families of those killed and my prayers are with those who are wounded. I think the pattern now has been broken. Since October 2015, you've had roughly 290 attacks, 90 percent of those have been undertaken by lone individuals, mostly between the ages of 15 and 25. Now, of those 290 attacks, you have roughly 91 that involved firearms. Now, you've got a coordinated attack, presumably, by two individuals

using firearms. Maybe automatic weapons who clearly had access to disguises of orthodox Jews which requires a fair measure of precision and planning. The fact that Mickey Rosenfeld that there's no chatter, no siget (ph), no advance warning that something of this complexity was in the works suggests, again, the kind of spontaneity that has made it extremely difficult since a year ago last fall to preempt these attacks.

And I think that's one of the key issues the Israelis are going to be focused on. Where they came from -- I mean, once you're in Jerusalem, you can go anywhere in Israel. It may well be these were Arab citizens of Israel, Palestinian citizens of Israel, that's unclear. More questions, it seems to me, than answers.

But Israelis and Palestinians have a proximity problem and this, in essence, demonstrates the challenge that the Israelis face.

One additional point: you now have a new minister of defense. It's not Moshe Ya'alon anymore. You have Avigdor Lieberman. This will be his first challenge and first test.

The government of Israel has been relatively flexible in terms of dealing with this recent wave of terrorism since October 2015. They have not stopped Palestianians from working in Israel and they added from it as a matter of fact and they have not imposed massive closures, as they did during the second intifada.

How Lieberman and more important the prime minister will respond to this, because there has to be a response --

TAPPER: Right.

[16:25:00] MILLER: -- is going to speak volumes about Israeli in the months ahead.

TAPPER: Lieberman, a controversial figure within his own country.

Aaron David Miller, thank you so much.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, she will be the first woman ever to top a major party presidential ticket in the United States. Hillary Clinton is making history with an exclamation point. But Bernie Sanders insists, hey, there's still more to be written about this race.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We have reached a milestone. The first time -- the first time in our nation's history that a woman will be a major party's nominee.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.