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Violence Escalates Along Israeli-Gaza Border; Rory McIlroy Misses Cut In Hong Kong

Aired November 16, 2012 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Sirens sounds in Jerusalem as Palestinian militants set their sights further afield whilst in Gaza, there's no respite as Israel continues to strike back hard.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: Tonight, as Israel and Hamas show no signs of backing down, we'll hear from the hopes and fears of two young people from both sides of the divide.

Also this hour, why idle gossip on Twitter could see some users face the full force of the law.



DONNA KARAN, FASHION DESIGNER: I'm hoping that I'm planting the seeds for a better tomorrow.


FOSTER: Giving her heart to Haiti: fashion designer Donna Karan on her mission to change the world.

Tonight, a new phase in the violence between Israel and Hamas militants. Within the past hour, Israeli ministers approve the callup of 75,000 reservists. Troops are also sealing off main roads around the Gaza Strip as the two sides continue to trade fire. This follows rockets landing near Israel's two most populous cities.

Blaring out across Jerusalem, air raid sirens, a deadly reminder of the past. They haven't been heard in this city for decades. Sirens also sounded in Tel Aviv.

On the border side - on the other side of the border, an Israeli airstrike on the interior ministry building in Gaza. Across the blue skies of the Middle East, more ominous trails of white smoke, but tonight new signs this air battle could turn into a ground war. Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon was asked on CNN what it would take to get to that stage.


DANIEL AYALON, ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: If we will see in the next 24, 36 hours more rockets launched at us I think that will be the trigger.


FOSTER: Well, the Palestinian Authority president spoke earlier today as well. Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel's violence.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): This is an aggression against all the Palestinian people and we all have to stand to be - to act in one hand.


FOSTER: Well, over the next 60 minutes we're going to be taking you to Israel, Gaza and to Cairo.

Let's start in the Israeli town of Ashkelon with our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. Ashkelon is just 15 kilometers, Ben, from Gaza and has had several rockets aimed at it.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually in the last few hours it's been relatively quiet in terms of incoming rockets, although Max just about half an hour ago we saw just to the north of here three lights streaking into the sky from Israeli territory and then sort of blasting the air. Those appear to be part of the Israeli Iron Dome anti- missile system.

We have been hearing a large explosions coming from the direction of northern Gaza. That appears to be Israeli airstrikes on targets there.

Here in Ashkelon, the atmosphere is of rather surreal. We're right next to a sushi restaurant that's been serving customers now all evening long. The owner says that he was opened during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war. And he plans to do the same as well. Most people here when they hear those distant explosion barely even turned to look to where they're coming from. So very surreal situation here.

But Israelis well aware of the fact that the security cabinet has now called, given the government authorization to call up 75,000 reservists. That certainly points to the possibility of an impending ground incursion into Gaza - Max.

FOSTER: Does it feel like a nation that's preparing for war?

WEDEMAN: Well, you know, if you watch the television you'd definitely get that feeling, but we were in Tel Aviv earlier today in an area where a missile had fallen just off the beach there, but restaurants were open, families were strolling along the promenade next to the beach, joggers were out. It doesn't really feel - I mean, I've been in Gaza during Israeli incursions and certainly it's a completely different feeling. Here people do seem to be determined to get on with their lives regardless of what's happening just 15 kilometers to the south of here - Max.

FOSTER: OK. Ben in Ashkelon, thank you very much indeed for that.

Well, let's take a closer look at Hamas' arsenal. Homemade rockets commonly known as Qassams are in the 4 kilometer range and have hit Israeli cities on the border with Gaza like Sderot. More advanced Qassam rockets have a 15 kilometer range. Ashkelon, where we've just been speaking to Ben, is one town within striking distance.

Now a basic Russian made Ketusha (ph) or Grad rocket, can reach population centers about 20 kilometers away. And a more advanced, or upgraded Grad rocket has a range of 40 kilometers. The town of Be'er Sheva northeast of Gaza just one place within that area.

Finally, the Russian made Fajr-5 is the biggest rocket in Hamas' arsenal and could reach Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Egypt's prime minister showed his country's support for the Palestinians with a visit to Gaza on Friday. Remember, Egypt stands to be key to all of this as it borders Gaza to the south. That frontier has one of the few established crossings into the territory.

Reza Sayah is in Cairo monitoring the latest reaction in Egypt. Reza, just describe how Egypt is viewing this conflict, if I can call it that.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, the Egyptian government has certainly been very active. They've made a lot of moves. But it's still very much difficult to tell what their role is and what their role is going to be in the days and weeks ahead.

It's tough to say what we're hearing from the Egyptian government is just fiery rhetoric, or if there's something behind this rhetoric and if they're preparing for something drastic. And I think that's going to be something that's going to be much more clear in the days, the weeks to come.

What we can tell you is they're making a lot of efforts with diplomatic moves to show the world that they want to play a central role, a key role as peacemaker in this conflict. And one of the ways they did that was with this Egyptian delegation led by the prime minister Hesham Qandil sent to Gaza today.

They certainly scored some PR points appearing with Hamas leaders, but in many ways this was an ineffective trip. Remember, their immediate goal, their immediate mission was to go to Gaza and establish a truce, some sort of cease-fire, even if it was to be for a short period of time. That obviously failed, because in many areas the violence escalated, and that certainly weakens somewhat the notion that Egypt could play a significant role in this conflict, because they went to Gaza, they came back and not much changed.

The Egyptian leaders have delivered a lot of fiery rhetoric aimed at Israel. One of the leaders that's fired off some rhetoric today was the President Mohammed Morsi. Here's what he had to say.




SAYAH: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi blasting the Israeli government. We've heard a lot of those types of statements, condemnations. The question is, Max, is that going to be enough to placate the Egyptian public, the Arab world that are increasingly growing angry as the violence escalates, as the death toll escalates in Gaza, Max.

FOSTER: As you say, Reza, many people looking to Egypt as a peacemaker, but what credibility does it have with Israel? If it seems to be siding with Hamas, how can it become a peacemaker? How is it working with Israel?

SAYAH: Well, at this point it's not clear who Egypt is siding with. It looks like it's playing both sides of the fence. And that's why this is being viewed as an incredible challenge for this new post-revolution government and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

Remember, for more than 30 years the Egyptian government under President Hosni Muburak was viewed by many here in Egypt and the Arab world as a U.S. lackey, as a pawn that was used against the Palestinians because in many ways they stood by idly and they did nothing during these types of conflicts. This new government after the revolution came in with a promise of change, that it's going to stand up for the Palestinian cause.

But the dilemma is this, if they don't do enough, if they stand by they're going to anger the Egyptian public and the Arab world. If they do take an aggressive stance, they could anger and agitate the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and western powers. These are governments that they're depending on heavily to economically recover after the revolution. It's a tough spot for this government to be in, Max.

FOSTER: This is really tough. Reza in Cairo, thank you very much indeed.

I want to take you to Gaza now as well. CNN's senior international correspondent Sara Sidner is in Gaza City.

Sara, I was asking Ben in Ashkelon if it felt like a nation going to war. He suggested that there were preparations there, there was a sense of confidence. What's the atmosphere like in Gaza?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It feels like war here. You ask anybody in the streets, you talk to any of the residents, you talk to any of the people trying to run their businesses and they will tell you if there hasn't been a war declared it doesn't really matter, because it certainly feels like a war where they are.

Now we've heard a huge barrage of airstrikes in just the last hour or so. And I mean, you know they have rattled the windows and shook the building that we're in that's 13 stories high.

We have also seen rockets coming from inside of Gaza City, heading towards Israel as well.

This morning when I walked out of the hotel we saw the telltale sign of the trails of smoke from rockets that crisscross the sky and also the huge plumes of black smoke that you typically see from airstrikes.

A very difficult time here in Gaza. At the hospital where we went today, the hospital is overwhelmed with people coming in. While we were there, we saw at least six patients coming in one after the other every 15 minutes or so. Doctors there saying they are trying to deal with the number of casualties and they are trying to figure out how to save people. So far 29 people have been killed in the airstrikes and bombardment.

We do know that includes children. And we were able to meet with the family today who lost a four year old child. They are obviously devastated. Their home is pockmarked with shrapnel from a bomb that fell. And they say they just don't understand why they were hit.

But a seriously difficult situation, because there are rockets coming from some of the neighborhoods in Gaza City. And Israel said that as long as those rockets keep coming over into Israel, they're going to respond to defend their own civilians. The civilians there in southern Israel are having to deal with the sounds of the sirens and the rockets coming in. And though they have the Iron Dome system, we do know that some of those rockets have hit targets. And that civilians have been killed there as well.

And the scary thing for a lot of people in Israel also is that some of these rockets have gotten very close to Tel Aviv. This is a major city, bustling city, and something that they're just not used to. And it just goes to show you that the militants here and Hamas here in Gaza do have weapons now that are more sophisticated than in the past - Max.

FOSTER: Sara Sidner in Gaza City. Thank you very much indeed.

Still to come, as explosions strike both sides of the Israeli-Gaza border, we'll speak to two young people living in the midst of that war.

Protesters in Jordan call for a change at the top following fuel rises.

And trial by Twitter, the British politician wrongly accused of child abuse hits back at his online attackers. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Max Foster. Welcome back.

King Abdullah of Jordan has canceled his scheduled visit to the UK after days of protest against fuel price rises in his own country. Thousands of people have been chanting anti-government slogans across the country in an unusual uprising in the relatively stable nation. Earlier, Arwa Damon turned this report from the streets of Amman.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's still some demonstrators milling around here. The security forces in place as well trying to make sure the crowd does not gather up once again.

We were hearing chants against the king. We were hearing chants for the downfall the regime.


DAMON: But what was interesting was that when those who were on stage were calling for that, not all of the crowd was responding. The crowd would really get heated up when it was called for economic reforms, for an end to the price hike that we most recently saw the government take when it came to increasing fuel and cooking gas prices, and also when it came to calls for government reforms.

One woman we were speaking to was saying that she wanted to see a democratically elected government with a democratically elected prime minister and parliament members.

But many Jordanian members we are talking to are increasingly concerned about the future of their country, about this growing wave of anger, because Jordanians for two years now have been demonstrating, demanding economic and political reforms and an end to corruption. This most recent price hike most certainly many say is threatening to push the country over the edge.

The government for its part has said that it was forced to take this tough decision, but people are really believing that they are the one's paying for the government's mistakes. And there are calls for even more demonstrations in the days to come.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Amman.


FOSTER: Some other stories connecting our world tonight. The UN nuclear agency says Iran is not cooperating enough for it to conclude Tehran is conducting peaceful activities. A new IAEA report says Iran still hasn't allowed the agency access to a crucial military site who some believe has been used to test nuclear triggers. Iran denies that the site is connected to its nuclear program, which it insists is peaceful.

Former CIA director David Petraeus testified about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda linked militants. He spoke behind closed doors before House and Senate intelligence committees investigating what led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya in September. Petraeus resigned from his post. The CIA head after admitting to an extramarital affair last week.

U.S. President Barack Obama has held bipartisan talks with top congressional leaders about the looming fiscal cliff. After the meeting, both sides suggested an agreement could be reached before hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January.

In an interview with CNN, the former federal reserve chairman Alan Greenspan weighed in on the debt debate.


ALAN GREENSPAN, FRM. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: IMF studies show definitively that if you cut spending in a situation like this it does lower the GDP, but nowhere near the amount that an increase in taxes lowers the rate of increase in GDP. So that I think if we have to have a moderate recession to solve this huge fiscal problem that's in front of us, I think that's a very small price to pay because we're not going to get out of this thing without pain.


FOSTER: The U.S. Coast Guard says an 800 meter oil sheen can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is a result of an explosion at an oil platform around 30 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana. Two people are missing and 11 people are hospitalized, four in critical condition. Black Elk Energy, the company in charge of the platform says the ensuing fire has been extinguished. A coastguard official says around 28 gallons of fuel are spilled.

Joy in Croatia, but anger in Serbia. Two Croatian generals are now free men after war crimes convictions from the 1990s Balkan conflict were overturned. Ante Gotovina returned home to a heroes welcome on Friday after winning his appeal in the International Criminal Tribunal. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail for killing Croatian Serbs in an ethnic cleansing campaign. Fellow commander Mladen Markac who was sentenced to 18 years was also acquitted.

Serbia's president says the decision reopens old wounds.

Britain's foreign secretary William Hague has met with Syrian opposition leaders in London. The meeting comes ahead of a decision by the UK on weather to formally recognize the Syrian National Coalition as an alternative to the Assad government.

On Tuesday, France became the first European power to recognize the new body. Hague urged the coalition to set out a credible plan for political transition.


WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It is important of course, and I have stressed to them, that they respect minority rights, that they are inclusive of all communities in Syria, committed to a Democratic future for the people of Syria, that in the face of a regime that has committed such abuse, violence and rape against the people of their own country that this coalition stands firmly against all of those things.


FOSTER: Ikea acknowledges that three decades ago some of its products were used using forced prison labor. The furniture company released a report on its supplies in what was then East Germany and says it deeply regrets the findings that political prisoners were used to manufacture parts. Ikea said it tried to prevent convicts from being part of the supply chain, but its measures weren't effective enough. Victims groups are calling for compensation.

We're going to take you to a short break now, but when we come back a long year on the links may be catching up with Rory McIlroy. We'll show you what happened to him Friday at the Hong Kong Open.


FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

The Formula One season is winding down. And this weekend's race is being held in a place that hasn't seen F1 racing in five years, and that's the United States.

Don is at CNN Center.

They have a new track in Texas, Don. How are the drivers feeling about it?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I tell you what, one driver I think could be feeling very good about it. Max, you're right, it is a brand new track, a purpose built formula One track in Austin, Texas, but it could be an old story this weekend, because Sebastian Vettel could well close in on a third consecutive driver's title. He could even clinch it here this weekend.

They've had two practice sessions today. The first session earlier on Friday was quite interesting in the early stages. We saw quite a few cars taking a spin as the drivers got to grips with the track. And this is what two of key F1 drivers thought of the new circuit.


LEWIS HAMILTON, 5TH IN DRIVER STANDINGS: It's quite an interesting track. It's quite difficult to learn initially, but it looks fantastic to drive. I really started to enjoy it once I got used to it, which took perhaps a little bit longer than some of the other circuits to learn, but yeah, it's going to be very interesting this weekend.

FERNANDO ALONSO, 2ND IN DRIVER STANDINGS: We are more or less ready. The track seems spectacular. Very, very nice. And would be challenging for us, but I have (inaudible) as well, so I think we'll be a good show for everybody and hopefully some good overtakings as well opportunities around the track. So it can be a very good weekend.


RIDDELL: Max, Fernando Alonso has his work cut out for him. The Spanish Ferrari driver was third in the second practice session on Friday, a full three-quarters of a second behind Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari's Alonso is Vettel's main challenger and this is the penultimate race. After this, they've only got Brazil to go next weekend.

And I have to say that Vettel was in absolutely imperious form earlier on today. There you can see his specially designed helmet for the occasion as kind of a wooden Wild West kind of look on the helmet there. He does seem to be very, very comfortable.

FOSTER: That's a pretty cool helmet.

In terms of golf, we were talking yesterday when we were talking about Rory McIlroy who wasn't particularly happy I'm sure with his performance in Hong Kong, but Friday wasn't any better was it?

RIDDELL: Well, not much better. And the end result is that he's missed the cut for the first time since the U.S. Open. If you're being a glass half full kind of guy that would say that McIlroy has earned himself a couple of extra day's practice before the European tour concludes in Dubai next week.

He actually started his round pretty well. He had a few birdies on the front nine, Max. But he then had four birdies on the back - sorry, four boogies on the back nine. He still had a change of making the cut when he got to the 18th, but then disastrously four putting his final hole. It was actually the 10th hole.

But four putts for a double boogie on his final hole meant that he missed the cut, which is pretty embarrassing for the world number one. It's also not what the tournament sponsors want to see, especially when you're the defending champion.

It has been an incredible season for Rory McIlroy, but as we discussed yesterday he is definitely feeling jaded and mentally lethargic. And I'm sure he's looking forward to a break when the end of the season comes around.

FOSTER: Good stuff, Don. Thank you very much indeed.

Still to come on Connect the World as Israel and Gaza are rocked by fighting, we find out how the war is playing out over social media.

And Twitter users leveled accusations at this man as well, but they were wrong. Now his lawyers are taking action.


KARAN: I think he was a genius. And I loved him so much, but he was also probably the reason I'm everything I am today.


FOSTER: Donna Karan pays tribute to her late husband by putting his art on show for the first time.


FOSTER: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

As Israel continues its aerial assault on Gaza, government ministers have approved a call up of 25,000 reserves in preparation for a possible ground war. At least 27 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed in this latest outbreak of violence.

Egyptians came out to protest over the Israeli military campaign. They want to see a more aggressive response from their government in support of Hamas. Egypt's prime minister visited Gaza today in a show of support.

The UN nuclear agency says Iran is not cooperating enough for it to conclude Tehran is conducting peaceful activities. The IAEA released a report on the Iranian nuclear program saying Tehran hasn't made progress on clarifying some crucial issues.

US lawmakers say that former CIA director David Petraeus told them that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism. Petraeus briefed the House and Senate intelligence committees but did not discuss the extra-marital affair that led to his resignation.

As the cross-border conflict escalates between Israel and Gaza, we're seeing battles in the world of public opinion. Yesterday, we showed you how both sides' militaries are using the media to influence opinion. Tonight, Atika Shubert looks at how the war is playing out on social media.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a surreal view of battle. This video, uploaded to YouTube from Israel, pedestrians stroll by, music played, sirens wail as Israel's Iron Dome missiles successfully intercept rockets launched from Gaza to the oohs and ahs of those watching.

Or these snapshots uploaded to Instagram by Israeli reservists now called into service.

THOMAS RIDD, KING'S COLLEGE, LONDON: It's a new reality. If you look at the people inside the Israeli forces who started putting videos up on YouTube or tweeting, they're young people. For them, in their early 20s, for them this is just normal.

If you're a supporter of Israel anyway and you suddenly see a smiling reservist, I suppose that's a good thing, because you suddenly have a human connection with the Israeli Army. But if you don't like what Israel's doing, you may think, wow, how can they do this, isn't this tasteless? So, people tend to reinforce what they already think when they look at social media.

SHUBERT: The battle on both sides of the Gaza/Israel border is unfolding online. In Gaza, uploaded pictures of masked fighters and defiance amid destruction. Much more that is too graphic to show. Verifying what is authentic online is another problem. Already some graphic photos tagged from Gaza are in fact from other conflicts. But does the battle online change the war on the ground?

RIDD: At the end of the day, conflict is about the use of force, the use of violence for a political objective. And so bullets and bombs matter more than tweets.

SHUBERT: What has changed is how the conflict is documented in real time directly by those on the front line.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


FOSTER: And I want to bring in two young people from both sides who can talk about how social media is playing out its part in this conflict and what life is like living in the midst of this crisis. Joining me now is Oded Fromovitz, a resident of Gan Yavne near Ashtod in Israel, and from Gaza City, Rana Baker. Thank you both for being with us.

We're just going to show our viewers a map of your locations, and Rana, you tweeted about the fact that you received a text message from the IDF, no less, warning you to stay away from Hamas. What was your response to that?

RANA BAKER, RESIDENT OF GAZA CITY: This is actually something that I expected because it has happened before during conflict and even during normal days when there are no attacks between -- both sides between the Palestinian resistance and Israel.

So, I was expecting this -- messages of this kind, because this has happened before, and I think that the next few days we'll be receiving more and more threats like these.

Also, Israel has been dropping leaflets from warplanes on many neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, warning them and inciting them against the Palestinian resistance.

FOSTER: Oded, what did you make of that IDF text message?

ODED FROMOVITZ, RESIDENT OF GAN YAVNE, ISRAEL: No, it's a -- this message is emphasized the way this whole IDF works. As a soldier -- I've been a soldier a few years ago -- the most important thing that we work for is not to harm civilians while we're working, and this is one of the most important things.

We're aiming for terrorists that -- aiming missiles to the place I'm living in hearing -- with an alarm. Now, we have alarms all over the day. Yesterday, a few days ago, in the past four years. So, we're not going for -- and I really appreciate Rana for coming and talk, and I really -- I know probably what she's going through, and I'm sure we, both of us, want to live in peace.

But when you have a side that terrorists want to eliminate a whole nation, it can't work like this. It's not aiming for Rana, it's aiming for terrorists that are willing to destroy this place I'm living in.


BAKER: Of course -- I would like Israelis and (inaudible). Of course, I find it very interesting that he's referring to the Israeli occupation forces as an army, as a moral army that targets what he calls terrorists.

During the past few days, we have more than 25 people killed, 8 of them were children. We had 4 women and 2 old men over 65 years old. So, it is very interesting that he is talking about surgical -- this is something that we are not really experiencing in Gaza.

And I can, of course, cite names. We have Ranin Arafat, she's -- she was 3 years old when she was killed by the Israeli occupation force after the Israeli warplanes targeted her home that quickly.

So, this is exactly what the Israeli occupation forces have been doing for some time, during conflict today and even before. So, I do -- I have a very good experience with IDF. I have very good experience. And I have talked about it more than that.

So for me, saying that IDF targets what he calls as terrorists is completely a false claim, because I've been living here all my life and I've been seeing civilians definitely targeted by IDF.

FOSTER: Oded, social media obviously keeps moving all the time, and it's part of the media, now, of course. But since the last conflict, it's -- everyone seems to be on Facebook or on Twitter.

Is it strange for you that your conversations with other Israelis, with Palestinians, is being seen by the world? So it's really playing out in real time online. Is that strange to you, that it's a global story and it's personal at the same time?

FROMOVITZ: I don't think it's strange, because we live in a world in our ages that the internet is the right world to live in for us. So, it's very natural for us to work and to speak and to act on the media -- on the new media, this Facebook and Skype, et cetera, et cetera.

And I believe it's the right way to get into people's hearts because as we know, media is created by us those days. And again, I'm welcoming Rana to come to Israel to a seminar, Media in Conflict seminar to really come and present the way to be balanced, because it's not balanced now.

FOSTER: You've all become journalists, haven't you? I know that you put on Facebook a picture of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system --


FOSTER: We've talked a lot about that on CNN. You've put it on your Facebook page. You look very close to it. So, you've all become journalists through this process. That sends out a message when you put an image like that out.

FROMOVITZ: Of course. It's -- as I said, it's a great way to show the world what's going on. Because I have family and friends all over the world, and this is the best way. Because as I said, in the media, it's very hard to show that stuff because, again, it's very biased.

FOSTER: Rana, in terms of the Palestinian territories in Gaza, how easy is social media to use there? Because you've got -- I know that you've had issues of electricity there. So, do you feel that you're at a disadvantage because you're unable to use it to the same extent?

BAKER: Let me first thank Oded for his invitation to Israel, but I would like to say that this is impossible even for -- even for normal people, and I think that he knows that. I think that he should have addressed that, although he kindly invited me to visit Israel. This is completely impossible because Israel has been besieging the Gaza Strip since 2007.

And just very quickly, I would like to say that when I graduated from high school, I was offered a place at Bethlehem University. And when I applied for a permit from the Israeli government, it was rejected without giving me any reason. So, thank you for your invitation, but this is not possible.

Now, regarding social media, I think that it is very, very important to me, and despite electricity -- despite all the problems and slow internet and the troubles we are facing, I think that we are still able to voice our views, to send pictures and images, to tweet and to speak up and to record what is going on in the Gaza Strip.

For me, it's very important that I am using social media, because it allows me to tweet real-time news. This means that I am giving people the opportunity to see what is going on on the ground in Gaza Strip in real time, and people really appreciate that.


BAKER: And I've been receiving so many tweets. But at the same time --


BAKER: -- exposing me to the negative side of it, which -- because I've been receiving threats from people inside Israel and I've been insulted, actually, many times.

FOSTER: OK. Rana --

BAKER: So, I would like just to --

FOSTER: Rana and Oded, thank you very much, indeed. We have to leave it there, but it's been fascinating speaking to you both, and I wish you both well as this conflict escalates, as it seems to be doing at the moment. Thank you both very much, indeed.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, it's a scandal that exploded on social media. Now, thousands of Twitter users could be facing some serious legal trouble here in the UK.


FOSTER: Well, we've been talking about social media, and here in Britain, a legal challenge is showing the risks of making potentially libelous comments on social media. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's dubbed it a "trial by Twitter." Former British politician Lord McAlpine linked on social media to damaging child abuse allegations. The allegations were false.

But on social media, his name was trending as people, some with thousands of followers, tweeted comments or re-tweeted those of others. Now, Lord McAlpine, who says he was terrified and became a figure of public hatred, says he wants legal retribution to deter social media users from engaging in this kind of slander again.

CHRISTOPHER HUTCHINGS, MEDIA PARTNER, HAMILNS SOLICITORS: Part of the motivation between Lord McAlpine's action is to send a message, a public health warning that we have to use social media more responsibly, that it has to be recognized that it can spread information, and often wrong information, virally across thousands and thousands of users. So, I do think that this is an education for all of us using social media.

CHANCE: The nasty tweets, as Lord McAlpine's lawyers have called them, may cost a lot of people a lot of money.

CHANCE (on camera): This isn't the first time social media users have found themselves in litigation over their comments. In the biggest payment to date, US musician and actress Courtney Love agreed to pay $430,000 to a fashion designer whose reputation and business she is said to have ruined with defamatory tweets.

Earlier this year, New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns was awarded more than $140,000 after being wrongly accused of match fixing. But the Lord McAlpine case is on a much broader scale. Lawyers say it could see legal action against thousands of users who tweeted or even retweeted his name.

CHANCE (voice-over): It may prove a landmark case, dispelling for good the idea social media chatter is like gossiping to friends and revealing it as something far more potent and potentially dangerous.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Well, Lord McAlpine's lawyers have urged Twitter users to come forward voluntarily or face being pursued through the courts. Earlier, I spoke to the British media lawyer, Mark Stephens, who's represented a number of high-profile clients, including Julian Assange. I started by asking him just how unprecedented this legal action is.


MARK STEPHENS, BRITISH MEDIA LAWYER: Well, we've seen the odd, what we call Twibel, that's Twitter libel. But they have been primarily in America. They haven't been in the UK, so it's unprecedented to go for lots of people, and it's unprecedented to go for them in the UK.

And I think that the problem we've got is usually finding the people that did it. And really, the question is, is it going to be worth powder and shot and employing lawyers to go after the many thousands of people who both tweeted and re-tweeted the libels about Lord McAlpine.

FOSTER: There are a lot of defamation cases in the UK. We've got quite tough laws, haven't we? But Twitter is a global platform. Could it be the case that someone in a different country's defamed by someone again in a different country and they can -- have a case here in London, because people in the UK can see it?

STEPHENS: Yes, you can take Twitter libel actions against people in London for people who've tweeted. The problem, of course, is that so many people on Twitter are not using their true identities, their real-world identities.

And in order to get at those individuals, you have to go to Folsom Street in San Francisco, which is where Twitter is headquartered, and seek out their true, real-world identities in order to bring proceedings against them.

And of course, many of them will be located, for example, in the USA, which has the speech act, which is a law signed into action by President Obama which protects against any country which doesn't have the same forceful protections for free speech as the Americans.

And therefore a judgment in the UK will not be enforceable against someone in the United States who has tweeted the same libel about Lord McAlpine as somebody in the UK.

FOSTER: Are we now at the point where the general public broadcasting, as it were, on social media do have to live up to the same expectations, rules, laws, as the mainstream media?

STEPHENS: Yes. I think we do have to accept that ordinary folk, who perhaps are having over-the-garden fence-type, water cooler kind of conversations on social media are going to find themselves increasingly vulnerable to libel actions. And those libel actions will come home.

We're seeing them begin at the moment. But every day of the week, we're seeing people who are libeled, bullied, harassed on social media, and I think it is only a matter of time before this becomes a small cottage industry for my profession, the legal profession.


FOSTER: Well, someone's making money from it, at least. You're watching CONNEC THE WORLD. When we come back, helping Haitians help themselves. We talk to Donna Karan about her mission to change the world.


FOSTER: She's known as the queen of 7th Avenue, a designer to the stars and even an American president. Donna Karan has spent three decades building a business empire that spans the globe. Fashion, perfume, housewares, and even well-being. She has a distinctive spin on all of it. And as Atika Shubert found out, the 64-year-old designer is only getting started.


SHUBERT (voice-over): Beautiful clothes from tip to toe. Donna Karan may have made her name in fashion, but there is much more fabric to this iconic designer's success than that.

DONNA KARAN, DESIGNER: As a designer, I was dressing people, but it wasn't about what they wearing on the outside, but more importantly, what they were wearing on their inside. Because I can make beautiful clothes for you, but it's how you feel on the inside that really makes a difference in this world.

SHUBERT: Hence the birth over a decade ago of Urban Zen, a foundation dedicated to regeneration based on ancient traditions.

It's supported by a growing number of concept stores filled with the handiwork of artisans from the developing world.

SHUBERT (on camera): Can you explain to us, what is the concept behind Urban Zen?

KARAN: It's where a group of people really come together who want to create change. And for me, I looked at what was really missing in health care, education, and the preservation of culture. Because as a designer, for me, culture's really important. That's where inspiration of life comes from.

SHUBERT: The other major inspiration for Karan has been her late husband, artist Stephan Weiss.

KARAN: When we met, he said, "Donna, two of us out there would be too much." And he said, "One of us is enough." And he went and supported me for my whole life. He was my partner in business. And he was a genius. And I love him so much. But he was also probably the reason -- is everything I am today.

SHUBERT: Eleven years since Stephan died of lung cancer, Karan is sharing his art with the world in a new book.

SHUBERT (on camera): You have here a book of your husband's art, his philosophy, connecting the dots. Can you tell us a little bit about, what does connecting the dots really mean?

KARAN: Connecting the dots was the way Stephan worked in his art. He put dots on a piece of paper, connected the dots, and out of that, came his art. A shoe, an apple, a vase, a horse. And through that came this magnificent work.

And I know that if I sell any of this, it will all go to the foundation, which is basically to continue Stephan's legacy, which was, "Whatever you do, Donna, take care of the nurses." And that is what Urban Zen is all about.

SHUBERT: You mention you're husband's legacy. What about your own?

KARAN: Well, somebody says to me, "Donna, can you get that all done?" I said, "Absolutely not." There's no possible way. So, I'm hoping that I'm planting the seeds for a better tomorrow.

SHUBERT (voice-over): And right now, one of those seeds is being planted in Haiti. Karan first became involved with the devastated country through the Clinton Foundation.

KARAN: I go back with the president, since I dressed him. President Clinton really is my inspiration of life. The Clinton Initiative has really changed my life completely. I said, you go there and you're so inspired by all these amazing people, and you realize what a change you can make in the world.

SHUBERT: For Karan, the key to that change is helping Haitians help themselves. And her latest campaign, Hearts for Haiti, embodies that mission by bringing the work of local artisans to the rest of the world.

KARAN: My plan is that I'd like to build a model in Jacmel. That's my dream. Is this dream going to come true? Yes, I work with the government, I do have a vision. I think I share it with them. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't.

It is the most amazing little town. And I do believe that Haiti is a model for the developing world. I don't think it's all about Haiti.

SHUBERT: Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


FOSTER: With Donna Karan. I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD for this week. Thank you so much for watching. We'll be back on Monday.