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Blast Kills 10 In One Gaza Home; Gaza: No Ground Invasion Yet; Israel: Iran Supplying Hamas; Sandy's Mounting Cleanup; Doctor Shortage Looming

Aired November 19, 2012 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli troops near Gaza are awaiting orders for a possible ground invasion. The Israelis have immobilized 75,000 reservists and massed hundreds of tanks near Gaza.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is among those warning the Israelis not to launch a ground offensive. He says invading Gaza would cost the Israelis international sympathy. The White House says it is up to Israel to decide whether to enter Gaza to try to stop rocket attacks against the Israelis.

Well, like anything in the Middle East, nothing is ever simple as it appears. A major player in this conflict is Iran, which has been supplying Hamas with long range rockets and training Hamas commanders how to fire from underground launch sites.

Here what he is Israeli prime minister -- I'm sorry, Israeli President Shimon Peres had to say about Iran to our Piers Morgan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Obviously, a serious situation that is escalating by the hour now. How do you see this resolving itself?

PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES, ISRAEL: Well, there is an attempt to introduce a ceasefire. We have a positive. The positive is the constructive war that the Egyptian president is playing right now and we appreciate very much his efforts.

The other one is the Iranians. They are trying again to encourage Hamas to continue their shooting, the bombing. They are trying to send the bombs. They are out of their mind.

MORGAN: If you believe, Mr. President, that Iran is behind a lot of the Hamas terror activities, as you put it, then what action do you intend to take against Iran?

PERES: Not that I guess so, I know that is the case. And we're not going to make a war with Iran, but we are trying to prevent the shipping of long range missiles, which Iran is sending to Hamas.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FEYERICK: And that's Israeli president and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres talking to Piers Morgan about Iran's role in this crisis.

Joining me now from Houston, former United States diplomat Ed Djerejian, he served as U.S. ambassador to Israel and also as ambassador to Syria.

Sir, Mr. Ambassador, Iran, by having Hamas really as a militant proxy in Gaza, in many respects they can keep Israel in check should Israel decide it wants to go after Iran's nuclear program.

Because not only would Israel potentially get it from Iran, but they could also potentially get it from sympathizers in Gaza as well. What are your thoughts?

EDWARD DJEREJIAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL AND SYRIA: There is no question that Iran has been furnishing and providing these rockets to Hamas. So therefore they are a key player in the military capabilities of Hamas and other groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

However, I think we have to make a distinction between the crisis in Gaza and the -- the issue of Iran developing nuclear weapons. They're distinct, but separate issues that have to be dealt with.

Nevertheless, I think this crisis in Gaza, the worst case scenario is that Israel feels compelled to do a land invasion of Gaza. If it does so, it will be the death toll, the injuries will be very high.

And it will be very destabilizing and will really put a stress on key relationships Israel has including with Egypt, which is critical. Let's not forget that Egypt and Israel have a peace treaty dating back to 1979.

FEYERICK: You know, when we look at this potential land invasion, Israel would argue that they have got to get rid of the stockpile of weapons, the warheads, the long range rockets, the rockets that are less long range.

They appear to feel they have done that through these, you know, their own air strikes. Now it seems they're going in to get the launch sites and these really -- these underground tunnels. Do they have a valid argument as to why they would have to go in, with ground troops?

DJEREJIAN: Well, it is all relative. I think the Israelis have succeeded in really diminishing Hamas' rocket capabilities in a substantial way during the last many days of fighting and air strikes.

But let's step back a bit here. We see this play enacted time and again and a crisis erupts between Gaza, Hamas and Israel, there are military incursions. There is a minor war that is launched between the two sides.

The Gazans or the Hamas' military capabilities are diminished for a while, and then they restock, they restore, there are new incidents and the same play is enacted. There is no military solution to this issue.

The only solution, the only solution as ideal as it may sound, is that Israel and the Palestinians including Hamas and Fattah come to a peace agreement. It is the only structural way out.

FEYERICK: So when we talk about a ceasefire, sir, very quickly, I know it is very difficult to bullet point anything when it comes to this particular region, but what terms for cease-fire would be acceptable to Hamas and what would be acceptable for Israel, for example? What are the two things that have to happen on each side?

DJEREJIAN: OK, well, for the Israelis, the key is that all rocket attacks and fire against Israeli targets cease immediately and that that ceasefire is sustained over time. That is the key Israeli requirement.

For Hamas, they would like to have the Israelis lift the siege of Gaza, open up the borders that Gaza has with Egypt, for example, and to have all Israeli attacks and targeted attacks against Hamas leaders stopped. Those are the two key requirements on both sides.

FEYERICK: OK, and Ambassador Djerejian, thank you so much. We really appreciate your insights on this certainly not easy -- hopefully we'll get the ceasefire before the peace will happen. Thank you so much.

Well, the northeast is still cleaning up from Superstorm Sandy. And as people gut their damaged homes, all the debris has to go somewhere. For now, much of it is sitting on the curbs. Find out what is being done to try to haul off all that trash.

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FEYERICK: Superstorm Sandy and the magnitude of damage it left behind is almost beyond imagination. Tons and tons of garbage, furniture, carpeting, belongings, and waste have been hauled away from homes and city sanitation workers have been on the clock 24/7 since the storm hit.

They're the ones who are really emerging as heroes. Joining me to talk about the daunting cleanup effort and where it all stands is New York City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

And, Commissioner, first of all, have you ever seen anything like it?

JOHN DOHERTY, NEW YORK CITY SANITATION COMMISSIONER: In my lifetime, in the city, and it has been quite a few years, I've never seen anything. This is the worst natural disaster this city has ever seen in my lifetime.

FEYERICK: What is so incredible is that people didn't just lose, for example, a couple of belongings. They lost the entire first floor, their basements, and everything in it, including drywall and insulation.

And were it not for the sanitation workers, arguably, I think New York City would be buried under debris and it would be a significant public health epidemic. Talk to me about that.

DOHERTY: Well, definitely a major problem in a city like this, but I think we're fortunate and in a better position than most cities because we have our own sanitation department that could -- has the number of people, has the equipment and the skills to handle something like this.

I mean, we had to start off running on Tuesday morning after that storm going out assessing the debris that was out there, and our first step was to make sure the streets could get opened up. A lot of debris was thrown out into the roadways around the city.

And that was our first project. Then we started figuring out, OK, how are we going to store it? We have predetermined areas to store debris from something like this happening. But once we realized how much it was amounting to, we had to quickly make decisions.

I remember I was working on Staten Island evaluating what they had out there, and there was a park apartment site not on the list, I said, open it up and start unloading there. Another site I had to cut the lock on a gate leading to an open field.

These are the things you sometimes have to work on really quick in order to get the debris away from the streets, away from the homes, to an area where you can then later move it to its final disposal point.

FEYERICK: What is incredible? Is there any way to gauge how many tons of debris you move, because I was out there and I saw the massive trucks? They were just lined up down the block, truck, after truck.

I think one of the people on site, maybe from the Army Corps of Engineers, told me that each of those trucks can fit something like 80,000 pounds or something like that. Do you know how much the debris actually ultimately will weigh? Look at how enormous those things are.

DOHERTY: Based en what we picked up today, many of these are estimated weights because we didn't go over the scale with them yet. We estimated we picked up as of yesterday about 265,000 tons of debris.

And on top of that, you've got your garbage that we continue to pick up and the recycling we had to delay for a while, but are picking up now around the city.

So there was a lot of work between maintaining the day to day operation, and then taking on the herculean job of handling and disposing of the waste that was generated for the storm.

FEYERICK: And just quickly, then, what we're seeing now, those are people's homes, that's debris from people's homes, but cars, something like a quarter of a million cars completely totalled, total loss. What is going to happen to those cars?

DOHERTY: Well, the police department is -- has a contract now through FEMA and they have a contract company removing the cars and putting them in parking areas near where the cars were picked up. So that people who want to claim them or haven't had a chance to have the insurance company look at them can go and find them.

That was a big step getting that done. And, today, we started removing a lot of boats that were blocking streets and in blocking it -- and in some cases into people's homes. They're starting to remove them also and put them in the proper storage locations.

FEYERICK: Just remarkable. I mean, you think you've seen a lot and then you see something that is just insurmountable. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. I know a lot of your men and women have been getting standing ovations wherever they go so good job. Thank you for joining us today.

DOHERTY: Thank you, Deb.

FEYERICK: Well, it is a case of too many patients and not enough doctors. Find out why access to health care and some cities is nearly impossible forcing many patients to turn to emergency rooms instead.

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FEYERICK: As America's population gets older and needs more medical care, the number of doctors is dwindling and in Nevada, the doctor shortage is becoming critical. Some patients are waiting months to get an appointment.

CNN's Casey Wian reports on what is becoming quickly a very national crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Haupt's rheumatoid arthritis pain was manageable. He had an active job in the Las Vegas food service industry until one day last year.

GEORGE HAUPT, ARTHRITIS PATIENT: All of a sudden, one morning when I woke up, it was like I thought I had a stroke or something. My feet, my knees, my hands, I couldn't get out of the bed. I wasn't able to even dress myself.

WIAN: He called his arthritis doctor, but the office was closed. Haupt didn't know his doctor was semiretired, only seeing patients three days a week.

HAUPT: I was told there is only five places to go in Vegas. And I tried three other ones, and the waiting period was three to four months.

WIAN: A trip to the ER provided little relief.

HAUPT: Three times in the last year where I couldn't get out of bed for two days, three days, I actually prayed that I wouldn't live. And that's for me was the low point.

WIAN: It is a growing problem for baby boomers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Dr. Furman, we are booking to mid-January.

WIAN: They need care more often, but doctors themselves are aging and retiring and medical schools aren't producing enough replacements to keep pace.

(on camera): By 2020, the United States faces a projected shortage of nearly 92,000 doctors according to the Association of Medical Colleges. That's seven times worse than the shortage that existed just two years ago.

DR. MITCHELL FORMAN, DEAN, TOURO UNIVERSITY, NEVADA: The access to health care is clearly affected. People wait longer to see their physicians for everyday kinds of illnesses, those illnesses get worse, and then by the time you see a physician, you might need to be admitted to a hospital.

WIAN (voice-over): And it might put your life in jeopardy. Margo Johnson had a stroke last year, linked to a rare autoimmune disease. She was referred to Dr. Forman, a specialist.

MARGO JOHNSON, STROKE PATIENT: It was four, five months down the road before Dr. Forman could see me and even with my neurologist intervention, he was only able to move it up a week.

WIAN (on camera): That had to be kind of scary.

JOHNSON: Yes, I could have died.

WIAN (voice-over): Margo is improving thanks to proper treatment and so is George Haupt, but their doctor says the shortage of physicians is likely to worsen, partly because of the 2010 health care reform law, which will expand insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans.

FORMAN: You're going to have a large number of individuals who now have health care insurance, who is going to take care of them.

WIAN: The law also prize funding physician residency programs to help ease the coming shortage, but for some baby boomers, that prescription may come too late. Casey Wian, CNN, Henderson, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: And up next, as explosions rock Gaza City, Anderson Cooper is there live bringing you special coverage next hour. Stay right here with us.

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FEYERICK: No question, Israel is by far the superior military power in this conflict with Hamas. There is growing concern that Gaza's arsenal of rockets is getting more deadly and more accurate.

CNN's Tom Foreman gives us a virtual look at what each side brings to the battlefield. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Global firepower.com has called Israel the 10th most powerful military in the world. Let's break that down and see why. They have compulsory military service.

That means every young person must go into the military for a while, 176,000 active troops are available and they have about half a million what they call from reserves very quickly. Ground forces also impressive.

Some 3,000 tanks, if you count all the artillery pieces and mortars, you get up to 12,000 units that can operate on the ground. And, of course, their air force is formidable, 800 aircraft out there including 200 helicopters.

This is largely what they have used to have the strikes within Gaza. If you look at Hamas, their forces are much smaller in terms of their official forces, certainly. If you look at people really in uniform, soldiers, police, whatever you want to call it, about 12,500, and they have nothing like the weapons that the Israelis have.

However, Palestinian militants have lots and lots of rockets. I want to bring in a model of one of them here. This is Qassam-2. You probably heard about this a good bit. These rockets are popular because they are cheap.

They are easy to make out of steel tubes, only weigh 70 to 100 pounds and they are fuelled by commercial grade fertilizer and they can pack quite a punch. They are not very accurate, but if you fire enough of them, they don't have to be accurate.

If you go beyond this to some of their more robust and better targeted rockets and missiles, then you start talking about range. In this conflict so far, we have reports of weapons fired from Gaza, traveling as much as 50 miles to hit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In fact, Israeli officials now believe as much as a fifth of the population of Israel is subject to the rocket attacks, that's something they say they simply will not tolerate anymore and that's why we keep hearing all this talk and speculation about a possible ground invasion of Gaza.