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Israel-Hamas Conflict; Obama in Asia

Aired November 19, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.


STOUT: Now as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict mounts, the international community tries to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. And history-making in Myanmar: the U.S. president meets Aung San Suu Kyi.



STOUT: International pressure is mounting on Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza to broker a truce. An Egyptian general tells CNN after meeting in Cairo an Israeli delegation is bringing a letter back to Israel's prime minister containing conditions from Hamas for a cease-fire.

But there is little letup in the violence. The Israel Defense Forces says militants in Gaza have fired more rockets into Israel this day.


STOUT (voice-over): And meanwhile, Israeli warplanes are pounding targets in Gaza for the sixth straight day. And both sides seem to be drawing a line in the sand. Hamas says Israel must end its blockade of Gaza; Israel says Hamas must stop its rocket attacks.


STOUT: Now Israel apparently is not ruling out a ground invasion of Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns the Israeli military is prepared to escalate its operation.

Let's go to Frederik Pleitgen. He joins us live from Beersheba in southern Israel.

And, Fred, first, how many rocket alarms have you heard so far today?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been a lot of alarms, not just in the Beersheba area; there was action before. Now I'm actually in the Eshkol area, which is very close to the Gaza border, only a couple of kilometers away from it. And there's been a lot of alarms going off here, a lot of sirens going off ever since we got here.

So it's been pretty much constant. So far what we're hearing from the Israeli government is that about 40 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel and that six of those throughout the course of the day have been intercepted, of course, by the Iron Dome interceptor system that the Israelis have in place.

Some of those rockets, however, have actually fallen; one or two in particular fell on the town of Ashkelon, apparently hitting a residential area. However the first reports that we're getting from there, Kristie, is that no one was injured in that.

Meanwhile, Kristie, where I am right now, this is sort of the area close to the Gaza border. The military buildup is continuing. I want to show you something that's right behind me. You'll see a lot of armored vehicles back there. That is one of those collection points that the Israeli military is using to start building up for a possible ground offensive.

It's still very small; there's only about eight armored personnel carriers there right now. However, we do expect that to get expanded. And this is really only a very small part of what's going -- what's being brought in here. On our way our here we saw a lot of armor being brought into the area. We saw a lot of troops also being brought into the area.

We saw whole columns of tanks coming here into the area. So it seems as though, as you said, yes, (inaudible) negotiations could be underway. There's diplomatic efforts underway. Nevertheless, the buildup for a possible ground offensive is also in full swing and continues to be in full swing, Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, so many uncertainties we're seeing, this buildup of a potential ground war, but also these cease-fire talks underway in Cairo. I wanted to ask you about the mood on the ground there, Fred. Now the Iron Dome: you described it just then. It's been able to intercept a number of rockets targeting Israel. But is it enough to ease the fear and concern among the people there?

PLEITGEN: No, it certainly hasn't and certainly the people here are very concerned. You're absolutely right. The Iron Dome is a system that seems to work quite efficiently. We were actually at one of the batteries yesterday and saw it in action, saw it pick off a lot of rockets also coming from Israel.

But as we've seen also a lot of rockets are striking. And what that does is the damage that is causes is not maybe that big. However, of course, it disrupts the whole public life here in the area around Gaza. People are not able to go about their daily lives. A lot of people have had to shut their businesses. We've been to some businesses today.

And if you go in, for instance, into malls here in this area, you'll find that about 80 percent of the stores are closed simply because people are not going to work, especially people who have children, are keeping those children inside. And that, of course, in itself, is a traumatizing experience for these people.

So even when rockets are not falling, the fear that a siren could go off very shortly is something that looms on these people the entire time.

I want to show you one other thing that seems to be happening. There seems to be more armor, actually, coming in here right now. There's a truck coming up this hill. If you have a couple of seconds for me -- here we go.

This is another armored personnel carrier that is either being brought to this collection point or, in fact, to another collection point here in the area. So as you can see, as we speak and as we do these live reports, the military buildup here in southern Israel near the Gaza border continues. And you're absolutely right.

The people here in this region, still very much -- I wouldn't say terrified, but very concerned by the situation, very worried by the situation. Of course, it is something that weighs on them very heavily, Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, and no signs up letup in the violence. And as we saw just then, live, in front of our eyes, military buildup happening right there in Beersheba.

Frederik Pleitgen joining us live, thank you.

Now the Israeli military says that militants in Gaza have fired at least 1,000 rockets at Israel in the past six days. And Sara Sidner is in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon. It is right in the path of the rockets. And Sara witnessed some of them streaming overhead. She tells us it is a frightening experience.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've just crossed over the area's (ph) crossing and as we were doing so around 1 o'clock, there were a lot -- a lot of rockets coming over. We could hear them coming over. And then we could hear very loud booms, which, in the area, you could see sort of the black smoke.

And that was the anti-missile defense system knocking it out, the Iron Dome system. We could see them coming over; we kept hearing them, you know, coming pretty quickly, one after the other in succession. Then there would be a lull and then you'd hear quite a few more coming at the same time. And so, you know, pretty scary situation over Ashkelon.

We know that we were looking to our left where they were being fired and definitely over Ashkelon area. (Inaudible) fighting beyond that now and we're much further into Israel now.

So a lot quieter here, but certainly, for the people living in Ashkelon, (inaudible) and people were hunkered down. We saw people pulling over their cars, for example, and lying down next to their cars as those rockets were coming overhead.


STOUT: Sara Sidner reporting for us there.

Now on the other side of the border, Palestinian emergency officials say that 92 people have been killed in Gaza, 750 injured since the Israeli airstrikes began on Wednesday. And the single deadliest attack killed a family of 10 on Sunday.

Arwa Damon is in Gaza City and got a first-hand look at the frantic search and rescue efforts.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The large slab of concrete and mangled metal finally gives way; buried beneath it, another lifeless body. It's the second child we've seen. There was also a baby.

Others in the neighborhood say the blast killed all 10 people who lived here. Israel says it was targeting Yehiya Bia, who heads a Hamas rocket launching unit. People we spoke with said they never heard of him.

This was the Al-Dalou family home.

DAMON: People here are telling us that so far those who have been killed in this strike have been women and children, and they have not been able to find any survivors. Just moments ago, from that back corner, they did pull out the body of a tiny child. And over here, there's another frantic effort underway.

DAMON (voice-over): Tempers easily flare as frustration and anger mount.

"She's my uncle's wife," this young man shouts rage coupled with sorrow etched across his face.

This is where she lived, her elderly body finally dug up and carried away.

There are no air raid sirens or bunkers in Gaza. This strike came with no warning.

The rescue efforts are not always so hopeless. Not far from here, just the day before, 11-month-old Ahmed and his 4-year-old sister, Shehata (ph), both survived a multiple missile strike on their home.

"When the roof collapsed, it somehow formed a protective arch over us," the children's mother, Safa (ph), says. "For about 45 minutes, I thought I was going to suffocate. My leg was stuck. People could hear us screaming, but they couldn't do anything," she tells us -- in between her cries, fears that her children were dead.

This is what the building looks like now. The rubble that was cleared to save the family of 10, piled back into the lot that was their home.

"I will never forget what happened," she says. "I will die imagining it."

"I can't believe it. I can't believe these are my children. I tell myself, they are not my children. I can't imagine how they survived. I feel like I'm not myself. I can't believe that I am alive, talking to you, breathing."

She tells us she wants revenge. But more than that, she wants peace. She says, "There is no good that comes with war." -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Gaza City.


STOUT: Not even children spared in this violence.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.


STOUT (voice-over): And coming up next, Israel's Iron Dome, a look at how it's being used to stop rockets from hitting targets inside the country.

Also up next, a historic visit: U.S. President Barack Obama's latest stop on his tour of Southeast Asia.

And opposition discord in Syria; as fighting continues, major rebel groups in Aleppo say no to a new coalition.




STOUT: Now we are continuing to follow the situation in Israel and Gaza. Let's bring up some live pictures out of Gaza City.


STOUT (voice-over): And we'll bring it to you on your screen. And as we look at these live pictures, an update: the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has called for an immediate truce and is en route to the region.

And we have representatives of Hamas and Israel, are currently in Cairo for separate cease-fire talks with Egyptian officials. But there has been more bloodshed on Monday. Israel Defense Forces say that Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired more rockets into southern Israel as Israeli airstrikes have continued to hit targets in Gaza for a sixth straight day.


STOUT: Now just last month, the U.S. Defense secretary said that cyberspace is the battlefield of the future and this conflict is giving us a chance to see some of the ways that it's being played out.

Now Israel's foreign minister says that there have been more than 44 million hacking attempts on government websites like this since airstrikes began on Wednesday.

Yuval Steinitz said one attack was successful, bringing down a site for 10 minutes, although he did not specify which one.

Social media is also highlighting the violence and this was posted on Twitter to an account which says it represents the Alqassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas. And it refers to the death of a BBC worker's son, saying, quote, "I'm a dangerous terrorist. Israel killed me today. I'm 11 months old, and my daddy's a journalist for the BBC. And now Israel is free and at peace because I'm dead."

Now the Israel Defense Forces have also been active on Twitter and on Tumblr. They've been providing updates on the number of rocket attacks with the latest figure now more than 1,000. And the post accompanying this picture reads, quote, "Thanks for our followers worldwide for sharing their infographics. Let's see how many retweets you can get for this one."

Israel is harnessing new technology to help limit some of the damage in its own borders, and that is with a unique system of intercepting rockets called the Iron Dome. Fred Pleitgen shows us how it works.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): A kill that possibly saved lives on the ground, this video shows an Iron Dome missile intercepting a rocket fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv on Sunday. The defense system had just been installed at Israel's largest city a few hours earlier.

Several days into the conflict, it's already clear the Iron Dome is having a big impact, picking off hundreds of rockets. I got a tour of the Israel Aircraft Industry's plant that assembles the air defense system.

DR. ISRAEL OZNOVICH, ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY: Deploying it is a matter of minute.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Dr. Israel Oznovich is one of those in charge. One key element is an advanced radar.

OZNOVICH: The radar searches, locates, tracks and intercepts and guides the intercepting missiles within several seconds, few seconds within the launching time.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): It's extremely hard to shoot down short- distance rockets like the ones coming out of Gaza, in part because they're not in the air long enough for older radar systems to lock onto them.

OZNOVICH: The target is moving extremely fast. When you want to intercept it, you have to work -- you have to move faster with more agility, with more maneuvering power relative to your target.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Iron Dome was only put into service in 2011. With breakthroughs and technology, it can detect and shoot down multiple targets in mid-air.

But it isn't a perfect solution. This is the aftermath of a rocket strike in the town of Ashkelon.

PLEITGEN: One of the rockets that hit Ashkelon actually came here and hit this carport and, as you can see, did substantial damage to the car as well.

The Iron Dome system has been billed as a game-changer in this conflict, but as hits like this one show, it cannot intercept all the rockets that are coming at Israel from Gaza.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Still, Israel's military says it's very happy with the performance of the interceptor system.

MAJ. ARYE SHALICAR, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: Rockets we want to down we usually down. Usually these rockets, exactly the ones who are sent or launched from the Gaza Strip, from the terrorist factions towards bigger cities, where you have more people living, we usually down them. But it's not a 100 percent solution, unfortunately.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And so the engineers at the assembly plant are working extra hours to assemble more Iron Dome batteries for immediate deployment -- Fred Pleitgen, Ashkelon, Israel.


STOUT: Now we will continue to follow the situation there in Gaza.

But up next, a historic breakthrough in Myanmar.


STOUT (voice-over): The U.S. President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit the nation. His message to Aung San Suu Kyi and the military regime is next.





STOUT (voice-over): Coming to you live from Hong Kong. You're back watching NEWS STREAM.


STOUT: Now we will continue to follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict throughout the hour. But now let's go to Myanmar.

President Barack Obama has become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the long isolated country. Mr. Obama encouraged the government to continue its reforms after decades of repression and urged its leaders not to extinguish what he calls the country's "flickers of progress."

On the six-hour whirlwind tour, Mr. Obama met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's president, Thein Sein.

It has also been a remarkable day for CNN correspondent Dan Rivers. Twice deported from Myanmar for reporting on its repression, Dan has been allowed back to cover the U.S. president's visit. And Dan joins us now live from Yangon.

Dan Rivers there, it's good to see you.

Now in his address there in the city, we heard President Obama make this very interesting reference. He drew this direct line between the U.S. civil rights struggle and the ethnic conflict that's ongoing in Myanmar.

Dan, what did you make of that?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was -- he was more outspoken on the Rohingya issue than I think many expected him to be. He talked about the struggle to define citizenship both in Myanmar and in the United States.

And as you say, he tried to draw this parallel between the civil rights movements and the struggle among African-Americans in the U.S. in the 1950s and '60; and then the struggle to recognize the Rohingya Muslim minority here in Myanmar, many of whom are denied citizenship.

They are not recognized as citizens by the Junta and by the now- civilian government here. They're also not recognized in neighboring Bangladesh, either. So neither country is accepting them, even though there are up to a million of them living in the far west of this country.

He talks about "we've tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation," and talked about the struggle to define citizenship and said, "The Rohingya hold within themselves the same dignity as you do and I do." So a very clear and pointed message from President Obama that this minority here must be treated equally, that the issue has to be tackled.

And it's an issue that Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized for not being more vocal and outspoken on, particularly because she is seen within the country and outside it as being the moral authority here. And her lack of clarity and sort of anger on this issue has led some to criticize her.

STOUT: It is interesting; we were expecting the U.S. president to address the issue of reform in Myanmar, but not necessarily the Rohingya issue. And he definitely did that in that address in Yangon earlier today.

You mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi. U.S. president, he made that visit to her lakeside home. And we got that photo op, the two of them, standing and speaking side-by-side, a very symbolic, historic moment. But just how ready is the U.S. to fully embrace the country and to not just ease some, but to lift all sanctions on Myanmar?

RIVERS: Well, I think the administration and the president are constantly emphasizing throughout this tour of Asia that this isn't a kind of victory lap in Myanmar. He didn't come here to say, well done; you've done everything we wanted you to do. Now we're going to lift all the sanctions.

He came here to say you've taken some steps along the road to democracy, but there is an awful long way to go. And I think and administration officials would be at pains to point out there are still several hundred political prisoners behind bars; there is the Rohingya issue that we just talked about.

There is the lack of a cease-fire among the Kachin ethnic minority up in the north. So a lot of thorny issues that have still to be tackled properly: media censorship, civil society not flourishing here, a lot for the generals and the -- and now civilian president, Thein Sein, to do.

But I think they're hoping that this will be a watershed moment, that this will urge on the reforms, that we'll get some of the reluctant former members of the regime to come off the fence and embrace this process. And, really, it will be a catalyst for change. That's what they're hoping.

The big question is: can they get the outcomes? Can they get this delivered in practice?

Already they're spinning that they've got some tangibles out of this that the International Committee of the Red Cross is going to get access to prisoners, that the government is making commitments to try and pursue a cease-fire with the Kachin, that they, you know, the government is saying they're going to try and address (inaudible) situation -- great words.

The big question is: will they be followed by tangible action?

STOUT: That's right; this could very well be a watershed moment; as the U.S. president said, himself, this trip to Myanmar is not an endorsement. Dan Rivers joining us live from Yangon, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now President Obama, he touched town in Cambodia just a couple of hours ago. And this is the third and final stop on his Southeast Asia tour. And Mr. Obama is there to attend the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and Anna Coren joins us now live from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

And, Anna, President Obama is there this evening for the ASEAN+3 summit as it's known.

What should we expect? What's on the agenda?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, I'd have to say it's trade and economic development that they're really at the heart of the summit, as you know, Asia is the future for economic growth, not just for the region, but for the world. Just to give you an example, 50 (ph) percent of the world's economic growth outside the U.S. will come from Asia over the next five years.

So obviously the United States wants to capitalize on this. But I think what is really important about this trip, President Barack Obama coming here to Asia. You know, he chose Asia as the country, the group of countries that he will visit as part of his first overseas trip post his reelection. You know, this is not a mistake.

This is a deliberate, symbolic decision as the United States reasserts itself here in the Asia Pacific. We heard from the president today; he said at Yangon University to the crowd that America is a Pacific nation.

Now in the past, Asia really has taken a back seat as far as U.S. foreign policy is concerned. It's really -- plays second fiddle, if you like, to the Middle East, to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and to Europe.

But this is America, really increasing its footprint, increasing its presence here in Asia; it's a pivot towards Asia, if you like. Those are the words from the White House. And I think this region will really play a very important role in the president's second term, Kristie.

STOUT: That's right. The president's trip to Asia symbolizing the pivot to Asia -- Anna Coren, joining us live from Phnom Penh, thank you.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. And still ahead --


STOUT (voice-over): -- inside Gaza, we are live with our correspondent, Arwa Damon, to get a first-hand account of the situation there.

And the gateway to an Arab ally: why the Rafah crossing is so important to Gaza as the violence increases.




STOUT: Welcome back to our top story now.


STOUT (voice-over): As representatives of both Israel and Hamas meet Egyptian officials for separate cease-fire talks, the situation inside Gaza remains critical. You're looking at live pictures from inside Gaza City. You can see the smoke rising right there.

And in fact, our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is there at the scene. She witnessed what just happened. She joins us now live.

And, Arwa, what has just happened there?

DAMON: Rockets, Kristie, being fired into that building, (inaudible) coming from the right-hand side -- or one comes from the right-hand side; two from the left-hand side. You can now see smoke billowing from that building.

Now that building actually houses a number of media organizations, not just local Palestinian organizations, but Western networks have operated out of there as well as other international ones.

This building was, in fact, struck just yesterday as well. And we saw ambulances screaming up towards the front, where we're seeing a fair amount of activity down below. We do not have any word on any sort of casualty at this point in time. But it most certainly seems like it is quite a devastating scene right now, Kristie.

And we're just seeing the smoke billowing even -- in an even greater degree out of all of the windows. It seems like most of the impact was around the middle section of the building, maybe five, six, seven floors up at this point, Kristie.

STOUT: We're seeing smoke rising from that building as a result of an Israeli airstrike. We're also looking at our screens, live pictures of ambulances arriving to the scene.

And Arwa, to confirm: that is not a residential building; that is a building where media, journalists are based?

DAMON: That is correct. It is the headquarters of the local media organization that is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, not to be confused with Hamas. But they do operate out of that building. There have been other Western international media organizations that operate out of that building as well. And that is the very same building that was targeted twice yesterday.

Just to give you a bit of the lay of the land here, to this direction of the building, around 45 minutes to an hour ago, we saw five rockets being fired. We have been seeing fairly regular rocket fire coming out of Gaza, heading towards Israel. We have been seeing these types of strikes throughout the entire day.

Up until this moment, hospital officials were telling us the vast majority of the strikes today were targeting these small lots that exist between buildings that are used typically by Hamas, by the militants here to fire rockets into Israel.

But that most certainly -- that building where you're seeing the smoke billowing out of right now, that, as far as we are aware, was not used as any sort of military base. That most certainly is a building that does house the media.

STOUT: Yes. We're not only seeing the smoke billowing from the building, but in this closer-up view, courtesy of Reuters, we're seeing actual fire, flames from this Israeli airstrike on this media building right behind Arwa Damon, this just taking place moments ago.

Just curious, Arwa, before this strike took place, was there any warning? Was there any sirens?

DAMON: No. No, there are no air raid sirens here in Gaza, Kristie. There are no bunkers. A lot of the time people say that these strikes happen with little to no warning. People do tell us that on some occasions, they do receive phone calls from the Israeli side, warning residents to leave.

A woman we were speaking to earlier in the market, for example, said that in her particular neighborhood, the Israelis had, in fact, warned everybody to stay well inside. But here is the big issue, to say the least, that people face in Gaza and that is they actually have nowhere to go. They are not allowed to leave the Gaza Strip unless the Israelis give them permission.

So even if they are warned about a strike in one location or another, even though this city most certainly does feel and look like a war zone because so few people are out, so few shops are open, that does not mean that the 1.5 million-plus people who live here are actually -- even have the option to move and seek safer ground and a safer location.

STOUT: So no sirens, no bunkers, no Iron Dome, nowhere to go.

What are people doing to protect themselves from potential airstrikes?

DAMON: There's very little that they actually can do. They are staying well indoors, in some cases if you have a neighborhood that has seen a particularly high amount of airstrikes, families there might decide to move into another area that they feel might be safer.

But in the story that we've been airing all day today on the family whose house was struck, who actually survived, this one particular family had, in fact, moved from their neighborhood. The mother and her two children had moved from their neighborhood into their parents' home because they thought that it would be safer, and then, of course, as we know, they were hit in a multiple strike.

They somehow did manage to survive that. But again, that is the big, big, big tragedy of all of this, when it comes to what the civilians here are going through, the innocent civilians, by and large caught in the crossfire, is that there actually is not anything that they can truly do to keep themselves safe.

STOUT: And what's the thinking of what's going to happen next --


STOUT: -- report on these -- yes, go ahead.

DAMON: We're seeing a number of ambulances now at the front -- at the front door. I don't know if that's visible from back here. There also seems to be a fairly large crowd that has been gathered up front.

The smoke's still billowing from that one side of the building, but it seems that the flames that we were seeing coming out of the part that's facing us and the other side seems to have died down as well. Again, we do not have any information on casualties just yet from that most recent strike that took place just moments ago.

STOUT: All right. Arwa Damon reporting to us live from Gaza City on the back of -- we just witnessed the aftermath of another Israeli airstrike, hitting the building right behind her, hitting a building believed to hold Hamas media members, journalists.

Now the world is just looking on as the airstrikes continue, the rockets continue, the conflict just continues to escalate. We have the U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. He's called for a cease-fire and he's currently heading to the region. Many fear that there could be a repeat of what happened years ago, Israel's 2008 ground incursion of Gaza that saw at least 1,400 people killed.

Now our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, joins us now from our London studio with more.

And, Matthew, I mean, you saw what's happening here. The situation is escalating; at the same time, international pressure for a cease-fire is intensifying.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It certainly is, Kristie, as those airstrikes continue to strike various targets in and around Gaza and the rockets continue to fall inside Israel as well. There's been comments, criticism, condemnation coming from various parts and around the world.


CHANCE: The escalating conflict really stoking the worries of world powers. Take a look, as you mentioned there, the U.N. secretary-general, the top U.N. diplomat, Ban Ki-moon, he's spoken out. He's urged both parties to cooperate with all efforts, led by Egypt, saying that this must stop.

Also in the region, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was in Israel Sunday to meet with government leaders and later with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank as well. He tweeted, "War can be avoided. War must be avoided." So that E.U. foreign minister, French foreign minister, clearly believing the atmosphere is there, the conditions are there for some kind of cease-fire.

Now speaking to the British media on Sunday, the U.K.'s foreign minister, William Hague, said, an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would cost Israel a lot of international support. So some words of advice there from the British foreign minister.

President Obama in the United States has reiterated America's support for Israel, saying it has a right to defend itself from attacks by militants inside Gaza. But he also had, you know, a word of warning as well, saying that the escalating offensive could undermine any hope of a peace process with the Palestinians.

Moving on to the Islamic world, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, basically also weighing in, saying the Arab (ph) humanitarian and religious duties necessitate us to "attempt to prevent the killing of innocent people in Gaza," the Iranians obviously watching this Israeli action very closely indeed, Kristie.

STOUT: You know, everyone is watching this action very closely.

Reaction in from the foreign ministers, from the United States; China has weighed in as well. But will any international urging to stop the violence and to stop the rocket fire and to stop the airstrikes actually bring about an end to the conflict?

CHANCE: Well, it certainly could play a part in that, although in the past, of course, Israel and Hamas have both been pretty thick-skinned when it comes to international condemnation of what they both undertake during these confrontations.

But there is a sense that so long as Israel can achieve its sort of basic military objectives to try and degrade the ability of Hamas and other militant groups inside Hamas to prevent, to stop them from firing rockets into Israel, then perhaps that would create the circumstances to -- for a cease-fire to be brokered. We'll see.

STOUT: And Israel has sent an envoy to Cairo, to the Egyptian capital today. Let's talk about Egypt's role in this conflict.

Do you think Egypt can be an effective broker in any potential cease- fire here?

CHANCE: I think so; I mean, Egypt's in this unique position. It's obviously -- Mohammed Morsi, the president of Egypt, he has this position as the president of the country, but he's also the head of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas, of course, is an organization that stems originally from the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt has good relations, at the moment, with Hamas. Egypt, of course, is the only Arab country with a peace agreement with Israel.

And so the country is uniquely positioned to be an honest broker, if you like, between the two sides. And that's why we're seeing, I think, much of the efforts to broker a cease-fire taking place in Egypt itself, because that's the only country that speaks essentially to both the Israelis and to Hamas, Kristie.

STOUT: All right, Matthew Chance joining us live from London, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now our Ben Wedeman is in Gaza City with the very latest on what appears to be an airstrike that has happened there. We're looking at live scenes there from Gaza City of the smoke billowing from a building. He is on his way to that site, and Ben joins us now.

Ben, what are you seeing; what are you hearing?

OK, it sounds like we just lost our Ben Wedeman on the line there. But he is, indeed, on his way to the site of what appears to be Israeli airstrike, the target, a media building in Gaza City. We heard a loud bang earlier; we're seeing live video of the smoke mushrooming up from that building. We also saw some close-up shots of fire outside there.

We know that there are emergency services, ambulances, on its way to that building in Gaza City, where is appears it is there Israeli airstrike has just taken place there. But no word yet on casualty count. We're hoping to bring up our Ben Wedeman, who is going to the scene to get any more information about what has happened just then.

Now as Israeli airstrikes continue to hit targets in Gaza, many are relying on one major crossing point to get in and out of the area. Reza Sayah, he filed this report from the Rafah border crossing. It is where hundreds of Egyptians are lining up to get into Gaza.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're at the Rafah border crossing, where Egypt's border meets Gaza. Gaza is a very small piece of land, about twice the size of Washington, D.C. It has four gateways, three of them are inside Israel and they're pretty much blocked off in an effort by Israel to choke off Gaza.

This is the only one that leads from Gaza into an Arab ally. That's Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SAYAH (voice-over): While the air assault continues in Gaza, while the violence increases, what seems to be clear is the anger by Egyptians, who want Egypt and the government to step up and intervene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people have change. We have change and we are not going to take that for -- we're not going to wait for the government move. We're going to take things in our hands and we're going to lead the government into certain position that is required for Egypt.

SAYAH: There's roughly 500 protesters here. They've made a 7-hour journey from Cairo. Now they've lined up down the street; each of them are showing their identifications to security forces and then heading into Gaza. We've asked them: when do you think you'll come back? They say, we don't know; we're just happy we're going in.

SAYAH: Are you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean, absolutely I'm scared. And you hear bombs; you don't know what you're going in there for, but I think that's -- I think that's what we got to do. You have to be scared and overcome that fear by just going in there.

SAYAH: As more demonstrators continue to file into Gaza back in Cairo, the Arab League, a group of 22 Arab states, has announced that on Tuesday they're going to send in more than two dozen Arab foreign ministers into Gaza. This is part of the Arab League's push to publicly stand with the Palestinians.

Also in Cairo, Egypt's spy chief in talks with Hamas officials and Israeli officials, trying to establish a cease-fire. This is the same spy chief that, in 2011, helped secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Many say if there's going to be a cease-fire, Egypt's spy chief is going to play a key role -- Reza Sayah, CNN, at the Rafah border crossing.


STOUT: And let's bring up, once again, live pictures from Gaza City. Moments ago, a big bang was heard at a building housing many members of the media there in Gaza City; live pictures there. You can see smoke billowing from that building. Fire has been seen there as well. We know that emergency services, ambulances on the way.

And this has been the sixth straight day of violence between Israeli and Palestinian militants. And earlier, in this hour on NEWS STREAM we had a live report from Fred Pleitgen from Beersheba. We saw military reinforcements arrive inside Israel. So amidst all those fears of a ground war, we'll continue to watch that situation there.

Now meanwhile, Hamas' Khaled Meshaal is holding a press conference in Cairo, perhaps reacting to this. Let's listen in now.


KHALED MESHAAL, POLITICAL LEADER, HAMAS (through translator): -- (inaudible) the victims who were victims of the painful accident that pained us. The Egyptian won't -- it is similar to the Palestinian one. So we are being pained.

We suffer that they as a human and we share your grief. And I hope that Egypt will come out so it build its pioneering experience and lead the nation and give its good to its people first and to the nation second.

Brothers and sisters.

STOUT (voice-over): OK, just then we were listening into Hamas' Khaled Meshaal, speaking from Cairo, addressing his brothers and sisters who were waiting for a more direct reference to what has happened just now inside Gaza City, an Israeli airstrike on a media building.

Ben Wedeman is in Gaza City. He joins us now on the phone with more.

And, Ben, what are you seeing around you?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm right in front of this building. I'm seeing large plumes of black smoking coming out of it. It was hit in a strike about 25 or 20 minutes ago. We heard three large explosions just up the street from where we were. And huge flash of flames coming out of what appears to have been the third floor of that building, which is now on fire.

We also saw the emergency services bringing out one man who appeared severely burned and lifeless, and now we -- it's been confirmed that he died in this blast, the emergency services still inside the building, looking for more people, possible survivors. And another fire truck here to try to put out this fire, Kristie.

STOUT: So at least one person confirmed dead as a result of this airstrike.

Earlier, Arwa Damon was describing that this building was not a residential building, but a building where journalists are based. Can you confirm that?

WEDEMAN: OK, Kristie, now -- yes, I'm sorry; let me explain. This building -- it's not the first time it was hit. It was hit yesterday, early yesterday as well. It contains the offices of Al-Aqsa Television, which is a television station affiliated with the Hamas movement.

And in that (inaudible) -- and, in fact, it was thought that the building had been evacuated, that there was nobody in there, given that it was clearly a target for the Israeli Air Force. But clearly, they saw fit to hit it again, Kristie.

STOUT: So you think this is an example of a so-called surgical strike by the Israel Defense Forces, that their target was this TV apparatus of Hamas?

WEDEMAN: Well, my understanding actually is that the television station has been on a higher floor. I would say either the second or the third floor, they got hit and what I'm seeing outside of it is a sign for a lawyer's office, not a television station. So we don't know the reason why this particular building or rather that particular office was hit; still something of a mystery, Kristie.

STOUT: And you mentioned that this building had been struck before, and yet people returned to work? It's still life as usual, despite these ongoing airstrikes?

WEDEMAN: Well, the only people who are really working at the moment in Gaza around the clock are journalists. And many -- we know that in both of these strikes, some people in the building had received a warning to get out. People evacuated; and then nothing happened for several hours and then they needed to get back to work, file stories, do live shots.

And that's when one of the floors was hit in the previous strike. So (inaudible) people will react (inaudible) they're warned, told to get out. But (inaudible) isn't coming, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. We can surely hear the sirens behind you and just the chaos of the scene.

Ben Wedeman, joining us live from the scene, the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on a building where Hamas TV operation is based. Ben Wedeman reporting to us live from Gaza City.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll have more right after this.



STOUT: Welcome back. And back to our breaking news this hour, take a look at what just happened in Gaza City.


STOUT (voice-over): A big bang heard at a building there, housing many members of the media, including Hamas TV, this happening within the last half hour. Smoke is still billowing from this building. Fire has been seen as well.

We've been watching and listening to ambulances arriving at the scene. We have CNN's Ben Wedeman at the site; he has reported there has been at least one casualty as a result of this strike. And this is the sixth straight day of Israeli airstrikes. And we'll continue to monitor the situation there.

Now there is fresh division, meanwhile, among Syria's fractured opposition. The main Syrian rebel groups in the country's commercial capital, Aleppo, say that they reject the opposition's new coalition.

In a video posted on the web, the groups say that they want an Islamic state. So far France is the only Western country to recognize the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the war-torn country.

Now the E.U. Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels this Monday to discuss whether to give the council full recognition. And our Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from Beirut.

And, Nick, first on what we're hearing about these Islamist factions in Aleppo, they are rejecting the opposition coalition that was formed in Doha. What's the latest? What are you hearing on that?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is some confusion about the progeny of this particular statement on YouTube. Now it purports to represent 14 separate groups within the Free Syrian Army and certainly at the front of that is the al-Nusra Front behind some of the more spectacular attacks, in many ways some of the more successful attacks, but certainly perceived as one of the more radical elements.

In a statement they claimed the Tawhid Brigade, another large group that you may have heard of, operating inside Aleppo, but less extremist in much of their ideology according to many people who've met them, that they're also alongside in this statement, in which they reject, as you say, the new initiative from Doha and say they want to establish their own Islamic state.

Now we've sought clarification from both the Free Syrian Army and the spokesmen for military groups inside Aleppo. And they say that while the al-Nusra Front is expressing its opinion there, it's got people from different groups to stand with it who represent perhaps what they refer to as the minority, not the majority.

So this seems to be breakaway fraction from different groups, siding with al-Nusra and making this clear statement.

But what it really does here, Kristie, is explain to you exactly how complicated it's going to be to get these people on the ground fighting in an urban sprawl like Aleppo to actually go along with an initiative created in a foreign capital by men in a five-star hotel much of the time, discussing in suits over coffee exactly how the conflicts should progress.

If you see it from the eyes of the fighters on the ground, they have been out there on the ground for a long period of time, slugging it out with the Syrian regime and are now saying, well, hang on; what do we get from this new initiative, Kristie.

STOUT: This Islamist faction, this discord a very significant thread into Syria's story. We're going to have to leave it at that.

Nick Paton Walsh, though, joining us live, reporting for us, thank you.

Now we know that the Hamas spokesperson, Khaled Meshaal, is holding a press conference right now in Cairo. Let's go back and listen in.


MESHAAL (through translator): In Gaza (inaudible) that I control the initiative. I can strike any time I want to and I could calm down whenever I want to. No one can share my initiative. In a few hours, the young men of Gaza responded to him, and they said, no, and by saying no, we, too, control the initiative. Therefore, the goals of the enemy have failed.

What increased what happened, that the bravery of our men and their determination. But the message is that the enemy had wanted -- had several directions. You wanted or did not wanted but it all came back to haunt him back. But the messages have went to the wrong address.

He wanted to succeed in the elections through striking Gaza that would show him as a hawk. And today he is worried. He wanted to test Egypt, then new Egypt, Egypt of the 25th of May, there were great revolution. Their leadership, with Egypt, the people of Egypt, the sons and daughters of Egypt, the response was not what he had expected.

He wanted to test the countries of the Arab Spring, but the Arabs did not fail us, but failed him. He wanted this enemy to test his new weapons and his Iron Dome, to market it commercially and to comfort the Israeli public that, in the future, wars that this public will be comforted, that they have their weapons, that the weapons and their limited weapons in Gaza today did not succeed.

And but his Iron Dome did not succeed to eliminate the weapons of Gaza. How but the future wars, therefore he revealed himself. He opened his cards. He showed his hand in the wrong time with what -- with what nation, with what army he will fight in the future?

Yes, he has an army, he has a nation, he has a war machine, but he has no will, has no patience for long-term commitment, because he has no legitimacy, because he is an aggressor. He has stolen the land. But perhaps he wanted and he was surprised with the American elections and he sided with the losing side.

He wanted to confuse Obama in his second term to prohibit any international direction toward having justice for the Palestinian people, even with a small limited (inaudible), even though we do not have our bets on that.

But this enemy is scared, is frightened, is frightened of everything. Therefore, the calculations were wrong. But in all honestly, we don't have a balance of power with them. And the balance of the terms in military means, we don't have. But what we have achieved that the terms through our will and let me put it in this equation. Too many will with some power have created a balance --

STOUT (voice-over): We've been listening to the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, live in Cairo, commenting on the turmoil in Gaza. We know that in the last half hour, there's been an airstrike in Gaza City.

We've been witnessing just the smoke billowing from the building, believed to be a base for journalists, an airstrike that killed, according to our Ben Wedeman, at least one person.

Comments there from the Hamas leader, while cease-fire talks are underway in Cairo, and just then, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, said this, quote, I can strike whenever I want to, and calm down whenever I want to. And a direct line to Israel, he said, quote, His Iron Dome did not succeed to eliminate the weapons of Gaza.

Some very heated rhetoric during a time of escalating tension.

We will continue to cover the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Gaza.

News Stream ends here, but my colleagues at World Business Today will take it from here.