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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Ten People Injured In Bus Explosion; Clinton Heads to Egypt; Drones Now Part of Modern Warfare; Holiday Forecast

Aired November 21, 2012 - 05:30   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting in for Zoraida.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans sitting in for John Berman this morning. It's exactly half past the hour.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking news this morning. A bus explosion in Tel Aviv to tell you about. We've been telling you all night about rising tensions and more fighting in the area, but now, here in Tel Aviv, Israeli police officials telling us there is a bus explosion. We know there are injuries. There are ten injured.

You're looking at pictures here of the scene. These are live pictures, actually, of the scene where this bus has now in the street. People have been taken off of the bus, and we know that there are injuries. Ten injured. Breaking the calm, clearly, of a very tense Tel Aviv over the past few days. I want to get quickly to Fred Pleitgen in Ashkelon, Israel. Fred, what can you tell us about this most recent explosion?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine. We're still trying to get information on what exactly happened there in that bus in downtown Tel Aviv. We do know that it was on a road that is in Central Tel Aviv. And as you said, there have been casualties. There are at least ten people who were injured.

The earliest reports that we're getting, and this is from various Israeli media outlets is that, three people were moderately to more severely wounded and seven people were more lightly injured. And we also know, as you said, that they are being tended to. They're on the scene. However, there appears to be the fear that there might be secondary explosions, that someone might have detonated or deposited some other form of explosive in the area.

So, that is certainly something that is being checked out there by bomb disposal and by EOD squads as well. But, there are scenes there of people being treated on the sidewalks, people being tended to by ambulances that are on the scene. That is (INAUDIBLE) entire area there is cordoned (ph) off.

And if you look at the bus from the live pictures that we're getting, you can see that the windows at least some of them have been blown out. The front window is badly damaged. So, you can see that there must have been a terrible scene inside that bus when those explosives went off. It's not entirely clear what sort of explosive this off, but this was some sort of a suicide bomber, whether it was a bomb that was deposited.

We are still waiting for that information to come through. It's still very early in the game, but certainly, this is something that really changes a lot here on the ground. There have been people here in Israel who have been very fearful of possible attacks on buses, on civilian infrastructure.

Of course, Tel Aviv has been fairly calm, however, they (ph) also have to deal with rocket attacks as well. It was a rocket that hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv just yesterday that caused severe damage there to a civilian house. But now, it appears as though a new level there as a bus attack with an explosive device, Christine.

ROMANS: And Fred, you've got a night again of more violence and escalating tension, all these talks of a ceasefire getting close, but it just isn't happening yet. What are people telling you about, I guess, just about the fear now with a new bus attack, how -- what does this do for talks and hopes of a ceasefire in Israel?

PLEITGEN: Well, it certainly makes it a lot more difficult, I would assume. But I can tell you from people on the ground here in Ashkelon, this is a town that gets hit by rockets all the time. I want to actually show you what's behind me, because these are some of the rockets that have been fired here on this town. These are Kassam rockets. These are some that are actually made in the Gaza Strip.

There's sort of more of a homemade weapon. This one, however, down here is a grab rocket. This is a military rocket that is produced, for instance, in China and Iran. You can see it has sort of tailfins that come out on these springs. Of course, these people are very fearful of that. And many people have told us, quite frankly, they are not in favor of a ceasefire or possible truce at this point of time.

They don't feel that their military has done the job yet. They fear that if a ceasefire goes into effect, they'll have to deal with stuff like this in the coming weeks, in the coming months, and possibly need another military campaign. There have been sort of smaller protests against the possible ceasefire already and people are just telling us they feel that more needs to be done.

They don't want the truce to happen. That is not everybody's opinion. There are a lot of people who just want the situation here to end, who want peace and quiet, who want the rocket attacks here to end. And I can tell you from earlier today, we've already had to go into shelters six times just this morning here in Ashkelon because of rocket attacks.

Most of those were picked off by a missile defense system. Some of them, however, also hit the ground -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen. Thank you so much, Fred.

BALDWIN: In addition to the bus explosion that Fred was just reporting on, here is the latest this morning on this whole conflict. After meeting with Israel's prime minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just concluded talks with the Palestinian Authority leader, President Mahmoud Abbas. Secretary of state will also be meeting again. This is a meeting number two now with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

And in just a couple of hours, she will be in Cairo, meeting with the newly-elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi.

Another night of bombings in Gaza really just underscoring the urgency of peace talks here in the region. Israeli air attacks killing 27 more Palestinians, bringing the death toll to 137. A spokesperson for Hamas sounding hopeful an end to the violence is near telling CNN, quote, "We are close. We are on the edge," end quote.

I want to bring in Dan Arbell, former Israeli foreign officer now, guest scholar at the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy. Mr. Arbell, good morning to you.

DAN ARBELL, FORMER ISRAELI FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Let me just begin on what your reaction to this what appears to be new level of violence in the street to the Israel, this bus explosion in Tel Aviv. Could this be a game changer?

ARBELL: Well, this is a very serious development, I think, and whether it's a game-changer or not, we'll have to see. I think that up to now while a ceasefire, the parties feel that a ceasefire is within reach, they were scrambling to achieve last-minute gains, strategic and public image-wise before a ceasefire comes into effect.

I think that this bus explosion is sort of a decisive image that Hamas has been trying to achieve as they go into a ceasefire. I think that the Israeli government will feel compelled to respond to such an attack --

BALDWIN: How so?

ARBELL: An attack in Central Tel Aviv is something that we've not seen for quite some time, a bus being exploded and so on. And so, I think that the government of Israel will feel compelled to retaliate on this attack by thus, sort of, delaying the option that a ceasefire will go into effect in the next few hours.

What form of retaliation? I think that they're talking about it right now in Jerusalem, but I don't see them allowing this to go unnoticed.

BALDWIN: So, perhaps hopes of a ceasefire are quashed at least a little bit longer because of what we're seeing here on the streets of Tel Aviv. We now know that the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is going back to Israel, meeting again with the Prime Minister Netanyahu. Is that a good sign or not? ARBELL: Well, she arrived last night and she stayed in Jerusalem overnight. She's meeting Netanyahu after she saw President Abbas in Ramallah. And I think it's a part of the intense efforts by the United States to bring a solution to this, because what Israel is interested in is a long-term solution. The only way that Israel will reach such a -- will feel comfortable going -- approaching such a solution is by having the U.S. backing and the U.S. involvement in this process.

And I think the intense efforts by the United States and Ramallah and Jerusalem and further today in Cairo are just part of it.

BALDWIN: Mr. Arbell, I just want to play a little sound. This is right after she met for the first time with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I want to have everyone listen for actually what she didn't say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, you heard the two words durable outcome. The two words you didn't hear was ceasefire. What's your reaction to that?

ARBELL: I think it's an issue of linguistics. I think that the U.S. is aiming for a ceasefire, or a truce. Yesterday, before this bus attack occurred, I think they were talking about a two-phase solution.

The first phase of having a 12 to 24-hour period of calm, what they called quiet for quiet to test the viability of the ceasefire, and then to move on to a second phase with broader international and other guarantees and assurances that would allow the ceasefire to last, because the whole idea is just establishing a ceasefire just for a week or so is useless.

The idea is to have a long, durable solution. I wouldn't look into the fact that you didn't say the word ceasefire.

BALDWIN: So, you're saying its' semantics. It's semantics.

ARBELL: I think it's semantic, exactly.

BALDWIN: You know, there are two -- obviously, two sides of the story. You're a former Israeli foreign service officer, but then, you have the side of Hamas. Wolf Blitzer just yesterday speaking with a Hamas spokesperson basically told him the United States should be, can be doing more here in the region. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: I hope that the new administration, Obama administration, can make a change by saying, look, if you want of this (ph), you have (INAUDIBLE) without any condition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Can you, final question, can you see that as playing out as a possible solution in the future?

ARBELL: I think this Gaza crisis was a reminder or a wake-up call to the Obama administration. Here it is, the Israeli conflict is alive and kicking. And there's a need to deal with it.

You cannot just sit idly by and not dealing with it. In the aftermath of the Gaza crisis, when a ceasefire is reached, when the smoke settles, when the dust settles, I think that the U.S. would go back to a more serious involvement in the process, trying to bring the parties closer together, perhaps, advancing negotiations between Israel and the moderates and the Palestinian Authority.

BALDWIN: Dan Arbell, guest scholar at the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy. Sir, we appreciate it this morning. Thank you.

ARBELL: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

BALDWIN: Same to you, sir. Same to you.

I want to let you also know that coming up next hour, 6:30 eastern time, we'll be talking with Stuart Holiday. He is the head of the Meridian International Center, a public diplomacy group, that works with the state department -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. To bring you up to speed on our breaking news. A bus explosion in Tel Aviv, on a main street in Central Tel Aviv. We know there are injuries. Ten people injured. Our Fred Pleitgen saying that reports on the ground are that three of those injuries are very serious. This just the latest violence after a night of more violence.

Thunderous explosions in Gaza, rockets from Gaza into Israel. Both sides talking, a world talking about a ceasefire but not there yet. Some of that early optimism yesterday about a quiet period before a ceasefire fading and another, Brooke, another violent night in the region. And now, a bus explosion in Central Tel Aviv, ten injured, three seriously. OK. It's the -- often the unseen side of the conflict in the Middle East.

BALDWIN: Coming up, an inside look at Israel's drones in the sky over Gaza.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BALDWIN: I want to let you know what's happening right now in Tel Aviv. These are live pictures of a bombed out bus here. Folks, this is the aftermath. Clearly, windows shattered, ten injuries, we're told. Three are considered serious. This is all according to an Israeli Red Cross -- Israeli spokesperson here. Two are considered moderate, but clearly, after seeing the rockets back and forth between Gaza and Israel, this is a new level of violence, that we're seeing an explosion on the streets of a major, major city of Tel Aviv.

ROMANS: And our Sara Sidner is actually at a hospital right now where some of the injured were taken after this bus attack. So, as soon as we can talk to her, we're going to bring her to you, and she's going to have the very latest about what they're doing with the injured. Three of these injuries are considered serious as you reported out, two moderate.

So, we'll have Sara Sidner up in just a moment. But meanwhile, I want to bring in CNNMoney's Laurie Segall. She was just -- she was just there shooting a story that we're going to bring to you, but she points out that this part of town is kind of a bubble almost.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY.COM: Sure. You know, I was actually just there and right nearby, you've got a street where everyone kind of goes out. There are a lot of coffee shops and people that are hanging out having a good time. And I just got off the phone like a source of mine who's actually right nearby and just said you can hear the ambulances.

And I said, stay safe. And he said, Laurie, you just go on. This is every day. This is how you go here.

BALDWIN: So, here you were, on vacation in Tel Aviv, Laurie Segall days ago, and you and, you know, your colleague, your friend, you know, bring a camera along and you shoot this piece on drones.

SEGALL: Sure. You know, it's safe to say that the drones are becoming a staple of modern day warfare. You know, just before the day that the conflict broke out, I actually visited one of Israel's largest defense manufacturers, got an exclusive look at one of the country's most valuable resources. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL (voice-over): Civilians can't always see the drones, but they can often hear the humming, an anxiety-inducing mind game that's becoming more prevalent. Before the booms and the blasts, drones run the air space over Gaza and they'll be there long after the ceasefire is reached.

NIR SALOMON, UAV MARKETING MANAGER, IAI: They are normally doing patrols over Gaza and the west bank, but they're now -- there are hundreds of them flying around.

SEGALL: Just days before the conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out, CNNMoney was on the ground in Tel Aviv to get an inside look at the manufacturing of the drones. We visited the country's biggest defense manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industry. Owned by the Israeli government, IAI does $3.5 billion in annual sales.

Of that, about a quarter goes to the Israeli ministry of defense. They make one of Israel's most valuable tools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see the UAV position.

SEGALL: UAV or unmanned aerial vehicles often referred to as drones are planes without pilots, and here, they're operated with the click of a mouse.

SALOMON: Sometimes, you just need to get footage. And this is something that is better to be done by an unmanned capability.

SEGALL: Some UAV service surveillance tools. Others can also carry weaponry. Here's how they work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flying is retractable (ph). And, I'm actually just commanding the direction and speed and altitude. And then, the UAV will follow my command.

SEGALL: They're controlled by pilots on the ground.

KOBI R, UAV OPERATOR, IAI: When I want to land or to take off, I just need to click about it, and the UAV perform.

SEGALL: A short drive away, a valuable part of the drone is hand crafted. High-tech cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see a very small ball, but inside, there is very, very much high-tech technology including electronics stabilization and a lot of software.

SEGALL: And that allows the drones to see far away and function as a surveillance tool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main requirement nowadays is if you see a person a few kilometers away, and he's holding something, you want to know whether it's a gun or maybe he's just holding a stick and he's an innocent civilian.

SEGALL: And in the future, the drones could get smarter, even smaller. CNNMoney got an inside look at the latest set of yet to hit the market. A surveillance drone the size of a butterfly aimed to alert soldiers of danger ahead on the ground.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL (on-camera): And, you know, Brooke, Christine, this is just the beginning. The pilot I spoke to, he said in the next 50 years, we can actually expect unmanned commercial aircraft. So, what does that mean? That means planes without pilots. It seems pretty high-tech right now, but many of the people building UAV, they say that's the future.

BALDWIN: It's incredible just to see that they were run by just a track ball like --

SEGALL: They said to me it's almost like a videogame. BALDWIN: So, we know people on the ground, they may not be able to actually see the drones, but you mentioned the humming, they can hear them.

SEGALL: Sure. And there's been a lot of studies about this. There's a psychological effect because a lot of people on the ground, they hear this ominous humming. They can't see anything, but civilians they know it's there and they know that these drones have the capabilities now, especially now more than ever, to actually attack.

So, what if they get mistaken for a terrorist? So, it's kind of instilled a lot of fear, but we're seeing more of this technology. So, we can only expect this is going to become a problem we're going to hear more about.

BALDWIN: All right. Laurie Segall from CNNMoney, thank you so much, Laurie.

ROMANS: We're talking to our sources this morning about all the ambulances in Central Tel Aviv because of that bus explosion. So, clearly, another very dangerous night in the region -- another very dangerous night in the region as people try to forge a ceasefire, and that has been elusive, so far.

BALDWIN: Yes. We'll have much more here on this breaking story, including the fact that we have Sara Sidner at a nearby hospital. So, we'll get some new information, hopefully, on some of these people injured. Again, ten injured because of this explosion here in the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv. Three very serious injuries and two, we're told, moderate. So, more on that here in just a moment, but we have to talk holiday.

ROMANS: That's right. The holiday is here with plenty of people headed out for the holiday today, at least, if the weather holds. We're going to keep an eye on some dense fog for you that could be a factor at the airport. We're going to have a travel weather update coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: I want to take you straight to Tel Aviv this morning here as we're five minutes to the top of the hour. We're looking at these pictures of a bus. And clearly, a reporter there on the ground in Tel Aviv interviewing people on the street as to what they saw after this bomb exploded inside of this bus. Ten people have been injured. We're told three critically, two moderately.

Clearly, the glass windows on this bus shattered. In terms of how this happened, we still don't know. This is clearly very fresh. You still see the police tape around this bus here on the streets in the middle of the hustling, bustling city, this huge city in Israel, Tel Aviv. But clearly, this is a new level of violence in addition to the rockets back and forth. Now, we're seeing this explosion here on the streets. And the big question as we're talking to my guest a moment ago, the question is, will Israel retaliate? Christine.

ROMANS: Meantime, here in the U.S., there's a big holiday tomorrow, and the airport is sure to be packed today. Rob Marciano is going to look at today's travel weather. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, guys.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

MARCIANO: I got a little bit toasty in here.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Rob, where are you?

MARCIANO: It got a little bit toasty here, so I took my jacket off and I forgot that my jacket has microphone.

BALDWIN: Oh, there you go.

MARCIANO: So, I had to run back and get that.

BALDWIN: Good to see you, Rob.

MARCIANO: Good morning, guys. More visibility --

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: That could be it. I've been accused that before. Certainly, early onset. All right. So, the microphone is on jacket and it's on as well and the fog is settling in to the Great Lakes. A tenth of a mile right now reported in Chicago. We expect anywhere from a tenth to maybe a half mile visibility.

Right now, they don't have a ground stop. Of all days for the FAA site that tells you, you know, if there's a delay at the airports, that site is down. So, hopefully, they can get that back up. If not, we're going to have to start working the phones and that may cause even more distractions. Chicago, St. Louis, you're in a dense fog advisory.

Low clouds and fog and rain across parts of San Francisco. Seattle and Portland, we've been talking about that storm now for days. You're getting more in the way of rain and some mountain snow there. That may slow down some travel also. Here's a look at the map for today.

The biggest distraction is going to be across the Pacific Northwest. Some of that rainfall is beginning to sink down to the south and some of this rain is heavy at times with even some flashes of lightning. So, some instability is rolling in from this very strong storm system. And again, it's getting down to San Francisco. But in between there, we're looking pretty good with maybe some mountain snow. So, if you're traveling, say, over the mountain pass or the cascades to grandmother's house you go, you may run into problems. But look at this, 70 in Kansas City, 80 degrees expected in Dallas. Some warm stuff across the nation's midsection.

Fifty-three degrees expected in New York City. A good-looking day there today and tomorrow. As a matter of fact, most spots east of the Mississippi with the exception of fog in the morning should be good today and tomorrow.

That's a quick check on your travel weather. EARLY START is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BALDWIN: Breaking news here on this Wednesday morning. You are looking at live pictures. Tel Aviv, the aftermath of an explosion on the street involving a bus. Clearly, it's still a fresh scene. The bus is still roped off with crime tape as you see all these emergency responders sent in, swooping in.