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Hundreds Flee Gaza Amid Israeli Airstrikes; Israel Shoots Down Drone; Kerry Offers To Help Facilitate Mideast Peace; Severe Storms Across the U.S.; Congress to Focus on Border Crisis

Aired July 14, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, the 14th of July, 6:00 in the east. The violence that's going on between Israel and Hamas is bad as ever. Hundreds of people streaming out of Gaza. Israeli air strikes targeting areas where they say the militants are staying. The death toll in Gaza now over 170.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This as more than 130 rockets were fired at Israel Sunday, and the country says it will defend itself. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says while he's sorry for the loss of life, it is unavoidable, claiming Hamas is using civilians as human shields. More now from Karl Penhaul who is live in Gaza City for us this morning -- Carl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, there has been no letup in the fighting this morning. We've been watching the Gaza skyline as we see plumes coming up as Israeli bombs explode on targets below and then we see the vapor trails in the air as Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants fire off rockets towards Israel. Let's bring you up to speed with the developments.


PENHAUL (voice-over): Breaking this morning, an aerial drone from Gaza infiltrated Israel and was shot down by a patriot missile. Across Gaza the conflict quickly escalating. Israeli air strikes hit three training facilities and buildings of Hamas' military wing. Thousands who live on the Gaza strip now fleeing including hundreds of Palestinian-Americans rushing to get out.

NOOR MUHANNA, U.S. CITIZEN: It was really scary. I wasn't used to it especially since I live in America.

PENHAUL: Over the weekend, the Israeli military confirms boots in the ground with its commandos raiding a missile site. An Israeli military spokesman tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer if possibly preparing for more robust ground invasion as Israeli air strikes continue to take a powerful toll inside Gaza.

LT. COL. PETER LERNER, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE SPOKESMAN: We have brought up forces and there is a substantial forces on the border with Gaza. If the order is given, we are prepared for that type of activity.

PENHAUL: On Sunday, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank throwing stones and shooting fireworks. According to the Palestinians, over a thousand have been injured and nearly 200 killed in air strikes. The U.N. estimates 70 percent are civilians. On Saturday an air strike demolished the house of Gaza's chief of police. Along with his family, 18 people were killed. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says Hamas is deliberately putting civilians in the line of fire.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Here is the difference between us, we're using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles.


PENHAUL: Israeli military is continuing to drop leaflets and make phone calls to thousands of homes in Northern Gaza telling civilians there to flee from their homes. That could be a hint that the Israeli military is preparing to intensify bombing raid there even maybe preparing for a ground invasion.

But essentially there is nowhere for the Gazans to run to. The entire Gaza strip is about the size of metropolitan Las Vegas or Detroit and the borders are sealed. The only place they can run is a little further south to seek shelter in schools or to seek shelter with other family members. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Karl, a very important point. These people are leaving but where will they go. Let's try and get some answers here. Turning to Michael Oren, he is a CNN Mideast analyst and a former Israeli ambassador to the United States.

First, Michael, thank you very much for joining us. I know that you've had to take to the safe room in your home there because of the uptick in violence there. How are you doing?

MICHAEL OREN, CNN MIDEAST ANALYST: I'm doing fine, Chris, thank you. Good morning, Kate and Michaela. Coming to you today from the border with Gaza, the most shelled and rocketed city in Israel, has more bomb shells than probably any city in the world. It's a symbol of every fear, the entire country could become like Stirot.

Hamas now firing rockets as far north as Haifa, but it's also a symbol for Israeli courage, for sticking to our guns and not being chased away. It is harrowing, and while the Palestinian civilians have suffered significant casualties on their side, on the Israeli side you have casualties you don't see, the trauma, the fear, the disruptions of daily life. I live in Tel Aviv and we've been under shell fire every day.

CUOMO: What are we hearing behind you right now, Michael?

OREN: That is a very loud generator, Chris. It's not a siren.

CUOMO: All right, good. So the latest bombing, people have become too comfortable with dynamic of Israel responding to what it says are unchecked attacks from the Palestinians, from Gaza specifically. You say, however, while it looks bad, there may be opportunity here. Where do you see opportunity?

OREN: Well, in many crises there are opportunities. I don't think anybody certainly on the Israeli side, I think I can speak for the United States, too, wants to go back to the status quo ante where Hamas is able to use, say, a ceasefire to increase the size and range of its rocket arsenal. This could be an opportunity to change the status quo and for the better I think for the benefit of Israelis, Palestinians and everybody in the region.

If you get in addition to a ceasefire, you take the precedent that President Obama used so successfully in removing chemical weapons from Syria, get American inspectors into Gaza to remove the long range missiles, Israel could ease the maritime blockade of the Gaza strip. There could be international aid for the citizens of Gaza, not just to repair war damage, but to relieve the terrible economic depression that has been reigning there because of Hamas misrule and mismanagement.

You can use that opportunity even to strengthen the Palestinian authority, the moderate Palestinians by taking Palestinian policemen who have been trained by the United States and put them at the border crossings between Israel and Gaza perhaps even between Gaza and Egypt. It's not a perfect situation, but it's better than what went before and it could be a framework for moving ahead on the peace process.

CUOMO: Two major obstacles while those are sound ideas and I appreciate you for offering them up this morning. First when you look at Syria as a model, not only do we have a high degree of deception by Syrian authorities with what they're telling us versus what is found by inspectors, but the mass exodus, as you well know, there is one of the biggest movements of humanity in recent history fleeing from Syria right now with very little chance of finding a home anywhere nearby.

You're going to have the same problem in Gaza as we were hearing Karl Penhaul tell us, there is nowhere for them to go so how do you deal with getting good information from Hamas, how do you deal with the mass exodus of people?

CUOMO: Well, in Syria the case is there's huge fighting going on there, as many as 200,000 people killed there. So people are fleeing -- hundreds of thousands of people, actually millions fleeing the fighting. If the fighting ends in Gaza, then the residents of Gaza can go back to their homes. That is what happened in previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas in 2012 and in 2008 and '09.

There were exoduses of Palestinian civilians from their homes. They came back after a ceasefire. That would be the goal here, too, to restore calm, but also not to go back to that old status quo where every two years you have a round of fighting, but to create a new and more stable background. I think this crisis perhaps offers that type of opportunity.

CUOMO: Now a big political question will be does the U.S. have the strength to broker peace the way it has in the past, no longer having Egypt with Morsi as a friendly to intervene in the situation, will El- Sisi be able to have the same effect. That's all the inside politics.

But Michael, let's end on something else here. To the United States audience, they see strong Israel killing civilians in Gaza. We most often see the human toll on the Palestinian side. What do you offer as perspective as to who is being attacked here and what is continuing the cycle of violence?

OREN: Well, just quickly to your point about Egypt, this is a great opportunity for Egypt, too. There's been a strained relationship between the Sisi government in Egypt and the Obama administration about the way the Egyptians came to power, whether it was a military coup or not. Now is the chance for the Egyptian government to prove that you really need Egypt in the Middle East. And the U.S.-Egyptian relationship is crucial for stability here.

As for your second point, Chris, this is a country of 7.5 million people. All of a sudden you're hit by what is now over 1,000 rockets over the course of a week. You can imagine if hundreds -- literally hundreds of millions of Americans, nearly 200 million Americans under shell fire, the people of the United States would expect their government to do something about it and do something about it very forcefully, even if there weren't a large number of casualties.

Israelis, you can the average Israeli on the street, they won't apologize for the fact they haven't had more civilians killed. They've invested heavy in civil defense and iron dome on the Palestinian side. On the Hamas side, they've invested only in offensive capabilities. That's why there's been such a wide spread -- a much more higher level of casualties on the Palestinian side.

So there's a disparity, it's going to cause a public diplomacy challenge for Israel, but better to have the public diplomacy challenge than to have hundreds of casualties including fatalities.

CUOMO: So Michael, you're making the point that we heard from Bebe Netanyahu, we're using missiles to defend our citizens, they're using citizens to defend their missiles. That's the position of Israel at this point. Michael Oren, thank you very much. Please stay safe. We'll check back with you.

OREN: Thank you, have a good day.

CUOMO: Michaela, over to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris, thank you so much for that and good to have you and Kate back with us today. Let's get a look at more headlines right now. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is returning to life as an active duty U.S. soldier as early as today. He's completed therapy at an Army hospital and is expected to begin working at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He'll live in an Army barracks with two soldiers who will help him re-adjust to life in the U.S. after five years in Taliban captivity.

Two and a half years after the catastrophe "Costa Concordia" is afloat again. It will eventually be towed away in of the bi. Vessels pumped air into tanks attached to the ship. You will recall in 2012 Concordia capsized and killed 32 people.

Happening today, the House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to examine the VA's efforts to end a long backlog of claims. The agency's goal is to catch up with all disability claims by next year. But a VA official is set to testify the rate of success has been overstated and thousands of cases classified as closed are actually still being processed. "USA Today" received advanced testimony showing the agency is struggling to pay compensation to thousands of veterans who are wounded or became ill during their service.

The Pakistani teenager who became a global symbol of fighting terror is now vowing to help free hundreds of school girls being held in Nigeria. Malala Yousefsai celebrated her 17th birthday this weekend with some of the girls who escaped the April abduction. On this day, Malala day, she pens an editorial in "The Washington Post" lamenting the millions of girls worldwide unable to go to school and makes a plea to prevent students from being targets of violence.

Riot police clashing with unruly fans in the streets of Buenos Ares following Argentina's World Cup loss to Germany. Mobs of people smashed door windows, attacked police officers with bottles and rockets. At least 30 people including 15 officers were injured. Some 30 arrests were made.

Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time to win the World Cup. It is Germany's fourth World Cup victory overall. In 1990 they also defeated Argentina. You know we're getting into this in the "Bleacher Report" today.

BOLDUAN: You know.

PEREIRA: And he's got something to say. Now what? We've got World Cup hangover.

BOLDUAN: That's my biggest disappointment that it's just over.

PEREIRA: Now what?

BOLDUAN: Now we'll have to come up with something else to watch. Back to the reruns. Let's talk weather though. Expert bizarre weather to hit the country this week. We are serious. It is bizarre. It will affect millions of Americans. Midwest will see unusually low temperatures this week. Northeast and mid-Atlantic, they're dealing with severe thunderstorms and heavy rain and the most magical place on earth, not immune to weather woes, it appears. People stuck on the monorail at Disney's Epcot Center because of a power outage. George Howell has more storm weary Chicago. George, what is going on?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, look, the stormy weather, we can expect that. It is July here in Chicago, but cooler weather, it might be time to pull out the scarfs. You may need it because in the next several days, temperatures 10 to 20 degrees cooler. For us the story is severe weather and a lot of rain. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (voice-over): Flash flooding over the weekend in suburban Chicago, turned residential streets into impassable rivers. This driver tried to cross it. But then look, moments later, he and his son had to be rescued after the car got stuck.

So much rain fell so quickly. It flooded basements and overwhelmed the sewer system in Burbank, Illinois.

KENNETH SANDERS, BURBANK PUBLIC WORKS: It came down so fast, the water couldn't keep up. Our sewers couldn't keep up with the water we had. Everything just backed up on us.

HOWELL: Two to four inches of rainfall fell in Northern Illinois. Four to six inches soaked communities down state. And more rain is in the forecast.

In Florida, the weather caused a chaotic scene at the happiest place on earth. About 120 passengers had to be evacuated from the monorail at Disney World after a power outage caused it to stop in its tracks, trapping passengers 30 feet in the air. Witnesses say they saw a few bolts of lightning nearby. Disney officials blame bad weather for the power outage.

Then, in Colorado, lightning strikes from passing storms made for dangerous conditions in high altitudes of Rocky Mountain National Park.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't see the bolt, it was just a white flash.

DAN IVARSON, LIGHTNING VICTIM: I felt like something hit me in the head. And I lost my vision and hearing for a solid 10 seconds.

HOWELL: Officials say two people died as a result of lightning strikes in as many days, 13 others were injured. Looking ahead at the forecast, many parts of the country are in store for the feeling of fall in what's normally the warmest time of the year. Unseasonably cooler temperatures are expected as the jet stream dips down farther south than usual, dropping normal summer temperatures, some 10 to 20 degrees.

Though in places like Wisconsin, people are all taking it in stride.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the winter we had, I think that 60 degrees still feels rather tropical.


HOWELL: I disagree with her. You know, here in Chicago, we don't really have summer days to spare. We get about three months of good, warm weather. We need them. But OK, so we're getting cool weather on the way.

And, Chris, where you are in New York, along the East Coast, we understand there will be a lot of rain and the threat of severe weather. So, keep watch of the weather, and be careful.

CUOMO: Appreciate that. That is a stunning jacket you have on, George Howell. Thank you for bringing that to our viewers.

He appreciates a compliment about his -- he likes his sartorial prowess being called out. I've learned that about G. Howell.


CUOMO: All right. So, what do we really want to know? How will these temperatures affect you where you are?

Let's get to meteorologist Jennifer Gray, in for Indra Petersons.

Jennifer, give only good news. It's Monday, never forget.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. You will have good news --

CUOMO: Thank you.

GRAY: -- because you know what? While it's cold in the mornings, the afternoons still warming up to the upper 60s to low 70s. So, it's really going to be, we'll call refreshing change for the middle of July.

But those temperatures are going to dip down. We will be in the mid 40s in Marquette the next couple mornings. It doesn't like we're breaking records. But we are going to be running about 10 to 15 degrees below normal.

Let's look at those high temperatures because we will be getting up to around 71 degrees in Chicago Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. That is 15 degrees below normal.

But look at Marquette, 60 degrees, your high temperature on Tuesday, 59 for a high temperature on Monday in the middle of July. Just crazy weather going on.

We're also going to be dealing with some severe weather. It's going to go along with this. That's going to be pushing into the Northeast. D.C., Philly, New York, you all can see large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes. Also that rain threat is going to be there.

We could see anywhere from one to three inches of rain, possibly two to three in New York and Boston, guys.

BOLDUAN: I'm going stick with your line. It's refreshing.

GRAY: It's refreshing.

BOLDUAN: I like that. Thanks, Jennifer.

CUOMO: I don't know that definition of refreshing, hail and tornadic winds.

BOLDUAN: We'll just keep trying for it.

CUOMO: All right.

BOLDUAN: That's our goal.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: the border crisis -- is Congress ready to act on the president's nearly $4 billion request for emergency funding or should the president act on his own? It really depends on who you ask. Our political panel is here to break it down.

CUOMO: Plus, did you hear about this? The United Airlines plane diverted to a remote island. What happened when it landed and should it have taken off in the first place? Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

What will Congress do? That is the big question this morning concerning the border crisis. The president has called on Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the border in recent months.

But with Democrats and Republicans dug in on the core issues, a solution seems anything but clear.

Let's bring in Kevin Madden, CNN political commentator, Republican strategist, and Dan Restrepo, contributor to CNN en Espanol, and former adviser to President Obama on Latin American Affairs.

A lot to go over, a lot happened over the weekend, at least a lot of fighting over the issue, not a lot of action on the issue, I guess we could say. Listen here real quick, guys, to both -- to two lawmakers who seem just as dug in as ever. It seems like we're going nowhere fast.

Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There has to be a halt to this. That's what we want and the best way to do that is for planeloads of these young people to be returning to the country of origin. We can't have an unending flow of children from all over the world, much less Central America into our country.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: And I say we are the strongest, wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, and children are coming to our borders. We should protect them. Now, I will say this, follow the law, and the law said that we must put the children's interests first, which is what President Barack Obama is doing.


BOLDUAN: So, from the sound from Sunday shows, Kevin, it sounds like it doesn't like Congress is any closer to figuring out what they want to do, at least what they want to do first and they're running out of time. They got a couple more weeks until the August recess.

Are they going to leave without doing anything about this?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, unfortunately, with the way things are on Capitol Hill right now, nothing is a certainty. I think many folks understand and you heard it, right, from left and right, both have said that we do have a crisis on the border and that we need to act. Unfortunately, we also have a president who has very bad relations with Capitol Hill.

One of the president's big challenges right now is that he has dueling constituencies up there, and in many cases, he's telling them two different things. There are a lot of folks that want to help send resources to help solve this problem down on the border, but the White House is really going to have to work to mend a lot of fences up on Capitol Hill if they want to get that done.

I think in an election year, there are a lot of Republicans and Democrats who don't necessarily want to be seen as just throwing money at the problem. So, in order to get this done, I think the president is also going to have to make some concessions on border enforcement if he's going to get this done before they leave town.

CUOMO: Dan Restrepo, where is the humanity in this situation? People want to argue law. They should. They should also remember that it was President Bush that signed this victim protection act that makes it difficult to repatriate kids.

But let's put the law aside because where is the humanity in this? How did kids get lost in partisan politics?

DAN RESTREPO, CNN EN ESPANOL: Well, I mean, immigration politics in Washington are so broken. It's broken as a system and I think that's part of where this is getting lost.

But there's also, Chris, humanity here in making sure these kids don't start on this journey in the first place. That's part of managing this. This is an incredibly dangerous journey that folks are embarking upon.

And part of the way you stop that or at least slow that down is the folks that can't and don't have the right to be in the United States under the 2008 law, that they get sent back home as expeditiously as possible so that you get the signal to the system, you get the signal to folks in Northern and Central America that there isn't an advantage of heading along this perilous journey.

So, there is humanity all around in this debate. Unfortunately, it gets lost here in the immigration politics in Washington.

BOLDUAN: And, Dan, on that 2008 law that's kind of become one element of this core issue, there are a couple of lawmakers coming out now saying that President Obama does not need Congress to move ahead and change this. Mike Rogers of Michigan, Dianne Feinstein who was originally helped write this law, they say he can change regulation. He does not need congressional action to be able to change how children are dealt with within this system.

Do you think that's possible?

RESTREPO: It's not clear to me if that's possible. And even a regulatory change would take time. I think a legislative change which the administration is trying to work with Congress on is probably the fastest way to get to a place where the folks on the ground have more discretion, has more flexibility.

The administration and very few people are talking about repealing the law outright. It's how you apply the law and whether you can apply it more on the ground rather than in an immigration court which are completely overwhelmed.

There's two ways to speed the process up. And the administration is trying to do both, get more flexibility on the application of the law and also inject more resources into an immigration court system that is completely overwhelmed.

You need to do both of those things if you're going to be able to, again, reach the dimmer switch. There's no on-off switch on this. There's -- you only can -- you can only change the gradations of this and get it back to a more manageable situation than we've seen over the course of the last few months.

CUOMO: We want to talk about what happened with Holder here over the weekend, also. But let me just bang on this one more time with you, Kevin. We all know it's hard to secure the border. OK? There's nothing new there. This money that's being thrown at it, it is being thrown because we don't have the right fix. It's a question of how much, not whether or not people come here.

But can you cite me another example before you have had a flood of child humanity come into the United States and that be ignored in favor of an argument over how they got here?

MADDEN: Well, I guess I think probably the most recent example might have been the boat lifts where Cuban immigrants were coming in the early '80s. I think that was a crisis of a different time and of a different nature. Not all these crises are exactly the same.

But I think the thing that is really holding this up, again, Chris, is with the president's lack of relationships up on Capitol Hill. And this is -- I am, of course, a partisan Republican. But if you listen to a lot of Democrats, they have an extraordinary level of frustration that the president saw that this problem was something that many people tried to warn them about. You had Democrats and Republicans as early as March of 2012 --

BOLDUAN: Yes. But, Kevin, we're also hearing it from governors. I mean, the governors met over the weekend and they're divided largely along partisan lines. But is there a role for governors here?

MADDEN: I don't think that those --

BOLDUAN: Or are they going to have to be left dealing with it? MADDEN: Right, Kate. I don't think the concerns that many of those governors have on the border states, I don't think they're partisan. Yes, they're Republican. Many of the concerns they've had are of substance. These are problems they were pointing out to the administration.