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Rebels Hand Over MH17 Black Boxes To Investigators; Death Toll Climbing in the Middle East; Interview With Rep. Eliot Engel

Aired July 21, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, moments ago pro-Russian rebels handing over the black boxes from Malaysian Flight 17. Will there be a smoking gun?

Plus preventing the next Flight 17, should commercial passenger planes be equipped with anti-missile technology.

And the rising death toll in the Middle East tonight, two Americans now killed fighting for Israel. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin with breaking news in Malaysian Air Flight 17. Moments ago, pro-Russian rebels standing over black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine. Could those black boxes be an important part of saying who is responsible for downing the passenger jet with 298 on board?

We're going to live to Phil Black in Ukraine who just witnessed the handover, which was an incredible moment in and of itself. First, though, I want to get you updated on all the fast-moving developments today. Here's what we know at this instant.

U.S. officials are trying to build a case against Russia saying it is now looking at whether Russians were physically at the scene when the anti-aircraft missile fired at Flight 17. There are questions over whether Russia is scrubbing evidence from the scene. And strong words on that today from President Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stopped tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.


BURNETT: Vladimir Putin has refused to accept any responsibility thus far, he instead blamed Ukraine and the west of using, quote, "tragedy to achieve selfish political objectives."

Now a train carrying the remains of victims in refrigerated cars, 282 bodies and 87 body fragments and body bags are now, according to the Ukrainian government, have left the area of the crash site and are expected to arrive in the town called Tkharkiv later tonight, first stopping through rebel territory in Donetsk.

I want to go straight to Phil Black who just witnessed the black box handover, which in and of itself, Phil, I know was a rather surreal moment. Describe it and what happens now?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it was a very public event and I think quite deliberately so, a very public event by these pro-Russian rebels and their leadership that they are trying to help. They wanted it to be an example to the world that they are cooperating. They are sensitive to international concerns. So they called all of the international media in Donetsk at the moment to their headquarters to witness this handing-over ceremony.

The group's self-appointed leader, Alexander Borodai came out along with members of the Malaysian delegation, words were spoken. The rebel leader repeated often that the -- that they had acted, he believes, in good faith. That they acted in a way if try and care for bodies, the victims, as often as possible.

Now, this was also yet another goodwill gesture. From the Malaysian side, it is clear that very careful, sensitive diplomacy has gone in to achieving this result. They talked about not coming here to blame, but simply to reclaim the property of Malaysia and they expressed gratitude for the fact that the rebel leadership had been willing to listen to that request.

So what happens now? That Malaysian delegation goes to a train that pulled in Donetsk a couple hours ago. Now they will take those black boxes, also aboard this train bodies of some 200 of the victims from the accident. They are going to travel north to the Ukrainian City, and in doing so, they will take these very precious cargo really, beyond the reach of the rebel forces for the first time.

They will move into territory that is controlled by the Ukrainian government. There is a base of operation now in pursuing the investigation and so forth. We do know that bodies of the victims will be bound for the Netherlands. That is where the testing, the DNA comparison and identification will take place. And ultimately where the return to their loved ones will also happen.

The question mark, I think, still what happened to the black boxes? Where will they be analyzed? We are not sure of that just yet, but we do know that they are in the possession of this Malaysian delegation and that they are shortly due to move beyond the territory of this pro-Russian separatists rebels -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much to Phil Black. Joining me now Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesperson for the people who have been overseeing the site or trying to see where they are getting access, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. For months, they've been monitoring the security situation in Eastern Ukraine.

Michael, thank you for being with us. Let me start by asking you this issue about tampering. You heard the president of the United States say pro-Russian rebels have been tampering with the evidence. Now the black boxes have been handed over. From what you have seen in the chaos of the crash site, did you tampering? How easy would it have been for them to tamper with evidence?

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE: Hi, Erin. We have been on the ground for days out of three months actually. And we have been observing that number one is we have talked about it in the past it there isn't a real security perimeter since the crash happened. Secondly, especially yesterday, now early in the morning here, there's been heavy equipment moved in.

It appears that some heavy pieces of the fuselage have been moved in one way or the other. Yesterday, we were at the site, a very gruesome site, of where the cockpit and first section landed. Other than the hard impact, we did see workers there sawing in with diesel saws into the fuselage.

Our understanding at the time was that all of the bodies had been taken away. It wasn't very clear whether they were looking for more body parts or trying to do something else. So it's very difficult thing to piece together, but I must remind everyone as unarmed civilian mission. We are not crash investigators. That type of thing is left better up to others.

BURNETT: Of course, when you talk about people that you saw, with a diesel saws sawing into a cockpit area, heavy pieces of the fuselage being moved, were you able to ascertain who it was doing that. I know there are some investigators who are coming in on the ground, but I presume you can definitively say it wasn't investigators from other countries. These were some locals, rebels, could you tell?

BOCIURKIW: No. These were people from the Ministry of Emergency Services as they are called here and they are answerable to the rebels who have control over the area. We did, Erin, by the way, bring in since day one experts from the Ukrainian Civil Aviation Authority. And just today, we brought in -- we facilitated the movement of three experts from the Netherlands.

Their expertise is more in forensics so they took quite a bit of interest obviously and how the bodies were stored in that train which was referred to. Whether there was any bodies or body parts left in the field. Today is the first foreign experts arrived and were given access to the field.

BURNETT: All right, Michael, please stay with us. I want to bring now our Richard Quest into this, the conversation along with investigator of these accidents, Mary Schiavo, who served as transportation inspector general of the Transportation Department. OK, Richard, let me start with you. From what you just heard Michael saying that there were heavy pieces of fuselage moved. People were sawing into things, impossible to tell motive at this point -- very worrying.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Very worrying. Until we know who they were, what they were doing it for. At some point, you do have to saw into its intent and take it away, but it has to be done under the most controlled environment by experts who know what they were doing. BURNETT: That that is not the case. Mary, let me ask you, when you hear this and you also here about black boxes being handed over to Malaysian investigators, is there something -- what could be on these black boxes that would get at heart of the issue, which is, were there Russian officials involved in shooting the plane down and did they know they were shooting down a civilian jet?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. On the black boxes, let's start with the flight data recorder. It records hundreds of parameters. Everything from engine settings, pressurization, controlled surface settings and it would also have, you know, how the communications were running and electronic communications, et cetera.

Compare this for example to the shoot-down of KAL-007, on that flight data recorder they could tell that the ordinates exploded just outside the plane on the tail and took out the controllability of the plane. First, the plane continued to fly for some time so they knew how the whole sequence went down.

On the cockpit voice recorder where there is a mic in front of each pilot and it records what happens in the cockpit. That would record, for example, if the pilots knew that they've been hit, what was going on, any sound, the explosion sounds, clicks, anything going on in that cockpit, it would be recorded. So they might have known what was happening.

BURNETT: Richard, is there any chance these boxes were tampered with?

QUEST: No. Look at the pictures of the boxes themselves. First of all --

BURNETT: They look to be in very good condition.

QUEST: The only thing missing is one of the pingers is off as you can see on that one. The pinger, we know about this from the 370. You see the pinger on the one on the right, not the one on the left. They look in good condition. They don't looked like they've been opened. In any event, the electronics and digital and nature of them is such you can't really tamper with the information. You could destroy them and you could open them, but you can't really tamper with it.

BURNETT: And the point that Mary is making, there is a lot of information that could be on them, but not the information about who is on the ground and who did that, just how it transpired when the missile got near the plane.

QUEST: That's probably why they don't mind them being handed over. This black box is going to give you a tic-toc of the events that happened, but they won't tell you who did it or why.

BURNETT: Michael, let me bring you in on that note. In terms of access to the site, whether there's been tampering with other parts of this crash site, which could provide answers to the questions of who did this and why they did it. Have you yet receive access to all parts of the crash site? Because I know you described there as being eight distinct large areas of debris.

BOCIURKIW: Yes. Today, we visited four of the eight and you know, the last one was interesting because the Ukrainian Civil Aviation experts came with us. They had some time alone there. What happened there is they spent quite a bit of time and found interesting evidence that they were presented to the Ukrainian side. So there is -- there has been some collection of evidence by independent experts, if we can call it that. Hopefully that will feed into the eventual wider investigation when and if that happens.

BURNETT: Mary, the issue of the crash site and the access, are there things you could imagine that would be there, that would answer this question that is going to become so crucial which is, was there direct Russian involvement in bringing the plane down?

SCHIAVO: That will be tough. They would be able to find the missile residue. They would be able to find the shrapnel from missile. If there is any kind of a tell-tale chemical composition that's unique to those missiles, they would be able to find it. But there isn't for example, any of a kind of Russian fingerprint per se unless they are incredibly fortunate and can find any piece remaining from the ordinance, which could be difficult.

But remember in Pan Am 103, they walked shoulder to shoulder through the field through the evidence and found the evidence, which was the size of a finger nail. It's possible, but it's going to take an awful lot of work and let's just hope they have enough time to do their job.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to all three of you.

OUTFRONT next, evidence that links Russia to the downed jet? Does it go all the way up to Putin?

Plus, is it time for passenger jets to be equipped with anti-missile technology?

And remembering victims of Flight 17. OUTFRONT tonight, the parents of this unbelievable smart and beautiful young woman, also aerospace engineer. Why she wasn't even supposed to be on that plane that day.


BURNETT: Breaking news on the downing of Malaysia airline Flight 17. Pro-Russian rebels just handed over the plane's black boxes to Malaysian investigators and Ukraine in a very carefully choreographed literal hand-off in front of reporters. This comes as the United States is trying to build a case directly against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the downing of the jet. The U.S. government is trying to find out whether there was a person, a Russian person, at the scene when the missile hit the passenger jet. The pressing questions tonight are who pulled the trigger to bring that jet down?

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT for the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. intelligence on Malaysia airlines flight 17, now pointing to Russian involvement.

OBAMA: We know that Russia has armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons, key separatist leaders are Russian residents.

STARR: The U.S. dossier to prove it assembled by military and intelligence analysts scouring data from spy satellites, radars and phone intercepts. It t began when unknown the world Russian rebels secretly moved a heavy arsenal of weapons into place, weapons that would lead to the shoot down, according to U.S. intelligence.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There was a convoy about several weeks ago, about 150 vehicles with armed personnel carrier, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, all of which crossing over from Russia, into the eastern part of Ukraine and was turned over to the separatists.

STARR: Within minutes of flight 17 dropping off radar, the U.S. suspected a shoot down. Experts narrowed in on two-pieces of critical intelligence. First, a surface-to-air missile system had been activated in a separatist controlled area in eastern Ukraine. A moment later, a U.S. satellite captured the heat signature of a midair explosion.

KERRY: We detected a launch from that area and our trajectory shows it went to the aircraft.

STARR: The conclusion, a Russian supplied BUK or SA-11 surface-to-air missile launcher shot down the flight. The evidence, U.S. verified telephone intercepts including the separatists had an SA-11 system as early as Monday, July 13th.


STARR: And there may be more evidence, Erin. U.S. intelligence identified a facility, essentially a training camp, just across the border inside Russia where it says separatists went to get trained on how to use these surface-to-air missile systems -- Erin.

BURNETT: Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT tonight now, the top Democrat on House foreign affairs committee, Congressman Eliot Engel. He was in eastern Ukraine just a few months ago.

Congressman Engel, you have said the shooting down of the passenger airline this is quote, "an act of terror." Do you still stand by those words?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: Yes. It is certainly an act of terror because it is going to make people afraid to fly. And once we start having fear amongst people with flying, it is really an act of terror. BURNETT: Dos the word, terror, though, and I know this is very

important determining the world's response so I want it make sure I really understand you on this. If it was unintentional, if they thought they were shooting down a cargo plane or Ukrainian military plane, if it was an accidental horrific act, is that still an act of terror?

ENGEL: Well, it probably was accidental. But it is certainly an act of terror because the net result of it is people are going to be afraid to fly. And I think that it certainly was Russian complicit in it. The question is what do we do about it?

BURNETT: And that's why that the use of the word terror is so important. Because well, let me play the Ukrainian president today. He said it is terrorism. He actually likened it to 9/11 and he spoke earlier on CNN. Here he is.


PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I don't see any differences from the tragedy 9/11 from the tragedy of Lockerbie. We should demonstrate the same of reaction. This is a danger for the whole world. This is the danger for the global security.


BURNETT: And obviously, I can see people would agree with some of what he was saying. But when you look at 9/11 as a terrorist act, obviously, there was intent there. And United States went to war. The United States isn't going to war over this. So, is it perhaps dangerous to call it a terrorist act and then not go to war over it?

ENGEL: Well, I think what you call it in many ways, semantical. The question is, yes, I know the -- I met with the Ukrainian leader. I like him very much. I think it is similar with that innocent people were killed who had no reason to be killed. The motives may have been different and this may have been a mistake, but the fact is, if Putin wasn't arming rebels, if Putin wasn't aiding and abetting the separatists, this wouldn't happen. And I think the world needs to take a united stand against what Putin is doing because otherwise he will think he can get away with it.

BURNETT: So what should that united stand be? I mean, I think if we can both acknowledge a reality which is the United States is not going to go to war over this. There wasn't even an American citizen, someone who was a du dual citizen on the plane. And you are going to have the rest of the world and lot of Europe who relies on their relationship with Russia say, it is an accident and they may use that to not support incredibly harsh sanctions. So what can really going to do about this?

ENGEL: If that's the case, then shame on them. I think that we have to make sure that Putin doesn't get away with his aggression. I mean, he is starting in the annex Crimea. He is playing games now with annexing other parts of Ukraine, understand our European allies that get their energy needs from him, but if we let him get away with it now, when does it stop?

BURNETT: So with United States, would you support the president taking a much tougher stance than he is, sanctioning Putin directly, banning all Russian energy companies from any access to U.S. banks, which bans them from the global economic system. Would you say do that even if you have do it alone?

ENGEL: Yes. We are negotiating with Iran now. Iran didn't come to the table with good intentions because they are a nice government. They came because it was sanctions. U.S. sanctions alone, essentially, that brought them to their knees. And I think that may very well be needed to happen again with Putin.

BURNETT: And again, just to get the issue, if it was, you know, the Russian ambassador of the U.N. just said, if they think they down a military jet, it was confusion. It was confusion. It was not an act of terrorism. And you are saying there is no explanation for this that would make you change your mind?

ENGEL: No. Look. Putin is aiding these people. These people are shooting down cargo planes. It is certainly lack of caring, of what the consequences will be and of human life. He is playing footsies. He is doing all these things.

I think we can take a tough stand with him. I really believe that you confront a bully early on because if you don't confront the bully early on, you will wind up doing it again. We're not talking about troops on the ground or boots on the ground. We are talking about economic sanctions, and I think will hurt the Russian economy. That's the only language that Putin understands.

BURNETT: Which could be a lot tougher than they are right now.

Thank you so much, Congressman. We appreciate your time.

And now how to prevent another flight 17, should passenger planes be equipped with anti-missile technology? Is it even a realistic thing to consider?

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A commercial plane shot out of the sky, now renewed support for finding way to protect commercial flights with missile defense technology similar it that on U.S. military planes.

There are options but almost all are designed to stop shoulder-fired missiles like the one that took down this DHL flight over Baghdad in 2003 which the crew survived. One option, flairs, or what is called chap, tiny pieces of aluminum stuff need into a canister that create a sort of visual smoke screen that tricks the missile's radar temporarily.

ROSS ALMER, NATIONAL COMMERCIAL PILOT: The chap will surround an area around the wing or the aircraft as the aircraft flies away diverting the missile. The other simple design used to be called flair. And just like a road flair, it produces some heat source. And you shoot that off somewhere away from the aircraft.

SIDNER: There are also new high-tech options, this one from defense contractor Northrop Grumman, called the guardian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the missile is fired, the system sensors automatically detected and track it directing an i-save laser beam into the missile seeker. The system jams the missile and drives it away from the aircraft.

SIDNER: Systems like this are already in use on planes flown by Israel's LL airlines.

BRIAN FOLEY, AVIATION ADVISOR, BRIFO: In Israel today, one of their homegrown defense contractors called (INAUDIBLE) systems outfitted their fleet with counter measures to deal with the more traditional type shoulder launch missiles.

SIDNER: But aviation experts say when it comes to the more advanced surface-to-air missiles like the one U.S. intelligence believe shot down MH flight 17, the technology just isn't there yet.

U.S. senator Mark Kirk is calling for action sending this letter to FAA asking it to produce a study to detail feasibility, cost and timeframe to install counter measures that could defend against surface-to-air missiles on U.S. civilian airlines conducting long range international routes.

After 9/11 he added the U.S. department of homeland security spent $276 million studying away commercial airlines could be protected against shoulder fired missiles.

FOLEY: It is an unenviable technology. By why don't we put them on today? It's the cost.


SIDNER: But when it comes to evading surface-to-air missiles, all of the experts we spoke to agree. For now, the only sure fire way to avoid a strike is to avoid conflict zones all together -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Sara Sidner. Of course, makes it difficult to fly in certain parts of the world or even around the world when you think about how many regions there are with conflict.

Still to come, the chaos at the crash site. Why haven't American inspectors been the scene yet?

And new details about the boot rocker launcher that shot down flight 17 in one really, really crucial point. Is there any way they checked whether this plane was civilian?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Breaking news on Malaysia Flight 17: the voice and data recorders, so-called black boxes, have been handed over by pro-Russian rebels and given directly to Malaysian investigators.

Our reporter Phil Black was in the room and saw that transfer happen. It's been four days since the 777 was shot down. And there are concerns there was tampering with evidence.

As for families of those who were murdered, they may soon be able to give their loved ones a farewell. There is a train carrying car after car of the victims making its way to the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine. From there, the bodies will go to Amsterdam, which is home to so many of those onboard Flight 17.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Ukraine with more.


KYUNG LAH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In refrigerator train car, 282 bodies lie in identical black bags, tagged luggage from Flight 17 sits on the platform, as the train finally begins a journey out of the separatists held region. It has been days of agony and insult waiting for the release of their loved ones. The Fredriks in Amsterdam, they lost their son in the crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want the body. They can have everything. But I want the body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take their iPhones, take their money. Take everything.

LAH: At the crash site, more blatant disregard for securing evidence, local miners just coming off their shift, walking through the scene, helping to recover bodies, hardly trained investigators. Flight data recorders, so-called black boxes, were seized at the site, plainly visible in this video and handed over to pro-Russian rebels.

After hours of back and forth negotiations, the separatists finally handed them over to Malaysia.

This is a war zone hardly a safe place to conduct thorough investigation. U.N. observers say evidence is being stepped on and contaminated by people who they call thugs. The rebels did grant more access to the crash site to international investigators and there's a tentative deal to let that continue. But rebels are the ones in control of the site.

Ukraine called on other governments to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop backing the separatists.

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: President Putin needs to realize is that enough is enough. This is not a conflict just between Ukraine and Russia. This is an international and global conflict.

LAH: One that reaches from northern Europe to the Sandhu family in Penang, Malaysia. They're the parents of flight attendant Sanjid Sandhu.

(on camera): Is it important for you to see your son again, to say good-bye?

JIJAR SINGH SANDHU, FATHER OF FLIGHT ATTENDANT ON MH17: Yes. That's the most important thing. Even though we say good-bye it a dead body, but at least we have the opportunity to see, look at him, and say good-bye.


BURNETT: Kyung, it's hard to watch that. And I know that they may be some of the ones who get to see their son. But some of the bodies are still missing, right?

LAH: Yes. You're talking about 16 people who are not intact. They have not been able to find 16 bodies.

This next part that I'm going to tell you is a bit difficult to hear but it highlights the brutality of how the people died. The -- we're hearing is that 82 body parts are also aboard that plane -- also aboard the train. So the families in many cases won't be able to bury something that they recognize. But if you talk it a lot of families, they say DNA evidence, they want to be part of it and want to bury something -- Erin.

BURNETT: They want to know, the finality.

Kyung, thank you.

Well, tonight, the evidence continues to build that a BUK missile, which is an anti-aircraft weapon, Russian-made, took down Flight 17. The question is why. And I want to bring in our military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.

All right. Thank you for being with us.

So, Colonel, we wanted to go through this. This is an important point. This is the evidence that we have seen thus far. This is a picture that was released by Ukrainian intelligence, of a BUK with the missiles, correct, that they say was going over the border.

So, first, show us what we are looking at here, the system.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This is the transporter erector launcher and radar. This is -- I would call this BUK-like, this one piece of the BUK system. This is the lethal part. This is the one that fires the missile.

BURNETT: And this is the one here where we can see everybody, so you can see there are two missiles here and this comes with the third -- this is the one that's missing.

FRANCONA: And that one missing.

BURNETT: OK. All right. So, now, when you talk about this part of the system, this is at an air show. The Russians put this picture out. There are multiple vehicles here.

All that go -- all part of the, quote-unquote, "BUK system"?

FRANCONA: Right. It's basically three vehicles here. This is the transporter erector launcher we saw. This is the important part here. This is the surveillance radar and IFF system.

BURNETT: Just circle that so people can see it.

FRANCONA: And this is the command post here, with its antennas. So, it takes the whole system to make this run effectively. You can run it in a stand-alone mode with this, but you are limited in the information that you can have.

BURNETT: So what we are looking at here, the three boxes on top of the tank looking vehicle, that is how you would communicate with a plane in the sky.

FRANCONA: Well, you wouldn't be communicating with the aircraft. You would be interrogating the aircraft. You would be tracking it, determining its height. But then you would interrogate the IFF system, transponder on the aircraft.

The aircraft would respond with the code that says, I'm a civilian aircraft, I'm a Malaysian aircraft, this altitude, this heading -- all of the information to know that that's a friendly aircraft.

BURNETT: All right. So, now, let's go inside a BUK and I'll just play this. Over here on the left, this, kindly play it again. This is what they would be looking at. These blips on the screen when you're inside the BUK.

FRANCONA: This is what you see when you're just running a standalone.

BURNETT: This is a Russian video. So, they show what it is like inside. And then we're going to freeze it here on that screen. Show me what I'm looking at here.

FRANCONA: OK, this is the full up system. This is where you got everything feeding into it. So, you got different colors here and it's going to show, one is hostile and one is friendly. However, they color-coded it.

This is what you should see. This is what you know -- how you know what you're shooting at. When you just have a blip there, normally when you're running a stand-alone, that's all you see. You have no idea if it's friend or foe.

BURNETT: So, now, let's talk about this, because some people would say, well, if you're flying to this area and you're a hostile aircraft, could you broadcast that you were civilian aircraft.

FRANCONA: Very difficult.

BURNETT: And lie about who you are.

FRANCONA: Yes, you could. But with all of the systems, it is almost impossible to do that.

BURNETT: It'd be almost impossible to do it. Plus, you would never think of saying, I'm Malaysian 777. That plane wasn't supposed to be there. It was off its route. So, nobody would ever do that. There would be no way you would ever fake that.

FRANCONA: Right. And they just assume that there's an aircraft up there, it must be hostile, because there was a Ukrainian air force plane there the day before.

BURNETT: And so, that's why they may have done this.

All right. So, Colonel, so bottom line is, you're saying, there is incredible irresponsibility and the fact that they, from the pictures we have, were operating only with missiles and not with systems that would have enabled anybody to use this the way they would in a war to determine --

FRANCONA: Totally irresponsibility. There is no way they should have operating in this mode. I can't believe the Russians would let them do this.

So, I have to conclude that either they didn't have this, or they didn't have it hooked up or didn't know what they were doing.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Colonel Francona.

And still OUTFRONT, the victims of Flight 17, the parents of one of the passengers is OUTFRONT and talk about their daughter -- an incredibly, smart, beautiful, accomplished young woman who was only on that plane because she had to work the day before and missed her flight.

And a huge death toll in the Middle East, two Americans have now died in the fighting. We'll be back.


BURNETT: Breaking news on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Just moments ago, pro-Russian rebels handed over the jet's two black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine. Those black boxes perhaps to tell us something about the plane's final moments. Two hundred ninety- eight passengers were onboard that flight. Among them, 25-year-old Fatima Dyczynski. She was flying to Australia to see her parents. Fatima was a superwoman, an aerospace engineer, a promising young innovator. She even started her own company .


FATIMA DYCZYNSKI, AEROSPACE ENGINEER: I'm Fatima, an innovative and creative aerospace engineer. And I'm committed to bringing the possibilities of space closer to you.


BURNETT: She is seen here lecturing in Beijing about a new satellite phone app that keeps families connected. Fatima loved kung fu. She played the guitar in a rock band and she was on her way to achieving a life long goal of becoming an astronaut.

Fatima didn't plan to be on that flight, a tragic twist of fate, she had missed the previous flight because of work.

OUTFRONT tonight, Fatima's parents Angela and George.

And there are no words that can describe what you're going through. We are so sorry and people around the world cannot comprehend what you are enduring at this moment.

What have you heard about where your daughter is now?

GEORGE DYCZYNSKI, DAUGHTER WAS A PASSENGER ON MH17: According to our knowledge, she has been on this plane and her seat were B20, very close to the wing. And for sure, she went down during the hit made by missile. And -- but still we have help hope, we have hope, it is our message, because we believe in survivors, survivors of this catastrophe and is still are body missing and it was the message -- 100 bodies, may be casualties, may be survivors.

BURNETT: I know that you must be holding out that hope. It has happened before.

Angela, when did you find out that something had gone wrong with the flight?

ANGELA RUDHART-DYCZYNSKI, DAUGHTER WAS A PASSENGER ON MH17: My husband is a medical doctor here and one of his patients came and said to him, a plane has been shot down and this patient knew that our daughter should come --


ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: -- from Amsterdam. And it was directly on Friday. So, he -- in the morning. So, he -- so, we checked if this was this flight. And George found out it was this flight. And he rang me and said to me, our daughter was on the flight. It was shot down by Russian terrorists.

So, in this moment, I knew it happened. But on the same moment I thought, our daughter is a survivor. She's a survivor. It came instantly.

And we said, yes. So this was the moment and I got this message at home in morning. I was just preparing to go to the airport and make everything ready to welcome her in the next hours.

BURNETT: And, Angela, we are looking at pictures of your daughter. She was a businesswoman. She was going to be an astronaut. She was a superwoman and she was beautiful on top of all of that.

What would you want people to know about her?

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: What I would tell about her, she is one of the most beautiful persons I have met in my life from baby time until every time we have been together. And just in the last three weeks, we have always been on Skype whenever was the time. She was just taking the next level and she was innovative. She was creative.

And she always said to me, mom, I just don't know where I get it from. And so, we supported her whenever we could because we believed in the face of the young generation of the 21st century.

BURNETT: Angela and George, thank you so much. Thank you so much.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, why two Americans travelled to the Middle East to fight for Israel.


BURNETT: And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up in just a few minutes on "AC360".

Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we have two hours of "AC360" tonight from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern, starting just a few minutes.

While the world grapples with how to respond to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, heartbroken family members and loved ones want answers as well. Maybe most pressing, why is it taking so long to get the victims back.

Tonight, we're going to honor all the victims, including Karlijn Keijzer, one of 193 Dutch nationals. My exclusive with two of his closest friends. Also on the flight, Quinn Schansman, 19-year-old American-Dutch citizen. I'll speak with his grandfather Ronald.

Those the interviews and all the angles on the recovery efforts on the ground in Ukraine, not just the bodies, but also the evidence, including the black boxes that have been handed over. It's all at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we'll see you in just a few minutes.

On the breaking news from Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry just arriving in Cairo not long ago, to try to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Kerry said today the U.S. would provide $47 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

As the fighting rages, the death toll continues to climb, the situation getting worse and worse. At Gaza, health officials say nearly 600 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting. They say 70 percent of them are civilians. Israeli officials say two citizens and 25 Israel soldiers have lost their lives, among the dead soldiers, two Americans.

Polo Sandoval reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matt Steinberg and Nissim Sean Carmeli, two Israeli soldiers who share bond in service and debt, two lives started in the U.S. and ended in Gaza. Both Steinberg and Carmeli joined a small group of Israeli fighters known as lone soldiers. They're IDF members from other countries.

One Israeli diplomat told us, IDF lone soldiers seem to develop a will to defend their holy land during childhood. A look at Matt Steinberg's Facebook offers a glimpse into the life of a young soldier, his allegiance clearly split for the countries he loved.

STUART STEINBERG, FATEHR OF IDF SOLDIER KILLED: He felt that if this was his calling, that being on the sidelines or even being on the backseat was just not -- not going to work. So, he put all of his attention and his focus and his dedication to being the best soldier that he possibly could be.

SANDOVAL: Steinberg is from Los Angeles. Carmeli from South Texas beachfront town of South Padre Island. Pictures from one of his rabbis show the boy before the soldier. His mentor tells CNN, "We're devastated. The entire community is devastated. Sean will never be forgotten. He's a hero of the Jewish people."

Currently, the IDF is made of about 175,000 active members. The group Friends of the IDF reports more than 2,500 of them are lone soldiers representing 60 countries, with the largest number, 740, from the United States.

The initial tour of duty is three years for men, two for women, according to an Israeli diplomat. The lone soldiers fight for Israeli inspired by faith and as the world saw over the weekend, they're willing to give their lives for their other country.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Los Angeles.


BURNETT: And some interesting numbers from our new CNN/ORC poll. Fewer Americans are behind Israel than even just a few months ago. It is still by far the majority, 60 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Israel. But that is down from 72 percent in February. It is through three times higher than the approval rating for the Palestinian Authority.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Earlier, we reported on the technology that would allow passenger jets to fire back on missiles. And you can see how this technology would work. This is a video of an El-Al jet in Israel that we're going to we're going to show you, which actually missiles coming up, and then, the plane, as you'll see in a moment, starts to fire back basically almost starts to look like a military plane. But it's able to fire back at those missiles. El-Al has tried that and our Sara Sidner who did this report concluded, though, that it isn't something you can scale up. The only way for commercial planes to avoid a horrific incident with an incredible loss of innocent lives is to avoid war zones altogether.

But is that possible? How many other hot spots, war zones, are passengers flying over every single minute, right now? An OUTFRONT investigation tomorrow night.

Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Our continuing coverage of Malaysia 17 continues now with Anderson.