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Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Kharkiv, Israeli Fighter Jets Pound Gaza City

Aired July 22, 2014 - 06:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. Also breaking, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo. Can he stop the bloodshed? The violence escalating, 27 Israeli soldiers killed and the death toll for Palestinians now approaching 600. And new video, Israel bombing Hamas fighters inside Israel. We're live with the latest.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A special edition of NEW DAY starts right now. Behind us is the crime scene that has become familiar the world over and sadly little has changed here. As you can see, still no real investigation going on, still no real security of the site. Ironically only when the bodies were taken away was there finally a show of respect for the victims, not by the militia, but by local villagers.

They came out head covered, Christians and had a prayer service. They are just leaving now. They prayed for the dead and prayed for their souls and they prayed for answers in this situation and they will be joined by the families of so many who are waiting as well.

Now, John and Kate, we do have finally information about the victims and about the investigation, at least with the black boxes coming up this morning. If nothing else, we'll take that as progress.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's absolutely right. Chris is on the ground in Ukraine for us, and we're also following another breaking story this morning. Wolf Blitzer, as you can see, is on the ground in Jerusalem with the very latest on conflict between Israel and Gaza. We'll have that in a just few minutes.

But first the very latest of the downing of Flight 17. More sanctions could be on the way for Russia. Travel bans, asset freezes and other restrictions could be implemented as European foreign ministers gather in Brussels.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now a "New York Times" analysis shows a piece of the wreckage has signs of high velocity shrapnel. This suggests a supersonic missile like ones used by Russians exploded near that jet. The U.N. Security Council including Russia has adopted a resolution condemning the plane's take down. This morning the Australia's prime minister had strong accusations against the Russian- backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: After the crime comes the cover-up, what we've seen is evidence tampering on an industrial scale.


CUOMO: On an industrial level. That's an unusual phrase, but one that seems to fit based on what we've understood here on the ground, and certainly for the families. Every mention of a delay, every mention of something being rummaged through is painful, and at least now there is information that loved ones are finally, after days in the sun, on their way home.


CUOMO (voice-over): Finally headed home. The remains of 282 victims arrived in Ukrainian-controlled Kharkiv overnight by train. While privately disturbed by lack of respect for the dead, Dutch forensic experts expressed a measure of satisfaction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very impressed by the work that was done over here, the means and the people who did it.

CUOMO: Now away from pro-Russian rebels, the remains can be flown to Amsterdam where they will finally be identified through DNA testing and repatriated. Most of the passengers were from the Netherlands. Sixteen people remain unaccounted for. Five days in the combination of open warfare and militant control have blocked any real inspection of the crime scene by international experts. In the middle of a media frenzy, the self-appointed prime minister signs a pact with Malaysian officials and later in a second media fest turns over the flight data recorders.

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

CUOMO: Experts say the plane's black boxes may hold information about what brought Malaysia Flight 17 crashing to the ground, but warned they may provide very little follow crowned, but may provide very little information about who is responsible and why. This new found openness was matched by Russia, announcing they have proof a Ukrainian plane may have been flying near Flight 17 when it fell from the sky.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the Ukraine president firing back at Russian officials.

PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINE: Instead of doing such irresponsible statement, they have an opportunity to send their representative and present to the commission all the necessary evidence.

CUOMO: And reminding that despite the apparent goodwill of local militia, they are not the good guys. POROSHENKO: Don't name separatists. There are no separatists there. They are terrorists. They are killing the innocent people.

CUOMO: Just an observation for here. There's a little bit of sun in the sky over the area where the people have been praying, and over the crash site there's heavy cloud cover and actual light rain coming down here right now. Probably an apt metaphor for what's going on in this situation.

Let's try to figure out how we move forward, how we get answers. Let's bring in Daniel Baer. He is the U.S. ambassador to OSCE. They are the monitoring organization you keep hearing about. They are supposed to be here observing the violence, but they have been pushed into the position, which they've taken willingly of overseeing what's happening here and being the eyes on the ground for the world. Mr. Baer, can you hear us?


CUOMO: Sorry for the delay. Let's try to make the conversation work. Anyway, most importantly thank you for joining us. May I ask, I know you were in Vienna as the U.S. representative to OSCE, has the U.S. instructed you to come here so that there can be a presence on the ground for the United States?

BAER: Well, the OSCE is an international organization of 57 participating states. I have been to Ukraine several times in recent months, most recently for the inauguration of President Poroshenko, but people on the ground as part of the special monitoring mission come from over 22 countries and they represent all 57 participating states in the OSCE including the Russian Federation, Ukraine, United States and many of our other partners.

CUOMO: So you feel you have the right people on the ground for what they do. Now, let people know they are not in the business, the OSCE, of investigating airplane crashes, right? They are just doing the best that they can, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a need for experts and forensicists to come in and make sense of all of this before it's too late. Is that true?

BAER: That's exactly right, Chris. I mean, obviously our hearts continue to go out to the families of the victim and finally now five days after the crash, we are glad to hear that the remains have reached Kharkiv and soon will be on their way home and we hope that can bring some closure.

I was looking at photos before coming in today of a makeshift memorial at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and people gathered around and really poignant and obviously our hearts continue to break for the victims' families. What the OSCE special monitoring mission has been doing on the ground, there was a declaration again, joined by all 57 states last Friday, the day after the crash.

That asked the SMM to get there as soon as possible, called for safe and secure access for the monitoring mission to be able to monitor the security of the site and the access to the site, and what needs to happen next, you're exactly right, as President Obama said yesterday, there needs to be a clear, unfettered, unlimited secure access to the site by international investigators so that an investigation can continue.

Now, that is what needs to happen in the coming days. Obviously, it's regrettable that these armed separatists prevented safe access in the days following the crash. It's regrettable that so much has been tampered with and molested in the days since, but now we need to move forward and do as much as we can to get clear access to that site so that international forensic investigators can do their job.

CUOMO: And just to be clear. There was a statement made by the self- appointed prime minister that he was advised by the OSCE to not touch the bodies, not cover them and leave them as they were. I've heard from your people on the ground that that is not true. Do you think that there's any chance that that type of advisement was given by your organization to the local militia?

BAER: I've heard what you've heard, which is that none of the OSCE officials on the ground had delivered that advice and certainly the OSCE is not an aeronautical safety administration. It's a monitoring service to monitor what is going on the ground and clear request was for them to monitor access and the security of the site and that is what they endeavored to do and now we need to let the international forensic experts come in and do their work.

CUOMO: OK. Also, as we're getting an understanding of something of what's going on here we've been told that you have to understand the context, that Ukraine authorities had been bombing villages in the east, and as a result there was a message sent by militias that they would take action against planes in the sky and that that's how this started. Is that a fair depiction of the nature of the violence here?

BAER: That is neither an accurate depiction of the nature of the violence or a justification. You don't shoot down airplanes out of the sky because you're angry at something. Never been a good argument and never will be.

The fact that the Ukrainian government has been carrying out an anti- terrorist operation for the last several months combating the separatists in the east and have made clear on numerous occasions their desire to avoid any kinds of civilian casualties.

Obviously, they are continuing to pursue these armed separatists, and these armed separatists are not an independent force. These are armed separatists who have been supplied and trained by Russia, and the broader context that people need to understand here is while the shoot down of the plane is certainly a tragedy, it's not a mystery.

This would not have happened had Russia not been arming, training these separatists, sending arms across the border, and it is a terrible tragedy that this has come from Russia's meddling in Ukraine.

CUOMO: All right, thank you so much, Ambassador. Daniel Baer, we need perspective here very badly and appreciate you giving it to us this morning. Now, I want to give over to Wolf Blitzer who obviously is covering the other major breaking news this morning, the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Wolf, we're having a little bit of a communication issue because of the weather. I hope you can hear me and I hope you're safe.

BLITZER: I hear you're fine. You're doing an amazing job over there. Chris, just be careful over there and Ambassador Daniel Baer, he certainly is a blunt guy. He knows what he's talking about. I'm glad we got him on the air.

The other breaking news story we're following here in the Middle East, the bloody struggle between Israel and Hamas and Gaza. It's now killed more than 600 Palestinians. That number has just gone up. Many of them, of course, civilians, along with more than two dozen Israeli troops who have been killed. Seven soldiers alone were killed on Monday.

Efforts to identify one of them ongoing. Israeli military officials say earlier this morning, Gaza city experienced a violent blast after an apparent Israeli air strike back home in the United States. A new CNN/ORC poll reveals Americans are siding largely with Israel in the current conflict, 57 percent say Israeli actions against Hamas in Gaza are justified.

The Secretary of State John Kerry is still in the region. He's in Cairo, as we speak right now. I just checked. He's continuing his efforts to try to broker some sort of cease-fire. Let's go to Gaza right now.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is watching all the latest activity. Karl, it looks like it's even intensifying on this day. Is that right?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Throughout the night and throughout the morning, Wolf, things have heated up even more. We've had barrages from naval gun boats off the coast of Gaza. We've had artillery fire coming in from Gaza's eastern border with Israel. Also, in the last few moments, we've seen huge explosions going up in Eastern Gaza.

That seems to me that that could have been the Israeli military trying to explode some of these tunnels, some of these militant tunnels that they are so desperate to shut down. Of course, we do know and are aware of the developments, the diplomatic developments in Cairo, but certainly the developments on the battle field still rage on. Let's take a look at what's happened.


PENHAUL (voice-over): Overnight more bloodshed on both sides of the Israel Gaza border. Close to 600 Palestinians killed and some of those victims targeted last night in raids like this one in Gaza city. On the other side, at least 27 Israeli soldiers now dead. Despite the rising death toll, Israel is pushing ahead with operation protective edge. CNN captured this video of Israeli forces battling Hamas militants inside Israel. The Hamas fighters had stealthily entered Israel through an underground tunnel on Monday. Night vision video released by the Israeli military shows the militants reportedly sneaking in mere kibbutz.

Israel then responds with a targeted air strike, ten Hamas fighters killed, according to Israel. This morning, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to push the cease-fire effort forward. The U.S. also extending $47 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza.

As the warfare between Gaza and Israel rages on, Lebanon's militant group, Hezbollah has reached out to Hamas voicing their support from Israel's other border, a suggestion perhaps Israel may now have to worry about a second front.


PENHAUL: Now just to give you some idea of the intensity of the fighting, the Palestinian health ministry is telling us that since midnight that means in the last 13 hours, 46 Palestinians have been killed, and as we know the United Nations says the majority of those are civilians.

But, of course, the other thing we are closely watching is the fate of that seventh soldier whose status according to the Israeli military still has to be determined. We don't know exactly what that means, but this is the soldier that Hamas claims that they managed to capture early on Sunday morning. If he is captured and if he is still alive, then that is going to be a huge bargaining chip for Hamas. They are likely to use that to gain political and military leverage -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Have they shown any proof of life that they say the Israeli soldier they say they captured is in fact alive?

PENHAUL: No. We certainly have not seen proofs of life, neither video nor audio recordings from this Israeli soldier that they claim to have taken prisoner. Earlier on Sunday night, a spokesman for the al Qassam brigade, Hamas' military wing, did give out that soldier's name and serial number.

The Israeli military have confirmed that he is so far not listed among the remains of those who are identified and confirmed dead. The seventh soldier that the Israeli military says that they are still working to determine his status is a member, however, of the Golani Brigade, the brigades that came into a fire fight with Hamas, and they say that that seventh soldier was also aboard an armored personnel carrier, and six of this soldier's colleagues were killed in that attack, Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul reporting for us from Gaza. Be careful over there, Karl. It's going to be a very, very intense day as the effort to come up with some sort of cease-fire clearly continues. I anticipate the Secretary of State John Kerry will be here in Israel

fairly soon. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is apparently on his way as well.

John and Kate, back to you guys in New York.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Wolf. And we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Obviously, major developments where you are. Major developments in Ukraine as well.

But there is other news to tell you about this morning -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks so much. Good morning to the two of you and good morning to you at home.

Breaking overnight: the Taliban is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed four people in Afghanistan's capital city. The suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his vest outside of Kabul's airport. Four foreigners were killed, at least six others were injured. Their nationalities at this point are not clear.

Law enforcement officials along the Texas-Mexico border are slamming Governor Rick Perry's decision to send 1,000 National Guard troops in to deal with the influx of children and families crossing the border. Several border leaders question the wisdom of deploying military personnel who can't arrest or send anyone back across the border, but Perry says the price of inaction is too high and blasted the federal government for lip service and empty promises.

The chokehold death of a Staten Island man is putting New York City's police commissioner under microscope again. Protesters gathered outside city hall calling for Commissioner Bill Bratton's investigation. They say he's not addressed what they called the systemic brutality aimed at minorities and low-income New Yorkers.

Forty-three-year-old Eric Garner died Friday after an NYPD officer put him in an illegal chokehold.

The college friend of Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now facing up to 20 years in prison. Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy for removing a backpack from Tsarnaev's dorm room just days after the attack. He's the first of three friends to be tried for impeding the investigation. Tsarnaev for his part is scheduled to go on trial in November.

Attorneys for Donald and Shelly Sterling back in court today in a battle to sell the L.A. Clippers. Meeting between Donald Sterling and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did not settle the case. Ballmer wants to buy the team for a record $2 billion, but Donald Sterling claims the team is worth more than that and his wife is not authorized to sell the team. We're going to keep an eye on that story, situation out in Los Angeles.

BERMAN: Interesting that they met, Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Sterling.

PEREIRA: In the privacy of their homes, just to have a little discussion.

BOLDUAN: It's going to be like the end of the next playoff season before this is resolved.

BERMAN: You know, several billion dollars can grease the wheels.

PEREIRA: Amazing how that happens.

BOLDUAN: Can move things along. That's a really good point.

Let's get a check of the forecast and get over to meteorologist Indra Petersons to take a look at how things are looking at home.

How is it looking?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Kate, I want to show you this. Have you seen this before? This is called the May flower swarm, talking about hundreds of thousands of flies that came out Sunday evening, living for a day or so and dying all across Lacrosse, Wisconsin. That was Sunday night. There are so many of them you can see it on the radar, an you have believable sight.

Keep in mind it's a sign of good health of the Mississippi River. So, there is an upside of that.

Something else you may have been hearing about is that there's now a tropical depression out in the Atlantic. Keep in mind, this has the potential to be birthed out here. But the good news is it's not suspected to develop stronger than a tropical storm and it is also expected to die out before it affects the U.S. mainland. So, that's the good news, currently dying here just around the Leeward Islands.

Another thing big story there, is really going to be the heat. Look at these anywhere from maybe the upper Midwest, all the way back in through Texas. These are afternoon highs, but we haven't added in the humidity just yet. Once you factor that in, you're talking about the heat indices going about towards 110 degrees. Definitely some extreme heat concerns will be out there today especially in places like Minneapolis. Also flying through Chicago, that does mean we're going to be talking about a severe weather threat that affects your flight, just keep in mind. Showers into the northeast by Wednesday night into Thursday and even a severe weather threat coming in a day or so.

Unbelievable sight. Have you seen that in person?

BOLDUAN: I've seen -- not to that extent at all. But they are part of --

PETERSONS: I think the world was ending.

BERMAN: Kate Bolduan says a sign of health in the Mississippi River, not a sign of end of days.


PEREIRA: Again, fine line. BOLDUAN: Shows up on radar. Whoo! Stay indoors and keep your mouth



BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to get back to the big stories of the morning. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine showing some signs of some kind of cooperation this morning. What took so long? What's changed, and to what extent now has the Flight 17 crash site been compromised?

We're looking into all of it for you.


CUOMO: Here at the crash site of MH17, the clouds keep opening up and the rain is slowing but not stopping investigators who are finally on the ground from taking a look at the wreckage and see what answers are still available.

We understand the Malaysian delegation, which received the flight data recorders from the local militia, had last night are actually on scene. We haven' seen them yet, and if we do we'll alert you to that.

But right now, there's also a war of words going on here about how this plane was taken out of the sky. Russia says they have information that a Ukraine fighter plane was in the same airspace as where MH17 was when it was shot out of the sky. They say that they are not giving any assets like BUK surface-to-air missiles to militias. They're saying they have nothing to do with this.

And on the other side, of course, there's the Ukraine government and they're saying it was the rebels. They're saying they can prove it.

Let's bring in a man to make exactly that case. He's name is Vitaliy Nayda. He is the head of informational security for Ukraine.

Mr. Nayda, thank you for joining us this morning.

So, tell us, why is it that you believe that you can prove that it was the militiamen, the rebels who shot this plane out of the sky?

VITALIY NAYDA, UKRAINE INFORMATIONAL SECURITY: Well, the security service of Ukraine possess concrete evidence that BUK-M1 was deployed from the territory of Russian Federation to the territory of Ukraine illegally early in the morning of July 17. It was deployed to the city of Donetsk and then something about 9:00 a.m. in the morning, it went back in the military column with the tanks and APCs, (INAUDIBLE) direction.

We obtained that foreign interception legally, according to their course permission, and we already provided that phone interception to the investigators and to our international partners. CUOMO: They say that the evidence you've provided of phone

conversations and social media are fabricated, are fake. That's what the self-appointed prime minister says, and Russia says you had a warplane in the airspace at the same time. Is that true? Did you have a warplane, and is there any basis for the suggestion that you made this up?

NAYDA: I won't wait another point of view from Russian media or Russian authorities. We didn't have any military plane at the scene at the moment, and we have -- we taped conversations between Russia GRU officer (INAUDIBLE) reporting to his superior officer in Moscow using Russian phone number that his subordinates shot down the plane.

We know for sure that several minutes before the missile was launched, there was a report to GRU Igor Bezler and he was aware that the plane is coming, having in possession a Russian origin BUK-M1 military launch they had to understand. They knew that the plane is coming with constant speed in a constant direction that they should know that it is not a military jet fighter and it should be a big civilian plane.

CUOMO: The idea of shared responsibility in this situation, does Ukraine's government feel shared responsibility because of the ongoing conflict and what the militiamen say is constant attacks of eastern towns? Do you believe you share responsibility for creating an atmosphere of violence that led to the shooting down of the plane?

NAYDA: Not at all. I would like to stress everybody's opinion that here in Ukraine we do not have rebels and we do not have civil war. Right now, we have mercenaries. We have terrorists that are sent from the territory of Russian Federation to Ukraine, and right now, Russia provokes terrorism. Russia finance terrorist activities on the territory of Ukraine. Russia Federation provides weapons, ammunition, terrorists, machine guns, missile launchers, everything to the terrorists on the territory of Ukraine.