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Israel Pounds Gaza City; Black Boxes Handed Over; New Images of MH-17 Wreckage

Aired July 22, 2014 - 08:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's give you the five things that you need to know for your NEW DAY.

At number one, the remains of most of the MH17 victims have arrived in Kharkiv after days in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine. The first train carrying the bodies are expected to return to the Netherlands tomorrow.

In the Mideast, the bloody struggle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has killed 27 Israelis, as well as more than 600 Palestinians. Secretary of State John Kerry is overseas to broker a cease-fire deal.

South Korean police have identified remains found last month as those of the suspected owner of the South Korean ferry that sank back in April killing more than 300. The man had been wanted for questioning in the sinking of that ferry.

Governor Rick Perry will send as many as 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to deal with the influx of children and families crossing illegally into the United States. Several border leaders have expressed concern over this plan.

And at number five, in a new study, Saudi scientists say they found fragments of the deadly MERS virus in the air near an infected camel, suggesting that MERS could be transmitted through the air and not just through physical contact.

We always update those five things to know. So be sure to go to for the very latest.

Now we want to turn back to Wolf Blitzer. He's live on the ground in Jerusalem, as we watch the death toll on both sides continue to rise.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly is rising, Michaela, here in the Middle East. That death toll not only continues to rise on the side of - on the Hamas side in Gaza, but also on the Israeli side as well, even as diplomats try to push forward with some efforts for a cease-fire. The secretary of state, John Kerry, he's in Cairo right now. He's meeting with leaders there, among others. He's trying to work behind the scenes for some sort of cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Seven Israeli soldiers were killed Monday. Efforts to identify one of those Israeli soldiers continuing as we speak right now.

Earlier this morning, Gaza City experienced a violent blast after an apparent Israeli airstrike. And the barrage of rockets and missiles is slowing down. That barrage coming from Gaza into Israel. But it still continues even as we speak. Karl Penhaul is joining us from Gaza right now with more on what going on.

What are you seeing, Karl? What are you hearing?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, overnight, and through the morning, we have heard a steady barrage, both coming from the Navy gun boats off the coast there and also on Gaza's eastern flank from artillery pieces and tanks that are across there. We've also seen stuff that looks a little to me from here like controlled explosions and I wonder whether that's perhaps the Israeli military getting to some of these tunnel complexes and carrying out controlled explosions.

So there are a couple of figures to really bring the intensity of the fighting home to me for the last few hours. The Palestinian health ministry saying to us now that since midnight, so about over the last 16 hours or so, close to 50 Palestinians have been killed. And now the United Nations saying that more than 100,000 Palestinians are now hunkering down in U.N. operated schools. These people are seeking refuge from the intensity they're fighting.

Remember as well, according to the United Nations, the more than 600 dead now and more than 3,700 wounded. According to the United Nations, between 70 percent and 80 percent of those are civilians. But certainly no sign of a let-up here. But let's take a look at what's been going on.


PENHAUL (voice-over): Overnight, more bloodshed on both sides of the Israel/Gaza border. Close to 600 Palestinians killed, 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. This video of Israeli forces battling Hamas militants inside Israel. The Hamas fighters that stealthily entered Israel through an underground tunnel on Monday. Night vision video released by the Israeli military shows the militants reportedly sneaking in near Kabuks (ph). 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PENHAUL: Since we were in that report, there seems to be an uptick in shelling and artillery fire that again seems to be coming from eastern parts of Gaza. Unclear right now what the targets may be. The other thing we're keeping our eyes closely on is the fate of that soldier that the Israeli military say they're trying to identify, but also try to determine his status. This is the same soldier that Hamas' military wing say they captured. And if that is true, then Hamas is surely likely to use him as political and military leverage, Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul in Gaza for us. Karl, thanks very much. Be careful over there, as we constantly say.

Kate and John, don't forget also one other note. Last night, the State Department put up a new travel advisory to this part of the world urging Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank and certainly under all means avoid any travel to Gaza.

Kate and John.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Taking on a whole new meaning in light of all the events that we're covering around the world right now.

Wolf, thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, as the investigation into Flight 17 gets underway, how will pro-Russian rebels cooperate now with the international team of investigators who are trying to get in? What are the next steps?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the plane's black boxes. They have now been turned over to investigators, but what can these investigators really learn from them and what are the chances that the boxes have not been tampered with?


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

Many nations have been quick to point the finger at pro-Russian rebels for shooting down Flight 17, but proving it and acting on it in a war zone are completely different matters. So what are the next steps and is the outrage really enough to finally slow the rebels in Ukraine? Joining us now to discuss this, CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.

Philip, thanks so much for being with us. My question to you is, it took four days for these pro-Russian rebels to finally really hand over control of this crash scene, the black boxes, not to mention the bodies. What could they have done -- if covering things up was their intention, what could they have covered up within these four days?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: For example, I think one of the things they would have been looking to do is to find evidence on the field where the plane went down that suggests that shrapnel hit the plane, for example. But in terms of the quantity of information on the ground, and we're already seeing reports that there are plane parts showing shrapnel. Removing that quantity of material and removing all the material that might have shown residue, for example, on clothes. I think that would have been very difficult. My guess is over the coming days that the clamps on the rebels and Putin are going to slowly tighten in addition with the black boxes as well.

BOLDUAN: And, Philip, at the very same time, U.S. officials are now saying that their intelligence analysts, they're looking at all available evidence, is how they're putting it, to see if Russians were directly involved. If they were at the launch site or even operated the missile. How do you look into that?

MUDD: Boy, that's going to be a story that takes a long time to figure out. You're not only trying to figure out where the battery was and whether it was battery supply or missile supply by the Russians, you're trying to find whether individuals were there. What you are going to do over time is not only look at tiny pieces of intelligence, what kind of communications there were between batteries, the Russians and the rebels across the borders, but over time you're going to want to have access to people in the opposition to say, what did you see happen? What did you hear? You're going to want to do interviews, and that might take months or even years.

BOLDUAN: Getting access to them as well has not been easy obviously as the fight continues. Let's go to Chris who is on the ground in Ukraine. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have been getting access to them. Villagers have been coming up to us showing us things that they have collected and what they heard and what they saw. They are eager to help here. Many don't like to be under control of the militia, but let me ask you this, Philip Mudd. This self-designated prime minister had a huge media circus yesterday where he turned over the boxes and he got a protocol sign that said he's the rightful leader here. My question is, are those black boxes and turning them over, was that better for him or better for the investigation?

MUDD: I think it is better for the investigation. I think you're going to see an interesting question come up in the next, I'd say, one, three, five days, and that is this information. There's no reason the information on the black boxes can't become public. In my experience at the CIA, there's also, believe it or not, no reason why some of the imagery data, the photos, for example, of the launch equipment, why some of the intercepted communications like the communications that the Ukrainians have talked about, why you can't put that together in a package with the black box information and start to make a public case. If I were sitting at CIA right now, I would have a sanitation (ph) team saying get ready for the president coming to us saying, if the black box shows this was not an accident on the plane, let's put it together with the other stuff we know and make a publication to the world.

BOLDUAN: Phillip, when you kind of look at the investigation and past investigations into plane crashes on land by and large, how do you think this investigation is going to be, have to be, different now because not only has it been days since investigators, before investigators are really getting in there, but also the fact that everyone says that the scene has been largely tampered with and picked over?

MUDD: Boy, our bar for cooperation so far has been pretty low compared to a standard of investigation. We are getting very little cooperation. I think one of the substantial differences here, though, is the quantity of intelligence that you can add to the standard criminal investigation. You're looking at the field and looking at shrapnel. You're looking at conversations with people who are at the scene. But the quantity of information about what was going on with that missile battery, both from overhead satellites, from communications intercepts. That is remarkable. Remember, the U.S. intelligence committee has collected against Russia, and before that the Soviet Union, for decades. This is our bread and butter in the intelligence community. And I have to believe their picture inside the intelligence world is pretty clear at this point.

BERMAN: Alright, Philip Mudd, always great to have you with us. Thanks so much for joining us to talk about this.

Coming up, we're going to focus on one piece of evidence that's really in the spotlight this morning. New images of the wreckage from Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Does it show signs of high velocity shrapnel? And what does that tell us then about what happened to the plane and possible Russian involvement?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back once again to NEW DAY. Images of the wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are providing new clues about what might have brought down the plane. Is the damage consistent with a hit from a buk missile system, or is it consistent with something else? Let's discuss with CNN safety analyst David Soucie. He's a former FAA inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash." David, just since yesterday we have gotten this new image and I want to get your take on this. For an untrained eye like myself, it looks like a wreckage of a plane, but what are investigators going to hone in on? Why does this show what they think could be consistent with this SA-11 system?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: There are two critical clues in this, and this one is right here where you can see, and here, and here, but this is very important because if you look at the line, if this was from the buk missile, which it appears to me that it was, because this is debris. These are input. This is debris from the outside of the aircraft coming in. If this were a missile or bomb on board, or if it was explosion from inside the aircraft, we wouldn't see this type of thing. The only other time we've seen this type of accident, and this type of skin damage, was at Sioux City in 1989, Flight 232, when there was an un contained engine failure. Now, that's what is going to be questioned here.

BOLDUAN: So these are indicators. For lack of a better term, is this a smoking gun that this is -- I think it's called a fragmenting warhead is how it is described. It explodes near it and shoots out this shrapnel rather than going into the plane.

SOUCIE: Correct, correct. It was originally designed, or thought to be designed, earlier missiles of it, were impact missiles where they hit the impact. They had terrible, terrible reliability. Now what they have is this actually spreads out more like a shotgun rather

BOLDUAN: Rather than a bullet.

SOUCIE: Yes, yes. So it is sending out all this debris against the aircraft and causing what I call a zipline here. If you look at the line of where these hit, it would have caused the fuselage to actually fail in that line. And those lines then fail when the aircraft comes apart.

BOLDUAN: Does that lead you to believe that the plane broke up in air still? Or then but that there was still a major impact.

SOUCIE: From what I see, because the tail is not that far from the main wreckage, is that it did break up in air, however the main part of the aircraft stayed together until it was near the ground. At that time is when the tail came off. So, because if it had come off at 33,000 feet, obviously they would be much farther apart than they really are.

BOLDUAN: Very interesting. This picture coming from "The Times of London." This is something investigators are definitely going to be interested in looking at. I want to get your take, though, with the news that the rebels have handed over this black box. I want to get kind of your thoughts really quickly on the idea, first off. Can a black box be tampered with?

SOUCIE: Not really altered. There's a difference. Tampered with would be they can go in and get rid of the information. They can intentionally get rid of the information that's on the box. That is possible. What is not possible is to go back and say, extract a piece of information from it. There was two seconds missing on a previous accident that we found, and those two seconds were really critical in court because was it the black box had failed or was it tampered with? It was eventually ruled that it had not failed, there was just two seconds that it had reset itself during that time. Real quickly though, if you notice here this is that underwater locator beacon that we talked about MH-370. Notice that it is missing on this one. It is not installed on that one. It is not uncommon, I just want people to understand that. This is not uncommon, you see this tank is bent over to the side. It would have come off during the accident. That happens quite often, actually.

BOLDUAN: Important to get those out of the hands of rebels. Get those in the hands of people who know what to do with them to handle them correctly, and the investigation continues. David, thank you so very much. John?

BERMAN: Kate, thanks so much.

Coming up, we're going to go back to the crash site in Ukraine with the very latest on the investigation. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for joining us on NEW DAY today, let's turn you over to NEWSROOM with Carol Costello.