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Families Await Remains; Kerry Pushes for Cease-Fire; Investigators Looking at Black Boxes; Ben Gurion Airport Operating

Aired July 23, 2014 - 08:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Would you have to go? Would they still be there? Would that be a step that would just simply be necessary to bring closure?

FRANK VAN DE GOOT, FORMER INVESTIGATOR, NETHERLANDS FORENSIC INSTITUTE: I'm afraid we're not going to find everyone. Looking at the fact that there are many body parts, if there are still body parts left on places no one has ever looked, well, there are almost for certain gone due to animal activity.

CUOMO: And neglect. If they had locked down the scene right away and done it the right way, the way forensic experts would, you'd have a much better chance.

VAN DE GOOT: I know. But looking at the circumstances, I'm very happy, very glad that at least we've - that they've found this group.


VAN DE GOOT: It could be better. We want as much as possible. But I also want the safety of the entire team. And until we've got everything -- everyone out and then afterwards we can look how things could have been better, et cetera. But first of all, we want to get as much as possible and then away from the zone.

CUOMO: The horrible part is, and it's such important work that you do, but you know for the families involved, the tragedy is complete, the pain is complete. They take such solace from getting a body, from getting remains so that they have some part of their loved one back. It's going to be very difficult in this situation, but thank you for telling us how the work will go and I wish you very good luck with it.

VAN DE GOOT: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, I'm going to go back to New York now. Guys, you know, the bodies are coming back here now. There's going to be a ceremony. It will be solemn. It will pay the respect that these bodies have deserved, these victims have deserved from the beginning and haven't gotten. And even that will give a little bit of measure to the families.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even so, the difficult process of healing and coming to grips with this situation just beginning (INAUDIBLE) there.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Just coming to grips with the reality that -- it's just unbelievable.

Chris, thanks so much.

CUOMO: Doctor, thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to have much more from Amsterdam, including a mother, a grandmother, and an uncle. You see them all right there. They're grieving the loss of two boys, brothers, who were on that flight killed on Flight 17 when it went down. The anguished family sharing their memories, really showing just unbelievable strength and their message. You'll hear that coming up.


CUOMO: Two hundred and ninety-eight people lost their lives on MH17 and yet the number doesn't even begin to describe what was actually lost when that plane was shot out of the air. Every victim is a story. The reach that they had in their life of who loved them and who they were impacted by is going to just continue to be understood as we learn more about who was on board.

One family, two young boys, going to see their grandmother in Bali, so excited to be able to take a trip, and then gone just like that. Left behind their mother, their uncle, their grandmother. Their names, Harun, Samira (ph) and Yasmine (ph) Calehr. We spoke to them and asked them how they even begin to deal with who has been taken from them.


HARUN CALEHR, LOST TWO NEPHEWS ON MH17: It's just indescribable. We're all in a haze. We're so numb. We're so sad. And, of course, we keep thinking about the most important thing, how much did the kids suffer and we just hope and pray that they didn't. That it was all over very quickly.

CUOMO: Now, Samira, I know that I don't want you to have to talk. I'm sorry you even have to listen to this. I really am. I know you want to be here to support your boys. I'm sorry to have to talk about how they were gone. But I want them to be remembered. And, Yasmine, I'm sorry, I know this is difficult for you, but I don't want them to be forgotten. I want people to know how special these boys were so it's not just about politics, OK. So I'm sorry you have to be here for this. And, Harun, I appreciate you speaking for them.

N. CALEHR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Is it true that the young one started talking about flying and being worried and what might happen and that your family believes he may have sensed something coming? Is that true?

N. CALEHR: Yes. You know, whether you want to call it a premonition or whatever, but, I mean, the eerie thing was that right before getting on the flight, after going through passport control, he ran back to his mom, my sister, who was standing next to me, and he said, you know, what's going to happen if the plane is going to crash and I'm going to die? I'm afraid to fly. And she said, don't worry, you've flown so many times before on your own. You know, you've been unaccompanied minor on many flights before. You'll be safe. Your big brother is there. Everything is going to be fine. And he said, you know, what's going to happen if I die and what if God asks me a question, what should I tell him? And so, you know, now that you think back on it, it's just incredibly sad and I wish we had been able to stop him from getting on that flight.

CUOMO: Oh, you can't do that.

N. CALEHR: I know. I know.

CUOMO: You can't do that. Samira, I hope you're not doing that. You know that kids say things all the time. It means something now, but, please, don't put yourself there. That's not fair to you. And it is true there's a third boy and there was no seat available on this flight otherwise he would have been on it also.

N. CALEHR: Correct.

CUOMO: But he wasn't. He's home. He's safe.

N. CALEHR: He's safe. He's home. But he's, of course, devastated. And we're very worried about him. He's 16 years old and he lost two of his best friends.

CUOMO: Now, I know one of the reasons that it's important for you to speak for your family is because of what happened after this completely wrong act of taking this plane out of the sky, the disrespect, the indignity, how it's being treated there by these militants, but what does that mean to you that not only were their lives taken so wrongfully but everything that happened afterwards?

N. CALEHR: That's probably the biggest insult - you know, adding insult to injury. I mean I understand that this is a war zone and there's a lot of animosity between the parties, but these people behaved like animals. I mean our kids and the 296 other victims, they were not part and parcel of this horrible war that's going on over there. They had nothing to do with this. They're innocent parties. And it's sacrilegious what was going on with their remains and they should have been treated more respectfully.

CUOMO: How are you handling or preparing to handle the idea of whether your boys come back now? Do you prepare for that?

N. CALEHR: That's what we pray for, that at least we'll have something to hold onto, something to put in a grave.

CUOMO: Harun, I am sorry to meet you this way. I really am. I really am.

N. CALEHR: Thank you so much. So am I. I appreciate it though.

CUOMO: Samira, our heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry for what you have lost. And, Yasmine.

YASMINE CALEHR, LOST GRANDSONS IN MH17 CRASH: Thank you. And thanks CNN to show the world what never should have been shown. It's not just us. It is people crying every minute for the same reasons we are crying. I don't know where humanity is going, but when I see you and everybody and the flowers, there's always hope. And we have to move on. I don't know how, but we have to because they were incredible kids. I just told you, they were just incredible. We never knew how many lives they touched until now. We thought it was just us, but it's amazing. So they haven't lived for nothing and I thank all of you to try to help us through this process.


CUOMO: And Yasmine's so strong and so much perspective and she said to me afterwards that she really does hope that people do look at this situation, not just to point fingers, but to realize that no matter how it happened, it was wrong, and that every time there is an act of violence like this, the reverberations of who is hurt by it go well beyond even the number of victims. And we thank them very much.

And there are so many families like them who have lost something that can't be replaced. And today begins the process hopefully of them being able to find some closure and bury their loved ones. But we don't know. We don't know who's coming home yet and who isn't. We're going to hear a lot of stories like this, and we thank them for sharing theirs with us this morning.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: It's sad but also inspiring to hear that grandmother say, there's always hope.

BOLDUAN: I know. I mean what -- it just really sticks with you, where -- she says, where is humanity going? But then she still says that she sees hope. I mean that is quite a message in the midst of what they're all going through.

Chris, thanks so much. We're going to get back out there shortly.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to turn to the other big story on - that we're all keeping our eye on. Secretary of State John Kerry, he is in Jerusalem trying to help broker a peace between Israel and Hamas, bring some peace to Gaza. Will a lasting agreement be reached this time? Wolf Blitzer is going to be speaking with a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, right there. He's going to be speaking to him shortly. We'll be right back.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.

The secretary of state, John Kerry, he's here in Jerusalem right now. He's making urgent visits to leaders on both sides of the Middle East conflict. He's calling for an immediate cease fire. There's no stopping the bloodshed, though, right now. The Palestinian death toll is now up to 649 according to Palestinian authorities in Gaza. Thirty- two Israelis have been killed, all but three of them Israeli soldiers.

Joining us now is Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I want to get to all of that in a moment, Mark, but first of all, the FAA decision to suspend U.S. airlines from flying in and out of Ben Gurion Airport, that 24-hour suspension is about to end. Has the government of Israel been notified yet from the U.S. government, the FAA, if it wants to continue that suspension or end it?

MARK REGEV, SPOKESPERSON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: (INAUDIBLE) of any final decision on the American side. I can tell you the following, I drove into Tel Aviv this morning. I passed that Ben Gurion Airport. I saw flights taking off. I saw flights landing. That airport is functioning. That airport is operating. And most importantly, that airport is secure. It's probably one of the most protected facilities in my country. As you know, in all this conflict with Gaza, with some 2,000 rockets fired on Israel, not one rocket, not one, has fallen in the -- inside the airport, not on the terminal, not on the runway, and that's because that airport is protected by a multifaceted, multilayer defense perimeter, defense package that makes sure that anyone flying into or out of Israel is safe.

BLITZER: But you know the FAA points out that yesterday a rocket did land about a mile outside of Ben Gurion Airport. They say their ground rules are basically that if a rocket hits an area so close to an airport, they have to investigate. They have to err on the side of caution and suspend flights. You say?

REGEV: I say that we knew about that rocket. We were tracking it for about three minutes, our Air Force. We could have taken it down, but because we saw that it wasn't going to hit inside the airport, we let it through. One of the marvels of the anti-missile system that we have, that Iron Dome system, is you can track exactly where the incoming rocket is going to hit and then you make a choice of whether you want to take it down or not. Any incoming rocket that would hit the airport, either as I say the terminals or the runway, that would be immediately taken out by our system. And once again I say with pride, I think Israel is recognized as a global leader in aviation security and aviation safety. Both for our air terminal and for our aircraft themselves, and we take pride in that. Once again our airport is working and our airport is safe and I invite the American carriers to return as soon as they're ready.

BLITZER: Was that a mistake though to not use that Iron Dome and knock out that rocket that landed a mile outside the airport? With hindsight, was it a mistake not to blow it up in the sky?

REGEV: I don't know. Obviously there were no casualties from that attack, but let's be clear here. We are now having a dialogue, our aviation security people are having a dialogue with the American counterparts, with the American aviation security people. We're being totally transparent. We want a professional to professional dialogue and we believe that our airport is as safe as any airport in the United States. We've taken all these tips that need to be done to make sure that air traffic coming in and going out of Israel is absolutely safe and I'm sure of that.

BLITZER: What's the status of the effort to get an immediate cease fire? We know the Secretary of State John Kerry, here's here in Israel right now. What's the status of that effort? how close is he, the Egyptians, others at brokering a deal?

REGEV: Well, as you know, rockets continued to be fired on Israeli cities today, and that's probably the largest and most important factor because Hamas, up until now, has rejected all attempts to bring about a cease-fire. Israel accepted an Egyptian proposal for a cease- fire about a week ago. We ceased all hostile fire against Gaza. We stopped targeting the terrorists in Gaza. You were with me that morning. We held our fire for six hours and Hamas kept shooting at Israel. Since then, there were two or three other humanitarian cease fires to allow the Red Cross to do its job, to allow the U.N. to do humanitarian assistance. We honored all those cease fires and Hamas either rejected them or violated those cease fires. So I think the ball is clearly in Hamas' court.

BLITZER: If Hamas does stop launching rockets and missiles into Israel, will Israel stop its military campaign, its military operation in Gaza?

REGEV: Wolf, our goal is clear, our goal is a sustained peace and security, an end to those rockets coming in from the Gaza strip at our cities, an end to those terrorists tunneling under the border to come to our side of the frontier and shoot and kill people with weapons and explosives. We want a sustained period of quiet for our people so they don't have to live in fear of those incoming rockets or terror attacks from Gaza. If that can be achieved through diplomacy, we will embrace that.

BLITZER: Mark Regev is the spokesman for the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Mark, thanks very much for joining us. Let me go back to Kate in New York. Kate, I have to tell you the tension level here is still quite high. Everyone seems to be wondering in the next few hours whether or not the FAA will or will not lift that ban on U.S. flights coming into Ben Gurion Airport. We'll of course stay on top of the story.

BOLDUAN: Of course, and also what will Secretary of State John Kerry be able to do to try to move this situation along? We'll see. Wolf, thanks so much. Wolf Blitzer continuing his great reporting on the ground in Israel.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, investigators are looking at Flight 17's black boxes. Can they figure out who brought down the plane through this information coming out of these black boxes? How is this process going to proceed? Our experts are weighing in.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The black boxes from Flight 17, they are now in the United Kingdom where they will be analyzed by investigators there.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Will they be able to learn what brought down the plane? What will they be able to really learn from these black boxes? Let's discuss this with CNN's safety analyst David Soucie, a former FAA inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash."


BOLDUAN (on camera): David, this gets to a really important part of the investigation. This isn't the entire investigation, but this is an important part. These are the black boxes that were sent to the United Kingdom. Let's start off with the most simple aspect. What can they learn from black boxes even before -- can they learn anything even before they open them up? Do you think there will be forensic analysis of the exterior?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: That's part of it, yes, but that's not really going to give them much information. There's more information about that in the structure of the aircraft which is still there, what's left of it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

SOUCIE: But these boxes are going to give a couple pieces of valid information. As the trials progress in the future if they find out who to hold accountable, if there's lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines, all that information, that will really affect the case because if there was an attempt to communicate with the aircraft before hand and they didn't react, of course that proves liability --

BOLDUAN: Two different things you have here. You have the flight data recorder. You also have the cockpit voice recorder.

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: So, you have two different types of analysis that you have got between these two boxes. I even read they may even be able to figure out the trajectory of where the missile was coming from from these?

SOUCIE: Yes, what I was saying in that realm is that you can actually from this it will tell you exactly what flight attitude the aircraft was, if it's flying up, down, left, right. From that you can know when the missile hit the aircraft and you can align the impact point of the shrapnel and where it exits from the aircraft. If you align those two points, knowing this attitude, tracking that back you can get a general vicinity as to which direction and how that missile - -

BOLDUAN: What are the limitations of all this? What are the limitations of the information they can get from the black boxes?

SOUCIE: As far as the physical movements and what's gone on physically on the aircraft, very few limitations. There's 10,000 data points in this box. That gives you almost everything you need to know about what happened in that aircraft as far the movement of the controls and the aircraft position itself. In the cockpit voice recorder however, all that is two hours of what has gone on. The noises and the sounds in the cockpit. You can actually identify which switches have been turned on or off from what's on this recording. BOLDUAN: You'll be able to hear if the pilots had any idea that this

was coming their way.

SOUCIE: That's correct.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your quick take also on this is an image that was released by the U.S. government. This is taking a look at -- this is a satellite image of where they believe is the trajectory of the missile and, of course, where the plane was going. Why is this important?

SOUCIE: This is important because we can identify whether the pilot would have seen it coming or not as far as how much time. If you look at the distance on this from here to here, this is the -- the closure rate, if this is going approximately 500 miles an hour, this missile -- this is one of those math problems you had as a kid. So you end up with 3,000 miles per hour closure rate. So this is approximately 20 miles. That means that from here to here was 16 seconds.

BOLDUAN: 16 seconds from the moment it was launched to the moment that it made impact.

SOUCIE: From the moment the button was pushed to the moment it impacted the aircraft. Not much time.

BOLDUAN: Not much time at all. David Soucie, thanks so much, David. A lot of information being released, but a lot of information that we still don't know and that comes back to these black boxes and any of these images that we're getting from the U.S. Government and other intelligence sources. John?

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Kate. Next up for us, much more on Flight 17 and the breaking news that two Ukrainian fighter jets were really just shot down in rebel-controlled territory. "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello picks up after this very short break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. A shocking turn of events in Ukraine, and one that's sure to stoke even more international outrage.