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Fighting Continues in Gaza; Russia Denies Involvement in Ukraine.

Aired July 28, 2014 - 05:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. The United Nations urging Israel and Hamas to stop the violence, calling for immediate ceasefire. They did this in an emergency midnight meeting. The death toll in Gaza rises.

This morning we are live with breaking developments.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, Russia firing back at accusations it has been arming rebels in Ukraine and is any way culpable for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 going down. This, as fighting rages between separatists and the Ukrainian military right near the crash site. There's new hope this morning, though, that the investigators will finally be given some access to the site.

CNN is with them on the road there as we speak, as they head to the wreckage. We have live team coverage of that, also straight ahead.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in this Monday for Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Thirty-one minutes past the hour. We welcome all of our viewers here in the United States and around the world. And breaking overnight, there is fighting this morning in Gaza. This, despite the fact that the U.N. has called for a humanitarian ceasefire. This, despite the fact that President Obama has reached out to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

There were rockets on Sunday, more than 70 fired at Israel. The Israelis conducted some 40 separatist attacks on Hamas. Both sides suffering fatalities. And today, well, both sides saying they're not firing. First there have been rocket strikes and missiles as well.

Meanwhile, Israel is denying responsibility for some 16 deaths last week at a U.N. school in Gaza. They do confirm it was an errant Israeli mortar that struck the school's courtyard, but they claim the courtyard was empty at the time.

Want to bring in Martin Savidge live from Jerusalem this morning.

And, Martin, it's a holiday in Gaza and around the Muslim world. There was a sense that things might quiet down some today. There hasn't been a huge outbreak of fighting but it still does continue.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Eid Al-Fitr is the marking of the end of the feasting month of Ramadan. It's usually a very joyous time. But in Gaza, that is not the case today.

What can I say, I mean this weekend we really thought that there was high hopes of, first, a humanitarian ceasefire. That did go into effect. It lasted 12 hours. And the hopes, I think, were that this could be expanded upon, 24 hours was the next level. And the Israelis said on Saturday night going into Sunday they were in agreement for that. But Hamas said no, it was not. And it began firing at Israel. Twelve hours later, Hamas said now it was ready to observe a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire. Israel didn't really buy it.

And a short while later Hamas began launching rockets again at Israel. Both sides, as you say, blaming the other for the continuation of the violence. And unfortunately the rest of the region, outside of this region, they are talking about some sort of ceasefire, trying to arrange it. But Hamas and the Israeli government do not seem to be talking about that here -- John.

BERMAN: They are not there yet. Meanwhile, the Israeli troops, during whatever ceasefires there have been and pauses, they have maintained their positions on the ground, trying to root out these tunnels that have been dug throughout Gaza and in some cases into Israeli territory.

SAVIDGE: Right. Correct. And that actually has been one of the troubling points of the ceasefire. Hamas said, well, if it's a ceasefire, you're supposed to cease everything. Israel has wanted to maintain that well, we'll stop shooting, but we will continue destroying these terror tunnels, as they refer to them, that connect us into Israel in which Hamas has used to attack Israelis.

That does go on. There have been over 30 tunnels now that have been uncovered. They are quite remarkable construction. A lot of cement and they extend underground for well over a mile, a mile and a half in some areas. They've got electricity. So, you know, these are not just sort of earth-and-pick-and-shovel kind of works. The Israelis believe that these are every bit as much a threat to them as rockets. Hence, the reason they want to destroy them but it's been very difficult to destroy them just merely by their massive construction.

And up to the point had been dangerous because they had to try to blow them up while under fire. They were able to go ahead and try and blow them up without any firing during that ceasefire and Hamas knew that. And that could be one of the reasons why they didn't want to go forward with a ceasefire -- John.

BERMAN: Martin Savidge for us in Jerusalem this morning, following the developments there. Thanks, Martin.

HARLOW: All right. Now to the crisis in Ukraine. The United States over the weekend releasing satellite photos showing Russian forces, apparently firing across the Ukrainian border into Ukraine in support of those rebels, backing claims that Russia is directly involved in this conflict.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, telling Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow is not contributing to the contributing to the conflict and was not involved in any way in the downing of Flight 17. Lavrov held a news conference just this morning. He restated those claims that went on for about an hour.

Let's get straight to Diana Magnay with the details from Moscow.

Interesting here, a number of things that -- your impression also, your take on the fact that he said at one point, you know, it's unclear, really, to Russia what the U.S., what the West is demanding of them in terms of policy changes at this point.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, because the West's accusation is that Russia has influence and is supplying weapons to the militants in eastern Ukraine. And Russia's position is that it isn't supplying any kind of weapons. And that its policy apropos eastern Ukraine is that it wants Kiev and the rebels to sit down at the table and talk and to try and resolve this resolution through peace and diplomacy.

So, you know, it therefore says we don't understand how the West can possibly want us any other kind of a position and that's where you have the West and Russia really at loggerheads. But what's also interesting is what Sergei Lavrov said about sanctions, and that was that they would be ineffective and that it might actually prompt Russia to look into itself, invest in its own economy, become more confident and more innovative. And it's always talked before about looking for new trading partners outside of Europe.

And also, another important point, he mentioned Crimea, and said that Crimea is a part of the Russian federation. And that that is not a negotiating point. So some very strong points made in this press conference. One more, I should add, about the supply of weapons. He said, we have invited monitors to come and look at the various checkpoints between Russia and Ukraine. They can see for themselves whether we're supposedly providing weapons or anything else. But he -- you know, he denies that Russian weapons are going in and fueling that conflict -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. Charging ahead. Appreciate it, Diana, the update. Thank you.

BERMAN: You know, a team of Australian and Dutch investigators on its way right now to the crash site of Flight 17. This is going on as Ukrainian forces have launched a new offensive against the pro-Russian rebels in that area.

Our Nick Paton Walsh has been traveling with the investigators, trying to get to the crash site. He joins us now live on the phone.

Nick, we understand your trip to that crash site, it was interrupted.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Absolutely, along with the other media traveling with them the OSCE. And the Australian Police Inspection mission toward the crash site.

We were stopped by separatists outside the town of Shakhtyorsk. Now we are on the outskirts of that town right now. And I can see in front of me and here actually, too, shelling in the distance. Sounds like (INAUDIBLE) potentially heavy weaponry being used here. We're also seeing smoke in the distance as well.

A number of cars have been pulling out of that town towards this town, this side road. It's clear, according to the Ukrainian military, that they are now, in their words, fighting for the town of Shakhtyorsk, one of many in that particular area. They claim to have taken down -- raided a town called (INAUDIBLE) near the crash site. That's important because it is alleged that (INAUDIBLE) shot down there, that it's a particular good high vantage point near the crash point.

Why all this is important, well, because this fighting is depicting what kind of access the inspectors get to the crash site. They want to get there, they want to pick up the personal belongings of the victims, possibly, tragically, even human remains still there and examine the wreckage, the evidence and the investigation. They think they can get through.

What's puzzling, John, is that we're still on that road, we heard that shelling stop. We saw some separatist militants rushing toward the town of Shakhtyorsk. We're now hearing the Ukrainian military saying there's an operation in progress in the town of Shakhtyorsk. But it's about seven kilometers from the crash site.

It's mostly likely, though, the inspection mission would not have progressed on its way with such confidence if they weren't happy with the idea that there would some sort of a ceasefire or (INAUDIBLE) group. We simply don't know the (INAUDIBLE) of them at the moment. They said to us that (INAUDIBLE) the ground would (INAUDIBLE), and there were (INAUDIBLE) this morning about their progress we haven't seen in the past. Their objective they said in that limited time try and get access to one of the impact sites of the wreckage which (INAUDIBLE) high on the priority list.

But John, as I stand here, we're hearing shelling in the distance. We're hearing Ukrainian military talking about their move to retake practically most of the area around the crash site as we speak now and heavy fighting for north of Donetsk, too. The war is picking up pace and none of that is going to help get answers for victims of MH-17 -- John.

BERMAN: Well, let's hope those investigators have the guarantees they need to maintain their safety and you and your crew as well.

Nick Paton Walsh on the road to the crash site. Not allowed to go the full distance by the pro-Russian separatists there, but hopefully the investigators will get on that scene.

Thanks, Nick.

HARLOW: All right. Time now for an EARLY START on your money. European stocks are mixed as we see Asian stocks ended the day higher. Here in the U.S., futures are barely moving, but a little lower after the lower close that we saw on Friday.

Kicking off a pretty big week on Wall Street. Investors will be weighing a lot of bigger earnings reports. Also some important readings on second quarter GDP. That of course is the broadest measure of economic growth in this country.

We'll also on Friday get the July jobs reports.

Both Europe and the U.S. are expected this week to announce tougher sanctions against Russia. That will come at a price for Russia but what is unclear is will it move Putin's hand at all?

Take a look at this map. This shows trade relations between the U.S., the EU and Russia. Further penalties will hurt all three economy especially considering how tightly linked Europe is to Russia in terms of energy and finance. And when you look at this, the EU is Russia's largest trading partner. Russia is the EU's third largest trading partner.

And we know that German leaders warned over the weekend that the coming sanctions will indeed cost jobs but they said it is worth it. This is what we need to do. In Germany alone about 300,000 jobs depend directly on Russian exports.

BERMAN: About 20 minutes to the hour right now. A deadly, rare lightning storm striking 13 people on California beach.


BERMAN: We're going to hear from one survivor next.

HARLOW: Also, tornadoes tearing through communities across this country. More severe storms are on the way.

Indra Petersons is tracking the latest straight after the break.


HARLOW: Well, severe storm turned deadly along the California coast. A 20-year-old man was killed Sunday after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach, 13 others were also injured. And a witness says that severe weather really came out of absolutely nowhere.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now all of a sudden, there's a big flash of light and a boom. And it felt like someone punched me in the back of head like right here. And it went down my whole side of my right side of my body and my calf sort of locked up and I fell over. And I looked up and everybody else was, you know, falling over.


HARLOW: Well, this kind of storm obviously very unusual for this area. People were at the beach, enjoying the weekend. Officials say it was actually sparked by monsoon moisture.

BERMAN: A pretty scary afternoon in western Connecticut. A tornado touched down Sunday without warning taking down trees, tearing the roofs off of homes there. Don't usually see this in Connecticut.

HARLOW: Absolutely not. Another tornado ripped through parts of Tennessee on Sunday. Homes were damaged. There were a lot of downed power lines, debris blocking the roadways. Take a look at those images. The crews are still working of course in the area trying to restore power to all the folks that lost it.

BERMAN: Violent storm damaging hoes in Lexington -- excuse me, we've all had problems saying that.

HARLOW: I couldn't say that this morning neither.

BERMAN: Lexington, Kentucky, our apologies to you. The fire department they struggle to respond to emergency calls after lightning disabled communication there. The storm knocked down treets and powerlines. We need thousands there without electricity.

HARLOW: And this is the image of the morning in terms of weather. A hailstorm pummeling central Wisconsin with hailstorms two inches across. Homes and cars obviously damaged by this. It was only a 15- minute storm but it blanketed the streets there with ice.

BERMAN: Yes. And there is more of this severe weather in the forecast this morning. Let's get a look with Indra Petersons.

Good morning.

HARLOW: Good morning.


HARLOW: Finally. All right, Indra, appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY" besides me. Kate Bolduan joins us now.

Good morning, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: That's what we're leaving the news with. Of course, John Berman.

Great to see you, guys. We're also following the latest developments coming out of the -- the crisis in Middle East as well as Ukraine. Hopes for a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas took a hit over the weekend after a pause in fighting was cut short.

Also investigators are trying to reach, once again, the MH-17 crash site as fighting is ramping up in eastern Ukraine. We have reports now the press traveling with those monitors into the site. They were stopped by pro-Russian separatists.

We are going to talk with a top State Department official about the U.S.'s role in resolving these issues and what's going to happen today.

And also a crazy story that we're going to tell you about coming out of Florida. A father and a daughter, they're walking on a beach. But then you see that plane right there. The plane comes in and hits them. The father was killed. The daughter is in critical condition.

What happened? We're going to have a report coming from Florida on that. Unbelievable.

HARLOW: Yes. And we're going to talk a lot more about that and some other news here as we finish up EARLY START. Berman is going to run up to join you, Kate, for "NEW DAY". Have a great show. Go, go, go. Have a great show, guys,

Folks, we'll be right back.


HARLOW: Well, a walk on a Florida beach turned deadly. A 36-year-old Georgia man was killed and his 9-year-old daughter is currently critically injured. This happened on Sunday when they were struck by a plane making an -- an emergency landing right there on the beach. This happened in Sarasota County. The 57-year-old pilot of the plane also his passenger were uninjured. It's not clear why the pilot had to make an emergency landing. The NTSB is currently investigating.

Meantime, a family of five found shot to death Sunday inside their Maine apartment. Autopsies will be conducted today. But police suspect maybe a murder suicide. Three children, ages 4 to 12 were among the victims. And police say they found a gun near one of the bodies. They do not believe anyone outside of the family was involved.

Also this, the trial of a Michigan man accused of fatally shooting an unarmed teenager on his front porch resumes in just a few hours. Fifty-five year old Theodore (INAUDIBLE) is charged with second-degree murder. The defense argues he thought a 19-year-old (INAUDIBLE) was breaking in and he was defending himself, they say, in his home, when he shot her to death on his front porch. The prosecution could rest their case this week.

And we could also learn as early as today whether Shelly Sterling has a green light to sell the L.A. Clippers to the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for the $2 billion he has bet on the team. Now closing arguments are scheduled in her suit seeking approval from the courts to sell the team over the staunch objections of her husband and co- owner, Donald Sterling.

We'll see how that plays out. Meantime, stock sinking, inflation soaring. We're talking about Russia. Is the Russian economy slipping in a recession? We'll take a look, straight ahead.


HARLOW: Welcome back, everyone. Let's get an EARLY START on your money this Monday morning. European stocks are mixed as we speak. Asian stocks ended the day higher. U.S. futures pointing slightly lower this morning as we kick off a very big week on Wall Street. Investors will be weighing a lot of corporate earnings reports. Also some very important readings on second quarter U.S. GDP. And

we'll get the July jobs report at the end of the week. Those reports will give us a clear look at how the U.S. economy is fairing.

Meantime, Russia is paying a high economic price for its position over the crisis in Ukraine. More sanctions expected from Europe and the United States this week. That will come at a price for Russia. But it's very unclear if it will move Putin's hand at all. Does Russia care? Investors care. They are rapidly yanking money out of the country that is crushing its currency. It's raising also the cost of imports.

Russia's central bank raised interest rates to 8 percent on Friday, this in an effort to try to ease 7.5 percent inflation.

All right. On a lighter note, if you've used an Uber car, in this country you've used that car service, well, you've probably been asked to rate your driver. Well, Uber also lets the drivers rate you for things like did you make the driver wait around, were you on time for your car, stuff like that. Normally that score is only seen by the driver so they can sort of decide who they want to pick up if they have multiple options. But some users find a loophole on the company's Web site.

So check out their ratings. This morning, Uber has blocked that. So I guess, you've got to ask your driver if you want to know your score.

That does it for us here on EARLY START. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight. Calls for a ceasefire. The U.N. Security Council calling on Israel and Hamas to stop the violence as President Obama pressures Israel's leader. The weekend's temporary ceasefire now broken. Will anything stop the bloodshed.

BERMAN: Happening now, investigators finally on the way to the MH-17 crash site after a weekend of violence there. This as the U.S. releases new evidence showing Russia is firing over the border into Ukraine. This morning Russia pushes back.

MICHAELA PEREIRA: Deadly day at the beach. A freak lightning storm hits more than a dozen beachgoers in L.A. One person is dead, others hospitalized and in Florida, another freak accident.