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U.N. Says Israeli Artillery Hit Shelter; Interview with Pierre Krahenbuhl; Interview with Ron Dermer

Aired July 30, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good everything. Thanks for joining us.

For folks laying heavily again tonight in the war in Gaza and what's happening on the ground there and in Israel, and how those developments make a complicated, polarizing, heartbreaking situation even more so.

There are just too many items to count. Hamas today again rejecting a ceasefire. Israel today asking for more U.S. ammunition. The U.N. today blaming Israel for the carnage at a school that was a known shelter -- known by both sides -- for thousands of internally displaced people.

The White House today expressing concern for the loss of civilian life. The House today voting to condemn Hamas for storing weapons at schools in Gaza, though there's no evidence there were any at this particular school they were talking about.

And then there were the deeply disturbing images of a Gaza marketplace coming under fire allegedly from Israeli forces. These are the still photos. We'll be showing some of the video of it later on so you can see up close what this conflict looks like unfiltered.

The Israeli government says it does not target civilian, not there, not at U.N. shelters. Tonight you'll hear from Israel's ambassador to the United States. You'll also hear from a U.N. representative in Gaza who says that Israel had 17 warnings that the school was a U.N. shelter.

First, though, Karl Penhaul who visited the school today joins us from Gaza City.

Karl, this attack on the U.N. school today, what's the latest you're hearing?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we went down there, Anderson because, of course, we want with our own eyes and ears to see what we can see and tell you about that.

First of all, the experience for some of those who was there, this school, remember, been turned into a shelter for 3,000 displaced Palestinians. One man said that the men had been sleeping outside, the women inside. This attack came before dawn so most of them were still sleeping. One man said when he heard the explosions and woke up, he saw elderly men cut into pieces around him. A lady who had been lucky enough to be sleeping inside said the place

filled up with smoke. She poured water on her eyes so that she can see a little bit and she said that the shrapnel just rained down.

Now we looked around the school and it was quite clear that a heavy round had come in through the roof of the building, crashed into the top floor, and another round that we spotted had crashed through the corner of the latrine and smashed out the side of a classroom.

I went to the bother of measuring how big it was, it was the length -- the diameter of those holes was the length of a broomstick. About 50 inches and then, of course, what we want to find out is who is to blame for this? This is a delicate balance. There is fighting across the Gaza Strip and we have to find out who is to blame.

But the United Nations had their investigation team in there very quickly. Today they were doing creator analysis. They were gathering pieces of shrapnel and they were gathering eyewitness accounts. And the United Nations tells me that they are adamant that this was Israeli artillery rounds. They say that three Israeli artillery rounds crashed down on that school. They are condemning this very heavily because they say that they told both warring factions, both Israel and Hamas 17 times they gave them the coordinates of that school.

The last time they gave them the coordinates of that school in Jabalya was just eight hours before this attack. The United Nations says they cannot understand what is going on.

COOPER: What is Israel saying about this? I know the Israeli Defense Forces has said that there had been shelling from the vicinity of that school.

PENHAUL: Yes, the spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner, had told CNN that they had been fighting with Hamas fighters in that area of Jabalya. The Israeli military say that they came under mortar attack from Hamas fighters and then they responded.

Lieutenant Colonel Lerner also said that there was a possibility that it could have been Hamas mortar fire that fell on the school, but as I say I put that to the United Nations investigators. They said categorically no. They say that they have clear evidence that permits them to conclude that this was -- are Israeli artillery.

COOPER: There was also a strike at a credit shopping area today. What's the latest on that?

PENHAUL: That's the Shijaiyah market. And again, people had word that possibly there would be a four-hour humanitarian pause that Israel would cease its fire if Hamas ceased its fire. That was something that really never got together. There are too many terms and conditions now with any of these pauses or truces. Neither side has confidence. So if one side says we'll stop the war, another opens fire.

There was clearly some kind of attack at Shijaiyah market which is an area in eastern Gaza that had come under heavy attack in the last two weeks. Another episode that puts blood on the streets, one of these episodes you just fail to understand how civilians are so heavily in the crossfire -- Anderson.

COOPER: Karl Penhaul, appreciate it, from Gaza tonight. Thank you.

Well, as we said, you're going to hear shortly from Israel's ambassador. I asked him a lot of questions on the school incident today.

Earlier today on CNN, the top spokesman for his government says that Israeli troops were responding to enemy fire nearby, as Karl mentioned, and quote, "If our forces were involved in the firefight it's because Hamas has decided that it's open season on the U.N."

However, from the U.N. which only yesterday spoke out against anyone who stores munitions in schools, sharp condemnation of what happened today. Pierre Krahenbuhl is director of Operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. He is the coordinator overseeing the school. He joins us tonight.

Pierre, tell us how this happened, as you understand it.

PIERRE KRAHENBUHL, COMMISSIONER-GENERAL, U.N. RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY: Well, we woke up this morning at 5:00 to hear that three projectiles had landed on one of our schools in Jabalya in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and we were able to send in teams to assess what had happened and when they came back with the evidence based on shrapnel and other evidence, it was clear for us that these had been fired -- artillery fire from the Israeli Defense Forces.

And we were, of course, not only dismayed, shocked and outraged that this could happen but in particularly, it was beyond me to comprehend how something like this could happen after we had notified 17 successive times, the presence of that school in this delicate area to the Israeli Defense Forces the last time late last night and the objective of that was to ensure that this place would be protected and the people that were sheltered there, 3,300 of them, would be protected and safe and they were not and that is intolerable.

COOPER: You say you contacted the Israelis 17 times. What's that process? Who do you actually contact? You give them the GPS coordinates?

KRAHENBUHL: Indeed. It covers that whole range before the intensification of the conflict, as we saw that the hostilities were building up and starting. We re-notified the presence of all of our structures and premises. So yes, as we saw intensification and increased danger in that entire neighborhood, we re-notified and re- notified again and the last time late last night, just a few hours before the fatal shelling.

COOPER: The Israelis are saying that the early results of their own internal investigation point to their troops coming under mortar fire from militants in the vicinity of the school, so that they fired back. Does that make any sense to you given what was happening on the ground at the time?

KRAHENBUHL: The thing is on the one hand it's important that an investigation is carried out because I think indeed that is certainly a call on our side when an event as serious as this, we certainly expect the Israeli Defense Forces to carry out those investigations, and in particular, also, we are prepared to engage with them based on our own findings. The reality is when you engage in warfare in an environment like this, you need to take additional measures of precaution, distinction and protection of the civilian population.

Clearly here, this is a failure to do so and we have not been able and nobody has been able to protect the people that last night were sleeping in this school, children lying beside their parents and killed and injured in the middle of their sleep.

COOPER: You say you've communicated to the IDF the exact location of the school some 17 times. Have you also communicated that information to Hamas, where -- to your knowledge were they aware that civilians were being sheltered in the school so that they might avoid entering into conflict in this area, if that's what they wanted to do?

KRAHENBUHL: Well, it's clear that every party that is engaged in a conflict like this and hostilities like these has under international humanitarian law the responsibility to refrain from action that can endanger civilians, that can expose them unduly.

In this particular instance, we don't have as UNRWA the full detail of what was happening around, but again we say we were clear about our warnings to the Israeli Defense Forces, about the presence of the school, the people inside it, and the fact, again, that it was shelled is, for me, incomprehensible also because it is the sixth time in this particular conflict that one of our schools is struck in this way, and you know, when you reach that point and when you realize also that UNRWA has lost now eight individual staff members lost in the course of our activities in this phase of emergency, the message is clear. We're reaching a breaking point and this has to cease.

COOPER: To you, the onus is on the Israeli Defense Forces in this case even if Hamas militants are firing, as they say, quote, "in the vicinity of the school," the onus is on the Israeli Defense Forces to take extra precautions because they know there is a school there sheltering some 3,300 people.

KRAHENBUHL: Well, look, I'm looking at it from the perspective -- the humanitarian perspective. The least it indicates is that insufficient measures of precaution were taken and certainly not the distinction that was required or the precision that was required to avoid and prevent civilian casualties, which it has now become widespread throughout the Gaza Strip. To the extent that frankly at this stage people just wonder whether there is any part of this Gaza Strip where people are safe and protected.

That is the whole notion of International Humanitarian Law, which is that civilians who are not involved in the fighting must be protected by all the parties, and in this case, clearly, IDF has more to do.

COOPER: And just so I'm clear, do you also communicate your locations to Hamas officials?

KRAHENBUHL: Well, I think everybody who is permanently inside the Gaza Strip is very familiar with UNRWA's presence, where we need for security reasons to engage and to communicate aspects around the security of our staff and presence, we have channels for that, but in this particular instance, it is clearly and squarely on the side of the Israeli Defense Forces. We believe, therefore, constitute as serious violation of international law.

COOPER: What do you say to people, I mean, who now come to you and say look, I was told to leave my neighborhood? I was -- you know, the Israelis called or they leaflet it, they said it's not safe here, go, go further south or go somewhere else. I mean, tonight, what will you say to people who come to you looking for shelter?

KRAHENBUHL: Well, I'll say that we're deeply shocked and deeply hurt that something like this was possible and we do see it as a failure towards the people that we're expecting protection and security. We're also clear about the fact that what UNRWA can offer is the premises. You know, we currently have -- you have to imagine what this means, 220,000 people in about 85 to 86 schools around the Gaza Strip.

Now that may sound orderly and organized, and yes, we've been able to distribute the food and the mattresses and the blankets, but water is lacking and others so go into some of these schools and you will see the conditions as being very, very difficult already, and this is the reality that we are facing and we have to tell the world here from Gaza that any further displacement of population inside the Gaza Strip at this point will mean that Israeli Defense Forces and Israel will have to assume direct responsibility for their assistance because we have reached the numbers that we can.

COOPER: Finally, the "Times of Israel" is reporting that the IDF uncovered a booby-trapped opening of a tunnel in a small health clinic run by your organization, by UNRWA in southern Gaza today. A, can you confirm that, and if so, if it's true, how could there be a tunnel in a U.N.-run clinic?

KRAHENBUHL: Well, I have not seen that report. When I see it I'll certainly not hesitate to comment on it. You know that we have on three occasions found during inspections carried out by our staff weapons that were placed in UNRWA facilities, these were empty school buildings. They were not being used and we were the ones who found out. We communicated this openly to the parties.

We made it known to the world, but I want to say here, very clearly because I hear these kind of messages coming out, the fact that weapons were found in one school is certainly never going to be an excuse or something that helps anyone self-exonerate himself for shelling another school and I just want to be extremely clear about that.

COOPER: Pierre Krahenbuhl, appreciate your time. Thank you.

KRAHENBUHL: Thank you. COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, Israel's ambassador to the U.S.

weighs in on what happened today and the comments made by Pierre, and on a broader criticism that Israel does not do enough to minimize civilian casualties.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Authorities in Gaza say more than 1300 people have been killed since the war began. The U.N. estimates that 70 percent to 80 percent of the dead were civilians. Fifty-six Israelis have been killed, all but three were troops.

That disparity drives the perception in parts of the world that the war is if not wrong outright then at least is being wrongly fought.

In Israel, as you might imagine, they see things much differently. There is overwhelming on the order of 80 percent to 90 percent public support for the war and few reservations about how it's being waged.

Earlier tonight I spoke with Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States.


COOPER: Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for being with us. A U.N. school with some 3300 people in it hit with what the U.N. believes were several Israeli artillery shells. The White House has condemned it. What happened?

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, I don't know yet. I'm sure we're going to investigate it. We definitely don't target U.N. schools. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fighting that goes around the U.N. schools and we've had three different cases of U.N. schools having rockets stored in them. So obviously this is a huge problem.

COOPER: You know, I'm basing my questions really on this U.N. coordinator of the U.N. Relief and Welfare Agency who I just spoke to who says his investigators actually went and they believe it is Israeli artillery shells, that they were fired in a line systematically. Nobody is alleging that it was targeting civilians, though, but is responding with rapid fire artillery shells, long-range artillery -- is that responsible given that the IDF, in this case, had been informed of the school's coordinates some 17 times by the U.N.?

DERMER: Look, I think we've got to understand something, Anderson. We've got two-thirds of our country in bomb shelters. The equivalent of over 200 million Americans, and if you can seriously tell me that if you had 200 million Americans in bomb shelters, day after day for three weeks that the United States would respond to less force from attacks that are coming from contiguous territory by a terror organization then I would be very surprised because I don't think that's the case. The second thing is, our military forces are in there. So I don't

know what happened. I don't know if they fired right next to that school at a tank. And I don't know if Israel not responded if we would have had 15 dead soldiers the next day. I don't know. What we can say, that we cannot determine that sitting in New York and Washington in a studio what happened in the field.

COOPER: But is it appropriate to fire artillery shells into a densely populated civilian area if you know that in that area, in that immediate area, are thousands of civilians who you've told to leave one area and come to another for safety? Is it responsible to respond with artillery shells?


COOPER: Saying point blank that's irresponsible.

DERMER: Look, I have been in the war room with the Israeli prime minister. I was a senior adviser to him 18 months ago. I was in the war room. I saw how many times we did not conduct operations because civilians came into harm's way. So I do not believe anybody knowingly would risk the lives of all those people in a school. So the question is, what did they know at the time? What were they trying to hit? Was this a mistake, was it not a mistake? Was it a Hamas rocket? Was it an Islamic jihad rocket? I just don't know.

COOPER: You can understand the frustration, though, and the anger of this U.N. coordinator who says look, I called the IDF 17 times with GPS coordinates of this school. We're housing people. We're stretched to the limit. We're housing people who were told to leave one area for their safety. I've told them they'll be safe here as much as I can and -- even though they called 17 times, this place gets hit.

DERMER: Yes, again, I don't know the circumstances. I understand the frustration he may have. Let's wait until all the facts are in.

I think the U.N. organizations in Gaza should really be outraged that their schools are turned into weapons depot. You know, UNRWA is -- stands for relief workers, it doesn't stand for rocket warehouses, and where the U.N. should capture a sense of outrage is against Hamas for turning any U.N. facilities into weapons depots.


COOPER: And they've expressed that outrage.

DERMER: Yes. But they expressed the outrage but when they find the rockets, Anderson, who do they give them back to? They give them back to Hamas.


COOPER: They don't claim they'll make efforts to destroy them, just to -- DERMER: OK. That's great that they are claiming it now but meanwhile

entire infrastructure that Hamas has set up in Gaza is designed actually to put Palestinian civilians in harm's way.

Look, I don't have any problem with the media showing these pictures. They are heart-wrenching pictures to any decent human being when you see suffering going on, when you see children who are killed, any decent person is moved by that.

The question is, where should our outrage be directed? Should it be directed at Hamas or Israel? Israel that's defending itself and doing everything to keep civilians out of harm's way or Hamas who's using its own people as human shields? And I'll tell you why it must be directed at Hamas. Because if Hamas gets away with this, then they're going to use this strategy again and again and again, and the ones who are going to be most endangered by this are going to be actually children and civilians of the Palestinians, and it's wrong.

COOPER: The other -- the strikes on a marketplace, do you know why that area, was that area targeted? Why that was hit?


DERMER: No, we don't --

COOPER: Because (INAUDIBLE) multiple times.

DERMER: Look, you say the word targeted. We do not target civilians, period. We do not target civilians. In a war in -- where you have people embedded in the civilian population, a dense area, any war, even the one that is the most surgical, the most careful, the most cautious, trying to do everything to get the civilians of the other side out of harm's way, you were going to have civilian casualties and that's a tragedy, but the responsibility for that tragedy has to be placed at the foot of Hamas.

If we don't do it, again, they're going to do it over and over again because that's part of their strategy.

COOPER: The U.N. coordinator I spoke with said that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency is at a breaking point. That Israel -- these are his words, saying that Israel needs to accept responsibility for the displaced people if this continues, that they frankly are at a breaking point. Do you believe that Israel has any responsibility for these internally displaced people?

DERMER: Look, I think Israel is doing things to get the civilians out of the war zones. In many cases, some of the worst fighting that has taken place over the last couple of weeks since we began the ground operation, we have sent ahead of time flyers to tell people to evacuate. They have been giving them 48 hours to get out of those area.


COOPER: But they can't leave Gaza. DERMER: No, but we will tell them to go from area A to area B.


COOPER: But you told that to the people in the -- who are in this U.N. school and that didn't work.

DERMER: Yes, but again, I don't know what specifically happened to the U.N. school. You've had about -- I think the numbers that I saw, about 250,000 people that have left certain areas, about 160,000 are in -- one form of a U.N. shelter or another and maybe another 80,000 are in Gaza City.

Listen, we're aware of the problem and we'll do everything we can to limit any humanitarian fallout from what is happening to the civilian population in Gaza, but we're in a situation, Anderson, we have to defend ourselves. We're having every day a hundred rockets fired at Israel. We have our soldiers being killed.


DERMER: How would America would respond if people were tunneling and killing American civilians and soldiers on your border and firing rockets into the United States? You don't think that America would respond with more force than Israel is responding with?

COOPER: The - just so you know, the figure that the U.N. gave me was 220,000 people in, I think, 85 or 86 different facilities.

Ambassador Dermer, I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

DERMER: Thank you.


COOPER: I spoke extensively with the ambassador much longer than we have time to air right now. So we're going to put the entire interview on our Web site,

Up next, the war in real time. CNN has obtained new video of the attack on the open air market in Gaza. It is difficult to watch but we think it's important to see what people on both sides of the conflict are dealing with.


COOPER: A warning, what we're about to show you is graphic, maybe hard to watch. You heard Israel's ambassador violently deny that his country's military deliberately target civilians. He was talking about the mass casualties in two kinds of places, perhaps the only two left in Gaza where people not only can but often must gather, a bomb shelter and a marketplace.

And before we show you the new video, the marketplace, what happened at that marketplace we ought to concede that almost everyone who watches will see it through his or her own prism. That said, we're not showing it to make a point about the rightness or wrongness of the war, if Hamas or the IDF. Instead, we just want to show you the beat- by-beat reality of what ordinary people face on the ground when war comes to one of the most densely populated places on earth.

In this case, an open air market ignored in Gaza where hundreds of people were shopping when the explosions began. A camera crew for the El Menora Media Agency was there and recorded the scene. Officials in Gaza say 17 people were killed. Again, we want to warn you the video was graphic. We do think it's important for you to see.

I want to bring in our correspondent in Gaza. We turn to John Vause in Gaza City. Today's strike on the market that we just saw in Easter Gaza, 17 people were killed at least. This happened during what was meant to be a pause, a humanitarian window. What happened?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Israelis announced that there would be a four-hour seize fire. They would hold their fire providing Hamas stop the rockets. Hamas never agreed, they essentially said it was a media stunt, a chance to reposition troops.

And so the rockets kept coming and after 26 were fired in a two-hour period Israel decided to respond with a number of quick air strikes and quick succession and it seems that's when this marketplace was hit maybe multiple times. So this is an area of Gaza surrounded by warehouses and shops, as well as homes.

What witnesses have been saying is after that first strike, the ambulances started arriving, residents came out to help evacuate and this is when the videotapes comes out and that's when you hear the succession of explosions, which follow. They may have been Israeli air strikes. It could have Israeli artillery. It's difficult to know.

We should keep in mind there was a gas station not far away, which was also on fire, maybe explosions came from there. Again, this is very confusing and certainly appears these were Israeli air strikes.

Hamas officials have said that one of the reasons why this marketplace was just so busy at the time, many people thought that four-hour window, that humanitarian window was actually still in place. They had no idea that the Israelis had decided to respond. They said they would respond. They just didn't say when -- Anderson.

COOPER: Israel also often says in situations like this that Hamas rockets or other group's rockets may have misfired and landed or that rockets were being fired by Hamas or Islam jihad or another group from the vicinity.

I mean, has Israel said anything specifically about this incident, about whether or not it was Israeli shells, and whether or not there was any fighting in the region or any shots being fired by Hamas or another group toward Israel?

VAUSE: Yes, nothing with regard to Hamas rockets and you're right, they often do say that and that's because it often is true. Hamas rockets do come up short and they do kill Palestinians. In this case, what we're hearing from Israelis is they say they don't target civilians here and they are saying that over and over again.

COOPER: All right. John Vause, appreciate it. We'll dig deeper now in the dangerous mix of civilians, troops and tanks in Gaza. Nathan Thrall is the senior analyst with Middle East Program of the International Crisis Group.

Nathan, yesterday rockets were discovered inside a U.N. facility for a third time during this conflict. The school was closed of the summer. It does beg the question, how many more rocket stores like this exist in what are supposed to be safe zones?

NATHAN THRALL, SENIOR ANALYST, MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAM, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well, I think it's a hard question to answer after the previous rounds in Gaza, organizations have gone in and had difficulty ascertaining just how many rockets are stored in civilian areas.

COOPER: In the early days, the conflict Hamas leadership did go on a Hamas TV station urging Gazans to ignore leaflets and other warnings by Israelis and to stay in their homes. What do you think was behind that? Was that an attempt by Hamas to use human shields to complicate a battlefield as Israel says?

THRALL: I think the idea of a human shield is specifically related to this concept of coercion and actually forcing somebody to stay rather than enjoining them to stay of their own volition and convincing them why they ought to.

In this case, Hamas' argument is your house will be flattened if you don't and Israeli tanks will be in the center of Gaza tomorrow, otherwise. So I think a lot of people are actually persuaded by that argument and would like to be in their homes, rather than just watch them get flattened.

COOPER: The other argument that Israel makes is that Hamas not only wants the protection of civilians, the quote/unquote "protection of civilians" to, you know, to use as human shields but also, that they actually they don't mind the death of civilians, that it actually suits their purposes to have civilians killed because of the public relations, because of the images and eventual out cry and the high number of civilian casualties.

THRALL: I think it's a complicated story. I think that there is not a doubt that rising civilian casualties in this conflict and in past ones have tilted the diplomatic community to call for more urgent seize fire and often to consider doing virtually anything in order to get that cease-fire including making concessions to Hamas.

On the other hand, it's not cost free for there to be a large loss of life in Gaza, and Hamas is ultimately accountable to the population, and if they are exposing people to unnecessary risk, and if they do appear to be actually intending for civilians to die, then there would be a real consequences for them politically.

COOPER: Nathan Thrall, appreciate your time. Thank you.

THRALL: You're welcome, thank you.

COOPER: We'll have more on the situation in Gaza and Israel coming up. Unsafe conditions near the crash site, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, has kept investigators out for four days running now. Today's CNN's Nick Paton Walsh managed to get in what he found at the crash site next.


COOPER: For the fourth day in a row, investigators have been unable to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was blown out of the sky and crashed the ground taking 298 lives with it. As the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels fight for control of Eastern Ukraine, the conflict has prevented Dutch investigators from entering the crash site. Conditions are too unsafe.

Our Nick Paton Walsh did manage to get safely to and from the site, however, here is what he found.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road isn't easy past shelling. Eerie separatist checkpoints, but where it leads is hottest still. And due to nothing surely could spoil lies a horror still unresolved.

Twelve days since MH17 was blown out of the sky, it remains here, a monument to cruelty. To how 298 souls, some chipped in parts away on a separatist train have yet to find complete rest. Questions left, what or who else did they love, what do they feel in their last moments.

(on camera): The silence from these fields is nothing but tomb like sorrow and loss have isolated it from the war around it. But you really have to stand here and see the things that people want to take with them on a holiday.

And horrifyingly even now smell the stench of decay to understand the urgency for the relatives of those who died they must feel to get inspectors to this site and get some kind of pleasure.

In the hour, we were there, no separatist inspectors or Ukrainian soldiers at this site, just distant smoke. That explains why the inspectors last convoy has not for the fourth day running got here.

(voice-over): God save and protect us, the sign asked, note here, still reeking of jet fuel. Where you can see the heat of the inferno they fell from the sky and strangers have tried to mourn. The scene of this crime has been abandoned, evidence tampered with, what must be shrapnel holes visible in the cockpits remains.

A wallet emptied, the cell phone looted. Traces of daydreams that fell from the jet stream into a war whose daily horrors drowned out bat, which took their lives, whose blind hatred has yet to find space for the minor dignities they deserve.


COOPER: Daydreams that fell from the jet stream. Nick Paton Walsh joins me now live from Donetsk. Ukrainian officials warned that the rebels have set a firing positions and land mines on the access roads to the crash site. Did you see any evidence of that today or did you take a different route?

WALSH: Not the area we went to. Bear in mind, the Ukrainian government, this is happening in the areas around the crash site. It's a huge area and an area being fought over in a civil war. It wouldn't be entirely unlikely they would have some sort of firing position or mines to simply assist them in defending the areas they want to retain control of.

Do we specifically see land mines on the access roads? No. We did see small numbers of separatist militants. They are comparatively welcoming us allowing us to go through to the site itself. But you have to put in mind, the broader picture here now.

We have the Dutch government saying that they don't think they are going to get to the site in the days ahead. There simply isn't the safety they need for the longer term. Presents and I think cynics really look at this and say in the days past, we really seen the Ukrainian government wanting to be sure they are the ones who provide the access.

They are fighting for this area and the areas around it right now and potentially, inspectors working to get to the place with the kind of conditions they need I think really until the Ukrainian military dominate in that area -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Nick, I appreciate it. Stay safe.

Just ahead, fast-moving developments in the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, this is scary stuff. What the peace corps announced just a short time ago.

Plus we're going to talk to a friend of an American missionary now fighting for her life after contracting the virus. She was helping out in a hospital for Ebola patients.


COOPER: Tonight, in the deadly Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. Tonight, a major U.S. organization is pulling its volunteers out of the three worst hit countries. In U.S. health officials are considering raising a travel warning for the region.

Liberia is closing schools and markets so it can disinfect public places. All due to growing concerns that the worst Ebola outbreak in history could spread even further. So far, 670 people have died according to the World Health Organization.

And at this hour, two infected American aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantley and a missionary, Nancy Riple, continue to fight for their lives. In a moment, I'll speak to Nancy's pastor. But first Pamela Brown has the latest.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the deadly Ebola virus moves across West Africa, concern about it spreading further mounts. Two Peace Corps volunteers exposed to the virus are in isolation and under observation before they can return to the U.S.

The Peace Corps announced today it is pulling out hundreds of its volunteers from the three West African countries affected by Ebola and returning them to the U.S.

And CNN has learned that the Centers for Disease Control is considering raising the travel warning to affected countries to the highest level, advising Americans against any non-essential travel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, there is a possibility of somebody flying in from Africa or someplace.

BROWN: As two American aid workers stricken with Ebola in Liberia are showing signs of improvement, the Christian organizations they work for are evacuating all non-essential personnel out of that country. The son of one of the aid workers spoke on the "Today Show."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's fighting through it and continuing to express symptoms but able to move around on her own and getting lots of fluids into her.

BROWN: The disease has already claimed the life of a Minnesota father of three, Patrick Sawyer. Sawyer flew from Liberia to Ghana after a layover there, he flew on to Togo. There he switched to another plane and became violently ill as he flew to Nigeria. Sawyer's widow says she spoke with her husband just days before he died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was visiting his sister. She was ill, and he had helped care for her, and so he contracted it that way. They didn't know it was Ebola, because Ebola displays other symptoms like malaria symptoms, so they thought she may have malaria. If he known, he would have definitely taken better precautions.

BROWN: Liberia has shut down some of its boarders and closed all of its schools and health officials in certain West African countries are screening in bound and out bound airline passengers and the CDC is working with them to show people how to protect themselves from Ebola.

The CDC with these isolation pods should it need to transport anyone stricken with Ebola that needs to be brought back to the U.S. Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: As Pamela mentioned, two American aid workers in West Africa are among those infected with Ebola. John Monroe is a friend and a pastor to missionary, Nancy Riple. He joins me tonight.

Pastor, I understand you spoke to Nancy's husband, David. What did he tell you about her condition?

JOHN MONROE, PASTOR: It's a devastating situation, dreadful condition to be tested positive for Ebola. Today, I spoke with him this morning. She's holding her own very, very tired, very, very weak. In all of the circumstances, in good spirits, if one can be in good spirits in that tough situation.

I was very much encouraged by his focus, that their trust was in the Lord, but said that there is a tremendous weight and emotion. I mean, there is times of sadness, there is times when they are very, very unsure about the future, obviously.

But above all, they are encouraged people are taking interest in them, great pouring out of love and praying for recovery.

COOPER: I know Nancy's husband had to move to another location for his own safety. He was around her before she was diagnosed. Any word on his condition? Does he have any symptoms?

MONROE: Yes, so far not. She is in isolation in their home. He can see her through the window. So there is contact, but obviously, no physical contact. So that is extraordinarily tough for them.

COOPER: The level of care she's getting, are they satisfied with that? The options are limited because she is in isolation.

MONROE: Yes, there is a doctor that goes in to treat her. It's very, very important that she doesn't get dehydrated. It's important she gets fluids. Tomorrow could be different, but today she's holding her own. There certainly isn't deterioration, so for that we're thankful.

COOPER: Things are important for people to realize that neither Nancy nor her husband were in Liberia necessarily to provide medical help. They are missionaries, not doctors, but they went where they thought they were needed. They certainly understood the risk.

MONROE: They did. They didn't go primary to deal with Ebola patients, but as all good missionaries do, they are there to serve the Lord, to do what is needed. This is what they have done. They've abandoned everything and said this is what God is calling us to do.

And as I say, I think it resonates with a lot of people and they want to know they are humbled, they very much appreciate the outpouring of love and the fact that you would take time, Anderson, to show an interest in this case, absolutely amazing. We want people to pray for them and encourage them and I think they are inspired by that.

COOPER: Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with them both, in fact, with all those infected right now. Dr. Brantley, as well. Pastor Monroe, thank you so much for taking time with us.

MONROE: Thank you.

COOPER: Imagine how difficult that would be. Still ahead in the next hour of our program, a special extra hour. Outrage after a strike in another U.N. school in Gaza.