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Israel Announces 4-Hour Cease-Fire; Ebola Fears Hit Close to Home

Aired July 30, 2014 - 08:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, July 30th, 8:00 in the East. Kate is on assignment. Alison Camerota is sitting next to me.

It's good to have you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks. Great to be here.

CUOMO: Appreciate having you here to help us with all this breaking news.

In the Middle East, we have the newest development, a four-hour cease- fire getting under way as we speak, scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time to 12:00, OK? The Israelis authorized the pause for humanitarian purposes. This comes after more than 75 sites in Gaza were targeted by Israel overnight, including mosques. Israelis say they were used to hide weapons and tunnels into Israel.

Also, a deadly incident at a U.N. school in Gaza, leaving 19 people dead, almost 130 hurt.

We have Wolf Blitzer on the ground live in Jerusalem. Let's get some more information on this cease-fire.

Wolf, what do we understand about this?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Well, it's very limited. It's only four hours as you say. It's supposed to begin right now.

The Israelis are promising they won't undertake any aggressive action beyond what they're doing in terms of where Israeli troops are, as far as those tunnels are concerned over the course of the next four hours. They say they will respond if there are attacks from Hamas during the next four hours between now and noon Eastern.

Let me be specific in what they issued in their statement. The IDF announces -- has authorized a four-hour what they call humanitarian cease-fire, what they're calling a temporary window between 3:00 p.m. local time which is 8:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 7:00 p.m. which is noon on Wednesday. The statement says, "The humanitarian window will not apply to areas in which IDF soldiers are currently operating." I assume that means going after those tunnels, and that they will respond to any attempt to harm Israeli citizens or soldiers during that time.

Bottom line is we're going to see in the next few minutes, hours, three, four hours whether or not Hamas continues launching rockets and missiles into Israel. If they do, based on previous lulls, if you will, humanitarian cease-fires, if they do that, Israel probably will take two or three or four, but after that, if they continue, I think that four-hour cease-fire humanitarian window, whatever you want to call it, is going to be over with. The Israelis will respond with a pounding, retaliatory strike.

In part they do this, the Israelis, they've done this for a few times. They know they're under a lot of international pressure because of the pictures, the images, the death toll, the casualties that we're all seeing in Gaza. Several South American, Latin American countries have now recalled their ambassadors from Israel, so the pressure is mounting. The Israelis want to show that they've got a humanitarian instinct there, so they're going to see what happens over the next four hours.

Best-case scenario, Chris, if the next four hours are quiet, maybe that could be expanded another four hours and then 24 hours, then 72 hours, that's what the United Nations special envoy here in Jerusalem, Robert Serry, told me, what he'd like to see done, what the Secretary of State John Kerry would like to see done, start off with a few hours, go to a day or two, and maybe they could prolong it, stop the deaths in both Gaza as well as here in Israel.

CUOMO: It's an interesting question because not receiving or taking rocket fire would be one part of Israel's components for peace, but the tunnels would still be there, they'd still have their worries about the stockpiles of weapons.

Let me ask you about the humanitarian part of this. Who's going to be bringing in aid? Is Israel offering aid in this humanitarian phase or is this just to allow people on the ground to do whatever they can to deal with the shelling?

BLITZER: To a certain degree it's both. Mostly I think if it's quiet over the next four hours it gives the people and the Palestinians in Gaza an opportunity to resupply their homes, do something, check out their family members, walk a little bit, and get a little semblance of normality, if you will. It's not a normal situation by any means.

The Israelis point out that, despite what, it's been three weeks now of this fighting, they still are allowing supplies to go in through that checkpoint that goes from Israel into Gaza. They pound out ironically the Egyptians basically cut off their access points to the southern part of Gaza from Sinai into Gaza, but supplies, humanitarian supplies, convoys, trucks from Israel into Gaza. There are restrictions, not as robust as they were earlier but they're still going in to a certain degree.

Don't get me wrong, it's an awful situation by anyone's account, but there are some supplies that still continue to go in to Gaza from Israel.

CUOMO: Well, at least it's something, and in this situation, you have to take progress where you find it. Hopefully, it does lead to something else. Let us know if the situation on the ground changes or if you hear of any movement from the Hamas side to meet this offer from Israel, Wolf. Thank you very much.

Right now, though, let's get over to Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Chris.

For analysis on all of this, joining us is CNN political commentator Peter Beinart. He's a contributing editor to Atlantic Media and senior columnist at "Haaretz."

Also with us, Jonathan Schanzer. He's vice president of research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Peter, let me start with you. Do you think there's chance for expansion of the four-hour cease-fire that's just been called?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Doesn't seem that likely. First of all you don't have a trusted mediator on either side. Egypt, the country Israel would rather it deal with, has a hostile relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the kind of cousin of Hamas. Hamas would rather deal with Qatar or Turkey, which Israel doesn't trust.

And also you have very different aims. Hamas is going to be hard pressed not to come out of this with some relief from Israel's blockade, while Israel is talking about the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. So, these are quite widely divergent aims.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, what do you think happens at the end of these four hours?

JONATHAN SCHANZER, VP OF RESEARCH, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Well, I think it's quite likely that Hamas is going to on it fire. They've made it pretty clear from their leadership abroad in Doha, also from their leadership on the ground in the Gaza Strip that they see no end in sight so long as the Israeli blockade exists. Of course, the Israelis are not interested in lifting that blockade as long as Hamas remains militarized and able to fire rockets into Israel.

CAMEROTA: Exactly. OK. So, the Palestinians want the blockade lifted. The Israelis want the tunnels destroyed. These seem like mutually beneficial goals.

What is the sticking point? Why can't we make progress on some sort of treaty?

BEINART: Well, first of all, it's not clear who would oversee the demilitarization. I mean, Israel doesn't want to go back to directly occupying Gaza. The Palestinian Authority right now doesn't have a presence in Gaza. So, it's not clear who, in fact, is going to be ruling Gaza to make sure, you're going to house to house to make sure there are not stockpiles of weapons anywhere. So, that's not a small issue.

And then the blockade on the one hand, Israel has legitimate security concerns. On the other hand, there are these enormous Palestinian grievances, not just Hamas, but almost all Palestinians who believe the blockade has suffocated the Palestinian economy. So, these are also I think both very, very difficult issues to resolve.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, do you think there is anything that could get some movement here, get us past loggerheads?

SCHANZER: Well, look, I think the role of Egypt is going to be crucial here, if the Egyptians can make this happen. They're talking right now with Mahmoud Abbas from the Palestinian Authority and some of the other actors from within Gaza. I still think they're crucial, at the end of the day, it's up to the two countries that border Gaza to help broker this, and that comes down to Egypt and Israel.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk about the U.S.'s role. Top Israeli official, the housing minister, went on a radio show yesterday and he basically told President Obama to butt out. He said, quote, "Leave us alone, go focus on Syria."

Is that a widespread sentiment in Israel, that the U.S. is meddling somehow?

BEINART: Look, the housing minister of the Israeli government like many members of the Israeli government, unfortunately, want permanent control over the Palestinians in perpetuity in the West Bank, as well as Israel's continuing occupation over Gaza. I think that's very, very bad for Israel's long-term interests, and I think it's in the United States' national security interest not to have a continuing war that not only has a terrible humanitarian cost but also enflames hostilities to the United States all over the region.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, do you think Secretary Kerry has been able to get any traction? Is he being helpful or is he getting pushback from the Israelis during the process?

SCHANZER: Look, Secretary Kerry has done an admiral job trying to get a cease-fire. I think he's stumbled along the way. There's been a lot of talk in Israel about how he forwarded a cease-fire plan that was endorsed and in fact perhaps even written by Qatar and Turkey, which are, of course, the top patrons of Hamas. This was not really appreciated by the Israelis.

The fact that you had a peace process that collapsed under Secretary Kerry's watch I think also eroded confidence among Israelis.

But the bottom line is that there are 86.5 percent of Israelis who roundly support this operation in Gaza because they feel they are really fighting for Israel's security and they want to get the job done based on military objectives, not political objectives.

CAMEROTA: Right. So, the Israelis feel they are fighting for their security and Peter you were saying that the Palestinians feel that non-violence, when they've tried it, hasn't worked for them. They haven't been rewarded for their non-violence.

BEINART: The tragedy for me is that if you want to defeat, weaken Hamas, you have to show that those Palestinian leaders like Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank who recognized Israel's right to exist, who are doing very good security cooperation with Israel, are getting something for this non-violence and this mutual recognition.

Under this Israeli government, unfortunately, they've gotten the largest settlement within Israeli history, massive subsidies for settlement reconstruction, an Israeli government that is not been willing to put any map on the table in terms of negotiations, has still not publicly accepted the very notion of a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines. That just makes Hamas' job so much easier because it discredits those Palestinians who tried to take the alternative better path.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, what do you think about the notion the Palestinians tried non-violence and not been rewarded? I'm sure Israelis feel they'd like to stop having missiles fired at them

SCHANZER: Look, when it comes to Palestinian politics you have to understand that the choices that the Palestinians have right now are really not choices at all. On the one hand, you've got Mahmoud Abbas -- yes, he's been non-violent and committed to ensure another intifada doesn't happen, or another war doesn't happen. But this is a man who's now nine years into a four-year term. He's been roundly criticized as being corrupt, having an ossified rule or government that doesn't respond to the people.

And on the other hand, you have Hamas which is basically a genocidal jihadi organization. This is not giving the Palestinians a chance to really make real choices. There's been a stagnation on the political level and that really has not a lot to do with Israel. That has a lot to do with just the lack of dynamics within the Palestinian political structure.

BEINART: How on earth could you say it doesn't have to do with Israel? The Palestinians agreed to a national unity government precisely in order so they could have elections, so Abbas could stop to govern even though he lost the (INAUDIBLE). Only the election can produce legitimate Palestinian leadership in both the West Bank and Gaza, and this Israeli government has done everything in its power to destroy that unity government, even though it accepted the quartet conditions and therefore was endorsed by both the U.S. and the European Union.

CAMEROTA: Jonathan, very quickly, response?

SCHANZER: Sure, the critique from the Israeli was you had a Hezbollah model in the Gaza Strip, that Hamas remained militarized and there is no way that you could endorse a unity government under those conditions. It's just that simple.

CAMEROTA: Though nothing is simple, it sounds simple at first blush and when you get into it, you see all of these nuances.

Peter Beinart, Jonathan Schanzer, thanks so much for the context. Great to see both of you.

BEINART: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: All right. Let's go check out the other headlines -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Alisyn, thanks so much.

Here we go

Ukraine now saying it is impossible for international experts to do their work at the flight 17 debris site because they say terrorists set up firing positions and laid land mines there. Those experts say intense fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukraine is keeping them away.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and the European Union have now leveled new sanctions on Russia, targeting oil companies, state-owned banks, weapons makers, and people in President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Breaking this morning: Iran has released one of the four people it detained last week. The husband of an Iranian-American photojournalist has been freed. His wife, however, remains in detention along with "The Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife. Iranian officials have yet to explain why the journalists and their spouses were detained.

Check this out -- a 90-year-old water main rupturing in Los Angeles, sending about 10 million gallons of water rushing onto the UCLA campus and surrounding area. Drivers are being told today to avoid Sunset Boulevard this morning as crews are busy repairing the line. At one point on Tuesday, though, a geyser shot up 30 feet in the air, sending baseball-sized chunks of asphalt flying.

There was so much water. Check it out, the steps of Pauley Pavilion there looks like a waterfall. Inside, Bruins basketball court ruined, just a year and a half after a $136 million renovation. Folks in the parking lot had to be rescued. One person was rescued after being swept under a car. Not often you see a swift water rescue team on a campus.

Really, really terrible to see that aging infrastructure failing in such a miserable way there.

Also some other video we got to show you. Terrifying two women narrowly escaping death after diving under an oncoming train in Indiana. At first, they tried to outrun the train, realized they couldn't get off the tracks in time. They laid down, let the train cross over them. The only other option, and you can see one of them considering it -- an 80-foot drop below.

We still can't get over the fact that the only injury one of them suffered was a stubbed toe. You had a train roll over you and you have a stubbed two.

The two of them are now facing criminal trespassing charges because they were trespassing on the railway.

CAMEROTA: How has your polling of jump or duck been going?

CUOMO: Jump is a prohibitive favorite.

PEREIRA: And on mine, interesting, on mine, it's divided but a few that like your third option of hanging.

CUOMO: I don't know. You'd have to be very strong.

CAMEROTA: I do not like the idea of hanging. Then your fingers get run over and you fall to your death.

PEREIRA: I don't know. Bad situation to find yourself in.


CUOMO: Weigh in, what do you think? What would you do? Of course you would never want to put yourself in that situation.


CUOMO: It is dumb and illegal, but if you were, would you duck down, take the chance with the train or jump off?

PEREIRA: There's a hashtag, dumb and illegal.

CUOMO: Dumb and illegal, I have a t-shirt that says that.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Ebola is coming dangerously close to the U.S. Airlines are shutting down routes because of it. Can we really keep it off our shores?

The widow of the American who died after getting Ebola in Liberia will join us with their story.

CAMEROTA: Plus, he says it was self-defense, the prosecution calls it murder. So, will the accused gunman in the front porch shooting, will he take the stand? We'll debate that, ahead.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.T

There are new fears this morning about just how easily the deadly Ebola virus could spread to the United States. Patrick sawyer, an American, working for the Liberian government, contracted Ebola while caring for his sister in Liberia. He then boarded a flight to Nigeria, where he developed symptoms on the plane, showed those symptoms, and then he died a few days later there. Even more troubling, Sawyer had been planning on traveling back to

America next month to visit his daughters. He could have easily brought Ebola to the U.S., something his family is all too aware of.

Joining us from Minneapolis, Patrick's widow, Decontee Sawyer.

Decontee, it is a delight to have you here and I'm so sorry for your loss and so sorry we're speaking under this circumstance. How are you doing today?

DECONTEE SAWYER, WIFE OF AMERICAN EBOLA VICTIM: I'm holding up. I'm holding up and I'm praying and -- yes, I'm holding up, thank you.

PEREIRA: You're holding up and I know you have a lot of support there in Minneapolis. I know you have a community, a church community that's supporting you and I know you're going to need it. Let me ask you about what your husband was doing in Liberia, we know he was working for the government. You live here, he was living there, what kind of work was he doing?

SAWYER: He worked for the finance ministry in Liberia. He worked with the ECOWAS unit, and yes, that's what he did.

PEREIRA: And he was on his way to a conference in Nigeria. Did he --

SAWYER: Correct.

PEREIRA: -- did you speak beforehand and did he seem aware of the concern about Ebola? Did he voice to you any concern he had specifically?

SAWYER: No, he -- we communicated on Friday, the Friday before he died, and no, he didn't communicate his concerns about Ebola with me at that time. So, no.

PEREIRA: How much information are you getting on what happened and how he may have contracted the disease in we understand he was visiting his sister and that she had been infected?

SAWYER: Yes, yes. He was visiting his sister. She was ill, and he helped care for her.

PEREIRA: Um-hum.

SAWYER: And so, he contracted it that way. They didn't know it was Ebola, because Ebola displays other symptoms like malaria symptoms.

PEREIRA: Um-hum.

SAWYER: So they thought she may have malaria, so he was helping. Had he known, he would have definitely taken better precautions.

PEREIRA: Well, he likely -- right, that's a very good point, he would have taken more precautions, he likely wouldn't have traveled because there is the concern he may have infected people on that flight, that he took to Nigeria. SAWYER: Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, that's the huge concern, there's a huge

concern. So yes.

PEREIRA: Let me ask you, I know you have family there in Liberia. Have you had a chance to talk to them about what they're being told about Ebola, how to protect themselves, steps to take or measures to take?

SAWYER: Well, they're all concerned about me keeping it together, so there -- you know, when we talk it's what they talk about, and I try to gear the conversation towards that, you know, them taking care of themselves, and protecting themselves. I have my cousins and uncles that went to visit Liberia before.

And so, you know, people go there to visit frequently, and I am trying to encourage people not to go and visit right now, if you're not part of the medical team or assistance, don't go, stay home. People are dying. Lives need to be saved and if you're not part of that team, please get out of the way.

PEREIRA: It's a really good message and important message to heed, and it's so like family. They're concerned about you, and you're concerned about them. That's a beautiful thing.

I want to you talk about that a little bit, because now you -- Decontee, you have three little girls without their father, Mia, Bella and what's your third daughter?

SAWYER: And Ava.

PEREIRA: Ava, how are they doing?

SAWYER: They're doing OK. They're, you know, 5, 4 and 1. Ava, she's 5. Mia's 4 and Bella is 1.

Ava is really the only one I had the discussion with. And Bella, I mean, Bella is 1, and Mia, she's 4. She also has autism, and so she, you know, processes things a little bit differently, and is a little bit delayed, and so you know, she doesn't get it.

And so Ava and I had a discussion. I had to tell her that her daddy is in heaven now, and she said, "Well, I thought he was in Liberia." See, Patrick's work kept him away a lot from us. He was gone for long periods of time, and the truth is that it put a strain on our marriage, and in every way, because I wanted him back home.


SAWYER: I wanted him here with me, and the girls. He felt like Liberia needed him more, and he felt like he needed to fight the good fight in Liberia. He wanted like a better democracy for Liberia. He would say, "Liberia doesn't have a middle class. You know, we have very poor and very rich".

And, you know, because he lived in America for so many years and so he wanted like a better democracy for Liberia, a middle class. He was big on social justice.

PEREIRA: It sounds like that will be his legacy, don't you think, Decontee, his legacy will be his work on the ground.


PEREIRA: Now, I know that you are very proud of Liberia as well. And you --


PEREIRA: So many people in your community have put together an organization, because you say you're very, very concerned.


PEREIRA: About the awareness. Tell me about the organization you started.

SAWYER: I am very, very concerned about the awareness. I'm very concerned about getting the word out and the way Patrick died and the way things ended with us, because we were separated, to be honest, that's how much of a strain this cost. Last time Patrick was home was July of last year.


SAWYER: Was the last time he was home, and the time before that was October of the year before.

So things between us, but -- you know, we're parents and we love each other and we love our children, so we wanted to do right for our children, and co-parent and all of that

PEREIRA: We're glad that you have the support from your community and from your church and I'm glad to know that your family is concerned about you as well. You have support and that's the thing to really lean on right now, Decontee, with your three little girls.

SAWYER: Yes, I need them more than ever.

PEREIRA: You do, and again, you started a group called Concerned Liberia Against Ebola. We thank you so much for joining us on NEW DAY and spending time with us --

SAWYER: Thank you.

PEREIRA: -- to recognize the life of your husband. Decontee Sawyer, thanks so much.

SAWYER: And we'd like folks to donate or gift pledge -- not pledges -- but resources, supplies to Samaritan Purse, those are the two, that's the organization we've identified because I don't want anyone bringing me money. I don't want anyone bringing me supplies to ship back to Liberia. These organizations have reached out to us, to my team, and we're not registered, we're not, you know, an NGO or anything. We're just a concerned group of Liberians, Concerned Liberians against Ebola. We have a Facebook page. We're directing everyone's efforts to Samaritan Purse and Global Health Ministries.

PEREIRA: Wonderful.

SAWYER: And if you have any donations or any supplies, we're reaching out to hospitals to donate protective gears and medical supplies and things like that, contact any one of these two groups that we've identified, because my fear is that people are going to start splintered groups and start raising money and that's going to get misused.

PEREIRA: Fair enough, we'll make sure that information gets passed along.

Decontee Sawyer, thank you so much. And thank you for all that information, and people are looking for ways to help and we'll direct them to the organizations.

SAWYER: Yes, please direct them there.

PEREIRA: You got it.

SAWYER: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Thanks so much for spending time with us, take care of your family.

OK. We're going to take a short break here on NEW DAY.

Ahead, Russia paying the price for arming separatists in Ukraine, hit with worldwide sanctions that could cost that country billions. What exactly does Russia think of the sanction, though? We're going to take you live to Moscow for the very latest.

Also, he's accused of shooting and killing an unarmed teen on his front porch. Should this accused gunman take the stand in his defense? Our panel will weigh in.