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Israel and Hamas Agree to 72-Hour Ceasefire

Aired July 31, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us. We're live tonight now and at 10:00 Eastern Time. There is a lot to cover.

Breaking news on two fronts today. On the Ebola outbreak, doctors here get ready to receive two critically ill Americans infected with Ebola. The first time anyone with Ebola will be in the United States.

And in the Middle East where it is 3:00 a.m., more than three weeks into the bloody war between Israel and Hamas. Secretary of State Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon say the two sides have agreed to a humanitarian truce taking effect in just a few hours.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Israel and the Palestinian factions have agreed that they are now prepared to implement a 72-hour unconditional humanitarian ceasefire. So starting later this morning at 8:00, August 1st, the parties are expected to cease all offensive military activities. And neither side will advance beyond its current locations.


COOPER: That ceasefire is supposed to take place some five hours from now, 8:00 a.m. local time in Israel. Forces on the ground will stay in place as Secretary Kerry said and judging from the sound of artillery sound and air raid sirens we've been hearing since word of the agreement came, it appears that no one is ceasing fire just yet. That is still to come.

As our talks in Cairo and the hard work of helping hundreds of thousands of noncombatants in Gaza during a very narrow timeframe. The U.N. has said they are simply overwhelmed at the breaking point in Gaza City.

We have correspondents tonight in Gaza City, Jerusalem, southern Israel and Washington. Let's start with our Jim Sciutto who's got the latest on how the deal was arrived at, the terms and importantly what happens now.

So what do we know, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk about the details first. This is meant to -- to begin with a 72- hour ceasefire, three days, it's going to begin tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. local time in Gaza and the Muslim faith, the day of Friday prayers, meant to give a chance for people there to get food they need, medical aid, you know, sadly to bury the dead, visit homes that they've had to evacuate because of the bombing, but also to give a window for talks on a more durable ceasefire to last beyond that 72-hour window, which they say can be extended.

I'll tell you, Anderson, considering where we were this morning, this was something of a surprise announcement, you know, a small step forward but something of a breakthrough in what has been, as you know, just a bloody, bloody, brutal two weeks of war.

COOPER: Well, the statement from the U.N. says that forces on the ground will remain in place during the ceasefire. Do we know if that means that for Israel that they continue operations to destroy those tunnels?

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. They will be able to continue, in the words of a State Department official, to act defensively, to continue tunnel operations, anti-tunnel operations behind current lines, current battle lines as far as they've advanced to this point in Gaza. And this echoes statements that Prime Minister Netanyahu made earlier today when he said, quote, "I will not agree to any proposal that does not allow the IDF," the Israeli Defense Forces, "to complete the work," which he says important for security of Israel's future.

So, you know, this will be a ceasefire but not all fire will cease, in fact.

COOPER: And in terms of negotiations, let's talk about the details on that because it's not just Hamas, there is also Palestinian Authority, also members of the Islamic jihad, I understand also the PLO.

SCIUTTO: That's right. I mean, the key players here are certainly the U.S., Israel, Palestinian leaders with Egypt serving as the key mediator, leading, as well and the location of these talks, which we're told can begin as soon as tomorrow. But it is key, as you mentioned, that not just Hamas will be present. The Palestinian Authority, in particular, Mohammed Abbas' leadership, that is a step- up in stature for them, and in a way it's a blow to -- to Hamas' statute, to have the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian groups involved in this.

And that is something positive because, as you know, the last Israel -- they've refused to deal with Hamas directly and in their vision, you know, the only partner they have for peace is the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, appreciate the details.

Let's get now the latest from Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.

What are you hearing about Israeli officials about the ceasefire, Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: They have the -- they have decided to go along with it. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Israeli officials say they did have the authority from the security cabinet to go ahead and accept this proposal and it was conveyed directly to the Secretary of State John Kerry and to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

It's a very controversial decision, Anderson, as you know. There are members of the Israeli security cabinet, including the foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, others like Naftali Bennett, who will oppose this ceasefire. They want Israel to go ahead and try to crush Hamas as much as possible and not hold back.

They don't only want Israel the defensive measures like continuing to blow up and destroy those tunnels, they want to go on the offensive and find Hamas' infrastructure, find the rockets, find the launchers, go after them. So this will be controversial. We'll see what impact it does have on the coalition, the government that the prime minister has put together, but it will be controversial.

And it's interesting that only Israeli officials are telling us that they've accepted. A formal statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu, no statement to the nation, no direct address or anything like that has come forward. They recognize this will be controversial. The Israeli public will be divided, some will say yes, it's a good idea but plenty of others will say don't do a ceasefire, go ahead and crush Hamas as much as possible before you accept any sort of deal. So there will be controversy here.

COOPER: And, Wolf, just this morning, Netanyahu was speaking before the ceasefire was announced saying that this was the first phase of the demilitarization of Gaza. The term they used. It certainly didn't sound like the end of the operation was in sight then. Was part of that tough talk in order to prompt the other side to agree to a ceasefire, do you think?

BLITZER: It wasn't just tough talk. The Israelis were clearly bracing for an expanded operation. As you know, earlier this morning they announced 16,000 reservists would be activated, would be mobilized. That brings 86,000 reservists who have been called to duty because of this operation in Gaza. That's a huge number for a really small country like Israel. So they were clearly gearing up for a bigger operation.

That's why this announcement from Ban Ki-Moon and John Kerry came as a big surprise to a lot of folks because everyone is sort of anticipating that Israel was going to go on and expand the operation as opposed to just standing firm. They're not going to withdraw their troops from Gaza. They're going to stay in place. They're not going to undertake offensive operations, no airstrikes, no naval strikes, ground strikes or anything like that. But they will continue the destruction of those Hamas tunnels.

One thing I should point out, the Israeli general in charge of the Southern Command did say yesterday that he thought the Israeli tunnel operation was nearly complete, so maybe it is complete by now. That's what would allow Netanyahu and the defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon, to go ahead and accept this deal -- COOPER: Right.

BLITZER: -- put forward by the U.S. and the U.N.

COOPER: All right. Wolf, appreciate the update.

We want to go now to our Sara Sidner who's in Ashkelon, Southern Israel, where the ceasefire may be coming but the rockets keep coming as well.

Sara, we're hours away from the start of this, less than five hours away. Since the announcements, I understand rockets have been fired out of Gaza and also from where you are into Gaza. What have you been seeing and hearing?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, about a couple of hours ago, actually an hour and a half ago, we heard from the IDF that there were sirens going on, there were three rockets that came over, two of them fell into the Mediterranean, one of them had to be taken out by the Iron Dome, and usually that means that it's headed towards a populated area.

We were in an area today where one of those rockets actually fell into a neighborhood and it blasted a couple of cars across the street, injured someone who had to be taken to the hospital. Pop marks all over the homes. But we have also been hearing a lot of artillery fire, those deep baritone booms from here outgoing towards Gaza. It has been quiet, I will add, though, from the artillery for about a couple of hours, Anderson.

And it's really the quietest we've heard it. We've been here for four nights and it has been a constant sound in the background, that sound of the artillery just going and going and going and we have heard the sirens, as well, today, taking cover ourselves a couple of times. So, you know, this has -- usually what happens, Anderson, and you know this from being in the region yourself the last time that there was a war between Israel and Gaza, usually right before the ceasefire is when both sides try to pound each other, but we're not hearing that in the last couple of hours.

COOPER: Right.

SIDNER: A little bit of a difference and it gives people a little bit of hope that maybe this will hold but, you know, the last time it lasted only 12 hours and really it wasn't a ceasefire because there were still rockets coming from Gaza into Israel. We'll see what happens now -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Now to Gaza City where at last check the Israeli military was still continuing their operation just hours ahead of the ceasefire.

John Vause is there for us.

John, what's the latest on the ground there? JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, simply to

essentially repeat what Sara just told you from her position in Ashkelon, I can pretty much confirmed for you here in Gaza City, it is very quiet. Again, a few hours ago, there was out going rocket fire coming from Hamas, I counted at least four of them from my position here. They could have been firing from elsewhere into other parts of Israel.

We're also hearing some heavy weapons fire, maybe .50 caliber machine guns being fired to the east of us in the Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel has repeatedly flattened over the last three weeks here, and again, we heard the sound of that incoming artillery, but it has been pretty quiet here, Anderson, for the last few hours.

COOPER: You know, John, essentially you were -- earlier this week, you were reporting live when the last ceasefire failed. Any reason to believe that this is going to be different this time?

VAUSE: Well, that last ceasefire was a four-hour humanitarian pause. It was announced by Israel and Hamas never agreed to it. They said this isn't a ceasefire. We don't -- we will not be controlled by Israel. We'll conduct this war on our own terms, if you like, and they accused Israelis of simply doing that as a media stunt.

This time they put out a text message. They said they will abide by this ceasefire providing the other party, which means Israel, sticks to the agreement and this does feel different for two reasons. As Sara said, in the past when we come up with the ceasefire, there's always been this flurry of activity to try and hammer the other side as much as they can before they have to stop. And that's not happening right now. And also because if you look behind me, it's pitch black out there.

This is the third night it's been like and there is no electricity here and a lot of people are suffering here in Gaza.

COOPER: Yes, I know you were out reporting today on the lack of basic services like water and electricity. We know the power plant -- there were explosions days ago, knocking out power, even some sewage treatment, water treatment and the like. How important is the ceasefire for civilians in Gaza simply to take care of some of the basic needs. I mean, I talked to a guy from the U.N. last night, the coordinator for the relief and welfare agency there. He said they had some 220,000 displaced people in U.N. facilities -- in 85 to 86 U.N. facilities and he said they are at the breaking point.

VAUSE: Yes, and that's absolutely right. And it's not just the 200,000 people here in those U.N. facilities. We're also hearing from the United Nations saying they believe that they have another 250,000 people who are being forced from their homes, and staying with friends, family. They're staying under tents or sheets, which are strung up as tents around the hospital, they're living in parking lots. They're living beside the road. That's 450,000 people.

That's a quarter of the population here in Gaza, 1.7 million people live here, 450,000 people forced from their homes. That's a lot of people. So if you walk around there are shortages here. Now we've been warned that diesel is running low. Water supplies can be running low. Without the electricity, people have been running on generators. Without those -- without diesel for those generators in the coming days, what water pumps are working will no longer work. Raw sewage, effluent, is running into the sea here. So yes, this is dire here right now. People are suffering. And you know, they talk tough. They say, you know what they say with Hamas, but really, they want this to end.

COOPER: John Vause, appreciate it. Thank you. Be careful, John.

As the beginning of the ceasefire approaches, four hours and 45 minutes away, we'll be covering developments throughout the hour and of course throughout the night. As I said we're live again in the 10:00 hour East Coast time of the United States.

Coming up next, we have reaction from diplomats and former diplomats on both sides about the agreement tonight and the negotiations ahead.


COOPER: Well, the breaking news tonight, things going quiet after an agreement between Israel and Hamas to spend the next three days talking, not shooting. The -- to ceasefire to begin at 8:00 a.m. local time in Gaza and Israel. That's less than five hours from now. Talks between the two sides could begin in Cairo as soon as tomorrow.

Joining us now is Maen Rashid Areikat, chief of the PLO delegation in Washington.

Ambassador, thanks for being with us. Have all the Palestinian factions now agreed to this ceasefire including both the political and military arms of Hamas and the Islamic jihad?

MAEN AREIKAT, PLO AMBASSADOR IN THE U.S.: It seems so, Anderson. I think this agreement enjoys the support of all the Palestinian factions. President Abbas spent the last 48 hours exerting intensive efforts with different factions with regional players in order to arrive at this truce or humanitarian ceasefire to allow for the political negotiations to take place in Cairo.

COOPER: What's different this time? I mean, as you know, last time Hamas rejected the proposed humanitarian ceasefire and said that Israel's agreement to it was basically just for show.

AREIKAT: Well, I think, you know, each side for tactical purposes did not believe that the other side was serious. Hamas thought that Israel wanted to provide humanitarian short period. They were looking for longer period. They accepted, they rejected. I think this time around it's different. And this is a very important step forward, but a lot is needed -- a lot is needed to be done when they meet in Cairo. The difficult issues will be discussed when they engage in Cairo.

COOPER: The agreement says, and I quote, the forces on the ground will remain in place. As you know, Israeli prime minister said emphatically today, earlier today, that no matter what, the IDF would continue their mission to destroy the tunnels that Hamas has dug into Israel. Is that something that's acceptable to you, to all the parties?

AREIKAT: You know, the political level, especially in Israel, will try to, you know, give the impression that the Israelis are still in control, in charge. I think I wouldn't give so much significance to these statements. I think on the ground we will hopefully witness quiet to enable the parties to go to Egypt and to discuss the underlying causes. Hopefully, that will lead to a longer term agreement to maintain quiet and to lift the blockade on the Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip.

COOPER: For you, what is essential? I mean I assume lifting the blockade, as you said.

AREIKAT: Absolutely. I think Gaza is an open air jail, 1.8 Palestinians for seven years, Israel controlled land, sea and air. It is the time that the people of Gaza live in dignity and freedom and there has to be certain arrangements that will also make sure that this kind of violence is not repeated and that Israel should not be allowed to have a free hand on targeting innocent civilians the way they targeted them the last 23 days.

COOPER: Do you see a role for the Palestinian authority in Gaza?

AREIKAT: Very, very important role. I think the fact that President Abbas brokered this agreement with -- working with the Palestinian factions, the Palestinian delegation that will go to Cairo will be a unified Palestinian delegation that will include all factions and the fact that these negotiations will focus on opening the crossing points, the Palestinian Authority will play an important role.

Keep in mind, Anderson, there is a national consensus government that has been approved by Fattah and Hamas was formed on June 2nd and this consensus government was planning before the Israeli onslaught on Gaza to create arrangements in Gaza, to -- for the Palestinian Authority to return to the Gaza Strip.

COOPER: Secretary Kerry has said that he wants to try to build some momentum, some goodwill on each side. Obviously that's an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. The Israelis have said they will insist on the complete demilitarization of Gaza as part of a long-term solution. Is that a non-starter for Hamas?

AREIKAT: Absolutely.

COOPER: A non-starter for the Palestinian Authority?

AREIKAT: Absolutely. Any talk of demilitarization, the Palestinians have said repeated that they will accept a demilitarized state once Israel and its military occupation. The Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. They are the ones who are under occupation. Not the Israelis. They are the ones who are subjected to continuous Israeli violations and therefore, any talk about demilitarization, maybe Israel should offer also to take certain goodwill gestures by saying once piece is achieved with the Palestinians we will also abandon our nuclear arsenal and we will also abandon our offensive weapons.

Once peace is achieved, there is no reason for either party to be concerned about the other attacking them, but the end of the occupation is the key element.

COOPER: But, as you know, I mean, Israel has said, well, Hamas itself does not accept the existence of the state of Israel. So to say that there will be no concern, is that really reasonable for the Israelis to trust Hamas?

AREIKAT: Hamas is saying that while the Israeli occupation continues, they are not willing to recognize or deal with Israel. I mean, that's their political decision. It's not the PLO position. But they believe that they -- this is a correct position. They want Israel to show willingness to end its military occupation of the Palestinian people, allow the Palestinian people to have their independent state.

I believe in due time, Hamas will join the main stream political position of the Palestinian people and will be able to sign on just comprehensive deal that will end the Israeli occupation and allow for the Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity.

COOPER: Ambassador Areikat, appreciate your time. Thank you very much for being with us.

AREIKAT: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: I also now want to bring in former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon.

Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us. You heard some of the statements made by the ambassador from the PLO. I'm wondering if you have any comments on them.

DANNY AYALON, FOUNDER, THE TRUTH ABOUT ISRAEL: Well, first of all, Israel has welcomed repeatedly ceasefires. And we do not want to hurt anybody, least of all civilians. It was the Hamas who broke and never accepted the ceasefire. Hamas is the one who actually provoked and they instigated the entire crisis, and I would like to remind my -- the previous speaker, Master Areikat, that Israel has left completely Gaza in 2005, seven, eight years ago.

We have uprooted all our communities over there. We gave Gaza to the Palestinians until the last inch since we did that in the hope that this would change their attitudes towards peace, we have received more than 15,000 rockets indiscriminately on our civil populations. So of course, we would appreciate the ceasefire.

As I observe the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, they really are reluctant warriors. They don't know when to start, they didn't want to continue. But what we see I think the lesson from this latest operation is the deterrence, vis-a-vis Hamas, is not enough. Hamas is a very, very radical Islamist terror organization and there is no difference in its ideology nor in its (INAUDIBLE) between the Hamas and the ISIS or Hezbollah or Islamic jihad or al Qaeda. This is why deterrence here is not enough. Because they are not

deterred as they sanctified it especially their civilians. So we need to see not just deterrence, as they are not deterred by death as I say, but we need to see neutralizing their offensive capabilities. This is why we -- Israel insists now on completing the demilitarization of Gaza, disarming of Hamas, so they will not be able at will to target our civilians again.

COOPER: When you say you've completely pulled out of Gaza, that's true in terms of your forces on the ground there, you did that years ago, but you do control the borders to Gaza, you do control the sea lanes to Gaza, fishing rights, I mean, you control who comes in and out of Gaza.

AYALON: Only as a response to the Hamas and before that to the Fattah as well. The PLO are smuggling and actually creating a launching pad of attacks on Israel from Gaza. If the Gazans or if the Palestinians over there would accept a effective, a reliable monitoring regime it wouldn't be a problem, but you see, they always accused us for not understanding. They imported a lot of cement for building, but we find out now that most of the cement was put in underground for all this tunnel war, and attack tunnel war from which they wanted to attack it, and indeed attack and kidnap one of our soldiers, Gilad Shalit.

So we see this is a regime over there, a terror regime which cannot be trusted. This is why we need to make sure everything goes in is inspected and we would like very much Gaza to flourish. This is why we left in the first place.

COOPER: So how do you see this being extended beyond a 72-hour window? What is -- I mean, there have to be confidence building measures. And you -- I mean, as you said, there is a lack of trust, frankly, on all sides here. So how do you even go about something more permanent?

AYALON: Well, probably now we will go into this phase of negotiations in Cairo. Indirect negotiations where Israeli negotiators will speak to our friend and allies, the Americans, and the Egyptians. They will speak in turn to maybe Abbas people, the PLO, and through them to Hamas, and hopefully, the equation will be prosperity to Gaza but for security for Israel and to do that, there is a very special formula.

Everything that comes into Gaza should be inspected. It shouldn't be a problem to do in a real effective way, then I think Israel can feel secure and we would really benefit from prosperity in Gaza.

The only maybe faction that will not benefit maybe is Hamas because maybe with prosperity, maybe with more participation of the Palestinian Authority, this may diminish their grip over Gaza, but for the Gazan people, we wish very much that they would live as we would like to live without terror, without violence, without aggression. We have to remember Hamas and I must really correct Areikat before me.

Hamas charter is bent on the destruction of Israel and it has nothing to do with the borders of Israel. It's the very existence of Israel. COOPER: So when he --

AYALON: -- that they want to abolish.


COOPER: So when he said he believes that that Hamas --

AYALON: -- to anything which is not Islamist.

COOPER: When he says that he believes Hamas will ultimately sort of come on board with the Palestinian Authority in terms of their attitude vis-a-vis Israel, do you ever believe that or do you believe to their core, they have this desire to see the destruction of Israel?

AYALON: Anderson, I will believe in what they do, not in what they say, and so far, they have really been attacking civilians and using their own civilians as human shields. You know, it is not Israel who has set this principle. It was set by the United States and the quartet.


AYALON: The U.N., Russia, EU and the U.S. who have said that for the Hamas to be a legitimate interlocker, they must first recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism and then abide by former agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians. If this is the case, I would very much accept them as interlocker, but they have to do that not only in English or Hebrew but in Arabic, as well.

COOPER: Mr. Ambassador, Ambassador Ayalon, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, what two keen observers of the region think of the deal, Secretary Kerry and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of the U.N. announced tonight.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight, hope for three days of a cease- fire, 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire set to take in effect in the Middle East beginning at 8 a.m. local time. That's about 4-1/2 hours from now, 1 a.m. east coast time.

Joining us now is now CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart, who is a contributing editor for "Atlantic Media" and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and also is a columnist at "Haaretz" newspaper, and Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the Palestine Center. Appreciate both of you being with us.

Yousef, let me start with you. The cease-fire set to begin at 8:00. What has to happen in that window diplomatically, that 72-hour window to be able to extend this?

YOUSEF MUNAYYER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PALESTINE CENTER: I think the most important thing, there is actually a cease and fire. Most importantly from the side in this -- these hostilities, which is really able to inflict the most significant casualties here as we've been seeing on the ground, which is the Israeli side.

After that, you have to have a serious conversation about dealing with the legitimate grievances of Palestinians on the ground. I think the biggest challenge that we've seen in the past to having durable cease- fires is that Palestinians have essentially been presented with two options.

Either they continue to live on their knees or they die fighting on their feet, and I think if they continue to be presented with such an incentive structure after this cease-fire, we're only going to see a recurrence.

So that's what really has to happen here. You have to deal with legitimate grievances of people on the ground. You have to end the siege. You have to end the denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people, or else this is just going to be another reoccurring episode over and over again.

COOPER: Peter, it's not just the situation in Gaza. It's also the situation in the West Bank that has to be dealt with. Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, is going to be at the negotiations, but one of the things his supporters say, look, we've gone to the root of non-violence and have got nothing out of it for the last 20 years.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, I think this is the key. I think Abbas is really a key player here. I think Israel has to act in a way that strengthens Abbas. Israel wants to see Gaza demilitarized. I would like to see Gaza demilitarized.

But Israel is not going to directly occupy Gaza again having its soldiers permanently. They won't do that. The root, the root that was already there, the Palestinian unity government that was already going to give the Palestinian Authority --

COOPER: But you mean between the Mahmoud Abbas' party and Hamas?

BEINART: Right. It was supported by the United States because it met the three croquet conditions. Hamas as a party doesn't accept Israel's right to exist, but Hamas supported that government, which Abbas clearly said accept Israel's right to exist.

So have under that unity government, Abbas and then Palestinian Authority to be able to have a presence in Gaza, go to elections to have a legitimate Palestinian leadership. I think it's very unlikely, frankly, that Hamas would win those elections.

And then you have the political basis, it seems to me for demilitarization that Israel wants. The military pieces, the political pieces have to go together.

COOPER: Yousef, has the Palestinian Authority been weakened and Hamas strengthened by the fighting just in the last few weeks?

MUNAYYER: I think the -- a lot of the conversation is focused on this dichotomy between Israel and Hamas and the reality is, what we're seeing on the ground in the Gaza Strip is not that at all. You're seeing Hamas, Islam and Jihad.

You're seeing the El Axa Mortars Brigade, which is affiliated with Mahmous Abbas' party, the Democratic front and the popular front for the Liberation of Palestine, parties that really span the political and ideological spectrum in Palestine resisting what is essentially an attack on all Palestinians.

You know, these bombs don't discriminate between members of Hamas or members of this party or that. The siege does in discriminate between one party or the other. So I think moments like this bring Palestinians together to focus on what is really the underlying problem here, which is the denial of their basic rights, their civil, political and human rights by this Israeli occupation, by this Israeli system of siege and violence.

So, you know, I think that the policies that we've seen in the past that have tried to play one Palestinian party off of the other by either bolstering the moderates or whatever else, is actually only played into a system that has delegitimized Palestinian leaders.

I think if anything, the Israelis and the Americans should stay out of Palestinian politics, allow Palestinians to choose their own leaders and if you have a representative Palestinian leadership, you have much greater chances of having a lasting peace agreement?

COOPER: Do you believe that, Peter?

BEINART: Yes. I think that's basically right. I think Israel has every reason to be worried and concerned about Hamas because Hamas has not recognized Israel's right to exist and hostile to women and hostile to gays --

COOPER: But firing rockets and building tunnels.

BEINART: It was very, very, frightening to have rockets and Israelis have been dealing with that for a long time especially in the south. They need to bet on Palestinian democracy and legitimately elected Palestinian leaders and show the leaders will get something from recognizing Israel's right to exist and pursuing non-violence. Ink that's the best bet for the long-term safety.

COOPER: Peter, Yousef, appreciate both you being on. Thank you very much.

Up next, the Ebola crisis deepens, travel warnings rise, American hospitals go on alert. An experimental drug is tried on one of two Americans clinging to life, as a special isolation plane is going to fly them safely out of Africa and into the United States for the first time.

It will be people infected with Ebola in the United States. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Welcome back. There is breaking news tonight in Western Africa. Right now at this hour, a medical charter flight is on its way to Liberia from the United States to bring home two American aid workers infected with Ebola. The last 24 hours, they have gotten even sicker.

One patient, Nancy Writebol, got a dose of an experimental serum. They are among more than 1,300 people who have contracted the virus in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. The CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, today raising its warning against traveling to those countries to the highest level.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report on the Ebola outbreak from the frontlines in Guinea, he's seen it firsthand what health workers are up against. He joins me tonight.

Sanjay, this evacuation, it has to be logistically very difficult in terms of containment and care.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that's probably the biggest challenge, obviously. You have patients who are highly infectious, meaning even small amounts of body fluid with the virus can cause infections, and you want to keep everyone on the plane safe.

So you know, the people who are actually responsible for that transport, so imagine you've seen some of the images here, but imagine a tent-like structure almost within the plane where you can still provide care through some specially created passage ways. But you know, it really keeps the people safe.

COOPER: Are there trained people have who have actually done this before who are going to be dealing with these people who are sick?

GUPTA: What I'll tell you, Anderson, is that with regard to infectious diseases, diseases that you are worried about, it could be things like multiple drug resistant tuberculosis, Marberg, Ebola, the way that they are treated is from a macro standpoint, pretty much the same.

These patients need to be in isolation and that isolation needs to be pristine everything from the way that the air circulates in the room, the way that people are allowed to enter into the room. The rooms before you get into the room where the patient is so people can gown up.

All of that is necessary and really, you know, quite effective. Some of those resources just aren't available in some of those remote places in Africa, places you and I have visited. They don't have to this technology.

COOPER: And the experimental serum that one of the aid workers received, do we know a lot about it?

GUPTA: No, there is a few different vaccine sort of trials that have been ongoing, people trying to develop a vaccine for Ebola and this would be a vaccine that could be given either before an infection or even after an infection to try and help the person recover.

This particular one, you know, we're not exactly sure who created it, but it is an experimental thing because there is no approved vaccine or serum to give. You may well, as know, Anderson, Dr. Brantley, Dr. Kent Brantley, he had helped take care of patients with Ebola.

And a 14-year-old boy that he had cared for recovered, and they actually took some of his blood, this boy's blood to give to Dr. Brantley --

COOPER: Wow, that's incredible.

GUPTA: It really is extraordinary, as far as how effective it's going to be, we don't know because it's a rare circumstance, but the idea is that boy's blood probably contained anti-bodies to help fight the Ebola virus.

COOPER: Sanjay, finally, where are they going to be treated? Do you know?

GUPTA: Yes, we've been able to confirm this, in Atlanta, the hospital where I happen to be on faculty is going to receive this patient, you know, and they have an isolation ward that is physically separate from where they care for other patient areas. This is obviously big news.

A lot of people are sort of anticipating this, but Emory is sending out alerts, they sent an alert to the faculty, sometime ago saying look, we know how to take care of this. We have the isolation ward in place. It's one of four facilities in the country, and they are anticipating taking care of this patient.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: You got it, thank you.

COOPER: Well, up next, we'll follow exclusively video as international investigators finally get back to the MH-17 crash site. We'll talk to somebody who was there today about what they saw and found.


COOPER: For the first time in days, investigators were able to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot out of the sky two weeks ago. Now you are looking at exclusive photos from that mission to the crash site today.

Monitors were able to use a new route to get to the site after being kept out by fighting in the area for four days. Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, he joins me.

So Michael, you were finally able to get to the crash site. What were you able to do there?

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, SPOKESMAN, ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE: Anderson, I think in all the days we've been talking about this. Today must have gone down as the most extraordinary. We crossed the front line no less than four times to get there and back, and this was the result of a last-minute kind of tailor-made cease-fire that was made for this special monitoring mission to Ukraine.

We went to the main site, had a good look around. The good news is that after almost a week, not there, absent from there, everything was more or less in tact from what we can tell. As you know, we've been out there so many times, we're able to notice subtle changes. That was the good news.

Of course, the sad part is that two weeks, almost to the hour that this plane came down than when we were out there today, there is still human remains out there. In fact, the experts detected some. They have marked it, and hopefully tomorrow things will stay calm and we can get out there.

They did a good mapping to get to the heavy debris and search for more human remains. They have sniffer dogs will be need right away. I think there is mention of aerial equipment, surveillance equipment so the land could be better searched.

This goes back to time is of the essence. Everyone realizes that time is no longer on our side. This investigation has to kick start into high gear right away.

COOPER: We've talked in the last couple days, you have personnel with you, part of a larger team from the Netherlands, Australia and elsewhere who are -- they have the equipment they need to actually start to pick up retrieve, some of the victims' remains. Are there cadaver dogs, sniffer dogs in country?

BOCIURKIW: I understand they are already in country. So there is quite a bit in country. Apparently, there is a lot of activity behind the scenes happening that we weren't aware of. That is good news, as well.

And I should say that today, the reason we stuck to the small group is we were seeing this is a new northern route quite far to the north because the one that goes exclusively through rebel-held territory is no longer safe. As you know we've tried it for two days now.

So that's another factor. Tomorrow if all goes well, we'll add quite a few more vehicles to the convoy so we can take as many people as possible out there.

COOPER: How much time do you think you need at the crash site or do the investigators think they need? Do you know at this point?

BOCIURKIW: They gave an indication. They are experts at this. They looked at for example one of the crash site areas that we're very familiar with where the kind of rear stabilizers came down near the chicken farm I referred to so many times, that might take six hours to do a sweep. And the other thing they came up with, today, Anderson, is that they noticed that there is a lot of land there that doesn't seem to have been searched whatsoever because they noticed that the grass or high stocks of corn had not been trampled over.

Now, it seems every time we talk there is a new layer of complication and the latest layer, of course, is that if the front line does shift even a little bit and traverses this crash site, that's the worst of all possible scenarios and indeed, today, Anderson, there were huge explosions going off about 20 kilometers away.

And this evening when we had a presser down stairs journalist came up said as we were leaving the site. We had bombs raining down upon us. It's very tricky. We're hoping that our kind of, again, our custom made seize fire that gives us the type of protective cocoon, if you will, will endure and allow us to do that movement in and out for as many hours a day as is required.

COOPER: I hope so. Michael Bociurkiw, appreciate it. Thanks, Michael.

Up next, a quick update on the Gaza cease-fire now just a few hours away.


COOPER: Just four hours from the cease-fire, there have been developments in the skies over Southern Israel. I want to go back to Sara Sidner -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've just heard from the Israel Defense Force that a rocket has come over from Gaza towards a crossing there that usually is where a lot of the supplies would go into Gaza from Israel and also during the Egypt's border.

We know that a rocket started coming over towards Israel, but landed short. That's the latest news from that area, a rocket coming over from Gaza, but landing short and not making it over into the Israeli side -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner in Ashkelon, appreciate that. The update on that. We're going to be back some, in about an hour from now, 10:00 east coast time for another live edition of 360. We want to give you as much up to date information ahead of the cease-fire as possible.

As we said, the cease-fire takes place 8:00 a.m. local time in Gaza and in Israel. That is some four hours from now. We'll be back one hour from now. The CNN original series "The Sixties" starts now.