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Temporary Cease-Fire in Gaza; Ebola Fears; Fire Continues Before Cease-Fire to Take Effect; Israel Destroying 'Terror Tunnels'; Charter Flight to Bring Sickened Americans Home from Africa; American Suicide Bomber Returned Home Before Attack

Aired July 31, 2014 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. It is 5:00 a.m. in the Middle East, where a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is now just three hours away.

And there has been some kind of action over Gaza City. You see it there. About a half-hour ago, flares lit up the skies. It had been fairly quiet up to the point. Then, just moments later, a flash, some kind of explosion, and for several minutes after that, a number of explosions and a building in flames.

Unclear precisely what, because the city is largely in darkness at this hour, some incoming, as well as over the Israeli side incoming from Gaza. The IDF saying a rocket flew north from Gaza about an hour or so ago, but did no harm. Warplanes, presumably Israeli, were spotted in the air heading toward Gaza. It's not completely calm just yet.

It does not have to be in the deal in which Secretary of State Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced earlier this evening.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Israel and the Palestinian factions have agreed that they are now prepared to implement a 72-hour unconditional humanitarian cease-fire.

So, starting later this morning, at 8:00, August 1, the parties are expected to cease all offensive military activities. And neither side will advance beyond its current locations.


COOPER: Again, with explosions seen in Gaza City and a rocket spotted by the IDF, the official start of the 72-hour cease-fire still a little less than three hours away. Talks between the parties could begin tomorrow in Cairo.

We have got correspondents tonight in Gaza City, in Jerusalem, Southern Israel, as well Washington.

I want to start with Elise Labott.

Elise, what is the latest on the details of the deal?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Egyptian officials tell me that Israel and Hamas have both agreed to come to Cairo.

Obviously, on the Palestinian side, it will also be led by Palestinian Authority officials, in the next 48 hours for longer discussions on some of the underlying issues surrounding the conflict. Now, the hope is that once these parties are talking, this will create some momentum, some trust to keep the negotiations going and extend the cease-fire.

Anderson, really the result of intense diplomacy by Secretary of State Kerry, who I'm told put an intense amount of pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept this cease-fire. Egypt obviously involved, but also the emir and foreign minister of Qatar who U.N. officials tell me played a key role in convincing Hamas to sign on.

COOPER: And what has been the reaction from the White House, if any?

LABOTT: Well, the White House is obviously saying this is an important step, and that it hopes that this will build some momentum to keep it going forward, but, obviously, looking ahead to say that really only way out of this is a negotiated solution.

COOPER: And the Israeli operation to destroy the tunnels below Gaza in the areas they currently are in, that's going to continue even during the cease-fire, right?

LABOTT: Well, State Department officials saying that while Israeli forces will kind of freeze in place, that Israel will be able to act defensively on the tunnels that are behind the current battle lines. Now, that fits with what Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier today when he said, we're determined to complete this mission, with or without a cease-fire, and he is not going to agree to any proposal that didn't allow the IDF to complete this work, important for the security of Israeli citizens.

I'm told this was a very bitter pill, Anderson, for Hamas to swallow. But, again, the Qataris told Hamas they didn't have a choice here.

COOPER: And I also you got some new information on how the negotiations are supposed to proceed, because a lot of these sides won't talk directly to each other.

LABOTT: That's right.

You have here the Palestinian Authority led by Prime Minister Abbas' delegation coming. They will be the ones sitting at the table with the Israelis. Hamas, Palestinian Jihad, all the other Palestinian factions will be in Cairo, and there will be those kind of side talks.

But the Palestinians will be the one negotiating. And the hope is, again, that this could extend that cease-fire and get those talks going on some of the real humanitarian issues that are surrounding Gaza right now and on the Israeli side, dealing with the ultimate issue of demilitarizing Hamas -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Elise Labott, appreciate it.

Let's go to Gaza City now, where explosions have been mixing with the early morning calls to prayer.

John Vause is there for us.

What have you been seeing and hearing?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, just moments ago, yet another flare lit up the night sky just to the south of here.

That's been happening off and on for the last couple hours, which fits in with what else we have been hearing from here, which is automatic weapons fire. Sometimes, those flares are used for airstrikes. But sometimes they're also used to light up a part of the battlefield for troops, Israeli troops who are on the ground there. We have also been hearing this steady explosions, one just then, of what seem to be artillery fire.

We haven't seen any Hamas rockets launched from where we are right now. That's not to say they haven't been launched from other parts of the Gaza Strip, but nothing which we have seen from here. We're also being told by the Gaza Health Ministry that about an hour or so ago, an Israeli airstrike killed eight members of the one family in the town of Khan Yunis, which is to the south of here, and follows what -- this is a very established, well-respected family in Khan Yunis.

From what we're told, they're called the al-Farra family. So, there could be repercussions from that too as far as the Palestinians here are concerned -- Anderson.

COOPER: Obviously, the power plant was hit. We don't exactly know by who. We can't confirm at this point. So there is -- most folks don't have any power at all. They're running generators and stuff. How desperate is the situation for people? And what are they going to be doing if the cease-fire holds for the next 72 hours? What are families going to be doing?

VAUSE: Well, I think most families are going to get out of their houses to start with. We spoke to a number of families. Some have come down from the north for safety.

One family, 17 of them in this tiny two-bedroom apartment with about eight children, and they're stuck there. And they're stuck there day in and day out, no television, no radio, no Internet. They just talk to each other about the war and everything that is going on.

Others, they need to go and get medical treatment, they need to restock their supplies, whatever supplies are left here. And of course hopefully there will be more humanitarian aid coming into Gaza. Others will seek medical treatment. But essentially it will be a chance for everybody here to go out and breathe, and to maybe just ease up on the tension here right now, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, John Vause, appreciate it. Be careful, John.

Let's go next to Jerusalem, Martin Savidge.

Martin, what you hearing from Israeli officials about the cease-fire?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a whole lot, actually. Other than the two-line statement that came from the prime minister's office saying that Israel is going to abide by the cease-fire, there is not a whole lot more that has been said

That came at around 12:35 this morning local time. So, most Israelis, unless they were up, are going to wake to the news of this cease-fire. So, right now, I think people are just going to be monitoring the skies to see whether there will be more incoming rocket fire out of Gaza, and whether there will be more artillery or airstrikes being conducted.

These are always the tense hours before the cease-fire goes into effect where you could see a last-minute burst of violence, Anderson.

COOPER: And there were strong words from Netanyahu this morning, before the cease-fire was announced, saying this was the first phase of the demilitarization of Gaza. Certainly makes it seems like this operation could last a while if the Israelis want it to.

SAVIDGE: Correct. I think that a lot of Israelis will wake up. Hearing of a cease-fire is going to be good news, but surprised at the timing of the hearing of the cease-fire, because, as you indicate, the tough words that came from the prime minister.

On top of that, there was the additional call-up of 1,600 more reservists, and then on top of that, the information leak that supposedly Israel was going to buy more weaponry from the United States, all of which seemed to indicate this was campaign that was not only going to continue for some time, but possibly could expand.

Now it is word that there is a 72-hour cease-fire. Many are going to be skeptical on the Israeli side of this.

COOPER: In terms of the tunnels, though, Israeli officials have been saying over the last day or so that the destruction of those tunnels could be nearly complete?

SAVIDGE: Correct. And that is why some see this as perhaps kind of a natural pausing point for the campaign, because it is believed that Israel has found about 31 tunnels and is effectively in the process of destroying all of those that they have found and that they know of. And, apparently, they believe under the terms of the cease-fire, they can continue with that operation.

Those tunnels have really dominated the conversation of Israelis and their fears about Gaza now. So they really have jumped to the forefront even above the rocket fire.

COOPER: All right, Martin Savidge, appreciate it from Jerusalem. Martin, thanks. I want to now go to Sara Sidner who is in Ashkelon, Southern Israel,

where earlier tonight sirens were still going off, already going out.

Sara, what is the situation now?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have just gotten new information for you.

Five more Israeli soldiers have been killed. That is according to the IDF. We do not know the circumstances, but we do know that it happened in Gaza. So that is the latest breaking news right now, the Israeli military announcing that five more soldiers have been killed there in Gaza during this mission.

And you mentioned that the mission continues of trying to get rid of the tunnels, even though a cease-fire will be in place or is supposed to be in place, is agreed upon. It's supposed to happen in the next three hours or so. But we do know there are about 100 rockets that were fired according to the Israeli military from Gaza towards Israel, some of those falling short.

The very last one happened about an hour ago. And we reported that, of course, on your show. That last one over Kerem Shalom, which is a crossing, a border crossing that both Egypt and Israel and Gaza share. So, basically, that is a place where much of the supplies, for example, that would go into Gaza, whether it be humanitarian or just supplies going back and forth into Israel, would go through that area, but that rocket also falling short, not making it into Israel.

Some of them of course did, the Iron Dome taking care of ones that were going to be hitting populated areas. However, there was one that got past it, landed in a neighborhood. We went there to see what happened. It blasted away some cars, literally sending them to the other side of the street. And it hurt one person, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Sara Sidner in Ashkelon.

Again, that's a live picture of Gaza City. You saw a flare, one of those illumination flares that we have come to see so much in the last several days. It's now gone out. We will continue to monitor the situation there. We're going to be covering developments throughout this hour, a special live edition of 360, also, of course, on CNN throughout the night.

Next, a reaction from diplomats and former diplomats on both sides about the agreement tonight and the difficult negotiations ahead. Also, we will take you inside Israel's war on the tunnels of Gaza.

We will show you an effort that could continue under the cease-fire, which takes effect in less than three hours now.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight, explosions in Gaza, word that five more Israeli troops have been killed there with the cease-fire now about two hours, 47 minutes away, the truce to begin at 8:00 a.m. local time in Gaza in Israel. Talks between the two sides could begin in Cairo as soon as tomorrow.

Earlier tonight, we got reaction to the agreement from Maen Rashid Areikat, chief of the PLO delegation in Washington.


COOPER: Have all the Palestinian factions now agreed to this cease- fire, including both the political and military arms of Hamas, even Islamic Jihad?


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 truth or humanitarian cease-fire to allow for the political negotiations to take place in Cairo.

COOPER: What is different this time? As you know, last time, Hamas rejected proposed a humanitarian cease-fire and said 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 this 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 to -- 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, that "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 is 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 assume lifting the blockade, as you say? AREIKAT: Absolutely.

I think Gaza is an open air jail, 1.8 Palestinians. For seven years, Israel controlled land, sea, and air. It is 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 have 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 Fatah and Hamas, was formed on June 2. 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 different 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 nonstarter for Hamas, a nonstarter for the Palestinian Authority?

AREIKAT: Absolutely.

Any talk of demilitarization, the Palestinians have said repeatedly that they will accept the demilitarized state once Israel ends 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 peace 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 a key element.

COOPER: But, as you know, Israel will say, well, look, 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: Well, Hamas is saying that while the Israeli occupation continues, they're 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 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 mainstream political position of the Palestinian people and will be able to sign on a just, comprehensive deal that will end the Israeli occupation and allow for the Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity.

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

AREIKAT: Thank you, sir.


COOPER: Well, the agreement came just hours after the U.N.'s top human rights official gave a sharply critical assessment of Israeli operations in Gaza, namely incidents, some acknowledged and others deeply disputed, in which large numbers of civilians were killed. Listen to what she said.


NAVI PILLAY, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: None of this appears to me to be accidental. There's been clear warnings issued to Israel by these very eminent commissions of inquiry, plus follow-up commissions of inquiry.

And, therefore, I would say that they appear to be defying, deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel.


COOPER: Israeli officials say they are not just honoring their obligation to prevent civilian casualties, but have been taking unprecedented measures to do.

I spoke earlier tonight with Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the United States.


COOPER: Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us.

You heard some of the statements made by the ambassador for the PLO. I'm wondering if you have any comments on them.

DANIEL AYALON, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, Israel has welcomed repeatedly cease-fires. We do not want to hurt anybody, least of all civilians.

It was Hamas who broke and never accepted the cease-fires. Hamas is the one who actually provoked and instigated the entire crisis. And I would like to remind the previous speaker, Ambassador 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 attitude towards peace, we have received more than 15,000 rockets indiscriminately on our civil populations.

So, of course we would appreciate the cease-fire. As I observed the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, they really are reluctant warriors. They did not want to start. They did not want to continue. But what we see, I think the lesson from this latest operation is that 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 practice between the Hamas and ISIS or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad or al Qaeda. This is why deterrence here is not enough, because they're not deterred, as they sanctify death, especially death of civilians.

So we need to see not just deterrence, as they're not deterred by death, as I say, but we need to see neutralizing their offensive capabilities. This is why we, Israel, insist 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 have 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. You control who comes in and out of Gaza.

AYALON: Only as a response to the Hamas and before that the Fatah as well. The PLO were smuggling and actually creating a launching pad of attacks on Israel from Gaza.

If the Gazans or if the Palestinians over there will accept an 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 these tunnel warren, attack tunnel warren, from which they wanted to attack, and indeed attacked and kidnapped 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 that 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 -- there have to be confidence-building measures. And, as you said, there is a lack of trust, frankly, on all sides here. 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 the 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 would 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 that they want to abolish, as well as...


AYALON: ... do 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 principles. It was set by the United States and the quartet, the U.N., Russia, E.U. and the U.S., who have said that for the Hamas to be a legitimate interlocutor, they must first recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism, and then abide by former agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians.

If this is the case, I would very much accept them as interlocutors. But they have to do that, not only in English or Hebrew, but in Arabic as well.

COOPER: Mr. Ambassador, Ambassador Ayalon, I appreciate your time tonight.


COOPER: And in the early morning light of Gaza City, about a half- hour from sunrise, with roosters and calls for prayer echoing, we just moments ago heard another explosion, a cease-fire about two-and-a- half-hours away now.

Coming up next, inside the tunnels that Israel says it's fighting to destroy. And we will show you what it takes -- and it takes lot -- to move patients with the deadly Ebola virus safely across the ocean, two patients with Ebola coming to the United States. We will show you how they're coming here and where they will be sent.


COOPER: A lot more explosions in Gaza City within the last few minutes. A ceasefire coming, but not clearly -- clearly not there yet.

Today Israeli officials said they are nearly done destroying the tunnels that Palestinian militants built under the border of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it the first phase of the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip that Israel is demanding.

Here's what he said at the beginning of a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We've neutralized dozens of terror tunnels, and we're determined to complete that mission, with or without a ceasefire. I will not accept any ceasefire proposal that prevents the IDF from completing the task of demolishing the tunnels, which is crucial to the security of the people of Israel.


COOPER: ... now has more on the tunnels, why Prime Minister Netanyahu is intent on destroying them and what Hamas says their purpose is.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called lower Gaza by the Israeli military, the network of tunnels built by Hamas that snake their way from Gaza into Israel. And one by one, Israel is destroying them.

The IDF says it's identified at least 36 tunnels and destroyed about half. The tunnels stretch as far as two miles. Some are as deep as 100 feet. Some are big, and some are small. Just two and a half feet wide and about six feet at their highest point. They are fortified with cement and powered by electricity, all supplied by Israel. The IDF says the concrete and supplies were supposed to be used in Gaza to build homes and schools.

The IDF suggests some tunnels take as long as two years to build. And when they're done, they provide passage for masked Hamas militants like these. This terrifying attack, airing on Hamas's Al Aqsa TV, shows Hamas

militants attacking Israeli soldiers after surfacing from a tunnel in Israel. According to the IDF, they shoot and kill five Israeli soldiers, then disappear into the same tunnel.

The IDF is using every means possible to take these tunnels out: bulldozers, drones, and explosives.

Tunnels like these are not new. Back in 2006, extremists used a tunnel to kidnap Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit. He was held for five years before Israel freed more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his safe return.

(on camera): Hamas says the tunnels aren't used for kidnapping or to harm Israelis, but simply to ferry basic supplies like food and medicine, things that are hard to get, since in 2007, Israel put a strict blockage on goods coming into Gaza.

Israel says the blockade is to limit Hamas's access to rockets and other weaponry.

(voice-over): But the blockade only moved the ferrying of weapons underground to the tunnels.

YIGAL PALMOR, SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: Hamas has used them on various occasions and has planned on using them again for major terror attacks on communities in the south of Israel. And therefore, it is essential that we destroy all of them.

KAYE: A search-and-destroy mission in the name of peace.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Should make a distinction also between the tunnels that are used to ferry supplies from Egypt, many of which have been closed down, and these tunnels which are going into Israel.

Again, looking there at Gaza City. Early morning flares being dropped. Explosions just minutes ago. We'll keep the pictures up a while.

As we continue the traditional tides of alliance may be shifting in Arab nations when it comes to Israel and Hamas. This is really interesting.

Earlier I spoke with "New York Times" Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick, who wrote a piece about this in today's "New York Times." Also, Aaron David Miller, vice president for New Initiatives and distinguished scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center and author of the book "The End of Greatness: Why America Can't Have and Doesn't Want Another Great President."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: David, your article in today's edition of "The New York Times" makes a fascinating point, that many Arab nations, certainly no friend to Israel over the years, right now seem to prefer Israel to Hamas. Can you explain why that is?

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, the main reason is, ironically enough, because of the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The surge of political Islam in Egypt especially and across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has triggered an ensuing crackdown, a resurgence of more secular governments with allies in the gulf.

And they are right now concerned most of all to kind of beat back and stamp out political Islam, much more than they're concerned about Israel. And by political Islam, they certainly include Hamas, the militant Islamist Palestinian group that now governs Gaza.

COOPER: And Aaron, you were quoted in David's article saying that the Arab countries may have an allergy, to use your word, to Benjamin Netanyahu, but it's nothing compared to how they feel about Hamas. Do you agree it's in the wake of the Arab Spring that this has occurred?

AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: I do. There's a natural tension and always has been between key Arab states and the PLO and the issue of Palestinian refugees. With the exception of Egypt, every state that shares contiguous boards with Israel -- Syria, Lebanon and Jordan -- have all had violent confrontations with the PLO over the years, even though the Palestinian issue still resonates.

I find it remarkable, Anderson, that Egypt, the most important Arab state, the one that has put itself in the forefront of championing the Palestinian cause, now finds itself aligned much more closely with Israel. Military, security, intelligence contacts. And there is an implicit understanding that Hamas shall not be allowed to emerge from this confrontation stronger. In fact, both Cairo and Jerusalem want to fundamentally weaken it. And that's quite remarkable given Arab sensitivities on the Palestinian issue.

COOPER: So David, where is Hamas getting support from in terms of public rhetoric, logistics and weaponry?

KIRKPATRICK: We believe that Iran is still willing to provide weapons to Hamas. Certainly it's done so in the past. And that's another reason why some of the gulf states in particular may have an animosity towards Hamas right now.

But they've never been without donors in the gulf, even though I can't name individual states. I think there are other actors that would provide them with money.

But it is, as your other guest said, it is remarkably striking. I think in subsequent conversations around Cairo today, I believe that some parts of the Egyptian government may be more hawkish than Israel in their desire to stamp out Hamas. I think Egypt...

COOPER: That's extraordinary. KIRKPATRICK: ... has traditionally thought, "Hamas is bad. But if we

got rid of it, what comes next could be worse." And I think the Egyptians are much less fearful of that. And certainly, parts of the Egyptian government just want to drive it out of existence.

COOPER: And Aaron, in terms of Turkey, Qatar, those are states which still voice support for Hamas, yes?

MILLER: Yes, I mean, the Qataris like to stick it to everybody: the Saudis through Al Jazeera. We have a close relationship with Qatar. We just sold them billions of dollars in military equipment. We use Al Ludad (ph), the military air base there. So John Kerry was not wrong in looking for an interlocutor to try to use and exploit in order to find out where Hamas is to see whether or not we can get them to -- to negotiate some sort of ceasefire.

It's just that the Qataris and the Turks don't have the kind of influence over Hamas that the Egyptians do. And right now Cairo's agenda is fundamentally to reduce Hamas in stature and in size.

COOPER: It's fascinating. Aaron David Miller, David Kirkpatrick, thanks so much.

MILLER: Pleasure.


COOPER: Up next, the Ebola crisis deepening. Travel warnings rise. American hospitals go on alert as a special isolation plane is preparing to fly them safely out of Africa and into the United States. We'll tell you where they're going to go to be treated.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight in west 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. In the last 24 hours, they have gotten even sicker.

One patient, Nancy Writebol, got a dose of an experimental serum. There wasn't enough for her and the other patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, who insisted that she receive it.

They're among more than 1,300 people who have contracted the virus in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. The Centers for Disease Control today raising its warning against traveling to those countries to the highest possible level. World Health Organization says the death toll has climbed to 729.

The relief group Doctors Without Borders not mincing any words, saying the outbreak, already the worst ever, is quote, "absolutely not under control."

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has reported on the Ebola outbreak from the front lines in Guinea. He's seen firsthand what the health workers are up against. We spoke earlier tonight. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and 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 the 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. Imagine a tent-like structure almost within the plane where you can still provide care through some specially created passageways, but you know, it really keeps the people safe.

COOPER: Are there trained people 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're worried about -- it could be things like multiple drug resistant tuberculosis, Marberg (ph), Ebola -- the way that they're 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 anterooms before you get into the room with a patient so people can gown up. All of that is necessary and really, you know, quite effective.

Now some of those resources just aren't available in some of these remote places in Africa, places that you and I have visited. They don't have this technology.

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

GUPTA: No. You know, there's been 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.

But I should point out, you may know, as well, Anderson, Dr. Brantly, Dr. Ken Brantly, 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. Brantly. And the reason...

COOPER: Wow, that's incredible. GUPTA: It really is extraordinary. And as far as how effective it's

going to be, we don't know, because this is a rare circumstance. But the idea is that that boy's blood probably contained antibodies to help fight the Ebola virus.

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

GUPTA: Yes, we've just been able to confirm this. Emory University Hospital in Atlanta -- it's a 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. So you know, this is obviously -- it's big news within Emory in Atlanta. A lot of people are sort of anticipating this.

But Emory is sending out some alerts. They sent out alert to the faculty some time ago. And basically saying, look, we know how to take care of this. We have the isolation ward in place. It's one of only four such facilities in the country. And they're anticipating taking care of this patient.

COOPER: All right. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.


COOPER: As you might imagine, moving a very sick person who is infected with one of the deadliest viruses on the planet is extremely risky. The plane that will be flying the two Americans back to the United States is no ordinary plane. Tom Foreman has more.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's possible to transport somebody with Ebola, but there is very real risk involved, and this is likely how medical experts are going to mitigate that risk, by using a special plane with special equipment to keep the contagion away from the people on board. Let's talk about how that likely plays out.

Essentially, what you're talking is about a structure inside the plane that is put together and surrounded with plastic on all sides, sealed, so nothing can get in or out there. There's negative air pressure. That means the pressure outside is greater than it is outside. So if any tear were to happen, the air would flow in. This doesn't matter in some ways, because this is not an airborne disease. But it is standard protocol to make these chambers in this fashion.

Let's get rid of the plastic and talk about who's inside. In all likelihood you have a doctor, a nurse. You may have an anesthesiologist, and you may have an infectious diseases specialist on board for consultation in all of this.

Layers of protection. First of all, the chamber itself. Second, the protective gear that all these medical professionals will wear. And third, the covering that will be over the bed itself. Because the patient will still be enclosed even in this environment. Inside here, they will monitor pulse and respiration and temperature, and all the standard things that you would get on an ambulance, for example.

But here's a big difference. Even if there's some sort of distress, even if they start having violent vomiting or bleeding, which can come from Ebola, they must treat the patient with special gloves, reaching in through these sealed walls so there's no contact between them and the patient. This is difficult work to pull off. And all waste fluids, even, must be contained and kept inside. That's because this disease is simply so virulent, they cannot take a chance that, in trying to save one person, they endanger a lot of others -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's incredible to see. Tom, thanks very much.

Up next, reports that this guy joined al Qaeda, trained for jihad, then came home before blowing himself up in Syria. He's just one of many westerners there learning how to kill.


COOPER: With all the breaking news in the Middle East, you might have missed the story of the 22-year-old American who went from a high school football player in Washington, Florida, to an al Qaeda terrorist in Syria. He's the first American suicide bomber known to have died in Syria. Today his story got even more startling.

"The New York Times" reports he actually returned to the United States for several months after his terrorist training, before going back to Syria to carry out his suicide attack. And that has implications for the tracking of other western al Qaeda recruits. Jim Sciutto reports.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a chilling warning from a terrorist born and raised in America.

MONER ABU SALHA, AMERICAN-BORN TERRORIST: We are coming for you. Mark my words.

SCIUTTO: In this video posted online this week, an American jihadist destroys his passport and warns his home country is not safe from attack.

SALHA: My name is Moner Abu Salha from America, 22 years old.

SCIUTTO: He is Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a college drop-out from Florida who travelled to Syria to join extremists in the fight against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And this May he died a suicide bomber, detonating a bomb-laden trunk.


SALHA: You think that you have won? You have never won. You'll never defeat us!

SCIUTTO: Thousands of foreign fighters like Abu Salha have flocked to the Syrian battlefield, among them an estimated one thousand westerners, including more than 100 Americans. U.S. and European officials are now gravely concerned about what could happen next. Intelligence has found these fighters are now being trained to carry out attacks when they return home, including to America.

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: They go there for one purpose. They're motivated and recruited for another extremist purpose in the west, come back to their country and then may think about coming to ours.

SCIUTTO: More than three years into the bloody civil war in Syria, as many as a 160,000 are now dead.

To bring attention to a conflict he says the world has forgotten, today a Syrian army defector appeared before a congressional committee. In disguise and under the code name Ceasar, he displayed startling evidence of brutality, including starvation and torture by Bashar al-Assad's regime. These photos just some of the more than 50,000 he took and then smuggled out of the country and made public this year. Together, a grim chronicle of a brutal war.

(on camera): In the case of Abu Salha, U.S. officials are concerned that he was able to return to the U.S. after fighting in Syria, possibly after receiving terror training before, then returning to Syria to carry out his suicide attack. It's an indication of the difficulty in tracking the more than 100 American fighters who have fought in Syria and who may attempt to return home to carry out terror.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: We'll be right back.


COOPER: Gaza City coming up on 6 a.m. The ceasefire some two hours away. It's not been a silent night. We've seen rockets launched, small arms fired, flares dropped, explosions felt. We've learned that five more Israeli troops have died. Not a silent night, not the end to this far from subtle conflict.

More live coverage now. Don Lemon picks it up for us. We'll see you tomorrow.