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Israel-Hamas Cease Fire; Tracking the Rockets Used by Hamas
Aired November 21, 2012 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will the bloodshed finally be over? We have seen so much blood in the streets in Gaza City, blood on the borders in Israel, as well. So much pain and anguish, so many people living in fear for more than a week now. Has it finally come to an end?
The cease-fire seems to be at this point holding. Skies over Gaza City seem to be quiet, though there has been celebratory gunfire. Israeli defense forces have reported least two rockets fired from some positions in Gaza toward Israel, some interceptions, as well, they said.
But when I spoke to Israel's ambassador to the United States, he seemed to downplay that, said he's not surprised by that. That often happens in these kind of cease-fires and the critical to be watching over the next several hours as word filters down to the various factions and the various groups.
I want to check in Paula Newton of CNN International and I also want to welcome all our viewers on CNN International who are just joining us.
Paula, if you would, let's talk about the challenge of trying to stop the flow of arms into Gaza. We have seen an increase in the sophistication of the kind of weapons, no longer these kind of homemade rockets that we have seen being made in makeshift factories in Gaza, four, five years ago.
Now, Fajr-5, Fajr-3 rockets which originally come from Iran. Talk about how they actually -- how they actually get into Gaza?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Reza was just saying that there is more work for Egypt to do. They will be the watchdog, you bet. And it's s all going to land in the lap of Mohamed Morsi and I'll tell you why.
This is Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank. Here is Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. Now, if we look a little bit more closely at the border crossing here, Anderson, that's about eight miles.
Going down there and we have shown a lot of video of this, our reporters have been down there many times. I've been at that crossing. It is a warren. It has elevators. Everything from nail polish to missiles goes through here.
Guess what? For this cease-fire to remain credible, there has to be some easing of the blockade that's now going on in Gaza.
But that also means that Egypt needs to be able to guarantee that those missiles in parts coming in from Iran no longer can get in through the border crossing.
It is so sophisticated. There is some suggestion that Egypt just can't handle this on its own, that's it's going to take an international effort to make sure this border remains secure.
And, you know, in an interesting development, Anderson, just today, in fact, Iran said that they are admitting that now Hamas has the capability to build those long-range missiles in Gaza themselves, that they have everything they need.
And that certainly upped the ante a little bit today. It was definitely Iran stirring the pot. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah, critical to watch that flow of arms, that pipeline, see if it can be stopped. Paula Noonan, appreciate that reporting.
The cycle of violence, it has settled in some cases into a sickening routine we have seen for years now. Can that finally be stopped? We'll look at that ahead.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the cease-fire agreement now between Israel and Hamas.
It was brokered by Egypt, involving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well, and some shuttle diplomacy in the last minute, the last few days.
I'm Anderson Cooper, reporting live from Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem bureau chief of "Time" magazine, Karl Vick, is joining us now. He's in Tel Aviv. He wrote a piece entitled, originally, "The Gaza Problem."
Vick, you called Gaza a stepchild of history. How so? What do you mean by that?
KARL VICK, JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, it is a stepchild of history and it's kind of a prisoner of its own geography.
I mean, the geography of history, it's bordered on one side by Egypt and on the other two sides by Israel and then the Mediterranean Sea locks it in. And nobody kind of owns it right now.
Historically, I mean, for two decades, in the last century, Egypt administered it after 1948, after Israel came into being in the war that drove so many people of the Arabs who lived in what is now Israel, made them refugees and they collected themselves and gathered in the Gaza Strip where three out of four people called themselves a refugee or a defendant of these people. And Egypt, so, ran there for a couple of decades and then, in '67, you had the Six-Day War and Israel won big and overran the West Bank and Gaza and administrated it for the next 40 years or so.
But seven years ago, they pulled out of Gaza and Gaza sort of hasn't belonged to anybody since. In the last five or six years, they've had this blockade and this siege because Israel doesn't like Hamas and they really very much are sort of an orphan or have been.
COOPER: Why should anyone believe that -- yeah, well, why should anyone believe with this deal that anything is going to be different?
VICK: I don't know. I think only because, watching your coverage tonight and reading between the lines of the agreement, this looks like a net gain for Hamas. It looks -- it sounded to me from what Ambassador Oren said and what (INAUDIBLE) said, both speaking for speaking for Israel, that the terms of the siege or the blockade might be changing, but they're going to -- it might suffice to just inspect ships and that won't be turned away anymore.
So, you won't have things like the Mavi Marmara Turkish flotilla fiasco or -- and those kind of confrontations.
The bigger deal would be for people living in Gaza because they don't have a port, so it's more symbolic, whether you can get in from sea, is whether they can get in real access in and out through Egypt through the Rafah crossing and that's -- these are all things sort of addressed blandly in these -- and the topics will be discussed after 24 hours of quiet.
But it sounded like the Khaled Mishal, head of Hamas, was celebrating this achievement, but celebrating as if it was an achievement, so it could be it's a fait accompli.
And you have language from Israel saying -- were talking as though they're interested not only in the quiet for the residents of Southern Israel who've been under rocket fire, but also the well-being of the Gazan people.
So, could be something.
COOPER: And we'll have to see. Karl Vick, I appreciate your reporting. Thanks very much.
You can check out Karl in "Time" magazine. He's the "Time" magazine Jerusalem bureau chief.
You're looking at live pictures of Gaza City, the streets now packed. That's first time, certainly in the last eight nights since this most recent conflict has flared up. A lot of people out, just wanting to get out of their homes for first time. Most people have been staying indoors.
We want to look at what life has been like for kids on both sides of the border, frankly, kids who often don't understand the nuances, the details of what is going on, but understand now the sound of rockets coming, the sound of explosions and the loss of life, as well.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: You know, whether you're in Jerusalem or in Ashkelon or some of the other towns along the Israeli border with Gaza or in Gaza City as I have been for the last three nights, you see so many kids, so many scared kids, who are growing up, getting used to the sound of rockets, getting used to seeing people dying.
Documentary filmmaker Jezza Neumann traveled to Gaza in 2009 to film the lives of kids caught in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He spent a year there, focusing on four young boys and I want you to listen to this, this child of Gaza for some of the implications it has for maybe ever finding peace.
Well, from the mouth of a child, saying, we'll take revenge. I want to bring in the man behind the film. Jezza Neumann joins us now from our CNN bureau in New York. Tell me about that boy.
JEZZA NEUMANN, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: He saw his -- Mahmud (ph) watched his father shot. He, according to Mahmud (ph) -- his father went to the door of the house when paratroopers had arrived, and he went to the door with his hands in the air and saying, there's women and children in the house and they shot him dead in front of him.
They then subsequently destroyed his house, and later on during the course of the night, his sister, Amal (ph), who is seen in the pictures, she was put in a house which was later rocketed and she ended up with shrapnel in her brain as a result of it. So, she was injured and her father was killed.
COOPER: You've written about -- I've heard you say that you went to Gaza to document the sadness of its kids. What did you actually find?
NEUMANN: I found children who were in a state of shock, who were obviously terrified by the events that had occurred.
But I also saw a place that was on a real balancing, a knife's edge, where children were looking for answers. They were looking for why.
You know, the question why, why did this happen, why did this happen?
But still you could see that there was hope because many of the children talked about the fact that they don't blame the children of Israel, you know? They blame the adults who came and did this.
But, you know, they were looking for justice, which they didn't feel they were getting and then, ultimately, what happens is when you look for justice and you don't get it, then the next thing you're looking for is revenge.
But, you know, very much still because they're children, they were looking. They still had hope. COOPER: And we see that on the Israeli side of the border, as well. You go into some of the bomb shelters in Stirat (ph) or Ashkelon, so much fear in the eyes of kids as the rockets are coming down.
Jezza Newman, I appreciate you being on.
Jezza has a new documentary, actually. It's right now airing on "Frontline" on PBS. This time, focusing on poor kids in the United States. It's a great documentary. Tune into that.
Up next, we're going to go to the White House. President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the cease-fire agreed to now by Israel and Hamas, brokered through Egypt and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Eight days of violence, nearly 150 deaths, and Netanyahu says cease- fire right now is the right thing for Israel. He also warns more military action if the cease-fire, in fact, fails.
I want to bring in our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, who is at the White House. It looks like Secretary Clinton is ending her tenure on a positive note and I know you have some details about the phone calls between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Egypt's Mohamed Morsi.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, first, on Secretary Clinton, obviously, this is, if it holds, a very good thing for Secretary Clinton in terms of her legacy and what she's been able to accomplish.
Don't forget that the administration has been under some fire because of Benghazi. And now this, you could say, she worked very hard and assiduously to go on this shuttle diplomacy mission to try to bring this together.
And, in fact, a senior administration official that I was just speaking with said that in their feeling that she did an exceptional job. This official also said that it is fair to say that the -- what really clinched it was the two phone calls that President Obama made today and that would be to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and also to President Morsi of Egypt.
And that is what officials here are stressing a lot, which is this burgeoning relationship with President Morsi.
They said, in fact, gave an example that ...
COOPER: Jill, do we know what promises were made?
DOUGHERTY: What promises? You would have to say the promises to Egypt, to Israel, obviously, would be more protection -- Iron Dome, to push for more money for Iron Dome, which has protected a lot of Israeli lives and for more security for Israel.
It also would be pushing in some fashion to cut down and stop, hopefully, the smuggling of weapons into Israel from Iran.
And in connection with that, you know, the U.S. has been working recently very much with Egypt on exactly those things -- security, the smuggling, al Qaeda in the region, and Sinai security.
So, this is in keeping with some things that have already been in train.
COOPER: Jill Dougherty, reporting from the White House. Thank you.
You're looking at the right-hand side of your screen, by the way, at the a row of cars and I want you to know the significance of that. That is a street in Gaza City right by our bureau, a main street city, frankly, in which we saw them dragging the body of a man accused of being a collaborator just yesterday.
And now it is packed with cars for the first time in some eight nights as people are out celebrating this cease-fire, shooting into the air in some cases, but just getting out of their homes, homes they've blocked themselves into in the last eight nights as they've been in fear of incoming shells and outgoing rockets, as well.
We're going to check in with our Arwa Damon in Gaza City to let you hear the sounds and see the sights of what she is hearing and right now. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the cease- fire, right now some almost two hours old. It appears from our correspondence in Gaza City, they have not seen anymore rockets being fired or anymore more incoming firing from Israeli forces in Gaza City.
Our Fred Pleitgen who has spent many days now along the Israeli side of Gazan border in towns like Ashkelon, Ashkelon is a town where people have gotten far too used to hearing that terrifying sound of incoming rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other factions inside the Gaza Strip.
He's been following an Israeli police unit that's been clearing rocket parts that are left behind from these attacks. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT: More than 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israeli towns from Gaza. While many were intercepted by missile defense systems, some have hit residential areas.
That's where these men come in. We're riding along with a bomb disposal unit from the Israeli police, a group that is working overtime in the current conflict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been through these type of situations before. We've maneuvered more than 500 police officers at the moment on a daily basis from different parts of the country in to all of the southern cities such as Darat (ph), Ashkelon, Beer Shiva.
PLEITGEN: We arrive at the scene of an impact. One of the experts shows me what's left of a Grad rocket fired from Gaza.
This one was intercepted in midair by the Iron Dome rocket defense system, but the bomb disposal officer still finds chunks of TNT from the rocket's warhead. They need to clear the area of any parts that might explode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's important is to make sure that the area is safe. We're talking about civilian population that is being targeted and hit and, therefore, it's vital for us to make sure that no one will get injured immediately after the rocket attack.
PLEITGEN: Those in the bomb disposal unit are forensic experts. The rockets they find are analyzed in labs to find out where they were made, how they work and, most important, what types of explosives were used.
So, this is an assortment of rockets that have fallen over the Ashkelon area. It's not all of them. It's only some of them. There's more laying around here.
But there's various types of rockets that you can find here. For instance, this one is apparently a Grad rocket that you can tell by the fins that pop out when the rocket gets launched, whereas this one here is one of those homemade Kasam rockets.
This one's made in a workshop in Gaza and you can tell because the fins were just welded on in a rudimentary way.
COOPER: A look at a local unit, a bomb disposal unit. They've been in a lot of those towns over the years and the rockets just keep on coming.
The cease-fire, now, some two hours old. Israeli officials saying there have been a number of rockets that have continued to be fired into Israeli from Gaza. Some of them have been intercepted.
When I spoke to Israel's ambassador to the United States about an hour ago, Michael Oren, he said, frankly, that's not all that surprising, that that often happens. It's something they're going to be watching very closely, obviously, in hopes that will taper off and finally come to a stop so the cease-fire does hold and more negotiations begin some 24 hours from now or I should say some 22 hours from now.
Our coverage is going to continue all evening long. Wolf Blitzer's coming up in "The Situation Room" after a short break. I'll be back on the air at 8:00 for another -- for an edition of "AC 360" from Jerusalem, as well as it 10:00. I hope you join us for that.
Stay tuned for Wolf Blitzer.