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Cycle of Violence; Afghanistan Election Row; Imagine a World

Aired July 8, 2014 - 14:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, prepare for battle against Hamas. That from Israel's defense minister as the military warns of a

possible ground invasion of Gaza. The view from both sides as tensions could blow over yet again.

Also tonight, allegations of massive fraud as Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah tells me that half the votes in the recent election are



HOLMES: And good evening, everyone, welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who is on assignment in Brazil.

Well, the violent cycle of retribution and retaliation in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict erupting once again.


HOLMES (voice-over): Militants firing volleys of rockets from Gaza, Israel sending in waves of airstrikes, each side claiming they're responding to

the actions of the other. And as Hamas vows to make its enemy pay the price, Israel calling up 40,000 reservists, a sign perhaps that a ground

operation could be coming.

At least 16 people have been killed in those Israeli airstrikes, including two children. The situation deteriorating in recent days after the

kidnappings and killings of tanagers on both sides of this conflict.

The Israeli government blaming Hamas for the deaths of those three Israeli teens, whose bodies were discovered last week; in what appears to have been

a revenge attack, a Palestinian teen was killed near his home in East Jerusalem.

Tonight, the view from both sides as we appear to enter another tailspin of hostilities. Now in a moment, I'm going to be speaking to the Israeli

minister of intelligence.

But first, the voice of Hamas, which has governed Gaza since being elected in 2007.

Now life for the 1.7 million people living in that narrow strip of land has become increasingly desperate because of Israel's continuing blockade by

air, by sea and by border. Earlier I spoke to Hamas' foreign policy spokesman, Osama Hamdan, who told me the Palestinian people will defend



HOLMES: Osama Hamdan, thanks so much and welcome to the program. You know, we see today response and counter-response. Five years it's been

relatively peaceful.

Where does this all end?

OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS OFFICIAL: Well, I think it will end by the end of the occupation. It's clear that the response, or the action, came from the

occupation. The reaction came from the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people.

In the last few weeks, the Israelis claimed that three settlers were kidnapped. No one knows until now the real story. It's just only the

Israeli story, which no one can endorse it or say it's true. And from that point, they started attacking the Palestinians in the West Bank and in

Jerusalem and finally to Gaza.

HOLMES: Mr. Hamdan, though, you mention the kidnapping and murder of those three teenagers, the Israeli teenagers.

Was -- as you say, Israel blames Hamas.

Was Hamas behind it?

Did Hamas order it?

Do you approve of what happened?

HAMDAN: No one has to prove or disprove what Netanyahu has said. Netanyahu is the one who is solely responsible for proving what he has

claimed. Hamas said clearly that we don't have any information about what has happened, but he denied that and he then texted that and he start and

continued that attack against the Palestinians.

HOLMES: You're saying that Hamas was not behind the kidnapping.

Do you approve of the kidnapping and killing of those three teenagers?

HAMDAN: Well, I am saying, I am saying it clearly. We don't have any information about what had happened there. So we can't say yes; we can't

say no, because we have no information. The one who claimed that is Netanyahu. He has to provide evidences, which he did not give. He said

that they were --


HOLMES: But you can answer -- Mr. Hamdan, I'm sorry. You can answer the question of whether Hamas approves of the kidnapping and killing of three

Israeli settlers, teenagers. You can answer that.

HAMDAN: Well, Hamas said clearly, and I repeat for third time, we don't have information about what had happened. So simply no one can start

saying that Hamas had did that, or did not that, and Hamas is in the position to answer the questions.

The one who has to answer the question is Netanyahu himself.

He claimed something; he has to prove it. He has to say it.

HOLMES: OK. Well, you could answer the question. You're not going to, and that is whether Hamas approves of what is happening. You could answer

that question, but I've asked it three times and let's move on.

When it comes to what is happening today in Gaza, the rockets coming from out of Gaza, there were dozens of them yesterday. And, yes, we know that

the Israelis are attacking Gaza as well.

Can Hamas put a stop to the rocket fire?

Would that be something that your political wing can ask of your military wing?

HAMDAN: What we are supposed to do?

Just to receive and come the rockets? Or we try to defend our people and ourselves? This is what we are doing. We try to do that in the political

way. It didn't work with Netanyahu.

HOLMES: Israel says, of course, it is trying to defend itself against Hamas rockets. And, in fact, the rockets have been coming for a very long

time. They didn't just start. They've been coming for a long time. Israel says it's got to stop and they're acting militarily to try to stop

those rockets.

The question is, can you see a deescalation here? Can Hamas ask its military wing or anyone else in Gaza who are firing these rockets to stop?

HAMDAN: There was a ceasefire 2012. We respected that. Israel did not respect that. If they want to respect it, they have to spell it and they

have to say it. If they don't want, they have to expect the reaction from the Palestinians.

If there was real efforts to achieve the ceasefire, they have to accept the whole cease-fire and then we can talk about the new conditions. They have

to understand they can't go back whenever they want to launch rockets against the Palestinians, to attack the Palestinians, to kill the


And then when the Palestinians react against them, they start shouting, crying, that they are under attack with the Palestinians. This is a very

silly way to deal with the situation.

If Netanyahu are serious, he has not to attack the Palestinians.

HOLMES: Israel will always fall back, and they do now, on the fact that Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, does not recognize Israel's

right to exist as a country. There will be no two-state solution unless that is resolved, among the many other things that need to be dealt with.

Can you see a day when Hamas will recognize Israel's right to exist?

HAMDAN: Well, the United States is not recognizing Cuba as a state.

What does it mean for you? It's the same.

And the politics, you cannot -- you are not supposed to recognize a country which you believe they are occupying your land.

The big question: what about the recognition of the Palestinian rights?

What about the Israeli position towards a Palestinian independent sovereign state with Jerusalem the capital of the state?

HOLMES: Well, you're responsible for foreign affairs for Hamas, and I am asking you that question.

Can you see a day when Hamas will recognize Israel's right to exist? It's a very simple question.

Can you see a circumstance where that would happen?

HAMDAN: Will you answer me when Israel will recognize the rights of the Palestinians to be an independent nation with an independent sovereign


There is no answer.

HOLMES: What do you think is going to happen in Gaza in the weeks ahead?

HAMDAN: Well, if the Israelis continue their attacks, the Palestinian people will defend themselves. Not only Hamas, all the Palestinians. If

Israel stopped and there was a clear ceasefire, the Palestinians will deal with that. Without this, there is no chances for the Palestinians to live

under the Israeli attack without the acting against that attack.

HOLMES: Osama Hamdan in Beirut, thank you so much for being on the program.

HAMDAN: Thank you.


HOLMES: Joining me now from Tel Aviv is Israel's intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz.

And thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Minister. I saw you quoted as favoring reoccupation of Gaza. I think the quote I read was cleaning it

and then leaving it as Israel's only option.

Is that the case still in your mind, that ground attack?

YUVAL STEINITZ, ISRAEL'S INTELLIGENCE MINISTER: Michael, I'll explain this. But before, let me be very clear about condemnation of terrorism.

I condemn and the government of Israel clearly condemn the kidnapping, the abducting and execution of three young Israelis and also of another

Palestinian boy in Jerusalem. Terrorists (INAUDIBLE) the men from Hamas was unable to condemn the killing of three Israeli boys. I condemn the

killing of three innocent Israeli boys and also the killing of an innocent Palestinian boy in Jerusalem.

Civilized people condemn terrorism. And this I just want to make very, very clear.

HOLMES: All right. And then to the question then that I asked, and that is do you still favor a ground operation in Gaza to clean it up as you've -

- as you put it?

STEINITZ: Yes, this might become necessary. Let me remind ourself (sic), Michael, nine years ago, we pull out from Gaza. We withdraw from Gaza. We

delivered Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, made the clear public commitment, I quote, once the Israelis

are out of Gaza, there will be no hostilities whatsoever, no rockets, no missiles, no terror from Gaza into Israel.

So we left Gaza. We uprooted all the Jewish settlements in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority committed no rockets, no missiles. Since then,

11,800 missiles were fired from Gaza into Israel. In the last week, more than 300 rockets, mainly Iranian made rockets --


HOLMES: I understand that. I understand that the --

STEINITZ: -- Israel and 2 million Israeli citizens.

HOLMES: -- I understand that point. And of course the Palestinians will also say -- the Palestinians will also say Israel controls the seas; it

controls the skies. It controls the borders. I think the last thing that was exported out of Gaza economically was seven years ago. And they call

it an economic strangulation and a giant prison.

So they have their views on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza as well. And we need to make that clear. But --


HOLMES: -- carry on. Go on.

STEINITZ: It's very good that you mentioned it. It's very good that you mention it. The only reason that there is an Israeli siege over Gaza and

we allow some important export that we have to check everything, is because in contradiction to the principle demilitarization of giving back

territory, Israel will withdraw from Gaza under the conditions that it will be totally demilitarized. In contradiction to this, thousands and

thousands of Iranian rockets and missiles were smuggled into Gaza and many of them, 11,000, almost 12,000 of them, were already launched into Israel

on Israeli citizens.

So we have to protect our people, our citizens in this very difficult surrounding of the Middle East.

HOLMES: Understood --

STEINITZ: It is not easy to survive a Western style democracy in the middle of the Middle East.

HOLMES: Understood. I -- you know, I've been -- I've been -- I first came there in 1987 and of course, you lived through what's going on in your part

of the world. And what strikes me is in the last 25 years, I seem to keep having the same conversation, the merry-go-round, if you like, and that's

probably the wrong word, of accusation and response.

Do you think that there is a culture of hate on both sides of the green line, both sides dehumanizing the other, a culture that needs to change?

Again, on both sides, or are we going to be having this conversation one or 10 years from now?

STEINITZ: Michael, there is some crazy people on both sides. But the symmetry you are trying to depict is totally wrong. First, as you know,

you just asked a member of Hamas, the Hamas spokesman, if ever they recognized the right of the Jews, not just the Palestinians, we recognize

the right of the Palestinians to own their own state, independent state. Will ever we recognize the right of the Jews to have, to preserve their own

state? And the answer was in the negative. You asked three times. So there is no parallel and no symmetry here. The same with (INAUDIBLE), yes.

Some Israelis are also inside and using hatred. But your general policy of the Israeli government and most of the Israeli public is vehemently against


You cannot find such kind of incitement in the government, in the main media. And if somebody in Israel incite to kill innocent Arabs, he is --

he will be interrogated and arrested by the --


HOLMES: There has been plenty of that incitement in the last few days on social media and in other places. You know, I've got to ask --


STEINITZ: Yes, but Michael, this -- you know, some incitement exist in any Western --

HOLMES: That's my point. That's my point, on both sides.

STEINITZ: But the difference -- no, but the difference is you know you can find some fanatic people also in the United States or in Europe. The

difference is that we fight against it. When one Arab boy was abducted and murdered, all the government and all the main Israeli media condemn it.

And we declared not only that we will punish the criminals, we will punish the criminals. We will not let other people to punish them. We will

punish them. We already arrested them. But we will punish also those who were inciting to do such horrible things because we are a democracy. We

are a civilized country. We are against incitement. We want to coexist peacefully with our Arab and Palestinian neighbors. Unfortunately --


STEINITZ: -- the main problem remain. The refusal, the refusal to accept Israel right to exist regardless of any border dispute.

HOLMES: By Hamas. Yes. Israel's intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz, I appreciate --

STEINITZ: By Hamas and also many others.

HOLMES: -- on the program. Appreciate you being on the program. Thanks, Mr. Minister.

STEINITZ: You're most welcome. Thank you.


HOLMES: Hopefully we won't be having that conversation in 10 years. I suspect we could well.

Hamas were elected in 2006. Free elections that were supported by the U.S. president at the time, Bush. We turn now to another attempt at democracy

with controversial results after the break. This time Afghanistan. We're going to hear from the man who would be president next.




HOLMES: Welcome back to the program. I'm Michael Holmes, sitting in for Christiane today.

Well, Afghanistan is facing a political crisis, one that is threatening to split the country and derail its first-ever democratic transfer of power.

Presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah, claiming victory in last month's poll, that's despite preliminary election results that show his rival,

Ashraf Ghani has the most votes.

Ghani, who addressed his supports in Kabul on Tuesday, welcoming the outcome.


ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We accept yesterday's preliminary results as legitimate and credible and will

wait patiently for the announcement of the final results.

HOLMES (voice-over): But a defiant Abdullah Abdullah says the results aren't legitimate because they were marred by massive voter fraud. I first

met Dr. Abdullah in 2002 in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban, a quiet and determined man then, he remains so today. He joined

me earlier from the Afghan capital.



HOLMES: Abdullah Abdullah, thanks for being on the program.

Let's start with this. You've protested the process throughout. You dispute the results. You say you are the winner.

What now?

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER: They announced the preliminary results without taking the fraudulent ballot papers or ballot

boxes out. I mean, there are half of the ballot papers used are considered to be suspicious based on the standard criterias (sic), the universal

criterias (sic) of free and fair elections.

My demand was to take those things out, those ballot boxes out, and then count the rest of it and announce partial preliminary results. Now I

should say that there is an impasse and we will not be satisfied without clean votes being announced.

The number of the turnout is shown to be 8 million, over 8 million people, or 8 million votes. That is a very, very inflated numbers, to say the


HOLMES: One of your spokesmen said -- and the quote is, "There will be a resistance in defense of democracy," and there are reports that you're

considering announcing a parallel government.

What does that mean?

ABDULLAH: There have been demands from all around the country to announce government, not even parallel government, new government of Afghanistan.

But I thought that we should give it time. It still -- I asked the people of Afghanistan to give me a few days to work out and to see what are the

ways out of this crisis.

And in fact, due to the irresponsible attitude of our own president, President Karzai, as well as the commission and the rival team, this

situation has been created. But we will act responsibly up to the end. But nevertheless, we will not make a compromise on the rights of the


HOLMES: You mentioned Hamid Karzai and you and your opponent have passionate supporters and, sadly, in the case of Afghanistan, many of them

are armed. There was a video of a crowd of your supporters, tearing down a poster of Hamid Karzai, putting up yours, chanting, "Death to Hamid Karzai

and long live Abdullah."

What are the risks of this all getting out of hand on the streets?

ABDULLAH: Unfortunately President Karzai is to be blamed for it. He didn't remain neutral at yet -- as he has promised the people of

Afghanistan, to stay neutral. Far from it. He put pressure on the commissions and also used his authority in favor of one party.

And for some reasons, one way or another, he has played with the interests of the country, not only in case of the elections but earlier, in many

other cases, unfortunately, with all the hopes that we had on him as the leader of the country, he has disappointed all the people of Afghanistan.

So there is no way that he will enjoy the same respect among the people as he used to in the past few years.

HOLMES: Your opponent was giving a news conference. And one of the things he said was he hopes that you do not drag the country into crisis. He

obviously likes the way the vote is going.

If he is declared the winner, what do you do?

ABDULLAH: Millions of fraudulent votes have been stuffed in ballot boxes and, in some provinces of Afghanistan, the number of voters apparently

equal to the number of the population of that province. And that is all in his favor in systematic fraud in his favor has happened. And that is what

has taken the country to this situation rather than our position.

It -- he should have acted more responsibly earlier and not to get into this game of fraudulent, systematic, massive, industrial-scale fraud,

because that wouldn't have helped him. It wouldn't have helped the country.

So he is responsible and those who are responsible for fraud.

HOLMES: I understand what you're saying. The U.S. threatened to scrap security and financial support to Afghanistan if there is a power grab.

Will you be meeting with Secretary Kerry when he comes?

And what will you tell him?

ABDULLAH: Yes, of course. Not only that we will be meeting in the coming few days, but also I have spoken to Secretary Kerry in the past two days,

two to three days. And also this morning I received a phone call from President Obama.

Everybody is concerned. Everybody recognizes that massive fraud has taken place. Everybody understands the need for taking those fraudulent ballot

papers out; at the same time there is a possibility of crisis.

But as far as I'm concerned, we will act responsibly in our meetings with Secretary Kerry, which he has committed itself to help the process getting

clean, because tomorrow the partner it's not only for the people of Afghanistan but also the future of partnership of Afghanistan and the

United States is involved. An illegitimate government will not serve anybody's interest.

HOLMES: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, appreciate your appearing on the program. Thanks so much.


HOLMES: After the break, we'll take another look at Gaza from a very unexpected perspective. A camera that captures the incredible lightness of

being. That's when we come back.




HOLMES: Welcome back. A final thought tonight, we began the program with a bleak portrait of Gaza, a 25-mile long, 7-mile wide strip of war and woe.

Well, now imagine a world where Gaza has another story to tell in amazing pictures.

This is how Tanya Habjouqa (ph) sees Gaza. Her camera looks for life amid the ruins and hope among the rubble. We're going to leave you with her

impressions of that Gaza. Have a look.


HOLMES: Habjouqa there, what great photographs. That is our program for tonight. And remember you can always contact us at the website,, also follow me on Twitter if you like @HolmesCNN. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow. Goodbye from Atlanta for now.