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Source: Israel Raids Missile Site In Gaza; 160 Plus Die In Gaza After Week Of Airstrikes; Electrical Smoke Smell Forced Landing; Sole Survivor's Brave Recovery

Aired July 13, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's 6:00 on Sunday. So glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY. We start with the breaking news in the Middle East where there are growing concerns this morning that a ground invasion really may be inevitable between Israel and Gaza.

PAUL: People wondering if it's already started. Overnight Israeli forces ignored the U.N.'s request for a ceasefire and crossed into Gaza, the first time in this conflict raiding a long range missile site. Now sources tell CNN four Israeli soldiers were injured, but they did return home safely.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, at least 23 people were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza yesterday. That brings the death toll in Gaza to more than 160 now, 1,100 people have been injured.

PAUL: Happening now the Israeli military is warning Northern Gaza residents of more airstrikes today. Ordering civilians to evacuate their homes as Hamas leaders are targeted. We want to go live to the ground there. Wolf Blitzer is in Jerusalem. Diana Magnay joins us from a border crossing between Gaza and Israel.

So glad to have you both with us. Wolf, I want to start with you. Israel's raid on the missile site in Gaza was -- people I think are looking that thinking is this a one-time event in this crisis or is this the start of something bigger? Any indication either way for you?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, there is no formal public announcement or anything bigger, but everyone suspects that wasn't just the one shot, a one isolated incident. Everyone seems to think the Israelis will continue to do that. They will certainly continue to pound various targets from the air whether with airstrikes or drones or whatever.

But they will almost certainly do these kinds of limited, but potentially significant ground assaults as well. This one coming in from the Mediterranean from the sea and lasting about a half an hour and as you point out four Israeli soldiers were slightly injured. Not significantly but they were injured, they were brought back to base.

The expectation is this is going to heat up dramatically in the coming hours and days unless there is some sort of ceasefire. I know that various elements out there are trying to achieve a ceasefire. I don't see a whole lot of progress on that diplomatic front.

Barring some sort of ceasefire, timeout if you will, this is going to escalate and it's going to get as bad as it is right now and it's pretty bad as you know, our viewers know, it's potentially going to get a lot worse.

BLACKWELL: A lot worse. Wolf, we understand that you spent time with the Israeli Navy. What did you learn?

BLITZER: You know, obviously the Israelis are coming under rocket attack, missile attack from Gaza and there was an incident that isolated rockets coming in from Lebanon. They are also deeply worried about a potential third front, the Mediterranean, there is a long Mediterranean coastal line with Israel and the other day as you know, there was an effort by Hamas to infiltrate commandos and kill some Israelis.

The Israeli Navy spotted them. I spoke with one of the Israeli Navy spokeswomen, a young woman who is intimately involved directly involved in getting some of that information. Listen to this brief exchange that we had at the Israeli naval base.


BLITZER: You see something suspicious. You see people coming in from the water who are armed.


BLITZER: What do you do?

LEVIN: We stayed away, inform our higher ranks and higher units and they involve all the different kinds of units in the Navy and the Navy in general, whoever needs to be involved.

BLITZER: Whether the Army --



BLITZER: The Israelis did wind up killing those Hamas infiltrators. There was a joint operation, Israeli Navy, Army, Air Force, but they are bracing for more of that and the Israeli Navy is on full scale patrol along that long Mediterranean coast.

BLACKWELL: All right, Wolf, stand by. We want to check in with Diana Magnay at the crossing on the Gaza/Israel border. Diana, we understand that this morning Palestinian-Americans are being evacuated from Gaza. Tell us what you know about that.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We've just spoken to some of them around 140 have come through already this morning, very glad of course to be allowed out and very sad to leave their friends and relatives. Some of them had come over for relative weddings. One girl left her sister behind who just married a man in the Gaza strip. Neither of them, or he can't leave, and she wants to stay with him.

They say it's very, very difficult for people there. They have no electricity. Yesterday water pipes supplying some 27,000 people were struck. So, life there is incredibly hard. There were little girl who is meant to be going to this wedding who said every night I didn't know where it was going to hit, very sad stories.

But at least ones have been able to get out. In Gaza itself there are, we know from the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency that some 4,000 Palestinians have sought refuge in one of their shelters. The death toll rising, 166 and more than 1,000 people injured. The majority of them civilians, many of them also children because they can't run away fast enough.

So the situation in Gaza extremely sad and getting increasingly desperate. Meanwhile, the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, have said they dropped leaflets on a town in Beit Lahia in Northern Gaza warning people there to stay away from Hamas targets. And that would suggest that they are planning at least a bigger military operation in the north of Gaza now.

Perhaps that, taken together with the fact that they have now allowed people with dual citizenship to leave. It all adds to the sense that they might be preparing a ground offensive and a ground offensive that might take place quite soon -- Victor.

PAUL: All right, Diana Magnay, Diana, thank you so much for the update there.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring back our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, in Jerusalem who is joined by Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Victor, thanks very much. Lieutenant Colonel, let me ask you the questions that were asked of me, that incident overnight, Israeli troops went in on the ground into Gaza, four Israeli soldiers were injured. Was that an isolated incident or can we expect more of that from the Israeli military?

LT. COL. PETER LERNER, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESMAN: We use our special forces to do special missions. The site that we attacked is deeply involved with the long range rockets that have been showering Tel Aviv, north of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, so we thought it was necessary to utilize special forces to carry out a special mission. They made their mission, they were able to succeed in their mission. There was impact and the conflict with terrorists there on the site. We have few scratches and grazes but nothing substantial.

BLACKWELL: On the Israeli side.

LERNER: On the Israeli side. Palestinians, we had air support on site as well. The Palestinian terrorists, they paid a heavier price.

BLITZER: So was this an isolated incident or more Israeli as they say boots on the ground?

LERNER: We can expect these type of activities taking place. Special ops that happen below the radar, in and out, swift missions, quickly, concise and precise at what they are doing, to get that added value to safeguard Israeli lives.

BLITZER: So there will be more of these operations. What about tanks, armored personnel carriers, formal invasion of Gaza as occurred in the past?

LERNER: But we're preparing that possibility. It's not something we wanted to do, but we've in the past five or six days we have brought up the forces and indeed there is a substantial force on the border we've gathered and if the order is given we are prepared for that type of activity.

BLITZER: Was that the reason that you are leafleting in Northern Gaza telling folks get out, there's a half million people there. Almost impossible that they are going to all be able to escape. What is your goal here?

LERNER: The area that we've actually announced that people should leave is a lot smaller than that. It's the town of Beit Lahia. That has been a main staging point for rocket launching against Israel. There's a lot of Hamas deeply invested in that. There's obviously some sort of energetic Palestinian commando on the ground there that thinks that he can launch rockets at Israel freely. We have to deal with that problem and that is why we are suggesting for their own good keep away from Hamas, move out of that town because we intend to target it.

BLITZER: A lot of the civilians, whether elderly, young people, they aren't going to be able to leave.

LERNER: Well, we hope that they will abide by our advice. It is a necessity, the terrorists that are launching rockets from Beit Lahia are putting the people at risk.

BLITZER: What is the timeline? How much time do they have to get out?

LERNER: The leaflets were released this morning. We announced intentions to do so late last night. There is a timeline, unfortunately due to the operational concerns I can't point at the specific hour, but it's indeed we expect the people to leave.

BLITZER: Within hours? Can we say that? So in the next few hours. When you go into that area will it be tanks, will it be armored personnel carriers? Will it be from the sea? What are you talking? A limited commando operation or much more robust military operation?

LERNER: I think we'll have to leave that for the operation itself.

BLITZER: But you're going to obviously be doing that. Are there other areas in Gaza that should anticipate similar kind of action on the part of the Israelis? LERNER: Anywhere launching rockets should be concerned. We have to operate, it's the right thing to do. Our civilians are being bombarded. Luckily, we invested in the iron dome system in order to protect the state of Israel and we are being very effective in that. But indeed we have to be able to mobilize as quick as possible, take advantage of our robust capabilities, take advantage of the technological capabilities and all components of the military whether it's the Air Force, the Navy or the Army, that can work, operate together.

BLITZER: One final question, you've seen the pictures of young Palestinian kids killed, a lot of civilian casualties so far. This is a very, very dire situation in Gaza right now.

LERNER: Indeed the situation is tragic. Hamas have held these people hostage, physical -- when we try and operate, when we operate, we are devoted to professional norms. We are devoted to minimizing the threat to the civilian impact. What Hamas does they exploit the situation to maximize that. They literally encourage the people to get on the roofs, they encourage the people or -- they place their ammunitions in the basements of schools.

They launch rockets from the courtyards of mosques. The play grounds there are used for launching rockets at the state of Israel. This is the concern we have. So indeed we are trying to be precise, effective, and we have to take this capability away from them.

BLITZER: Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, thanks very much for joining us.

LERNER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Christi and Victor, you heard the news, we just got it from the spokesman for the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, the next hours the Israelis are going to move in on the ground, the incident overnight, the naval forces going in, that was not an isolated incident. They can expect more of that. It's not going to be specifics, but basically warning that those leaflets dropped giving people in that one town in northern Gaza an opportunity to flee.

That is a serious threat from the Israelis. They are going to do something. I'm not sure what they are going to do, but we'll see if this ground invasion does take place in the coming hours.

BLACKWELL: No characterization of what that will look like. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, we thank him. Wolf Blitzer, thank you as well. Later this hour, we'll be joined by Hanan Aswari, executive committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, so stand by for that side of this conflict as well.

PAUL: Let's talk about Libya too because they are having fighting between militias in the capital of Tripoli. Explosions are heard. You heard it yourself. The airport and other parts of town, many websites say the airport is closed and Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 as the government has been unable to control the militias who helped out Moammar Gadhafi. BLACKWELL: Secretary of State John Kerry is in Austria today for talks on Iran's nuclear program. He is joined by foreign ministers from France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China as well.

PAUL: Hoping to reach a permanent deal on the future of Iran's nuclear program by July 20th deadline. Now Kerry is going to discuss with his German counterpart new allegations of U.S. spying on Germany.

Imagine this, you're on a plane over the Pacific, in the middle of nowhere, and then the pilot declares an emergency.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It got really silent in the cabin. People prayed. We all prayed. I prayed.


PAUL: You can bet people prayed. Details how this flight had problems from the start before it even landed on a remote island.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of prayers, there will be some people who are praying for the teams that are playing and will there be divine intervention at the World Cup today? For the first time ever the two nations in the World Cup final have a living pope in their corner.


BLACKWELL: There were some really frightening moments with passengers aboard a United Airlines flight headed from Honolulu to Guam.

PAUL: Yes, the plane had to make an emergency landing on Midway Island. Where is that you might -- let's show you here. It's truly in the middle of nowhere.

BLACKWELL: Yes, midway between nowhere and yarn. As CNN's Alexandra Field tells us this plane had problems even before takeoff. Alexandra, good morning.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, one passenger we spoke to said she had misgivings about getting on the plane in the first place because of a mechanical issue that delayed takeoff. Once on board she was able to fall asleep only to wake up and realize the plane was about to make an emergency landing.


FIELD (voice-over): An emergency landing for 348 people, cell phone video captures their arrival on the kind of island you don't usually visit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Midway is not an island that has hotels and things. It's a diversion airport.

FIELD: The moments before touchdown, terrifying United Airlines passengers. KAREN VON MERVELOY-GUEVARA, PASSENGER: We're all thinking of people at home and our own little one we had with us, we had a family next to us with a 3-year-old and a real tiny baby.

FIELD: Mechanical issues delayed United Airlines Flight 201 from the start after 3-1/2 hours it was cleared for takeoff. The plane left Honolulu and was headed to Guam, but three hours into the flight over the Pacific Ocean, the pilot was suddenly forced to reroute to a remote island because of a strong electrical odor. In order to make a last-minute landing on the island, aviation experts say the pilot would have had to dump fuel before reaching the runway. Passengers became more alarmed approaching the island because of turbulence.

GUEVARA: I think after the 40-foot drop it got really silent in the cabin. People prayed. We all prayed. I prayed. There is nothing wrong with that.

FIELD: United Airlines says it's still investigating the mechanical issue that forced the pilot to divert.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: This smell would be a smell from a spark, a wire had come loose, a wire that had arced against the frame of the aircraft. Something along those lines.

FIELD: The aircraft, a Boeing 777, is the same type of plane as the missing Malaysia Airlines flight and the same kind of plane that was involved in last summer's Asiana crash in San Francisco. The NTSB says that crash was caused by pilot error. Aviation experts consider the 777 among the safest planes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to step on land.

FIELD: United passengers spent seven hours inside a gymnasium on the island waiting for United to send in another plane after a harrowing ride.


FIELD: By the time the plane landed on Midway Island, our CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, says it appears the pilot had control over whatever situation was causing that electrical odor. Soucie points out that in the cell phone video shot just after the plane landed, we don't see any immediate emergency evacuation of the plane and we don't see the emergency slides deployed -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Alexandra Field, unbelievable story there. Thank you so much.

A sexual harassment suit that a case of she said she said. What the former employee of Yahoo! says that happened to her after she refused alleged advances.

PAUL: Plus, my gosh, this story, a survival from a teen. The sole survivor after her family was gunned down in Texas. I know you know this story. She talked at the memorial service. We'll tell what you she said. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Think about this. I was reading last night. She told her grandfather that she felt angels whispering -- over her mouth and whispering her to keep quiet. That is part of what is coming from Cassidy Stay, the girl you're going to look at here.

BLACKWELL: Cassidy is the sole survivor after her mother, father, two brothers and two sisters were killed Wednesday at the hands of a gunman. Cassidy put her hand up to block the bullet fired at her head and investigators say that move helped save her life. She also had the wits to play dead and then call 911.

PAUL: Leading police then to the capture of the accused gunman, Ronald Lee Haskell. Cassidy addressed supporters for the first time yesterday and here is what she had to say.


CASSIDY STAY, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I'm really thankful for all of the people that have been praying for me and keeping me and my family in their thoughts, and I would like to thank all of the first responders, nurses and doctors that have taken care of me. I'm feeling a lot better and I'm on a straight forward path to a full recovery.

ROGER LYONS, GRANDFATHER OF CASSIDY STAY: Today we are so grateful to God to have Cassidy back with us from the hospital. Many of you have probably heard about her heroism in the news. We continue to be in awe how she was able to save us.

STAY: I really like Harry Potter. In the prison dumbbell door says happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

LYONS: She had been shot, and had witnessed the murder of her mother, father and siblings, still she had the presence of mind to remain quiet and to play dead. As soon as it was safe, despite the terrible things she must have seen, at that moment she called police and told them we were in danger. Without her courage and quick thinking we might be mourning the deaths of 20 deaths, I said 20 people today, including myself, and nearly all of our children and grandchildren.

STAY: I know that my mom, dad, Brian, Emily, Becca and Zach are in a much better place and that I'll be able to see them again one day. Thank you all for coming and showing your support for me and my family. Stay strong.