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Thousands Flee Gaza, Israeli Airstrikes; Germany Wins World Cup 2014; Illegal Immigrants to Be Sent Home; Bergdahl Could Return to Active Duty Today

Aired July 14, 2014 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, on the brink. Breaking overnight, the Mideast explodes.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We're using missile defense to protect our civilians.

COSTELLO: . Warnings of towns being wiped out.

NETANYAHU: They're using civilians to protect their missiles.

COSTELLO: Will America have to broker a ceasefire?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't stand for something, you're going to fall for anything.

COSTELLO: Immigration outrage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?


COSTELLO: This morning, deportations begin.

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our border is not open to illegal migration.

COSTELLO: Brace yourself, pull out the parkas, the polar vortex is back.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Fifty-nine for a high temperature on Monday in the middle of July. Just crazy weather going on.

COSTELLO: Temperatures 30 degrees below normal, some people waking up to temperatures in the 40s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They find a way, with touch, with finesse.

COSTELLO: And we got to talk about it. Germany takes the cup. So after biting --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just such a consistent player.

COSTELLO: And Tim Howard, are Americans World Cup whipped?

Let's talk live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: And good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

We begin this hour in Gaza where neighborhoods are reduced to rubble and lives are in ruin. Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing parts of northern Gaza after Israel dropped these leaflets warning civilians of impending airstrikes. And that offensive appears to be escalating.

Two overnight deaths in Gaza have pushed the Palestinian death toll to 172. Compare that to Israel where there has not been a single person killed. That's despite Hamas militants unleashing its own barrage. Israel says Hamas has fired nearly 1,000 rockets across the border. Israel also says Hamas is turning Gaza civilians into human shields by hiding rockets and other weapons in schools and mosques, and the civilians who choose to flee do so in defiance of Hamas, and its orders to not evacuate.

CNN's Ben Wedeman spoke to one family as it raced to get out of harm's way.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The clock is ticking. It's time to go. Israel ordered the inhabitants of this area in northern Gaza to leave by 2:00 p.m. Sunday. Hamas told them to stay put.

"I don't answer to them," says Ahmed. "I do what's best for us."

He is sending his family to safer ground in Gaza City, relatively safer, that is, although he will stay behind. Luckily, he caught a taxi to take them away and not a moment too soon.

These children have heard the crash of shelling and airstrikes for days now. But it still terrifies them. This is the third time in the last five years Ahmed's family has had to flee their home.

(On camera): Like almost everybody in this area, we're leaving, too. It's dangerous. There's shelling there. There's some people staying behind basically to guard their houses, but as the men back there told me, 80 percent of the people in this area have already left and at this time, the deadline to leave ends in 35 minutes.

(Voice-over): On the drive into Gaza City, empty streets and rubble from the Israeli airstrikes. By taxi or mostly by foot, the people fleeing the north are heading to United Nations' schools, more than 1,000 in this school alone. Food has yet to be provided. The only source of sustenance, a water


Um Jamaa and her family of 15 fled their home at 2:00 in the morning.

"We told the kids, get up, get up," she tells me. "We walked all the way here. This baby needs milk, but we don't have any. We have nothing. Not even safety."

There's little to do here but wait until the fighting stops and they can go back to their homes, if they're still there.


WEDEMAN: Hi, Carol, we are on -- this is the main highway, north/south highway in Gaza. North is Israel, south is Egypt. Roads pretty empty for the most part. Many of the people have left this area and I can tell you why. If you will just look to my left, this is a place where a bomb fell a day or two ago. And I can tell you the bombs are falling pretty much every five minutes or so, just a little while ago.

We were to an area to my right, to the west. We arrived at a house that had just been hit five minutes before. They had received a three-minute warning. Everybody had run away, so nobody was hurt. Then we drove up the street, we saw children running in the opposite direction.

People said another house had received a warning, so we turned around the corner, we sort of waited. It was only about five minutes before that house was hit as well. I think in that case, also, we didn't see any ambulances heading toward the house. So there may have been no casualties or fatalities, but it just gives you an idea how frequent the bombing is, and it is really sort of scattered.

This afternoon it seems to be in this area to the west of me. Earlier it was to the east a little bit further south. But it really is, with the exception of the World Cup when there was complete quiet during the game, between Germany and whatever the team was, I can't remember, then there were no strikes.

But since then, it's been pretty constant. I can hear drones overhead. So there is probably going to be more strikes, hopefully in that over -- the area over there and not in this area here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes. And I just have an amazing statistic. The bombs coming from Israel into Gaza, there has been an airstrike every four and a half minutes and there's no signs it will end anytime soon.

Ben Wedeman reporting live from Gaza city this morning. Thank you.

In other news this morning, after a dangerous trip to reach the United States, some undocumented immigrants are about to find out they're being sent home. Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson says deportations will begin this week.

In the past nine months, 57,000 minors have illegally crossed into the United States from places like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala.

The deportations comes as Congress gets set to start debating President Obama's request for nearly $4 billion to stop this migration.

Senator John McCain told CNN the flow of immigrants must be stopped.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is a humanitarian crisis, but for us, we Republicans, and I'm sure many Democrats, will have to see an end to this. Look, we need to spend about $6 billion to have our border secure. The president wants $3.7 billion. If this keeps up, he'll ask for another $3.7 billion next year. It has got to come to a halt.


COSTELLO: Michelle Kosinski joins us now from the White House with reaction. Good morning.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Right. I mean, we've heard these arguments on both sides for some time now. What's not really clear is when the House and Senate will take up this proposal that the president has suggested, to pay for this crisis. And what the outcome of those votes will be. And some Republicans have indicated that they are willing to tackle it, but they want to make their own tweaks, targeted appropriations, they said.

There is a lot of disagreement on both sides, Republican and Democrat, about the amount the president is asking for. Some saying that it is too much. But some of the arguments you hear aren't exactly what are expected. I mean, Republicans are saying they want to see more on border security. Even though both sides are saying that this is a crisis, and they feel that this is of critical importance and they need to tackle it.

As for the administration, they're saying, well, is this even really a border security issue? Because so many of these kids who approach the border, they're looking for border agents to turn themselves in, so they can start this now lengthy legal process of trying to stay in this country. The administration also points out that the number of people trying to cross the border as a whole is at a near historic low. The spike in numbers we've seen are just these unaccompanied minors.

And we've heard some criticism from Democrats, too, that was interesting. I mean, there was a Senate hearing last week and it got to be quite emotional. Some Democrats criticizing the administration for not giving these kids enough of a chance. I mean, Senator Tom Harkin said we're talking about rounding them up and shipping them back. He said, sounds like we're talking about cattle here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Michelle Kosinski, reporting live from the White House this morning, thank you.

Germany rules. The German team winning the World Cup title, beating Argentina 1-nil on a late goal. Did I say that right, Andy? Yes.

A quarter million German fans watching on large screens at the Brandenburg Gate erupted when the winning goal was scored. But an ugly scene in Buenos Aires. Fans were celebrating Argentina's World Cup performance when vandals attacked, police has fired back with water cannons and tear gas.

So let's talk about this with CNN's Amanda Davies in Rio de Janeiro and Andy Scholes here in Atlanta.

OK, so, Andy, should we start with you? Because everybody is wondering now that the World Cup is over, is America caught on -- has it caught on in America?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Well, Carol, if you look at social media, it certainly has caught on because if you combine Twitter and Facebook, this was the most activity we have ever seen on social media for one single sporting event. Worldwide, estimated a billion people were watching the game, a billion.


SCHOLES: That's just incredible to think about. And you know, there's also some people watching this game that were not even on planet earth. The astronauts at the International Space Station were watching this game as well. Here is a tweet from Alexander Gerst, he said, "Just like the German national team, I have fantastic support from my crew. Congrats from the ISS to the World Cup champ, great game."

And of course he's rocking a Germany jersey there. It's pretty cool. And there were social media reactions, of course, flowing in right after the game.

What do you do right now when you win a championship, Carol?

COSTELLO: Go to Disneyland.

SCHOLES: That or take a selfie, right?


COSTELLO: Yes, that's right.

SCHOLES: Here are a couple of German players. That's Bastian Schweinsteiger, crazy name in sports, I think, with his teammate, Lucas Podolski. They took a selfie right after the game. That made its rounds on social media. Then Jurgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the U.S. men's national team, of course he is a German legend when it comes to soccer, he tweeted afterwards, giving his congrats and yes, yes, yes, Jogi, you did it.

Jogi, of course, the current coach of the German team. Huge compliment to Argentina. But the best team won the 2014 World Cup. So that was his congratulations from him.

But, Carol, the funniest thing that happened yesterday on social media was Rodrigo Polacio, his hair. Are you aware of this yet?


SCHOLES: No. Well, check out Rodrigo Polacio's hair.

COSTELLO: I was on vacation, I missed all of this.

SCHOLES: So he almost scored a goal in the game but he has -- at one point during yesterday's match, #rattail was trending on Twitter. And someone came up with some pretty genius memes using his hair. Check those out. We had Spider-man swinging from the hair on his back. We have Tarzan and of course this is probably your favorite, Carol. Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball swinging from Polacio's hair.


SCHOLES: I thought those are pretty funny. So --

COSTELLO: OK. Well, Amanda, I don't mean to ignore you because you're kind of right in the middle of where the action is, but I had to see that meme with -- with Miley Cyrus.


COSTELLO: But anyway, tell us about Germany.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I haven't seen -- I haven't seen the Miley Cyrus picture. I have to say the hair is pretty spectacular. And a lot of attention here has been focused on that rattail. Doesn't matter what happened. It was only a World Cup final. But now I think a lot can be -- can be learned from the number of celebs who were here. I had never seen so many stars at the World Cup Final. David Beckham was here with his family, Rihanna was here, she's been photographed, with all the Germany team at their post match, party photographed with the World Cup, Gisele was here, Gerard Butler was here.

It really was an incredibly special few hours here in Rio. Perhaps the greatest football stadium in the world, the Maracana. And Germany are deserved winners of the 2014 World Cup. They didn't just perform against Argentina in the final, they performed throughout this tournament, beating some of the best sides in the world. They were reports the side that beat Germany with all the connections -- that beat the USA with all the connections between the two sides.

Jurgen Klinsmann handed over the reins, didn't he, to Jogi low, the German boss. And they have made a point, they have become the first European side to win a World Cup on South American soil.

The party just getting started for the Germans, though. They were here overnight, but now they head back to Germany, head back to Berlin where the party really starts.

COSTELLO: I bet. Andy Scholes, Amanda Davies, thanks to both of you. I appreciate it. Still to come in the NEWSROOM, in just a matter of hours, Army

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who was held in Taliban captivity for nearly five years could return to active duty as soon as today. So what does that mean? We'll talk about that next.


COSTELLO: Let's return to the Middle East where thousands of Palestinians are fleeing parts of northern Gaza as Israel warns of more airstrikes.

With me now, Michael Oren, a CNN Middle East analyst and a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He joins us now from Tel Aviv.

Welcome, sir.

MICHAEL OREN, CNN MIDDLE EAST ANALYST: Good to be with you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Nice to have you here.

According to our sources, Israeli jets have carried out more than 1,100 air strikes on Gaza since Monday. That's an air strike every four and a half minutes. There is word that this is only the beginning. Is it?

OREN: Well, maybe coming up it a crucial juncture, Carol, as thousands of Palestinians are fleeing their homes in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, as rocket fire into Israel from Hamas and other terrorist groups both in Gaza, as well as in Lebanon now, continues and even escalates. The question is, how long can both sides hold out? Whether both sides will now turn to some type of diplomatic option?

Israel, I know, would like to avoid a ground invasion of Gaza that would probably cost a great number of Israeli lives, as certainly a greater number of Palestinian lives, as well as bringing down on Israel's head tremendous amount of international censure and sanctions. So, whether the United States can play --


COSTELLO: I haven't heard Benjamin Netanyahu say anything about finding a diplomatic solution. He hasn't accepted United States help, for example.

OREN: Oh, he's been talking to Secretary of State Kerry and he's talked to the secretary of state several times, he's talked to President Obama, and I can only assure you -- I'm not in the government now, but I can assure you they're talking about possible diplomatic exit strategies and who can mediate.

In the past, Egypt played a very important role here. And I believe that Egypt can play an important role in the future. Other possible mediators, the Turks, the Qataris.

The idea is to get an arrangement which if it doesn't restore the status quo can actually create a more stable environment at a cease- fire that will hold longer than the year and a half that this cease- fire has held.

COSTELLO: Well, I ask you these questions because there are many within Israel who want the bombardment of Gaza to continue because supposedly Hamas is weakened. Many say now is the time to just finish the job.

Can Israel do that without sending in ground troops?

OREN: Well, it is a debate that is happening literally outside this studio, Carol. It's happening just before I came in here.

There are many Israelis, and it doesn't matter if they're from the right part of the spectrum, or the left part of the spectrum who think we're just going to get into the same situation again, a cease-fire that will hold for a year, year and a half, Hamas will build up its rocket supplies. It will get rockets that can hit farther, hit harder, rockets hit from Gaza, all the way up to Israel's northernmost cities of Haifa and Na-hariya, and that's never happened before.

But a great number of other Israelis know there will be a terrible price to pay for that, in terms of Israeli lives, in terms of Palestinian lives. In terms of Israel's standing in the world and then at the end of the day, even if Israel clears out Hamas from the Gaza Strip, to whom do you give the keys of Gaza, who will take it from Israel? Or does Israel get bogged down in an ongoing military occupation, again, which I don't think anybody wants here. There are no easy answers.


COSTELLO: The problem is civilians are being killed, right?

OREN: Again, to international mediation with the help of local mediators like Egypt, Qatar or Turkey.

COSTELLO: I was going to say, it is a problem, if Israel continues, because civilians are being killed. So far, no Israelis have been killed, but in the long run, if civilians continue to be killed in Gaza, will this turn more of the world against Israel? Is there a danger in that?

OREN: I'm sorry, Carol, it appears I've lost you. I've lost you.

COSTELLO: Can you still hear me? He can't.

Michael Oren, CNN analyst, we lost him. Sorry.

You can actually read Ambassador Oren's op-ed, smart way out of the Gaza confrontation. Go to

NEWSROOM is back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: After nearly five years in Taliban captivity, CNN has learned that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could return to active duty as early as today.

A defense official also tells us Bergdahl is expected to be assigned to Ft. Sam Houston in Texas. "The New York Times" is also reporting Bergdahl will live in an army barracks and will have two soldiers to help him re-adjust to life in the United States.

Bergdahl is expected to meet with the officer leading the investigation into his disappearance. Since his controversial release, some soldiers accused Bergdahl of deserting his post.

So, let's dig a little deeper with former war correspondent Mike Boettcher. And Dr. M. David Rudd, he's the president at the University of Memphis and specializes in mental health trauma and suicide prevention in the military.

Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: I'm good. Thanks for being here.

Mike, I want to start with you. You were kidnapped in 1985 by armed gunman while on assignment in El Salvador. You've been through the reintegration process. What will the next phase be like?

BOETTCHER: It's going to be difficult because at this point you're not in the controlled situation. What you're worried about is how other people think of you.

And in my own instance, I felt like people were treating me like I was a fragile egg. So I felt I had something to prove, that I was not. And I think it is still something that influences me to this day, and had me go on and cover wars for two or three more decades.


So, David, there will be two soldiers with Bergdahl helping him to re- adjust. And to maybe deal with things that Mike just illustrated. Does that mean there is a greater risk now of suicide compared to when Bergdahl was in the hospital?

M. DAVID RUDD, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS: Well, it certainly means there is a greater risk of stress. The stress level is going to increase dramatically. The issue is stigma.

The circumstances that surround his disappearance and the questions that are raised are ones that are going to probably provoke significant passion in response from fellow soldiers. As we all know, the issue of suicide in the military oftentimes the role of stigma has been significant and been a very serious concern. And that doesn't appear until you reintegrate in return to your unit.

COSTELLO: And, Mike, it makes you wonder. I'm sure that Bergdahl's fellow soldiers are wondering why he left his post that night.

Do you think any of -- I mean, had they been ordered not to talk to him about that? Is that why the two advisers are with him, those two soldiers?

BOETTCHER: You know, I think that the military will still try to control the environment around him and that's why they have those two soldiers there. Look, I'm around soldiers all the time. And people talk about this.

He's going to be faced with this. And that's going to be one of the stressors when he is out totally out into society, when those questions will be around him forever. And those questions, when I was in that region, when he was abducted, five years ago, you know, those questions were being asked then. And they're being asked now.

And that will be a stressor that will be around him. That is the environment he cannot control, Carol.

COSTELLO: And there will be an official investigation going on as well. According to "The New York Times", Bergdahl will meet with the officer in charge of the investigation.

David, what do you suppose that will be like?

RUDD: Well, the visibility and the scrutiny here are going to be significant. You know, it's not -- it's not just the issue, but it is the constancy of it, and the visibility, the awareness, all of these fellow soldiers are going to be aware of that. It's going to be a very significant stressor. It is going to raise issues.

We had concerns about his overall mental health in terms of his experience in the coast guard, some of his writing revealed some fragile nature. Those are very serious concerns.

Now, he does appear to have made a smooth transition, move through this reintegration process very well, and clearly, the military feels comfortable to reintegrate him fully into a unit. Those are positive signs. But it's difficult to anticipate the significance of the stress under these conditions.