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U.S. Intelligence Bolsters Case That Surface-To-Air Missile Was Shot From Eastern Ukraine; Parents Of MH-17 Victim Believe She Is Still Alive; U.S. Bans Flights To, From Tel Aviv; Netherlands Awaits Return Of Bodies

Aired July 22, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Welcome back to the LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in today for Jake Tapper.

U.S. intelligence is bolstering its case that a surface-to-air missile shot from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia rebels blew Malaysia airlines flight 17 out of the sky. A U.S. official tells CNN that satellites show three different events on Thursday with distinct infrared signature. The first is said to be a launched and vertical ascent of the missile believed to be an SA-11 which is also known as the Russian Buk. You probably heard so much about. Model is shown here in final video.

The next infrared signature came from mid-air and secondary explosions in the sky. This is as the plane was hit. The third and final signature was the plane hitting the ground.

OK, but what about actual physical evidence, something from the wreckage that points to this missile strike? It's telling that the first real analysis of the wreckage we've seen comes not from the U.S. or crash site investigators but through photos captured by "The New York Times."

See these holes punched in the wreckage about the size of a dime or a quarter? CNN has spoken to an analyst, a defense consultant IHS Jane's who says that the war head on an SA-11 missile would fragment just like this. The BUK, this expert says, is not actually designed to impact a target. It explodes some 50 to 100 feet near or in front of the target, meant showers. It was shrapnel which brings that target down.

A passenger plane is thin skinned and it wouldn't take much force to pierce it. The expert we spoke was says there would still probably be residue from the missile on these pieces of wrecking and to test for, though pro-Russian rebels as you know, as we reported have limited access to the scene. But a very important clue there.

When we come back, they've been told there were no survivors. But they believe their daughter who was on board flight 17 could still be alive.

Next, I'll speak with two devastated parents about the signs they say still give them hope.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back to the LEAD.

Her dream wasn't just to go to space, but to bring space to us.


FATIMA DYCZYNSKI, MALAYSIA FLIGHT 17 PASSENGER: I'm Fatima (INAUDIBLE) and creative aerospace engineer. And I'm committed to bringing the possibilities of space closer to you.


SCIUTTO: Fatima Dyczynski was an innovator, a visionary and tragically, as well one of the innocent victims aboard flight 17. The 25-year-old aerospace engineer was on her way from Amsterdam to begin a new life in Perth, Australia, as an intern at IBM. She had already launched her own tech startup and given speeches like this at a Ted X forum in the Netherlands about her dream of personalizing satellite technology to bring a global perspective to all humankind.


F. DYCZYNSKI: If all world leaders could have this experience, maybe we would have less conflict on our planet.


SCIUTTO: Five days after the crash, there are still so few answers for the people who love Fatima. That uncertainty has her parents hoping against hope that somehow their daughter whom they called an angel of peace, might have survived.

I spoke to George and Ana Dyczynski earlier today via Skype from Perth and asked them about that faith in the absence of facts.


GEORGE DYCZYNSKI, FATHER OF THE MF-17 VICTIM: In my heart and my mind, I got a message and the message was I will give you this daughter back.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Fatima's mother remembers her daughter's strength and still today believes in her heart that if anyone could have survived such a catastrophic crash, it was her.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI, MOTHER OF THE MF-17 VICTIM: Now I say you, if there is one person who could have survived, it's our daughter. She's aerospace engineer. She did glider flying. She's 25-years-old. She is kung fu trained. She is a vegetarian. She is shouting Kung Fu training and she did everyday training. We have all this evidence. Our daughter if anybody let's say when you say who could make this, then it's our girl.

SCIUTTO: They felt many signs their hope isn't misplaced including this mystery. Her cell phone which they say when called was still connecting after the crash. It's one of many questions they simply want answered.

G. DYCZYNSKI: The friend of Fatima, also aerospace engineer from Jerusalem, she phoned her from Jerusalem. She was praying for her and then phoned her and the phone was answering in Ukrainian language. What does that mean? For technical point of view, they translated this yesterday with IBM special who visited us to -- and they say this is the possibility that the phone is still existing.

SCIUTTO: So when her friend called her phone, the phone still answered in effect, with the Ukrainian message that it was still on somewhere in Ukraine?

G. DYCZYNSKI: Yes, yes. This was shot down but it was so she -- and they tried to trace it yesterday from IBM but it's very hard. They have no domains in the Ukraine. So maybe we have to go to the Ukraine and bring connection to them to try to trace the phone once more.

SCIUTTO: So who do these grieving parents blame for the crash?

A. DYCZYNSKI: This plane did not fall out of the air.

G. DYCZYNSKI: Was not the failure of the aircraft this time.

A. DYCZYNSKI: So it's like a little bit, it sounds like the -- it fall down. No. It was shot down, whoever it was.

G. DYCZYNSKI: And I believe this is a new kind of crime. We cannot -- if we go, let's say, tomorrow we fly to Europe and we are not sure. Maybe (INAUDIBLE) there are more people they want and they have weapons, this kind.

SCIUTTO: I wonder what do you want now. What opportunity do you want now? What question do you want answered now?

G. DYCZYNSKI: Mostly we would like because the message of Fatima is peace. And we know from our experience that the great weapon is peace is a great weapon. People start to make peace and they are peaceful and they are united, this is the greatest move to avoid this new common terrorism, we have to make kind of community for peace.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I agree with you. I know you called your daughter an angel of peace as well. And I know she was just beginning her work to do her part.

Thank you again, George and Angela.

G. DYCZYNSKI: Thank you very much. You are very kind and, well, great conversation.

A. DYCZYNSKI: Thank you so much.


SCIUTTO: I tell you, as a father myself, just to hear those stories from parents of these victims, it is heartbreaking to listen. Still coming up, Flight 17 victims' bodies just hours away from

arriving finally in the Netherlands. So why will some families have to wait for weeks or months before they can have their loved ones back?


SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Jake Tapper. The rockets from Gaza keep flying and now shutting down international flights into and out of Israel after a large rocket landed just a mile from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. CNN's own John Vause was aboard a Delta Flight 468 destined for Israel when the flight turned around and made an unscheduled landing in Paris instead. But his plane was only the first to be affected.

The Federal Aviation Administration telling all U.S. carriers they cannot fly into Tel Aviv for at least the next 24 hours. Joining me now is Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Thanks very much for joining us and taking the time.

I wonder if I could start with your reaction to the FAA banning U.S. flights from flying there. Do you think that's an overreaction?

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Look, I think it's safe to fly to Israel that's why a lot of planes are flying into and out of Israel. From what I understand, the FAA decision was a procedural decision once this rocket landed. They take certain precautions. For the next 24 hours they've suspended flights.

I'm confident once our FAA and your FAA meet and they understand the situation, they'll resume those flights because the airport is very well protected. As I said, planes are flying into and out of Ben Gurion Airport as we speak.

SCIUTTO: Turning to Gaza, if we can, Palestinian leaders said to our own Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Marwan Barghouti, that Hamas offered a cease-fire yesterday and that Israel did not answer. Now we have Secretary of State John Kerry says there will be no cease fire today. Is Israel prepared to talk about a cease-fire with Hamas, even a temporary one for humanitarian reasons?

DERMER: So first of all, I'm not aware of any cease-fire from Hamas. I'm aware of a series of cease fires that have been proposed that Israel has accepted that Hamas has rejected. There was the Egyptian proposal a week ago. Our security cabinet met. We said yes to that cease fire. Held our fire for six hours while Hamas was firing the rockets.

There have been two humanitarian cease fires, one by the U.N., one by the Red Cross. Hamas violated both of them and continued to fire rockets. It's simple. Hamas just has to stop firing rockets at Israel and then we can move beyond.

SCIUTTO: If Hamas abided by it, would Israel be willing to accept just a temporary humanitarian cease fire?

DERMERM: Every humanitarian cease fire that has been proposed to Israel has been accepted.

SCIUTTO: Let me talk about the conduct of the war so far. Israel has described this as a pinpoint operation. You heard Secretary of State Kerry not intended to be caught on camera, but they were caught on camera questioning whether it's pinpoint. Just today we learned that a girls school that was turned into a shelter in Gaza's refugee camp had been struck by an explosive device.

It's not the first time this happened in the campaign. On Sunday there was a strike that killed 25 members of the same family. Monday, there was an eight-floor story building that collapsed when it was hit by a strike. On July 13th, another strike killed 18 members of the same family. In a couple instances there was allegedly a Hamas fighter present there, but tremendous civilian casualties. Do you still stand by this being a pinpoint operation?

DERMER: Absolutely. We do not target innocent civilians. We've had over 2,000 operations in Gaza and even if we get it right 99 percent of the time, if 1 percent are off, you'll have 20 targets that are unintentionally hit. We don't want to hurt their civilians.

SCIUTTO: We're not talking about 99 percent success rate. The U.N. says 75 percent of the casualties are civilians.

DERMER: We have Hamas placing their missile batteries next to hospitals, homes, mosques. You mentioned the school. Today was the second time now in a few days where we found rockets in an UNRA school. That's a U.N. organization that is supposed to provide schooling and other services to Palestinian refugees. We have 20 rockets in a school. They are using schools and hospitals.

SCIUTTO: I do want to ask this quick because it's a different argument. Hamas does hide behind civilians. Israel has described it themselves as the use of force being pinpoint but clearly, the use of force is killing many civilians here. How can you stand by that description?

DERMER: Because that's exactly what we're doing. I've been in the war room with the prime minister and I've seen how many times operations are called off because there's a civilian who comes into harm's way. We drop flyers and make phone calls and send text messages and do everything to get them out of harm's way. We are dealing with people using civilians as human shields. We had a real big loss of civilians in one particular area in Gaza.

There should have been no civilians in that area because Israel said to evacuate 48 hours before we commence operations. Hamas is in some cases forcing them to stay and using them as human shields. The most important thing is to take a clear stand against Hamas' use of their own population as human shields.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Dermer, thanks very much for joining us. Please stay with us. We'll have much more from the anguished families desperate to have their loved ones back. Their wait could be even longer than expected. Please stay with us.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. It could take weeks or even months to identify the victims of Flight 17 according to the Dutch prime minister. Five days have passed since the crash, but tomorrow, finally, the first plane load of remains is expected to arrive in the Netherlands. That's where we find our own Saima Mohsin in Amsterdam -- Saima.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're making that journey to an airport where they'll be loaded on to a military aircraft and brought back to the Netherlands and will land to the sound of a trumpet call. There will be a minute silence. The Dutch prime minister, King William Alexander and Queen Maxima will be present at the ceremony as will be the relatives who have been invited to attend as well. And ambassadors from all the countries of the passengers on board that flight.

Jim, this is a country that's been in mourning, the majority of passengers were from the Netherlands. Take a look at this memorial at Amsterdam Airport. We've seen this growing number. Airline staff, airport staff, and entire families coming to leave flowers, teddy bears, balloons and to sign the book of condolence -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Saima Mohsin in Amsterdam, thank you. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jim Sciutto. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer live from Jerusalem in "THE SITUATION ROOM."