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CNN NEWSROOM

Israel Approves New 24-Hour Cease-Fire; Ukraine's New Military Offensive; Vladimir Putin's Next Move; Missing Impossible? Ending Mideast Violence

Aired July 26, 2014 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Israel has agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire extension. Hamas wants clarification on specific conditions of that cease-fire. More than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, mostly Palestinians, have been killed so far. Hospitals are overwhelmed in Gaza with some 6,000 people injured. Some doctors have been working for 24 hours straight, trying to remove shrapnel and save lives.

Earlier today, demonstrators took to the streets s in New York, London, and Paris to denounce the bloodshed.

In Tel-Aviv, crowds marched in support of Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers wounded in Gaza died today, bringing the Israeli military death toll to 42.

Let's get the latest on the ground.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Jerusalem.

Sara, what are we hearing about Hamas and this possible cease-fire? Is it going to take effect?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we thought that they were going to give us some information in the last half an hour. We have not heard from Hamas. But they have maintained that they want to be able to bring more items and have the -- basically to bring more items into Gaza and as you just heard earlier from Mr. Baer, that is not likely to happen, though we know Israel has said it will continue for a 24 hour, another 24 hours in a cease-fire.

We have not heard of anymore rockets coming, but we do know the devastation is great in Gaza and our Ian Lee has been seeing the scene there, has been talking to the residents there who are looking at vast swaths of Gaza that have been destroyed, now more than 1,000 people, we're talking 1,049 from Gaza officials who say that they have all died, and most of them are civilians.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, the cease-fire is definitely over. Both sides are trading salvos. The areas we were at earlier today are once again the front lines, and when I was out there, one of the things that really struck me, the power of the weapons used were these huge slabs of concrete that were folded over like a page in a book. Take a look at some of the other things we saw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEE: When the clouds of war cleared, this is the devastation that was left behind. We have a child's mattress, we have clothes, we have pots and pans. This area completely destroyed and it's not just this house. There are other buildings down here that have been damaged, devastated. We've seen some people come through here and try to pick at little things they can take back with them to their shelters.

This crater just highlights the massive amount of firepower that's being used in this area. This hole has to be at least 10 meters deep, and if you look, there's slabs of concrete. It looks like a building was here, and what we're hearing is that this was likely the result of a 500-pound bomb.

Neighborhood after neighborhood, house after house has been reduced to rubble like this. And really without any permanent cease-fire, this sort of devastation is likely to continue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Sara, when we were in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, we were very close to the front lines. At one point, about 100 meters from Israeli tanks when all of a sudden out of the woodwork, we hear, we don't want to see a soul here. That was in Arabic. We believe those were Gazan militants.

So, what will make a cease-fire work? I talked to Hamas officials and they said the lifting of the siege is on the strip. They want goods and services to flow across the international boundaries. They say unless that happens, the fighting will continue -- Sara.

SIDNER: I think Israel has been clear, you know, that is not likely to happen. Have you heard anything about what Israel has said that it's going to have a 24-hour cease-fire and hoping Hamas will sign on to that as well?

OK. So, that was our Ian Lee. He was reporting from Gaza. In the beginning of his report, he did talk a bit about both sides, one trading rockets and Israel firing back, but we do know that for the past 12 hours, there have been no -- there has been no firing from Israel into Gaza. They have been quiet and now they have added another 24 hours on to the cease-fire. We will wait and see what happens.

We know there have been at least six mortars that have come over into Israel's southern part of the country, in the Eshkol regional council from Gaza, but it has been quiet since then over the last hour or so -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Sara, the -- you know, the mortars we have heard about and oftentimes these cease-fires are a little sloppy and things do happen. The Israelis have already said they're committed to a 24 hour cease- fire. Now, Hamas has not responded. Israel will continue to do its work on the tunnels there.

What is your sense of things? Will the Israelis just sort of assume that the cease-fire is on and wait to see if Hamas will respond and then show the world that, you know, Hamas is the perpetrator and the aggressor here?

SIDNER: Well, it's certainly a strategy. What you're seeing Israel doe is saying, look, we're going to try to destroy the tunnels. That doesn't mean we're going to move further in, but we're going to do other things to try and destroy the tunnels. Israel says weapons are being brought in Gaza, they ought bring other things through the tunnels as well to be clear.

And what they basically said is, we're not going to be doing the air strikes that have taken so many lives there. And so, I think they're waiting to see what those in Hamas do. If you start seeing lots of rockets and mortars coming over the border, then you're going to see a response, and Israel has been very clear they're going to have a strong response.

But I think what they're trying to do, what Israel is trying to do is say we're offering you this, look, Hamas is going against it. They are the ones that are continuing this fight and now we're going to try and finish it -- though we know that this flare-up, this kind of flare-up, these wars come every two to three years.

There was one in 2008, Operation Cast Led. There was one in 2012. I was here for that one on both sides of the border. And now, we're seeing another one in 2014 as I have said before, this is a long conflict, and usually fairly short flare-ups wars. So many people have died so far. We've got 43 Israelis and 1,049 Palestinians according to officials.

MARQUEZ: All right. Sara Sidner for us in Jerusalem. Thank you very much.

I want to bring in our experts to discuss this. Retired Colonel Rick Francona is a CNN military and analyst and Bob Baer is a former CIA operative and CNN national security analyst.

Colonel, it's been nearly three hours since Israel authorized the cease-fire extension. No word from Hamas. What do you think is happening here?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I'm really kind of surprised the Israelis are giving them 24 hours because you have to assume Hamas is going to try to resupply as best they can, move some things around, maybe get rockets out of storage areas the Israelis haven't found yet and present a greater risk to the Israelis.

And for the Israelis to give them that 24 hours, I'm a bit surprised. It could be that they want to try and bring them to the table and realize they're not going to get anything more than a cease-fire and if Hamas doesn't live up to it, then they can, as you said, show them as the perpetrator. But I am puzzled by this. MARQUEZ: Bob, the -- Hamas -- if they only get a cease-fire, that's

not very good for them. Nobody in the Arab world seems to be caring a lot about what happens to Hamas. They're very concerned about Palestinian lives, however.

How might this play out? Clearly this is going to inflame tension in the Middle East. The West wants it to stop. What can the practical events or the practical effects beyond Gaza be from this?

BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know what I worry -- I mean, it's clearly a worry for Israelis and it's a terrible tragedy both for Israelis and Palestinians, this war, but the effect it's going to have on the jihadists in places like Libya, Syria, and Iraq. I mean, these people are going to look at this and use it as propaganda and say look at the West. We're equated with Israel, whether we like it or not. What they're doing to Palestinians, fellow Muslims, and they're going to use that as justification to carry out violence in various parts of the world. And I would say it's going to inflame the truly radicals wherever they may be, whether it's the United States, Europe, or the gulf countries.

I think it's going to have a very bad effect, and the longer it goes on, the more likely we're going to see more international terrorism.

MARQUEZ: Colonel, I take it you agree with that?

FRANCONA: Oh, absolutely. Just to piggyback on what bob said. He's absolutely right.

We're seeing this already in the Syrian and ISIS. The recruitment is way up and all of their literature and everything, they're now siding with the Gazans and even people that were sitting on the fence are now jumping on because this has so much inflamed the -- not just the jihadist but the Arab street, the vitriol we're seeing in the press.

MARQUEZ: This is, I mean, Bob, this is the frustration here. It's the loss of human life, the hospitals bombed, the kids on the beach, the home for invalids. I mean, how high a price -- and now, 42 Israeli soldiers dead which is a high price for them. How high a price is Israel willing to pay?

BAER: Oh, I think Israelis, the way they look at it, their backs are against the wall and they will crush Gaza if things get bad enough. If it weren't for Iron Dome and these rockets were actually landing on Israeli cities and killing a lot of civilians, you would see the Israelis go in and totally crush Gaza, flatten it. This is the way they look at the world. They say they have nowhere to go and are going to defend themselves.

Don't get into the rights and wrongs of this conflict. You have to look at it from the point of view of the Palestinians and Israelis. It's complex but it affects the rest of the world.

MARQUEZ: Very, very disturbing. We could be staring at another intifada coming down the line and something perhaps wider.

FRANCONA: And the Israelis are committed. I mean, they're in now, they have to go.

MARQUEZ: Thank you, gentlemen. Stay right there with us.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks live to CNN about the crisis in the Middle East. Be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels reason putting their war on hold because of the crash of Flight 17. Ukrainian troops are marching on the biggest city of the region near the Flight 17 crash site. How it could impact that investigation, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Now, we have major developments to report tonight from Ukraine. The fights has spiked there following word that government troops are advancing toward the rebel-held city of Donetsk. Intense new fighting broke out today around the city including sites east of Donetsk where the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was found. The news sent Donetsk residents packing. Thousands clogged roads heading out of the city trying to get out before the government forces try to retake the area from Russian-backed rebels.

Meantime, experts investigating the crash of Flight 17 stayed away from the debris field told, just too dangerous for them. Too much gunfire in the area. Also today, we learned the first victim of the crash has been identified, described only as a Dutch national.

Let's talk more about Ukraine with retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, former FAA inspector David Soucie, and in Los Angeles, former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Bob, assuming the Ukrainian forces advance on Donetsk and beyond, I take it Vladimir Putin is not going to allow that to happen?

BAER: Miguel, he's not going to let it go. He's staked out a position he's going to protect Russians in the near abroad. If Ukrainian forces go into Donetsk, there's going to be casualties, civilian casualties. This will stir up feelings in Russia and I think Putin will react in some way. Whether he's going to invade or not, I don't know, but he's certainly going to send more arms into the rebels and probably some sort of mercenaries to help them out.

But I just don't see him giving up the eastern Ukraine without a really good fight.

MARQUEZ: Colonel, is it just eastern Ukraine that is the prize for Vladimir Putin?

FRANCONA: Well, no, he wants it all but he'll start with that and I think he'll take it in chunks. He started with Crimea. Eastern Ukraine is next.

And, you know, Bob is right. He's going to have to react. It's like the Ukrainians are pushing him to a corner and Putin cannot not react. If he sees Russians, ethnic Russians, in danger, this gives him the excuse he needs to intervene. Now, does he intervene militarily? Does he send more supplies? Does he send troops? That's to be seen.

MARQUEZ: Yes. David, you've looked at a lot of crashes over the years and I don't think you've ever seen one like this. Obviously, Flight 17 should not have been over that airspace. It's very clear to us in hindsight. Is there anything else that pops out to you about this sort of situation in a war zone with such tragedy there on the ground?

SOUCIE: Well, you know, again, I've been in criminal cases as well when we talk about, I've had a lot of people say, why would you want to go in there, why do you need to see this? I've seen so much evidence that we say, yes, it was a missile. Well, that's one thing. To try to prove it in court is a whole other ball of wax. It has to have the physical evidence, physical proof.

And I've seen so many photographs and satellite pictures thrown out of court because it didn't take it back to the tangible truth. That's what's going to be hard here. Once you have that, it's the chain of custody that gets challenged.

MARQUEZ: So, you want the very high legal standard and you want it --

SOUCIE: You have to have it. Without it they're going to get away --

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: -- the information off that site.

Bob, Vladimir Putin, how does he -- obviously there's a lot of pressure on him over this. Obviously it has frayed relations with the U.S. and with Western Europe. At the end of the day, does he care? Can he even afford to be seen as giving anything to the West?

BAER: My assessment, you know, it's been a while since I worked in Russia is, no, he won't. He's going to say, go, impose sanctions and I'll cut off energy to Europe. He thinks he's got a trump card with energy and he very may well. So far, nobody's moved against him.

We all threatened we would sanction individuals, but that certainly hasn't hurt Russia. You know, we could do major damage to the economy and we're not at this point. And he's testing us. And he'll keep going, and don't forget, it's just not Vladimir Putin. Resentment over the collapse of the Soviet Union goes back to 1991 when Russia started saying we wish we had Stalin back.

MARQUEZ: Colonel, is -- so what are the options now? For the West to supply weapons to the Ukrainians, to make another push to have Ukraine brought into NATO? That would certainly be a threat to the Russians.

FRANCONA: Well, the threat to bring the Ukraine into NATO would send Putin absolutely apoplectic and draw the response that probably we don't want right now. We could do the covert support. There's paralysis now. Nobody is doing anything to help Ukraine. We're sending them MREs and blankets. They don't need MREs and blankets. They need weapons and support. MARQUEZ: I'm presuming some of that may be happening a some level

whether from the U.S. or -- you're not seeing anything from that side?

FRANCONA: I'm not sensing that it's happening.

MARQUEZ: David, what percentage, how confident are you that a proper investigation, that the remains of the people who are out there will be treated properly and will be recovered?

SOUCIE: After listening to what's going on here, I don't see how it can really. I mean, I was on the other side of the fence before, but after listening to what's going on, and that it's escalated and I've talked to the investigators today that tried to get out there, they can't get out there. It's being shut down.

They say they want it done, get it out of here. They have a week. But then, how can you do that, if they've been there for two days now, standing there waiting to get on to the site, waiting to do what they know is right and being told we're going to allow you to do this, but yet Putin puts more pressure on what's going on there. And it's counterintuitive for me for Putin to be spending this time putting pressure on them when what he should be doing is taking the opportunity to support what he said initially which was that he was going to do what he could to protect that site and to allow us to get those people out of there.

MARQUEZ: Bob, I'm going to give you a much bigger job than CNN analyst. You're now national security adviser to the president. What do you tell him to do?

BAER: I think the president of the United States needs to get engaged. He needs to get out there. I've never seen the world in such bad shape right now. Whether it's Libya, Syria, wherever. We have got to put this together very strongly and nobody else except the United States can provide leadership.

And if it means flying to Moscow or wherever, he's got to do it. He has to become engaged. You can't let this drift the way it is.

MARQUEZ: Colonel, do you see that happening? Is this the sort of president, is this the sort of moment in America, is this the place where the U.S. is going to put its power and get engaged to that level? Because we are talking extraordinarily high stakes.

FRANCONA: Well, we should, but I don't think that we're going to. I think that the United States tends to be -- we're focused on other things right now. There's a whole lot going on.

How many things are going on in the Middle East? We just pulled people out of Libya. We've got the Gaza situation. Ukraine was brought to the forefront by this plane crash. We have not stepped up to the plate yet with Ukraine. I don't see us doing it in the near future.

MARQUEZ: All right, Bob, Colonel, and David, thank you very much, gentlemen. Stick around, though. We're going to talk to you later.

Russia's president already had a notorious reputation in some quarters before the crash of Flight 17. Now, it's even worse now, with some describing him as a pariah. But still, one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Russian leader Vladimir Putin appears determined to push ahead with his support of Ukraine's rebels. No amount of U.S. or European protests seemed to have an effect at all.

As CNN's Diana Magnay reports, Putin may have backed himself into a corner, leaving him with few options beyond losing face, or risking a new war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The innocent victims of someone else's war, a war which with their deaths grew wider and colder. The finger of blame pointed squarely at this man by western policymakers.

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, isolated, denounced for his alleged role in supporting, supplying and training Ukraine's rebel militias.

In a clamor of outrage, European leaders are preparing further sanctions, promising to make Russia pay.

(on camera): But Mr. Putin is the leader of a nuclear power and wildly popular at home. He has framed this conflict as a battle between good and evil, Mother Russia protecting its cousins and compatriots in eastern Ukraine against Kiev.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A narrative is being pushed in the media.

MAGNAY (voice-over): A message driven home through state television watched in almost every Russian household. A prisoner of his own propaganda, it will be hard for him to lose face.

SERGEY STROKAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: On the one hand, he simply can't afford, himself, to dump or abandon those who consider themselves to be Russian sympathizers, pro-Russian militia, which is fighting Ukrainian forces. On the other hand, the last thing President Putin wants is new Cold War to become a reality.

MAGNAY: Mr. Putin's public response has been defiant but predictable. A repeat of long-held mantras of Western interference and promises that so-called Color Revolutions will never work back home.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Definitely such directly imposed methods on Russia would fail our people, citizens of Russia, would never allow this and never accept it.

MAGNAY: This week in a Moscow courtroom, two leaders of the 2012 anti-Putin rallies were sentenced to 4 1/2 years in a penal colony. And Mr. Putin signed new laws cracking down on public protest, measures to assert control, perhaps, where he feels that it's slipping.

MASHA LIPMAN, MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTER: Putin's strategic goal in Ukraine was to prevent Ukraine from following the Western orbit. Now, it seems his capacity for such a policy, for reaching such a goal, has at best diminished quite dramatically or maybe disappeared altogether, and having lost, having suffered this defeat on his strategic goal, I think Putin will have to make up for this by cracking down at home.

MAGNAY: In a video statement three days after the tragedy, Mr. Putin seemed ill at ease. The rebels he'd supported suddenly a liability.

But along the border with Ukraine, NATO says Russia is building up its forces, bringing in troops and heavy weaponry to move in if necessary. Rather than prompting any kind of a turning point, the disaster of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 appears only to have reinforced the battle lines.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now, how has the white house response been to Russia's actions? Too strong, too weak? You know our contributors, Ben Ferguson and Marc Lamont Hill, are going to have something to say about that, I'm guessing. That's coming up, just next.

Hang in there, guys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Now before the break, we heard CNN's Diana Magnay reporting on the international pressure bearing down on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Let's talk about Putin with CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson.

Ben, is Putin backed into a political corner here?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think so at all, and I think if he was, we would actually see him be changing course and he hasn't been. I mean, he's continuing to arm the pro-Russian separatists, or as many would call Russian soldiers that have taken their patches off. You have an airliner that's been shot down and really without many consequences, if any real ones, toward Russia to feel pressure, and many in this country still support him and the White House is not doing a lot, neither is the U.N.

So at this point, I don't think he's in a corner. I think he's doing exactly what he wants to do, how he wants to do it and he's going to continue to do it until someone decides to finally stop him.

MARQUEZ: Marc, there's clearly a fury of efforts out there, but is the White House doing enough? Ben says no.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's where we disagree. I think Ben and I are in agreement that right now the pressure is not sufficient to make Putin make a better decision. Putin is going to be moved only when he feels the cost of aggression is too high.

FERGUSON: Agree.

HILL: It seems bizarre to me that we continue to blame -- it seems bizarre to me that we continue to blame D.C. for this. You know, for the last week, particularly Republicans in the Senate have been saying things like if Obama would just have tougher sanctions, if America would just say more, if they would just blame Putin, if they would just work harder. It's bizarre to me because the president's done all of those things. Intensifying sanctions --

FERGUSON: But he hasn't.

HILL: -- from the United States is not sufficient.

Let me finish this one point, Ben. It's not sufficient. Targeting more individuals will not do the job here. What we need is for the E.U. to step up. What we need to, European nations to step up on sanctions and they know and Putin knows he is the big joker so to speak.

FERGUSON: I agree with you --

HILL: They understand that ultimately, he can cut -- Ben, he can cut off energy. The issue here is energy dependency of Europe. It's nothing to do with the United States sanctions. The president can't do more.

FERGUSON: Marc, it's also an issue of leadership. If the president of the United States of America comes out after innocent people are shot out of the air with the most extreme sanctions that the U.S. can impose, which we have not done yet, we have still talking about --

HILL: Like what, banking? Are your for banking, Ben?

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: That should have been -- let me finish. That should have been the trigger point, when you have innocent people shot out of the sky in a plane, that is when America shows leadership and says as a country, we are going to do the maximum that we can do and now we do call on the U.N. and the others that you're describing to do the exact same thing that we're doing and we will lead that coalition.

But we can't demand that from them if we're not even willing to do it with American sanctions, which to this point, we have not done.

MARQUEZ: The one thing that's amazing about the situation, gentlemen, look, during the last administration the Russians went much farther in Georgia. They have not done that yet. Whatever they're doing they're doing secretively. They're not going in full bore on their own.

Marc, does the White House have to step up and appear to be ready to take that step?

HILL: Again, it depends on what we mean by ready. Yes, the United States has to worry about Russian encroachment in other regions. Absolutely. The United States has to look tough and improvable on this issue. Again, the White House has done it to the extent that it can. I disagree that more sanctions right now from the United States, even from the banking sector would be sufficient. Most experts say it wouldn't be.

But, yes, United States has responsibility to exercise leadership here. What we can't do is allow this to become a U.S. issue where the advancement of the Putin project is then just directly on what Obama does.

I'm far more concerned with France's behavior in the last seven days, quite frankly, than the United States --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: We cannot control France. Barack Obama cannot control France. I totally agree. He can control the United States of America's response.

HILL: But he can control Putin?

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: We should be influential over Putin. I think that is the point of foreign policy.

You're totally correct. We cannot force other countries to do things, but America can maximize our impact and our pressure by being a leader which we've always been, whether it be in the Cold War or now to say as a nation we're going to step up and you can, too.

HILL: It's an empty gesture, Ben.

FERGUSON: It's not an empty gesture if you're not doing everything you can to do to stop Vladimir Putin. It's not empty. It's called good foreign policy.

MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, hold on one second. I don't know if we're going to solve this one today. Clearly, you're not.

But I want to get to Hillary Clinton before we run out of time. She repeated her argument that the Obama administration's much discussed reset of policies toward Russia worked. She told Fareed Zakaria she was skeptical of Vladimir Putin. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I was among the most skeptical of Putin during the time that I was there. In part because I thought he had never given up on his vision of bringing Mother Russia back to the forefront. Not by looking at what Russia could do to be a modern nation, but by looking to the past, and especially trying to control their borders from Central Asia to the Baltics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Ben, I take it you think the idea of a reset with Russia was a failure?

FERGUSON: Yes. I think that may be the most captain obvious statement of the year. I'm glad to know that Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state knew that Vladimir Putin wasn't a good guy, but that also tells you a lot about this administration.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I mean, this idea that she even thinks there's been a reset. You have a country that's arming people and they may very well have been shooting at passenger plane down.

A reset did not work, Hillary. It's a failure. And for her to act like a reset worked, go talk to those families who have loved ones. They still haven't gotten their bodies back. And ask them if there's been a reset by Russia. There's --

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: Except I would say we still don't know the full extent of Russian culpability in this plane crash.

Marc --

HILL: We don't.

FERGUSON: We know there had to be some involvement there.

HILL: Two things.

MARQUEZ: Marc, your sense on the reset.

HILL: To the reset -- well, two things. One, I think Hillary is walking a very fascinating tightrope right now where she wants to enjoy all the spoils of an Obama foreign policy regime except for when it doesn't work. That's where she says I was instrumental in this. But I was extra, I was super skeptical of Putin. It's an interesting tightrope to watch her walk.

Was the reset successful? No, I don't think Hillary Clinton would suggest that. If you look at what was possible in 2008 with regard to Russian encroachment in Georgia, Russian encroachment in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, we've seen far less damage that was possible -- than was possible, yes, in 2008, so I do think that there's something to be said for the foreign relations work done by Hillary Clinton and Obama in that area.

FERGUSON: But remember -- HILL: But she's overstating the successes.

MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, stay right there. We're going to bring you back. I love you both equally.

You can see more of that interview with Hillary Clinton on "Fareed Zakaria GPS", that's tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern Time.

The fight between Hamas and Israel is part of a much, much bigger struggle, one that goes back not just years but decades. CNN social media really helped -- can social media really help heal the wounds between these two groups or is it just wishful thinking? We'll talk about that piece of it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Now, there are images you don't often see, especially these days, Arabs and Jews sharing their love for one another, mixed couples, even children of mixed heritage coming together on social media to plea for peace in the Middle East and around the world.

Here's CNN's Samuel Burke.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a unique plea for peace for a region filled with war. The social media campaign is called #JewsandArabsrefusetobeenemies. Its Facebook page may only have a few thousand likes now, but it is filled with moving messages, powerful photos, of couples who won't let religion stand in the way of love.

Like this photo, this journalist Salomi Anderson, who's half Lebanese, embracing her Jewish boyfriend. A caption reads, he calls me neshama, Hebrew for darling, I call him habibi, Arabic for my beloved.

And this photo posted by an Arab Jewish couple in the United States holding a sign that reads, "We cohabit in peace, that's also a solution."

Families of mixed heritage are sending a message across social networks. This caption reads that Jasmine is Israeli, Osama is Palestinian. Their message, "We are family, there is an alternative."

This young girl's photo posted to Twitter poses a simple question: My mom is Jewish. My dad is Muslim. So how can I be an enemy of myself?

Organizers hope if the message is taught to everyone this young, and then the devastating cycle of valance that's gripped generations can finally be broken.

Samuel Burke, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: So, we want to talk more about the Middle East and efforts to end this violence.

CNN commentators Ben Ferguson and Marc Lamont Hill are back.

Marc, social media campaign we just saw, it's sentimental, sweetly sentimental, perhaps only sentimental. Can these things actually help?

LAMONT: No. You know, there are -- I'm a social media --

MARQUEZ: Oh, come on.

HILL: -- fan. I love it.

Look, maybe I'm just in a cranky mood, but look -- I mean, there are times where I see it -- I saw it -- if I look in Tahrir, when I look what happened in Iran, I see really interesting uses of social media to tell one's story, get the word out about what's going on, talk about human rights abuses, et cetera. I love the power of social media, and there's a difference offering this schmaltzy message to suggest that somehow, if we just give peace a chance, we can end a conflict that is not rooted in misunderstanding, but is rooted in occupation, it's rooted in an open air prison being in Gaza, it's rooted in an unfair distribution of resources, labor and weaponry.

When you have that, a real cool hashtag ain't going to fix it.

MARQUEZ: Yes, Ben, the --

FERGUSON: Yes.

MARQUEZ: You know, the media war has been so intense from both sides. The U.S. walking a very fine line here. Obviously, always tied to Israel very closely. But also I think a lot of Americans shocked at what they're seeing happening in Gaza. Is the U.S. walking that fine line well right now?

FERGUSON: Well, I think you have to look at it and decide, are we still going to stand with Israel? And I think we should be. I think a social media campaign is not going to do anything to fix this at all, unfortunately. I think it's great in general, but it's kind of like bring our girls back. That campaign. They're not back yet.

I mean, sometimes there are real conflicts and a hashtag is not going to fix those. It may help outside of that actual conflict, but America's got to decide if we're going to continue to stand by Israel. I think most people are in favor of that. Seeing this U.N. --

HILL: What does it mean, Ben?

FERGUSON: -- this week, for example.

Well, I'm going to give an example of that. Look at the U.N. school that was hit this week. The United Nations came out and said that that school was used as an ammo dump, as an ammo depot, rocket depot. They told them to stop doing it and get out of the school. I mean, you have Hamas willing to use children as human shields. So,

you've got to tell both sides of that story, and at least the U.N. acknowledge d it this week.

HILL: What's -- but, Ben, that's the only side being told. Using children as human shields -- it's a bad thing and should be condemned.

Yes, it's not just a bad thing.

FERGUSON: It's something that terrorists do.

HILL: It's inexcusable.

Yes, but Ben, here's the part you're missing here. You keep talking about this as if there's a one-sided pro-Palestinian story we need to push back against. If anything, we need to talk about the abuses, again, happening against Palestinian people, talk about the imbalance in body count, the imbalance in weaponry, in terms of weaponry resources. We need to talk about the entire history of this which --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Do you want to send -- are all wars supposed to be equal as you're claiming? Because that's so unbelievably nonrealistic. The other issue is this. Who started this?

HILL: No, I don't want all wars to be equal.

FERGUSON: Took three children and they killed them and Israel responded.

HILL: That's not true.

FERGUSON: If they wouldn't have killed the children, this probably would not have happened.

HILL: Ben, two things.

MARQUEZ: Look, gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen --

HILL: The murder of children is indefensible, but children died a month before, Palestinian children died a month before the Israeli children died. We could keep going back month by month by month. This doesn't start with the unfortunate death of any children. No children should be killed.

This starts with occupation. There's an apartheid state in Gaza. There's an apartheid state in the region. That's what we need to talk about. That's what starts as resistance. It's not terrorism.

MARQUEZ: Gentlemen, the --

FERGUSON: I think we agree --

MARQUEZ: The sad reality is that it is going to be impossible for them to separate out Hamas from civilians in that tightly controlled area. That's why these campaigns are very, very difficult to take on.

I want to ask you guys quickly about the embassy in Libya. It was evacuated today. Everybody moved next door to Tunisia.

Marc, is this a misstep by the administration? Should they be doing this?

HILL: It's too early to tell, but I think what you see is an Obama administration, particularly in Libya, particularly in Libya is going to be extra careful. It's going to evacuate regions sooner than perhaps they otherwise would, or areas, not regions.

I think the jury is out on whether or not this was the right decision. The president is airing on the side of caution. It's too early to tell it a misstep.

MARQUEZ: Ben, is America important enough to interests to keep an embassy there, keep a presence there?

FERGUSON: It certainly should be. In all honesty, if you were there, would you want to stay knowing Barack Obama and our foreign policy is the one in charge? I wouldn't want to. If you don't believe me or --

HILL: We were so close, Ben.

FERGUSON: I think there's an ambassador Stevens that was killed and made up a fake YouTube video, said it was a fake protest that never existed to cover their rear ends on the anniversary of 9/11. All honesty, if you were there, I'd probably want to get out because I wouldn't trust they're going to come protect me.

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: I don't think it's funny. Americans died --

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: As one who has been to Libya and met Chris Stevens there, and actually met a lot of Libyan people, it's a lovely place. Chris was a fine, fine ambassador and it is very sad that he is not with us anymore.

Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it right there.

HILL: Absolutely.

MARQUEZ: Ben Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill. Thank you very much. We're going do be back in just a few.

FERGUSON: Pleasure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Two regions, two conflicts far from the U.S. But both could have huge impacts here at home. In the Middle East this hour, there's talk of a new cease-fire in Gaza to replace the one that expired eight hours ago. This one approved by Israel. It's being described as a 24 hour humanitarian cease-fire in response to request by the U.N.

Israeli officials were quick to note that defense forces will continue to destroy tunnels leading into Israel from Gaza and that they would respond to any violations of this new cease-fire. We're still waiting for an official response from Hamas itself.

Also tonight, growing tension and violence in Ukraine. Government troops advanced toward the rebel held city of Donetsk raising the possibility of an all-out battle for the city. This scene not far from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

I want to bring back our panel of experts. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Francona is a CNN military analyst. David Soucie is a former safety inspector for the FAA. And Bob Baer is a former CIA operative in Los Angeles.

First to you, David. The biggest challenge for investigators this week is at the crash site. Do you have any hope that they will be able to conduct their work and get everything they need done in a timely manner?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I have hope, but that's about all I have. I don't know if they're going to be able to get there. I don't know if they're going to be able to stay there and secure a perimeter big enough to come up with the answers.

MARQUEZ: And, Colonel, with this new offensive, it seems, by the Ukrainians moving toward this area, how big are the concerns for what's happening there? And is the crash site, itself, now just sort of an asterisk on this entire operation?

FRANCONA: For the Ukrainians and pro-Russian separatists, this is not a player anymore. They have bigger problems facing each other and I think the crash scene will suffer because of that.

MARQUEZ: Bob, how far is Vladimir Putin willing to go in order to maintain his sphere of influence on eastern Ukraine if not all of Ukraine?

BAER: You know, that's a hard call, but I wouldn't put it past him to invade, simply once Russians, ethnic Russians start dying, he'll just say I had no choice but to go in and to save people -- humanitarian mission. It won't be true, but I could see him justifying an incursion into eastern Ukraine. It's possible.

MARQUEZ: Yikes. Colonel, on Gaza, we have -- we're now in the middle of a 24 hour cease-fire. The Israelis are going to continue to take out those tunnels. We haven't heard much from Hamas.

Where do you think we are right now in this thing?

FRANCONA: Well, I think the Israelis have done this because the tunnels are one of their primary missions. So if they can do that under the umbrella of a cease-fire, it's a win/win for them.

But I think the Israelis are fully committed to doing this. They've already taken a lot of casualties, so Netanyahu almost has no choice but to continue this to its completion, and unfortunately, that's going to mean more civilian casualties and a lot of public opinion turning against the Israelis.

MARQUEZ: Yikes. Gentlemen, thank you very much for sticking around with us. We will -- so many families lost when Malaysia Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine.

For some of those families, hearing of this disaster is not enough. They must see the crash site for themselves to see that their loved ones are truly gone.

CNN's Kyung Lah has that report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing could keep these parents from Flight 17's wreckage, not a bloody conflict or a breakaway republic filled with armed rebels.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI, PASSENGER'S MOTHER: Of course I cry. We thought how do we survive this? We couldn't believe it.

LAH: Being this close they still don't want to believe that their only child Fatima is gone. The 25-year-old aerospace engineer aimed to be an astronaut one day and hoped space exploration could bring peace on earth.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: She would challenge me if I would give up. She has a training of not giving up.

LAH: And neither will her parents. The Australians flew to Ukraine armed only with shock, grief and hope to find their daughter alive.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: Go, go, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to go.

LAH: We met them on the Ukrainian side of the conflict as they fought to get to Donetsk.

Local Ukrainian government officials urged them not to go, warning them the fighting was getting worse. Embassy workers on the phone begged them to stay.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: You have not sorted this out. Please do not contact me anymore.

So the risk, we know. No worries.

LAH: Refusing to listen, they left in a private car, crossing rebel blockades to their daughter's plane that the U.S. says the rebels shot down. They are the first of the families to come here -- seeing is not believing.

ANGELA DYCZYNSKI: I really want no condolences. I really say this to the -- no condolences.

LAH: Denial is powerful. A parent's grief unyielding.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Kiev, Ukraine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: So, they made it to the crash site. Other families being told: please do not go to the crash site. And these people keep hope alive that their daughter is alive.

I'm Miguel Marquez in New York. Next up, "THE SIXTIES."

Thanks for joining us.