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CONNECT THE WORLD
72 Hour Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Holding; American Aide Worker Nancy Writebol Returns To U.S.; One Square Meter: Dubai; Global Exchange: Dubai Real Estate; Sierra Leone's Most Infected Area; Crisis in Ukraine; British Cabinet Official Quits; Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza; Remembering World War I Fallen
Aired August 5, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Welcome again, everyone.
We are now 10 hours into that humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. So far, the skies over the Israel-Gaza border free of rockets and air strikes.
Israeli troops leaving Gaza as part of this 72 hour ceasefire. The IDF says it is winding down its ground operation now that Hamas tunnel networks
have been destroyed.
The three day truce designed to give Gazans a break from the relentless ongoing battles.
Now if it does hold, Israel says it will be sending a delegation to peace talks in Cairo, but Israel and Hamas say certain demands must be met before
any permanent deal can be reached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK REGEN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: For us, the most important outstanding issue is the issue of demilitarization, because we don't want
to revisit this conflict in six months or in a year, we want it to be over.
OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: We want them to withdraw from our occupied lands, which everyone in the international community is saying it's an
occupied territories. They have to withdraw. If they withdraw, they will help in creating peace.
(END VIEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And we are covering conflict from both sides of the border, of course. John Vause live for us in Gaza City, Sara Sidner is in the Israeli
city of Ashkelon.
John, let's start with you. You've got bodies still under rubble, you've got houses destroyed, infrastructure completely shattered, talk of disease,
what are Gazans finding this morning?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, with this pause in the fighting it's really giving everyone a chance at least to make
an initial assessment of just how bad everything really is and it's pretty bad. When you look around parts of Gaza, especially those areas that have
been hardest hit, there is total devastation in places.
And there are the immediate concerns. What health officials here are most worried about in the immediate term is an outbreak of disease. There's
200,000 people crammed into about 35 UN schools, which are being used as shelters. You do the math on that, you can work out how crowded they
really are. There's another 200,000 people who, you know, are living with friends or they're on the street, or they're under sheets as makeshift
Because there's been no electricity here for seven days that means the water pumps arenOt working so there's no access not just of clean drinking
water, but to running water as well. The sewage system has been damage. Raw effluent is flowing into the street.
And so these are the immediate concerns right now.
Trying to find housing for almost 500,000 people, do basic patch work to repair that infrastructure and then maybe you can start thinking about
rebuilding the rest of Gaza, providing, of course, that those peace talks in Cairo come up with some kind of permanent solution to this conflict.
Now for a closer look at all the devastation, a little earlier today my colleague Karl Penhaul went out to the Shajaiah (ph) neighborhood.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The skies over Gaza are still filled with the sound if Israeli drones, but there's no rockets, no
artillery fire, that's the good news -- the ceasefire appears to be holding for now, at least.
But this is the bad -- judge for your selves. Residents coming home for the first time to try and see what is left.
You clearly don't need a front door key to come in most of these homes. This is Raul al Gunfort (ph). He's the owner of this house and has just
had much of his (inaudible) blown out.
Step into his living room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we were living with our friends, they say now you want to go home?
I said to him, no, we don't have home. Now our live tragedy is started now.
PENHAUL: The border between Gaza and Israel, it's just a short distance over that way. And hwen I stood here at the same time on Monday I could
clearly see Israeli tanks close to this neighborhood. Now, though, they've withdrawn, along with all the other Israeli troops, according to the
Israeli military, that is something that will go down well with Hamas and the other militants factions.
They said that he previous truces had been lopsided, because they allowed Israeli infantry to remain in place.
Civilian infrastructure has been destroyed across much of the Gaza Strip. Many people have been left without power, others without running water.
And if you look at this street, it brings into perspective where do you start? First of all, people have got to clear out the rubble. That's if
they can find a truck to drag it away in.
And then you've got look at these buildings, many of them have been made unsafe by the fighting. They'll need to be demolished. And only when all
that is clear, when the air is rebuilt, well, then you can think about putting up things like power lines.
But it's a process that even according to the United Nations could take up to 30 years.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, Gaza.
VAUSE: And you know, Michael, Karl and I wee talking a short time ago about the devastation in these parts of Gaza and they reminded -- it
reminded us both, really of the devastation that we saw in Haiti after the earthquake there in 2010.
HOLMES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the devastation enormous.
I suppose, and you're there, you're on the street, Palestinians will not want this all to be for naught. I imagine there is no tolerance for any
return to the status quo ante in the wash up of all of this?
VAUSE: Well, look, the more they have lost the more they want to make sure that it is for something. And so Hamas has this very long list of demands
and they are sticking to it. And they have held a very hard line ever since the fighting began.
And you know, we know most of them. We know they want the borders reopened. We know they want what they call the siege to be lifted --
Israel controlling the skies, the seas. They wan to be able to have exports and imports. They want to be able to control that.
For the Israelis, though, you know this is he issue that they have, they are unwilling to allows this place to be rebuilt if they feel that all of
those supplies that are going to come in there, for instance, cement, could actually go back to Hamas to rebuild that tunnel network, because last time
there was a conflict here back in 2012, a lot of the cement that came in which was meant to rebuild the houses and the hospitals and all the schools
it went underground.
And so what we're hearing now from Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, he's now linking reconstruction in Gaza to demilitarization. And
that's going a nonstarter, I would imagine for Hamas, Michael.
HOLMES: Yeah, there's a lot of painful negotiations ahead and painful days on the streets for Gazans, 485,000 apparently displaced by all of this, a
quarter of the population.
Sara Sidner is on the other side of the border in Israel where Israelis have gone through all of this with shattered nerves, at the very least.
Sara, how is this ceasefire being accepted where you area? A news (inaudible) or hopeful
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Look, I think it's hopeful. And we talked to a few people who talked about their feelings about the
ceasefire knowing that there have been polls throughout this for the past three or four weeks in the very beginning, very high, high polls among
Israeli Jews who were interviewed, up to 95 percent said they didn't want a ceasefire, they wanted to see the end of Hamas basically have it crushed
But as the weeks went on that dropped to about 64 percent.
Still people here hoping that the ceasefire means quiet for a longer period of time, much longer than 72 hours.
Here's what we're hearing from residents and from an Israeli reservist who was still in uniform when he talked to us about what he thought about the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Hamas was begging for this ceasefire. And I think that that moment we are going to achieve the maximum that we can
achieve. We could go. We can go deeper with this campaign, but we have to consider the cost. We have to consider the price that we might pay for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about time, I think. We've been in Gaza for two weeks and we more or less had enough.
SIDNER: And so you're hearing there that sentiment that this is enough. I think there is a general sense from the Israeli military and leadership
that hey go the mission done that they had intended to get done, which was blowing about these tunnels that they say could have lead into Israel, 32
tunnels in total, that took a great deal of work and explosives. And we've been seeing those pictures of those tunnels being exploded. We've also
been seeing the images of the soldiers who have been injured while inside of Gaza.
The population here knowing that ultimately in order to crush Hamas the work may be far, far greater -- and we're talking about the possibility of
reoccupation, no one seems to have the stomach for that at this time.
HOLMES: Sara, thanks to you there in Ashkelon. Also John Vause in in Gaza.
All right, Egypt, as we were saying a little earlier, obviously playing a key role in the three day ceasefire in Gaza. Up next, we're going to take
a look at the future of talks, if they happen, between Israel and the Palestinians. We'll have a live report from Cairo. Reza Sayah standing by
We're also going to ask former peace negotiator and Israeli scholar Daniel Levy what both sides need to do to achieve a lasting truce. And of course
this conflict taking a devastating toll on civilians in Gaza. We'll talk to one aid group that is trying to ease the suffering there. That's all
still to come right here on Connect the World.
All right, meanwhile there are concerns the deadly Ebola outbreak may have spread to Saudi Arabia now. A man there being tested after he showed
symptoms of the virus following a trip to Sierra Leone.
We are also learning that a Nigerian doctor has tested positive for Ebola after coming into contact with a patient with Liberia, the second confirmed
case in the capital Legos.
British Airways has told CNN it is stopping its flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia, temporarily at least, because of what they call the deteriorating
public health situation.
Meanwhile, a second American infected with Ebola is now back in the United States. The plane carrying Nancy Writebol is about to land at Dobens Air
Reserve base -- that's just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
So far the Ebola virus is suspected of killing nearly 900 people in West Africa. CNN's David McKenzie, the only journalist at the largest treatment
center in Sierra Leone. He joins us now from the epicenter of the outbreak.
And one can imagine the conditions there, David. Give a sense.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the sense is, is that this outbreak in West Africa is out of control, according to Doctors
Without Borders. And going into this facility behind me, Michael, you really get a sense of the work that the doctors are doing. They have to get
fully suited up in these space suits to just treat the patients. And they try to get that personal connection to them.
These are doctors, of course, and they want to help people, help people survive and thrive, but they have a death toll here of around 70 percent.
And so many people who end up in this clinic behind me never leave. IT's really a terrible situation. Four ambulances in this entire region of some
500,000 people. And they said, quote, "you want to be ahead -- steps ahead of an outbreak. To stamp it out," they say, "they're now two, three steps
behind. So, you know, the sense on the ground from us is that this is a very bad situation and it could get worse.
HOLMES: All right, David, thank so much. David McKenzie there right in the thick of things for us. Appreciate that.
And we're going to have a full report from David, by the way, a little later on his journey to the treatment center. That's also this hour.
Also still to come, calling in the troops -- NATO says Russia has increased its military presence along the Ukraine border again. We're going to be
live from Donetsk with Nick Paton Walsh.
Also, remember the great war and looking at how our world has changed 100 yearson. All that and much more still to come right here on Connect the
HOLMES: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. Michael Holmes with you standing in for Becky Anderson. And welcome back to the program.
Let's get back to our top story now, that is of course the conflict between Israel and Hamas. There are hopes that this truce now in place could be
the beginning, perhaps, to an end at least of the current hostilities, although history would suggest it's going to be a difficult road.
Egypt brokered this 72 hour ceasefire and the country wants to host talks to extend it.
The Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says Israel will be sending a delegation to Cairo if the truce holds.
Now CNN's Reza Sayah is in Cairo, joins me now.
Reza, the ceasefire alone isn't going to cut it for Palestinians and probably not for Israelis. What is the atmosphere there regarding actual
changes for Palestinians and guarantees from them?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRRESPONDENT: That's the big questions.
I think initially we see some cautious optimism, because every one wants to see this horrific bloodshed end. And there's indications that this
ceasefire could accomplish that for the short-term. Of course the Israeli delegation expected to get here. They haven't arrived in Cairo yet, but I
don't think anyone is alarmed, because they made it clear that they just want to see if this ceasefire holds, and once they are the convinced that
that's the case they're going to make their way here to Cairo.
The Palestinian delegation is already here. This is a delegation that arrived over the weekend that crafted this ceasefire plan along with the
Egyptian government officials. And Egypt, in turn, passed it along to the Israelis and the Israelis said, yes.
We've been through this script before. A ceasefire plan has fallen apart a couple of times, but this time you get the sense that both sides are taking
it seriously. Perhaps they see this is as, one, an opportunity to end the killing, the bloodshed. And two establish some sort of lasting truce,
which of course has been elusive.
Every time these two sides get together, they lay out their demands and eventually neither side abides by the other's demands.
Of course, Israel wants Hamas to disarm. They want to demilitarize Gaza. Hamas says that's not happening. And Hamas wants Israel to lift the
blockades. They want to open the border crossings, that hasn't happened yet.
All of that on the table if and when these talks happen -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right, Reza Sayah there, appreciate that. Thanks so much there in Cairo for us. All important talks.
All right now, whatever comes from this current ceasefire and the overarching conflict is anyone's guess, really.
For many, the dream scenario would be a lasting peace between these warring sides. My next guess says that goal won't be achieved through military
actions, especially what he calls the disproportionate use of force by Israel.
Daniel Levy is the former peace negotiator and an Israeli scholar currently with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Joins me now live from
Daniel, great to have you on the program.
You know, when you say you wrote I think it is clear that the Israeli response was disproportionate. Do you think Israel did all it could to
avoid civilian casualties as it says it did?
DANIEL LEVY, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I wish I could say that was the case, Michael. I think the reports from the United Nations,
the pictures ton our screens and the numbers of Palestinian civilians casualties and the circumstances in which those Palestinians lost their
lives unfortunately speak for themselves.
Of course, Israel has the right to self-defense, should not be expected to be under a barrage of rocket fire, but hat right does not allow Israel to
undertake the kind of military action and the kind of way in which civilians were targeted, were hit that we saw happening.
And of course we're now in a place where we hope that the ceasefire will hold, but it's going to be difficult to create a new dynamic that is more
encouraging and constructive.
HOLMES: OK, then to that point, what has to change this time a round? One imagines the political front is going to have to on both sides -- Israel
and Hamas -- but also probably a need, will there not be, for significant external leverage? Is that likely to come?
LEVY: Well, let's look at some of the factors, Michael.
First of all, I think there has been some kind of a shift in the Egyptian position during the course of the last four weeks. I think Egypt initially
thought that they could use this to continue their vendetta against Hamas. Hamas is almost part of an extension of their domestic struggle against the
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
It seems that the Egyptians now feel that they will be more useful as an effective mediator rather than taking sides against Hamas. I don't know
whether that will hold, but that's one important element.
Secondly, we have a united Palestinian delegation. That can be quite useful. You have senior American officials not talking directly to Hamas,
but talking to representatives of that united delegation.
However, it's a long way from that to getting to a situation where there is an incentive created that quiet will be met not with a continued closure on
Gaza, but with Gaza actually being able to reconnect with the outside world. And in that respect one thing that worries me in the early
messaging is what we're hearing I think from the Israeli side regarding this idea that demilitarization will be a precondition for reconstruction.
Your reporter spoke about that. I don't think that's practical.
I also don't think it's legitimate to say that Palestinians only have a right to water, electricity, housing, schools, hospitals if Hamas
demilitarizes. Of course, we don't want to see concrete used for tunnels, but of course we also don't want to see American munitions given to Israel
used for bombing refugee shelters.
I think the way you guarantee that that doesn't doesnOt happen is by addressing the bigger political equation of getting peace for Israelis and
Palestinians, an end of occupation and freedom for the Palestinians, without which there will always be resistance.
HOLMES: Yeah, somebody said to me a couple of weeks ago, give Gazans something to lose this time around. In 2012 with the ceasefire agreement
there they say they pretty much got nothing out of that, none of that was actually instituted.
You mentioned the Americans not talking directly to Hamas. Of course Israeli and Hamas both see it as a terrorist organization. But the unity
government that was set up, that basically brought Hamas into the political fold, and in a way gave Fatah a foothold again in Gaza, and it was so
vehemently opposed by Israel.
You know, it was seen by many others encouraging, but is a unity government in this situation really a key to all of this, that there has to be a
united Palestinian front political.
LEVY: Well, I think it's one of the important factors, absolutely. The next thing that has to happen, as you suggested there, Michael, is that
there has to be some kind of leverage used with the Israeli side to do the things now that tragically could have been done four weeks ago.
There was a unity government, that unity government could have been positioned on the border crossings as a way of interacting with the
Israelis, the Egyptians and others to allow Gaza to be opened up. That shouldn't have been necessary, but it provided a new opportunity.
Unfortunately, on the Israeli side, the sense of impunity encourages bad policy. And that's what we've lived with for far too long, and I wish that
weren't the case and it would change.
But now going forward, one has to hope that there will be an acceptance that we are better dealing with a united Palestinian policy, unless someone
is interested in keeping the Palestinians divided, avoiding solutions and avoiding peace.
HOLMES: One can only hope. Daniel, great to have your thoughts. Daniel Levy, a former peace negotiators and Israeli scholar currently with the
European Council on Foreign Relations joining us there from London. Appreciate your input. Thanks so much.
LEVY: Thank you.
HOLMES: Well, of course our website has extensive coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. Follow all of that coverage online, CNN.com -- and
also in Arabic as well -- CNNArabic,com. Perspective from all sides of this conflict. And there is plenty to be said form both sides.
Also a look at the ripple effect of the Israel-Hamas conflict around the world. Due drop in. There's a lot there to cover.
All right, live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. I'll be back with the headlines and much, much more in just a couple of minutes.
Before that, though, we're going to take a trip to Dubai to find out what a slice of private beach will set you back in one of the world's most sought
after locations, One Square Meter up next.
OK, we're going to take you now actually -- we're just getting word we've got some pictures of the arrival there -- and you can see it there -- of
that plane carrying the Ebola aid worker Nancy Writebol that's landing just outside at Air Reserve Base just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Of course, she is the second U.S. patient to arrive in the U.S. for treatment. The first one is now being treated -- Dr. Brantly -- for a
couple of days now. After receiving that experimental drug, which apparently had a remarkable impact on his condition to the point where he
walked off the ambulance an into the Emory University hospital into an isolation unit there for treatment.
And now we are seeing Nancy Writebol arriving on U.S. soil. She will be transferred to that same hospital into a separate isolation unit and
continue her treatment. She also got that experimental drug. Apparently, initially it didn't have the same impact it had on Dr. Brantly, but it --
she got a second dose and her condition improved enough for her to come to the United States as well.
All right, again, live pictures, Dobbins Air Reserve Base outside of Atlanta, Georiga. That plan carrying the American missionary infected with
Ebola just landing.
Nancy Writebol flown in from Liberia on that specially equipped aircraft. Made a stop a little earlier in the U.S. State of Maine, we should say.
And she'll be on her way to Emory University Hospital. Only four hospitals, by the way, in the country with that sort of isolation unit that
is required. And again it's where Writebol's colleague Dr. Kent Brantly is also a patient.
We'll be right back.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice-over): In the last two decades, on what was once Dubai's desert now stands audacious and creative
architecture. Preparations for the World Expo 2020 fuel further construction. Residential property prices are on the rise, as are initial
fears of a repeat property collapse like that of 2009.
MASOOD AHMED, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, IMF: You do see an increase in property prices, particularly real estate prices in Dubai. And these are things to
watch out for. Overall, inflation rates in the GCC remain quite manageable, but you need to keep a vigilant eye.
DEFTERIOS: With this word of caution comes optimism. The International Monetary Fund predicts annual growth of about 5 percent for the next 6
years. Rather than allow the specter instability to cloud Dubai's future, the government has moved to cool the market.
ALAN ROBERTSON, CEO, JLL MENA: The Dubai government raised the transfer tax from 2 percent to 4 percent, so it made property transactions more
expensive and less attractive to flippers. The UAE Central Bank introduced new loan-to-value proportions on mortgage lending. Some of the developers
have been introducing their own regulation.
DEFTERIOS: Dubai is one of the world's top transit hubs. With no corporate tax and stable governance, investors keep coming.
PATRICK CROWE, HEAD OF LUXURY RENTALS, LUXHABITAT: Hi, I'm Patrick from Luxhabitat. Welcome to Palm Jumeirah. Let's take a look inside this
DEFTERIOS: At this $19 million villa, one of the most exclusive addresses in the Emirate --
CROWE: And of course, the beach right on your back doorstep.
DEFTERIOS: Estate agent Patrick Crowe says his high-network clients are undeterred.
CROWE: The driver seems to be lifestyle. Some of our clients, for example, Russian clients, they like seafront property, so the Palm suits
them well. Our GCC clients, they like penthouses. Indian, Pakistan clients that we have, they tend to go for the Emirates Hills properties.
DEFTERIOS: For those with less cash to splash, purchasing sales have slowed. But rents have soared. On average, 20 percent year-on-year.
NICK MACLEAN, MO, CBRE MIDDLE EAST: Cost of living is going up, not just housing prices here. So, Charger (ph), Russel Kamer (ph), Fugera (ph),
have been beneficiaries of people moving away to seek better value of accommodation. So, Dubai has to be very careful that this -- the
affordability gap, as we're calling it, doesn't get out of control.
DEFTERIOS: Dubai, known for its "build it and they will come" philosophy, doesn't want to add the post-script, "but only if you can afford to."
John Defterios, CNN, Dubai.
HOLMES: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. The hour's top stories for you now.
A humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza appears to be holding this hour. Israel says it withdrew its troops from Gaza as the 72-hour truce with Hamas took
effect earlier today. The truce brokered in Cairo, and Israel says if it holds, it will send a delegation to Cairo for possible talks.
In southwestern China, heavy rain and aftershocks both hampering rescue efforts following that 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Yunnan province on
Sunday. State media reporting the death toll now stands at about 400. Tens of thousands of homes, though, have been damaged, many of them beyond
US officials have just confirmed to CNN that an American general has been killed in Afghanistan. A number of other military personnel, NATO
personnel, were wounded, including a German brigadier general. This is after an attack at a training facility in Kabul. Officials say the
attacker was wearing an Afghan military uniform at the time, a so-called insider attack. Afghan's defense minister says he was fatally shot by
A second American infected with Ebola has just in the last few minutes landed at Dobbins Air Reserve base, that's just outside of Atlanta,
Georgia. Nancy Writebol will be receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital, along with her colleague, Dr. Kent Brantly.
Earlier, we brought you David McKenzie, live from the largest Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone. The West African country particularly
hard-hit by Ebola, second only to Guinea in terms of confirmed or suspected deaths from the disease.
But being treated at that center is only part of the story. In this exclusive report, David shows us what it was like just driving into Sierra
Leone's most-infected area and what he found along the way.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're on the road, driving into the worst Ebola epidemic in history. They're quite
extraordinary. There's hardly an cars on the road. All the shops are closed, just one or two people walking on the street. When I'd been here
before at this time, it would be absolutely jam-packed. You could barely move. Freetown is a ghost town.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The government shut down the entire country for a day, for reflection, they say. Hammering three countries, the outbreak is
worst here, in Sierra Leone, and the World Health Organization says Ebola is now spreading faster than they can contain it.,
The fear is spreading with it. For months, the public's response has been dominated by denial and rumors, while Ebola silently kills. As the death
toll mounts, they are tightening access to the roads that help spread the disease.
And they're getting the word out to calm the panic. Like the rest of the nation, Mamadout Sous (ph) stayed at home today. "The elders put out the
word to stay at home, and we need to respect that," he says, "and we need to stop Ebola."
But Ebola keeps spreading, affecting more people and wider areas than ever before. Health officials say that at best, it could take months to stop
it. But there are no guarantees even of that.
MCKENZIE (on camera): So, the whole country's shut down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the whole country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a national issue. The whole country, Ebola issues still room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is family
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can pray with this family.
MCKENZIE: Why do people need to pray?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, because of this problem we are encountering, this Ebola issue.
MCKENZIE: We've been through a series of checkpoints. Each one is stricter than the last. One Red Cross official told us that along this
road, Ebola is everywhere. But it's through this point, into Kailahun District, where it is the epicenter of this unprecedented epidemic. And
it's there that the biggest battles are being fought.
David McKenzie, CNN, on the road in Sierra Leone.
HOLMES: Extraordinary stuff. Let's turn now to the crisis in Ukraine. A NATO official telling CNN there are now approximately 20,000 Russian troops
along the eastern Ukraine border. This as Ukraine's military continues to battle with pro-Russia rebels for control of parts of the Donetsk and
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in the city of Donetsk, joins us now, live with the latest. Not the first time we've seen
Russian troops on the border. But particularly worrying, given the situation there. Fill us in on what you're hearing.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, developments in the last hour on the outskirts of the city center, an area
called Petrovsky District, just over there.
We can't see smoke, but we hear from residents and from the local city administration that there is small arms fire being exchanged there, heavy
explosions, people sheltering in basements. It sounds like the Ukrainian military has moved in on the ground there. We can't confirm that, but that
is the suggestion.
A long awaited parts, I think, of many here, their advance around the city center itself. And we were in that area yesterday to see how people are
simply trying to get shelter from the explosions around them.
WALSH (voice-over): The Ukrainian army is fast moving into Donetsk, sat on its outskirts. But inside the city, great disquiet reigns. Shelling has
pushed some underground into cellars, half-built basements in this government building.
Where dozens of women and children eke out the life, sleeping on mattresses they carried down here. Twins, who find the nightly explosions scary,
loud. In this dim labyrinth, they believe the separatists when they tell them the Ukrainian army are American-backed fascists, set on attacking the
ethnic Russians here.
"They crush us, the damn Americans," she says. "What are they doing? Where there is war in the world, they have a part. Look, these little ones
here." They say they can't afford to leave, have nowhere to go. "All the women of the world," she says, "raise your voice against these murders."
Above ground, the grief and anger are more vivid near where a school was hit. In this small community, this can change childhood's daily life for
"They're unworthy because they are fascists," she says. "The government, why do they have to shoot innocent people?" Streets torn up. Ukraine's
army have used a lot of artillery in their fast advance, and as Rima returns to her home for the first time, it's unclear who fired the shells
here that shattered her windows.
WALSH: "If I'd been asleep here, I would have died," she said. She was staying at her daughter's when the shells hit.
WALSH (on camera): Here, you can see the civilian cost of the heavy weaponry used by the Ukrainian army to make that swift advance happen. And
here also in the shattered windows, damaged homes, you get a sense of quite how complex it will be for Kiev to win some locals back.
WALSH (voice-over): Here, where shells landed, two people were killed. Quiet, intimate lives flattened into blank faces of loss. They're burying
their loved ones.
(SINGING IN RUSSIAN)
WALSH: The war is changing, separatist militants thinning on the streets, their leaders canceling public appearances, Ukraine's army moving fast.
But this sense of the violence entering a final phase buys no comfort when tragedy has already come and is permanent.
WALSH: Now, Michael, the Ukrainian army has been edging closer to the city center, and separatist checkpoints have been moving back, we've seen
ourselves in the last 48 hours.
The question really is, do the separatist militants, thin on the ground, visually, are they melting away, or are they taking up positions hidden
somewhere to fight the Ukrainian military as it tries to move in? A very delicate 24 hours ahead, Michael.
HOLMES: Absolutely, a very important city, and a big one, too. Fighting in that city would be extremely problematic. Before I let you go, I've got
to ask you about these reports that you were getting of the Russian troops massed on the border. Your take on the significance of that?
WALSH: Well, it's up by 8,000 to 20,000 in just a week. Special forces, logistics, anti-aircraft artillery, everything they would need, said one
NATO official, to seriously interfere here. The question is, has the threat of sanctions as international fury meant the Kremlin don't want a
proper involvement here, or are they just biding their time.
If they don't assist the separatist militants here, it's likely they will face severe problems, if not defeat in the weeks ahead. That would be some
degree of humiliation for Vladimir Putin.
It's clear 20,000 simply isn't enough to invade and hold parts of Ukraine. It could be enough to launch some sort of limited-scale presence here.
But, as I say, international pressure has held that back for now. Is it going to be enough, or does Moscow need to show that it has strength and is
on his front foot here. Michael?
HOLMES: All right, appreciate your reporting as always. Nick Paton Walsh, there, in Donetsk, a city very important to all of this, and developments
changing there. Thanks, Nick.
Live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, despite a short respite from the
fighting in Gaza, what chance for aid groups to get in and deliver real assistance there. We're going to be speaking to a spokeswoman for one of
the biggest aid teams on the ground. Stay with us.
HOLMES: The first Muslim in a British cabinet is stepping down in protest over the conflict in Gaza. Sayeeda Warsi tweeted this, quote: "With deep
regret, I have this morning written to the prime minister and tendered my resignation." She goes on, "I can no longer support government policy on
Warsi called Britain's approach to Gaza, in her words, "morally indefensible." The opposition has criticized Prime Minister David Cameron,
saying he has not gone far in condemning Israel's actions in Gaza.
As a cease-fire there on the ground appears to be holding, aid organizations have that 72-hour window now underway to try to get help to
those who need it most. Mercy Corps has 90 staff working inside Gaza delivering humanitarian assistance.
Spokeswoman Cassandra Nelson joins me now, live from Jerusalem. Ninety staff working inside Gaza. One imagines it might not be enough. What are
you being able to achieve so far, given -- I imagine it's hard to even get around, looking at the damage we saw earlier in Karl Penhaul's reporting.
CASSANDRA NELSON, SPOKESWOMAN, MERCY CORPS: Well, it's been extremely challenging, and our staff there has really done an incredible job
responding to the need since the beginning of the crisis.
We've actually assisted more than 80,000 civilians who've been caught in the violence, primarily helping them with things like food baskets, hygiene
kits, and other really basic essential supplies that they just simply don't have access to.
HOLMES: What do you hope to be able to achieve? Now, let's assume the cease-fire holds. Hopefully it goes on, that's the whole aim. What can
you do in 72 hours, given the level of desperation of those who are there?
NELSON: Well, certainly, 72 hours isn't much, and we've already finished up almost our first day of the cease-fire. But Mercy Corps is really
taking this opportunity to prepare in case the cease-fire doesn't hold, so that we can actually be prepared, if fighting continues, to continue to
serve those in need, while at the same time addressing critical needs, whether the cease-fire holds or not.
So, the key things that we're doing right now is first of all, we're actually getting out and assessing what's happened. We really haven't had
access to so many communities because of the fighting. So, we're literally going in some cases door-to-door to find individuals and families that are
stuck in their homes that haven't had any assistance. And we're assisting them with distributions.
We're also bringing in critically-needed supplies. We've got ten massive water bladders that are at the border right now, and we'll be bringing in
tomorrow, along with more hygiene kits, which we can use, then, to set up mobile water points.
About 1.5 million people in Gaza don't have access to drinking water, or their access is extremely limited. So, by bringing these in, we'll be able
to use those to meet a lot of that need.
And then the other thing that we're doing is we're also moving -- we've had our things centralized in a large warehouse in Gaza, where we've been
distributing from. That's been very difficult with the fighting. Now during this cease-fire, we're taking the opportunity to set up sort of sub
warehouses that are closer to the distribution points.
So if fighting does resume, we won't have to travel as far in our trucks and our convoys to reach the people in need. We'll be able to go out very
quickly and to get those items out there.
HOLMES: Yes. Obviously, not all of Gaza is in ruins, but by all accounts, large parts of it are. We're talking about a place where the
water was bad to begin with. The UN had said that Gaza would be uninhabitable, technically, by 2020. And now you've got 485,000 people
displaced. Where do you begin to house that number of people, as well as water, sewage, electricity and the like?
NELSON: Well, regarding the displaced, yes, we're talking about nearly half a million people that are displaced. And actually, of those half
million -- or of the displaced people, there's about 10,000 homes that have been completely destroyed. These people have nothing to go back to, even
if the fighting does stop.
And another 35,000 families have had their houses severely damaged, and their houses will need some repair, but they are inhabitable.
So, certainly the -- they're in these IDP centers, primarily in schools, and many of them will continue to stay there. Even though there is a
cease-fire now, we've seen people going back to their communities to see if their houses are still standing, perhaps to get some things from their
house if they can.
But we're not seeing people actually trying to leave the shelters permanently. They feel that the security is not adequate now. It's a day-
to-day, hour-by-hour basis if this cease-fire holds.
So, you've got people in the shelters, and then you also have thousands and thousands of people that are staying with relatives or in host families
that are in the communities, areas where the homes are still standing and that are a bit more secure.
HOLMES: And I say, things look bad --
NELSON: But the electricity is also -- yes. No, and you mentioned the electricity, and I'll just say that in terms of the water and the
electricity, they're obviously very linked. The access to water issue is coming about primarily because the electricity's out. Electricity was used
to pump the water.
And his is affecting everything from the most critical infrastructure, the medial system, the health care system is really at verge of collapse
without access to adequate electricity or clean water. So, these are all things that are just really creating an incredibly dire situation there.
HOLMES: Sewage apparently running in the streets and pouring into the ocean as well, on the limited fishing grounds that Palestinians had.
Cassandra, thanks. Cassandra Nelson, there, with Mercy Corps. You've got a big task ahead of you. Thanks for your work.
NELSON: Thank you.
HOLMES: Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, looking back. It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of World War I, but
have any lessons been learned from that war that was supposed to end all wars. We'll have more on that.
HOLMES: Welcome back. A hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, Britain remembering the hundreds of thousands of troops killed during that
war to end all wars. Max Foster takes us now to the iconic Tower of London for a very special remembrance.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a rare privilege to be allowed into the moat here at the Tower of London, particularly during this
installation, which is truly spectacular when you're here. And it's growing all the time.
The latest three people to plant poppies here were no less than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Each of these poppies
represents someone from the British empire who lost a life in the first World War.
The artist responsible, Paul Cummins, says he was inspired by the will of one of the soldiers who died. The soldier describes the "blood-swept lands
and seas of red, where angels fear to tread."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's really what you see here. It's a sort of flowing series of waves, particularly the way some come out of the Tower of
London. And then, as you come into the Tower, across the causeway, there's this breaking wave of poppies.
And every poppy here is a soldier who lost his or her life in the first World War. So, it's a mass, but it's a mass of individuals, and we mustn't
forget those individuals.
FOSTER: And to think that this project isn't nearly complete yet. Eventually, more than 800,000 poppies will be planted throughout this moat
and creating a sea of red around this spectacular castle.
Max Foster, CNN, London.
HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. We're done for now, thanks for watching. Ralitsa Vassileva is up next.