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Russia Requests Humanitarian Convoy into Eastern Ukraine; News Footage: Hamas Using Palestinians as Human Shields; U.S. on Sidelines in Israel/Hamas Peace Negotiations; Websites Hacked by Cyber Gang

Aired August 6, 2014 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The situation in Ukraine is deteriorating and Russian troops may be able to move in. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday at Russia's request. The U.N. says 730,000 people have fled to Russia in the past four months. According to Reuters, Russia says it wants to send a humanitarian convoy into eastern Ukraine. But Poland's foreign minister says that may be the guise that Russia wants to use to start an actual invasion.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is joining us from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, one of the regions held by the pro-Russian rebels.

Nick, what's the talk there about the build-up of Russian troops right on the other side of the boarder? What's the latest?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had a rare appearance from one of the self-declared leaders of the separatists movement this afternoon. When -- sorry, some disturbance in the center of the city. When asked repeatedly whether or not he wanted a Russian military invasion, he didn't answer that specifically, and answered how complex for Russia to convene and the sanctions they may potentially face. They want humanitarian assistant certainly, but the separatists here playing up the issue of the humanitarian catastrophe, the refuges they say that are leaving.

We today, ourselves, trying to report on what we heard last night, have been around the city and seen the greatest cause by what we think must have been the jet we heard in the sky and seeing where two people were killed by shelling. No one knows quite who fired those rounds.

It is extraordinarily tense here. The Ukrainian military is moving very fast. Wolf, it's fair to say, the window in which Russia could launch an operation, it would have to be small because they don't have enough troops on that side of the border to really come in and occupy territory, just as one NATO official said, to seriously interfere. The window for them intervening is closing. Ukraine is moving fast here -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick, the U.N. has spoken about this crisis in Donetsk, where you are. Very little water, power, the mass exodus of folks, including a lot of health care workers. Give us a sense of what it's like there. PATON WALSH: Well, a lot of the shops are boarded up. It's fair to

say a lot of people have closed down their normal daily operations. But there is a period of time between 10:00 and 2:00 in the day in which the government and the Ukrainian military has promised people will be able to go about their daily lives. When that 2:00 window passes, you quickly see black smoke from what may well be military advances. People scurry around and try to have a normal life. We're not seeing particularly substantial shortages of basics. In fact, even people queuing for their pensions saying the delay is not a big deal. The real fear is the shelling. People are scared to leave. Some can't afford to leave. Some don't trust the government of Kiev after the military advances of the past month or so.

And I think the real feeling amongst most people in Donetsk, they don't really care, they just want the violence to stop because it's gone on too long and it's disrupting the ability to simply live normally -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh on the scene in Donetsk for us.

Nick, as I always tell you, be careful. We'll stay in touch.

Up next, we're going live to Gaza where a cease-fire is giving thousands of people getting a chance to return to their neighborhoods that had turned into battle zones.


BLITZER: Let's get back to the crisis in the Middle East. We're getting footage from France 24 television that appears to show a Hamas rocket being fired from a densely populated civilian area in Gaza. Israel accuses Hamas of firing rockets from schools, mosques, other public sites, using Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Here's the exclusive footage from France 24, shot last week in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- 80 percent of Gaza --



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, can you hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, what happened?




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This was a rocket. This was a rocket. Rockets were just shot right next to where we're standing. This is just some 50 meters away from the hotel where most of the international media is stationed. This right here is a launching pad for rockets used by Palestinian militants.

Now, this type of setup is at the heart of the debate within the international community, but also between Israel and the Palestinian militants. The Israeli army has repeatedly accused Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas, and that is precisely the type of setup we have right here, rockets set up right next to buildings, with a lot of residents in them.

Now, the other very noticeable element to be taken into consideration, it's about 100 meters behind me, a blue U.N. flag floating above this building. This is another accusation which has been made by the Israeli government and Israeli forces. This rocket launching site is right next to a U.N. facility.


BLITZER: That's from France 24 TV, as you can see right there.

Let's go to Karl Penhaul. He's in Gaza City for us.

Karl, let's talk about this video. Some Indian television video that surfaced yesterday as well, making the point that these journalists, while they were there, they say -- they couldn't show this because they were afraid of retaliation from Hamas. But now that they're out of Gaza, they're showing Hamas deliberately places these rocket launchers in very heavily populated civilian areas.

You've been there, Karl, from the beginning. I'm anxious to hear what your reporting on this has been.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My understanding, Wolf, is that those two rocket launch sites could be the same site, in fact, next to one of the Gaza hotels that that correspondent said was being used by the international media. There appears to be an unconstructed lot next to the hotel. Also, a number of yards fairly close by to a U.N. installation there. I'm not sure when the Indian TV station decided to publish their report. I am aware their reporter left and passed through the areas, crossing back into Israel. I'm not sure when he left, but was aware that that was published on the site.

We have seen rocket launch sites that have clearly come from urban areas. Even from our vantage point here, difficult to say precisely whether they came from inside buildings or courtyards of buildings or vacant lots alongside those buildings. We've seen those, in general terms, reported having seen rocket launch sites. Something that specific, we have not seen or got close to in the past. But that was by virtue of the fact these rocket launching sites were next to the hotel where they were staying -- Wolf?

BLITZER: That's why this Indian television reporter, now this French television reporter. You're saying that -- your understanding is they may be the same location near where the hotel where these reporters were staying, and apparently they're now out of Gaza.

What's it like today, Karl? This is day two of the cease-fire. I understand people are trying to get back to their homes, trying to get back to some sort of a semblance of a life there.

PENHAUL: They certainly are trying to get back to the areas where their homes once stood. It's a very sad situation to watch them. I saw a PhD student yesterday and he looked at the place where his home used to stand and shook his head and said, "I don't really understand what I'm seeing. I feel like I'm in a dream." It will be a long time before people comprehend what's happened to their homes, before they absorb that and decide how to rebuild a future.

In a little vignette today that kind of suggested to me that the militant factions here believe their cease-fire is holding, we saw a funeral of an Islamic jihad commander. A number of gunmen had turn out and were firing off salvos during that funeral procession. And then towards the second half of the procession, a squad of seven camouflaged, masked and armed Islamic jihad fighters turned out, again, firing salvos at the burial of their commander. So they clearly were confident enough to come out and believed they wouldn't be targeted as they came out in public.

Another thing that struck me, we had the chance to talk to one of the religious leaders of Islamic jihad at the grave site. We put it to him, this whole issue of human shields or were the militants operating within the civilian population. And he certainly didn't deny that the militants were operating within the civilian area. He said, where else do they have to operate?

And secondly, which seems interesting to me, he suggested that the civilians were so supportive of the militants that this is really what gave the militants some kind of legitimacy to operate within the civilian community. That's certainly his take on the other side of this very necessary debate -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul on the scene for us in Gaza. He's been there from the beginning of this war. Let's see if the cease-fire can last. It's now day two. Tomorrow will be day three. We'll see if it can be extended.

Karl, thanks very much.

For the moment, as I said, the fighting in Gaza has stopped. There's negotiations in Cairo right now. What about the U.S. role in all of this? We're about to take a closer look.


On "This Day in History," August 6th, 1945, the American bomber, Enola Gay, dropped the first deployed atom bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion obliterated communities, killing some 80,000 people, injuring 35,000. At least 60,000 more died from the effects of the nuclear fallout.

An Egyptian brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas seems to be holding. Officials from both sides are in Cairo for talks about how to make the truce last. This has left the U.S. on the sidelines right now, at least as far as the peace process is concerned.

Let's bring our senior political analyst, David Gergen. He's been the adviser to four American presidents.

We know, David, a U.S. delegation is on the way to Cairo. They're sure to be on the margins, advising. Serious diplomats involved. What is the role right now in Cairo to try to make sure, A, the cease- fire lasts, and, B, some of the longer-term issues can be dealt with, so this kind of war situations doesn't erupt every year or two?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, David Horowitz, the editor of the "Times" and a well-respected publication there, has been arguing the U.S. role should be low-key during this early stage of the cease-fire. And I think that's right. We can play a very important behind-the-scenes role in beginning to line up the forces that would make a peace possible over the longer-term. But for the moment, I think to have the Egyptians out front, talking to the Palestinians, bringing in the Israelis, the delegation arriving later, I think is the best way to go.

We've -- you know, there's been so much in the press about the tensions between Netanyahu and President Obama, between the Israelis and Secretary Kerry. Given all that, I think this lower-key role is better. That people and the Palestinians, obviously, are angry at the U.S. Israelis are angry. We have a lot of important things to do over the long-term and the reconstruction of Gaza and helping with some sort of international coalition. But I think our best role right now is quiet and behind the scenes.

BLITZER: How would you assess the overall U.S.-Israeli relationship right now? I just came back. I was there for almost four weeks, where I spoke to Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel. He praised the U.S./Israeli relationship, the military-to-military connection, the intelligence community-to-intelligence community relationship, even though everyone knows there's occasionally a little tension there, personal tension between the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States.

GERGEN: Well, I think that -- Peres is right, as he so often is. The Iron Dome -- listen, you were the iron man at the Iron Dome during the last four weeks. And that Iron Dome was spectacularly successful in protecting the Israelis from a lot of these rockets that the Iron Dome technology, as you know, very much a U.S.-based. And just a couple days ago, President Obama signed a bill from the Congress, passed unanimously by the Senate, $225 million more for the Iron Dome. So at a military-to-military level, I think it's been very significant and successful. And intelligence -- I don't judge that, but clearly it's helped.

But at the political level, there are real serious strains. And we need a little time for some healing here for people to sort of get their bearings again. We don't need, you know, U.S. rattling the Israeli cage in public, nor the Israelis rattling our cage. We need a time to get back together. The relationship fundamentally, at its fundamentals, I think is still strong. But if you look at the person- to-person relationship, it's not what it should be. And, Wolf, it's going to be important for the leaders of Israel and the U.S. to trust each other in their role in the peace talks. But very importantly, as you know so well, we've got the Iranian issue that's coming to a head here in the next few months. And on that one, there is a level of distrust that could on the part of the Israelis that could be very, very disruptive and, you know, can upset the apple cart in trying to get to a deal with the Iranians.

BLITZER: When I interviewed Prime Minister Netanyahu, when I was there a couple weeks ago, he made it clear, as concerned as he is about Hamas, he is a lot more concerned potentially down the road about Iran, especially if Iran were to get, to develop some sort of nuclear weapon. And the extension of these negotiations to deal with that over the next four months, that's going to be critical. And right now, what you're suggesting is the U.S. and Israel might not necessarily be exactly on the same page, is that what you're saying?

GERGEN: Oh, absolutely. I think there have been many signals out of Israel that what they -- what they believe is the right solution with Iran is the total dismantlement of the nuclear capability of Iran, and what they see emerging is a deal which leaves some capability, more limited, to be sure, but a capability. And from the Israel point of view, that's still too dangerous. And you're going to find that with APAC in the United States, the main Israeli lobby, they're very strongly for dismantlement. It will cause a real split in the U.S. Congress if we're not careful. This has to be very carefully managed. It has to be a lot of trust, not only between Israeli and Americans but within -- within Washington, that this would actually be a deal that's going to serve America's national interests. There are going to be many, many conservatives, if it's not dismantlement, and frankly, some Democrats who are not going to be happy with that.

BLITZER: Yeah, it's going to be a huge issue over the next few months.


BLITZER: We'll watch that closely, as well.

David, thanks very much.

David Gergen --

GERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: -- our senior political analyst.

President Obama, by the way, is going -- is hosting now a summit with African leaders here in Washington. He's due to hold a news conference at 5:00 p.m. eastern. We'll have live coverage of that in the "The Situation Room." I'm sure he'll be asked about the Middle East, Ukraine, a whole bunch of other issues. 5:00 p.m. eastern, the president of the United States meets reporters over at the State Department. We'll have live coverage in "The Situation Room."

Up next, hundreds of thousands of websites hacked by a notorious Russian cyber gang. Information for more than a billion Internet users stolen. How the theft was uncovered, possible victims. That's next.


BLITZER: Now to a massive Internet security breach that's affecting people around the world. A respected security firm says a Russian gang has stolen the user names and passwords of more than 1 billion people.

Brian Todd is looking into this story.

It's pretty alarming. What are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is being called the biggest hack ever. This firm, called Hold Security, based in Milwaukee, has discovered that Russian -- basically, a Russian gang of 20-something hackers, has stolen 1.2 billion username and password combinations around the world. Most of them, these hackers stole. Some of them, they bought on the black market. The hackers have breached more than 420,000 websites to do this, Wolf, from Fortune 500 companies to just individuals with small websites of their own, according to Hold Securities. But the problem is we don't know exactly who the victims are. Hold Securities is not revealing the names of the victims.

I asked the chairman of Hold Securities, Alex Holden, why that is. Take a listen.


ALEX HOLDEN, CHAIRMAN, HOLD SECURITIES: We prefer not to name any victims, because we would be singling out the companies who are perhaps still vulnerable. And on that list, there are no victims that we want to rate higher or lower. Everybody is -- had been victimized by this group, so we prefer not to name any of these individuals or companies.


TODD: Now Alex Holden says, so far, the hackers have just used this as spam to make a little bit of money off that. His main concern, though, Wolf, they're going to venture into hacking people's bank accounts and possible identity theft. 1.2 billion accounts, that's a lot of identity theft.

BLITZER: What if people just change their passwords.

TODD: That's the thing you have to do. You have to change your password, do it often. Make it a complicated password. A lot of people don't like to do that. But you've got to do that. And if you want to find out -- he's not revealing the names of those victims. But if you want to find out if you're a victim, you can go to Hold Securities website, fill out a form and they'll e-mail you back to tell you if you've been a victim or not.

BLITZER: Key words, change your password.

TODD: Change your password.

BLITZER: And don't just make it 1234. TODD: No.

BLITZER: Change the password and make it a good password.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern, a special two-hour edition of "The Situation Room." President Obama will hold a news conference at 5:00 p.m. We'll have live coverage of that, as well. Until then, thanks for watching.

NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And here we go, top of the hour. Thank you very much for being with us.