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Second Round Of U.S. Airstrikes In Iraq; Chances Of Resurrection Cease-Fire Talks?

Aired August 8, 2014 - 16:30   ET


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's on the far eastern side near the border with Iran. The rest of that territory is between the Kurdistan regional government and the ISIS militants.

And Kurdish leaders say that they've been pressed all along this very strong, long frontline over the course of this ISIS offensive, which has succeeded in capturing the Mosul dam. That's a very strategic piece of infrastructure, one that if it is destroyed or broken open could flood the plains of Mesopotamia, flood all the way down to Baghdad.

So it's a dire military situation and the Kurdish officials have publicly aired their gratitude to the U.S. government for rushing military assistance, air strikes within the last 24 hours -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Ivan, tell us about the people that you're meeting there, those who are Yazidi or Christian who have fled to Erbil to take refuge.

WATSON: I've been talking to Christians, Shiite Muslims. We're hearing about the Yazidis who have fled, as well. Basically, anybody who doesn't adhere to the strict and somewhat violent version of Islam that ISIS has pretty much been forcing upon people in areas that it has been taking over.

Now all of these people describe the same situation, that Kurdish Peshmerga units withdrew from their towns and villages Wednesday night, and that really triggered a panic where everybody piled into any kind of vehicle they could. They walked and they have flooded into the Kurdistan region.

Where people have been struggling to try to accommodate these hundreds of thousands of desperate civilians. Some of them are in churches. Some of them have taken shelter in youth recreation centers. Others simply moving into unfinished apartment buildings, office buildings.

And the local officials here, the local authorities have been struggling to get food and water to them ordinary Kurds have been donating their own money to try to provide some kind of short-term assistance to this wave of humanity -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ivan Watson in Erbil, Iraq. Thank you. Stay safe. Coming up next, the United States hoping for a cease-fire in the coming hours as the death toll creeps up in Gaza. Missiles and rockets flying in both directions. What will it take for Israel and Hamas to come to any sort of agreement? My next two guests, one from each side, will tell me.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We're coming to you live as we have all week from Jerusalem. For nearly three days, the death and destruction between Israelis and Palestinians came to something of a halt. Now that time-out is regrettably over without any extension or longer term agreement to take its place.

Now the Israelis carrying out fresh strikes on targets in Gaza in retaliation they say for rockets fired from Gaza. At least 50 since the truce expired nearly 16 hours ago. Israel accused terrorists of violating the cease-fire three hours before the deadline, firing two rockets into Southern Israel.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that will controls Gaza, which the U.S. State Department considers to be terrorist denies firing the two rockets. It doesn't seem to matter too much now because the death has started all over again.

Mourners carrying the body of a 10-year-old boy killed in an Israeli air strike through Gaza, who say he's one of five killed across Gaza so far today. The Israelis say rockets from Gaza injured one Israeli civilian and one soldier.

But there is a sliver of hope that the cease-fire can be reached again because while the fighting has restarted, the Palestinians have not yet walked away from Egyptian mediators at the negotiating table in Cairo.

Joining me now, the former chief of Israel's intelligence service, the Mossad, Israeli ambassador to the European Union and author of "Man in the Shadows," Efraim Halevy.

Sir, thanks so much for being here. If you would permit me in this indulgence, if you were prime minister now, what's the way out of this?

EFRAIM HALEVY, FORMER CHIEF OF MOSSAD: I believe the prime minister has followed a very, very careful script in the way he has handled this entire problem of the last few weeks. And as you probably know, Israel was very happy when the cease-fire came into effect and saw no reason why it should not be prolonged.

It was Hamas which not only violated the cease-fire several hours before it had been officially terminated but it also refused to prolong the cease-fire because it wanted to negotiate under pressure of fire being constant in the background.

I don't think that this type of policy will get Hamas very far. And the best way to do it is to maintain the principle that a cease-fire has to come into effect so that discussions will be underway in an atmosphere of relative calm and not in an atmosphere of continuous fighting. TAPPER: Not just Hamas, but all the Palestinian factions have said that one of the conditions they want in order for the cease-fire to continue or to continue to start again is a lifting of the blockade so the people of Gaza, the Palestinians, who mean Israel no harm but want to have their lives back, can rebuild, can have economic opportunity.

I think a lot of people out there think that doesn't sound like such an unreasonable request. What do you say?

HALEVY: I think it's a very reasonable request and I think it should be treated in a positive manner once an agreement is reached between Israel and Hamas. I don't think it should be a precondition for negotiations. I don't think that makes sense.

I think that after a month of fighting in which the Hamas has caused the wanton damage and has actually created the situation which we're in at the moment, it is doesn't make sense that they should achieve something by setting prior conditions to a negotiation before a negotiation takes place.

I think negotiations should take place unconditionally on both sides. And I think in this respect, Israel is doing its best to treat the Hamas in the proper manner. It doesn't think the Hamas has to have an advantage in the situation as it is at the moment. And I think this is not called for and should not be called for.

TAPPER: Mr. Halevy, there are a lot of supporters of Israel, who have been horrified at the civilian toll in Gaza, who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself but think perhaps the response was overkill, who think perhaps the response was not as precise as it should and could have been.

Do you understand why even many supporters of Israel feel that way?

HALEVY: I understand why Israel supporters feel that way. But let me say something about the toll of the fighting of the recent months or recent month.

Hamas has announced that it's somewhere near 2,000. But we are -- I have a report in my hand, which was written by a very prestigious non- profit organization in Israel, which actually deals with Hamas over a long period of time. And they have come up with a report saying and it has chapter and verse and names of people who appear on the lists, that about 47 percent of the names of the close to 2,000 people who are mentioned are actually Hamas fighters.

And indeed, by the way, two days ago, the Ministry of the Interior in Hamas issued an order in Hamas, asking that all people refrain from disseminating information in Hamas areas and in the Gaza Strip as a whole about the deaths of fighters in order not to provide information and evidence, as they said it, for the enemy, we being the enemy.

Well, we're assembling this information. And I can tell you authoritatively that of the number the research (ph) that Hamas has been issuing, probably almost a half are combatants and not noncombatants as has been stated by Hamas. I still say that, yes, the people in Gaza, the population in Gaza, the civilian population in Gaza deserves to have a better life and Israel is interested to give it that better life. But let this be negotiated properly and not as a precondition for Hamas to give a cease-fire.

TAPPER: Efraim Halevy, thank you so much. We appreciate your time.

Coming up, Hamas not willing to back down as it continues to fire rockets into Israel and Israel responding in kind. What will it take for Hamas to agree to a deal? Is it even possible? We'll ask a member of the Palestinian parliament coming up. Plus, just what are health care workers up against in trying to stop

the spread of the killer Ebola virus. Coming up, our Sanjay Gupta explains how rapid this one case can multiply leaving dozens exposed.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, live from Jerusalem with rocket fire once again erupting over the Gaza skies. It would appear, at least for the moment, peace negotiations in Cairo have fallen by the wayside.

A top Palestinian negotiator, however, told CNN this morning talks of a short-term cease-fire are still ongoing. That's despite the fact that Israel has rejected all of Hamas' demands. Airstrikes have resumed and the Israeli delegation is no longer in Egypt.

Joining me now to discuss it all live is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. He's founder of the Palestinian National Initiative and is a member of the Palestinian parliament.

Dr. Barghouti, good to see you. Thanks for joining us. Two Islamic militant groups who have fought alongside Hamas acknowledged firing rockets into Israel before the cease-fire had expired this morning, blaming Israel, they said, for refusing to meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The war then resumed; Israel commenced bombing. Palestinians commenced sending rockets into Israel. And now five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy are dead.

What did breaking that cease-fire accomplish, other than bringing more pain to your people?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL: Well, I am in Gaza, as you know. And I can assure you that nobody broke the cease- fire before 8 o'clock, when the cease-fire expired. And the Palestinian side, not Hamas -- we are talking about a unified Palestinian delegation that represents all Palestinians -- is demanding the lifting of the siege.

The Israeli side is calling it conditions.

But tell me, please, is it a condition to demand that you will have construction material to repair the sewage systems that are broken and flooding the streets of Gaza? Is it a condition that is unnecessary to demand that provide water supply would be repaired so that people can have drinkable water?

Is it wrong to fix the electricity, the only electricity station that was bombarded and destroyed by Israel?

Palestinians want cease-fire more than anybody else because they are the ones who are being killed. So far about 1,900 Palestinians have been killed. And more than 9,800 people have been injured.

I am a medical doctor by education. I've just come from the hospital: 455 children were killed. These are not militants. These are not combatants and hundreds of chairman and women are injured in terrible conditions.

So what Palestinians want is a cease-fire and a lifting of the siege that is killing them. What Israel wants is to use the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians and take Palestinians hostage so that they can impose on us their political conditions.

TAPPER: So, Doctor, I hear what you're saying. But Israel said they were in favor of an unconditional, indefinite cease-fire. And then the conversation could begin about lifting the blockade and demilitarizing Gaza, et cetera.

Why would Palestinians not support a cease-fire?

It just doesn't make any sense to me.

BARGHOUTI: That's not true, because what Israel is proposing is unilateral cease-fire. They want Palestinians not to resist occupation, not to resist attacks while Israeli planes, during the time of cease-fire, would continue to fly over Gaza, bombard whenever they want. That's exactly what they did during the time of the cease- fire.

I want to ask you a question, if you allow me.

What would the United States people do if they are occupied by another country for 47 years, and this occupying power comes in and goes into Brooklyn, for instance, and destroys every house, every church, every clinic, every school in that place and then puts the place under siege and puts it under blockade?

And more than that, it kills what would be around 300,000 people and injures about 1.5 million Americans? That's proportionally the number of people who would be dead if we had the population of the United States in Gaza.

How would the American people act?

TAPPER: I hear --

BARGHOUTI: Wouldn't they resist this occupation, this killing?

TAPPER: I imagine they -- I imagine -- BARGHOUTI: We have not seen --

TAPPER: -- I imagine that --

BARGHOUTI: -- we want peace, we want cease-fire.

But the cause of the problem has to be addressed and the cause of the problem has been the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories for 47 years, a system of segregation and apartheid, and a system that is oppressing us to deliver that Gaza has been under siege for eight years, preventing people from having jobs, preventing people from having health care to deliver that 90 percent of the young people who are educated in Gaza are unemployed. That's why we have poverty.

And we have anger and that cannot be resolved without removing the blockade.

So what's wrong with Israel accepting a cease-fire and lifting the siege under international observation so that humanitarian --

TAPPER: I hear what you're saying

BARGHOUTI: -- can reach people. What's wrong with that?

TAPPER: I hear what -- I hear what you're saying, Dr. Barghouti, but I have to say, I don't know that I would support Americans rebelling against this occupation, staging suicide bomb attacks against civilians of the occupying force.

I don't know that I would support the resistance firing upon the enemy from next to schools or hospitals, but we have to leave it there because that's all the time we have. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, thank you so much. I hope that peace can be achieved soon.

When we come back, the Ebola epidemic now being called an international public health emergency of at least one aid organization says that's not enough to stop the spread of the deadly disease. So what more needs to be done?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Live from Jerusalem where there is still a chance albeit scant of a cease-fire deal that would halt the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Well, we keep a close eye on that.

We're also following another major story that's grabbing attention around the world, the Ebola outbreak. Now classified as an international health emergency. That's according to the World Health Organization. The virus which quickly spread across parts of West Africa is considered the worst outbreak in decades.

Health officials are now working frantically to coordinate a global response knowing full well that early containment is the key to preventing a regional crisis from becoming frankly a worldwide epidemic. CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.


DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: What's so concerning about Ebola is that the stakes are so high. That a single lapses in standard infection control could be fatal.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I want to show you just how quickly an infection can spread. So here's a real world example from an Ebola outbreak in the early 2000s. A woman in Uganda didn't know she was sick with Ebola. She was in close contact with six people. Her baby and father-in-law they both got sick.

The baby then got his grandmother sick and she had contact with two more people, as well. The father-in-law had close contact with 12 people. Out of that, his brother and cousin both got sick.

The brother then had close contact with four moral people and the cousin had close contact with five more people. Including another brother who used his blanket and also got sick.

FRIEDEN: If you leave behind even a single burning ember like a forest fire, it flares back up.

GUPTA: That's why breaking the chain is essential to stopping the epidemic.


TAPPER: That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."