Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Shot Down
Aired July 17, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Good evening, thanks for joining us. Welcome to a special second live hour of 360, 9:00 PM here in New York, 4:00 AM in eastern Ukraine and in Gaza. We have breaking news in both places tonight. The shot down of an airliner in Ukraine and the launching of Israeli ground forces into Gaza.
It is busy and frankly grim night as it has been a grim day. We begin with the question that everyone is asking about the downing of Malaysian airlines flight 17, a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Who did it? Who tracked the plane? Who aimed the missile? Who launched it, and who's behalf?
Whoever did it, this is the destruction, this is the crash site, and in that field of twisted metal, the remains of 298 men, women, and children including three infants. We just got a new breakdown of at nationalities of who lost their lives with the 15 crew members, 283 passengers, 158 were Dutch, 43 were Malaysian, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 9 British people, 4 German people, 4 Belgians, 3 Filipino citizens, and 1 Canadian.
The nationalities of 41 people as of now still undetermined, unclear of any of those are American, still unclear as I said, how many maybe American and from other countries. A number of people onboard were traveling to international aid society conference in Melbourne, Australia. What we just don't know, and what we don't want to get ahead on the facts is, who ended their lives and why did they do this?
We're going to look at what the intelligence committee knows about what happened so far. And we're going to hear from people who lost loved ones on what begun as just another routine flight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Malaysia airlines flight 17 departed Amsterdam at 12:15 PM local time, 298 people on board, 283 of them passengers the rest crew members. The flight's path took the jet over Central and Eastern Europe before continuing on into Asia. At 2:15 Ukrainians air traffic control lost contact with the air craft while it was cruising at 33,000 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Malaysian airlines flight with about 295 people onboard has crushed we are told.
COOPER: Its last known location in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine, about 30 miles from the Russian border, an area ripe with fighting between Ukrainian military forces and Pro-Russian separatist. This video shows the moment of impact, parts of the plane crashing into a field. Debris scattered for miles, personal belongings still intact on the ground. A reported at the site described the horror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Debris (ph) I'm seeing, there's body split up in fields. People said the plane kind of exploded in the air and everything rained down in bits and pieces, the plane itself, the people inside.
COOPER: President Obama was notified on the phone by Russian President Vladimir Putin as initial reports begun surfacing and pledged his support in any way possible.
BARACK OBAMA, CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact the Ukrainian government, the United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.
COOPER: A US official later confirm to CNN that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. And exactly who fired that missile is still unknown. Ukraine's Prime Minister quickly laid the blame squarely on separatist.
We do not call it an incident or a catastrophe, he said, but a terrorist action.
There were already warnings for passenger planes flying over parts of Ukraine. The FAA had banned all US commercial flights from flying through the Crimea region in April because of the ongoing conflict. But no such bans existed for flights over this part of Eastern Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Supposedly (ph) not at this altitude, 33,000 feet, as the video shows, it's perhaps a disturbing (ph) scene as you can encounter. Earlier I spoke with one of the first people there, freelance journalist Noah Sneider.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Noah, where are you exactly?
NOAH SNEIDER, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: We are in a village a little ways north of the city called Torres (ph), it's kind of long, long road and big wide field where the debris and the wreckage in the plane is kind of split up. And there's still emergency service who's working but it's getting pretty dark. So, folks are trying to wrap up for the day.
COOPER: Who is in control of the site and are you seeing?
SNEIDER: The site is controlled directly by the separatist DPR, Donetsk People's Republic forces, there's some rebels coming down the road. But, I think most people here have been searing battles with the Ukrainian forces for a few days now. Who are stationed not far down the road. And -- I mean at the moment I'm not seeing much of anything, it's pretty dark, but when you get to it, it's gruesome scene.
There's bodies up in the fields, people said the plane kind of exploded in the air. And everything rained down in bits and pieces, the plane itself, the people inside.
COOPER: How intact is the debris that you saw earlier? I mean, how long ...
SNEIDER: It's pretty burned. It's going to be -- nearly impossible to establish with certainty what happened here. And there is a few, sort of engine rudders, big huge metal pieces that are still intact, but for the most part everything is burned up and charred, and scattered over a few kilometers through the field.
COOPER: How wide a field of debris are we talking about?
SNEIDER: I mean it's hard to say with certainty but nearly 5 kilometers, it's a pretty wide radius. And the debris starts kind of up the road, there's a tail fin, and you come a little bit further down and you see the place the emergency services crews have set up a base of sort, some fire fighters and rescue teams. And they're kind of in the center where it most of it landed. There white tent up in the field where they're collecting bodies.
But you kind of wonder through these, in the open field, there's not much of anything, there's a chicken farm nearby, and chicken factory someone that -- and these little sort of Ukrainian villages. A lot of if is homes and not much of anything.
COOPER: So, an effort has been made and is being made to collect the remains of those ...
SNEIDER: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, people are -- rescue teams have been going to the fields for the last few hours, marking where bodies are -- applying little white cotton ribbons to sticks. So, when you walk through the field, if you see one of those, you know that's where a body is. But there's still a lot, I mean 295 people on this plane, I know that they found all of them yet.
And it's too dark now really to do much more work. And people are trying to figure out at the moment of what to do with the site for the night. Like I said, it's kind of an open field, it's unclear. They don't know what will happen overnight, and it's going to be really difficult for anyone to secure this in a way that would -- would be certain that no one can come in.
COOPER: We've seen images Noah of passports, travel book for Bali. Are people's possessions clearly visible, are they clearly ...
COOPER: ... retrievable or they scattered all about?
SNEIDER: It's visible, they're visible and they're being collected. That's one of the things that these rescue teams are doing. But I mean, if you -- as you walk through the field, when you see the bodies, you see, you know, a man with a -- his cracked iPhone sticking out of this pocket, and these -- sort of people's, I mean clothing everywhere, most of it is kind of ripped off by the air.
And there's some suitcases and stuff in a pile along the road. One fighter was telling us that, not to touch them, that was, you know, the thing we notice the most. People have been flying and just, you know, this thing (inaudible) Russian movies, and so they've been finding lots and lots of those.
COOPER: And Noah is an effort being made to collect the passports, to collect identity documents?
SNEIDER: Yeah, I mean, they're trying to collect everything they can, but first and foremost bodies. I think that's -- is that, the rescue crew's number one priority right now. Collect as many bodies as they can and gather them under these tents, gather point. And some people are picking up personal -- in fact some people are walking straight by them.
It's also, you know, keep in mind it's kind of -- it's a long, long grass, like I said again, a really wide field, so finding things like passports is (inaudible).
COOPER: Noah, I appreciate you, you talking with us. I know this is a horrific scene.
SNEIDER: No, absolutely, thank you very much.
COOPER: And I appreciate the way you've handled it and communicated into our viewers, thank you very much. Noah Sneider, an American freelance journalist who's on the scene of this crash
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Extraordinary job he did. I want to bring in the panel now, Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto with more breaking news, Aviation Correspondent Richard Quest, and National Security Analyst Frances Townsend, she served as Homeland Security Advisor in the George W. Bush administration.
So, Jim US intelligence is saying a missile did take down this plane. What kind of intelligence are they actually pointing to?
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Two things, two indicators, US assets in the region one, they picked up the radar from a missile system tracked on, locked on to this aircraft before it went down. And two, other assets detected the missile fired, the rocket fire and in fact out of the missile as it rose towards the aircraft.
So, those are the two indicators that they have and this was a surface-to-air missile strike.
COOPER: Frances, take us behind the scenes, what are intelligence agencies doing right now at this hour to try to determine who's responsible, to track of this missile, and do you see this is something that takes a lot of time or is this something that you think they'll know pretty soon?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is pretty, you know, the facts -- even in the last couple of hours Anderson, we're learning more and more just as Jim has described to you. So, by in large what they're going to look at, first and foremost is the technical intelligence, that's the thing that Jim has described. The radar, the firing of the missile from the surface going to the air, and -- so, those are technical pieces of -- that's science, right?
That's hard science and those are hard facts. In the mean time, the rest of the intelligence community will be looking at things for source information, signals intelligence, intercepts, you know, look, let's be honest, it's no secret that there is a good deal of effort put against collection, against the Russian target, that is the Russian government.
And so, especially be focused on that to see if there's any acknowledgment inside the Russian government that they're not telling us about, that they actually confirm that they provided the weapons or they have some knowledge about who fired the missile.
COOPER: Frances, do you have any doubt that the Russians themselves at this point would have the intelligence capability to know who did this?
TOWNSEND: Oh, absolutely. The Russians know with 100 percent clarity who did this. I mean it's becoming clearer and clearer overtime. Although they're still putting the story together, intelligence agencies that it was likely to have been though not yet confirmed a Russian supplied weapon system.
And once you confirmed that, you can be sure the Russian intelligence services have put together a chronology and timeline and briefed President Putin. Who also probably at this hour knows exactly who is responsible for firing the missile.
COOPER: Richard, let's talk about the flights over this area. FAA had said don't fly over the Crimea region back in April when this conflict really begun. But this was a plane flying at 33,000 feet. Did anyone expect that a plane at that level could be shot down given the weapon system?
RICHARD QUEST, AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: No, the FAA which of course has jurisdiction of US Airlines, it's the European, its Euro control, its EASA in Europe would have the same exact restriction over Crimea and over the Northern part of the Black Sea. So, that was in place, but where we're talking about here was not covered by any FAA or European restriction.
What it was covered by was the Ukrainian government which had closed the airspace from ground up to 32,000 feet. And Euro control had enforced that. This place was at 33,000 feet. There were three other aircraft in the region at the same time.
So, although clearly a question in this investigation will be, why any aircraft would be in that area, would an airline take that route?
COOPER: Is that route they would have -- that airlines would have to take to get from point A to point B?
QUEST: Yes, well within a several hundred mile radius, you can further south, you can go in the middle, you can go further north. So, yes you're going to have to take one of those routes. And as John Mayer has reported in previous days, that aircraft or that MH 17 have taken a more southern route rather the northern ...
QUEST: ... but it was avoiding that because of thunder storms we believe. Now, is that relevant in this long-term investigation? We'll have to find out, we don't know at this point. At the moment I can tell you two things, firstly Euro control has not shut Eastern Ukraine airspace. So, nobody will be flying there.
And if you look at the maps, nobody is flying there. And secondly, one chief executive of an airline e-mailed me tonight, to say, we've been flying over Ukraine for weeks where were doing the maps now tonight for tomorrow but everybody has been flying over Ukraine.
Wizz Air has not stopped, Groling (ph) will stop, British Airways will stop, Lufthansa, I can get -- go on and on ...
QUEST: ... but they've all been taking that route so far.
COOPER: Jim, there's reason to believe, the Russian separatist in Ukraine could be behind this. Obviously we've been talking about that, they've gotten their hands in truck mounted missile system that could do this kind of damage, right? I mean you've been this region.
SCIUTTO: That's right, and this is what the Ukrainian officials have been telling me all day early on. And they drew my attention to this, in fact we have a tweet that went out when Russians separatist at the end of June overrun a Ukrainian military base in Eastern Ukraine where one of these Buk missile systems was, you see the picture there. And as they over run it, they brag about it, they took a picture of it.
This is the Donetsk People's Republic, their Twitter account. This is self-proclaimed republic in Eastern Ukraine by Pro-Russian separatist. They brag about taking one of the systems, there were other stories on Russian television about it. And this is something that Ukrainian officials have drawn my attention to, to say listen, this missile system is capable of striking an aircraft at that altitude, 33,000 feet.
And lo and behold, the Pro-Russian separatist got their hands on one, some two-and-a-half weeks ago. And this is part of the reason that Ukrainian officials have gone further frankly that US officials in assigning blame -- they very quickly assigned blame to Pro-Russian militants. And remember, as we talked earlier Anderson, it's not just the fact that they got hold of this weapon systems. Is that there were other tweets today from Pro-Russian separatist leaders at the time that the plane went down, claiming credit for shooting a plane down which they thought was a Ukrainian military transport.
COOPER: And Ukraine also sighted -- intercepted communications that they talked about several hours ago. We'll be hearing or perhaps from US intelligence on whether they've intercepted communications as well.
Jim, Richard, Frances, I appreciate it. Next, someone who lost friends on the flight, several friends -- her thought. And she wants to tell us some of those onboard the aircraft or what we know now, as our covers continues.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: And the grim task of recovering the victims from this crash and personal things (ph). We'll get back underway again when the sun comes up in Eastern Ukraine. It's happening as we said in a war zone which greatly complicates that and the investigation.
And Nic Robertson is on the ground in Ukraine's capital Kiev, he joins us not live. So, what do we know about the investigation on the ground Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the government is saying is it's been hampered in its effort so far. It was restricted, it's got five rescue and investigation teams. But it says it's been able to send in now but they weren't allowed to go in until many, many hours after the incident took place. They say that's been hampered on the ground by arm -- hampered because of the area of debris is a large area.
The government doesn't have control over that area. Control is between different separatist factions at the moment. So for the government's perspective, it cannot conduct this (inaudible) new effort (inaudible) as it would like to. It seems it's hard to imagine how the president's offer and call for an international investigation with international investigators coming from Malaysia and Holland.
This (inaudible) go ahead (inaudible) because (inaudible) that area right now.
COPPER: Nic, we're actually taking some hits (ph), probably, weather related hits (ph) to your live shots so it's hard for our viewers to actually hear you complete some sentences. We're going to jump out of that. And Nic Robertson, I appreciate your reporting.
We'll try to connect with him later on this hour and tonight. There are 298 people who bordered Flight 17 today. We know that came from all over the world, 15 crew members, 283 passengers including 3 infants.
Now according to an Airline official, all the crew members were Malaysian. Carlmen Low Kar Marn was friends with several of them. I spoke to her short time ago by phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Carlmen, I'm so sorry for your lost. Tell me about your friend Angeline?
CARLMEN LOW KAR MARN, FRIEND OF FLIGHT ATTENDANT ON MH17: Angeline, quite some time, I didn't really see her.
COPPER: Carlmen, what was Angeline like? Tell me about her?
KAR MARN: She really something very adventurous like mall, outdoor like diving scuba, diving and I know that she like traveling as well.
COPPER: And you have another friend who was on the flight?
KAR MARN: Yes. (inaudible) is actually very close to me.
COPPER: Tell me about her.
KAR MARN: The last -- we really met and then we went out and then -- in fact -- actually, I have a good news for her. I've been waiting for her to come back and just want to share with her.
COPPER: What does she like?
KAR MARN: She is a very outgoing girl and very simple, you know, she is like not that kind of like. She likes food, she like to eat and then she's a workaholic.
COPPER: She loved to work. She loved her job?
KAR MARN: Yeah. She really loves her work. She really cannot, you know, she really loved her work. She will never miss a flight.
COPPER: Did she love to travel?
KAR MARN: Yes.
COPPER: How did you first meet?
KAR MARN: I met her -- actually because we do training together and then we find that we have a long conversation and then we actually can click and really can talk that's why I really like her company, you know.
COPPER: Did you actually take her to the airport?
KAR MARN: In fact, actually the other day she just told me that she did have a transport and then she says that, is it all right for you to come and pick me out and I said why not. I'll just send her to the airport. And then I just said I want you to come back and she never come back.
COPPER: That it seem real to you at this point?
KAR MARN: Sorry?
COPPER: That it seem real?
KAR MARN: I don't know. I just hope it is before. I try to message her but no answer.
COPPER: You tried to message her?
KAR MARN: In fact, the last I'd messaged her she was about to check out in the airport in Armsterdam. I just tell her that we did come back, you know, I bought some good news for you things like that.
COPPER: You told her you had good news for her when she got back?
KAR MARN: Yeah. About the old days that she -- I managed to do it for her so she can go back for our hometown and celebrate Ramadan with her family.
COPPER: When you first heard the news about the plane, what did you think?
KAR MARN: I was very surprise. I just hope that it was a false news. It's not true. Until now.
COPPER: How many of the flight attendants did you know on this plane?
KAR MARN: A few of them I think, is that maybe three or four.
COPPER: You mean, three or four of them.
KAR MARN: Yeah.
COPPER: I'm so sorry for what you're going to through. I'm so sorry for your losses.
KAR MARN: It's OK. Thank you.
COPPER: Thank you so much for talking to us, Carlmen.
KAR MARN: Thank you, (inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COPPER: Carlmen has shared photos with us showing her with her close friend. She's (inaudible) who was on Flight 17. You can see those on her website at AC360.com.
Up next tonight more on the planes flight path and how the shot down has affecting the roads that other flights stay below. We also have the latest from Israel and Gaza.
COPPER: New words tonight and more commercial airlines are taking different routes tonight away from Eastern Ukraine as which request for what it was reporting after Malaysia Airline Flight 17 was shot down in new restrictions from the FAA.
Chad Myers joins to me now with more. Chad, so what are you learning about the flight path that this plane took and how it takes a different path because of that thunderstorm?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: There was an area of thunderstorm activity right down here as the normal area that the flight takes I've gone back a month. And the flight is always a little bit farther South than where it was.
The lines on this map of Europe are just like the inner state system on the ground for us in the U.S. A plane will fly from one way point to the next not even going straight all the time but as the corridors that the plane's flying. It's not chaos up there it's actually in the line.
You're going right behind the plane that just went in front of you maybe a half hour whatever it might be. This is the line that plane usually took. Let's called inner state 190, it is in 190.
Yesterday, it took a little bit farther to the North 991 but because of the weather down here, it has to take 980 up here. Now this does it look like a lot but it's 200 miles from the south here where it usually flies to the north here.
This could have added to the confusion as you know that plane was -- has never been here before, hasn't been here in a month, what is that plane up there. And there's the weather right there that thunderstorm right in the way of the morning plane, so they move the plane a little bit father to the north.
Now, there's a new note tab that just came in. Notice to airmen. This is the area down here that was restricted earlier.
Now, all at Eastern Ukraine, absolutely restricted to all U.S. planes that they has put this out now a new notice airmen activity in this area, flights in this area, and they're using this word, "prohibited", not "frown upon" but the word is "prohibited".
So we won't see in the U.S. aircraft and probably no aircraft at all over the Eastern part of the Ukraine. There's a stormy activity right there that moved -- put that plane on it's northerly plane path 8200 miles but that was certainly enough to get in the way of something.
COOPER: All right, Chad. Thanks very much.
COOPER: I want to bring back now CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest and CNN safety analyst David Soucie. The fact, Richard, that this was traveling through what was basically a war zone. I mean it is kind of remarkably in wretches. I kind of -- I just in 20/20 of course but you were hearing from pilots today saying we been flying this and we been scared.
QUEST: Yes, several pilots told me that they have been unhappy flying over large parts of Ukraine. I suppose the way one but it was an accident waiting to happen in one respect. Just to add to child and gentleman has usually told us. He's right. Nobody's flying in Eastern Ukraine because Eurocontrol which is the European body that looks after this area has banged all flights, an over flight in that area.
So European, U.S. -- no U.S. carriers were really going that way anyway but no one's in that area remember (ph). The issue will become what contribution if any did taking that Northern route add to this situation even bearing in mind that the pilots involved were perfectly legal of 33,000 feet over that airway.
COOPER: David Soucie, you've been involved in a number of crash investigations. How critical is time here in terms of getting investigators -- competent investigators onto the ground dealing with the wreckage, examining the wreckage, collecting it, even, you know, examining the victims from this flight because evidence could be gathered from them, how important is the clock here?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It's extremely important. You know, to be able to get people in there to know what they're doing. I was looking at the video from earlier not only for their personal safety. You're looking at what they're walking through accident sites with.
You know when I do an accident side, I mean a white suit, everything you see is hazardous materials whether it's biohazard, whether it's from sharp objects, whatever it might be, you're going to get that in your body and you're going to be very, very sick. So those people that are out there that are doing this now and educated to have a personal damage to themselves is very high risk.
Now the second part of this too the containing of the evidence and the track -- traceability where the aircraft goes. The custody of those parts is extremely important because you have to create the chain of events and the custody is extremely important in the chain of events if they're disturbed in any way, it can lead you in and really change the investigation significantly.
COOPER: Richard, I got to say, if I have a loved one onboard this plane or even just as a journalist interested on finding out the truth on this. The idea of having Russian authorities, separatist authorities or frankly even Ukrainian authorities in charge of this investigation I would, I mean raise all these sorts of questions. They obviously all have, you know, very significant motives for wanting to have a certain determination from this crash, you really want to have an international team of impartial investigators on the ground.
QUEST: Absolutely. Ukraine has already claimed its state as the state of occurrence to look into the whole investigation and been in touch with IKEA (ph). Russia -- well, Russia at the moment doesn't have jurisdiction on this. It's ion the Ukrainian side. Russia might try to, but at the moment if it's anybody's, it's Ukraine's. And on...
COOPER: You can have a situation where you have these separatists taking the black box...
COOPER: ... taking equipment and bringing it over to border to Russia.
QUEST: And then, you will have an almighty mass of jurisdictional mess of who does it. Which is why, very quickly IKEA (ph) in control and all the major organizations, the WAIB of the U.K., the ATSB, the BEA of France, the Germans, the Americans, the authorities, the investigating authorities must come out and say very quickly, "When this happens, we insist it's done through this organization even if treaties say otherwise." Because, you're right, there's going to be a serious credibility question on who investigates.
Not to say of course the Russians couldn't investigate. The Ukrainians might not have the quality to.
COOPER: I'm not just talking for geopolitical concerns. I'm talking about for basic human dignity for those who lost their lives and for their loved ones to know the truth.
QUEST: There's still a dispute over the crash of the plane that was carrying the Polish president which went down on the Russian side. And the Russians did what seemed like a perfect investigation but people say nothing is reported.
COOPER: Richard Quest, you're appreciated, David Soucie as well. More in all of this. There is other breaking news to tell you about. Tonight, next we're going to bring you the latest movement in Israel with reports in Gaza City and Jerusalem tonight.
COOPER: The other breaking news events tonight with far reaching implications after 10 days of air strikes, bombings intense fighting of Israel now launched ground operation in Gaza to destroy tunnels they say into the Israeli territory which Hamas allegedly tried to infiltrate Israel. Hamas says Israel will pay a heavy prize for this ground action.
With me once again are Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem, Ben Wedeman in Gaza City. Let's start with you, Ben. What's the latest on the ground there?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, it's relatively quiet. We heard a few booms a while ago but we've been watching now there are none but there were flares being fired behind us on the border -- close to the border to Israel. In fact there I think you can see one of those flares in the distance. And those are clearly to illuminate some sort of ground activity in that area. We heard a lot of bombardment to the north of here along the northern border with Israel and a lot of action in the center of Gaza where according to some sources it appears Israeli tanks have entered Gaza really in the middle perhaps to reproduce what they did in 2009 when they cut Gaza Strip in three parts to try to prevent the movement of weapons and fighters among those areas, Anderson.
COOPER: Wolf, your talked to Israeli officials who said, "Look, this is largely and they're trying to shot down tunnels that Hamas has done underneath the border into Israel." Have they given an indication that if they accomplish the destruction of those tunnels that they will withdraw from Gaza or is the operation larger than that. I mean they given the number of people involve...
WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's large...
COOPER: ... that seems quite large.
BLITZER: Yes. I think it's larger than that. I think that's a number one priority. You can get those tunnels the Israelis military expert say, just by air power or sea power you need to go on underground to get those tunnels. I think that's their top mission.
But they want to destroy or capture as many of those Hamas' rockets and missiles as they can. They're in storage facilities around. I think a lot of a Northern Gaza closer to Israel. They think they Hamas has launched more than a thousand so far but they went into this operation believing Hamas got about 10,000. So they're going to want to do is much damage to the Hamas military before there is a ceasefire, before they withdraw.
They make it clear, they're want to re-occupy Gaza but this could be a prolonged operation you correctly point out. They mobilize at least 40,000 probably closer to 50,000 troops right now.
COOPER: Ben, I know you've been in tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, tunnels which have been shot down by Egypt in more recent times. What do you know about the tunnels from Gaza into Israel?
WEDEMAN: With the tunnels between Gaza and the Egypt served a variety of purposes, of course, weapons were smuggle through them but they were by enlarge commercial, they were very good for Hamas because they imposed the tax on all good stealing through. And at one point, you could even order Kentucky fried chicken to be delivered through those tunnels.
The tunnels in the Israel are for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to somehow attack Israeli forces and certainly what Hamas would like to do is repeat what they did in June 2006 when they were able to capture an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was released in a prisoner exchange deal in November 2011.
So those tunnels are purely for military activity unlike those with Egypt.
COOPER: Ben, be careful Wolf Blitzer as well as thank you very much. The next the fighting that's the back backdrop, the Flight 17 tragedy did it seal the faith of 298 innocent people.
COOPER: The Flight 17 was shot down today in the Svaliava (ph) corner of the world to save at least for time but Eastern Ukraine were pro- Russian separatists were battling Ukraine's military. The Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down just one day after the U.S. into sanctions in some of Russian's biggest companies including its largest oil producer. Sanctions part by Moscow's failure occurred violence in Ukraine.
Now, here we're going to back just how we got to this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
COOPER: February, 2014, Independence Square the heart of Ukraine's capital burns after months of tension. Thousands of demonstrators gather to protest the corrupt government against President Viktor Yanukovych. They're angry with the government close economic and political ties to Russia and Yanukovych's rejection of EU.
It's the biggest show of force against the government since the country declared independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Dozens of police and protesters were killed but the demonstrators don't back down and none the rest spread beyond Kiev.
Yanukovych flees the country as soon a new government is elected but the conflict is by no means over.
In March progression gunman seized Kiev buildings in Crimea's capital in the Southeast some part of the country close to Russia's border. Crimea and Peninsula was populated mostly but ethnic Russians and strategically important because of its enable days to the Black Sea.
Later that month Crimeans about to leave Ukraine and joined Russia instead and move heavily supported and promoted by Russia itself and condemned by Ukraine's government and its allies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not accept Russia's occupation in Crimea or its violation of Ukraine sobriety.
COOPER: The Ukraine government rejected the vote and Russia responded by massing troops along the border.
For Russian separatist inside the country started accumulating heavy weapon rate for use against Ukraine soldiers and in a recent days made claims they shot down several Ukraine aircraft. Another sign of violence in this region as has end in sight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Fareed Zakaria, host of CCN Fareed Zakaria GPS joins me now also former CNN Moscow EU (ph) chief Jill Dougherty spent time with in Kiev earlier this year. Fareed Zakaria, I think a lot of people this conflict is stated from the headlines from coverage in the United States but today extremely reminder if any and a very shocking reminder that if anything it as intense effort.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST OF CNN FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I think it's also a reminder of something you got strong understanding that report which is that the government of Ukraine does not actually control all of the territory of Ukraine. And this happened in a part of Ukraine that the government of Ukraine does not control. It is largely controlled by these pro-Russian rebel forces. Some are Ukrainians a lot -- there was a lot of reporting as you know that says there were a lot of Russians and Russian special ops people who've got in there.
COOPER: Actually, Ukraine government accuses the separatists and Russia being linked in that way.
ZAKARIA: Precisely. And a lot of the equipment that those separatist got, they got from the Russian government almost certainly. This should be an opportunity for the entire world for the west -- for the United States to say, "Let's end this first once and for all."
The government of Ukraine has to have control over its own territory. The army -- the Ukrainian army should go in there, clean this out and the Russian government at this point I think is on the back foot will not be able to trying amount of disparity of defense.
You've got to allow the Kiev government to actually control the country ....
COOPER: It seems there's been a new president elected in Kiev for Ukraine. We have seen advances by Ukrainian forces against separatist. I mean, early on when Ukraine's military try to move into some of these regions in Eastern Ukraine, it was a pathetic display they basically got turned around. They got stopped by mobs of people. There have been some advances by Ukrainian military there were in the last several weeks.
ZAKARIA: Exactly and part of that is they're getting their act together. Part of it, remember, is the Ukrainian military and intelligence services are wriggled Russian spies and Russian special up forces so that has made it very difficult.
This is all an opportunity to clean that up, to allow the government of Ukraine to have control of over its territory, to sweep out some of those Russian forces. This would be an opportunity particularly if the Europeans really lay down the line because Putin is going to feel on the defensive here. This would not be a time to mount the Russian counter offense.
COOPER: Jill, were you surprise by Vladimir Putin's reaction earlier today saying essentially if there wasn't, you know, strike on the ground, military conflict on the ground this wouldn't have happen.
DOUGHERTY: Yeah. I mean, what Fareed is talking about make sense logically that I mean tell that to Vladimir Putin. Just today he is basically blaming this on Ukraine, blaming it on that anti terrorist operation that they've been carrying out. And so, I don't think he sees the logic that Fareed is talking about.
COOPER: It's also ensuring, just getting a new report. I just wanted to read this of to CNN, a U.S. official is telling the CNN that the Obama administration does not think the government of Ukraine has air defenses in the region where the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot and crash.
The Ukraine may have those air defenses in other place to country and that is leading the administration to conclude that Ukraine -- the Ukrainian government based in Kiev did not have the capability led along the motivation to shoot down the plane.
The official also is telling CNN that tomorrow, we'll see the Obama administration attempting to internationalizing their words the record site with the international community pressuring the pro-Russian, Malaysians to allow others from the outside countries to see this site, to inspect the damage and determine the cause of the crash just from our Jake Tapper. What do you make of that, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: I think it's actually very important because we forget and Jill can attest to this, in Russia, what people are hearing is a completely different narrative. It's partly the one journalist that meeting to Putin and saying, "Look at the Ukrainian military wasn't trying to take control of their own country. None of this would happen because this area wouldn't be a war zone but there are reports in Russia that say that this was the Ukrainian military that shutdown the plane because it was trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin's plane and that they missed.
And that some of these two planes were in the sky at the same time. And, you know, this is being widely broadcasted. The Russians have had this extraordinary propaganda offensive throughout this Ukrainian crisis which has been not really for two things, one that she was scale of the effort but two, the bold face lies about, you know, the religious make up stuff and put it out there.
COOPER: Does that surprise you -- Jill, your reaction to what Jake Tapper there was just reporting.
DOUGHERTY: It doesn't I mean you're talking about this approach via Putin. It doesn't surprise me. And I think Fareed is right about this approach, this propaganda approach in there. I've been watching the Russian media very carefully recently and it's completely controlled right now.
On the Internet is a little bit better but for the people who watch TV, the people who watch TV in Russia and the people in Ukraine, Russian speakers with Russian TV, it's one side and that's why a lot of this is very, very difficult. It's just doesn't get the truth, sometimes it doesn't get trough.
COOPER: Jill Dougherty, appreciated and Fareed Zakaria as well. Suddenly Flight 17 was not unique next to all the other planes that haven't just gone down but were taken down. (COMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: If Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were the first airline that've been shutdown and wouldn't know who may make the shock and sadness people are experiencing tonight any different. A lost is a lost especially sudden in an expected one. For the record though this is neither the first shoot down in nor sadly and especially rare thing as Randi Kaye reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: September 1st 1983, Korean airlines flight 007 and route from New York's JFK airport to Seoul South Korea. It's carrying 269 people including a U.S. congressman. The plane is an auto pilot yet somehow drift south course, heading straight for Soviet territory. Tensions are high. The height of the cold war so the Soviet Union scrambles fighter jets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm approaching the target.
KAYE: Moments later, the pilot takes aim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missile one has locked on. I've executed the launch. The target is destroyed.
KAYE: The plane is hit but continues flying. It spirals toward to ocean for 12 terrifying minutes then crashes into the sea. President Reagan calls the attack a massacre.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This event shocks the sense of millions of people everywhere.
KAYE: Five years after that, Iran air flight 655 is blown out of the sky. The airbus 8300 was on its way from Tehran to Dubai carrying 290 passengers and crew. The plane is brought down by a U.S. navy ship that happens to be exchanging fire with Iran and ships in the area just when the dome aircraft flies over head. The ship fires two surface to air missiles killing everyone on board.
WILLIA CROWE, U.S. NAVY ADMIRAL: The Captain Rogers acted reasonable and did what his nation expect of him in the defense of the ship and crew.
KAYE: Years later, the United States agreed to pay more than $60 million to the victim's families though the U.S. never admitted responsibility or apologize to Iran. In 2001, another tragedy, this time, Siberian airlines flight 1812 heading from Tel Aviv, Israel to Russia with 78 people on board.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Siberian airlines regretfully confirms that our Flight 1812 disappeared to the radar screen in 1345.
KAYE: The plane crashed into the Black Sea about two hours after take off, brought down by an anti aircraft missile. The Ukrainian military denied any involvement at first but later did admit it mistakenly shot down the plane, the tragic result of a routine training exercise. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father was on the plane. He's been living in Israel for three years. We visit him last year and decided to invite him here. He had to come from Tel Aviv today.
KAYE: Now, with MH-17, more lives lost and more questions. Where they purposely targeted or another terrible mistake? Randi Kaye, CNN New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So much lost and the answer maybe simple, however the investigation as we've been talking about is extremely not and neither already implications. Hope you stay with CNN throughout the night for continuing live coverage of all the dimensions of this tragedy as well as the ground offensive ongoing in Gaza at this hour that does for our coverage.
I'll be on the air again tomorrow at 12 noon to 2 PM and again obviously tomorrow night on AC360 CNN tonight starts now.