Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
American Doctor Responding To Ebola Treatment; Ebola Epidemic Kills Nearly 900 So Far In West Africa; Exclusive Interview With Dr. Thomas Cairns, Ebola Survivor; New Israel, Hamas Cease-Fire Set to Begin; One Killed in California Mudslides
Aired August 4, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, Ebola in America. Tonight, an infected American man being treated in Atlanta. Another with Ebola-like symptoms being tested in New York.
Plus, an American who survived Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, is OUTFRONT for an exclusive interview.
And Israel and Hamas agreed to another temporary truce. Is there any reason to believe that this one actually will last more than 5 minutes? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. Breaking news, Ebola scare in New York City. Doctors now awaiting the results of test on a man at a major Manhattan hospital to see if he has the deadly virus that can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects.
The man was tested after being admitted to the hospital with high fever, gastrointestinal problems. He had recently traveled to a country in West Africa where Ebola has been detected.
We have this fast-moving story covered from several angles tonight as it develops. Jason Carroll outside Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York. Dr. Sanjay Gupta outside Emory University Hospital. That's where another American with Ebola is being treated.
And a third American with a confirmed case of Ebola will arrive there tomorrow. Our David McKenzie is the only television reporter in Sierra Leone where troops have been deployed to help contain the deadly outbreak and panic there.
I want to begin, though, with Jason, with you here in New York City, what's the latest?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I think what is important to remember here is that doctors are really acting with an abundance of caution. After this patient came here, was able to walk in and was immediately isolated after doctor learned he had been to this area in west.
Here is what is important to know about this. A New York City Health Department official tells CNN that after having conversations with CDC and checking in with doctors here, that spokesperson says that he believes that it is unlikely this this patient has Ebola.
Also during press conference just within the past hour, chief medical officer here at Mt. Sinai, with the Mt. Sanai health system says that odds are that the patient does not have Ebola. But the fact that patient was in West Africa, came in with flu-like symptoms, doctors thought it would best to act.
He was immediately isolated. In fact, he is still in isolation. Test are being run right now as we speak. It should take anywhere between a day and a day-and-half before we know these test results. Until the test results are in, this patient is being treated as we said with this abundance of caution. He is being isolated -- Erin.
BURNETT: Jason, do they have a system in place. They say isolated, but were they really prepared?
CARROLL: Absolutely without question. Doctors here, there is a unit here that where doctors are accustom to dealing with patient. They know protocol. They know how to treat patient. Even with rare, a possibility of Ebola, they know the symptoms.
If he has a fever they do what they can do bring the fever down. If the patient becomes dehydrated, you do what you can to hydrate the patient. There are a number of doctors here, Erin, who are accustom to dealing with a patient just like this.
BURNETT: All right, Jason Carol, thank you very much. I want to go now to Atlanta in Emory University. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is there. Sanjay, you've been watching here. The American doctor with Ebola, he is being treated there. He was brought, of course, from Africa back to the United States with Ebola. How is his condition tonight?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We hear things are looking good for him. This is the hospital where the special isolated unit it where Dr. Brantly is. He is the first American to set foot on American soil with Ebola. He had a conversation with his wife yesterday, Erin, 45 minutes.
They had to do it through a glass wall for her protection. Through a glass wall and intercom system. It is somewhat culminating with an experimental serum flown to Liberia to try and save him.
GUPTA (voice-over): Last Thursday, Dr. Kent Brantly thought he was going to die. It was the 9th day since he came down sick with Ebola. His condition worsening by the minute. He called his wife to say good-bye.
But he also knew just hours earlier, a secret highly experimental drug called ZMapp had been delivered to the clinic. The serum was delivered in sub-zero temperatures and with clear instructions allow the vials to thaw naturally before administering. It would be an agonizing eight-hour wait.
When it arrived, Brantly told his colleague, Nancy Writebol, who was also sick she should have the first dose. But as Brantly's health deteriorated and he became more desperate, he asked for Writebol's now thawed medication. It was a risk.
The treatment had been tried in monkeys and it seemed to work, but never before had it been tried in a human. Not even to test safety. Dr. Kent Brantly would be the first. While doctors don't often use this term, they describe what happened next as miraculous.
Within an hour of receiving the medication, Dr. Brantley's condition seemed to make a dramatic turn around. His breathing improved. The rash over his trunk nearly faded away.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: I do hope that it was as impressive as being described because if it is, that bodes very well for that particular product.
GUPTA: By the next morning, Brantly was able to shower on his own before making the 6,000 mile transport to Atlanta. Saturday afternoon, another first. Watch as Brantly walks off the back of the ambulance. He became the first patient infected with the Ebola virus to ever set foot in the United States or even this part of the world.
Tuesday, his colleague, Nancy Writebol, who also received the ZMapp serum will join Brantly at Emory University Hospital. Dr. Bruce Ribner leaves a team now charged with saving their lives.
(on camera): This is an air purifying system here. Makes it more comfortable to breathe in and also purifies the air.
(voice-over): He gave me an exclusive look at the protective suit he and his team will have to wear every time they enter the room it treat their new patients. Covered from head to toe, his own vital signs will need to be checked twice a day.
(on camera): We know the risk is small, but even smaller if the patient did not come here. If you don't have anything magical to provide, why take the risk at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you've been in that part of the world, and you know the level of care that can be delivered. And our feeling is that they deserve the best medical care they can get.
GUPTA (voice-over): The best medical care may not be just supportive therapy. It may lie in the experimental serum that likely saved both Brantly and Nancy's lives.
GUPTA: I'll tell you, Erin, the science here is just really neat. They are talking about what is known as antibodies. Simply put, they inject animals with the anti-virus. They get the cells that are fighting the virus and that's what makes the medicine. That's what Dr. Brantly received. That is what caused such a dramatic improvement in his overall condition -- Erin.
BURNETT: I know it is miraculous, untested, risky, but what about everyone else. Nearly a thousand have died. All of them Africans. Suddenly two white Americans get the disease and suddenly all of the stops get pulled out.
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, keep in mind, this has never been done before. He was the first human. I think there is somehow proof of principle and the question becomes, is this something that could become made more available to the masses. This is an unusual situation, Erin.
Typically you test things. Test for safety. Test for how effective it is. Then figure out if it can be distributed to the masses. This accelerates things. We know the company who made this secured more funding to do what you are saying. It doesn't happen overnight, but maybe this can help people there, as you say.
BURNETT: Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much. Now the organization Nancy was working for in Liberia, Nancy is on route. Back in the United States tomorrow. The second person ever in history with Ebola to be brought on purpose to American soil and to our knowledge, first with Ebola to be on American soil. Bruce, how is she doing?
BRUCE JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, SIM USA: I just got a report that he is ready to go on the flight. She is not in the airplane. They will transport her from our mission campus there in Liberia. And get on the plane. And if all goes well, she will be on U.S. soil sometime tomorrow.
BURNETT: And do you have any knowledge at this point, we were just looking that incredible footage of Dr. Brantly stepping out of that ambulance in the suit, with Ebola, after that serum appeared to so miraculously save his life. Do you know if it had a similar impact on Nancy?
JOHNSON: The reports from our medical doctors there on-site caring for her is that she's in a more weakened condition. However, today has been a good day. Matter of fact, her husband, David, told me that her appetite is returning and she asked for her favorite Liberian meal, potato soup, which is a great sign.
BURNETT: That is a great sign. And what about the experimental serum. Do you have any sense, I know she had a chance to talk with er husband, was he able to tell you anything about -- we heard how miraculous with Dr. Brantly, an hour later, the rash disappeared from his torso. He miraculously improved. Do you know if it had a similar impact on her?
JOHNSON: Nancy received her second dose today. The indication is that it did not have quite the impact on Nancy as it did Kent. However, the slight improvements that our doctors there have been seeing have been encouraging. They indicated, they said, Nancy might not be in the condition where she is able to walk off of the transport vehicle like Kent did.
So don't be surprised by that. This is a -- this disease really can weaken the body and Kent is much younger than Nancy. And so, we're just grateful and very cautiously optimistic about how she's doing right now. BURNETT: And Bruce, you know, everyone is rooting for her and wants
her to get better. There is criticism that the United States would choose to bring people, no matter how tragic the situation, back home, that have a disease that can kill so many. What do you say to those who say, this just -- this risk isn't worth it?
JOHNSON: You know, I was talking with her husband David yesterday on the phone, and we were talking that Nancy and Kent, if through what they have gone through, as a result that a medicine can be found that will help eradicate Ebola, both of them would say, it is worth it. What we went through.
And so, I don't have confirmation on this, but I would imagine that the doctors at Emory Hospital are saying, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to do research were find out how the body has reacted to this, and we're praying that they will be able to find and produce a medicine.
Erin, this is something that I -- I think it's important for us to understand in the United States, in Liberia, there are 50 doctors for 4 million people. I just heard that segment about the person in New York going to the hospital earlier this week in Charlotte.
We had a similar situation, someone went to our hospital. They said, I've been in Liberia, I'm not feeling well. That exactly what they should do. But this is the difference, we have a tremendous infrastructure in the out. So the likelihood and caution we are taking is exactly what we need to do.
I appreciate your reporting and Dr. Gupta to help me and my fellow citizens in America know that this is something that because of our great infrastructure, we can really feel safe.
BURNETT: All right, well, Bruce, thank you very much. And a very interesting point Bruce makes, which is if Nancy and Dr. Brantly had not gotten this disease, that serum would not have been tested and hundreds more would have died. So it is interesting to talk about the morality of this, just to think about that. Thank you so much, Bruce.
OUTFRONT next, Sierra Leone is the country with the most cases of Ebola. Shut down right now to go in and out, but our David McKenzie is the only television reporter in the country right now. We good to him lift next. And exclusive interview with an American who survived the deadly Ebola virus. What happened? How did he get sick? How did he get it?
And the breaking news in the Middle East tonight, Israel and Hamas say they will stop the violence for a brief period of time. Will it hold?
BURNETT: Breaking news, the man in New York City being tested for Ebola tonight. The virus has killed nearly 900 people so far in West Africa. The World Health Organization says the deadly disease is quote "moving faster than efforts to control it." The hardest hit country at this moment is Sierra Leone, 646 cases of Ebola. That's where our David McKenzie is. He is the only TV reporter in the country.
And David, what is it like right now, there?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, frankly, it's scary because this is the epicenter of this outbreak. And while people in the U.S., Erin, might feel a little bit nervous about Ebola here, it is really ravaging the countryside. And we, earlier today, traveled into the hot zone.
MCKENZIE: We're on the road, driving into the worst Ebola epidemic in history. It is quite extraordinary. There is hardly any cars on the road. All of the shops are closed. Just one or two people walking on the street. When I've been here before at this time, it would be absolutely jam-packed. You could barely move. The town is a ghost town.
The government shut down the entire country for a day, for reflection, they say. Hammering three countries, the outbreak is worse 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 a death toll mount, they are tightening access to the roads that help spread the disease. And they are getting the word out to calm the panic.
Like the rest of the nation, (INAUDIBLE) stayed at home today. The elders put out the word to stay at home and we need to respect that, he says. 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. There are no guarantees even of that.
So the whole country shut down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, whole country is in national issue. Whole country.
MCKENZIE: Why do people need to pray?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of this problem we are encountering, this Ebola issue.
MCKENZIE: We've been through a series of checkpoint. Each one is stricter than the last. One Red Cross official told us that along this road, Ebola is everywhere. But it is through this point, into Calhoun district, where it is the epicenter of this unprecedented epidemic. And it is there that the biggest battles are being fought.
MCKENZIE: And those battles are fought here in Calhoun by groups like doctors without borders. They are scrambling every resource they have, Erin, to try and get patient into a confined area and if possible, of course, save them. Thought, the death threats here are pretty horrific at around 70 percent they say. And still they say there are people in the villages who might be too afraid or not believe that they have Ebola who are not coming to treatment centers and they say that could mean that this could last for many months and spread further than it has already in this region -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you. Terrifying. Thanks so much, David McKenzie.
And now to a man who survived Ebola. Dr. Thomas Cairns got a mysterious infection when he was working in with it is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was in 1972 before the deadly virus had even been formally discovered. It nearly killed him. No one knew what it was, but Dr. Cairns are survived this. Your blood, a few years later, came back, it was tested and it turns out they could confirm all of the signs pointed to the fact that you had Ebola. How do you think you were exposed?
DR. THOMAS CAIRNS, EBOLA SURVIVOR: Well, I was exposed because I was working at the hospital there. And the patient was brought in who was critically ill. We really didn't know what it was. He died. He was almost dead on arrival when he got there. And the local authority wanted us to do an autopsy and to find out what it was. So we did. And in the course of doing the autopsy, I pricked my finger with the scalpel. About 12 days later, I came down with all of the classic symptoms of what we now know as Ebola.
BURNETT: So it took 12 days where you didn't have any symptoms. You felt fine. It was just incubating.
CAIRNS: Yes. With apparently incubating during that time. And that is fairly typical with the Ebola thing. It can go a while before the symptoms manifest themselves.
BURNETT: What were your symptoms?
CAIRNS: Well, a lot of severe flu-like symptoms. Classic flu but much, much worse. Headache and fever, very high fever and nausea and vomiting and cough, a fair amount of rash that developed over time which then led to skin sluffing (ph).
BURNETT: So how long did it take for you to actually get better?
CAIRNS: It was a long six weeks. Actually, several weeks, I don't remember. And then gradually recovering over another six weeks before I was even able to go back up to the hospital to start working. And then after that, trying to gradually regain my strength. I had lost about 20 pounds. And my wife was feeding me milk shakes to try to build me up. Little by little, gradually getting my strength back. So that perhaps several months, then I was getting gradually full health again.
BURNETT: And then when they did realize you had Ebola, you obviously came back to the United States. And you had then in your blood, the right antibodies, that how they determined that you had had Ebola. So the CDC, can I just ask you this question, because people have been very curious, why is the United States bringing Ebola patient back now. And I believe your experience was, they had been collecting blood from you to try to find those antibodies, build up serums and defenses for years, right?
CAIRNS: Yes. What happened is I did not come back to the U.S. at that time. I stayed on another year and a half or so until my normal home assignment was due. Then we came back. And it was -- still we didn't know what it was, until 1976. We were back in Congo, or Zair, and at that time the epidemics broke out. From that point on, they did the serum surveys of Congo leaders, (INAUDIBLE) as well as a number of us, foreigners. And of the 50 or so foreigners they drew blood on, I turned out to be positive.
So then, they were very interested in drawing blood from me in order to maintain a serum bank of a few units of serum back here at CDC so they could, in case of a lab accident, let's say, at CDC. Somebody sticks their finger or whatever, they would be able to use it.
So they did that for each of the next, I suppose, three-year cycles that we were in the states. We would come back every three or four years, they would draw more blood and they would then keep it.
Finally, after the third time they told me the antibody level in my blood decreased so much that it really was almost undetectable. So then they haven't drawn any blood on me in probably 20 years, maybe longer now.
BURNETT: So Dr. Kent Brantly, who looks like miraculously will survive, he received, and is still fighting, but he has been able to walk around. He has received a blood transfusion from someone who recently did recovered from Ebola.
So do you think that that helped? That this could be the best way to a -- I mean, obviously an full cure, but for those that have a shot, that getting a blood transfusion from someone like you when you have the antibodies, do you think that is possible to save a life?
CAIRNS: I think it is very possible. Because the general principle of immunology is if someone is ill and with a virus type thing and we can give a direct antibody infusion like that, very often their lives can be saved or the illness can be treated. So I think it is very possible.
BURNETT: All right. Dr. Cairns, thank you so much.
CAIRNS: Yes. Glad to be with you.
BURNETT: And breaking news from Gaza. Next, we are going to live to our Martin Savidge.
Plus, the United States called Israel's actions appalling. Israel's ambassador to the U.N. responds OUTFRONT.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Breaking news: Israel and Gaza agreed to another truce, set a truce in just a few hours.
But already today, a cease-fire has been broken. Hamas says Israel fired at Gaza just moments after the cease-fire began. Israel says that strike was part of an ongoing operation. It was just a technicality. In fact, the Israeli Defense Forces told me earlier that it happened to happen after the cease-fire itself.
Tonight, the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Colonel Peter Lerner, said Israel is now in the process of destroying Hamas's last tunnel from Gaza to Israel. He says the threat from the tunnels is almost completely null and void.
So, does that mean this cease-fire is for real? Martin Savidge is on the ground in Gaza City tonight.
And, Martin, where you are, has the fighting stopped?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it hasn't. We can still hear the Israeli drones up overhead. Of course, they're not fighting, but they could have the potential to do so. About an hour and a half ago, there was a burst of rocket fire that went out and was heading north towards Israel. And we know that Israel's Iron Dome just across the border begun intercepting those.
So, you know, it appears and this is always the problem you had, is you lead up to some kind of cease-fires, is that one side or the other or both sides try to get in the last lick before the cessation of hostilities.
The problem is, it seems sometimes getting in that lot of lick bleeds over into the time the cease-fire was to begin.
SAVIDGE: That was the casing point with Israel today, Israel was the one that declared the cease-fire and then, according to its own report, two minutes after it began, it launched that strike on refugee beach camp and one child was killed and 30 people were injured.
So, this is the kind of back and forth you always worry about. You know, I'm hopeful. Everybody here I'm sure is hopeful. People in Israel are hopeful. All of the civilians would like to see this end.
BURNETT: Marty, does it look like it'll be any different from prior cease-fires? Because all of the people at home are like, oh, wait, there's another headline, there's a cease-fire, that's going to last all of five minutes.
SAVIDGE: Right. Well, I mean, I don't blame them. This is number nine, by the one I just counted up the list. So, that a pretty high number for what has been a month-long engagement here.
However, that said, I believe all side have now signed on to it. That's extremely positive. I don't think we reached that point before. The other thing is Israel claims it's done with the tunnel work. Tunnels, terror tunnels, as they call them, is number one of their hit list of things they have to get done in this operation. So, the fact that they completed means that ground forces can withdraw so there's less points of friction, any other words, less points where can you fight.
SAVIDGE: But will the rockets stop firing out of Gaza and will the artillery stop coming in and will both sides stop finding reasons to shoot back at one another? That's the real issue.
The Palestinian side says, look, we won't shoot if Israel doesn't shoot at us. Israel says the same thing back. So, we'll have to see. We'll know in a few hours.
BURNETT: When the tunnels are destroyed and when Hamas starts to run low on rockets. Thanks very much to you, Marty.
And joining me now, James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute and author of "Arab Voices", and Peter Brookes, former CIA member and deputy assistant secretary of defense. Great to have both of you with us.
James, let me start with you.
I did speak with the Israeli defense spokesman today and, look, he said, yes, Israel did keep firing after the ceasefire that was supposed to start this morning, but he described it as a technicality and then he furthered described it as a, quote, "slip-up". He blamed the failure of the cease-fire on Hamas, but he also said, look, we are finishing to destroy the last tunnel from Gaza to Israel. So, given that, doesn't that mean Israel is likely to observe the cease-fire?
JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Is that for me, Erin?
BURNETT: Yes, for you. Sorry, James.
ZOGBY: Oh, sorry. I think that the main reason Israel is interested in maintain They are taking a real beating in public opinion, all over the world, of course. But here in the United States, it appears with statements coming from the White House and State Department on the last couple of days, I think have been shocking to the Israelis. They felt they had a sort of a -- an open door to do what they want to do. And they are finding that they have less of a blank check at this point.
So, I think that there is a reason for them to want to rein it in. The problem is you have 1,800 Palestinians dead and a lot of bitterness and anger in Gaza. And that would is not going to heal quickly. But you do have all they Palestinian leadership sitting with Egypt and America present in Egypt waiting for the Israelis to participate.
So I think sides are serious right now. And if we can just get people talking, and not let one act, as what happened last week, then become a reason for massive escalation. Maybe this one will hold.
BURNETT: Peter, you know, to the point that Jim was raising, Prime Minister Netanyahu does not deny a report that he told the Obama administration to, quote, "not ever second-guess me again on dealing with Hamas." You know, everyone had known that there had been a, you know a low point in Israeli-U.S. relations with President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
But is this the lowest it's ever been? If they are talking to each other like this, is the truly allegiance that beats all allegiances, or would the United States actually consider pulling back a bit?
PETER BROOKES, FORMER CIA AGENT: Well, I mean, the relationship is in tough shape. Obviously, the Israelis are involved in a conflict with a group right across the border. Israeli lives are at stake. When they decided to go into Gaza, they obviously increased the risk significantly to their own armed fortress. There are still rockets, rockets -- 2,500 rockets were there, shot at Israel.
So, obviously, the prime minister is under a lot of stress and dealing with the United States. And it feels like they are really in the, you know, on stove here, a lot of heat being applied to them. And it really doesn't want the United States to get in the way while they try to achieve their military objectives, at the same time, trying to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.
BURNETT: But, Jim, does the United States mean what it says. I mean, you heard the State Department today described Israeli shelling of the U.N. school as, quote-unquote, "appalling," and quote-unquote, "disgraceful". Those are incredibly strong words, but they are really are just words. At the same time, the United States says here is a couple hundred million more dollars for your Iron Dome. Here's open, you know, however many bullets you need.
I mean, does the U.S. follow up with action at all?
BROOKES: Well, it isn't unprecedented. George Bush Senior decided to do this back during his term. So, I mean, it's not unprecedented. You know, the Obama administration laid heavy words on Hamas as well, which I think has -- conduct has been certainly horrible in its conduct of this terrible conflict. So, hopefully, we can be cautiously optimistic about some things going and outside groups are trying to get some pressure to reduce the humanitarian problems.
BURNETT: Jim, go ahead.
ZOGBY: Let me just say. There's an asymmetry of power here. Israel is the overwhelming force and Palestinians, while they can do damage can do very little damage. And they become the victims. The asymmetry is matched by an asymmetry from the United States where Israel gets the compassion, very little pressure and the Palestinians get all of the pressure and very little compassion. So, you know, any little shift in that equation, calling it disgraceful or appalling or whatever, then causes a kind of a quiver in Israel to get nervous.
But you're right, Erin. I mean, what happens then is that it is followed up with a couple hundred million dollars and more on the way, that ultimately ends up drowning out our own message. But there's enough after message there I think to cause Israel to think, not just the United States, but they're losing badly in Europe and they're losing badly in the rest of the world.
They are going to be isolated with the United States and maybe the Mariana Island their only allies by the time this is over.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim.
Well, you just heard what Jim had to say, and you heard the United States calling Israel's actions, quote-unquote, "appalling". Israel's ambassador to the United Nations responds, OUTFRONT next.
And the deadly mudslides in California. Roads blocked, thousands stranded, an entire town cut off. These pictures are stunning. We're going to show them to you.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Breaking news, Israel and Gaza agreeing to a truce, set to start in just a few hours. But will it last? Our reporters on the ground are still hearing explosions at this hour. Drones are still flying over Gaza right now and Israel has been coming under increasing international criticism after a series of deadly strikes on or near U.N. shelters displacing those in Gaza.
U.S. and the U.N. has used, frankly, incredibly direct language, just over the weekend, condemning the latest strike. Washington calls the attack, quote-unquote, "disgraceful and appalling."
Joining me now, Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador, good to have you with us again.
So, let me start with this fundamental question. The United States has come out as you know and called Israel's actions disgraceful and appalling. What do you say to the United States?
RON PROSOR, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I say, look, the real question here, is who's the bad guy here? Hamas in the sense is using, what we know as a fact, they are using schools, they're using mosques, they're using UNRWA facilities in order to shoot missiles against Israelis day in and day out.
So, this specific thing we are investigating. And I can tell you, we won't shy away from taking responsibility. But in a sense, you are trying to equate and this is my point here, a democracy like Israel with a terror organization like Hamas. This is like equating the United States with al Qaeda. This is absolutely the good and evil here.
And Israel in a sense wants peace. We have shown in the past -- BURNETT: Do you say to the United States though, hey, look, you now
trying to take the high road, State Department, you all fly drones over Pakistan and kill al Qaeda militant along with their wives, and their children, and other innocent civilians all the time. Do you say that to the United States?
PROSOR: No, we don't. But we say, you know us. We are democracy.
There is collateral damage sometimes and those highly populated areas, with a huge civilian population out of basically I show new the past --
BURNETT: So you think collateral damage is a fair word to use?
PROSOR: I would say that Israel is working in an environment where Hamas is using not just human shields but their own people and abusing their own people day in and day out. So, any equation between us and a terrorist organization is like, you know, infuriating in saying that there's a comparison between states fighting al Qaeda. There is no way to equate us.
BURNETT: Now, of course, this does come down to the issue, though, you know, a lot of these schools, they have not been found -- you know, originally, Israel was saying, well, they're putting weapons in the schools and that turned almost all of the cases to not be the case. Now, I know you've shown me the pictures, saying, well, they are firing at us from very near to the schools.
But does that -- still, again, this is the question, does that justify to get a couple of militant who you may or may not kill when you shoot back, killing civilians who are 1,500 feet away in a school seeking refuge?
PROSOR: Erin, put it this way. I think the schools is important. What our purpose should be is, that in these schools, we learn it is a bit unrealistic to have our children, not their children, but it is very realistic to have our children learn to live side by side with Palestinian children. This is our mission. This is our purpose. Let's have schools teach tolerance, teach peace with each other, because this is what we want.
And if you look at what happening here, at the end of the day, we have shown in the past when we had leaders in the Arab world who wanted peace, both in Egypt and in Jordan, we were out there willing and able in the Israeli public.
BURNETT: Do you have any fear that the United States is using words like appalling, to describe your actions, that United States would do anything about it, where it matters. As in, we're not going to give you as much military aid. Obviously, Israel the biggest recipient of military aid in the world, or is it just words?
PROSOR: I have huge trust and respect for the American people, with joint values and joint democracy that we both share. So, with this administration, my respect to the values, that cherish this relationship goes way beyond this one or two incidents. And I'm sure the United States is going to stand with Israel because standing with Israel and the fight against terrorism today makes sure that the terror would not be in the door steps of other countries in the future.
Israel is on the front line fighting foreigners that Western democracies have yet to encounter. Do we always get it right? No, but by them, we really try as much as we can to do the best and to protect our citizens, and make sure that terror is not on the door steps of others in the future.
BURNETT: All right. Ambassador Prosor, good to see you again. Thank you, sir.
PROSOR: Thank you.
BURNETT: And still to come, the U.S. slammed Israel with those harsh words. Will the administration back up those words with action? We have an OUTFRONT investigation.
And deadly mudslides in California, cars swept away, people stranded. This video is dramatic coming from the United States. We're going to show it to you, coming up.
BURNETT: Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who is live along the Israel border with a look at what's ahead on "AC360" -- Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, hey, Erin. Yes, we are in Ashkelon tonight, as you say, we are very close to the border with Gaza.
Just a short time ago, while there is much hope here tonight for a cease-fire that is supposed to begin a little bit more than five hours from now, there were incoming rockets fired from Gaza. They were intercepted from the Iron Dome system that occurred really just above us a short time ago. We'll bring you all the latest from Israel, as well as from Gaza City, and points all around the globe tonight.
We're also focusing a lot on the outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa. We have a correspondent in Sierra Leone. We'll also talk to our Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the situation in Atlanta, with the two patients who seem to be responding to this new -- to this serum that hasn't been tested yet, but they seem to be responding to it.
And also, word that there is now a patient in New York at Mt. Sinai Hospital, who is being tested for Ebola. We don't know whether the person has tested positive or not. He apparently had come back from West Africa with a fever. We'll try to find out exactly what the situation is there, and what it could mean for future cases of Ebola in the United States, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Anderson.
And we continue our breaking news out of Israel. Both sides agreeing to a three-day truce. Will it last longer than the truce this morning? Literally, that one lasted only minutes. U.S. officials are calling Israeli attacks on civilian refugees appalling. And the Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to "The Associated Press", told the United States, quote, "not to ever second guess me again."
This is the most important allegiance in the world and to break it would change the world.
Senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth is OUTFRONT.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Israel presses the offensive against Hamas and Gaza, historic ties with the United States are fraying, some say, to a new low.
NATHAN THRALL, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: The relationship is one between two very close allies and there are tensions between them at this moment.
ROTH: In one of the toughest U.S. attacks on Israel during the Obama administration, the State Department called the latest shelling on a school in Gaza appalling, and as casualties mount said there should be a change in Israeli behavior.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: When you have a situation where innocent civilians are killed in Gaza, there's more that Israel can do to hold themselves to their own standards.
ROTH: Sharp criticism rarely heard when Israel is engaged in battle.
MARK REGEV, SPOKESMAN FOR ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We do hold ourselves to a very high standard. When innocent civilians are caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas, it's an operational failure from our point of view.
ROTH: The Israeli prime minister is said to be furious with Israel's long time supporter. "The Associated Press" quoted Benjamin Netanyahu as saying to the Obama administration "not to ever second guess me again on Hamas", in a phone call with the U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Netanyahu did not give a specific denial when asked about second guessing and criticized news reports.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Full of incorrections. Full of distortions and are wrong both in tune and in substance. The right substance is the support that we are getting as we speak, from the United States of America, and I appreciate it deeply.
ROTH: At the White House Monday, a spokesman said Israel is one of America's strongest allies.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The nature of our relationship is strong and unchanged.
ROTH: There is more to talk about, though. The German magazine "Ders Spiegel" has reported Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on Secretary of State John Kerry's phone calls during his intense efforts to broker a Middle East peace deal. The Israeli government and media blasted Kerry's recent diplomatic tactics as unfair.
Still, Israel will not completely go it alone. The U.S. provides $3 billion in military assistance to Israel annually, with an additional $225 million in funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile interceptor program.
ROBERT DANIN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: They can overcome it, once the conflict has ended. But during the period at hand, it's usually a great deal of strain.
ROTH: Israel knows it has the U.S. Congress and American public support solidly in its camp. When the rockets stop flying is when government leaders can start trying to repair any damage in the relationship.
Richard Roth, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And next, the deadly mudslides wreaking havoc in California, we'll show you exactly what's happening there next.
BURNETT: Walls of mud and vehicles swept off the road in Southern California. Just take a look at these pictures.
I mean, this is the torrential rains, they turned into mudslides, making most roads impassable. Thousands are now stranded, 500 children and their parents had to be evacuated from a church camp. At least one person has been found dead inside a vehicle that was swept away.
Now, emergency workers were forced to break this particular car's windows to make sure nobody was inside. But look at the rushing water on the back. You can just imagine what it would be like. People are now trying to dig out of several feet of mud and debris.
Thanks so much for watching. Anderson will continue to follow that story as well as the breaking news in Israel. He starts now.