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CONNECT THE WORLD

Nigerian Military Takes On Boko Haram in Sambisa Forest; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Texas Assault; Both Sides Accused of War Crimes in Aleppo; Controversial Report by Breaking the Silence Recounts Israeli Soldier Tales of Gaza War. Aired 11:00-12:00P ET

Aired May 5, 2015 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:12] ISA SOARES, HOST: Revisiting the Gaza War: Israeli soldiers give harrowing accounts of what they describe as their orders

during that conflict. We are live in Jerusalem with the latest.

We'll also hear from critics who say a new report built around those claims is biased.

Also ahead, ISIS says it was behind the recent attack in Texas. We'll look at what that group has to say. And do Americans think they were

working for them?

And both sides in Syria accused of war crimes in Aleppo. A tentative talk about those talks begin in Geneva. We ask a Syrian journalist about

the prospects for peace.

ANNOUNCER: This is the hour we Connect the World.

SOARES: Now, it was a 50 day war fought in Gaza last year, if you'll remember, that left more than 2,000 people dead. Now an Israeli group

called Breaking the Silence has released testimony it says came from dozens of Israeli soldiers who took part in the 2014 conflict.

Now their shocking accounts raise disturbing questions about Israeli military tactics, a recent director for breaking the silence tells CNN the

interviews were collected to shed light on why large areas of infrastructure were destroyed and why civilian deaths were actually so high

in Gaza.

Meantime, the Israeli military has responded saying there is no proof to back up these claims.

Oren Liebermann is following the story for us and he joins us now from Jerusalem.

Oren, this is a pretty detailed and a stinging report by the veterans group Breaking the Silence. What is the Israeli government have to say

about these accusations, first of all?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces issued a response shortly after the statement was released and their

response focused on the methodology here, what they say is the right way to approach these complaints about conduct, or rather perhaps accusations of

misconduct during the war is to go through the IDF's own investigations process.

They say Breaking the Silence should not have held on to these accusations, these accounts for nine months since the war ended. They say

that they should have been brought to the IDF's attention immediately so that the IDF can review them with their own process.

To date, the IDF has held 126 or so investigation of accounts of incidents during the war. And they've led to criminal investigations in

six of those cases.

Now I want to read a short bit of the IDF response here. It reads, today as in the past the organization Breaking the Silence has been asked

to provide any evidence or testimony related to IDF activities prior to publication in order for genuine investigations to be carried out. That is

the gist, the focus of the IDF's response that the army has a way, the military has a way of handling complaints of allegations -- complaints of

abuse, allegations of misconduct in wartime -- Isa.

SOARES: Yeah, and Oren, I've printed out some of the report. Now it's quite lengthy, some 240 pages. And it's called This is How We Fought

in Gaza.

And just looking through the testimonies -- numbers of testimony. And the titles of them, "Shoot, Shoot, Everywhere." "If you shoot someone in

Gaza it's cool, no big deal" was the title of another. "Anything still there is as good as dead." And it goes on.

Now these reports, similar to this, by Breaking the Silence come out periodically. Is there any sense from what you're getting on the ground

that this one will change anything?

LIEBERMANN: Well, that's certainly the hope of Breaking the Silence's founder Yehuda Shaul. He says he wants this to start a conversation. He

says he looked into these accounts and published these accounts to begin a conversation about rules of engagement. He says the IDF has loosened their

rules of engagement over the last few wars to the point where he says they are no longer acceptable to him and to the soldiers he spoke with.

He spoke with just about 70 soldiers, all of whom were anonymous. He says about 15 were officers. And he hopes this begins a meaningful

conversation so that the rules of engagement can be updated, to protect civilian lives, to protect civilian infrastructure.

You read the testimonies. They're difficult to read no matter who you are. They're difficult to comprehend in warfare. He says those

testimonies, or rather he hopes those testimonies bring about meaningful change in how wars are fought here.

He says, look, the way things have been going it may be only a matter of time before we're talking about another war.

SOARES: Yeah, these make very difficult reading.

Let me ask you this, Oren, because accompanying this testimony also had video testimonies along with the written ones. These, I'm guessing,

would have aired or are airing on Israeli news programs. What are people on the ground saying, how are they being received there?

LIEBERMANN: Well, it's difficult for anybody here to comprehend. Some -- there are some who are against Breaking the Silence. They are a

very controversial organization. And some have simply rejected the basis of the report, the grounding of the report.

We've spoken with other critics who say, look, the criticism is valuable. It's important to consider what Breaking the Silence has to say

so that it can be factored into the discussion about how Israel fights wars.

They also, though, say it's important to look at context, to look at the bigger picture. It's also important to note that the report only looks

at one side of the conflict. I asked Yehuda Shaul, again that's the Breaking the Silence founder what he felt about the other side. And he

says, look, Hamas is a terrorist organization, I don't support them in any way, but my job here in this report was to investigate Israeli actions

during the war. So there are a lot of different reactions here. Many here, some here perhaps reject the report, others see it as a valuable

criticism, a valuable insight as a piece of the conversation about how Israel fights wars.

[11:05:28] SOARES: Yeah, I know that you mentioned what the Israeli military said. They said they refuse -- Breaking the Silence is refusing to

provide any proof of these claims. What exactly do they want as proof -- names?

LIEBERMANN: They weren't looking for name, but specific accounts. I asked Yehuda Shaul, again that's the founder of Breaking the Silence, what

happened there. Why is there this statement coming from the IDF. And he says it was -- the breaking the silence asked for a response. They wanted

to speak to the chief of staff of the army and they said we want to schedule an interview with you. We want to hear what you have to say. The

army said we want to see -- and this is according to Yehuda Shaul -- the army said we want to see the accounts first before committing to anything.

There was a disagreement there from what I understand of the conversation. That led to the army not responding, the IDF not responding until now.

SOARES: All right, Oren Liebermann (inaudible) there. We hope that at least it can -- they can begin the conversation, meaningful conversation of

exactly what happened there.

We'll of course have much more on this story, our top story here later in the show. We'll speak to the spokesman for Breaking the Silence, the

organization behind this report that Oren Liebermann was reporting was mentioning. We'll also hear from a researcher who was critical of the

group and its methods. That's about 30 minutes from now right here on Connect the World.

Now we turn to turn now for a possible ISIS connection to Sunday's failed attack in the U.S. state of Texas. The militant group has now

broadcast a statement that describes the two gunmen as, quote, soldiers of the caliphate.

They tried to attack, if you remember, a group that was holding a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest, but they were shot and killed by police

before they could get inside that exhibit hall.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us from Beirut. More on this claim of responsibility from ISIS. And how really how credible is -- Nick, looking

at this, the question will be whether these men were ISIS sympathizers or under orders from ISIS.

Are there any signs from ISIS's claim of responsibility to which way they might be going?

NICK PATON WALSH , CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, it's remarkably scant information in it. It's broadcast an hour by Ayen Radio

(ph) that's thought to broadcast out of the northern Iraq city of Mosul when they swept in the middle of last year. And what it really says is

what you can pick up from reading media accounts, that two men who they refer to as soldiers of the caliphate, and also his brothers who were in an

exchange of fire with the security guard who was injured.

Now it goes on to threaten the United States more broadly, and replicating a lot of ISIS hyperbole from the past to say that future

attacks are going to be harsher and worse and the future is just around the corner, to quote part of that statement.

But it doesn't provide those intimate details of planning or of the two attackers lives that you might suggest ISIS would want to put out there

if they wanted to seriously suggest they had someone commanded that attack.

But at the end of the day -- so this is the issue going forward -- now we've moved away from the old model of extremism where you would have an al

Qaeda network you might perhaps find somebody in Afghanistan or Pakistan ordering in to action. A lot of these lone wolf attacks are effectively

extremists, people with issues of their own who choose to follow that extremist path, who find their ideology and the social media content that

ISIS put out there to be attractive inspire them into those attacks.

They don't necessarily, with resources available online, teach them how to make bonds or whatever else necessarily need to have direct

communication with ISIS before they launch an attack like we saw in Garland, Texas. So, investigators need to know if there is a chain of

command, because that's a key signal as to how they can stop future attacks.

But, there's a chain of command absence make attacks any harder? It doesn't seem to be the case at the moment. That's a pressing question,

though, for counterterror officials in the years ahead, Isa.

SOARES: Oh, absolutely. And Nick, let me ask you this, do you know whether these men, these two men whether they had any sort of link to ISIS

at all? We saw some tweets prior to that attack, didn't we?

WALSH: One of the gunmen Elton Simpson tweeted prior to the attack, it's thought to be an account that he ran tweeted a pledge of allegiance to

what he called the leader of the faithful. Now that is most likely ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has called himself the caliph of the self-

declared ISIS, Islamic State in northern Iraq, in northern Syria.

Technically, a pledge of allegiance has to be accepted by the caliph himself under their rules in order for that to actually mean the person is

part of ISIS, and that clearly didn't happen. It's after the fact that ISIS seem to have acknowledge this attacker.

You still can't really then delve into on the surface quite who knew who beforehand. That's what investigators will be doing now. They'll be

going through laptops, Internet records, patterns of association, trips, et cetera.

We know Elton Simpson may have tried to go to Somalia at some point in the past. That's when investigators need to actually establish, to work

out if we are actually dealing with a more chilling notion that ISIS has a command structure that can command sleeper cells in the west to action, or

if there's perhaps equally chillingly lone wolves simply inspired by what they've seen on the Internet -- Isa.

[11:10:34] SOARES: Yeah, and trying to find that will be quite difficult indeed.

Nick Paton Walsh for us in Beirut where it's 10 minutes past 6:00 in the afternoon. Thanks very much, Nick.

Well, you are watching Connect the World live from London. Coming up, John Kerry becomes the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Somalia.

We'll examine what the unprecedented trip means for the region.

But first a new report (inaudible) sheer terror and unbearable suffering in Syria's largest city. Amnesty International says the world

must help stop ongoing war crimes in Aleppo. We have both those stories for you just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: You are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. Welcome back to the show.

Now the name of the report says it all: Death Everywhere. Amnesty International says horrendous war crimes are happening every day in Aleppo,

making life increasingly unbearable for civilians. The rights group blames both the Syrian regime and rebels for widespread atrocity, but it accuses

the government of deliberately and relentlessly targeting civilians calling it, quote, collective punishment that amounts to crimes against Humanity.

Now Amnesty, says the regime's use of barrel bombs is particularly destructive. Syrian President al-Assad denies his forces have used the

bombs, which are packed with nails and other shrapnel to inflict maximum carnage.

Well, international negotiators, meantime, are attempting yet again to find a diplomatic resolution to the Syria war. But a UN special envoy says

this round of talks is different. Staffan de Mistura said expectations low as consultations began in Geneva. He says the UN will speak separately

with dozens of groups and regional players, including Iran.

De Mistura calls it the necessary groundwork before peacetalks didn't even begin. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAFFAN DE MISTURA, UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: There is no beginning, no middle and end here. No big roundtable with multilateral

representation, no big communique expected at the end. And these are not yet peace talks, these are closed, low key separate structured discussions

with the parties to consult on the current crisis in Syria, the possible road ahead and the final destination if they do have an idea about it of a

Syria at the peace with itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: These are low key talks you heard there.

Well, two of the most powerful forces in Syria, ISIS, and now Nusra Front, are not part of these discussions, but other armed rebel groups have

indeed been invited.

Let's bring in Ibrahim Hamidi for perspective. He's the Syria editor Alhayet newspaper based in London.

Ibrahim, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us.

Let's find out with the question that I'm sure a lot of our viewers will be asking, do you think these talks can succeed with so many others,

attempts have actually failed?

IBRAHIM HAMIDI, ALHAYET NEWSPAPER: You know, thank you for having me. I mean, we know that de Mistura, the special envoy just departed the talks.

He met with the ambassador of the Syrian government in Geneva . And he's going to talk with the representatives of the armed groups, politicians and

some members of the civil societies. And he presented both regional and international (inaudible) in Geneva.

In addition to that, as far as I know there would be meetings with the P5 invited, initiated by the British government.

So, those talks will be the first after the suspension of the talks at the beginning of last year.

Now, what is new now? Their acting -- there are -- we can talk about four elements, which might make some people optimistic.

Now, one is that those talks are -- will be held after defeats that the regime witnessed in the last few weeks. The opposition made some

ground in the north, parts of Syria close to the Turkish borders, and in the southern part of Syria close to the Jordanian borders.

The second element is the rise of ISIL. Actually now we all see the threat and atrocities of ISIL, ISIL, Islamic State, has already raised the

Syrian-Iraqi borders. Now they control one-third of the Syrian territory.

The third element is actually the Iranian deal, the nuclear deal between Iran and the west, which was not there a year-and-a-half ago.

Those reasons in addition to a fourth one, which is that there is -- there are some reports saying that there is tension between the Syrian regime and

the Russian government, because the Syrian government was not cooperative with Moscow in the last few weeks.

Now those reasons together make some people optimistic about those talks. But actually as de Mistura said, we have to lower expectations. We

have to have more than expectation. There are many challenges ahead.

One of them actually there is big gap there between the regional players, between Iran on one side and the Turks on the other side.

The second reason why we should be modest about expectations is that actually the main players on the ground, the al Nusra, ISIL, are not

invited. de Mistura said some of the groups are invited, but actually the most powerful are the groups like al Nusra and ISIL are not invited and I'm

sure that ISIL is going to spoil this game.

And the third reason which makes me be a bit cautious about expectations is actually until now there is huge gap, big gap between the

Syrian government and its backers from one side -- I mean, Syrian government Iran and Russia and the opposition and that supporters of the

opposition on the other hand, because opposition and the regime until believed that a top priority is to fight terrorism. While the opposition

wants to start talking about forming transitional government.

So there is big gap about interpretation, how we implement Geneva communique.

But we still hope that at the end that de Mistura after meeting with all concerned parties bilaterally, as he said, we hope that at the end he

would come (inaudible) whether conditions are not right for you to talk or not.

SOARES: Ibrahim, let me ask you -- you sound extremely pessimistic there. But I just want to bring our viewers a bit of context really of why

you may be optimistic, because there have been several failed UN efforts at trying to reach a peace to Syria.

Now the Amnesty report reminds us that more than a year ago, if you remember, the UN security council passed a resolution demanding an end to

barrel bomb attacks in Syria. As we can see nothing has really changed on the ground.

Let me just recap for our viewers the UN efforts so far. In 2012, the first envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan if you remember resigned after both sides

refused to implement his six-point plan. Two years later, Lakhdar Brahimi also stepped down after Geneva II if you remember initiative stalled.

Today the current UN envoy Staffan de Mistura was careful to say a new effort is not Geneva III, that's what he said, but rather low key

consultations that could lay the groundwork for peace talks.

Now Ibrahim, let me ask you this, you know, these are low key peace talks as we heard from Staffan de Mistura. But does -- I mean, there isn't

much time. If he's going to be -- if these are going to be low key peace talks talking to different people they're part of this, how long is it

going to take, because according to Amnesty International there is no time. Their report saying 3,000 civilians have died last year. What picture are

you getting on the ground from what's happening?

[11:20:39] HAMIDI: Actually there is this now this window of opportunity. If we fail, the UN special Envoy fails to reach a deal in the

upcoming few weeks and then I think if there is no political settlement in 2015, then we have to forget about this war for some time, because as you

may know in September, then we will enter the election season in the states and then there will be a vacuum in the whole region, which means that the

proxy war will be intensified and we will see more struggle for Syria between the Iranians and the Turks on the other hand.

So I'm a bit cautious about expectations.

SOARES: Cautious and pessimistic. Ibrahim Hamidi there, perspective for us. He's the Syria editor Alhayet Newspaper. Thanks very much,

Ibrahim, great to speak to you.

Now we want to take you back for a moment to a key fight in Syria. At one point, no fewer than six different factions battled for Kobani. The

Turkish town near the border with Turkey, that's what it is.

Now each had their own goals, and each added to Kobani's near total destruction. Our website has a stunning drones eye view of the city just

months after the fighting ended and ISIS was forced out. Get an unparalleled view of how extensive that damage remains. You can see it

there CNN.com.

Now live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, aerial cameras captured chaotic scenes in Nigeria, but ones that may actually be

an encouraging sign for a nation that has been tormented by terror groups.

And it's a Dutch city that takes risks when it comes to architecture. Up next, we'll show you Rotterdam's latest $200 million development.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: On to Europe's largest port, Rotterdam's world renowned shipping industry earned itself the nickname

gateway to the world for nearly half a century. Nowadays, thanks to its big modern buildings, The Netherland's second largest city is better known

as Manhattan on the moss.

During World War II, the city was flattened by heavy bombing and out of the ashes grew a fertile ground on which architects redrew the skyline

with eye catching buildings. Evalted Foodhall Coma (ph) Apartment block is one such addition at the heart of the city.

UNIDENITIFED MALE: It's somehow like the Rotterdam version of the Sistine Chapel, huh?

DEFTERIOS: The brainchild of the architect, Vinnie Moss, the Marcht Hall (ph) is a more than $200 million development that combines commerce

creativity and community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first challenge was to convince the client that he should make a hall which is big and inviting actually make the

houses make the hall.

DEFTERIOS: with 228 apartment lining the outside of the building, and more than 13,000 square meters of retail space in its core, the Marcht Hall

(ph) is a big draw for tourists and locals alike. 2 million visitors walk through its doors during its opening month alone.

Looking to take advantage of this huge footfall, Merad Chipchi (ph) moved his bakery into the market as soon as it opened.

[11:25:25] UNIDENITIFIED MALE: As for a few months, we saw that it was better than what we had expected. Customers they are coming every day

back and hey like their stuff and our prices. So I can say it's going pretty good.

DEFTERIOS: Above the market floor, great murals of the fruit and vegetables sold below dominate the interior facade of he building.

UNIDENITIFED MALE: It's basically one image that's composed out of out of zillions of pixels and three months we had to rend the farms all

over the planet from Aukland to London to get this done on time.

DEFTERIOS: The Marcht Hall (ph) lies in the central district of the city, an area that was once run down. But government investment and the

move in of developments like this are gradually drawing residents in, bringing the average price in the area up to $3,4000 per square meter.

And with a relatively low average price per square meter of only $2,600 for a standard apartment in the Marcht Hall (ph), it's the promise

of an up and coming area that lured Fans van der Linden and his partner to buy a penthouse earlier this year.

FANS VAN DER LINDEN: What drew me to the building in the first place was fantastic architectural features of it. There's nothing like it

anywhere in the world, especially in Rotterdam and Rotterdam does a lot regarding special buildings, but this one definitely drew our attention

more than the others.

DEFTARIOS: And as more people return to the center of the city, prices, like the buildings, will continue to rise.

John Defterios, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: This is Connect the World. Let me bring you those top stories we're following for you this hour.

ISIS is claiming responsibility for Sunday's failed attack of what Muhammed cartoon contest in the U.S. State of Texas. It says the two

gunmen killed by police were brothers of the caliphate. The statement from ISIS gives no evidence the group had any contact with the gunmen.

Britain's party leaders are making a last ditch effort to win voters two days before the election. Polls show it's too close to call. Labour

leader Ed Milliband today won the endorsement of actor/comedian Russell Brand, and they are together.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron is taking the Conservative Party message across Britain, including a stop in Scotland which could

decide the winner.

Amnesty International is accusing both the Syrian regime and rebel groups of war crimes in Aleppo. But it says the government barrel bomb

attacks are particularly destructive hitting schools, hospitals, mosques and crowded markets. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies any use of

barrel bombs.

Ostensibly, encouraging development concerning the crisis in Yemen, a top Houthi official says now a dialogue between leaders of the Houthi

rebels, western power and the United Nations. That official says it's been ongoing for more than a week with the goal of reaching a ceasefire and

restarting talks between Yemen's rival factions.

Now America's top diplomat has arrived in the Somali capital Mogadishu on a previously unannounced trip. John Kerry is the first sitting U.S.

Secretary of State to visit the struggling east African nation shortly after his arrival, he met with the Somali president and indeed the prime

minister. CNN's Robyn Kriel is monitoring developments from neighboring Kenya for us. And Robyn, Secretary Kerry the first American secretary of

state to visit the city. Why is this visit so significant if at all?

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is significant. I think it's a hefty show of support for the state of Somalia, the rebirth of

Somalia, let's say, after 20-odd years of civil war. He is the highest ranking diplomat ever to visit the country. And you've seen sort of

incremental, smaller steps by the Americans over the past few months such as them appointing a new ambassador. She's yet to be confirmed, but it will

b e the first ambassador since 1991 that America will have in Somalia.

They're talking about perhaps putting up an embassy of sorts, probably within the heavily guarded AU-UN compound, which is also serving as the

airport, which is where John Kerry was all day today.

John Kerry is now back here in Nairobi where he'll spend the night. Tomorrow, he's heading to Djibouti. And he had a lot of good words to say

to the Somali people talking about their resilience.

But he also had a strong message for politicians to keep their politicians house in house in order. Here is just s snippet of what he had

to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The federal government is now working with the new regional administrations to enhance stability and sow

the seeds of prosperity in every part of Somalia. That includes finding the right balance of authorities and responsibilities between the national,

regional and local levels. And I look forward to seeing progress soon on integrating regional forces into the Somali national army so that we can

broaden our security assistance to those forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KRIEL: Isa, you did mention that he met with the president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and the prime minister. Now this has been a cause of

concern for a number of members of the international community and UN and the Somali population itself. This is the third prime minister the

president has gone through in the mere three years that he's been president. So also some harsh words from the State Department calling for

Somali governments to get a political house in order to form a more unified government, to actually pass some laws and get Somalia on the right track.

SOARES: Robyn Kriel for us there in Nairobi, Kenya, thanks very much, Robyn.

I'm going to take you back now to our top story this hour. An Israeli group has released a 240 page report of shocking testimony from Israeli

soldiers about actions during last year's war in Gaza.

Now the 50 day war left widespread destruction along with a high death toll, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them were

civilians. More than 60 Israeli soldiers were killed along with several civilians.

The Israeli officials say they are committed to properly investigating all credible claims, but they say the group has so far not provided any

proof. Oren Liebermann has the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIEBERMANN: The 50 day Gaza War last summer destroyed or severely damaged 20,000 homes in Gaza and left more than 60,000 families homeless

according to the UN. A 22-year -old Israeli soldiers, who doesn't want to be identified for fear of repercussion, was a tank gunner during the war.

He's no longer in the army. He says he regrets what he did.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: It was like the Wild West. I could take my tank and just shoot whatever I want whenever I want. It just troubled me.

LIBERMANN: The soldier is one of nearly 70 Israeli soldiers interviewed in a controversial new report critical of Israeli military

actions during the war, including allegations of war crimes.

The report comes from breaking the silence, a left-wing NGO started by former soldiers disturbed by what they saw on the battlefield. The soldier

says his commander told him to fire on civilian targets from his tank.

[11:35:02] UNIDENITIFIED MALE: So, we had a bet between the gunners who can target and hit the moving vehicle. And just like this, we took the

tanks and tried to fire on moving vehicles just for bets.

LIEBERMANN: Breaking the Silence founder Yehuda Shaul, who served during the second intifada, says the Isreali military's rules of engagement

during the Gaza War allowed for, quote, massive and unprecedented harm on civilians.

YEHUDA SHAUL, FOUNDER, BREAKING THE SILENCE: The basic values we all grew up on such as purity of arms, equality of human life, were just thrown

out of the window in this operation.

LIEBERMANN: The IDF responded to the report by saying, "today, as in the past, the organization Breaking the Silence has been asked to provide

any evidence or testimony related to IDF activities prior to publication in order for genuine investigations to be carried out. Unfortunately, as in

the past, Breaking the Silence has refused to provide the IDF with any proof of their claims."

The United Nations says approximately 2,100 Palestinians died in the conflict. The UN estimates 70 percent were civilians, while Israel says

half were militants.

Approximately 70 Israelis died in the fighting, almost all soldiers.

The IDF has opened examinations into more than 120 incidents from the Gaza War, six have led to criminal investigations.

This report examines one side of the conflict, Shaul did not investigate allegations of war crimes from Hamas and other Palestinian

factions in Gaza.

The IDF accuses Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU, of launching rockets from civilian areas and using human

shields.

Analyst Ben-Dror Yemini says criticism of the IDF in the Gaza War is important, but so, too, is the context.

BEN-DROR YEMINI, ANALYST: Israel is killing absolutely and proportionally less combatants and less civilians. And this is a main

fact. I mean, if you don't see the big picture then you put all the blame on Israel.

LIEBERMANN: Much like the Gaza War, the report has already generated controversy. Yehuda Shaul says he wants that controversy to improve the

rules of engagement before the next war begins.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Now you saw Ben-Dror Yemeni there in Oren's report. He's a researcher who is critical of Breaking the Silence and their methods. He

joins me now on the phone from Tel Aviv. And Ben-Dror, let me get your take first on this report. What worries you the most about what is being

reported?

YEMINI: Well, (inaudible) maybe these are exceptionals and I don't think (inaudible) IDF -- that the IDF has any exemptions for any type of

criticism, it's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is (inaudible) what happened in (inaudible) compared to so many other (inaudible) -- what

happened to (inaudible) what's happening right now in Iraq and what happened (inaudible) so many other (inaudible).

When you compare how many civilians were killed and how many combatants. And you find out, yes, (inaudible) there isn't any other army

in the world in (inaudible) civilians.

But, yes, there are exemptions. and what this report is doing is just to emphasize that there are exceptionals Yes, there are exceptionals.

But when you compare -- it should be compared to so many other cases, you find out that Israel is doing the best job in order to prevent

civilians.

We are also (inaudible) we are really (inaudible) about every civilian that was killed. But we do not forget that even according to the

directions of the Hamas, they should -- they hide themselves in only civilians houses, according to the Hamas rules.

SOARES: Ben-Dror, I'm going to interrupt you there. Unfortunately, we cannot hear you very ,very well. The line clearly playing tricks on us.

We will try and get you clearer line. Ben-Dror there -- Yemini who is critical of Breaking the Silence and their report.

Let's get the view from the other side, Avnar Gvaryahu, he's a spokesman for Breaking the Silence. And he joins us now by Skype from Tel

Aviv.

And I'm guessing you heard there slightly what Ben-Dror was saying. What do you have to say to his criticism of this report?

AVNAR GVARYAHU, SPOKESMAN, BREAKING THE SILENCE: Sorry, I really didn't hear everything Ben-Dror Yemini said. I can just say that, you

know, I myself serve in the military. We're an organization of over 1,000 soldiers that have served. This publication was put together after we met

almost 70 soldiers and officers that fought in this last war.

All those people I mentioned, including myself, we're Isrealis. What we're trying to do is create the debate about what's happening in our

society. I don't want to be compared to various militaries. I want to first of all make sure that we're doing the best we can as a society and in

our name our army in order to uphold the values we believe in, which are purity of arms, which are human life.

I have to say, and I'm sure this is visible from the testimonies, and they're all on our website and very easy to find, that we have raw -- the

red lines that we ourselves have put. And this is something that is very troubling in our perspective.

SOARES: We heard there from Ben-Dror, Avnar that he's basically his point was that if you're going to paint one side of the picture with

Israel, surely you should have looked whether war crimes had been committed from the Hamas side. What do you say to that?

GVARYAHU: Well, Isa I'll say that what I said a second ago, I served in the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force. And I have the responsibility to

make sure that my army is doing the best it can. And my country is doing the best it can to make itself better.

I have to say that the stories that we heard were surprising and were very, very troubling. That does not mean that everything Hamas did was OK.

I think the world is a little bit more nuanced than maybe the way Ben-Dror likes to see it.

I mean, I'm not here to support the action of Hamas, god forbid, but I'm definitely here -- and this is what we're trying to do with the report

-- to pick up a red flag and say to our society and to everyone around the world who wants to listen, that this is what happened in Gaza. And let's

take responsibility by first of all knowing what happened there.

SOARES: And let me ask you this, you've got these chilling testimonies, these firsthand accounts of what reportedly happened during

the Gaza war. What's the next step?

GVARYAHU: Well, I think the next step for us, and this is what we've been doing the past 48 hours, is getting the information out there. I

think it's really amazing to see you know the gap of knowledge between what was reported and what we're talking about, what the soldiers really are

expressing.

And for us, the objective of what we're really trying to do is create the debate about this reality and you know what if I will allow myself the

bold and hopeful to make sure that the next time around, which everyone knows is going to come and take longer will be more knowledgeable about it

and maybe god willing it won't happen.

SOARES: The Israeli military says, I'm quoting here, it is committed to investigating, but says your group is refusing to provide any proof of

these claims. What can you offer as proof? What proof are they looking for?

GVARYAHU: I'm not sure what proof they're looking for, but I have two points that I would like to make about the idea of spokesman claims. The

first point is they are basically saying that because we published the report already, they don't have to look into the claim, that because we

didn't come to them first, that doesn't really make sense. I mean, there are stories here that we know to be true. And they are now out there. And

everyone can do whatever they'd like with the information. So if the IDF would look into the report -- it's open on our website.

But the second point, and this is very important point to us, we actually turned to the chief of staff more than a month ago before we

released this publication and we told him meet with us, listen to what we heard from soldiers and officers who fought in the last operation in Gaza.

We're willing to sit with you and let you know what we found, not instead of publishing it, because we think these things have to go together, but

definitely the chief of staff, who leads the Israeli military today, could have accepted our offer.

The truth of the matter is, we're still waiting.

SOARES: Avnar Gvaryahu who he was a spokesman for Breaking the Silence, you wanted to start a conversation, looks like you have indeed

started one. Thanks very much Avnar.

I want to bring you some news just coming in to CNN. You can add another name to a list of Republican candidates in next year's U.S.

presidential election, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says he'll join the growing field. You're currently looking at live pictures there

from Hope in Arkansas. These are live pictures of his announcement coming from his hometown of Hope.

He started out strong in 2008, if you'll remember, winning the Iowa Caucuses. This time around, he's certain to face a lot of fellow

Republicans vying for his core group of supporters: Evangelical Christians.

He joins, of course, as you know Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina among the contenders on the right. With others

expected to announce they are running in the days and weeks ahead.

And of course stay, talking of elections here in Britain. We are just a couple of days away from a vote that promises to be the closest in

decades. The ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour are in a dead heat. That's leaves a clutch of smaller parties vying really to be

potential kingmakers. And of course, CNN is the place for extensive coverage of the vote. We'll have live reports all this week. And then

special coverage on Thursday from the first vote that cast to when a new government takes shape.

We'll be awake throughout the night. That's all here right here on CNN.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. Coming up, Arab teens living in Israel through a camera lens. What does the age 18 mean

for young Israelis and Palestinians? That in tonight's parting shots in about 10 minutes from now.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:45:47] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I kept a secret radio in Sambisa. I would go hide in a corner of the forest at night and

listen to the news. And we hoped the soldiers were recapturing the towns from Boko Haram.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Nigeria's military makes headway in the fight against Boko Haram. And women like that one are suddenly free thanks to the offensive.

We have that story just ahead for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOARES: You are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. Welcome back to the show.

Now after seeing the group terrorize northern parts of the country, Nigeria's military is pressing its offensive against Boko Haram. And now

hundreds of women and girls have been rescued. What's more, some dramatic (inaudible) tells the story of how some have made a dash for freedom as

their captors fled a bombing campaign.

CNN's Diana Magnay is tracking all the latest developments on this story. And she joins us now from Johannesburg. And Diana, this is a very

different army from the badly equipped force we saw last year. What has changed?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. A number of factors have resulted in this turnaround where Boko Haram having been

very much let free to rampage across northeastern Nigeria is now very much on the back foot.

One of them was of course the involvement of the neighboring countries' militaries from the beginning of this year when Boko Haram

started really targeting Bagaa (ph) right in the north very close to all those countries, and also conducting cross border raids into Cameroon. And

then clearly Goodluck Jonathan realized that security was a key element in the election and decided to give a renewed impetus to his army and clearly

rearmed them, boosted their morale and interestingly, and I was just talking to the widow of a South African mercenary who was operating up in

the north of Nigeria and was killed up there, clearly there have been mercenaries who have gone in to help the Nigerian army also up their game

against Boko Haram.

And what we have now is a situation where they are targeting Boko Haram right in its very heart, in the Sambisa forest. And this

unprecedented situation where hundreds of girls and women and children have been freed after living in desperate conditions there. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:50:21] MAGNAY: Scenes of mayhem: these are aerials from the Nigerian military. Motorbikes and trucks filled with men, apparently Boko

Haram militants, weaving a frantic course through the trees as the air force bombs their camp. Later, groups on foot stream out of the village.

The army says they women and children held captive by Boko Haram.

Move now to camps for the internally displaced, some 700 rescued so far, the army says, in its ongoing assault on the Sambisa forest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The Boko Haram fighters said we should stand in front of them as human shields. We refused. Then

we started hearing bullets flying around. Then they ran off and left us alone.

MAGNAY: Amnesty estimates Boko Haram has taken as many as 2,000 captives since early last year alone, many of them clearly taken to the

massive Sambisa forest, an area twice the size of Belgium, where according to Nigerian superstition the dead go to live and where Boko Haram has made

its stronghold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We mothers were hungry, so we couldn't produce breast milk and so the children were hungry too. But

it's OK now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I kept a secret radio in Sambisa. I would go hide in the corner of the forest at night and listen

to the news and we heard the soldiers were recapturing the towns from Boko Haram. We were praying day and night for them to come save us.

MAGNAY: The truckloads keep coming. Women and children confused by this sudden change in their fortunes some injured in the fighting,

desperate for comfort.

But the fact the army is taking on Boko Haram in Sambisa is a sign of how far it's come from the demoralized badly equipped force, which this

time a year ago was failing against the militants. Aided by the contributions by Nigeria's neighbors in sending in their armies to join the

fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw them actually being able to cross over to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram elements. So it provided that flexibility.

And I think that's what has actually contributed to this operation that we are seeing now.

MAGNAY: So far none of those rescued are believed to be the Chibok girls, the group of more than 200 schoolgirls still held by Boko Haram.

But Sambisa is a vast forest, and with the Nigerians making headway there, there's reason to hope that these rescued women won't be the last.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MAGNAY: And Isa, we're also hearing from those girls reports that the Boko Haram militants who were holding them captive are arguing amongst

themselves that they've been complaining to their captives about a lack of ammunition, a lack of guns, a lack of gasoline. Clearly, the impact of all

the neighboring countries working together has lessened the flow of weapons to Boko Haram and that they were also complaining about their leadership

and saying that they were being forced to fight against their will in the name of religion, all of which are interesting stories and an interesting

morale boost, if that is indeed the case for the army as they continue this operation against Boko Haram -- Isa.

SOARES: Yeah, showing signs of fracturing right there.

Diana Magnay for us, thanks very much Diana.

Well, you are watching Connect the World live from London. Coming up, the complexities of an identity. A photographer takes us inside the lives

of Arab teens living in Israel. We'll have that story ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:26] SOARES: Now in tonight's Parting Shots we take a look at the lives of Arab teens living in Israel through the eyes of a

photographer. He focused on the age of 18. And tells us why that's such a pivotal age. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZLATAN VEAL (ph), PHOTOGRAPHER: My name is Zlatan Veal (ph). I'm originally from Israel living in New York for the past six years and I'm a

photographer.

I decided to focus on people that were 18 years old, 18 being the age that you graduate from high school in Israel. You're being acknowledged as

an adult in society and given the right to vote. But as opposed to a majority of the Jewish population that goes to the military, the majority

of the Arab people doesn't. So it's also the separation between societies.

The living conditions are very varied. You know, some have a very affluent life, some of them are not as privileged.

The relationship between the Arabs and the non-Arabs are pretty complex. It's again hard to characterize them one way or another.

We have here young men and women that have the Israeli citizenship, but a Muslim background. And obviously this also creates some kind of an

identity crisis, which some of them are experiencing.

They are much more proud of their Palestinian background as opposed to the other generation which would not necessarily emphasize it.

(inaudible) talks about reconciliation, about understanding (inaudible) about respecting the other and about trying to get closer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Well get in touch with us. Let us know what you think of the stories we've brought you this hour and follow the stories we're working on

throughout the day. Go to Facebook page, that's Facebook.com/CNNConnect. And you can tweet me @IsaCNN.

And that was Connect the World. Thank you very much for watching. I'm Isa Soares. CNN continues after this short break.

END