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U.N. Calls For Middle East Cease-Fire. Aired 1:09-2p ET

Aired May 20, 2021 - 13:09   ET



Here's what's coming up.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: What we must achieve is an immediate cease-fire.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): As the U.N. calls on Israelis and Palestinian militants to pull back from the brink, we get the latest from the Israeli

Defense Force.

Also ahead: what it's like to live in Gaza. I talk to a young woman about her daily life in the territory.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to say, enough.

GOLODRYGA: What is the world doing to broker peace? I'm joined by the Pakistani foreign minister, also former Republican Senator Jeff Flake on

the fight for an independent inquiry into the Capitol insurrection.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Is a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinian militants on the horizon? Hamas officials had said one could be brokered soon, but, today, Israeli

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel is prepared and ready to expand the campaign against Gaza as long as it's needed, adding: "We are taking

Hamas on a journey back in time, a journey from which we will not allow them to return."

International pressure is building on both sides to find a solution, as the death toll rises. At the United Nations General Assembly today, Secretary-

General Antonio Guterres called for immediate action.


GUTERRES: We know far too well that violence begets violence. The unconscionable death, suffering and destruction of the past 10 days only

serve to push the prospect of sustained peace further into the future.

A revitalized peace process is the only route to a just and lasting solution.


GOLODRYGA: Joining me now with the latest is IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus live from Tel Aviv.

Lieutenant Colonel, thank you so much for joining us on this very busy day today.


GOLODRYGA: We are hearing conflicting reports that a cease-fire is imminent, despite those words that we heard from your defense minister.

Can you give us the latest on when we can expect a cease-fire?


The latest today is about 300 rockets fired at Israeli civilians. That's the latest from my perspective. And, as long as there's rocket fire from

Gaza at our civilians, then surely you cannot expect any talk of cease- fire. But I will leave that to the Security Cabinet.

From a military perspective, we are ongoing -- operations are ongoing, planning is ongoing, and no indications of anything else.

GOLODRYGA: We just heard your ambassador to the United Nations address the General Assembly, also saying that he would like a cease-fire, that Israel

would like a cease-fire as well, but said that Israel is looking for a cure and not a Band-Aid.

So, what does a cure look like?

CONRICUS: Well, the cure would be a solution that puts significant limitations on Hamas' abilities to continue to produce weapons and to

continue to hold the Palestinians living in Gaza as hostage for their extremist ideas.

That would be a good step forward. And what we have been busy doing over the last 12 days of fighting has been degrading the military capabilities

of Hamas, focusing on their ability to produce rockets, and also on taking away from them perhaps the most important part of the infrastructure, the

underground infrastructure that they have spent many years building underneath the city of Gaza, essentially creating a city beneath a city.

That is what has allowed them to fight, to replenish their rockets, and to stay away from the aerial power -- airpower of Israel. And that's now being

degraded. And if time allows, we will continue to degrade that.

GOLODRYGA: And in terms of time allowing, United States President Joe Biden is reported to be impatient with Prime Minister Netanyahu in terms of

things quieting down and seeing a cease-fire.

When you're talking about time allowed, what is the window there, given the pressure that Israel is getting from its closest ally, the United States?

CONRICUS: Yes, of course, the ties with the with the U.S. are the most important international ally we have, and the communication on the elected

level are extremely important.

What I can tell you, from reality on the ground, from a military perspective, today, we thwarted several attacks against our civilians. We

thwarted several attempts to fire rockets and to fire anti-tank missiles at our troops and at Israeli civilians.

So, on the military level, really, the focus is on continued defense along the border, continued effective rocket defense against, again, 300 rockets

being fired only today. Lots of talk about cease-fire, yet Hamas continues to fire rockets at our civilians.

And for -- from our point of view, it's a very clear focus on continuing to defend against a ruthless and bloodthirsty terrorist organization that is

doing everything it can, including jeopardizing its own civilians, to attack ours.


GOLODRYGA: And no serious or credible person would argue that Israel does not have the right to self-defense. It's something that's echoed by the

president of the United States.

I think something that many are questioning now is proportionality. It's something that the U.N. ambassador just spoke about as well. And we're

looking at the numbers. We have over 200 Palestinian deaths, including 60 children, 12 Israelis killed, including two children, and many buildings

leveled in Gaza.

Your ambassador himself just said that Hamas rejoices and becomes emboldened with civilian casualties. So, are you not playing into their

hands by some of these strategic moves that you were making?

CONRICUS: Our aim is to attack the enemy and to degrade his military capabilities.

Our aim is also to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, any damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure. That is our moral compass. That is

our operational compass. And that is how we have conducted ourselves for decades, including in this operation.

To anybody who suggests otherwise, I suggest that they come see the level of detail in our planning and the execution of our missions, which really

guides us to apply the smallest amount of military power that we can in order to achieve our military goals.

We have great respect for the law of armed conflict. We comply. We are -- it compels us. And for anybody who thinks otherwise, I think that they are

misinformed, to say the least. And I assure you that we have two main focuses. One is to continue to defend our civilians against these wanton

rocket attacks that have been ongoing for 12 days.

And the second is to do it in the best, most professional and moral way possible.

GOLODRYGA: And yet we have just been showing our audience images from Gaza following in the aftermath of some of these attacks, and the debris that's

lying there on the street.

And some of these images is what has driven us to the point where many U.S. elected officials are now calling for a freeze to aid to Israel and

military aid. Senator Bernie Sanders today introduced a resolution disapproving of the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to


I mean, this would have been unheard of just a few years ago, many even questioning -- or some, not many -- on the Democratic side questioning

American aid in terms of the Iron Dome and that technology, which has really thwarted up to 90 percent of the rockets coming in from Gaza.

My question to you is, what is your response to those elected officials in the United States when you hear that?

CONRICUS: Well, it's not my business to be speaking with elected officials in any country, and, of course, not in the U.S.

But I think it is my business to state very clearly that specifically guided munitions and precision munitions, they are the ones that are saving

lives, because we do our best in order to strike military targets. And I hope that the viewers can also show the other footage that we have, which

shows exactly a rocket launcher that Hamas positioned in -- immediately close to a house, between a house and an agricultural area, a greenhouse,

and the way that we monitored it.

And we only decided to strike it once we knew that there were no civilians in the area. And we struck it with a precision-guided missile, making sure

that the launcher and only the launcher was hit.

That is the level of our commitment to accuracy and to minimizing collateral damage. But I think that the core issue here is how Hamas has

embedded itself within the civilian infrastructure and how Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as their human shields while they are attacking our


And I think that's the focus point that everybody should be looking at, not on Israeli tactics and not on how we operate, I can assure you that we do

our best, within the -- considering the constraints that we have, to limit civilian casualties.

But I think that the pressure should be on Hamas. I think that the condemnation should be on Hamas. And I think that the world, especially

peace-loving democratic countries, should stand behind Israel. They should be on the right side of things, and not do the populist, easy thing and

capitulate to moving pictures coming out of Gaza, without understanding and thinking what lies behind it, who has orchestrated the situation.

GOLODRYGA: And we have just shown that video that you describe there of the Hamas embedding itself near a school, as well as other civilian areas.

And, of course, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States as well.

So, no one -- no serious person, once again, is condoning Hamas' behavior.

I think, in terms of just the collateral on the ground and the cost to innocent lives amongst Palestinians, I will just be speaking after you to a

24-year-old Palestinian who's not a politician, who has never spoken out again, and says that she has been deprived of water now, many resources.


What is your message to her?

CONRICUS: So first of all, my message to her would be a message of compassion. I understand that the situation in Gaza is horrible. I

understand the suffering. I know it firsthand from my previous military experience. But I also know it from looking at the situation now.

However, there is -- there is the issue of responsibility. And it cannot be overlooked and it cannot be sugarcoated that Hamas is responsible for the

situation in Gaza.

Israel cannot be held responsible for the choices made by Gazans and the actions of Hamas, who are willingly, knowingly starving their own

civilians, depriving them of a lot of the humanitarian aid that is generously provided by the international community, siphoning off that aid

for military purposes, and instead focusing money, time and resources on military activities against Israel and trying to kill our civilians.

So, I feel compassion. All in Israel do. But it must be said and it must be clear Hamas should be held accountable for the situation. From our point of

view, that's a very clear thing.

GOLODRYGA: Unfortunately, we have been covering these cycles, and you have been living it, as Israelis and Palestinians as well, of these -- fighting

every few years. Something that that's a bit different this year and a bit more alarming is the infighting that we're seeing among Israeli Arabs and


I spoke with an Israeli journalist earlier this week who described it as a civil war. I'm wondering what your thoughts on -- are about that. And is

that more of an existential threat to the country of Israel, if you have fighting amongst Israelis?

CONRICUS: So, I will answer the question, but I just want to say one thing before.

Another thing that is alarming is the amount of rockets and the intensity of fire that Israel has come under, more than 4,300 rockets in just 12

days. That is much more than the last time, the last confrontation with Gaza in 2014. And it is indeed worrying to see how much Hamas has been able

to stockpile weapons and siphon international aid in order to -- for their military buildup.

Now, regarding your question, yes, that is concerning. Yes, this is something that the IDF, the senior command of the IDF, is concerned with.

But I, as an Israeli, have great faith in our institutions. I have great faith in Israeli people.

I have great faith in Israeli civilians of all backgrounds that people -- that cooler minds will prevail, that people will calm down, and not fall

victim to incitement and external factors, like Hamas, by the way, who was very quick to seize an opportunity and amplify incitement in social media

using various platforms in order to cause this kind of violence.

It's -- those are very worrying moments. But I think that correct movements made by leadership in Israel and some responsible leaders elsewhere can

take us to the right direction. And that's clearly what we hope for.

It's less of a military topic, but, since you asked, I'm more than happy to answer it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, thank you so much for your time, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

We all hope that things de-escalate quickly and that as much human life can be saved as possible. You are living side by side. These are your

neighbors. And it's unfortunate that Hamas is launching these rockets as well. And, obviously, we are seeing the carnage from that on the streets

there in Gaza. And it's devastating for all sides.

And we hope that it comes to an end soon. Thank you so much.

CONRICUS: Thank you very much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, we now want to look at what life has been like in Gaza during this crisis with Sarah Al Ramlawi. She is a 24-year-old woman who

lives in the territory. And she leads workshops to help young people develop their own professional skills.

Sarah Al Ramlawi, welcome to the program.

Sarah, I have been looking forward to this conversation with you, because we want to give our audience a sense of what life is like there in Gaza,

what this past week has been like for you. You are not an elected official. You are not a political voice. You are somebody who would like to focus on

her career and not talk about this.

Tell us what this past week has been like.

SARAH AL RAMLAWI, RESIDENT OF GAZA: Thank you for having me first.

Well, the past few weeks were really like hell in Gaza. It's at least to be called -- what's happening in Gaza is at least to be called a genocide. The

Israeli forces is actually attacking -- like, civilians and their home. They attack -- they're destroying the infrastructure. They are destroying,

like, the businesses of people.

They are destroying schools, literally everything. So, no one is able to -- actually to predict when it's going to be dead. And, like, it's really hard

to describe how we feel here. But it's just like -- like someone is, like, shooting -- bring a gun into your head, but you're not knowing when you're

actually is going to -- he will actually pull the trigger.


This is how Palestinian actually right now feel, especially with, like, the number of -- like, the huge number of innocent people, children, women who

have been killed. Right now, like, it's more than 230 people who were killed by the Israeli, like, bombing. And, like, more than 65 -- 65 of them

are children.

And I don't know why they call us as collateral damage, but it is actually very intentional. And, like, two days ago, there was bombing in my

neighborhood. And, actually, there was like a massacre. They bombed like two buildings and four floors on the head of their people. And there are

like 42 people who have been killed. Half of them were children. The other half were women.

And they had nothing to do with Hamas. Hamas doesn't actually use us as a human shield or anything. We are just people sitting in their home, not

knowing where to go, because we are been under the blockade for years, now for more than 15 years. We are not able to go out. We're not -- no one is

allowed to get -- and we don't have shelters, like the Israeli do.

And we don't have any defense. Like, when Hamas actually throw rockets to the Israeli side, they call it a terrorist attack, while -- but not self-

defense. So, we need to give a context of what's happening here. It's really undescribable. It is at least to be called genocide.

GOLODRYGA: I am not sure if you heard my conversation with Lieutenant Colonel Conricus there in the IDF just before this.

But he showed video of what appeared to be a Hamas rocket launcher situated right next to a school in a civilian area. And this is something that they

describe happens regularly and that they are targeting Hamas and Hamas is infiltrating itself among civilians.

What is your counter to that? And are you sure that that's not the case?

AL RAMLAWI: It's absolutely not the case.

Like, Hamas is trying to get into military-related targets, but here, like, all of the people that have been killed are actually civilians. They have

been targeting schools. A lot of people have lost their businesses, the way that they get actually money, especially with the high rate of unemployment

here in Gaza.

They're bombing a school, even, like, hospitals. Like, they have bombed hospitals which, like, people are trying to help people who are under

attack. A lot of people have lost their homes. More than 200 family are now homeless, without any home, because of the Israeli bombing, claiming that

it has something to do with Hamas, which is not true.

All -- like, I have been living in Gaza for more than 24 years. And all that I see from the Israeli forces is anguish and death and killing,

bombing. I have never seen any support and any compassion of any kind. They actually control everything gets in or out of Gaza. They control the amount

of food. They control all the equipment, the medical equipment actually getting in Gaza.

We have a huge lack in this medical equipment to actually heal people. Also, they are -- actually, there's no access to clear water. Like, seven -

- 97 percent of the water are toxic in Palestine. More than 24 percent of the diseases -- all the diseases in Gaza are caused by this polluted water.

And we are not -- we are living in a shortage of electricity. We only have four hours of electricity a day. And it is like -- it is not the first time

that Israeli actually break all the international laws, I mean, human rights, bombing Gaza, bombing civilians, killing them.

They don't care. And let's responsibly claim that they're doing that because of Hamas. Well, in 2018, a lot of people got to protest on the

fence of Gaza for the Great March of Return, and they have nothing. There was no rockets targeting Israel. And people were armless.

They only have rocks. And there have been 250 people who have been killed. Like, half of them were children. A lot of people -- more than 90,000

people were injured. And their injuries were very huge, that they actually have been -- a lot of people became disabled and paralyzed.


GOLODRYGA: Sarah, if I can -- if I can just step in, because it's -- there's no doubt that this is a humanitarian crisis. And it's in the midst

of a pandemic as well. And far fewer Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, have been vaccinated than we have seen in neighboring Israel.

But my question to you is about leadership. Hamas was elected by the citizens of Gaza. They have been in power there for many, many years. And

what responsibility -- in any other country, in these circumstances, it's not just external faults.


There would be many to blame, the internal government for not doing more and not allocating more resources to secure jobs, to secure better

education, to secure more resources. Does none of this fault lie with Hamas itself?

RAMLAWI: Well, actually, Hamas -- the only one responsible of what is happening in the humanitarian condition in Gaza is only Israel. Because

Israel is controlling the border, controlling everything that gets in or out of Gaza, they're controlling who gets in, who gets out. Even the

medical equipment, they limit the medical equipment that comes in here. If people want to go out just to have medical treatment outside, they are not

allowing them.

And like it's not the responsibility of Hamas because Hamas doesn't even have the resources to help the people. And, like, we have like 2 million

people living in 20 miles under attack. I mean, we're talking about -- let's say it's not even a conflict. It's an occupation and Israel came and

got (ph) our land in 1948. So, it's not --

GOLODRYGA: But, Sarah, I'm talking about the present day and Hamas seems to have enough resources for rockets. So, my question to you, we've just

had a full conversation with the IDF spokesperson about the pressure on them to de-escalate and to call for a cease-fire, which everyone is hoping

will happen sooner rather than later. But in terms of what can be done to help you on the ground there from your own leadership, Hamas has money for

thousands of rockets.

RAMLAWI: Well, let's say -- let's get this clear. We have been living under the occupation, under the oppression of Israeli occupation the whole

of our life. It's not the first time. Since the moment I've been born there was always oppression, killing, death, bombing.

And to be honest, no one in the international community has stood up to defend us and this has been happening like for more than 70 years and my

ancestors have been expelled of their house, have been killed, have been -- like a lot of massacres have been committed to them and no one have stood

for us. No one has stopped the Israeli oppression, but when Hamas come and defend the Palestinians and actually -- Hamas is defending the Palestinians

by throwing rockets because the only ones defending (INAUDIBLE) is Hamas.

And like all of the other governments are not standing by our sides and they're just watching us die and not saying any word about that. So, what I

see is Hamas doing is actually self-defense. It's not a terrorist attack. The only terrorist here is the Israeli occupation.

GOLODRYGA: And of course, here we are in this back and forth because the Israelis would counter that. But let me get back to you and sort of finish

our conversation about what lies ahead for you. You're 24. You're bright. You're involved in the tech sector. You've got your whole life ahead of

you. And what are you going to be focusing on now? What's next for you in terms of moving forward in trying to accomplish your dreams?

RAMLAWI: Well, the first thing is actually to show the reality, the truth about what does it mean to be a Palestinian and living in Palestine to the

whole world because I know that the Israeli propaganda has been showing us as people who doesn't have, like, living in a desert with -- like I know

like the Israeli propaganda is showing us in a false image, but what I'm going to be focusing on is showing the real image of the Palestinians here

in Gaza.

Showing that we have talents, that we have great people and we have -- and the only -- why we are actually suffering is because of the Israeli

occupation, it's not from Hamas and we have been suffering for years, and this is what I will be focusing on. And also, like trying to help the best

I can just to help them acknowledge their talent and tell them to improve their skills in order to have more jobs and start their career with their

like local or international market.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Sarah Al Ramlawi, thank you so much. I hope Hamas leadership will also praise and highlight people like you and your

leadership in the future going forward instead of constantly barraging rockets as well. And hopefully, the two sides can come to a cease-fire and

you can flourish in your career and life and your family can stay safe. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

RAMLAWI: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, as we said earlier, the U.N. General Assembly gathered to describe this crisis. Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi,

took to the podium to demand aid to be allowed into Gaza and called for an end to "Israeli aggression."


SHAH MEHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: A just solution for Palestine is imperative for the maintenance of regional and global peace

and security. Clearly, the onus for restoring peace rests on Israel.



AMANPOUR: And the Pakistani foreign minister joins me now from New York.

Mr. Minister, thank you so much for joining us.

It has been a very busy day. From your end, do you hear any talks about a possible cease-fire coming any time soon?

QURESHI: I am convinced the tide is turning. I am convinced the public pressure. The pressure of public opinion is mounting and cease-fire is

inevitable. Israel is losing out. They're losing the media of war despite their connections. They are losing the media war. The tide is turning.

GOLODRYGA: What are their connections?

QURESHI: Deep pockets.

GOLODRYGA: What does that mean?

QURESHI: Well, they're very influential people. I mean, they control media.

GOLODRYGA: I mean, I would call that an anti-Semitic remark.

QURESHI: Well, you see, the point is, they have a lot of influence, and they get a lot of coverage. Now, what has balanced that is the citizen

journalist who has been reporting, sharing with your clips, and that has jolted people and that has woken up people and people who are sitting on

the fence are today speaking up.

Do you see how in different capitals of the world, in London, in Madrid, you know, Michigan, Chicago, every place from Sydney to the European

capitals, people have come out and saying, put an end to this insanity. They're calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Now, the Security Council has failed in forging a joint statement and coming out with a joint statement and forging a consensus. The General

Assembly is giving a clear message to the Security Council, it is your prime responsibility to ensure peace and security. Please live up to the

U.N. charter.

GOLODRYGA: But, Mr. Ambassador, can we not separate the fact that there are calls for peace and for equal human rights for both sides, for

Palestinians and for Israelis without anti-Semitic talk and rhetoric? And we are seeing an know crease in anti-Semitism around the world, many of

these protests are showing signs and images of anti-Semitism, as well. Shouldn't you be condemning that?

QURESHI: I will not justify any rocket attacks and I cannot justify and I cannot condone the aerial bombardment that is taking place. What I'm saying


GOLODRYGA: What about anti-Semitism and rockets and what about Hamas's role in stopping the rockets?

QURESHI: I am saying when you do not engage, when there are no negotiations, when there's occupation, when there's genocide, when there's

war crime, when there's ethnic cleansing, then an extremist element takes advantage of that situation. Avoid it. How do you avoid it? You avoid it by

pursuing a two-state solution, by adhering to the Security Council resolutions, respecting them, implementing them, fulfilling the promises

that have been made and have been often broken.

So, I believe that the answer is Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and can only be done through a two-state solution, through

negotiations, by cessation of hostilities and cease-fire is the first step in that direction.

GOLODRYGA: Does that include condemning anti-Semitism and condemning statements --

QURESHI: I am not justifying any of that.

GOLODRYGA: You began this conversation. I am so sorry. There are so many things I want to talk to you about. But I am personally offended as a

journalist, you began this conversation by saying that Israel --- suggesting that Israel has "close friends and powerful friends in the

media." That is an anti-Semitic trope.

QURESHI: No. No. What I am saying is the perception. Look at the perception the world has. You cannot ignore that, ma'am.

GOLODRYGA: But that's a wrong perception.

QURESHI: It would be wrong, but that's the perception. Negate it. Negate it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, someone -- but someone --

QURESHI: By giving a balanced coverage, negate it.

GOLODRYGA: The onus is not on those being who are accused of things that aren't true. It's on people like you in powerful positions to say that

that's wrong.


QURESHI: Well, what we are saying what is wrong is wrong, and I am not shying away from that. What I am saying is this insanity must come to an

end. We must promote dialogue. We must sit and talk and we must promote peace. Israelis and Palestinians, everybody, has a right to live. They have

a right to protect their children.

Look at what's happening. 230 innocent people have been killed. More than 50,000 people have been displaced. You know, 50 schools have been bombed.

Hospitals have been targeted. Red Cross has been targeted. The A.P. Office, you know, media outlets have been targeted. And what you're saying is, OK,

if you think there was Hamas's presence there, why don't you have an independent investigation?

GOLODRYGA: Well, I believe that Israel did provide some information and shared intelligence with the U.S. But let's go back to the other side

because there are obviously Israeli casualties as well. And I keep bringing this up because if you're going to be an honest broker, then you have to

approach something like this objectively and that doesn't seem to be the place where you're coming from.

QURESHI: Well, I am objective and I would want to be objective. Loss of life, I will not condone. Every life, every human life is important for me.

GOLODRYGA: And what about -- so you can agree -- we can agree that Palestinian lives and Israeli lives are equally important?

QURESHI: Very important, yes, they are.

GOLODRYGA: So, let me move on to another area and that is the Uighurs and the Muslim community there and some 2 million Uighurs, many in the U.S. and

many other countries around the world are calling their treatment genocide. And I'm wondering why we're not hearing the same from your government?

QURESHI: Well, my government has always spoken with frankness. You know, China is a very good friend of Pakistan. They've stood by us through thick

and thin, and we have means of communication and we use our diplomatic channels. We do not discuss everything in public.

GOLODRYGA: But China being your friend aside and I know China provides a lot of aid, you can't just turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in one

country when we've spent --

QURESHI: Nobody is. Nobody is.

GOLODRYGA: So, is something being -- are there discussions behind the scenes? Is your prime minister --

QURESHI: Ma'am, there's always a way of doing things, and we are not oblivious of our responsibilities.

GOLODRYGA: So, what needs to be done then, to the Uighur community around the world that is listening to you spend a lot of time talk about human

rights in Gaza, question about their same legitimacy to human right, as well?

QURESHI: Well, we have been advocating for human rights, whether they are in Gaza or in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Look at the atrocities that have

committed in Kashmir. Does the world talk about it? How many people have talked about it, you know? Let's be fair. You know, let's have a fair

assessment of how much coverage has that got?

GOLODRYGA: Mr. Ambassador, I do want to turn to the pandemic, and we'll end --

QURESHI: Foreign Minister. I'm not ambassador.

GOLODRYGA: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Mr. Foreign Minister, let me turn to the pandemic and ask about the latest of wave that we've seen in your country,

in Pakistan. We've seen a number of increased number of cases there and deaths. What is being done? How alarming is that? And what does the country

need to help in this fight?

QURESHI: Bianna, to begin with, Pakistan has managed under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan the first wave and the second wave reasonably

well. We're in the midst of our third wave. Now, if we draw a comparison of the situation in Pakistan and next door, you know, look at the situation on

the -- you know, what our eastern neighbor is facing, there is a huge difference. You know, there are over 4,000 casualties on a daily basis. We

have --

GOLODRYGA: There's no winner. I'm not pitting you against India. I'm saying that every loss of life is a tragedy.

QURESHI: Absolutely it's a tragedy and we are sympathetic and we offered. We offered help. You know, I offered help. We said, listen, these are human

lives. We are in the same region. We are willing to help. They do not respond but our offer still stands.


What we are doing is, we are doing our best to bring the positivity down and what we need right now is vaccine. We have -- we've been gifted vaccine

by China. We have bought vaccine, but the vaccine that was promised to us through COVAX did not come in time and what we need is inoculations to

protect our people, the marginalized people, you know, the paramedic, the doctors, you know, the people who are on the front line. So, that the

process is going on. The numbers are increasing, but we need help.

GOLODRYGA: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for your time. I would just ask you personally to please avoid using anti-Semitic tropes

that you use at the beginning of our conversation. I think they are very --

QURESHI: I have never been anti-Semitic and I'll never willing be.

GOLODRYGA: OK. We'll leave it there. Thank you so much.

Well, let's return to the Israel-Gaza conflict. At the end of the day, it's the kids that really do matter. Correspondent Arwa Damon introduces us to a

10-year-old girl in Gaza. And she describes what she is forced to face. Take a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's name is Nana (ph).


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (Voice over): It's the juxtaposition that is perhaps the most jarring. Between the clips Nadine,

an aspiring social media influencer, used to post about her life, often featuring her younger brother, Jut. And the clip that was posted of her

that went viral.

ABDULLATIEF: You see all of this, what do you expect me to do? Fix it? I'm only 10. I can't even deal with this anymore. I just want to be a doctor or

anything to help my people, but I can't. I'm just a kid.

DAMON: She is just a kid, but at the same time, she's not. Not anymore.

ABDULLATIEF: Are you having fun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Let's go.

ABDULLATIEF: No, it's OK. It's OK. It's OK. It's not near us. I promise. I promise. I promise.

I was not laughing because it was funny. I was laughing because I was trying to keep my brother calm down. I love you.


ABDULLATIEF: We are back again here, and this is all the stuff we got for the school.

DAMON: This is what they should have been getting ready for. Instead --

ABDULLATIEF: This is my bag in case anything happens or our house gets exploded. I don't really care about any of those things that are in the bag

I just said. I care about family. I care about other people and that's it. When the explosion happens, we all hang out in this room. It's better to

die all of us together.

This is where the explosion at, see right there. There is an ambulance. And I think that's a house.

This is the five-month-old. He's the only survivor.

DAMON: Of course, Nadine gets scared, her mother says, she covers her fear for her brother.

ABDULLATIEF: I love potatoes. This is like breakfast/dinner.

DAMON: Nadine's mother watches her family as if she's quietly relishing in the laughter of the younger generations. Her laughter is more precious in

times like this. When you know, even if you are just a kid, that it can end at any moment. Arwa Damon, CNN.


GOLODRYGA: In the end, it's always -- it is the children that suffer and all we want to see are those smiles on their faces. Our thanks to Arwa


Well, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council of Foreign Ministers in Iceland, the U.S. secretary of state and Russian foreign minister sat down

together for the first time since the start of the Biden administration. Ahead of that meeting, Antony Blinken voiced concerns about Russia's

military buildup in the Arctic region. Russia has significantly expanded its Arctic footprint, building 500 military installations over the last few

years. Our Frederik Pleitgen got a rare look at a Russian air base in the Arctic.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The course due north flying for hours to Russia's northernmost military installation.

Moscow granted us a rare visit to its base on Franz Josef Land, a barren archipelago in the Arctic Ocean which Russia believes is key to dominating

the Arctic.


This entire air base is covered in ice. And yet, the Russians have managed to extend the runway to a point that they can land their heaviest aircraft

here including strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The effort Moscow is making to upgrade its Arctic bases is massive. Inside the modern housing complex called the Trefoil, the air commander confirms

to me that even Russia's dangerous Tu-95 strategic bombers, a plane similar in size to the U.S.'s B-52s can now operate out of the airfield here.

Of course, they can, he says. Have a look. We can land all types of aircraft on the space. A chilling prospect for the U.S. and its allies

considering Franz Josef Land is only about 160 miles east of NATO territory. That's well within range of these powerful coastal defense

rockets the Russians also showed us. They're capable of hitting ships more than 200 miles off the coast. A threat that worries the U.S.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have concerns about some of the increased military activities in the Arctic. That increases the dangers

or prospects of accidents, miscalculations.

PLEITGEN: The main reason yet standoff between the U.S. and Russia is heating up in the Arctic is climate change. As polar ice melts, the region

is becoming more accessible and Russia is moving fast to stake its claims. Much of that effort is led from here, the headquarters of the northern

fleet in the closed military town of Severomorsk, which we also got access to.

Russia has been upgrading its fleet up here for years. Its flagship is the Peter the Great nuclear battle cruiser outfitted with an array of weapons

to hit targets on sea and land and fight off planes and submarines. Russia has a clear strategy up here in the Arctic and essentially revolves around

three different things. On the one hand, a very strong military, then dominating the northern sea route and also tapping and exploiting natural


And Russia is warning the U.S. and its allies not to mess with that plan.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It has been absolutely clear to everyone for a long time that this is our territory, this is our land and

we are responsible for our Artic coasts to be safe. Everything that our country does there is absolutely legitimate.

PLEITGEN: Rhetoric that increasingly has the U.S. and Russia on a collision course in the high north with Moscow so far in a stronger

position. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Severomorsk, Russia.


GOLODRYGA: And our thanks to Fred for that.

Well, we turn now to COVID. The U.K. health secretary says more people need to be vaccinated for the government to be confident in allowing

international travel. While some restrictions are being lifted, health officials are studying the threat of the COVID variant first detected in

India. Scott McLean has the details.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the banks of the Ganges River, bodies wash up daily. Victims authorities believe of COVID-19, the overwhelmed

health care system unable to care for them and the packed crematoriums unable to take their bodies when they die. India's newfound misery is

thanks in part to a faster spreading COVID variant that's quickly making its way around the world, leading to lineups of people hoping to get

vaccinated in the U.K. where it's fast becoming the dominant strain.

It seems like the U.K.'s path to normality is in jeopardy.

JEFF BARRETT, DIRECTOR, SANGER INSTITUTE COVID-19 GENOMICS INITIATIVE: I think we do have to look very carefully at what happens in the next few


MCLEAN: Dr. Jeff Barrett runs the industrial scale COVID-19 genetic sequencing operation at the British Sanger Institute which help spot the

fast-spreading U.K. variant, B117, but could not prevent the massive spike in cases that followed.

Are you sensing a little bit of deja vu here?

BARRETT: Yes. I have to admit that I didn't think I was going to see these kinds of curves happen again. So, because there isn't that much, you know,

sequencing in India, we haven't been sort of carefully watching this variant in the same way. And so, I think that does mean we're slightly

playing catch-up now.

MCLEAN: There are 26 genetic mutations which make this variant different from the original virus. Now, more of them are pretty benign but there are

five, Dr. Barrett says, that could help the virus spread more easily. This one is also found in the U.K. variant and this one is shared with the

California variant. It helps the virus bind more easily with human cells. There are also two suspicious deletions of DNA parts which may change the

shape of the virus and then there are these two, which Dr. Barrett says scientists honestly don't know that much about.

Now, there is no evidence that any of these changes make the virus more deadly. But there is concern that some, especially this one, may reduce the

effectiveness of vaccines.

BARRETT: I think, at worst, it will be slightly less probably neutralized by vaccines. But there's really no evidence at all that it could

fundamentally escape or that the vaccines will be not effective at all.

MCLEAN: It sounds reassuring, but it won't help those who haven't got the vaccine at all. The British health secretary says in one community most

people hospitalized with the new variant declined to get the shot when they were offered it.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: And it underlines again the importance of getting the jab.

MCLEAN: Despite infections of the new variant doubling in just one week, restrictions on indoor gatherings were eased in England on Monday. But now,

the British prime minister is warning the final step towards normality may have to be delayed depending on exactly how transmissible this variant

turns out to be.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If it's at the higher end, then, you know, we will certainly have to think about what extra measures we need

to take to protect the public.

MCLEAN: Scott McLean, CNN, London.


GOLODRYGA: And finally, we leave the drama of the world and head to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, which is getting ready to open

its doors to the public tomorrow after being closed for six months.

And in preparation, the zoo gave a sneak peek of their giant pandas this morning. Spotted were Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji. The

adorable 8-month-old baby panda will be on view for the very first time. However, the zoo warns excited have visitors that Xiao Qi Ji is still young

and just likes to sleep a lot during the day. But it does bring a smile to our face and we sure need one today.

Well, that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, around social media as well. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye

from New York.