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Israel Vowing To Expand Military Operations In The City Of Rafah; Russia Expected To Attempt New Offensive By May; Frustration In Ukraine As U.S. Congress Stalls On Aid; Michigan Holds Presidential Primaries On Tuesday; Mexico City Faces Severe Water Shortages; Thousands Rally In Support of Bolsonaro Amid Legal Probe. Gang Leader's Escape Shines Light of Nation's Prison System; Many of Gaza's Cultural Landmarks, Treasures Destroyed; Xi Vows to Control Taiwan Echoing Putin's Ukraine Ambition; Scientists Discover Massive Black Hole; Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool Farewell Tour Visits Wembley. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company. Coming up on CNN Newsroom. As hostage talks resume in Qatar, Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israeli forces will move into wrap up with or without a deal.

Ukraine marks its third year of war with a warning. President Zelenskyy says quote minions will be killed if his country does not receive crucial U.S. aid.

And the source of the biggest known object in the universe and the brightest. I'll speak to a scientist involved in the discovery of the largest black hole on record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: And we begin in the Middle East where talks are expected to resume in the coming hours in Qatar to try to secure the release of more hostages from Gaza in exchange for a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

A senior White House official says negotiations have come to an understanding on the broad outline of a potential deal. Today's working level talks will likely focus on ironing out technical details. This comes as the Israeli military has presented the country's war cabinet with an operational plan as it's been called to evacuate civilians from fighting areas in the south of Gaza.

But that plan announced by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office a short time ago, does not specifically mentioned Rafah where Israel has been planning that potential ground offensive. CNN has not seen a copy of the plan as of yet. More than a million perhaps a million and a half people are believed

to be sheltering in the rougher area, most of them displaced from other parts of Gaza. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has been following the developments and has more from Tel Aviv.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly does seem to be a guarded sense of optimism about the state of these negotiations from both Israeli and American officials in the wake of that summit in Paris that saw Israeli American Egyptian and Qatari intelligence officials all getting together to try and move forward these negotiations, which if you remember, last week, were really at a standstill.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Adviser saying that negotiators in Paris appear to have reached an understanding on the contours of a potential deal, the Israeli prime minister for his part, not providing many details, but saying that he believes that a deal can be achieved, but saying that it rests on Hamas moving off of what he called their delusional demands.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISREALI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm not sure the exact duration, but I can tell you that we're all working on it. We want it, I want it. Because we want to liberate the remaining hostages. We've already brought half of them back. And I appreciate the effort, the combined effort of Israel, the United States to bring back the remaining hostages.

I can't tell you if we'll have it. But if Hamas goes down from its delusional claims and goes down, can bring them down to earth, then we'll have the progress that we all want.

DIAMOND: And there certainly there seems to be some momentum behind these negotiations. Israel is set to send a delegation to Doha, Qatar on Monday to continue these negotiations. We understand that these will be working level officials working out some of the technical issues with this negotiation.

But even as these negotiations continue to advance, the Israeli prime minister is making it crystal clear that he will move forward with a military offensive in Rafah if there is no deal. We have heard from other members of the Israeli government that that offensive could come as soon as the beginning of Ramadan, which is the second week of March and the Israeli prime minister also making clear that he's in the process of reviewing plans for that offensive as well as for the potential evacuation of civilians from that city.

And that's a critical issue. Of course, we have heard American officials talking about that abundantly. One and a half million Palestinians are currently sheltering in that southernmost city of Gaza. So far, the Israeli government has yet to present any of its plans for how it will evacuate so many people from that area, how it will provide for them shelter, food, et cetera, in other parts of the Gaza Strip. These are all looming questions of course, as these negotiations still continue. Jeremy Diamond CNN, Tel Aviv. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now the death toll from this conflict also rising outside of Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says more than 400 Palestinians have now been killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since October 7, either by Israeli forces or by settlers.


That would include three Palestinians killed in the Jenin refugee camp this past week, which the IDF confirmed as part of what it described as a counterterrorism raid. Our Nic Robertson met with the father of slain Palestinian American teen Tawfic Abdel Jabbar who was shot in the West Bank last month. His father says the family is still struggling for answers and trying to bring the person responsible for his son's killing to justice.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is where Tawfic was shot.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): An American father Hafeth Abdel Jabbar showing us his family land where he says his son was murdered by an Israeli settler in January.

JABBAR: He wasn't going to do anything well, simply a barbecue Friday prayer and come back home. And he's not a terrorist. He's an American Palestinian kid full of life, wanted to do so much in his life.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): His son Tawfic was 17 years old, studying towards his dream job, NASA engineer. The family left Louisiana last spring, returning temporarily to their roots in the occupied West Bank.

They visited their ancestral hilltop village home most years.

ROBERTSON: All around the village, there are murals of Tawfic remembered, immortalized and underneath it says the smiling martyr.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Tawfic's trauma increasingly common in the West Bank.

ROBERTSON: And this is getting worse and worse as October 7th.

JABBAR: It's getting worst since October 7th. Way worse.

ROBERTSON: They're turning it more likely to Gaza.

JABBAR: Exactly. They want to turn it to Gaza. You see the bullet?

ROBERTSON: Yes. ROBERTSON (voice-over): A month after Tawfic's death, Hafeth is struggling to get justice. The single shot that killed his son an exploding bullet entering the back of his head clear in the CT scan of his brain. Photos of the crime scene and an investigation by the Palestinian Authority document 10 shots.

Video shows what Hafeth says is a soldier taking the final shot. And I witnessed as a settler took the first shot. Israeli investigators say an off duty police officer and an off duty soldier will also present at the time of Tawfic's killing, but have yet to charge any of them. They say the investigation is ongoing.

JABBER: That's the problem that I'm facing right now that we all face in here, that when they do such a thing, and they're not stopped and they're not questioned. It's OK for them to do it again and again and again. And that's what keeps happening here. This is not the first kid that got shot and killed in the same area.

SARI BASHI, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Since October 7th nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers. There are currently 9,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons and jails.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Sari Bashi is an Israeli human rights expert living in the West Bank has been tracking Israeli security force tactics there for more than a decade. Hamas is brutal October 7th attack she believes became a watershed for unprecedented Israeli violence in the West Bank.

BASHI: We have seen things piloted in Gaza and later moved to the West Bank in terms of the levels of violence, the airstrikes, the drone strikes in Gaza, are starting to become much more frequent in the West Bank.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And not just more aggressive and more frequent, but more audacious too, not to mention possibly illegal according to U.N. experts, like this covert Israeli Special Forces up in a hospital that killed three militants believed to be planning an attack. The hospital says the man was sleeping when shot.

IDF diggers gouging up West Bank streets, rendering them unusable akin to Gaza's battle torn thoroughfares also deepens fears, the West Bank is worsening. The impact of Israel's actions according to respected Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki is enabling groups like Hamas.

KHALIL SHIKAKI, PALESTINIAN POLLSTER: The West Bank is becoming more militant today than Gaza was before the war or today.

ROBERTSON: Because of what the Israeli government is doing.

SHIKAKI: Because of what the Israeli government is doing, what the Army is doing and what the settlers are doing.

JABBAR: Why are we supporting such a regime like that?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hafeth is angry President Joe Biden isn't doing more to pressure Israel to rein in radical settler leaders like Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose party has called for the annexation of the West Bank. The Israeli government maintains its military operations only target terror suspects. But settler violence has spiraled in recent months.


JABBAR: These are officials on TV from the Israeli government's making these comments and passing weapons from Ben-Gvir all to these settlers. That's why they feel like they can do anything without being charged or without being stopped.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): impunity that is repping irreversibly through his family.

JABBAR: How can they forget their brother? Can they ever forget thy brother? Can they ever figure out who shot their brother? No. When I told my wife I want to have another Tawfic. And I want to my oldest son to get married and have another Tawfic.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Across the square from his family home that predates Israel's creation by more than 70 years, is the town cemetery, where Tawfic is buried. Feed for him to have half as his uncle's, whom he says were killed by settlers 36 years ago.

JABBAR: That's a message to them, to the Israeli government. We're not going nowhere. Even if you put all of us we're here. Generations will come and for you this country from your life.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Defiance. Yes. But beneath it a father struggling.

JABBAR: When do I see him again? When do I see my 17 years old again? When do I get to see him again? That's the minute that I write and I think about. I don't think about money. I don't think about businesses anymore. I don't think about anything else other than when do I see my son again.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Nic Robertson, CNN, the West Bank.


HOLMES: The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning that Moscow could attempt a new offensive in a matter of months as the war enters its third year.

The Ukrainian leader says his troops will prepare for that possibility even as they face ongoing attacks, including a wave of strikes over the weekend. But Ukraine's efforts on the battlefield are being hampered severely by a diminishing supply of ammunition and weapons.

And Ukraine's defense minister says as the fighting grinds on half of Western arms deliveries to Ukraine do not arrive on time. Now that aid is critical, of course to Ukraine's fight and it has stalled in the U.S. Congress by Republicans.

And on Tuesday, President Joe Biden is preparing to meet with the top four congressional leaders as the White House pushes for action.

Meanwhile, a rare admission from Zelenskyy on the human toll the war has taken on his country's military. The Ukrainian president says 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in the war with Russia and disputed Russian claims of much higher casualty numbers.

He also said tens of thousands of civilians have died in territory occupied by Russian forces. CNN cannot independently verify those numbers. And Mr. Zelenskyy is warning that number will only increase without further U.S. military aid now stalled as we said in Congress by Republicans. He spoke about that was seen as Kaitlan Collins. She has the details from Kyiv.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: In our one on one interview with President Zelenskyy, he really laid out the stakes for what is on the ground here going to happen in Ukraine if they don't get any more aid from the United States. Of course, right now, it is at a complete standstill in the U.S. Congress House Republicans blocking that package that was passed by the Senate with $60 billion in aid for Ukraine.

We asked President Zelenskyy specifically about some criticism that has come from senators who blocked that, including Senator JD Vance.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I'm not sure that he understands what's going on here. And we don't need any rhetorical from people who are not deeply in the, you know, in the war, so to understand that it is to come to the frontline to see what's going on to speak with people than to go to civilians to understand what will be with them, and that what will be done without this support. And he will understand that millions people been killed, will be killed.

COLLINS: If he doesn't understand it.

ZELENSKYY: Because he doesn't understand it. Of course. God bless you don't have the war on your territory.

COLLINS: President Zelenskyy saying that millions of lives of Ukrainian lives will be at stake if there is no more aid coming from the United States making clear what a difference he believes it is made on the battlefield, not just what it would do in the future, but what it has done for Ukraine in these last two years since Russia invaded and of course, the stakes could not be clearer for them.

But what he also said there at the end of that moment was talking about how these are the decision makers in the United States.


Including people like Senator JD Vance, House Speaker Mike Johnson, who President Zelenskyy noted that he had met with previously and saying that he had no choice but to trust him when it came to what's going to happen with this aid to Ukraine. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Republicans and Democrats will hold primaries in Michigan on Tuesday. All lines though, will be on the GOP race. Donald Trump winning South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday with nearly 60 percent of the vote, while rival Nikki Haley got just over 39 percent.

The influential Koch network says it will now stop donating to Haley's presidential bid and shift its focus to House and Senate races. Here's what the Republican governor of Texas predicts.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) TEXAS: You can see the trajectory that President Trump is on and after defeating Nikki Haley so badly in South Carolina. He's on a pathway to win these other states win Super Tuesday and be able to have the nomination clenched by the middle part of March. And listen, the party is far more unified behind President Trump at this particular time that has been in any other race that he's had.


HOLMES: But Haley insists she is staying in the race through that multistate Super Tuesday vote on March the fifth, just over a third of the delegates required for the presidential nomination are assigned that day. She also argues that her South Carolina vote total shows Republican support for Trump is by no means universal.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at those first early states. They can say Donald Trump won. I give him that. But he as a Republican incumbent didn't get 40 percent of the vote of the primary. He's not going to get the 40 percent if he is not willing to change and do something that acknowledges the 40 percent. And why should the 40 percent has to keep to him.


HOLMES: Mexico City residents are struggling amid severe water shortages with experts warning the region could run out of drinking water in the coming months. We'll have that after the break.

Also, the streets of Sao Paulo turn into a sea of yellow in a show of support for the former Brazilian President accused of trying to stage a coup. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Mexico City is facing a severe water crisis the city struggling to cope after years of low rainfall blamed on climate change, chaotic urban growth and outdated infrastructure. Now authorities have introduced significant restrictions on water pump from reservoirs. Gustavo Valdes with the details.



GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lorena La Cruz (ph) knows she's breaking the law every time she pulls water from these underground reservoir. She says it is a miracle the city tank has water and without it, the whole neighborhood would suffer because they've got no running water for over a month. And the city she says still wants them to pay for the service.

Lorena (ph) and her neighbors are not the only ones struggling to find water for their basic needs. All 21 million residents in Mexico City's metropolitan area are experiencing shortages in part because of a severe drought.

Mexico's capital gets its water from two sources, a system of reservoirs known as Cutzamala, and underground aquifers.

Raul Rodriguez Marquez, Director of the Consejo Consultivo del Agua, a civic organization promoting water conservation says the reservoirs are at historic low levels well below 40 person capacity and the aquifers are over extracted.

Part of the problem has been drier than normal rain season that typically run from May to August. And experts say the situation can worsen for the city built over a lake bed before the Spaniards arrived five centuries ago.

Some experts warn the city could run out of water this summer on what it's being called Day Zero.

Mexico's president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, dismissed those claims, calling them an attempt from the opposition to influence the presidential election in June, and said his government is working to get more water to the city.

The city's mayor assured residents that the water supply is guaranteed. But frustrated residents have taken to the streets in protest, and many neighborhoods depend on water delivered by trucks, some paid by the government, many paid by local residents.

Marie Erminia Collin (ph) says each drug costs about $200. And it's just enough for 20 days of water for a handful of families if they use it wisely and recycle, like using water from washing dishes to flush toilets. But the lack of rain is not the only reason experts say Mexico City is suffering from water shortages.

A study by Universidad Autonoma de Mexico shows that 40 percent of the water supply is lost due to leaks some big of breakage of pipes during the frequent earthquakes, some because the city still relies on pipes over 100 years old.

Rodriguez Marquez says that instead of investing to improve the infrastructure, the money spent on water projects has decreased for many years. VALDES: We contacted CONAGUA, Mexico's National Water Management

Agency, and they declined our request for an interview. They also declined to answer the written questions we submitted about the water supply levels and the state of the infrastructure.

VALDES (voice-over): For now the government will continue to rush in distribution and continues to call on its citizens to conserve the precious liquid, forcing residents to patiently wait for water to come their way or get what they need whatever they can. Gustavo Valdes, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Sunday to show their support for former president Jair Bolsonaro. He's facing an investigation into an alleged coup attempt after he lost the 2022 election. Last year, Brazil's highest Electoral Court barred Bolsonaro from running for political office until 2030. He spoke to his supporters on Sunday and denied he did anything wrong.


JAIR BOLSONARO, FORMER BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They continue to accuse me of a coup. Now the coup is because there's a draft of a state of emergency decree a coup using the Constitution, have holy patients, a coup using the Constitution and make it clear that the state of siege begins with the President of the Republic, convening the Republic and defense counsel's. Does happen? No.


HOLMES: For more on Bolsonaro show of strength in the streets of Sao Paulo we have this report from CNN Brazil's Iuri Pitta.


IURI PITTA, CNN BRASIL: After some of his closest aides have been arrested on February the eighth, Bolsonaro called a demonstration at Paulista Avenue and called for his supporters to be beside him so that he could make a political defense of this investigations of an attempted coup d'etat to keep him in power and avoid Rula to take office.


Bolsonaro arrived at Paulista Avenue a few minutes before 3:00 pm. And after some congressmen and Sao Paulo governor Tarcisio de Freitas made their speech, Bolsonaro talked for around 20 minutes to his supporters. He denied that he was trying to keep to stay in power after using a coup d'etat or benefited by a coup d'etat, and he said that Congress should approve a bill to some kind of amnesty or to pardon people who are already arrested for destroying buildings in Brasilia, Brazil's federal capital, that were attacked on January the eighth in 2023, just a week, after Lula took office.

Bolsonaro also said defended his government and asked his supporters to vote in this year local elections and 2023, presidential and general elections to some of his allies. Iuri Pitta, CNN, Brazil.


HOLMES: One of the most notorious gang leaders in Ecuador is said to have lived like a king while behind bars with a queen size bed and a mini fridge is prison cell look more like a hotel room is recent jailbreak is shining a spotlight on a country's prison system that experts say has turned into the headquarters for criminal groups. CNN's David Culver with them.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It says though, they're stepping into a war zone, Ecuador's military and national police trail and armored vehicle in a raid of one of the country's 35 prisons.

Inside prisoners stripped down hands tied. Scenes like this have played out across Ecuador over the past few weeks, the Armed Forces making a very public show will force attempting to reinstate order within their own prisons.

It's part of Ecuador's effort to neutralize terror groups and weed out gangs which have unleashed chaos nationwide from a live TV studio arm takeover to random shootings in the streets. This most recent surge in violence sparked by the suspected escape of this man Jose Adolfo Macias known as Fito.

On January 7, officials reported that while serving a 34-year sentence for murder and drug trafficking, the notorious gang leader vanished from this prison in Guayaquil. A drones view allows us to grasp the scale of this complex, it is sprawling.

CULVER: Not really much of a prison uniform. They're all kind of in their own clothes.

CULVER (voice-over): Officials tell us it's made up of five different prisons. Through military and prison sources, we get a sense of the layout. We learn the women are kept here. These buildings houses the men and they range from minimum to medium security. And over here, maximum security known as La Roca or The Rock.

With a military escort, we go past the first of three perimeters any farther we're told too dangerous, even with armed soldiers. We're told inmates are separated based on gang affiliation, and are essentially self-ruled.

CULVER: And you can see behind one of these gates, folks kind of moving comfortably and casually, from cell to cell to kind of an indoor outdoor complex.

CULVER (voice-over): CNN obtaining these videos from inside by prison standards, they reveal a life of luxury for Fito, the drug kingpin. The images captured last year by members of Ecuador's military. They appear to show Fito cell; messy but complete with home comforts. A mini fridge, a queen bed, upscale shower fittings, artwork featuring an image of Fito himself with guns and cash. He lives like a king. You can hear one of the soldiers say in this video obtained by CNN and verified by Ecuador's military.

Outside, his own courtyard and a half dozen fighting roosters believed to be his. A military source tells us Fito had fresh fish imported for his meals and somehow even managed to shoot a music video from within the prison walls.

Ecuaviza showing these images of Fito's 42nd birthday in 2022. The prisoners reportedly enjoyed cake, music, and drinks. The night capped off with fireworks. He had more power outlets than a Marriott hotel room, Ecuador's president Daniel Noboa said late last year. So why escape? Ecuadorian security experts believe that Fito was tipped off that he was going to be transferred in the same complex back to The Rock maximum security.


Fito spent a few weeks in The Rock last year. Moving him there involved in estimated 4,000 police and soldiers. His sudden disappearance suggesting he wasn't ready to leave the comforts of his cell.

The government's focus now is to reassert control within, but it won't be easy. Prison raids have turned up everything from laptops to guns.

Noboa also announcing the construction of new prisons designed by the same company behind El Salvador's notorious mega prisons, where thousands of suspected gang members are locked up.

Back outside of the prison in Guayaquil you can hear church services going on, some sort of religious ceremony, loudspeakers.

Soldiers and police stand guard on the perimeter knowing that it's often the gangs who still dictate what happens on the inside.

David Culver, CNN -- Guayaquil, Ecuador.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Still to come on the program, the cultural costs of the Israel-Hamas war. I'll speak with an expert about the loss of so many treasured historical landmarks in Gaza and what, if anything, can be done to safeguard those that remain.


HOLMES: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM with me, Michael Holmes.

As Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza, it is not only lives being lost, but also the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people and irreplaceable historic landmarks. That includes the Omari Mosque, the oldest in Gaza city, shown here before and after Israeli airstrikes reduced it to rubble in December. The IDF responded to a CNN request for comment on the destruction of historical sites, saying that Hamas has quote "systematically used important civilian structures like cultural heritage sites for military purposes," unquote and says Israel maintains its commitments to international law, including special protection requirements.

Let's discuss this now with a Yusuf Al-Daffaie. He's a lecturer and researcher at Nottingham-Trent University in England, who specializes in the field of cultural heritage and post-war countries. It's good to see you.


HOLMES: So the war is, of course, ongoing, but is there a way to calculate at the moment or evaluate to either know for sure exactly what's been lost in terms of Gaza's cultural and historical heritage; by some count, well over 100 buildings and sites destroyed or damaged?


I think the first thing that is worth noting when it comes to heritage and cultural heritage is that there's two strands to it and they both kind of work together.

So there's the tangible parts which this thing that we can see that includes buildings, places, and even urban squares. But there are things that we cannot see that includes the informality of things, what people, the places that people meet and speak to each other, the foods that they eat, the languages that they speak.

All of these things kind of work together in a way, the tangible kind of facilitates the intangible. It makes us able to undertake this intangible aspect of it. And therefore, it becomes really difficult to determine what has been lost and the cost of cultural heritage because we have to first understand what has been lost in the architectural side.

But through the lens of the intangible things, which is really difficult when a lot of people have been displaced.

HOLMES: And that makes a lot of sense too. When we are talking about the tangible, intangible is very important as you say. But the tangible you've got the great Omari Mosque. It's been around for two millennia, had priceless manuscripts. One of the world's oldest Christian monasteries is churches, museums. It's a long list.

What do you see is the greatest loss in terms of the tangible? What do you think when you see the images?

AL-DAFFAIE: Well, obviously the (INAUDIBLE) thing they're too distracted (ph) to be to fathom how big of a loss it must have been for the Palestinian people.

I think when it comes to pinpointing kind of these greatest lost, I think it's for me it's the places that have contributed the most to the daily life of the Palestinians.

For example, when we talk about the Omari Mosque and yes, it is. It has undergone a lot of changes as a symbol for the coexistence of religions. It has been there for a very, very long time.

However, there are places like the Palestine Square or Omar Mokhtar street, which held a very massive importance when it comes to the informality of everyday life. And it's where people made their memory is going shopping or going and meeting their friends.

So these places that hold interactions that are hidden are cases that we need to shed more light than during the reconstruction moving forward because they are very important for the cultural heritage, but also they made people's childhoods and they made people's lives before, before they were completely wiped.

HOLMES: The other thing too is, you know, apart from the churches, mosques, the squares, as you say that there are the contents of these places, museums, manuscripts, books and so on. How valuable are those things in a historical sense and how great the loss.

AL-DAFFAIE: Well, obviously, when it comes to that, we're talking now about the pure kind of tangible heritage, which is the very old manuscripts and the books that have been destroyed especially in the central library in Gaza (ph).

However, when it comes to things like this, it's important to remember that these contribute to the sense of identity and the sense of history, and the sense of place with what people have with their cities so it's a way that you remember your own place, you remember your own -- your own country.

And when you lose these manuscripts that identify you to your past in addition to your ancestors, it starts to have this impact on people's lives, but not through the everyday life. But it's actually peoples own identification with who they are as people and who they belong to. And the countries that they thought they belonged to them.

HOLMES: When you look back at that loss on somebody who works and spends their life involved in history and architecture and heritage, how painful do you think this is for Palestinians, for people like yourself watching on?

AL-DAFFAIE: Yes. I mean, for me, I can never try to tell you how it's for the Palestinians is because I haven't lived it for them. But this to their eyes but with stuff like this when it comes to the destruction of both this kind of the tangible heritage and intangible heritage. This is a complete annihilation of people's identities, people's lives, and also people's memories. So if we all remember our past and when we were growing up, there are places that not are the most landmark places.


AL-DAFFAIE: So for example, if you are from France watching this it's not necessarily the Eiffel Tower (INAUDIBLE), neighborhoods that you grew up in, and the little shops that you remember going to.

And when it comes to losing these places, one cannot fathom how hard it can be for losing what made you who you are than the places you had more memories when that you can go back to and see at any time.

So when it comes to these losses, it's difficult to see it through everyone's eyes because you cannot remember, -- cannot imagine how it's like to lose all the places that made you who you are as a person. And let alone who made you as a society.

So all the places that you had -- kind of gathering places or places that you went to eat or places they went to celebrate specific activities or events like (INAUDIBLE). All these are destroyed and it's difficult to pinpoint them.

HOLMES: Yes. It's a massive loss for Gazans but the world.

Yusuf Al-Daffaie, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

AL-DAFFAIE: All right. Thank you.

HOLMES: Russia is gearing up for an election next month that's certain to extend Vladimir Putin's presidency into the next decade. The process reminiscent of China's election exactly a year ago that gave President Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term in office.

And that's not where the parallels end between the two leaders as CNN's Will Ripley explains messaging from Xi on Taiwan shares similarities with Putin's messaging on Ukraine.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dangerous parallels between Vladimir Putin's ambitions in Ukraine with Xi Jinping's claims over Taiwan.

In his recent softball interview with Tucker Carlson, Putin justified his brutal war in Ukraine, invoking historical grievances and nationalism.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Suddenly, the Ukrainian soldiers were screaming from there in Russian, perfect Russian, saying, "Russians, do not surrender," and all of them perished. They still identify themselves as Russian.

RIPLEY: Putin glossing over the facts thousands of Ukrainians have died, defending their democratic homeland from Putin's army, which has also suffered huge losses for tiny territorial gains.

Xi Jinping echoes Putin's narrative, consistently framing Chinas claim over Taiwan through a lens of historical entitlement, national rejuvenation.

XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese and share a natural affinity and national identity built upon kinship and mutual assistance. This is a fact that can never be changed by anyone or any force.

RIPLEY: Here in Taiwan, poll after poll shows the majority of people identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese. That's not how President Xi sees things.

To back up his claims, Xi is expanding China's military at a pace the world hasn't seen in a century since before World War II.


RIPLEY: Former Taiwan presidential spokesperson both autocratic leaders pose a direct threat to the autonomy and democratic systems of Ukraine and Taiwan.

YOTAKA: Putin and Xi Jinping are similar because both of them believe they represent the old imperial power in their countries. They think they are the chosen ones and they want to stay in power forever. But this is scary.

RIPLEY: The Atlantic Council's Wen-Ti Sung says democratic nations need to unite against authoritarian aggression.

WEN-TI SUNG, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL: You hear Xi Jinping talks about the East is rising and the West is declining all the time. With that increase projected confidence comes increased demand for results to be delivered by Xi Jinping as well.

RIPLEY: Critics of Russia and China's strongman leaders say that two nuclear super powers threatened the norms of international relations -- the very foundations of democracy and freedom.

RIPLEY: A high profile bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers is on the ground here in Taipei. And that is particularly infuriating for Xi and the Chinese Communist Party because the cornerstone of rejuvenating the Chinese nation in their view to a position of power and global stature is to take control of Taiwan and they see this deepening relationship on all fronts with the United States, albeit an unofficial one, as a threat to that plan. Many here fear it may be only a matter of time before Xi, like Putin, puts his words into action.

Will Ripley, CNN -- Taipei.


HOLMES: Still to come, Australian scientists say they've discovered a massive black hole. We're going to talk to one of the scientists involved in the discovery after the break.



HOLMES: Scientists in Australia say they found a black hole so large that it eats the equivalent of one sun per day. And it's powering a quasar astronomers say may be the brightest known object in the universe.

According to the new study, the black hole has a mass about 17 billion times larger than the earth's sun. Just think about that.

Rachel Webster is a collaborator on the black hole study at Australian National University. Professor, thanks for being with us when I read that this black hole eats the equivalent of one sun per day. It's the fastest-growing black hole ever recorded. I'm not sure what to make of it. What does it all mean in layman's terms?

RACHEL WEBSTER, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Well, that's a very good question. It is already a very massive black hole. And the fact that its growing so quickly, it just means it's one of the giants of the universe, a real monster in fact.

And this challenges our ideas about how these black holes come into existence and how they grow.

HOLMES: Yes, And like I said, the information made my brain exploded. It's 17 billion times larger than our sun, 500 trillion times brighter than the sun, the most luminous object known in the universe.

How do you get your head around that sort of information and does it all excite you as scientists?

WEBSTER: Oh, it distinctly excites as scientists because, you know, the formation -- when we ask a question about how did these black holes even come to be in the universe? You know, how were they born? And how did they get to be so big when the universe was so young?

So these -- these are things that we don't have it any clear understanding of at this point in time. So when we find a monster like this one, it really challenges all the ideas, all the preconceptions that we've got.

HOLMES: Yes. So what are the impacts? I guess we shouldn't be worried right?

WEBSTER: No, no, no.

This guy is -- it's really on the far side of the universe. So it's not going to affect us in any way whatsoever.

HOLMES: Right.

And the other thing, the light -- the light from this black hole has traveled over 12 billion years to reach us. That's another hard to get your head around factoid.

Does that make what you're learning now a little out of date? What -- what more might be learned now we know it's there?

WEBSTER: Well, yes of course it does make it a little out-of-date. I mean, goodness knows what the black hole's doing now. But unfortunately with things very far away, because light travels at a finite speed, we can only see those things as they were a long, long time ago.


HOLMES: Yes. What do you actually when you look at it through these amazing telescopes, what do you see?

WEBSTER: Well, the first image that we have looked are actually pretty boring. It just looks like a star in our galaxy, which of course it is not. But we get lots of different colors for the object and then we discover that it's not actually a star at all. We think it's one of these things that we call a quasar which is really just a very massive black hole, you know, chewing up material.

And then in order to really understand the details, we go to a telescope. In this case, the very large telescope in Chile, which is run by the European Southern Observatory and we get a spectrum of the object.

And from that spectrum we can start to deduce all, all effects that you've got in front of us.

HOLMES: Isn't it surprising that we're only learning about it now given that scientists say that we know a lot more about other, what I saw, some other less impressive black holes.

WEBSTER: Well you know, if you actually look out into the universe, there are an awful lot of things that look like stars, and to sort through all of them and to find this one particular one that is so interesting, actually takes quite a lot of time and, you know, a lot of perseverance.

And so it's not surprising we haven't found it sooner I think.

HOLMES: Yes, it's a big place out there. It's remarkable, I did a lot of reading on it today. And incredible work by you and the team, you know, a lot of excitement in the scientific community about this.

Rachel Webster, we've got to leave it there, unfortunately. Thank you so much.

WEBSTER: Thank you.

HOLMES: Incredible discovery.

Well, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's farewell tour has taken him to Wembley where his team just won the English League Cup final. Next, a look at the other trophies within his reach this final season with Liverpool.


HOLMES: India's prime minister visited an underwater temple on Sunday. Narendra Modi donning scuba diving into the sea and offering a peacock feather want at the submerged temple.

Last month, the prime minister inaugurated a grand temple in northern Ayodhya City, fulfilling a decades' long pledge, months ahead of general elections in May this year.

Well, it is the beginning of the end of manager Jurgen Klopp's time at Liverpool and his team is sending him out with a celebration.

Liverpool beating Chelsea one-nil in extra time to win the English League Cup on Sunday.

Our Darren Lewis has a look at the excitement from Wembley and the celebrations that could come in the future.


DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORT SENIOR SPORTS ANALYST: One down, three to go, phase one of mission impossible is complete. Liverpool are the League Cup champions for a tenth time. Their captain, Virgil Van Dijk has dragged the club's youngsters over the line. Chelsea had been left by the Reds feeling blue and the quadruple for Jurgen Klopp already a legend with the Liverpool fans is on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jurgen Klopp is god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He brought us back, not just the club, also the city as well, so everyone is behind him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He personifies Liverpool. So he is Mr. Liverpool, I'd say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing about Jurgen, he'll never be forgotten. And he's delivered exactly what he said. You know, as the song says, we love Jurgen and Jurgen loves us.


LEWIS: They still do lead the Premier League table. They are into the knockout stages of the Europa League. And they have a very winnable FA Cup fifth round home tie against Southampton in (INAUDIBLE).

And yes, they do have 11 senior players out injured, but the experience of winning for their academy graduates -- James McConnell, Jayden Danns, Conor Bradley, Bobby Clark and Jarell Quansah here at Wembley has left a real feeling that for a time it can be done.

As for Chelsea, their American owners have spent a billion pounds on their squad, but they missed the chance to get a quick return on their investment. They are finding out to their cost that while money can buy you most things, you can't buy that invincible team spirit at end field.

Darren Lewis, CNN -- London


HOLMES: Certainly a legend there in Liverpool. Well, Britain's royal mint is honoring one of England's most famous

sons. The mint, issuing a new coin on Monday featuring the singer George Michael. It features Michael's trademarks, sunglasses from the 1980s. Michael had massive hits with songs like "Faith", "Father Figure", and "Careless Whisper". Plus, of course, many others as part of the duo Wham.

In December Wham's "Last Christmas" became the U.K.'s number one for the first time, 39 years after its release. The new coin could be a nice holiday gift. Of course, it's too late for last Christmas, but maybe next year, you can give it to someone special.

Any George Michael fans will know what we did just then.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on X and Instagram @HolmesCNN.

Stick around. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church. I'll see you next week.