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IDF Rescues Four Israeli Hostages From Gaza Refugee Camp; Palestinians Say Raid Created "Hell On Earth" In Gaza; President Joe Biden To End Trip To France With Military Cemetery Visit; Russia Seeks Foreign Economic Deals At St. Petersburg Forum; Iga Swiatek Cruises To Her Fourth French Open Title. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 09, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Anna Coren.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, high risk rescue, the IDF rescues four hostages during a raid in central Gaza, but as Israel celebrates the reunions, Palestinians mourn the lives of those killed during the operation. Details on how the mission unfolded, ahead.

Well, President Joe Biden praises the U.S. relationship with France as he celebrated it during a state visit. We're live in Paris on the president's final day of his trip.

And at the French Open, Iga Swiatek wins her fifth Grand Slam in an emotional final. Details as we look forward towards the men's title match today.

An Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp led to emotional reunions for four newly freed hostages and their families, but there are lingering questions about the deadly toll of the rescue mission.

Well, this was a scene at a hospital in Israel where the four hostages met with family and friends for the first time in eight months.

The Israeli military released this video showing some of the reunions. The IDF says the rescued hostages are in good medical condition, but were taken to hospital for medical exams.

Israel says the operation was carefully orchestrated and took several weeks of intelligence gathering, but it could have been called off at the last minute.


LT. COL. PETER LERNER, SPOKESPERSON, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: Precisely because of the challenges that operating in such a densely populated area poses, but also because of the threat and challenge and possibility that one or the other because they were held in different locations could have been if we would have been revealed on the approach, then the Hamas guards that were watching over the hostages could have executed them.

So, it needs to be conducted in a way which enabled us a swift approach, a swift and rapid interception and engaging the enemy as we breached the entrances to the -- to the two places, to the two locations simultaneously, under a 360 degree threat.


COREN: But there are questions about how many Palestinians were killed in the operation, and how many of them were civilians.

Israel says it had to enter civilian areas because that's where Hamas was holding the hostages. And we have to warn you, the video we're about to show you contains disturbing images.

Well, hospital officials in Gaza say at least 236 Palestinians were killed and more than 400 injured. The IDF says the number killed was less than a hundred. Well, CNN cannot verify the numbers from either side.

One man who was there says people did everything they could to save lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We tried to get ambulances, but no one can enter, as it was already a military zone.

Dogs were eating people's remains. We pulled out six martyrs, all torn up, children and women. We risked our lives to get them to the hospital. The soldiers told us to go back, but we had to continue.


COREN: In Israel, new protests calling on the government to secure a deal to free the remaining hostages in Gaza while many of the demonstrators are also calling for new elections to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Civilians in Gaza are describing the scenes of horror they witnessed as Israel carried out its operation to rescue the four hostages. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the details.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hell on Earth is how one Palestinian in Gaza described the situation in the Nuseirat Camp Saturday to CNN as Israeli forces carried out their operation to successfully free four hostages.

And indeed, the CNN Nuseirat and the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital can only be described as hell.

The Israeli operation killed at least 230 people and wounded more than 400 according to doctors in Gaza who spoke to CNN.


The hospital was overwhelmed by the injured, many of them women and children. The corridors jammed with staff trying to treat the wounded with desperate relatives begging for attention, for those awaiting care.

The morgue is full. The dead some shrouded in white sheets, others still in their blood soaked clothing were laid out on the ground surrounded by weeping and praying loved ones.

The rescue operation is being lauded by Israel's friends, with little if any reference to the Palestinian death toll, but the reaction elsewhere was one of anger.

Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and the you -- E.U.'s top diplomat Josep Borrell described reports of what he called another massacre of civilians as appalling.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.


COREN: Journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now with more on the rescue and the aftermath.

Elliott, what further details are you learning about this operation, described as very complex, and also the international reaction?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: So, the operation itself was weeks in the making. They'd even built models of the apartments that the hostages were being held in in order to prepare, in order to train, and it had been -- they'd been planning this for some time. They'd indeed planned to go ahead on earlier occasions, but had aborted those plans because for various reasons.

And so, it was only at the last minute really that the operatives involved from the Shin Bet, from the counterterrorism unit of the Israeli police, and also from the IDF. It was only at the last minute that they knew that things were a go.

And so, at around 11:00 in the morning, local time, there were airstrikes in the refugee camp there, the forces moved in simultaneously to both apartments because they didn't want to rescue one hostage and then the other people guarding the other hostages to get wind of it and then do something which would hamper the operation.

So, simultaneously, these two apartment buildings, they rescued Noa Argamani with little fuss. They took them by surprise, the IDF says.

They said that a fierce gunfight ensued when they tried to rescue the three men who were being held in the other apartment. And then, when they left those two apartment buildings that they came under heavy fire, including from rocket propelled grenades, and that they were given further cover by air strikes from the IDF, that the hostages were protected by the bodies of the of the officers who had rescued them.

They took them to helicopters that were waiting for them on the beach, and then flown back to Israel for an emotional reunion with their families in the hospitals, and really bringing a huge amount of relief and joy.

Four Israel in a war that really hasn't had many of those moments for the country.

COREN: Elliott Gotkine, we thank you for the update.

Well, turning now to France where U.S. President Joe Biden, will wrap up his five day trip with a visit to a World War I military cemetery later today.

The same cemetery former President Donald Trump reportedly said was "Filled with losers."

Well, French President Emmanuel Macron honored Mr. Biden with a state dinner on Saturday.

During his toast, Biden called this visit the most remarkable trip, and stressed the close bond shared between the U.S. and France.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stand at an inflection point in history. The decisions we make now will determine the course of our future for decades to come. We have a lot of opportunity, but a lot of responsibility, and it gives me hope to know France and United States stand together now and always.


COREN: CNN's Kayla Tausche joins us now from Paris with more. And Kayla, tell us the importance of Biden's trip to France and what he has managed to achieve.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the visit, Anna, simply underscores the closeness of the relationship between these two allies and the renewed commitment by President Biden and President Macron to align their goals in the European continent, as well as across the Atlantic.

The two allies released a 13-page roadmap of shared commitments, shared policies. Following their working lunch yesterday, around the time that the State Dinner was taking place, it underscored their commitment to supporting Ukraine for the long term, to shoring up NATO's defenses and enabling their collective security, as well as calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

So, certainly, they are trying to put some meat on the bone, so to speak, on some of these broad strokes of the policies they discussed.


But the two leaders delivered joint statements yesterday to the press, not taking questions from select reporters from the traveling and local press, which in effect served to focus the news coverage of this event, simply on the commitment that the two countries are making to each other, their reiteration over and over again that they will not walk away from each other.

Of course, that comes against the backdrop of waves of populism here in Europe, as well as the resurgence of former President Donald Trump in the United States where he faces Joe Biden for re-election in November, Anna

COREN: Kayla Tausche in Paris. Many thanks for the update.

Russia's economy defies predictions and keeps growing despite unprecedented Western sanctions. But how is Moscow keeping the economy on track despite such strong headwinds? That's ahead.


COREN: The world's largest multi-country election is underway for the next European Parliament. Today, Spain, France, Germany and several others open their polls as millions of people in 27 nations decide what the next five years will look like for the European Union.

Italy voted on Saturday, and like some people on the small island of Lampedusa, many Europeans are grappling with issues like immigration and the war in Ukraine.


FRANCESCO FILECCIA, LAMPEDUSA, ITALY RESIDENT (through translator): I certainly expected Europe that is more inclined to think about the conflicts in the world, one that seeks not to arm but to disarm with words, using words of peace and not misleading words.

CATERINA CATALANO, LAMPEDUSA, ITALY RESIDENT (through translator): I was very undecided whether or not to go and vote. Actually, I was thinking of not going to vote because Europe is not felt here.

But in the end, out of sense of civic duty, I will go and vote. I don't expect a huge change, but some new faces might be there.


COREN: Massive crowds protested in Berlin on Saturday, slamming Germany's right-wing party. Demonstrators carried E.U. flags and signs urging people to vote.

Well, Russia has wrapped up its St. Petersburg Economic Forum, an annual event where it pitches itself to foreign investors. Western business leaders who once flocked to the gathering are now gone because of sanctions against Moscow that has Russia implementing its plan B, using the event to look for alternative trade partners to keep its war economy growing. They include China, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at the forum on Friday, claims the switch is working.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The countries are friendly to Russia, and as we see, they are who we should pay attention to in the first place. The economy is a fast growing states that will determine the future of the global economy.


Today, they already account for three quarters of our trade turnover.


COREN: In many ways, the data on Russia's economy indicates that sanctions are not having anywhere near the impact that the West intended, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Russia's economy will grow 3.2 percent this year.

Well, that's faster than any of the advanced economies, including the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.

On Friday, Russia's Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged, though it signaled it might raise them if inflation does not come down.

And at the start of April, the country's benchmark stock index reached its highest point since the day Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

For more, let's head to Vilnius, Lithuania, where we're joined by Vladimir Milov. He's a former Russian Deputy Energy Minister who also advised the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Great to have you with us.

Many thought that the Russian economy would collapse as a result of Western sanctions, but as we can see, that is far from the case. Russia has found buyers for its oil, its natural gas and other commodities in markets like China and India. Why aren't these sanctions working?

VLADIMIR MILOV, FORMER RUSSIAN DEPUTY ENERGY MINISTER: Hello. Great to be with you. Actually, sanctions are working, and I'm really puzzled about all this pro-Putin bias in the Western media, which is claiming that Russian economy is thriving and doing OK.

It is not doing OK. Even the governor of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, was forced to delay her press conference on interest rate on Friday, she was waiting until Putin finished his celebratory speech about how great the economy is doing, and then she said that inflation persists, 10 months of interest rate hikes were not able to do anything about it, and she is warned that in July, they might significantly raise already growth prohibitive interest rates, because inflation is not coming down. And actually, if you listen to all the economic officials, ministers,

deputy prime ministers, and heads of big business at the Petersburg Economic Forum, there's a lot of trouble. Investment is not coming in. Tax hikes recently announced by the government are significantly curbing the economic activity. There is a significant shortage of labor because of the war and mobilization.

So, things are really very, very far from OK.

COREN: This 3.2 percent predicted growth, you're saying that it's not true, that these figures are not reliable?

MILOV: They are irrelevant. Because, listen, Soviet economy was growing at a very fast rate before the Soviet Union collapsed. In the last years of the Soviet Union, we experienced the highest economic growth in the whole Soviet history.

So, GDP growth tells you nothing. It is just a result of a budget stimulus which is spent on war machine producing weapons and ammunition that does not have any multiplier for the rest of the economy.

So, if you produce an artillery shell which is fired at Ukraine, it doesn't deliver you any good.

So -- but this is a positive contribution to GDP. So, these figures, GDP growth figures, really are misleading, and they won't really tell you anything about the status of the Russian economy.

COREN: But Russia does seem to have momentum in its war against Ukraine. I mean, what sort of sanctions would it really take to hurt Russia and cripple its war effort?

MILOV: Sanctions are already having a big effect, because Russia's cash reserves are rapidly depleting and the budget deficits are explosive.

So, by the end of the year, Russia will have to spend most of its remaining cash reserves financing the budget deficit.

What might really work is if the western countries would really seriously enforce the G7 oil price cap, because Russia has been consistently selling its oil to the international markets well above the $60.00 price cap, and it's doing so now, it really takes a serious effort to trace all these transactions, traders, refiners and shippers of the Russian oil, who are allowing the oil to be shipped above for $60.00 per barrel. That really takes a serious enforcement effort, which is not being done to the necessary extent. And this is what the G7 countries needs to do.

COREN: Vladimir, what about targeting Russia's elite? You know, they're clearly profiting from this wartime economy. Would that be enough to turn them against Vladimir?

MILOV: It's another question whether they will be in a position to turn against Vladimir Putin, because elite is very tightly controlled, and all this big business is really very afraid for their security, because they can be imprisoned in 30 seconds for disloyalty.


However, it is really important to tackle them, and here is where the West has been seriously lagging behind, because many of the Russian oligarchs, we have 125 people on the Forbes list of richest global persons, many of them go underneath the sanctions radar. They don't experience any problems with Western governments. And I think here is where the Western policy really should catch up.

COREN: Well, Vladimir Milov, we'll have to leave it there. We, thank you and your cat as well in Vilnius, Lithuania. We thank you for your time.

MILOV: Thank you so much.

COREN: Well, the world's top-seeded woman takes the guesswork out of the equation at Roland Garros.

Still ahead, why she doesn't want to be called the Queen of Clay despite winning her fourth French Open title in five years.


COREN: New York officials at the T20 Cricket World Cup are on alert after the terrorist group ISIS-K called for, "That lone wolf to act out."

They are specifically targeting the highly anticipated India, Pakistan contest. The match is expected to draw a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions, with some dubbing it the Super Bowl of cricket.

The match takes place today at a pop-up Stadium in Long Island, New York. The county police commissioner Patrick Ryder is confident of security measures and has assured fans that, "The safest place to be in Nassau County on June 9th will be inside that stadium."

In tennis, two first timers will duke it out for the French Open title on Sunday. Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, on the left, will face fourth seeded German Alexander Zverev.

Neither has ever played for the French major championship, even though Zverev reached the semifinals four straight times.

21-year-old, Alcaraz is the youngest man to make it into Grand Slam finals on all services, harcourts, grass and clay.

The fight for the women's French Open title was settled in a little over an hour on Saturday, the world's number one Iga Swiatek cruised to victory. As Don Riddell reports, the young Polish champion is already making history at Roland Garros.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Iga Swiatek is the French Open champion. Once again, the phenomenal world number one from Poland is rapidly making Roland Garros her home. Straight sets victory in Saturday's final marks, her third consecutive title on the Paris Clay, a fourth in five years, and she's only just turned 23 years old.

Swiatek was up against the Italian 12th seed Jasmine Paolini, who's had a brilliant fortnight in Paris. But Swiatek is very, very difficult to beat, especially on this surface, she had recently won titles in Madrid and Rome.

Paolini got a glimpse of an upset breaking Swiatek in the third game to go 2-1 up. But maybe Swiatek was just making things interesting, because then she turned it on, winning 10 consecutive games and ultimately coasting to victory, 6-2, 6-1.


She is now being mentioned in the same breath as legends of the sport, joining Justine Henin and Monica Seles who won three consecutive titles here in the Open Era.

IGA SWIATEK, FIVE-TIME Grand Slam CHAMPION: It's amazing to be here. I love this place. Honestly, I wait every year to come back here. And yes, thank you. Oh, my God, sorry.

It was almost out of the tournament in second round. So, thank you guys for you know, kind of staying behind my back and cheering for me. I also needed to believe that this one is going to be possible.

So, it's been a really emotional tournament. So, yes, thank you for supporting me.

JASMINE PAOLINI, FRENCH OPEN FINALIST: It's been like, I don't know, 10, 15, days, maybe more that I'm here and yes, the best days of my life, I think. There's still going, because tomorrow I have the doubles final.

RIDDELL: Congratulations to Paolini as well. She should really be very proud of herself. She'll be teaming up with her fellow Italian, Sara Errani in the doubles final on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Swiatek is now a five-time major champion, and she's been compared to the King of Clay Rafael Nadal, who has won an extraordinary 14 titles at Roland Garros.

Swiatek doesn't think she can be called the Queen of Clay just yet, but here's why people are thinking it. Nadal won the first four tournaments he played at Roland Garros, a full time champion at the age of 22. Swiatek was 22 when she kicked off her run in Paris a couple of weeks ago. She is now a four-time champion with surely many more to come.

The focus now switches to the men's final on Sunday, and whatever happens, we're going to crown a first time champion in Paris, having already won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open chair -- the U.S. Open Carlos Alcaraz is going for a third major title on a third different surface. Or Alexander Zverev of Germany is looking for his Grand Slam breakthrough. Should be a fantastic match. Back to you. COREN: Don Riddell, thank you.

Well, George Russell has put Mercedes on the pole position for Sunday's running of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

The British driver won his time trial by a hair, even though he had the same qualifying time as his Red Bull rival. Max Verstappen is trying for his third win in Canada. This is Russell's first pole since 2022 in Brazil.

Well, thank you so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren live from Hong Kong.

"MARKETPLACE ASIA" is next. Then I'll be back with more of CNN NEWSROOM at the top of the hour. See you then.