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Hamas-Run Health Ministry: Israeli Attack Kills At Least 70 At Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp In Gaza; Christmas Celebrations Around The World; Ukraine's President Zelenskyy Shares Christmas Message; Despite Record Global Heat, Signs Of Progress. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 25, 2024 - 04:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Hello and a very good Christmas morning to those of you watching us in the United States, around the world wherever you may be, and if you're streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Richard Quest in London.

In a moment, I'll tell you, dozens are dead in a crowded Gaza neighborhood. And the reported attack on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, and what we know.

Rising temperatures around the world, we'll look at the challenge of climate change, and possible reasons that there will be hope in the New Year.

Of course, Christmas underway now around the world, from Bondi Beach to Beijing, to here in London. It is Christmas day.


QUEST: A very good Christmas morning to you around the world. Indeed, whether you celebrate or not, I want to take this moment to wish you the peace and joy associated with the holiday season. Admittedly though, it does seem to be a rather short supply these days.

We're going to hear from Kyiv, a message of defiance; from the Vatican, prayers for peace; and from Gaza, reports of an apparent attack that is overshadowing all the news this morning because at least 70 people were killed at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza according to the Hamas-run ministry of health in Gaza. Several people have said to be wounded, and there are still many under the rubble.

It follows an announcement from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israeli forces are intensifying their operations within the enclave. Netanyahu says ramping up an offensive against Hamas will, in his words, take time. But Israelis have determined to fight until the end.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Citizens of Israel, we are deepening the war in the Gaza Strip, we will continue to fight until the total victory over Hamas. The war has a price, a very heavy price in the lives of our heroic warriors, and we are doing everything to safeguard the lives of our warriors, but one thing we will not do, we will not stop until we achieve victory.


QUEST: CNN's Nada Bashir is with me.

The prime minister says the war at any price. And that price is being paid this morning in that refugee camp. Do we know what's happened?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Richard, this has been a truly devastating attack. We've seen the Al-Maghazi refugee camp coming under airstrikes repeatedly over the course of this war. But this has really shaken many across the Gaza Strip. As you mention some 70 people are confirmed to have been killed in this latest strike according to health officials inside Gaza. That is the death toll that we know now but it is expected to rise health officials say, there are still people buried beneath the rubble. We've seen that dramatic video coming out of al-Maghazi refugee camp. Showing people and loved ones giving through the rubble in the cold winter at night, searching for their family members buried beneath the rubble.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says the air strike, and struck a residential square, and residential buildings in the camp area that they had to transport. Dozens of wounded to the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque, this hospital where again we have seen video emerging showing corpses lining the street outside of the hospital. This is a devastating attack, but it comes as you, mentioned as the Israeli ministry begins to double down on its military effort, both its air and land campaign.

As we know, the Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas infrastructure, they have said that they are reviewing this particularly incident, but that death toll in Gaza continues to rise, there are real fears that as the ground operation continues, southwards the death toll will soar even further.

QUEST: It's simply a polling level of death particularly in this time of year, Nada. They are simply isn't -- I mean, is there any goodwill?

BASHIR: Well, look, we are seeing still the outpouring of support for members of the international community, attempts to get aid into the Gaza Strip that has proven difficult, on Christmas Eve. We did see the Jordanian air force airdropping humanitarian aid and food supplies to two churches, on Christmas Eve.


The Jordanian foreign ministers saying that they were supplying some 500 Christians, who, of course, should be spending this time celebrating with, family but, of course, are in the midst of a devastating war.

Now as we know many churches inside the Gaza strip have been transformed into shelters and hospitals, even for those in the Gaza Strip just Christians, all those in the Gaza Strip which see medical workers is the patients who've been sleeping on church pews, rather than in hospital beds because the hospitals are simply so over, run or completely out of service.

But, of course, the need to get aid in is dire. The amount of aid getting through the Rafah Border crossing at the moment is just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed.

QUEST: Nada Bashir, I'm grateful. Thank you.

Earlier on CNN, we spoke to the World Health Organization's Sean Casey, about whether he thinks the world is becoming numb to the ever worsening situation in Gaza.


SEAN CASEY, EMERGENCY MEDICAL TEAMS COORDINATOR, WORLD HEALTH ORG.: I hope not, I hope the people understand that these are people, these are civilians, man, children, women who are unfortunately losing their dignity in real-time. We're seeing it happen. We are seeing people crying out for food, crying out for water, they're desperate.

And I hope that the world has not become numb to it because it still happening every single day. Today, it's, Christmas and we are seeing, you know, women and children, a family with a small child I saw, with barefoot children running down the road, trying to escape. I hope we can't become numb to that.

We need-- this is why we need a cease-fire. We need to understand the level of human suffering and make it stop.


BASHIR: The Israeli Defense Forces have released new information about an underground Hamas tunnel network which the IDF says, from where the bodies of five Israeli hostages were recovered. The recent operations of the Jabalia camp area in their words, exposed a strategic tunnel network that served as Hamas's northern headquarters in Gaza. These underground headquarters was used for directing combat and movement of terrorists, according to the IDF, the tunnel was connected to a shaft, and then to the residence of a top Hamas commander.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the details of the tunnels networks location.

And the Israeli prime minister's wife is calling on Pope Francis to help secure the release of the remaining hostages still held in Gaza. In a letter to the pope, Sarah Netanyahu requested him to use his influence in her, words to demand the unconditional release of all of the hostages without delay.

The pope has urged the world to think about those suffering during the war. He's lamented about what he describes as a futile war in the Holy Land.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POPE FRANCIS, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, with a clash of arms that even today prevents them from fighting around in the world.


QUEST: And the pope, of course, is due to give his "urbi et orbi" to the city into the world address later this Christmas. Morning we will be watching closely to see if he has more to say on matters in the Middle East.

Staying in the region, on the economic, and the global shipping giant Maersk now says it will restart operations in the Red Sea, in the Gulf of Aden towards the Suez Canal. After it became one of several major companies to pull shipments following attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on commercial vessels.

The establishment of an Operation Prosperity Guardian, this multinational security effort that is to safeguard the area has now prompted Maersk to resume transit through the Red Sea as soon as possible, making shipping from Asia to Europe and the Americas, of course, much longer -- much shorter than then having to go around the Cape of Good Hope.

Thousands of people in Serbia's capital are protesting against the rolling government for what they call blatant election theft.


QUEST: At least 35 people have been arrested on Sunday in the sixth straight day of protests, according to CNN's Serbia affiliate N1. The unrest began the day after President Aleksandar Vucic declared victory for Serbian progressive party during snap elections. The opposition parties and rights groups say that the party and the president himself are guilty of bribing voters and committing violent crackdowns on dissent, and corruption amongst many other allegations.

Ukrainian border service now says Polish farmers have ended their blockade of one of the crossings between the two countries. Traffic has now been fully restored they say at the crossings, and trucks started entering Ukraine as usual.


Ukraine's heavily dependent on the crossing to get goods in and out of the country as it fights its war with Russia. The Polish farmers have been blocking several crossings. They are protesting against what they say is unfair competition, after the E.U. relaxed some transport rules. The farmers say the protests will continue at three other crossings over Christmas.

Scientists are warning the impact of the climate crisis after a year of unprecedented heat. Perhaps you don't need me to tell you too much about that. And yet, Al Gore says he is still hopeful that we can reverse the damage before it's too late. Al Gore has been speaking to CNN and you will hear him after the break.


QUEST: The world is waking up to another Christmas morning, and it is still early in some areas in parts of the globe are well into Christmas Day in Turkey and beyond.

In Sydney, it's always Bondi Beach with the santas who have fun in the sun. The swimsuits and the Christmas sweaters come together beautifully, an outfit that Santa would surely approve of in the southern hemisphere.

In Beijing, Catholics gather together for the first mass in years., at the South Cathedral that was previously closed for extensive renovations.

In Turkey, there was worshipping, but in a bunch different setting. They met where an Antioch Orthodox Church once stood before it collapsed in an earthquake earlier this year. The liturgy was still said.

Christmas mass in Ukraine provided a bit of normalcy amid the country's war with Russia. President Zelenskyy shared this message this Christmas message with his country.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In the end, darkness will lose, evil will be defeated. Today, this is our common goal our common dream. This is what our common prayer is for today, for our freedom for our victory, for our Ukraine. For the day when we can all come together at home in a peaceful year, of a peaceful Christmas and say to each other, Christ is born.


QUEST: Now, let me get you a sense of that Christmas in the Ukraine. By the way, it's the first time that now, Christmas is officially on the 25th of December, not in early January as he's celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church, the laws change earlier last year.

Ukrainian air force says it struck 28 drones, two aircraft missiles, and two fighter jets overnight -- the other side of Christmas in Ukraine.

Scientists say, and you probably are well aware from your own experience, this year is officially the hottest on record. The concerns about what that means, never mind for the future of our planet but for you and me.


The former U.S. Vice President Al Gore tells CNN that there is still time to do something to fight the climate crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We still have the ability to seize control of our destiny. Here is the good, news if we stop adding to the overburden of these greenhouse gas pollutants in the sky, if we reach what they call true net zero and stop adding to the heat trapping capacity, the temperatures will stop going up right away. and if we stay true net zero, half of the human cost of greenhouse pollution will fall out of the atmosphere in as little as 25 to 30 years.


QUEST: If we don't, then we'll have another year, and worse like this.

The journalist Simon Cullen looks back at the extreme weather of this year progress towards renewable that might be overlooked.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN NEWS EDITOR (voice-over): Record-breaking wildfires in Canada, deadly floods across large parts of Africa and polar ice caps in long term decline.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are living through climate collapsing in real-time, and the impact is devastating.

CULLEN: Even before the year was out, scientists had declared with certainty that 2023 would go down as the hottest recorded year in human history.

DR. SAM BURGESS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COPERNICUS CLIMATE CHANGE SERVICE: The year has been quite extraordinary and myself and many climate scientists have really run out of adjectives to describe the sheer volume of records broken, and how they've been broken.

CULLEN: In November, the earth's average temperature briefly rose more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. A crucial threshold that scientists say could have irreversible consequences.

BURGESS: The evidence is very, very clear. The warmer our world is, the more likely we are to have extreme events. And those extreme events are likely to be more intense and more frequent.

CULLEN: With the El Nino system warming temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, 2024 could be even hotter.

Given the scale of the challenge, many countries were hoping that global climate talks in Dubai will deliver the bold action needed to limit further warming.

In the end, the agreement did put a sharper focus on the future of fossil fuels.

For the first time in the history of U.N. climate talks, the world's fossil fuels appeared in the final text of an agreement. But it only referred to transitioning away, not phasing them out. SIMON EVANS, CARBON BRIEF: The tricky thing is that it's an agreement

between, basically, nearly 200 countries by consensus. So, there's always compromises at the end and that's what leads to this disappointment, but I think nevertheless it's a significant moment.

CULLEN: And some countries, that claims to take the climate threat seriously are still looking to approve new fossil fuel projects.

BILL HARE, CEO, CLIMATE ANALYTICS: There's a lot of hypocrisy to share around. The U.K. has actually backtracked on its policies. Australia has begun to move forward with its policies to reduce emissions. Not succeeding yet. So, that's a concern, but it's also opposing a supported very large expansion to gas export projects and to coal export projects.

CULLEN: However, there are some glimmers of hope. Carbon Brief analysis shows that while China's coal infrastructure has grown, the country has invested so much in renewable energy over recent years that its emissions could actually begin to fall in the year ahead, marking a dramatic turnaround for the world's biggest polluter.

HARE: There have been moments in the past where it's looked like China's emissions are coming to a peak. And I think that there's probably more confidence this time around that we really are seeing, you know, a structural shift in that economy.

CULLEN: Analysts say, that could be a game-changer, not just for China's domestic emissions, it could also give the Chinese leadership extra incentive to push for even stronger global action.

Simon Cullen, CNN, London.


QUEST: Now, it wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't have our Christmas crackers. Come on in, Giorgi (ph). You're one who's going to get the chance to pull a Christmas cracker this year, part of a long tradition by the way here at CNN.

Which would you like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to go white.

QUEST: All righty, here you go. Christmas -- come a bit closer to me, one, two, three.

Oh, I won, I won. Here we go. I say, I say, I say, how do bakers measure success?

I don't know.


QUEST: How do they measure success? They measure it with a pie chart.

Here's a little gift. I have no idea what's in there. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

QUEST: And there we are. The tradition continues.


QUEST: Merry Christmas, thank you.

We will be right back. We'll be following Santa in the last few hours of where he's traveling, because Christmas never stops. But it does actually, but you know what I mean, neither do we.

This is CNN. That joke was better than usual.



QUEST: Now, as you know, yesterday, we were checking where Santa Claus was, delivering presidents, over six billion presents, apparently, seven billion around the world.

NORAD follows closely, you can see at the top of the screen there. Gifts delivered, seven and a half billion. He was last seen over the Pacific heading towards Hawaii, where he will be in five minutes and 50 odd seconds. It's NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

After Hawaii, I think that it's almost done. Except for perhaps the easternmost part, I need to work out where it would be after Hawaii. I think it's just about done after there. So Hawaii, you're the last lot.

The joint U.S.-Canadian military operation tracks Santa each year. And there is a special reindeer who's really ruling the thing.


LT. GEN. BLAISE FRAWLEY, DEPUTY COMMANDER, NORAD: Rudolph is leading the way. His nose serves multi -- multipurposes. The, as you are aware from the song, his nose guide Santa through bad weather. But for us, because we use our satellite systems to track Santa globally, they look for heat signatures, or what we call infrared, IR. And Santa's nose is a nice big IR signature for our satellites to track.


QUEST: I am not getting into the dispute, that Santa's sleigh has to go so fast it would internally combust. We've been over this before in previous years. No, it would not happen.

Now while most of us prefer to spend Christmas morning in our PJs, who knows what I'm wearing under here. There's a group of swimmers in London the take the plunge into icy waters, they do it every year.

Meet some of the participants in this year's Peter Pan Cup. It is race that has been held since 1864.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Race number four, all aboard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People think it's a pretty bonkers way to start your Christmas morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do we inflict this pain upon ourselves?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never really enjoy getting in, I'll be honest.

LUCY HARRIS, MEMBER, SERPENTINE SWIMMING CLUB: On Christmas Day, we get up at about six. It's zero degrees outside, you're driving, it's pitch black, and there might be ice on the windscreen. And you're thinking, what am I doing?

LAURE LATHAM, HONORARY SECRETARY, SERPENTINE SWIMMING CLUB: It's seven a.m. in the morning, we are in the changing room of the Serpentine Swimming Club in Hyde Park in London.

HARRIS: For Christmas Day race started late in the late 1800s. It's one of the oldest swimming races in the world.

LATHAM: Races, former, veteran members of the club.

HARRIS: J.M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan, he donated the first cup, and that is why it's called the Peter Pan Cup. My grandfather, Albert Greenberry, swam in the 700 from 1906. He was probably one of the handful of people who swam religiously every day. He became president of the club in 1935 until he died in 1955. And then, my family took over the honor of presenting the Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day.

This is 1986. Here is me and my brother, my sister. I went every single Christmas Day to present a cup with my family. Every year, I thought I really should try this. And I never did.


HARRIS: Harris.



HARRIS: It was about 52 when I started. I have to be in the first race because I get so nervous that I just have to get it over and done with.

As I'm walking down towards the Serpentine, I'm really, really nervous, and then getting in the water, I was like, how am I going to do it? Am I going to do it? Why am I doing it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-one, 22, 23, 24, 25. Come on. Hurry up. HARRIS: It's really hard to get into that water, and you think these thoughts, but you do it, and then after it's like, oh my god, what I've done. When you get out, it's like your fingers feel like they're burning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know it's very cold now. We're about five minutes.

HARRIS: The people who swim and who belong to the Serpentine are particularly unique in their own way.

PAUL ARTHERTON, MEMBER, SERPENTINE SWIMMING CLUB: T, most important part of swimming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feeling the rush, feeling the cold, it's just an amazing things to do.

ROBIN HUNTER-CODDINGTON, VICE PRESIDENT, SERPENTINE SWIMMING CLUB: It doesn't matter how cold waters you're getting in. And when there is ice, we still get it.

ARTHERTON: You come out. You have a hot toddy, and you wish people a Merry Christmas. What a better start for Christmas morning is that.

HARRIS: The Christmas race is the ultimate race, and I don't know ever give it up.


QUEST: And I don't think I will ever do it. No, never say never, Richard. You know what happens to that, you end up doing it next year.

A quick look away. American Samoa is the last habitable place on earth where Santa will go and he will be there in an hour or so. And that means it will be the end of Christmas in terms of Santa. He will have delivered more than seven and a half billion gifts, including these rather delightful cuff links that I got this morning from Chris, and they are just delightful.

Now Christmas cracker time. Come on, Giorgi (ph). I couldn't find anybody else. Everybody else is running away.

Choose your poison. Okay here we go.

This is a tradition by the way. Oh you got it. All right. Give me the joke.

I'll read the joke, and you have the ritual humiliation and putting on the hat. Oh, we're not sure what that is. Okay, put the hat on.

Here we go.

I say, I say, I say -- what do you call an old snowman?


QUEST: Water.


QUEST: Water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my goodness. Very good.

QUEST: Thank you very much. I'm very grateful to you. Happy Christmas.


QUEST: Happy Christmas.

And that is our report on this hour. Many thanks for joining us. The Christmas traditions continue. Some things just always have to be follow-through.

I'm Richard Quest.

"INSIDE AFRICA" is next, and then it's "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER". Whatever you are celebrating, I wish you well.