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Heavy Fighting In Gaza Amid Search For Hamas Leaders; Images Showed Israeli Military Detaining Blindfolded Gazans; U.N. Security Council Meeting On Gaza Ceasefire Resolution; Children In Gaza Need Life-Saving Support; Russia Fires Missiles At Ukraine After Pause; University Leaders Under Fire Over Congressional Testimony. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 08, 2023 - 10:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This hour, the U.N. Security Council is expected to meet on an Arab-backed resolution calling for a

humanitarian pause in Gaza. We'll bring you the latest. But first, a new barrage of Russian missiles launched overnight against Ukraine after a

nearly three-month pause. Ukraine says missiles that were fired at Kyiv were all intercepted and destroyed.

And new report on the health of the American economy has just been released. More jobs created and the U.S. stock market not overjoyed with

the news as inflation remains a threat. And new federal charges alleging tax fraud are filed against Hunter Biden, the son of U.S. president Joe

Biden. He's accused of evading taxes and filing false returns.

Welcome to our second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD.

The United Nations Security Council is voting today on a resolution that seeks for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the fighting in Gaza. All

eyes will be on how the United States will vote on the Arab-backed resolution, tabled by the United Arab Emirates and seconded by Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military says it has hit more than 250 targets over the past day, the highest number since the truce with Hamas ended, causing

more chaos and destruction for Gazans who are already struggling with a humanitarian crisis.

So, tonight, we ask. How will this vote impact the war? Alex Marquardt is back with us this hour from Tel Aviv.

Great to see you, Alex. What is the situation like right now from a military perspective on the ground in Gaza?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Eleni, some of the fiercest fighting has been taking place in and around the city

of Khan Younis, the second biggest city in Gaza. It's the biggest in the south. Israel has said that it is operating in the heart of Khan Younis. It

is attempting to encircle the city because they say that some of Hamas's most senior leadership are believed to be there.

So that has really become the focus but we are now two months into this conflict. Israel's stated goal is eradicating Hamas. So far they say that

Israel says that several thousand Hamas fighters have been killed. That's just a fraction of the overall force. And the militant group's most senior

leaders are still being hunted by Israel's military. Take a look.


MARQUARDT: This video of Hamas fighting against Israeli troops, which was released by the militant group, shows not only how intense the battles are,

but is a propaganda message from Hamas that they are still fiercely resisting two months into this war.

Israel's stated goal of eradicating Hamas has driven Israeli troops straight into Khan Younis, where they believe the most senior Hamas leaders

may be, including Hamas' top official in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who remains on the battlefield. Mohamed Deif, the shadowy head of Hamas's military wing,

is also believed to still be alive.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Israeli forces surrounded Sinwar's Khan Younis home, though the IDF admits they believe he's hiding out

underground. Two months after Hamas carried out the deadliest attack in Israel's history, the response has led to a colossal humanitarian

catastrophe. Experts and officials say Hamas has been degraded but Israel still has a long way to go to achieve its goals.

OFER SHELAH, FORMER MEMBER OF ISRAELI PARLIAMENT: What the IDF has been tasked with is disabling Hamas as a military threat to Israel's people by

killing terrorists, by destroying infrastructure, and by eventually getting to the leadership of Hamas.

MARQUARDT: That effort is still very much underway. The IDF released this photo of leaders of Hamas' northern Gaza brigade, circling five commanders

that the IDF says it killed in a tunnel. CNN reached out to Hamas for comment. Israel claims to have killed other senior and mid-level

commanders, as well as several thousand rank-and-file militants, which is just a fraction of what the IDF estimates is 30,000 fighters.

LT. GEN. MARK SCHWARTZ (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I think there are -- there have been some successes, but my point is there's going to still be a lot more

ground combat to come. And I think you'll see over the coming weeks, more precision targeting going after Hamas leaders as they, you know, show


MARQUARDT: In the next month or so, U.S. officials say Israel is expected to lower the intensity of its operations, which have killed thousands of

civilians, so many of them children, and displaced more than 80 percent of Gaza's population. Israel hears the international pressure and global calls

for a cease-fire, but insists there are still much more of Hamas to root out before the diplomacy starts.


SHELAH: We're getting to a tipping point where the major question will no longer be how many people we kill. It will be what happens in Gaza so that

the situation there becomes different and nothing like Hamas can grow again to be a military threat against Israel.


MARQUARDT (on-camera): So, Eleni, we are currently seeing some of the most intense fighting that we have seen during this conflict, according to

Israel's military. But in terms of a timeline, Israeli and American officials have told my colleagues and me that they expect this high

intensity phase, as they've called it, to continue for another few weeks, potentially until the end of the month before there is a transition to a

lower intensity phase, possibly in January.

That phase will look like more localized strike counterterrorism operations by special forces unit, for example, to take out specific leaders. But the

expectation is that could continue for quite some time. Israeli leaders have said that this conflict is going to go on for a while, and they're

still very much the question that is being debated in the U.S., here in Israel, in Arab capitals and at the United Nations about the governance for

the Gaza Strip and for the Palestinian people following this conflict -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Well, humanitarian groups are struggling to resolve the aid bottleneck that is keeping crucial supplies out of Gaza. The U.N. says only 69 aid trucks

into Gaza on Thursday. That is less than half the average number of deliveries that were getting through daily during the truce. The growing

humanitarian crisis comes as the Palestinian Health Ministry reports that six Palestinians were shot and killed by the Israeli military at the Al

Faraa refugee camp.

CNN has reached out to IDF for comment. Meantime, images posted on social media show a mass detention of men in Gaza by the Israeli military. And you

can see a large group here, stripped to their underwear, kneeling and sitting, while blindfolded. The exact dates and circumstances of the

detention are not clear. The Israeli Defense Forces has not responded to CNN's request for comment on these images.

For more on these developing stories, I want to bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, as well as Larry Madowo in Cairo.

Great to see you both.

Ben, I want to start off with you. We've seen these images of these detentions, of these men stripped down to their underwear. Lots of

questions surrounding how and when this happened. And then of course the killings in the West Bank as well.

Could you take me through these important developments?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these images appeared to be in northern Gaza and areas that Israel controls. We

understand that they were going around to U.N. schools, where people were taking shelter, and other areas and simply rounding up all the men,

stripping them down to their underwear, blindfolding them, tying their hands behind their back, putting them on trucks and driving them to unknown

locations where they are being interrogated.

Now we have been in touch with people who recognized relatives who were among those detained and they said one guy is a shopkeeper. Others have

said one is a journalist. It does appear that it's simply a question of round them all up and then try to sort out who they actually are. Now I

have seen similar things back in 2002, when Israel invaded the West Bank. We saw that all the men and most of the teenager, teenage males, were

rounded up in like town squares, village squares, handcuffed, in some cases blindfolded, taken away for interrogation.

Now, as far as that Israeli raid on the refugee camp and the northern West Bank, yes, six people were killed. But that was only one of multiple

Israeli incursions into Palestinian communities throughout the occupied West Bank. Last week we were reporting on a similar incursion into Jenin,

also nearby to where those events took place overnight.

This is the reality of Israel's occupation of the West Bank. They go into towns. They're looking for so called wanted people --

GIOKOS: -- interrupting because we have live images and U.N. Security Council is now meeting. Here is Antonio Guterres, the U.N. head.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Because of the way this conflict has evolved. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the U.N. is

totally committed to stand and deliver for the people of Gaza, and I pay tributes to the humanitarian aid workers, who remain committed to their

work despite the enormous dangers to their health and their lives. But the situation is simply becoming untenable.


The council called the resolution 27-12, and I quote, "For the scaling up of the provision of such supplies to meet humanitarian needs of the

civilian population, especially children," end quote. I deeply regret to inform the council that under current conditions on the ground, the

fulfillment of these mandates has become impossible.

The conditions for the effective delivery of humanitarian aid no longer exist. The crossing point at Rafah was not designed for hundreds of trucks,

and this is a major bottleneck. But even if sufficient supplies were permitted into Gaza, intense bombardment and hostilities, Israeli

restrictions on movement, fuel shortages, and interrupted communications make it impossible for U.N. agencies and their partners to reach most of

the people in need.

Between 3 and 5 December, the two days preceding my letter, the U.N. could only distribute aid in one of Gaza governorates Rafah. Elsewhere access was

impossible. People are desperate, fearful, and angry. And in some cases, they have expressed their anger towards our own staff.

Mister President, all this takes place amid a spiraling humanitarian nightmare. First, there is no effective protection of civilians. More than

17,000 Palestinian staff have reportedly been killed since the start of Israel's military operations. These includes more than 4,000 women and

7,000 children. Tens of thousands are reported to have been injured, and many are missing, presumably under the rubble.

And all these numbers are increasing by the day. Attacks from air, land and sea are intense, continuous and widespread. So far, they have reportedly

hit of 339 education facilities, 26 hospitals, 56 health care facilities, 88 mosques, and three churches. Over 60 percent of Gaza's housing has

reportedly been destroyed or damaged. Some 300,000 houses and apartments. Some 85 percent of the population had been forced from their homes.

The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs. Ricocheting between an ever smaller slivers of the south without any of the basics for

survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe. At least 88 UNRWA shelters have been hit, killing over 270 people and injuring over 900. Conditions in shelters

are overcrowded and unsanitary. People have open wounds. Hundreds of people stand in line for hours to use one shower or toilet.

Families who have lost everything sleep on bare concrete floors, wearing clothes they have not changed for two months. Tens of thousands of

Palestinians arrived in Rafah in recent days, overwhelming shelters there. Many displaced families, including children, older people, pregnant women,

and people with disabilities, are sleeping in streets and public spaces across the city.

Mister President, second, Gazans are running out of food. According to the World Food Program, there is a serious risk of starvation and famine. In

northern Gaza, 97 percent of households are not eating enough. In the south, the figurative amount of displaced people is 83 percent. Half the

people of the north and more than one-third of displaced people in the south are simply starving. WFP's own food stocks are running out.

In the north, nine out of 10 people have spent at least one full day and night without food. The last functioning flour mill in Gaza was destroyed

on 15 November. WFP has provided food and cash assistance to hundreds of thousands of people across Gaza since the crisis began, and is ready to

scale up its operations. However, that would require effective access to all people in need, and at least 40 trucks of food supplies every day, many

times the current level.


Mister President, third, Gaza's health system is collapsing while needs are escalating. At least 286 health workers have been killed. Hospitals have

suffered heavy bombardment. Just 14 out of 36 are still functioning. Of these, three are providing basic first aid, while the others are delivering

partial services. The European Gaza Hospital, one of the two main hospitals in southern Gaza, has 370 beds. It is currently housing 1,000 patients and

an estimated 70,000 people seeking shelter.

There are critical shortages of drugs, blood products and medical supplies. Fuel to run the hospitals is severely rationed. Many patients are being

treated on the floor and without anesthetics. As patients with life- threatening injuries continue to arrive, wards are overflowing and staff are overwhelmed. At the same time, the unsanitary conditions in shelters

and severe shortages of food and water are leading to increases in respiratory infections, scabies, jaundice and diarrhea.

Everything I have just described represents an unprecedented situation that led to my unprecedented decision to invoke Article 99, urging the members

of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, and appealing for a humanitarian cease-fire to be declared.

Mister President, we are all aware that Israel began its military operations in response to the brutal terror attacks unleashed by Hamas and

other Palestinian armed groups on 7 October. I unreservedly condemn those attacks. And I'm appalled by the reports of sexual violence. There is no

possible justification for deliberately killing some 1,200 people, including 33 children, injuring thousands more, and taking hundreds of


Some 130 hostages are still held captive. And I call for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as their humane treatment and visits

from the International Committee of the Red Cross until they are freed. At the same time, the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the

collective punishment of the Palestinian people. And while indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel and the use of civilians as human shields

are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations.

International humanitarian law includes the duty to protect civilians and to comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and

precaution. The laws of war also demand that civilians' essential needs must be met, including by facilitating the unimpeded delivery of

humanitarian relief. International humanitarian law cannot be applied selectively. It is binding on all parties equally at all times, and the

obligation to observe it does not depend on reciprocity.

Mister President, the people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. The international community must do everything possible to end their ordeal. I

urge the Council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, for the protection of civilians, and for the urgent delivery of

life-saving aid. While we deal with the current crisis, we cannot lose sight of the only viable possibility for a peaceful future.

A two-state solution, on the basis of United Nations resolutions and international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace

and security. This is vital for Israelis, Palestinians, and for international peace and security. The eyes of the world and the eyes of

history are watching. It's time to act. And I thank you.

GIOKOS: All right, there we have the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, going through everything that is not only a reality for

people in Gaza right now but also the U.N.'s stance, and it was a really very moving to hear some of the realities of people, of things they're

facing, the desperate situation, running out of food and talking about people starving.


The unprecedented situation right now calling for an unprecedented decision. And he talks about invoking Article 30, Article 99, which is a

really big move and significant.

We've got Ben Wedeman with us, and we also have Larry Madowo standing by.

Ben, I want to come to you first. You've been really monitoring very closely the crisis unfolding in Gaza. And I have to say, hearing Antonio

Guterres taking us through some of the numbers, not only the death toll, but just how many mosques and churches and schools have been hit, and the

realities of nine out of 10 people in northern Gaza basically not eating for over two days. It's tough to listen to, but these are the realities of

people in Gaza right now.

WEDEMAN: Yes, that's right. He said that the people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. In fact, if they're not there already. He talked about them

being human pinballs, being moved around from one place to another. About 88 U.N. shelters that had been struck by Israel, more than 270 people in

those shelters being killed. What we're hearing from him, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that looks after Palestinian refugees, is that

the humanitarian efforts in Gaza is collapsing.

Collapsing because they can't get enough supplies in. They can't reach the people who desperately need it. As a result, Antonio Guterres is talking

about the spread of disease throughout this, particularly the southern Gaza Strip. This is what we've been reporting on now for weeks. Just how bad the

situation is. And as moving as his words were, I think they are falling on deaf ears.

The United States has already made it clear that it is not going to support a humanitarian cease-fire. That it still supports Israel's military

objectives in Gaza, and of course, they prefer to do the backdoor, quiet diplomacy, but we learned today that the death toll, I wrote it down, it's

more than -- it's getting close to 18,000. Clearly quiet backdoor diplomacy is not working -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. A really good point, and within that 17,000 number, he reiterated, 4,000 women killed, 7,000 children, and many more missing under

the rubble.

Ben Wedeman, thank you very much for that analysis.

Well, the toll of the current war on Gaza's children is truly heartbreaking. James Elder, a spokesperson for the U.N. children's agency,

says a father of two critically injured children told him this. "I want to do just one thing when the war is over. Cry." And James Elder joins me now.

James, really good to have you with us. We just heard from the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is really just spelling out some of

the very difficult scenarios and realities of people in Gaza. I know we're trying to get your shot back up.

All right. We've lost James Elder. We are trying to get that connection back up and running. We're going to a short break. When we return, we'll be

speaking to him in just a bit. Stay with CNN.



GIOKOS: All right. Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Eleni Giokos. And let's take a look at your headlines this hour.

Russian missiles that were heading for Kyiv have been intercepted and destroyed. That is according to Ukrainian officials. Some homes in the

Ukrainian capital were damaged by falling missile debris. Friday's new barrage from Moscow comes after a nearly 80-day pause.

Israel's military says it struck 450 targets in Gaza in what is the heaviest day of bombardment since the temporary pause in fighting ended a

week ago. The IDF claiming it's killed, quote, "numerous terrorists" in precision strikes in Khan Younis. The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry

reports hundreds more deaths in the past day and more than 17,000 Palestinians killed since the war started.

A plane load of badly needed aid for Gaza is expected to arrive in Egypt today from the United States. Humanitarian deliveries have slowed

significantly since the truce between Israel and Hamas ended. The U.N. says only 69 aid trucks into Gaza on Thursday. Israel says it will open a border

crossing into Gaza in the coming days to facilitate relief efforts.

The toll of the current war on Gaza's children is truly, truly heartbreaking. James Elder, a spokesperson for the U.N. children's agency,

says a father of two critically injured children told him this. "I want to do just one thing when this war is over. Cry." And James Elder joins me


So really great to have you on. It's a difficult time. I know that you went into Gaza on the first day of the truce, which was really important, and

you left on the 4th of December. So we're talking a few days ago. Tell me a little bit about what you experienced. We just heard from the U.N.

secretary-general. He was describing, honestly, what sounds like hell on earth.

JAMES ELDER, SPOKESPERSON, UNICEF: It is. In my 20 years, Eleni, I've never seen just the sheer intensity because, of course, as we've heard time and

again, the density of people. Let's understand when you've just gotten now another million people in what was already the most crowded, and I think I

just heard the IDF that recorded Israeli officials saying 450 bombardments in a day. You cannot not hit homes, buildings, civilians.

So, Eleni, when I was in hospitals and they are warzones, you know, dozens of children with the wounds of war on the floor, children who have lost a

limb who are not being seen to because they're critical but stable. And there's a child bleeding out. The screams of mothers ring with me right

now. And somehow, somehow for people, and I spoke to people today in Gaza, somehow, for many of them, their biggest fear right now is dehydration.

A friend, a colleague who spoke, his mother had not had clean water for 24 hours. His 3-year-old had not had clean water for 24 hours. So the

intensity of sadness and sorrow that's taken root and the incalculable number of children and mothers who are being killed.

GIOKOS: You know, I spent a while in Cairo, and I was meeting with injured Palestinian that have been evacuated. And, you know, you just hear the

desperation. You hear that they were scrambling for some food and some water. And that was a few weeks ago. So you think about how dire the

situation is right now. And then compounded by that, we are worried about the diseases that are playing out in real time and what that means in terms

of the ability to try and treat these people.


So we're talking about people moving into safe zones, but those safe zones, as you say, are becoming areas of disease.

ELDER: I think it's the most important point, Eleni, that you raised, that there is a narrative of safe zones. Now, morally, let's look at legally,

safe does not just mean free from bombardment. Certainly many safe zones have been bombed after being called safe. Safe also, as a responsibility of

the occupying power, Israel, safe means food, water, medicine, protection.

People are being moved from places where a teenage girl, an adolescent girl, would cue for four hours for toilet, six hours for a shower. They're

being moved from those places, where they were forced to having hit their home bombed in the north to a street corner, to a dusty patch of lands.

There's nothing, and I really mean nothing. Not a drop of water. Not a bathroom. 10,000 people wake up one day, there is not a toilet to be seen.

So there is nowhere safe. By that, we now mean that if you are not being bombed in a shelter because you chose to stay, you are moving to an area

where dehydration, dehydration is your primary concern. And the perfect storm for disease, the storm has commenced. The question now is, can we

bring it under control?

GIOKOS: Only with more aid and a cease-fire, I guess, and we will get to that in just a bit. You know, I woke up this morning, James, and I saw this

Instagram post. This is you explaining, I guess, the differences in the way we treat certain conflicts. Take a listen.


ELDER: I was in Ukraine when families just like these were forced to flee, and the world opened its heart to them. I do not understand now why the

world has closed its eyes.


GIOKOS: I can hear the urgency in your voice, James. And it's difficult to not get emotive when you watch that clip. What were you trying to get

across there to the international community?

ELDER: Just saying tens of thousands of people who have tried to stay, they tried to stay in the north, homes bombed, just before that moment, Eleni, I

had met a man who had explained to me his entire family come into the home as they do because they tried to be somewhere safe. So his mother, his

father-in-law, his children, his life, his cousins, everyone had been killed. And I was trying to understand the Arabic number until he wrote it

in the dirt.

It was 30. Thirty people, his entire family. And now you've got a stream of people who are traumatized and living in kind of humiliating fashion as

well, taking what they can, and I saw the world's response in Ukraine. And we shouldn't compare crises, but it was an emboldening movement. It gave me

a real sense of heart that we can come together and understand what's happening to someone, even if we don't understand their situation.

And to see what's happening now to middle class people, to artists, to economists, to workers, with a silence. With humanity actually closing its

eyes. I find that very difficult, particularly because they are moving with nothing but the bombardment is the most ever present thing. They don't have

access to water and sanitation, but my goodness, they have access to rockets and mortars.

GIOKOS: U.N. Security Council meeting today, voting on the resolution put forward, calling for a sustained cease-fire. The U.N. secretary general

invoking Article 99. This is going to be, I guess, a very important moment. We are approaching that 20,000 number, in terms of killed in Gaza. What do

you believe the outcome will be?

ELDER: Well, I mean, it's difficult to second guess here. I think that political analysis have looked at that and seeing concern that it may not

get through. That terrifies me as a humanitarian -- as a father, but as a humanitarian. I think we can all agree, all your viewers would agree, we

have this intrinsic sense that we want to protect children. My concern is we're losing that. We're losing that in this conflict, where these

astronomical number of children killed, the highest number of U.N. colleagues killed in any war in the history of the United Nations in eight


I think more of your media colleagues killed in any other conflict in recent times. There would be to me only one same thing to do there. And I

know it sounds, Eleni, like I'm talking in terms of, you know, principle and emotion. No, on a practical level, on a practical level, the

destruction of Gaza and the killing of so many children is polarizing people. It's creating more anger and more frustration, and it's pushing us

further away from the peace that the children in Israel, the children in Gaza and the West Bank, the children in the region so desperately need. So,

to me, only a cease-fire.


We will look back at this moment when 10,000, 12,000, 30,000 children were killed and disease took hold in three months, and it will be a dark, dark

moment. And we have been warned, everyone has been warned, and the international order, you know, has to take a look at just how great things

have gotten, if again it is decided that no red lines. We continue with 450 bombardments a day in a tiny, tiny space on the planet with two million

people trying to hide there.

GIOKOS: Well, James, I appreciate you coming on and sharing what your experience on the ground and, of course, aid workers in Gaza doing heroic

work and I thank you very much for your time.

James Elder there from UNICEF.

Well, Russian missiles that were heading for Kyiv have been intercepted and destroyed. That's what we're hearing from Ukrainian officials. The new

barrage comes after a nearly three months of pause. Some homes in the Ukrainian capital were damaged by falling missile debris. But the country's

eastern region didn't get off so lightly. The Interior Ministry says one person was killed and four others wounded after Russian missile strikes on

Kharkiv. On top of all of this, a U.S. lifeline of arms and ammunition could be in danger of collapsing.

Now we are on the ground in Eastern Ukraine, where Nick Paton Walsh is standing by for us.

Nick, great to have you on and great to have you on the ground there. Many of these missiles intercepted in terms of what we've been seeing. But a lot

of it did make it through. I want you to give me a sense of what the damage is and what we're talking about on this front.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, look. I mean, the important part about this is it appears to be the return of

Russia's cruise missiles. After the bombardments, which have not stopped over the past months, when much of the world's focus has been on the Middle

East. They were mostly Shaheed drones, other missile attacks. These are the caliber cruise missiles likely, which many felt Russia might have a limited

supply on, but Russia said it would be able to make an infinite number of.

They are now back after 79 days of absence. 19 fires, Ukraine says they intercepted 15 of them. Before they got through one killed in

Dnipropetrovsk, debris falling on Kyiv as you mentioned. Damage and eight injured in a town we just drove through, Pavlohrad, but also, too,

separately in Kharkiv, in the east, S-300 missiles landing hitting residential buildings there, causing other injuries as well.

And the fear, I think, being that as winter really takes a grip on the frontlines, but also civilian life here as well, this could be a repeat, an

echoing of what we saw last winter, which was Russia's persistent attacks on the energy infrastructure, the basic fabric of daily life of Ukrainians

here aimed at plunging them into darkness and cold. That may be back, but it comes, too, at a time in which Ukraine is now deeply concerned about its

viability on the frontlines going forward.

The U.S. has just released $175 million of aid. That is a paltry sum compared to the billions we were seeing over the past years. Sorry, year

plus. Often a couple billion dollars, it seemed, every other week announced by the Pentagon. This is a reflection of log jam up on Congress. Aid for

Ukraine and for Israel and for the migration problems on the southern U.S. border, all being part of a political jockeying there, causing concerns

certainly in the White House and Pentagon, but more deeply in Kyiv as well.

But that money may soon run out. We don't know exactly when the transparency on how much is left in the Pentagon's account isn't open.

Obviously this is a war here. But it certainly seems to be close, and one of the last is how this recent tranche announcements was referred to. But

for Ukrainians here this aid is essentially an existential matter. And they point out, too, that it's an existential matter for European security as

well -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: So, Nick, I mean, you articulate that brilliantly in your piece that you wrote. You can find it on And you say this, and I just

want to read out this segment. You say, "The biggest advantage Putin has is a West out of ideas, an alliance which saw its main strategy with key fail,

and now thinks that more of the same aid is essentially futile, as the war cannot be decisively won."

I want you to take me through how all of this is playing basically in Putin's hands?

WALSH: Well, Putin, I think, is somebody who most considered to have significant patience. His patience has bought for him by the fact he

doesn't face electoral cycles, like Joe Biden does, like most European capitals do. It's almost 22 years plus that he's been the premier figure in

Russian politics, forgive me, 24 almost.


And so many felt that as they ran into issues last year, that Russia would essentially wait out the Ukrainians, wait for all the focus of a West

adrift elsewhere, wait for their financing to possibly ebb, wait maybe for an electoral cycle in the United States to make the idea of aid for Ukraine

become less popular. That certainly seems to be the case, despite the fact that Republicans, possibly on the Hill, don't necessarily see clearly

enough that aid to Ukraine is exactly what stops the United States from being further dragged into this conflict.

If Ukraine can't keep Russia back from pushing further in, then Russia gets closer to NATO members, which could drag the United States in. And so the

fear amongst Ukrainians, amongst so many Western analysts, as we see a moment here where Western supports looks fragile, it's not gone by any

stretch of the imagination, but frontlines are at a stalemate, winter is unlikely to change that, and potentially, Putin's capacity for endless pain

in terms of casualties may mean that in months to come, he has yet to cede any more territory and might be able to even claim some sense of victory --


GIOKOS: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much. Great to see you.

We're going to a very short break. I'll be back right after this.


GIOKOS: Well, three elite U.S. universities are facing intense scrutiny after a hearing on antisemitism in the House of Representatives. On

Tuesday, lawmakers summoned the presidents of MIT, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania to answer questions about incidents on campus.

None of the three would explicitly say that individuals calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their university's code of conduct.

The hearing instantly triggering a storm of criticism. The MIT board says it fully supports its presidents. The Harvard and Penn presidents have put

out new statements trying to clarify their remarks. There could be a huge fallout for the three universities. Both in terms of their reputation as

well as financially. One major donor to Penn is threatening to rescind a $100 million gift.

For more on this, I go to Matt Egan, joining us live from New York.

Look, apart from the reputational issues in the fallout here, there's also clearly an economic one as well. $100 million for Penn.


Could you give me a sense of what we're seeing right now and what the ramifications could be?

MATT EGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Eleni, you know, it does feel like the walls are beginning to close in around Elizabeth Magill, the president of

the University of Pennsylvania, which is one of the most powerful institutions in America.

This is a fluid situation. There's been a lot of developments in just the last 24 hours. Let me run you through the latest. Last night, we learned

that the Wharton Board of Advisers, which is basically a who's who list of power brokers in the business world. They are calling for Elizabeth Magill

to step down. They are calling for an immediate leadership change. We also have this mega donor, Ross Stevens, threatening to cancel $100 million gift

to the school.

And at the same time, we also have the House committee, the same one that had that hearing that cost all this controversy, that House committee has

launched an investigation into Penn, MIT and Harvard, and the latest is that the former U.S. ambassador, John Huntsman, he is for the first time

calling for Liz Magill to step down.

Let me read you what John Huntsman told me in a statement. He said, and I'm quoting, "We are anchored to the past until the trustee step up and

completely cut ties with current leadership, full stop. At this point, it's not even debatable. Just a simple IQ test."

So, Eleni, you know, it is clear that Liz Magill's presidency is in real danger here, and that Penn is in full blown crisis mode. I think what's

less clear is whether or not Liz Magill's presidency is going to make it through this crisis.

GIOKOS: Yes. And interestingly, we also know that Liz Magill tried to sort back track or try to clarify her comments or lack thereof, I guess, during

the hearing. Could you give me a sense of whether her new statement is going to work to try and mitigate some of the damage that's already been


EGAN: Yes. So right after the hearing the day after, we did hear from the Penn president, put out a video on social media, and did try to clarify her

message, right, and she said that, listen, the rules, the policies at the school must be changed, and she said that in her view, that calls for

genocide against Jews, that that would be harassment and a violation of the rules. But that was not enough to silence her critics. We've heard a

continued round of criticism.

Listen to what Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told our colleague, Kate Bolduan, yesterday.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: And I got to say, I saw the Liz Magill video last night. It looked like a

(INAUDIBLE), like she was speaking under duress. I understand why the governor of Pennsylvania, I understand why so many of the trustees. I don't

have confidence in her. I don't have confidence anymore that Penn is capable under this leadership of getting it right.


EGAN: Now, Eleni, there's a spokesperson from the University of Pennsylvania that says there is no board planned for an imminent leadership

change at the school. But you've got to wonder, if we continue to hear powerful donors and politicians speak out, calling for a leadership change,

whether or not that will change.

GIOKOS: Matt Egan, great to see you. Thank you.

We're going to a very short break. I'll be back right after this. Stay with CNN.



GIOKOS: Three hundred groups, activists, and community leaders are calling on President Biden to stop funding the liquefied natural gas industry. LNG

is a fossil fuel that contributes to the climate crisis. The letter calls on the government to veto the building of new LNG terminals in America and

to cease financial support for LNG projects abroad. The U.S. was the world's leading exporter of LNG in the first half of 2023.

Now long before the UAE hosted COP28, this area was known for pearl diving. It's a practice that is innately in tune with nature.

CNN Academy participant, Mira Al-Qubaisi (PH), spoke to one Emirati pearl diver who remembers the environmental stewardship of past generations.


ABDULLA AL SUWAIDI, PEARL DIVER: This pearl is more expensive than a barrel of oil. You will be very surprised if I tell you, oyster or pearl oyster in

the bottom of the sea is more sustainable than a human.

I am Abdulla Rashed Al-Suwaidi, a pearl diver from a long line of generations who has dived for the pearls in Arabian farm. Very proud

Emirati and I love what I do.

Human is important polluting the water, and in polluting the air as well that increasing warming temperature in the globe. Oyster is responsible for

filtering daily 50 to 60 gallons by taking all the sediment of the sea and the nitrogen and releasing oxygen. The generation and the (INAUDIBLE) very

environment responsible. That's why they handed over the care for the environment. We are damaging this environment, unfortunately, in a short

period of time.


GIOKOS: Well, turning now to CNN's "As Equals" project, exploring the intersection between gender and climate over the course of COP28.

A few days ago, we brought you a story about the impact of Indonesia's electric vehicle ambitions. Women farmers on the island of Sulawesi say

their land is being ceased to make way for nickel mines. The metal is used in cell phones, computers, and increasingly in electric batteries.

Like many in Indonesia, the women did not have clear land titles and are facing eviction. At the time the mining company, PT Vale, had not responded

to our questions. In an e-mail to CNN, the company today did not deny that farms have been seized. It did not confirm whether it legally purchased the

land, but said that it operates in accordance to the law. It said it's working with local authorities to address what it says is, quote, "illegal


And you can head to CNN's digital platform for the full story.

Now, as part as CNN's "As Equals" coverage at the COP28, we are showcasing the work of photojournalists in various parts of the world where the

climate crisis is having an adverse impact on gender issues. We are taking a look at this powerful photo exhibit for tonight's "Parting Shots."


ELIZA ANYANGWE, MANAGING EDITOR, CNN AS EQUALS: So many people don't know that the climate crisis exacerbates gender inequality. We went to the

Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Brazil, Nigeria, and Kenya. What we see with the pictures is that gender issues affect entire


My name Eliza Anyangwe, I am the managing editor of CNN "As Equals," which is CNN's gender inequality reporting team. We were always looking for new

and interesting ways to report on climate, and wanted something that felt more arresting. And so the opportunity to work more closely with the CNN

photos team was just one we couldn't pass up.

BERNADETTE TUAZON, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY, CNN DIGITAL: I'm Bernadette Tuazon, director of photography for CNN Digital. We wanted to make sure

that the photographers whom we hired belonged to these regions. My very first instructions to them is that you really need to bring the CNN

audience into these communities. And we were able to tell the story of women and girls in Pampanga in the Philippines.

When Typhoon Hainan hit this region of the country, a lot of these women and girls were impacted. And some of them were trafficked. Taiwo Aina is

the photographer we have worked with on Nigeria. Because it is very hot, a lot of children no longer go to school. Just how she had captured these

photographs really shows you how these young women and children want to be in school.


ANYANGWE: You really start to get this global picture of how the climate crisis affects inequality, but also the resilience and strength of women in

various communities. And so the other thing we want to make sure really comes across at COP is that women have to have a seat at the table. And for

us, it was really important that we thought right at the beginning of the project how are we going to get the journalism off the digital platform and

into real life space where policy makers, influencers, thought leaders, how do we basically stop them in their tracks with our journalism.


GIOKOS: Incredible work, incredible images there. Well, for more photos and stories from these photojournalists, head to, and if

you're here in the UAE, you can see this exhibit for yourself at the COP28 Green Zone. Definitely worth a visit.

Well, that is it for CONNECT THE WORLD team. From me, Eleni Giokos, thank you so much for joining us. "STATE OF THE RACE" with Kasie Hunt is up next.

Have a fantastic weekend.