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U.S. and U.K. Strike Iran-Backed Houthi Targets in Yemen; Interview with John Kirby; Israel Disputes Genocide Claims at The Hague; Beavers Return to U.K. After 400-Year Absence; Taiwanese Head to Polls Saturday to Elect New President. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 12, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET



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

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, vows revenge and a huge protests in Yemen's capital after the U.S. and U.K. strike Houthi targets

inside Yemen.

Well, this is the scene in Sanaa a short time ago. Thousands of protesters turned out after airstrikes that U.S. and U.K. say were in response to

weeks of Houthi attacks on shipping interests in the Red Sea. Well, the Houthi leader calls U.S. and U.K. strikes barbaric. A military spokesperson

says they killed five people and he is promising retaliation. Take a listen.


YAHYA SAREA, HOUTHI MILITARY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): The American and British enemy bears full responsibility for its criminal

aggression against our Yemeni people and it will not go unanswered.


ANDERSON: Well, the U.S. Military says multiple Houthi targets were hit in 16 locations across Yemen. You're seeing some of that operation here in

video released by Britain's Defense Ministry. A U.S. official describes the destruction of Houthi assets as significant.

So let's take a closer look at the ramifications of these strikes in Yemen with Matthew Chance, who is in Downing Street in London, Natasha Bertrand

at the Pentagon. And let's just get the perspective from there at this point. So I do want to bring in John Kirby after you guys from the White


Natasha, what's the perspective from the Pentagon on what happened overnight?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pentagon is framing these strikes on Houthi targets as an act of self-defense. And

importantly, they are really playing up the fact and emphasizing that this was not just a U.S. operation, it was done in conjunction with the United

Kingdom as well as with support from five other nations, including the Netherlands and Bahrain and Canada.

And so the U.S. says that the targeting of the Houthis was significant. They have not yet released a percentage, for example, of just how many of

the Houthis' assets were degraded or destroyed in this operation, nor have we gotten a reliable count from the Pentagon just about just how many

Houthi militants may have been killed in this operation if any. But for now, the U.S. says that they are reserving the right to again attack the

Houthis if they continue to launch these attacks on Red Sea shipping.

Now it's unclear if the Houthis can actually regroup quickly. The U.S. has said at this point they have not seen signs of any retaliation by the

Houthis but the Houthis have emphasized that they do intend to retaliate. They are calling this an active barbaric aggression. We shall see whether

Iran, which backs the Houthis, gets more involved in this in a significant way as well -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Matthew, a U.K. minister calling these strikes a necessary response in self-defense of our warships in the region. What is the prime

minister had to say?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is currently on a visit to Ukraine where

he's been looking at the military situation there. But I spoke to officials inside Number 10 Downing Street right behind me and they're saying

obviously he's being kept fully abreast of the unfolding situation and of course was at the forefront of, you know, kind of ordering these attacks on

these Houthi positions over the course of the past 24 hours.

It was very much a U.S.-led operation, but Britain it seems was the only other country to send jets and warplanes to accompany U.S. forces in

actually carrying out the strikes. But the British are -- you know, and because of that U.S.-led nature of the operation, they're very much

following that American line. Rishi Sunak saying that these strikes were targeted, that they were limited, and that they were carried out as an act

of self-defense. Take a listen to what Prime Minister Sunak had to say in Ukraine earlier today.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our aim is very clear. It's to de- escalate tensions and to restore stability to the region.


And that's why allies over the past few weeks have issued several statements of condemnation of what's happening, calling on the Houthis to

desist, indeed just this week we've seen a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning what's happening and saying the states have a right to self-

defense. We have acted in self-defense.


CHANCE: So acting in self-defense despite the fact that Rishi Sunak in Ukraine now, officials here at Number 10 tell me there were still meetings

being carried out throughout the course of the day, looking at that security situation. They say there were no further planned strikes at the

moment, but obviously, officials here reserving the right to act again, if the attacks by Houthis against commercial and merchant shipping continues

in the days and the weeks ahead.

ANDERSON: Good to have you both. Thank you.

Let's bring in John Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council, joining me now.

So these strikes -- it's good to have you, John. These strikes in self- defense, defensive, described by the U.S. and the U.K. as proportionate. I think it's important here that we get from you what was achieved. And if

these are defensive in nature, what are the rules of engagement here?


our obligations not just in terms of the president's requirement to be able to defend our troops overseas, but also under U.N. auspices, of course, to

-- as was noted in the U.N. Security Council resolution to protect the free flow of commerce.

So we'll see what the battle damage assessment is here of the actual strikes. I think the Pentagon and our allies are still taking a look at

that to see exactly how much was destroyed but we have no doubt that the targets chosen or targets that were meant specifically to degrade the

Houthis' ability to launch drones, to launch missiles, to store them and other capabilities that they would have, including, for instance, the radar

sites to be able to guide these missiles into targets.

So we know we went after valid targets that should have a dramatic effect on their ability. But again, we have to see what the images show here the

morning after. And we'll get a better assessment of that later today.

ANDERSON: What's the plan here? Is this a one-off strike or should we expect more?

KIRBY: The president said it best in a statement last night, Becky, when he said he reserves the right to continue to take further action to defend our

troops, our ships, and international shipping. So we'll see. Look, the Houthis have a choice to make. And frankly, they had a choice to make, you

know, back in November when they decided to escalate through these attacks. They were given one -- a final warning earlier this month.

They chose to ignore it, launched a pretty massive attack on Tuesday against U.S. and coalition ships, and we responded. So they've got another

choice to make. They need to know that we will stand fully prepared to defend ourselves and defend that shipping if it comes to it.

ANDERSON: You will be well aware that in the region that I am on here in the UAE, around this region, not least in Saudi and in the UAE, and the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there is real concern about what is going on at president, and real concerned about the risk of a wider,

regional conflict here.

I just want to quote a statement from the Kingdom here, quote, "While the Kingdom stresses the importance of maintaining the security and stability

of the Red Sea region in which freedom of navigation is an international demand because it harms the interests of the entire world, it, the Kingdom,

calls for restraint and avoiding escalation in light of the events that this region is witnessing," the statement said.

For the sake of those, John Kirby, in this region who are very concerned about a wider conflict, what is the U.S.' long-term plan here for the


KIRBY: Well, we share that concern, Becky. We don't want to see this escalate. We've done everything we can in the recent weeks to try to

prevent the Houthis from escalating, but make no mistake about it and I'm sure everybody in the region understands this because this international

commerce affects them, too, it is the Houthis that have been escalating. The steps we took last night were meant to deescalate, to degrade their

ability to continue to conduct these attacks.

So the other message I would say is that we, the United States, and of course are our allies and partners, we have significant interest in the

Middle East region. Those interests aren't going to go away. And the president as commander-in-chief has got to do what he has to do to protect

and defend those national interests, which includes of course helping protect and defend the interests of our allies and partners.


And so we're going to stay lockstep with them. There was a huge diplomatic effort that preceded these attacks. And I think it's safe to say that you

can expect to see the United States continue all those diplomatic consultations and discussions going forward. We know people are anxious

there about escalation. We are, too. And again everything we're doing and everything we're trying to do is to prevent any further escalation.

ANDERSON: This decision by the White House to strike Houthi targets has been met with some contempt it has to be said stateside. Have a listen to

what U.S. Representative Ro Khanna told CNN earlier.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-NY): I think that this has increased the risk of retaliation against our embassies of retaliation against our troops. And

that's why I don't understand how they did not come to Congress. How were they -- the White House have the time to talk to the Canadians, the

British, and the Australians, but not to members of Congress when Article 1 says that Congress needs to have that role?


ANDERSON: And that sentiment, it has to be said, John, echoed by other representatives and members of Congress to which you say what?

KIRBY: We did make appropriate notifications in advance to the chairs and ranking members of the relevant national security committees. There was

notification to the key leadership in the Congress, as we have done in the past and as we will do in the future. It was important to be able to

conduct these strikes swiftly. It was important to be able to conduct them multilaterally, Becky, with the aid of obviously the United Kingdom in

terms of the actual strikes, but also with the assistance of other nations as well. So that this was really an international effort.

ANDERSON: A NATO spokesperson earlier asked about these strikes, said the following. "Houthi forces are supported, supplied, and equipped by Iran. So

Tehran has a special responsibility to the rein in its proxies."

Does the U.S. support that contention that there is a direct line to Iran here? And does the Biden administration echo NATO's message to Tehran?

KIRBY: It's a message where we've said many, many times, well before these strikes, that look, the Houthis may be pulling the trigger, but its Iran

that's providing the guns. There are resourcing. They're supporting the Houthis. They're providing them the capabilities that they have been using

against international shipping in the Red Sea, and we're obviously calling on Iran to stop that support with no expectation that they're going to do

that on their own.

We have and will continue to hold Iran accountable for their destabilizing behaviors. And we'll do that in consultation with our allies and partners.

These attacks have got to stop and we're talking about one of the most important international waterways in the world. The attacks have to stop.

We're going to continue to defend that shipping through Operation Prosperity Gardening with those destroyers in the Red Sea and those of

other nations.

And we're going to continue to make sure we're ready to defend our interests against these Houthi attacks if it comes to that, if they don't

get the right message here from what happened last night.

ANDERSON: John Kirby, the Biden administration took a very unpopular decision regionally at least in 2021 to remove the Houthis from the Foreign

Terrorist Organizations, the FTO list. As I say, a hugely unpopular decision, not least here in the UAE where I am particularly given the

deadly Houthi attacks here in January of 2022, which were described by this country as its own 911.

Given this escalation, does the Biden administration at this point consider re-designating the Houthis as a terror organization, given their recent


KIRBY: We are reviewing that designation and the decision to take them off that list. As we speak, that review is ongoing. I don't have any updates

for you, but we're taking a look at that to see if that might be the right thing to do.

ANDERSON: Do you concede that the Houthis were empowered by that decision to de-designate them in 2021?

KIRBY: I think it's difficult to know with perfect clarity as we sit here in January of '24 to see how much that might have played into their

calculus. They're claiming that this was really all about coming to the support of that people of Gaza and to the support of Hamas. And of course

there's no truth to that. This has nothing to do with the war on Gaza. This has to do with them using Iranian supplied munitions, Iranian supplied

weapons to go after international shipping in the Red Sea.


So I can't speak to their motivations. All I can do is speak to our motivation, which is in concert with our allies and partners to keep

protecting that shipping. And just as critically to make sure that we can protect our own troops, our own facilities, our own ships in the Middle


ANDERSON: Good to have you, John Kirby. Thank you, sir.

KIRBY: Thanks, Becky. Yes. Good to be with you.

ANDERSON: While the world watches for signs of escalation in this region, inside Gaza Israel's war against Hamas rages on. Frantic scenes have

emerged from a hospital in Khan Younis after a number of airstrikes. There are warning the video is graphic showing children among the injured. A

spokesperson for the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza called the Israeli attacks massacres all across the enclave. He reported more than 100 deaths

within 24 hours and more than 200 injured.

CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joining me now from Tel Aviv to discuss that and these strikes on Houthi targets because I've

just had John Kirby on. Let's start with these attacks on Houthi targets. As John rightly pointed out, the Houthis have cloaked these attacks

certainly at the outset on shipping in the Red Sea as attacks on Israeli ships or ships bound for Israel.

They said this was in response to Israel's war on Hamas. Since then, of course, we have seen this escalate beyond attacks on Israeli ships. What do

you make of what you just heard John Kirby say?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the idea that this will be followed up by other strikes if necessary, depending on the

Houthis' actions really seems to encapsulate where we're at at the moment. It does seem to be on the Houthis and they're indicating that they will

respond and it seems quite likely that they will.

How they respond, and of course, it's some of their smaller boats that they use out on the Red Sea to try to target the shipping as well as the drones,

which is an escalation, because, you know, if you go back a few years the Houthis were targeting shipping there in the Red Sea and they were using

small speedboats packed with explosives or small fishing vessels with fighters, with RPGs, and slightly heavier weapons to try to target the

shipping there.

And that's the sort of response that the Houthis might be turning to now given that their heavier armaments may be damaged, maybe not all of them,

but maybe a significant amount. So their ability to continue to harass shipping I think hasn't gone away because their intent is still there and I

think it's also worth remembering that at the beginning before they were attacking the shipping in the Red Sea, they were actually firing long-range

missiles at Israel that both U.S., British and other ships, other naval ships in the Red Sea were intercepting.

The Saudis also were intercepting some of those missiles that were fired by the Houthis to Israel as well. So I think at this moment it really is what

are the Houthis going to do next. And interesting as well to hear from the internationally recognized Yemeni government that's displaced from Yemen at

the moment, but saying that the Houthis bear responsibility for dragging Yemen into the conflict because the Houthis are framing this and their

partners, erstwhile partners really, in Hezbollah and Tehran and Hamas, framing this as an international attack on Yemen.

Not on the Houthis specifically, but the Yemen government drawing attention to the fact that the Houthis are drawing Yemen into a confrontation, that

this is about the Houthis and not the whole of Yemen.

ANDERSON: Let's very briefly just talk about what we understand to be going on on the ground in Gaza today, Nic.

ROBERTSON: Yes, 151 people killed, 248 injured according to the Hamas-led medical authorities inside of Gaza. It may point to a situation that has

become repeated so many times, you know, in the center of Gaza, Deir al- Balah, in the center of Gaza. A house there that was housing displaced people, they say that was struck in an Israeli strike and that 11 people

were killed there. They were taken to a hospital in the center of Gaza.

Khan Younis, as you were showing there, the aftermath of another strike there where children were part -- were among the casualties. Save the

Children saying that 10,000 out of what the Hamas-led health authorities in Gaza say more than 23,700, more than 23,700 people now killed.


Save the Children saying that 10,000 of those children, which they say roughly amounts to about 100 children, killed every day since the conflict

now into its 98th day began. Those are the metrics -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson in Tel-Aviv for you today. Thank you, Nic.

Well, is the war in Gaza a genocide or self-defense as Israel says? Well, the top U.N. court has now heard both sides on that argument. We are live

from The Hague up next. Plus candidates make their final pitches a day ahead of a critical election in Taiwan. Coming up, how China and the U.S.

factor into the race.


ANDERSON: The genocide case against Israel is now in the hands of the judges. The International Court of Justice at The Hague. This is the world

court effectively. And it could order Israel to suspend its operation against Hamas in Gaza. A decision will likely take weeks. Israel today said

it is trying to minimize Palestinian casualties and it accused South Africa, which of course brought the case, of distorting its actions. Have a



TAL BECKER, LAWYER FOR ISRAEL: It is respectfully submitted that the application and request should be dismissed for what they are. A libel

designed to deny Israel the right to defend itself according to the law from the unprecedented terrorist onslaught it continues to face and to free

the 136 hostages Hamas still holds.


ANDERSON: Well, those hostages held in Gaza were remembered outside the courthouse where supporters of Israel set Shabbat dinner places for them.

Backers of the Palestinians demonstrated nearby.

Well, CNN's Melissa Bell has been following developments inside and outside the court. She joins us now live.

And as we show images of what is happening outside or certainly was happening outside of the court earlier today, just explain for us what your

key takeouts were from what happened inside court today.

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a three- hour, very robust rebuttal of what we've heard yesterday from the South African side, Becky. As expected Israel pleading self-defense but many of

its counsel going further than that and speaking with a fair dose of indignation about the fact that this case had been brought with regard to

the 1948 Genocide Act.


A distortion of reality, said some of the barristers representing Israel, but also a distortion of the genocide convention itself insofar as to go in

the direction of South Africa it was argued would be tantamount to turning the convention into an aggressor's charter.

We had expected so much of this defense, Becky, to be based on a reminder to the court and of course to the wider public watching this around the

world of the events of October 7th. It was picked up upon by the lawyers and the Israeli side that this was in no sense a justification, of course,

for anything and everything, but that this was not genocidal acts that were being committed inside Israel.

In fact, a lot of the defense rested on the idea that what is happening to the civilians of Gaza is down to Hamas. That what Hamas have organized

inside not only doesn't spare civilians, but in fact use them as shields. We had expected a great deal of this defense three hours of it in the end.

This is what the British barrister representing Israel had to say.


MALCOLM SHAW, ISRAEL ADVOCATE: A call of genocide is intent. Without intent, there can be no genocide in law. And the prima facia consideration

indeed of intent even at this preliminary stage would only demonstrate its absence from Israel's activities.


BELL: The only intent on the part of Israel, he explained, had been to defend itself from Hamas and to take on the militants who were guilty of

carrying out the October 7th attacks. But this was a case put before the judges. It will be now extremely difficult for them to rule upon, Becky,

one couldn't help but think as one listened both to the South African case based upon so much of what we've heard from U.N. agencies, U.N.

rapporteurs, the highest officials in the United Nations, also some of the journalists on the ground, the local journalists who were able to get into

Gaza, what we heard from the Israelis in which the defense team pulled out documents from the government showing the lengths to which they were going

to try and protect the civilians in Gaza, humanitarian care they were attempting to take, all of this very difficult of course to get through to

the truth of.

There are no international journalists inside Gaza. The 15 judges, International Court of Justice judges who heard the case, plus the two, one

from Israel, one from South Africa, are faced with two extremely well- argued cases about what is and is not happening inside Gaza. In the end, the most urgent decision before them is going to be the request from the

South Africans that they demand that Israel pause their activities in order that the court and the wider world can get access to Gaza, can determine

whether or not these genocidal acts have been committed, that this court can continue its case of the substantive points made by South Africa.

The question of whether the courts can make such a decision is of course the one that we're looking to here. It could come a little bit quickly.

Israel argued very strongly today, Becky, that to demand that it cease its hostilities would be to deprive of its ability to defend itself.

ANDERSON: South Africa wants the U.N.'s top court to order the suspension of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

Melissa, explaining when that decision might come down, that is likely much quicker as you are suggesting than a ruling on the genocide case, which

frankly could take years.

Melissa, it's good to have you. Thank you very much indeed.

Coming up, we dig further into the arguments playing out between Israel and South Africa at the ICJ. I'm going to speak with a former South African

politician and son of a holocaust survivor about the significance of South Africa bringing this case. That is after this short break. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. Just after half past 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Becky Anderson. Your

headlines this hour.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is in Kyiv on what is an unannounced visit to Ukraine's capital. He has promised $3.2 billion of new funding for

Ukraine's war effort including supplies of British-made military drones, which are badly needed by Ukrainian forces.

Ecuador says foreigners coming from Colombia or Peru must now present a certificate of criminal record. Basically a background check before they

can enter the country. And that will last through Ecuador's current state of emergency. President Daniel Noboa has declared war on criminal gangs. He

blames the spike in violence on drug trafficking.

Well, still no word on the fate of the passengers and crew of the U.N. medical helicopter that landed in territory controlled by Al-Shabaab

militants in Somalia. Somalia's military said, Thursday, it was still searching. Officials say the aircraft itself was captured after making an

emergency landing.

Back now to a story that we are following very closely for you this hour. Israel is defending its actions in Gaza, denying that it has acted with

genocidal intent. Speaking before the International Court of Justice, Israel's lawyer said Israeli forces had tried to prevent Palestinians from

being harmed and it slammed the South African government for bringing the case.

Well, Andrew Feinstein is a former member of the South African parliament. He is also Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivor. In response to the

case brought by South Africa he recently wrote, and I quote here, "South Africa's presentation to the ICJ thus far has been exceptional,

overwhelming, and devastating. The only way the ICJ doesn't impose interim measures is if the judges are open to pressure from the West. South

Africa's lawyers have done the non-racial, post-apartheid country proud."

And Andrew joins us now. It's good to have you, sir. Israel has said today that South Africa has presented to the U.N.'s top court a, and I quote

here, profoundly distorted factual and legal picture. It said it was taking actions to minimize civilian casualties during its aerial and ground

offensive. And it stressed its military was complying with international humanitarian law.

You've been following this case extremely careful. Your thoughts.


ANDREW FEINSTEIN, CAMPAIGNER, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN LAWMAKER: Thanks, Becky. Good to be with you and I think the other thing that I should add is that

I've been writing about making films about the global arms trade and conflict for over 20 years now.


The first thing I'd say is that it was an extremely difficult task for Israel's lawyers today because while most decisions about genocide are made

post-facto, in this instance, we are actually seeing genocide before our eyes as it happens every day. So, you know, while the Israeli lawyers

argued they've been informing Palestinians, suggesting they move out of certain areas, of course what they won't state is that when they have moved

to those areas that have been designated a state as safe areas, those areas have been bombed, too, a few days later.

In addition to which, as the South African delegation said, some of the repetitions or falsehoods were not particularly compelling. So, for

example, they spoke about why they attacked hospitals and health facilities across Gaza and quite a lot of the evidence they gave today has actually

been debunked by the media, including large parts of the Israeli media. So I certainly stand by what I said yesterday and my feeling after hearing the

Israeli case today is that if anything, the South African case feels stronger.

ANDERSON: Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, issued a response to the hearing at the ICJ, and I just want to quote him here. "The

proceedings in The Hague demonstrate how the United Nations and its institutions have become weapons in service of terrorist organizations."

The U.N., he said, is the one who should sit on trial in The Hague for turning a blind eye and thereby serving as an accomplice, Andrew.

FEINSTEIN: With the greatest of respect to the ambassador, that sounds almost exactly like the language that the apartheid South Africans used to

use about the United Nations when it condemned the crime of apartheid that existed in South Africa for many, many decades, and I think therein lies

the incredibly important symbolism of South Africa having brought this very impressive case to the ICJ.

South Africa is a country that endured decades and decades of racial oppression and emerged from that. South Africa is the country of which

Nelson Mandela is regarded as the father of our democracy. And it was Mandela who said that Palestine is the greatest moral issue of our time,

who along with his fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, described Israel not just as an apartheid state but an apartheid

state that has imposed perhaps even more brutally on the occupied territories than it was in the apartheid South African regime.

ANDERSON: And of course he said that South Africa will never be free until the Palestinians are. We know that the symbolism of this case brought upon

by South Africa is significant. Sorry, let me -- but I just wanted to, will it lead to anything substantial to your mind?

FEINSTEIN: Well, let us look at what the possibilities are. The court could find for Israel and then I think many, many people around the world will

ask themselves questions about whether anything of the edifice of the international rule of law to protect innocent civilians still exists in the

world. The court could, which I think is the most likely outcome, decide fairly quickly as you heard in previous reports to impose certain interim

measures on Israel.

Now Israel has defied a huge number of U.N. resolutions, has, in my opinion, violated the international rule of law repeatedly and would

probably ignore any such instruction from the court, but I think what would become more difficult is for the political leaders and the United States of

America, in Britain and the countries of the European Union to continue to provide Israel with largely uncritical support, political and diplomatic

cover, and absolutely crucially, Becky, to continue to supply weapons on an almost daily basis to Israel.


So that as bombs and missiles are dropped on the civilian population of Gaza, so that those are being almost automatically replenished because then

a whole range of questions are likely to be asked about the complicity of these Western nations in what the world quarters you described it is

suggesting may well be a situation of genocide. I think that would be the most profound impact.

I think in addition to that, the sort of momentum we've seen with literally hundreds of thousands of people coming out in the main capitals of the

world on an almost weekly basis getting bigger by the week, demanding a cease-fire, I think there will be added momentum to that. I think there

will be added momentum to calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.


FEINSTEIN: Just as was the case against apartheid South Africa. It was very important in ending apartheid in South Africa. So I think that any sort of

decision by the court that suggests that Israel needs to in some way curtail its military actions will have those sorts of impacts, perhaps not

on Israel itself.


FEINSTEIN: But certainly on those both who support Israel and are opposed to what is happening in Gaza.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you, Andrew. Your perspective is important.

Andrew Feinstein, a former member of the South African parliament, Jewish, the son of a Holocaust survivor, and, you know, with important perspective

for us today. Andrew, thank you.

Broadcast to Al-Jazeera says it wholly rejects a claim by the Israeli military that two of its journalists killed in strikes on Sunday were

terrorists, calling it a false and misleading attempt by the IDF to justify their deaths. At least 79 journalists and media workers have been killed in

the Israel-Hamas war since October 7th, according to the CPJ, which is the Committee to Protect Journalists.

One Palestinian journalist who is only 24 years old has been documenting the violence in Gaza from day one. My colleague Michael Holmes spoke to him

about the killing of journalists. Have a listen.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Ten percent of all registered journalists in Gaza have been killed according to official statistics, one

in 10, Israel says it never targets journalists. What's your view, though, as somebody who's working there? Do you think or do you feel journalists

are targeted as opposed to being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

MOTAZ AZALZA, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST AND PHOTOGRAPHER: First, we are not international journalists. So we are from the people of Gaza. We are

Gazans, we are Palestinians. So the danger is all over the Gaza Strip? So whenever they target a place and we go to cover or whenever we are in a

place and they are going to target, we don't know so some of the journalists got killed and Israel know that there is a journalist there

because their drones is all over sky an older time today.

So they know that there is a journalist here, but they don't care about our life. There's a lot of (INAUDIBLE) comes that. The son of foreign

correspondent in Jazeera, and most of they are close friends of mine. We are colleagues, and there they got target on the car, the Israel drones

target their car as a lot of my colleagues, a lot of them, if I will, any keep mentioning their names because I know all of them due to my work in

the past years in the Gaza Strip. And as you know Gaza is a small area where everyone knows everyone.




ANDERSON: Over 400 years ago, wild beavers were hunted into extinction in the U.K. But in recent years, they have been reintroduced across England.

And in 2022, they were legally defined as a protected species in the country.

Well, today on "Call to Earth," we visit West London where a wildlife project is reintroducing a handful of the large rodents in an effort to

mitigate flooding. We'll explain as well as engaged the humans there with nature.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment that a family of five Eurasian beavers happily settled in to their new home.

SEAN MCCORMACK, VET AND CONSERVATIONIST: It's been a massive day. I am so excited. It's a bit of a weird, surreal moment to know these beavers now

living in Urban Greenford in Ealing behind me. I have to admit my heart was going like the clappers when I opened that first box and big mama beaver

came out. She is a whopper.

They did fantastically, I was absolutely thrilled. They came out, they showboated in front of the world's media. It's only, you know, a few

generations ago that they were exterminated and yes, it was a real proud moment to see them swimming around here in this main pond at Paradise

Fields again like they had never been absent.

STEWART (voice-over): Hunted to extinction over 400 years ago, Britain's largest rodent was welcomed back to a wetland haven on the outskirts of the

capital, adjacent to a retail park and a busy highway. The project has been done with the support of the Mayor Sadiq Khan's "Rewild London Fund."

SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: One of the reasons why we have invested millions of pounds in this project is it's good for humans, it's good for

nature, it's good for our city. It's really important to create environments like this where we as Londoners can appreciate nature.

MCCORMACK: 84 percent of people now in the U.K. live in towns or cities. So we can't think of nature and thriving ecosystems as being a countryside

issue. Actually we need to embrace nature and nature-based solutions on our doorstep in cities as well.

STEWART (voice-over): One month on and the beaver family is already having a positive impact on the local habitat.

MCCORMACK: So we are in almost a low-lying basin, surrounded by urban landscape and heart standing and roads, and things like that. In high

rainfall event, we're getting flooding of this area and the water is basically gushing through and it's going into the storm drain systems and

into the sewers and it's gushing out in Urban Greenford downstream.

STEWART (voice-over): Sean McCormack from Ealing Wildlife Group believes that nature has the answer.

MCCORMACK: So here it is, they are magnificent creation, their first dam. So absolutely incredible, this started as just a couple of twigs across the

stream bed and as you can see now, you know, we've got almost a meter difference in height between the water upstream and the water downstream.

STEWART (voice-over): Beavers create dams under the cover of darkness, not because they care about urban flooding, they have an instinct to create

pools of deep water to hide in. The happy consequence for us is that their refuge systems actually slow down the flow of water.

MCCORMACK: The land will actually, overtime, act as a giant sponge and it will absorb those high rainfall events and it will release it slowly. Even

if you're not interested in wildlife or nature, it is a win for the urban community in Greenford to not have so much flooding.


So they build resilience in the landscape especially in times of climate change. I've been in a very privileged position to be coming in here every

day, on my own or with a pair of volunteers at a time and seeing it for myself. But I think the real proud moment will come when we are showing the

urban community here in Ealing just what beavers can do.


ANDERSON: Who would have known in Ealing, in West London.

Let us know what you are doing to answer the call with the hashtag "Call to Earth." We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

China says it is on high alert and is ready to smash any Taiwan independence separatists' plots. Mouthful, isn't it? The remarks follow

news that the self-governing island plans to upgrade its fighter jets and purchase additional aircraft from the United States. As tensions escalate,

Taiwanese votes are set to be in. Voters head to the polls Saturday to elect a new leader.

CNN's Will Ripley has more on what is a critical choice that could have international repercussions.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taiwan at a crossroads, the upcoming presidential election, some call a choice

between peace and war. Taiwanese voters face a monumental decision, continue prioritizing ties with Washington or recalibrate the U.S.

relationship and mend fences with Beijing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If the Democratic progressive party doesn't change their direction, I think that war could happen in our


RIPLEY: In the campaign's final days and hours, three parties drawing battlelines. Watching closely, China's communist leaders and U.S.

lawmakers. Taiwan's ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party or DPP, the presidential frontrunner.

LAI CHING-TE, DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are determined to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

RIPLEY: Presidential candidate and current vice president, Lai Ching-te, running alongside Taiwan's former U.S. envoy, a ticket openly despised by


Lai says deterrence is the only way to defend Taiwan from a Chinese takeover. A message that seems to resonate with many in this crowd.

(Voice-over): And a message that infuriates China. Lai promises to continue the policies of Taiwan's two-term president Tsai Ing-wen. Beijing broke off

talks with Taipei when Tsai Ing-wen in 2016 her landslide reelection in 2020 fueled in part by fears of Taiwan becoming the next Hong Kong.

During Tsai's eight-year presidency, U.S.-Taiwan ties and arms sales hitting new highs. Cross straight ties tanking. Tensions boiling over.

Taiwan's two main opposition parties call it a dangerous path, claiming it pulls Taiwan, China, and the U.S. closer and closer to a catastrophic cross

strait conflict.

Plans for a joint ticket collapsed on live TV, giving the ruling party a slight edge. Kuomintang or KMT candidate, Hou Yu-ih, seen as friendlier to

China calling for more cross strait diplomacy and trade.


HOU YU-IH, KMT CANDIDATE (through translator): Do not use hatred to create confrontation and division.

RIPLEY: Taiwan People's Party or TPP candidate, Ko Wen-je, promising a pragmatic and professional China policy.

CYNTHIA WU, TAIWAN'S PEOPLE PARTY VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our party would like to reach out to China and have them begin dialogue with us.

RIPLEY: Intelligence agencies in Taipei accused Beijing of election interference, slapping sanctions on Taiwanese exports, sending spy

balloons, showing off a new aircraft carrier. And this week, launching a satellite over Taiwan, triggering a rare emergency alert during this

Foreign Ministry press conference. Taiwan later apologize for mistranslating the Chinese word for satellite to missile.

LAI: They're trying to destroy Taiwanese democracy whenever possible.

RIPLEY: Disinformation, deep fake videos, doctored audio, all coming from China, Taiwan intelligence says, Beijing calls the ruling party candidate

dangerous. Deepening divisions ahead of a crucial vote to define this democracy's future.

Given that Taiwan is the largest source of tension between China and the U.S., the island's main international backer and arms supplier, how China

responds to the result of this election will be a big test. Can Beijing and Washington managed tensions or will they move toward more confrontation or

even conflict?

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


ANDERSON: That is it for CONNECT THE WORLD this week. Next week we will be live from Davos at the World Economic Forum. Do join us for that. Stay with

CNN tonight for more news.