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Connect the World
Following Facility Attack in Khan Younis, "Mass Casualties" Reported by UNRWA; U.S. Targets Iraqi Militias Supported by Iran; Russia's War on Ukraine; Ukraine Accused by Russia of Downing Military Transport Aircraft; After a Day of Russian Bombardment, Ukrainian Cities Suffered Significant Destruction; Hungary in Favor of Sweden Joining NATO, Says PM Orban; Sweden's Request to Join NATO Approved by Turkish Parliament; Iranian President Pays Official One-Day Visit to Turkey; 2024 U.S. Primary Race; Trump Defeats Haley in New Hampshire Republican Primary; Haley Promises to Continue Running After Losing to Trump in New Hampshire; Israel "Destroying" Gaza's Food System, Says U.N.; Bombing on U.N. Shelter Left Nine Dead and 75 Injured, According to UNRWA Director; Director of UNRWA Worried About Civilian Security Within Rafah; New Blood Test Potentially Useful for Early Alzheimer's Disease Detection; 2024 Academy Awards; Ryan Gosling Addresses "Barbie" Snubs; "Eyes and Ears of Gaza" Motaz Azaiza Leaves the Enclave. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired January 24, 2024 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World."
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: And more on that breaking news that we told you about last hour on CNN. The United Nations Relief Agency
is reporting mass casualties after its training center in Khan Younis in Southern Gaza was hit.
The director of UNRWA affairs tweeted that a building was ablaze and that access to and from the center has been denied for two days, trapping people
inside. He now says, at least nine are dead and 75 injured. The Israel Defense Forces has been intensifying its assault on Khan Younis over the
past 48 hours and it says it has surrounded the city. That, after thousands of people have been fleeing further south.
We've got Nic Robertson standing by. He's been following the story for us from Tel Aviv. Nic, what is the latest on what we saw on that UNRWA
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we're now getting more specifics from the U.N., from UNRWA, defining a little more the number
of people who were in the shelter. They're now saying there were 800 people in the shelter specifically that was hit. The U.N. is saying that the
building was hit by two tank rounds, and as you say, nine people killed, 75 injured.
An eyewitness there at the shelter described Israeli tanks being outside of the shelter, describing seeing people with many shrapnel wounds. Also
describing the situation at the shelter whereby they haven't been able to leave the shelter for two days because it's been too dangerous.
Now, this falls in an area that the IDF has had an uptick in activity, an area that they have told local residents that they should leave and that
area includes two hospitals and a Palestinian Red Crescent headquarters as well. In those hospitals and at the Red Crescent headquarters as well,
they've described a similar situation over the past few days where it's too dangerous to leave. That the medical facilities can't operate properly.
That there are people who need dialysis, people at the hospitals within hundreds of people with infectious diseases, and -- or infections, rather,
and pregnant women.
So, it's an area where the IDF now describes that they have encircled Khan Younis. That they are continuing to target terror cells there. That they
say that they have rounded up weapons caches in that area. But absolutely, it's been a focus of an intensification of the fight in that area of Khan
Younis. And the U.N. now giving us a little more clarity on precisely what happened.
There are so many people now desperately seek shelter, many of them in U.N. compounds and U.N. buildings that are absolutely crammed and crowded
because they normally wouldn't house and hold so many people. This appears to be one of those buildings. And as we now know, nine people died, 75
Some of the details we can't get to at the moment is, is it safe for those people who are injured there to be taken to the nearby hospitals? These are
the very same hospitals that say they can't evacuate patients and the doctors as instructed to by IDF. The IDF has told people in that area to
move to one of the safe areas nearby by the coast road. The -- so, it's a very dangerous area, and there are details about this that we're still only
learning right now.
GIOKOS: Yes, we are trying to get more information. Of course, we're tracking what UNRWA is saying, specifically on X right now. And this is
where, you know, that they're really putting up a lot of what has transpired in the last few hours.
But Nic, importantly, they have reiterated something that we have been covering and frankly been hearing. Difficult to move out of those areas,
difficult to get to safety, roads being blocked, and of course extremely dangerous, because we've been hearing they have been shooting outside of
those hospitals, Al-Amal as well, the U.N.'s shelter as well. Reiterating that point in just how difficult it is for any kind of evacuation and in
terms of getting to any forms of safety.
ROBERTSON: For people in those areas right now, an incredible sense of very, very real danger right on their doorsteps that they can't get out of
the way off.
We've heard from doctors in those hospitals, the Amal Hospital and Nasser Hospital, both saying that the -- for a number of days now, there has been
increased tank fire, infantry -- Israeli infantry activity around those hospitals. To the point that people cannot get in safely, that they cannot
get out, that the number of doctors over recent times has been reduced. So, they don't have an adequate number of doctors in those medical facilities
to handle the patients that they have.
So, this area that the IDF is focusing on because as they say they're going after the terror cells. We know that typically in other parts of Gaza,
hospitals have become a focus for the IDF to either want to take control of completely or at least control the neighborhoods around them, and this
seems to be part of that same strategy that they're using here.
So, in this intensification of fire, and we're still waiting for the IDF to give a clarification that -- from information that they will have from
their troops on the ground about precisely what happened. But this building at the center of the incident today was a U.N. shelter, according to the
U.N., that was housing 800 people, who, like the people in the hospital nearby, felt that it was too dangerous for them to go and seek shelter in
the safer areas that the IDF had been instructing them to do.
GIOKOS: Nic Robertson, thank you very much for staying on top of this. We are monitoring the latest out of UNRWA after that training facility which
is housing about 800 people in a shelter has experienced strikes. Nine people are dead, 75 injured. Nic Robertson is on top of that story for us.
We'll give you updates as they play out.
Now, the U.S. has carried out airstrikes targeting an Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq. One fighter is reported killed, two others injured.
The U.S. defense secretary calls Tuesday's strikes a direct response to attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq and in Syria. They follow a
weekend attack on a U.S. military base in Iraq that left four U.S. soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.
And you can follow that and all of our in-depth coverage from the region in our newsletter, "Meanwhile in the Middle East". There, you'll find a closer
look at the US and Iran and why they're considered dangerously close to confrontation in the region. Access it all by scanning the QR code at the
bottom of your screen and you can also go to our CNN app.
Russia is blaming Ukraine for bringing down a military transport plane today. The plane crashed inside Russia, close to the border with Ukraine. A
regional governor says, there were no survivors. Details about the flight have been murky. Russia claiming the plane was carrying Ukrainian military
members ahead of a prisoner exchange earlier.
Ukrainians also said it was transporting weapons. That incident in western Russia happened on the hills of an especially intense round of Russian
strikes on Ukraine's two larger cities. Ukrainian officials say, Kharkiv alone came under attack three times on Tuesday. President Volodymyr
Zelenskyy said that nationwide, 18 people were killed and 130 were wounded after missiles hit some 200 sites, more than half of them dwellings.
Fred Pleitgen joins us now from eastern Ukraine with more on this plane crash. This incident, where Russia and Ukraine are currently conducting
investigations in terms of what happened. But what more do we know?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Eleni. Well, it certainly is some pretty dramatic video that's coming out
from -- when that plane crash apparently took place.
Now, the Russian ministry of defense, which as you say, is blaming the Ukrainians for this. That they say that this incident happened at around
11:15 a.m. local time. It happened just to the north of the city of Belgorod, which is, of course, one of Russia's main hubs for its invasion
of Ukraine and also a place where the Russians generally have a lot of military station.
And you can see that plane apparently out of control, coming down, possibly losing some sort of part of the plane before it actually comes down. So
possibly even breaking apart still in flight and then crashing to the ground and hitting with a huge detonation of fireball and smoke coming up
The local governor of that region, not surprisingly, saying that no one survived that crash. But that's when you have the claims and counter claims
setting in. The Russians are saying that the Ukrainians shot down the plane. That they used a surface-to-air missile to shoot down a plane, and
now that surface-to-air missile came from Ukrainian territory. The Belgorod region is very close to Ukrainian territory and the Russians are saying
that that's where that surface-to-air missile came from.
They also say that the plane was transporting 65 prisoners of war meant for an exchange of prisoners of war with the Ukrainians. And obviously that
they also perished in that incident.
Now, the Ukrainians have not confirmed or denied who was on the plane, and they certainly have not yet confirmed that they were behind shooting down
the plane. However, the Ukrainians are saying that there was a prisoner of war exchange that was supposed to take place today. And that prisoner of
war exchange is now not happening. In other words, it has been canceled. What that means at this point is very much unclear. But again, you do have
these claims and counter claims that are going on.
There were reports on Ukrainian state media saying that there were people in the ministry of defense that Ukraine believed that there were possibly
missiles on board that plane. But again, as of now, that is not confirmed. But we do know, however, is that this was a major incident, obviously a
major loss of an aircraft also for the Russians. The Il-76, one of the big workhorse aircraft that they use a lot, especially for the logistics now
for their invasion of Ukraine. Eleni.
GIOKOS: Fred Pleitgen for us. Thank you.
Well, we have more now on Hungary's big turnaround, saying it now supports Sweden's bid to join NATO. Hungary's prime minister made it official with a
phone call to NATO's chief. This comes after the Turkish parliament voted to approve the Nordic countries membership request. Like Hungary's leader,
Turkey's president had originally objected to Sweden joining the military alliance. Now there appears to be no obstacles to Sweden joining.
And I want to go live to Turkey. We've got Scott McLean standing by. And we're also watching today's official visit from Iranian President Ebrahim
Raisi. Lots to get through with Scott. And let's start off with Sweden. Hungary opening the door for Sweden to get into NATO. Very important
parliamentary vote as well in Turkey. Roadblocks now removed.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I don't think that anyone saw this coming from the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. But
something obviously changed in the last 24 hours because Orban was saying yesterday that the Swedish Prime Minister should come to his country to
negotiate Sweden's ascension to NATO. Now all of a sudden, he is saying that he supports Sweden's NATO bid and will try to push that through the
Hungarian parliament as soon as it returns to sitting, which should be on February 1st is when the normal session is expected to resume.
Something happened in the last 24 hours. What that was is not clear. We know that there was a phone call from NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg. What was said in that call is unclear, but Hungary's position has been that it always was open to Sweden joining the NATO alliance. But
it's always also made clear that there are some issues that needed to be worked out.
Sweden has been very critical of Hungary in the past and some of the backsliding on democracy that we have seen in that country. And so,
Hungary's position is that the two countries needed to clear the air. And there have been talks taking place in the background for some time, and
perhaps there was a carrot or maybe a stick offered to Hungary to make them come around.
When it comes to Turkey and them approving Sweden's NATO bid, this has been going on for 20 months, like it has with the Hungarians. And it was
actually in June of last year that the Turks said that Sweden had satisfied what they wanted, but it -- they wanted one more issue, and that was for
the Americans to sell them F-16 fighter jets. And that has not happened yet.
Now, the full Congress in the United States does not need to sign off on this, but there are some influential people who could block it, including
the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin, who was asked about this issue yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARDIN, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: They have indicated before that they were going to move on this. So, we want to see the accession documents
completed. We hope that's the case today. So, we're going to wait to see whether, in fact, we get the notifications that are required under NATO.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: So, Eleni, there are still some minor procedural things that have to happen in Turkey for this to officially become law. It requires the
President's signature. It has to be published in the official gazette of new laws, this hasn't happened yet, it is expected to. And when it does,
this is a bit of a trust test for Turkey, because Turkey is relying on the White House to push through the sale of F-16 fighter jets.
They --the White House has made clear in the past that it supports Turkey getting this aircraft. Obviously, there are some concerns with lawmakers.
And so now, it's really on President Biden to make sure that this in fact happened. So, big trust test here, Eleni.
GIOKOS: Yes, it is indeed. Look, at the same time, we know Iranian president is in Turkey. Iran has been flexing its muscles, so to speak,
striking various targets in the region. There are fears that of a wider spillover. And of course, Iran seems to be at the center of that
MCLEAN: Yes, that's right. And we're just waiting for a press conference between Ebrahim Raisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the presidents of Iran and
Turkey, at a time when dialogue is badly, badly needed in the Middle East. Iran and Turkey, some people have described them as frenemies. They have
definitely some things in common. They want to increase economic ties. They see eye to eye on their criticism of Israel. President Erdogan has been
extremely outspoken, calling Israel a terrorist state, even comparing Prime Minister Netanyahu to Hitler.
But beyond that, that's where things start to diverge somewhat. Turkey has not been willing to match its harsh rhetoric on Israel with actual action,
with sanctions, with any kind of cutting off of economic ties between the two countries. I actually spoke with Erdogan's top advisor on foreign
affairs last month who said that there are no plans for sanctions because Turkey views economic activity between the two countries as a state-to-
Just today though, you have Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, calling on Muslim nations to cut off Israel politically and economically.
The argument there is that, look, Israel's not going to end the war in Gaza on its own. It needs to be pressured into doing so.
Obviously, there are other issues at play here as well, Eleni. Iran has been using its proxies in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria, to sort of
widen this conflict already. Turkey isn't interested in that. They want to see there would be a ceasefire in Gaza and for the temperature to come
down. So, we're just waiting to see what the two men say about what might happen next in this very volatile region at the moment.
GIOKOS: Right. Scott McLean, thank you for that analysis.
We're going to a short break. I'll be back right after this. Stay with CNN.
GIOKOS: All right. Welcome to our second hour of "Connect the World". I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi.
And in New Hampshire, Former President Donald Trump wins the Republican primary and has called on his only opponent, Nikki Haley, to quit the race.
She says, the race is far from over, but she is likely to face immense pressure to depart in the coming days. All eyes now turn to her home state
of South Carolina, where Haley has already pumped in $4 million in advertising.
So, tonight we ask, can Nikki Haley turn this around? I want to bring in our Doug Heye. He is a Republican strategist and CNN political commentator.
He joins us now with analysis. Doug, it's an important question. Can Nikki Haley turn things around, would you say?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FMR. REPUBLICAN NATL. COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, can she become
the nominee? I think it's very unlikely. But if we look at this through the historical lens, in 1992, Pat Buchanan shocked the world by getting 37
percent against incumbent President George H. W. Bush.
And what Buchanan did in that was he exposed the weaknesses that lied with the Bush presidency and ultimately with the Bush campaign, allowing Bill
Clinton to win in 1992. Nikki Haley in getting 44 percent last night is exposing that same weakness for Donald Trump. It's her ultimate argument
against Trump, is that he can't beat Joe Biden And that Republicans need a candidate who can.
Now, maybe Republicans listen, maybe they don't, but very clearly independent voters listened to Nikki Haley's message. And if I'm the Trump
campaign privately, I know I've got a big problem, not in becoming the nominee necessarily, but what lies behind that. And meanwhile, Nikki Haley
will continue to accrue delegates. And as she does, that gives her more reason to stay in regardless of whether she's the nominee or not.
GIOKOS: Yes. I mean, that's the thing. It's like can she fill this margin that, of course, exists between her and Donald Trump, specifically during
the next important primary. And that's going to be in her home state of South Carolina. So, what are you expecting on that front? Because already
the polls are showing that she's falling behind there.
HEYE: Yes, I -- look, I don't expect her to win in South Carolina. It's sort of bizarre to see a candidate lose in their home state. Ron DeSantis
would have lost Florida if he had stayed in. I think that partially shows the grip that Donald Trump has had on the party, and overwhelmingly with
the Republican base. But the Republican base is not that general electorate. And that's part of the case that Nikki Haley is making this
morning in South Carolina on the airwaves.
She has a rally tonight, where she'll make that case as well. You know, she probably will not win South Carolina but will continue to expose what
Donald Trump's weaknesses are. And that's a lesson that Republican voters are going to have to make a decision as to whether or not they want to
learn that or not. But past history tells us that you're in a very risky place come November.
GIOKOS: Exactly. I mean, that is the -- sort of, the ultimate test, right? It's later on this year. I guess the question then also becomes is just how
important it is for Nikki Haley, for the Republicans, for her to stay in this race and to push through. Because I guess it also shows just how much
support she can get and, you know, where Donald Trump, perhaps, is lacking to give the Republicans a bigger picture of just, you know, where the
support ultimately lies.
HEYE: Sure, look, the reality is, Nikki Haley is under enormous pressure to leave the race. We saw many Republicans who had not endorsed Donald
Trump do so last night. We're seeing more do that today. That's going to make part of her job harder. It also means that the question of financing
becomes more important for Nikki Haley.
Candidates don't leave because they can't win. Candidates leave races because they can't spend. And if her money dries up, it means that Haley
will probably then have to go away. But if she gets a strong result in South Carolina or is seeing some form of momentum, even if that's not above
50 percent, her donors are much more likely to stay in. But four weeks is a long time in political history. And certainly, in a situation that we've
never really seen before like this, it's going to be an enormously long time for Haley and her campaign.
GIOKOS: Yes, four weeks is a long time. I mean, from now until then, does she have enough money to push her through that four-week period?
HEYE: At this point, look, she has $4 million that she's put on the airwaves for South Carolina over the coming four weeks. That's a
significant ad by. And Trump doesn't have the access to big dollars in the way that Nikki Haley does. He does very well with small dollars.
But the -- I think the decision process is ultimately going to be what do we see in polling both nationally and within South Carolina? And if that
causes funders for Nikki Haley to either leave her campaign or to switch sides and go to Donald Trump. If that happens, then she gets out of the
race. If she has the money to stay, she stays.
GIOKOS: Yes, it's really interesting when Nikki Haley talks about age an awful lot. You know, that's sort of the one thing that she talks about. Not
only with regards to Joe Biden, but also Donald Trump. Do you think that resonates with the base?
HEYE: I think the more that -- with the base, no. The base is firmly behind Donald Trump and it seems to be rather unshakable. But what we saw
in New Hampshire, and to some extent saw in South Carolina as well, much different electorate, is that if you're an independent voter, you have very
real concerns about Donald Trump and about Joe Biden.
And for those voters, suburban women being a good example of that, that Haley could do well with in November, they're looking at this race and
saying, we don't want it. This is the movable object against the resistible force. America does not want this matchup.
HEYE: The question is, whether or not they will be forced to deal with it.
GIOKOS: Doug Heye, great to have you on. Thank you so much for that analysis.
All right. We're going to a short break, and I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Stay with CNN.
GIOKOS: Welcome back to "Connect the World". I'm Eleni Giokos.
Now, the United Nations Relief Agency in Gaza reports mass casualties after a strike on a U.N. shelter, housing hundreds of displaced people. The U.N.
says, the building near Khan Younis was hit by two tank rounds. The agency's director of affairs says, at least nine people were killed and 75
injured. He also says, safe access to and from the center has been denied for two days.
The strike coming as Palestinian health officials and paramedics have reported Israeli tanks and attack drones firing at people trying to flee
the vicinity of hospitals in Khan Younis. Well, this video from Monday showing panic around the Al-Nasser hospital grounds. And we've been seeing
images like this. Those still living in the enclave face a risk, in the meantime, of starvation as the bombing continues. Human rights experts at
the U.N. are accusing Israel of intentionally destroying Gaza's food systems and of using food as a weapon.
My next guest is one of those experts. We've got Francesca Albanese serving as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian
Territories. And she writes that as of October 7th, Israel has killed a higher share of the population in Gaza, 1.1 percent than that killed during
the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, 0.2 percent, and the war in Iraq, 0.8 percent. In much shorter time, no war in this century comes even close to
what she calls Israel's extermination campaign in Gaza.
We've got Francesca joining us now from Tunis. Francesca, thank you very much for your time. You know, we keep hearing, you know, these very
harrowing and chilling stories about, you know, people trying to seek refuge. In the meantime, the other reality is one of hunger. And I know
that -- you know, even the U.N. has said that Gazans make up 80 percent of all people facing famine, and that every person in Gaza right now is
It is a harrowing reality. But in order to declare officially that we're dealing with a famine in Gaza, how close are we to that? Have we reached
that point yet?
FRANCESCA ALBANESE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Thank you. I mean, the situation is catastrophic, and there
are no more words to describe the depth of this catastrophe.
In three months and a half of intense bombing of Gaza, over 25,000 people, 70 percent women and children have been killed. There are 63,000 plus
injured, and there are 1.9 million displaced, including 1.4 million sheltered either in tents or in UNRWA -- 155 of UNRWA premises.
And the health system is close to collapse, either because of closing or destruction of hospitals or because of lack of more medications. Because in
this war, which is the sixth against Gaza, so this is not the first time, this is the first that Israel attacks and destroys large portions of Gaza,
but never with this intensity. But also think that this is the first time that starvation has been used. No food, no water, no medication, no fuel.
And these are schools that -- to extend prostitutes already famine. Because famine is declared where --
GIOKOS: I think we've -- Francesca, we are having issue with your -- all right. We have an issue with Francesca's line. We're going to try and get
her back up. This is important conversation. We're talking about, people in Gaza facing famine. And she was just saying a very big reality playing out
in certain parts of Gaza as well.
But I want now to go to our latest breaking news, we've been covering this story for the past half hour. The United Nations Relief Agency in Gaza
reporting mass casualties after a strike on a U.N. shelter housing hundreds of displaced people. We have the director of UNRWA Affairs, Thomas White,
joining us now live.
Thomas, thank you so much for joining us. I've been following your tweets, and you've been sharing very, you know, important information. Giving us
insight into what people have been experiencing at the shelter. Take us through what happened today.
THOMAS WHITE, DIRECTOR, UNRWA AFFAIRS: So, once again, a tragic, tragic afternoon here in Gaza for the last, sort of, 48 hours. There's been
fighting in and around a training college that we run as UNRWA in the western outskirts of Khan Younis. Already in the last two days, there have
been eight people killed in and around this facility.
Because of crossfire this afternoon, the facility took a direct hit. It was actually on the carpentry (ph) building. Now, this is a building that's
been housing 800 people who've been seeking shelter under a U.N. flag. We've got a team going up there right now that in fact just entered the
facility. At this stage, we know that there are nine fatalities and over 75 people have been injured in this tank strike on this building in the -- in
an UNRWA training center in Khan Younis.
GIOKOS: Thomas, you mentioned that this was a direct hit. Was there any warning? Did you get any warning?
WHITE: So, there has been fighting in and around this area for two days. We are in constant contact with the Israeli army who have been giving us
assurances that people in protected facilities, such as a shelter under a U.N. flag, or in fact a hospital are safe.
The reality is that lives have been taken in and around these facilities in the last couple of days. We have been seeking access to these facilities,
that has been denied. We've not been able to get safe passage for these facilities. We did not get warning and we do not get warning when these
strikes happen in or around these protected facilities.
GIOKOS: In terms of what we've been seeing generally playing out in Khan Younis with Al-Nasser, Al-Amal hospital as well, the intensity of the
fighting, we've been hearing reports very difficult to evacuate. Can you give me an understanding of the logistical dangers that exist to try and
find safer places? Because the IDF said that they are embarking on strikes on military facilities or places they believe that house Hamas strongholds.
WHITE: The reality is that these strikes are hitting protected installations, protected facilities. They're hitting facilities that are
housing, sheltering civilians or, you know, where you have medical personnel, tending to people who are wounded and injured and sick. These
are the facilities that are being hit in Khan Younis right now.
Now, in terms of the first part of your question, you know, safe access out of these areas, when these evacuation orders go in. The reality was
yesterday, that a warning went out in the morning when people did, and some people did seek to leave this area yesterday morning, there were two tanks
sitting on the road. That they were supposed to, they had been instructed to leave the area from.
So, the reality right now is, we think maybe up to 150,000 people are trapped in this part of Khan Younis. they have not had safe passage out of
this area to escape this fighting. And today, this afternoon, the tragic event at Khan Younis training center has claimed more lives.
GIOKOS: Yes. I mean, the reporting o on this is very tragic. And I'm sure we understand a bit better in terms of exactly what the injuries are and
the death toll. As you say, it's still information that we're getting. As this is -- this intense finding, Thomas, continues, and it seems this is
going to be the reality in Khan Younis, according to what the IDF is saying. Have they given you any indication in terms of where the next
target is? What will play out in the next few days? And then importantly, to work with you and other agencies to try and get people out?
WHITE: So, you know, it's very, very clear that they intend to -- this is the Israeli army intend to undertake a major operation in the west of Khan
Younis, despite all of the assurances that we received that people would be safe there. Now, you know, tens of thousands of people are on the road
again. Many of them displaced multiple times and they're coming to Rafah.
Now, right now, you know, Rafah is a sea of humanity. Every open space in and around the city now has a temporary structure, you know, a flimsy
wooden and plastic structure built on it as people have been pushed and pushed and pushed south. So, the real concern now and the question on
everybody's mind is, you know, they're going to continue the fight in Khan Younis. Are they going to come to Rafah?
Rafah right now is hosting at least 1.4 million people. It was a city that used to be 280,000 people. You know, the city is literally bursting at its
seams. There is no more open ground for people to set up any sort of temporary structure on. Yet because of this fighting in Khan Younis right
now, we are seeing tens of thousands of people on the coast road heading towards Rafah.
GIOKOS: And clearly thinking ahead in terms of where the next strikes will be. The 75 people that are injured, Thomas, do they have any, you know,
real means of getting medical attention? Do we know anything about that and where they're headed? And were you able to take these people?
WHITE: An UNRWA team and a WHO team actually deployed directly from Rafah with ambulances. They will be able to do immediate triage. But we will then
need to get a large number of people to hospitals for ongoing medical care.
Now, the big question mark is, you know, one of the major two hospitals left operational in Southern Gaza, you know, is in Khan Younis. And so,
whether the Nasser hospital complex can take these people, particularly for trauma surgery, otherwise it's a long journey and a difficult journey to
the European hospital which is further south.
But it just shows you how precarious the health situation here is in Gaza. That the current operation in Khan Younis looks like it will ultimately
close down the largest operating hospital in Southern Gaza, and that's the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis which is sitting in the area that's
been forced to evacuate.
GIOKOS: Thomas White, thank you so much for your insights and for taking the time to update us on the story that's playing out in Khan Younis. We
appreciate your time and thank you for your insights.
And you're watching "Connect the World". There's more ahead on CNN. Stay with us.
GIOKOS: Welcome back. Now, a new blood test may be able to help detect Alzheimer's before symptoms show up. One study found that the accuracy of
the test called ALZpath is comparable to brain scans or spinal taps, but those methods can cost thousands of dollars, making them widely
inaccessible to many people.
Dr. Nicholas Ashton is one of the lead authors of the study. He's also a professor of neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, and he joins
us now live from Gothenburg, Sweden. Sir, great to have you with us. And this is fantastic news. You know, creating an easier pathway to test for
Alzheimer's, something that I think many people have been, in some way, impacted by in their families. And I guess, you know, are worried about for
their futures. Tell me about what you discovered with this blood test, its accuracy and, potential availability.
DR. NICHOLAS ASHTON, PROFESSOR OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG AND A LEAD AUTHOR OF STUDY IN JOURNAL JAMA NEUROLOGY: Yes. So, thank you
for having me. We -- I think we've known for a number of years, the potential of a blood test for Alzheimer's disease have been several studies
and several breakthroughs. What is different about this study is now we're testing a test which is basically commercially available by this company
So, we were acted as an independent laboratory that specialize in this area to really put it through the spaces (ph). And what we found is about 97
percent of the time it matched with what our goal standards in our cerebral spinal fluid taps or brain scans. And we actually could determine that
through a clinical assessment and a blood test, we could make an accurate decision on patients, 90 percent of the time.
So, really, as you've mentioned already, cerebral spinal fluid tests and brain scans, they are very, very rare and hardly anyone actually gets to
get one of these. So, a blood test really comes in and fills out voids and makes it accessible to so many more people.
GIOKOS: So, once you get the test done and you see that you've got, you know, the probability of, you know, getting Alzheimer's, what are the kind
of interventions and what age group are we talking about here? Could young people get this? Because this is about figuring out the buildup of beta-
amyloids or plaques in the brain.
DR. WHITE: Yes, this is a really important point. And I think that there are, you know, some suggestions that this should be a standard test done at
50 years of age and things like this. And in my personal opinion, this is not the correct way to do a test like this.
So, amyloids can accumulate in the brain decades before you get the symptoms, and the blood test will show positives, of course. But the drugs
that have been approved by the FDA this year, and the -- or last year in the United States and will be approved later on are only for those with
mild symptoms and a positive biomarker test, what we call it. So, this blood test should be really for those in clinics. It should be directed by
a physician and those that have objective or subjective decline in their memory.
GIOKOS: I mean, what about, you know, I guess the big question is because it's funny, I did a little bit of a survey just in our office here in Abu
Dhabi and asked the team, you know, do they know anyone with Alzheimer's? And everyone had a story about a grandparent that, you know suffered from
Alzheimer's. You know, the question becomes, if you know it's in your family history, can you get it done younger -- at a younger age where you
will be able to, you know, conduct other interventions to protect yourself and your brain health down the line as opposed to it already being done
when you have mild symptoms?
DR. WHITE: Yes, and this is an absolute possibility of the blood test and I firmly believe it's accurate enough to do this. The ethics around doing
that are quite complicated. And for me personally, I feel as though we need an effective intervention when someone doesn't have symptoms but has a
positive biomarker test and that intervention doesn't exist yet. These interventions are only more effective or only really been tested when you
have mild symptoms and a biomarker test.
So, if that intervention comes and those clinical trials are already ongoing with these drugs. So, we will know in a few years whether they're
beneficial for people without symptoms and maybe having the drug staves off them ever getting dementia, then the blood test is extremely valuable in
GIOKOS: It feels like there's so much progress within the space to understanding what's going on. In terms of cost and accessibility
availability, what are you expecting?
DR. WHITE: So, we know that this test, this ALZpath test, which we tried and which we tried in this study is available already now in the United
States as a laboratory developed test. And what that means is that an individual lab can validate this test for clinical use. So, in a couple of
weeks, basically. anyone in the United States can order this test through their physician, and it will be rolled out to more laboratories across the
In the U.K., we have a different regulation. But they are also ongoing here in Sweden, where I am. We also have different regulations and we will
approve a test this year. So, each country are dealing with this differently, but it's really a step forward knowing that, you know, someone
has really taken the time to make something commercially available.
GIOKOS: Dr. Nicholas Ashton, great to have you on. Thank you very much.
DR. WHITE: Thank you.
GIOKOS: And let's get you up to speed on some of the stories that are on our radar right now. Thousands of workers in Argentina are striking to
protest President Javier Milei's severe budget cuts. The bad blood started soon after he took office 45 days ago. The Milei administration says it
will build the unions to cover extra police costs. Argentina closed 2023 with the highest inflation in the world.
A six-day strike by train drivers is underway in Germany and it's expected to bring widespread disruption. The GDL union is asking the cut -- to cut
drivers working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week at full salary. The state-owned train operator, Deutsche Bahn, says it will compromise.
However, it's calling the union demands irresponsible.
Airplane manufacturer Boeing will pause production of its 737 model on Thursday at its Renton facility. Boeing says, the quality stand down will
be used to give employees further training, focusing on quality control. A government investigation is ongoing after a door plug on one of Boeing's
aircraft failed earlier this month.
And there's disappointment in "Barbie" land. One of the film's major starts -- stars is speaking out about the movie's snubs in major Oscar categories.
We'll bring you the latest on that in just a moment.
GIOKOS: Saudi Arabia will not confirm a report that it's about to start selling alcohol to expats, but some changes are coming in the conservative
kingdom. The government tells CNN it will start regulating the flow of alcohol for non-Muslim diplomats. It's an effort to clamp down on the,
"Illicit trade", that's already happening. The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Saudi Arabia are strictly forbidden, but it's
reportedly been slipping through by diplomatic mail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN GOSLING, ACTOR, "BARBIE": I just don't know who I am without you.
MARGOT ROBBIE, ACTOR, "BARBIE": You're Ken.
GOSLING: But it's Barbie and Ken. There is no just Ken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: While Margot Robbie's portrayal of Barbie didn't get a nomination, Ryan Gosling's performance as Ken did. In a statement, thanking the
Academy, he also highlighted the snub, writing, "But there is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig. And
Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film. No recognition would be possible for anyone on
the film without their talent, grit, and genius. To say that I'm disappointed that they are not nominated in their respective categories
would be an understatement."
But not all of the "Barbie" actresses were snubbed. America's -- America Ferrera scored her first Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in
the film. And we should note, "Barbie" was distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures which is owned by CNN's parent company.
CNN's Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy is with me now. Oliver, great to see you. There is no Ken without Barbie, and no Barbie without Margot
Robbie and Greta Gerwig. Interesting response by Ryan Gosling there.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, very interesting. And I think he was reflecting a lot of the sentiment that we saw yesterday. You
know, it was really astonishing to a lot of people that Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie did not get nominations in those top categories of best
director and best actress.
Obviously, "Barbie" was the sensation of 2023. It was a top box office performer. It obviously started a discussion in the culture about some of
the topics like sexism. And so, for it to be nominated for best picture, but particularly for Greta Gerwig not to get the nod for best director,
really didn't sit well with people. And then it's almost like pouring salt in the wound that you see Ryan Gosling, who portrayed Ken, get the
nomination. It read almost like a scene out of the "Barbie" movie itself, right? Where the male gets the recognition and the two women are snubbed.
GIOKOS: I know. I was really laughing at that. I just -- I did a double take. But at least America Ferrera, did get nominated, her first nomination
for best supporting actress.
DARCY: Yes, she did. And she also -- and joined Ryan Gosling yesterday during interviews with the press saying that she was disappointed that the
Academy chose not to nominate Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie for their respective roles making "Barbie".
Listen, the Academy has -- you know, it's no stranger to controversy. It has taken a lot of criticism over the years for issues related to
diversity. And they have tried to make some moves to remedy this. But I think for a lot of people, this is really underscoring the need for the
academy to be more diverse for it to reflect more of America and society, and it's raising that issue again.
And it's -- you know, back in 2020 there was a study done, looking at the winners of Oscars, and it found overwhelmingly that men are more likely to
win Academy Awards than women. I think in the days, weeks ahead, this is not going to go away for the Academy and you're going to see a larger
GIOKOS: Absolutely. And Oliver Darcy, I appreciate you jumping in on the story for us today. Good to see you.
DARCY: Thank you.
GIOKOS: Well for our "Parting Shots" tonight, a parting message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOTAZ AZAIZA, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST FROM GAZA: This is the last time you will see me with this heavy stinky vest. I decided to evacuate today.
So, I'm sorry. But inshallah, hopefully soon we can come back and build and help to get -- help Gaza again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: An emotional goodbye after incredible work. For those of you who don't know already, that is Motaz Azaiza, the Palestinian journalist in
Gaza, who, for the past 100 plus days has been documenting the horrors he's both witnessed and experienced. And you can see him here with his friends
and colleagues filled with emotion.
Motaz has been hailed by many globally as the eyes and the ears of Gaza for his tireless and ceaseless coverage before October 7th. And he had about
25,000 followers. Right now, he has more than 18 million. Motaz is now in Qatar. And while he is, of course, much safer there, he said he left Gaza
with a broken heart and eyes filled with tears. And we wish him all the very best.
And that is it for "Connect the World". I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Stay with CNN.