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At Least 12 Killed In Strike On Gaza Shelter; Qatar Slams Alleged Leaked Remarks By Benjamin Netanyahu; Crashed Russian Plane's Black Boxes Found; U.S. Inmate Faces First-Ever Nitrogen Gas Execution; Jon Stewart Returning To "The Daily Show" As Part-Time Host. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 25, 2024 - 10:00   ET



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

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The Red Crescent warned two of the last functioning hospitals in Gaza are at risk of being lost. This hour

I'll be speaking to a doctor who has just left the enclave.

Plus, a leaked recording of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparks a diplomatic fallout with Qatar. Russia has recovered the flight

recorders of its crashed military transport plane. The Kremlin accuses Ukraine of shooting it down. And in the coming hours in the United States,

Alabama is due to carry out its first execution by nitrogen hypoxia.

I'm Eleni Giokos. I'm in for Becky Anderson. Welcome to the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD.

And we start this hour with another report of mass casualties inside Gaza. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says at least 20 people are dead and as many

as 150 wounded after Israel's military struck a location in Gaza where people were awaiting aid. This is in Gaza city and the video showing

ambulances racing the injured to a nearby hospitals.

CNN is asking Israels military to comment and this comes a day after 12 people were killed in shelling at a United Nations shelter in Khan Younis.

Now the IDF says its forces did not launch an aerial or artillery strike on that particular facility.

But I want to bring in Ben Wedeman. He is standing by for us in Beirut.

Ben, good to see you. We have seen these images of sheer panic specifically after this incident today in Gaza City. We know that the death toll from

what we understand 20 people. These people were waiting for aid. What more have you learned?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this happened at what's known as the Kuwaiti roundabout in Gaza City itself, which is not

been the focus of Israel's military offensive of late. There apparently, thousands of people were gathered in the hopes of getting humanitarian aid.

They were there yesterday as well, and also had to flee because of gunfire.

But today, according to journalists who are on the scene, there was some sort of Israeli strike on the area of course causing mass panic. And as you

mentioned, the initial figures are 20 dead, 150 wounded, but officials in Gaza say they expect that number to rise as the situation becomes clearer.

Now the wounded are been evacuated to the Shifa and Al-Ahli hospitals in Gaza. These are hospitals that were important hospitals in Gaza before. But

obviously, their ability to treat the wounded has been seriously degraded as the result of now 111 days of war -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Ben, you've been focusing a lot on what's been happening in Khan Younis. We heard about this and why attack yesterday where the death toll

has risen to 12 and again, the hospitals are under the spotlight there.

WEDEMAN: Yes. This is an area of eastern Khan Younis, where since yesterday, Israel has -- rather day before yesterday, Israel has been

focusing its military efforts, and what we've been seen is that overnight there were shelling in the area of those hospitals. And it appears it

continues. There still are many people taking shelter there. But it appears that no matter where people go in Gaza there's nowhere they can really be

assured that they'll be safe.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): With what little they can carry they try to flee Khan Younis to safer ground. That ground doesn't exist in Gaza.

Israeli forces intensifying their offensive against Hamas ordered civilians to leave the western side of the city where three of the last few

functioning hospitals in Gaza are located and where thousands of people have taken shelter. Another 800 were sheltering in a U.N. vocational

training center hit according to the U.N. by two Israeli tank rounds.


THOMAS WHITE, DIRECTOR, UNRWA AFFAIRS: 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


WEDEMAN (voice-over): This man managed to escape Khan Younis under shelling. He asked his children, have you eaten today? No, they respond.

Hovering over the agony of this war is this specter of famine. Michael Fakhri, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Right to Food.

How would you describe the food situation in Gaza at the moment?

MICHAEL FAKHRI, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD: Every single person in Gaza is hungry. So that means 2.2 million people are going

hungry. A quarter of the population are starving. They're struggling to find food and drinkable water and famine is imminent.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Since October, Gaza has become a land of nomads moving from place to place desperate as the war moves further south.

For more than 100 days I've been in the street, says Umhamed (PH), we don't know where to go. They say it's safe in one place and then it's dangerous

with shelling and shooting. We go to another place and it's the same thing.

Hundreds of thousands have fled to and more fleeing every day to Rafah on the Egyptian border now crammed with more than a million displaced. There

are a few spots left in the sand. The only place after that is the sea.


WEDEMAN (on-camera): And today, the International Committee of the Red Cross put out an urgent call for life-saving measures, medical services to

be provided in Gaza. They say that in the entire Gaza Strip there are still only two hospitals, both of them in Khan Younis, in eastern Khan Younis,

that are able to provide advanced surgery and advanced emergency medical services.

But we heard from the Palestinian Ministry of Health today that one of those hospitals, the Nasr Medical Complex, is running at 10 percent

capacity. And of course, the demands on that hospital are well over 100 percent at this time but it just seems that the international community,

despite expressing words of regret, for instance, we heard U.K.'s Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that the scale of suffering is unimaginable.

But the international community seems unwilling to do anything to actually address this situation other than empty words -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for that reporting. We appreciate it.

All right. And more dire warnings on the state of Gaza's medical facilities. To talk this through I'm joined now by a doctor who has been

providing medical care and reporting on the health system in southern Gaza for two weeks. He's now in Cairo. We've got Dr. John Kahler joining us


Doctor, thank you so much. And we've just heard this reporting from Ben Wedeman and the warning from the Red Cross in terms of the functioning

hospitals right now in Gaza. But you've just come out, you're in Egypt right now, take us through what you saw.

DR. JOHN KAHLER, CO-FOUNDER, MEDGLOBAL: So we've said -- I'm one of the co- founders for the organization called MedGlobal. And we sent a team of five senior MedGlobal people there including two intensivists, a surgeon, myself

who's a pediatrician, to evaluate our team that was underground there and to work both in Khan Younis and our primary health center.

The doctors who worked in Khan Younis were reflected on constant shelling. The hospital itself is in a deconflicted zone, but the shelling is within -

- easily within four or five blocks. Citizens bring in mass casualties. There often are rushes of 20, 30, 40 people brought in the emergency room

at runtime being dealt with on the floor. There's absolutely no room in the hospital whatsoever.

There's patients on the floor, on the stairs, everywhere, it's a catastrophe. It isn't collapsing, it is virtually collapsed. We run a

primary health center and this is --

GIOKOS: This is -- Doctor, this is Al-Ahsa Hospital that --

KAHLER: That's Al-Ahsa. Yes.

GIOKOS: You're referring to Al-Ahsa Hospital here. And of course -- yes.

KAHLER: I am. Yes. So we run a primary health center in Rafah and we see between 600 and 700 patients a day. And I'm a pediatrician, so the children

I see there's a major outbreak or respiratory disease. All of each, every one of these children are hungry. All of the children have diarrhea. This

is a catastrophic proportion.


GIOKOS: Look, you mentioned MedGlobal. You've done humanitarian work in various parts of the world. In terms of what you've seen and experienced,

the scale of this, the injuries, the lack of medical resources. Have you ever seen anything to this scale?

KAHLER: No. There's absolutely -- we've come out of Aleppo. We worked in Haiti after the earthquake. We work in Yemen, we work in Sudan. And this is

by far the worst situation I've ever seen. This is soul crushing event and I've been brewing through many of these, but this is by far the worst I've

ever seen.

GIOKOS: You know, consistently we've been hearing reports, dire reports of doctors having to make very difficult decisions in terms of amputations

without anesthesia, without having enough of the basics, essentially. Did you experience this as well?

KAHLER: Yes, absolutely. Both in the hospital my colleagues who are surgeons in the hospital reflect all of the things that you just mentioned.

We in our outpatient center, we see between 150 and 200 patients for wound cleaning a day, and all of that is done -- normal wound cleaning is done

under sedation. These are burns that are being taken care of. These are children who have been burned to the face.

All of these cleanings are happening without anesthesia. This is suffering beyond belief very chilling

GIOKOS: Very chilling. Weve also heard reported that people weren't able to leave Al-Nasser was -- just the way out was almost impossible, too

dangerous, logistically challenging. What can you tell us about that?

KAHLER: Yes, it's essentially under siege now, meaning medical staff. Thats left there who are able to communicate with us, tell us that the shelling

has closed. There was a report that there were at least bullets that hit the hospital. There has been no -- unlike Shifa hospital to the north,

there has been no entry of defense forces in to the hospital but the citizens that are huddled in the courtyard and the citizens that are

huddled in the in the hospital in addition to the medical staff are absolutely terrified because they know what can happen. They saw what

happened at Shifa and they know that this is a distinct possibility for them also.

GIOKOS: Dr. John Kahler, thank you for taking the time today to share what you experienced. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

A leaked recording has triggered a spat between Israel and to key mediator in this war. The audio which aired on Israeli television Wednesday

allegedly captured prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing Qatar as, quote, "Problematic." Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator) For me Qatar is no different in essence from the U.N. That is no different in

essence from the Red Cross. And in a certain sense, it is even --


NETANYAHU (through translator): More problematic. I was very angry recently and I didn't hide it from the Americans. That they renewed the contract on

the military base they have with Qatar.


GIOKOS: Well, CNN cannot verify if the voice in the recording is indeed Mr. Netanyahu but Qatar says, quote, "These remarks if validated are

irresponsible and destructive to the effort to save innocent lives. Qatar, of course brokered a major deal between Israel and Hamas, helping to secure

the release of some of those hostages along with that temporary cease-fire in Gaza back in November.

I want to go now to Nic Robertson live in Tel Aviv.

Nic, good to have you with us. We've heard, you know, the recording coming through. We've also heard, you know, interesting lines from Smotrich as

well. What are we making of all these -- you know, all the rhetoric that's coming through from Netanyahu's government at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is coming at a very, very sensitive time. The United States has one of its top envoys to

the Middle East, Brett McGurk, in the region speaking with the Qataris and others to try to get hostages released just a couple of days ago the

Qataris were saying that they were having serious conversations between -- that they were facilitating between, not directly, of course, between

Israel and Hamas.

They were describing a process of discussions about the potential for hostage release and the possibility also, it seems of some kind of

ceasefire or pause in the fighting again. That was ongoing. Thrown into this now you have this leaked audio recording. Part of the recording also

goes on to where the voice that is potentially the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also says that Qatar could do more to pressure Hamas because it

finances Hamas.


That really has drawn, I think, and made the cuts, diplomatic cuts, here deeper for Qatar because of course while Qatar gives -- directly has given

the money to Hamas in the past. It is, it is with the explicit agreement and direction of Israel and the United States. Qatar doesn't hand over this

money by its own volition. It doesn't in conjunction with these partners and have its concerns or had its concern about handing over that money.

So I think part of the bitterness here also gets to that point. But you've heard in the tweet from the Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman say that this

seems like the prime minister, if proven to be him, is putting a greater value on his political career than he is on releasing the hostages. And

what does that mean? That means an assessment it seems to align with the assessment of some Israelis that Prime Minister Netanyahu, if there's a

hostage release, if there's a pause in fighting, could be the end of the war, and he would be out of position.

And I think it's important here to say as well what the families have said. The hostage families who were meeting with the prime minister at that time,

they said they had to check their phones at the door, thar an audio according was made by the prime minister's office and they question why the

prime minister's office would choose to release this audio. So they are quite clearly pointing the finger.

The Prime Minister's Office for the effect, the potential effect of damaging talks to release their loved ones.

GIOKOS: Nic Robertson, always good to see you. Thank you.

The International Court of Justice says it will deliver its ruling Friday on whether to enact provisional measures that would temporarily suspend

Israels military campaign in Gaza. This comes in response to South Africa's filing legal action against Israel on claims it is committing genocide

against Palestinians in Gaza.

Last hour, I asked the State Department spokesperson how the U.S. should respond should the ruling not be in favor towards Israel? Here's what he

had to say.


VEDANT PATEL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I'm not going to speculate or hypothesize on a potential court ruling. What I can

say is what we have said clearly about this before is that these accusations that Israel is committing genocide, we believe to be unfounded.

Now that being said, we continue to believe that steps can and should be taken to minimize the impacts on civilians and to take every possible step

so that civilian lives are not lost.

As it relates to a ceasefire, that is not a policy we are pursuing right now. We believe that there is a responsibility here to hold the Hamas

terrorists to account for the horrific October 7th attacks because of Hamas's stated intent to conduct these kinds of terrorist attacks over and

over and over again. And so we believe that there are steps that need to be taken to degrade their abilities and Israel is undertaking that operation

right now.


GIOKOS: Well, still to come, the mystery deepens over who or what was on board a Russian transport plane that Moscow says were shot down near the

Ukrainian border, killing 74 people. A live report just ahead.

Alabama is about to become the first U.S. state to use a highly controversial new method of execution. 100 percent nitrogen. More on that

when we come back.



GIOKOS: Welcome back.

Critical black boxes from a deadly Russian military plane crashed on Wednesday have been found and will be delivered to a lab on Friday for

decoding, according to Russian media. Moscow accuses Kyiv of shooting down the plane in Russia's Belgorod region, and says all 74 people on board were

killed, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meantime, is calling for an international investigations since the crash happened in Russia and is beyond Ukraine's


CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final moments of the Russian military planes flight, diving to the ground,

seemingly out of control. After the impact, the jet explodes in a giant fireball.

I heard only two explosions, this eyewitness says, the first one was a dull bang, then an explosion, then big flames.

Russian media showing debris scattered across a large area at the crash site. Authorities say no one onboard survived including 65 Ukrainian

prisoners of war set to be exchanged the same day. Moscow blaming Kyiv for the incident.

The Ukrainian side launched an air defense missile from the Kharkiv side, Russia's foreign minister said. It targeted the airplane and was a fatal


The Ukrainians haven't denied shooting the plane down, but Kyiv says the Russians never told them they'd be flying the Ukrainian POWs to Belgorod,

holding Moscow responsible for the loss of life and the failed exchange.

Landing a transport plane in a 30-kilometer combat zone cannot be safe and in any case should be discussed by both sides because otherwise it

jeopardizes the entire exchange process, a military intelligence statement says. Based on this, we may be talking about planned and deliberate actions

of the Russian Federation to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and weaken international support for our country.

Ukraine says Russia often uses the IL-76 cargo jets to transport missiles used to target Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure.

A recent attack killing and wounding scores in Kharkiv in Ukraine's northeast.

When the missile attack started, I kneel down near the washing machine, this woman says. Look, something hit me here, glass, glass, but I'm alive.

Some people died and my flat is gone.

The Ukrainians have vowed revenge for missile attacks like these and say they consider Russian cargo planes transporting missiles to be legitimate



GIOKOS: CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from eastern Ukraine.

Fred, so many questions surrounding this incident. What more are you learning?

PLEITGEN: Yes, it seems as though there's more questions popping up and very few answers at this point in time. One of the things that's happened

today is that Ukraine's security service, the SBU, came out and they, you know, questioned some of the things that the Russians had been saying,

especially the Russian statement that there were apparently 65 Ukrainian POWs on that plane.

The Ukrainians are saying that according to their intelligence information they believe that the Russians actually only recovered around five bodies

from the wreckage of that aircraft. Now, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he came out and he blasted the Russians, and accused them of

playing with the emotions of Ukrainians. Here's what he said.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is evident that the Russians are playing with the lives of Ukrainian

prisoners, with the feelings of their families and with the emotions of our society. It is necessary to establish all clear facts to the extent

possible, considering that the plane crash occurred on Russian territory beyond our control.


PLEITGEN: Now, Eleni, the Ukrainians are not denying that they shot down the aircraft or they're not confirming it either. However, they do accuse

the Russians as we already heard in our report of not informing them of how they were going to transport these prisoners of war to that exchange that

was supposed to take place.

They also say that the aircraft in question, the aircraft with that tail number, the one that was shot down, was in the past on various occasions

used to ferry missiles to their city and the surroundings of Belgorod, and that those missiles were then used to attack Ukrainian territory, therefore

the Ukrainians are saying this was a war plane, a plane that was also in a defensive configuration and that therefore it was a legitimate target.


The Ukrainians, of course at this point in time say they don't know what exactly was on that plane -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. Well, while, you know, both sides are trying to get to some answers and we're waiting for the decoding of the black box, we also know

that exchanges of prisoners of war was also happening in the background. How does this incident impact any kind of deal to embark on those in

exchanges down the line, even in the interim or the near term.

PLEITGEN: Yes, that's a very good question. You're absolutely right. The Ukrainians did acknowledge and the Russian said as well that there was a

prisoner exchange that was supposed to take place yesterday, and that that prisoner exchange was then canceled. Now the Russians, of course, have, you

know, displayed some public anger about this incident already. The head of the Defense Committee of Russian parliament, for instance.

It was quite interesting because today the Kremlin was actually asked about this and they said that at this point in time they're not sure how this

could influence further prisoner exchanges in the future and whether or not these prisoner exchanges where on what level they could happen in the


One of the things that we know is that these prisoner exchanges have been taking place. But of course, each and every one of them is a very difficult

negotiation because of the kinds of prisoners that each side will want to have released, who the other side is willing to release. And then of

course, the whole details of how exactly these prisoners could be released. So all of these things were very difficult to begin with.

And after this incident, of course, they could become even more difficult to get. At this point in time the Russians are not saying how that could

influence things. The Ukrainians, of course, want to continue these prisoner exchanges because they want as many as possible of their people

back -- Eleni.

GIOKOS: Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

And the clock is ticking down and protesters are speaking up against a highly controversial execution scheduled in Alabama. We're live from the

prison in just a moment.



GIOKOS: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos. We're live in Abu Dhabi.

Alabama is on the brink of executing a death row prisoner using nitrogen gas for the first time. It is a highly controversial new method. Alabama is

one of just three states with the death penalty to have approved it. Execution by nitrogen hypoxia involves giving someone 100 percent nitrogen

to breathe, depriving the body of oxygen.

Proponents say it (INAUDIBLE). The inmate facing execution in Alabama is on death row for murder. He survived Alabama's last attempt to execute him. On

Thursday morning, Smith's lawyers again appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution.

We've got CNN's Isabel Rosales outside the prison, where Smith is being held.

Isabel, what can you see and what can you tell us about the protests that we've been seeing as we wait for news on this execution?

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Eleni, this execution method by nitrogen gas, it is controversial as you mentioned and untested. This is

the first new method of execution since 1982. That is when lethal injection was first introduced and use. Right now Alabama is just one of three

states, including Oklahoma and Mississippi, that have approved the use of this sort of execution for death sentences. But if this comes to pass

today, this will be the first time it is ever used here in the U.S.

Now Smith, Kenneth Smith originally requested that he die by nitrogen gas, but after -- he says through court documents after he saw the proposal from

the state as to how they would carry it out, he reversed course. He changed his mind. And the big sticking point here is the mask that they're going to

use on him. A five-point mask that will pump in that nitrogen gas. He is concerned that with that mask, he will vomit, something that he does

repeatedly all the time to migraines and PTSD.

And he is worried that this will lead to excessive pain, that he will choke on his own vomit versus actually dying from the nitrogen gas. He would have

preferred a hood, he says in court documents.

Now we are also learning from Reverend Hood, Jeff Hood, his spiritual adviser, that here in the next half hour or so the state will be cutting

off his food supply, not allowing him to eat precisely because of this, to mitigate the risk of him vomiting. Jeff Hood, we have a picture here of him

posing with Smith just on Monday. Hood tells me that, you know, despite them smiling in this picture, that Smith is terrified of what is going to

happen and hood himself has worries about the safety his own personal safety being in that execution chamber, worried that the nitrogen might

leak out. He fears that the state of Alabama is not prepared for this execution. Listen.


REV. DR. JEFF HOOD, INMATE KENNETH SMITH'S SPIRITUAL ADVISER: I mean, its lunacy. I mean, its absolute lunacy. I mean, for months, we have been

asking the Alabama Department of Corrections for more information. Is this going to be safe? What's going to happen? They have in traditional fashion

been completely silent the entire time.

And today, I go into the chamber to orient myself with the warden and one of the captains of the execution squad and as I ask questions, he's

consistently saying, either we don't' know or we can't tell you. Now hope that the rest of the country is looking at Alabama and saying what is going

on down there?


GIOKOS: So, Isabel, one of the most important things to remember with this case is this is a second attempt at execution. The first attempt was

through lethal injection. This is why nitrogen is suddenly on the table as an option. Take us through this entire journey to get to where we are right


ROSALES: Right back in 2022, two years ago, he was in that same execution chamber, set to die by lethal injection. And they tried for four hours to

find his vein to insert, you know, this lethal dosage and they couldn't find, and the problem here is that the death warrant ran out. It was a

timed death warrant. They had 24 hours to kill him. They had to stop because that ran out.

Since then, we've seen the governor's office increase that death window to 30 hours so that just started at midnight yesterday.


And this window lasts up until 06:00 a.m. tomorrow Friday. Of course we know from Robinhood that we're expecting this execution to happen sometime

after 7:00 p.m. Eastern today.

GIOKOS: Isabel Rosales, thank you very much for that update.

Well, human rights groups are strongly opposed to nitrogen hypoxia executions and say the procedure is too experimental. One of those

organizations is Reprieve. It is joint executive director, Maya Foa, who is with us now, and she says Kenneth Smith's execution -- and she says this,

"It is astonishingly reckless and cruel to try again using an untested execution method that has every chance of causing terrible suffering."

And Maya Foa joins us now live.

Maya, thank you so much for taking the time today. And as we said, the clock is indeed ticking. The Supreme Court has declined to stop this

execution as has the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit. So what are the options right now for the lawyers? Do they have any options left?

MAYA FOA, JOINT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REPRIEVE: Well, thank you first for having me on to talk about this. It's a really important case. There is

still a chance for the Supreme Court to stay the execution. There are still claims that are being looked over by the courts, so we are still all

holding out hope. I'm sure his lawyers are also holding out hope that the Supreme Court will indeed take a look at what's before them and say, we

need to look at this more closely. We can't go ahead.

We know the Constitution of the court. We know that that's probably not likely, but there is still a chance and I'm sure everyone is hoping for

that down in Alabama.

GIOKOS: So, Maya, we really said this is the second attempt, right, lethal injection after four hours not finding the vein. You know, here we are

today. But Alabama's solicitor general told the panel of judges that Alabama has adopted what they said the most painless and humane method of

execution known to man. What is your response to that?

FOA: Well, you know, when the U.S. adopted the lethal injection, that method that we've just heard took four hours to try and not kill, not

managed to kill another death row inmate in Alabama. That method over one hour of torture for Kenneth Smith in Alabama, a method that clearly isn't

humane or medical. The states said the same thing. They said, this is the most humane method known to man.

And it's emerged, and we've done a lot of work on botched lethal injection executions, that it's actually the method that has produced some of the

longest execution, some of the most torturous executions. So what we cannot rely on is the state arguing a method that we know is human

experimentation, much like the lethal injection before it, them telling us that it will be humane.

GIOKOS: So speaking to what you just said, and frankly in terms of the problems around lethal injection, the Death Penalty Information Center

reported that in 2022, this is quite important, seven out of 20 execution attempts. That's 35 percent who were visibly problematic. Why does the U.S.

have such an issue with this? What is the issue?

FOA: The issue is fundamental to the method of execution and to the death penalty in the United States. Looking at the lethal injection, you are

taking medicines that were never designed to be used in lethal procedures. In fact, designed to save and improve the lives and health of patients.

You're diverting them. So you don't know what quality you're getting. You're giving them to prison officials who are mixing them up.

It's not -- you know, that's their job, they're forced to do this. I'm not blaming them, but they are not qualified medical practitioners. They're

mixing them up. They're then trying in terrible circumstances to inject this cocktail of drugs, we don't really know what they are to cause death.

And what we've seen when we look at these botched executions, many of them coming out of Alabama, is that it can take hours of poking and prodding at

these prisoners who are strapped to a gurney, knowing or not knowing what's going to happen to them, but in absolute fear and often paralyzed.

So then they try and find a vein. So they tried to go to the neck or the groin and they missed time and time again. So it really is something that

looks much more like human experimentation and torture than a clean, humane, medicalized execution.

GIOKOS: So, look, here's the reality. The United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that still uses capital punishment.

Executions have declined in the past few decades. We know that's the numbers. I mean, it's pretty evident. Do you believe the U.S. will ever

fully do away with the death penalty anytime soon?


FOA: Absolutely. I do actually. We've seen this year on year, fewer states are executing, fewer counties are sentencing people to death. And actually

all of the problems with the method of execution I think are exposing, and I say this as an American without an American accent, they're exposing us

to the reality of what the death penalty really is, which is something very brutal, very violent.

And when we ask -- when we do opinion polling, Americans don't like the violence of it. And I can understand that. Do we want the states to be

doing this? No, we don't. So I think we will see the death penalty diminished in our lifetimes, and I certainly think more and more states in

the U.S. will get rid of the practice for good.

GIOKOS: Maya Foa, great to have you on. Thank you so much.

A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and 60 other woman imprisoned in Iran are going on a one-day hunger strike. That news coming in a statement from

Narges Mohammadi's campaign. They are protesting the execution of an Iranian protester who had mental health condition. He was hanged over the

death of a local official in 2022 protest. Mohammadi's campaign says the execution happened without a final verdict rendered.

The Nobel winner has spent most of the past two decades in prison. Her families says she was sentenced to an additional 15 months this month for

spreading anti-regime propaganda.

Well, CONNECT THE WORLD will be right back. Stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: Bustling Hong Kong is home to a surprising array of wildlife, but a lot of it stays hidden during the day. Only emerging after the sun goes


Today on "Call to Earth," CNN's Kristie Lu Stout takes us on a nighttime Safari with a photographer whose mission it is to connect people with



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every night Hong Kong's iconic skyline stars in its own show. A spectacle of lasers and steel in

one of the most densely populated places on earth. Less than 20 kilometers away, another curtain opens to reveal a natural world often forgotten in

the dark.

We're in Shing Mun Country Park. In the daytime this is an area very popular for hikers but at night time, that's when the creatures come out.


What are you hoping that we'll find tonight?

LAWRENCE HYLTON, NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER: I'm hoping to find a couple of snakes and any other aquatic creatures.

STOUT (voice-over): Leading our nocturnal Safari, Hong Kong British educator and photographer Lawrence Hylton. In the darkness of night, Hylton

has captured images of birds like this quizzical collared scops owl, insects like the Atlas moth, and snakes like this white-lipped pit viper.

HYLTON: My favorite are snakes and spiders. However, I try and go for anything that I can get my camera up against.

STOUT (voice-over): Hylton says he photographs the animals as he encounters them with minimal impact to them or the environment.

HYLTON: Come out, come out. It's OK.

STOUT: So we're on a way to the stream?

HYLTON: Yes, we are.

STOUT: And looking for snakes along the way.

(Voice-over): Wandering past water buffalo at rest, we encounter warty newts at play.

Oh, yes, right there, two of them.

(Voice-over): A huntsman spider shows off its mysterious beauty as a monkey watches from above. It takes patience and a passion for every creature, big

and small.

HYLTON: Watch your step.

STOUT: Trekking in the dark is not easy. You have to watch your feet. And always keep your eyes open.

HYLTON: We have relatively pristine stream ways, which is quite rare for Hong Kong. Also, as far away enough from civilization that wildlife can

live without too much disturbance from us.

STOUT: Hong Kong is home to an astonishing array of wildlife with many creatures emerging only at night. Some 40 percent of the territory is

protected parkland. But here and around the world, poaching and urbanization are destroying safe havens.

BOSCO CHAN, WWF-HK DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION: We have lost, on average, almost 70 percent of our wildlife populations since the 1970s. And that, by

itself, tells you we are not doing too well protecting the planet globally.

STOUT: At the end of this century, it's estimated up to 33 million hectares of natural habitat will be lost as a result of urban development. That is

more than the size of the U.S. state of New Mexico. Lawrence says his mission is to promote conservation through photography.

HYLTON: We have lots of trekkers who visit this area and fear snakes and fear the unknown. Makes people do silly things. And hopefully someday in

the future, everyone can just enjoy nature.

STOUT: Nearing midnight, we spot a rare Futsing Wolf Snake, nonvenomous, nocturnal and extremely rare in Hong Kong. Bearing witness to the richness

of nature in the backyard of a global metropolis.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


GIOKOS: Well, let us know what you're doing to answer the call with hashtag CalltoEarth. We'll be right back after the short break.



GIOKOS: Some news just in to CNN. Iraq says it has agreed with the United States to form a military commission that will set a timetable for the

withdrawal of foreign forces. It comes amid public calls from the Iraqi government for the U.S. to pull its troops out of Iraq after U.S.

airstrikes inside Iraq targeting Iran-backed militants. Roughly 2,500 American troops are currently in Iraq.

We'll bring you more on that story as it evolves.

In the meantime comedian Jon Stewart is returning to "The Daily Show" on American TV after nearly a decade away. Yes, it has been that long. Known

for his cutting criticism of politicians, he'll host every Monday night as the U.S. prepares for this year's presidential elections.

CNN's Brian Todd has more details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late-night viewers, brace yourselves for the return of Jon Stewart just in time for this year's

presidential race. The 61-year-old comedian returns to his former program "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central at least every Monday. He'll executive

produce the show and work with a rotating lineup of hosts for the rest of the week.

After nearly nine years away, viewers will once again experience Stewart's left-leaning brand of cutting humor about politics, corporate America and

the news media.

ERIK WEMPLE, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CRITIC: I think his impact will be pretty big as far as one particular entity goes. He's always been able to

jump on the absurd and really pound it and pound it.

TODD (voice-over): For 16 years as host of "The Daily Show," Stewart reached an audience beyond just political junkies.

WEMPLE: Everybody watched, everybody tuned in, and a lot of people, especially young people, learned their news from "The Daily Show." He was

an enormous force in American society.

TODD (voice-over): Increasingly, Stewart wore his politics on his sleeve, gravitating toward interviews with figures like Senators Bernie Sanders and

Elizabeth Warren.

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW HOST: They've told you nothing.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): It's not that exactly.

TODD (voice-over): Stewart left the show in 2015 at the height of Donald Trump's rollicking first presidential campaign.

STEWART: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is wrong with him? It is hard to get mad at Donald Trump for saying stupid things, in the same way you don't get

mad at a monkey when he throws poop at you at the zoo.

TODD (voice-over): Stewart turned to other projects supporting 9/11 first responders, a movie project, and a short-lived show on Apple's streaming

service, while the show he once helmed lost much of its viewership and its voice.

WEMPLE: In terms of a ratings vehicle which is how a lot of television execs keep score, it dropped a lot.

TODD (voice-over): Now many Democrats are gleeful over the prospect of Stewart's potential broadsides aimed at the presumptive Republican nominee.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Donald Trump is going to give Jon Stewart so much golden material that the Joe Biden campaign won't be able

to put a value on it.

STEWART: Whoa. Joe Biden.

TODD (voice-over): But Biden could be a big target as well.

WEMPLE: People should remember that Stewart wasn't afraid to criticize both sides in his monologues, in his routines.

TODD: Media and political analysts say Donald Trump and his campaign will very likely do their own deep dive on Jon Stewart, try to dig up some dirt

on him and some punch lines of their own to hit back at the comedian, ramping up the sheer entertainment of this campaign to new levels.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


GIOKOS: Check out this so-called rogue wave that slammed into a U.S. Military building last weekend on an island -- in the Marshall Islands in

the Pacific Ocean. The facility houses the ballistic missile defense test site. Officials say rogue waves like this are unpredictable and are double

the size of surrounding waves. But fortunately no one was injured, but officials say it'll take months to repair the damage. Just look at those


Well, Japan has recently crowned a new Miss Japan 2024. A move that is sparking some debates. The winner is a 26-year-old Ukrainian-born model,

Karolina Shiino. Miss Shiino, along with her family, moved to Japan about 20 years ago and is a naturalized citizen. Her victory has sparked debates

about what it means to be Japanese.


KAROLINA SHIINO, MISS JAPAN 2024 (through translator): I believe the Japanese spirit doesn't manifest itself from the body, but rather in the

soul. I hope to continue passing on the true Japanese spirit to create a society that respects who people are without passing judgment on



GIOKOS: Well, our show was live moments after Japan's robotic explorer landed on the moon's surface last Friday, it was a historic moment. And as

you may remember, take a look at this.



GIOKOS: Masaki, it has landed. It's done. From what we just heard.

MASAKI FUJIMOTO, JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY: I think so. I cannot make an official statement. We have to have a meeting, which I will attend

right after this. And then we will confirm the success but as far as I can tell, yes, everything went smooth and -- yes. Yes, I think that my personal

understanding is that we did it.


GIOKOS: A true science man, he wanted to verify the data before confirming that it landed, but just after that moment Mr. Fujimoto was pulled out of

our interview to rush away to meet with his team to find out more on that landing.

And now some new developments. Now earlier today, Japan's space agency released this photo of what it believes is the moment its spacecraft landed

on the moon last week, and the agency says this is the first picture. Its robotic explorer took of the moon's surface after it landed. Truly out of

this world. And what makes this incredible moment is that it was pinpoint, it was very precise so fantastic work by Japan.

Well, that's it for CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with CNN. Kasie Hunt with "STATE OF THE RACE" is up next.

I'm Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi.