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Netanyahu: Still "Enough" Hostages To Warrant Our Efforts; Trump's NATO Remarks Spark Criticism From Allies; Jordan's King Abdullah Set To Meet President Biden; Thousands Of Nepalis Recruited To Fight For Russia; Pentagon: Lloyd Austin In Hospital For "Bladder Issue"; Chiefs Defeat 493rs In Overtime Thriller. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 10:00   ET





This hour in Rafah, a high-risk military operation frees a pair of Israeli hostages, and kills many Palestinians in the process. We are live in Tel


Donald Trump says he would encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want -- if two Americans are allies -- if they don't meet NATO's defense

spending targets.

And the sweet taste of success, the Kansas City Chiefs now have back-to- back Super Bowl titles.

After more than four months in captivity, it took just minutes to bring a pair of Israeli hostages to freedom. The IDF says they were being held in a

house in Rafah, on the southernmost tip of Gaza, as Israeli forces fended off the Hamas captives with gunfire and struck from the sky, the men were

whisked to safety.

The Hamas-run health ministry says 94 people were killed in those airstrikes.

The former hostages are now set to be in good condition at Israeli hospital. Israel's prime minister suggests the ends justify the means.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: I think enough to warrant the kind of efforts that we're doing. And we're going to try to do our best to

get all those who are alive back. And frankly, also, the bodies of the dead. But I won't go into that right now.

I'm not sure that anybody can put themselves in the position of the families. But neither can the families put themselves in the position of

the decision makers. These are two separate things. They reach our heart, they reach my heart, but I'm also responsible for the safety and the

security of the people of Israel, and to make sure that these terrorist outrages and these kidnappings do not happen again.

GIOKOS: I want to go back now to Jeremy Diamond, who is in Tel Aviv for us.

Two hostages were rescued, of course, important for Benjamin Netanyahu, important for the hostage families, but also these airstrikes saw

devastating number of people that were killed in Rafah. Tell us more about what transpired, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about it. And the freeing of these hostages was the results of a lengthy planning by the Israeli

military, a complex operation that involves not only Israeli Special Forces, the military, the border police, as well as the Israel's internal

security service, the Shin Bet.

All of those forces coming together to put together this operation that happened overnight at 1:49 a.m. local time, Special Forces, breaching a

residential building in a neighborhood of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza they breached that building, they went to the second floor where they

say that these two men, Louis Har, 70 years old and 60-year-old Fernando Marman were being held by Hamas fighters.

They fled that building under fire from Hamas fighters in the area. But one minute after that building was breached Israeli Air Force carrying out a

series of strikes throughout the city of Rafah, resulting in heavy casualties. At least, 94 people were killed, according to the Hamas-run

ministry of health, many more injured and that death toll is expected to rise.

We know that according to videos and people on the scene that there were women and children among those who were killed, and medical facilities were

told were overwhelmed by the number of casualties.

But the Israeli Prime Minister says that this operation is effectively evidence of the fact that military pressure, in his view, is essential to

securing the release of the hostages.

Although, it is important to note that this is only the second successful military operation to actually free hostages being held captive in Gaza.

But one thing is for sure is that these two men have now been reunited with their families at a hospital on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

We're told that they received a call overnight telling them that their loved ones had been rescued that they were waiting for them at that

hospital. And they were then reunited in a very emotional reunion, of course, with their loved ones. Eleni?

GIOKOS: Yes. Really most of images of them being reunited with family members. But the wider story here as well is what Israel plans to do in



You know, the Egyptians have been warning about dire consequences if there is a full ongoing offensive in Rafah. And I guess everyone is watching very

closely what the next move will be from Benjamin Netanyahu.

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. And yesterday, we saw the Israeli Prime Minister amid this kind of widespread international concern about a

military operation in Rafah, effectively doubling down on the importance of carrying out that mission. Saying that, without going into Rafah would

effectively be handing victory to Hamas, allowing it to remain and retain its last bastion, as he described it in that southernmost city.

He says that the military is planning for an evacuation of civilians from Rafah. But remember, there are 1.4 million people now crowded in a city

where there are normally only 300,000 residents. So, the enormity of that challenge, the scale of this problem is something that the Israeli military

is currently planning for, but so far, we haven't heard a whole lot of detail.

But certainly. last night, the people of Rafah got a taste, this very small taste of what a military operation in that city would look like. The fear

from so many people who we heard from overnight as that intense bombing campaign was being carried out, just a slice of what could potentially come

in the event of a full on-ground defensive in that city.

GIOKOS: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Well, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is criticizing Donald Trump's comments on the Alliance, saying they put American and European soldiers at

increased risk.

Trump was telling a crowd of supporters over the weekend, what he would say to Russia about NATO members who don't meet their spending guidelines, if

he's reelected president. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The presidents of a big country stood up said, well, sir, if we don't pay, and we're attacked

by Russia, will you protect us? I said you didn't pay, your delinquent. He said, yes.

Let's say that happened, no, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.


GIOKOS: Melissa Bell is back with us this hour from London. Interesting. Strong message to NATO. Worrying message to NATO. And also, similarly, a

message of, you know, do whatever the hell you want to Putin, should you choose to do so?

What does this all mean? Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, of course, these grievances are long standing. It is the rhetoric that has become more

incendiary. Still, and certainly more nerve rattling to European allies.

Remember, of course, Eleni that when we last heard Donald Trump -- Donald Trump's grievances with NATO, this was in the context of his time in

office, we've been reminded of that only recently, by the way, only last month by the European internal market commissioner Thierry Breton, who'd

raised a conversation not made public until recently between Donald Trump and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission back in

2020, just before he left office.

In which, he had allegedly told to the head of the European Commission that if Europe were to attacked, the United States would not get involved. So,

these are fears that are once again rearing their head in Europe, even before Donald Trump's remarks over the weekend.

And again, there is a ratcheting up of the rhetoric, I think that has really ruffled feathers on this side of the Atlantic. Do have a listen to

what Josep Borrell had to say about the remarks?


JOSEP BORRELL, FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, EUROPEAN UNION: NATO cannot be a la carte military alliances, cannot be a military ally that works depending on

the humor of the president of the U.S. on those days.

Is not, yes, now yes, tomorrow, no, it depends who are you. Now, come on. Let's be serious. Let's be serious.


BELL: And, of course, the most important thing here, Eleni, is that Donald Trump's comments come in a completely different context than when we last

heard him speak to his long-standing grievances about NATO, and how its member states go about respecting their commitments of spending; two

percent of GDP on military spending.

At the time, the war in Ukraine hadn't begun. Russia's invasion wasn't was something that might have been imagined. And even then, it was a distant


I think, these particular comments coming as they do just a few months from the American election, and in the context where Europe is feeling,

especially, on its eastern flank, all the more keenly, the effects of Russia's aggression in Ukraine and what it might mean for Europe's member

states, for NATO's member states, along that side of the NATO alliance.

I think all of that mean that the comments coming as they did in the context that they came in.


And again, this time not so much with the long-standing grievance about how NATO funding works. But a direct almost invitation to Vladimir Putin, an

encouragement that he should do what he wants to those countries haven't paid their dues. Quite astonishing, and I think playing into real European

fears about what might come next.

We've heard several European officials over the course of the last few weeks voiced their mounting concerns of what Russia's intentions are beyond

Ukraine's borders, most recently Denmark's foreign minister.

And what they say the intelligence assessment is, is that Russia may not be content with its assault on Ukraine, and that there could be more to fear

for European Union members, for NATO Alliance members. And this signaling by Donald Trump that this -- pledge this commitment, this promise, which

has acted as a deterrent so effectively since the end of World War II, might be a thing of the past, should he come back to office.

I think extremely alarming in the context at the time at which they've come, Eleni.

GIOKOS: All right. Melissa Bell, thank you. Great to have you on. Well, the U.S. Secretary of Defense has been hospitalized once again. Coming up, what

he's now having to deal with, and how he's making sure his defense office remains in control.

Plus, an unlikely casualty of Russia's warned Ukraine, thousands of Nepalis recruited by Moscow to fight on the front lines, and many aren't making it



GIOKOS: Cool. U.S. President Joe Biden will host Jordan's King Abdullah II, in Washington later today. The White House says the leaders are expected to

discuss the war in Gaza and efforts to produce an enduring end to the crisis.

The King is also pushing for the protection of civilians and more humanitarian aid in Gaza on a permanent basis. The King's visit is part of

a tour to several western countries addressing the war.

CNN's Arlette Saenz, joins us now from the White House.

Arlette, really important for King Abdullah to meet with President Biden. The U.S., of course does hold a lot of sway. And in terms of what we know,

supporting Israel in what it's doing in Gaza to eradicate Hamas.

But give me a sense of what we're expecting from this meeting and how important it is also for President Biden to keep those lines of

communication open with King Abdullah.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden considers King Abdullah of Jordan to be one of his key allies, but it does

come as there are some differences between the two leaders as far as it comes for how exactly to end this war.

We've heard repeatedly from King Abdullah, who is called for an immediate ceasefire that is something that he will likely press the president on

again today. But so far, the president has resisted those calls for an immediate ceasefire. Instead, working towards these sensations in

hostilities to try to get more aid in and trying to get those hostages out.


Now, a key portion of this meeting will focus on those hostage negotiations. President Biden just yesterday spent about 45 minutes on the

phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And we're told that the majority of that meeting did focus on efforts to secure the release of

the hostages.

It comes as Netanyahu has called Hamas's most recent proposal delusional, but the White House, senior administration official acknowledge that there

are still significant gaps in the hostage talks, but they do believe progress is being made.

That is part of the reason why President Biden is deploying CIA chief, Bill Burns to Egypt tomorrow for talks relating to trying to secure the release

of those hostages.

Now, all of this comes as overnight, the IDF conducted that operation, rescuing two Israeli hostages who were in the southern city of Rafah.

The White House is watching Rafah incredibly closely right now, as Israel is preparing to launch its ground offensive in that city. It's of concern,

because there's more than 1 million people who are in Rafah at this time. Many were displaced there from other parts of Gaza earlier in the war.

And the U.S. has said that they would not support a military operation there unless there is significant planning to protect those civilians who

could be in harm's way.

President Biden himself, spoke about this directly with Netanyahu in his phone call yesterday, saying that there needs to be a, "credible" and

executable plan for ensuring the safety and support for those civilians who are in that region.

So, the White House will be watching this incredibly closely. But it also comes up so we started to see the differences between Biden and Netanyahu,

really spill in to public view much more frequently.

Just last week, the president said that he believed Israel's response in Gaza has been "over the top" all of this coming as the president is facing

significant pressure here at home, when it comes to his support for Israel for not supporting a ceasefire at this time.

So, all of these issues likely will be discussed in the meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan later this afternoon.

We also expect the two men to deliver remarks before they conclude their meetings here at the White House today.

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, we have been seeing the United States whether it's, you know, Joe Biden, talking about what Israel is doing in Gaza is over the

top, and what we've heard from Antony Blinken, also talking about being gravely concerned about the rising death toll.

But what sway would King Abdullah have with President Biden in order to get the U.S. to put pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, not just to talk about

being gravely concerned, but rather to take significant action?

SAENZ: Well, King Abdullah can certainly try to push President Biden towards the direction of an immediate ceasefire. We do know that the

president's frustration and patience with Netanyahu and his approach have been running thin. But I think it still remains to be seen what exactly the

tipping point might be to get the president in line with some other Arab leaders like King Abdullah.

Now, something else Abdullah will be pushing for is trying to get more humanitarian aid in, but also talking about what Gaza will look like once

this war ends. That is something where these two men are likely very much on the same page, the two have pushed for a two-state solution to be the

result of this war. That is something that so far, Netanyahu has surely rebuffed. But these are all things that the two leaders likely to discuss a

little bit later.

Today, we will see if the king of Jordan will actually have any type of sway when it comes to the president's thinking on Israel at this time.

GIOKOS: Yes. All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you.

The U.S. senate is a big step closer to passing a $95 billion foreign aid bill that provides assistance to both Israel and Ukraine. The chamber voted

Sunday to advance the bill. 18. Republicans back the package, despite opposition from former U.S. President Donald Trump. It comes after

Republicans blocked a wider bill that included a bipartisan border deal.

If the bill is eventually passed by the Senate, it's unclear whether the House Speaker Mike Johnson would hold a vote on it. The bill is also

expected to include humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and Ukraine.

Russia has recruited as many as 15,000 men from Nepal to fight its war. Sources tell CNN, Moscow announced a lucrative package last year for

foreign fighters to join its military.

But as CNN's Matthew Chance reports, some of them came back traumatize and others did not return at all.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It should be a world apart from the battlefields of Ukraine. But this

Himalayan state has become an unlikely casualty of Russia's brutal war.


Nepalis like Ramchandra who escaped the Russian army with his life and praying for his comrades still fighting on the frontline. It took a bullet

and shrapnel in Ukraine, he told me, and so many Nepalis killed.

Some complained they were sent forward, while Russian troops held back, he tells me. But the main problem is the language barrier. Sometimes you

couldn't even understand where you're supposed to be going, he says, which way to point your gun.

But that chaos hasn't stopped Nepalis signing up. Many posting upbeat videos on social media of their military training in Russia, where they're

meant to be prepared for the hardships of the Ukraine war.

In reality, several former Nepali recruits tells CNN, they were sent into battle, after barely two weeks to fight for the Kremlin armed with a rifle

and a contract for a few thousand dollar a month, a fortune in the Nepal, where unemployment is high.

CHANCE (voice over): While the vast majority of Nepalis fighting for Russia in Ukraine are doing it for the money, and they come from these downhill,

impoverished areas across the country. We actually come to one of them now on the outskirts of Kathmandu to meet a woman who, in the past few days has

learned that her husband has been killed fighting in that distant war.

Hello. Hi, Namaste. Namaste.


CHANCE (voice over): He was with a unit of Nepalis battling Ukrainians, she tells me, when he was gunned down.

It was my husband's friend, his Nepali commander in Ukraine, who called me in the middle of the night, and told me he'd been killed, she tells me.

Still shocked at the news. There's been no notification from the Russians, she adds. Nothing.

It's a growing frustration with Russia's treatment of Nepalis as cannon fodder in the Ukraine war, shared with these protesters near the Russian

Embassy in Kathmandu.

CHANCE: Prime Minister, hi.

CHANCE (voice over): And the Nepali foreign minister who told me he's pressed Moscow, to curb recruitment, to no avail.

NARAYAN PRAKASH SAUD, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, NEPAL: They have told me that they will sort to act the concern of Nepal.

CHANCE: So, they told you they will sort to act.


CHANCE: But they haven't done anything yet.

PRAKASH SAUD: Yes, to did -- didn't have -- we don't have any information of doing anything.

CHANCE (voice over): There is not much information either on how many Nepalis are even fighting for Russia. About 200, according to Nepali


But multiple sources, including campaigners, lawmakers, and returning fighters, tell CNN, as many as 15,000 Nepalis could be fighting in Ukraine.

CHANCE: Well, we've asked the Russians how many Nepalis they have recruited, and how many have been killed in what the Kremlin calls its

special military operation.

So far, there's been no response, but there are concerns here in Nepal, the casualty figures may be high. CNN has learned that hundreds of Nepalis

who've joined the Russian military are out of contact. And it's uncertain if they are dead or alive.

CHANCE (voice over): Januka, a young Nepali mother is assuming the worst. Her husband hasn't called for more than two months now.

The children asked me when their dad is coming home, she sobs. Even if he doesn't love us anymore. We just want to see his face.

But another Nepali recruit to Russia's war may never be seen again.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kathmandu in Nepal.


GIOKOS: And still to come, alarm bells are ringing amid plans for an Israeli grand offensive inside Gaza's southernmost city. What that move

would mean for more 1.3 million civilians now packed into Rafah?



GIOKOS: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai.

Gasa's southernmost city of Rafah is now home to more than half of Gaza's population and Israel's talk of a ground offensive there has countries and

aid groups sounding an alarm. For its part, Hamas has reportedly said such a move would -- by -- move by Israel would end any hostage negotiations.

Hamas is also condemning what it calls a horrific massacre against civilians in Rafah.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says 94 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes. These images show some of the injured.

Now, the city, of course, shares a border with Egypt and in a statement Sunday, Cairo, warned of dire consequences of Israel moves forward with a

ground offensive in Rafah.

Nada Bashir is following all of this, from Cairo. Disturbing images, and look, this has been the big concern is just how far south Israel would go.

And this is as far south that it could to Rafah.

Multiple things playing out here. Firstly, you have hostage negotiations that on the go, key leadership talks in Egypt as well. And the question is,

how those would be potentially derailed in terms of what happens in Rafah?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely, Eleni, we've been hearing those voices of concern from not only officials here in Egypt. But

across the region, there have been repeated calls for Israel and the Israeli military, not to push further south into Rafah for the civilians in

southern Gaza to be protected.

And, of course, as we know, some 1.3 million people are believed to be concentrated in the southern border city, many of them have been forced to

evacuate to flee and relocate time and time again.

As per the Israeli military orders, telling them to evacuate to move southward. And look what we've seen in Rafah over the last couple of weeks.

Is the city coming under frequent aerial bombardment by the Israeli military, they say targeting Hamas infrastructure, but of course, as we

have seen the civilian impact is devastating.

As you mentioned, at least 94 people believed to have been killed in those overnight strikes, according to health officials from the health ministry

inside Gaza. That figure is expected to rise. The Palestine Red Crescent says there are still believes that many buried beneath the rubble of

destroyed buildings. Local municipality, officials say, at least, 12 residential buildings were struck and destroyed in those overnight strikes,

as well as two mosques, and as we know, there are enormous, sprawling, 10 cities in Rafah right up to the border with Egypt.

And of course, this is also a crucial gateway for humanitarian aid to get into. This could really push Rafah into an even worse humanitarian

situation. It's being described as a potential catastrophe by many.

We've heard just in the last hour or so. From the U.S. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths.


He has reiterated his warnings. Saying that those in Rafah, the civilians there have already lost their homes, have already been to what he has

described as unthinkable suffering.

The warning is that what we could see in Rafah, if indeed we see a full- scale grand operation, pushing into the city is not only more suffering for the civilians, but also of course, more civilians being killed.

Now, of course, this is also raising -- and bringing into question concerns around the ongoing diplomatic efforts that are taking place behind the

scenes. We have heard from officials and those familiar with discussions in the United States that the Biden administration is growing increasingly

frustrated with the Israeli government's decision and plans around his operation in southern Gaza.

We heard from the Biden administration officials, saying that they have a will not be able to support any sort of ground operational unless there is

a credible and executable plan for the protection of civilians there.

We know that the Israeli military has been directed to prepare for a mass evacuation of those civilians. But the question is, where will they be


Two, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend, telling Fox News that there is in his words, plenty of room for civilians to go. But from

hearing from people on the ground, from health workers, from aid goods, and of course, from the number of regional leaders who are closely involved

with the negotiations.

There isn't simply there were saved for anyone to go to anymore in Gaza. They have been all pushed concentrated into this southern border region.

There is simply nowhere to turn.

However, having said that, we've been hearing from people on the ground in Rafah, today that Palestinian families who have said and told us that they

are not planning to leave Rafah and move further north into central Gaza into Deir al-Balah, which is an area which has been almost entirely

destroyed by weeks of bombardment.

We've seen overnight strikes in (INAUDIBLE) again, had just overnight. So, you can imagine the difficult, impossible situation of these civilians are

now facing.

As you mentioned, there are concerns around the diplomatic situation and diplomatic efforts to negotiate some sort of prolonged truth, at least or

perhaps a ceasefire. We know that those proposals proposed by Hamas have already been dismissed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said

that the military will continue to push forward, until, in his words, Israel achieved a complete victory. Unclear what the times are that would


But of course, as we know, the Israeli military's primary goal has been from the outset of this law, the complete destruction of Hamas and its

military capabilities inside Gaza. That has drawn fierce criticism from the officials here in Egypt from the wider region. We are expecting course to

see the CIA director Bill Burns in Cairo tomorrow.

We may according to sources, potentially also see officials from Qatar and from the Israeli Mossad agency also present in Cairo for those talks.

Palestinian Authority President, meanwhile, is currently in Qatar, now, for talks. So, clearly, still of pressure building on the diplomatic front.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. All right. Nada Bashir there for us in Cairo.

The U.K. has announced sanctions against what it calls extremist Israeli settlers. It says the four men have committed human rights abuses in the

West Bank, accusing them of violently attacking Palestinians, threatening families at gunpoint and destroying property.

An Israeli watchdog groups say today, 2023 was the most violent year on record for settler attacks in the West Bank. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd

Austin is in the critical care units of the Walter Reed Medical Center. The Pentagon says he was admitted yesterday for a bladder issue.

Austin has transferred his duties and functions to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

Austin was treated for prostate cancer back in December and hospitalized for complications. There is no word on how long Austin will be in the


For more details on this. Let's go to CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann to give us an update.

What do -- more do we know about his health right now.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: At this point, he remains in the critical care unit at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he is been for

nearing the 24-hour mark at this point. He was taken there about 2:20 In the afternoon, yesterday. On Sunday, we got the first notification here

very quickly, within about 2-1/2 hours.

So, that you can see the Pentagon and the Office of the Secretary of Defense very much learning his lesson here to put out these notifications

quickly, not only to the public, but also to the president, to Congress, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General C.Q. Brown.

We got another update just a couple of hours later. And then, the update shortly before midnight yesterday that Austin had been admitted to the

critical care unit and would be staying at the hospital.

At this point, it's unclear for exactly how long as he suffers from symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue according to the doctors


They do say he is still on track for a full recovery. Obviously, he will recover from this too according to the doctors. But there is no exact



He transferred his authorities to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks just about 5:00 p.m. yesterday. So, shortly after, we got the first

notification that he had been taken to the hospital. Now, of course, this also changes his schedule. On Thursday, the Pentagon had announced that

Austin would be traveling to Brussels for not only a meeting of the Ukraine defense contact group, but also a meeting of the NATO defense ministerial,

although there hasn't been an official update. That trip was supposed to begin effectively tomorrow. So, it's unclear if he'll be able to go on

that, and how the Pentagon will handle Austin's hospitalization at this point.

So, we're waiting for more of an update here. He is scheduled to testify to the House Armed Services Committee at the end of the month, about the

previous failure to properly notify the president, the congressional oversight committees, and other senior administration officials. So, that

as we understand, it is still on track at this point to answer questions about the last time the notifications here broke down.

GIOKOS: All right. Thank you, Oren Liebermann there for us.

Migratory animals like turtles, whales, elephants, and birds are struggling to survive in a world changed by humans. A U.N. report out today finds that

nearly half of all migratory species are seeing their numbers shrinking, and one in five are at risk of total extinction.

Some of the biggest threats facing these creatures, according to the report, are over exploitation and loss of habitat; from things like the

building of roads and infrastructure.

And we've got CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir live in New York to talk to us about these magnificent creatures that clearly are at risk.

It's the human element, right?

We're building too much. Really -- you know, we're destroying their habitats. And in this climate change.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Sort of this death by a thousand cuts, Eleni, and so many levels for these creatures that

oftentimes move thousands of kilometers around the world.



WEIR: To feed or breed. A lot of those migratory paths cut by development, illegal fishing, takes its toll on the ocean's poaching on land, everything

from elephants and Jaguars, to narwhals, the most charismatic species, to the really vital creatures at the bottom of the food chain that help out

with pollination, or insect control, like bats, which have a huge ecological advantage of other 1,200 species they looked at, 44 percent are

in decline as a result of all of these mounting threats 22 percent on the brink of extinction, which is a staggering idea.

And so, much of this, as I mentioned, habitat loss, and you know, dissecting landscapes with roads and development, those sorts of things.

But the one constant around the global, Eleni, climate change. Things are warming up, making it less, you know, livable for so many species that are

trying to either move to cooler climes, as we've seen with like cod and the Atlantic.

Even some plant species that no longer grow at certain elevations, because the mountains are heating up. So, a yet another warning, a landmark study

here to tell folks be careful, we don't want to lose our planetary roommates.

And on the good news side, a lot of the government's a couple of years ago around the world agreed to preserve 30 percent of their wilderness by the

year 2030. And the experts say if that can be done, comeback stories, like the humpback whale could be repeated across species.

GIOKOS: You know what, Bill, you always surprise me. You always have the good news in all of your, you know, pieces with me. You always end on a

positive note. But very quickly to explain to us why these animals are important for humans?

We're destroying their habitat, but why are they important to us?

WEIR: Well, for some species, like certain species of birds and insects, the songbirds in your backyards, they help pollinate, they spread seeds,

they keep biodiversity alive in ecosystems.

They're keystone species in many ways that actually shape the land in ways or help ocean life coral reefs that are sort of the nursery of sea life at

the bottom. And so many apex predators depend on that. All of it is connected. And we think about things you know, a food chain going from one

end to the other, it's more circular.

And when you remove one of those key players, like a bat, for example, which may not be your cuddly favorite animal to look at, you lose free

insect control --



WEIR: Malaria control, they eat so many mosquitoes, tons of mosquitoes, and they're pollinators and creating harvests for crops and flowering plants

and a lot of our diet is thanks to these creatures as well.

So, when they break down, we lose all these free earth systems that are working for us that a lot of times are invisible.

GIOKOS: I will appreciate bats a lot more because they usually tend to go for my hair. So, Bill, thank you very much for shedding light on these

interesting fairy flying friends.


Bill Weir for us, thank you.

WEIR: You bet.

GIOKOS: All right. More news after this break. Stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. The chief of E.U. foreign policy says more pressure needs to be brought on Israel to change its actions in Gaza. He said this

just moments ago.


BORRELL: How many times have you heard the most prominent leaders and foreign minister around the world is saying too many people are being


President Biden said this is too much on the top. Is not proportional. Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you

should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed.


GIOKOS: Well, here on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are connecting you to the global leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai. They are trying to

come up with new ideas to solve ongoing crisis, especially the war between Israel and Hamas.

My colleague, Becky Anderson, led a panel earlier with some officials from the United Nations. And she asked about the humanitarian situation in

Rafah, and how to ensure safety for civilians. Take a look.



vulnerable population that has nowhere to go, it poses huge risks.

And that's why I think President Biden, but prior, of course, the secretary general, many other world leaders have expressed, I would say,

euphemistically, perhaps, tremendous caution. What does it mean in our -- in terms of our ability to reach people? I think that's the big unknown.

The risks already for humanitarian workers are significant. They are very high. I can't compare it at the moment, one on one to other crisis

situations. But there is a stretch to what we can ask of humanitarian workers, under which conditions they could still safely reach people. And,

of course, there is the elephant in the room the sort of -- the blockage on UNRWA's humanitarian ability to deliver, given Israel's allegations and the

need, of course for a very proper investigation, which is ongoing.

But if UNRWA cannot deliver, there are airstrikes. There is an increase of attacks civilian population. I think risks being the ultimate casualty. And

this, of course, is of concern to all of us when we speak of international humanitarian law, when we speak of issues of access.


This is not an easy one. Now, I know, Israeli authorities are informing or stating that they will find and plan for ways. But ultimately, all

resolutions move for access for protection, for safety, alongside, of course, the unconditional release of the hostages. And a temporary

ceasefire, humanitarian pause is so much needed.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And that is what 2720 -- you worked so hard on before Christmas calls for. You said at the time, look,

this isn't perfect. You said that on the floor of the UNSC. But it was -- it was what you could get at the time.

We are what? Six weeks on from getting that resolution through and we are faced with the prospect of mass displacement in Rafah, the prospect of a

closed and possibly more permanently closed Rafah border crossing. The Egyptians, obviously, have clear concerns, security concerns himself.

Happen -- how worried are you at this point? And do you echo, you know, the secrets concerns?

LANA NUSSEIBEH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Look, the UAE is extremely worried at this point. And that's why we issued

a clear statement a couple of days ago warning that any military operation, Rafah would have unacceptable consequences for the 1.4 million people who

have already been displaced once, who are all crammed into this tiny space in Rafah, the border crossing. Previously Around 300,000 people had resided

there. So, it's a five times fold increase of the population center in Rafah. And I think that shows you how serious and consequential any

military operation would be there.

And I think that is why the international community, all countries that have been following this file have stated that any military operation in

Rafah, would have severe consequences. You would not be able to protect the civilian population there, which is indeed what 2720 is called for, what

2712 has also called for, what the UAE's humanitarian ceasefire resolution that we took to the Security Council, which was vetoed, called for, and it

was then adopted in the General Assembly by 153 countries.

This is the international consensus that Sigrid has just referred to. What we need today is a humanitarian ceasefire that has been our position


And I think that, you know, whilst recognizing what Sigrid has said, and this is indeed included in resolution 2720, the hostages must come out.

And that has been an unequivocal position of the United Arab Emirates that these hostages must be released, but they cannot be released in the state

of conflict when. I've met with hostage families, honestly, that my heart goes out to them. The extraordinary trauma and pain that they are also

feeling with their loved ones captured in the Gaza Strip.

Having said that, the scale of the response, the scale of the devastation in Gaza, with 70 percent of it uninhabitable today, and these are people

that have been many times displaced, I think shows that we need to, as Sigrid has said, stop, we need to a pause, we need that to lead to a more

permanent ceasefire.

We need the hostages out, we need the scale up of aid going in. Now, what Becky is pointing to is that the resolutions are not working in the way

that they were intended to work, and that is always the case with diplomatic toolkits. You have to create consensus, you have to create

pressure, and you have to create push.

ANDERSON: Those in Rafah cannot wait for humanitarian assistance.

So, what are you doing as far as, you know, talking to the international community? What do you understand be the kind of the conversations going on

at this point to try and affect more access, not less. Because as we face, you know, the potential of a full-on onslaught in Rafah, there is going to

be less access, not more, Sigrid.

KAAG: You know, that mean, it's a tough one, yet, it's a concrete one. Because the resolution, if I go back to the 2720, spoke distinctly on the

need to facilitate accelerate, and expedite humanitarian aid getting to all those in need in Gaza.

Now, that is actually the entire population in Gaza, that from south to north, to create access. And that means, basically, I've been meeting and

talking to all of the concerned parties, Israeli authorities, Egyptians, Jordanians, but also Cyprus, to see how we can get goods in volume,

quality, and sustainably to the population. And that means land, air, and by sea, potentially.

But that, of course, still depends on either humanitarian ceasefire, wars or humanitarian pauses to actually be able to scale up and to know which

entry points you can use. And if they are safe, if actually, the humanitarian workers can deliver the aid in what we call deconflicted -- in

a deconflicted manner, i.e. they won't be shot at or they won't be in a crossfire.


All these things are clearly not yet in place. I would say there is --


ANDERSON: Who is holding them up? Is Israel holding them up at this point?

KAAG: It's not -- it's not a black or white, there is a conflict going on. And that's always the difficulty. Humanitarian aid delivery in a sustained

manner, in situations of active fighting are not impossible, but they're high risk, very dangerous to the workers and to the civilians.


GIOKOS: Still ahead, huge celebrations for the Kansas Chiefs after winning the Super Bowl last night, grabbing the spotlight, a very happy Taylor


And Usher turns up the heat in the halftime show and fans are thrilled. Highlights of his performance right after this break.


Welcome back. And a nail biter of a night for American football's biggest game of the year, the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII in overtime

for their second consecutive title, and their third in five years, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22.

The game ended with a stunning touchdown pass from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to receive Mecole Hardman, as CNN's Coy Wire breaks it all

down for us.



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR (voice over): In the first ever Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Taylor Swift was all of us, screaming, cheering, maybe chugging

a drink, biting her nails, as the defending champion Chiefs were down three, with 75 yards in front of them in just a second ever overtime in

Super Bowl history.

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs, just know that.

WIRE: Patrick Mahomes, putting the team on his shoulders found a way to win again. Dissecting the defense with his favorite target, Travis Kelce, 333

yards passing on the night, two touchdowns, including the game winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He runs and he throws, pop, touchdown. It's pop. (INAUDIBLE) grab the ball. The Chiefs have won! The Chiefs have won!

WIRE: A party for the ages in Kansas City.

At just 28 years old, Mahomes is now a three-time Super Bowl MVP, just the fifth quarterback ever to win three titles.

MAHOMES: I can't ask for anything better than this. We're the Super Bowl champs. Kansas City, I'll see you all at the parade. Let's do it, baby.

ISIAH PACHECO, RUNNING BACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It's a brotherhood, it's family. Forget about me, I love you. Showing that we sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got into everything. I mean -- I mean, it's confetti on the foot. I got a nice hat.

WIRE: Andy Reid, 11 years as the Chiefs head coach. 10 playoff bursts three Super Bowl wins, tied for the third most ever. And big Reid isn't done.

And what's going to be your celebratory meal, coach?

ANDY REID, HEAD COACH, KANSAS CITY CHIEF'S: You know, a cheese burger --

WIRE: Dynasty complete. A 25-22-win, Kansas City gets their third title in five years, they are the first back-to-back champs in nearly 20 years.

KELCE: We get a chance to do it three times in a raw.

WIRE: Travis Kelce getting a celebratory kiss from Taylor Swift. While brother Jason and Mama Donna stuffed confetti in their pocket.


WIRE: The most hyped Super Bowl delivers from Usher's halftime performance through the Hollywood ending that couldn't have been scripted, anyways, it

seems like nothing can stop the Chiefs and their Super Bowl Eras Tour.



GIOKOS: Well, that was CNN's Coy Wire reporting for us. And singer Usher's Super Bowl halftime that performance had fans saying, yes.


USHER, AMERICAN R&B SINGER: Don't make me want to say --

GIOKOS (voice over): The R&B crooner delivered a show something spectacle. Even roller skating onto the stage at one point. The eight-time Grammy

winner was joined by some of the artists he's collaborated with through the years including, Ludacris, Lil Jon, H.E.R., and And who can ever

resist his situate with Alicia Keys?

USHER: It's the only way we know how to rock.

ALICIA KEYS, AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER: It's the only way we know how to rock.

It started when we were younger, you were mine, my boo.

USHER: You were mine. My boo.

KEYS: Now another brother's taken over, but it's still in your eyes.


GIOKOS: Usher appeared on the Super Bowl stage as a guest with the Black Eyed Peas back in 2011. He told CNN in November that he had worked his

entire lifetime hoping to perform at the Super Bowl. And there he is, creating magic on stage.

Well, that's it for CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with CNN, I am Eleni Giokos. "STATE OF THE RACE" is up next.