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Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Laid To Rest; Gaza Health Ministry Says At 112 Died In Aid Convoy Tragedy; U.S. Looks To Israel For Answers On Aid Convoy Deaths; Trump Attends Court Hearing For Mar-A-Lago Trial Date; Iranians Vote In First Elections Since Mass Protests; Tight Security Around Navalny Funeral Earlier; Palestinian Photographer Motaz Azaiza Speaking Up about Gaza; A Behind-The-Scenes Look With Local Talent In Abu Dhabi. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 01, 2024 - 10:00   ET



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

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, welcome back to our second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi where the time

is 7:00 p.m. in the evening. It is 10:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

These images coming into CNN just moments ago. A handful of mourners were allowed into the cemetery to pay their respects at Alexei Navalny's

gravesite. We'll bring the very latest from Moscow. Donald Trump arrives in Florida for a hearing on the timing of his classified documents case. New

video from the chaos that ensued when Israeli forces opened fire in northern Gaza on Thursday. And my conversation with Palestinian

photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, why he made the painful decision to leave Gaza.

Extraordinary scenes in Moscow. Thousands of mourners gathered amid a heavy police presence to say goodbye to the late Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Following an open casket funeral, the late opposition leader was laid to rest around two hours ago. It is exactly two weeks after his death at an

Arctic penal colony. His team says his coffin was lowered into the ground to Frank Sinatra song "My Way." Some mourners have been allowed into the

cemetery two pay their respects, but we are also hearing reports of at least one arrest at the funeral, according to monitoring group OVD-Info.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow following today's service. He filed this report earlier as Alexei Navalny was being buried.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the sight inside the cemetery, in the memorial to Alexei Navalny. People are

coming here to lay their flowers, and as you can see, and also to file past the actual gravesite, which is there. People are picking up soil and

throwing it into the ground onto the casket as a final farewell to that opposition figure.


ANDERSON: Well, our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is also following developments for us.

And Clarissa, you have followed this story so closely. Reflections on these scenes out of Moscow today, if you will.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's hard not to feel somewhat moved by this outpouring of thousands and thousands of

Russians who risked possibly being arrested or informed upon to go out and pay their final respects. We heard the crowds chanting Navalny, Navalny.

They were also chanting we're not afraid because you were not afraid.

But I also think it's hard not to look at those crowds and be so conscious, Becky, of who's not there. Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Alexei Navalny,

Dasha Navalnaya, his daughter, Zahar, Navalny's son. None of them are attending today's funeral and that is presumably because the risk is just

considered too great. Particularly after Yulia has been so outspoken about blaming Putin for her husband's murder and saying that she is now taking up

the mantle and will follow his example as a voice of the Russian opposition.

It is also I think very noteworthy, Becky, that we haven't seen more arrests today, whether that's because the Kremlin realized or felt

intuitively that there needed to be some space given to let people mourn, or whether it is simply because the mourners themselves have been very

restrained in the way that they have gone about remembering and saying goodbye to Alexei Navalny today.

It did not turn in to an ad hoc or informal demonstration or whether that's because there were dignitaries there. The U.S. and U.K. ambassadors to

Russia among them.


There have been warnings earlier on from the Kremlin that unauthorized memorials would not be tolerated. But so far it feels or it seems that

things have gone off relatively smoothly that many people did have the opportunity to say goodbye, to pay their respects on this very moving and

very somber day -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And of course, Matthew Chance, Clarissa, was there and spoke to some of the mourners. I just want to play some sound from one of those

taking a risk today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us and for me personally was like, I don't know, Russian Nelson Mandela or Russian Martin Luther King. So --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Navalny, Navalny.

CHANCE: People are chanting his name there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. His last name. Navalny. And so --



ANDERSON: Clarissa, it's been two weeks since we learned of his death, and you would have reflected now over that period on what his legacy will be.

What are your thoughts?

WARD: Well, I think it's really interesting. You heard that mourner say that he thought of Navalny as a kind of Nelson Mandela or a Martin Luther

King figure, and I have certainly had conversations with others who have also invoked Nelson Mandela's name specifically. And I think the question

that I had that I actually asked Navalny's team before he got on that plane and return to Moscow was, is Russia ready for a Nelson Mandela? Is this the

moment when Russia needs a Nelson Mandela.

And this is a critical moment now, Becky, I think where Russia will have to decide that. What will the future of the Russian opposition look like? It's

clear that due to these sort of draconian crackdowns that this is a very challenging moment, but I also think that there's real hope that through

his death and through his example, and through his legacy, that this might serve as kind of inspiration or sucker for the opposition movement.

And while there's a broader realization that this isn't going to happen overnight, and that change may take a long time, and we heard from

Navalny's team today putting out a message saying this is just the beginning of our struggle. This is the beginning of tougher times, but

perhaps through his death, Navalny will be able to achieve something that tragically he was not able to achieve in life. I think that is the

question, and we don't yet really have the answer.

ANDERSON: It's seven minutes past 6:00 as the sun goes down in Moscow. Clarissa, thank you.

And as we speak, you are, folks, looking at these images which are of those who are still queuing to get in to pay their respects. Alexei Navalny

buried today, his funeral earlier.

We are hearing a range of reaction to the aid convoy tragedy in Gaza, ranging from concern to, frankly, seething anger. Accounts of what happened

yesterday differ. Israel disputing eyewitness accounts, said its troops' use of gunfire during an aid delivery led to the deaths of more than 100

Palestinians. The UAE calling for an independent and transparent investigation. The Foreign Ministry requesting, quote, "the punishment of

those responsible" and warning of a catastrophic and dangerous humanitarian situation.

The U.N. secretary-general saying he was appalled by the incident and is also calling for an independent investigation. Saudi Arabia issued a strong

condemnation and accused Israel of, quote, "targeting of defenseless civilians in Gaza."

Well, meantime, new video emerging from the scene may add, just may add some insight into what actually happened, and the Gaza Health Ministry says

the death toll from this tragic incident is rising.

Jeremy Diamond has that.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Around 4:00 in the morning, thousands of Palestinians are already camped out by the coastal road in

western Gaza City. Humanitarian aid trucks are reportedly on route. A rarity in northern Gaza where hundreds of thousands are now on the brink of

famine. As the convoy passes an Israeli military checkpoint and enters Gaza City, hundreds desperate for food swarm the trucks as seen in this drone

video released by the Israeli military.


Many climb onto the trucks grabbing what they can, when suddenly --


DIAMOND: The Israeli military opens fire, killing, and wounding about 20 people in the crowd, according to local journalist Hadir Al-Zaanon (PH),

who was on the scene. Pandemonium ensues. As people run away eyewitnesses say the truck drivers speed off, killing dozens more people. The

Palestinian Ministry of Health says at least 112 people were killed altogether, and more than 760 injured. CNN cannot independently confirm

those numbers.

The Israeli military acknowledges its troops shot people near the convoy, but says the gunfire was unrelated and came after people were already

killed in a stampede.

LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: In a second event, in a short distance away, we also had a group of people that approached the military

forces in a warzone. The forces opened fire in the air to distance them, warning fire, in order to get people out of harm's way. Unfortunately they

proceeded to advance and indeed they are perceived threat and the forces opened fire.

Of course, I will say we're continuing to investigate, continuing to inquire in our after-actions activities.

DIAMOND: That account contradicted by eyewitnesses who say Israeli gunfire triggered the mass panic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our children died of hunger. They went to get a bag of flour in order to feed their children. Some were run

over, others were shot. So they send us the aid so the Israelis can keep shooting at our children. This is wrong. This is not right. This is not


DIAMOND: The latest victims killed on a day when the death toll in Gaza surpassed 30,000, according the Palestinian Ministry of Health, a majority

of whom are women and children. More may soon die of starvation, as the World Food Program warns that more than half a million Gazans are on the

brink of famine.

PHILIPPE LAZZARINI, UNRWA COMMISSIONER GENERAL: We are talking about a man- made famine because we have a kind of a total blockage for the people who are living in the north. There is not even enough of animal food, animal

product for people to eat or to do bread with animal product.

DIAMOND: That desperation brought Tamar Atta Al-Shanbari (PH) to that coastal road early Thursday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He went to get a bit of bread, a bag of flour for his family, displaced at the schools in Jabalya camp.

DIAMOND: Now he lies dead, killed while trying to survive.


ANDERSON: Jeremy Diamond reporting there.

Well, the U.S. has expressed condolences to those killed and injured at the aid delivery site yesterday, and it is pressing Israel for answers.

Alex Marquardt joins us now from Washington -- Alex.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. We've heard from a number of U.S. officials who say that they are asking

Israel for a better explanation of what they believe happened yesterday. So they haven't essentially said where they've landed on a version of events.

But what we've been hearing from senior U.S. officials is that this really underscores what they're calling the urgency to get a ceasefire in place.

A potential ceasefire deal, as we've understood it, not just about bringing much needed peace to the people of Gaza for at least six weeks. It's not

just about getting those Israeli hostages home after about five months in captivity. It's also about getting the humanitarian aid to where it needs

to be, and to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Now, we did hear that President Biden spoke with his Qatari and Egyptian counterparts just yesterday. In those conversations, they talked about this

horrific incident in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed. The White House called it a tragic and alarming incident.

But, Becky, aside from the ceasefire, the U.S. has been making the point that regardless, more aid needs to get in and it needs to get to places

where it hasn't. This incident that happened just yesterday that was in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. And so the Biden administration has been

pushing Israel to allow more aid in, but also to open up more crossings. We know that there are crossings in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

You can see there on the map where the incident took place in Gaza City. There are two crossings nearby, Erez and Karni, that the Israelis could

open up. So we are hearing more pressure now from the Biden administration on the Israelis to open up those crossings.

Becky, we had seen some signs of progress in these ceasefire talks. There were talks among senior officials just over -- exactly a week ago in Paris.

Those continued in Doha this week.


So the question has been whether this incident yesterday would derail those talks. That is something that Hamas has alluded to, that that is something

that could happen. But the U.S. officials I'm speaking with today say those talks do appear to be on track, that they haven't been derailed. But we did

hear from President Biden just yesterday saying that he does not believe that a ceasefire is likely to be in place on Monday, which he had predicted

several days ago, but he added that hope springs eternal, Becky. So it does appear that there is progress, but not that that deal is necessarily

imminent -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Alex, good to have you. Thank you.

Well, while the war rages on in Gaza, the European Union says it will proceed with a $54 million payment to the embattled U.N. agency responsible

for providing aid to the enclave. UNRWA you'll recall is reeling from allegations that some of its staff members were involved in Hamas' October

7th attack in Israel.

The E.U. says it will continue to fund the agency while an independent review of its staff is carried out. The U.S. and at least 13 of its allies

pulled funding away from the agency last month.

Right now Donald Trump is in court in Florida for a crucial hearing on the start date of the classified documents trial. That is one of four criminal

cases facing the former U.S. president. And when it starts will impact the court calendar for the others. On Thursday, Special Counsel Jack Smith

asked for the classified documents trial to start in early July. Trump's lawyers proposed an August start.

Gene Rossi is a former federal prosecutor and a former assistant U.S. attorney, and joins me now from Washington.

So who is likely to get a result in this?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER U.S. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Becky, I think if you had to bet money in Vegas, the only trial that's going to go this year is

probably the Stormy Daniels hush money trial that begins on March 25th of this year. I think the January 6th Jack Smith case, that's going to be

pushed to the end of the year. I think this document case, it may be set in July or August, but I think that'll be pushed. And the kerfuffle, the mess

that's down in Georgia that may be pushed to next year.

And here's why I say this, Becky, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the absolute immunity arguments and have oral arguments April 20th or 22nd,

that was a fait accompli that the court will not rule on this issue probably until the end of June. If that happens, all those trials that have

been waiting for that issue to be resolved, the J6 case and the documents case, they'll be pushed back. So the only one is probably the New York

state case.

ANDERSON: Which means what ultimately, sir?

ROSSI: Well, I worked on that case. I represented Stormy Daniels' attorney when the federal government was investigating Donald Trump and Michael

Cohen. And I can tell you this, even though it's a state case, it involves false documents, I think there's a high likelihood that Donald Trump faces

a risk of conviction. It's not a case to laugh at, even know what (INAUDIBLE) high profile case.

I think there's a high risk that President Trump could be convicted or found guilty by a jury by the end of April, early May of this year.

ANDERSON: And that means what with regard his ambition to be the next U.S. president?

ROSSI: Well, Becky, here's the problem. Are the people who support Donald Trump, are they willing to say, I will still support them even though he

has been found guilty of a felony by a jury? If they're able to do that then he has a chance to be reelected. If that conviction or that guilty

verdict by the state jury truly affects their decision, not only the Trump people, but independents and wavering Democrats, then Joe Biden has a

chance of reelection.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, sir. And so it goes on.

ROSSI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

We're taking a short break. Back after this.



ANDERSON: You're looking at Iran's President Ibrahim Raisi, visiting a polling station in Tehran as the country holds parliamentary elections. It

is Iran's first nationwide election since massive anti-government protests rocked the country back in 2022. And it comes as Iranians contend with an

ailing economy and growing distrust of the government.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Tehran, and it's important to explain why it is that these elections are important and whether anybody who is

voting in this election for change is wasting their vote.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, first of all, you're absolutely right. These elections are seen as pivotal

by many people here in Iran and certainly by Iran's leadership. And you could see that in the days running up to this vote when you had the supreme

leader come out urging people to vote.

Also, the government urging people to vote, and really quite frankly, if you go around the city then pretty much on every corner, you'll see a lot

of posters urging people to come out saying your vote builds Iran as they put it. So they say that this election is extremely important for the

future of Iran to keep building this country.

But of course you're also absolutely right to point out the fact that right now there are a lot of people who have lost a lot of trust in their

politicians and certainly have done so since those massive protests took place in the fall of 2022. The economy of this country continues to be in a

very difficult situation. And that's really manifold. On the one hand, the buying power of people has decreased significantly with inflation being

extremely high.

Of course, the sanctions against Iran playing a big role in that as well. But there are also a lot of people who feel that the politicians who have

been in parliament so far have not tackled those issues adequately. And one of the reasons why some people appear somewhat disillusioned with the

political process here in this country is, of course, the fact that so many candidates in the run-up to this election have been disqualified.

That certainly is something that didn't sit well with many moderates. At the same time, though, the conservatives in the country and the government

of this country are saying that more candidates than ever are actually on the ballot to run for the 290 seats. But when you're speaking about

possible change happening and things, for instance, changing in the economy, many people are somewhat distrustful of that because they say,

look, they believe the conservatives probably are going to ferment their hold on power here in this country.

And it's very difficult for people to see that anything significantly is going to change in the policies that we've seen in Iran in the past four

years -- Becky.

ANDERSON: How would you describe the mood amongst those that you have spoken to?


CHANCE: You know what, I think that the mood varies very much depending on who you speak to. On the one hand, of course, you have the conservative. We

were at a conservative election rally in the run-up to this election and there were a lot of people who said, look, they're very happy with the

situation. They want things to continue the way that they are and they're going to come out and vote.

But if you speak to more moderate people, and quite frankly a lot of people that we met on the streets here in Tehran, there are a lot of people who

say that they don't trust the politicians who have been in parliament so far, who say that they are losing trust in the political process here in

this country and in the electoral process as well. There's a lot of people who told us upfront that they are not going to come out and vote in the

election today.

Now, on the other hand, you have had the government who came out a couple of minutes ago and said they are extending the voting hours tonight. We

spoke last hour and said the polls were about to close. They've now extended the voting by two hours, saying that there are so many people who

do want to come and cast their ballot. Of course, it's unclear where that exactly is the case and what polling stations in the country that is the


At the same time as far as the mood is concerned, it is certainly one that is very difficult. A lot of people talk about a very difficult economic

situation, had very little in the way of hope that the economy of this country could get better in the near future -- Becky.

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

Well, a grammy winning singer and songwriter has been sentenced to prison in Iran, according to the Human Rights Activists news agency, which is a

non-government news outlet. Shervin Hajipour was reportedly handed a three years and eight-month sentence and ordered to write an anti-U.S. song.

Authorities accused him of inciting unrest and spreading propaganda against the regime. The 27-year-old won a special merit award last year's Grammys

for his soul "Baraye," which became an anthem of the anti-government protests back in 2022.

Well, just ahead, despite great personal risk, thousands of mourners turned out today to honor Alexei Navalny.

Coming up, I'll be looking at Navalny's legacy with "Washington Post's" Russia and Ukraine editor. He has written about a biography of the

Kremlin's most outspoken critic. That coming up after this.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Time here is 7:30 in the evening. We are in Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

Time, for example, on the East Coast, in the U.S., 10:30.

Returning to our top story, on the day of his burial, a poignant tribute to Alexei Navalny from his widow. Yulia Navalnaya releasing this video with a

message, saying thank you to her late husband for, quote, "26 years of absolute happiness."

The funeral and burial of the late Russian opposition leader took place earlier in Moscow amid tight security and the fear of arrests. Navalny died

two weeks ago at a Russian penal colony. His loved ones hold the Russian president responsible.

My next guest is the author of "The Dissident: Alexei Navalny, Profile of a Political Prisoner." David Herszenhorn is also the "Washington Post's"

Russia and Ukraine editor, and he joins me now.

David, our Matthew Chance was on the scene earlier today in Moscow and witnessed thousands of mourners gathered, queuing to pay their respects at

great risk with an enormous security presence. They were flanked by Russian security. What did you make of those images first and foremost?

DAVID HERSZENHORN, RUSSIA AND UKRAINE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, certainly Navalny's supporters were not going to be repressed, scared away.

Many of them is, as you've seen, have come out in defiance of the Kremlin, but also a real sign, isn't it, of the weakness of Vladimir Putin that he

needs to try to repress Navalny even in his death? Quite a remarkable thing to have riot police out there, police barricades up the ceremony,

apparently cut short when some people tried to get close to the coffin.

Keeping people out on the streets. Again, we know that pressured Navalny's family into trying to hold a small private ceremony, which they wouldn't

do. A poignant moment where he was actually being lowered into the ground partly to the soundtrack of "Terminator 11," his favorite movie, but also

because of his hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Most people don't realize Navalny had a poster of Schwarzenegger in his room as a teenager. Really

looked up to the body-builder at that time, later governor California.

ANDERSON: I want to talk about the man that was Alexei Navalny, before I do that, I just want our viewers and you to hear some of what some of the

mourners discussed with Matthew Chance in Moscow a little earlier today. Have a listen.


CHANCE: Can you tell me why have you come here today to pay your respects?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came from St. Petersburg.

CHANCE: From St. Petersburg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: St. Petersburg. And I came here because I loved this person. I loved this hero. He's the real hero of our time.

CHANCE: Alexei Navalny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alexei Navalny, of course. And for me it's a personal truth. I want to say to him farewell.

CHANCE: Why have you decided to come out to this funeral today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's natural. I have to because I participated in all meetings where Navalny.

CHANCE: The Kremlin have denied any connection with the deaths of Alexei Navalny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. Any connection --

CHANCE: They've denied it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, they denied that, but they do it openly. They did it openly and cynically. So they demonstrate to the whole world,

we do what we want to do, and we will do what we want to do, and we can repress you.


ANDERSON: Given the current atmosphere in Moscow, in Russia, just how risky, how brave are those that we've just heard from today?

HERSZENHORN: Incredibly brave. And some of them chanting against the war in Ukraine. We know hundreds were arrested in the days immediately after

Navalny's death, just for laying flowers at makeshift memorials around the country. So there was no question. We haven't heard reports of widespread

arrests today outside the funeral service or at the cemetery. But in fact there was a real risk that that would happen, every reason to believe that

was so.

We know people have often gone to these events prepared with a lawyer's phone number just in case they end up in prison.


ANDERSON: David, "The Dissident," your book, is the story of how one fearless man offended by the dishonesty and criminality of the Russian

political system, mounted a relentless opposition movement and became President Vladimir Putin's most formidable rival to the extent that he

makes a point of never mentioning his name. He was a formidable rival. His wife is determined that his legacy will be that, one, nobody forgets Alexei

Navalny, and that two, there will be an opposition movement in his name as it were going forward.

What's your sense of what happens next and his legacy two weeks as you reflect, two weeks after we found out about his death?

HERSZENHORN: Well, there's no question that Yulia Navalnaya, his wife, intends to continue his work. It's obviously going to be difficult for her

operating outside of Russia. She's already made some dramatic appearances in Brussels before the European parliament at the Munich Security

Conference in just the moments after learning of his death.

I rewatched just a couple of days ago the first big rally that Navalny led, where he electrified a crowd after the fraudulent parliamentary elections

in 2011, in December, and he was leading them in chant and response, right? Call and response. What is this party referring to? United Russia, the

party if Vladimir Putin. You're crooks and thieves. And as they get to the end of this, the crowd really worked up, he says, crooks, themes, and


Aat that point, he was talking about people like the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, people who had been killed for being critics of the Kremlin.

Now Navalny sadly joining those ranks of people who have died because of their opposition to the Russian regime. But there's no question we see that

some of his top political supporters and partners, Maria Pevchikh, who leads his anti-corruption foundation, tweeting out today a picture of him

saying, you will be proud of us.

They absolutely intend to continue his work. Leonid Volkov, also his chief of staff, top political adviser, saying they learned in those three years

of Navalny's imprisonment how to work without him. They know what to do and they will continue on that effort fighting for the free democratic, and

Navalny said, happy Russia of the future that he wanted.

ANDERSON: It seems his wife and kids stayed away today. They didn't risk being present in Moscow. That's certainly, as it seems, we certainly

haven't seen them. Was that the right thing to do?

HERSZENHORN: There's no question they are safer outside of Russia. There have been threats already against Yulia Navalnaya. There have been

propagandists on TV warning that she could face arrest if she returned to the country. Efforts already underway to smear her in various ways but I

won't repeat some of that here. But -- so clearly they're taking a safer route. We did see no sign of them, but how tragic that they're not even

able to be there to say goodbye to, as you heard her, I mean, really a partnership, loving and total partnership in that marriage, in their work,

in building their family, lockstep, locked in arms all these years, and not able to be there to say farewell to him today.

ANDERSON: Yes, it may have been the safest thing to do, but, boy, it must have been hard.

It's good to have you, sir. Thank you.


ANDERSON: Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that on our radar right now, folks.

And in Bangladesh, the death toll now up to 46 killed and dozens more injured after a massive blaze engulfed the six-story building in Dhaka late

on Thursday. Fire crews there used cranes to rescue people. The prime minister says the lack of safety exits is partly to blame.

In Haiti, heavy gunfire was reported across multiple areas of Port-au- Prince on Thursday. At least four people killed at a police station and shootings near the airport forced flight cancellations. Haiti continues to

be gripped by a wave of unrest and gang violence.

And a critical warning as large wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma continued to burn. Strong wind gusts and high temperatures this weekend could make

the situation even more dangerous. The Smokehouse Creek Fire is now the state's largest on record. It has burned more than 400,000 hectares of land

and it is only 5 percent contained.

Well, coming up, he was hailed globally as the eyes and ears of Gaza, for giving millions an unfiltered view of war and destruction.


Well, now he has managed to get out and aims to keep on making noise from outside Gaza. My interview with Palestinian photographer Motaz Azaiza. He's

up next.


ANDERSON: With Israel's war on Hamas about to enter a fifth month, the images emerging from Gaza keep on getting more horrific. And while this

isn't the first time the enclave has been targeted by Israeli forces it didn't always look like an inhabitable moonscape.

These photos were taken in the days leading up to October 7th by someone who wanted to capture the beauty of Gaza. But overnight he found himself

documenting carnage and destruction instead. If you've followed this war closely, you'd have heard of the name Motaz Azaiza, a 25-year-old

Palestinian photographer who risked his life to give millions of people a raw and unfiltered look at the horrors of the war.

After more than 100 days of tireless and distressing work, Motaz and his family were evacuated to Qatar. Well, he recently gave me an extensive

interview where he talked about the toll the war has taken on him and what he intends to do next. And a warning to viewers, some of the images you are

about to see, the ones Motaz has captured in Gaza, are graphic and you may find them disturbing.


MOTAZ AZAIZA, PALESTINIAN PHOTOGRAPHER: On the first day from the early morning, I woke up like what does having a lot of rockets and the sky, a

lot of explosions. So I took my camera. Since that day everything has changed for Motaz and everything had changed for Gaza.

Used to these conditions, but not like this. What I experienced in this war, I never expected for me to experience it.

ANDERSON: Early on in the war, you posted a video of what looked like Gaza in the early morning. You heard the sound of airstrikes in the background

and then your voice. Your caption wrote, "God help us." Has the world completely let you and Gaza down?

AZAIZA: We just like getting word from people. It was a lot.


Israel lost. Palestinians lost. So I don't know when this is going to end, when they will think about exiting, that we are humans, we want to live in

our homeland they're occupying.

ANDERSON: Which images and which stories stick with you most?

AZAIZA: The image of a young girl, she's stuck under tons of rubble, a building that contains more than 250 person, 180 of them passed. It's

difficult for the civil defense to extract her because there is no machines, there is no diesel for the machines. It was so dark there.

ANDERSON: Nearly half of Gaza's population are kids under the age of 18. You posted this video of little kids fooling around. You said you were

trying to alleviate their trauma after they had to flee their homes. And when you think about them, what they have lost, what they've gone through

and what so many kids are still going through, what the future for the young generation of Gazans?

AZAIZA: There's a war. You're not seeing any future. Some kids they don't tell now that they lost their parents some years. They don't know because

they are kids, babies. So how you will tell them that when they grew up that they lost your parents in Gaza because Israeli airplane threw a bomb

on the house and their flesh shattered around them, and you survived from under like 20 ton of rubble. So how you tell them this? Do you expect him

to be like a normal human, normal person, after what all we went through?

ANDERSON: Have you had a chance to process, do you think, and comprehend what sort of toll this has taken on?

AZAIZA: Until now, it's better for me to not the process because if I process what I experienced and what I've been through, believe me, I will

not feel OK.

So this is the famous (INAUDIBLE). I keep saying it during 107 days. This is the last time you'll see me with this heavy, stinky vest.

ANDERSON: What made you say alas, it's time to take off this press jacket. It's time to leave?

AZAIZA: You got all the attention of the world to what is happening here but nothing changed. You didn't change anything. I'm a man who's looking

for a solution right now. I need to go to give a speech, talk to the world, to protest with the people who are protesting for us, to be with them, to

share my stories.

I'm now in Doha trying to make more noise from outside. I'm a photographer. I want to capture the beauty of Gaza, not the war on Gaza.

ANDERSON: When you consider these sort of images that you have shot, the stories that you have told through those still a moving imagery, how do you

feel about the profession of journalism?

AZAIZA: Sometimes for like a kind of victory for journalism that even if they have the power for everything, as a young man, a photojournalist, we

showed the world like their Western media couldn't show. And you got the people hearts from outside.

ANDERSON: What do you want the world to know about Motaz?

AZAIZA: Motaz is just like a symbol to remind you that there's more to see. Motaz is a human. He's like any young guy from any part in the world. I'm a

Gazan. I don't wish to anyone to live the conditions that I have been through. We have the right to decide on our life. Palestinian life, it's

not less than the Israeli life. I wish to stop this and to live in peace.


ANDERSON: Motaz along with so many Palestinian journalists in Gaza have done tremendous work in covering the atrocities there, even when they have

lost their own loved ones and family members. Israel has made it next to impossible for international journalists like myself to report

independently from Gaza and witness firsthand the impact of this conflict, the impact of Israel's bombardment, and what that has on civilians and

their lives.


Now, 55 journalists have signed a letter calling for free and unfettered access to Gaza, including members of CNN. And if you want to read more

about what Motaz went through, how he carried on for over 100 days straight covering the war, do scan the QR code here to sign up for our Middle East

newsletter or head over to the CNN app.

We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Well, our "Parting Shots" tonight, a look at how the UAE has become a hotspot for major movie productions across the world. For the

rising local talent here, that means opportunity coming right to their doorstep. A small group of young professionals were secured a spot on the

set of "Dune: Part Two," shot right here in Abu Dhabi. And what an experience it was.


ANDERSON (voice-over): You may be used to seeing scenes from the upcoming blockbuster "Dune 2" on your screen, but perhaps not from this angle.

Filmed right here in Abu Dhabi, "Dune 2" provided local rising talent with a one-of-a-kind work experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a local in a country like this, where these big films come in every once in a while, they tend to bring a lot of people from

abroad. They have this internship program that gives them a chance to meet an international standard of crew and they can only grow from there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a huge, huge movie. I mean, getting to intern on this is amazing opportunity.

ANDERSON: Mouza and Thoraya are two of these lucky interns who got the chance to work on the film. I spoke to them about what being on such a

massive production looked like.

THORAYA FARZANEH, INTERN, "DUNE: PART TWO": Every person has a role, every person matters, and so with that, we should all like be a team and work

together to make this and to achieve.

ANDERSON: Do you want a career in the film industry?

MOUZA AL DARMAKI, INTERN, "DUNE: PART TWO": Yes, of course. I want to complete that. I like what I do. I like what I learned there. It was

amazing. It's not easy. But a very big opportunity here in the UAE to make it.

ANDERSON (voice-over): In recent years, the UAE has become a frequent destination for big movie productions. From Hollywood to Bollywood, it's

attracting films taking advantage of its unique landscape, its media ecosystem and its business incentives such as rebates up to 30 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abu Dhabi in the UAE where it's situated, first of all, geographically, we're in a great location, you know, for flights. The visa

arrangements are -- you know, they're very easygoing for people to come here. We've got, you know, futuristic buildings, lovely beaches, amazing

tunnels, bridges, the deserts. Weve got the heritage sites. So there's a lot of options in terms of locations. And we you couple that with the

experience of the local crew and the equipment you can get here, there's no wonder why it's so attractive.

ANDERSON: The UAE as a filming destination has attracted productions from all over the world in the past, with some choosing it for scenes in their

movies and others filming the majority of the movie right here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think we're seeing it completely revolutionized in front of our eyes. You know, it wasn't too long ago where we have, you

know, a movie here and there. But nowadays, you know, we've had some big, big pictures come to Abu Dhabi. And when they come here and they have a

good time and they have a good experience, they talk. You know, they go back to Hollywood or Bollywood or wherever it might be. And these people


ANDERSON: Many industry experts have dubbed "Dune 2" as the savior of the blockbuster experience with cinemas hoping it can make people go out to

watch a movie rather than stay in. And for those helping make the movie here in Abu Dhabi, it's another chance to showcase the Emirates' growing

movie industry one "Dune" at a time.


ANDERSON: And that is it for CONNECT THE WORLD from here. Stay with CNN. NEWSROOM is up next.