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No Ceasefire Between Israel And Islamic Jihad Yet; U.S. Ambassador Accuses South Africa Of Providing Arms To Russia; Marine Veteran To Be Charged In NYC Chokehold Death. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 12, 2023 - 05:30   ET




OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Sirens are sounding in Israel warning of incoming rockets after a 13-hour pause. The Israel Defense Forces says nearly 900 rockets have been fired at Israel since its first strikes on Tuesday on what it says are Islamic Jihad organization targets in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that at least 31 people have been killed since Tuesday in Gaza as a result of Israeli airstrikes.

Elliott Gotkine is live in Jerusalem for us. Elliott, tensions have really ramped up in this past week and a diplomatic source told CNN that ceasefire talks have stalled so far. So what's the latest that you're seeing and hearing?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Omar, definitely nothing more on ceasefire talks. And in the last few minutes, as you say, after that 13-hour gap of no rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip by Islamic Jihad militants towards Israel, it seems that we're back to business as usual.

Not only that but for the first time since this latest round of violence erupted, rockets were fired towards Jerusalem and even to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Sirens were sounded -- were heard in some of the cities to the west of Jerusalem, such as Bet Shemesh, and sirens were also heard in Gush Etzion as well.

And I can tell you that a CNN producer in Gaza heard long-range rockets being launched, and another CNN producer in Jerusalem heard explosions. So that would seem to be an upping of the ante to a degree by Islamic Jihad, which said itself that it fired rockets towards Jerusalem and also towards the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel, for its part, continues to strike targets in the Gaza Strip. As you say, it has targeted quite a number of -- whether it's a mortar, launchers -- rocket launchers, and other facilities beginning -- belonging to Islamic Jihadists. One hundred seventy targets in total have been hit and that about half of the deaths that have been reported by the Palestinian health authorities in the Gaza Strip were militants, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.

So the fighting continues. No doubt, behind the scenes, they are trying to inch towards a ceasefire but no sign of that yet.

Just one other piece of news that I want to share with you as well, which is that yesterday the Israeli Defense Forces' chief spokesperson -- this is Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari -- gave an interview to CNN in which he apologized for the death of the Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, which took place a year ago to the day. You can listen to it here.


REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES CHIEF SPOKESPERSON: I think it's an opportunity for me to say here that we are very sorry of the deaths of the late Shireen Abu Akleh. She was a journalist -- a established -- a very established journalist in Israel. We are a democracy and in democracy, we see high value in journalism and in free press.



GOTKINE: Well, they -- so they've not actually said sorry we did it but certainly saying sorry for the first time is the most that Israeli has said a year on from the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Yes, Elliott, even just a sorry in any regard is a significant step there as many investigations move forward. Thank you so much for joining us.

The U.S. ambassador to South Africa has publicly accused the government of supplying arms and ammunition to Russia. South Africa has claimed a neutral position in Russia's war on Ukraine but the American ambassador says weapons were loaded onto a sanctioned Russian cargo ship docked at a naval base near Cape Town.

CNN's David McKenzie is live in Johannesburg for us. So, David, obviously, any claim to neutrality is for a significant reason, so how is the South African government now responding to these allegations?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Omar, the latest response -- and good morning to you -- is that they are hauling in the U.S. ambassador for a discussion -- a damash (PH) as it's called -- to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They also say that there's no evidence and no sign that there was, in fact, official export of arms and ammunition to Russia, according to the National Conventional Arms Control group here in South Africa.

But these were very explosive allegations and I don't think they came out of the blue. I think it's a sense of ongoing frustration from U.S. officials for what you'd call South Africa's neutral stance on this conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

But the evidence suggests, at least in the American eyes, that over time they have shown actions that are not neutral. They have hosted war games, including China and Russia, off the coast of South Africa. They have repeatedly, here in South Africa at the U.N., voted to abstain from condemning Russia. And they've also received Russian officials with glowing terms.

So I think this evidence that the U.S. ambassador says the U.S. has of arms and ammunition being loaded up on the sanctioned Russian vessel in December last year is potentially the straw that broke the camel's back.

But from the South African government's point of view, they say they haven't seen any evidence yet. They are looking to maintain good relations with the U.S. But I don't see this issue ending anytime soon because either the South Africans didn't know what was being loaded up or they did know and they're not telling -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Yes, quite the predicament to be in. David McKenzie, thank you so much.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

Pakistan's Supreme Court ruling that former Prime Minister Imran Khan's arrest on corruption charges was illegal. Khan is blaming the army chief for his arrest, which sparked deadly protests.

Brazil is launching a federal investigation into alleged soccer match- fixing. Prosecutors say 16 people manipulated several matches and two state championships.

And Italy convening crisis talks after pasta prices soar even though the price of wheat fell 30 percent. Producers say the problem is temporary but a consumer rights group says the average citizen eats about 51 pounds of pasta each year. I am scared to measure how much pasta I eat each year, but nonetheless.

Just ahead, the veteran accused of choking a man to death on a New York City subway expected to surrender today. And Elon Musk stepping down as CEO of Twitter. Who will take his place?



JIMENEZ: Welcome back.

Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

President Biden will welcome Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to the White House today. Sanchez is expected to ask Biden to drop Trump- era trade tariffs on olives from Spain.

Also, today is the deadline for Hunter Biden to provide written answers in his Arkansas paternity case. The questions are about his finances, including his art sales and investments.

Meanwhile, the man who held Jordan Neely in a deadly chokehold is expected to surrender today and be charged with second-degree manslaughter. Daniel Penny's lawyers say he risked his life for the New York subway passengers.

Joining us now is criminal defense attorney Lexie Rigden. Lexi, good to see you.

Now, first of all, second-degree manslaughter is what we're expecting the charge to be. Many people on both sides have called for things different. Protesters have called for murder. I mean, do you agree with this charge based on what we've seen so far?

LEXIE RIGDEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY (via Skype): Well, the district attorney obviously felt in some way that they didn't want to overcharge him, right, because they want to succeed on these charges should the case go to trial. So they obviously felt like what they could do, at least at this point -- and obviously, they're still able to investigate, but what they can show at this point is that he recklessly caused the death of Jordan Neely.

There's no intent there in the second-degree manslaughter statute. There is no mention of intent as opposed to the first-degree manslaughter statute in New York. So they obviously felt that there was no intent to actually cause this result but that his conduct was reckless and that a reasonable person should have known that what they were doing in that moment was a risky thing to be doing that could cause serious consequences.

JIMENEZ: Yes. Where my mind goes immediately is in cases where you see a bar fight break out and someone punches someone in the face and they die. They may not have intended to kill the person but they ended up dying.

And in this case, Penny's lawyers -- Daniel Penny's lawyers are saying that Penny risked his life for the safety and -- the safety of other passengers.

How important is what these other passengers either said to the D.A. or what their state of what was going on was before this chokehold unfolded?


RIGDEN: It's extremely important. They wouldn't have made this decision. I mean, he wasn't arrested initially because they were -- they were reviewing tapes and they were interviewing witnesses, and they needed the medical examiner's determination that it was, indeed, a homicide.

So those witness statements and what Neely -- what Neely said at the time that led to this chokehold would have been paramount in the D.A. coming up with this charging decision.


And now I want to shift gears a little bit here. The prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, the teen in Aruba back in 2005 -- Joran van der Sloot is set to be extradited to the U.S. And this isn't for her disappearance itself but in connection with the plot to sell information about the whereabouts of Holloway's remains in exchange for $250,000.

This case just seems to keep going. What do you make of this particular development?

RIGDEN: Well, I was actually talking to the producer in the control room and we're saying this is so crazy. I mean, this is like 13 years later after he was indicted by the federal government he's finally coming here.

And we don't know what was going on behind the scenes. We don't know why it took so long. This was apparently based on a treaty between Peru and the United States and a request to send him here. And he's going to be coming here to face charges of extortion and water -- and wire fraud. Both of them -- he would face 20 years in prison.

Now, Beth Holloway, who is Natalee Holloway's mother who has been her advocate and has been very public in this case -- you know, this obviously isn't probably as good as it would be if he were actually charged with murder in Aruba and convicted, but this is sort of the next best thing based on what he did, which is essentially take advantage of an award that the family was offering for $250,000 leading to information about how she died and where her body is.

And he said I'll give you that information. Pay me a little bit first and then you can pay me the rest later. And then he got himself involved in a sting operation for having done that and that's what led to this.

JIMENEZ: Wow. Again, an ongoing saga over a decade in the making.

Lexie Rigden, thank you so much.

RIGDEN: Thank you.

JIMENEZ: Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" Title 42 rules just ran out. Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas will join the show live.



JIMENEZ: Jayson Tatum's big fourth quarter -- he wasn't playing great before that, but nonetheless. The big fourth quarter helps the Celtics force a winner-take-all game seven against the 76ers.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good to see you, Andy. How you doing?


So, "I'm humbly one of the best basketball players in the world." Those were the words from Jayson Tatum after turning his night around big-time to help keep the Celtics' season alive.

Tatum, as you mentioned Omar, having an awful night. He missed 14 of his first 15 shots but then just came alive halfway through the fourth quarter. Tatum hitting back-to-back threes to put Boston up four with under four to go. Then with under two minutes to go, Tatum here -- a dagger three. Celtics force a game seven back in Boston on Sunday with a 95-86 win.

And here was Tatum afterwards.


JAYSON TATUM, BOSTON CELTICS FORWARD: I'm one of the -- humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world, you know. You go through struggles, you go through slumps. It's a long game. And thankfully, I've got some great teammates that held it down -- Brogdon, J.B., Smart, Al -- and they all trust me, right? They tell me to keep taking great looks -- it's going to fall. Keep impacting the game in other ways.

And all that mattered was we won this game, right, and gave ourselves another chance to come back home for game seven.


SCHOLES: All right. The Nuggets, meanwhile, blowing out the Suns on their home floor to reach the Western Conference finals. Nikola Jokic had a 32-point triple-double. The Phoenix crowd booing the Suns' effort as Denver had a 30-point lead at the half. The Nuggets would win easily, 125-100 to win that series four games to two.

You've got two big game sixes tonight. The Knicks trying to stay alive in Miami, while LeBron and the Lakers are going to try to close the Warriors in L.A. LeBron is 31-0 all-time in his career when he leads a series by two games.

All right. In hockey, the Hurricanes are the first team to reach the Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They ended the Devils' season with a 3-2 victory in game five of their series last night. Jesper Fast scoring the winning goal just over seven minutes into overtime. The Hurricanes are going to face either the Panthers or Maple Leafs in the next round.

Florida can advance with a win in tonight's game five. The puck drops at 7:00 Eastern. And then it's the Oilers in Vegas taking on the Golden Knights at 10:00. You can watch both of those games on our sister channel TNT.

All right, and finally, the NFL's regular season schedule is now out and the teams making the announcement in some very creative ways on social media. We had everything from the Chargers with an AI video. The Bills' Josh Allen acting like a paper boy. The Eagles had a team dog. And then Peyton Manning with Miles, the Broncos' mascot there.

But the best video was from the Titans who asked fans to name that opponent on the streets of Nashville.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 1: This one is the red stallions.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 6: It's the pirates from the islands of the Caribbean.



SCHOLES: Chester Cheeto. It's so good, Omar. The season kicks off with the Chiefs hosting the Lions. That's going to be September 7. But amazing some of the names people can come up with when they're looking at a logo.

JIMENEZ: I know -- falcons, red stallions.


Well, Andy Scholes, you are humbly one of the best sports correspondents in the world. Good to see you.

SCHOLES: Good to see you, too.

JIMENEZ: Title 42 border restrictions have officially expired. A live report from the southern border ahead.


JIMENEZ: Our top of the morning, the top songs in America right now.


REMA WITH SELENA GOMEZ: Singing "Calm Down."


JIMENEZ: "Calm Down" with Rema with Selena Gomez.

Here's number two.




JIMENEZ: "Flowers" by Miley Cyrus is still there.

And number three.



MIGUEL, SINGER: Singing "Sure Thing."


JIMENEZ: Miguel's "Sure Thing" is back on the charts. Thanks to the power of TikTok it happens.

Now, it's a big day for people like me.


Nintendo's "Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom."


JIMENEZ: Nintendo just released the highly-anticipated new game "Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" a few hours ago. It's estimated that playing the entire game could take well over 100 hours, so I think I'm going to get started right now. I'm literally -- I'm already in the game right now.

So I'm going to get started with this. "CNN THIS MORNING," more important, starts now.