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Everyone Calls for De-escalation But No Sign From Israel of Slowing Down; U.S. Disagrees with Russian Military Buildup in the Arctic; Moroccan Migrants Swam to Reach Italy; Booster May Extend Person's Immunity; Europe Welcomes Fully Vaccinated Tourists; Indian Navy Continue Their Rescue Effort; Vaccine Still the Key for U.K.'s Tourism Industry; Israeli-Palestinian Conflict From A 10 Year-Old Girl; Possible Palestinian Evictions A Flashpoint; Netanyahu Determined To Restore Quiet And Security; Calls Grow Louder To Cancel Tokyo Olympics; China's Crypto-Crackdown; UFO Over Pacific Ocean Spotted; China's Mission To Mars; The One With The Reunion. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 20, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, Joe Biden calling for a significant de-escalation. But Benjamin Netanyahu says he's determined to continue Israel's assault on Gaza.

Plus, this.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This entire airbase is covered in ice, and yet, the Russians have managed to extend the runway to a point where they can land even their heaviest aircraft here, including strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.


CHURCH (on camera): CNN gets a look inside Russia's military base in the arctic. That could be a chilling threat for the U.S. and its allies.

And calamity on the cryptocurrency, new regulations have investor scared, who is to blame this time?

Thanks for being with us.

We begin in the Middle East where an eight-and-a-half-hour lull in rockets fired by Gaza has ended within the last 30 minutes or so. That comes after Hamas officials told CNN a ceasefire could be imminent possibly within 24 hours.

Israel has not stopped its airstrikes on Gaza, which have killed 227 people so far, recording by the health ministry run by Hamas. Earlier today, Israel targeted what it said where weapons stored inside a former Hamas leader's home.

U.S. President Joe Biden is turning up the pressure on Israel, saying he expected a significant de-escalation on Wednesday, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not budging it.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This is the natural right of Israel. I very much appreciate the support of these governments and I specially appreciate the support of our friend, U.S. President Joe Biden for the state of Israel's right to self-defense. I'm determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved.


CHURCH (on camera): The U.N. says more than 72,000 people in Gaza have been forced from their homes, many taking shelter in schools. Its Palestinian refugee agency has launched an appeal for $38 million in urgent humanitarian aid.

Well journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us live this hour from Tel Aviv, Israel. And CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is standing by in Beirut, Lebanon. Welcome to you both.

Elliott, I want to start with you. And despite calls from President Biden to significantly de-escalate the violence, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues his aerial assault on Gaza. What is the latest on all of this?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, the latest is the Israeli Defense Forces has just put out another alert saying that they, a short while ago destroyed a multi barrel rocket launcher belonging to Hamas, which contains five rockets and took it out of preventing fire on Israel.

Now, overnight, between local time around about 1 a.m. and about 9.30 am, which is half an hour ago, there were no rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This was the longest lull that we've seen since the outbreak of this latest round of hostilities. There was about a six-hour lull on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

So, there was perhaps a little optimism that maybe this was a de- escalation President Joe Biden had called for when he spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but rockets have again reportedly been fired towards Israel. Sirens at least sounded in the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip, and local media is reporting that rockets were fired.

So, it looks like we're not quite there yet, but as you say that there is optimism that we are moving towards a ceasefire, and this is something that could happen imminently as we heard. But we're not there, we're not just there yet. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right. I want to go to Salma. While global calls for a ceasefire grow louder, Hamas says the ceasefire could be imminent, but Israel's airstrikes continue as we've heard. So, what is going on here?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Rosemary, there's a few different mediation efforts so let's just go through each of them. Of course, on the Israeli side, the key factor there is the Americans, President Biden having his fourth call in a week with Prime Minister Netanyahu urging that he wants to see an immediate de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire.


Now that is very vague language. How long is that path, how long will it take? What do you mean by de-escalation? You could argue that we are already seeing a waning of air strikes. Yes, that is happening but not with the same level of intensity.

Prime Minister Netanyahu making clear that he has specific military objectives he wants to meet before calling any ceasefire. That is, of course, decline Hamas, essentially ensuring that they can't fire as many rockets as they have had.

The argument here is will Prime Minister Netanyahu simply finish his military operation and then we declare that a ceasefire? Now of course, on the Hamas side, you have Egypt, Jordan, France all coordinating together. They say to form a concrete proposal. Hamas already seeming to indicate that they are willing to do that with a senior Hamas official saying that they expect to ceasefire within 24 hours. We did see that rather significant lull of eight and a half hours without rocket fire. Although that has resumed as well.

They're also pushing through the U.N. Security Council with France saying they are hopeful that potentially they could get a statement from the U.N. Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although to be honest, I think we know that yet another statement from the U.N. is going to do very little on the ground.

Look, here's the key, Rosemary. Both sides in this, both Hamas and Israel are going to want to declare some sort of victory, some sort of achievement out of this very deadly conflict, this very deadly flare- up that's occurred for Israel for Prime Minister Netanyahu. That means saying well, Hamas has significantly been degraded its ability to fire rockets has significantly been degraded.

For Hamas, that means saying that they were able to defend the holy land Jerusalem in some way because that's how this all began. Of course, with the proposed evictions of Palestinian families, Palestinian-Israeli families in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem.

So, they will need to be some sort of victory declared there. But ultimately, as every moment passes here, Rosemary, we're talking about civilians living in extremely difficult humanitarian conditions, rights groups warning that families are living without clean water, without power. You have thousands of families in Gaza now cramped -- now cramped in U.S. schools.

So, with every moment that passes, that only worsens on the ground. And we are talking about here at the end of the day, Rosemary, is simply a Band-Aid. It is temporary. Nobody seems to be talking about a long-term sustainable solution.

CHURCH: Yes, that is so significant. And of course, Elliott Gotkine in Tel Aviv, Salma Abdelaziz in Beirut. Many thanks to you both.

Russia's foreign minister is calling the first high-level talks with the U.S. under the Biden administration constructive. He met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Summit in Iceland. Blinken raised deep concerns about a range of politically sensitive issues, including Russia's military buildup near Ukraine and cyberattacks. But he stressed that a predictable stable relationship with Russia is good for both countries.

So, let's turn to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, he joins us live from Moscow. Good to see, Fred. So overall, how did this meeting between Blinken and Lavrov go, and what might it signal for a potential Biden- Putin summit in the coming weeks?

PLEITGEN: Well, so far, first of all, to the Putin-Biden summit, the passive one. First of all, we have heard that they didn't really go into details about that summit about where it could be, about what the topics could be, and first and foremost, also, when that summit could happen but certainly both sides are still saying that they are trying to flush that out.

But I think both sides, also, Rosemary, disagreed that this meeting actually went quite well. Between Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia and Antony Blinken. Of course, the first time that they have actually met face to face since the new Biden administration came into office. And both sides made very clearly that there are deep disagreements.

The secretary of state saying that U.S. will respond in areas where the Russians act aggressively. The Russians for their part saying they believe that the U.S. and Russia disagree on many issues in geopolitics, both sides saying that there would be a response if the other side did something that was against the national interest or the interest of either the U.S. or Russia.

So, that aside, then both sides did say that they wanted things to improve. And judging by what the Russians said later, what the Russians said in a readout later, they said that, for instance, Afghanistan, the situation there was raised, Korea, was raised, Iran was raised, those were all issues where the U.S. and Russia believe that maybe they can work together and make things, as Antony Blinken said there, more predictable.

Now of course, the main reason why both men are actually in Reykjavik, in Iceland, is because today there is the ministerial meeting of the Arctic council. And the Arctic is certainly an area where both sides do not agree on many things. One of the things that has the U.S. extremely concerned is Russia's military buildup in the Arctic.


And the Russians make no secret that being strong in the Arctic militarily is a big priority for them. In fact, they took us to one of their most remote bases, which is actually quite close to NATO territory and showed us just how strong their military has become. Let's have a look.


PLEITGEN: The course due north, flying for hours to Russia's northernmost military installation. Moscow granted us a rare visit to its base on Franz Joseph Land, barren archipelago in the Arctic Ocean that which Russia believes is key to dominating the Arctic.

This entire base is covered in ice, and yet, the Russians have managed to extend the runway to a point that they can land even their heaviest aircraft here, including strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The effort Moscow is making to upgrade its Arctic bases is massive, inside the modern housing complex called a trefoil, the air commander confirms to me that even Russia's dangerous Tu-95 strategic bombers, a plane similar in size to the U.S.' B-52s can now operate out of the airfield here.

"Of course, they can," he says, "have a look. We can land all types of aircraft on this base." A chilling prospect for the U.S. and its allies, considering Franz Yosef Land is only about 160 miles east of NATO territory. That's well within range of these powerful coastal defense rockets the Russians also showed us. They're capable of hitting ships more than 200 miles off the coast, a threat that worries the U.S.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have concerns about some of the increased military activities in the Arctic, that increases the dangers, the prospects of accidents, and miscalculations.

PLEITGEN: The main reason why the standoff between the U.S. and Russia is heating up in the Arctic, is climate change. As polar ice melt, the region is becoming more accessible and Russia is moving fast to stake its claims. Much of that effort is led from here, the headquarters of the northern fleet in the closed military town of Severomorsk, which we also got access to.

Russia has been upgrading its fleet up here for years, its flagship is the Peter the Great nuclear battle cruiser, outfitted with an array of weapons to hit targets on sea and land and fight off planes and submarines. Russia has a clear strategy appear in the Arctic, and essentially revolves around three different things.

On the one hand, a very strong military. Then dominating the northern sea route, and also tapping and exploiting natural resources. And Russia is warning the U.S. and its allies not to mess with that plan. SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): It has

been absolutely clear for everyone for a long time, that this is our territory, this is our land. And we are responsible for our Arctic Coast to be safe, everything that our country does there is absolutely legitimate.

PLEITGEN: Rhetoric that increasingly has the U.S. and Russia on a collision course in the high north, with Moscow so far in a stronger position.


PLEITGEN: And one of the reasons for that, Rosemary, is that the Russians have made the Arctic a priority for really the past couple of year now -- years now. They have a strategic unified military command up for the northern regions and they say they have constructed in the past couple of years around 500 military sites in that region.

So, all of that a big concern for the United States, and yet another sign, Rosemary, and this is something that we've been talking about on your show so much as well. How global warming is increasingly leading to conflict around the world. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Absolutely, thanks for shining a spotlight on that. Fred Pleitgen joining us live from Moscow, many thanks.

Well, hundreds of migrants tried their luck on land Wednesday to force their way from Morocco into the Spanish-controlled territory of Ceuta. Wednesday night and even bigger group clashed with Moroccan riot police near the border, about 8,000 migrants have tried to swim from Morocco to Ceuta since Monday. And this boy used plastic bottles to stay afloat, but was arrested when he reached the shore. Spain says 5,600 migrants have now been sent back to Morocco.

Britain is launching a clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of COVID booster shots. Seven vaccines will be tested to see if a third dose will extend protection against the virus. Meanwhile, Pfizer's booster shot trials are already underway. Its CEO says the shot may be needed within a year after being fully vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN earlier that's a realistic timeline.



ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's highly likely that within a reasonable period of time we are going to wind up requiring booster and the reason that we'll trigger it, is when the level of protection starts to dwindle down, as happens over time, or when we start seeing more breakthrough infections, you are going to see boosters.


CHURCH (on camera): And as more people get vaccinated, Dr. Fauci says he expects international travel to pick up this summer and early autumn.

Europe could soon be a destination for holidaymakers this summer, the E.U. has agreed to welcome fully vaccinated travelers and visitors from countries on its coronavirus safe list. A formal announcement is expected in the coming days.

And for more on this CNN's Melissa Bell joins me now live from Paris. Good to see you, Melissa.

So how is this going to work? With tourists from different nations carrying a variety of vaccination certificates proving they've had their shots?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, even for the time being within Europe we don't have European wide vaccine certificates, what we have are the ones delivered by the country in which you've been vaccinated. So the question then of how the European Union coordinates no doubt it hopes better its reopening better than it did its closure over just a year ago, is really at the heart of all those discussions we've been seeing in Brussels it is today that those formal recommendations should be adopted but they will be nonbinding.

This remains a matter for individual E.U. states. What the commission is hoping is that by finding a coordinated approach they will be able to get, for instance, American tourists back quicker than we had hoped initially. And of course, the tourist season here in Europe is just beginning, it is one that is worth many hundreds of billions of euros every year, so many European countries are so dependent on it.

And those countries at the forefront of that where tourism is one of the most important industry. Greece, for instance, has been arguing for sometimes that looking at the questions of the travel restrictions that should apply to people from countries based simply on the COVID- 19 figures in that country is becoming increasingly irrelevant because the real question now are the vaccination rates.

So, the idea is that, for instance, a country like the United States with whom European Union officials are at a fairly late advance stage in their talks. Now we're told by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission, are saying they're going to look at a system of reciprocity that would allow vaccinated Americans come to Europe. If Europeans once they were vaccinated could get to the United States, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. We'll see how that all pans out. Melissa Bell, joining us live from Paris, many thanks.

Well, fears rise in the U.K. as COVID variants dominate new infections. Experts say getting vaccinated is the best bet, but there is a catch.

Plus, the Indian Navy is searching for more survivors from a barge that sank during a deadly cyclone. We'll have the details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH (on camera): In India, at least 26 people are dead and dozens still missing after a barge sank during a cyclone earlier this week. The Indian Navy has rescued 188 people from the sea so far after the monster storm slammed the country's west coast.


Now this comes as India is struggling to get a grip on its COVID-19 crisis. The daily death count fell slightly Thursday, at a little more than 3800 after setting a new record the previous day.

So, let's turn to CNN's Anna Coren. She's following this story for us from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So, what is the latest on this rescue effort in the wake of that deadly cyclone and its impact on the COVID crisis?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, you have to remember that that barge sank on Monday night and the navy is still out there, off the coast of Mumbai searching for this remaining crew that was on board. As you've mentioned, 188 people have been rescued, 26 bodies have been retrieved, 47 are still missing.

There are five naval vessels out searching the area, there are helicopters, aerial surveillance, they are not giving up. But as you can imagine now, we are into day three of this and the likelihood of finding any more survivors is growing slimmer by the hour.

But we are hearing some heroic stories of what these men have had to endure over the past couple of days. There is an investigation also underway as to why that barge, which was operating in one of the largest oil and gas fields of India, why it didn't move out of the path of the storm. But let's take a listen now to one of those survivors.


UNKNOWN (through translator): Indian Navy was a God sent for us, they arrived in the nick of time, we were clinging onto the barge and luckily the lifejackets helped us as the water was going over our heads. The navy officials threw ropes and life buoys. We are lucky to be alive. They gave us warm food and medical treatment.


COREN (on camera): The other big story coming out of India today is mucormycosis, this is a black fungus, it's a disease, Rosemary, that has been around in India but it seems to have inflicted people with a compromised immune system which, you know, as we know, COVID patients as well as people suffering from diabetes.

The state or Rajasthan has declared an epidemic. There are other states that are declaring a notifiable disease. But this is becoming a problem in India, as well as tackling the enormous infection rate of COVID, as well as the harrowing death toll, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Anna Coren joining us from Hong Kong on the situation across India. I appreciate it.

Well, the U.K.'s health secretary says higher vaccination rates are needed for the government to be more confident in allowing international travel. A four-month long travel ban was lifted just days ago to limited destinations along with select areas rolling back COVID restrictions.

British scientists say they should know next week how much of a threat the COVID variant first detected in India poses. It is expected to soon be the dominant strain in the U.K.

So, CNN's Scott McLean joins me now live from London. Good to see you, Scott. Of course, the Indian variant is slowing a return to normal life in the U.K., isn't it? So, what do scientists know and what's the government doing to protect people?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary, yes. So, the government says that it's analyzing the data right now and it should know by sometime next week just how much transmissible this variant is than the current dominant variant. The higher the number obviously the more likely it is to derail the government's plan to fully lift coronavirus restrictions a month from tomorrow.

This variant is circulating faster than any other in the U.K. right now. The number of new confirmed cases has doubled, more than doubled than each of the past three weeks. And remember, this is in a country where more than 70 percent of the adult population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

So, we asked the man in charge of Britain's largest COVID-19 genetic sequencing operation to walk us through what makes this variant so different and so dangerous.


MCLEAN: On the banks of the Ganges River, bodies washed up daily. Victims, authorities believe of COVID-19. The overwhelmed health care system unable to care for them and the packed crematoriums unable to take their bodies when they die. India's newfound misery is thanks in part to a faster spreading COVID variant that's quickly making its way around the world.

Leading to lineups of people hoping to get vaccinated in the U.K., where it's fast becoming the dominant strain.

Seems like the U.K.'s path to normality is in jeopardy?

JEFF BARRETT, DIRECTOR, COVID-19 GENOMICS INITIATIVE, SANGER INSTITUTE: I think we do have to look very carefully at what happens in the next few weeks.


MCLEAN: Dr. Jeff Barrett runs the industrial scale COVID-119 genetic sequencing operation at the British Sanger Institute which help spot the fast spreading U.K. variant B117, but could not prevent the massive spike in cases that followed.

Are you sensing a bit of Deja vu here?

BARRETT: Yes. I have to admit, I didn't think I was going to see these kinds of curves happen again. So, because there isn't that much genome sequencing in India, we haven't been sort of carefully watching this variant in the same way. And so, I think that does mean we're slightly playing catch-up now.

MCLEAN: There are 26 genetic mutations which make this variant different from the original virus. Now most of them are pretty benign, but there are five Dr. Barrett says that could help the virus spread more easily. This one is also found in the U.K. variant, this one is shared with the California variant. It helps the virus bind more easily with human cells.

There are also two suspicious deletions of DNA parts, which may change the shape of the virus. And then there are these two, which Dr. Barrett says scientists honestly don't know that much about. Now there is no evidence that any of these changes make the virus more deadly, but there is concern that some, especially this one, may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

BARRETT: I think at worst, it will be slightly less neutralized by the vaccines. But there is really no evidence at all that it could fundamentally escape whether the vaccines will be -- will be not effective at all.

MCLEAN: Sounds reassuring. But it won't help those who haven't got the vaccine at all. The British health secretary says in one community, most people hospitalized with the new variant declined to get the shot when they were offered it.

MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: It underlines again the importance of getting the jab.

MCLEAN: Despite infections of the new variant doubling in just one week, restrictions on indoor gatherings were eased in England on Monday. But now the British prime minister is warning the final step towards normality may have to be delayed depending on exactly how transmissible this variant turns out to be.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If it's at the higher end, then, you know, we will certainly have to think about what extra measures we need to take to protect the public.


MCLEAN: So, critics of the prime minister say that those extra measures should have been taken last month when the toughest entry restrictions were placed on travelers coming from Pakistan and Bangladesh, it wasn't until two weeks later than Indians face the same rules. Now the government defending its decision based on the data at that time. It is also, though, Rosemary, acknowledging that the data at this time doesn't look good.

CHURCH: All right. Scott McLean joining us live from London. Many thanks.

Every conflict takes an emotional toll on children. Coming up, how one young girl in Gaza is documenting the experience as explosions rocked her neighborhood.


UNKNOWN: No, it's OK, it's OK. It's OK. It's not near us. I promise.





ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): The conflict between Israel and Hamas has been traumatic for children on both sides, Israel reports at least two children have died in rocket attacks while the Hamas run Gaza health ministry says more than 60 children there have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. A 10 year old girl in Gaza has been documenting her ordeal. CNN's Arwa Damon has her story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the juxtaposition that is perhaps the most jarring. Between the clips Nadine, an aspiring social media influencer used to post about her life. Often featuring her younger brother Jude. And the clip that was posted of her that went viral.

UNKNOWN: I'm always sick. I don't know. You see all of this. What would you expect me to do? Fix it? I'm only 10. I can't even deal with this anymore. I just want to be a doctor or anything to help my people. But I can't. I'm just a kid.

DAMON: She is just a kid. But at the same time, she is not, not anymore.

UNKNOWN: Are you having fun?

UNKNOWN: Let's go. It's OK, it's not near us, I promise.

UNKNOWN: I was not laughing because it was funny. I was laughing because I was trying to keep my brother calm down.

I love you.

UNKNOWN: Me too.

UNKNOWN: Back again here and this is all the stuff we got for this school.

DAMON: This is what they should have been getting ready for. Instead, -- UNKNOWN: This is my bag in case anything happens, or our house gets

exploded. I don't really care about any of those things in the bag, as I said. I care about family. I care about other people and that's it. When the explosion happens, we all hang out in this room. It's better to die all of us together. This is where the explosion is out. You see there, there's an ambulance. I think that's a house.

DAMON: Of course Nadine gets scared, her mother says. She covers her fear for her brother.

UNKNOWN: More potatoes for me. This is like breakfast dinner.

DAMON: Nadine's mother watches her family as if she is quietly relishing in the laughter of the younger generations. For a laughter is more precious in times like this. When you know even if you are just a kid, that it can end at any moment. Arwa Damon, CNN.


CHURCH: And we will take a short break here. Still to come, the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are just two months away. But with few Japanese vaccinated and COVID cases again on the rise, there are growing calls for the games to be cancelled. Those details just ahead.



CHURCH: One of the causes of the latest violence in Israel and Gaza is the possible eviction of Palestinian families from disputed territory in Jerusalem. They live in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. A pro Jewish settler organization argues the true owners of the land before the war in 1948 where Jewish families and so the properties should be given to Israeli Jews. Israel's Supreme Court delayed a decision on the case as clashes were erupting.

Well, joining me now is Munir Nusseibeh, he is an international law professor at Al Quds University, and he currently lives in Sheikh Jarrah but not in one of the homes at risk of eviction. Thank you, sir, for talking with us.


CHURCH: Now, you know all about life in Sheikh Jarrah, your family has lived in Jerusalem since the 7th century, and you are a lawyer. So, explain to our viewers why these particular families could potentially be evicted from their homes, and what would likely happen if those evictions go ahead?

NUSSEIBEH: Thank you very much. Basically, these families are at risk of forcible displacement, not eviction. Forcible displacement is described in international law as transferring civilian population from areas where they live to somewhere else. Jerusalem is an occupied city. There is consensus almost an international law and international organizations that Jerusalem is occupied. This is the opinion of the international court of justice, the opinion of the U.N. Security Council, general assembly, et cetera. So, it's not a disputed city, its occupied city. And Israel illegally applies its law which systematically discriminates against Palestinians, on a continuous basis in the city.

The settler organization, as you mentioned, has claimed that this land belongs to them. The lawyers who represent the victims of the crime of forcible transfer, deny that this is actually true. They have examined the documents and they say that none of the documents that are presented by the lawyers of the settler organization, the extreme right wing settler organization, actually indicates that this land is owned by the settler organization.

Hence, the scene that we are seeing now in Sheikh Jarrah is part of a much wider scale of displacement of the Palestinian people, since 1948 when Israel was established. Forcible displacement has been ongoing. Israel has been changing the demography through pushing the Palestinians out of their homes, out of their villages, out of their lands and pumping in Jewish settlers into these areas.

And this is how they managed to build the Jewish state in the first place. And this is why they continue to do that right now. Jerusalem is very much strongly targeted by Israel for more displacement and for more Judaization. That is not a secret that they want to Judaize Jerusalem. They talk about it in the strategic planning continuously.

They believe that Jerusalem should become overwhelmingly a Jewish city. Even though it is occupied. And this is something that international law certainly prohibits. Civilian population should not be and must not be displaced or affected by the occupation measures, the occupation laws and this is actually a war crime. So, I hope the international criminal court will intervene if the eviction actually takes place.


CHURCH: And of course, what we are seeing at the moment is this exchange of fire. U.S. President Joe Biden has told Israel's Prime Minister to significantly de-escalate the violence but Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to fight on even as Hamas officials indicate a cease- fire could be imminent. But even if that cease-fire comes in a day or so, how likely is it that the same cycle of violence will resume if a more permanent solution isn't agreed upon soon?

NUSSEIBEH: I think your question is very important and it's a great question. I know that the intention of the whole world is currently focused on fire. And unfortunately, when the fire is turned off, people will not pay enough attention on the ongoing suppression, domination, apartheid that's ongoing in Jerusalem and the west bank, and Gaza. And in the rest of -- also in Israel itself in fact.

And that's very important. It's important that the international community and most importantly the United States pay attention to its role in ending the apartheid system that is currently ongoing in Palestine. And finding peace, peace based on justice, peace based on human rights. Not peace based on the imbalance of power. Unfortunately during the presidency of Donald Trump we noticed that he

recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recognized the Israeli sovereignty of Jerusalem breaching international law. Breaching the U.N. Security Council resolutions which the U.S. in the pass allowed to pass. So, Donald Trump breached international law, encouraged Israel that its continuous breaches of international law are protected.

He also attacked and punished the international criminal court only because it has the intention of investigating crimes that are happening in Palestine. And all of these measures that Donald Trump did, obviously, encouraged Israel and made them feel, give them the feeling they are immune. They are international law will not be implemented upon them and enforced upon them.

And I hope that the new administration which has not shown sufficient will yet to intervene in a different way in Palestine, I hope that this new administration will decide to actually intervene. To use international legal standards. I'm not saying be pro-Palestinian, by the way or be pro-Israeli, that's not this point. The point is be pro human rights. Be pro international law. International law is there for a reason, to help resolve this dispute.

CHURCH: Thank you so much for talking with us Munir Nusseibeh. We appreciate you.

NUSSEIBEH: Thank you.

CHURCH: Thank you.

The International Olympics Committee is showing no sign of bowing to public pressure to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a second time or cancel the games all together. The country is battling a fourth wave of COVID and it's affecting the Olympic torch relay. A number of prefectures have changed the route away from public roads. The head of the IOC says he is confident the games will be safe.

But many Japanese are worried the Olympics will be a superspreader event just 1 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Numerous Japanese towns have already cancelled plans to host foreign athletes. And public calls to cancel the games have grown louder in recent weeks.

Jules Boykoff, is a political scientist at Pacific University in Oregon and has written several books on the Olympics including, No Olympian's. He joins us now from Portland, Oregon. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, recent polls show more than 80 percent of the Japanese population do not want the Tokyo games to go ahead in July. Thousands of doctors want the games cancelled because the medical system is on the verge of collapsing in the midst of a new wave of COVID infections. And the games will inevitably become a superspreader event. So why is the IOC forging ahead with these games?


BOYKOFF: Yes. When you stack up all of those factors there really helps you realize that we're witnessing a cascade of calamity here as we approach the Tokyo Olympics. Why does the International Olympic Committee wish to press ahead? Well, it has a lot to do with money. Because the summer Olympics are the international Olympics committee golden cash spigot, this is where they get a lot of their income.

And 73 percent of the International Olympic Committee's budget comes from broadcasters like NBC here in the United States where I'm coming to you from. Another 18 percent comes from corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Alibaba. And so, in other words, more than $9 out of every $10 that enters the revenue stream of the International Olympic Committee comes from those two sources.

So, that's why there are perfectly content to have a made for TV event, with no spectators, because that will allow them to have those funds continue to roll into their coffers. It is pretty much an open and shut case when it comes to medical officials, as you've mentioned, they are categorically against hosting the Olympics in Japan.

CHURCH: So, should the games just be canceled? Or could various events be held in alternative locations around the globe at a later date perhaps?

BOYKOFF: Well, that sort of creativity is enticing but that is not the kind of thing that the International Olympic Committee has stated publicly that they are willing to entertain. They basically said that there are not willing to postpone these Olympics as your viewers will remember, they were initially postponed in March 2020, because the coronavirus was emerging and we weren't sure how it was going to affect the world.

They postponed for a year at that time. Recently they've been asked whether they will be willing to postpone again and they said no. There is no plan b, were going to press ahead with this Olympics no matter what. So with cancellation, one option pressing ahead during the pandemic conditions the other, that's why you're seeing a whopping 83 percent of the Japanese population preferring moving on not having the Olympics this summer.

CHURCH: So, how likely is it, do you think, that the IOC would sue Japan if it ends up bowing to this public pressure and canceling the games?

BOYKOFF: Every city that host the Olympic signs what is called a host city agreement, and these agreements are incredibly lopsided in favor of the International Olympic Committee. And so, if local Tokyo organizers were to cancel the event on their own, they would open themselves up to a world of hurt in terms of litigation.

And that is very clearly stated right there in the host city contract, that anybody can read online. And that is why we are kind of not seeing the organizers in Tokyo do anything. The Prime Minister of Japan even openly stated that the people that are really calling the shots here when it comes to possible cancellation is the International Olympics Committee. And he's exactly right. It's stated in the host city contract that the IOC, the International Olympic Committee holds the cards at the end of the day.

CHURCH: No exceptions when you have a pandemic to deal with?

BOYKOFF: Yes. There is no force major element of the host city contract and most legal experts that have looked at it think that Japan is in a real no situation and whatsoever to cancel on their own.

CHURCH: It is certainly problematic, will watch to see what happens, Jules Boykoff joining us there, many thanks.

BOYKOFF: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, a crackdown on cryptocurrency trading is freaking out investors and China is behind the latest scare, we will look at how far bitcoin fell and how damaging this could be in the long run.



CHURCH: We are seeing tremendous volatility in cryptocurrency, as anxiety threads spreads through the market. At last check, Bitcoin is back up, an over the 40,000 mark, but on Wednesday it plunged as low as about $30,000 per coin, after China ramped up its crackdown on digital currency. Several other major crypto's also took a hit as did their trading platform, CNN Richard Quest spoke about bitcoin's wild swing on Wednesday.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR (voice over): Bitcoin is down over 10 percent, it's off 40 percent from last month's record high. New regulations get investors are scared.


CHURCH: Let's break it all down with experts Ryan Patel, he is a senior fellow at the Drucker School of management at Claremont Graduate University. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plunged in value Wednesday after China crackdown even further on the digital coins, where do you see this going? Not just when markets open in the coming hours but in the next few weeks and months?

PATEL: Well, this is what -- I don't know why so many people are surprised, cryptocurrencies is going to be volatile, like this is what you are going to see, the ups and downs. And many of the -- you know, cryptocurrencies, CFO, from coin-based, the cryptocurrency trading platforms, that's probably -- she said, this is the long run, long- term, and I think the reason why you see the volatility is because the broader acceptance for cryptocurrency, not just by companies, but in this case also by countries, right.

So, I don't expect it -- you know, the way up and down is going to continue to happen and you mentioned China specifically, right. China has continued to (inaudible) worrying about you know, not new news about countries taking harder stances. And you know, China is also developing its own government run cryptocurrency as the latest source behind that as well. So, then it becomes, what will be the rest of the players look like. And that is why we are seeing the volatility.

CHURCH: Right. And of course Bitcoin had already been dropping as a result of Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, voicing his environmental concerns about the currency and then three Chinese financing banking watchdogs put the final nail in the coffin. And as a result many people actually lost everything, how damaging could this prove to be if cryptocurrency in the long term, or is this just about China, and as you say its plan to develop its own cryptocurrency?

PATEL: Yes, I think -- Elon, let's be honest, Elon kind of started this. The ups and downs of him tweeting this out, and part of it too is Tesla. You know, Tesla then comes out, making news that they won't accept the cryptocurrency which is that then plots some more doubt. Because really why we're having this conversation that's different from a year ago, that there are more companies out there going and willing to accept cryptocurrency, top payment companies, PayPal, for example, you can go on PayPal and buy specifics cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, litecoin and others.

And that is creating a legitimacy of getting an access to it. But then when you have you know, influencers like Elon Musk -- I mean, listen if he went and said I wanted to a hashtag Rosemary bitcoin service to it, you would then be, you would have your own bitcoin Rosemary, and everyone is going to be buying it and you would be likewise this worth anything? And the question goes, I don't know. And the reason why I bring that up is because that's what where we are at right now, it's on a tweet that goes up and down the market and eventually to your point. The real news will have to come into it.

CHURCH: And Ryan, what could all this mean for the U.S. and other global economies as a whole?

PATEL: The U.S. and other countries better get their acts together here real quickly on how it -- what regulation if there is regulations, how they are going to deal with it, how they are going to communicate this, because the volatility isn't going anywhere. And you know, people want certainty not uncertainty. These dips of people selling -- like you know, we see this because people are liquidating their positions. So could this go down further? Sure it can. Are they going to integrated? You know who is going to take it back, right?

And I think we are going to -- to get to this point we're going to see more you know, officials or people taking stances. And Rosemary, if certain countries say I'm not accepting that currency, guess what? That currency value for that country is useless. Right, they would have to use it somewhere else. And so this goes back to the point where there are some people who can handle that pan and some people who will take the gold and put it underneath the mattress. You know, whatever it is your risk tolerance, you've got to decide.


CHURCH: Yes. Absolutely. Ryan Patel, always a pleasure to talk with you and get your expertise.

PATEL: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: After the U.S. Government ignored their existence for years, more videos of unidentified flying objects is making its ways online, it's leading up to the release next month of unclassified government reports on the phenomenon. Take a look.


UNKNOWN: It's splashed.


CHURCH: The clip was taken on a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of San Diego, and it appears to show a flying objects hovering over the water before splashing down to the water surface. The footage was leaks online by a UFO enthusiast who says no wreckage was found and no craft was recovered.

Well, NASA is congratulating China's national space administration on receiving the first images from its rover on a Mars. In this telephoto you can see the rover solar panel and antenna while the black and white image shows a deployed ramp and a flat Martian surface where the Chinese robot landed on Saturday. China's rover may not be as technologically advanced as NASA's Perseverance, which is also on Mars right now, but it does show that the country space capabilities are catching up with those of the United States.

And finally, this is the one about Ross, Rachel and the entire Friends gang getting back together for the first time in 17 years.


UNKNOWN: Rachel wrote Ross a letter, and demanded he read it before they got back together. How many pages was that letter?

UNKNOWN: 18 pages!

UNKNOWN: 18 pages!

UNKNOWN: Front and back.

UNKNOWN: Front and back is correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: It's part of a reunion special, shot for HBO Max owned by

CNN's parent company WarnerMedia. And the cast will revisit recreated sets of the NBC's sitcom which launched their careers. And they will also be joined by stars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber as well as actors like Reese Witherspoon who played supporting roles on the show. Friends has found a second life on streaming platforms in recent years. The Wall Street Journal reports HBO Max paid more than $400 million to streaming rights for five years. Friends, the reunion debuts next Thursday.

And younger generations are enjoying it as well. I'm Rosemary Church, I'll be back in just a moment with more CNN Newsroom, do stay with us.