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Israel Ceases Attacks on West Bank and Gaza StripAired October 12, 2000 - 1:16 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to turn now to out man in Jerusalem, Mike Hanna, who's been watching Israeli gunships as they have done battle in Palestinian areas today following the deaths of two soldiers there in Ramallah today. You can tell us more about that, Mike.
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, within the last few minutes we're hearing the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has instructed that the operations of this day cease. The operations have seen Israeli helicopter gunships attacking targets in the West Bank town of Ramallah and indeed targets in and around Gaza City, the headquarters of the Palestinian authority there. We have, at the latest count, more that 25 people injured, 25 Palestinians injured in Ramallah. At least seven people reported to be injured in and around Gaza City.
The events of the day follow on early this morning the murder of two Israeli soldiers, by a Palestinian mob. They were reportedly dragged out of a Palestinian jail and beaten to death in the streets. The bodies have been returned to the Israeli authorities.
At present, the Israeli cabinet is in an emergency session, we understand. The Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat is in Gaza City. He's been visiting the targets, the sites that were attacked earlier on this afternoon by the Israeli helicopters, looking at the damage on the ground, speaking to those who were directly affected by those attacks, the injured and the wounded. Mr. Arafat is likely to remain in Gaza City, we understand.
In Gaza City, too, is the representative for the U.N. Secretary- General, Terry Lawson, who will be holding talks with Mr. Arafat later on in this particular day. The U.N. Secretary-General himself, Kofi Annan, is in Jerusalem. No certainty about his schedule, whether he will be meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and later perhaps meeting Mr. Arafat. But no confirmation of any meeting as yet.
Well, with me is the speaker of Israel's Knesset or parliament, Mr. Avraham Burg. Mr. Burg, tell me, do you think that Ehud Barak's actions this afternoon in striking at West Bank and Gaza Strip targets will receive the support of the Knesset or parliament?
AVRAHAM BURG, ISRAELI KNESSET SPEAKER: I've no doubt about it. There was a controversy in Israel in the last couple of days from those walks (ph) who wanted harsher measures to be taken. And Prime Minister Barak, who expressed the fullest of his leadership by keeping the option for peace open until the last moment.
But this morning, no new conversations started between us and the Palestinians. The very fact that at a police station of the Palestinian Authority two innocent Israeli -- actually, people who passed by, were slaughtered, were lynched by Palestinians, actually created a new whole ball game. Israel introduced new measures into the arena. And I hope that by the end of the day the Palestinian understood, don't misinterpret the Israeli patience. If you will begin with these conversation, we have a couple of things to say as well.
HANNA: From the Palestinian side, the contention that Israel has openly declared war. The Palestinians point to the fact that of the 100 people killed in the past two weeks of conflict, all but eight, including the policemen, the soldiers this morning, were either Palestinian or Arab-Israeli. They will say that they've been bearing the brunt of the conflict. Your response to that contention?
BURG: No doubt a powerful state like the state of Israel tries to defend itself. The numbers dropped by the Palestinians sounds so persuasive. But there is only one litmus paper, not looking at yesterday. Because when you look at yesterday, a lot of blood on the Palestinian hands as well.
The only one litmus paper, look at the future. Who is ready now to sit down to the table? Not now. Right now, at this moment, we're ready to go to Ramallah, to Jerusalem, to Cairo, to Washington, to Europe to sit down and to resume the peace talks, and who does not not only want to come to peace talks, but says this? Yasser Arafat.
I'm coming with my uniforms. I'm still fighting. I will redeem Jerusalem by blood and by agony. And we not even one word of condolence for these poor families of the two soldiers. If this is the parliament we are looking for I will say listen. The United States and the world is having their own Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. We have a minor interpretation of his here in Ramallah, but in the image of Yasser Arafat.
HANNA: Mr. Burg, thank you very much indeed for joining us. The Speaker of Israel's Knesset, or parliament, indicating that there may be broad-based Israeli support for the actions undertaken by Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the course of this afternoon, striking at targets in the West Bank city of Ramallah as well as in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip.
Situation at the moment, well, diplomatic efforts under way to end the escalation of conflict, this new and very dangerous development. We hear, too, that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said that this round of operations launched this afternoon has come to an end. The Israeli defense force earlier said it would be a limited action. Back from the Palestinian side we've heard that it is being interpreted as a declaration of war. Back to you.
ALLEN: Mike Hanna in Jerusalem, thank you for the very latest.
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