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Breaking News

Israeli Sources: 2 Dead, 25 Injured in Bus Blast in Hadera

Aired November 22, 2000 - 11:38 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Back now to the breaking story we were following around the top of the hour. A rocket or some explosion rather in Israel.

Let's go now and get the very latest from our bureau chief, Mike Hanna, who is standing by live -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, the explosion in the Israeli coastal town of Hadera, between Tel Aviv and Haifa in Northern Israel, according to hospital sources in the town, two people have been killed, as many as 25 people have been injured. Three of these 25 are reported to be in a serious condition.

According to a police spokesmen in the city of Hadera, the explosive was placed in a car and detonated apparently as a bus emerged from a nearby central bus station. The streets was crowded with traffic, at this particular point in time in the downtown shopping area at Hadera. At the time of the explosion, it was at height of the rush hour, a large number of damage -- a great deal of damage caused, according to the eyewitnesses in the vicinity of the blast, which eyewitnesses describe as a massive explosion followed by a plume of smoke.

There has been a reaction from the prime minister's office in Israel. As spokesmen for Prime Minister Ehud Barak describes this as a barbaric attack, and he says Israel holds the Palestinian Authority responsible because the authority freed Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists. The prime minister's office in Israel says that Israel will settle accounts with the perpetrators and with those who committed the deed.

So, at this particular stage, we can confirm that two people have been killed, as many as 25 people injured, in a car bomb blast in the Northern Israeli city of Hadera. This follows earlier on in the day, killing in southern Gaza Strip, four Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in controversial circumstances. The Israelis say that one of the four was a wanted activist, responsible for acts of aggression against Israeli soldiers. The Palestinians say that all four were civilians who were unarmed, and the Palestinians described the killing of those four as an act of execution.

So on a day now, at least eight people killed -- or at least six people at this particular juncture, four Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the course of this morning, and now we have two Israelis killed in a car-bomb blast in a downtown shopping area during rush-hour traffic. As many as 25 people are reported to have been injured in the explosion. Three of these have been injured seriously.

And the word from the office of Prime Minister Ehud Barak is that he holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for its decision to release prisoners belonging to the activists, radical Islamic Jihad and Hamas movements.

There has been a bomb attack in Hadera before, as recently as 1994, a suicide bombed killed six Israelis, and now we have another situation where the death toll at this particular juncture has been confirmed at two Israeli killed, as many as 25 people injured as the tension and the conflict in the region continues to escalate to even new heights -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Mike, have any other wider security measures been observed, for instance, any locking down or shutting down of travel to other areas, or any other sort of security roadblocks put up anywhere else? Has the rest or the other parts of the country there been lock blocked off in any way?

HANNA: Well, not within mainland Israel proper, within Israel proper that is. But this conflict began some eight weeks ago, there had been varying forms of closure by the Israeli forces within the Palestinian territories and indeed on the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. All free movements of Palestinians between the Palestinian territory and Israel itself has been completely curtailed for a number of weeks now. Travel within the Palestinian territories itself has been sharply curtailed by Israeli security force. So these measures have been in place for a long period of time. Palestinians have reacted strongly to what they see as enforced closure of towns and cities within the Palestinian territory seeing it as an act of economic warfare by Israel.

So there has been closure within Palestinian territories by Israeli forces. There also has been a sealing of the borders effectively between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Within Israel itself, however, no special precautions have been take at any stage. But throughout the past seven weeks, Israeli defense force officials have been warning of the possibility of bomb blasts. They started warning of the possibility of attacks against civilians targets right after a number of Islamic Jihad prisoners and Hamas prisoners had been released by the Palestinian Authority.

So the threat of some kind of bomb attack had been strongly reported by the Israeli forces and the Israeli defense authorities for a period of time now.

On November the 2nd, of course, there was an explosion in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, in the middle of Jerusalem, which claimed two lives. This, then, on this Monday, there was a bomb blast involving a school bus carrying Jewish settlers and children in the Gaza Strip. Two Israelis were killed in that particular blast.

This morning, we have the situation where four Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces. People who Palestinians insist were unarmed civilians. And now this evening, another car bomb blast that is reported by police, claim the lives of at least two people, injured at least 25, at this point -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thanks much, CNN's bureau chief Mike Hanna reporting live this morning.

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