Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israeli Troops Occupy Arafat Compound

Aired March 31, 2002 - 07:02   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More now from Israel where the swirling circle of violence has cast a dark cloud over this Easter Sunday in the Holy Land. We have extensive coverage on the crisis in the Middle East. We'll have a live report from Mike Hanna in Jerusalem, but first, CNN's Michael Holmes joins us by phone from his vantage point just outside Yasser Arafat's compound -- Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, hello. Yes, I'm about a 150 meters from Yasser Arafat's office building inside the compound. We're just at the very entrance to the compound. The walls have been knocked down here by tanks to gain access. And we have a fairly clear view of the courtyard and parking area outside his building although we can't see the actual entrance way to the building.

It's fairly quiet here at the moment apart from fairly constant movement of tanks, armored vehicles and ATCs, armored personnel carriers going back and forth inside the compound.

It wasn't always so quiet. Earlier today, there was a gun battle between Palestinian security officers and Israeli troops. Both sides claim the other fired first.

We were here -- we got here several hours ago and not long after we got here, there was an explosion in the courtyard out the front of Yasser Arafat's own office building. Israeli forces say it was a stun grenade. It certainly made a large bang and a bright orange flash and then some white smoke, after that, nothing. Some people here thought they heard a second explosion inside the building. I could not hear that. I cannot confirm that.

And I can also confirm reports that troops have actually entered. They have entered a building adjacent to Yasser Arafat's own office building. There's a large whole knocked in the wall by a tank or a bulldozer. And we've seen dozens of troops going in and out of that hole and they move along the building and up to where Yasser Arafat's office is, not into his building but adjacent to.

Now, all around Ramallah today, there is ongoing violence. We witnessed Israeli troops enter the police station and also entered a -- the Ramallah Municipal Building. They fired heavily before they went in. When they went it, they searched the buildings very thoroughly and fairly aggressively.

Around the streets of Ramallah, we're told that there is a curfew in place and residents are being told to stay indoors or they risk being fired upon. We have not heard that directly ourselves and so, we're staying put where we are.

Elsewhere, we've heard gun battles rage in various parts of the city. They last for anywhere from one to five minutes and then, they stop.

There's been tank rounds going off, but not into or out of this compound. We've -- there's also a ring of roadblocks set up around Ramallah, within about 300 yards of the compound itself, roads leading to and from the compound block by ATCs, tanks and in many cases, civilian cars upended and turned inwards onto the road to set up a makeshift roadblock. Our own vehicle was coming back here after feeding material to CNN and got caught behind one of those roadblocks and a tank blocked in from behind. Our driver went around the roadblock and was fired upon. We lost the tire, but nothing else. He made it back here fine.

So obviously a very tense situation, but inside the compound itself, Kyra, it is fairly quiet as we speak.

PHILLIPS: Michael, I understand there has been a curfew and is still there in Ramallah. And I was even reading that a statement was made that anyone on the streets would be killed. Is that true? Am I reading the proper report? And I'm just curious to how you're getting around and you're getting your information and you're able to cover this story?

HOLMES: Well, yeah, we've heard those reports too, that Israeli vehicles were driving around with loud speakers, telling people that an immediate curfew was in place and they risk being fired upon if they were in the streets. It's fair to say that very people are in the streets, in fact, no one.

As for our own ability to get around, we left with a tape to have that material fed to CNN before we heard about this curfew. As we were coming back, our vehicle was coming back, we heard about the curfew. But you know, you're caught in no man's land and so, continued on here. And as I say, there was five or six bullets fired at the car and blew out one tire. We are in a situation now where we are between this sort of perimeter of roadblocks leading to the compound and the compound itself, where literally, I'm standing right at the wall of the compound. It's a situation, from our vantage point, and I'm here with other media as well and armored vehicles, our armored vehicles. We're sort of in a situation now where we're better off where we are -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Definitely. We definitely want you to stay safe. Michael Holmes, we'll continue to check in with you throughout the morning. Thank you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com





 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top