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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israel Hits Arafat Compound

Aired September 20, 2002 - 15:57   ET

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

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to some pictures we are getting live out of the Middle East. You are looking at Ramallah, specifically at the West Bank headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Earlier, we could see on these pictures men coming out of the compound with their hands up when Israel first began to move into the compound and level some of the buildings. They said they were after some 20 militants they believed were inside the building.
Earlier though, aides for Yasser Arafat said there were -- and now, you see on your TV screen, it's obviously night time, but you see people walking out of the compound from, again, the compound of Yasser Arafat. These pictures were taped earlier, just a couple of minutes ago. And again, we are seeing people walk out with their hands up.

Israel launched this assault on the headquarters of Yasser Arafat after a resumption of suicide bombings in Israel. The attempt here apparently is to isolate Yasser Arafat who Israel holds responsible for not controlling those suicide bombers.

We talked earlier to an aide to Yasser Arafat, who said that this was an act of war by Israel. He pleaded for international help.

Again, Israel feels, however, that the war has been ongoing, particularly with the suicide bombers.

The situation was described as very grave. There was a plea for international help and from the United States as well. That United States' attempt to pull back Israel may in fact not be forthcoming as President Bush has made it quite clear that he believes Yasser Arafat should be replaced.

In any case, what we have, again, is an Israeli surrounding of the Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank of Yasser Arafat.

There was a suicide bombing resumption after about six weeks of calm in Israel, where there was some hope perhaps that the two sides could broker some sort of a permanent cease-fire. Again, that was broken with another suicide bombing attack -- Israel blaming it on PLO leader Yasser Arafat for not controlling the Palestinians.

Israel moved into this saying that they believed there were 20 militants inside the compound with Yasser Arafat, and that they wanted the Palestinians to come out. Now again, those around Arafat say that in fact there were no militants inside. But as we have seen, there have been some surrenders there, apparently. There's also a curfew going on in six of the eight Palestinian- ruled cities in the West Bank. There were tanks sent in on a raid in the northern Gaza Strip. But again, it looks as though Israel having razed a lot of those buildings in the compound, is now getting some of those people to come out with their hands up.

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