CNN BREAKING NEWS
Israeli Forces Destroy Most of Arafat Compound
Aired September 20, 2002 - 15:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the Middle East, we are told that Israeli forces have destroyed most of the compound which serves as headquarters to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
I believe we have on the phone an aide to Mr. Arafat, Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Mr. Rudeineh, are you with us?
NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, ARAFAT AIDE: Yes, I am with you.
CROWLEY: Apparently, we do not have Mr. Rudeineh.
RUDEINEH: Yes, I am with you. Go ahead.
CROWLEY: Hang on just with us while we try and get...
RUDEINEH: I am with you. I am with you. Go ahead.
CROWLEY: Mr. Rudeineh, can you tell us what is happening right now?
RUDEINEH: What is happening right now is the Israeli bulldozers, the Israeli tanks are rolling into the main compound of the main office of President Yasser Arafat, and they are trying to separate the building into two divisions. The situation is very grave and very serious and very dangerous, and we have a lot of people injured right now. And the situation is on the verge of real catastrophe and real confrontation.
And we urge the world's community and especially the Security Council to interfere immediately to stop this Israeli terror, because this situation is very dangerous and very, very grave.
CROWLEY: Now, Mr. Rudeineh, can you tell us what is left? We are told that the Israeli forces have destroyed a number of buildings around there. Where are you physically? What is left of that compound?
RUDEINEH: Yes, they destroyed almost nine buildings around the main one, which President Arafat is working right now. But the main building is divided in two sections. Right now, they are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the bridge, which is connecting the two buildings. And right now, we have a separate compound where President Arafat is separated from most of his people who are on the next building.
So far, we have a lot of people injured there, and the Israelis are bulldozing the whole building which is endangering the main one. The situation is very grave and very serious, and the Israelis are playing with fire. And they are going to pay a heavy, heavy price if they continue with this catastrophe. And we urge the United States to interfere immediately to stop this catastrophe, because the Israelis are not endangering just the Palestinian leadership, but it's endangering the peace process in the whole Middle East.
CROWLEY: Mr. Rudeineh, I believe that the Israelis, in talking about this assault on the compound, have said that they are looking for 20 wanted militants that they believe are inside. They also, of course, are responding, they believe, to the suicide attacks that they thought Mr. Arafat was indeed going to try and get a handle on and has not.
What about the 20 militants? Are they in there? Is there any thought that you might surrender them?
RUDEINEH: First of all, there are no wanted people here, and this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And all of what the Israelis are doing is just ruining every single prospect of finding a political solution. The Israelis are trying to damage and to ruin the last headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, which means that the Israelis are declaring war, not just against the Palestinians, but against the Arab world.
And this is a grave situation, which is in need of an immediate inference from the American administration, because this Israeli terror -- this Israeli army of terror is not just endangering the Palestinian leadership. It is endangering everybody in the Middle East.
If we lose, everybody will lose. The Israelis will lose, and the Americans will lose. And that's why we are in need of an American -- immediate American inference to stop this Israeli terror.
CROWLEY: Mr. Rudeineh, we want to thank you very much. Hopefully, we'll be back to you at some point.
Again from CNN in Washington, Israeli forces have moved on Yasser Arafat's headquarters, following a resumption of suicide attacks in Israel.
We're going to go back now to TALKBACK LIVE.
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