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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israelis Mount Second Missile Attack

Aired June 10, 2003 - 13:00   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: An early test of the new American push to bring peace to the Middle East. Reports out of Gaza say the Israelis have mounted a second missile attack against Palestinian militants.
Witnesses are telling CNN an Israeli helicopter fired on a car after militants launched homemade rockets over the border into Israel. Reports say three people were killed, dozens were injured. Details still coming in. This is unfolding as we speak.

Earlier, the Israelis attacked a jeep being driven by Abdel Aziz Rantissi, a political leader of the militant group Hamas. He and more than 20 others were wounded in the strike and two people were killed. Palestinian Authority called that attack an act of terrorism intended to sabotage the new push for peace.

CNN's Kelly Wallace standing by in Gaza with the very latest on this. Kelly, does it, in fact, sabotage the new push to peace?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, some Palestinians on the streets, they say that this road map for Middle East peace is all but dead. I just came from that scene in -- east of Gaza, the scene of the second Israeli aerial attack in some eight hours here in Gaza. As you said, Israeli military sources are saying that Palestinians fired six homemade rockets towards Israel, five landing in Israel proper. One Israeli woman reportedly lightly injured.

After that, there were Apache helicopters in the air. Israeli forces saying they expected the possibility that Palestinians might fire homemade rockets after the attack on Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi earlier in this day, and that that is when the Israeli Apache helicopter gunships fired at what they say was the squad firing these homemade rockets.

Now, right now, we know that three people were killed in this latest attack. One believed to be a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who had nothing to do with the firing of homemade rockets, and then a 19- year-old and 22-year-old man, believed to be from the same family. Palestinian security sources say they, too, had nothing to do with this homemade rocket firing. But there are other sources who say they could be connected.

But again, there was a lot of anger on the scene there as hundreds of people in that neighborhood gathered around what was left of this car. There was also something else interesting, Miles. One of the Palestinians believed to have fired these homemade rockets was being held by some citizens, according to Palestinian sources. One of our producers here was listening to what sounded like some angry comments coming from other Palestinians who wanted to find out where this Palestinian might be. They were angry that these rockets were fired from their neighborhood, apparently angry that that led to this latest Israeli aerial attack -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Kelly, probably worth reminding our viewers a little bit about Hamas and what Hamas has been saying of late about this so- called road map toward peace, very adamantly opposed to what's been happening at these summits.

WALLACE: Absolutely. I mean, Hamas is a radical Palestinian group known for carrying out many suicide bombings and attacks against Israelis. It has rejected the Mideast road map. It also had broken off cease-fire talks, talks about a halt in all attacks against Israelis, with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The group was accusing the Palestinian prime minister of demanding too little of Israel at the Aqaba, Jordan summit, and making too many concessions to the Israelis.

And now this group is saying -- calling for revenge, and planning, it says, to carry out more attacks. Israeli military sources, Miles, privately say, as for the timing of the earlier attack, when you had two Apache helicopter gunships firing on a car belonging to Abdel Aziz Rantissi, a senior Hamas leader who managed to escape, they say the reason they did this now is they believe Rantissi has really stepped up the incitement, the involvement, and the coordination of attacks against Israelis since there has been talk of a road map in the Aqaba summit, and they say he coordinated what has been an unprecedented event so far, three major Palestinian militant groups together, claiming responsibility for the killing of four Israeli soldiers Sunday morning in the Gaza Strip. That is why, Israeli military sources, Miles, saying they acted on this day.

O'BRIEN: All right. For the Israelis, it has to be an ominous thing to see that coordination. Kelly Wallace in Gaza, still getting details for us on an unfolding story.

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