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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Reach Tentative Agreement

Aired June 25, 2003 - 12:05   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Sheila MacVicar, though, is on the scene for us in Gaza. She's joining us now live as well.
Sheila, tell us what you're learning from your vantage point in Gaza City.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some news that may, in fact, have an impact on that cease-fire, that temporary cease- fire that Jerrold Kessel has been talking about. He's confirmed in the last few minutes, the Israeli Defense Forces, telling us they were in action over the refugee camp of Kanunis (ph), the village of Vani Suelia (ph), this afternoon. The idea of confirming that they indeed did fire rockets at a car carrying a Hamas militant. The IDF saying that Mohammed Abu Sayam (ph) was on his way to deliver a mortar.

Now Palestinians sources tell us that Mr. Abu Sayam in fact survived the attack. He is in hospital. His leg has been amputated. We are told he is in very bad condition.

In addition to that, we are told that two Palestinian bystanders, people who are literally in the next car, have died as a result of this attack.

In addition to that, there are 11 others who are wounded, three of them critical.

Now you will remember, Wolf, over the weekend, when the Israeli Defense Forces went and killed a Hamas militant in Hebron, Abdullah Kuwasma (ph), Secretary of State Colin Powell who was then in the region, said such killings were not particularly helpful, and that the killing of Mr. Kuwasma (ph) did not fall under the category of a ticking bomb, someone who on his way to carry out an attack. The question is, what were the circumstance of this attack against Mohammed Abu Sayam, and of course, what's the reaction now going to be of the militant group, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, who it seems were very close to announcing this cease-fire -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, Sheila, are you suggesting that even though we're getting indications the cease-fire is going to formally announced later today, probably in Cairo, given this latest military action on the part of the Israelis, that might not happen?

MACVICAR: Well, let me read you this quote from a member of Islamic Jihad, who said, listen, "We've been negotiating with everyone, we've been talking with everyone, we've been given a good atmosphere, good signals of what our intentions have been, but instead, what do we get from Prime Minister Sharon? We get his back." Clearly, if you remember, there was an attack on -- an attempted assassination of senior Hamas militant Abdullah Aziz Rantissi shortly after the Aqaba Summit. You'll remember that at that time, Hamas said, would not derail the cease-fire. There are still obstacles toward removing the deadlock that has basically blockaded the announcement of the cease-fire. One of the key ones, we are told from Palestinian forces, is the return by Israel, his family of the body of Mr. Kuwasma. Hamas forces telling us that until that body was returned and Mr. Kuwasma buried, there will be no now.

So the question is, how does this action this afternoon fall into the thinking of the militant groups, and what do they think Israel's intentions are towards them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, the ink isn't even dry. In fact, there isn't even ink yet. There may not be ink. There looks like there could be a truce. But we'll have to wait and see the next few hours for this formal truce to be announced, presumably in Cairo. Egyptian intelligence officials playing a significant role with these three Palestinian militant groups, trying to establish this cease-fire.

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