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Breaking News

Israel Hits Palestinian Targets After Mob Kills Two Soldiers

Aired October 12, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Again, we continue to balance two stories from overseas still developing at this time. From the Middle East, it's been an intense day of violence, especially in the West Bank. Two Israeli soldiers apparently killed earlier today by a mob of Palestinians. In response, the Israeli defense force has responded hard against forces inside the town of Ramallah. We've been tracking that throughout the day here. It is now nightfall in the Middle East.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we've also heard of attacks on Gaza City as well. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has responded to this violence of the two Israeli soldiers killed also the 16 Palestinians reportedly killed in this latest violence. Let's go ahead and listen to what Ms. Albright had to say earlier today from the State Department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will continue taking every step we can to protect our troops, our diplomats, but we will not retreat from our responsibilities. If it turns out as it appears to have been a terrorist act, we will hold those who committed it accountable and take appropriate steps.

I also wanted to say how deeply distressed the United States is at the murder this morning of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, I express my condolences to their families and to the loved ones of all, both Palestinian and Israeli, who have been victimized by the terrible violence that has occurred in recent days, and especially the children whose hopes for peace so recently raised have been dashed.

I call upon the entire international community to join the United States in urging Chairman Arafat to take the steps necessary to bring the senseless and destructive cycle of fighting to an end. No matter how justified they feel at the mob violence against their soldiers, we are calling on the Israelis to bring an immediate end to the current operations by the IDF.

Now is the time for leadership. There needs to be a cease-fire by both sides. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians can gain from further killing. Both gain from the silencing of guns, a cooling of tempers and a resumption of serious and constructive talks. The future of the Middle East must be decided at the negotiating table, not in the streets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Madeleine Albright from 90 minutes ago at the Department of State in Washington. From New York, now, outside the United Nations, there are demonstrators there who have taken outside the U.N. Plaza. These are pro-Israeli demonstrators that have taken to the streets on the east side of Manhattan Island. All this coming in to us throughout the day here,

Again, we mentioned it is nightfall in the Middle East but only noon, Eastern time, there in New York City. And, as we can tell, there are quite a number of people who have gathered on the streets there outside the United Nations. WCBS, our affiliate in New York, rather, bringing us those pictures at this time.

KAGAN: Keeping our eyes that, also keeping our eyes on London, 10 Downing Street, where any moment we expect former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to come out. They are meeting now at 10 Downing Street. They will be coming out soon and making comments. When the gentlemen begin to speak, you will hear that live here on CNN.

For now, for the latest, let's bring in our Mike Hanna -- Mike.

Mike, can you hear us?

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the situation here a dangerous escalation of the conflict in the course of this day. The day began with the killing of two Israeli soldiers in the streets of the West Bank town of Ramallah. The soldiers reportedly captured by Palestinian police, a variety of reports as to what exactly happened.

However, the end result was that the two soldiers were taken from the police station by a crowd. They were beaten to death in the streets, their bodies returned to Israel in the course of the day. However, Israel responded with a series of attacks using helicopter gunships on targets in the West Bank town of Ramallah, including the police station where the Israeli soldiers had been held, as well as the radio station and a number of other targets, too. Israeli helicopters struck two targets in Gaza City.

So, the situation now deeply, deeply dangerous. The Israeli cabinet is holding an emergency cabinet meeting. The Israeli defense force said earlier on this day that this was a limited operation designed as a response to the killing of the two Israeli soldiers earlier. From the Palestinian side, a statement this is an open declaration of war.

Back to you.

KAGAN: All right, Mike Hanna, bringing us the latest recapping of what has taken place. I believe right now these are pictures we are showing you, actually, that was the latest from Mike Hanna on the ground in Jerusalem bringing us the latest and recapping what has taken place over a day of intense violence in Ramallah and in Gaza. With more here is Bill. HEMMER: All right, Daryn, throughout the day we have been speaking on the ground in Ramallah with CNN producer Sausan Ghosheh. She is now back with us by telephone once again and it's been about an hour since we've spoken.

What has happened in that time?

SAUSAN GHOSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've seen several missiles hitting again, the transmission, the tower transmission outside of the Palestine radio station. In addition to that, now 50 percent of Ramallah is out of electricity. It's dark now, already, and there is no electricity, especially in the area around the headquarters of Arafat's office.

As I'm speaking now, I'm outside Arafat's headquarters. Mr. Arafat himself if not here. President Arafat is in Gaza, but the helicopters are hovering over his headquarters here in Ramallah. There's are ambulances standing outside his headquarters here in Ramallah and there are police outside his headquarters. Everything else, everybody else has been evacuated, even the prisoners in the jails. It should be said that this is not just Arafat's office, it's also the office of the governor of Ramallah and also contains the jail of Ramallah. And the prisoners in the jail have been evacuated. The building itself, the compound itself has only military people there and ambulances waiting and helicopters are hovering right above.

HEMMER: Sausan, are you giving us the impression that for the past hour the attacks have continued unabated?

GHOSHEH: For the past hour, more than for the past hour, since my last speaker, I think there were more than four or five missiles hit exactly at the base of the transmission tower of Palestine radio. Two of them went right over my head. It's dark now, it's much easier to see the pink light that comes down from the helicopters. We had to take cover, but now things are a bit quiet except the helicopters are still hovering in the air.

HEMMER: You made the point last time we spoke, again, about an hour ago, that the violence has actually increased after the sun goes down. Is it indeed fully dark where you are in Ramallah and also, do you have any indication about the next path for violence over this night?

GHOSHEH: It's completely dark in Ramallah. Even the cars that are driving by are not putting on their headlights. The streets are empty outside Arafat's headquarters except for the police that are only gathered around the headquarters there. You don't see them anywhere else. I had a drive in Ramallah, in the streets of Ramallah. They are empty, quiet. Everybody is shut down. Electricity is out. Even half of the downtown is completely out. What happened is the high voltage distribution lines were hit, were damaged by the missile attacks and 50 percent of Ramallah will stay without electricity for several days if they are allowed by the Israelis to repair it. And if not, they will stay until they are allowed by the Israelis to repair these lines. HEMMER: Sausan, the Israeli tanks that we saw perched just outside of Ramallah, have you been able to see if they have moved at all since their last location there, located just north of town?

GHOSHEH: No, I have not seen them at all. I am here in the middle of the town and it's restricted, the movements in and out of town is restricted.

HEMMER: And just clarify for us while we have you here. The television station and the radio station there in Ramallah -- we have report's that they have been blown out. Is that accurate?

GHOSHEH: The radio station in Ramallah has been blown out. It's the transmission station that has been blown out. The transmission tower that has been blown. It took more than, I think, 10 or 11 missiles landed on that transmission tower. At the beginning, it was based the attacks were on the head of the tower and then the last five were on the base of the tower.

HEMMER: And how many Israeli helicopters still flying overhead?

GHOSHEH: I have been seeing two. At the beginning of the day I was seeing three, -- two flying together, one flying separately. Now I see two. Sometimes they're flying together and sometimes separately.

HEMMER: We also saw fires and we're still seeing fires in the videotape that is burning here. But again, this videotape is several hours old. Are there are still flames in your area in Ramallah? or have the fires been extinguished?

GHOSHEH: The fire mainly has been extinguished, only when there has been the last missile attack you see a little bit of smoke from that missile attack but that was about it.

HEMMER: And also, you reported ambulances streaking through the streets at different times. Have they quieted?

GHOSHEH: I am sorry, repeat that again.

HEMMER: The ambulances in the streets helping the injured, have they been quieted since then.

GHOSHEH: Yes, they have been quiet. They've been quiet for the past 15 minutes. Now just standing on alert outside Arafat's office.

HEMMER: All right, Sausan Ghosheh there. CNN producer on the ground on Ramallah.

Don't go far, we will indeed be in touch shortly here, but, again, stay safe. Sausan, thanks again. Here's Daryn now.

KAGAN: OK, we are standing by. We have received a two minute warning when we expect Shimon Peres and Tony Blair to come out in London and make some comments. As soon as that happens we will go to London directly, live, to bring you those comments. Meanwhile, let's bring back in our Mike Hanna, who is standing by in Jerusalem.

Mike, you mentioned earlier about an emergency cabinet meeting. Who was in that meeting? And what are they trying to decide, as much as you're able to tell?

HANNA: Well, Daryn, the meeting is obviously entire the Israeli cabinet. Its' headed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak. What is being discussed? Well, he will be briefing his cabinets over the course of the day, and discussing perhaps what further actions are taken from here on -- we heard earlier from the Israeli defense force and indeed from the Israeli government that the attacks in Ramallah and in Gaza City were in part of a limit of unlimited operation in response to the killing earlier on this day of Israeli soldiers.

However, as we heard the report from Sausan Ghosheh, these attacking are continuing, it seems, into the night in Ramallah. We do have the latest casualty figures from Ramallah. Twenty-five civilians injured in the course of the Israeli attacks during the afternoon. In Gaza city, we have at this point, a record that seven people have been injured in these ongoing Israeli attacks. So in the Gaza City as well, we've had reports that deep consultation going on among the Palestinian authorities, in terms of what it can do, and we understood as well a flurry of international efforts to get this violence pout hold. We are not talking about now about the violence that has been ongoing for the past two weeks, the conflict that was occurring in the streets of the Palestinian territories, and on occasion, within Israel itself.

We are talking about a conflict that is on now an utterly different plane, and that is a conflict involving Israeli strikes, as the very symbols of Palestinian authority, such as police stations in the Palestinian territories.

So a deeply ominous situation, a very, very serious one, and international mediators attempting to find some way to get the situation de-escalated in order to get back to addressing the ongoing violence that was happening here before these day's events -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Mike, you gave us those latest numbers on injured. We heard earlier reports that in these attack by the Israeli military that 16 Palestinians were killed. Do have you the numbers on casualties?

HANNA: We have no confirmation yet of the number of dead in the course of these events. Those figures that I have came to us from Ramallah in terms of the actual injured. And as to actual dead, we do not have at this particular point -- Daryn.

KAGAN: You also talked about the need for some international help. We earlier were talking to Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator during Camp David. He made the claim that Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, is not even accepting President Clinton's calls.

Do have you any information about that?

HANNA: No, once again. We have no information about that whatsoever. We do understand that there has been some kind of telephone diplomacy going on in the course of day. Exactly who was phoning whom, we are not particularly sure.

What we do know, though, is that am the time of the attacks in Gaza City, Mr. Arafat was meeting with the U.N. special representative in the region, Terry Larson. Mr. Larson told us early on in this day. Mr. Arafat said to him, you must leave, there is going to be an attack, and he actually left the building and Gaza City just shortly before the attack happened in the vicinity nearby.

In the vicinity, too, we are not sure exactly where it was, it was the director of the CIA, George Tenet, who had been discussing the formation of a security commission to investigate the past couple of week's violence. Mr. Tenet's whereabouts are not quite known, but we do understand that he was somewhere in Gaza at the time that the Israeli attacks took place -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Also quickly, do we know Yasser Arafat's exact whereabouts?

HANNA: Mr. Arafat, we heard within the past few minutes, is in Gaza City. We understand that he did travel a short way to see the results of the Israeli attacks. He is, we understand, back in his offices in Gaza City, where he has been for much of the day -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Mike Hanna, we'll have you stand by for us in Jerusalem, check back with you as the day progresses.

Before we move on, we want to show you, once again, live pictures from New York City, just outside of the United Nations. This is a group of protesters, pro-Israeli protesters. These pictures coming to us from our affiliate WCBS, keeping an eye on the situation just outside of the U.N.

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