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Gaza Clashes: Abbas Considers Declaring State of Emergency; British Military: Prince Harry Will Not Go to Iraq; Pentagon: Abducted U.S. Soldiers Part of Complex Attack

Aired May 16, 2007 - 12:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Chaos in Gaza. With every rocket and mortar round fired, the Palestinian government edges closer to collapse.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: House to house, the U.S. military turning up new leads in its painstaking search for three missing soldiers in Iraq.

GORANI: An about-face. Reports say Britain's Prince Harry will not go to Iraq after all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are here to make sure they don't get hurt again.


CLANCY: And bodyguards versus the bullies. In South Korea, victims of school violence get some professional protection.

It's 1:00 p.m. right now in Buenos Aires, 1:00 in the morning, Thursday, in Seoul, South Korea.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

From Seoul to Gaza City, Buenos Aires to Baghdad, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: In the words of a veteran Palestinian lawmaker, what is happening this hour right now in Gaza endangers not only the unity government, but also the Palestinian cause itself.

GORANI: Fighting between rivals Hamas and Fatah rage for a fourth straight day, leading President Mahmoud Abbas to consider declaring a state of emergency.

CLANCY: As the fighting royals on, a number of journalists that you can see right here have been trapped inside a building.

We have more now from Ben Wedeman, who reports Hamas militants also seem intent on trying to provoke Israel to get involved.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Gaza, cease-fires are made to be broken. Late Tuesday, Hamas leader and prime minister Ismail Haniyeh read out the text of the latest truce, but his words clearly fell on ears deafened by gunfire. Within an hour, the truce collapsed.

Hamas fighters attacked the home of a senior Fatah-affiliated security chief, killing four of his guards. By midday, around a dozen people, mostly gunmen, had been killed. Gaza's morgues are filling with the dead, hospitals urgently appealing for blood for the wounded.

Complicating matters, since Tuesday, Hamas has lobbed more than 30 crude locally-made, Qassam rockets in the direction of Israel. One house in the Israeli town of Sderot taking a direct hit.

More than a dozen people have been wounded in these attacks since Tuesday. Hamas may be trying to provoke an Israeli ground incursion, working on the assumption that the only way Palestinians will reunite is in the face of the common enemy, Israel.

For now, Israel isn't taking the bait.

MIRI EISEN, ISRAELI SPOKESWOMAN: We will respond, but we won't be dragged by Hamas, by a terrorist organization. We're not go doing this on their terms and at their time.

WEDEMAN: But Israeli aircraft did go into action Wednesday, striking a base in southern Gaza belonging to the Executive Force, a military force controlled by Hamas. At least two members were killed.

Three months ago, leaders from Fatah and Hamas met in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and worked out an agreement for the creation of a national unity government, but all along, unity was more facade than fact. The factions couldn't settle their differences through words. Now, with ordinary Gazans caught in the middle, they're giving war a chance. A few of those ordinary Gazans braved the gunfire to protest against the internal fighting, only to come under fire themselves.

(on camera): The leaders of Fatah and Hamas insist they're determined to restore order and unity. But in Gaza, it seems, guns speak much louder than words.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


GORANI: Well, you can see the situation there. Street battles, chaos forcing normal life in Gaza to a virtual standstill.

Shops are shuttered. Schools are closed as children and adults alike huddle in the relative safety of their homes and other buildings. Let's get a sense of what it's like to live through all of this.

Let's bring in university professor Hazim Abu Shanab. He joins us now on the line from Gaza City.

Professor Abu Shanab, thank you for being with us.

Where are you? What is it like where you are right now?

HAZIM ABU SHANAB, PROFESSOR, AL AZHAR UNIVERSITY: I'm in the middle of Gaza City. I'm very near to the provincial security organization -- the headquarters. This is the main area which is under war, if we can call it that.

It is a place that everyone is shooting against everyone. There are...

GORANI: I understand you can hear shootings from where you are right now. You could hear shooting a few hours ago. Is it still the case now?

SHANAB: Yes. It is happening, but it is now a away a little bit from us. It was about three minutes ago, it was happening all over us. But now it's away, a kind of 300 meters, or something like that.

GORANI: Now, I understand, also, that just a bit earlier, a woman who lives in an apartment in your building was shot, as well, or was somehow the target of shooting there in your building?

SHANAB: Yes. Some kind of gunmen of Hamas were over a building, a high building very close to us, and they shot the woman in her arm. She's 55 years old.

We got her to the -- to an ambulance. We got her in an ambulance, then she went to a hospital. I hope that she can be recovered.

Here is the shooting again.

GORANI: Yes. And do you think that this is -- this is a development in Gaza that really signals a turn of events for the worst at this point?

SHANAB: Yes, I think that it is a kind of war for who's taking control here in Gaza City, or on the Gaza Strip, in fact, and who's taking control of the PMA.

I believe that the parties, Fatah and Hamas, are not accepting each other, and they are not accepting the idea of being partners for forming the future of the Palestinians. I believe that what's happening is approximately how to differentiate and how to explode one for another.

I believe that we are heading to a big fight tonight, and we will see in a few days who is going to take over the control in -- all over the PMA. I believe this is the greatest war is going to happen between Israelis. I hope it can be at least (ph) as they can to hurt civilians.

GORANI: All right.

So, Professor Hazim Abu Shanab joining us there from Gaza City in the middle of it all. Not too far from where gun battles are taking place. A neighbor of his shot as well this day. A lot going on.

Hopefully you can stay safe. Thank you very much, sir -- Jim.

CLANCY: A compelling account. And we should make clear that a lot of the video was showing you some of the Hamas missiles being fired into Israel. That's what we were talking about, about opening up that other front, as if another front needs to be opened.

Right now in one building many journalists are huddled. A few correspondents know more about Gaza than our own Bed Wedeman, having spent months and months there. He joins us now live from Jerusalem.

Ben, what's going on, on the ground? What are you hearing?

WEDEMAN: Well, I've spoken with people with Ramattan, and what the problem is, is the building is under fire.

Now, what's significant about the building where the Ramattan office is -- and that's, in fact, where the CNN office is, as well -- is it's about 15 stories high. It's one of the highest buildings in Gaza. And there are normally gunmen on the roof.

Now, in quiet times, they're just keeping an eye on the street. But at the moment, there really is a struggle in Gaza for control of these strategic points, high places, high buildings which allow you to basically keep an eye and command the streets below. And clearly, there's a gun battle going on to try to gain control of that building.

Now, in the past, I know that Fatah gunmen controlled the roof. Now it may be another faction. It's not quite clear at this moment.

But from everyone I've spoken to in Gaza today, you hear the gunfire, as we just did a moment ago with that guest on the phone. You hear gunfire in the background, and obviously the building where Ramattan is located and several other news agencies are located is a strategic point that is going to be obviously the focus of quite a lot of fighting as the various factions, Fatah and Hamas, try to gain control of the situation on the ground -- Jim.

CLANCY: You know, we heard there moments ago from Professor Hazim Abu Shanab describing his fears that tonight was going to bring even worse battles in the streets.

What is the sense here that this is the civil war among the Palestinians that all sides have been saying they don't want but they seem to be moving closer and closer to?

WEDEMAN: It certainly appears to be that way. The best efforts of the Egyptians and others to mediate between Fatah and Hamas seem to have come to naught. Now, we were told earlier today by a senior adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he would be going to Gaza tomorrow to try to work out an agreement with Hamas on the ground to stabilize the situation, but if you look at those pictures coming out of Gaza, you speak to people in Gaza, it is virtually impossible for anybody to move around. And therefore, how Mahmoud Abbas is going to manage this is going to be a bit of a challenge.

Now, we understand that between today and yesterday, more than 500, possibly as many as a thousand Fatah members of Fatah security forces, have entered Gaza. This could allow for the situation to be stabilized. On the other hand, Jim, it could mean simply more fuel on the fire.

So, there is intense fear and trepidation about what the coming hours could bring. Most of the people in Gaza are really caught in the middle, neither affiliated with Hamas or Fatah, no love lost there. And they really are stuck in the middle of this fighting.

As to whether it's a civil war or a factional fight, it's hard to say, because really this is two very well armed and powerful factions fighting it out on the ground. It really doesn't have sort of the aspect of a sectarian civil war that you have in Iraq, for example -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. The political power struggle on the ground.

Ben Wedeman there, who knows this story well, joining us live.

Ben, as always, thank you.

GORANI: Right. And also, it should be noted that Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist who was abducted a few weeks ago, is still in custody, with no word really on who is holding him. It's been nine weeks.

CLANCY: He's caught up in the violence, like so many others. And questions, hard questions being asked, how much Iran, that's backing Hamas with money and arms, and how much the United States, that's backing the Fatah faction with money and arms, may be contributing in all of this. But there is no doubt at this hour who is paying the price, and that is the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

GORANI: Definitely a power struggle there.

We'll have more on the situation as soon as it becomes available.

But for now, let's go to the U.K..

The British military is saying that Prince Harry will not, after all, be deployed to Iraq. Earlier this month, the head of the British army said Harry, who is third in line to the throne, would serve on the front lines. But Wednesday, military officials said the threat of insurgent attacks made it just too dangerous.

Prince Harry is a second lieutenant and tank commander. He's been trained to lead a 12-man team in armored reconnaissance vehicles. Prince Harry had been due to be deployed in Basra in southern Iraq, where British troops are deployed.

CNN's Richard Quest is following this story, and he joins us now from London.

Now, that's been known for a while that Prince Harry might constitute a security risk. Why now? Why not announce that much earlier, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a very good question, and one that the military authorities will no doubt have to answer.

I think what has happened, and what we are hearing this afternoon, from the MOD, the Ministry of Defense, is that although they knew there was a calculated risk -- he was a military man going into serve in an insurgent war zone -- they decided that what they had heard meant that he was going to be targeted. He was simply going to be too risky, not only for himself and for other members of his battalion.

And I think that comes over clearly if we listen to what the chief of the general staff of the Ministry of Defense said a short while ago.


RICHARD DANNATT, U.K. CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF: Over the last few weeks, I've made a particular point of saying that I would keep under constant review my decision to deploy Prince Harry to Iraq with his troop. As with any military operation, circumstances do change and, therefore, so should decisions, if necessary.

I have decided today that Prince Harry will not deploy as a troop leader with his squadron. I've come to this final decision following a further and wide round of consultation, including a visit to Iraq for myself at the end of last week.

There have been a number of specific threats, some reported, some not reported, which relates directly to Prince Harry as an individual. These threats expose not only him, but also those around him to a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable.

Now that I've decided that he will not be deploying with his troop, the risks faced by his battle group are no different to those faced by any other battle group or other of our servicemen in Iraq. I have to add that a contributing factor to this increase in threat to Prince Harry has been the widespread knowledge and discussion of his possible deployment. It is a fact that this close scrutiny has exacerbated the situation, and this is something that I wish to avoid in the future.


QUEST: Now then, the interesting part in what we were hearing by Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, is this idea that it is simply too dangerous, Hala. The threats expose him, but not only him, but also those around him to a degree of risk they now deem unacceptable, unequivocal. He's not prepared to take the risk.

This will be disappointing for Harry, but I do not believe that Harry's going to resign over it.

GORANI: Sure. And you can imagine paparazzi trying to get shots of him. I mean, it's not impossible to imagine that type of thing and a security scenario that might constitute a nightmare for anybody around him or in charge of protecting him.

QUEST: I would go further. Not only is it not impossible to imagine that scenario, I would say that scenario is very, very likely, because the premium on a price of a photograph of Harry in action, even -- I mean, you know, let's be blunt about this, Hala. Harry firing a gun, then that would be absolutely enormous.

GORANI: Well, he's not going. So...

QUEST: No, he's not.

GORANI: Thank you.

Richard Quest in London.

Nice talking to you -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, let's shift or focus now to Iraq and the search for those three missing U.S. soldiers. It continues.

New details emerging now as Iraqi and U.S. troops search house to house and question residents who have given dozens of tips. The search area is south of Baghdad. But the progress slow-going, as Arwa Damon reports from her embed with the U.S. military.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Units are going out patrolling for eight to 10 hours through this very rough and oftentimes hazardous terrain. It is namely fields and farmlands interlaced with small canals. Navigating them oftentimes very challenging. And they're going through clearing all the buildings, going back, clearing all of the land, and then searching it once again.


CLANCY: Now, the Pentagon is characterizing the incident as a complex attack that involved 10 or more insurgents.

Let's bring in Hugh Riminton now in Baghdad to see what other developments there are.

Hugh, we heard some from the Pentagon, but what have you been able to verify there on the ground about how this operation, this snatching, if you will, unfolded? HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We certainly know that something dreadful happened in those predawn hours, now four and a half days ago. We are starting to get more of a picture of precisely what it looked like as the first quick reaction force got in there, the first ones at the scene.

They found a dreadful scene. There was in and around the Humvees four dead personnel; one of them an Iraqi, the others were Americans. But they also found multiple blood trails.

These two vehicles had been surrounded by concertina wire. Somehow or other, the battle had taken place in close, with small arms fire, also with fragmentation grenades. It was an intense battle.

The evidence suggests that there was some return fire from the American troops. They got some shots away, but they had very much the worst of this battle.

These multiple trails of blood leading away from the scene, one of them leading towards a nearby hut. And it was in that hut, about 50 meters away, where they found the body of the fifth American soldier. The other three they have not found. It's not clear if those blood trails are from them or perhaps some of the al Qaeda- affiliated attackers were injured. They also found not far off tire tracks which indicated that they were obviously put into a vehicle and driven on from that point.

In the course of the investigation, they have also come across, the U.S. military say, two men who say that they were part of that attack. But here's another insight into the way al Qaeda's working. It does not appear they were part of al Qaeda.

It seems they were paid for their role. The exact nature of that role, not clear. But it shows the complex range of motivations of those who were facing off against the United States -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, what is clear is it's a battlefield disaster and it's got to be raising some tough questions.

RIMINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely tough questions. And the most obvious one is, if, for al Qaeda, this was plainly a choice target, if they looked at these two Humvees and thought, these are vulnerable, we can take these guys, if it was obvious to them, why was it not obvious to the U.S. military?

Why did they put them in this situation? Why were there only two Humvees? Why were they undermanned?

The normal staffing is five per Humvee. They had eight people in total, although they had other elements 500 meter as way, as it turned out. They were almost an hour to get to this location because of roadside bombs and other things in the way.

If that was a predictable risk, why weren't they closer? Why were they so isolated?

These are many of questions that the U.S. military is now asking of itself.


MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: They are looking very carefully at the whole tactical situation. Obviously, we always want to ensure if there's something that could have been done better that we do that next time. And he has stated they are making an assessment of that, they're looking at that closely.

But I mean, clearly right now, the number one issue is finding our soldiers. And that's where the energy and the focus is being put, because that's what we want to do first. And then they will look very closely at the tackics involved.


RIMINTON: Now, one other key question, how did these attackers get so close? Did they -- did they somehow manage to fool this unit perhaps into thinking that they were friendly that enabled them to get so close make this attack?


CLANCY: All right. Hugh Riminton there in Baghdad.

As always, Hugh, thank you very much. A lot of insight. A lot of information still pouring in here.

GORANI: All right. And a lot going on around the world.

We'll have more for you. We'll go to New York for a check on the markets straight ahead.

CLANCY: And the hand-over of power in France. Nicolas Sarkozy takes over the reigns of the French government, vowing to usher in an era of change.

GORANI: Also, you might want to call this a case of rail rage. Commuters in Argentina have just about had enough of their trains running late, and they're showing it.

Stay with us.



CLANCY: One of the deadliest attacks in the current fighting took place at a particularly key play place in Gaza, a place that Palestinians can't hardly live without.

Jonathan Mann gives us some insight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's overcrowded, poor and barely surviving, and not only that, Gaza lives on a single lifeline, the crossing into Israel called Karni. Israel closes the crossing enough, but Palestinians attack it, too, and now in the current crisis they have struck the gate to Gaza once again.

DAVID SHEARER, UNOCHA: It's the place where all of the, for example, all of the wheat flour goes into Gaza. It's the staple diet of all Gazans. It's the medical supplies. It's the fertilizer supplies. It's basically every basic component of life comes through the Karni Crossing.

MANN: Karni was built in the early '90s at the eastern end of the Gaza Strip. There are other ways in and out of Gaza, areas further north, in Rafah, into Egypt in the south. But imports aren't allowed to enter into Egypt, or come in by air or by sea. So when a Gaza resident gets hungry, or whey they get sick, what they need has to come through Karni. The current fighting didn't start in Karni, but it did spike there. Hamas gunmen fired rockets and mortars Tuesday at a training base for Fatah forces who are guarding the crossing. The guards were training as part of a U.S.-backed and funded plan to improve security and efficiency at Karni, a plan that has been succeeding.

Karni had been a target for Palestinian attacks, and last year it was closed for 100 days,because Israel says of the threat of even more attacks. This year, it has been mostly open, and for longer hours, too. And that has an important effect, it's allowing raw materials and goods into Gaza, which are in turn creating jobs crucially need there, about 16,600 jobs there in last three months. Unemployment is punishing there. Now it is down over the past six months, down 7 percent. If Palestinians lose that progress, if they lose Karni, it will only make things even worse, and almost inevitably it will increase anger at Israel.

AMRE MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY GENERAL: The situation of blockade of starvation, of unemployment, a situation that has been imposed on the Palestinians unjustly, unfairly and led to this agitation in Gaza. We have to move quickly to restore peace.


MANN: Right now, Karni is closed, at the request of Palestinian authorities. That may be an indication of how tense things are. It cost Palestinians a lot of money every time Karni shuts, but the Palestinians say the security situation won't allow them to reopen yet.

So, Jim, it is a price they felt worth paying.

CLANCY: These are lifelines that go into an area that is literally cutoff. Many Palestinians describe it as a prison, but there are other ways in and out. How about the Egyptian border?

MANN: Well, you know what they say -- they say it's easier to get into Heaven than it is to get into Gaza. The opening of the Egyptian border, Rafah, is the main opening. That one tends to be closed five days out of seven. Enormous frustration, much greater frustration at what's going on in Rafah than in Karni. In the north -- and you can see it there on the map. You can see Erez. The Erez crossing was another one of those few lifelines. Erez is virtually completely closed all of the time, if you're a VIP, if you're an aide worker, if you're a journalist you can get into Erez.

Otherwise Karni is where the goods move, and they aren't moving a whole lot right now. Rafah is where the people move. They aren't moving either most days of the week.

CLANCY: All right, just more pressure on the Palestinians now. And you can't really divorce that economics from the fight that we're watching on the streets.

MANN: A point that is worth making, Karni is where the Israelis said they would try to keep the gateway open. Rafah, they have closed it down virtually all of the time. Now the Palestinians essentially have closed down Karni.

CLANCY: All right, Jon Mann with some insight, valuable. Thank you.

MANN: All right. Well, this is a fast-developing situation. The fighting in Gaza is threatening to spread across the border into Israel. In fact that may be just what Hamas has in mind. It's launched rockets into southern Israel, in Sderot, that town there.

In that part of the country, Atika Shubert joins us from the Israeli town of Sderot, where many of the rockets have landed and where we're hearing that the Israeli prime minister has threatened severe retaliation if those rockets continue to rain on that part of the country.

What is it like where you are, Atika Shubert?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here residents are actually quite used to rocket attacks. There's been daily rocket attacks here for years. But ever since the fighting in Gaza ratcheted up, the increase in rocket attacks has been dramatic. In last 24 hours more than two dozen rockets have fallen in Sderot. In fact, I'm standing now in a courtyard. Just a little bit more than an hour ago, another rocket fell injuring one person. So as you can imagine, residents here are very frustrated and angry. They want to see action, tough action, taken against Hamas in particular in Gaza.

And though the prime minister may be speaking tough words, many people here are not convinced that the action has been tough enough, and again, that may be because the Israeli government fears that this is a ploy by Hamas to draw it into the conflict.

And we spoke to the prime minister spokesperson today, and she said that Israel will respond, that it will be on its own terms and its own time. We did see that today with airstrikes by Israel into Gaza. But again, that was a very limited action. We don't to see any major operations into Gaza coming soon. GORANI: So tell us about the mood they're in, in Sderot, where you are, and what residents would want their government to do then as a response to these rocket attacks.

SHUBERT: Well, people here are very frustrated and angry. We spoke to the town's mayor, and he was very blunt. He said that the, you know, Israeli Defense Forces should go in and clear out the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, but clearly that would be a very major operation.

So because people here are frustrated and angry, they've basically begun moving out. The town is emptying out. Buses, by private individuals, are beginning to evacuate people. People are taking their children and belongings out. They feel it simply is not a safe place to be anymore.

GORANI: And very quickly, there was, I believe, one person seriously injured. What else do we know about what impact these rockets have had on people?

SHUBERT: They've had some serious impact. One of them, yes, last night actually, slammed directly into a home. We went there today. It went right into the roof, into the bedroom of a young family there. The mother was very seriously injured, as well as her two children. And it also sprayed debris into other parts of the neighborhood. So it does affect the lives of residents here, especially if a rocket attack goes straight into a home like that. It's very frightening.

GORANI: Absolutely. Atika Shubert joining us there on the line from the Israeli town of Sderot, right near the Gaza boarder. Thank you very much -- Jim.

CLANCY: Everyone in Gaza this day finding themselves in the grips of war. But for Britain's Prince Harry, there will be no war, and that will comes as a disappointment to him.

Richard Fitzwilliams is a royal watcher and was an editor of the international edition of "Who's Who," joins us now from London live.

Should anyone be surprised, that the military is saying we've thought about it and he's not going?

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYAL WATCHER: I think quite a lot of people will be very disappointed. It's hard to say that they'd be too surprised because there have been so many rumors in recent weeks. I mean, one of the points we must make is that it will be desperately disappointing for Prince Harry. He was the royal wild child. He wanted a serious career, he talked of 20 to 30 years in the army, and he wanted to go. He wanted to be treated like everybody else. Unfortunately, he isn't everybody else.

And the problem is that it's sending out a signal that Iraq is too dangerous, you could also surmise that there'd be some political pressure as Britain is running down its forces. The thought of a royal hostage was simply too dangerous. The way it's been handled isn't good. I am very sorry that the long tradition of members of the British royal family serving with the military.

CLANCY: At the same time, you know, people would wonder, well, is this going to make it appear that the royals are even more privileged than their subjects, the British people? What is the public sentiment on this one?

FITZWILLIAMS: I rather think that the majority of the public would feel that he should be given a chance. He's chosen the army as his career. He should definitely be permitted to serve and that meant or would have meant -- it won't now -- 11-man reconnaissance group with four link (ph) tanks, he'd be somewhere on the border in Iraq, and of course, the problem is that the insurgents were clearly intending to target him.

Part of the problem has been blamed by the chief of the army on the publicity this has had. They've always known this. And I do think that this is or shows very, very poor sense of public relations.

I think also that we should bear in mind looking at his ancestors, those and I'm thinking of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York during the first World War, when they couldn't serve, they became deeply unhappy and deeply frustrated. My fear is that Prince Harry will feel the same. My own fear is also that he won't probably be that much longer in the army. He's also said he wants to do charity work, remember Sentabarley (ph), the charity in Bisutu (ph).

But I mean, there's no question he will feel mollycoddled. That's the one thing he didn't want to be.

CLANCY: Richard Fitzwilliams with a little bit of perspective there on the announcement that Prince Harry, the military -- British military stepping in and saying he will not be sent for duty in Iraq. Thank you very much for being with us.

GORANI: When YOUR WORLD TODAY continues, France begins a new era with a new, a very new president.

CLANCY: And we're going to have much more on the handover of power there in France.

GORANI: And the evening commute is a nightmare in many cities, but train service in Buenos Aires has got commuters really angry. We'll explain why, after this.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone.

Some developments coming out of Gaza, as street battles continue there in that strip of land. We're joined now on the line by Journalist Yahya Hassuna. He's in one of the media buildings in Gaza.

Yahya, I believe we can hear some gunshots there and gunfire where you are. Tell us of the situation from your vantage point.


GORANI: Yahya Hassuna?

HASSUNA: Yes, yes, I'm here.

GORANI: Go ahead and tell us what you can see and what you can hear right now in Gaza where you are.

HASSUNA: We are in very difficult situation now, we are in the building -- (INAUDIBLE) they are shooting in the street and in the building and the (INAUDIBLE). And we cannot go out to leave of this building. And we just know what we can do now. So (INAUDIBLE) and we are the media, we will be looking for many TV (INAUDIBLE). And it is very sad situation now. I don't know what we can do. Because the conflict between Hamas (INAUDIBLE) and the (INAUDIBLE) government now. This is a civil war between government and Hamas (ph).

GORANI: Yahya, let me ask you, are these gunshots being aimed at you, at the building? Are these gunshots, are they -- are you being -- are you targeted right now? What are we seeing? What -- are -- is this a street battle between Hamas and Fatah militants?

HASSUNA: It is night now, it is dark. We cannot see anything. We hear only the rockets and the shooting (INAUDIBLE).

GORANI: Now ...

HASSUNA: And the gunfire -- we hear the gunfire (INAUDIBLE) -- hello? Hello?

GORANI: Yes, Yahya, go on, tell us what you can see right now and what you can hear. We understand it's nighttime.

HASSUNA: We cannot look -- we cannot use the windows. We cannot look at the street because it's very dangerous now.

GORANI: All right, and your understanding is that these are street fights right now happening between militants from both factions, Hamas and Fatah, is that your understanding?

HASSUNA: We are -- I cannot hear you good, because it is very noisy -- and so hello?

GORANI: Give us a sense of the mood in the building where you are. Are people frightened? What's go on right now? What are you saying to each other as this is going on right outside of your windows?

HASSUNA: If anyone look at the windows we'll die now.

GORANI: Yes, what is the ...

HASSUNA: We cannot look. We are 22 journalists here. The media group and IHAIR (ph) from Turkey.

GORANI: And is there concern that this is really starting to ... HASSUNA: I cannot hear you.

GORANI: We're having obvious issue there. Yahya Hassuna, a journalist there, hunkered down with 22 of his colleagues in one of the media buildings in Gaza City with a first-hand dramatic account as gun battles really rage all around that building where he is forced to take shelter.

Yahya Hassuna, one last question. Is there real pessimism right now that this is a turn for the worst, that civil war is looming in Gaza right now?

HASSUNA: What I can tell you now in Gaza, the company is destroyed -- everything is destroyed in the company, and in the street. Many injured. Many victim at the street now.

GORANI: All right. Yahya Hassuna, a journalist, Media Group reporter, thank you so much for joining us there live on the telephone line, a very difficult situation. Please, stay safe and we hope your colleagues as well stay safe with you.

We're going to take a short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: Dramatic developments, we're going to continue to follow that, as we can. But you get an idea of the desperation in Gaza at this hour. Stay with CNN.



Now, you have probably heard of the term road rage where commuters often get testy during rush hour traffic. How about rail rage? Tempers flaring in Argentina. This is video evidence of it. Many of these commuters, frustrated by a delay in the evening train service. And in response, they rioted in a Buenos Aires train station, hundreds, clashing with police as they flooded out of the station. Twelve police officers were injured, 16 rioters were handcuffed. Passengers have long complained about poor service on the rail lines that leave from the capital to its poorer southern suburbs.

GORANI: Well, pledging both unity and change, Nicolas Sarkozy formerly took office as President of France on Wednesday. He'll immediately face some major challenges, leading a country racked by high unemployment and social unrest.

As Jim Bittermann tells us, Mr. Sarkozy vows that he is up to the task.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He never was shy about it. For much of his adult life, Nicolas Sarkozy has wanted to be standing exactly where he was today, President of France.

For the son of a Hungarian immigrant, the march for the presidential palace was not without its difficulties, including overcoming the distrust and anger of his one-time political mentor, Jacques Chirac. But as Chirac handed over the presidency, the palace, and the nuclear weapons codes to his 52-year-old protege, there was not a trace of bitterness or disappointment. In fact, as Sarkozy said farewell to the outgoing president, the two men seemed to linger for a moment longer than protocol demanded, to repeatedly shake hands and say good-bye.

From that point on, the day and the next five years, the French presidency belonged to Sarkozy. The president of the constitutional council made it official ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new president of the republic.

BITTERMANN: ... and the presentation of a medal of honor and 21- gun salute were proof that power had changed hands. And in his first presidential address, Sarkozy made it clear that change, after his election ten days ago, is what the public had mandated.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): On the 6th of May, there was only one victory, that of a France which does not want to die. That of a France which wants order, progress, efficiency, justice, but also wants to endure. On the 6th of May, there was but one victor, the French people.

BITTERMANN: The new president also appealed for unity, which, as he worked the reception hall full of diverse political and religious and civil society personalities, seemed at least, for the moment, he has. In fact, even before becoming president, Sarkozy was meeting with union leaders, trying to diffuse opposition before it can crystallize.

(on camera): Sarkozy was wasting no time, either in dealing with international affairs. On his first day of office taking his first foreign trip as president, to Germany to begin addressing another troublesome problem, France's role in Europe.

(voice-over): But the troubles ahead must have seemed very distant as the new French leader rode in an open top car up the Avenue Champs-Elysee. The street the French proudly describe as the most beautiful avenue in the world. Surrounded by all of the trappings of power France can muster, for Nicolas Sarkozy at least, it must have seemed a beautiful day, indeed.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


GORANI: Well, Nicolas Sarkozy's ascension to president was sealed with a kiss.

CLANCY: That's right, Hala. Just moments after making his first presidential speech, Mr. Sarkozy embraced his wife Cecilia in a very public display of affection. The couple's relationship did receive a lot of intense scrutiny in the wake of their 2005 breakup and then the reconciliation the following year. GORANI: Well, even after they got back together, Cecilia Sarkozy was virtually persona non grata -- or rather, persona non-appearance during the campaign. There was even speculation she voted for challenger Segolene Royal in the May 6th runoff, sounds more like a rumor to me. The big question now though: will she move into the Elysee palace with her husband after downplaying her role as first lady in previous interviews? She's such -- a few years ago, she said I don't really see myself as First Lady of France. Well, we'll see what she does with it. She is now, so.

CLANCY: It'll be interesting.

GORANI: Right.

CLANCY: But the French understand that sort of thing.

GORANI: Their lives are preoccupied with it, that's for sure.

CLANCY: That's it for this hour. I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: And I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with us, of course. We will continue to follow the very dramatic developments in Gaza next.



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