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Further Violence at Jerusalem's Temple Mount Threatens Peace Process

Aired September 29, 2000 - 2:10 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATER, CNN ANCHOR: Four Palestinians have been killed in a second day of clashes with Israeli police at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports, both sides want to keep the peace process moving, despite the latest violence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mayhem on the Mount, the sacred site at the heart of Jerusalem and holy to both Muslims and Jews. The second straight day of clashes here unfolded as Muslim worshipers emerged from the two mosques and began pelting Israeli police with stones.

At first, the police stayed back, huddling behind their tall Plexiglas shields. But then, intense volleys of shooting rubber- coated steel bullets. The barrage of stones continuing, Israel confirms sharpshooters on rooftops used live ammunition.

Dozens of the policemen were wounded, Israel says. apart from the dead, scores of Palestinians hurt say Palestinian hospitals. Many of the worst rushed away even as the shooting and stoning went on unabated.

For the Muslim world, the sacred site is the Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, from where the prophet Mohammed made his night journey to heaven. For Jews, it's their holiest site, the Temple Mount, site of their two ancient temples, the second of which was destroyed 2000 years ago.

This hallowed compound is also being fiercely contested by the two sides in their ongoing but faltering peace process. Palestinians charge that a massive Israeli police presence was a provocation, especially following the clashes the day before, during a tour of the compound by the opposition Israeli leader, Ariel Sharon.

Israeli police commanders contend that the preacher, in his Friday sermon in the mosque, incited worshipers by telling them their holy site was under threat of destruction by the Jews.

Tensions continue to run high with more sporadic clashes and for all the recent declared peace intentions by leaders on both sides, there is, now, a very real possibility that further violence could effect the effort to hammer out a final peace.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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