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CNN Today

Cease-Fire Fails as Israelis, Palestinians Clash for Sixth Straight Day

Aired October 3, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Blood stained the ancient sacred soils of the Middle East today, the sixth straight day that anger has boiled over between Israelis and Palestinians. A world away in Paris, a meeting is set for tomorrow with the hope that cooler heads will prevail.

We turn to CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna for the story -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Natalie, reportedly an agreement to cease hostilities was reached overnight, but it didn't appear that many on the ground had heard it. There was once again widespread violence throughout West Bank towns and villages, once again centering on Jewish enclaves within these towns. On a number of occasions, Israeli security forces came into confrontation with Palestinian demonstrators. On a number of occasions, the Israeli forces fired rubber-coated silver bullets in an attempt to disburse the demonstrators.

Once again, we had Palestinians' accusations of the Israelis using excessive force. The violence now into its sixth day. The death toll is now over 50. The vast majority of these killed were Palestinians.

Casualties today in the Gaza Strip, which has been a flashpoint, too, of the violence, and there we have CNN's Brent Sadler -- Brent.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Mike. Indeed, today very serious escalation in hostilities at the Netzarim junction, which is where there is a heavily fortified Israeli compound on a road leading to a Jewish settlement. This has been a flashpoint for the past several days, and today there was heavy exchanges of machine gunfire between Israelis inside the fortified compound and Palestinian gunmen.

Now, some of those gunmen were unidentified, shooting from abandoned apartment blocks into the Israeli compound, but we did see Palestinian security personnel firing machine guns also at the Israeli position. At the same time as that was going on, Palestinian stone throwers were hurling rocks and firebombs at the Israelis and very heavy crossfire. An assortment of people caught in that crossfire, not only journalists -- CNN's team was pinned down for two hours -- but also young children who'd been throwing rocks and others who were just looking what was going on.

So, really, bullets were flying around everywhere and very many more casualties picked up off the streets, taken by ambulance to hospitals in Gaza. Those hospitals, according to the United Nations, now overflowing with the numbers of wounded. At least 1,600, they say, in those hospitals, and the United Nations emergency task force is now working out ways among donor countries to try and alleviate the pressure on Gaza's health services. So, again, another very violent day in Gaza.

Back to you, Mike Hanna, in Jerusalem.

HANNA: Thank you very much, Brent Sadler in the Gaza Strip.

Well, the whole current round of violence began last Thursday when an opposition Israeli politician, Ariel Sharon, paid a controversial visit to an area that Jews call the Temple Mount, that Muslims refer to as al-Haram al-Sharif, "the noble sanctuary." It was a visit that seemed to spark off the current round of violence. But the man who made, Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon, remains unrepentant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARIEL SHARON, LIKUD PARTY LEADER: It was the eve of Rosh Hashana. It was the right time to visit there. Everyone can visit there. Every Jew will visit there. The Temple Mount belongs to the Jewish people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNA: And Wednesday, the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, will be meeting mediators in Paris. At this stage, the Palestinians say they will not meet face to face with Mr. Barak unless the level of violence decreases. On this day, no sign of that happening, Natalie.

ALLEN: And, Mike, what about Yasser Arafat and his leadership role here. The Palestinians still turning to him for leadership, listening to what he has to say?

HANNA: From the Palestinian side, the continueual contention that what is happening in the streets is a direct result of Israeli action, a direct result of what the Palestinians say is excessive action by the Israeli security forces. Palestinian leaders say that it is very difficult for Mr. Arafat to control the Palestinian public given the degree of provocation to which they are being subjected at present.

The Israeli government contends that the violence is being orchestrated. It contends that the Palestinian Authority has the ability to end the violence should it instruct its followers to do so.

While this is a matter that will be discussed in Paris, one would assume, whether it's going to be discussed face to face we do not know at this particular point. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority says that Mr. Arafat will go to Paris. He will meet U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He will meet French President Jacques Chirac. But while the violence continues, he will not meet face to face with Ehud Barak.

The Israeli government says, as far as it knows, a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Arafat is going to happen, Natalie.

ALLEN: We'll wait and see and be covering that story tomorrow. Mike Hanna, Jerusalem bureau chief, thanks to you and to Brent Sadler.

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