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CNN Today

Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Open Paris Talks as Mideast Violence Claims More Victims

Aired October 4, 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: They are finally meeting face-to-face in Paris, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. No word of a breakthrough, though, on efforts to end the latest bloodshed in their region and to revive the peace talks. Earlier, a former adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called it a "crisis of trust."

For much of the day, Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met separately with French and U.S. mediators, with both leaders calling for an immediate end to the fighting under certain conditions. Mr. Barak has rejected the Palestinians' demand for an international inquiry into what's happened over the past week, saying it's time for Arafat to order his forces to lay down their arms.

Arafat, on the other hand, reportedly wants Israel to remove its tanks and helicopter from Palestinian border towns where most of the violence has taken place.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: There was more violence today, which followed more funerals. So far, about 60 people have been killed in the past six days, most of them Palestinian. And there's word the latest gunfight in Gaza has claimed even more victims.

Our senior international correspondent Brent Sadler was caught up in it. He's just returned to Gaza City where it's just after 8:00 at night.

BRENT SADLER, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lou, thanks very much indeed. Just as dusk was falling here, an escalation in the hostilities between Israeli troops defending an outpost on a road leading to a Jewish settlement and the Palestinian.

Now, the Palestinians would have it, according to their reports, that these firefights are exclusively the work, the result of Israeli actions. And what normally happens before there is an escalation into cross-gunfire is the Palestinian launch a series of barrages with stones and pieces of pavement, pieces of sidewalk and petrol bombs, firebombs thrown at the Israelis, which provoke an Israeli response. That, in turn, leads to casualties on the Palestinian side, which then escalates into two-sided not one-sided warfare.

Amid the crossfire, as this continues, Palestinian medics have been picking up more Palestinian casualties in greater numbers in Gaza and elsewhere. Firefights this afternoon in Gaza at the Netzarim Junction actually escalating, as far as the Israelis are concerned, into the deployment by them of Apache helicopters. We saw two gunships in action. They were standing off at some distance from the actual scene of fighting beyond of range of any Palestinian guns, and those Apache gunships were launching guided air-to-surface missiles at a cluster of buildings in Palestinian hands: a metal factory and two apartment blocks partly circling the Israelis and, indeed, use of the Israeli firepower to move back the Palestinians and reportedly caused at least one more death.

Now, the issue of mounting casualties continues to be of concern not only to the Palestinians, but the international community. And those peace talks you talked about earlier in Paris continuing amid the rising death toll, mostly on the Palestinian side. And we're finding that the Palestinians, who are trying to keep their involvement of their gunmen very low-profile, we're finding the Palestinians are -- certainly in this area around Gaza -- are suffering casualties as a result of taking up positions, firing positions, and shooting at the Israelis after many, many hours of buildup involving, as I said earlier, stones and firebombs.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: Are these Palestinians aware of what's going on in Paris? And if they are, what do they think about it?

SADLER: Well, certainly the talk here in Gaza, as elsewhere in areas of confrontation and deadly crossfire, is not of peace but of conflict, as far as the Palestinians are concerned. They say that they are defending themselves against Israel's firepower, use of heavy machine guns and, as I said earlier, these helicopter gunships.

And it's fascinating to watch, if not deadly also to watch, the Palestinians actually see the missile being fired from the helicopter with the naked eye, count about four seconds before that missile strikes the target. That gives them four seconds, at least four seconds, maybe six seconds, to run away from the point of impact. But I must stress that those missile strikes that we were watching today were very accurate, aiming at points of fire where certainly Palestinian have been using guns firing into the Israeli position.

WATERS: All right, Brent Sadler in Gaza City where there's not much thought of peace today.

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