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Crisis in the Middle East: Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in Palestinian Town of RamallahAired October 12, 2000 - 7:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Updating our top store this hour, Jerrold Kessel standing by in Jerusalem. He's got the very latest developments on a situation that is now about to spiral perhaps out of control in Jerusalem -- Jerrold Kessel.
JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, what we have confirmed and what is absolutely true now is that two Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Palestinian town of Ramallah. How they got there, why they were there, that is unclear. They were apparently in civilian clothes, although the army says they were army reservists heading for their positions. They strayed into Ramallah erroneously, were taken by the Palestinian police to a police station, but there they were and the pictures of the scenes, from the scenes there, and eyewitnessed confirm that an enraged Palestinian mob took them out from the police station, killed them, at least one of the bodies was paraded through the streets of that Palestinian town. The bodies then handed over back to the Israelis.
The question is whether there were four or only those two, that has not yet been determined. The Palestinians say that they were undercover Israeli soldiers who had gone in there with a purpose and that they were taken for questioning, and when the Palestinian leadership was asked: How come they were not protected by the police once in that police station, the answer was that the Palestinian police did their best, and a number of Palestinian policemen were injured as the crowd took them out.
The Palestinians say, this is all part of the ongoing violence, with nearly 100 Palestinians killed, as part of the ongoing clashes of the last two weeks that this has certainly enraged Israel in turn, and Prime Minister Barak, who canceled all meetings and has said that Israel will know what to do once it ascertains exactly what has happened, and what is the situation.
And the Israelis are very much pinning the blame for this on Yasser Arafat for failing to keep control of the situation of the crowd once those soldiers fell into the hands of his police.
A very serious development certainly regarded on the Israeli side. And Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, who had arranged for a meeting to be held by security chiefs of the two sides, under George Tenet, the CIA head, later today, when he was asked about it, said: This certainly complicates our efforts to bring about a truce, and that may be the understatement of the two weeks of this ongoing and very ferocious confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis -- Leon
HARRIS: Well, Jerrold, as we have seen happen quite happening in the past, any time an incident like this occurs there is usually some sort of inflammatory reaction amongst the people. Have you seen or noticed or has there been any reports at all of any Israeli citizens taking to the streets and actually demonstrating or doing anything negative?
KESSEL: No, not as of this moment, but they are still digesting it. There have been emergency breaking news on Israeli television and radio coming in, and it's still not absolutely clear what has happened, although the pictures are coming out of that West Bank town do indicate that there was something what the Israelis are calling a lynch, and that there was an action by that crowd of Palestinians for whatever reason they had been enraged, and this is in turn will no doubt enrage the Israelis, and we can expect this to escalate the tensions and ratchet up the anger that is anyway being spiraling day after day.
HARRIS: Yes, as the bad situation gets worse. Jerrold Kessel reporting live this morning in Jerusalem, thank you much.
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