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Two Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Central Jerusalem

Aired November 2, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to "MORNING NEWS" here on CNN.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Our continuing coverage of the latest out of the Middle East does go on with Daryn Kagan and Bill Hemmer. Good morning once again.

We're going to pick things up again shortly here with our Jerusalem bureau chief, Mike Hanna, who is standing by live in Jerusalem to bring us the very latest.

Again, it was just a short time ago when explosion did go off in Jerusalem.

This is the Israeli section of Jerusalem, along the street known as Jaffa Road, a main thoroughfare that bisects in the east-west direction heading out of town, eventually heading toward Tel Aviv in the western part of Israel.

Again, explosion did go down about 60 minutes ago. The reports we have right now continue to come in, and the numbers themselves change with time.

Here's Mike Hanna live in Jerusalem.

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: We have heard within the last few minutes a unconfirmed report on Israel Television that the police saw a car that they regarded as suspicious, that they chased the car which then drove down a side street. This the car in which police suspect an explosive device had been placed. This the car in which police suspect that the two people who were killed in the blast were positioned at the time the blast happened.

We do know at this particular point that nine people have been injured in the explosion, all of them lightly. There have been no serious injuries reported at this particular stage, apart from the fact that two people were killed, the identity of the two dead not known at this particular point.

To recap, then: within the last 45 minutes, a blast in downtown Jerusalem; police suspect that it was an explosive device placed in a car; and that the car exploded in a side street near the Mahane Yehuda market, this market a popular venue in the middle of Jerusalem, one that has in the past been the target of suicide bomb attacks on two occasions in which a large number of people lost their lives.

The head of the Jerusalem police has just announced that of the two dead, one is a man, the other is a woman. The identities, the exact identities of the two dead still not known at this particular point.

The deaths, the attack, the bombing, if it is so, followed a day on which an agreement was reached, in the early hours of the morning, between the Israel and the Palestinian authorities: in terms of which efforts would be made to reduce the level of violence on the ground, in terms of which attempts would be made to get back to peace process that in the past 5 1/2 weeks of incessant conflict appeared to be all but forgotten.

In the course of this day, within the last few hours, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat were due to have made statements on the media in their respective areas. The statements, we understand, are -- were to have said that they reject violence, that they are committed to creating an atmosphere in which a resumption of the peace process could happen, that they are committed, we understand, in terms of the statement, to a peace of the brave.

Well, that statement that was expected from the leaders, at some two hours ago, has not yet been made.

Still to be seen: who is responsible for this attack, if indeed there is any responsibility. The Israeli deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, believes that he knows who is responsible. He has said, within the last few minutes, in an interview broadcast on Israeli Television, that the Palestinian Authority must accept responsibility, says Mr. Sneh. Ephraim Sneh says it is because the Palestinian Authority released those who he says are members of the Hamas movement, or indeed of the Islamic Jihad movement.

Mr. Sneh apparently attributing this attack, if it was one, to the Hamas movement or the Islamic Jihad movement. We will attempt to get further details on Mr.Sneh's allegations as we continue to cover events here in Jerusalem. At this stage, nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack.

At this stage, the identity of the two people killed in the bombing are not known. At this stage, police assume that the explosion was a car bomb. That is, an explosive disease placed within the car.

For further details on this we are still awaiting, as we continue to look at pictures coming from the heart of Jerusalem.

And if we now have my colleague Jerrold Kessel on the line, who is in the vicinity of the Machane Yehuda market.

Let's go to you -- Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mike, latest news here is that -- some conflicting information now coming from the Israeli police, who are saying that the two bodies could not in fact have been -- necessarily -- of the people responsible for the bombs.

It is possible, he is saying, that the people who were -- that they do -- are working in -- are still on the presumption that this was a bomb, that the people who were -- who had been responsible for it -- may not have been those killed, and they the men got to get away because the police chief, Yawei Iksaki (ph), of the Jerusalem district, is saying to Jerusalemites to be on alert and to keep on alert. And this is something which Israelis have been warned to do for the last several weeks.

So, that's something new: that they're not now accounting for the fact that the two bodies which were outside as the car exploded were necessarily or definitively those of people who carried out the attack.

The scene at the moment, now: There's rather less commotion. It is easing the -- there's still plenty of nerves about, plenty of tension about.

Until a little while ago, for about 10 minutes, there was a clump of about 50 young men who were chanting: Revenge, revenge and death to Arabs. But, they never managed to ignite any greater -- that kind of emotion among large numbers of the crowd. And most people have been -- most people have been calm.

But we are getting reports now, and there has been a rush of several hundred people down to another area where we understand there was a Palestinian in there, a Palestinian who was there and police have protected him. And there was a rush of people in that direction. But as far as we understand he has been taken under police protection or custody at this stage.

That's all we can see now, and the police are pushing people back from the commotion.

But at the moment, I dare say, compared to previous such events and such scenes, this has been considerably less. The tension here, the emotions, have run considerably less deep and high than you've had in the -- in past similar such -- such events -- Mike.

HANNA: Jerrold Kessel, well, thank you.

While we're looking at earlier pictures showing a plume of smoke arising out of downtown Jerusalem. To summarize the events over the past hour or so: an explosion in or near a market in the middle of Jerusalem, the Mahane Yehuda market. Police say that two people have been killed. Police say that they suspect that the explosive device was a bomb in a car parked in a street adjacent to the market. At least nine people have been injured, none of them seriously.

This on a day in which an agreement was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end the violence. We were waiting for statements from the respective leaders. Within the past couple of hours, these statements have been delayed at this particular point. We are waiting to see who claims responsibility, if anybody, for the blast. Waiting to see, too, if this attack or blast has any impact on the peace agreement that had been reached earlier in the day.

HEMMER: All right, Mike Hanna, Jerrold Kessel, thanks for your coverage there live on the scene in Jerusalem.

Again, a story that continues to develop at this time. The facts continue to change because this story, again, is still developing. We'll keep a track on it throughout the morning.

Now, the Middle East situation continues to drag on, the solutions, though, perhaps still elusive for leaders and the people on both sides, both Israelis and Palestinians. We'll watch it.



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