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CNN Today

Israel Closes Off Gaza; Violence Continues

Aired January 15, 2001 - 4:15 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the Middle East, another day of conflict, even as the peace effort limps along. Aid officials confirm to CNN that a West Bank Palestinian died, and nine others were wounded, during a clash with Israeli soldiers. Earlier, Israel closed off the Gaza Strip again after the killing there of an Israeli settler.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports on the latest eruptions of killing and rage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE (voice-over): A violent response to the latest killing of one of their own. Jewish settlers in Gaza, here attacking Palestinian men and women in their homes. From inside, there were screams of fear. On a rampage through Palestinian-controlled land next to their own settlements, crops and buildings were burned, irrigation pipes ripped up. It was an outpouring of communal anger.

Israel's security forces were at hand for the aftermath, here providing medical attention for a Palestinian woman. But eyewitnesses say they never intervened, arriving only at this home when a Palestinian-owned car was set on fire. Police say two settlers have been detained, but settlers themselves say their action was justified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not possible that Jews cannot live here and be murdered because the Palestinians want to do that and if Jews cannot live in this place, we will do what is necessary to insure that the Arabs won't be comfortable. CHANCE: After an overnight search, the body of Roni Tsalah, a settler abducted from his Gaza greenhouse, was found in a field near the settlement of Kfar Yam. This emotional ceremony, he was laid to rest by family members and fellow settlers determined to maintain Jewish communities on occupied land.

The killing by suspected Palestinian gunmen is casting another shadow over an already fragile peace process.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: This is a terrible, terrible blow for the peace process. I know at the same time when every Palestinian is killed, it's a blow to the peace process, but unfortunately, the side who initiated this round of violence is the Palestinian side. NABIL SHAATH, PALESTINIAN CABINET MEMBER: It's unfortunate. Killing is unfortunate. But occupation is the reason for killing, and occupation -- the way it happens is apparently going to be the cause of killing of the peace process.

CHANCE: And from the occupying Israeli forces, the response was immediate. Only days since tight restrictions on Palestinian areas were eased, they have been imposed once again. Main roads, international crossing points and Gaza International Airport have all been shut down. Israeli tanks have also been deployed in the occupied West Bank, and with hopes of a peace agreement now appearing slim, the threat of more violence is once again taking center stage.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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