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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Gunfire Reported in Gaza Strip

Aired June 4, 2001 - 06:51   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking developments out of the Middle East. We've been telling you about the situation there after that nightclub bombing in Tel Aviv on Friday. The situation has been very tense. There has been hope, however, for a cease fire.

But we're joined right now on the phone by Ben Wedeman, who I understand is in Gaza, and Ben, you've been hearing gunfire in the area, is that right? What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. We're in Rafah, which is on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. For the past hour and a half, there was a fairly steady exchange of fire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces on the other side, using mostly light machine guns, but there also seems to have been some sort of exchange of grenades as well.

As far as we can tell, there have been no casualties so far, and it's hard to determine who initiated this exchange of fire. We are right now on the Palestinian side and they say the gunfire was initiated by the Israelis. Of course, we're not in a position right now to find out the Israeli version of events. But certainly, the cease fire that both sides have said they wish to maintain doesn't seem to be holding here.

STOUFFER: Well, what are people there saying? I know you said you are on the Palestinian side. Were people there saying that they really had hopes that there would be a cease fire in place today?

WEDEMAN: Most people here have been quite skeptical about the chances of maintaining a cease fire. The feeling is that so many people have been killed over the last eight months that it would be very hard for, at least on the Palestinian side, for the Palestinian Authority to reign in some of the - some of the fighters. So really, the expectation here is that the fighting is going to resume sooner rather than later.

STOUFFER: And then you're saying the fighting there, the gunfire, is ongoing even as you speak or was it just sort of a quick round that's over now?

WEDEMAN: I don't think it's over. Right in front of me, about five yards and you just probably heard that explosion, it's slowed down slightly, but it's by no means over. STOUFFER: We did hear that one. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much for the update. Ben Wedeman in Gaza. Be careful yourself out there as you continue to follow the story. Again, we'll keep you up to date on all the developments out of the Middle East.

There was talk that there might be a cease fire today. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had called for one, but as you just heard Ben Wedeman reporting there, it appears that there is some fighting going on in the area of Gaza. We'll keep you up to date.

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