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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israeli Military Shells Building in West Bank

Aired July 31, 2001 - 07:18   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We've had some breaking news out of the Middle East. We have reports in from the Associated Press that the Israeli military has shelled a building in the West Bank. Several people have been injured or killed. CNN's Mike Hanna, right now, in the Jerusalem bureau chief, standing by on the telephone.

Mike, what happened?

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Carol, conflicting reports being received from the West Bank city of Nablus. At the moment, we can confirm that the Palestinian Red Crescent and its workers have pulled four dead bodies out of a building in Nablus. The building, a seven floor apartment block, apparently contained offices of the militants Hamas movement. The cause of the attack or what -- how the attack was the carried out, a matter of debate at the moment. Some eyewitnesses are reported as saying that the building was struck by missiles fired from Israeli helicopters. The Palestinian security chief in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, says he believes that the explosions were caused by tank shells fired by the Israeli military.

There has been no comment from the Israeli Defense Force at present as to the series of events in Nablus. But the Red Crescent has just confirmed that at least four people have been killed in this attack. They believe that there may be a number of more bodies in the wreckage of the building. Among those believed to be killed is a senior leader of the Hamas militant movement, Jamal Mansour. No comment yet from the Israeli Defense Force. We're awaiting that -- Carol.

LIN: Mike, what do make of the timing of this strike?

HANNA: Well, within the past 48 hours, there has been a massive upsurge in the level of violence. There were six Palestinians killed in the early hours of Monday morning in highly disputed circumstances. Palestinians saying that they were killed by Israel. Israel maintaining that they were killed in what the Israelis call a work accident. That is a premature detonation of the bomb that the men were alleged working on, according to the Israelis. Throughout Monday, too, in Jerusalem, there were several bomb scares amidst the public warnings by Israeli security officials of a step up in the Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets. Then in the course of the afternoon, Monday afternoon, an attack on Israeli on what they said was a weapons factory in Gaza. And now, we have what appears to be an Israeli attack in Nablus containing officers of the Hamas militant movement.

So as to the timing of this particular attack, we have no comment from the Israelis as yet as to whether they were responsible or if so, for what reason they carried it out. But it does appear to be part of an upsurge in the already intense conflict that has plagued the region for more than 10 months. That this now was at least 10 people killed in the past 48 hours, a serious spiraling in the escalation of the conflict -- Carol.

LIN: All right, Mike Hanna, thank you very much for calling in. We'll let you work on this story and we'll be reporting it as it develops. Thank you.

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