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Suicide Bomb at Pizza Parlor in Jerusalem

Aired August 9, 2001 - 09:07   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get to our other breaking news story taking place in central Jerusalem. A suicide bomber hitting a pizza restaurant in that city, taking the lives of a number of people, including a number of small babies.

For the latest, let's go to our Jerrold Kessel, who is on the scene in Jerusalem -- Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, the grizzly details of this explosion now becoming more and more clear as the head of the medical rescue services here just telling CNN a few minutes ago that the official death toll as of this moment is of 13 dead, and a number of them, five or six he said, were babies, he believed, under or just around the age of one. They were there with their mothers. This was lunchtime, and this pizza parlor on this very, very busy intersection.

There had been people, traffic as well, but people waiting to cross the very busy intersection right in the heart of Jerusalem, which was two of the main streets that intersect, King George and Jaffa Street (ph). This is a small corner restaurant/pizza parlor, quite crowded. And we're looking into the gizzards, really, of the pizza parlor from the outside just across the road and we can see the pizza ovens there. And it is an absolute shambles.

And just over the last 20 minutes or so, the bomb squad of the Israeli police have been in there to asses whether there were other bombs. They had feared that perhaps there would be unexploded devices. They neutralized what they feared to have been bombs. We don't know whether they were, in fact, such, but they've now cleared the area and allowed two other teams to go in, forensic experts, to check out and also very grizzly detail going in now, and that is of rabbis and other religious volunteers whose task it is to gather up the body parts and bits of skin and so forth, nails, to bury along with the dead, because that, according to orthodox Jewish religion, is the way to pay tribute to the dead and that's the task they're going about now very meticulously and around this small pizza parlor.

And a very subdued mood here. The word is just leaking out now that there were a number of babies among the casualties. But no other, but it's just a somber and quiet mood. There are a few people here who have been shouting against the Arabs and so forth, but really in very, very small numbers, and the small crowds that have gathered have just, have been quite subdued and somber -- Daryn. KAGAN: A gruesome scene, Jerrold. We're going to have you stand by there. We want to bring in our Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna, who is standing by in the bureau right now -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you very much, indeed.

A serious, serious attack in the middle of Jerusalem, as we were hearing there from Jerrold Kessel. For a response from the Israeli government, I'm joined by cabinet minister Danni Naveh. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

What is this response?

DANNI NAVEH, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: We see Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian leadership responsible for that terrible crime today in Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat is the one that gave the green light to Islamic Jihad to commit such suicide bombers in Jerusalem. He is the one that released dozens of terrorists from jail knowing that as soon that they are going to be released they will commit further attacks like that.

This is why whoever is going to shake Arafat's hand should know that there is innocent people's blood on them.

HANNA: There is a standing Israeli cabinet decision that any attack on Israeli civilians will be met with an immediate and a vigorous response. You are holding the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat responsible. Is such a response going to be directed at the Palestinian Authority, at, perhaps, Yasser Arafat himself?

NAVEH: No, I haven't said that. Our only aim is to prevent further terrorist attacks, to deter further aggressions, to stop those kind of suicide bombers who are trying to get into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and to kill innocent people. And it's about time that Mr. Arafat and his people would understand that they cannot gain anything, anything whatsoever but just suffering for both parties, for Israelis and Palestinians, from this kind of policy of bloodshed.

HANNA: We have had a series of events -- that appears to be a controlled explosion just outside.

NAVEH: Let's hope it was only a controlled one, yes.

HANNA: It was, indeed, a controlled explosion -- that we have had the Mitchell Report. We have had a George Tenet cease-fire, the director of the CIA, yet none of these things work. Eleven months of conflict, both sides say they are committed to a cease-fire, they are committed to peace, and yet the killing continues. What can be done to make agreements that both sides have agreed to implemented on the ground?

NAVEH: We have just heard the explosion, hopefully a controlled one, and this is the reality that we are facing due to the fact that we are ready to fulfill our obligations to put an end to this present cycle of violence. But Mr. Arafat is not willing to do so and it's quite the contrary. He is moving ahead with further instructions, further incitement to such kind of attacks like the attacks a few hours ago in Jerusalem.

HANNA: The Palestinian Authority has contended that it cannot be held responsible for the activities of Islamic Jihad or Hamas in Israeli areas, that because of blockade, because of Israeli action, it cannot take the action that is necessary. What is your response to that?

NAVEH: Arafat has full capability to put an end to the violence. He is the one that instructed the violence and he is the one that can put an end to that. So my advice to the Palestinians is not to look for excuses, but to take responsibility and they can do this.

HANNA: Can one expect in coming hours Israeli action against Palestinian targets

NAVEH: I believe that what is needed for us and the inner cabinet probably would get together to take decisions, is really to consider what kind of security measures are needed for us as a government in order to protect the lives of innocent babies, children, men and women like the men, women and children that were killed today in Jerusalem.

HANNA: Danni Naveh, Israeli cabinet minister, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

During that interview, a controlled explosion outside the bureau here. That is where a suspicious object is detonated by police sappers. In this case it was an innocent or non-harmful object. That not the case in the middle of Jerusalem. Thirteen people killed, among them a number of infants. More than 70 people injured -- back to you.

KAGAN: Mike, thank you for that update and especially thank you for clarifying what that sound was. We did hear that in the middle of your interview and were quite concerned. But good to know it's just a controlled explosion checking out a suspicious object. Thank you very much.

We will have continued coverage from Jerusalem on the situation with a suicide bomber taking the lives of so many at that pizza restaurant in Jerusalem.



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