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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Fighting Continues in Bethlehem As Israel Ignores Bush's Request

Aired October 24, 2001 - 05:44   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.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: To Israel, which is ignoring President Bush's personal request to pull its troops and its tanks out of Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.

CNN's Mike Hanna is joining us with the latest. He is live in Jerusalem -- Mike, hello.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, as you say, the demand that the Israeli forces withdraw from autonomous Palestinian areas immediately has been ignored. In fact, these Israeli operations have increased over the past 24 hours with Israeli forces moving to yet another autonomous Palestinian area, "Area A" as it is referred to. That is an area, which is purportedly under full Palestinian security and civil control.

At least one person killed in that operation. A number of people reported to be injured, and Israeli forces have taken up positions in the village of Beit Reema.

Overnight in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, there was ongoing conflict. This has been the epicenter of the conflict in response to the Israeli operations. There were exchanges of fire throughout the night.

This has been the most extensive Israeli operation in Palestinian-controlled territory in a number of years. The Israeli forces have moved into a number of West Bank cities and villages -- cities and villages that before had been under full Palestinian control.

This obviously condemned by the Palestinian authority. Israel says that it is carrying out a mission. It says that the Palestinian authority is not arresting known militants, and in particular, those who carried out the assassination of an Israeli government minister exactly one week ago.

The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, says there is no intention for Israeli forces to remain in autonomous Palestinian territory. And once, he says, the mission has been completed, they will withdraw. However, the Palestinians continue to insist that this is a complete contravention of all previous signed agreements between the parties. They have called for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to condemn the Israeli action. As many as 40 Palestinians have been killed in the past week that this operation has been ongoing. No casualties among the Israeli soldiers. Seven Israeli soldiers reported to have been injured, one of them seriously.

So the situation on the ground remains critical. Israeli forces remain deployed in a number of Palestinian areas. This despite U.S. demands that the forces withdraw immediately -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Mike Hanna in Jerusalem -- Mike, thank you.

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