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Three Explosions Devastate Pedestrian Shopping Mall in Jerusalem

Aired December 1, 2001 - 19:49   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw like maybe more than 40 or 50 people on the floor. That's all I saw. A lot of blood around, all the shops broke up, the windows, the cars, everything around just gone.


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Everything around is gone, because of three explosions that we've been reporting it to you this evening coming in out of Jerusalem, the downtown area known as Zion Square. This evening, the area was packed with revelers there out enjoying a late evening. This happened around midnight or so local time.

You are seeing here videotape that we've gotten from Israeli TV of the third explosion. And the reason why we're able to show the videotape of the explosion is because it happened so late after the first two, and it is believed that it was timed to injure those who had arrived to help those who were injured by the first two explosions.

The latest numbers on the casualties that we've gotten, these numbers have been climbing throughout evening. We have now up to 170 who have been listed as casualties and hospitalized. And of those numbers, we understand 11 are in critical condition right now, perhaps to be said to be holding onto their lives right now just barely.

And we also have heard of eight who have lost their lives. That's 170 casualties and 8 dead right now in the wake of these three explosions happening outside of what is described to us as an outdoor pedestrian mall -- an open area that featured some cafes and ice cream shops, that sort of thing. And we understand that the explosion did happen -- the first explosion happened just outside of an open-air cafe there in the area.

The area, we understand, is one that's frequented by a lot of young people on late Saturday nights, as tonight was. And sure enough, we have reports that many of those who are among the casualties were many teens and those in their 20s.

And we have been talking throughout the evening now from a different perspective, getting more ideas about what may actually happen from here on out. We've gotten some word from the White House -- strong words from the White House condemning Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for not having done enough to quash terrorism in Jerusalem and in Israel.

We are joined now by Palestinian representative, Hassan Abdel Rahman, who has been -- I hope has been listening to some of these comments that we've heard. Have you been listening, sir?

HASSAN ABDEL RAHMAN, PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO U.S.: I have been listening to your comments and the comments of Mr. Tesso (ph) and the comments of Israeli spokespeople from New York as well as Jerusalem.

HARRIS: Well, what response do you have to what you've heard this evening? We've heard strong condemnations, not to be surprised to hear that coming from the Israelis that we've been speaking with, the Israeli authority figures. But we've also just gotten very strong words of condemnation coming from the White House as well.

RAHMAN: Well, we have no hesitation in condemning the violence and those acts of violence. And we condemn the killing of civilians, as we've said always -- Palestinian civilians as well as Israeli civilians. But having said this, we have also to condemn the conditions that lead people to desperation. What are those conditions? It is Israel's occupation that has lasted for 35 years that lead people to do desperate and despicable actions sometimes.

HARRIS: Well...

RAHMAN: Therefore, if we -- while we condemn those acts, we must, all of us, call on Israel to end its brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.

HARRIS: Why is it, sir -- can you tell us, why is it that despite everything that the Palestinian Authority says it is doing to crack down on those factions that may be executing these terror attacks, why is it then that everyone we've been talking with has been criticizing the Palestinian Authority is saying that you have not done enough?

RAHMAN: With all due respect, my friend, you know, the Israeli point of view is prevalent here in the United States and in the media. I listen to free Israeli speaks -- spokesman speaking, Mr. Avi Pazner, Mr. Gissin and Mr. Netanyahu. And I'm the second Palestinian, and I have to complain in order to be on television.

HARRIS: Well, sir, I must say it is not for lack of effort on our part. We had been working the phones diligently...

RAHMAN: Yes, I understand.

HARRIS: ... since this...

RAHMAN: But what I am saying is -- what I'm saying is that we need also equal time in order to put our point of view forward. And I appreciate, fortunately, to be able to speak on American television, on CNN, and put our point of view like the Israelis do. We -- listen, you have the Israeli television pictures shown on CNN. How many times did we see Palestinians being killed by the Israeli army shown on American television?

HARRIS: Well, sir, I'm sorry, we can't go back to whatever happened before, sir. We're here to talk about what happened this evening...


HARRIS: ... and specifically the comments that we're hearing from the administration. I must go back to ask you the question...


HARRIS: ... I started on with initially. Why is it, then, after everything you've said, that the Authority has been doing, that Yasser Arafat has been doing, why is it still that the U.S. is not satisfied that he has done enough?

RAHMAN: I honestly don't know why the administration is not satisfied. But what I'm trying to assure you and assure the audience that we are doing our utmost. But there are logistical and political problems -- logistical because Israel, for the last 14 months, has been attacking the very Palestinian security forces that were supposed to be engaged in saving those situations. In other words, what I'm trying to say that Israel systematically is attacking the police stations, attacking the police -- Palestinian police and killing them.

So logistically it is difficult for the Palestinians to carry on their mission. Adding to that, the Israeli army is encircling every single village and town, and creating a situation on the ground that is making it difficult for the Palestinian leadership to do more. What we are trying to tell the Israelis, we have no interest, whatsoever, in the continuation of this violence. But while the violence on the part of the Palestinians is conducted by a small group, a fringe group, the Islamic or Islamists, the violence on the Israeli side is conducted by the Israeli government, by the Israeli army.

So we need really to end this situation. We need from the Israeli army to stop its collective punishment of the Palestinians, allow the Palestinian police to move freely, and then both of us can move forward to calm this situation. But to continue attacking the Palestinian Authority and putting the blame on the Palestinian Authority is not going to help.

HARRIS: I'm sorry, representative Hassan Abdel Rahman, I'm sorry, but we are, unfortunately, going to have to move on.

RAHMAN: Thank you.

HARRIS: We are running out of time at this hour, but we do thank your patience.

RAHMAN: Thank you. HARRIS: And we thank you for contributing this evening, and we hope to talk to you about this and other things in the future.

Right now, we want to, before we wrap up this hour, we'd like to get an update on the casualty figures. I understand there's some new information coming in now, and Avi Zohar is joining us now with that information.

Avi, what can you tell us?

AVI ZOHAR, ISRAELI MEDICAL RELIEF SERVICE: Yes, I can inform you that we have more than 150 casualties, about six, seven dead, and 50 seriously wounded. And the others, about 100 light and medium wounded. All of them were transported to a hospital in Jerusalem.

We also gave them the blood that was necessary, about more than 500 units of blood was sent from our blood center in Tera Shemel (ph). And it was really one of the heaviest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the last months or even in the last year. At once so many casualties...


HARRIS: Mr. Zohar, I'm sorry to cut you off, but I want to just clarify one figure. You said six or seven dead. You can't be sure right now?

ZOHAR: Let's say six, and two -- the suicide -- two suicide also, well, they're bodies were there.

HARRIS: Yes, I understand.

ZOHAR: This is the situation in this moment.

HARRIS: I understand. Avi Zohar, thank you very much -- we appreciate your taking time to update us on that information.

And we'll continue to try to clear what we're getting in right now moment to moment, and we'll be back with more in just a moment, so please don't go away yet.




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