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Israelis Strike Building Near School

Aired December 4, 2001 - 06:36   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We go now back to Jerusalem where our Jerrold Kessel is standing by live with more on this developing story in Israel.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, we referred to the fact that when the Israelis launched their first wave of missile strikes at Palestinian targets, the link to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian authority earlier this morning, we said so far it's over. But a second wave of such Israeli strikes have taken place in all. We've had eight strikes by Israeli aircraft -- F-16's in one occasion and also helicopter gun ships, both in Gaza City, three targets there -- one in the southern town of Khan Yunis in Gaza in the West Bank in three places and also in the key West Bank place in terms of the symbol of this -- of this strike today and that was at Yasser Arafat Palestinian authority President Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the heart of the town of Ramallah on the West Bank and the target there hit the building there.

It was right adjacent to that where Mr. Arafat was at the time. He was -- came unscathed. He was working there at the time. He is well say Palestinian officials and indeed we heard him speaking to CNN's Rula Amin a short while ago and saying that he saw it as an attempt by the Sharon government -- the government -- Israeli government of Ariel Sharon to try to prevent him from doing what he says he's committed to do and that's to stop more of the suicide bombers striking against Israel.

Because Mr. Arafat said this is the way the Israelis are proving that they don't want a cease-fire and they don't want the peace process to be started up again. That's the Palestinian point of view, the Israelis are saying their action was designated and directed not against Mr. Arafat personally, not to topple his authority, but to signal to him -- to warn him, you might say, that as they continue to launch their all-out assault on terror, that unless he moves, that could perhaps be the direction things will be going.

Israelis took a very firm stand last night. The Israeli government designating Mr. Arafat's authority as an entity which supports terrorism with all the implications deriving from that firm statement that the Israelis have designated Mr. Arafat with and now translating that into military action in Gaza and in the West Bank. This after that devastating round of suicide bombings in Israeli cities on Saturday night and Sunday, which killed 25 Israelis.

Kyra. PHILLIPS: Jerrold, just a moment ago, I was talking with Brigadier General Ron Kitrey from the Israeli Defense Force and I mentioned the word aggressive airstrikes and he stopped me and said I want to make a correction, these are not aggressive airstrikes. Do you -- do you agree with that?

KESSEL: Well that's a hard -- it's a hard definition to say. I mean you have now the casualty figures in that Gaza attack and what we're hearing from Palestinian medical services and hospitals in Gaza. There were two people killed and around 100 wounded. Now that appears to have been in a -- an attack with an F-16 rocketing those Palestinian security buildings in Gaza, apparently next to a school, and that some of the wounded and indeed maybe one of the fatalities was a student.

Now whether that is aggressive or not, that depends on, I guess, your perspective. The others have been -- seem to have been light casualties, if casualties at all in the other targets that the Israelis have pinpointed today with their helicopter gun ships, and I think perhaps that's the distinction -- the use of the F-16, if that was the case and the fact that they've used helicopter gun ships in other instances. Aggressive or not, that's the definition that needs to be decided in terms of the perspective.

PHILLIPS: CNN's Jerrold Kessel live in Jerusalem. As always thank you very much.

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