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Suicide Bomber Kills 10, Injures 50 in Israel

Aired March 9, 2002 - 16:30   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of a violent Saturday in Israel. There we're watching as developments ensue there. There were two violent attacks there, one in Jerusalem, where at a restaurant an explosion occurred, and then in the town of Netanya. There, three gunmen opened fire, sending dozens to the hospital there.

We want to join Michael Homes, who is in Jerusalem with the latest there. The number of injured only seems to be escalating, Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does, as you would expect, Fredricka. The early estimates are low. We can now tell you that ambulance officials are telling us that there have been at least 50 injured at the Cafe Moment (ph). And if you are perhaps just joining us, this was only less than an hour ago, a suicide bomber walked into what is a very popular gathering point here for Israelis, a place called the Cafe Moment (ph). It is a trendy place to be, if you like young and old.

And this being Saturday evening, the end of the sabbath, many, many Israelis go out to eat and socialize with each other. Suicide bomber walked in, detonated the explosives. We can tell you that there are at least more than 50, in fact, injured; seven to 10 serious, and I have just been told that police have now said and I am quoting here, "there are deaths." There are deaths involved at the Cafe Moment (ph).

Israeli television, I can tell you, has been reporting nine deaths. What we know is that officially there are nine critically wounded people who are not, in the words of the ambulance officials, being evacuated. That's never a good sign. Israeli television has interpreted that as nine dead, and police are confirming, quote, "there are deaths," unquote.

Now, this is in the heart of Jerusalem, downtown Jerusalem. It is very, very close to the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's house, his residence, the prime minister's residence. And as I say, a place that would have been extremely crowded with people enjoying the end of the sabbath on what is a very nice, warm evening here in Jerusalem.

The ambulances, the sirens have been virtually nonstop, we can hear here from our bureau, since this happened. And also, for those who may just be joining us, let's bring people up to date on Netanya, which you mentioned at the beginning. This is where three suspected Palestinian gunmen opened fire inside of the lobby of a hotel, shooting both inside and outside the hotel, hitting people in both areas. At least 35 wounded there and one death.

Now I want to bring you up to date. Ben Wedeman, our correspondent who is at the scene of the Cafe Moment (ph) suicide bombing -- let's make sure we get our tragedies right -- has just called into us here at the bureau to say there are 10 dead in that explosion, that suicide bombing. Ten people have died at the Cafe Moment (ph) here in downtown Jerusalem.

That's, and then, as I said, more than 50 people injured, 10 of those seriously injured. We have already seen pictures on Israeli television of people being carried to hospital and unloaded there for emergency treatment.

Now, I was talking about Netanya. Those three Palestinians gunmen opened fire, took down at least 35 people. It could be as high as low 40s. One woman now confirmed to have died in that attack, which took place in Netanya. This is a town, a coastal town just north of Tel-Aviv, a place on the beach there, and this incident happened on the promenade, where pedestrians gathered, again, on the sabbath evening, the evening of the sabbath. You have to mingle and talk and eat, and there is a lot of hotels and restaurants there. It is a very pleasant seaside town, which has seen its share of violence in the past. It's very, very close to the West Bank and has been a target before.

Now, by means of balance, we also need to report to people that at the same time, within the last two hours, Israeli helicopters gunships have put nine missiles into two checkpoints leading to a presidential compound in the Gaza Strip. Twenty-four Palestinians security officers wounded in that attack. Also, an F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at a presidential residence in Nablus in the West Bank, and three, at least, three injured in that attack. It is coming from both sides, if you like, at the moment.

And this follows a week of terrible violence, which has seen 100 Palestinians killed, more than 30 Israelis killed, and countless injured, or dozens and dozens of injuries.

It all began with a declaration by Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, that he would punish terrorism with force, what he called "Palestinian terrorism would be met with increasing force." He said, "we will strike and strike again." And that's what's been happening in this past week, an increasingly forceful military push against Palestinian targets that culminated perhaps on Friday with more than 50 Palestinians killed in a single day -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you, Michael. And hang on for a minute, because we are going to get an update on the most current situation that's taking place there in West Jerusalem at the Moment Cafe (ph). There our Ben Wedeman is now. He has updated Michael. Michael related to all of us that the number of dead at that cafe is now 10. Ben, what more can you tell us about what's taking place there?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I can confirm, I have spoken with Israeli officials here saying that, yes, indeed, 10 dead as well as 50 wounded. That does not include the suicide bomber himself. They are saying they do not believe the suicide bomber was from Jerusalem. They say he was -- they believe he was from the town of Bethlehem. They didn't explain exactly why they have come to that conclusion.

Now, the senior police officer here on the scene is saying that it was a very large explosion. And as I mentioned before, I did speak to somebody who was just right down the street when that explosion went off, and she reported seeing body parts on the pavement and smelling burnt flesh. So, yes, indeed, it's obviously it has been a very big explosion, and many causalities, but at the moment, we are still not able to get much closer than about 30 to 40 meters from the site of the explosion -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks very much, Ben Wedeman and Michael Holmes for reporting from the Jerusalem area on what we now know to be at least 85 injured in all, and 11 dead in two separate attacks there in Jerusalem, one in a cafe and the other in a hotel, just earlier today, all taking place within the last two hours.

And now, here at home, a tragedy of our own to report. Right here on U.S. soil in Chicago, three cars traveling on a street just south of the John Hancock building were crushed when scaffolding apparently fell from the 43rd floor. Three people were killed; several more injured.

These are the latest pictures that we are able to bring to you from Chicago. That investigation still ongoing, not quite clear exactly what preceded that scaffolding from falling, how that could have taken place. But all we know right now, three have been killed and several others injured.

We will continue to update you on the situation both in Chicago, as well as across the seas in Israel right here on CNN.




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