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At Least 10 Dead, 80 Injured in Suicide Bombing in Netanya, Israel

Aired March 27, 2002 - 13:26   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the images and the pictures from the Middle East get no better. Israeli television, again, broadcasting these images to us here. This is the first time we've seen them, but the word now at least 10 now confirmed dead, dozens more wounded. Back to Mike Hanna in Jerusalem -- Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The figure of at least 10 dead coming from police who say as well that well over 50 people have been injured in this blast. The blast occurred about an hour ago at a hotel in the seaside resort of Netanya, the Park Hotel. The hotel crowded at that particular point with patrons celebrating the Passover seder, the dinner that marks the beginning of the week-long Jewish holiday of the Passover.

Police say that the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive device either in the foyer of the hotel or just at the entrance to the dining room, according to eyewitnesses. At least 10 people killed, say police at this stage. Hospital authorities are telling us that well over 50 people are being treated for injuries received in this blast.

This is the latest attack in Netanya. It's been the scene of many terror attacks in the past, weeks and indeed months, but this is the most serious yet. At least 10 people at the current count killed in an attack by a suicide bomber in a hotel in Netanya -- Bill.

HEMMER: Mike, any official response from the Israeli government just yet?

HANNA: No official response as yet from the Israeli government, but in the past, the Israeli government has consistently held the Palestinian Authority responsible for such acts of terror, insisting that not enough is being done to clamp down on the activities of militants, not enough is being done to control those who are planning and carrying out acts of terror against Israeli civilians. So no official comment yet from the Israelis. However, one likely to be forthcoming very soon.

I just now have some more details here, Bill. We have at least 80 people injured, according to hospital sources, 17 of these are in very serious condition. The rest have received moderate and light injuries. So this clearly a very, very, very serious terror attack indeed. At least 10 people killed, according to police, and now the hospital telling us that as many as 80 people are injured, and 17 of these are in a very severe condition.

So clearly the hotel crowded at this particular time. It was 7:30 in the evening Jerusalem time, which is about the time that that Passover seder meal was due to start. Many Israelis celebrating the seder at hotels around the country. So this absolutely appalling blast. The number dead very high, it appears, and certainly the number of wounded very high indeed, Bill.

HEMMER: As you mentioned, that hotel must have been extremely crowded with at least 80 injuries, at least 10 dead, and it is still early.

Mike, security negotiations were said to be ongoing throughout the week here. What was the status between Israelis and Palestinians on that front?

HANNA: Well, those cease-fire talks, they were discussions aimed at bringing about a formal truce between the two sides, taking place between Israeli and Palestinian security leaders, under the mediation of U.S. special envoy Anthony Zinni.

Now, they had hit a couple of stumbling blocks. There were intense arguments, intense debate. The status at this particular point, Bill, was that both sides were considering a compromise proposal, put forward by Anthony Zinni. There were further meeting due to take place in the next few days.

However, the attack now in Netanya certainly going to place immense strain on this cease-fire process, if not destroy it altogether. Israel in recent days has said that it's been exercising strength with difficulty, in its words, and many observers have believed that any big terror attack could lead to Israel clamping down on these security negotiations. Israel's position being that the Palestinian Authority has not been sincere in these negotiations, that there haven't been any signs that the Palestinian Authority is going to crack down on those who are plotting and carrying out acts of terror against Israeli civilians.

So that whole cease-fire process now in deep, deep jeopardy. It has withstood a number of acts of violence in the days that it has been taking place. But each of those acts of violence put a greater strain on the process, and now with these figures emerging from Netanya, 80 people injured, nearly 20 of them in a severe condition, at least 10 people dead, well, that is going to put a strain on cease- fire negotiations that they have not been subjected to before, Bill.

HEMMER: Indeed, you're right. Eighty injuries, at least 10 dead right now. Those numbers may change. Many times, Mike, we have watched situations like these, and they change often.

Again, that hotel must have been extremely crowded with the Passover holiday beginning there at sundown in the town of Netanya. We will track this again. Mike Hanna, thanks to you from Jerusalem. We won't leave you for much long, but right now we have to get a commercial break here.

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