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Fifteen Killed by Suicide Bombing in Israel

Aired March 27, 2002 - 14:31   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: Once again, the top story of the hour. We thought it might have been the Arab summit taking place in Beirut, Lebanon. But this has been eclipsed now, by a suicide bombing inside of a crowded hotel, the Park Hotel, in the town of Netanya.

Word we have right now, 15 dead, upwards of 100 injured. Fifteen of those injured, said to be in critical condition as well. We've been with Mike Hanna for the past two hours. A short time ago, Mike filed this update from Jerusalem. Here's Mike.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE HANNA, JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Another terror attack against Israeli civilians, and this one of a magnitude seldom experienced in 18 months of ongoing conflict. Eighteen months since the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, began. Well over 10 people have been killed in this blast. Over 70 people are reported to be injured.

Police say the blast caused by a suicide bomber, who entered a hotel in the seaside resort of Netanya, and detonated an explosive device. The hotel, packed at this particular point, many people there to attend the Passover dinner. This is the traditional dinner marking the beginning of the Passover holiday. The hotel dining room and the vicinity of hotel, crowded by patrons coming in to celebrate the Passover.

But no celebration whatsoever in Netanya. Well over 10 people dead. This death toll rising through the evening, as more and more succumb to the injuries. And more than 70 people injured. This, one of the most major terror attacks in Israel in the past 18 months of ongoing violence.

Mike Hanna, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: From Jerusalem, up the coast of the Mediterranean now, to Beirut, Lebanon, and Rula Amin, again, who's covering the Arab summit that started several hours ago. Twenty-two nations represented. The question now is, has there been any comment, publicly, Rula, to this point with that suicide bombing we are watching? RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, so far, no comment. We have not heard any kind of reaction yet from any of the leaders here regarding the bombing in Netanya. The only new thing that we have is that we have confirmation from both the Palestinians and the Lebanese, that Yasser Arafat will be able to address the Arab leaders tomorrow morning via a satellite link from Ramallah.

This has caused a problem earlier, because the Lebanese would not allow him to do so, saying they were concerned that Israel might try to interrupt his address, and that would be some kind of embarrassment that they didn't want to have. Now, since this snag has been resolved, the focus will shift again, to the Saudi peace initiative.

Crown Prince Abdullah has presented his ideas today. Land for peace, he said, was the formula that he thinks would be a good basis for any kind of resolution. He addressed the Israeli people. He called on them to grab this chance, saying that there is a possibility for peaceful, normal relations, between Israel and the Arab states, if Israel would withdraw from all the land it occupied in 1967, including the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.

Of course, this is his proposal. There is still debate going on here tonight between the different Arab leaders on what kind of wording, what kind of words, the phrases they're going to use to formulate this initiative. And, depending on the wording, we will see if the United States will endorse this initiative fully, and whether Israel would accept it -- Bill.

HEMMER: Rula, relative to the violence, what does it say if there is not a general consensus to condemn this, publicly?

AMIN: Well, you know, we have not heard from any of the leaders addressing this issue specifically today. However, they did -- most of the leaders here today spoke about the violence. We heard from the Syrian president. We heard from Crown Prince Abdullah. We heard from the Libyans, the Iraqis.

And a lot of them made the point, saying we have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. Crown Prince Abdullah said the people have a right to resist occupation, to deter aggression. But Assad, the president of Syria, was even more forthcoming in putting his views there, saying that the occupation is a form of terrorism. And, he says that we have to make a clear distinction, as he said it, between terrorism and resisting occupation.

So they have been addressing this issue, but totally from a different take than what you would have heard from Israel. Kofi Annan, however, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, was here. And he appealed to the Arab leaders to condemn terrorism. He says that whatever is the causes, civilians must be spared -- Bill.

HEMMER: Rula, quickly, here. I mentioned it was a two-day summit. It's about, by my watch, 9:30 local time there. Are the delegates still meeting, or is it adjourned for the evening?

AMIN: No, they're still meeting. Even if the formal meetings are over, there will be a lot of consultations and debate, because they still have to formulate this. And the issues are very crucial, especially when it comes to the issue of Palestinians -- refugees and the right of return.

This is something that the Israelis are watching for. They want to know what kind of gestures Arab leaders are going to send. Are they going to be willing to compromise on this issue or not? On the other hand, you have countries like Syria and Lebanon here, who say the Arabs should not compromise on this issue, and will be determined and will be adamant to put in the initiative some kind of specific, saying all refugees must return maybe, or that the right of return must be guaranteed before any kind of resolution has been agreed on. So we'll have to see, what will be the final outcome for all this debate -- Bill.

HEMMER: Rula, thank you. Rula Amin in Beirut tonight. Again, the massacre that is being talked about within the Israeli government is being described as a Passover massacre.

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