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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Violence Erupts in Israel

Aired March 29, 2002 - 09:03   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli tanks roll into Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. Gunfire erupts from both sides. While in Israel itself a suicide bomber ripped apart a supermarket in Jerusalem. John Vause is there with the very latest. John, good morning.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula.

Let's start with that suicide bombing in Jerusalem. This is third attack on Israeli citizens since the start of Passover 36 hours ago. And this latest bombing, a female suicide bomber walked into that supermarket and exploded herself. We are told that two Israeli citizens were killed as well as the suicide bomber. We are also told that at least 20 people have been injured, one is in serious condition, the other one is in a critical condition.

Now this suicide bombing came just hours after the Israeli defense force sent troops and tanks into Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. Palestinian officials say Yasser Arafat's life is in danger. The Israeli's for their part though, they deny that they are trying to kill Mr. Arafat. They say they are not firing on him. But this is, however, the most serious attack on Yasser Arafat since the Palestinian uprising began 18 months ago.

The Red Cross tells us that so far five Palestinians have been killed in Ramallah. Another 23 have been badly hurt, eight of those in a critical condition. Now Mr. Arafat was speaking by phone earlier. He told Palestinian television that Palestinians will not surrender, that they will not kneel. And Palestinian television showed a picture of Mr. Yasser Arafat at his desk on the telephone with a pistol on that desk.

Now earlier, he told Al-Jazeera television, they meaning the Israelis, either want to kill me or capture me or expel me. In an ominous sigh, he said I hope to be a martyr.

Now all this comes after the Israeli cabinet met overnight, a long session for the Israel cabinet. And then the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a news conference. At that news conference he declared Yasser Arafat an enemy. He also put the IDF on high alert and called up 20,000 reservists -- Paula.

ZAHN: What else can you tell us about what impact this might have on the ongoing talks between Arafat, Gen. Zinni and Palestinian negotiators? I think you might have reported last hour the Mr. Zinni will be talking to the Israelis as well a little bit later today.

VAUSE: All we can tell you is that the word from Gen. Anthony Zinni is that he still hopes that there is a chance for a ceasefire. He says he'll stay engaged in this region. The only real chance for a ceasefire is if he does stay here and talking with both sides. If he leaves then that could be a sign that the situation is hopeless -- Paula.

ZAHN: OK, John, we're going to have to leave it there because joining us right now is Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem with more on that suicide bombing attack by female bomber this time in Jerusalem. Ben, what can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula. I'm outside the Superstal supermarket where this suicide bombing took place. It's in the Southern Jerusalem suburb of Kittie Kaval (ph). Apparently two Israelis were killed in the bombing in addition to a female suicide bomber.

One of those Israelis was a security guard. According to Israeli officials that guard was actually in the process of trying to prevent the woman from entering the supermarket when the female suicide bomber set off the explosive. Now the supermarket was very crowded. There were many people here. Just before the beginning of Jewish Sabbath buying groceries. Stores will be closed tomorrow. So it was one of the few spots in Jerusalem where many people were crowded into very small area.

Apparently well over 20 people were injured in the blast. Several of them very critically -- Paula.

ZAHN: Ben, there have been reports that she was loosely connected to the Fatah movement. Is anybody confirming that?

WEDEMAN: Well, basically what we're hearing is that the martyrs of the Al Aqsa brigade have claimed responsibility for the bombing. And that is a group that is affiliated with the Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Now, of course, oftentimes multiple claims come in, sometimes bogus claims come in. But that is the only one that has come in so far. So there is many Israelis believe a link here between this suicide bombings and a group connected with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

ZAHN: All right, Ben, thanks so much.

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