Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS
CNN TV
EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS


CNN BREAKING NEWS

Al Aqsa Brigade Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Tel Aviv

Aired March 30, 2002 - 15:01   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.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: In the Middle East, deadly violence in Tel-Aviv there, at a cafe. An explosion has taken place with several injuries there. We will, of course, bring you the number of casualties as we get them. The Al Aqsa Brigade has claimed responsibility for that.

We want to bring in our Ben Wedeman who has been following this explosion at the cafe in Tel-Aviv. Let's go to him now, with an update on the investigation there -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. No investigation yet. Basically, they are still trying to sanitize the area, make sure there are no secondary explosives there. According to medical sources here in Tel-Aviv, at least 28 wounded, four of them severely, one of them critically. And of course, among those is -- rather, in addition to them, is the suicide bomber himself, who entered the coffee shop -- coffee shop cafe a bit more than two hours ago and blew himself up.

Now, Israeli radio is reporting that the suicide bomber was one Mohammed Salahad (ph) from the Nablus area, in the northern West Bank. He is being linked to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is the militant organization that is affiliated with the Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: OK, thanks very much, Ben. We are going to go now to Jerusalem, where our Bill Hemmer is now to get an update from your perspective there -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka, good evening once again. You know, one thing that really struck me when I arrived earlier today here in Jerusalem anyway, one thing that really struck me is that the hotel lobby just absolutely empty, empty of tourists, empty of customers, and essentially empty of workers as well. The stores along the streets, a lot of them closed and locked down.

Of the stores that were open, I saw not one customer inside, and I must have gone past 20 or 30 shops several hours ago. It is a much different scene here in the Holy Land during this holy week. Normally with Passover under way and the Easter weekend upon this, this is the time when tourists would absolutely flock to this part of the world, but they have stayed away in droves.

And if you look at the numbers of tourists here, boy, you can barely find them, even in the old city, which is located behind me just about 300 or 400 yards. Barely anyone walking in and out of the one of the main gates there, Yaffa (ph) gate, and entering into the Jewish quarter, the old city. But essentially, this place has been turned into a -- I don't want to call it a ghost town, but certainly it is a much different scene from what would be normally in previous years.

Yeah, there are cars on the streets, Fredricka, cars moving in and out, but I am told in no way do they measure up to what it normally would be, given other times. But certainly this is not other times. These are very violent times.

We have seen the suicide bombing take place just about two hours ago in Tel-Aviv. In a different part of this region, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, which is about 10 miles to north and west of where we are broadcasting right now here in Jerusalem, those Israeli tanks and troops still positioned only a few feet from Yasser Arafat and a number of men surrounding him inside that compound in Ramallah.

In Ramallah, we are told through Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, that he says the Israeli government had given those inside the compound an ultimatum that indeed they would storm that compound, enter the compound, and arrest and apprehend anyone upon whom they come once they get inside. Apparently, though, that has not happened, and talking with Michael Holmes who is on the scene there in Ramallah short time ago, he says there was very little military activity, no helicopters in the skies overhead, but certainly that is something we can watch here.

Yasser Arafat did make a statement, in fact, about three hours ago. The electricity has been cut off, we're told the water has been cut off, food and medicine supplies running low, but Yasser Arafat came before television camera, and in it you can see by way of flashlight or candle light shining on his face, he made a strong statement once again about what he feels right now is extreme Israeli aggression against him and the Palestinian people.

So certainly at a time when many folks would think the Holy Land is quite holy, it is anything but that this weekend.

WHITFIELD: Now, Bill, you mentioned that there are very few residents and tourists on the street, but since you have been there, what kind of presence of Israeli military or police have you seen in the streets that would usually be occupied mostly by people enjoying an evening?

HEMMER: Yeah. I would say a fair amount, but to no great degree. I mean, a few checkpoints here or there, but it was nothing that was overwhelming in any sense. The Israeli military and their activity right now is taking place outside of Israel proper. It is in the West Bank. We have heard of clashes in Bet-Jala (ph), which is a Palestinian town right near Bethlehem, about six miles south of our position here in Jerusalem. We have heard of clashes in Hebron as well. Reports that a few Israeli tanks had rolled into town earlier today, and there was an exchange of small arms fire in Hebron there. There was one report that there was activity in Gaza, something we had not confirmed.

But the point that I am making here, Fredricka, is that the activity does continue in many different parts of the West Bank, and certainly at this point if you talk to people on the streets, it is anybody's guess as to where this goes from here and in which direction. We shall all see at some point soon -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks very much, Bill Hemmer from Jerusalem. We'll be keeping tabs on the situation through you and our other correspondents there on the ground.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



Aviv>


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top