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13 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Jenin

Aired April 9, 2002 - 11:18   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... which indicates that the soldiers were in fact in a narrow alleyway. The explosion occurred, the buildings around them collapsed, and then Palestinian gunmen opened fire, claiming 13 lives. There is still a great deal of confusion coming from the Jenin refugee camp at this stage, a lot of confusion because the media can't get in. The Israeli government has declared it a closed military zone. So no one can get in to find out just exactly what has happened.

Now, as you say, this is in fact the deadliest incident which happened regarding Israeli military forces since the intifada, or the uprising, began 18 months ago.

This of course taking place while the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is heading toward this region. He stopped off in Cairo. He made some very pointed remarks while he was there. In fact, he had to defend why his first stop on this trip was not Jerusalem.


COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: President Bush wanted me to spend time in the region, talking to our friends the Egyptians, the Moroccans. I also had good conversations last evening with the Saudis, and I will go on to meet with European colleagues, Russian colleagues and Secretary-General Annan tomorrow in Madrid, and then back it meet with King Abdullah of Jordan, and then into Jerusalem, where I'm looking forward to conversations with the prime minister, and I intend to meet with chairman Arafat.


VAUSE: Very significant that the secretary of state says that he will in fact meet with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, because you may recall in March, when in the Vice President Dick Cheney was in the region, he did not meet with Arafat. The line coming from the White House was the fact that Yasser Arafat had not done enough to earn a meeting with the vice president, had not done enough to reign in the terrorism, the suicide bombers.

Now, also in that press conference, some other very important remarks coming from secretary of state. He also spelled out his vision, how he sees there will be lasting peace in this region. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: These are difficult times, but I think if we all continue to have a common vision of the future, of where we want to see this all end, and if we recognize that we have to link security and a political process together so people can see not just a cease- fire as important as that is, but something beyond a cease-fire, a political settlement that will move us in the right direction to the creation of a Palestinian state, a state that will have borders that everyone will recognize, borders that will come into being as a result of the negotiations that lay ahead, settling all of the outstanding issues in due course.

And with that vision of a state, hopefully, hopefully The Palestinian people will realize necessary their interest now to do everything they can to control their passions, to control the violence, to bring it down, so that we can get a political process moving.


VAUSE: Now, of course, that is very important for the Palestinians, because what they have been arguing, is they need a cease-fire linked to this political process. They need a cease-fire to move on to talk of -- to end this cease-fire for a lasting peace to get to some kind of statehood, to get some kind of recognition here. The Israelis, in their part, say, hey, let's have a cease-fire, and then we'll talk about the peace process, then we'll move on to that.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying he will not negotiate an ongoing peace process while under fire. So, Colin Powell certainly seeming to come out very much in favor of the Palestinians, at least for now -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: John, I want to get back to the secretary of state saying he intends to meet with Yasser Arafat. It's one thing to intend, it's another for the Israelis to let that happen.

Any word from the Israeli government about allowing that meeting to take place, and where?

VAUSE: Well, that's the question. There seems to be every indication that the Israelis will allow that meeting to go forward. It's very interesting to find out whether or not the -- at this press briefing, the secretary of state said he was in contact with the Israeli prime minister, making a number of phone calls to him. It is interesting the timing. Did he, in fact, insist on a meeting in one of those phone calls. And then, in fact, earlier today, we heard from the Israeli government that they would not stand in the way of a meeting with Yasser Arafat, with the secretary of state, should the secretary of state desire that.

And then we hear a short time ago in that press conference that the secretary of state desires a meeting with Yasser Arafat. Of course Yasser Arafat still pinned up, still in isolation in his compound in Ramallah. We know that the U.S. envoy here, Anthony Zinni, did in fact hold a meeting there several days ago. So that is, in fact, the likely venue for any meeting between the secretary of state and the Palestinian leader -- Dan.

KAGAN: John Vause, with the latest from Jerusalem. John, thank you very much. We are going to check back in on the story that John first mentioned, and that is some of the deadliest fighting taking place in the refugee town of Jenin.

Our Rula Amin is not quite there, but very close to there and joins us with the latest -- Rula.

RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, we are here as close as we can get, to get firsthand accounts on what was happening in Jenin refugee camp. This is a village called Ramana. It's about 12 miles away from Jenin refugee camp, and the reason we are here is that 300 residents of Jenin refugee camp, mostly men, are here in this village after they were released. They were rounded up, arrested earlier last week by the Israeli army, when it went into Jenin refugee camp. If I move away from the shot, then you can see some of the people around. You can see the mosque where many of those released prisoners are staying.

They are saying they were asked to take off all their closed when they were arrested, that they had to take off their shoes. And some of them told us that for 36 hours they were there without any clothes, without any shoes, but more disturbing is the accounts that we heard from the on what's happened inside the camp.

One person we spoke to, his name is Abdullah, this 26-year-old young man from Jenin refugee camp, he told us he was at his house in Jenin refugee camp with his mother and his brother. Helicopters gunships, hit his mother and his brother. They were wounded. He said they called for the ambulances, no ambulance could get to them. His brother -- his mother and brother, 17-year-old, bled death after they died and passed away. He left them at home and had to go on the streets with a white sheet, turned himself in. He was arrested and then released and was ordered to come here.

So he doesn't know what happened to the bodies of his mother and brother. He says the shelling on Jenin refugee camp was random. We heard other people who said that they lost theirs homes, they were shelled, and that they were arrested, and were very badly mistreated.

Now, again, it's very hard to verify these accounts, because we could not go into the camp. This is as close as we could get, but we are hearing very consistent accounts of shelling, of destroying homes and houses in that camp.

Many houses, they are saying the bulldozers have been actually bulldozing most of the -- many of the homes to pave way for the tanks. They are also saying that the number of casualties, Palestinian casualties in that camp, is exceeding 200 people, many of them civilians they say, and they are very, very angry. There is a lot of anger and a lot of desperation here -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Rula Amin reporting to us from the West Bank, not too far from Jenin. Thank you very much.




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