CNN BREAKING NEWS
Suicide Bombing at Bus Stop in Marketplace
Aired April 12, 2002 - 09:20 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: News comes out of Jerusalem this morning. There is word of an explosion in a marketplace in Jerusalem. Let's got to Jason Bellini. He joins us on the telephone now. What can you tell us Jason?
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Less than 10 minutes ago there was a huge blast right near the market area. I got up closer to the scene where it happened and it certainly appeared that a bus has exploded. There were several people who ran away from the bus. They were very bloody. There appeared to be some bodies around the bus. Only now ambulances are just arriving and they're picking structures (ph) out, pulling people away.
ZAHN: Jason, we should note that this would be the start of Sabbath, right, on the Israeli time clock?
BELLINI: That's right. Many people in the market right now getting food for Sabbath. The market, as I was walking through, was full of people. But again, it happened not in the market itself but on the street in front of the market on a bus it appears. All the windows are knocked out of this bus that's parked by the side of the street.
ZAHN: Describe what you're seeing right now in terms of rescue efforts and police activity.
BELLINI: Right now I'm seeing about four ambulances. They're approaching the scene. There's a military helicopter flying overhead. I see several stretchers being pulled out and being taken to the area. The police are in the process of evacuating people (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There's a women who appears to be slightly injured. She has some wounds to her leg and there's several people - you know right after - just moments after the explosion coming away with injuries.
ZAHN: We're going to stay with you, Jason and let you continue to watch there. This could not come at a - of a worse time for Colin Powell after he has just, of course, wrapped up meetings with Ariel Sharon. Do we have any idea how far the Secretary of State is from this part of Jerusalem? Carry on, Jason.
We know there is tremendous confusion. Jason Bellini confirming for us that he believes that a bus has exploded on a street not far from a marketplace in downtown Jerusalem. Let's go back to Jason and see if he can continue to bring us up to date on what he is seeing right there. Jason, how far are you from where the bus exploded?
BELLINI: I'm about half a block at this moment. Again, it happened just 10 minutes ago. I was walking through the market and there was a loud explosion. I walked in the direction where I heard it. Lots of people were running the other direction and then I saw people assumed to have - who were obviously (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pulled away. Right now I'm being pushed back by the police as they put one injured person who's on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance.
ZAHN: We can hear the tremendous shock and the confusion in the air there and I know that police are moving you. Is - are there any witnesses you can talk to because we'll will stay with this if you're able to talk with anyone.
BELLINI: Absolutely. I'm working on it. They're still in the process of pushing us back. I'm trying to find some people now who were there when it actually happened. If you stand by, I'll see what I can find for you.
ZAHN: Yeah, just stay with me and I will just quickly bring our audience up to date for those folks joining us about this explosion. Jason Bellini confirming, he's about a half a block away from where he believes a bus exploded. It was on a street not far from a central marketplace in Jerusalem. Jason describing Israelis getting ready for the beginning of the Shibot (ph), the Sabbath there. Jason, you described seeing a military helicopter overhead. What else do you see?
You can hear Jason talking with people; one of whom it sounds like is on the bus.
BELLINI: We're being pushed further back right now as more ambulances are arriving. Been already four people been taken away on stretchers, put in the back of ambulances. Several (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ZAHN: Jason, I know you said four people have been transported away. When you were half a block away, could you get any sense of how many people might have been on that bus?
BELLINI: I've seen four people so far but more people are coming this direction. There are other people who are the walking wounded who appear injured, who are being helped right now by civilians here on the street, giving them water, some helping them with their injuries by wrapping and such - (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wrapping it looks like a shirt being just bogged (ph) around this women's leg because she has some blood on it.
And I see - now at this point there are 10 ambulances that have arrived on the scene and it looks like there are more coming.
ZAHN: Jason, this could not come at a worse time for Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has just met with Ariel Sharon. Prior to this explosion, what were people on the streets saying about any hope for peace?
BELLINI: Today, I spent a good while talking to actually some young people. They were expressing some optimism today that Colin Powell was here and that things were getting better. Obviously now this shakes things up. I'm sorry. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
It's hard to estimate how many people were injured, how many people were victims of this attack. Although, I've seen so far approximately eight people that have been pulled away and put into ambulances and many more who are walking around and they look very shocked, very stunned with some minor injuries.
ZAHN: Jason, we will let you track down more eyewitnesses. We're going to quickly turn to Jerrold Kessel who joins us also from our Jerusalem bureau. Jerrold, what can you tell us about this?
JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well what we have now is confirmation from the Israeli police and the medical relief services that this does seem to have been - this explosion Jason is reporting about does seem to have been an act of terror. That's the initial assumption that the police and medical relief services are working on that assumption. The explosion, as you heard from Jason, came near there the city marketplace. The open-air fruit and vegetable market near one of the main high rises in the building. This is getting (ph) on now for (ph) 4:30 in the afternoon here just as the Israelis were winding down their shopping before the onset of the Jewish Sabbath. That marketplace normally humming with people, it might have been winding down as this hour is the final shopping was done before the market was closing. This a very sensitive place were there have been many such attacks in the past and what we're hearing from the police or of course they're rushing to the scene and along with the ambulances and medical services, is that it was a suicide bomber. That's the first word. Next to a bus, inside a bus, not yet clear. At - near that high rise right outside the main market, and as Jason was reporting, the police and the ambulance services saying that there have been casualties. No word yet on dead or wounded. Among those casualties, and that -- what we are hearing now, ambulances racing down to the scene, which is just about half a mile, or just under a kilometer away from here from the CNN bureau.
ZAHN: If you would, stand by. We're going to quickly check in with Bill Hemmer who is very close to where this happened.
Bill, tell us where you are and what you see.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Paula, we are on Jaffa Street, which as everyone knows in this part of the world is the main thoroughfare that cuts through central Jerusalem. We have seen a number of wounded people, mostly walking away, but clearly with wounds and cuts on their bodies.
One man came toward us before he got onto an ambulance, and it was clear that there was body parts all over him. He was walking though. A younger girl with cuts on her as well approached a number of reporters here and started throwing her purse in the air at cameras to get them away.
There are a number of ambulances, Paula, arriving quickly here on the scene, and they're doing their best at this point to get the wounded out. Here come another man behind me right now on a stretcher. He is awake and conscious. However, he has a next brace around his head. Apologize for me being out of breath, Paula. Frankly, I just ran to the scene here.
What's interesting about today is just about five minutes ago, I myself in a taxi on our way to our bureau, and I came down this very road, and what struck me, frankly, is how calm things appeared to be on this Friday. We're just a few hours from sundown, as the Israeli people started winding down the week toward the beginning of Sabbath. And there was the marking (ph) of numerous people inside. And what I noticed that the people coming past this market (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
It was emptied, frankly, a number of times. Today, it was quite crowded, a number of shoppers out on a very nice and beautiful late Friday afternoon. Clearly, that scene has changed dramatically in the last 10 minutes here -- Paula.
ZAHN: Bill, we were trying to get you on the line. Jerrold Kessel are confirming that Israeli officials are saying it was a suicide bomber on a bus or nearby the bus. Once again, bring us up to date on how many ambulances you can see from your perspective and what else is going on.
HEMMER: Yes, I would say at least eight ambulances I've counted here, Paula. A number of gurneys being wheeled through the streets. As you can imagine, it's a scene that is quite chaotic, people running around everywhere, a lot of screaming, a lot of yelling frankly. Again, about eight ambulances I have counted. We have seen some wounded literally get up and walk away, being treated by medics.
The radio is reporting a short time ago that the suicide bomber was actually onboard a bus coming down this crowded street. But again, we should caution you that a number of times in the early stages of stories like these, it can be quite confusing, and many times the facts do change on the ground.
One more thing, Paula, another ambulance coming in right now, police doing their best to keep reporter and people away from that scene -- Paula.
ZAHN: And, Bill, we need to warn our audience if they're just joining us for the first time this morning, some of what they may see is gruesome. We are not able to edit these pictures. We're showing you the latest video that has either been shot or taking pictures live. And, Bill, we've seen some horribly graphic pictures that make you sick.
Let's go to Jerrold Kessel very quickly from another part of Jerusalem for another update -- Jerrold.
KESSEL: Paula, what we can tell you, we just heard one of the medical relief officers on the scene, and when it was asked about the number of casualties, all he would say was that it was very similar to the number that have been -- that have been in the bomb in the bus in Haifa earlier in the week there. I will remind you there were eight people killed and 14 wounded. Now he wasn't at all clear of -- if that meant that there were dead or wounded. He was being very careful at this stage. In other words, we're looking in the region of a dozen-plus people who -- at least -- who have been hit, may be dead, may be wounded, nothing definitive on that. But that's from the medical relief officers on the spot. As Bill was reporting, ambulances very quickly down there, and what the police are telling us is that they believe that the explosion and they believe suicide bomber struck just at the but stop as one of the buses pulled up. This is right outside.
You may be able to hear the sirens and the ambulances blaring as they rush to and from the scene as down Jaffa Road, and this is just outside the fruit and vegetable market at the bus stop, where people would have been going away from the market at the end of their shopping, and right in the heart of Jerusalem, scene of very many attacks in recent weeks and months -- Paula.
ZAHN: Let's go back to Bill Hemmer now. Bill, Jerrold now confirming he is being told that investigators now believe that the suicide bombing happened at the bus stop as the bus was pulling up. What else have you learned?
HEMMER: Paula, is that for me?
ZAHN: Yes, please.
HEMMER: I apologize, the sirens are quite loud. They have died down. I can tell you, Paula, the number of casualties on this bus appear to be quite large. In the past few minutes, I've seen at least three more wounded carried on gurneys. One man walking, holding his chest and breathing quite heavily.
Another young women with cuts...
ZAHN: All right, we've lost Bill Hemmer for a moment. Let's go back to Jerrold Kessel.
Once again, officials telling you, as will stay with these pictures, Jerrold, that this could be similar to the numbers of casualties and deaths in Haifa, where you reminded us that eight were killed and 14 were wounded.
KESSEL: Yes, that's the figures that we've been given now. But as I say, this is a very early estimate, and we haven't had any official statement about any numbers, but we certainly heard at least a half a dozen, probably 8-10 ambulances who've raced back past the bureau here, heading toward many of the city hospitals. There is one hospital pretty close to that scene where in the center of town, but most of the bigger hospitals are out, and the ambulances will go rush away from there past here. We are on this main road leading from the center of town out to where the hospitals are, and as I say, we've seen in the last 10-15 minutes at least 8-10 ambulances racing by.
So those numbers that we are getting then in the region of at least more than a dozen people hit. And it could well be if it was with a bus stop and with the bus alongside, that does seem a credible number at this stage -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jerrold, we need to remind our audience once again that we are turning tape around very quickly, or actually taking pictures live from this horrific scene. And if they stay with us, they will see graphic images, very disturbing images.
Let's go back to Bill Hemmer.
Bill, what else are you seeing?
We've lost Bill for a moment.
As you can understand, there's tremendous confusion down there. We're talking anywhere from 8-10 ambulance taking victims away.
Jerrold, do you have anything else to share with us at this point?
KESSEL: What we are seeing, as you right say, we're seeing these pretty horrific scenes, similar scenes here. The numbers -- and I think we should make -- even though we talk of at least a dozen people one way or another either hurt or perhaps worse than that in this attack. You see, the numbers grow afterwards, as we saw one man being treated on the ground, possibly for shock, given a drink of water, and many hospitals later, people come in. You could call them walking wounded or being brought in by their families.
Either they've had a state of delayed shock or trouble with their ears, and then later will pitch up at hospitals. So very difficult to pin down exact numbers right away.
But as I say the first numbers coming out of this attack are in the region of, say, what the -- what happened in Haifa the other day, and there, as the bomber blew himself up aboard the bus, there were eight people killed and 14 wounded.
Here, what the police say in their first assumption of what happened in this attack was that the explosion occurred just outside the bus, and at the bus stop, and that they believe the bomber blew himself up there.
ZAHN: Jerrold, this has happened just about three hours after Ariel Sharon hold a joint news conference with Secretary of State Powell. Is there any confirmation of where either one of them are at this hour?
KESSEL: Just before we get to that, Paula, sorry. We have just heard the Israeli -- the Jerusalem police chief talking on Israeli television, and he is saying a number of people killed, a number of people wounded. No more specific than that, but this is first confirmation that a number of people have been killed in this latest attack.
ZAHN: Any word on where the prime minister is at this hour and where Secretary of State Colin Powell Is? KESSEL: They have concluded their talks. It's now 4:30 local time. They've concluded their talks around 1:45. Then they -- there was the joint news conference, a brief one. And then I'm not sure if the prime minister, I know he was not headed back toward his own home ranch, which is about an hour's drive from Jerusalem or a short helicopter ride. That was the original plan. I'm not sure if he has actually left the city.
And Mr. Powell was out on another alternative tour of some location, and we're not sure if he's back in Jerusalem. We'll try to determine that. But they certainly weren't anywhere in the region of this attack. This is in the center of city. Mr. Sharon's residence is about two miles away from there, in another part of Jerusalem.
ZAHN: Jerrold, confirming police chief is now saying a number of people killed, a number of people injured.
And, Jerrold, we have just learned that a police spokesman is now saying that it is his belief that a suicide bomber actually blew himself up at that bus station near the Mahane Yehuda (ph) market as another bus was pulling up.
KESSEL: Yes, that's the police assumption, that the bomber and the bomb was not -- explosion was not actually on the bus, but at that bus stop, as the people were heading home. These will be one of the last few buses. It will be sundown. The public transport stops, and people will head home for the Sabbath, when the market would be just winding down in the final -- a lot of shopping that would be done. And now we've got another report from the Israeli broadcasting saying at least 20 people, the phrase used is word used is "hit." That's Israeli term for either killed or wound. No breakdown there.
But as I say, reporting earlier, that there were a number dead and a number wounded.
ZAHN: All right, Jerrold, please stand by. We're going to see if we can catch with Bill Hemmer. You've got to understand Bill is in a situation where he is so close to the perimeter area of where this happened he's moving around constantly. I can't get Bill right now.
But Jason Bellini one of the first on the scene.
Jason, tell us what you can.
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the last 20 minutes. About seven or eight ambulances have left from the scene. They were very nearby the explosion when it occurred. They were very close, within an eyeshot of the bus, the bus station (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the previous bombing on buses. The destruction seemed to be at the front of the bus, windows knocked out of it.
I've spoke with one in person who was at the bus stop, and he said that it came (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was standing there -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He couldn't tell whether on the bus or whether it was right there on the sidewalk. ZAHN: And now, Jason, the only thing we have to add to that is a police spokesperson is saying that it is his belief that the suicide bomber actually blew himself up, or we don't actually know the sex, but he referred to him as a him, blew himself up at a bus station near the Mahane Yehuda market, and Jerrold Kessel confirming that on Israeli radio we are hearing that at least 20 people have been hit.
BELLINI: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Again, the bus itself was wasn't blown to pieces. It was more or less in tact, except for the front half of the bus. The walking wounded, as I was speaking to them, said they were all in the area where the bus was, and at that bus stop.
ZAHN: All right, Jason, you stand by, and we're going to need a couple of seconds here to see if we can get Bill Hemmer back on the telephone.
Bill, are you with us?
As you might imagine, with the amount of confusion and the amount of shock at this scene, our reporters on the ground are being shifted from block to block. Let's see if we have Bill Hemmer with us.
OK, Bill is not there. Let's go back to Jerrold in our Jerusalem bureau to see what else he has learned -- Jerrold.
KESSEL: Again, the figures coming in thick and fast. Just a minute. We have someone here who is a witness to the immediate aftermath. We will talk to them in a minute. Just to give you numbers now, the Israeli medical relief services saying that some 30 people have been hurt, been treated, and the original estimates we heard -- we want to be careful about the number of dead, but did we hear the police chief saying a number dead. And I think we -- the way the phrase used by the medical relief service officials whom we spoke to a short while ago, saying there were some dead.
Now we have here just come up into our bureau Shrago (ph) who is a tour guide.
Shrago, tell us what you saw. You were there. Did you see the explosion?
SHRAGO (ph): I was about 20 meters away from there, filming one of your reporters Jason Bellini, about a story about Jerusalem, and suddenly, and there were three high-ranking officers, and I looked at them, and suddenly, I heard an explosion. We knew that something happened. So I think they came around (ph). I mean, I was actually was with the camera, and I interviewed him, and I took the camera, and I ran over there, and we were the first ones to get there. So I saw the bus. You know, the right side of the bus towards the shops over there was all black, which means that this is where the explosion was, and then we saw some, you know, some bodies, some people with no arms, with no hands, I mean, blood all over, you know. And then the police started to come, and I mean I filmed over here, and I throw the camera. I immediately told me to send me over here (ph), and I know you have some of the camera I took...
KESSEL: We're going to try to get that turned around pretty quickly.
Can you confirm to us that this explosion was outside the bus at the stop, or inside the bus.
SHRAGO: No, I won't say that, but it was -- you know, the bus actually stopped with its face toward the gate, and the explosion took place on the right side of the bus. The side of the bus that I saw, which is was the northern side was -- I mean, just window were smashed in, that's it. But the worst took place where the people stood and waited for the bus, by the stop. That's where the explosion was, and the fruits and vegetables were all over.
KESSEL: People on the bus, did you see there were casualties on the bus as well?
SHRAGO: No, I couldn't get to the bus. I didn't want to get to bus, because, you know, usually, I'm also an officer in the army, usually there may be another bomb, so I didn't want to get too close. But I was about five feet away from the bus from, what happened, and I just saw everything through the camera, and I couldn't believe my own eyes.
KESSEL: Is this the first you've seen such an attack?
SHRAGO: Yes, to see. I mean, what happened to people when something like this explodes the first time, and I hope the last time in my life.
KESSEL: OK, thank very much. There an witness account of the immediate aftermath of that attack here in Jerusalem.
Paula, and we shall try to get that immediate footage that Shrago, who had been working with our Jason Bellini here had turned in, and we'll try to get it turned around as soon as possible. And as you were saying, some pretty horrific scenes there.
And the latest word we've had from the medical relief -- the Red Shield of David, the medical relief services, the equivalent of the Red Cross, and they're saying 30 people at least have been taken to the hospital, and there are a number of people dead in this latest attack. It seems to have been a suicide bomber at this bus stop as the bus was pulling up here in the heart of Jerusalem -- Paula.
ZAHN: So basically, Jerrold, what the tour guide just told you squares with what Jason Bellini saw, that most of the damage he saw in the bus, which was the front part of the bus, would suggest that the suicide bomber might have been standing at that bus stop as the bus pulled up?
KESSEL: That does sound to be the way that the tour guide was explaining it. What Jason has said before, that the side of the bus was blown away, or at least the windows, and that the worst scenes were at the bus stop, with all the shopping goods that the people had taken, fruit and vegetables strewn about. He talked horrifically of body parts also being strewn around the scene. But it does seems that the weight of the explosion was right at the bus stop, and that that seems to have been where the suicide bomber struck -- Paula.
ZAHN: Given that the military incursion still continue in the West Bank, what is the ability of the Israelis right now to mobilize these emergency units to the scene?
KESSEL: They're pretty good at that. And they have a lot of experience. And even though, this is, as I say, just on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, when they on to an emergency -- special footing rather than their regular footing. We saw how quickly both the police, and the ambulances and all the other rescue crews were on the scene. They were there in a matter of minutes. They say, regrettably, they've been so well conditioned and trained, and there is a sizable fleet of ambulances, particularly here in Jerusalem, that can get very quickly to the site of any attack. That, for one thing, is something that happens after any such attack. The wounded and the casualties are treated very, very quickly. And also they're able to get here very, very quickly, away to serious treatment in hospitals -- Paula.
ZAHN: Standby. We will get on the phone, Daniel Seaman (ph), who is a spokesman for the Israeli government.
Sir, describe to us as best you can what has happened here.
DANIEL SEAMAN (ph): Well, apparently 1620 just about time for people to leave the market on the way home for the Sabbath. The bus stop was packed with people with their bags of goods they were taking home. A suicide bomber trying to board the number six bus detonated himself apparently outside of the bus. There's obviously dozens of casualties here.
ZAHN: I know the Israeli medical services are now reporting four dead, at least 30 injured. Have the numbers changed since we last got information on this?
SEAMAN: I'm not aware of numbers at this point. I'm at the scene with the media, so I don't have any better information than what you have right now.
ZAHN: So you're pretty comfortable with saying your belief is the suicide bomber was actually standing there, may have been in the process of boarding the number six bus when the bomb went off?
SEAMAN: Well, the bus station itself is completely demolished, and the way the -- I've been to many of these scenes, and from what I can tell and my layman's understanding of it, the force of the bomb exploded from outside the bus and damaged the bus and certainly the people around it. The people were boarding the bus at that moment. It was an opportune time for the terrorists.
ZAHN: Give us a sense how many emergency crews you have on the scenes right now?
SEAMAN: Quite a lot. Sad to say in Jerusalem, we're quite experienced at this. Despite a two-week lull, this is a situation we're quite used to in the past year and a half. It underscores the campaign against Palestinian terrorism this day.
ZAHN: Mr. Seaman, was there a heightened state of alert in this part of Jerusalem because of the visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell?
SEAMAN: Essentially, every time -- we've learned of the past year and a half that every time there's a peace envoy here trying to reduce tensions, trying to reach or bring the atmosphere to one that will lead us to peace, the Palestinians respond with apparently the only way they know how to, which is increasing the violence. So it was obvious that this would have been a good day for them, and I say that rather sarcastically, because it happens every time Anthony Zinni arrives here, every time in the past year and a half, there was some envoy who tried to improve the situation.
ZAHN: Mr. Seaman, can you confirm for us where the prime minister is at this hour and where the secretary of state is?
SEAMAN: I've just left the prime minister at his office. He was on his way to a cabinet meeting inside of Jerusalem, and I understand that Powell now is meeting with Shimon Peres and is on his way to tour the north of Israel.
ZAHN: Can you share with us any kind of reaction any of the leaders had?
SEAMAN: Not at this moment. I left the prime minister at that moment, after he concluded an interview, and I was on my way to the press center, hoping there could be an end to a quiet day.
ZAHN: Obviously, you're dealing with a tremendous tragedy here. You're own agency reporting that at least 30 people injured, at least four people dead. Against this backdrop, the secretary of state is supposed to sit down and talk with Yasser Arafat this morning -- I mean, tomorrow morning. Do you want that to be canceled?
SEAMAN: We can't tell the United States what to do. We can't tell the United States what to do in the case. But we think, we hope that Secretary Powell and the president of the United States will understand that in past few weeks when our greatest ally has been calling on us to stop the actions against the terrorists, I ultimately said we weren't defying the United States. We were serious. There is a threat to the existence of the state of Israel, and to the entire western world for that matter.
Any place terrorism succeeds, it will be adopted -- the measures will be adopted elsewhere. If it doesn't stop here and now, you will have suicide bomber in Europe and you will have suicide bombers in the United States. This is not a cliche; this is the truth. It's time the rest of the world understood it. Very easy to put pressure on us, but we're a democratic country. We heed the call of Democratic countries but when it comes down to it, we have to defend ourselves, and that's what we're doing right now.
The fight in Israel is the fight of the Western world, and it's time that the Western world woke up. The United States understands us. They shouldn't let the pressure of the Europeans who have a history of giving into terrorism, of giving into fascism, of giving into Adolf Hitler 60 years ago. This is the same process going on today. And if they don't understand it, they will be facing the same thing.
We in Israel are going to eradicate terrorism. We are going to do whatever it takes. We will do this, because we no longer can tolerate this kind of suicide bombing against our civilians. No country in the world can accept that.
SEAMAN: Daniel Seamen, thank you very much for your time. We will let you get back to your work with the emergency services.
Meanwhile, let's check in with Jerrold Kessel, who has from for from our Jerusalem bureau with more -- Jerrold.
KESSEL: Paula, confirmation of the casualty figures as of now, both from the Israeli police, Jerusalem police, and the medical relief services. Four killed, 45 people wounded, of whom seven are described in serious condition, 11 medium-degree injured, 27 light injuries.
So 45 wounded, four dead. That's the figures by the police and the medical relief services. I believe all the wounded have now been taken away from the scene to hospital, but as I said a little while back, sometimes the number grow because people suffer delayed shock or have hearing problems afterwards. But these are the figures as of now of the people who have been treated, 45 wounded and, on the spot, four people dead.
ZAHN: Jerrold, please standby. Quickly bring up to date those viewers who are joining us for the first time. We have an Israeli government official now telling us that he believes that a suicide bomber was standing at a bus station not far from a very busy fruit and vegetable market in downtown Jerusalem. The force of the bomb would indicate the bomb went off outside the bus, demolishing the left side of the bus and the front end of the bus.
According to Daniel Seamen, the government spokesmen, the suicide bomber was trying to board what is called the number six bus.
Jerrold Kessel confirming for us that the medical services agencies are now saying that four people have been killed, 45 wounded, at least seven of them seriously, 11 what are described as medium injuries, 27 light injuries.
So this far exceeds, Jerrold, even a specter of what happened in Haifa, doesn't it?
KESSEL: In a way, yes. I will recall there were eight people killed there and 14 hurt. And you could say the reason for that was that the bomber was aboard the bus. So all the people who sustained injuries or the dead were all aboard the vehicle here. Clearly it seems from what we've heard from eyewitnesses, from Jason Bellini on the spot, now from the police is that the bomber was at the bus stop outside, which meant not only where the people in the bus affected, but mainly people in the street outside, and that does account for the larger number of people hit, injured and perhaps smaller number dead because they were taking the brunt of explosion right on the spot.
ZAHN: Jerrold, standby. We've got Bill Hemmer back on the phone, who is blocks away from this perimeter area now that surrounds the suicide bombing side.
Bill, what do you have?
HEMMER: Yes, Paula, similar descriptions given by eyewitnesses down here on the street. They are saying that the suicide bomber detonated himself on the street level, in front of that bus, right next to that crowded marketplace. And again, the market was crowded. There were a number of people milling about, doing their shopping right before the Sabbath is set to begin here, literally in about two hours' time. And the number of injured coming by us quite intense for a while.
Fifteen minutes ago, two more people came by, both on gurneys, prior to doing that. We saw a number of walking wounded. We saw a number of other people, one man in a neck brace, with cuts all of his body. One man was being led away by police with literally body parts all over his clothing. A young women we saw throw her purse at a camera crew that -- thought they got too close to her, her belonging being strewn about the streets. She was screaming in Hebrew, something I could not make out.
But clearly, on a nice Friday afternoon, the calm that proceeded this explosion has been absolutely shattered. Jaffa Street is one of the main thoroughs there, throughout Jerusalem. Less than a mile from our location here, Paula, Colin Powell is staying at a hotel. His talks began this morning with Ariel Sharon, then later with Shimon Peres. He was to make a visit in the northern part of the country, and then, tomorrow, that meeting with Yasser Arafat in his compound in Ramallah.
We've been led to believe for quite some time now that Colin Powell would tell Yasser Arafat to publicly denounce the kind of act that we are seeing and witnessing today. What impact today's events have certainly doesn't do anything to improve the picture on the scene here. We've seen killing by the hour for two weeks straight now. At this point, it's not stopping -- Paula.
ZAHN: Bill, we should note this sixth suicide bombing since Passover. Once again, Daniel Seaman of the Israeli government confirming exactly what your witnesses have told you, that it is their belief that the suicide bomber was actually standing at the bus station. When you see the picture of the bus, you can the bus station is blown out. Most of the damage is to the left side of the bus and the front half of the bus. The suicide bomber apparently trying to get on the number six bus. So give us a sense of how many people were in this marketplace as Passover is about to begin.
ZAHN: Excuse me, I said Passover; I meant the Sabbath.
HEMMER: Yes, Paula, I've literally crossed that marketplace everyday for two weeks running, and sometimes it was literally empty, especially during the Passover holiday. For a week straight, there were very few people inside there.
But today what I thought was quite remarkable is that the weather is absolutely beautiful today. And coming down Jaffa (ph) Street toward our bureau passing that just about five minutes before that bomb went off, I looked over and saw the marketplace with literally dozens and dozens of people inside doing about their shopping.
And it should also be pointed out, Paula, Israeli security certainly has stepped up. There are police guards, there are those who check and frisk people trying to make their way into that market. There are barricades essentially set up at each end of the opening for that market. So clearly, there were security steps taken. But as the Israeli government has said repeatedly, they cannot stop all who want to penetrate Israel Proper and blow themselves up here on the streets. And yet again, we saw it today -- Paula.
ZAHN: All right, Bill, please stand by. We are going to try to get Gideon Meir on the phone, who is a senior member of the Foreign Ministry of Israel. Mr. Meir, can you hear me?
Yes, I hear you.
ZAHN: What happened?
GIDEON MEIR, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: Another suicide bomber, another suicide bomber on the eve of our holy day of Sabbath. It's like the Passover massacre. They know, the Palestinians may be accustomed to have these suicide bombers on our holy days. And this is something that we have to stop. This is something we have to fight. I know it is not easy to fight it, but it only shows why we have to continue to put pressure into eliminating the infrastructure of terror, because without eliminating this infrastructure of terror, this will continue, and we will never be able to go back to the peace table.
ZAHN: Are you saying that this was intentionally done to derail Secretary of State Powell's mission?
MEIR: Look, I can tell you one thing. Every time that an American emissary is coming to Israel, there's a wave of terror. We had it twice with General Zinni. We had once when the vice president came here, and this is the third time. Now, if we wouldn't be where we are now in some of the places, it will be worse. And I have to say, that I said it before, they are preparing for every American emissary who comes here in order to bring about a cease-fire. And this is a real and sincere effort by the American administration to bring about the cease-fire. And every time they are trying to derail this effort in order to continue this vicious terror.
ZAHN: We were earlier talking with Daniel Seaman, who is one of your colleagues, who suggested it's not up to the Israelis to tell the United States what to do. But in light of this being the sixth suicide bombing since Passover, are you going to call on Secretary of State Colin Powell to cancel his meeting tomorrow with Yasser Arafat? MEIR: I don't know. It is too early. Only a half an hour, an hour after this vicious terror attack here in the middle of Jerusalem. and I don't know what the Israeli Cabinet will decide. I think it is too early, but I think that Yasser Arafat is very -- is he a terrorist himself. He is the one who is encouraging this terror attack. We showed and we have evidence for it.
And I don't think Yasser Arafat can ever become a partner for any peace negotiation, because he doesn't want peace. He wants to continue this terror. He is encouraged by the terror attack, and we have to find -- or hopefully the Palestinians will come to a conclusion that they need a different leadership, because it's for the Palestinians to decide who the leaders are going to be and who are going to lead them in order to really stop their suffering and the suffering of the Israeli people. Because there must be stop to it, and only a different leadership will be able to bring them to the negotiating table and to do something which will make them a better -- bring them a better life and hopefully a Palestinian state.
ZAHN: Gideon Meir, thank you very much for your time. And in the middle of this crisis, let's quickly go back to Jerrold Kessel who is standing by in our Jerusalem bureau -- Jerrold.
KESSEL: Paula, what I have here is an unconfirmed by the police and by the medical relief services are saying that the casualty fatalities are now six dead and 62 wounded there; 62 wounded, yes, the medical relief services are confirming. But six dead rather than four is now the number being given by Israeli Television. That's not yet confirmed by the police.
And beyond that there is -- Israeli Television is saying that the bomber was a woman. This is not confirmed by the police. They say they are still assessing that, but they are not absolutely sure.
One other report not confirmed from other sources from Israeli Television saying that there has been a claim of responsibility from the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. That's the group loosely aligned to the Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat. But that, as I say, only Israel Television (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reporting that claim. But it could work into the fact that if this was a woman bomber rather than one of the militant Islamic groups, who have not yet said that they would send women bombers out, but the al Aqsa secular group among the Palestinians have in the past, there have been at least two instances of women bombers belong to the al Aqsa, if not to the al Aqsa Brigade, at least to secular groups in the Palestinian community -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jerrold, you just heard Gideon Meir basically saying that he expects the Israeli Cabinet to meet. He is not sure what they are going to decide, but it might not surprise him if they ask Secretary Powell not to meet with Arafat tomorrow. Now, you just mentioned the al Aqsa Brigade potentially taking credit for this suicide bombing. There were documents that "The New York Times" reports this morning that were handed over to the U.S. government showing what they say is a clear link that Yasser Arafat was funding the activities of the al Aqsa Brigade. How much does this complicate this mission? KESSEL: Enormously. If it is the al Aqsa Brigade, whether or not those documents verify or substantiate the Israeli contention that this links Mr. Arafat himself to terror or not, that is a moot point, and that's a contentious issue -- remains a contentious issue. But if indeed, if the al Aqsa Brigade takes responsibility, that's a complicating factor, because they are directly linked in one form or another to Mr. Arafat's movement, the Fatah mainstream movement, not, you could say, part of the Islamic opposition.
And we have been trying very hard to see if we could make contact with the secretary of state and his party now. And we know that they went up north to the Israeli northern border with Lebanon, because Mr. Powell had been expressing a good deal of concern in his statement after that meeting with Mr. Sharon about the volatile situation on Israel's border with Lebanon. And he did fly up there, and we do know now that he has been alerted to the latest developments. But Mr. Powell is still on that Israeli northern border with Lebanon, and we await to see his statement, although we have now had an immediate condemnation from the United States Embassy saying that this incident is condemned in the strongest possible way -- Paula.
ZAHN: All right. Jerrold Kessel confirming that Israeli officials are now saying six dead; 62 wounded. Israeli TV at this hour is reporting that they believe the bomber who strapped a bra on her back, it was a woman, that she was standing at a bus station trying to board the number 6 bus, and that the force of the explosion would suggest that the left side of the bus was blown out. And most of the damage to the bus is on the front half of the bus. Also blowing up the bus station.
John Walsh was supposed to be a guest on our show a half hour ago. He has studied these bombers. And as we continue to keep our eyes trained on these pictures John, does it come as any surprise to you that this is the sixth suicide bomber since Passover? A number of Israeli officials saying you could have expected this to happen any time you have a high ranking official trying to make peace.
JOHN WALSH: Absolutely. I think it's reprehensible. It is disgusting. We are looking at pictures that are horrifying. I have been profiling these guys since the '93 World Trade Tower bombings. These are people that are coming into Israel and killing innocent women and children. Israelis are not going into Palestinian territories and killing women and children and suicide bombers.
I mean, if it was happening here, I really don't think America has the right to tell Israel what to do. Israel is in a fight for their lives. We are looking at it right now. They are at war with Yasser Arafat. He is a coward, he is a terrorist. There is enough information and documentation of what he has done over the years. It is taller than the Empire State Building. He is a coward, he is a terrorist. They kill elderly, they kill women, they kill children.
And you know. when Hitler committed suicide, Nazism was over in Germany. When Mussolini was murdered and killed in Italy, Italy went back to democracy. Yasser Arafat has to be held accountable for what is he doing, what is he doing to the Israeli people. He either has to be killed, that's my personal opinion -- I have known Colin Powell for 15 years. He is a soldier at heart. And it must be killing him to be there today, to see this slaughter, and this is slaughter, this is innocent slaughter of innocent civilians, not soldiers, not Israeli fighters. This is innocent civilians. It must be killing him to say, do I have to go and meet with this terrorist, this guy? And there have been Americans killed by Yasser Arafat. They participated in the bombings of our embassy in Beirut and the killings of our soldiers in the Beirut Barracks.
I don't think the media is being correct in reporting these things, because Israel is fighting for its survival. They are at war.
ZAHN: All right. I don't have time to bring on the opposition on that, but as we continue to focus on these figures now, six dead, 62 wounded, I want you to come back to your study of the profile of the suicide bombers. We know that Saddam Hussein has written checks of anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000...
ZAHN: ... to the families of suicide bombers. But for the first time, we have seen a pattern of female bombers.
ZAHN: Women willing to strap these bombs on their backs.
WALSH: Brainwashed, brainwashed that when they sacrifice their life for Allah, that they are going to spend the rest of their life in paradise. Now I have been in the Persian Gulf. And finally the media is starting to realize what a hypocrite Yasser Arafat is. When CNN interviews and he tells you one thing, that the Israelis are terrorists, but if you see him on al-Jazeera or Egyptian television, he turns around in Arabic and says, these are my heroes, these are my angels. We should destroy all Jews. We should drive Jews into Israel, and America is the aggressor. America supports the Israelis.
He talks out of both sides of his mouth, and I say the media should really get in touch with what Yasser Arafat says to the Arab world and what he says to the CNN. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth, and he is he a cold-blooded terrorist.
ZAHN: All right, stand by, John Walsh. We have on the telephone a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, and for that, we go to Atlanta and then Daryn Kagan is going to pick up the conversation.
KAGAN: Thank you very much. I am Daryn Kagan along with Leon Harris. We will continue our coverage right now of the events that are taking place in Jerusalem. Let's get right to the pictures and to the latest facts and the breaking news in the Middle East.
Just over a half hour ago, an explosion ripping through a crowded marketplace in Jerusalem. Our crews on the scene tell us there are several casualties. The latest numbers we are getting, 6 killed, 62 wounded. These are some of the early pictures we are getting fed in. Israeli police say it appears to have been a suicide bombing at a bus stop. That would make it the sixth suicide bombing since Passover. The outdoor market has been a scene of frequent suicide bombings in the past.
We have with us on the phone right now, Danny Ayalon. He is chief foreign policy adviser for Israel Prime Minister Sharon. Mr. Ayalon, thank you for joining us.
DANNY AYALON, CHIEF FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: Thank you.
KAGAN: Do you have any later facts and figures than what we have reported, six killed, 62 wounded in this Jerusalem marketplace?
IYALAN (ph): Yes. Those are the figures we have right now. Unfortunately, we know how these events unfold. It's usually the numbers are increasing as time goes by. This is another devastating terror attack, which again strengthens our demand from the Palestinians to stop the terror, the incitement and the violence.
And so far, the international community was focused on when would Israel pull out? Well, we have started to pull out, but we don't see any simultaneous action by the Palestinians. Not only they do not stop the terror attacks, they keep the incitement, they keep the violence, they do not dismantle the organizations, and they do not call for a cease-fire as the resolutions call for.
KAGAN: Well, Mr. Ayalon two, things are happening at one time. You are pulling out of some areas, but the incursion continues in others, but the world right now watching the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. We saw him earlier today with Prime Minister Sharon with plans to meet tomorrow with Mr. Arafat. Will there be a call by the Israeli government now to call off that meeting between Mr. Arafat and Mr. Powell? And will keep it from taking place?
AYALON: Well, again, this is a devastating pattern. Every time we have a high level emissary here, or an envoy, who is trying to promote these, who is trying to do away with terror, you see an increasing efforts by the Palestinians terrorists to try and derail the mission. You see it all over again.
We see also that Mr. Arafat and his top aides are directly connected to the terror, not only they do not prevent it, as they are committed in all of the agreements we have with them, but they in fact so actively do the terror. They sign (ph) in, they instigate and perpetrate..
Karen: So I will repeat my question, Mr. Ayalon. Will the Israeli government keep Secretary Powell from meeting with Mr. Arafat tomorrow?
AYALON: Well, it is not our business to really interfere with the secretary's schedule, but our position about Arafat, and not only has he not changed, but he is ever stronger. He is the one responsible for the situation we're in. He is the one who is perpetrating terror. He is responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people. And we do feel for them, and we would like to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) possible to help their living conditions. But the situation is as such that he is as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of your terror, and he is conducting this terror campaign. And we must defend ourselves, and we will.
KAGAN: Will there be any more meetings today between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Powell? And do you know what their whereabouts are right now?
AYALON: No, I don't believe so. We are entering the Shabbat here, and I don't think there would be any work meeting over Shabbat.
KAGAN: Danny Ayalon, chief foreign policy adviser for Mr. Sharon -- thank you very much for joining us -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right. Now, what we want to show you right now is some of the first videotape that we actually did get from the scene moments after it happened. We just happened to have a reporter, Jason Bellini, over there who has been covering some stories for us, covering all of this for us from our bureau in Jerusalem. And we apologize for this, but we want you to understand what we are doing as we are trying to re-rack (ph) this tape and rewind it, so that you can see it.
This is tape that Jason shot on his way to the scene. He actually was shooting as he was running -- let's listen.
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): All right. I am here -- stand by -- stand by. Oh, my God. Igor (ph), it is Jason. There is one woman in front of me who is hurt. She is bleeding. I am trying to get a little bit closer to see what's going on. There was a loud explosion. It happened about four minutes ago.
What's the name of this market?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come with me! Come with me! Come with me!
BELLINI: I just need another minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.
HARRIS: now, watching this with us right now is Jason Bellini, a reporter who actually was filming this as he was walking down there and trying to make his way down to that site where the bomb went off next to that bus. Actually Jason is joining us now live from our Jerusalem bureau now, right? You're back in the bureau, correct, Jason?
BELLINI: I am back in the bureau, Leon, and I am watching this video myself for the first time. What you are showing now is just before I hand the camera over to my translator, who then shot video as well. I called into our CNN bureau as soon as I heard the blast. At that point, I was in the middle of the market, and we just heard a loud blast. We couldn't even really tell which -- which direction it came from, because the stalls in the market, the sound of the blast resonated off the stalls in the market. People were running in all different directions. No one knew which way to go.
I headed one way, and it turned out to be the direction in which the explosion took place. And then I saw people running towards me, people running back at me, some carrying their groceries, and then some horrific images as I was walking there, talking on the phone with our international desk and also trying to shoot with my camera.
I got as close to the scene as I could to get some pictures to try to figure out what happened. I saw the bus with all of the broken glass. It was hard at that point to know what exactly had happened, whether it was on the bus or whether it was right next to it.
HARRIS: Right, right. Well, when you did make your way down there, when you did get a chance to get that close, can you give us an idea of how wide the area of the blast actually is? How wide do you think the circle of destruction was?
BELLINI: It is hard to say. The destruction is on the other side of the bus, on the other side of what you are looking at right now. I got a look at that a little bit later after the area had been cleared, and you saw on the ground, there was -- but my translator, he took the camera and he what's shooting this video. So this is stuff I have not seen yet before myself. But there you saw there were groceries all over the ground. When I saw this later, there were groceries all over the ground. There was an area of the pavement that looked like it was completely blown away.
HARRIS: And what about the response? Now, we know just how accustomed the Israeli people and the authorities there have come -- I guess become to these sorts of tragedies there. How soon after you heard the explosion did you see the response by the emergency personnel?
BELLINI: Emergency personnel, they arrived there a minute or two after I got onto Jaffa Street right there, which you are looking at right now. And I arrived there -- I think it was about five to six minutes after the blast. In the confusion of things, you really lose track of time. I am not sure exactly how long. It was about six minutes.
HARRIS: Yes. I am sure -- I can understand that, Jason. But what were you doing down there in the first place?
BELLINI: I was there doing some interviews with people for a story I was working on for tonight and had the camera rolling. My translator was holding it at the time when the blast occurred. And we stopped in our tracks when we heard the explosion, again trying to figure out what direction it was coming from, not knowing whether to run in that direction or away from it.
I was in the market area, because it was a very crowded area at that hour. There were a lot of people making their last-minute purchases before their dinner. The area was packed with hundreds of people. I have no idea how many.
HARRIS: Well, Jason, you say you are seeing these pictures yourself for the first time. Let's give you a chance to listen to the first report you filed for us. This is the first report that we got from Jason some almost about maybe 40 minutes ago or so. This is the first report from Jason Bellini there next to that scene where the bomb went off next to that bus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELLINI (on camera): I was walking through the market and a heard loud explosion. I walked in the direction of where I heard it. Lots of people were running the other direction, and then I saw people who were obviously badly injured being pulled away. Right now I am being pushed back by the police as they put one injured person who is on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Jason, what was running through your mind as you are running with this camera down the street and filing that report?
BELLINI: It was such incredible chaos. I wasn't sure which to do first to concentrate on, shooting some good pictures to the reporting of what I was observing at that moment and getting the word to our international desk, or running away from it all as I think my mother would have wanted me to. I ended up trying to talk on the phone and shoot at the same time.
HARRIS: Can you give us an idea...
BELLINI: Normally I'm a better photographer.
HARRIS: Yes. If you can you run through the pictures in your mind right now when you were down there? Any idea how many children you happened to see down there? Did you see any at all?
BELLINI: I did see some children with their parents. I have no idea how many. But once the explosion took place, there was just such a confusion of people. For a brief instance, everyone stood still and trying to figure out, was this really an explosion? Did we -- and I myself wondered for a moment if I was believing what I was hearing.
HARRIS: You know, and as I watch these pictures, it doesn't seem to me though -- I mean, that that people are panicked. I see their anger, but I don't necessarily get a sense of panic from watching these pictures. What did you feel there?
BELLINI: Well, the anger we witnessed later. I saw other reporters with their cameras and people, civilians there on the street were pushing them away, telling them not to take photos of the victims of the explosion. I am looking at this as well right now. Yes, the people weren't screaming. People were pushing each other over. I have to say that people were quite orderly as they were moving out of the area. Even though people were running towards us, the walking wounded were coming in our direction. HARRIS: And I am watching these pictures, though, Jason, people here have been -- this is the kind of scene that you don't see here in the United States. You know, these emergency personnel are being helped by what looks like ordinary people. We are seeing just some regular people, but not wearing uniforms at all also manning some of the gurneys.
BELLINI: That's interesting. Some of the first information that I received was from a civilian who was on the street helping someone whose leg was injured. She spoke Hebrew, and was able to translate for me what he was saying. He had been at that bus stop right when it happened. And some of my best information came from her as she was working on him.
There were so many people who were coming out of that area. There were countless civilians who were picking people up, carrying them away before the emergency relief got there.
HARRIS: Yes, I don't mean to really dwell on the grim aspect of this, but can you give us some sort of at least a rough idea of some of the worst casualties that you actually witnessed?
BELLINI: In the swirl of it all, it was hard to really focus on any particular image. I remember seeing people who were holding their heads and they were obviously bleeding very heavily. As I got closer to the scene, I saw some bodies right there around the bus. At that point, I didn't want to get too close with the camera and get a picture of that, because it was horrifying. The body itself wasn't identifiable. It looked there were no clothes on the body. It was a horrifying scene in those moments.
HARRIS: Well, Jason, we thank you very much for your work. And we will be talking with you again, no doubt about this, but we really do appreciate the fact that you were able to get down there so quickly and give us these pictures, amazing pictures this morning.
Let's go over to Daryn Kagan.
KAGAN: Good for him, quick thinking and he said he wasn't sure what to do, but clearly he did the good job of a fine CNN journalist, and we will be checking back with Jason Bellini.
Meanwhile, we have been getting important information on this latest suicide bombing. First of all, claiming responsibility for it, al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, that of course a faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Also CNN has confirmed that this latest suicide bomber was a woman. That would be the third female suicide bomber in about the last month or so.
Right now, let's go to Jerrold Kessel, who is standing by on the phone in Jerusalem -- Jerrold.
KESSEL: Yes, what you were saying there is in fact the outcome of a conversation from a telephone caller to CNN's man down in Gaza with the claim of responsibility from the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. In that telephone, they have also been on the phone to Hezbollah's Al- Manor (ph) television reporting that out of Lebanon. And it is from that conversation that they said that this was a young woman, was the description used in Arabic of the claim of responsibility, carried out this attack.
And as you rightly say, that would be the third woman who had carried out a suicide attack in Jerusalem in the last several weeks. And no confirmation of that from the Israeli police, although they have said it was -- they were working on the assumption that it might have been a woman bomber, but they did not confirm that. This is in the claim of the responsibility from the telephone caller of the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade claim of responsibility.
KAGAN: And, Jerrold, meanwhile, any more information specifically on the bombing? Was this woman on the bus or perhaps waiting at the bus stop at this bus pulled up?
KESSEL: The best assumption, and that's working on the results of the bombing and how the police and the rescue services can estimate things, and including accounts from eyewitnesses that the actual explosion occurred not on the bus itself, but at the bus stop. And that's where the worst of the casualties occurred as Jason Bellini was reporting there. People on the ground at the bus stop, Jason, as that bus drew up to the stop right outside the Jerusalem market.
What we are waiting to see now, and I think this will be a very key matter, will be the response of Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has traveled up north to Israel's northern boarder, where there has been a volatile situation evolving over the last week with constant firing of the Hezbollah group at Israeli positions, both in northern Israel and in the Israeli-occupied areas of the Golan Heights, and Israel responding very fiercely.
Mr. Powell mentioned the concerns of this situation exploding, and he traveled up there to get a firsthand look. We know he has landed there. He didn't turn around. And we are waiting to see what will be his statement. And I say this is important, because just moments ago, a leading Israeli Cabinet minister on the scene of the bombing in Jerusalem was saying he didn't call directly for Mr. Powell to cancel his meeting with Yasser Arafat, that much disputed meeting with the Palestinian leader tomorrow. But he did say something pertinent. He said, I think that Secretary of State Powell should come here to see what is happening on the streets of Jerusalem, and that may make him reconsider his decision to meet with Yasser Arafat tomorrow.
So clearly that will be a direction in which the Israelis might be heading in their talks with Mr. Powell, which might resume once he gets back from the tour of the border between Israel and Lebanon.
KAGAN: All right. Jerrold Kessel on the phone with us from Jerusalem once again with the latest information that al Aqsa Brigade claiming responsibility for this latest attack, a faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement; also the information that this latest suicide bombing in this Jerusalem marketplace was a woman -- Leon.
HARRIS: And despite that link through the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, it is surprising, to me at least, that Sharon not asking Secretary of State Colin Powell to cancel his meeting with Yasser Arafat, but that may be something that the Secretary Powell talks about with President Bush.
Let's check in now with John King at the White House right now.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, not to be unexpected at all, the White House condemning this attack in Jerusalem this morning. Just moments ago, the White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer just moments ago meeting with reporters here at the White House.
Let me read you a bit from the statement he made before taking many questions about this. Quote from Ari Fleischer, again -- quote -- "The president condemns this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem. There are clearly people in the region who want to disrupt Secretary Powell's missions. The president will not be deterred from seeking peace despite this attack."
Now you just heard some in Israel wondering whether Secretary Powell will meet with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Ari Fleischer saying there are no plans to change the schedule, and that Secretary Powell will sit down with Mr. Arafat tomorrow, although Ari Fleischer did say, again, during that briefing with reporters -- quote -- "The Palestinian Authority needs to renounce violence and terror. This is terrorism. This is murder."
Ari Fleischer going on to say that the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says -- quote -- "Chairman Arafat has not earned the president's trust. The president made his call on all three parties. That would be Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Arab world, to do more to stop the violence and to create a political dialogue that could at least bring about a cease-fire and security cooperation, if not down the road a bit, a return to some peace negotiations.
So it appears, at least at this point, Powell's meeting with Arafat will go forward, although senior U.S. officials tell us even before this morning's bombing, his message will be quite blunt, that there will be not many, at least, perhaps not even any at all, future meetings unless the Palestinian leader acts immediately and quickly to not only publicly renounce terror, but to arrest those believed to be responsible, and to crackdown on groups like Al Aqsa which has ties to Arafat's Fatah movement and do much more to crack down on the terrorism -- Leon.
HARRIS: John, do we expect President Bush to be making a statement himself publicly himself today?
KING: The president has no public events on his schedule at which he would make such a statement. Often in such cases, the press secretary speaks for him, or the president would print out a statement in writing. Whether this rises to the level of President Bush himself, we have no indication whether he will do so.
As of now, the press secretary speaking for the White House, and obviously Secretary Powell is in the region, and the president has tried in recent days, despite his clear displeasure with Prime Minister Sharon, his clear frustration with Mr. Arafat and others, the president has tried to stay out of the mix, if you will, over the past few days, to leave the speaking and the diplomacy to Secretary Powell. We'll keep track of that here at the White House to see if anything changes.
HARRIS: Let's see what's happening with the Secretary Powell right now.
John, standby for just a second.
Andrea Koppel, our State Department correspondent is traveling with the secretary of state, and she is with him, or at least somewhere near him in the northern Israeli area near the Lebanese boarder, and she is on the phone with us right now.
Andrea, what are you hearing there?
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Leon, Secretary Powell got off the helicopter a few moments ago and went into the beginning of a briefing, Israeli general (ph). The purpose of his meeting up here had nothing to do with today's most recent suicide attack, but rather with the ongoing cross-border shelling that's been taking place now for some time. It's been stepped up recently. The Hezbollah guerrillas firing across the lines from Lebanon into northern Israel. Right now, we're about 12 kilometers away from the border with Lebanon, along the Sea of Galilee.
The purpose of Secretary Powell's mission here, to the northern command headquarters, is to get a briefing on the latest developments here along the boarder. The U.S., as you know, has been just as concerned as Israel about the potential for the violence to spread throughout the region, not just within Israel, but beyond its boarders, and clearly, the recent violence on the boarder with Lebanon is just one example of that.
We have had no reaction as of yet from Secretary Powell to the suicide bombing in Jerusalem. But we're expecting to see him momentarily for a photo opportunity, and I'm sure we will hear the same words echoed to the Secretary Powell that we just heard from the white house from John King -- Leon.
HARRIS: Andrea, it may be premature. Any idea whether or not the incidents this morning will change the agenda of the meeting that Secretary Powell does have with Yasser Arafat, assuming that meeting does go on as scheduled.
KOPPEL: We have no idea, and I think that is certainly something that Secretary Powell and his aides will be discussing with the White House, if they aren't already, to where they go from here. But certainly, Secretary Powell has made very clear before he even arrived to Israel, that he felt the ongoing military incursion, and speaking on behalf of the U.S. government, that the ongoing military incursion into the West Bank, that it was something that would be more of a temporary fix for Israel's problem with suicide bombers. Secretary Powell saying you have to have a way out, not just dealing with the problem today, you have to have a solution, you have to be working toward a solution, which is what he was discussing earlier today with Israel's prime minister. He didn't seem to make much headway.
As we heard, the Israeli prime minister not giving the United States any kind of a clear idea as to just how long this military incursion will last, despite the fact that the Bush administration has been demanding now for well over a week for Israel to withdrawal immediately -- Leon.
HARRIS: Exactly. If we have John King -- is John still there? John?
KING: Yes, Leon.
HARRIS: Is there any word yet from the White House on whether or not the U.S. call for Israel to show restraint and to back out of these areas, if that call is going to change?
KING: You have noticed in recent days, the language in that call was changing. What the administration was saying over the weekend, the president himself said to Prime Minister Sharon was that Israel should withdrawal its forces and do so immediately.
As some withdrawals have taken place, other incursions in other locations over the past 48-72 hours. The administration has said it wants the withdrawal completed. And has actually complicated the Sharon government on beginning it. You have the administration cut in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, it accepts the evidence that senior Palestinian authority officials are involved in these terrorism attacks, and completely respects and acknowledges the right of the Sharon government to respond with military force.
So in the short term, if you look at this from a short term, a terrorist bombing, the Israeli government reacting, the administration support and understands what it is seeing.
What the administration is saying though that if you step back and try to have a long term view, it is critical that the Israelis troops pull back from the Palestinian territories, so that you can then put pressure on Arafat and others to stop the violence, stop the terrorist attacks, stop Arab governments saluting and paying tribute to what they call the martyrs, the suicide bombers, and get into dialogue for peace in the long term. A collision, if you will, between the long and short term when come to administration's policy in the region. The administration does not dispute Prime Minister Sharon right to react. What it says, is long-term Israeli security interest in the view of the White House mandate you pull the troops out and try to get back to at least short-term cease-fire arrangement and try to build some trust.
Although everyone here at the White House acknowledges, especially when it comes to the two leader, Mr. Arafat and Ariel Sharon, there is no trust and no hope for trust.
HARRIS: Exactly, and that's why we have to stand by and watch whether or not this cycle of explosions or violence and then retaliation is going to continue, and what that's going to mean to the entire process.
John King at the White House, thanks very much.
Andrea Koppel there, traveling with Secretary of State Colin Powell in northern Israel, than, you as well.
Daryn, over to you.
KAGAN: We want to go back to Jerusalem to get the latest on the situation and the latest information on the suicide bombing.
We have Jerrold Kessel on the phone.
Jerrold, you've had a chance to talk to police.
KESSEL: Indeed, Daryn, and now the Israeli police are confirming there are six people confirmed killed by the suicide bombers, and some 70 people wounded. There has been some dispute where there was only four dead, but now the police are saying they can confirm six people killed by the suicide bomber, and the Israeli police chief commissioner Slomer Anaski (ph) saying a short while ago that the bomber was, in fact, a woman.
We heard a short of while ago a claim of responsibility from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, they said a women carried out the bombing, and this now confirmed by the Israeli police commissioner, saying it was a woman bomber.
KAGAN: Besides the fact that she was a young woman, are we getting any more information about her, Jerrold?
KESSEL: The only thing that I've just seen now, Israeli television in a flash saying, according to Palestinian sources, but this is from nowhere else, and I think we can be wary of this. It may be true, may be not, but they're saying that Palestinian sources, quoted by Israeli television, saying that the woman bomber came out of Jenin.
Now of course that would be significant if it was ascertained to be true, because Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp in particularly have been at the heart of the major arguments now over the Israeli -- the massive Israeli military sweep and the offensive into Palestinian town, but only today, that really -- the argument over out many Palestinians were killed there, and what manner and so forth, very much overshadowing to some degree the beginning of the Powell mission.
As he was meeting with Prime Minister Sharon, the Palestinian saying bluntly that he must address the question of the -- of what they call the massacre of Palestinians in that refugee camp.
As I say, this is only from Israeli television at the moment, quoting Palestinian sources saying that the woman bomber came out of Jenin.
KAGAN: All right. Tell you what, Jerrold, we are going to let you go so you can go gather some more information on that. Meanwhile, want to go back to the idea of the claim of responsibility, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a faction of Arafat's Fatah movement. Let's bring in our senior political analyst Bill Schneider who is standing by in Washington, D.C. watching this breaking news coverage with us.
Bill, it is incredible significance if, in fact -- and it does appear to be true, that this is the group that is claiming responsibility of this latest suicide bombing the day before Colin Powell is to meet with Yasser Arafat.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course, the impact of any tragedy in the Middle East is really never straight forward. The question is, why would this group be doing something that would undercut the American mission, which is supposed to put pressure on Israel, which would make it very questionable that Secretary of State Powell would even meet with Yasser Arafat tomorrow. Why would they be undercutting America's peace mission that's supposed to put pressure on Israel to withdraw?
Well, it's very complicated. This group that's claiming responsibility is closely linked to Arafat. It suggests that they have a deliberate message here. They are inviting retaliation by Israel. Why in the world would they do that? Remember, these are people who feel that they have nothing to lose. They feel that the Israeli retaliation has isolated Israel in world opinion, and that, they believe, makes it more likely for them to get what they want.
It also sends a message to Israel and to the world that the Israeli retaliation is not working. It's only increasing the risk and insecurity. That is not the message that the Israeli government authorities articulated a little while ago. They said this underscores the necessity of Israel's campaign. We heard that from the Israeli government spokesman Daniel Seaman, That's why Israel has to act now. We have to eliminate the terrorist first.
Another reading of this is, the Israeli campaign is not working. It is increasing the problem.
KAGAN: And let's look at these ties to Yasser Arafat. It brings up the question that continues to cycle around and around. Either he has control over these people or he doesn't have control over these people. And you can make arguments either way with this latest development, I think.
SCHNEIDER: Well, we don't really know the answer to that. The Israeli authorities have given the United States evidence, they believe that links...
KAGAN: These documents that show the money trail leads right back to Yasser Arafat's signature.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. There appear to be direct links to Yasser Arafat, and they have branded him a terrorist, and they have indicated that they cannot do business with him. They cannot make any deal with him. They cannot make peace because there's no one to make peace with, which raises a question. If Colin Powell wants to make some kind of an agreement, who is the agreement going to be between. Well, the United States had not branded Arafat himself a terrorist, it says that it condemns him for not ostracizing, arresting, and isolating the terrorists. But his connection to them, the Israelis believe they have evidence to demonstrate.
KAGAN: And let's look at this quandary that Secretary Powell is in at this point. If he does go ahead and meet with Yasser Arafat tomorrow, symbolically, it like he is sitting down with somebody who has ties to a bombing that took place just the day before. If he doesn't, and he comes back to the U.S. with nothing to show for it, it's like he was beat by the violence.
SCHNEIDER: Exactly right, and that was the point that the violence was aimed at creating. It's aimed at putting the United States on the spot. If Secretary Powell meets with Arafat, Israelis will be outraged, with public opinion, if not the official government. A lot of people in the world will be very critical of the United States for sitting down with someone who is directly linked to these terrorist outrages, and the United States will look like it is willing to do business with terrorists. Very difficult position, awkward for the United States. But again, as you put it, Powell can't come back empty-handed. The whole point of this terrorist operation is to put the United States in an impossible position.
KAGAN: And the puzzle gets even more complicated. Bill Schneider in New York. Bill, thank you -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right. Let's try to get recap of exactly what is happening, and walk our audience now back though what we have learned just a little over an hour or so ago. What happened here on Mahane Yehuda -- at the Mahane Yehuda market there off the Jaffa Street, which is a major thoroughfare there in Jerusalem. A suicide bomber exploded a device just outside of a bus, or perhaps just getting on a bus, and bus stop there for the number six bus near that market. At that time of the late afternoon in Israel, it was around 4:00 PM local time, which would make it around 9:00 AM Eastern time, just after that, is when this explosion happened, and there were quite a few people who were there in the market.
At this particular point, authorities there are telling us that six people have died, and that some 70 have been wounded by this explosion. Now, we have also learned that the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has claimed responsibility for this blast, and we have learned that the suicide bomber in this case was a woman, and so we are just now getting all of these details, these coming in -- perhaps almost as an hour and a half, two hours after this incident happened so we're -- I'm sorry, about an hour and a half after the incident happened. So we are trying to track down all the information, and helping us do so is our own Bill Hemmer who was there moments after it all happened, and Bill is checking in with us now from Jerusalem -- Bill.
HEMMER: Hello, Leon, once again from Jerusalem. I want to back up just a little bit here. It was shortly after 4:00. I personally was in a taxi along Jaffa Street, and the reason I make mention of that is because it was quite remarkable, Leon, to see how calm things were at that point. We were just about two hours from sundown at that point, right before the Sabbath was to begin.
And the marketplace that a lot of people are talking about, the marketplace in question, right now, frankly had been rather crowded with shopper collecting fruits and vegetables, meat and food just in time for the Sabbath. Israelis tell me and medics on the scene say that at this point, toward the end of day, this is when you get a lot of older people that come to the market. They say a lot of poor people also come as well because, simply, the prices drop as you get closer to the beginning of the Sabbath, and the closing of that marketplace.
At both ends -- again, this stretches a little more than a city block, that market with openings to Israeli streets on both sides. At both ends, you have security guards, you have barricades set up. We know that people have been frisked by the hour, frankly, as people enter, not only that market, but stores and shops here in Jerusalem.
What is plainly obvious from this move today, though, is that the Martyr Brigade is telling the Israeli government and the Israeli people that despite the incursions in the West Bank, and despite their best efforts to root out what they consider the infrastructure of terrorism, they are saying that they can strike at any point they want, and indeed the point they chose today was central Jerusalem. You've seen that bus in the picture. On the right side of the bus, you may or may not be able to see the charred remains and the windows that have been blown out.
Eyewitnesses say the suicide bomber, now we are being told now it is a woman, that woman suicide bomber was standing outside the bus, detonated the explosions. People on board the bus were injured, and certainly people along the street were injured as well. While I was standing there, a number of people, perhaps two dozen, had passed our position en route to ambulances who had streamed toward the scene by the dozens. And as they were led away, a number of them were cut, many on gurneys, some in neck braces. One man walked by, about in his mid-40s, I would say, calmly staring straight ahead with, literally, pieces of flesh on his body, as he was led away by police.
The scene quickly thereafter, as the Israeli have come to become rather good at the cleanup process on the streets. The market was vacated almost immediately, and about 20 minutes after that explosion, they allowed a number of reporters to get closer to the scene, and it was literally a scene of devastation. There were -- in addition to that -- there were fruits and vegetables strewn about the street. The people in that market, had just absolutely vacated the place. When I left, it was only reporters, photographers from all over the world, a few bystanders, not many, but mostly police trying to keep some sense of calm in the streets of Jerusalem today.
From the hospital now, a spokesperson who describes to us the latest numbers we have, and also what they are finding as the victims were treated nearby. Here is that spokesperson from the hospital in Jerusalem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...first wounded within a matter of few minutes. We have saw already 26 wounded, one of them seriously wounded, two of them medium wounded, and the rest slight shrapnel wounds. We hope that this is the end of the wave of the wounded. I think -- I hope it is the end of the wave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: And again, as we continue to look at the scenes, and the pictures from the streets of Jerusalem today, such a quiet day, absolutely shattered. This act of -- this act of a terror bomber here in Jerusalem. To the hospital now, Rachel Adatto is a spokesperson. If you can hear me, tell me what you are hearing right now. A short time ago, we were reporting six dead at the scene, at least 70 wounded. Your numbers, now, are what, please?
RACHEL ADATTO, HOSPITAL SPOKESPERSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Center in Jerusalem, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) three of them are being operated right now (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The rest of them are being treated now at the emergency room. We hope a few of them will be released within the next few hours (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HEMMER: I am sorry, you were breaking up just a little bit there. If you could, again, can you repeat that statement for us?
ADATTO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Medical Center in Jerusalem we have just received 20 people within the last two hours. Three are severely wounded, three of them are being operated right now. The rest of them are being treated at the emergency room. We hope that rest (ph) of them will be released in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the next few hours.
HEMMER: OK. All right, Rachel Adatto, a hospital spokesperson there. We apologize to our viewers that we could not get a better signal there, but clearly, given the events of the day, it is a situation and a scene that we are seeing still unravel and unfold before us right here. Colin Powell earlier today did meet with Ariel Sharon, a four hour meeting. After that, a meeting with Shimon Peres and a meeting with the defense minister of the Israeli government.
Shortly thereafter, went up to the Lebanese border in the northern part of country here, and this, some are saying, on the Israeli side, a clear message to Colin Powell that -- in other words, some are saying welcome to our world. This is the reality we've been living in right now. In fact, a medic who was at the scene a short time ago was asking me quite directly how many people are dead in the U.S. now as a result of 9/11. When I remarked well over 3,000 at this point, he said, Well, we are catching up. And again, the numbers catch up again today.
Leon, more in a moment here, live in Jerusalem. Back to you now in Atlanta.
HARRIS: All right. Thank you, Bill.
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