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Israel: Three Dead, 28 Injured in Suicide Bombing

Aired May 27, 2002 - 12:53   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Three people now dead about seven miles outside of Tel Aviv, after what Israeli police now say was another suicide bombing attack. Two people died in that attack. A third person is the suicide bomber.

This occurred about an hour ago at a shopping mall coffee shop in the town of Petah Tikva. Several of the wounded have been taken to the hospital, some 28 people there wounded, including a baby, who is now in critical condition.

Joining us now from Jerusalem is Dore Gold. He is a spokesman for the Sharon government.

Mr. Gold, can you hear me? What is the situation, as you understand it, out there now?

DORE GOLD, ADVISER TO ARIEL SHARON: Well, obviously, we have yet another terrorist attack, this time in Petah Tikva, an Israeli city very close to Tel Aviv.

This comes after a large number of warnings that we have had, strategic warnings, of catastrophic terrorism that has been planned by Palestinian organizations. Recently, a large gas farm north of Tel Aviv was threatened. In fact, a bomb got through to the area of the gas farm.

We also had reports of a 1,000-kilogram bomb being intended to be used against an urban target along Israel's coastal plain. So, the intent of the terrorists to conduct attacks against the heart of Israel continues. And, unfortunately, no signal has come from the Palestinian leadership to stop these attacks on Israeli civilians.

LIN: Has there been any claim of responsibility yet for this latest attack?

GOLD: Well, I think it's too early. We like to be very precise about this question of responsibility. And, therefore, we need time to investigate the organizational links, the city which the bomber came from, where his explosive materials emanated from. We will probably have an answer within 24 hours.

LIN: Mr. Gold, how is this latest attack likely to affect the military strategy now taking place in the West Bank, which is now under military closure, and the Gaza Strip, which has been divided by the Israeli army?

GOLD: Well, the best thing that could happen would be a strategic decision by the Palestinian leadership to call off terrorism, to send a signal to the Palestinian organizations that terrorism is no longer on the Palestinian national agenda, to send a clear signal to the Palestinian security services to take responsibility for the areas under Palestinian jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, despite all of the talk about Palestinian introspection, about Palestinian reform, about altering the Palestinian security services, no clear instruction to stop terrorism and to fight the terrorist infrastructure has come. And, therefore, Israelis continue to pay the price.

LIN: So, let me be more specifics in my question to you. How is the Israeli army likely to respond to this latest attack?

GOLD: Well, one thing you don't do in government is anticipate operational decisions of the Israeli army, or the U.S. military in Afghanistan, for that matter. We simply don't do that.

What we do have is a process here. We are a democracy. We have a military which will make recommendations to the civilian echelon. The prime minister, the defense minister, the foreign minister, together with the Israeli Cabinet will decide how to proceed. But no country, Israel, the United States, can suffer incessant attacks against innocent civilians. There is no cause in the world, no possible grievance, no sense of deprivation that can justify murdering Israeli civilians in Petah Tikva, or in New York City.

LIN: Mr. Gold, in the past, for example, the last attack that took place last week outside of Tel Aviv, the Palestinian Authority did step up and did condemn that attack. What more specifically do you expect Yasser Arafat to do to prevent these sorts of attacks? And are you convinced he still has the influence with his people to do something about it?

GOLD: Well, one of the biggest problems we have with Yasser Arafat's speeches is that they contain mixed messages. He will say he condemns terrorism, and then he makes reference to a 7th century treaty called the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, which is from the Arabian Peninsula, which was not a permanent peace, but it was a kind short- term truce that you can violate. If that's the signal going to the Palestinian organizations, what are they supposed to understand?

What they understand is that Arafat may be forced by Western governments to give lip service to stopping terrorism, but it is not serious. If that's their understanding, the terrorism will continue. But, even more importantly, Yasser Arafat has to give clear instructions to his security services to fight terrorism. They know what to do. They simply don't have the instruction.

And, in the Gaza Strip, where his security services are completely intact, there is no excuse why he can't fight terrorism. He has the complete capability for doing so. And you know something? He even has the capability in the West Bank as well. LIN: All right, Dore Gold, spokesmen for the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, in Israel, thanks for joining us this evening out of Jerusalem...

GOLD: My pleasure.

LIN: ... after this latest attack now, seven miles east of Tel Aviv -- 28 people injured, three people dead, which includes the suicide bomber.

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