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Car Explodes in Northern Israel

Aired August 5, 2002 - 11:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now something else that many of you are getting tired of hearing about is the violence that is taking place in the Middle East. There is yet another cycle of it to report this morning. CNN has just been able to confirm that there has been an explosion of some sort of device in a vehicle in northern Israel. At this point right now, no word coming in on casualties. We understand there may be at least one casualty involved in this particular case.
Our Jerrold Kessel is working on this story in Jerusalem, and he will be checking in any moment now with us to give us any information that he's been able to uncover.

As a matter of fact, I'm being told now Jerrold is available right now. Let's go to him now. Jerrold Kessel reporting live from Jerusalem -- Jerrold, what have you learned?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, from police -- Israeli police and ambulance services, there has been an explosion in northern Israel. A private car, it seems that this could be of -- would be terror attack which has gone wrong, and the explosion happening prematurely. What we do know is that one person has been killed according to the police, and another hurt in this explosion which happened at a major road junction in northern Israel on a trunk road outside the large Arab town of Umm al Fahm, the -- at that junction the explosion took place in the car just about ten, 15 minutes ago maximum, and we do know one person killed, according to the Israeli police.

The presumption is -- this has not been confirmed by the police, but some people are saying -- this has been reported by Israeli media that this may indeed have been a premature explosion of a car bomb which had been heading to -- into an Israeli town because they're working on the presumption that this was an Israeli car, which had possibly been stolen and the explosion took place prematurely. But that is all -- early details coming out of there, what we can definitely confirm is that one person has been killed in this explosion, and another hurt.

This, of course, coming as Israel has been bracing for further attacks by Hamas, the militant Islamic group which has threatened to undertake further attacks against Israelis following that major attack, suicide bomber, striking at a bus in Israel yesterday which killed -- not far from the site of today's explosion, in which nine people were killed and some 50 wounded -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right. Well, Jerrold, let me ask you something because you are saying if there is concern -- or if it is true that this car that exploded today, moments ago, was an Israeli vehicle, that points out a lot of the problems with this travel ban that's being imposed now by the Israeli military, does it not?

KESSEL: Yes, it could be -- that's linked to that. What happened was after the string of attacks yesterday, very much a bloody Sunday, and a string of attacks both in Israel and on roads in the West Bank, Israel imposed some very stringent restrictions on Palestinians, reinforcing tightly curfews in a number of Palestinian towns in the West Bank.

Those curfews have been slightly relaxed in recent days, and imposing a total ban on Palestinian cars moving between towns in the West Bank. Now, as you rightly say, the site of this explosion is very, very close to the West Bank, distinct from yesterday's attack on the bus which was some 40 -- 25-40 miles north of that on a road in Galilee. But this particular junction is just a couple of miles away from the West Bank-Israel border.

As you rightly point out, very unlikely if this car had moved across from the West Bank, even if it was a stolen Israeli car with Israeli plates, because today there have been those travel restrictions very much in place in the West Bank.

But it is early to assume what precisely happened here. All we know is that there definitely was this explosion on the road in northern Israel, one person killed, and one wounded. Whether they were people who were trying to carry out some kind of nefarious attack in the form of a car bomb or what have you, or were victims of an attack, still to be determined -- Leon.

HARRIS: Very interesting. Jerrold Kessel, thank you very much, Jerrold. Jerrold reporting live for us from Jerusalem. And we will continue to follow that story and track any new details that come in. Jerrold is able to divide -- deliver them right to you.

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