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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israeli Police Make Arrests

Aired August 21, 2002 - 09:34   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I have got to go straight to Jerusalem with some breaking news. Our bureau chief Mike Hanna is standing by with the latest on the arrests of some men believed to have been involved in the Hebrew University killings -- Mike, what can you tell us? Good morning.
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, good morning, Paula. Not only the Hebrew University killings, Israel police say that they have broken up what they describe as a major terror cell which has been responsible for a number of attacks against Israeli civilians, including, as you say, the incident at Hebrew University in which a number of Israelis were killed, as well as five American citizens. The Israeli police have released a statement saying that at least 10 of these people that they have arrested are residents of Jerusalem, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Another five people were arrested in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The police say that during interrogation, the arrests happened over the week, it was revealed that this group was responsible for a number of attacks, among them the Hebrew University attack as well as an attack on a cafe in Jerusalem, a billiards hall in Tel Aviv, and an attack on a tanker -- with an explosive planted on a tanker just outside Tel Aviv which threatened a massive explosion, which did not occur.

In addition, say police, during interrogation, they learned about a bomb that had been planted on the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which they dismantled last night, within the last 24 hours. There was a major traffic snarl-up on that highway overnight.

So, from Israel police, a substantial breakthrough in their investigations into ongoing attacks against Israeli civilians, and as far as the police statement is concerned, this is a major step forward in their attempt to cut down or prevent such attacks -- Paula.

ZAHN: So Mike, would you characterize it in the same way that the police are, in terms of how critical this is, and this being a substantial breakthrough?

HANNA: Well, looking at the list and what we're going on here is a police statement, quite obviously. A very detailed police statement giving the names of all those arrested and the precise incidents with which they are connected. And given this, then certainly, this is a major breakthrough. The attacks attributed to this group are virtually every major attack that has taken place in recent months, or certainly among the major attacks that have taken place, so this would, very much be a major breakthrough in terms of ending or preventing these ongoing terror attacks against Israeli civilian targets.

ZAHN: Mike Hanna, thanks for bringing that to us. Appreciate that live report. Once again, Israeli security forces making a number of arrests of suspects involved in the Hebrew University attacks as well as some other planned attacks which Mike Hanna just laid out for us.

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