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Sharon Spokesperson Discusses Morning Attacks on Israelis

Aired November 28, 2002 - 09:26   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: OK, as promised, we're live with a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister now with us live on the ground in Jerusalem.
First things first here. Let's get the facts right about what we're hearing in northern Israel and also the shooting apparently at a polling station. What information do you have?

RANAAN GISSIN, SENIOR SHARON ADVISOR: Well, right now as it stands, three terrorists have attacked the crowded area of the center of Beit Shean, where the, of course, center, the offices, of the Likud party is.

You know, today is election day in Israel. And of course, they want to take advantage of this particular incident. And as of now, we have at least four dead and over 30 wounded.

This is one of those days of battles and terrorism that we've been suffering for the past two years. It's Thanksgiving in the United States. It's bloody Thursday in Israel.

HEMMER: Listen, let's go back to the scene here. The polling station and the bus station described as nearby. What does that mean? Define that, how far away?

GISSIN: Well, it's really the center of the town. And that's where the bus station is. You have stores there. You have the offices of the Likud party.

It's a very crowded area on Thursday afternoon, you know. First of all, because it's Thursday, just people are milling and buying, preparing for the Sabbath, but also because it is election day for the primaries for the Likud party.

HEMMER: Was there much security...

GISSIN: And understand...

HEMMER: Keep going.

GISSIN: Well, it's -- look, we've had a large, in the past few days, the like of which we hadn't hard for several weeks, another 48 pending suicide bombing alerts, 23 of them by Hammas, for example. So we were preparing for that.

But of course, you can't put a guard at every bus station; you can't put a guard in every office. And we're determined to continue with these election process, which is what Israel is.

And if there's any meaning to the cliche of democracy under fire, you see it today. But our democracy will prevail. It's the terrorists that have to worry, I believe.

HEMMER: Do you have a claim of responsibility, either for the shooting that we're talking about in Israel, or for what happened in Kenya several hours earlier?

GISSIN: Not yet. But in Kenya, I believe, in Mombasa, there is a Palestinian group yet unknown in terms of its name, that claims responsibility, actually saying that it is in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the partition resolution by the United Nation in 1947.

So you see, they don't even accept the partition resolution of Israel.

Actually terrorism here is designed to try and destroy the state of Israel, destroy the people of Israel here or abroad. But I think more important than that is the fact that we're seeing today harbinger of the kind of war that is going to be fought, not just in the Middle East but in the rest of the world if we don't stand together to stop terrorism.

HEMMER: You mentioned this group, this little-known group that described themselves as the Army of Palestine. Some reports out of Beirut indicating that they are claiming responsibility for what happened in Kenya.

What information do you have about this group?

GISSIN: Well, we don't have much, but you know, in the past, you know, there were all sorts of false and fake names used by existing terrorist organizations. For example, during the Seventies, when Arafat's organization conducted hijackings, they called it Black September. When they killed the Olympic players, in 1972, it was Black September.

So names don't matter here, and as a matter of fact, we're detecting, and our intelligent sources are indicating that the terrorist collusion and cooperation with Islamic Jihad, Hammas, and Al Qaeda, working around the world.

So the threat is a threat against all Western society, not just against Israel. And I think it's about time that the world takes notice of this.

HEMMER: Mr. Gissin, you know it's been tit for tat. Oftentimes, a response comes in response to the response. And many people wonder where it will end and what direction it will go.

In the near term, what is the Israeli position in terms of response or resolve of the incident today?

GISSIN: Look, one of the issues in this election is how to make peace with the Palestinians. And we have different opinions and different views by the two parties.

What is the debate that is going on among the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian group? Where to kill Israelis: should it be limited to the territories or should it, in fact, encompass the whole of Israel, or maybe the whole international theater? And that's the difference.

You know, against this kind of terrorism, terrorism that wants to annihilate you. And I think the experience is well known in the United States after 9/11 against that kind of terrorism, there is no compromise. There has to be a united, strong stand of all Western democracy if we want to prevail, if we want to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

HEMMER: You mentioned the elections today for the Likud party, that part of the Israeli government. The results today of that vote, how will that influence the direction of Israeli politics as it faces, once again, the very difficult negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to forge some sort of peace deal moving forward now?

GISSIN: I can say unequivocally that the outcome of this election, which I believe are quite clear, but you know, regardless of which candidate will win, the party that would lead the state of Israel for the next four years is going to be the Likud party. And that party will continue to pursue its relentless quest for peace, because the people of Israel want peace

But at the same time we'll have an iron fist and an iron hand to deal with terrorists. And no terrorists will be exonerated. There will be no sanctuary and no haven for terrorists, not here and not anyplace in the world.

At the same time we will continue to extend our open hand for peace, but real peace, peace that will involve compromises on both sides that will lead us, finally, out of this dreadful situation.

HEMMER: Ranaan Gissin, the spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister, again on the ground there in Jerusalem, tracking the very latest.

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