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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Israel Delievers Third Strike on Palestinian in 24 Hours

Aired June 12, 2003 - 19:01   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But first, we begin, of course, in the Middle East, where the battle of words and deadly deeds goes on simply unabated.
Today's target, a prominent Hamas activist. He, his wife and 3- year-old daughter killed. Israeli helicopters fired missiles at their car. It is, of course, the third such air strike in 24 hours. The attacks come as the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, vowed to hunt down Palestinian militants responsible for yesterday's bus bombing that killed 17. And Hamas promised more attacks.

Our Matthew Chance is in Jerusalem with details on this latest spike in Mideast violence -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Anderson.

And the violence that has become so tragically routine in this part of the world is intensifying again. The Palestinian militant group Hamas is vowing revenge on Israelis for the killing in Gaza City of seven people in another Israeli helicopter gunship attack in the city. A senior member of the group's military wing was killed in that attack, along with members of his family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE (voice-over): This is the latest bloodletting that threatens to undermine efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peace. A car carrying senior Hamas militant Yasser Taha was destroyed by Israeli missiles as it moved through Gaza's crowded streets. The assassination may be a small success for Israel, but the killing of Taha's wife and 3-year-old daughter as well has added to Palestinian anger. Hamas vows its militants will take revenge.

MAHMOUD AL ZAHER, HAMAS: Now this is message -- this message would be sent for every Israeli. Your children and your women, your husbands, everybody is a target now. We have to react and if they are willing to stop these activities, they should ask Sharon to stop these crimes and to withdraw from our land.

CHANCE: Israelis are painfully aware of what those words may mean. On Wednesday, a Hamas suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew boarded a crowded commuter bus in Jerusalem and detonated his explosives. Seventeen innocent people died. Israeli officials insist their actions against Hamas in Gaza are intended to stop these kinds of attacks, not provoke them. RA'ANAN GISSIN, SENIOR SHARON ADVISER: We are not happy of what -- of taking action in Gaza. But there is a necessity to stop terrorism. Otherwise it is going to become a major terrorist way that is going to engulf the whole region and scuttle the road map to peace.

CHANCE: But now just keeping that peace plan alive is proving a difficult task. How or even if the road map will survive this intense period of violence is hard to predict.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, President Bush's envoy, former Ambassador John Wolf, is scheduled to arrive in the region over the next few days to oversee implementation of that road map peace process. It will be his first visit to the region and clearly he has a very uphill task to complete his mission.

COOPER: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you very much for that report.

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