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Israel Helicopters Fire Three Missiles at Gaza Target

Aired June 13, 2003 - 13:38   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: An update now to the latest round of violence that we've been telling you about in Israel, between Israel and Palestine. We're looking at tape that has just come in to CNN. This is unedited video, so we do caution you on that. This is what has happened in response to helicopter gunships, Israeli helicopter gunships, firing missiles, apparently, at a target in Gaza. CNN is confirming sounds of explosions. You can see the unrest and the absolute pandemonium that is taking place in the streets there in reaction to that.
We have Kelly Wallace standing by now to tell us the latest on the situation and what she is seeing.

Kelly, what can you tell us about what's happening there?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we can tell you, according to the Palestinian sources, that at least one Apache fired at least two missiles on a car in a neighborhood in Gaza City. Our sources are telling us at least two people leaved to be killed, 30 injured. This, again, happening in Gaza City, and this coming after three days of four different Israeli airstrikes, targeting members of Hamas, not clear right now what the targets of this organization was.

And it was a very quiet day here, Heidi, all day in the Gaza Strip. People were anticipating the possibility of new Israeli attacks, but it was very quiet throughout the day, until explosions were heard, as you said, in this latest Israeli operation.

To put this also into context, there had been a lot of diplomacy that is going on behind the scenes. We were learning from a Palestinian source that high level security meetings between the Israelis and the Palestinians could resume as early as Saturday. We were also told there was going to be a meeting of the Palestinian Internal Committee on Security in Ramallah on the West Bank this evening, and that the new pointman for the Bush administration, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf, would be arriving in the region this weekend and beginning meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials as early as Saturday evening.

This, though, this operation, coming even as I was on the phone with the Palestinian official, who thought the Palestinians were making some headway, convincing the Israelis to stop operations such as this one.

As you know, these types of attacks are fueling tremendous anger within the Palestinian community and within groups such as the radical Palestinian group Hamas, which is now vowing to carry out more and more attacks after the airstrikes of this week -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Kelly, you bring up an interesting point about John Wolf and the fact he'll be going to the region this weekend. Is that a definite? I mean, we're seeing the violence like this go on, I'm just wondering if he will go no matter what.

WALLACE: Well, I believe so, at least according to the Israeli and Palestinian sources we're talking to. They are expecting him here, and I believe he even moved his trip up a day earlier in light of the dramatic developments in the region.

He is facing a tremendous challenge. It was always going to be a difficult task, trying to work with the Israelis and the Palestinians to implement this road map. But now, many people in the region believe this road map, if not dead already, then it's in critical condition. And so he's going to have to do a great deal to try and convince the Israelis and the Palestinians to find a way, find a way somehow, back to the peace process.

But Israeli officials are saying that they're going to continue to go after Hamas, in their words, forcefully, and they say they're doing this, because they're convinced that Hamas made a decision to scuttle the Mideast road map and continue attacks against Israelis. And Israeli officials say the Palestinian Authority is not doing enough, and so, therefore, Israelis say they have no choice but to take these actions.

On the other side, Palestinians would say operations such as this one this evening only undermines Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his ability to try and rebuild and restructure his security forces and try and convince groups like Hamas to halt their attacks against Israelis and agree to a cease-fire and try and move forward on the road map.

So a tremendous, tremendous challenge awaits John Wolf when he gets to a region -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Indeed. And as we know, Ariel Sharon giving that order to really come down on any Hamas militants or leaders that can be found in the region. If the Palestinians know this, Kelly, what is it that they can do, security-wise? Israel has bumped up security, and they have both been very tight on this. Is there anything else they can do since they know the attacks are likely to continue happening?

Apparently, we have lost Kelly Wallace, unfortunately, but giving us great information on the situation. The very latest coming from in from Gaza City, as you see here some unedited video that we are just getting into CNN. We have heard that Apache helicopters, gunships as you know known them now after the war, and we've all been educated on this type of aircraft that have been over the city, targeting a car in a neighborhood there. Kelly has told us, apparently, two are dead, not sure who those people were. We're still continuing to look at this matter, as you imagine.


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