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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
War in the Middle East
Aired July 20, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, after nine days of Israeli forces bombing Lebanon the death and destruction continues to escalate. And now the Lebanese prime minister speaks out. He accuses Israel of tearing his country to shreds. What does he want America to do?
Plus, an emotional primetime exclusive with families of two Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hezbollah. Their capture sparked the deadly crisis that shows no sign of letting up.
And, as U.S. Marines land in Lebanon to help Americans get out, we'll talk with some of those still trying to escape.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
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KING: We begin with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent. She's in northern Israel. Early today, Christiane, you examined the challenging mission of the Israeli Air Force in this conflict. Let's take a look at that report.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wave after wave of Israeli fighter jets take off from Ramat David Air Force Base on the hunt for Hezbollah leaders, infrastructure, communications, and logistics centers.
The military says Hezbollah Katyusha cells can still operate relatively autonomously at the border. They can't easily be seen and Major E. (ph) admits it's virtually impossible to get their rocket launchers from the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a tremendous effort to get those launchers and, as you know, t could be a single guy with a rocket launcher on his back so it's very, very difficult.
AMANPOUR: But hunting them is the main focus up here at Israel's northern command. A ground invasion would be painful as Israel already knows from its 18 year occupation of Lebanon that finally ended six years ago.
KING: Christiane, what's the aftermath of that helicopter crash?
AMANPOUR: Well, according to the IDF the helicopters crashed, two Apache helicopters inside Israel not far from where there's some ground clashes going on between the Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah. There are casualties but we don't know the full details, Israel investigating whether it was an accident or not.
But interestingly also we know from the IDF that there are less than half the number of rockets coming in from Hezbollah to Israel today compared to yesterday.
KING: We'll get back to you, Christiane. We got an e-mail question for you I want to get to.
Nic Robertson, our CNN Senior International Correspondent in Beirut, joins us again tonight from that city where the cost of war grows every day. Take a look.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As night fell over Beirut, so did the bombs, flashes illuminating the skies.
(on camera): Well that was another blast going off a secondary echo there. We're right in the center of the city. I think the blasts are going off in the southern suburbs. The streets are pretty deserted down here. There's a big -- I see the sky being illuminated. It just flashed a big sort of bright orange over there.
(voice-over): And so the war continues, the people of this country able to watch the losses mount on TV or out of their windows.
KING: The head of Hezbollah says Israel can't harm them. Nic, what do you make of that?
ROBERTSON: Larry, we seem to be getting into a real propaganda phase of this war, claim and counterclaim, 23 tons of munitions targeting him last night according to Israeli Defense Forces. He coming out on television tonight and saying that his organization and the structure is still intact.
It's a war of words but it is part of the escalation of the war at the moment, Larry, as the two sides move further apart and make it harder to find that common ground for a ceasefire -- Larry.
KING: Chris Burns is in Cyprus, our CNN Berlin Bureau Chief. What's the update on evacuation arrivals?
CHRIS BURNS, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Larry, you can see a bit of the outline of the USS Nashville that just arrived with some 1,000 Americans who were taken aboard there on the coast of Beirut. There was that spectacular arrival of these landing craft that took them on. And, we can show you some of these other ships over here. We've got this Danish ship over here to this side that just brought about 1,000 people. And, if you can pan over this way, (INAUDIBLE), over this way, our cameraman can give you a look at this French liner that's about to take off in the next few hours to pick up another 1,000 people. And to the left of that is another ship, this cruise ship that has taken on about 600 people for the United Nations.
This is a constant operation. There's a flotilla of seven ships just this evening taking about several thousand people. And, as far as the Americans go, they're expecting to bring back about 6,000 people by the end of this week -- Larry.
KING: Thanks. Back to Christiane in northern Israel, I have an e-mail question for you, Christiane, from Alex in Miami. "Are the Israelis concerned that they may very well end up bombing and shelling a location that may be housing the very soldiers they're trying to get back?"
AMANPOUR: Well, clearly that's always a concern. In fact, we've asked the military about that kind of thing. And, you know, they don't tell us what they think they're bombing but that is a concern.
More of a concern is whether they can actually get -- right now the chief concern is whether they can actually get those mobile rocket launchers and all of those military positions right near the border.
KING: Thank you, Christiane Amanpour.
We'll take a break. When we come back, the prime minister of Lebanon will be our special guest. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back.
Earlier today I talked with Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. I began by asking him for the latest on casualties and damage inside Lebanon.
FOUAD SINIORA, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: Well, the latest in fact that the number of dead people is in excess of about 330 that up to Noon this time, this day and the number of injured are in excess of 1,100 people. This is the death toll and the injured.
On the other hand, the destruction is still going on. The air raids and everything is still going on in terms of really the aggression that is started by the Israelis and, in fact, the situation is very bad. What the Israelis did the past nine days is that they cut the country into pieces.
In fact, Larry, they destroyed over 55 bridges and they did not spare any area in the country and they did not spare civilian institutions, civilian buildings and they are continuing their aggression with no differentiation between civilian and non-civilian.
This attack is no longer against Hezbollah. It's an attack against the Lebanese and Lebanon. And, this, in fact, is bringing the country back more than 20 years by the very fact of the losses inflicted on Lebanon.
This is on top of the human losses that really suffered and the children and the elderly who really died in their homes. You see the Israelis they spoke -- they spoke a lot about terror and they exercise it par excellence.
KING: Do you, Mr. Prime Minister, do you blame Israel solely? Don't you put any blame on Hezbollah at all?
SENIORA: Well, I said several times and the Council of Ministers said that what happened on the 12th of July across the blue line is something that the Lebanese government didn't know and does not take responsibility and does not let's say adopt, in fact, disavows such an act.
And we said at the same time let's have a ceasefire and let's get through the United Nations to address the problem by trying to release the soldiers and to release the detained Lebanese who have been in Israeli prisons for the past 28 years.
We have been talking about them for so many years and the Israelis are giving deaf ears and deaf eyes in order not to really listen to the requests of the Lebanese in this respect.
KING: Is Hezbollah representing you? Are they acting on behalf of Lebanon?
SINIORA: No. You see Hezbollah is a resistance. It is represented in the Lebanese Parliament. It is represented in the Lebanese government but it is the resistance. Actually one has to really ask why Hezbollah is there.
I don't want to really defend Hezbollah. I want to be very objective and look at things. Hezbollah is there because still there is an occupied Lebanese territory. Israel occupied Lebanon in 1982 and it left in the year 2000 but there remain so many things that Israel has been giving a blind eye to Lebanon.
Let me tell you Israel withdrew from Lebanon and it still refuses to give Lebanon a map of the landmines that it planted in Lebanon. Up until this point in time there are about three people, three Lebanese who are detained in Israeli prisons and Israel refuses to give them back. There is still a land which is called (INAUDIBLE). It's Lebanese and Israel occupies it and it doesn't really want to surrender it back to Lebanon.
What we are really after, let me tell you, the Lebanese government has expressed its position very clearly that it wants to really prevail over all the Lebanese territories but it wants the area of (INAUDIBLE) to be returned to it. We do not agree with what happened across the blue line. We do not agree but we want a real permanent solution and the permanent solution -- yes -- the permanent solution is along the lines that the secretary general today has really addressed the Security Council.
He mentioned all the pertinent points but, you see, these points they have to be developed and to be discussed with all the parties so that we can come with a complete package that can guarantee security in Lebanon, that the Lebanese government can get back to be in charge over all the Lebanese territories and to be the soul power in Lebanon and the Israelis can get back their soldiers.
We actually are looking for peace and stability in the region. Establishing stability in Lebanon is a very good start and step to be done in the process of developing peace and stability.
Let me tell you, Larry, you know the safety and security of Israel cannot be assured by waging wars, by killing more people, by destruction, by crippling the Lebanese economy, crippling the country that can really say it is a very important democracy in the Middle East, that the country that really values a great deal tolerance and moderation and the rule of law. I think Lebanon doesn't deserve at all what Israel is inflicting on it.
By really working towards finding solutions to what is happening in Lebanon and think along the lines that can really build peace in the region that can guarantee safety and security for the Israelis and safety and security and prosperity to the Arab world.
KING: Let me pause for a second. We'll come right back with Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon endorsing the thoughts today of Kofi Annan. We'll be back in a moment. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back.
When I continued my interview with Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, I asked him if he has talked with President Bush.
SINIORA: Yes, I did actually a few days ago when he was in Europe I talked to him and that was following the trip I made to the United States and met with President Bush in May.
And, I sensed from President Bush real interest in moving towards real solutions. I expressed to him my appreciation for the sympathy that he has expressed for those who really died in Lebanon because of the Israeli aggression.
And, he expressed to me his desire in pursuing all efforts in order to reach a permanent solution for the problem that is being faced by Lebanon. I believe that President Bush is exerting every effort together with Secretary Rice.
And I hope that things will develop along the lines that can really bring back peace for Lebanon and ultimately a just and comprehensive peace in the region. This comprehensive peace in the region is good for all parties concerned. Particularly it's good for Israel as well.
KING: Do you expect to meet with Secretary Rice?
SINIORA: Well, as soon first of all that the hostilities are stopped that we'll get a ceasefire and that the siege is lifted because Israel is exercising a very strict siege on Lebanon, actually they are not only having an air and sea siege.
They are having a land siege and every truck in Lebanon that carries medical supplies or food from one part of the country to the other it's being targeted as they did two days ago when they targeted a convoy carrying the flags of the International Red Cross that was carrying medicine and medical supplies. And they targeted as well an ambulance. This is the type of let's say treatment that we are getting from the Israelis.
KING: What demands are you making at all, Mr. Prime Minister, on Hezbollah? Are you asking them to release their hostages? What are you asking Hezbollah to do?
SINIORA: Well, what we are asking, you see first of all to get a ceasefire and we are saying that the Lebanese government will step in so that the release of the two soldiers can be guaranteed in line with the effort that should be exerted to release the detained Lebanese who are kept in Israeli prisons.
We believe that some real effort has to be made and the Israeli -- and the Lebanese government is ready to assume this responsibility because it will become its responsibility. I think this is the line of thinking that the secretary general is presenting at the present time.
KING: Do you fear a civil war with -- do you have -- does your army can they take control of your southern border?
SINIORA: Well, I think ultimately with the -- with the let's say getting a real package that can provide peace, security, and the return of the occupied territories I think the Lebanese Army is and should be empowered to really assume this responsibility but this comes as a complete package in finding a full solution to the problem whereby Lebanon will go back to the armistice of 1949.
KING: It is better to talk than to bomb. What would you say if you could -- he may be watching right now, we are seen everywhere in the world -- what would you say, Mr. Prime Minister to Prime Minister Olmert?
SINIORA: Well, I expressed my views several times that making peace requires historic men and courageous men and I think the Israelis and the Arabs for the past 58 years they have been fighting and tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of people got killed.
And, a society, the Palestinian by itself, they have been really been refugees all over the world. It's high time to really think in terms of the interests of the young men and women and children, of Arabs and Israelis. And it is in the interest of all concerned to work really towards peace.
Making wars after let's say more than ten wars have been made since 1948 and it could not really solve any problem. The best thing is to really see how you can make peace.
Let me tell you, Larry, it is not the quantity of arms and weapons that makes the security of any people or any country. It is in its ability to build good relations with its neighbor. It is not through killing and vengeance and the spreading death here and there and making destruction.
It is by creating confidence and creating confidence can't happen without really working towards a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East whereby all they can cooperate together.
I think this is probably an opportunity. It is very, very important for historic men to see how they can convert a calamity for a problem situation into an opportunity.
If the Israelis can seize this opportunity that was made by the Arabs in their summit in Beirut in the year 2002 where they offered to really build peace on the basis of international resolutions and what was agreed in Madrid before so that they can build peace together.
KING: Do you expect a ceasefire?
SINIORA: I believe that we have all to work hard to achieve a ceasefire. The good intentions of all good people around the world, the leaders of the G8, the secretary general, the leaders in the Arab world and many of the peace-loving nations are expressing real concern of the disastrous situation in Lebanon and they are offering everything to help in order to reach a ceasefire.
I think it is so important to work together as quickly as possible to reduce tension and to reduce additional calamities that are being inflicted on Lebanon. I think it is high time to get to a ceasefire soon so that we can move directly to address all the issues that was before the 12th of July and after the 12th of July I think this will be in the interest of all concerned.
KING: Thank you for giving us the time, Mr. Prime Minister.
SINIORA: Thank you, Larry.
KING: We hope to call on you again. I appreciate it very much.
SINIORA: Thank you, Larry, very much.
KING: Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the Prime Minister of Lebanon. We'll be right back with more of this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: We're back.
A program reminder, our special guest tomorrow night the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan will be with us.
And, before we continue with our guest, let's get into some headlines.
Heavy fighting in southern Lebanon today between Hezbollah guerillas and Israeli troops, two Israeli troops killed.
Lebanon's prime minister tells this program that the Israelis have cut his country to pieces.
Refugees pour into Syria from Lebanon. U.N. Secretary-General Annan says 150,000 refugees are now in Syria.
Lebanon's prime minister says 330 dead and 1,100 injured in Lebanon.
Hezbollah attacks have killed 15 civilians and 16 soldiers in Israel.
And, two Israeli military helicopters collided over northern Israel, unknown number of casualties.
Earlier today I also talked with family members of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (ph). The family members join me from Haifa, Israel. I begin by asking Shlomo Goldwasser if he'd heard anything at all about his son?
SHLOMO GOLDWASSER, FATHER OF KIDNAPPED SOLDIER: Nothing. Nothing until now.
KING: So right to this minute -- how did you learn that he was taken?
S. GOLDWASSER: I learn it from the CNN at Wednesday morning, 8:00 in the morning, when I opened CNN, I was Namibia, in a place named Walvis Bay, while packing to go back to Durbin, I opened CNN and watched the site where my son was serving there, the army serve and they were talking about two missing soldiers and immediately I called Karnit, his wife, who is standing next to me and she was crying.
I asked her if she had something and she said that Ehud, whom we call Udi, is not answering on his phone so I asked her to switch off her phone and I immediately called my travel agent and without waiting even one minute arranged all my flight back to Israel.
KING: Karnit, how long had Ehud been in the army?
KARNIT GOLDWASSER, WIFE OF KIDNAPPED SOLDIER: He was in the military reserve. It was for four weeks and the day that he was taken, it was his last day. He was to be back home that day.
KING: In other words, had they not been taken that day, he'd have been home?
K. GOLDWASSER: Yes. Of course.
I was waiting for him, I planned his return home to make him the dessert that he wanted me to do for him. Our cats were waiting for him, our dog also.
KING: Have you heard, Karnit, anything at all since he was taken?
K. GOLDWASSER: No, no, nothing. Nothing at all.
KING: The Israeli army can -- no one can tell you anything?
K. GOLDWASSER: No. We need the proof that they are alive. Udi and Eldad. Something, a sign, maybe, that they are still alive.
KING: Benny Regev, your brother Eldad Regev, he was taken along with Ehud. How long, Benny, had he been in the service?
BENNY REGEV, BROTHER OF KIDNAPPED SOLDIER: He was in the service for three weeks and it was also his last day after the service and we also, after the Goldwasser family to try to get him on the phone the day of the return and he didn't answer and by the afternoon the army told us that he is missing and from that point we didn't hear anything from him.
KING: Benny, does the army keep in touch with you? What kind of support do they give you?
REGEV: The army is talking with us and they let us now what they know. Right now it's not much.
KING: Shlomo, Israel has rejected the idea of a cease-fire, rejected the idea of returning Palestinian or Lebanese prisoners that they have. What do you think should happen?
S. GOLDWASSER: Well, Larry, I'm not a politician and Israel rejects or not rejects, I want my son back and as far as my knowledge is and what is radiating to me from all the groups and ministers and the politicians and army people is that everything is done to bring them back.
KING: Karnit, are you confident, Karnit, that you will get your husband back?
K. GOLDWASSER: For sure, for sure. But still I am confident for 99 percent. The one percent that is missing is something, a sign that he is still alive, to prove that he is alive and this is what now I am asking. Only to prove that he is alive. A phone call, a message, a signature.
Maybe something that only I can recognize.
KING: Karnit, though, when you would think, though, it's a very good bet he's alive because he's a kind of weapon in this. If they don't have him, they don't have anything, right?
K. GOLDWASSER: Right. Right. I know.
KING: So that should make you feel better. One would guess that he is alive?
K. GOLDWASSER: Yeah. But still, I want to see something that he is alive. Not only my mind, can tell me that he's alive, I want to see it by my eyes and not by my mind.
KING: Karnit, what kind of work does he do?
K. GOLDWASSER: He is a student for the second degree and me either and we were just married and we were planning to have the whole life together, to have children, and to see our children and not only to dream on them. This is why I want him so bad, so much.
KING: Benny, what does your brother do in civilian life?
REGEV: a law student and ...
KING: He's a law student.
KING: Shlomo, do you believe in what you son and what Eldad -- do you believe in what they're doing, do you believe in the concept of the Israeli military?
S. GOLDWASSER: We are living in the north of Israel. Our place is in Nahariya. There were Ehud was born, and there where we lived all our lives and Ehud was kidnapped from the Israeli side of the border and there was not any violation of law or threatening the other side people.
Of course I believe that he was doing the right thing and more than this, more than this, Ehud was a peaceful man. He never talked about wars or violation or things like this. He was a student of environmental engineering and I don't need to tell you what environmental engineering, it's just a good thing, it's just to clean the world and make better lives and I believe in all my heart that Ehud is a strong man and if he is alive he will survive this time, this bad time like us.
KING: Don't you believe he's alive?
S. GOLDWASSER: I want to believe. Listen, I am a practical man. I believe, yes, but I want proof. When I shall have proof, then I know.
KING: Karnit, what would you say to the people holding Ehud? Supposing the Hezbollah are watching, what would you say to them?
K. GOLDWASSER: Now I need their help and to send us a proof. This will be the start to bring Udi to me. The proof, something, then we know that he is alive and then we can start to bring Udi and Eldad back home where they belong.
KING: And Benny, what would you say?
B. REGEV: I would say that the difference between a terror organization and a center (ph) organization is their accepting of the international law. And the international law, by the international law they must, they must allow the Red Cross to visit them and allow them -- allow us to have a proof of life, a sign of life from them.
This is the most difficult thing in the thing in the whole thing, we are simply in the dark, simply in the dark. We don't know anything about the situation of my brother and Udi, we don't know their medical condition, if they need medical care. We want to know.
K. GOLDWASSER: We want the killing to stop, both sides of the fence, in Israel and Lebanon we want everything to be back as it was before, no killing, no kidnapping, we want them back home.
I think it's natural we want it to stop.
KING: I think you have the wishes of the whole world.
S. GOLDWASSER: I want to add another thing.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
S. GOLDWASSER: I want to add another thing, those who kidnap our sons, they are fully responsible for their safety, they have them in their hands. At the end of the story they will also be fully responsible for their safe return so I want to emphasize it that those who kidnapped our son, they are responsible for their safety and I am sending my message to all the world. Keep their safety.
KING: Well, said. Shlomo Goldwasser, the father of Ehud Goldwasser, Karnit Goldwasser, his wife and Benny Regev, the brother of Eldad Regev, these are the subjects of all of this, the two soldiers taken on the Israeli side of the border by Hezbollah.
We shall stay in close touch and we shall be right back.
KING: Let's now go to Beirut now. Anderson Cooper, the anchor of CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER 360." We have an e-mail for you, Anderson, to kick things off. Joanne in Honolulu has a question we hope you can answer. "Exactly what responsibility does the United States government have to help the people stranded in any foreign country?"
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, certainly the U.S. views it as their responsibility, Larry, to help American citizens as much as possible. There is an embassy here in Beirut that is still functioning. Today, we actually took a ride on a Marine helicopter from Cyprus to get to Beirut, landing directly in the embassy. As you know, Larry, since Sunday, the U.S. military, U.S. Marines, have created this air bridge, trying to get out Americans by air.
Now really the evacuations have started in full swing. Some 2,250 Americans evacuated today. The total number, more than 3,000 Americans so far getting out, and we're going to see more and more of those in the coming days.
But certainly I think to answer the e-mail, you know, I think embassy officials and Marines will tell you, their job is to try to get as many Americans out as want to get out. There are some 25,000 Americans here in the country. They're not clear how many of them exactly want to leave, but everyone of them that wants to leave, the U.S. says they are going to try to help them get out as much as they can.
KING: What about Americans who can't get to Beirut?
COOPER: Well, that's the tricky thing. And, you know, the U.S. military is sort of being cautious about what they say about that. Yesterday, a Pentagon official did say to CNN that they are certainly looking into contingency plans for going in, Marines going into southern Lebanon, even to Hezbollah-controlled territories, to try to get citizens out if they are stuck down there.
That is a real concern, that not all the people in Lebanon obviously live here in Beirut, and some of them may be too scared to try to travel on the roads to try to get to Beirut. So the U.S. is certainly planning for any contingencies down the road, but at this point the focus is squarely on getting people out of Beirut.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. Anderson Cooper, who will host "AC 360" tonight. He's in Beirut. That program happens at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.
Now, let's go on the phone to Bekanya (ph), Lebanon. Theresa Garmen is with us. She's a United States citizen stuck in Lebanon. She's trying to evacuate with her mother, who has a heart condition. Her American-born cousin Perdad (ph) is also trying to evacuate.
Theresa, what are you doing in Lebanon?
THERESA GARMEN, U.S. CITIZEN TRAPPED IN LEBANON: Right now, we're waiting for the United States to help us. We've been twice to the embassy to fill out the paper. We filled out the paper on the Internet, and then we went back yesterday to the embassy. We waited two hours to be able to talk to someone, and we're really confused. We don't know what's going on. Nobody is calling us, leaving us e- mail message. We really want to get back home and we don't know what we're doing.
KING: What were you in Lebanon for in the first place?
GARMEN: We were here just to visit family, just for six weeks. KING: Let's go now on the phone to Beirut, with Hussein Siblini. He is a Lebanese-American U.S. citizen from Dearborn, Michigan. He and his wife and three young daughters are trapped in Beirut trying to get out.
What were you doing there, Hussein?
HUSSEIN SIBLINI, U.S. CITIZEN TRAPPED IN LEBANON: We came to visit families. My wife's side is here. So she comes to visit her, her family, and her mother and her sisters and her brother. That's the reason we came in, to visit family here in Lebanon.
KING: And what's happening with you? Why are you not able to get out yet?
SIBLINI: We actually tried yesterday your time, and we could not get out. It was actually very chaos. And we went to the place where they are loading the ship, and I had my 9-month-old baby, and we were sitting in the sun for a long time, and she got sick. Actually, that's the reason we couldn't stay any longer. She got, you know, like from the sun, she got dehydrated and she couldn't stay any longer.
KING: That's Hussein Siblini. These are real people in real situations.
And back to our friend, Nada Ghattas. She's the 26-year-old restaurant manager from Los Angeles. This is her fourth straight night. Any change, Nada?
NADA GHATTAS, U.S. CITIZEN TRAPPED IN LEBANON: Really not much. All I sense here is just more panic by the day and more confusion by the day. People are not getting their questions answered by the embassy. People are afraid the embassy is not going to call them. They are just heading down to the ports. If they can get through to the embassy, if they are that lucky, my -- I have about 10 people here who I know who are trying to get out, and not one of them has been contacted by the embassy.
So there is a lot of confusion, a lot of panic. People are going down to the port, just trying to get on any boat they can. So it is definitely still a panicky situation.
I, myself, will be going down to the embassy today to see what I can do. I'm trying to get back to America, so my parents can get out of here as well. So it's certainly -- it doesn't help that we're not getting communicated via e-mail by the warden system, which we had anticipated would inform us of what was going on.
So right now, it's just another waiting game, and people just taking matters into their own hand and just trying to get on any boat they can.
KING: We'll keep in close touch. Thanks, Nada.
GHATTAS: Thank you, Larry. KING: Nada Ghattas. We hope one day to have all of these people in our studios.
We'll come back with more. Don't go away.
KING: Let's check in with a couple more of our outstanding journalists. Aneesh Raman is in Damascus, CNN international correspondent. What's the latest on the refugees going from Lebanon into Syria and how well is Syria adapting to them?
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question as we head into the days and weeks ahead, Larry, 40,000 Lebanese crossed the border, we're told, by the Syria government today alone. Since the crisis began hundreds of thousands of people have come across that border. I've been there a number of times. It's a scene of just utter chaos. Once they get to the Damascus, they're coming to centers like this. I'm standing at the biggest refugee center in Damascus.
It's a school. I'm out in the courtyard. Some 500 plus people are inside in what is now their temporary home. They range in age from a seven day old child, that was three days old when she arrived, to a 90-year-old grandmother and her son, six of them, have stayed behind in Lebanon to fight, she says, with Hezbollah. So the people who come here are really riddled with uncertainty as to what will happen. The kids were out here playing just a short time ago, 100 plus kids. They are finding comfort in each other. The Syrian government at the moment says it is managing this influx of refugees. They have got temporary houses for them, Syrians are opening up their homes, hotels are giving free rooms.
But if the rate continues, 40,000 just today alone, if that rate continues for the days and perhaps the weeks ahead, Syria could very well have a refugee crisis on its hands. Another threat that's important to note here, is that as they find homes here in Syria, the Lebanese, they are growing in terms of support for Syria, a country that they have been at odds with at times and its president and also they are finding support amongst each other for Hezbollah and for Hassan Nasrallah. There was a rally not far from here in the main part of Damascus, they burned American flags, they burned Israeli flags. So, there is a lot of stuff going on here that could have ramifications down the line, Larry.
KING: Let's go to Cyprus, Chris Burns, CNN's Berlin bureau chief, he's on assignment in Cyprus. What's the latest on the comings and goings there?
BURNS: Larry, the buses are coming back and forth between the ship over here, the U.S.S. Nashville. You can see a bit of the outline there behind me. We'll also pan over to this other ship over here, this Danish ship. We've seen ship after ship, ocean liner after ferry boat after navy ship, flying all kinds of colors of different flags of different countries, seven of them tonight. More every night. It's an awesome sight. It's a sad sight, knowing that so many people have been driven to this end, pouring out of these ships, finding a different way of living, a different place to live, going back to their home countries, because of this fear that's driving them away.
And also, let's move back over this way, we'll show you a couple more ships. This French ship over here, this is a ferry boat that takes as many as 1,000 people. They have already brought 2,000 over this way. They are going to go back and pick up 1,000 more, and to the left of that is the U.N. ship that brought about 600 more people. Yesterday they brought about 900. It is constant. It is continuing, and we're told there are tens of thousands more people that just might make it over here, 6,000 Americans by the end of the week and this fear that people feel is also enduring, not for themselves but for the family members that they left behind that they hope to bring out of Lebanon. This fear that is very intense among these people and also very much a lot of sadness as well.
KING: Chris, we just talked to two people, three people, different people. Why are Americans still having so many problems getting out of Beirut?
BURNS: Well, I think, Larry, it's a logistical problem. Many were complaining that the Americans were slow on the get go. The government was slow on the get go to get this organized, but of course today we saw a very dramatic scene there on the beaches of Beirut, where we saw the landing craft arriving with some 40 U.S. marines helping these people get on these landing craft and boarding the U.S.S. Nashville, it took them back. I think now that we have what appears to be a well oiled military machine with nine naval ships, along with helicopters, we're also seeing a number of chartered planes that will be leaving this evening, bringing people back to the states. We're going to see it moving much quicker than in the past few days, Larry.
KING: And Aneesh, we only have a minute left, what's going to solve this in Syria?
RAMAN: That's essentially the issue that they are trying to grapple with. The people here have no idea when they will go home. They are looking at that time Syrian government as the only government that's helping them out. The refugee crisis, if it gets out of hand, there's really nowhere else for them to got. Also, we're heading to the airport in Damascus. We're told there are perhaps 100,000 people stranded there, who don't want to stay in Syria, had to come in here. They had no other choice because of the blockades and the bombing of the airport and they just can't get a flight out. So there are not just people staying here as a temporary home, people who want to get out of Syria who just can't.
KING: Thank you Aneesh. Aneesh Raman, CNN international correspondent in Damascus and Chris Burns, CNN's Berlin Bureau Chief in Cyprus doing yeoman like work. As these nights, one night goes into another, doesn't its.
We have a very important show tomorrow night and I'll tell you about it right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Before we go, a reminder tomorrow night U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in his only United States television interview on this crisis. Now, he'll also be answering your e-mails. So if you have a question for the Secretary General, e-mail us by going to CNN.com/LarryKing. That's CNN.com/LarryKing. We'll take some of those questions and ask them directly to Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, his only American interview on the Middle East crisis. And that's it for tonight's edition of Larry King Live. We'll turn it over to Anderson Cooper. He's in Beirut tonight hosting "AC 360," Anderson?
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