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Larry King Interviews a Host of People on the Crisis in Israel and Lebanon

Aired July 22, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, up to 5,000 Israeli troops still massed at Lebanon's border. Why are they there if Israel says it doesn't plan a full-scale ground invasion?
Meanwhile, more death and destruction. Israel seizes a town from Hezbollah in south Lebanon and knocks out television and telephone towers in northern Lebanon, as Hezbollah rockets terrorize northern Israel.

We'll hear from a journalist with a Hezbollah-linked TV station whose broadcasts were disrupted by those Israeli air strikes today, from the Israeli and Lebanese governments, and reporters at the front lines.

Plus, one American family who escaped the war zone are reunited and with us here tonight. It's all next on "LARRY KING LIVE."

KING: We begin in northern Israel with Christiane Amanpour where things are starting to get rough. Watch.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Israeli army says it's trying to make a Hezbollah-free zone by hitting them hard on the ground. So with leaflets, loud speakers and flares the Israelis are trying to get the Lebanese civilians to move out.

YITZHAK GERSHON, GENERAL, ISRAELI ARMY: I urge them to leave as soon as possible. Why? Because Hezbollah is still shooting. And because they are shooting, we want to stop the shooting, we shoot back.

AMANPOUR: As his commanding general says Israeli forces want to open fire freely.


KING: Christiane, what's the situation right now where you are?

AMANPOUR: Well, the situation is quite quiet, as it generally is at this time, around this northern border. We haven't heard the same amount of artillery fire going out this evening. But there are troops and tanks, armor still at the border.

But we're being told very, very clearly now that -- to step back from some of the hype maybe that was yesterday from this idea of a ground invasion.

They are basically saying that they are going to continue their current ground operations, which they call limited in scope. And it involves troops going in. It involves troops going in, in certain formations, certain sizes, certain depths in and out of Lebanon. But they say they don't want to occupy or hold ground.

But it's tough. And it's unclear at the moment just how effective their now ten or 11-day mission has been because rockets still come, Katyushas are still coming in, even after all this air and ground power.

KING: One other quick thing, Christiane, a British foreign office minister says the Israelis have, in effect, targeted the whole nation. There's no such thing as strategic bombing going on. What do you hear?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think they are becoming extremely sensitive to obviously this credible civilian situation that's going on in Lebanon with so many casualties, with such disproportionate number of casualties on that side, compared to on this side.

Because now, in all or our military interviews and contacts that we have with officers, they are taking great pains to talk about the possibility of civilian casualties and how they want to avoid it, which is why they brought us in to talk about, you know, all these ways they are trying to get the civilians to move out of southern Lebanon.

Because they do actually want to go in there and, as one commander said, open fire freely. They want to open fire against Hezbollah. And they know that it's potentially very, very costly for the Lebanese civilians, not to mention -- it's already been, you know, very costly for the Lebanese civilians.

And it's not that easy for the Israelis. They have taken six casualties to get one tiny village.

KING: Nic Robertson is in Beirut.

Criticism, Nic, said diplomatic sources are saying the conflict could last a few more weeks. What would be left in a few weeks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That depends what will be targeted, Larry.

There have been at least 11 loud explosions here in Beirut tonight in the last two and a half hours, that is.

In the afternoon, television transmitters, cell phone transmitters, north of the city up on the mountains have been taken out, taken off air.

LBC, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company; Future TV, another popular television; al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah-affiliated television station, that's been knocked off the air. Also Sidon, south of Beirut, targeted tonight.

We also had Ben Wedeman, our reporter, down in the area of the south today, watching Lebanese' streaming north trying to get away.

The message, coming to them from Israeli broadcasts and from the leaflets dropped from the sky, is to get out of the south. Some 400,000 people live in that southern section of Lebanon. They have been streaming out through -- trying to get past the roads that have been bombed. And they're very congested.

A lot of people even coming from the north back to the south to try and bring relatives out, Larry.

KING: And John Roberts, our own John Roberts has literally just arrived in Haifa. What's the report there, John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, even 20 miles from the border here, because of the density of the cool night air, we can hear the crack of Israeli artillery as it continues to fire into southern Lebanon.

We haven't seen any rockets here since the sun went down. There haven't been any air raid sirens since the sun went down. Though, there were about nine today.

Some nine Hezbollah Katyusha Rockets came into Haifa. They landed harmlessly in an open area. They weren't any casualties here. No injuries, either.

Further up the coast, in the seaside town of Nahariya, they got about 22 rockets. There were a couple of people who were injured there.

The same thing in Carmel, about the same number of rockets. Israeli officials tell us about 20 people were injured.

There were no deaths today. And they say that as many as 160 rockets came into Israel from southern Lebanon.

Now, as far as whether or not this is going to get worst before it gets better, I don't know if it's going to get worst. But it's certainly not going to get better.

Ha'aretz, which is one of the big major dailies, is putting out in its Sunday Edition -- it's already Sunday here in Israel -- that senior Israeli officials believe that Condoleezza Rice is going to give them another week to pursue Hezbollah through the bombing and artillery campaign before she tells them that the guns probably need to fall silent or world opinion is going to turn against you.

And as Christiane said, the Israelis becoming ever more cognizant of the fact that world opinion could turn against them if they continue to hit Lebanese civilians as hard as they have. Some 355 have died now, Larry.

KING: John Roberts on the scene in Haifa. Now, to Washington, Brigadier General James Marks, United States Army retired. He stays on top of these things.

What did the military do today?

JAMES MARKS, RETIRED BRIGADIER GENERAL, U.S. ARMY: Larry, let me show you what happened on this 11th day as the Israeli defense forces attacked north into Lebanon.

They attacked north and secured and seized the town of Maroun al- Ras from the Israeli town of Avivim. It's a little over a mile and a half up to Maroun al-Ras.

But, Larry, let me show you why it's so significant. This little village sits on a hilltop, Larry. And it has a really commanding view into Lebanon. As you can see how the terrain drops off looking to the north.

But as we look to the south, you can see what Hezbollah lost when they lost this village. An equally commanding view into Israel to fire with impunity.

Now, when we come up out of that little town and we look at the buffer zone that might be established, you can see the significance of the Litani River.

If this is the buffer zone, the primary weapon of choice by the Hezbollah, the terror weapon, is the Katyusha rocket. It has a range of about 12 miles.

But by pushing Hezbollah north and their inventory of the Katyusha rocket, you deny that terror weapon as it might hit Israeli citizens. That's the significance of the buffer zone, Larry.

KING: Do you expect a full-scale invasion?

MARKS: Larry, it has to happen. You can't simply do pin-prick attacks into what might be a buffer zone and then return to Israel.

Hezbollah will continue to command the terrain until the Israeli defense forces can secure a buffer zone. And then, over the course of time, turn that over to some international force.

KING: Thank you, General.

Brigadier General James Marks, we'll be calling on him every night.

You're watching a special live Saturday night edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." And we'll be back doing it again tomorrow.

And we'll be right back with more. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Let's go now to Beirut. And we check in with Ibrahim Mousawi, the chief editor of foreign news at al-Manar TV, which is linked to Hezbollah. Israel targeted TV transmission towers today. What sort of damage did it sustain?

IBRAHIM MOUSAWAI, FOREIGN NEWS CHIEF EDITOR, AL-MANAR TV: Well, actually you're talking about cutting off and taking off the air many signals for many Lebanese TV channels. One of them is al-Manar.

This has brought the resolution into -- this has brought the transmission into less resolution and has knocked it off from certain geographical places. Because you know Lebanon is a highly mountainous area where you have to have a lot of transmitter towers to be able to secure good transmission all over the country.

KING: Israel has pushed so heavily in. Have they degraded Hezbollah a lot?

MOUSAWI: It doesn't seem so. I mean actually if you hear the news that Hezbollah is capable of sending more rockets in the northern areas of (inaudible), this will tell you that they have still the capabilities. They can function properly in order t continue their action against the occupation the way they believe it's effective with the rhythm they believe is functioning.

KING: Ibrahim, frankly, can Hezbollah sustain a full-scale invasion?

MOUSAWI: Well, I mean, the understanding -- even Hezbollah, itself, they don't boast and say that we won't allow -- in the sense that they would stop an invasion in the sense that invasion cannot be taken. You're talking about one of the super powers, maybe the third most effective army in the world.

But what Hezbollah says is that it's ready. It's there. It's prepared to inflict heavy damage against the Israeli army. And they are ready to do a lot of ambushes to it. And they could stop it and deter its affectivity and sustaining its goals the way they want to do it.

KING: Where do you think all this is going?

MOUSAWI: I mean it's going until the Israelis are convinced that they have to stop at one point. Now it's in the Israeli hands.

Because ever since Hezbollah has taken the two Israeli captives, Nasrallah said -- directly said, Nasrallah, the secretary general said we want -- we don't want any escalation. We don't want any deterioration in the security rhythm. This is a limited operation in time and space. We need only to start indirect negotiation and the swap.

This is what he mentioned again in his last appearance with al Jazeera. The same conditions, the same rhythm of indirect negotiations, as well.

If the Israelis accepted this option from the very beginning we would have spared the two sides of the formula all of this destruction, all of this loss of lives that happened.

KING: Wouldn't it save a lot of lives, Ibrahim, to return the two soldiers?

MOUSAWI: It will have returned the lives -- a lot of lives -- if the Israelis had handed the three Lebanese hostages in their custody. They have been there for more than 28 years. They were about to be released in the last swap that happened between the Israelis and Hezbollah.

But at one point, at the last stage, they didn't accept that. And they made this fault.

I believe the Israelis knew very well that Hezbollah was going to conduct an operation. Hezbollah has put it very clearly they were doing a lot of maneuvers -- in order to sabotage any efforts from Hezbollah to take captives. Everybody in the country knows that. And they should have done something about it. Even the international community is going to be held responsible for that, I believe.

KING: Thank you, Ibrahim. Ibrahim Mousawi, chief editor of foreign news at al-Manar TV.

Let's go to New York. Ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud, he is the Lebanese foreign ministry representative to the United States.

What can you tell us is the latest inside your country, casualties and people displaced and the like?

NOUHAD MAHMOUD, LEBANESE FOEGIN MINISTRY REPRESENTATIVE: Well, we have about half a million displaced. We have 355 and more killed. And more than a thousand injured.

And the fighting is still going on and maybe more escalation. More escalation means more casualties and more loss in properties and in facilities.

KING: Ambassador, if this is an invasion, is it not war?

MAHMOUD: Sure, it is war. And it's against international law. It's a violation of a sovereign state. But the Israeli are used to that, any way.

KING: Do you expect the Lebanese army to go full throttle against the Israelis?

MAHMOUD: Well, there are -- the national army, they are supposed to do whatever they can do.

KING: By the way, that army, is 20 percent of that army Shiite?

MAHMOUD: Maybe, we don't have the proportion. But it's an army which represents the variety of the Lebanese people. We are a team, group, ethnic and religious. And they are all represented in this army. KING: What do you expect from Condoleezza Rice's visit?

MAHMOUD: I hope she can speed up the process for some political solution. Because all this fighting won't achieve anything.

KING: Are you optimistic she will do that?

MAHMOUD: Well, of course, to be optimistic.

KING: Should Hezbollah, though -- as I just asked the previous representative -- would it pay for them to return the two kidnapped soldiers as a gesture of goodwill?

MAHMOUD: Well, that can be achieved in the political ambience not under fire. I mean, under fire, they won't do it.

KING: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the answer. As a gesture of goodwill, would it help for them to return those two soldiers?

MAHMOUD: I don't think now the ambience and the situation allow for good gesture like this because they are under fire.

KING: Does Lebanon have any anger at all at Hezbollah?

MAHMOUD: Well, some people disagree with Hezbollah, maybe holding their arms after the liberation of the south. But they are part of the Lebanese people, any way.

KING: Are you shocked that Israel has reacted the way it has reacted?

MAHMOUD: We are shocked and angry and frustrated because after -- there are building and a construction of the country, seeing what happened. The country is turn to shred in few days.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud, the Lebanese foreign ministry representative to the United States.

When we come back, Miri Isien joins us, the Israeli government spokesperson, retired colonel from the Israeli military intelligence. And we'll get the other side. Don't go away.


KING: This is a live Saturday night edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." And we return to our microphones.

Miri Eisin, she is the Israeli government spokesperson, retired colonel with the Israeli military service, comes to us from Tel Aviv.

Miri, how long can we expect this attack to continue? It doesn't appear that Israel has any interest in stopping it.

MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: I think that Israel has said, Larry, from the beginning that we're going to take as long as it takes. And as long as it takes is to make sure Hezbollah is not deployed anymore in the south of Lebanon on the northern border of Israel.

They are still firing the rockets. And we said up front they have tens of thousands of rockets they are firing every single day, hundreds of rockets on northern Israel, on our civilian population.

We have to bring an end to this. And we're trying as hard as we can to pinpoint them where they are. That's how long it's going to take.

KING: How do you explain the mounting civilian casualties, though?

EISIN: You know, Hezbollah sits in the civilian population on purpose. They are a terrorist organization. What they did not only over the last six years, since we withdrew from Lebanon, but also before that, is they sit in the middle of the towns of the villages. That's where they are firing their rockets from. That's where they have their launchers. That's where they fire against anything that they can.

And we're trying to pinpoint them only in the places that we can hit Hezbollah.

Sadly, this is a war. There are civilian casualties. It is a tragedy.

Hezbollah hiding behind the civilian population and firing at the Israeli civilian populations.

KING: It's still hard to explain, on both sides, a dead child, isn't it?

EISIN: You know, I'm a mother. I look at the pictures. And I find it very difficult for myself.

We don't enjoy watching the Lebanese walking through the rubble of their homes. But this is a war. And very sadly, in wars, there are civilian casualties, innocent victims on both sides.

It's very difficult to explain. And I ask Hezbollah how they sit in the middle of the civilian population and use them as a cover for their terrorist activities?

KING: Last night, on this program, Kofi Annan said that this is a humanitarian disaster. Do you share that view?

EISIN: Well, Israel tried already two days ago to help alieve the humanitarian situation that is developed. Israel has no interest, no desire, to have this humanitarian disaster. We opened a naval corridor for humanitarian supplies to arrive from Cyprus.

In a war, as we said, there are civilian casualties. We're trying as much as we can to help this international effort. Hezbollah has to come out of where they are hidden deep inside the civilian population. And they have to stand out. And they are hiding behind the civilians, which is a terrible, terrible thing.

KING: Miri, are you a little between a rock and a hard place? That is, the more you do, the more anger you create regionally in the area. And therefore, more angrier created against Israel?

EISIN: Larry, you know, you put it in those terms and I'm thinking about it from here in Israel.

Because here we are now, and as we said, we're in the 12th day. Here it's already early Sunday Morning.

There are a million Israelis in bomb shelters. Last night was the end of our weekend, Saturday night. And people were going home to their homes up north. They came down to Tel Aviv for the weekend to have a little bit of respite from the rockets.

What else can we do? We have to continue. We're determined to not return to where we were before.

We never thought, up front, that Hezbollah was going to be an easy enemy. They have the best of the Iranian weapons. They are trained by Iranians. Nasrallah is nothing but a puppet of the Iranians. But we're determined to make sure that a terrorist organization doesn't keep us, in the north, hostage; doesn't take the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people hostage. We have to change the situation.

KING: And Lebanese military officials indicate that, if Israel goes in, they will join with Hezbollah in the fight. How do you respond to that?

EISIN: I heard all of those different things. And I wonder about the Lebanese government on the whole.

Hezbollah has been holding the Lebanese government hostage. They have done whatever they wanted over the last six years in the south of Lebanon.

Where is the Lebanese Government? Don't they have any accountability or responsibility for what happens in Lebanon?

There's a terrorist organization with a basically private military with thousands of rockets in the south of their country poised to fire at Israel at any given time.

We think that the Lebanese army could do a lot more for Lebanon, not for Israel, in defining Lebanon's sovereignty, in making sure that Lebanon stays Lebanon, and not a country which is a proxy to the Iranians under Hezbollah. EISIN: Thank you, again, Miri Eisin, the Israeli government spokesperson, retired colonel with Israeli military intelligence.

Lots more to come on "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with this special live edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

We're now in the 12th day of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Israeli forces seized control of a village in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah continued to target Northern Israel with its rockets.

Israeli forces are still massed along the border with Lebanon, raising speculation of an all-out invasion.

Israel strikes transmission towers inside Lebanon disrupting television and phone service.

Over 300 are killed so far, at least 266 in Lebanon, 34 in Israel. Thousands of Americans still being evacuated to Cyprus and Turkey.

Back to Christiane Amanpour in northern Israel.

Christiane, based on what we've heard in the past half hour, this is not going away. This is going to take a while?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think nobody is under any illusions that this is a simple problem. It is a hot ground conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. And look at all the damage it's done in Lebanon.

And then you've got the whole diplomatic effort that's coming up now. There are various things, obviously, that they are pursuing, but most of all they are trying to get the Lebanese army to be able to extend its sovereignty and to fully implement this Resolution 1559, which we have heard so much about, disarming Hezbollah or making them a neutral force in terms of military capability, especially along that southern border with Lebanon.

And then, of course, the herculean task of getting a competent, robust new national force to come and make up the rest of that force down in southern Lebanon.

So it's probably going to take time. As I say, we've been told it could take another couple of weeks of operations on the ground before -- and discussions before an actual cease-fire goes into place.

LARRY KING, HOST: Thank you, Christiane. Now we go to Damascus. Aneesh Raman stands by, CNN international correspondent. Aneesh, what's the latest on the refugees flowing into Syria?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we have seen the numbers dwindle just a bit at the border. We're told there's increasing fear among those who are getting out of Lebanon about that road that comes into Syria. It's been hit a number of times.

Just yesterday, a major bridge was knocked out. But the Syrian government for the moment seems to have things under control -- the latest numbers somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 Lebanese refugees here in Syria.

Syrians are opening up their homes, donating food, donating shelter. We traveled with a family of eight today from a main shelter to a school where they will be spending, essentially, the next weeks, if not months.

It's a barren existence for them. They broke down once they got there. It really hit them what their life had become.

And then there is still a lot of anger that the world is sort of turning a blind eye to what is happening in southern Lebanon. They come up to you, especially at the border or refugee centers. They have cell phone pictures of what used to be their homes. They have cell phone pictures of the destruction within Lebanon.

But, for the moment, they say that Syria is the only country standing by them, and this is the only place where they are getting some semblance of support.


KING: Any thoughts, Aneesh, that -- any wild thoughts -- that Syria might get involved?

RAMAN: Well, I have asked that to everyone here, and for the moment, the Syrians say that could never happen -- that it would be essentially Israel declaring a complete, total war on the region for Syria to get involved militarily.

In terms of Syria actively getting involved within Lebanon, they say that, as well, is out of the question in any explicit way.

But in terms of the diplomacy, Syria is part of the crisis and is part of any solution, really, that could come about. That's been said even by the U.N. secretary general.

And so we're seeing the U.S. and Condoleezza Rice on her trip here trying to put pressure on Syria to then put pressure on Hezbollah, trying to get Syria and Iran, which have formed a growing bond in recent times, a uniform sort of bond that exists in these times of pressure, trying to get Syria to back off from its support of Iran.

So Syria is going to be part of this in the weeks ahead. It is just unclear at the moment which way it will go.

KING: Now we go to Cyprus and Chris Burns, CNN's Berlin bureau chief. The evacuation of French citizens through Cyprus, Chris -- the French government says over 1,200 have been successfully gotten out. Have you heard that, as well?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF: Larry, at least that many, and they are going to continue that. What we are seeing over my shoulder is, is just the absolute immensity of this evacuation operation.

This is the U.S.S. Whidbey Island that is about to have about 800 people disembark, and next to it are another 1,000 Americans aboard this cruise ship, the Orient Queen, that has already made a couple of trips bringing thousands of people over.

At least 8,000 -- by the end of the day -- by dawn, by daybreak tomorrow, 10,000 Americans will have left from Lebanon, and we're expecting perhaps thousands more, and the U.S. is getting ready an even wider evacuation operation by offering another route through Turkey and flying people out through the Incirlik Air Base aboard U.S. military craft. So this is far from over yet.


KING: Thank you, Chris -- Chris Burns, our CNN Berlin bureau chief. When we come back, Congressman Chris Shays in Stanford, Connecticut, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. He's in Fort Lauderdale. We'll get their viewpoint on the situation which doesn't go away. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now in Stanford, Connecticut, is Congressman Chris Shays, chairman of the government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. He's a Republican of Connecticut. And in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat, of New Mexico and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

We'll start with Governor Richardson. Secretary Rice heads to the area tomorrow. What do you expect?

BILL RICHARDSON, NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I expect her to, first, with the Europeans, say to them that they have got to cut off Hezbollah. They have to put some sanctions on, put them on the terrorism list. This means denial of visas for Hezbollah, freezing their assets, using that leverage. I think that should be the first step.

Secondly, I think she has to boost up the government of Lebanon. You know, I think we were responsible in large part for them becoming democratic, but for some reason they still house Hezbollah there. So that should be a second step -- to boost them.

And then reaffirm our strong support for Israel, find out the humanitarian situation there. I think another step would be for her to make sure that Kofi Annan, the U.N., that the Israelis, that everybody cooperates to open those humanitarian lines because we have close to half a million people possibly without water, as refugees, and basically to get the peace process, the peacekeeping forces going. That's what you should do.

KING: Congressman Shays, senators Reid and Biden want the president to appoint a high-level special envoy. Good idea?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: I think so. I would like an envoy there indefinitely.

I just totally agree with Governor Richardson's comment. I mean, he's right on target. What I really would like most of all is just honest dialogue.

Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations. Israel got out of southern Lebanon and gave a chance to Lebanon and to Hezbollah to change. They got out of Gaza City, gave a chance to Hamas to show what they should do, and their response was basically to attack Israel -- so first, just an honest statement of fact.

KING: Could -- is there a danger here, Governor Richardson, of Israel going so far as to bring others in and, the worst catastrophe of all, World War III?

RICHARDSON: Well, the longer this goes -- we all want Israel to defend itself. We back her. She has been right. But what this will fuel is more Arab anger at Israel. And the reality is we really don't want Iran and Syria directly engaged. We have to at all costs avoid that.

So the next step has to be the premier player in the region. That's the United States. I'm glad Secretary Rice is going. I wish she had gone there a little sooner.

And then I would set up a permanent Middle East envoy, somebody with a distinguished background outside of government or in government that constantly can push the peace process.

Then, Larry, the U.N. or an international peacekeeping force, preferably Muslims, preferably European countries, that can step in and act as buffers, an international stabilizing force, but also threat of sanctions. Syria has to get sanctioned if it continues to play around in Lebanon -- to get involved there -- if it continues funding supply lines to Hamas. There has to be real sanctions, and it's the United States and Europe leading that effort.

KING: Congressman Shays, Lebanese leaders say the attack by Israel is disproportionate to what happened, and they say it looks like Israel is not letting up until all of Hezbollah is wiped out. How do you react?

SHAYS: Well, I think Israel is not going to let up until Hezbollah is dealt with. That's a very reasonable thing. We would do the same thing if we were in Israel's place.

You know, when I hear dialogue about World War III, for Israel, they have been involved in this war for decades.

We had Prime Minister Olmert come to Congress and say, "We're willing to give up Israel's dream for peace." And he described what they had done, and they were waiting for a response, and the response they got was the exact opposite. I think this needs to go out a little further until we see a different setup of sides here.

KING: Any danger, Governor Richardson, of the United States being drawn in?

RICHARDSON: Well, I don't believe, for instance, you need the United States as part of the international peacekeeping force. That can be done by a U.N. force, or by European force. I don't believe that is necessary.

But, one, we are drawn in. We back Israel. We provide it support, security. That has to continue, but what we need to do, Larry, is it not in anybody's interest for this to be an unstable part of the world. It has enormous political interest, energy interests to us.

We don't want instability, and you don't want the Israeli people and the Arab people to continue these killings. This is torturous. So a diplomatic track needs to be pushed.

I wish Secretary Rice had gotten there a little before, but so much for that. Let her push this process, and I agree with Congressman Shays that Israel here is not to blame. Israel has to defend itself.

I think the entry today into that strategic part of the area makes sense because you don't want an Israeli invasion, but it has to protect itself by going into those Hezbollah strongholds.

KING: Chris Shays, you want an international peacekeeping force?

SHAYS: Well, eventually, if it does its job. But, you know, what Israel thought when they left southern Lebanon, that would be a positive message to the Lebanese. When they left Gaza City, they thought that would be a positive message to the PLO.

Instead they took it as the opposite, as a sign of weakness. I think we tend to bring our Western ways to think about how people think in the Middle East, and they think very differently.

KING: Thank you both very much. Congressman Chris Shays, Governor Bill Richardson, we'll be calling on both of you again.

When we come back, wonderful human interest. Nice to get some good news out of this, and you're going to watch it when we come back.


KING: Welcome back. This past Wednesday, LARRY KING LIVE viewers met Amer Issa and heard the dramatic story of his family's travels out of Lebanon.

Amer's 9-year-old son, Noureddine, got a liver transplant when he was just 6 months old and still has to take anti-rejection medication to stay healthy. But Noureddine, his mom, Rima, and sister, Farah, were stuck in Lebanon, and his medication supply was running low.

But with the help of Noureddine's doctor, the family got the meds he needed and made it out of Lebanon. Tonight they are together, and they are all here with us in Los Angeles. And Amer got that wonderful telephone call from you while he was leaving the air and came back on the air. Where did you meet them today?

AMER ISSA: Yesterday in Los Angeles. It was very difficult to find the plane and come back with them the same plane.

KING: They came through Baltimore?

A. ISSA: Baltimore, and then they spent the night there, and they arrived yesterday afternoon.

KING: Rima, were you worried that you would not get out?

RIMA ISSA: Of course. It was like scary situation. But now we are relieved, safe, and grateful for every help we receive.

KING: How were you rescued?

R. ISSA: I received the phone call from the American embassy telling me that -- to be at 7 o'clock in the morning. Then they took us with a cruise boat to Cyprus. From Cyprus we came with the American shuttle to Baltimore.

KING: What a wonderful feeling that was -- had to get on the boat. Were you worried, Farah?

FARAH ISSA: I was scared. I mean, it was scary just leaving your family behind. You know, it's not fair to be rescued and have them stuck there hearing everything and just running away when they hear it.

The funny thing is, we don't hide sometimes. Most of the time we just run to the balcony to see the smoke, just, like, to know where it is coming from.

KING: Did you know your father was on this show?

F. ISSA: No, I didn't know. I didn't know we were going to get this much attention from the media, but, yes.

KING: And how about you, Noureddine? How old are you now?


KING: Did you worry that you weren't going to get your medicine?

N. ISSA: Yes.

KING: Who got it to you? Got to you in Lebanon, right?

N. ISSA: No, they gave it to me in Cyprus.

KING: Oh, in Cyprus.

Would he have been in grave condition, Amer, had he not gotten that?

A. ISSA: Yes, it was extremely dangerous not to have it.

KING: What is his disease?

A. ISSA: He had the liver transplant, and when you receive a transplant you have to always be on an anti-rejection medication, and if you stop taking it, well, your body will recognize your liver as a foreign object and will attack it, destroy it, and can cause serious problems.

KING: You must have been scared.

N. ISSA: Yes.

KING: What were you doing in Lebanon, Rima?

R. ISSA: Visiting family. Every summer we go to spend the vacation with our family.

KING: All this came -- sorry, can't hear you -- all this came as a shock to you?

R. ISSA: Of course.

KING: I mean the whole war, the whole thing?

R. ISSA: Yes, it happened, like, in two days a lot of distraction and sadness, and war and deaths was everywhere.

KING: Did you see any -- did any of your friends get hurt?

R. ISSA: No. No.

KING: Rima, you go to school here?

A. ISSA: Farah.

F. ISSA: Farah.

KING: Farah, rather, I'm sorry. You go to school here?

F. ISSA: Yes, I go to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Los Angeles.

KING: But you're off now for the summer?

F. ISSA: Yes, we were off June 9.

KING: You don't plan to go back, do you?

F. ISSA: To Lebanon?

KING: Yes.

F. ISSA: Of course I'm going back. It's my life; it's my family. KING: You will go back?

F. ISSA: Of course. I can't live without them.

KING: Who is there?

F. ISSA: My cousins, my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts.

KING: You want to go back, Noureddine?

N. ISSA: Well, when the war stops I want to go back, and -- so, yes.

KING: Want to go back, Rima?

R. ISSA: Of course. I left behind my family, just like all the Lebanese, and they are in danger now. They are afraid and surrounded by death. So, of course, if war --

KING: Will you go with them this time, Amer?

A. ISSA: I promised I would.

KING: You will?

A. ISSA: Yes.

R. ISSA: It's easier.

A. ISSA: Now I learn not to really trust what is going on in the Middle East anymore.

KING: That must have been a wonderful scene at the airport, huh?

A. ISSA: It was beautiful. I will thank you because I think the exposure that you provided us with helped us a lot. Thank you. Thank Dr. McDermott.

KING: We are happy to be of help, and we thank the doctor, too.

A. ISSA: Yes.

KING: The Issa family -- they are all back together.

Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He will host A.C. 360 at the top of the hour in Beirut. What's up tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, a lot of explosions happening tonight here in Beirut -- more than a dozen in the overnight hours. We'll have the latest on that. We will also take a look at Israel targeting transmission towers, satellite television towers, cell phone communications here in northern Lebanon, and the fighting intensifying in the south in southern Lebanon, Israel occupying one town now, maybe even pushing to go further.

We'll take a look at all that, Larry, at the top of the hour. KING: Thank you. That's always Anderson Cooper on top of the scene. He hosted a great show, by the way, on Hezbollah right before this program. I'm sure it will be repeated. When we come back, John Waterbury, the president of the American University of Beirut. Don't go away.


KING: We thought we would close tonight with a distinguished little history lesson from John Waterbury, the president of the American University of Beirut. He's at our studio -- he's in New York, rather.

Help us understand this a little. How long has Hezbollah been around? What sort of numbers do -- who are they?

JOHN WATERBURY, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN BEIRUT: Well, Hezbollah has been around since the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in Lebanon in 1982, and it sprang up as a movement of resistance to the Israeli invasion.

I think it's important to keep in mind that it's very much part of the Shiite society of southern Lebanon, and that society has always been somewhat on the margins of the political system. It's never fully shared in the wealth and the educated middle class of Lebanon. And it now has a powerful political and military force that can empower it both inside Lebanon and in the region.

KING: What relationship does it have to the government?

WATERBURY: There are a number of ministers in the current government who are affiliated with Hezbollah. Frankly, I'm not sure how close to the decision-making center of Hezbollah they actually are, but they are certainly identified as representing Hezbollah in the government. This government emerged after the assassination of Rafik Hariri in February 2005. It's a democratically elected government. Hezbollah participated in those elections and for the first time actually agreed to have ministers in the cabinet.

KING: In your opinion, John, can the Lebanese government, a very young democracy, survive this?

WATERBURY: I think the current government is under enormous stress, and what has been demonstrated in the events of the last couple of weeks is that it appears to have been ignored by Hezbollah in its decision to go across the border and seize the Israelis, and it's shown itself to be somewhat powerless in dealing with this situation -- both the emergency situation of refugees and the Israeli incursion into the south.

So I think it's in a precarious situation. It's a divided government, but that division reflects the elections, so in that sense, it does reflect Lebanon.

KING: Now, who are the non-Hezbollah Lebanese angry at -- Hezbollah or Israel? WATERBURY: Both. You know, there's a growing tension in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, not so much between Muslims and non- Muslims but now, apparently, between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. And when this -- when there is enmity toward the United States and Israel, that division is somewhat masked. But it is there.

So when I say "both," it is anger probably by the non-Shiite factions in Lebanon that they have been dragged into this situation, but some shadenfraud that Hezbollah has been able to inflict damage and pain and act effectively in a military way against an enemy. The trump is opposing Israel and opposing the United States.

KING: What's the situation regarding your school?

WATERBURY: Well, I'm in daily contact with AUB, the American University of Beirut. We are okay. We have evacuated all of the nonessential personnel there and all those who voluntarily wanted to leave.

We have a central personnel maintaining our hospital, which is a very important actor in the current refugee crisis, and we are maintaining skeleton operations on the campus, but no classes are being held at present.

KING: When do you go back?

WATERBURY: Good question. As soon as feasible, whatever that means.

KING: Is the United States, because it supports Israel -- and we have about a little over a minute -- unpopular in the region?


KING: Simply put, yes.

WATERBURY: Yes. I don't think I need elaborate too much.

I do not think that -- there is still a great deal of goodwill towards the United States, and some of the anger and some of the disappointment is precisely that -- disappointment that many Arabs expected other -- some other attitudes, some other kind of behavior from the United States than they have been seeing in recent years. So it's disappointment -- "Don't they hear us?" "Why do we count for so little in the eyes of the United States?"

KING: Are you pessimistic, John?

WATERBURY: I can't be, not as president of a university. We build for the future. We look to future generations. We have got to climb out of this mess.

KING: We'd love to have you back. Thank you, John.

WATERBURY: Thank you very much. KING: John Waterbury, the president of one of the distinguished schools in the world, the American University of Beirut. We thank him very much for being with us.

This has been a live Saturday edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We are going to do it again tomorrow -- a live Sunday night edition.

Right now let's go to -- back to -- let's see, where is he? He's always somewhere -- back to Anderson Cooper on the scene. Where are you now again?

COOPER: I am in Beirut, Larry, and it has been a night of dramatic developments. Thanks very much. Good evening, everyone.


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