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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Conflict in the Middle East

Aired July 23, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone. A dozen days of bombings is done. A dozen days of fighting done. A new day just beginning here in Beirut. Complete coverage next on "360."
ANNOUNCER: Day 12, a barrage of Hezbollah missiles slams homes in Haifa. Tit for tat, Israel wastes no time to fire back with help from underground to limit the casualties of war. Will the U.S. intervene on behalf of Israel?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't discussed the possibility of U.S. boots on the ground in Lebanon, but I think that we want to be open minded on what's doable here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Playing the middle man, the U.S. wants Saudi Arabia to ask Syria to help end the bloodshed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even the United States wants to involve serious of diplomacy, of course there must be (INAUDIBLE) willing to engage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Who can stop the mayhem? This is a special Sunday edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: Crisis in the Middle East, Day 12.

COOPER: And good evening, thanks very much for joining us. Also to our international viewers watching us around the world on CNN International, thanks for joining us.

We are live in Beirut where it is now 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning. Day 13 of this crisis just slowly beginning. Darkness still enshrouding this city. No telling what today will bring.

Yesterday, we saw more bombings here in Beirut, brief bombings in south Beirut. Also, the fighting is intensifying down in the south, very close quarters fighting on the ground and in the air.

We'll have reports all throughout the region over the course of this next hour on 360. Here's what we know at this hour in the latest war bulletin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): More air raid sirens, more thundering explosions. Back and forth, the barrage between Israel and Hezbollah goes on.

Dozens of Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel again today, Israeli bombs fell on the Lebanese city of Tyre. And Beirut's southern suburbs have again been hit.

Arab media says a Lebanese photographer is among the casualties. She's become the first journalist to die in a dozen days of fighting.

America's top diplomatic is on her way to the region right now, but don't expect results right away. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she wants to work for a lasting peace. instead of an immediate ceasefire with no political terms.

Rice is heading in, but many of her fellow Americans are still heading out. There's word that most of the Americans who want to leave Lebanon have done so. Some 10,000 evacuated over the past week, along with thousands of other Westerners.

And now. the U.S. Embassy says there's no longer a wait for U.S. chartered boat transport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Day 12 of this conflict, of course, saw more bloodshed, more deaths. The civilian death toll is growing on both sides of the border.

Here's the latest count. Lebanese security forces report Israeli air strikes have left at least 271 people dead, more than 700 wounded. Israel says the hundreds of Hezbollah rockets fired thus far across the border have killed 17 civilians, 20 soldiers. More than 360 people have been wounded in Israel in the attacks.

We have correspondents deployed all throughout the region. No one bringing you more extensive coverage of this ongoing crisis.

Joining us right now, though, is CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour in northern Israel, as well as CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson right here in Beirut.

Let's start with Christiane. Christiane, what's the latest?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that Israeli troops, we're told, are going deeper into southern Lebanon. Also, we're told that what their main concentration is right now is taking out the Hezbollah stronghold closest to the border. That means not just above ground installations, but below ground as well. Storage, places where they keep ammunition and missiles and the like.

And that's why they're sending in ground forces, but it's not easy. Even a town that over the last 24 to 36 hours they've said has been in their control is not yet quiet. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): An Israeli tank rumbles back across the border from Lebanon, after battling Hezbollah militants in the small hilltop town of Maroun al Ras. Ohad, the tank commander, says it was a very hard battle. Two of their tanks were ambushed.

"They were ready for us. They have a lot of ammunition, they have guns, they have everything they need," he says.

In all, six Israeli soldiers were killed and several more were wounded in the fight for this one village. Even though the army high command says they've now captured the village, their helicopters and tanks are still shelling it. And their soldiers are still trading fire there with Hezbollah.

And Hezbollah's katyushas keep coming. Volleys of them into northern Israel. Flames from several days of rockets fire lick the edges of Kiriak Shimona (ph), the biggest Israeli town up here.

BRIG. GEN. SHUKI SHACAR, IDF DEP. NORTHERN COMMANDER: I didn't say that we were making great. I said that we are operating our forces according to the situation in the area. And it's the process that needs time to accomplish the mission.

AMANPOUR: General Shacar says Hezbollah has built up a big arsenal and dug in positions along the border in the six years since Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.

SHACAR: Thousands of missiles are under the ground. Even if we hit about 40, 50 percent of the missiles, they still have thousands still with them.

AMANPOUR: Israel says it's fighter bombers have made 1500 sorties. And they've not finished the air war yet.

From the ground, they say, they've fired more than 20,000 rounds of artillery. And their infantry and special forces are penetrating deeper into southern Lebanon, pushing Hezbollah back.

But far from promising a quick end, the army chiefs tell the Israeli public to be patient. The Hezbollah flag is still flying.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And this evening, word from both the prime minister's office and the defense minister that Israel is willing to consider what's largely been floated for the last several days, and that is a new international force, either NATO or EU to be along this border eventually and help the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army keep control of southern Lebanon.

COOPER: Christiane, how would that work? I mean, is the theory that Israeli forces would seize as many towns as they could, and then hold on to it until some sort of international force came in to fill the gap? AMANPOUR: That part is a little unclear as yet. They keep telling us they don't want to hold ground. I mean, one or two days they say, yes. But in terms of actually holding ground for weeks or so, they say they don't want to do that.

What they're really trying to do is push Hezbollah back and push it way back and separate it from its weaponry and try to create some sort of, you know, de facto fire-free zone. So that's what they're trying to do and hoping, obviously, that the diplomacy kicks in. But you know, creating an international force is going to take some time.

COOPER: Certainly will. Christiane, thanks. We'll check in with you throughout this hour.

Let's go to Nic Robertson now, who is with me here in another location in Beirut.

Nic, not as active a day here in Beirut, although there was some explosions earlier in the day.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And surprisingly for Beirut, those explosions coming through the daylight hours in the southern suburbs, three very loud bangs from that area, loud explosions.

Normally, the detonations come overnight. We've heard a few dull thuds in the distant southern suburbs. Perhaps the most striking attack overnight has been around the southern port city of Tyre. Our CNN crew there reported seeing large flares over that area. Perhaps round about midnight time.

After that, local television stations here were reporting that a Palestinian refugee camp containing some 25,000 Palestinians just south of the port city, roughly where our crew saw those flares, the local stations say that camp was hit.

Now those are unconfirmed reports. We don't have confirmation of that -- those reports from the government here, but that's what the Lebanese people are being told over this.

Also, we've seen the U.N.'s top -- the relief coordinator come into Beirut. He's taken a look around the rubble of the city. But his big problem at the moment is he can't get any of the humanitarian relief supplies down to the south of the country where all the displaced people are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAN EGELAND, U.N. HUMANITARIAN AID COORD.: There are no humanitarian corridors inside Lebanon. Many believe that. Many even - countries, leaders believe that. And we renounce that. It's not true.

We only have until Beirut. And we can distribute here, but we cannot go down south.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now what the U.N. is planning is a three-month emergency relief program. They want to raise over $100 million. They plan to ship supplies in here, not just to Beirut but down to that southern port city of Tyre. They hope to be getting truck convoys of up to 100 trucks at a time.

ROBERTSON: But right now they can't do anything until the Israeli government guarantees their security to get these convoys down to the south. Anderson?

COOPER: You know, Nic, now there's a lot of talk about a possible NATO force, not a U.N. helmeted force as they're saying, but a NATO force in south Lebanon. I think a lot of people don't realize there has been a U.N. force in south Lebanon for years now. And that mission has essentially failed.

ROBERTSON: And right now, that mission is getting caught up in the middle. A U.N. observer got caught in the crossfire today. He was medivac'd out through Israel. It appears he was quite possibly hit by gunfire from Hezbollah guerillas.

The day before, U.N. personnel was hit by a shell. And there was conflicting reports, was it a Hezbollah missile, was it an Israeli missile? And that issue seems to be unresolved.

But in their role of monitoring that buffer zone along the border, they are powerless to stop the conflict right now. And indeed, they're getting caught up in the middle of it. And it's difficult to see how they can maintain that position, Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, we'll check in with you throughout this hour.

Also caught up in the middle of this conflict, of course, civilians on both sides of the border. But in south Lebanon, civilians, even if they don't support Hezbollah, are finding themselves trapped in the crosshairs.

When we come back, our Karl Penhaul has a very visceral story about one family's experience trying to get out of southern Lebanon. Karl Penhaul reporting from southern Lebanon in about 34 minutes.

You'll also remember that it was some 24 years ago that Ariel Sharon, then the prime minister of Israel, who masterminded Israel's involvement in Lebanon, the invasion, the eventual occupation of Lebanon, tonight, more health concerns about the former Israeli prime minister's health. He has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke back in January. Doctors now report he's taken a turn for the worse. More fluids accumulating in his body. They also say there are also problems with his kidney functions and changes in his brain tissue.

Setting the stage for an all-out assault on Hezbollah, a closer look at the battle plan set in motion by Israeli Defense Forces.

And delicate diplomacy for a lasting peace. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads out on a mission to stop the violence, but can she succeed? We're live from the White House when this special edition of 360: Crisis in the Mideast, Day 12 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EGELAND: What we are calling for in the United Nations is a cessation of hostilities, a stop to the attacks on either side. If it continues like this, there will just be more and more civilian casualties, more and more dead children, more and more wounded children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was the U.N.'s Jan Egeand earlier today right here in Beirut. He took a tour of a Hezbollah controlled south Beirut. And that's where he made those comments.

This week, no doubt, diplomacy is going to be a lot in the headlines. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has left coming here to this region. She's going to be making a stop in Israel to talk to leaders there, as well as in Europe and in Palestinian territory to talk to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Some diplomats, including some U.S. allies, have been calling for the U.S. to take a more direct role in the crisis. Some are talking of a ceasefire.

Rice, though, is expected not necessarily to call for an immediate ceasefire. All the comments from the U.S. so far have been talking about some sort of longer term solution.

She's also scheduled to have a meeting with diplomats in Rome. Let's talk about the diplomacy, what's going on with the White House.

Kathleen Koch is at the White House tonight monitoring developments there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fresh back from a weekend in Crawford, Texas, President Bush met with Saudi diplomats, who called for an immediate ceasefire delivering a letter from King Abdullah. The Saudis pointed to one major hurdle.

PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIA FOREIGN MIN.: There is only one problem in this crisis. It is Lebanon. And the inability of Lebanon to exercise sovereignty over its territory. This is what we both agreed was the primary concern of everybody.

KOCH: The U.S. hopes its Arab ally will sway its neighbor Syria to pressure Hezbollah to free the Israeli soldiers and stop shelling Israel. But Saudi diplomats say President Bush made no direct requests for them to talk to Syria.

Since the start of the crisis, the White House has maintained U.S. negotiations with Syria would be pointless.

JOSH BOLTEN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: During the entirety of the first term, the administration had a number of very close direct contacts with the Syrian government, which didn't do any good. They continued to allow terrorism to flourish. They supported it. They supported Hezbollah.

KOCH: But one U.S. lawmaker warned it's dangerous to let another country make U.S. arguments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot outsource your diplomacy here. We have too many issues that we have to resolve.

KOCH: Syria maintains it would welcome direct talks with the U.S. about the ongoing crisis.

IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: If the United States wants to involve in serious diplomacy, of course Damascus is more than willing to engage.

KOCH: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined in the meeting before heading to the region for talks. Though Israel welcomes her visit as timely, neither the U.S. nor Israel are ready to talk timetables for a ceasefire.

DANIEL AYALON, ISRAELIM AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: This battle has to be won. And the way to win this battle against the terrorists and against Iran and Syria is not be timing it with a stopper, with a stopwatch. It's by reaching the results. It may take a few days more, a few weeks more.

KOCH: The U.S. is going to talk about the possibility of a new international peace keeping force in Lebanon, including an Israeli proposal to include NATO forces.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMB. TO THE U.N.: We haven't discussed the possibility of U.S. boots on the ground in Lebanon, but I think that we want to be open minded on what's doable here.

KOCH (on camera): The White House had no direct comment on the Saudi proposals, only insisting in a statement that the two nations are united in the share of goals of helping the Lebanese people and restoring the sovereignty of their government over all its territory. Anderson?

COOPER: Kathleen, the bottom line with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting here -- it still sounds like the U.S. is not anywhere close to calling for some sort of ceasefire. It seems like they are still giving the green light to Israel, correct?

KOCH: The White House has been maintaining really from the start of this, Anderson, yes, indeed, that while an immediate ceasefire might seem desirable, what they want is a solution that is a long-term solution that will prevent this sort of thing from happening again. And in two weeks, in two months, in six months. So that's what they're insisting on right now. They say that an immediate ceasefire is really a false promise.

COOPER: Kathleen, stay with us.

I want to bring in John Roberts, who's of course covered the White House for many years. John is joining us now in Haifa.

John, just hearing Kathleen's report, talking about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit, really no change on the U.S. side in terms of policy. This White House still giving Israel time to pursue military objectives.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks like, Anderson, they are going to give Israel more time. And they've been talking with members of the United Nations, particularly Kofi Annan and his team who came back from a fact finding mission in this region last week to say look at, we can't have a type of ceasefire which is going to maintain what the State Department likes to call the status quote ante. Things on the ground have to change.

And the only way that things on the ground are going to be able to change is if Hezbollah's military capability is degraded. And the only way to allow that to - the only way to get that to happen is to allow Israel to continue its bombardment.

Now of course, the White House is keeping a very close eye on what's going on in terms of world reaction, because of the mounting civilian casualties on the Lebanese side. As many as 365 Lebanese have been killed, most of those civilians. It's said that a third of those are children. And that's really not playing very well in the international arena.

And the White House does not want to have that bad PR on their hands. So they're saying to Israel behind the scenes be very careful. They're also saying it publicly. They're saying be very careful what you do, what you target.

But look at what happened today. They hit that mini bus full of people that was trying to evacuate from the south that was hit on that road. And apparently, they've also dropped a couple of bombs, according to sources in Lebanon, on a Palestinian refugee camp.

And so the White House has got to be looking at that saying, you know, this is what we're talking about here. And you really have to rein that type of indiscriminate bombing in.

COOPER: All right, John Roberts we'll check in with you shortly to talk more about what's been going on in Haifa today, another day of more rocket attacks all throughout northern Israel.

We'll check in with John, Kathleen. Appreciate that report also from the White House.

When we come back. we'll also talk to Retired Brigadier General James Spider Marks about Israel's military strategy on the ground, what today looked like on the battlefield, very close-up analysis of the ground fighting in southern Lebanon. We'll also talk to a spokesman from the Israeli Defense Forces. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go. Here's another air raid siren. And the protocol here is that we're going to step away from the camera. And we'll go this way. I can keep talking because I'm still on a microphone, but we're all going to take cover now. And we're going to put the camera on a lockoff position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That, of course, all too familiar in Haifa. And we'll have a live report from Haifa in just a few moments about the rockets that rained down on northern Israel today.

Lebanon's president the other day said that if Israeli ground troops invaded south Lebanon in large numbers, then the Lebanese army would join sides with Hezbollah.

Now that might have just been bluster. That might have just been talk. But let's -- for a moment take a look at the assets that Lebanon's military has at their disposal if, in fact, they did join sides with Hezbollah.

Lebanon's army has 61,000 troops. Israel's army, of course, is three times larger than that. Lebanon has 280 tanks, 14 choppers. Israel, 12 times as many. Sea power, lebanon has 20 ships. Israel has 58. And Lebanon has no combat planes at all. Israel has 470.

That, of course, has not yet happened. It is Hezbollah fighters on the ground that Israel is doing battle with in south Lebanon.

Let's take a look at how the action has been going for Israeli forces on the ground, today, Day 12, of this conflict. Joining me now from Washington is retired Brigadier General James Spider Marks.

General Marks, thanks for being with us. What happened today? What did the action look like?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, Anderson, what happened today is about 90 katyusha rockets were launched from southern Lebanon and landed in Israel in various locations. That demonstrates the difficulty of finding and destroying both rockets and launchers.

Now we set up a little scenario. And let me walk you through how this looks. In southern Lebanon, for example, we have a katyusha rocket. Now it's important to point out that at any given moment over the airspace in southern Lebanon, you have unmanned aerial vehicles which have the ability to see, both day and night what's going on on the ground. And they can broadcast TV quality video on what they see.

There are attack aircraft in positions. And there are artillery firing positions as well.

Now as we walk the scenario further, the katyusha fires, the unmanned aerial vehicle instantaneously, Anderson, can pick up that firing. It transmits locational data to both the aircraft and the artillery.

In this particular scenario, the aircraft is in a better position to attack and go after that launcher. It can't go after the rocket in flight, but it can go after the launcher and destroy it. That is what we call time sensitive targeting. And it's critical to have those assets in place to go after that so quickly. This takes place in seconds.

COOPER: General Marks, you know, I've been down with Israeli artillery units along the border. And from the time they get the call from their command to fire, to the time they actually, you know, fire those 155 millimeter shells, I mean, it's really just a matter of minutes, very quick, you know. Two, three minutes they can get the shells off. How accurate can Israeli artillery fire be at a great distance?

MARKS: It could be extremely accurate. Those long range artillery pieces that Israel has are -- I don't know the precise CEP, the Circular Error Probable, the ability to strike within a very close distance of the targets. But they are very precise weapon systems. And the firing data that comes in is triangulated. So when the round goes out of the tube, it's very precise.

They also have to go through a period of clearance. So they have to determine that there is going to be minimal collateral damage. And those are the rules that the Israelis have to work by.

COOPER: What do you make of it, though? I mean, Israel says they've degraded 50 percent, perhaps as much as 50 percent of Hezbollah's military capabilities. But those rockets, as you pointed out, just keep on falling in northern Israel?

MARKS: Absolutely. The katyusha rocket is launched from the back of a truck. It's launched from the back of an ambulance. So they're very difficult to determine where they are located in advance of firing.

If you could go after the launchers, they have to unmask themselves, they have to reveal themselves, you'll degrade and (INAUDIBlE) the ability of the rockets being fired into Israel. That's a very, very difficult targeting task, but degradation has taken place on the rocket systems and Hezbollah at large.

COOPER: Brigadier General James Spider Marks, the commander's eye view of the battlefield. General, thanks. Appreciate it.

MARKS: Thanks.

COOPER: We'll check in again with you tomorrow.

When we come back right after the break, we're going to talk with a spokesman from the Israeli Defense Forces from their perspective, seeing how the fighting today has been going in southern Lebanon.

A lot more also report from Haifa. The rockets continue to fall. A live report on what it's like there now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KIM HOWELLS, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTRY: Israel's got every right to defend itself, it must defend itself against this kind of attack. Who could do otherwise? But, there must be a political campaign as well which convinces the world that the right thing to do is to disarm Hezbollah.

COOPER: That was Kim Howells, British foreign minister speaking earlier on CNN.

It is 5:30 now in Beirut. Dawn is just breaking throughout this city. We have not heard explosions in the nighttime hours, some of the large explosions, surprisingly, in daytime hours yesterday here in Beirut. But it's usually in the night, and the early morning hours where we hear blasts. We have not heard anything thus far, but it is just 5:30 a.m. No telling what this day will hold.

Let's get you up-to-date with the latest information in today's war bulletin. Here's what we know.

Diplomatic sources telling CNN that Israel's operation against Hezbollah could last a few more weeks. Israel says there won't be a full scale ground invasion, however, of Lebanon. Rather, it says it will continue what they say are pinpoint attacks on specific targets.

A major backer of Hezbollah calls for a cease-fire, but also issues a warning. Syria says it will join the conflict if Israeli troops come near Damascus. Syrian official, however, also say they are willing to talk directly with the U.S. to help in the fighting. The U.S. so far saying "No" to that.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is en route to the Middle East. She's going to lead the first U.S. diplomatic effort on the ground since the conflict began. But at this point the U.S. is not calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Let's check in with CNN's John Roberts who is in Haifa, Israel. And it has been a very busy day there, many rockets falling all across northern Israel --John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Anderson.

As the sun comes up or the Gulf of Haifa people are waking up to a new day, wondering what this one is going to bring. On Sunday here in Haifa 90 rockets rained down from the Lebanese side of the border, 15 of those on to Haifa as well. Other cities around the area that have been the typical targets for these rockets, Nahariya, Carmiel, Kiryat Shemona, all of those cities and towns and villages in the northern part of Israel.

The count of 90, yesterday, coming across the border, is just a little more than half of what they saw here on Saturday, 160 rockets counted. However, unlike Saturday, when there were only injuries and no fatalities, a couple of people were killed on Sunday.

But there were also some very lucky people as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Morning in Haifa, and the dawn of a new week is pierced by the air raid siren.

In the first volley of the day nine Katyusha rockets fall on this city. Newly vulnerable in a conflict where Hezbollah has greater capability than ever before.

One of the rockets makes a direct hit on this hillside home in the suburb of Nesher. It tears the upper floor wide open, punches a hole through the concrete floor. Zohar Borenstein, the homeowner, is dazed and dusty, but, remarkably, he and his young son are untouched by the blast.

ZOHAR BORENSTEIN, NESHER, ISRAEL, RESIDENT: We cannot live. This is not normal life.

ROBERTS: This house in Nesher, like many buildings in Israel, has a safe room where family members can come and ride out the rocket attacks. This is the safe room in this house, but the man who owns it was afraid that it was too close to the outside of the building. So he and his son came deeper in the house to ride out the rocket attack in this room here, where the foundation comes together in a very strong corner.

And he's fortunate that he did, as well, because, as you can see, the Katyusha rocket has come right down through the ceiling here, and his safe room has been blocked off by debris.

All the more fortunate when you consider two people were killed in the same attack, one of them when a rocket hit his car.

Neighbors in local officials were stunned that no one died in this house.

Everybody survived. No one was hurt?

VICE MAYOR FREDDIE MALIK, NESHER ISRAEL: Nothing. Nothing. We're doing good.

ROBERTS: But, in a reminder that danger is never far away here, even as journalists converge on Borenstein's broken home, the air raid sirens sound again.

Forty miles away, an Israeli artillery battery fires off round after round. A 24/7 attempt to knock out Hezbollah strongholds across the border with Lebanon. On the receiving end of the barrage, the nonstop artillery and ground attacks are quickly creating a humanitarian crisis as thousands of Lebanese flee from harm's way.

The Israeli army defends its actions. This conflict with Hezbollah, officials say, is unlike any they have had before.

CAPT. DORON SPIELMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: This is a terrorist army. These guys are grouped like an army, Hezbollah is grouped like an army, they're funded like an army, and they're trained like an army.

ROBERTS: And even the military, considered the best in the region, admits it would be foolish to underestimate Hezbollah's capabilities and commitment to its cause.

CAPT. BOAZ ROCKOCZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: It would be a stupid act of dissing Hezbollah.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: The Israeli officials are acutely aware that the longer the bombardment of Lebanon goes on, the more risk there is that world opinion will turn against them. But Israeli officials say as long as Hezbollah continues to fire those rockets across the border into northern Israel, they'll continue to shoot back-- Anderson?

COOPER: John, how many people in Israel are spending every night in bomb shelters? How man people are still actually living in Haifa?

ROBERTS: Anderson, I don't know of any people that are spending the night in bomb shelters. And here's the reason why: typically when the sun goes down Hezbollah stops firing those Katyusha rockets, and the reason may be that when those rockets with their solid motors take off, there's a huge flume of heat and fire that comes out of the back of them, and it's very easy for those drones that are flying around to pinpoint that heat signature, and also that optical signature, very easy for that artillery we saw to get triangulation on them, and put some fire down on those positions almost immediately.

COOPER: John Roberts, appreciate that report from Haifa. We'll check in with you later.

Joining me from Tel Aviv is a spokeperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, Capitan Guy Spigelman. Captain Spigelman, thanks very much for being with us.

What kind of fighting is going on on the ground in south Lebanon? What kind of resistance are you seeing?

CAPT. GUY SPIGELMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: Look, we're seeing some resistance, but, basically, our forces are carrying out pinpoint operations, are going in and, you know, taking out the targets that we need to take out, and leaving as we see necessary.

I mean, you know, you saw in the report before why we're doing this. I mean missiles raining down from Lebanon, killing two civilians yesterday on the way to work. We have no choice but to respond to this ruthless organization, Hezbollah, which is attacking Israel using Lebanese citizens as their shield.

And we're going in by the land, the air, and the sea to protect our civilians so they can carry about their life as normal as possible.

COOPER: Israeli officials have made clear they don't want to occupy south Lebanon, but at some point you have to hold on to territory, even if it is, eventually, to turn it over to some international force. How are you going about that now? I mean, are you trying to -- I know you have a foothold, as you described it, in one town. Are you trying to hold on to territory right now, or are you withdrawing from places as soon as you move into them?

SPIGELMAN: We're going to assess that on a case by case basis. When we feel like we're holding on to a town that will help us prevent those missiles being launched into Israel, we'll stay there. And if we don't need to stay there, we'll do what we need to do, remove the terrorist infrastructure and get out.

But, like I said, we're going to judge every case as it comes along, we have no interest, no claims over Lebanese territory, we simply want the international border to be recognized, the Lebanese government, and the Lebanese army, to carry out their responsibility of sovereignty, to disarm the Hezbollah, so that we can all live in peace along the northern border of Israel and the southern border of Lebanon.

COOPER: If you've degraded 50 percent of Hezbollah's military capability, as some Israeli officials have sub publicly, why is it that so many rockets are still landing -- being fired into northern Israel?

SPIGELMAN: Look, we know that the Katyusha rocket, the missiles that they're using, you know, you can essentially bring them out and a few minutes later they launch them, and remove them within a few minutes. You know, we're talking about terrorist capabilities.

We're wearing them down. We are removing a lot of their ammunition, warehouses, taking out a lot of their launchers, clearing areas that we know are being used to launch missiles, we're continuing methodically to get rid of the terrorist threat, it's just going to take some more time.

COOPER: Captain Guy Spigelman, we appreciate you joining us this morning, speaking on the perspective of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Ben Wedeman, now, has been taking a look at Hezbollah forces on the ground in south Lebanon. The Israeli military saying they degraded some 50 percent of their capabilities, but, still the attacks keep coming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Air raids. Artillery bombardment. Ground incursions.

Hezbollah, and the people of Lebanon, have been under unrelenting Israeli bombardment for 12 days, from the most powerful military machine in the Middle East. In June, 1967, the Israeli military crushed the combined armed forces of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt in just six days. But in twice that time Israel has yet to put a perceptible dent in Hezbollah's ability to wage war, because this war is completely different.

Israel claims its offensive has dealt Hezbollah a crippling blow. Hezbollah denies it, and its rockets continue crashing into northern Israel with unnerving regularity.

Former U.N. peacekeeper in Lebanon, Timur Goksel, knows Hezbollah well. He says the group's guerilla tactics may leave Israel chasing phantoms in south Lebanon's rocky hills.

TIMUR GOKSEL, FORMER U.N. PEACEKEEPING FORCE COMMANDER: They don't keep their weapons in warehouses, they don't keep their weapons in storages that can be easily found and destroyed. They scattered them all over south Lebanon, in the houses, in the caves, in the mountains. If you take one out, Katyusha, then there's another one down the road someplace.

WEDEMAN: Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah waged a long, punishing guerilla campaign against Israeli forces until May 2000, when Israel finally pulled out of southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah's militia is fighting on home turf.

GOKSEL: One of the things, as I said, that just Israelis just miss out on, for some reason, these are locals, this is their home, this is their land, this is where they lost friends, families, homes.

WEDEMAN: Rendering Israel's goal of neutralizing Hezbollah ambitious at best.

AMAL SAAD-GHORAYEB, LEBANESE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: What makes it even harder for Israeli to destroy Hezbollah is that it's a grass roots, popular social movement, and a legitimate political party. Each day this battle is prolonged, Hezbollah appears stronger and stronger, obviously.

WEDEMAN: And, in the eyes of many Lebanese, unlikely to be broken by Israel's force of arms.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, when we come back, Karl Penhaul reports on civilians in south Lebanon caught in the crossfires. Some of the images are graphic. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are showing restraint, because if we really wanted to use all the power which we have, it could have been a disaster there. We want to do it slowly in order to make sure that there's little, if not at all, civilians will be killed. COOPER: Of course civilians are getting caught in the crossfire on both sides of the border, Israeli civilians and Lebanese civilians as well. Even here in Lebanon, those who don't support Hezbollah are paying the price for what Hezbollah started more than 12 days ago now.

We have two reports coming up next. First from Karl Penhaul in south Lebanon, and then from Paula Hancocks. And we want to warn you the images you are about to see are very graphic, they are very real.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hezbollah rockets soar toward Israel. Minutes later the response from Israeli jets.

There were tit for tat strikes throughout Sunday. Earlier in the day smoke billowed over Tyre's outskirts after another Israeli bombardment. The target, apparently, this car. It was still smoldering when we arrived.

Just yards away, in the hospital, more civilian casualties maimed in air strikes in a war where neither side seems to be pinpointing its attacks.

The sobs of a mother, the cry of her baby daughter. And the scream of her son. Through her tears Nuhada Mansour (ph) sends a plea to Allah. Medics have just told her that her husband Mohammed was killed.

Her nine-year-old son Maqmoud (ph) is so badly burned he can't open his eyes, and, doctors say, he's hallucinating.

Doctor Wahid Najir claims the Israelis have packed their bombs with chemicals to burn their victims.

DR. WAHID NAJIR, SURGEON: This is the effect of what sort of, this is (INAUDIBLE)

PENHAUL: International rules of war forbid the use of weapons that cause indiscriminate suffering, but no specific reference, though, to phosphorous.

The Israeli defense forces say its weapons and ammunition conform to international law. I'm unable to get independent confirmation of Najir's allegation, but it's a widely held view here.

There's a smell of phosphorous and the wound is black and it smells, he tells me. It's really an atrocious war. Only the civilians are suffering, he says.

This is another vehicle that was apparently hit in the same air strike, but the vehicle that the Mansour family were traveling in was a few hundred yards down this road. But we can hear Israeli war planes buzzing overhead right now, so it may be a little too dangerous to travel down there.

Doctors tell me the Mansour family had been trying to drive in to Tyre to escape bombing close to their village. When I returned to the hospital ward, Nuhada Mansour is helping tend to her eight-month-old baby. She's dropped off to sleep for a few moments, sucking on her pacifier.

Doctors say Maria and brother Maqmoud will survive, but they may be scarred for life.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Tyre, southern Lebanon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This woman just lost part of her leg in a rocket attack, her limb brought in the ambulance behind.

Doctors move the line of beds outside, ready for the next casualties close behind. Some are in shock. Others clearly closer to the impact.

But the patients are not out of danger even inside. The hospital is close to Haifa's sea front and very close to where rockets have hit before.

RAFAEL BEYAR, DIRECTOR RAMBAH MEDICAL CENTER: This is the first time ever in the history of this hospital that it has been under real attack, not far away from this region itself.

HANCOCKS: The air raid siren is barely audible in the Children's Leukemia Ward. A loud speaker tells patients to go into a safe ward.

There's no bomb shelter in this hospital, just ordinary rooms away from windows. Just minutes after the rockets hit, contractors rush once again to cover north facing windows, to prevent them from shattering.

This used to be the maternity ward, but it faces north, which means it faces Lebanon. Now, since rockets have been falling regularly on Haifa, that department has been moved further into the hospital. And doctors tell me that is the plan, to try and leave as few patients as possible on this side of the building.

Sammy was in critical condition when he arrived here at the beginning of the week. A pellet from a Katyusha lodged in the wall of his heart.

He tells me he's scared every time he hears the siren, he's scared the next rocket will hit him.

Doctors have no choice but to keep working literally in the line of fire.

DR. ALON BEN NON, HAIFA SURGEON: When you treat a patient, this patient becomes the center of your world. You don't do, you don't think about anything else. It doesn't matter if you were bombed or there is a siren, there is the patient, the team, and that's it. HANCOCKS: Doctors work feverishly inside to treat the wounded. His relatives wait with anguish outside.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Haifa, Israel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Civilians, children, paying the price for actions of others both sides of the border.

More 360 in a moment, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some behind the scenes pictures from Farah Nosh of Getty Images.

Thanks very much for watching this special edition of 360. Also, to our international viewer watching on CNN International we appreciate you watching.

Coming up next, we're going to have a quick update of the day's top headlines with Carol Lin.

Then a special inside look at Hezbollah, a revealing look at their tactics, their strategies, their leadership, and their impact on the U.S., on Israel, and the entire Middle East. That's a special edition of CNN PRESENTS: "Inside Hezbollah," next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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