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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

U.N. Observers Killed in Air Strike in Lebanon

Aired July 25, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the U.N. says some of its observers in Lebanon have been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says it appears deliberate.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah rockets kill a teenage girl in Israel.

And, an Israeli airstrike hits a house in Lebanon killing seven, as the warfare escalates and innocents keep dying in the crossfire. The world increasingly seems to wonder what will it take to get a ceasefire? And would that stop all the bloodshed?

From the hospitals to the humanitarian workers to the reporters along the front lines, we've got all the latest news and the impassioned debate too. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good evening.

We have reporters, as we've said, all over the region tonight covering this incredible goings on in the Middle East. And we start with Nic Robertson in Beirut, the latest news about U.N. observers killed in southern Lebanon, how many Nic, what's the story?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we know that two were killed so far according to military sources. We know that the four U.N. observers, one was a Canadian, one was an Austrian, one Chinese, one Finnish. We don't know which of those have been killed. A rescue mission is going on for the others.

But, as they were all four believed to be in the bunker that according to the U.N. was clearly marked when according to the U.N. it was struck by an Israeli airstrike, it seems unlikely at this stage that the other two that are counted as missing may yet be alive. It seems unlikely. It seems likely at this time all four are dead -- Larry.

KING: Christiane Amanpour is in Jerusalem, Christiane, Kofi Annan is usually very diplomatic and careful. Were you surprised that he was so strikingly against Israel today?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I mean, you know, you make that judgment about being against Israel. I'm not sure that's what his statement said. It asked for a full investigation and it did say that it was apparently deliberate targeting.

And then he went on to say in the statement that the observation post was clearly marked, that his top general there had been in touch with the Israeli authorities all throughout the day about this and asking them to protect it. And the UNIFIL statement that was put out about these casualties said that they had had 14 very close firings in just this afternoon alone.

KING: Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem, didn't it appear that Kofi Annan was making such a charge?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly appeared that way to the Israelis. They were outraged that the top U.N. diplomat would effectively come up with a conclusion, even an apparent conclusion, even while calling for an investigation. In other words, the verdict comes in before the trial.

And we heard the Israeli ambassador to Washington, we heard the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations both deploring in very deliberate and very tough words what Kofi Annan says.

And I think there's going to be a very angry reaction here in Israel when people wake up. It's still the middle of the night here. But they're going to be shocked that Kofi Annan would accuse the Israelis of doing this apparently deliberately.

It's one thing if the Israelis did it they would say "You know what, there are innocents that sometimes die even with the best of intentions." But for Kofi Annan to do this, to lay this out, the Israelis are very angry. They're furious at the U.N. secretary- general -- Larry.

KING: John Roberts is in northern Israel. Now Israel is claiming that it killed a Hezbollah commander, right John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm sorry, Larry, I didn't hear that.

KING: It looked like a bomb behind you. Israel is claiming that it killed a Hezbollah commander correct?

ROBERTS: It is, Abu Jaffar, who was said by the Israeli Defense Forces to be the Hezbollah central commander along the -- or the commander of the central section along the Lebanese border. There's not a lot of people that know a lot about him but the Israel Defense Forces say "We knew who he was and we got him."

They got him during the battle of Maroun Al Ras which is the town that they took a few days ago before they pushed on to Bint Jbeil, which is a town the Israeli Defense Forces said today they now have under their full control.

But, Larry, having a town under full control does not mean that it's still safe. We found that out earlier today along the border. We were up with the Israeli Defense Forces. They were crossing back and forth into Lebanon, getting refueled, re-supplied and going back and we fell under mortar attack.

One mortar came very close to us. It landed at the feet of an Israeli soldier who was resting under a tree and lucky for him and perhaps lucky for other people in the area as well it turned out to be a dud.

KING: Alessio Vinci is in Cyprus. What's the latest on the evacuation story, Alessio?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: Larry, the evacuations of American citizens appears to be winding down. Behind me here is the Orient Queen, the ship that's been ferrying Americans back and forth between Lebanon and here, Cyrpus, the port of Limassol.

It just arrived here. That ship can carry about 1,200 Americans. Just about 400 of them have come off this ship. It will do one more round tomorrow, Wednesday, and it will be the last time that this trip will take place.

As the evacuation is winding down the humanitarian assistance is, of course, picking up and the U.S. military has organized this catamaran here right behind me able to carry about 500 tons worth of supplies. It will be doing several trips in the coming days to bring medical kits, blankets, plastic sheeting to much needed people in Lebanon.

The U.S. military will not be involved in distributing these kind of supplies in Lebanon. It will be up to the NGOs to do that work there but the U.S. military very much involved in beginning to carry some much needed assistance to the people down in Lebanon.

KING: Thank you, Alessio.

Back to Christiane in Jerusalem, is it safe to say, Christiane that it's getting worse?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's hard to say. I mean look these kinds of incidents are going to be awfully controversial and there's going to be a lot of heat and talk about it obviously.

I remember, you know, I know it was ten years ago but I remember Operation Accountability and Grapes of Wrath when Shimon Peres was then prime minister, also launched a counterattack against some Hezbollah action and provocation and that, you know, resulted in an accident in which many, many refugees were killed in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon and that brought the operation into a swift halt.

And so, Israel is obviously very mindful of all this sort of what is euphemistically called collateral but the civilian damage that is being caused. And the more this goes on, the more uproar is being expressed around the world about the people who are being killed, apart from the military operation against Hezbollah. And, I think that, you know, it's going to be interesting to see whether this has any impact on any diplomacy, whether it speeds up the diplomacy or not.

KING: Thank you, Christiane.

We'll be checking in with journalists throughout the hour and, of course, 24 hours a day here on CNN.

We'll be back with two prominent members of the United States Senate to get their viewpoints on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two distinguished members of the United States Senate who we just learned both attended the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, Senator George Allen, Republican of Virginia, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, undergraduate, graduate there; and Senator Evan Bayh law school graduate there, Democrat of Indiana, member of Senate Armed Services Committee.

We'll start with Senator Allen, what do you make about these two observers killed and the apparent anger of Kofi Annan toward Israel?

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it's unfortunate. I don't think that Israel wants to hit the U.N. What they're trying to hit is Hezbollah. They're trying to degrade them, pound them, and make sure that they're not attacking and they're protecting themselves.

So, I'm sure they'll find out what happened. But Israel has a right to defend itself and now they have these latest threats that they're going to be launching missiles further into Israel.

Kofi Annan's statements I think are unduly harsh. It would be nice if the United Nations actually showed such resolve and anger and determination in actually enforcing Security Council Resolution 1559, which has as its purpose the removal of Hezbollah or disarming the militias along the Israeli-Lebanon border.

KING: Senator Bayh, is this then, do you consider this a casualty of war?

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Unfortunately so, Larry. I simply don't believe that the Israelis would intentionally kill U.N. observers. I'd be interested to know what Mr. Annan, what facts he has at his disposal that lead him to that assertion but until I see such facts I simply don't believe it.

And, I think George was right. We have to remember who was responsible for this. It was the Hezbollah that attacked across an internationally recognized boundary, killed soldiers, took others captive.

All this violence and tragedy flows from that act, so we have to focus on bringing Hezbollah under control, disarming them, getting a force in there that can keep them from reconstituting themselves. And then ultimately, Larry, we have to look at Iran because they're in the background of all of this. And, I think Kofi Annan would be better advised to focus upon the role that Iran has played and just think how bad things would be if Iran had nuclear weapons right now. So, this is a tragedy but we got to remember who's really to blame.

KING: Senator Allen, there's a growing amount of people around the world, leaders around the world calling for a ceasefire. The United States continues to be opposed. What's wrong even if it only lasts a week, wouldn't that save lives?

ALLEN: Oh, it might for one week but ultimately it would not because what would happen, as Evan said, is that Iran, who is the one who arms, who supports, who also directs Hezbollah would allow Hezbollah to regroup. It would be a success for Hezbollah. It would be a success for the violations and the threats and the killing of Israelis.

What would help, and I was on your show, gosh about ten days ago I reckon it was, and what was needed is return those two Israeli soldiers, who were abducted. And they need to stop the firing into Israel. Then I think there might be a ceasefire but only then would there be any sort of indication that Hezbollah would stop.

Ultimately there needs to be a credible force. There needs to be a security strip along southern Lebanon. And, if that's not done, all we're doing is whistling past the graveyard and having more rockets.

And just think of the thousands of rockets that are in there that Hezbollah possesses. Think of how that's been coming in, whether by sea or across the border from Syria. And until that is stopped in a credible, strong way Israel could be struck again.

KING: Senator Bayh, what then is going to stop this?

BAYH: Well in the short run, Larry, it involves removing Hezbollah's capability for perpetrating acts of violence. Regrettably the Lebanese government has not been capable of doing that.

Again, Mr. Annan ought to focus, as George was mentioning, on putting into place the U.N. resolution that calls for their disarmament. So, they have to be disarmed.

Secondly, you do need some sort of force there and it can't be the usual peacekeeping type force. It's got to be a little more muscular than that to make sure that Hezbollah can't reconstitute themselves for further attacks.

Third, Larry, we got to support the Lebanese government so that in the future they can control their own territory. They have not been capable of that up until now.

And then finally in the background once again is Iran. There has to be some consequence for the kind of behavior that the Iranians have been pursing because without consequence we'll unfortunately see more of the same.

KING: Senator Allen, can the United States be a true broker in the region when it supports one of the parties?

ALLEN: We support Israel. You're right, Larry. Israel is a wellspring in the wilderness in the Middle East and we do support them and their right to protect themselves.

We can be helpful in talking to the more reasonable Arab countries, such as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey. We can be also helpful in the European countries being involved.

There will be a meeting in Rome tomorrow and to the extent that the international community wants to participate it's important. But ultimately if you look at the past history of Lebanon, when the Syrians were blamed for killed Hariri the French were just as adamant as we were on getting the Syrians out of Lebanon and so were those moderate and reasonable Arab countries and that same sort of coalition will be necessary now.

And I think that they may be the ones who can put their boots on the ground if we need, as Evan used, a more muscular military force along the southern Lebanese country.

KING: Senator Bayh, what happens if Syria and Iran get involved?

BAYH: Well that would be a tremendous escalation, Larry, but you got to remember they already are involved behind the scenes here. Iran helped create Hezbollah in the first place. They continue to fund and arm them.

These rockets, some of them that are coming into Israel, are of Iranian design. They transit through Syria into Lebanon and, as you know, only recently pulled out of Lebanon. They were implicated at least in the commission report in the killing of one of the political leaders there.

So, a lot of this, they already are involved, Larry. And for a long term resolution of this both of them have to have some consequence here and see their own aspirations, their own interests in moving in a more positive direction. Otherwise, we'll continue to see outbreaks like this periodically until they're forced to stop.

KING: Senator Allen, do you see anything to be optimistic about?

ALLEN: Yes, I'm really happy that the Hezbollah commander was taken out today by the Israelis. That's positive. Every time they're degraded, every time they're pounded, every time one of them is killed that's positive because they are terrorists.

And unless there is a credible approach from the international community, and also recognize that Arab countries that are in the region have every bit as much a reason to be concerned about the rise of Hezbollah as does other people in that country and, in fact, for that matter Hezbollah has struck in Argentina in the past.

They have abducted folks in everywhere from the Far East to the Middle East. And so it's very important that the international community disarm and defang Hezbollah. KING: Senator Bayh, quickly, we have an e-mail from Carmen in Bradenton, Florida. "How does the United States rationalize pledging $30 million for humanitarian relief in Lebanon while simultaneously arming Israel with more weapons to strike Lebanon?"

BAYH: Well, we have to accomplish two things at once, Larry. We have to try and make sure that this violence does not reoccur and that involves disarming Hezbollah. The Lebanese government has not been able to do that. The international community has not yet been willing to step in to do that. That means only Israel is in a position to do that and they have a right to defend themselves.

Now, simultaneously we need to strengthen the Lebanese democracy, the peaceful elements there, and as a part of that we need to try and help them rebuild their infrastructure that has been damaged by these attacks.

But I would say to the woman in Bradenton, remember who started this. It was Hezbollah who initiated these attacks, so we have to remove them to have ultimate progress.

KING: Thank you both very much, always good seeing you, Senators George Allen and Evan Bayh.

When we come back, the leader of the Cedar Revolution, the democratic movement in Lebanon, and Ehud Danoch, the Israeli Consul General to the United States, both next, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In a couple moments we'll meet Ehud Danoch, the Israeli Consul General.

But first, we go to Beirut and Chibli Mallat. He is the leader of the Cedar Revolution democratic movement. It is a -- he is currently running for president of Lebanon.

In a statement late today, the Hezbollah leader Nasrallah painted the current conflict as part of a United States-Israeli plot to control the Middle East. Do you believe that?

CHIBLI MALLAT, "CEDAR REVOLUTION" LEADER: well first just to -- I'm just one of the leaders in this revolution. As for the statement that came from Nasrallah, I'm afraid that I do agree with the Senators. He initiated the conflict and all this talk about a great plot between Israel and America is out of place.

The conflict was initiated by what I think was a reckless action through the blue line that separates Lebanon from Israel. That was a grave violation of international law and I think also a grave violation of Lebanese law.

And to that extent the very heavy fighting between America and Israel and Hezbollah and other forces in the Middle East is something to be reckoned with but this is not the reason why this war is on now.

KING: What can Lebanon do about Hezbollah?

MALLAT: Well, I think that the most important thing, Hezbollah has two faces and, you know, just right behind me here is one famous place of the Cedar Revolution where about 500,000 people rallied behind Hezbollah, behind Hassan Nasrallah.

He spoke just at this window behind me, so that is a very important sociological and political component of Hezbollah we have to take into account. Hezbollah must shed its military dimension and be restrained to an exclusive political dimension within the Lebanese government or in opposition.

KING: Are you hopeful that Secretary Rice can accomplish something, maybe tomorrow in Rome?

MALLAT: I think that it's not going to happen that quickly but I have -- I have suggested to the leadership in the U.N. and in the major forces, as well as impressed or tried to impress on the Lebanese government to hasten a ceasefire and a proclamation of a ceasefire and not to wait for it. We need a ceasefire immediately. There is too much damage.

Now if after the ceasefire with proper conditions for it to be lasting some of the parties do not expect it, then we'd see, but I think a ceasefire within a Security Council resolution expressing it should have happened on the 12th of July.

My people in New York and I have tabled the security resolution draft on the 12th of July I think we'd have been much better off had this been passed then and the responsibilities for who continues the war according to the terms of the ceasefire were established.

KING: How bad is the situation in Lebanon right now?

MALLAT: Well, you know, about -- Israel, I'm afraid, has been -- has been excessive in its -- in its retaliation. A lot of innocent people have lost their lives unnecessarily.

What we saw in the U.N. earlier today with a bunker being hit is only a small sample of what helpless civilians have suffered. I think that Israel should have behaved in a far more restrained manner than it has.

KING: Thank you, Chibli Mallat, the leader, one of the leaders of the Cedar Revolution democratic movement...

MALLAT: Thank you.

KING: ...running for president of Lebanon.

We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE here in Los Angeles, Ehud Danoch, the Israeli Consul General who has previously worked as chief of staff to Israel's deputy prime minister. What do you make of what he just said about the bombing and the U.N.?

EHUD DANOCH, ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL: Well, I don't have any dispute when it comes to the issues that are taking place in Lebanon with Mr. Mallat. Our fight is with the Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, and what we want to see is the Hezbollah being disarmed in order for us not to have the bombings that are taking place now, in order not to see it in the future (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Do you know any more about the killing of the U.N. people?

DANOCH: Well, we regret this tragic incident and my heart goes to the families of the U.N. personnel. At the same time, I'm shocked and distressed from the -- at the secretary-general and the accusation and his accusation. The issue is being investigated in Israel. As soon as we have the results we'll make them public.

KING: Do you think he was premature?

DANOCH: Absolutely, there's no doubt.

KING: We have an e-mail from Aleem in Culver City, California. "What makes Israel think that they will be able to subdue Hezbollah by bombing them for a few weeks when we have not been able to do that in Iraq for four years?"

DANOCH: Well, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that the past six years is being supported by Iran and Syria and we were the one to approach the international community to understand the Hezbollah is a cruel army of terrorists. This is why the Resolution 1559 took place.

We wanted to see Hezbollah being disarmed. A U.N. resolution, the international community wanted to see the Hezbollah disarmed. Unfortunately, they weren't disarmed and the attack by the Hezbollah by infiltrating Israel, killing eight Israeli soldiers, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers was for that operation because what we want to see is peace on the border with Lebanon.

KING: Why do you oppose a ceasefire now?

DANOCH: Well, as I mentioned, Larry, we want to see our sons back in Israel. We want to make sure that the border will be secure and after those two major issues the prime minister said as well that we will consider every negotiation in the future. But we want to see the Hezbollah being disarmed.

KING: Do you think you can get rid of Hezbollah? What's your goal?

DANOCH: We think -- absolutely. We think that if the international community will join forces together, and we see this, we see the resolution that took place by the G8, the international community understands that the Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that threaten the region as a whole and we want everyone together, of course, to work on disarming the Hezbollah for the benefit of the people in Israel, for the benefit of the people in Lebanon.

KING: Do you have any time table as to when this is going to end? DANOCH: There is no time table. There is no time table. We are operating now but, of course, this issue could be terminated a long time ago. If the Hezbollah was disarmed then we wouldn't start this issue in the first place. And we're saying once and again our sons being released and Hezbollah disarmed, this is the main issue when we're talking about a terrorist organization.

KING: Are you optimistic?

DANOCH: I am. I am optimistic. I want to be optimistic. You know our national anthem is (INAUDIBLE), it's hope. We've been optimistic since 1948. There's no reason why to be -- why not to be optimistic. We see the international community together today and we believe that together we will fight and dismantle terrorist organizations.

KING: Thank you so much, Ehud.

DANOCH: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Ehud Danoch, the Israel Consul General.

We'll be back with lots more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's get the up-to-the-minute headlines. At least two United Nations observers are killed when their post is hit in southern Lebanon. U.N. officials blame Israel. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls it deliberate targeting.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States said the IDF is checking on what happened and does not confirm Israeli involvement. He calls Annan's comments "deplorable."

Hezbollah's leader makes a television statement, threatens the conflict will go another stage beyond Haifa.

Israel claims it's killed a senior Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon.

Secretary of State Rice continues her mission and offers a proposal involving international military forces.

And Israeli strikes on Beirut resumed. Hezbollah rockets continue to hit northern Israel.

We go now to northern Israel. Standing by is Anderson Cooper. And in Haifa is Sanjay Gupta. We want to get a report in a moment from Sanjay on what this effect is having on, say, children in the population.

But Anderson, what's the latest from your viewpoint there in northern Israel? COOPER: Well, the shelling of southern Lebanon continues. There has been intense fighting over the (inaudible) 24 hours in south Lebanon, Larry. As you can tell, right behind me these American-made artillery pieces are just all night long have been lobbing shells into southern Lebanon. There has been no letup. Intense fighting.

Israel has, they say, taken over the town or seized the town of Bint Jubail. They say this is a major victory for them. Bint Jubail is on a very high bluff. It allows a complete 360 degree view of the battlefield, both in Lebanon, also a view into Israel. So depriving Hezbollah of those entrenched positions there is certainly something they consider to be a major step forward, Larry.

KING: Sanjay Gupta, CNN's medical correspondent, is in Haifa. What's the effect of this on the really innocent, the children?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it is remarkable. When you talk about these attacks, these rocket attacks, certainly everyone concentrates on the physical aspects of it. And you know, I've seen this firsthand now, Larry. One of these rockets actually -- they contain tens of thousands of these ball bearings. And I mean, if you get a sense, when this thing explodes, I mean, the shrapnel just goes everywhere and causes significant physical injuries to a lot of civilians, as we saw when we were at Rambam Hospital, the biggest hospital in the area.

But the far greater effect is what you're asking about, Larry, and that is sort of the psychological impact not only of hearing the sirens go off, worrying about a bomb coming, but also the fact that it just happens over and over again. They don't know when it's going to possibly end.

Children seem to be sort of disproportionately affected by that. They don't know when it's reality, when it's going to actually stop. And I think that that's very hard on them. We saw that in Beirut and we're seeing that here as well.

KING: I know you're not a psychiatrist, but what's the long-term mental effect on let's say a 5, 6-year-old being bombed?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the hard part, you know, Larry -- we talk a lot about the sort of psychological trauma early in life, and the thing to realize is that if it happens that early in life, a lot of times it becomes much more a part of that person's reality. So a 5 or 6-year-old, for example, you're asking about being bombed is something that they -- it just becomes a part of what they know as opposed to somebody who is in their 30s or 40s, they recognize that it might be an isolated event, they're able to move on from it much more quickly. When you're that young, it's your reality, and you're always thinking that it might happen again, and it's a huge impact.

KING: Anderson Cooper, who will follow this program, of course, with "ANDERSON COOPER 360," hosting it from northern Israel, from a reporting standpoint is that the hardest part of covering it, this humanitarian aspect? COOPER: It certainly is, Larry. I mean, seeing kids, seeing civilians just caught in the crossfire, you know, you never get used to seeing. We've seen some just horrific images on both sides of the border, frankly. You know, the Israeli -- I spent the day with an Israeli artillery unit, Captain Boaz (ph), and what he was saying, look, Hezbollah has chosen to be enmeshed in the civilian population in south Lebanon. They have their Katyusha rocket positions. They're very mobile. They have them in communities. They are integrated into these communities.

And so when you're -- when the Israelis are lobbing shells, you know, from 15, 20 kilometers away, they can try to be as accurate as possible, but if a rocket position is next to someone's home, you know, there's a very good chance that home, if it's not going to get hit directly, is going to get damaged from the percussive blast.

And certainly the Katyusha rockets, which are being fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel, are very inaccurate. I mean, basically, it's point and shoot. Hassan Nasrallah has said that they don't target civilians. The truth is they don't target much of anything. They point their rockets at Israel, and they press fire. The rockets land wherever they will, Larry.

KING: Is that what's going on behind you now, Anderson?

COOPER: Right now, these are Israeli artillery pieces, American- made, which are firing 155 mm shells and other kind of shells into southern Lebanon. What they're doing is both targeting Hezbollah Katyusha rocket positions, but they're also providing cover for Israeli troops still battling Hezbollah on the ground right now.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. We'll see you at the top of the hour. And thanks, Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay in Haifa, Anderson in northern Israel.

When we come back, we'll talk with Cassandra Nelson, a senior global communications officer with Mercy Corps, and Ronit Eitam. Her parents' home was destroyed in Nahariya, Israel. They're next. Don't go away.

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KING: We're back. We go now in Beirut to Cassandra Nelson, a senior global communication officer with Mercy Corps. And in Tel Aviv is Ronit Eitam. Her parents' home was destroyed in Nahariya, Israel. Cassandra, what is Mercy Corps?

CASSANDRA NELSON, MERCY CORPS: Mercy Corps is an international aid organization. And we're here in Lebanon responding to the emergency with food, water, and various items that people that have been displaced from their home need.

KING: How bad is it in Lebanon? How bad in the humanitarian area?

NELSON: The situation is very bad, and it's getting worse every day. The number of people that have been displaced from their homes is over three-fourths of a million people. All of those people pretty much fled in the middle of the night and have arrived in various towns and villages without anything, without food, without water.

Now the villages that they've come to, the host villages, are absolutely strained to the maximum. I've been in villages where the city reservoir has run dry. They can't even flush their toilets. We have a lot of concern about health problems in these areas where the crowding is so intense.

Again, their food items are not very available in the places where they're at, and medicine again is in very short supply for chronic illnesses like diabetes and epilepsy. They simply can't get these medicines. So the people are in a very bad situation and it's only getting worse. And unfortunately...

KING: Ronit.

NELSON: ... that's just the people that are out of the south. The people that are actually still stranded in the south and can't escape, the situation's obviously even worse. They're being bombarded daily.

KING: Ronit Eitam when and how was your father's house destroyed?

RONIT EITAM, PARENTS HOUSE DESTROYED IN ISRAEL: My parents' house was destroyed yesterday. They live in Nahariya. They moved to this house a month ago. And my father insisted to stay in the house. My mother fled to my sister's house.

But he decided to stay in the house and keep his routine. And as part of his routine, he took his nap and he slept in the other room and just woke up, moved to the other room, and went to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee.

And went back to the shelter room where the computer, his computer is -- was there. And just at the moment he passed into that -- into the shelter room, the room he just slept in was bombed.

KING: Where is Nahariya?

EITAM: Nahariya is a few kilometers from the border. It's about 20 minutes drive from Haifa. It's close to the border.

KING: Where do you live?

EITAM: I live three kilometers from the border in a little village next to Nahariya, and I myself fled to Tel Aviv today with my three children after being in shelter for 13 -- 12, 13 days. I don't count anymore.

And it's been impossible to be with the children in the house. And today, just when we got ready to leave, 100 meters from my house, a bomb fell. Those are the type of things that don't even report because it's in an open field. But believe me, for me and for my children it was like a bomb in my house. And we fled to Tel Aviv, like half of the population. I estimate that half of the people in the north of Israel fled to the other side of the country.

KING: Cassandra, how do they deal with this emotionally?

NELSON: Well, I think that's probably one of the hardest things about the job. But I think the reality is when you're actually on the ground and dealing with this, you certainly do have an awful lot of adrenaline because the need out here is so tremendous it does sort of just push you through things that when you're done with all this you sort of look back and say wow, how did I manage that?

But there's a lot of adrenaline, and the need is so intense and so great that you simply can't really stop to think about it very long. You just have to really work through it.

KING: Ronit, how do you explain this to your children?

EITAM: It's very difficult to explain to a three-year-old child and to -- actually, I have a 16-year-old child. At the beginning for her they just ruined -- Nasrallah just ruined her summer holiday.

But for -- after a couple of days it's became very hectic to be in the house with three children. My 12-year-old couldn't stand it, and we send it -- we sent him to friends a week ago, just a few days after the war started. And my three-year-old child started showing signs of pressure and stress, and that was the reason we decided to come to Tel Aviv.

KING: The casualties of war. Cassandra Nelson of the Mercy Corps and Ronit Eitam, whose parents home was destroyed in Nahariya, Israel. We'll be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Nic Robertson remains with us in Beirut. We'll check back with him momentarily. But let's go to Washington. Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, our CNN military analyst, former army intelligence officer.

Israel is now claiming of taking control of various towns inside Lebanon. What can you show us about the route, general?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Larry, let's get back down onto the terrain where we've been for the last couple of days.

But at the end of two weeks we're still talking about rockets and how they're still effective, the Hezbollah rocket attacks into Israel. Let's get down a little closer. We know why Maroun al-Ras is important. We've seen this. It's up on a hilltop, and it really dominates and commands the terrain as you look north into Lebanon. But let's go down to Bint Jbeil, which is where the Israelis went yesterday, and they took this town, which is just to the north of Maroun al-Ras. We're going to orient this back around to the south, Larry. We now know why it's very important. Not only was it a Hezbollah stronghold, but because of this terrain, this hill that's now in front of it, it can look into Israel and it can fire from Bint Jbeil.

It can fire its rockets, it can be unmasked, and it can't be seen from Israel. It was a great position for Hezbollah to shoot rockets with a great degree of impunity into Israel without direct observation. Now we're going to come out a little farther. We're going to look at Tyre and Beirut.

And the only significance of this is that the distances are so close. It's a reminder, everyone, that we're not talking tremendous distances when we look at the international relief effort that will hopefully be coming through and picking up both in Tyre and in Beirut.

KING: Nic -- hold it one second, general. Nic Robertson in Beirut. What are they saying there about that Nasrallah T.V. appearance?

ROBERTSON: Well, it certainly seems to be stoking the fire at the moment, the fire of this conflict. I mean, he's said that they will escalate. He said it's entering a new phase and this will go beyond Haifa. This is a threat made previously by Nasrallah just about a week ago.

And the implication for everyone here in Lebanon is that Hezbollah now intends to send its missiles into Tel Aviv possibly, certainly striking further beyond Haifa than they have in the past. Is this a bluff? Does Hezbollah really have these missiles? They've been maintaining this myth that -- or reality, we don't know at the moment, that they have the capability to strike further.

There was one other interesting note in this speech, or several interesting notes. One of them that the terms of the cease-fire not acceptable to Hezbollah at this time. It's too humiliating. But they also said that they have faith in the Lebanese government, in the process and the track that they are following, which seems to indicate Hezbollah is still trying to keep unity in this country.

And that is significant. While saying that they will up the ante in the fight, still trying to keep unity and therefore Lebanese support for what they're doing, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Nic. Nic Robertson in Beirut. We'll be talking to you again tomorrow. And we'll be back with some remaining moments with Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, our CNN military analyst. General, how good a fighting force, if we can call them a fighting force, is Hezbollah? MARKS: Hezbollah is a very good fighting force, Larry. They have had many, many years, 25 years to kind of work through their recruiting, their training, the procedures that they want to use when they get into combat, and they are a guerrilla force. Not very many in numbers, attributed maybe 3,000 or a little bit beyond.

But they fight in the terrain. They know it intimately. And they fight very asymmetrically, which means they'll use anti-tank weapons. They'll use land mines. They'll try to suck you in to really tight pieces of terrain, this complex and compartmentalized terrain and then try to hit you in the rear. So they've got a very good fighting technique, and they certainly will uncover it.

KING: How do you explain how that U.N. post was hit?

MARKS: Well, Larry, let me walk you down to the post. The one that was hit is Khyiam, which is up here in the north and the east portion of the buffer zone where the U.N. forces are currently located. Those outposts most likely had already been evacuated, but they probably had a few stay behind soldiers, U.N. soldiers in place.

As you can see, it is co-located with a village and I'm certain that that village has a Hezbollah presence and the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force, was going after that village, or going after those Hezbollah locations within that village.

KING: Are you surprised at how tough the secretary-general was toward Israel?

MARKS: Very much so. I mean, this has not been investigated. There hasn't been any forensics. There hasn't been any type of crater analysis to determine how this happened, where it came from. I think it was very, very abrupt.

KING: Can an international peacekeeping force work?

MARKS: Larry, it can work. It has to have the right task, purpose, and from that task and purpose you then organize your force to meet those missions. The U.N. force that's in place right now only has a mission to observe and surveil and report.

What needs to happen is there needs to be a force that has some density to it, some combat power so it can get in between warring factions. You don't want peacekeeping. Sometimes you have to have peacemaking. And in order to do that you've got to have combat power.

KING: What's your read, general, on how long this can go on?

MARKS: Larry, this could be weeks. It could be months. This is very tough terrain. Hezbollah has indicated that they want to fight. It wouldn't be unusual to see some of the Hezbollah fighters move to the north, Israel moves in, they try to establish positions, try to do a relief in place with an international force, and then during all of that Hezbollah hits again. I mean, this could be a very, very long fight.

KING: Does it take a lot out of Israel?

MARKS: It takes a heck of a lot out of Israel. They've already started to decrease their supplies, their stores, their inventories of their munitions. They haven't had too much of their equipment destroyed yet. But once you start to plant a heavy force in other countries, in southern Lebanon specifically you then become a very, very likely target.

KING: Thanks, general. We'll be calling on you again as always.

MARKS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Brigadier general James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst and former army intelligence officer.

I want to take a minute to salute all the people at CNN. Those people overseas in those zones, not just the people on the air but the people behind the scenes. You never see them. They're in control rooms. They're in various areas. They're in areas of danger, too. They go out of their way to provide you with what we think is the best coverage. And I salute them all. I think they've done an outstanding job. I just thought I'd want to say that.

Tomorrow night, one of our guests will be Senator John McCain, a Republican of Arizona -- John McCain tomorrow night. Now it's back to northern Israel where Anderson Cooper is standing by. He will host two hours of "A.C. 360." Anderson?

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