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Northern Israel Still Under Attack; Israeli Forces Take Control of Hezbollah Stronghold; Iraqi Prime Minister Visits Washington; U.S. Facilitates Humanitarian Aid to Lebanon
Aired July 25, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
Day 14, crisis in the Middle East. Rockets airborne, boots on the ground, explosions in Beirut. We're live, all across the region.
But what about Iraq and its death toll? The staggering comparison between Hezbollah and Iraqi insurgents. Who is dying faster?
They're dubbed the 21st century Anne Frank, diaries gone digital, kids blogging their way through war. Their stories in real time.
LIVE FROM starts right now.
We're now two weeks into the crisis in the Middle East, and it's been an explosive day. Explosions have rocked Beirut's southern suburbs as Israel targets the heart of Hezbollah. They're the first Israeli strikes in this area in nearly two days.
Elsewhere, a second village in Southern Lebanon falls under Israeli control. An Israeli commander says his troops seized Bint Jbeil, a Hezbollah stronghold. Israel says that up to 30 Hezbollah militants were killed over the last 24 hours.
Meantime, President Bush says the U.S. wants a sustainable cease- fire in that region. He spoke at a White House news conference today, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued her Mideast trip.
Lebanese sources say Rice is pushing a plan to stabilize the crisis. It would involve a large, international, military force under NATO or U.N. command.
CNN has reporters all across the region. LIVE FROM has all these live reports throughout the program.
Once again, Hezbollah militants have Northern Israel in their sights. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney is in Haifa. It's Israel's third largest city and almost a daily target.
Bring us up to date, Fionnuala.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kyra. It is almost a daily target. In one round of rocket barrages earlier today, 19 people were injured and one man died as a result of a heart attack he sustained when a rocket fell near his house.
There was quite substantial damage done to Haifa in this attack. We know three made at least direct impact on buildings. And the Haifa mayor telling us afterward that the city just had to clean up and go on.
Across Northern Israel, a barrage of rocket attacks continuing to rain down. Another 15-year-old girl killed near Galilee. And all in all, some 70 rockets or more fired; 66 people in all injured.
The one good news for the residents of Haifa this day is that we heard from the IDF of that one particular rocket missile launch site in Southern Lebanon, that they had been targeting for several days now, had been taken out.
And there was momentary relief on the part of the residents of Haifa, only to hear just a couple of hours later, those air raid sirens wail again. We did hear a couple of impacts, but there were no injuries, an indication that, just as the Israeli military says, Kyra, no sooner do they take out one rocket launch site, then another one emerges.
PHILLIPS: And Fionnuala, we've learned from those that live in Haifa, they're prepared, for the most part, as soon as they hear those sirens go off. It seems that everybody either has a shelter in their home or one close by so they know where to respond.
SWEENEY: I mean, everywhere, any hotel one stays in, there is a bomb shelter deep underground. Every Israeli building has to have at least one room that is reinforced. And that is the room to which most people head when they hear that there is a rocket attack on the way.
In Haifa, Haifa is not so much badly affected as other parts of Northern Israel, because the air raid sirens at least kick into action here. It takes about two minutes for a rocket to cross from Southern Lebanon. Some people in some towns and northern communities don't have that opportunity for the air raid sirens to wail, because the distance is so short, and they find themselves staying in bunkers 24/7.
But Haifa, I have to tell you, is extremely quiet. For a port city there are no ships whatsoever to be seen coming in or out, either cargo or passenger ships. And indeed, in the rest of the area of the bay of Haifa, not many people sunbathing on the beach and not one pleasure boater speed boat to be seen, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Fionnuala Sweeney in Haifa, thanks so much.
Well, explosions shake the ground, and smoke fills the air. You're seeing Beirut's southern suburbs under attack once again.
CNN's Beirut bureau , Brent Sadler, joins us now at the Lebanese capital. Bring us up to date, as we, now, see pictures of those explosion, Brent.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kyra. A series of very heavy detonations shook the Lebanese capital. The area under attack was, again, the southern suburbs of Beirut, several miles from downtown Beirut, where I'm reporting to you from. These attacks coming some 24 hours after, really, a lull, in terms of air strikes against Hezbollah's stronghold in the southern suburbs.
Israeli forces trying to paralyze Hezbollah's command and control network that enables Hezbollah to continue raining rockets into Northern Israel. At the same time as these strikes against the southern suburbs, attacking the same areas that we've seen hit over the past two weeks on and off, Israeli troops battling Hezbollah for the key important town along the border, or at least near the border, of Bint Jbeil. Reports from Israel saying that Bint Jbeil, a fairly important Hezbollah stronghold, has been taken by the IDF -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Now, when we say has been taken by the IDF, does that mean that Hezbollah has totally been chased out of the area, they have been arrested? They have -- I mean, how exactly -- define "taking control" for me.
SADLER: I think the best way of articulating that, Kyra, is to say that the Israeli forces control militarily Bint Jbeil. That does not mean that Hezbollah is not able to continue with hit and run attacks.
Hezbollah leadership has been saying that they were prepared, were prepared, to make tactical withdrawals when Israeli firepower got too strong. So you're seeing the Israelis basically in the early stages of this ground operation to take high ground around Bint Jbeil and be able to control by means of firepower -- that means their artillery fire, air power, and naval firepower that's needed -- deeper into South Lebanon, to try to curtail Hezbollah's ability to fire Katyushas into Israel at will -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Now Brent, let me ask you, you know, you are the Beirut bureau chief, and I haven't had a chance to talk to you about this, to this point. Doesn't seem like long ago that you were there when the change in government was taking place, when all the protests were going on.
At that time, did you think, as a journalist, or were any of your sources within the government saying to you that this could happen, that what we are seeing now could happen with regard to the arm of Hezbollah within this government?
SADLER: Absolutely, there was clear concern among sections of the Lebanese population. Those are sections that do not go along with Hezbollah's political or military standpoint, and particularly, Hezbollah's relationship and connectivity to Iran and, of course, to Syria, that this really was a volcano.
Hezbollah's build-up of arms, of long-range rockets that could strike -- strike deep into Israel, and perhaps even longer range rockets that we haven't seen yet that could still be deployed by Hezbollah even deeper into Israel that this was a volcano waiting to erupt sooner or later. The presence of an armed militia still active and very capable in Lebanon, even though the pro-democratic forces were gaining some ground here, was always seen as a tinderbox.
And as one Cedar Revolutionary put it, Wally Jamblat (ph), to me earlier today, this, he said, is Hezbollah's Armageddon. This is something that Hezbollah has had some six years to prepare for in terms of its attacks on Israel and in terms of its connectivity to Iran and the kind of international pressure that Iran has been under, particularly by the United States, and that this war has to be seen in the wider context of not just Lebanon and Israel, but more importantly, Hezbollah's control over Lebanon and its relationship to Iran and Syria -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Our Brent Sadler. We'll be talking a lot more, Brent, thank you. A long grind in Lebanon, not just for the current combatants, perhaps, but for the force that could eventually be sent in to keep the peace.
Brian Todd has that story.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once this fight subsides, who will stand between Israel and Hezbollah? With the U.N. or NATO being discussed as possible stabilization force, military experts have a warning: whoever goes in will have to go beyond peacekeeping and be prepared to actually fight.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You have to have forces that are tough enough and strong enough to go the length of time here and enforce the peace.
TODD: U.N. forces have been ineffective in that role in the recent past. NATO has a stronger track record. And NATO member Turkey, a Muslim nation with a strong military, could be a key participant.
But asking mostly Sunni Muslims from Turkey to step between the Shiite Hezbollah and Israel, experts say, could get dicey. And they point out, NATO's already stretched thin, deployed in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Darfur. They'd be stretched thin in Lebanon, too.
COL. PATRICK LANG (RET.), MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: A lot of people are talking about the Letani River as the area you would have to clear of rocket launchers. But if you notice, the Israeli towns, army posts, of Metullah and Kiryat Shmona and all these little farming villages down here are within range of this larger range fan by the Katyusha rockets. So this area in here has to be cleared of these rocket launchers, as well.
TODD: Colonel Patrick Lang, once deployed to this region, says that means the stabilization force will have to occupy about the same- sized area that Israel held for 18 years. Since then, Hezbollah has dug in. LANG: With tunnels, fortified villages, fortified farmhouses, firing positions, caches of rockets and all kinds of other things that are going to have to be cleared one thing at a time if you're going to get the launchers back away from the Israeli border.
TODD: That means a long grind for the stabilization force and a key reason why just about every analyst we spoke to, from retired U.S. officers to a former U.N. peacekeeping official, all ask the same question: which countries will step forward to offer their soldiers for this mission?
U.S. officials have already said they don't anticipate a major American presence.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
PHILLIPS: Brian Todd's one of our many correspondents you'll find in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer week days beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern, returning for prime time at 7 p.m. Eastern. Special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" in the Middle East tonight.
Well, a burst of activity on the Israeli/Lebanese border. Israeli ground troops are seeing action once again as they target Hezbollah strongholds. Our John Roberts is on the border. We can't tell you his specific location, and with good reason.
John, I know you had a bit of a close call. It just goes to show why we can't talk specifics when we're talking about you and being with Israeli troops.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We did have a bit of a close call, Kyra. We were spending some time with the Israeli army, up hard along the border between Israel and Lebanon, in what we still need to keep as an undisclosed location.
Somebody found out about it, because we came under mortar attack for about 10 or 15 minutes, probably 30 or 40 rounds came in in a barrage.
Thankfully, most of those rounds fell short. But there was one that landed quite close to us. In fact, it landed at the feet of an Israeli soldier, who was resting himself underneath a tree. He jumped back when the round hit the ground. Dirt flew up. Some tree branches came down. But thankfully, Kyra, thankfully it did not go off. If it had of gone off, I hate to think what would have happened to him. Because, as I said, it landed literally right at his feet.
PHILLIPS: Well, we're definitely changing the way we're working our maps and graphics and talking about location of correspondents. John, just know we're paying close attention to that.
Meanwhile, I know, you were in a press conference, right, with the commander of the IDF's Galilee division. What exactly did he say? What did you learn from that? ROBERTS: General Dal Hurst (ph) came and talked with the Israeli press. Then he spoke with us, as well. He said that in the past 48 -- in the past 24 hours, rather, that the Israeli Defense Forces have taken complete control of Bint Jbeil, which is that -- what they describe as that Hezbollah stronghold in the south of Lebanon. It's a town that they've been fighting for for the past 24 hours.
General Hurst (ph) described it as very close fighting, house to house combat. He said that Hezbollah was a militia that had infiltrated itself well into the community, in his words, infiltrating itself into the community and using the community as human shields.
I asked him what the army was doing in terms of during that campaign, of trying to protect civilian life in such close quarters. And he said that's one reason why the battle for Bint Jbeil took so long, because they were trying to minimize civilian casualties.
But again, just having control of a town or village does not necessarily mean that it's safe. Maroun al-Ras, which is the first town they took three days ago now, is the area from which that mortar fire came. So you can see that there still is a substantial amount of danger, even though they claim to have control of these areas.
PHILLIPS: All right. Our John Roberts in Northern Israel. John, thanks so much. We'll talk some more throughout the next couple of hours. We'll be in touch.
Meanwhile, rockets rain on Israel and Israel strikes back. Warplanes put Hezbollah in the cross hairs, but many civilians also coming under fire. We're going to talk about it with our military analysts, straight ahead on LIVE FROM.
PHILLIPS: Confidence still high in Iraq, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visits Washington. The Bush administration says it believes he can achieve political and military success.
But while the world's been focused on Israel and Hezbollah, the deadly rivalry between Shiite and Sunni factions in Iraq has not lessened. Here's a little perspective: 405 civilians have been killed in the Mideast conflict in the last 14 days. Twenty-two Israeli soldiers have been killed.
During the same period, there have been more than 500 civilian deaths in Iraq; 23 U.S. soldiers have been killed.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has more now on al-Maliki's visit -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Kyra, of course you mentioned that all the focus has really been on the conflict in the Middle East. But President Bush insisting all along that Iraq really is the central front in the war on terror.
But I have to tell you this press conference between President Bush and al-Maliki, really, very little meat on the bones when it comes to announcing a way to go forward.
Perhaps the one sound bite that will -- that jumps out at all of us that will highlight this is when al-Maliki at the very end says, "God willing, there will nobody civil war in Iraq."
President Bush also during this press conference saying, "The violence in Baghdad is still terrible."
So what was this? This was really kind of a tacit admission from both of these leaders that the announcement we heard six weeks ago from al-Maliki in Iraq, when President Bush was visiting him in Baghdad, really has not worked, this big operation to crack down on the violence in Baghdad.
So President Bush, today, announcing that they're reshuffling some U.S. troops, Iraqi troops, from outside of Baghdad to the capital city, to try to gain some control over that situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime minister advised me that, to support this plan, he and General Casey have agreed to deploy additional American troops and Iraqi security personnel in Baghdad in the coming weeks. These will come from other areas of the country.
Our military commanders tell me that this deployment will better reflect the current conditions on the ground in Iraq. We also agreed that Iraqi security forces need better tools to do their job. And so we'll work with them to equip them with greater mobility, firepower and protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Kyra, of course, the logical question here that was asked was, why would Americans or Iraqis believe that this program is going to be any more successful than the one that was announced six weeks ago?
President Bush said, well, there was a need to be flexible to the conditions on the ground, that that's what this movement was about. Al-Maliki simply said it was about crossing the T's and dotting the I's.
Clearly both of these leaders, their political futures, their legacies, intricately entwined here, both of these leaders struggling to make a difference, somehow improving the situation on the ground in Baghdad -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much.
A mission of mercy. Tons of medicine, food and blankets arriving in battle-scarred Beirut. Helping direct that humanitarian effort, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. He's on the phone with us now from Beirut.
Ambassador, tell us if everything has been able to arrive on time and efficiently and what exactly is there to get to the people?
JEFFREY FELTMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON: Hi, Kyra.
We had our first shipment today from the U.S. government of humanitarian assistance, which were medical kits that will serve basic medical needs of about 20,000 Lebanese citizens for about three months.
We had a small ceremony -- we turned this over to the ICRC, International Committee for the Red Cross, because they are equipped to know where the needs are greatest for these goods and how to get them there. This is the first part of a $30 million commitment Secretary Rice announced yesterday of addressing humanitarian needs ensuing from this conflict.
PHILLIPS: Are you going to be able to get into southern Lebanon and some of the Hezbollah strongholds and where it's extremely dangerous at this moment?
FELTMAN: Well, what we're doing is working with the United Nations and the ICRC to establish what you probably heard, the concept of humanitarian corridors, ways to get trucks of supplies safely to isolated pockets of citizens in need, to hospitals, to shelters, things like that.
Secretary Rice made humanitarian corridors one of her top priorities on her trip to Israel, to make sure that we had good coordination with the government of Israel and the government of Israel recognized the importance of getting supplies to civilians in need.
PHILLIPS: Well, Ambassador, obviously, the importance -- we realize that, but the question is, how is it going to get there? You've got U.S. military assets there: a lot of Marines on the ground, finishing up with the evacuations. Could they be invited by the government to come in and get the humanitarian aid via helicopter or other means to those areas that are in hostile territories?
FELTMAN: You know, I think that what's important is to get the concept of humanitarian corridors working. Because it's not just the United States playing this role. The United Nations has announced an appeal for $150 million. Saudi Arabia has announced enormous sums, more than $1 billion, for humanitarian assistance.
And obviously, the U.S. Marines are not in a position to be delivering humanitarian assistance for all of the donations that need to get to the people.
So the Marines and the military assets are here primarily to help in the safe travel, the evacuation, of American citizens. And we're looking at humanitarian corridors through the ICRC, through NGOs, in coordination with the United Nations and others, in order to get the humanitarian supplies injured.
PHILLIPS: So for those dangerous areas, specifically Hezbollah strongholds, who will help secure that aid and make sure that that aid gets to those people that need it?
FELTMAN: Well, that's why we want to work through recognized humanitarian NGOs like ICRC, that have the good track record in -- not only in Lebanon but elsewhere in the world.
There are a lot of NGOs very, very active in Lebanon with good contacts, people like the YMCA, that have this sort of reputation to be able to get to civilians in need.
But our -- what we're focusing on, are civilians in need. You keep talking about the Hezbollah strongholds, Kyra. And we want our assistance to get to the women and children that we keep seeing on television, to get to some of the shelters. There's bedding needed in shelters. And even in Beirut, for example. Those are the...
PHILLIPS: But what about the women in children in those areas, the civilians in the areas where they're not able to get to those shelters but they deserve the need, as well?
FELTMAN: We're trying -- as I say, we're relying on a network of NGOs that were already working in the south before this conflict started, that have employees in the south, that have contacts in the south, in order to help identify where this stuff should go.
PHILLIPS: There have been reports that Hezbollah has been helping people in those areas that were devastated. Would you work with those within Hezbollah that are trying to tend to its people?
FELTMAN: We've been working on economic development projects in Southern Lebanon for a long time, and we have a very, very good track record of building relationships with NGOs who know what our priorities are. And our priorities are not to assist Hezbollah charities or Hezbollah organizations. And we will rely on those NGOs that we've had a good track record with in making sure that we're helping the innocent civilians.
PHILLIPS: Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, appreciate your time, thank you.
FELTMAN: Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: Well, the rockets that Hezbollah uses are notoriously inaccurate. Israel, on the other hand, has an overwhelming advantage in firepower. Here's some examples.
The Israeli army has released cockpit video showing recent air strikes in Lebanon. Israel says it uses precision-guided bombs to minimize harm to civilians. Still, though, the civilian death toll grows.
Joining me is retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd, one of our CNN military analysts.
And Shep, I just wanted -- why I wanted to talk with you specifically, Karl Penhaul had a really revealing live shot earlier this morning, talking about the mass graves for civilians that are being killed. Literally -- literally, he's seen ditches where so many people are dying so quickly they can't even give them small burials. They've got to do in masses. And that we aren't even beginning to see the toll taken on civilians.
So talk to me about these air strikes. Is it bad intelligence? Is it weapons drop issues with regard to coordinates? Or is Hezbollah entrenching itself within these civilians that the IDF has no choice?
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Kyra, I think it's a bubbling cauldron of all those factors.
First of all, Israelis know that targeting civilians is something that is playing against them. So they're trying to avoid civilian casualties, even in a case of ground forces, taking casualties on their own sometimes to avoid it.
The problem with -- when you talk about precise guided munitions, precise guided munitions, unless they malfunction, are going to go where you aim them or where you program them. They're going to hit the target. The problem is Hezbollah is operating from civilian- populated areas intentionally.
And also, even -- even when the bomb hits the right target, a bomb does not discriminate against who is in that particular building. In other words if you have intelligence that Hezbollah is in a particular building and you hit that building, it's going to kill whoever is there, whether it's Hezbollah or whether it's innocent civilians.
Sometime that's bad intelligence. Sometimes it's just bad luck for the civilians that are on top of Hezbollah and others that are there.
PHILLIPS: Now an F-16 pilot was quoted in "The Jerusalem Post". I just want to read this to you, Shep. He says, "The message is clear all the way from the squadron commander to the last pilot. One mistake can jeopardize the whole war, like in Kafr Kana in Lebanon, where artillery bombarded a refugee camp, killing more than 100 people, which resulted in international pressure that halted the operation. Hitting the target is expected. No misses are acceptable. There aren't any congratulations for a well-performed mission. Only a hammer on the head if something goes wrong. Personally, I think it's a healthy attitude. It cause the whole system to be less rash and hot on the trigger."
Let me ask you, do these pilots, if they're coming into an area and they see a number of civilians, but they know they've got to hit that target, they know there might be a Hezbollah operator in there, can they make the call whether to drop that bomb or not?
SHEPPERD: Absolutely they can make the call. And they will err on the case of conservatism, if you will. They will likely call their headquarters. They will describe what they're seeing. They will ask whether or not they should go ahead and hit the target or not.
They may have better intelligence on the ground than the pilot is seeing from the air, even with his targeting pod, but will try to avoid those civilian casualties if at all possible.
PHILLIPS: There's F-16s, F-15s airborne right now, dropping these weapons. You flew both of those strike fighters. Same weapons systems?
SHEPPERD: Not the same weapons systems. I was checked out in the F-15, which the Air Force used mainly for air to air. We didn't drop bombs off of them.
The F-16, I've been in many times and commanded many of those units, if you will.
What we did not have, that we have now in both the United States and Israeli and other air forces, precision-targeting pods that allow us to zoom in, to see what we're hitting with precision weapons.
The problem is those weapons can malfunction. You can make fat- fingered typing errors. There are still mistakes in warfare. And that's where you get those trenches full of bodies, Kyra. When you have war, bad things happen, and mistake and human errors happen, even though you're trying to be very careful.
PHILLIPS: How long do you think the bomb drops are going to continue?
SHEPPERD: Well, I think they're going to continue until Israel is satisfied that, by seeking a cease-fire, that they have crippled Hezbollah enough that it's to their advantage to go ahead with a cease-fire in view of the international condemnation that's coming with this disproportionate -- so-called disproportionate action by the Israelis.
And until that, until the Israelis are satisfied that their national security will be served by a cease-fire, I think the bombing will continue.
PHILLIPS: General Don Shepperd, thanks for your time.
PHILLIPS: All right. We'll get back to our coverage of the crisis in the Middle East in just a moment, but first to the newsroom, Betty Nguyen working details on a developing story, a sniper situation in Indiana -- Betty.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: That's what we understand so far, involving those shootings on highways in Indiana. Let me tell you what we know. This has just developed.
We understand, according to two television stations in Indianapolis, that a 17-year-old is being questioned in a shooting on Interstate 69, which is near Munis (ph), Indiana. That shooting happened on Sunday.
But let me put it in context for you. Two hours earlier, another shooting happened on Interstate 65. That was near Seymour, Indiana. In that shooting, one man was killed, another was injured.
And just this morning, another shooting. A man in Hammond, Indiana, says that he was driving about a mile from Interstate 94 when someone shot at his pickup truck, hit it through the passenger side window.
Now, no one hurt in that shooting. But it goes to show you that police are believing at this point that these shootings, all three of them are from the same person; they're all connected. And they are going to go on that assumption until proven otherwise.
Right now, they are questioning a 17-year-old. That is according to Indianapolis television stations. We are trying to independently confirm that. But we also know testing is being done on the bullets found at these shooting scenes. Here's a map of it. You see shootings on I-69, on I-65, and just this morning on I-94. In all, one killed and one injured. A 17-year-old being questioned at this moment.
And of course as soon as we get more information, Kyra, we'll bring it to you.
All right, thanks so much, Betty.
Well, still to come, back to the Middle East and Christiane Amanpour reporting live from Jerusalem on the Israeli forces.
Plus, they call it black gold for a reason. We're going to see what the oil markets are doing as we continue our coverage of the day, day 14, crisis in the Middle East.
The news keeps coming. We'll keep bringing it to you.
PHILLIPS: On a quest for urgent and enduring peace in the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders today as she continued her diplomatic mission in the region.
CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Jerusalem.
What do you think, Christiane? How's it playing out?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Secretary Rice has just landed in Rome, where she will be carrying on the diplomatic effort to find a solution to this. In Rome, she'll be talking with foreign ministers from Europe and from the Arab world involved in this crisis, and with U.N. representative, World Bank, et cetera. When we were driving down from the north, here to Jerusalem, we see the roads full of military hardware going up to the north. So the battle still continues. And it looks like the Americans are continuing to give the Israelis the time that Israel says it needs to try to do more harm against Hezbollah's military ability.
Today, Hezbollah -- or rather, the Israelis say they're in control of a key Hezbollah stronghold just across the Lebanese border called Bint Jbeil. But then, what happens next? Here comes the confusion: there've been conflicting signals from Israeli today about what it plans to do with that southern border area. The defense minister said, used the words "holding ground" and "buffer zone." Very quickly, military spokespeople tried to clarify to us that Israel does not want to hold a buffer zone, make any occupation at any time, anywhere.
So the question, though, is where does an international force come from and how quickly does an international force get to the area of Southern Lebanon to make sure that Hezbollah doesn't get to the border again? And What will the rules of engagement be? And Will Hezbollah, through its proxies, agree to this international force? Because if it doesn't, they are sitting ducks who will become engaged in ongoing guerrilla tactics from Hezbollah. So all these tactics are still out there, the nature of the international force and how quickly it could or should be deployed -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: What do you think, did the IDF expect such a rocket fight? And did they expect things to escalate to this point?
AMANPOUR: Well, they don't think it's escalating so much. They're very confused. A lot of people are confused as to why did Hezbollah take this gamble in the first place? It had already basically kicked Israeli forces out of Southern Lebanon. It didn't really, you know, have that many prisoners held by Israel. Why did it take this gamble? And did it miscalculate?
Israel, for its part, really is taking the opportunity to cripple Hezbollah. That's what it wants to do, to cripple Hezbollah's military capability, one way or another. It does not want Hezbollah sitting anywhere near that southern border ever again. It wants to completely use this military action to reshape the balance of power, not just in the Lebanon/Israel situation, but frankly, around the whole region. It wants to show that Hezbollah is not powerful enough, that Iran and Syria, who are Hezbollah's backers, you know, can be dealt this kind of setback to their proxy.
But what they're saying on the ground is that Hezbollah is organized, Hezbollah is not some ragtag pathetic little militia; Hezbollah is a guerrilla army, but nonetheless is organized, it has a chain of command, it has weapon, it has ammunition, it has six years of planning for this battle, it has infrastructure and bunkers and camouflage all along the border, so it's not easy. And you can see this because the little town of Maroun Al Ras, which is just across the border, just a kilometer or so, took four days to pacify. And Israel took something like six dead in that battle alone. And then it took slightly less time to get Bin Jbeil. So they believe they're making some progress, but it is a hard slog.
PHILLIPS: Christiane Amanpour, live from Jerusalem, thanks so much. Well, summertime, but the living ain't easy for children in Baghdad. School may be out, but when you live in a war zone, there's no such thing as vacation.
The news keeps coming; we'll keep bringing it to you. More LIVE FROM next.
PHILLIPS: The city of Tyre, Lebanon, has been the focal point for a lot of the attacks. Our Karl Penhaul saw Hezbollah rockets launch from the area today, followed by a swift response from Israel. He joins us now with the latest on that -- Karl?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, an area about a mile and a half or two miles to the south of where I'm standing now is the area that took the brunt of the Israeli impact in the course of the day.
It started off probably before midday and we saw a barrage of Hezbollah rockets going out, heading toward Israel, a rural area, fields, near some of the villages on the southern edge of Tyre. And then about 10, 15 minutes later, after one of those unmanned aerial drone got a bead on where the firing position may be, artillery started to rain down from close to the Israeli border about 10 miles away.
And also Israeli warplanes came over and started pounding that position with 500-pound bombs, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Karl, one thing that struck me this morning was your live shot on "AMERICAN MORNING" talking about the civilian deaths. And you really put it in perspective because we've been trying to cover that aspect. But you've had a chance to actually see these mass graves. You told me -- or you said this morning, rather that people have been dying so quickly that they haven't even been able to give them the respect of one-on-one funerals.
PENHAUL: That's it, it's very important, obviously, Kyra, in Muslim culture to bury a dead person as quickly as possible. But that hasn't been possible so a lot of these bodies have been put in the morgues, while there's still capacity in those morgues. But then there isn't time, there isn't enough people to dig individual graves for these bodies.
So what happened, or what has happened is that bulldozers, back hoes have moved in and dug a long trench and they simply lay those coffins out. They put the names and a number on them to try and keep family members together. But then once all those coffins are laid out by Lebanese army soldiers, the backhoes move in and just cover them over again.
What also impacted me as well, is that there is no mourners, there is no memorial service. Because in some cases, entire families have been wiped out. And the worst of it all, Kyra, is that alongside that trench we saw two, three days ago, there's another trench exactly like it and it's waiting to be filled. PHILLIPS: Karl Penhaul, bringing us pretty much the dramatic truth, straight out of that area of Tyre, Lebanon. We'll continue to run your reports and talk to you. Thanks so much, Karl.
Well, we've still got your back. President Bush reassuring Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki today in Washington, despite al-Maliki's six-week old plan to improve Iraqi security. The situation is only getting worse, especially in Baghdad. That's where there's been a dramatic spike in bombings and sectarian death squads roam the streets. Now the U.S. military will move more troops into Baghdad from outlying areas to bolster Iraqi security forces that are already there.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The prime minister understands he's got challenges and he's identified priorities. Our priority is to help this government succeed. It's in the national interest of the United States that a unity government, based upon a constitution, that is advanced and modern, succeed. And that's what I told the prime minister. You know, he comes, wondering whether or not we're committed, hears all kinds of stories here in the United States. And I assured him that this government stands with the Iraqi people.
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PHILLIPS: Well thanks to the grim realities of life in Baghdad, many children are getting an education that has no textbook. For them, going to an actual classroom is a welcome distraction. CNN's Arwa Damon joins us now from Baghdad with that story. Hey, Arwa.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra. That's right, I mean, the violence here is really impacting the children, the young and the innocent. In fact, the most recent report released by the United Nations Mission to Iraq says they believe that other than Kurdistan, the northern most part of Iraq, nearly every single child has been mentally or physically severely impacted by the violence.
DAMON (voice over): These school boys don't even flinch at the sound of gunfire. Violence here in Baghdad, like going to school, is just part of everyday life.
Inside this classroom, six-year-old Houda colors a balloon and ignores Ms. Rahima's (ph) math class. Like many little girls all over the world, she is all about Barbie, from the pencil case to the shoes.
Hanan (ph) and the cool girls strut around the playground until they get to religion class and their scarves cover their hair. Here, the kids can escape the reality outside these walls, but the teachers say the impact of the war simmers just below the surface.
"I am scared to go out. Once my mama said go at night." Houda stares off, unable to complete her thought. (END VIDEOTAPE)
DAMON: Kyra, you know, school is now closed for the summer and that leaves Iraqi children very few options to actually be able to go go out and have fun. They can't be taken to the park anymore. That's too risky. Even going out for something like ice cream in the evening when it actually cools down here is not something that parents are willing to risk their children for. And so what they will do now is spend most of the summer locked away, but at least safe, indoors, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: So how do they reassure their kids? How do they explain to them, especially at that age, why they have to do that? And how are parents getting creative with kids?
DAMON: It's really very difficult. And we've asked this of a number of parents. And they say that they do their best that they can to comfort their children, to try to give them some hope for the future. A lot of them also, though, they use avoidance. They don't really explain exactly what is going on, exactly what the dangers are.
All they can really say to them is, listen, it's dangerous, you have to trust us, we can take care of you. But this is a very difficult situation for parents. I remember speaking to one father who said to me, "I'm telling my child that I need to keep him safe. But the reality is that there is nothing that I can do," Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Arwa Damon, tough story to tell, thanks so much.
A check of the markets and the impact of the fighting in the Middle East is having on your wallet. More LIVE FROM straight ahead.
PHILLIPS: Well, Daniel's on his way to Hawaii, but he's no regular tourist. Tropical Storm Daniel could hit the island chain this week. The storm's projected path takes it directly over the big island of Hawaii by Thursday, dumping up to 10 inches of rain. The other islands could get heavy rains and high winds. Sustained winds of 45 miles an hour, with gusts up to 60, could slap the main island of Oahu.
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