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Rice's Diplomatic Mission in Middle East; Artillery, Airstrikes, Rockets Going Back and Forth Over Northern Border Between Israel, Lebanon; Israeli Forces: Rocket Launch Site Near Tyre, Lebanon, Destroyed

Aired July 25, 2006 - 09:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Middle East this morning. She's meeting with top leaders. There's a plan for peace, but is anybody listening?
Any thoughts of peace shattered in northern Israel today. Nearly a dozen Hezbollah rockets have rained down in Haifa. And Israel's at it as well, keeping up relentless attacks in southern Lebanon.

A look at what's happening on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. Welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

I'm Soledad O'Brien, in New York today.

Hey, Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Miles O'Brien in Jerusalem. It's 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It's been a busy day on the diplomatic front. And meanwhile, artillery, airstrikes and rockets going back and forth over that northern border between Israel and Lebanon.

A little more on that in a moment, but first the diplomatic mission.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, spending much of the day here, currently on the West Bank in Ramallah, having met with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and delivering a plan to the participants here in the Middle East, the players, so to speak, which would bring some level of peace to southern Lebanon. The broad outlines of the plan are now in the public realm.

CNN's Brent Saddler reporting this, basically, the secretary of state is proposing not one but two international peace keeping forces. The first one, a smaller one on the order of 10,000 troops, Turkish and Egyptian troops, in southern Lebanon to try to stabilize the situation there and allow the Lebanese government that fledgling democracy to try to rein in Hezbollah.

Eventually, it would be replaced by a force numbering 30,000 international troops. Unclear who they would be or who would command them. There are some big ifs in all of this. Hezbollah would have to agree to this, or be defeated militarily, which is Israel's goal at this moment, apparently. And Israel also is pushing for a 20-mile buffer zone into southern Lebanon, just about the range of these rockets which continue to rain down on northern Israel.

Now, while all of our attention is focused on southern Lebanon and that northern border, there is another front in this war. In Gaza yesterday, Israeli airstrikes going after weapons caches there associated with Islamic Jihad, another group that the Israelis and the U.S. would call terrorists. In an effort to go after the weapons caches, eight bystanders apparently injured. And that, of course, closer to the subject as the secretary of state went to Ramallah on the West Bank, meeting with the prime minister there and talking once again about the notion of Palestinians and Israelis living side by side, two separate states.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRESIDENT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): The suffering on the people in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank is beyond any endurance of a human being, and an end must be put to the suffering.



CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I assured the president that we have great concerns about the sufferings of innocent peoples throughout the region. In that regard, we talked, of course, about the fact that even as the Lebanon situation resolves, we must remain focused on what is happening here in the Palestinian territories on our desires to get back on a coarse that will lead ultimately to the president's vision and indeed the vision of President Abbas. President Bush's vision, but indeed the vision of President Abbas of two states living side by side in peace.


M. O'BRIEN: The secretary of state now will make her way toward Rome, where she will meet with European leaders, as well as other Arab leaders. Many of them insisting as well on an immediate cease-fire as this humanitarian crisis continues in Lebanon with upwards of 800,000 people displaced, many of them spilling over to the border into Syria. Many civilians caught up in the crossfire as the Israelis continue the bombing and the artillery.

And that focus, that bombing, that artillery is aimed at those rocket-launching sites. So far, it has done very little to decrease the number of rockets raining down on northern Israel. We've had reports today several rockets landing in the northern port city of Haifa, the third largest city in this country.

Farther to the east, toward Galilee, a 15-year-old killed as a rocket rained down on an Arab -- Israeli-Arab town there. So the Hezbollah rocket firings continue, while the airstrikes and the artillery, with the goal of trying to take out those sites, continues, as well.

CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney is in Haifa. She has been watching the damage there and keeping track of the casualties in a city that is living in a blitz -- Fionnuala.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Miles, just to pick up on that point, of course in Haifa the Israeli military are saying that the rockets that are being fired at this city are coming from Tyre in southern Lebanon. And we're now hearing from the IDF that they have taken out those rocket launchers.

Now, whether or not that is going to stop rockets being launched at Haifa from other parts of southern Lebanon we don't know as yet. But I can tell you, we haven't had an air raid siren warning go off for an hour and a half.

However, earlier in the day, one man died as a result of a heart attack when a rocketed landed near his house. It was in a barrage of rockets that hit several buildings in the city, and several people, about 19 people, were injured.

So, clearly, up until now, Haifa under sustained attack and bombardment from these Hezbollah rockets. And we're told that overall in northern Israel this day, some 66 people have been injured in more than 70 rockets which have fallen across northern Israel. Of course, as you're reporting there, a 15-year-old girl dying in a village near the Galilee -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Fionnuala Sweeney in Haifa.

Thank you very much.

And we are getting reports now from just south of the Lebanese border where many of these Israeli artillery installations are that that bombardment of Tyre, by the air, by artillery might have had some success. The Israeli defense forces reporting to John Roberts, who is on the ground there right now, that they may have taken out possibly one of those key missile-launching sites.

Let's get right now to John, who is live now just south of the border with Lebanon -- John.


I can't tell you exactly where we are, but I can tell you that we are hard along the border between Israel and Lebanon. In fact, it's only a few feet away.

This is an area where the IDF has been staging border incursions. A lot of armored personnel carriers and tanks going across the border to join the fighting. And then they have some other armored personnel carriers and troops who come back coated in dust, bone tired, for a little bit of a rest, refuel, and they get back into the fighting. An IDF spokesman that I talked to just a little while ago said those missiles that fell on Haifa, they knew where they were coming from. It was just south of the city of Tyre, and that the Israeli air force went out there not too long after those rockets were fired and took out that emplacement.

Let's keep walking along a little further here and we'll kind of set the scene for you here.

You can see some of the fueling trucks going back down in that area. Let's try not to get this road sign in here, because we don't want to tell people where we are. Another armored personnel carrier here.

In terms of the fighting, the Israeli defense forces say that Bint Jbeil is still encountering pockets of resistance. However, they say that the fight in there is beginning to diminish.

It's been a tough 48 hours for them. You can still hear outgoing artillery, you can hear the dull thud when the shells land. But they say that they are slowly, slowly, slowly making some progress there, and they wouldn't say that they are in control of the area yet, but they do say that the fighting is beginning to de-escalate just a little bit.

We're not far from the town of Maroun al-Ras which was the -- that hilltop village in Lebanon where Hezbollah had a lot of gun emplacements, they were firing Katyusha rockets from. That they now believe is under control, though they won't yet take us up there because they say it still is a little bit dangerous. But we're hoping that maybe within the next 24 hours or so we'll actually be able to get across the border and get some eyes on the ground there and be able to tell you firsthand what the scene looks like -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, that says something right there, John, that you're thinking it won't be too long before you can get a little bit closer. Are the Israeli defense forces indicating they have that area pretty well secured?

ROBERTS: The area around Maroun al-Ras, which is that hilltop town, they say they have secured, but they say it still is dangerous because every once in a while somebody will pop their heads up and take a shot at the Israeli forces. The real key today that they hope to get under control is Bint Jbeil.

That's what they are saying is the southern stronghold Hezbollah. They believe that there are a lot of command and control facilities there, and that if they can get control of that town, they may be able to decrease some of the Katyusha rockets and begin to push Hezbollah a little bit further back from the border.

But, Miles, I've got to tell you, because the way that Hezbollah has been able to dig in over the last six years that the Israeli have been out of southern Lebanon, even if they do get Bint Jbeil, there are a lot of other places where this militia can pop their head up. They can fire these Katyusha rockets up very quickly and then duck out of the way and run away before they can get some counter fire, artillery back in on them, or send in some F-16s.

We did see an F-16 flying in fairly low just a little while ago. It was dropping flares as it was going across the border, just in case anyone had a shoulder-fired rocket. And then we saw it fire a couple of rockets. It looked like it was joining the Bint Jbeil conflict, perhaps suppressing a Hezbollah position that was still causing the IDF some trouble.

There's no question, though, Miles, that unlike the Six Day War in 1967, where the Israelis struck out against militaries of other Arab countries that were unprepared, weren't ready for that surprise attack, Hezbollah has been waiting for this for a long time. They've got dug-in positions, they've got bunkers, they've got their missiles well hidden. And it is going to take a long time to rout them out, if that is ever possible.

M. O'BRIEN: John Roberts on the border there.

In many cases, Hezbollah using the fortifications the Israelis left behind when they rolled back out of Lebanon in 2000.

Let's move our sights to the north and to Tyre. We were just talking about -- John was just talking about and Fionnuala talking about the Israeli defense forces claiming that they had successfully taken out a key rocket launching site there just south of Tyre.

CNN's Karl Penhaul has been watching the artillery and the bombing as this has all unfolded.

What can you tell us from there, Karl?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly interesting to hear John talking about that, because that emplacement of Hezbollah militia, where they were firing rockets from, is over my right shoulder, about a mile and a half to the south. And in the course of the morning we did see a barrage of rockets going up from there.

Unclear whether they were Katyushas or possibly something larger. Military analysts do say that they've got larger caliber Syrian-made rockets.

But about 20 minutes after they were fired, there was a very heavy barrage of Israeli artillery fire. We heard the thuds down close to the border about 10 miles from here, and also Israeli warplanes came over and dropped a 500-pound bomb there.

As to whether that has wiped out that emplacement there, very difficult to say. Far too dangerous to approach that area right now. And typically, what Hezbollah militia fighters are doing is firing off those rockets and then moving, firing and moving. This is a highly mobile guerrilla force, and they do know -- they know that those unmanned aerial drones that we can hear in the air constantly will pinpoint their position within a few minutes. And then a few minutes later they will call in airstrikes.

And so, what we understand from some of the local residents is that Hezbollah fighters will fire those rockets off and move both themselves and the launchers. In some cases, we understand they can do that as quickly as seven minutes -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Karl, that brings out an important point. We've been talking about Bint Jbeil, that city that the Israeli defense forces currently have encircled, are trying to take out because they believe it is a headquarters, command and control capability. But it sounds as if this guerrilla force is engaging in a war that is much more freelance.

They don't need any command and control to drive around a truck and just launch off a rocket, right?

PENHAUL: Well, talking to military analysts, in fact, before we even set out for Tyre from Beirut, they say that Hezbollah's -- Hezbollah's military structure is very hierarchical. So there is a top-down command certainly in terms of strategy.

But when it comes to terms of tactics, then some of the units on the ground will be given free range to seek out their targets and hit those targets without reporting up the chain of command. They know what the commander's intent is, if you like, but from then on they choose how they move around, how they fire, where they hide and conceal themselves. And that's what is making it very difficult in terms of talking about knocking out command structures.

That in terms of whether it was a -- you know, if that was a conventional military force, then that may work. But when this is a mobile guerrilla force, with a lot of experience in this type of warfare, much more difficult. And not only that, but also to the east, a little northeast, in fact, of Tyre, we're also told there's a whole cave system there and that in the past few days from eyewitnesses that have been to that very dangerous area, they also tell us that a lot of rocket and missile fire has been going out from that cave system -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Karl Penhaul. Clearly, it is a shadowy enemy and a well dug-in enemy from the view of the Israeli defense forces. And they continue that pounding. It just remains to be seen. We'll watch in Haifa, we'll watch along the border in northern Israel to see if in fact they were as successful as they claim to be.

Back to you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles. Thanks. We'll check back in with you in just a few moments.

From one Middle East hotspot to another. This time Iraq is what we're talking about.

Just about 30 minutes from now we're expecting the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to meet with President Bush. The major topic, of course, is trying to end the sectarian violence in Iraq. United Nations officials estimate that 100 Iraqis are killed every day.

CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us with more on this.

Hey, Suzanne. Good morning.


Despite all of the focus on the Middle East violence, President Bush has always insisted that Iraq is an essential front in the war on terror. But privately, even Bush administration officials are now acknowledging that that front is not going well. So today a very important day for President Bush, looking to his guest, Prime Minister Maliki, as perhaps his last chance for success in the region.


MALVEAUX (voice over): President Bush's legacy is on the line, and it's tied to this man, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw firsthand the strength of his character and his deep determination to succeed to build a country that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself.

MALVEAUX: That was five weeks ago after Mr. Bush's highly choreographed surprise visit to Baghdad. But this is now.

On average, at lease 100 Iraqis killed each day, according to the United Nations. Baghdad now a battleground between Shiite and Sunni Arab militias. Maliki's security initiative aimed at cracking down on the violence has been disappointing to the U.S. military brass, who had hoped to draw down troop business the end of this year.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTINATIONAL FORCES SPOKESMAN: We must be realistic in measuring success and setbacks. There are serious challenges facing the new government and Iraqi people.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: This is a classic civil war.

MALVEAUX: A war that threatens to undermine the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's foreign policy, bringing democracy to the Middle East.

GERGEN: Rarely have two leaders of nations needed each other more than at this moment. You know, Maliki, if it was not for Bush and the support of the United States, would be a dead man. On the other hand, President Bush's legacy is directly tried to the capacity of the Maliki government to deliver.

MALVEAUX: But Mr. Bush's June visit, meant to bolster that capacity, failed to make much difference.

GERGEN: The problem Mr. Maliki has is his -- his rule does not extend much beyond the Green Zone. You know, this safe little enclave in Baghdad is where he can reign supreme. But you get much outside that and the militias have a heck of a lot more influence.


MALVEAUX: So military officials say that plan B here is, of course, to move U.S. troops, Iraqi troops from other parts in the country to Baghdad to try to secure that city. They believe that it is the key to winning the country. And, of course, Soledad, we'll be looking for more details whether or not any of this is new in a press conference later this morning -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House for us.

Suzanne, thanks.

That press conference between the Iraqi prime minister and President Bush is going to happen after their meeting this morning. We're expecting it at 11:25 a.m. Eastern Time. Of course we're going to carry that for you live when it happens.

The civilian casualties are rising in the Middle East. So how long is Israel willing to fight to wipe out Hezbollah? An Israeli cabinet secretary talks to us live.

And then later, a wider view of the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. One expert tells us just how the Middle East crisis is linked to the war in Iraq.

That's ahead. Stay with us.

You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to our coverage of the Middle East crisis.

Day 14 now, and what we have seen today is increased diplomatic activity here in Jerusalem and beyond, as the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, continues her mission, and increased military activity on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanon border.

Here to talk with me a little bit about what is next is Isaac Herzog. He is a member of the security cabinet here in Jerusalem for the country of Israel.

Mr. Herzog, good to have you with us.


M. O'BRIEN: The question of proportionality comes up time and again. The relief chief, if you will, for the United Nations, Jan Egeland, was in the region yesterday. And he had some things to say about the military response on the part of the Israelis.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAN EGELAND, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: The destruction of civilian infrastructure, the amount of damage to civilian housing and so on, it's far beyond what we normally see in wars.


M. O'BRIEN: And to be fair, he also said the same thing about the Hezbollah rockets raining down on Haifa and beyond, which we've been reporting on all day today. But the fact is, let's talk about the Israeli side for a moment and the Israeli effort.

Have the Israeli defense forces gone too far given the threat?

HERZOG: Not at all. And one needs to analyze the question from a couple of angles.

I know it's painful. We know it's difficult. We are very sorry for the tragic events and the tragic loss of life, although we've instructed our military to be as focused and as cautious as possible. But let's realize the facts.

The facts are that a decent member of the world community, Israel, is confronting a terrorist organization which has no rules, no boundaries, no red lights. Somewhat like you're faced in Iraq. And that's why these guys are hiding in houses, they are putting missiles in people's homes, they have built up an infrastructure, the Hezbollah has built up an infrastructure in people's homes.

I don't know of any American family that sleeps in its living room with long-range missiles. And therefore, we are going into these villages. We asked the civilians to move out in order to dismantle this infrastructure.

And most importantly, under international law what counts the threat. And the threat of the Hezbollah is immense. And they have missiles that can hit at the center of the country. They have strategic weapons. And that is why we're confronting them.

M. O'BRIEN: Give me a sense of what the real goal is, though. You mentioned Iraq. When you're dealing with an insurgency embedded, really totally mixed in with a civilian population, it's not the kind of thing that presents an easy or quick victory.

HERZOG: That's true.

M. O'BRIEN: How long will Israel fight? When and what would be the criteria for a victory?

HERZOG: Israel will fight as long as it takes in order to weaken the Hezbollah substantially, to dismantle its infrastructure and its capabilities to attack Israel and northern Israel, which has suffered, by the way, over 2,000 missiles in northern Israel in the last few days. And we have to remember that over a million Israelis are in shelters or have moved out of their homes.

Now let's go back to the issue itself. What we want to do is to change the pattern of behavior in the region whereby a terrorist organization cannot break any rules. There is a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for full sovereignty of Lebanon over the region. We want to implement that, we want the hostages back, and we want to make sure that Mr. Nasrallah, who is one of the worst terrorists in the world will not be able to repeat this pattern of behavior.

M. O'BRIEN: Give me a sense of what is an acceptable peacekeeping mission. And why not, if -- as Condoleezza Rice suggests, a force of 10,000, eventually ramped up to a force of 30,000 -- if you could get a force like that in southern Lebanon, why not just have a cease-fire immediately? Wouldn't that take care of the Hezbollah problem for Israel without causing harm to civilians?

HERZOG: We will welcome any solution in the counters (ph) you've outlined. We take it seriously, we're considering it seriously and positively. But you need to have another partner for the (INAUDIBLE); namely, you need the Hezbollah.

We want to know that the Hezbollah is unable, incapable in accepting the counters (ph) of the deal. Now, what we hear from the Hezbollah constantly, like all extremists in a fundamentalist Muslim world who take this approach, is, of course, a negative, negative, negative.

We will continue until we make sure that this operation succeeds in a way that the Hezbollah cannot threaten anybody in the region. Imagine how Lebanon would look like if they are fully paralyzed.

M. O'BRIEN: Isaac Herzog, member of the security cabinet here, member of the Knesset. Also, incidentally, the tourism minister.

HERZOG: That's true.

M. O'BRIEN: Not a good day to be the tourism minister.

HERZOG: That's true, too. But there are many tourists in the rest of the country, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea. Beautiful sites.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Isaac Herzog, thank you for your time.

HERZOG: Thank you very much.

M. O'BRIEN: Back to you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles. Thanks.

Coming up this morning, much more on the crisis in the Middle East. We'll take a look at how the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah might all be connected to the war in Iraq.

And in your morning "House Call," the dangerous heat wave we've been telling you about out West, temperatures soaring as high as 119 degrees in some parts, we've got some tips on spotting heat exhaustion and heat stroke all ahead in this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: As we've been telling you, extreme heat has been gripping large parts of the nation for the most of last week.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is at the CNN Center with some advice for all of us in dealing with the extreme heat.

Hey, Elizabeth. Good morning.


Soledad, when you're talking about triple digits, 119 in some parts of California, that means you need to take extreme measures in the heat. You need to keep an eye out for heat stroke for yourself and for the people around you.

Let's talk about some of the signs of heat stroke.

One sign definitely is if the body temperature goes above 103 degrees. That's obviously not good.

Also, nausea and vomiting are signs of heat stroke, red, hot and dry skin. In other words, if the person is not sweating that's a problem. And confusion.

If someone is suffering from these symptoms, you need to get them out of the heat as soon as possible and call 911. They need to be in a hospital.

Now, some people are more at risk for heat stroke than others. First of all, people over the age of 65 are more at risk for getting those kinds of signs that we just talked about. People who are 4 years and under, children, are also more prone to heat stroke, and the chronically ill. Also, people who are taking certain medications, including anti-psychotics, diuretics and tranquilizers.

So, remember, if you're taking those medications, you need to be especially carefully when you're out in the extreme heat -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: So when it's really, really hot, like the temperatures we're seeing out in California, is the best thing to drink a lot of water? Is the best thing to drink a lot of Gatorade? Is it to drink a lot of juice? What's the best way to deal with it?

COHEN: No, experts say what you drink is not really the issue. You need to be drinking cool liquids. Any of the things that you named will do, but they need to be cool liquids and they ought not to have caffeine in them.

You do need to remember, if you're not drinking water, you may be taking in a lot of calories. If you need to drink a lot, and you're drinking, let's say, a lot of fruit juice, you may not feel so great taking in all of those calories. So water in that situation may be your better choice.

However, there have been problems, or a recognition of problems more recently, that overhydration is also a problem. It is possible to drink too much water. So then the question is, well, gee, how do you know? How do you figure out how much is too much and how much isn't enough? Unfortunately there's no really good rule of thumb, but the American college of Sports Medicine does have these guidelines. They say, first of all, underhydrate, dehydration is much more common than overhydration. In other words, most people need to worry about not getting enough water. Overhydration is much less common, and it's mostly marathon runners and long-distance athletes.

In any case drink early. Drink even before you go outside. Drink before you start to feel thirsty. Drink early on. And also drink at regular intervals. Don't just start glugging when you're finally feeling hot and thirsty. You need to drinking at regular intervals.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, great advice. Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

S. O'BRIEN Ahead this morning: top stories, including some new developments out of the Middle East. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting today with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. We'll tell you what she had to say about the chances of a cease-fire.

And then northern Israel is under fire this morning. We'll take you live to Haifa, get an up date on the situation there.

You're watching a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in just a moment.



Let's get right back to Miles O'Brien. He is in Jerusalem today.

Hey, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Hello, Soledad.

4:30 here in Jerusalem. Been a very busy day. We've been tracking diplomatic effort and we've been tracking an escalation in the conflict to the north here.

First up, let me show you some pictures, which the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli Air Force specifically, just released. This is gun-site video captured by the videotape which is attached to the head-up display in an F-16 showing a series of montage, if you will, of previous airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force as they try, do their best, to single out these specific locations where these Katyusha and other rockets and missiles are fired by Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Now, while they have all the most sophisticated weaponry you can imagine in an F-16, precision guided, laser guided, all the things a U.S.-made f-16 you expect would have, what they're discovering in many cases is, it is very difficult. These are -- it's worse than a needle in a haystack, because you're talking about these very small rockets which inflict not a lot of damage, but a tremendous amount of terror and are very mobile, and can be shot off, and then the truck can move on within minutes. By the time the Israeli Air Force is able to respond, it can be difficult to actually pinpoint the actual source of that rocket firing.

In any case, a sense of how they're trying to go after that significant activity in the Lebanese port city of Tyre today with that goal in mind.

Nevertheless, we'll tell you in a moment about the rockets which have rained down on Haifa.

Meantime, let's talk diplomacy for just a moment. Secretary of State Rice has made her way through Beirut, to Jerusalem, to the West Bank and Ramallah talking to leaders along the way. She will make her way to Rome today in the evening, in the hopes of continuing to push a plan for peace, the Bush plan for peace, to stop this crisis on its 14th day.

CNN's Brent Sadler out of Beirut is reporting the broad outlines of this plan. What she is suggesting, what the U.S. is suggesting, is possibly two international peacekeeping forces designed to help stabilize Southern Lebanon, designed to help that fledgling democracy in Beirut gain a foothold and rein in Hezbollah, which is, in essence, a government within a government. Ten-thousand troops in that initial peacekeeping force, Turkish and Egyptian troops either under NATO or U.N. command. And then ultimately it would be replaced by an international peacekeeping force of some 30,000, membership to be announced.

The big ifs on this, the big caveats, is that Hezbollah would have to agree to this. That's an unlikely scenario, or it could have to be defeated militarily. And that is proving to be a very difficult campaign on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces, because they are so difficult to isolate from their civilians in South Lebanon, and they are so embedded and dug in having planned for this for the six years since Israeli forces pulled out of South Lebanon.

Israeli -- Israel also insisting on a 20-mile buffer zone inside Lebanon, in Southern Lebanon, about the range of those rockets which continue to fire down on northern Israel. The secretary of state says she wants to reset the deck and come up with something that is much more than a band-aid cease-fire.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECY. OF STATE: It is time for a new Middle East. It is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East, that we will prevail; they will not.


M. O'BRIEN: And as we are speaking and as this military campaign continues the airstrikes continue to the north. In Southern Beirut once again, in Beirut in general and environs, Israeli Air Force focusing on suspected Hezbollah strongholds there. The command-and- control function, no less than the leader Hassan Nasrallah, in their cross hairs. And a result, many locations in Beirut the target of attacks. We're looking at fresh pictures now, live pictures from Beirut, as those attacks continue.

So just to give you a sense what is going on north of the border from here, attacks to tell you about in Beirut, in Tyre, the port city which is on the receiving end of airstrikes, as well as artillery, because it's in artillery range, an artillery encampment just south of the border, and ground forces homing in on their Hezbollah stronghold Bint Jbeil, where they presume that there is a command and control apparatus for the Hezbollah fighters. Lots of activity to report on all fronts north of the border.

Meanwhile south of the border a real rain-down of rockets today with some serious injuries to report, and at least one fatality. In the Israeli Arab town of Magard (ph), in Galilee, to the east and north in Israel, a 15-year-old dead in one of these rocket attacks. To the west, to the coast, and Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, repeated rocket firings, rockets striking down in the center of Haifa causing several injuries, and indirectly, via heart attack, the death of one person.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta is in Haifa and has more for us -- Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Miles, it's a really remarkable thing. You just hear sirens going off pretty much all morning and all early afternoon, as well. You hear these sirens going off.

I was actually doing some reporting when I heard a loud thud. I mean, I'd never heard anything quite like this. You know, we'd heard the siren a few minutes before, we took cover, and then this incredibly loud thud. And then within minutes, just ambulances everywhere and patients being taken to the hospital. It was just really remarkable to see how it all sort of came together, how quickly that all comes together. And people are sort of used to it in some ways, I guess. They're actually seeing these rockets come down.

Miles, you may already know this, but I actually went to one of the sites where one of these missiles actually landed. And what you have there is just thousands of ball bearings. They're sort of shrapnel, just filled with thousands -- tens of thousands of ball bearings.

So in addition, as you said earlier, these rockets causing terror. A lot of times they sort of land harmlessly. But in addition to them causing terror, they spread all this shrapnel, these ball bearings, everywhere. I saw reports of one patient who actually had one of these ball bearings penetrate his chest, land close to his heart. You get a sense of just how frightening this can be. You know, as we're going through the streets, Miles, you know, you hear the sirens go off. People get very frightened and they start screaming and everybody's home becomes a temporary and instantaneous bomb shelter. It is just a remarkable scene here.

We got some good news a little bit ago. We're not sure -- we haven't been able to confirm it ourselves -- that the rocket -- site rocket launcher in Tyre had actually been taken out, maybe by Israeli Defense Forces. And that was some good news to some of the citizens who heard that as well, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Sanjay, since we got news of that, since the Israeli Defense Forces indicated they had taken out the site, have you had a siren blare? Have you had a rocket firing?

GUPTA: No, we have not had either a siren or a -- certainly not a missile, either. So, you know, people are starting to come around to maybe it's actually true. But, you know, as many rockets that have landed here today, you can imagine people are just frazzled. I mean, it's -- just walking around the streets, you see people crying. If they -- one of the sirens goes off, every car immediately pulls off the street and runs into anybody's home or any apartment building they can find.

So I think that they're slowly maybe getting used to the idea that that rocket launcher was taken out. But I think it's going to take some time. People are very frightened here.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, it's interesting, because we had a day -- the day before yesterday, when it was quiet after a rocket site was apparently taken out by the Israeli Air Force. So it does wax and wane. And these launchers are so mobile.

Sanjay Gupta in Haifa, please be careful, you and your crew there. Whether or not the rockets are firing now at this moment, it's always possible that these rockets will be on their way, given the fact that they are so embedded there, so many, and they are so easy to transport.

Let me show you some live pictures now. This is Beirut, as the Israeli Air Force once again targeting Beirut. Why Beirut, you ask, if Southern Lebanon is where Hezbollah is the stronghold? Well, there are portions of Beirut where the Hezbollah command structure is believed to be hiding out, including has Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. Israel continuing its effort, based on intelligence, to go after Nasrallah and the leadership of Hezbollah, who may or may not be in southern Beirut.

In case, further explosions there as we see what appears to be yet another escalation of this crisis on day 14. Back with more in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Take a look at some of these live pictures coming to us from Beirut. This is southern Beirut, where you're seeing the heavy smoke wafting right across the city. We're told -- you're looking at an area where Hezbollah is believed to be headquarters.

After two days without any strikes -- I think we're hearing some more explosions there -- we now have these reports of heavy blasts, resulting in what you're seeing right here in Beirut, Lebanon. The Israeli efforts to oust Hezbollah from southern Beirut positions, in which they are deeply rooted. Live pictures coming to us this morning.

From the crisis in Lebanon, let's take you right to the sectarian violence in Iraq. Appears to be getting worse. Our next guest says the conflicts are related.

Vali Nasr is the author of "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future." He joins us from Boston this morning. Nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.


S. O'BRIEN: It's all part of two stories we've really been following today, as you know. The first is this conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. But also the sectarian violence in Iraq, which is getting worse. And some now characterize it as a civil war between the Shia and the Sunnis. How are the two conflicts linked, do you think?

NASR: Well, first of all, there are very deep historical and religious ties between Shias of Lebanon and Shias of Iraq. And these ties go back for a very long time. Therefore, the Shias of Iraq care a lot about what happens in Lebanon. And if this conflict continues to escalate, it can tarnish U.S.'s image in Iraq and make it more difficult for the U.S. government to continue to be effective on the ground in Iraq.

In addition, countries in the region -- that is Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan -- who have been complaining about close ties between Iran and the Shias of Iraq have also been complaining about relations between Iran and Hezbollah. And in some ways, they have connected the position of the Shias and the power of the Shias and their ties to Iran in these two countries together.

S. O'BRIEN: So are you saying that this is sort of a moment of opportunity for all the Shia who see themselves as -- I guess because of what's happening in Iraq and because of what's happening right now with Hezbollah -- being able to rise to power, where before they couldn't?

NASR: Well, they are rising to power. They have risen to power in Iraq, and they are making a power play at the regional level through Hezbollah and Iran. They are the ones who are defining the Arab-Israeli conflict completely anew.

But we're also seeing a Sunni reaction, particularly in the capitals -- in Amman, in Riyadh, in Cairo -- to this Shia power play. And it is -- what we're seeing is a range of forces of the region along this sectarian line, not just in Iraq, but now much more broadly across the region.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's very unusual to have criticism coming from other Arab nations of Hezbollah.

NASR: Exactly. This is the very first time when -- while you have live conflict between Arabs and Israelis that Arab governments are criticizing those who are engaged in the fight. But they are doing so because they are characterizing them as Shias. And we're also seeing a lot of fatwas now coming from militant Web sites that are arguing that people should not be supporting Hezbollah because they are Shia.

S. O'BRIEN: So are those criticisms coming because the governments -- the Arab governments that are mostly led by Sunnis -- are concerned that, in fact, if the Shia get power, it's going to start with Iraq and move into, you know, Lebanon as well, but it could come to their nations, too?

NASR: Absolutely. First of all, countries like Saudi Arabia have their own Shia minority about which they worry. But also, these countries are very worried that Iran is becoming a very dominant regional force, that it is now setting the tone for regional conflicts, and it's asserting its position in the region, not just because it's acquiring nuclear capability, but it's been able to play a major role in Iraq and Persian Gulf, and now as we can see in Lebanon as well.

S. O'BRIEN: Playing itself out right now. Vali Nasr is the author of a terrific book. It's called "The Shia Revival." Thanks for talking with us.

NASR: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: We have been showing as we've been talking to Mr. Nasr pictures right there, live pictures coming to us from southern Beirut.

I want to get you right to Brent Sadler, who is there and who' covered Beirut for a long, long time.

Brent, can you update us on what you're seeing there, and what we're seeing, too?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we just heard a series of very loud explosions coming from the southern part of Beirut. This is the southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold. Now Lebanese military analysts were telling me earlier today that they expected very soon to see a resumption of Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah's infrastructural headquarters that has been for many, many years headquartered in these southern suburbs of Beirut.

This is the area that's been bearing the brunt of the Israeli airstrikes for the past two weeks, so a resumption of this level of attack is not to be unexpected. It's been some 24 hours or more since, there's been a relative lull in airstrikes against these targets, coinciding with the time, of course, that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was here in Beirut and Israel. So this is a continuation of Israel's use of airpower to erode Hezbollah's infrastructure headquarters south of the city center itself -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Brent, is there any way to give us a sense of what kind of damage has been done? Obviously we can see this massive amount of smoke sort of coming across the city. But can you tell exactly what they've hit at this point, or is it too early.

SADLER: It's too early to give you any idea of bomb-damage assessment, but you can be assured that the Israeli objectives are to try to paralyze Hezbollah's military and political leadership, to demoralize, if they possibly can, the leadership, which is going on in terms of airstrikes at the same time as Israeli ground forces push ahead, trying to establish a much deeper foothold, if you like, in the southern part of the country itself, battles around Bint Jbeil, heavily fought battles between Hezbollah militants and the Israeli Defense Forces. So you're seeing a combination of parallel attacks from the air and from the ground.

But it has to be said, according to some Lebanese military analysts here, that after two weeks of airstrikes, heavy strikes particularly against the southern suburbs, which is also populated by civilians as well as the Hezbollah militants, that the airpower alone, the use of that, has not been enough to stop Hezbollah, to deter Hezbollah's leadership from continuing to order continuing rocket attacks against northern Israel and deep into Israel around Haifa -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Brent, it looks like we've got videotape of these explosions, and I want to listen to them as well. So let's play them, and we'll listen and then I'll get back to a question with you.

So, Brent, I haven't seen a lot of these live, but I know you have. Give me the sense of a scale. This looks massive, like a ton of damage has potentially been inflicted. Is that something you can tell?

SADLER: No doubt whatsoever that these are indeed massive explosions. There you hear another detonation. Again, we're not quite sure where that's coming from. But a series of explosions that resulted in those live pictures you're seeing and that heavy smoke rising from the south of the Lebanese capital. Certainly I can cane tell you they're loud enough to rattle our office here in the center of the city.

I've heard enough explosions in war zones all over the world for the past 25 years to tell you that this is heavy use of airpower in this location, and it is designed to, as they say, paralyze Hezbollah, to really to stop Hezbollah's leadership from having the capacity to continue mounting these Katyusha rockets attacks against Israel.

What I can also tell you, which is interesting, Soledad, is during this relative lull, for the past 24 hours or so, Lebanese have been seeing more driving around the streets of the Beirut city itself, but you can be assured that once these air strikes are heard in the capital itself, people will start here in the center of the town running for cover once again.

S. O'BRIEN: Fourteen days into this back and forth with the exchange of rockets, and bombs and artillery, has it surprised you how entrenched Hezbollah is in spite of the Israeli defense forces pounding them aerially as you point out?

SADLER: Military and now intelligence analysts are telling me go they haven't seen this scenario in terms of Israel's offensive actions in the last 25 years. What the Israelis are doing on the ground in Bint Jbeil and elsewhere is a slow, methodical advance into the Southern Lebanese territory.

It's expected that the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, will, little by little, move northwards some 25 miles into Lebanon up to a line along the Litani (ph) River and then drive westward to try to create a buffer zone to stop these rocket attacks against Israel.

But analysts will tell you that Hezbollah has surprised the Israelis by the capacity to sustain these attacks, and there is deep suspicion that Hezbollah has yet longer-range rockets that they could fire even if Hezbollah is driven 20 miles north of the Israeli border. And there is deep concern there here in Lebanon for the repercussions of Hezbollah being able to strike even deeper into Israel than it is already doing.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me bring in Miles who is standing by. He's in Jerusalem, as you well know, Brent -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Brent, if you could tell us, give us a sense how they're identifying targets? How does the Israeli Air Force get the intelligence to guide these precision weapons down on their targets?

SADLER: For years, even though the Israelis effectively withdrew from Lebanon under a U.N. blue-line agreement some six years ago, that still over the months and years since then, Israel has continued to mount reconnaissance flights over Lebanon, violating Lebanese airspace. The reason for that primarily has been reconnaissance to keep an eye on what Hezbollah has been able to do in the south, and also to keep an eye on as best they could what Hezbollah's leadership was doing in the southern suburbs.

Israel knows very well the territory of Southern Lebanon. It occupied the south of Lebanon for the best part of two decades, for a long war of attrition against Hezbollah.

But you know, Miles, in that period of war between Hezbollah and Israel, war of attrition, which Hezbollah claimed victory over in driving the Israelis out of Lebanon in May of 2000, Hezbollah learned a great deal about not only terror tactics, but also how to engage resurgence, a return of the IDF in the event that that would happen one day.

So military analysts are tell me go here in Lebanon that Hezbollah will have prepared the ground very, very well indeed, and Israel will have had a target list ready for a long time, not just created in these circumstances over the past two weeks, but with a built-up, a map of targets relating to Hezbollah's leadership, its infrastructure, its command and control.

But of course, as we all know, that kind of control is intertwined, interwoven with the fabric of the Lebanese Shia civilian population. And Israel has to be balancing the weight of destroying Hezbollah, killing civilians, in a way that would turn the entire population against Israel rather than part of the population against Israel in terms of Hezbollah's effect in dragging this country into a renewed possible all out invasion by the Israelis. The country is still split over that issue. So there's a very important consideration that Israel must take into consideration when it bombs the southern suburbs of Beirut, whether or not these actions as they continue and as civilian casualties increase on the Lebanese side, whether in the end, Hezbollah's war against Israel will attract wider support inside Lebanon because people cannot tolerate militarily what Israel is doing and the casualties that's being inflicted as a result of these attacks. Not got to that tipping point yet, but it's something very clearly the analysts see on the cards.

S. O'BRIEN: Brent, let me ask you a quick question, which is while we're looking at pictures on the split screen, you can see the smoke wafting over the city, behind you -- maybe you guys can pop up Brent's picture again -- traffic is going, people are walking by, kind of seems like business as usual. There's not an effect. I mean, people don't hear it? Or aren't affected when they hear the concussions from these explosions?

SADLER: Yes, they do, of course, Soledad, and you can see the city in the last 10 minutes since these loud explosions shook the capital, that already the number of vehicles has declined immeasurably. But don't forget, after 25 years of on and off conflict, 1982, an all-out Israeli invasion, and nearly 20 years of a war of attrition, where Lebanese saw their power supplies hit, where there was continual friction between Israel and Hezbollah, that Lebanese have got accustomed to war. If there's nothing happening for 24, 48 hours in so much as what they can see and hear, they come out. If the weather changes, in the sense there's bombing again, they go around, they go back to the shelters, they get off the streets -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Brent Sadler is covering our breaking news out of Beirut.


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