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Rome Talks Fail to Reach Agreement to End Middle East Crisis; Investigation Launched Into U.N. Deaths in Lebanon; Rockets Sparking Fires in Israel; Lebanese Political Parties Join Fight; Intelligence Aids Israeli Battle for Hezbollah Stronghold

Aired July 26, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
As the diplomats talk, but fail to reach a solution, the soldiers fight. And the fighting is heating up. In the town of Bint Jbail, in south Lebanon, it is house to house, street by street, hand to hand.

This is a special edition of 360, live from the Lebanon-Israel border.


ANNOUNCER: Hezbollah digging in, Israel rooting them out, but paying dearly to do it.

America's top diplomat taking on the world, pushing for the right cease-fire, not just a cease-fire right now.

And dealing with hundreds of rockets.

COOPER: There's now another siren that has just gone off. (INAUDIBLE) scrambling from the scene. So, we're going to try to figure out (INAUDIBLE)

ANNOUNCER: Even the duds can kill.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 15."

Reporting tonight from northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening, everyone. Thanks very much for joining us on this special edition of 360.

We are live on the Israel-Lebanon border -- behind me, an Israeli artillery tank crew. It has been another active night here, lots of shells being lobbed into south Lebanon, intensive fighting on the ground.

We begin tonight with the chilling words of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, who once said that -- predicting eventual victory over Israel, saying, "We will win, because the Jews love life, and we love death." That is what Israeli forces are facing on the ground right now in the town of Bint Jbail. And that is where we begin, with our "War Bulletin."

At this hour, this is what we know -- Israeli forces taking heavy casualties, facing stiff resistance in Bint Jbail, the deadliest day of fighting for Israel. At least nine soldiers have been killed.

In the port city of Tyre, Israeli warplanes hammered a suspected Hezbollah command post. They reduced the 10-story building to rubble -- no word yet on casualties.

And, at an emergency summit meeting in Rome, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once again deflected calls for an immediate cease-fire. The summit did produce agreement, though, on establishing a new multinational force to patrol southern Lebanon once hostilities do end.

Israel -- Israel's top commander, however, today said, it may take a while, several weeks at least. What are they -- what they're talking about now is creating a buffer zone -- let's take a look at the map -- a buffer zone not as big as what they have talked about in the past, now saying forces will aim to set up a zone two kilometers deep, or about a mile-and-a-quarter, into southern Lebanon.

But, if the fighting of the last 24 hours is any indication, it is not going to be easy to take that territory and to hold on to it. Even towns that they said 24 hours ago that they were in control of, like Bint Jbail, well, it turns out the fighting there is still raging on.

CNN's John Roberts reports.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Israeli army unloads a powerful Marev (ph) tank, soon to be headed for the front lines. It joins other armor staging near the central border, a show of strength against an enemy that has proven far more capable than Israel thought.

Just 24 hours ago, the army claimed to be in control of Bint Jbail, a town that is a major Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon. But a Hezbollah counterattack killed eight Israeli soldiers, three of them officers. Twenty-two others were wounded. The fighting was described as vicious, close-quarters. Control in this conflict, it seems, is fleeting.

CAPTAIN DORON SPIELMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: They have been stored in there for six years. They have been digging underground tunnels. They have massive munitions. At the end of the day, this is a terrorist army. This is not a band of terrorists. This is a well- organized, well-funded, well-trained group of people who have had six years to embed.

ROBERTS: The northern command's top general, Udi Adam, walked back those previous claims that his army owned Bint Jbail. Adam said: "It is not in Israeli control. We control the area on the village. We don't want to occupy this village."

(on camera): With Hezbollah proving far more difficult to rout from Bint Jbail than the Israeli army first anticipated, there is a constant need for reinforcements. I'm standing in Israel right now. That is Lebanon.

And the reinforcements are just going over the border.

(voice-over): Even as the Israeli army is tied up in Bint Jbail, the ground operation is expanding. Heavy artillery pounded targets farther west for hours. Thick clouds of smoke could be seen from miles away. It looked on Tuesday like the army was about to open up a new front, massing tanks and armor in the northeast.

Artillery and bombers unleashed a punishing barrage of explosives on the area, an attempt to soften it up for the army's advance. But, just as an invasion appeared imminent, Israel hit that United Nations observation post, similar to this one, just across the border. Any ground attack there seems to be off, for now.

And, no matter how much fire the military rains on Hezbollah, Katyusha rockets are still falling into Israel. More than 100 hit today, 27 of those landing inside towns and villages. The rockets caused damage, but no one was killed.

And, so far, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has not made good on his threat to strike farther south into Tel Aviv.


COOPER: John Roberts joins us now also live from another location on the border.

John, what are Israeli Defense Forces saying about the casualties they have sustained in the last 24 hours, about the -- the level of fighting in Bint Jbail?

ROBERTS: It was somewhat unexpected, Anderson. They thought, as I said earlier in the report, that they had the town under control.

And, then, it turned out this surprise attack by Hezbollah, a counterattack -- I talked to a couple of people in the Israeli army, who said that they were hiding in bunkers. They came out. They had improvised explosive devices, anti-tank shells, mortars, machine guns. And it was a vicious, vicious street fight between the Israeli forces and Hezbollah.

They are trying to put their best face forward, though, on what was an extremely bad day for the Israeli army, General Udi Adam coming out yesterday, saying that they have had good success against Hezbollah. They have learned a lot, gathering a lot of intelligence about Hezbollah's operations. They have degraded its infrastructure, and they have captured a lot of arms.

We hope to see those in the next 24 to 48 hours -- Anderson.

COOPER: John, thanks very much for that.

And later on in this program, we are going to show you Katyusha rockets up close, very personal. We got a -- a look with a bomb squad today at -- at the various kinds of Katyusha rockets there are, some unexploded ones, as well. We will show you that a little bit later on 360.

But, right now, we move our focus further north, from the town of Bint Jbail, from the border region, where we are now. We north to Beirut and also to the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, where there was a major explosion today -- and, in Beirut, more -- more bombs dropping from the air, as well.

CNN's Nic Robertson is there.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In the hour before sunset, a 10-story building is hit and collapses -- only civilians here, claim the people gathering in the rubble. In recent days, Hezbollah has drawn much Israeli fire on the outskirts of Tyre by launching its own rockets from residential neighborhoods.

It's not clear what Israel was targeting when it hit this building. The blast ends a week of relative quiet in the town's center, where many were seeking refuge from bombing in surrounding villages. After two weeks of attacks across the country, almost 400 are dead, around 1,400 wounded, according to Lebanese officials.

In an indication of hardening positions, Hezbollah ally parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier in the week, appears to be bowing to domestic political pressure to be seen as resisting Israel -- on his TV station, the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike against the offices of Berri's own Amal Party, a Shiite Muslim political party.

Amal, a far weaker and less significant cousin of Hezbollah, says it has joined the fight against Israel -- two of its members killed in recent fighting elsewhere, they say.

Hezbollah's leader again threatened to escalate the war, implying the guerrilla group may target Tel Aviv -- no sign of that yet.

At Beirut's international airport, the first planes to fly in since Israel bombed the runway two weeks ago, Jordanian military aircraft, bringing a 25-bed field hospital -- too dangerous, they say, to take it south, where it's needed most right now.

MOHAMED SAFADI, LEBANESE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION: To get the supplies to the real needed who under bombardments, it's next to impossible. But we're doing some, but very little. We would like to do more. We would like to have some safe pass.

ROBERTSON: This first access to the airport affording a good view of the damaged runways.

(on camera): So far, the terminal buildings at Beirut's prestigious international airport haven't been targeted, only the runways. But what concerns Lebanese officials now is that, if Hezbollah does ratchet up the violence and target Tel Aviv, then the airport here could be on the Israeli target list again.

(voice-over): In the wake of an Israeli airstrike on a U.N. observer post in southern Lebanon, even U.N. officials are cautious about moving much-needed supplies.

DAN TOOLE, OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PROGRAMS DIRECTOR, UNICEF: We don't have clearance to go down there, so that we are not certain that we will not be hit by -- by rockets, etcetera, when we go down.

ROBERTSON: As witnessed in Tyre at sunset, the further south, the more dangerous the war.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Beirut.


COOPER: And, of course, increasing attention from the international community on -- on getting humanitarian in, the U.S. participating in that, pledging money, also already shipping in some supplies to Beirut.

But, again, as Nic pointed out, getting them south, that is the key, and -- and trying to get those -- that aid, medical supplies, distributed as much as possible.

We shift our focus right now to what is happening in Rome, the diplomatic efforts, an emergency meeting on the crisis. Italy's prime minister today said what could be achieved was achieved, but what was not achieved, and -- and, most significantly, at all, a solution, a cease-fire, or -- or, necessarily, what happens next.

John King reports from Rome.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mood was described as tense, frustrating -- Secretary of State Rice said to be under constant siege, viewed by many at the Rome emergency summit as the obstacle to a cease-fire plan.

But she stood firm, insisting, any cease-fire that did not demand Hezbollah disarm would be meaningless, and would not be accepted by Israel, anyway.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Because, unfortunately, this is a region that has had too many broken cease- fires, too many spasms of violence, followed, then, by other spasms of violence.

KING: And, so, a summit designed to provide hope the hostilities might soon end instead ended with Lebanon's prime minister devastated.

FUAD SINIORA, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: The more we delay the cease-fire, the more we are going to witness more are being killed, more destruction, and more aggression against the civilians in Lebanon.

KING: As tensions mounted, diplomatic sources tell CNN, only an impassioned plea from Prime Minister Siniora kept the summit from collapsing. The participants huddled for an extra 90 minutes, but, in the end, no communique or agreement on a plan, just a statement voicing "determination to work immediately to reach, with the utmost urgency, a cease-fire that puts an end to the current hostilities."

Privately, some meeting participants complained, the United States was not budging because it wanted to buy Israel more time for military operations -- publicly, though, a concerted effort to keep diplomacy alive.

BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER, EUROPEAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS COMMISSION: This conference is not a failure. This conference is a very important beginning.

KING: To back up such talk, diplomats pointed to major commitments from Saudi Arabia and others for humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Lebanon, and to some progress on another contentious issue, creating an international peacekeeping force that would step in, if and when there is a cease-fire.

Italy and France volunteered troops, and the European Union agreed to take the lead in organizing the force and presenting a plan to the U.N. Security Council.

FERRERO-WALDNER: We want to give a chance to the Lebanese government to expand its authority, with the help of such a stabilization force.

KING: A top U.S. official on hand described overcoming the obstacles as like solving a Rubik's Cube: The timing can matter as much as the substance.

The new security force is one piece of the puzzle. Israel won't agree to a cease-fire without one. Sensitive internal Lebanese politics is another piece. Prime Minister Siniora must prove he's serious about disarming Hezbollah. But Lebanon says it needs help. Israeli guarantees of a prisoner swap and return of disputed lands would eliminate Hezbollah's rationale for violence.

FUAD SINIORA, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: And this will put, in fact, the process in the right -- in the right track, so that we can lead towards the -- the state to be in full control of all the Lebanese territories.


COOPER: John King joins me now in -- in Rome. John, I mean, what does happen next? Literally, what is the next step, if -- if they're actually going to try to get any kind of solution?

KING: I think the best way to look at it, Anderson, is this way.

They tried for the -- the grand deal, if you will, trying to get it all done in one big day in Rome -- Secretary Rice saying: You want a cease-fire? Well, I can deliver Israel, but only if you pay my price. Work with me to dismantle Hezbollah.

That didn't work. So, now they have to do this piece by piece, day at a time. She will go back to Israel this weekend. She will go back to Lebanon as well, probably, trying to get the Israelis to agree: Will you give back land to Lebanon as part of any deal? Will you agree to a prisoner swap?

The tougher challenge, trying to get the Lebanese government to engage Hezbollah, which is quite emboldened right now, trying to engage Hezbollah and say: Will you give up your arms and become a political movement, not a terrorist movement? Very, very difficult work, a very steep hill, Anderson -- they tried to get it all done in one grand deal, and they failed -- now very tough diplomacy ahead.

COOPER: And it doesn't seem like there's a lot of incentive for Hezbollah to give up their weapons.

Obviously, Israel, that's -- they say they're trying to change on the ground, change the facts on the ground.

John King, thanks for that.

We are going to check in with all our correspondents for a roundtable discussion a little bit later on, on 360.

Right now, our attention moves to -- to the latest developments on that U.N. outpost that was hit, allegedly by Israeli airstrikes. The U.N. and Israel are both making different statements on it. We will take a look at what we know about what actually happened on the ground. How could four U.N. peacekeepers have been killed in -- in this fighting so far?

Also, we will take a look, a very closeup look, at Katyusha rockets.


COOPER: Here at the police station in Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel, they have a collection of Katyusha rockets that they have encountered over the years.

This is the smallest version that they have. It's a .107- millimeter Katyusha rocket. What's interesting about this is, you actually see the launching system. And you can see just how primitive it is. It's basically this tube with some screws to set it up. They set it up to a 45-degree angle, and then they can just launch it. It's highly mobile. They can break it down quickly, and move on to another location.


COOPER: Primitive, but deadly -- Katyusha rockets, we will show you what they can do up close -- when 360 continues, live from the Israeli-Lebanon border.


COOPER: Pictures from Tyre, in south Lebanon today -- the scene, a 10-story building collapsing after being shelled -- obviously, people there searching through the rubble.

Today, there were new developments in the situation between the U.N. and Israel. As you know, yesterday, the U.N. says that Israel hit a U.N. position in south Lebanon, killing four U.N. peacekeepers. Their bodies have been recovered. But the recriminations between the U.N. and Israel continue back and forth, U.N. calling for some sort of a joint investigation.

We asked CNN's Brent Sadler to bring us up to date. He's in Beirut.


BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): As U.N. troops recover the remains of their four comrades, everyone is still asking, what happened here? How did Israel bomb the U.N. observers' position?

This is the aftermath of the bombing. The pictures, exclusive to CNN, clearly show how the observation post was reduced to rubble. The four U.N. observers, from Canada, Austria, Finland and China, were inside the bunker when it took a direct hit. These images show, they didn't have a chance.

CAPTAIN RONAN CORCORAN, UNITED NATIONS OBSERVER: All players out here understand, we are unmanned. We fly the blue flag. We are the secretary-general's eyes on the ground.

SADLER: Before they were hit, records show the observers placed nearly a dozen calls to Israel, warning, Israeli shell fire was hitting too close.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: People on the ground were in touch with the Israeli army, try -- warning them: Please, be careful. We have positions here. Don't harm our people.

SADLER: At first, the U.N. chief said it appeared the attack was deliberate, drawing immediate Israeli denials and apologies.

TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: It was not a deliberate attack, because Israel will never, and never targeted and will never target United Nations forces. SADLER: This is a wide-angle photo of the post. Though we cannot see what is in the foreground, or on the sides, it is important to know, we're told, Hezbollah was recently shooting at Israel from nearby.


COOPER: Brent, the whole idea of the U.N. being in south Lebanon was to stop Hezbollah from -- from being able to fire rockets, you know, in -- into northern Israel. Israel is saying that -- that this -- you know, maybe this position or other U.N. positions, Hezbollah has rocket batteries nearby. How close are Hezbollah rocket batteries to U.N. outposts?

SADLER: Well, Hezbollah rockets were fired, according to Lebanese security sources, from positions in the vicinity of that remote U.N. outpost in previous days, but not, Anderson, on the day of the attack.

And there has been, over the near 20 years that Israel occupied south Lebanon, various instances of where, when Israel has been fighting Hezbollah, that Hezbollah has used U.N. positions as a kind of shield to try to protect rocket launches being attacked by Israel.

What's going to happen next? Well, we're promised a U.N. -- joint U.N.-Israeli investigation to get to the bottom of the deaths of those four U.N. observers -- Anderson.

COOPER: We shall see.

Brent Sadler in Beirut -- thanks very much, Brent.

When we come back, we will have more on the fighting of both sides of this border, as this special edition of 360 continues, live from the Lebanon-Israel border.

Stay tuned.


COOPER: And welcome back to this live edition of 360, from the Lebanon-Israel border. We're coming to you from an Israeli artillery unit, which, throughout the evening, all throughout these last two weeks, has been lobbing shells into south Lebanon. Throughout this program, you may hear some loud explosions. That is simply Israeli artillery, outgoing -- most importantly, outgoing artillery being fired, literally over our heads, across these mountains in -- into southern Lebanon, both trying to target Hezbollah rocket positions and also support Israeli ground troops currently fighting.

And we have seen intensive fighting.

We asked a -- a roundtable of our correspondents to -- to come together just to discuss this story from -- from all the different vantage points that we have been covering it. Joining me from Jerusalem is chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. Joining me also along the -- this border is -- is senior national correspondent John Roberts. In Beirut, we have Beirut bureau chief Brent Sadler. And, in Rome, we have chief national correspondent John King.

John King, let me start off with you.

Diplomacy, all the talking for these last couple days, has diplomacy failed?

KING: Well, diplomacy hasn't failed, but, certainly, they didn't get the big gesture they wanted today, the biggest fundamental challenge, a quick deal to at least start a cease-fire agreement. It still would have taken weeks, perhaps, even if they had a deal today.

They did make progress on the composition of the international force. That will be critical if they ever get over that hump, if they can get to a cease-fire deal. They did make progress there. They did make progress in terms of humanitarian aid, reconstruction aid. But the fundamental challenge, Anderson, on day 15, heading into day 16, I believe, is to stop the fighting. And they made very little progress there.

And, as we discussed a bit earlier, one of the biggest problems is in Brent Sadler's hometown. They need the Lebanese government to try to strike some deal with Hezbollah. And Hezbollah right now, U.S. officials concede, seems emboldened, and not willing to negotiate at all.

COOPER: Well, Brent, let's talk about that.

What is the likelihood that Hezbollah would willingly disarm? Would -- do -- is there any incentive for them to do that, and just focus on becoming a political party, which they already are? But -- but, you know, could they solely be that?

SADLER: Lebanese politicians who are not in the Hezbollah camp would say there was no likelihood, Anderson, of that happening.

Look what happened in the weeks before the start of this war. There were attempts called a national dialogue, where unique meetings of national leaders of all political and religious ilk got together here in the Lebanese capital, with the aim of trying to persuade Hezbollah to come out with agreement one day to disarm.

That really just put the issue on the shelf -- Hezbollah refusing to -- to buckle to those governmental demands to disarm. So, really, the expectation the Lebanese government could somehow now, after all that's happened, in terms of damage to the country, expect Hezbollah to simply crumble and say, OK, time to lay down our arms, that would seem to be very unlikely.

COOPER: John Roberts, let's talk about the fighting that you have been witnessing along this border in these last 24 hours. It is very tough, especially in -- in -- in this town of Bint Jbail. ROBERTS: It is very tough, Anderson.

But I have to say, part of the problem is, it's the fighting that we're not witnessing. You know, after being embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, we're not seeing any of the fighting. The Israeli military likes to keep a close hold on all of that information. They don't like to take reporters with them. So, we really don't know what happens on the ground, other than what they tell us.

But here's what we know, as far as what we have been able to learn from Israeli Defense Force sources. Hezbollah, this morning, launched a counterattack against the Israeli forces that were conducting sweeping-up operations in Bint Jbail. Apparently, they were using devices like Sagger anti-tank missiles. They were also using mortars, machine guns, improvised explosive devices, the one that we have become -- the ones that we have become so familiar with in Iraq.

And it was really, really very fierce, vicious street fighting, going house to house, in some cases, hand to hand. And there were heavy casualties on both sides. The Israelis lost eight soldiers, three of them officers, 22 people wounded, three of them seriously -- Anderson.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, important to note that Israel says this is really a -- a two-front war that they are fighting, and there were a number of -- of fatalities in -- in Gaza as well today, correct?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There were, yes, 24 fatalities in Gaza, because of an Israeli airstrike and shelling, according to the IDF. Some of those, they say, were militants, but there were children, as well.

I think what's happening here in Jerusalem, in the punditry and in the armchair generals, everybody is getting a little bit concerned, because they were sort of promised, they thought, a quick, easy victory against a guerrilla group, Hezbollah. And it simply hasn't happened.

Today was the deadliest day for Israeli soldiers. It was the day that saw the highest number of Katyusha rockets since this whole thing began. And there doesn't seem to be any -- any end in sight. And even some of Israel's staunchest allies, for instance, Britain,, which is standing close to the U.S., not calling for an immediate cease- fire, giving Israel more time, are getting extremely upset and concerned about the high level of civilian casualties in Lebanon, the big and widespread destruction to the infrastructure.

You saw that huge building in Tyre brought down and elsewhere. And they're very concerned.

We're already seeing, even in Britain, amongst Tony Blair's own advisors and things, some very, very deep disconcert and misgivings about what's going on right now. And they're worried, too, that the longer they let this go on, the whole consensus against Hezbollah in the world is going to crumble.

COOPER: Brent, who are these Hezbollah fighters that the Israeli forces are facing in Southern Lebanon? Are they -- are they battle- hardened veterans? Is that the bulk of them, or is that just a core group? Or young men? What do we know?

SADLER: I've watched the development of Hezbollah for more than 20 years since the movement first was given birth in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Over the years that it has been entrenched in Southern Lebanon, almost two decades fighting, a war of attrition against Israeli occupation troops that over six years ago. Hezbollah was able to learn the tactics and the effectiveness of suicide bombings, explosive devices, IEDs, so familiar to Iraq.

The blueprints for the kind of terror seen in Iraq really were drawn up over those near two decades that Hezbollah learnt to fight the Israelis and learned their weak spots. And so that's what we're seeing now, battle-hardened Hezbollah taking on head to head the best of Israeli military on the ground -- Anderson.

COOPER: We're going to talk a lot later with retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks about the battlefield in South Lebanon.

I want to thank our correspondents, Christiane Amanpour, John Roberts, and John King and Brent Sadler. We'll check in with you also in the next hour on 360. A lot more ahead from the battle zone.

But first let's check in with Heidi Collins on the day's other top stories -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, the woman who drowned her children in a bathtub five years ago is found not guilty by reason of insanity. Andrea Yates showed little emotion when the Houston jury delivered its verdict. She will now be committed to a mental institution.

Four years ago a jury rejected Yates' insanity defense and sentenced her to life in prison. But that conviction was later overturned.

In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein says he would rather be shot than hanged if he is convicted and sentenced to his death in his trial for crimes against humanity. Today the former Iraqi dictator made his final appearance before the Iraqi tribunal which will decide his fate.

Here in the U.S., business news, the number of people who signed up for high speed Internet service jumped 33 percent last year, to about 50 million lines. That's according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The U.S. is ranked 12th in the world when it comes to broadband subscribers behind Japan and Iceland.

Professor at the University of Arizona invented a sticker that can tell consumers if a fruit or vegetable is ripe. The stickers are expected to be available to growers next year and should make their way to supermarkets within three years. The sticker will detect a chemical that's released as a fruit or a vegetable ripens.

That's it from here, Anderson.

COOPER: Heidi, thanks very much for that. When we come back, Katyusha rockets. We'll show you what they look like up close and how frequently they fall here along the border, often causing forest fires. Take a look.


COOPER: Even Katyushas that don't hit population centers cause problems for Israeli authorities. A Katyusha rocket hit here along the side of a mountain and started a forest fire. Israeli authorities finally arrived on the scene. They're trying to put out the flames. But new flames keep erupting. Another fire has just started over there.


COOPER: Fighting the forest fires started by the Katyusha rockets on the steep slopes of mountains, next on 360.


COOPER: All right. Let's get you up to date with the latest developments in the CNN war bulletin. Here's what we know at this hour.

Lebanese sources say that Israelis dropped at least three precision guided bombs on U.N. observers yesterday. Four U.N. military observers, of course, died in the attack. Israel says the hit was not deliberate. The U.N. wants a joint Israel-U.N. investigation.

Israeli air strikes hit the Southern Lebanese city of Tyre today. A 10-story building collapsed there. It's not known exactly why this particular building was targeted. Israeli forces say Hezbollah rocket launchers are in the area.

In Southern Lebanon, eight Israeli troops were killed in the fierce fighting around Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil. One other troop was killed in fighting in the border town of Maroun al-Ros. And Hezbollah fired more than 100 Katyusha rockets into Northern Israel today.

And that is where we focus on right now. So many times when the Katyushas hit a town like Haifa, it makes headlines. But often when it hits the small towns along the border, it doesn't make the national news. But they make a big impact nevertheless. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Hezbollah rockets firing from a position in South Lebanon. By now we've all become used to seeing the results: civilian casualties, widespread fear. When rockets fall on big cities like Haifa, it makes news.

But in border towns like Kiryat Shmona, most incoming rockets never make headlines.

We happened upon this spot where Katyusha had recently fallen. There were no casualties and no emergency crews on hand. There was simply a site burning along the side of the road.

(on camera) There have been reportedly more than 100 Katyusha rockets that have fallen in Northern Israel so far today. And it's -- right now it's only about 2:30 in the afternoon. It's been a very busy day. You can tell it's still smoking over here.

We're looking for the actual rocket. We can't see it. It's likely buried somewhere in this direction.

(voice-over) It only took us a few minutes to actually find the rocket. You can see it still sticking out of the ground.

(on camera) We've heard so much about Katyusha rockets over the last two weeks. It's rare that you actually get to see them unexploded. Here at the police station in Kiryat Shmona in Northern Israel, they have a collection of Katyusha rockets that they've encountered over the years.

This is the smallest version that they have. It's a 107- millimeter Katyusha rocket. What's interesting about this is you actually see the launching system. You can see just how primitive it is. It's basically this tube with some screws to set it up. They set it up to a 45-degree angle. And then they can just launch it. It's highly mobile. They can break it down quickly and move on to another location.

This is the Katyusha rocket that's been landing in Israel so often in these past two weeks. It's a 122-millimeter Katyusha. Obviously, it's much longer than the 107-millimeter. It needs an entirely different kind of launch system. Still relatively primitive but more sophisticated than the 107-millimeter.

It is, of course, inaccurate. Again, it's basically a point and shoot. There's no way to really target, so there's no way for Hezbollah to tell exactly where it's going to land.

(voice-over) The Katyushas may be relatively primitive weapons, but they're designed to create maximum bloodshed.

(on camera) Some of the Katyushas are designed to bury deep into the ground and have a delayed explosion after several seconds.

What's inside the warhead, though, that's what does sometimes the most damage. These are basically a sheath of what will become shrapnel. You can see it's got grooves in it. Once the Katyusha explodes, this will blow apart along these lines. Each of these little diamonds will become potentially deadly pieces of shrapnel flying through the air.

There are also ball bearings which are put inside the Katyusha. You can see the ball bearings right there. Obviously, that can do a lot of damage to a person if it hits them.

(voice-over) Here in Kiryat Shmona, the sound of shelling, outgoing or incoming, is constant. So is the smell of smoke.

We followed a team of firefighters up a steep slope to where another Hezbollah rocket had fallen.

(on camera) Even Katyushas that don't hit population centers cause big problems for Israeli authorities. A Katyusha rocket hit here along the side of a mountain and started a forest fire.

Israeli authorities have finally arrived on the scene. They're trying to put out the flames. But new flames keep erupting. Another fire has started over there. They're trying to get to those. They only have one hose here.

There's so many Katyushas falling, so many forest fires starting the Israeli authorities say they can't get to all of them at once.

(voice-over) It's hard work and tough terrain. The firefighters were finally able to extinguish this blaze. There are other fires, however, nearby that still need to be put out. It is a daily and sometimes deadly routine in Kiryat Shmona that shows no sign of letting up.


COOPER: Well, when we come back we'll take a look at whether it is just Hezbollah fighters who are now battling against Israel or whether other Lebanese have joined the fight, up next on 360.



COOPER: You can drive around. There doesn't seem like there's anyone around. And all of a sudden your eyes, it's almost like adjusting to the darkness. Suddenly you realize there are people who are watching you. Guys on motorcycles talking on cell phones are passing by, watching very closely what you're doing.


COOPER: That was in Hezbollah-controlled territory in South Beirut.

CNN's Michael Ware broke the news today that there may be other groups or at least supporters of one other group who have joined the fight against Israel along the side of Hezbollah.

Michael Ware joins me now.

Michael, what do we know? What group is this? Who are these people?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's emerging, Anderson, is that Hezbollah are not the only Lebanese to have taken up arms against the Israeli Defense Force in Southern Lebanon. From just ordinary villages picking up weapons to defend their homes, to members of political parties.

Members of political parties are joining the fight. We've seen today from the political party of the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, saying that they have been involved in every major battle so far in this war.

There's speculation as to whether this is organized or whether this is being done ad hoc on a village by village basis. However, it's clear that Lebanese themselves have joined into this fight. Not necessarily with Hezbollah, but certainly alongside.

COOPER: Michael, what are the implications of this for the Lebanese government? I mean, if you have supporters from this group, Amal, joining in the fight, what does that bode for the Lebanese government?

WARE: Well, what defense analysts here, even Lebanese army generals and senior officers, say is that essentially the army's incapable of defending Lebanon. Particularly against the most sophisticated conventional army in the region, being the Israeli Defense Force.

So by and large they've contracted out the defense of the country to Hezbollah. So what we're seeing here is that very much the government, its weaknesses are being more and more exposed. So this is going to be much more difficult for the government to get a handle upon. And it's going to be much more difficult for the Lebanese army to step into this breach.

But don't forget, this is also the political currency of Lebanon. The constituency of the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri, his party, the Amal movement, comes from Southern Lebanon. If their local supporters do not see their -- their leaders helping protect them against the invasion, then they will definitely lose traction.

COOPER: Michael Ware reporting from Beirut, some troubling developments. Appreciate that, Michael. We'll check in with you tomorrow, as well.

All right. When we come back we'll talk to retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks about the fighting on the ground right now in South Lebanon, said to be intense. We'll have the latest information when we return live from the Lebanese-Israel border. Stay with us.



PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These bizarre- looking goggles are one of Israel's most important weapons of war. They're used by the mapping department here in the heart of Israel's intelligence unit.

You can't see it on your screen, but through these lenses they can see every house and every street in Lebanon in 3D. They know where Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah lives, or at least used to live, and which bunker he used.


COOPER: That was Paula Hancocks reporting.

I want to take a look at what we know about fighting on the ground in South Lebanon. In particular the fighting that still continues to rage, we are told, in Bint Jbeil.

Joining us now is retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks. What is so important about this town?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, RETIRED BRIGADIER GENERAL: Anderson, Bint Jbeil is just north of the border, probably about two miles. A city of about 45,000 people jammed into an area that's only about a mile and a half in circumference.

Let's look at the map, and you can see that Bint Jbeil down here, Anderson, looking south into Israel. That's the yellow line that's up on the top of the screen.

The importance of Bint Jbeil is it allows Hezbollah a couple of things. No. 1 is they can launch rockets from within this location. This area is masked from direct observation from Israeli forces that are to the south. And also because it's so jam-packed. Hezbollah has been able to establish a very large strongpoint.

Now what the Israeli forces have done, in order to try to take Bint Jbeil, they have pretty good freedom of movement coming off this slope and approaching the city.

But Anderson, that's like walking out of your parking lot and moving into a loosely packed sandy beach. You get bogged down. You start to slow down. The kids start moving off to the side. You lose tightness of the group.

When a military formation is gaining speed and coming off that slope, you hit the edge of Bint Jbeil, you immediately come to a stop.

The roads that you see here are no more -- the maximum width no more than 25 feet. That's the beltway, if you will that goes around Bint Jbeil. But you look at the puzzle pieces. There's no symmetry to this city. So any type of movement of that 70-ton Mercava Mark IV tank that the Israelis have will cause rubble as it tries to maneuver.

And as the main gun tries to traverse you're going to start knocking a bunch of stuff over and start to create some additional rubble. So this is a fight that requires the Israeli forces to dismount and get off their vehicles. And now they're in a very tight fight with a defender who's been there for 25 years, and over the course of the last six years, has built up a lot of booby traps and ambush sites.

COOPER: General Marks, I mean, I read one Israeli general describe it as entering a hornet's nest, that they got in there, and then, you know, these Hezbollah fighters are basically all around. These are pretty battle-hardened troops that -- on the Hezbollah side.

MARKS: Well, they really are. And when you really look at this, I mean, just take a glance at this. Can you imagine trying to find your way through that thing when you haven't been there for six years?

Certainly, you've had imagery of it. And the Israeli forces have had an opportunity to do a lot of preparation. Their target folders are very, very robust and very current. But they haven't physically walked that terrain.

And so the folks that live in there and the Hezbollah fighters that have been there, they essentially can close their eyes and move from place to place with impunity and really be in a position of advantage -- of advantage. That's why fight in urban areas is so very tough.

COOPER: A tough fight indeed. Brigadier general James "Spider" Marks, as always, appreciate your expertise.

MARKS: Thank you.

COOPER: We'll check in again with you tomorrow for the latest on what we know, intelligence on the ground.

All right. When we come back, all the latest bulletins from all around the regions, from here along the border, from South Lebanon, from Beirut and in Rome, the diplomatic efforts underway. We'll be right back live from the Lebanese/Israel border. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, or 35 other cereals, consider visiting this Miami cafe.

KENNETH RADER, PRESIDENT & CEO: It's almost like an ice cream parlor meets a coffee shop with cereal. We mix different brands and we put toppings on it.

You can come and relax, sit on the couches, use the Internet on the computer. I came up with the concept when I was at Syracuse University. We were only snowed in in the dorms. None of us could cook. And it was either cereal or nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twins Kenneth and Josh Rader and friend Michael Glassman opened the Cereal Bowl in February. Sales have reached over $150,000.

RADER: We average about 350 customers a day, 400 on weekends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At home it's just cereal. Here you can get any kind of cereal and put it all together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It powers you up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Judging by the success of other cereal cafes in North America, Rader isn't the only one turning cereal into a lucky charm.

RADER: We've done a lot of different things to try to separate ourselves. We actually have a new product which is cereal flavored frozen yogurt. It's a big country. There's a market for this in a lot of different places. Right now we have about 500 franchise requests.


COOPER: It is 6 a.m. here along the Israeli/Lebanese border. The beginning of a new day, morning. These Israeli troops now just waking up after what has been a very difficult 24 hours.


ANNOUNCER: The longest day for Israel. Eight of their own killed in a town they said they'd captured. Hezbollah fighters not giving an inch. Neither is Israel. Desperate civilians paying the price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get the supplies to the really needed throughout the bombardments is next to impossible.

ANNOUNCER: In Rome, an emergency summit ends with no plan.

RICE: We cannot return to a status quo.

ANNOUNCER: So now what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Israel is determined to carry on the fight against Hezbollah.

ANNOUNCER: Locked in battle on the world stage. Two men and their separate paths to war.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 15". Reporting tonight from Northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.



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