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YOUR WORLD TODAY

Intensity of Fighting Gaining Strength in Middle East; Cuban Government Says Castro in Stable Condition

Aired August 2, 2006 - 12:00   ET

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


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Not beaten, not even close. Hezbollah fires its biggest barrage of rockets at Israel yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel will stop fighting when the international force will be present in the south part of Lebanon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The Israeli prime minister sends thousands of troops into southern Lebanon and commandos as far north as the Syrian border. He says Israel will not stop anytime soon.

And watching closely. The United States keeps a close eye on the health of a long-time foe. Just what would Washington do if Fidel Castro passes from the scene? We'll talk with a prominent U.S. lawmaker.

Hello, and welcome to YOUR WORLD TODAY.

I'm Hala Gorani in Beirut.

We're covering this conflict from all angles and from both sides on CNN.

All right.

Fionnuala, in Haifa, over to you.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hi, Hala.

Yes, indeed, we have just had an air raid siren warning here in Haifa. It is the third one in the last number of hours, but Haifa itself hasn't been hit by any direct rockets. However, this has been the heaviest day of Hezbollah shells since the conflict began almost four weeks ago.

Around 200 rockets fired into Israel, at least one person dead and several injured. So very clear that despite the 48-hour cease- fire over the last couple of days, that Hezbollah still has the capability to hit Israel.

Well, as we know, three weeks on, the intensity of the fighting is gaining strength. Hezbollah has stepped up its campaign, sending, as I say, a huge number of rockets into Israel, and that's where we hopefully find our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance.

Matthew, what's it like along the border?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Fionnuala.

Well, not only has Hezbollah been -- been launching a ferocious barrage of its missiles into towns and cities across Israel, as you've been reporting, but also a great deal of fire has been going in the other direction as well. Indeed, across southern Lebanon thousands of Israeli forces on the ground really rampaging across various towns and villages described as Hezbollah strongholds.

The intent of the Israeli military is to establish a broad strap of land across the Israeli border, to establish as a buffer zone, a security zone. They intend this time not to leave that buffer zone until such times as a multinational force has been deployed on the ground in order to take over the peacekeeping responsibilities from the Israeli troops and in order to stop Hezbollah, of course, from firing those barrages of destructive rockets into Israel's towns and cities of its north.

That could mean, Fionnuala, obviously, that Israeli troops may be on the ground in Lebanon for quite some time. It will take many weeks, perhaps, for that international force could be agreed and to arrive -- Fionnuala.

SWEENEY: Matthew, what is the biggest problem the IDF is having?

CHANCE: Well, what it's having is a problem when it comes to approaching these towns and villages across southern Lebanon, because for the past six years, remember, Hezbollah has been really using that period since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended in 2000 to dig in, to train, to rearm, and they're a very well-equipped and very frightening militia, as well, operating in southern Lebanon. And so they're certainly not a pushover for the Israeli forces.

Now, the Israelis may have superior firepower. They have tanks, they obviously have air superiority. But the guerrilla fighters in Hezbollah are very well dug in and they are putting up heavy resistance, and there have been casualties on both sides, obviously, as we know, throughout the course of the past several days fighting.

SWEENEY: Matthew Chance reporting live along the Israeli- Lebanese border.

Let's go to Beirut now and Hala.

GORANI: All right, Fionnuala.

A daring helicopter raid backed by airstrikes. The Israeli military says it snatched several Hezbollah members from a hospital in the ancient city of Baalbeck.

We're joined now by our Beirut bureau chief, Brent Sadler. Before we get to Baalbeck, Brent, you just got back from southern Lebanon. Tell us a little bit about what's been going on today in that part of the country.

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Thanks, Hala.

Yes, I just returned to Beirut. I was in the Tyre area and south of that, Ora (ph), which is very close to the Israeli border. And for the past day or so, I was able to get to a number of villages along the border, not in the center of the fighting, where that's going on now, but just on the fringes. And I can tell you, the levels of damage, destruction to homes is quite incredible.

I've been covering this part of the world for some 25 years. I covered the Israeli invasion back in 1982. And I haven't seen the level of destruction compared to today. It really is quite incredible the way that the Israelis have been hammering these frontline positions and grinding down Hezbollah's ability to strike Israeli settlements in northern Israel and even deeper.

So that's the first aspect of that.

Also, the journey back hazardous, because you don't know whether or not Israel is going to target vehicles that are moving. I didn't see many trucks on the road. There are still civilians moving south and north, mostly moving north away from the fighting zones. And many, many abandoned cars and cars destroyed, some upended in massive bomb caters along the road north.

So it really is a pretty terrifying scene to watch down there -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. As you described the scene there and the Israeli military operation, the question, I suppose, is, how is it possible that Hezbollah are still firing 190 rockets into northern Israel, even though this Israeli military operation is in its fourth week almost?

SADLER: Because this is very different than 1982, Hala. This is the Israelis taking the decision at the highest levels to push forward with a military offensive that isn't just designed to seize, hold and occupy territory for a prolonged period, it is an attempt to so degrade and reduce Hezbollah's fighting capabilities and its rocket- launching capability, no matter how long that takes, accord to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister. And that may be many weeks before an international force gets on the ground.

This is a different kind of military objective. Israel wants to clear Hezbollah of a certain amount of territory in south Lebanon. But beyond that, it wants to grind away and degrade as much of its weaponry, firepower, commanders and control as possible during these weeks -- expected now to be weeks of fighting if we listen to all sides.

So that's the first point to take on board there, Hala. In addition to that, it's quite clear that these tactics are going much closer to the Syrian side of the border, up the eastern flank, if you like, although the western flank, the Tyre side, still active. But the eastern flank is where I think the concentrated push and effort is right now. And if that were to continue, then some analysts on the ground are suspecting that the Israelis may try to establish the same sort of security zone that they had when they were occupying Lebanon for the best part of 20 years, an occupation that ended six years ago -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Brent Sadler, our Beirut bureau chief.

Thanks very much -- Fionnuala.

SWEENEY: Well, Hala, we've been trying to report on both sides of this conflict as accurately as we can, but Israeli media has been working overtime to get the story out and meet the needs of the Israeli public, as well as its demands.

Paula Hancocks reports from Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For the past three weeks, Israeli television has resembled a 24-hour news network. Every twist and turn in the conflict on Israel's northern border has been reported, questioned and analyzed. A normal three hours of news a day has turned into 15, and the Israeli media is not afraid to criticize.

ARAD NIR, FOREIGN EDITOR, CHANNEL 2: We've been criticizing the maneuvers of the army. We've been criticized for criticizing the army for doing that. We've been criticizing politicians for the way they take their decisions. We've been criticizing the public for the way they react.

HANCOCKS: The Israeli media prides itself on being a free press. Many editorials in the newspapers have been critical of military operations in Lebanon from day one. But there has been some pressure from the public for news organizations to be more patriotic and supportive of both the government and the military.

One officer wrote an open letter online asking the Israeli media to tone it down, saying, "This is a war. Not a reality show." His site has had more than 2,000 responses so far.

SHALOM KITAL, DIRECTOR, CHANNEL 2: On the other side of the tube there is a worried customer, a worried Israeli citizen that wants and expects of us to be reasonable and to understand that what we are doing is covering our own war.

HANCOCKS: The intensity of this conflict means the coverage is intense, as is the competition.

TAMIR SHEAFER, HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: I think that in the past it used to be much more that, you know, some kind of control from above about what to show and what not. And now everybody is aware that in today's world it's impossible. In today's media, today, you can get that -- you can get Nasrallah's speech from the Internet, from Al-Jazeera. You know, we get here on -- at my home I get all the Arab -- all the Arab channels.

HANCOCKS (on camera): The Israeli public is far more politically savvy than most. Israel has fought numerous wars and experienced two intifadas. So the people expect the press to question every political and military move, but they also expect at the same time a sensitivity, as every Israeli knows someone in the military who could be involved in this conflict.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, they're streaming out of southern Lebanon, and there's hundreds of thousands. We'll take a closer look at the refugee problem right here in Lebanon.

SWEENEY: And the Israeli media (ph) at work -- the navy. CNN's John Vause goes on a gun ship to see what is happening there.

GORANI: And up next, the transfer of power in Cuba. How does this affect U.S. relations with the island nation?

A lot more ahead. You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back.

Seen live around the globe, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

I'm Michael Holmes in Atlanta.

We'll return to Hala and Fionnuala in the Middle East in just a bit, but let's check some of the other stories making news this hour.

The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, says Iraqi forces will take over security nationwide by the end of the year. Now, this statement comes at a time when sectarian strife and insurgent attacks rage across the nation.

The U.S. military, which is largely in command of the country's security, has been struggling to curb the violence that is estimated to claim more than 100 civilian lives every day. So far, only one of 18 provinces is under Iraqi control. Mr. Talabani said the transition would be gradual and coalition forces will play what he called a supportive role.

Cuban President Fidel Castro is said to be in good spirits following his hospitalization for intestinal surgery. But the future of the country and its longtime leader still very much the objection of speculation.

Let's get the latest on the situation now. Morgan Neill joining us like from Havana.

In good spirits? What are people there saying?

MORGAN NEILL, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Michael, I'll tell you the one thing you notice more than anything else is, considering it's just been two days since President Fidel Castro announced he was relinquishing power for the first time in 47 years, albeit temporarily, the atmosphere here in Cuba's capital is remarkably calm.

Traffic is flowing normally in the streets. And as far as we can make out, there's no increased police presence.

To give you an idea of what Cubans themselves are saying, here is the headlines in today's state-run newspaper, "Granma". And it says, simply, "Fidel Recuperarte," "Fidel, Get Better."

Now, Tuesday afternoon, yesterday afternoon here, state-run television broadcast a message from the president saying, as you mentioned, he's in good spirits, stable condition, and that the country is well-defended. Now, this is -- this is very much a calming message after the shock of Monday night when it was announced that because of this surgery he was handing off power temporarily to his brother, and the time minister of defense, Raul Castro, himself 75 years old.

Many Cubans say, of course, this was a great shock. Since then, they've taken more of a wait-and-see attitude. They're saying, "We have to go to work in the morning regardless."

So, although this was a huge shock, there's no real sense of panic here -- Michael.

HOLMES: Morgan, it's interesting that Raul Castro, his brother, who was holding the reins of power ever so briefly, he didn't really make any public pronouncements at all, did he?

NEILL: No. It's notable that we've seen neither a hospital bed message or images from President Fidel Castro, nor from Raul, since all of this began Monday with that first announcement. Neither has appeared in public.

Now, it's worth saying that Cubans are used to a great bit of inconsistency in this. They're used to perhaps seeing the president speak every night for several weeks and then not seeing him for a couple of weeks. So even this isn't sparking any more uncertainty than you would expect.

Of course, the initial announcement Monday has everyone watching for the latest news -- Michael.

HOLMES: Has there been any talk or any emergence of any, for want of a better description, opposition politically in Cuba?

NEILL: Well, there is an opposition. There's a strong core of dissidents here. But they've suffered from crackdowns in recent years and have very much been holding their peace to wait and see what comes of this.

As I say, the streets are very much well-ordered, so there's certainly no picture of demonstrations in the street, anything of that sort. This is much more a very small group of people who have made their criticism of the government for some time now -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Our Havana bureau chief, Morgan Neill, reporting there.

All right.

Well, the Bush administration in recent years has tightened the United States' more than four-decade trade embargo against the island of Cuba, and it says the transfer of power will not change any of that. But not everyone agrees with that policy.

For more perspective, we're joined live from Washington by senators Christopher Dodd and Mel Martinez, both of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Let's start with you, Senator Dodd.

How are you seeing things unfolding here? People have jumped on the bandwagon before about Fidel Castro's health. It looks like he says he's feeling fine.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I think a real transition is occurring here. We don't know for certain yet. Obviously, he could come back, he could be gone. I think some have suggested he may have already been -- he may have already died.

So we don't know the final answer to that, but my own gut sense tells me this is -- this is different than other periods we've seen in the past. I think the transition has begun, number one.

Number two, I think this is the first opportunity for real change in Cuba in 47 years. And if we act smartly, working with allies in the region, even those who disagreed with us on Cuban policy in the past, then I think we have a wonderful opportunity to bring democracy to Cuba for the first time in more than four and a half, almost five decades. In fact, arguably ever, given the government that existed before.

We need to probably look at some things here. And you're going to hear from my good friend Mel Martinez, who knows a lot about this in a minute. But one of the things we need to be doing here, we've got some existing laws that would make it difficult for us to be engaged in a transition.

For instance, you have to have all new labor unions, a new judiciary that would have to occur before we can be involved in a transition. I think we ought to give some serious thought to those existing laws that would make it harder for us to be part of a transition that could bring about the kind of change that I know Mel Martinez would like and that I would like to see in Cuba as well.

HOLMES: All right. Let's bring in Senator Martinez.

Historically, U.S. intelligence in Cuba has not been good. It's what we're hearing from the State Department and elsewhere, really a combination of some intelligence and a lot of wishful thinking.

SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R), FLORIDA: Well, I understand that, but I have to say that Senator Dodd has hit it about right.

First of all, it is a moment of transition in Cuba. It is the first time in 47 years that we have an opportunity to see real change. And I think at this moment in time we need to be very, very vigilant for signals, for signs that we can react to.

HOLMES: Why is it -- why is it that you're convinced it is a moment of change? He's not dead yet.

MARTINEZ: Well, I don't know whether he's dead or not, but I thought that the communication that he supposedly put out yesterday was reminiscent of the book "Animal Farm." I mean, come on, listen to it and read the words: "I am stable and I will be stable for some weeks to come."

It is laughable to think that anyone would believe that that's a true communication from a man 80 years old sick in bed after serious surgery. But be that as it may, the Cuban government has been planning and working on a transition.

If you watch the events closely, as I do and others do -- I know that Senator Dodd does as well -- we've seen evolution of a transition to create more of an image for Raul Castro and so forth. So, whether in fact today or in a week or two or a month, this is a transitioning government, that they're trying to preserve a dictatorship, while at the same time not allowing voices of change to be heard.

That's precisely what we need to work on. And I want to work with Senator Dodd.

I know I just met with the president today. Everyone is watching carefully for signs and signals, watching in hopes that there will be a moment here where democracy can flourish, where there will be an opportunity for change.

HOLMES: Senator Dodd, if I can bring you in, is there a sense at all that you've been able to discern that within the Cuban, for want of a better description, sub-leadership, opposition, if you like, that Castro's passing could or should lead to democratic reforms, market reforms? Do you think that there is a strong enough opposition there were he to die to do anything?

DODD: I think there could be. And I think we need to explore that.

I think -- I know that on a very informal basis that -- particularly at the military attache level -- there's been a lot more communication between the United States and some of the Cuban military people than probably most people are aware. That's number one. Number two, we have some wonderful friends in Latin America, the United States does. People like the former president Cardoza of Brazil, former president Pastrana of Colombia, present President Uribe, in Colombia, as well, who have dealt with Cuba on other is issues, the FARC issue in Colombia, where Cuba has played a role in trying to resolve that conflict. President Cardoza has had a relationship with Fidel Castro.

I would be calling upon some of these people. I would hope that President Bush might be talking to some of these leaders to find out whether or not, in fact, there are some of these sublevel people you're talking about here who I think may be very ready for the kind of change that Mel Martinez and I are talking about.

HOLMES: Senator Martinez, I want to bring you back in here.

Let's talk a little bit about U.S. policy. We heard Senator Dodd talk about trying to change some of the things that are in existence now, but, you know, the rest of the world looks at U.S. policy on Cuba, particularly with its embargoes and the like, as -- well, a bit silly, really.

MARTINEZ: Well, look, those are the debates of the past, and Cuba policy by the United States is what it is.

HOLMES: But it exists now. It's not the past.

MARTINEZ: But it is the past in terms of the debate about change. The change now is taking place in Havana.

The hope is to encourage change. And I think what the United States policy towards Cuba was a year ago, two years ago, or the way the world views it, is really about yesterday's news.

Today we're talking about a moment where Fidel Castro is no long in charge in Cuba...

HOLMES: For the moment.

MARTINEZ: ... temporarily, but perhaps permanently. In my view, in my opinion, this is a permanent change, whether he's alive or not.

HOLMES: How so? Sorry, I don't mean to the daft about this, but why is it a permanent change if he comes back and he's healthy?

MARTINEZ: Well, if he does come back and he's healthy, and he takes the rein of power again, then it will not have been. But my sense, my gut tells me that this is part of a long-planned transition to Raul Castro, which the Cuban government has been hinting at and moving towards over the last several months, if not year.

And so, be that as it may, I think what Senator Dodd and I need to work on and work with the White House on is what we do in the future, how we react to future events and how United States policy can be nuanced enough. And I agree completely with Senator Dodd, working with our partners and friends in the region to see if we cannot be partners in change.

And I think that is the real opportunity that arises. So I think that the past debates about embargoes are not appropriate today. Today the debate ought to be, how do we engage that bunch in Cuba that may be willing to change and entice them to change?

HOLMES: You both -- you both seem to agree on this.

Senator Dodd, you're going to get the last word here. But also, if you can answer me this -- and again, I don't want to be combative about this, but, you know, we're talking about how the U.S. wants to see democracy flourish in Cuba, and yes, Cuba is on your doorstep. But, you know, there are going to be people in the rest of the world who are going to say, well, here you go again sticking your nose in another country's business.

DODD: No, I think, look, it is -- just to have a military grip -- we're talking about a Marxist dictatorship in Cuba. That's what's existed here. But over differences we may have had about over to change that over the years, I don't think there's any debate about the kind of government that exists here.

And an opportunity of change, when I'm convinced that an overwhelming majority in Cuba would like change. They would like to have a democratic government in that nation, and they've had little opportunity to achieve that.

We ought to be listen to people like Oswalda Payav (ph) the Verella Group (ph), who have been talking about change in the country. There are people in that country who are heroic in their determination to bring about change. The rest of the world is sitting around.

I remember people saying the same thing about the Soviet Union. That's just a fact of life, it's never going to change. There were changes that occurred in Eastern Europe. By the way, we helped facilitate those changes when we had a policy that allowed us to work in transition.

I couldn't agree more with Mel Martinez. Look, we've had differences about the embargo, about travel to Cuba. In my view, that is the past.

Today is a new day, a new opportunity. It may turn out to be, as you predicted, maybe no more than a month's hiatus. I think it's more than that. And rather than wait the month to find out if it's a hiatus, why not see if we can't take advantage of this to create the kind of change that I think most Cubans would like to see?

HOLMES: All right. We'll have to leave it there, senators. Thanks so much.

Christopher Dodd and Mel Martinez joining us there. Both of them on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- in agreement.

Thank you, gentlemen.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right.

North Korea's Red Cross has rejected an offer of help for flood victims from its southern counterpart. The exact extent of this disaster at the moment unclear.

The United Nations says July flooding killed at least 154 North Koreans, left more than 100 missing. North Korea's official media reports hundreds of casualties, as well as destroyed roads and bridges. And then the figures go up even more if you listen to the Seoul-based Good Friends Group, an aid organization for North Korean refugees.

It puts the dead and missing at about 10,000. It also says 1.5 million people have been left homeless. The group refuses to cite its sources, but previous statements from that group subsequently proved to be pretty accurate.

All right. Stay with us.

You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, seen right around the globe.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. First, though, let's check on stories making headlines here in the U.S.

Here is what we know right now about what's happening in the Middle East. Hezbollah firing another barrage of rockets into Israel, at least 190 today. It's the highest daily total so far. One of them struck an area in the West Bank, the farthest south that a rocket has reached.

Israeli war planes have launched more than strikes against targets in Lebanon. And on the ground, the Israeli forces are pushing deeper into the country's south.

Evidence of a massacre. A Pentagon official says investigators' findings seem to support claims that marines deliberately killed 24 Iraqi civilians. It happened in the town of Haditha back in November. The military is still weighing criminal charges. But one of those marines accused is filing a libel suit against Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania. He accuses Murtha of spreading malicious lies about Haditha.

Hard to believe, but there was a house at this place just a few hours ago. Two people are now confirmed dead. This was a house explosion in south central Illinois. Two other people were injured. The blast was so strong, it was felt for miles away. Debris was scattered for blocks, windows blew out and power was knocked out throughout the neighborhood. No word yet on the cause. Temperatures are soaring, cities are sweltering and everybody is waiting for a dangerous heat wave to cool. No relief in New York City today. The temperature could reach 102 there. It already was 98 on some subway platforms earlier this morning. City workers are going door-to-door to check on the elderly.

A fire hydrant may be the only relief for residents in Chicago. The city is under an excessive heat warning against today. A power outage forced about 1,500 people to abandon their apartment buildings. Temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees or higher in cities from Dallas and St. Louis to Philadelphia and Raleigh.

(WEATHER REPORT)

KAGAN: Bizarre hostage drama in central Florida today. This one's gotten even stranger than when we first told you about it. Earlier this morning, we told you that an employee of a Daytona Beach pharmacy said a that man grabbed her outside the store and demanded drugs. She said when his demands weren't met, he strapped an explosive device to her and fled. Turns out, there was no robber, there was no bomb. The woman has been taken to a psychiatric facility.

A positive influenced. Rocker Alice Cooper wants to open Christian-based teen centers. He'll share his plan live on CNN's "LIVE FROM' at the top of the hour.

Meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break. I'm Daryn Kagan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SWEENEY: Welcome back to this special edition of YOUR WORLD TODAY, where we're covering the war in the Middle East from both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney in Haifa, Israel.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani in Beirut. Here are the latest developments from the region.

Israeli police say 190 rockets hit northern Israel this day. That is the biggest barrage of rockets since the conflict began. One civilian was killed and more than 12 injured. One rocket also landed in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank. That's more than 70 kilometers from the border, and that's the deepest strike so far.

Israeli troops say they've captured five Hezbollah fighters and killed ten others in a raid near the Syrian border. Helicopters delivered troops as jet fired missile cover. Lebanese officials say 16 people were killed in the strikes, including children. Israel says 25,000 troops are now fighting in south Lebanon as the ground war expands.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says they'll keep fighting until Hezbollah is no longer a threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EHUD OLMERT, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: No one will intimidate Israel. No one will force Israel to accept these brutal and aggressive patterns of conduct. And we will fight until we will defeat the terrorists. It will take more time. It will take more time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, meantime, Lebanese officials say attacks on infrastructure have caused about $2 billion worth of damage in Lebanon. With resources such as power and gasoline dwindling here, Israel has agreed to allow two fuel tanker ships to reach Lebanon.

All right. We can get the latest now on the fighting in Southern Lebanon. Our Ben Wedeman joins us now live from Tyre with the latest on that.

Ben, what can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala.

We've had a pretty steady bombardment throughout the day. In the distance you can hear artillery rounds thudding into the hills. We've had Israeli air planes flying over pretty most of the day, hitting the targets all around in the -- to the east and to the south of Tyre. In addition to that, there have been multiple Katyusha rocket launches heading in the direction of Israel. So it's been probably, in terms of bombardment, one of the busiest days in the Tyre area.

Meanwhile, in the city itself, the municipality organized its third mass burial. What they're doing -- the morgues are basically full of bodies that are brought down from the surrounding towns and villages. Many of their relatives have fled north. So therefore, they're burying them temporarily in an open field at the edge of town. When the relatives can come back safely, they will dig the bodies up again and take them back for a proper burial in their villages.

Also today, some food arrived in the port of Tyre. The International Committee for the Red Cross brought in a ship from Cyprus carrying 200 tons of food and kitchen kits. They also tried to bring in 5,000 liters of diesel fuel, but there were complications, because apparently they didn't have the right paperwork.

Now, fuel is becoming a serious problem, in Tyre particularly, but across Lebanon, supplies are running low. There's becoming a black market in gasoline in some areas. The price of fuel has doubled and possibly even tripled -- Hala.

GORANI: Ben Wedeman live in Tyre for us. Thank you, Ben.

Let's talk more about the humanitarian situation and the fuel shortages as well that Ben was mentioning there. We have this from the World food Program, saying that mass fuel shortages are affecting water and food supplies across the country. Fuel used to run water and power stations is running out fast. Israel is allowing, as we mentioned there, those two oil tankers to sail into Lebanon to relieve the shortage. They're expected to arrive in Tripoli and Beirut as well within the next 48 hours.

The aid organization Doctors Without Borders says getting medical supplies into Southern Lebanon is, quote, difficult and dangerous. The organization is relying on taxis, because truck drivers, in some cases, are refusing to travel near the frontlines. Well, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have streamed from the southern part of the country to the central part of the country, into Beirut in some cases.

A few hours ago, I visited a Beirut park where many of those refugees are now calling a bench home. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI (voice-over): Three weeks ago, this was an ordinary Beirut park. Today it has become an open-air refuge for some of Lebanon's hundreds of thousands of displaced. And conditions here are rudimentary at best.

Mohammed Khalil (ph) fled from Tyre with 16 of his family members. He shows me where they've been eating and sleeping for the last 10 days.

Here, 10 of us sleep, he tells me. Here, another six. Najaf took a taxi from Beirut's southern suburbs with her two daughters. They live here on this mat, and prepare baby formula by the bush.

"The bombing came close to us," she said. "The children were scared."

Here it's each family to a tree. The children pass the time at the park play area. The old catch some sleep in the shade.

(on camera): Three weeks into this conflict, this park has started to organize itself like a mini-makeshift village with medical facilities, showers, and food-distribution points.

Sarjune Kantar (ph) is a volunteer here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to organize the cycle of life for people here, because you have children, you have women, you have old people, and you have some medical situations.

GORANI: Now, we're told, charity workers are coping. Some of the displaced stay here. Others move on to indoor shelters in schools and government buildings, waiting the war out.

But for those who've lost homes in the conflict, they tell us, there's nowhere to go back to after its over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right, there a snapshot for you of one Beirut park just three weeks ago, a typical park, and today we are told 600 people calling that particular place home -- Fionnuala. All right, we're going to have more here on YOUR WORLD TODAY. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SWEENEY: It was Wednesday, four -- three weeks ago now that the Israeli-Lebanese conflict began with the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of several others along the Lebanese-Israeli border. To discuss the Israeli military strategy in Southern Lebanon, we're joined from Jerusalem from Michael Oren. He is an analyst, an author and an historian.

First of all, could you explain why in 1967 it took the Israeli army six days to defeat three Arab armies, and we're now entering the fourth week of this conflict in.

MJR. MICHAEL OREN, MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the answer is actually quite simple. In 1967, Israel was facing conventional armies, tens of thousands of men in uniforms, in tanks and planes, recognized armies of countries. Now Israel is fighting not against a recognized, regular army, but actually against a terrorist army that is not meeting us on the field with tanks, but literally hiding behind civilian areas in villages in cities. And moreover, Beirut in 1967 you don't have such intense press scrutiny. So Israel is now fighting in these difficult circumstances, in these civilian areas against this elusive enemy under, literally, the microscope of the world press.

SWEENEY: How difficult does the Lebanese terrain pose for the Israeli military, and how much of a role does intelligence play?

OREN: Well, here I'm speaking not as a historian, but as a veteran. In 1982, as a younger Israeli soldier in the paratroopers, I fought in many of these same areas. And I can tell you from a personal perspective that this terrain is basically an infantryman's nightmare. It is intensely wooded, and hilly, rocky, full of ravines. Terrorist can dig in and fight from any number of positions. It's almost impervious to tanks to aerial bombardments. And it's where it's not very rugged terrain, it's densely built-up areas with narrow alleyways, where tanks literally can't fit down those streets.

So there's really no alternative, but to send units of infantry, of paratroopers and special forces into this terrain to ferret out the enemy, if you will, to seek out the arms caches, seek out the stockpiles of these Katyusha rockets, which have proven so murderous as they rain on Israeli cities, and the fighting is extremely difficult.

SWEENEY: When this campaign it began, it was initially an air campaign. As you know, the army chief of staff in the Israeli army is himself a former airman, a member of the IAF. It then has expanded or evolved into more of a ground campaign. Was that always going to be the strategy, or is this strategy being involved, given what is happening on the ground?

OREN: Well, I think initially the Israeli military, and as you said correctly, the Israeli military is very much influenced by our chief of staff, by General Don Kiluites (ph), who comes out of the Air Force, perhaps believe that they could prevail in this war by using airpower alone, sort of a sanitized war from Israel's perspective. As the war has progressed and now we are into the third week of this war, this is actually the second-longest war in Israel's military history. That is clearly not the case. I think the Israeli government and the Israeli military have reached the conclusion that there is no alternative but to go in on the ground and to fight in these rugged hillsides, to fight in these narrow alleyways until a decisive victory is won, at least in the south, against Hezbollah.

SWEENEY: Very briefly, if I may ask, I'm hearing that one of the difficulties the Israeli military is facing is that when they go into these villages and soldiers are wounded, that Hezbollah is waiting for that to happen, because they know the Israeli military will try to get their men out. How much of a difficulty is that posing for the advancement of the Israeli objectives?

OREN: It's a great difficulty. The Israeli army is one that has a highly refined and publicized ethics. One of the major -- sort of the cornerstones of the IDF code of ethics is you don't leave soldiers behind in the field. You do not leave wounded soldiers or even dead soldiers. The Israeli army will send in unit after unit, endangering them, in order to retrieve wounded soldiers or even the corpses of fallen soldiers.

Hezbollah knows this. We've had repeated cases of Hezbollah firing at our evacuation teams, at our medical teams, even. Hezbollah also knows that the Israeli army will prefer to send in soldiers to densely populated areas, rather than simply bomb those areas from the air or bomb them with artillery, thus inflicting a great number of civilian casualties. Hezbollah likes to have civilian casualties because it very much tarnishes Israel's reputation.

SWEENEY: We have it leave it there. We're out of time. Michael Oren in Jerusalem, thank you very much. We'll be back with more on YOUR WORLD TODAY after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right. Let's go to India now, a rather strange story about some desperate people who live very far below the poverty line and who resort to some extreme measures to earn money on the streets.

Senior international correspondent Satinder Bindra joins us now. Tell us about it, Satinder.

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, this story began with the investigation, a hidden camera investigation by CNN's sister network here, CNN-IBN. A team of CNN-IBN journalists visited a doctor. He was secretly filmed, and this doctor -- this is seen on tape -- offers to conduct amputations on beggars. He offers to amputate limbs, even toes for a fee.

This doctor then refers the CNN-IBN investigating team to other doctors -- two more doctors -- who offer to do the same. The justification for these amputations on beggars is, as one of the doctors explains on the tape, he says this arouses public sympathy. These beggars can then make more money.

And in India, there always has been a mafia that controls these beggars. They take away their earnings and very little goes on or is passed onto these beggars. So the story that CNN-IBN has put out is this mafia is exploiting people and according to the tape that CNN-IBN has shot, this hidden tape, doctors too are very much a part of this entire mix -- Michael.

HOLMES: Curious story. Satinder, thanks very much. Satinder Bindra there.

Let's go back now to Beirut. Hala Gorani is there -- Hala.

GORANI: Michael, thank you. Our "Changing Earth" segment is back. Femi Oke is at the CNN Center with more on that. It's a story we've also been following from our end, Femi. Over to you.

FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Hala.

You know, it's been several weeks since we last ran a "Changing Earth" segment due to our coverage of the Middle East crisis. In that time, some of the landscape of parts of Israel and Lebanon has changed dramatically. And while we focused on the war and its effect on the people in the region, there's another casualty of the conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OKE (voice-over): An Israeli airstrike on the Jiyyeh power station in mid-July released approximately 10,000 tons of oil that spilled into the Mediterranean. The Lebanese Environmental Ministry claims that the cleanup will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

YACOUB AL-SARRAF, LEBANESE ENVIRONMENTAL MINISTER: The issue is not whether it will look nice again or not, and when it will look nice. The issue, when will the equilibrium of life in this part of the world be reestablished, and this takes tens of year.

OKE: The environmental and economic consequences of an oil spill bring long-term effects that are harmful to both the fishing and tourism industries. Fire hazards are also on the list of concerns, flames still burning nearly two weeks after the attack released huge billows of smoke into the air above Beirut. The fumes and smoke add to the air pollution, creating respiratory problems for many.

Ecologists also worry about the threat to aquatic life, including the endangered green sea turtle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OKE: And green sea turtles survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. They are one of the most ancient species on earth. Let's hope they survive this crisis as well. Our coverage of the Middle East continues. Hala, back to you.

GORANI: All right, Femi Oke with our "Changing Earth" segment.

Thanks for watching this special edition of YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani in Beirut.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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