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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Hezbollah Rocket Attacks On Haifa; Hezbollah Rejects U.N. Ceasefire Plan
Aired August 6, 2006 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our continuing coverage of our crisis in the Middle East. From Beirut, I'm Hala Gorani.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR: And here in Haifa, Israel, I'm Fionnuala Sweeney.
Within the last hour, six rockets fired by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, have landed in this city. This is Israel's third largest city, and these rockets have been quite a devastating impact here within the last hour. One person dead, a woman; 65 people have been taken to hospital, wounded. And the rescue services are, at this moment, trying to rescue people trapped in a building.
Now the air raid sirens have been sounding on and off here throughout the day. But at about 7 o'clock this evening, that is about two hours ago, the air raids sirens sounded and we witnessed several rockets landing in open areas. But then that was followed by less than an hour later, by these deadly rocket attacks.
We saw six land on the city, make its impact on buildings, and we saw smoke rising from those buildings. And there was quite an eerie silence for a few moments, because, of course, when the air raid sirens sound, people immediately take cover, traffic stops on the streets, and then we witnessed these rockets impacting on various buildings places, shortly followed thereafter by smoke dotted along the city skyline. And then, of course, within minutes, the air fill with the sounds of ambulance sirens and police sirens, as the rescue services get to work.
We should also say that there are a number of helicopters in the air at the moment and indeed we are seeing some flares are being lit just further north of our position, which is just 20 kilometers south of the Lebanese border.
But you're looking at pictures there of the scene at Brambaum (ph) Hospital where the wounded are routinely taken when these rockets hit here. And the scene there, pretty frenetic, and busy as one could imagine. As one looks across the city behind, you see that the rescue services, the lights of the ambulances and fire rescue services, at various positions throughout this city where, of course, those rockets landed. Now, I want to go to the Israeli/Lebanese border, where John Roberts is standing by.
In fact, I believe John, you're in southern Lebanon. What can you tell us? JOHN ROBERTS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm embedded in the reconnaissance and tank hunting unit, tasked with trying to locate those Hezbollah stronghold, those areas from where the Katyusha rockets are being fired.
And Fionnuala, I can tell you we're deep enough inside Lebanon that I don't know if these were the missiles that struck Haifa, but just before we heard about the strike in Haifa (AUDIO GAP) we saw six missiles or so, coming over a ridge line. We could see the trails from the rockets, just after they had been fired. Those trails don't last too long after those rockets are fired.
We initially thought that it was a rocket that was perhaps aimed at our location. (AUDIO GAP) a tank rocket. There's been intelligence all day that the position that we're in may come under fire. But then those rockets flew right overhead.
But it shows how pernicious -- how pernicious -- this threat is. We've had a great vantage point to survey the (AUDIO GAP) battlefield, of sort of central/west southern Lebanon. Bombing all day, artillery shells, tanks taking out positions in nearby towns; yet at the same (AUDIO GAP) just as the sun is going down, they fire those Katyusha rockets again.
This is a bit of an escalation for Hezbollah (AUDIO GAP) usually they only fire those rockets during the midday period, say between 10 o'clock and 3 to 4 o'clock in the afternoon, because the sun helps them mask the heat signature from those rockets, helps them mask the contrails from those rockets.
So, for them to fire, just as the sun is going down, when those rockets are most visible is really a bold stroke by Hezbollah to say we don't care how much you hit us. We don't care how hard you hit us. We're going to continue to fire those rockets into northern Israel.
Also, some concern among the unit that I'm with, because this is a reserve unit, about those deaths Kfar Giladi today. Reserve units are very tight. Many of these soldiers know each other and they're all worried that some of their friends may have died in that attack just north of Kryat Shmona today, Fionnuala.
SWEENEY: And indeed, John, of course, we're just learning that the 12 people who were killed in Kfar Giladi were, in fact, soldiers who were supporting their colleagues just across the border in southern Lebanon. It has been a very deadly day here.
And, John Roberts, it raises the question, just what is the Israeli military capable of doing in southern Lebanon, as we see more and more rockets continually fired into Israel; at least 180 this day, and 200 each and every day over the last three or four days with mounting casualties, and civilian deaths?
ROBERTS: It's very difficult for the Israeli army, it's very frustrating for the Israeli army that they have all of this fire power, yet at the same time they cannot get all those Katyusha rocket launchers. And part of it, of course, is you know, their concern over the images that if they went into southern Lebanon with the sort of force that could level all of these towns and villages, which they could easily do, the backlash, public relations backlash in the court of the public opinion, the world over, would be so bad for Israel that they can't fight (AUDIO GAP).
What they're trying to do is they try to use air power and artillery to take out the rocket launch sites, identifying them is incredibly difficult. The unit that I'm with is tasked with doing that. The way they do it, they find a position and they look around. You can triangulate after these rockets are launched and I believe they were in the process of doing it after these latest rockets came down on Haifa. And perhaps you can send in the air force to drop a bomb on the area.
But there's a good chance that the people who fired those rockets are long gone, or were even long gone before those rockets were fired, because many times they're put on timers. It's a very frustrating type of, you know, probing for these Katyusha rockets, trying to take them out. They are so mobile, they are so easily hidden, it's a very, very difficult task, Fionnuala.
SWEENEY: All right. John Roberts there. Thank you. Reporting to us there from the southern Lebanese border there, just north of the border with Israel.
I want to go to Jerusalem now, and Mark Regev, he is Israeli foreign military spokesman. He is standing by.
Mark Regev, here in Haifa, six rocks landing over an hour ago, one person dead, 65 people wounded. It raises the question, just how successful is Israel's military policy in southern Lebanon?
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: Well, it's a difficult day today, a very difficult day. Not just what happened in Haifa. Before what happened Kfar Giladi. We've taken hits, we've taken losses today and that's a lot of funerals tomorrow in Israel.
But I think this just makes us more resolved and more determined to deal with this issue seriously. That is, to create a situation, both a military and a political situation where never again can Hezbollah be the sort of regional threat that it is. Never again can this extremist group, armed, supported by the Iranians create this sort of damage to the civilian population.
SWEENEY: When you say that, Mark Regev, when you say this has to be "never again," it raises the question of just how much time do you think Israel needs? Does Israel believe it needs in order to dismantle Hezbollah, given that your Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said a number of days ago that Hezbollah's infrastructure had already been completely destroyed, quote, unquote.
REGEV: I mean, I think we have been hitting Hezbollah and we've been hitting them hard. What we're seeing is this residual capacity. It's got to be remembered -- we've spoken about this in the past -- for the last decade, I mean, Hezbollah has been receiving a huge amount of weaponry, rockets, missiles, from Iran and from Syria; and those missiles are now fired at the Israeli civilian population.
The strategy is to clean out those parts of south Lebanon, to neutralize the Hezbollah fortresses there, those strongholds from which they come out and fire the rockets, that our land forces are doing at the moment, to hit their strategic launching potential further north. Ultimately, to move into a ceasefire that will be a political package, that will cut off Hezbollah from Iran, from Syria, not allow them to be rearmed, not allow them to return to the south. And then to start a process, a process which is in U.N. resolutions, which calls on Hezbollah to be dismantled, to be disarmed as a military organization. That's the real solution.
SWEENEY: That's the real solution, you say, but every day this conflict continues, and we see rising casualties on both sides of the Lebanese/Israeli border. Is it your conviction that this conflict can be contained?
REGEV: Well, we will do nothing proactive to expand this conflict. We don't want to see Syria involved. We don't want to see Iran involved either. But it's very important that Hezbollah, that started this conflict, Hezbollah that initiated this crisis, does not come out of this conflict feeling they have the upper hand.
That's why it's so important that we do succeed in cleaning out south Lebanon from their presence. That we don't have a situation where there are Hezbollah strongholds left in the south. That we have a situation where they are cut off from their suppliers, that their link with Iran and Syria is broken.
And that as we move into a ceasefire, it's understood that the international community is determined to bring about the implementation of its own resolutions of that Security Council Resolution No. 1559, which Hezbollah must be disarmed. That's good for Lebanon, it's good for Israel, it's good for everyone in the region.
SWEENEY: You say you don't want to see the end of this conflict leaving Hezbollah thinking they have the upper hand. Doesn't that raise the question, though, that if Hezbollah doesn't lose, then it's won in a sense?
REGEV: I think we've got to make it very clear that Hezbollah is losing this conflict. They have the ability to strike at us. But we believe that every day that this is going on, they are weakened, and further weakened. I was, earlier today, at an intelligence briefing, and we have no doubt that we are seeing now only residual capacity of Hezbollah.
If we succeed in cutting off their ability to be rearmed and re- supplied by Iran, by Syria, I think that's part of the solution. And then we have to move forward with their disarmament. I mean, when you think about it logically, what is the reason that inside Lebanon you have this independent military machine, answerable to no one except the Iranians, a proxy for outside extremists? It really does Lebanon no good. On the contrary, it prevents Lebanon from being truly independent and sovereign.
SWEENEY: Mark, just one final question, if I may. You say that Iran and Syria are rearming Hezbollah, continually, even as this conflict progresses, and enters its 26th day. How can you stop them from being rearmed? Do you intend to stop them?
REGEV: At the moment, we are preventing rearmament by having the Israeli air force active hitting their supply activities. But what I'm talking about is when we move towards that ceasefire that is being discussed today in the Security Council, we have to create guarantees, we have to create mechanisms to prevent the rearm of Hezbollah.
Ultimately, if Hezbollah rearms, then they'll be there to fight another day. It's very important to cut them off from their natural suppliers. That can be done in two ways. One, there can be international pressure on the suppliers, on the regimes in Iran and in Syria, that if they continue to rearm Hezbollah after the international community has said in resolution after resolution that Hezbollah must be disarmed, if they nevertheless continue to supply Hezbollah with rockets and with missiles, there are consequences for them, in the international community.
The other part of the equation, of course, is a beefed up presence on the Lebanese side of the border, making sure that any armaments that come into Lebanon don't go to this extremist Jihadist organization, but go only to the Lebanese government.
SWEENEY: Mark Regev, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, there we must leave it there. Thank you very much, indeed there in Jerusalem.
We want to update our viewers and welcome our viewers indeed, not just in the United States, but also around the world, and update them within the latest information.
Within the last hour and 10 minutes or so, six rockets have landed in Haifa City. The latest information coming to us is that three people are now dead, 65 wounded. One person, we understand, a woman, was killed on the spot when a rocket hit her house. We understand that two others died of their wounds after they were taken to hospital. Three people dead, 65 injured in one of the heaviest barrages that Haifa has seen in this conflict to this date. From here in Haifa, Hala, back to you in Beirut.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: All right, Fionnuala.
We want to update our viewers on what's happening on this side of the border, the conflict, of course, continuing to take lives on either side of the border. Southern Lebanon hit this day, as well as the southern suburbs of Beirut, in a rare day air strike. Our Beirut Bureau Chief Brent Sadler joins me now with the latest on that -- Brent.
BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Hala, thanks.
Yes, indeed, this day has seen intense Israeli air strikes in areas along the southern port city of Tyre. In fact, CNN's crew down there reported seeing Katyusha rocket fire coming from a location in the Tyre vicinity, before the first reported strikes came out of Haifa.
Now, in addition to that, the Israeli have been shelling extensively throughout this day, in areas, -- as I say, north, south and east of Tyre; also, sustained air strike activity in other parts of Lebanon. But this day, something new happened here. Israeli air force launched broad daylight bombing attacks against the southern suburbs of Beirut, striking at Hezbollah's stronghold once again.
We heard explosions and saw plumes of white and gray smoke rising over the southern suburbs of the city. Now, that air strike activity lasted about 30 minutes, and it went on at about the same time as a top Arab diplomat was landing at Beirut's International Airport.
The secretary general of the Arab League, Amron Moussa (ph), looked rattled when he emerged from his aircraft, because the columns of rising smoke, clearly visible from the airport. He said he had no specific reaction to the timing of the Israeli air raids, but said that the bombing campaign is still affecting Lebanon very badly. A lot of innocent people being killed in Lebanon, as well as in Israel.
Now in another development, we were able to go to the southern suburbs of Beirut before this latest air strike in that vicinity. We saw a Lebanese fire team trying to damp down fire that had erupted several days ago after a previous air strike.
Large portions of the southern suburbs have been attacked. It's difficult to assess the numbers of people who still live in those areas, but essentially the Israelis seem to be attacking what used to be Hezbollah's so-called security zone, where much of the leadership used to operate on a day-to-day basis. So these are the kind of pictures you're seeing from inside the southern suburbs there. As Lebanese fire crews attempted to put out flames as a result of attacks previous to the one that we saw here today -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, as our viewers, there, watch on their screens the aftermath of one of those attacks and the firefighters trying to put out some of those flames. The attacks in Lebanon this day, we are told by officials, killing 11.
Why a daytime air strike, Brent? What should we read into that?
SADLER: I think you have to look at what was going on at the Arab level in Beirut today. You had Amron Moussa (ph) here, arriving ahead of an expected meeting Monday, of Arab foreign ministers who want to consider their response to that United Nations draft Security Council resolution.
And also, importantly, you had a top Syrian official here in Lebanon today, Syria's foreign minister, Walid Moallem. Now this is the first top level visit by a Syrian to Lebanese capital. He met the president, the prime minister, and the speaker of the parliament. First time a top-level Syrian official like this has been to this country since Syria withdrew its forces from Lebanon, April 26 last year.
And Walid Moallem was absolutely clear when he gave his reaction to the draft council resolution. He said he did not think it was going to have any positive effects. In fact, he said quite the reserve. Let's listen in.
WALID MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: This draft resolution is a recipe for the continuation of the war, because, unfortunately, it's not fair for Lebanon. Second, it is a recipe for possible civil war in Lebanon, which nobody, nobody, nobody has any interest to see this happening except Israel.
SADLER: Now, Syria's foreign minister also made it absolutely clear, amid rising concerns in the region, that if this war goes on and escalates, as it has been doing incrementally, Hala, that there could be wider regional complications with this conflict. Moallem made it absolutely clear what Syria's viewpoint would be on that.
Moallem said that if Israel, by ground or by air, were to strike at any Syrian targets, the military structures inside Syria already have been given, by the leadership of Bashir Al Assad, the Syrian president, orders to strike back immediately -- Hala.
GORANI: Brent, give us a sense, for our viewers in the United States, and around the world, how this continuing conflict is affecting support or -- on the other hand -- is taking away, pulling away support from Hezbollah inside Lebanon.
SADLER: That's a very interesting question, one quite difficult to answer. On the face of it you have a unified government rejecting that U.N. draft resolution so far. You have Hezbollah with two cabinet members, part and parcel of that government set up.
Yet you have forces within that government made up the Cedar (ph) revolution that helped to drive the Syrians out of Lebanon, more than a year ago. For political correctness, if you like, they are speaking with one voice. Up until now, people have been fairly quiet. But I'm hearing voices on the streets, now saying as a result of Hezbollah's continued rocket fire, albeit, say many, as retaliation for Israel's aggressive offensive action in the south, and action against Lebanese infrastructure, that this continued Hezbollah rocket fire must stop.
Otherwise, say many Lebanese, now, this action is going to break the back of Lebanon. Lebanon was only just getting on its feet after 15 years of civil war. This country now sees itself being dragged into a regional conflict and many Lebanese realize now, and are beginning to say it openly, that if this continues at this level with Israel determined to reach its objectives of effectively smashing Hezbollah's capability to militarily strike at Israel in the future, then this will lead the Lebanese down the road of ruination, destruction and financial catastrophe -- Hala. GORANI: All right, Brent Sadler, our Beirut bureau chief. Thank you very much, bringing us up-to-date there on Israeli air strikes in the southern part of Beirut. We heard them clearly from our position here, two very loud explosions and we saw some of that aftermath in the footage shot by our CNN cameramen.
All right, well so far in the southern part of the country, which was also targeted by Israeli air strikes, this day, we are told by officials that half of the population has left. That is despite sometimes warnings coming from the Israeli military, in the form of small leaflets that are dropped by planes on to some of those villages and towns.
Sidon, for instance, was one of those towns where leaflets were dropped a few days. But as Ben Wedeman now reports, many of the residents of that coastal town say they're staying put.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Sidon's old market, it's business as usual, less than an hour's drive from the bombing and shelling in the south. This city, Lebanon's third largest, is peaceful at least for now.
Saturday Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over Sidon. Calling on residents to leave because Hezbollah targets in and around the city would be bombed. Down by the harbor the usual group of pensioners gathers for a midday water pipe and a cup of tea.
These old timers are philosophical about this war. It's not their first, by a long shot. They aren't easily swayed by scraps of paper falling from the sky.
"Israelis are trying to scare us all away," says Mustafa Geeva (ph). "But even if they start bombing, we're not going anywhere."
This is a predominantly Sunni Muslim city. It's hero, assassinated former Lebanese prime minister and Sidon native, Rafik Hariri. Israel is trying to appeal in any way it can to those who are not Hezbollah hardcore supporters.
(On camera): Normally, this frequency, 92.2 FM is Izza Tanore (ph), which is Hezbollah's radio station, but since the fighting began, the Israelis are bumping into this frequency with a message of their own.
(Voice over): In Arabic, a voice claiming to speak in the name of the state of Israel calls upon the people of Lebanon not to allow Hezbollah to destroy their country. In Sidon's old quarter, refugees from the south squat in a building dating back to when Lebanon was a remote province of the Ottoman Empire. Leaflets and radio broadcasts aren't enough to send them packing, again.
"We can't go any further," says Amel Shahatta, who fled here from Tyre. "We've gone as far as we can go. We don't have the money." So, they'll stay put and hope the war will pass them by. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Sidon, Lebanon.
GORANI: That's what's happening in Lebanon, we'll also get the latest on what's happening in Haifa, Israel, with those rocket attacks that have landed and made an impact and killed at least three.
We're covering this story from all angles and both sides of the conflict. You're with CNN. Don't go away.
SWEENEY: Hello, welcome back to our extended coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney in Haifa, Israel, where within the last hour and a half six rockets have landed on the city. Three people have been killed and we're told now more than 100 people wounded. One rocket hit a house in which a woman inside was immediately killed.
We understand that another building, which was hit, has some people who are trapped inside. You're looking now at scene there from Haifa, as rescue workers and other friends and family members try to rescue those who are inside buildings.
Earlier this evening, at about 7 o'clock local time, about -- let's see, now -- two and a half hours ago, the air raid sirens sounded and seven rockets we saw land in open areas, there were no injuries. About an hour later that is about an hour and a half ago, now, the air raid sirens sounding again, this time six rockets landing in the city.
An update again on the casualty toll, three people dead and at least 100 people injured. Now, I'm joined here by General Ruth Yaron. She is with the Israeli foreign ministry, here in Haifa.
Clearly, Hezbollah's capability, not diminished.
GEN. RUTH YARON, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: Well, diminished, yes. We will continue to do our best in order to diminish it even further. But yet, as long as they have still rockets left and still launchers left, they will stop at nothing, but continue to send them and launch them as we have seen.
SWEENEY: So, how much success is Israel having at destroying the rocket launchers?
YARON: Well, what we need is perseverance and we need persistence. This is not something that is going to end in a day, two days, or 10 days. This is a type of a war that we need to continue for a longer period of time.
In any case, the military action is only part of what it will take to the Hezbollah. It has to be accompanied with diplomatic and international foot, if you will, or dimension, in order to put a wall, literally a wall, to stop this terrorist organizations from continuing this murderous killing. SWEENEY: What is the difficulty in tracking the rocket launchers?
YARON: Well, a terrorist organization, by its definition, what they do is they masquerade as civilian, hide among civilians, and using the poor Lebanese people --
SWEENEY: Many of whom support them as well.
YARON: Some of them support them, but I don't think they support the damage that has been inflicted on them because of what Hezbollah has taken. If you will they've taken Lebanon hostage.
SWEENEY: Well there are those who would argue with that and say, in fact, that Hezbollah has grown stronger and has more support and that even the divisions within Lebanon, between Shia, Sunni and Christian is galvanizing, if not so much support for Hezbollah, but anti-Israeli support.
YARON: Well, I would argue that if we were to go back to before this war started and Lebanon was on the road to being really a blooming and prosperous nation, if it were to ask, I bet you that 95 percent of the Lebanese would have said this is how we want to continue in going on living. Nobody asked them, but somebody dragged them into a war. Hezbollah did that.
Now, in the heat of the war, you could see opinions swing from one place to another. But I think both the Lebanese people and the Israeli people have one strong common interest. That is to get rid of this terrorist organization that has been terrorizing our life.
SWEENEY: All right, let me ask you again, though, what is the difficulty with tracking these rocket launches? Because even though people say that -- and Ehud Olmert has said as recently as Wednesday or Thursday, that its infrastructure has been, quote, "completely destroyed," more than 200 rockets have fallen into this country, by Hezbollah over the last three or four days. And today we've had at least 180 and Haifa has seen probably one of the worst days since this conflict began. What is the difficulty in tracking the rockets launchers?
YARON: The difficulty is that those launchers are very mobile. They are easily hide, and they take them out, launch the rocket, and go back into their hiding place. They are extremely difficult to track. Now, it's true, that we have inflicted quite a lot of damage to the infrastructure of the rocket launchers of the Hezbollah, but we did not destroy all of them.
As long as they have some capabilities -- it takes for them only one good hit, as you have just seen here in Haifa, one good hit on a four-story building and look at the number of casualties, which will rise. Because we had people trapped there. And remember, today, this is not the only loss we have suffered. We have suffered 12 soldiers killed in our northern border as well. SWEENEY: But we're hearing from John Roberts, our correspondent who is in southern Lebanon, embedded with troops, that he saw these rockets being launched at sunset, an hour and a half ago, headed towards, ultimately, it seemed to be, Haifa. But he said that Hezbollah was more or less saying that even though it is sunset, and we usually strike during the day, daylight hours, masqueraded by the sun, we don't care.
YARON: That's exactly, they don't care, because for them, they don't care who they will hit, where they will hit, as long as they do hit Israelis and kill them. And you've seen what's happened in the last couple of days.
SWEENEY: But the question is, how is this going to be -- clearly, they're getting supplies from somewhere -- how can you stop them getting supplies.
YARON: The question is two-fold, first of all there is a question of supply and we need to remember who furnished them all of those rockets. In the past six years, ever since we have dutifully withdrawn from Lebanon and --
SWEENEY: But they're still getting supplies.
YARON: Apparently they are still getting more supplies. They have a huge stock. We have hit a large number of it, but not all of it.
But there is a second aspect to this and a second dimension that needs to be mentioned. This is the ideological dimension. We're dealing with a terrorist organization that really is all about a culture of death. Kill as many people as possible. We need to put a wall against it.
SWEENEY: You mentioned earlier this is not something going to take days. How long is it going to today?
YARON: Clearly, we're already 26 days into this war. And right now, as long as we see those rockets being launched at us, we still have the capacity to do it, so we'll need to continue on both arms, both diplomatically and politically -- and internationally -- and with military arms until we put a stop to it.
SWEENEY: Can you put a timeframe on that?
YARON: No, we cannot put a time frame on it, but I think, we need to dismantle Hezbollah from its power, are clear tonight with the tragedies we are witnessing here, we need to do it as quickly as possible.
SWEENEY: General Ruth Yaron, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
YARON: Thank you.
SWEENEY: Just to update you on the latest figures, three people dead in a series of rocket attacks here in Haifa in the last hour and a half. Some people we understand still trapped in buildings following rocket impacts on those buildings and we know that 100 people have been wounded and have been taken to hospital.
Hala, back to you.
GORANI: Well, the view from Lebanon and the days events here, Israeli air strikes in the southern parts of the Lebanese capital, which we heard very clearly from our position, but also air strikes in southern Lebanon, in the Bekaa Valley, to the east and the northeast as well.
All this as the diplomatic process seems to have taken a hit as well. The question is, will it be able to recover from that hit any time soon? To draft U.N. Security Council Resolution that was agreed upon by United States and France, rejected by Lebanese government, rejected as well by Hezbollah, and the Arab League has many reservations.
This, as the secretary general of the Arab League visited Beirut today, ahead of a foreign minister's meeting in the Lebanese capital tomorrow.
Earlier, I spoke with Jim Clancy and I first asked him about the day's events in Lebanon.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We had Israeli jets rocking Beirut in broad daylight. Fighting raged along that southern area of Lebanon, along the Israeli border. Bombs fell in the Bekaa Valley as well, and to top that off, we just heard from Fionnuala about the deadly rocket barrages being fired into Israel.
Whatever the politicians had to say today about this proposed U.N. ceasefire resolution, the draft resolution, it could only be described as punctuation, which is what is increasingly seen as an ongoing catastrophe. Some 700 Lebanese are now reported to be dead. Among those, about 90 are thought to be Hezbollah fighters.
We were in the southern suburbs today where firefighters were working, going to areas that had been previously bombed and trying to put out flames there that continue to burn. The firefighters say that their job is tough. They're going back to these places over and over again. This was a 10-story apartment block that was brought down by a single precision-guided bomb.
Everybody inside -- most of them had fled. Miraculously, we were told only three or four people died in this, although they're not certain. Some still may be buried. You can get an idea what it's like for them. The firefighters say their job is made all the worse by the stench that they're going in, and facing in some of these locations. They fear what's left over from the explosions. This is an everyday scene now in Beirut, as people try to come to grips with what is happening to their capital city of Lebanon. There is a lot of anger. You talk about putting out fires, try to put out the anger that you hear from people in those southern suburbs. They blame not only Israel, they blame the U.S. and Britain, that they say stood by far too long, and did nothing, and still to this day have not reigned in the Israeli assault.
They contend, they told us there were no Hezbollah offices or anything in these buildings, but once again, these were places where perhaps someone from Hezbollah was living. They say that doesn't seem to be a reason to bomb an entire apartment block; a lot of outrage, a lot of anger that is going on there, Hala.
So, you see what the situation is, and we're bracing now. We know that Arma Moussa (ph), the secretary-general of the Arab League has arrived in Beirut. There will be a meeting on Monday to discuss the current crisis. That could be pivotal. And it was as he was arriving, that there were those fresh attacks, the broad daylight bombings. We don't know if that was timed to coincide with his visit, but certainly an ominous indicator there.
The Lebanese, of course, curious to see what will the Arab states do. How could they possibly support Lebanon in this? Lebanon, of course, wants to amend that U.N. resolution and call for Israeli forces to withdraw from Lebanon, actually seven points, among them to have all of Israeli forces out of Lebanon.
Another point is the return of Lebanese that are held -- Lebanese civilians that are held by the Israelis. There's a lot at stake here. This city continues to be rocked. If there was any hope for this ceasefire, you would have to say that it is fading tonight.
Hala, back to you.
GORANI: Jim, I asked this question of Fionnuala. I asked her, after each rocket attack on Haifa, how does the mood -- among ordinary Israelis -- change? One of the things I've noticed here is the longer this conflict goes on, the more there seems to be pessimism, and the higher the level of anger; and the more there seems to be, at least, if not ideological, there seems to be support for Hezbollah in what its doing in its military action? Is that what you sensed when you visited the southern coverage today?
CLANCY: That's a pretty accurate reflection. I think there's a couple of important things that are happening here. When you look at Lebanon and you look at Hezbollah, everyone always talks in terms of where there is the Syrian influence, and the Iranian influence, but I think, as has been pointed out to me, there's an important distinction here. The Syrian influence had no ideology with it. It was seen by many Lebanese as just a corrupting influence that was hurting their democracy, and they wanted to remove it.
On the other hand, the Iranian influence with Hezbollah very ideologically oriented, saying confront Israel. You are never going to be able to deal with this country, with these people, unless you confront them. That's the way that they work, that's the way you should work. The more people you talk to, the more this conflict goes on, just as you said, they seem to be subscribing to that, which would support some analysts' viewpoints that all of this operation is really strengthening Hezbollah.
We saw demonstrations in the streets, where I would say, just by observation -- I can't be certain, because I didn't interview the person -- but somebody -- obviously a young woman, I would not say was a devout Shia Muslim, or fundamentalists, she was standing up there with a picture of Nasrallah, holding a Hezbollah flag, cheering people on. This kind of support is what you see here, and it's got some people concerned.
GORANI: All right. My colleague Jim Clancy, there speaking to me a bit earlier about the day's news and developments here in Lebanon . Let's go back to Fionnuala in Haifa.
SWEENEY: An update, Hala. Three people dead, at least 100 wounded. Some people still trapped inside buildings when six rockets fell almost two hours ago, on the Israel's third largest city of Haifa.
Earlier, about an hour before that, the air raid sirens had sounded and seven rockets we saw, land in open areas. There were no injuries, but then somewhat surprisingly, because it is not usually Hezbollah's tactic to fire rockets after sunset. But just as sunset was happening, the air raid sirens sounded again, and this time we saw at least five impacts on the city.
Police now saying now six rockets hit. It was quite an eerie silence, because once the air raid sirens having sounded, people took cover in doors, cars stopped in the streets. And then one saw these rockets impact on buildings, shortly followed thereafter by smoke from various vantage points along the city, and the air punctuated a few minutes later by the wail of sirens by ambulances and rescue services, and helicopters overhead.
The wounded having been taken to the local hospital here as they are routinely whenever these rocket barrages hit the city. But any complacency that might have set in over the last couple of days, because of a relative lull in air raid soundings in this city, though I have to say not across the rest of northern Israel, has now been completely dissolved tonight, with six rockets hitting the city of Haifa in less than two hours from earlier on this evening.
It is just coming up to about 20 minutes to 10. People are still working to free those trapped in the rubble beneath one building. We'll continue to update you with the very latest, here in Haifa, after the break . Stay with us.
SWEENEY: You are looking at pictures of the aftermath of six rocket attacks on the city of Haifa, within the last two hours. Three people dead and 100 people wounded. There are those who say the death toll is expected to rise. Some people are believed trapped in the rubble of a building, which took the full impact of a rocket.
It was the second time this day that rockets had hit Israel's third largest city. An hour before this particular attack, seven rockets landed in open areas. But then, just as the sun was setting, the air raid sirens sounding again. Here, you are looking at the pictures of the aftermath as people try to rescue loved ones from underneath buildings.
Paula Hancocks is at the scene and she was reporting earlier on the efforts of rescue those. Earlier in the day, she reported on what has been a very heavy day in terms of inflictions of Israeli casualty inflictions across northern Israel.
In one particular, kibbutz, in Kfar Giladi, along the border, 12 reservists were killed when a rocket struck them as they were attending a service. They were there in this kibbutz, along the border, in support of their colleagues fighting in southern Lebanon . These soldiers were being swapped in and out of the fighting. This has been a pretty heavy day for Israeli military losses. Paula Hancocks has more on that.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The immediate aftermath of the single deadliest rocket to the hit Israel, 12 people killed as they stood near the entrance to the communal farm of Kfar Giladi, a stone's throw from the Lebanese border.
Eyewitnesses say the barrage lasted more than 15 minutes, just a fraction of more than 2500 rockets launched by Hezbollah in the past three and a half weeks. Three Israeli Arabs were killed in Saturday's barrage, a mother and two daughters.
Three Israelis died the day before, and eight were killed on Thursday. Israeli deaths steadily rising, as Israeli politicians insist they are breaking Hezbollah's back.
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): They have been very seriously hurt and it will take them a long time to recover from this if they ever can. We have moved the Hezbollah from along the border with Israel, and we have removed this immediate threat.
HANCOCKS: Israel has most powerful military machine in the Middle East. But after thousands of air strikes and intense shelling of southern Lebanon, the rockets are still flying, some liken Hezbollah to Israel's invisible enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a kind of guerrilla warfare. You see someone in the morning, he's a civilian. You come the next time, you see him with rocket launcher. So, you don't know who have to shoot, who you have to be careful of. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Hezbollah fighter is much better than what we saw in '82. They're much better, they're well trained. They know how to fight. They're good enemy. I mean, for -- and it is a little bit harder now.
HANCOCKS: Before Sunday's deadly rocket attack, Israeli politicians sounded positive on the draft U.N. resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities on both sides. The resolution did not call for an Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon. Israel does not want to gap between its forces leaving and an international force arriving for fear it would give Hezbollah the chance to rearm and reposition itself.
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We are waiting and see if really the Lebanese government is a government, if they can really make the decisions, if they can really replace the Hezbollah forces on the southern part of Lebanon.
HANCOCKS (on camera): The Israeli military said, Sunday it has captured one of the Hezbollah militants responsible for the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers on July 12th. The kidnapping that sparked this ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The IDF says the militant confessed to his role. No confirmation yet on whether he's given indications on where these two Israeli soldiers are currently being held. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Haifa, Israel.
SWEENEY: Paula Hancocks reporting there, just before these six rockets landed in Haifa. She's now down at the scene and has been describing, at various points, throughout the last couple of hours, the attempts to try to rescue people from the rubble.
Now, I understand that on the line, we have a Doctor Eli Kuhnriech; he is the deputy director Bnai Zion Hospital.
What can you tell us about the kind of injuries you've been receiving this evening?
DR. ELI KUHNREICH, BNAI ZION MEDICAL CENTER: Well, the injuries are mostly a crush injury. Some people were caught in fires that was in one house. We have many children within the casualties, we have received. Few of them are really severe hurt. There is in Haifa, three dead. It hit in the middle of the city, in a poor quarter of the city. And we are now trying to get organize the emergency room. We have now 54 casualties, some of them are very severe.
SWEENEY: Do you expect, then, the death toll to rise, doctor?
KUHNREICH: Excuse me? I didn't get you.
SWEENEY: Do you expect the death toll to rise?
KUHNREICH Do I expect? I don't hear you too well. SWEENEY: The death toll to rise.
KUHNREICH: I don't --
SWEENEY: Yes, I understand it's very difficult to hear us at the moment. Can I ask you, do you expect the number of those injured to recover from their injuries?
SWEENEY: Or do you expect the death toll to rise?
KUHNREICH: Absolutely. Generally, we see panic, patients under panic. The arrive somewhat later. The arrive in masses, but the injured were all evacuated to the hospital till now. I have reported that they have evacuated all the injured to the hospital to now. Do you get me?
SWEENEY: How well is your medical center able to cope with the kind of injuries you've been seeing from these rocket attacks over the past 25 days or so?
KUHNREICH: We are quite trained and equipped. We have been disaster planning the city, a system in which we divide the injured, between the hospitals, and the hospital is well equipped and well trained.
SWEENEY: These rockets, we understand, have, in their warheads, pellets, which cause a lot of damage. Have you been seeing injuries from those pellets?
KUHNREICH: Well, most of the injured are injured from the pellets, which can hit also 500 meters from the place of the explosion. And we have many patients that were injured with pellets. Most of them, actually.
SWEENEY: All right, Doctor Eli Kunhreich, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Deputy director of the Bnai Zion Medical Center here in Haifa, describing, he says, 54 casualties have been taken in. We do know three people are dead and more than 100 wounded.
Of course, there are some people still trapped in rubble when at least one building collapsed under a rocket. Six rockets hitting this port city of Haifa two hours ago, and followed -- that followed an hour earlier by a number of rockets landing in open areas. Clearly, Haifa still very much on the radar of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon . For here in Haifa, for the moment, Hala back to you in Beirut.
GORANI: We've heard a lot about diplomacy over the last few weeks. Yesterday, finally, the U.S. and France agreed on the text of a draft U.N. Security Council resolution. But the diplomatic road may have hit a hurdle already as the Lebanese government has rejected that draft text, so has Hezbollah. The Arab League, as well, expressing reservations.
But the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, says it is still important to get that text voted on, at the U.N. Security Council in New York in the coming days. Listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I would urge, and I think, we are urging all states of the Security Council now, to back this resolution as a first step toward not just an end to the crisis, but as a first step moving to a more stable set of situations. So, that's the mood and the council has been very good, and I think you'll see support for the resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: You heard there from the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Also, I mentioned a bit earlier that Hezbollah has squarely rejected this draft text. Earlier, I spoke with the Hezbollah specialist, Amai Ghorayeb, and she explained Hezbollah's position, and why that group is not happy with what France and the U.S. came up with at the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Amai, let me first start by asking you about this draft resolution. It clearly calls for a zone in which there will be no Israeli soldiers and no armed forces, apart from the Lebanese army and a U.N. force. It calls for that. Why is there disappointment from Hezbollah since there will be no Israeli presence if this resolution is adopted and implemented?
AMAI GHORAYEB, LEBANESE POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, it's a matter of context. In the midst of the context in which this article appears, which you're referring to, it doesn't look very significant and more significantly I would think that it doesn't call an Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon. Even if it does stipulate somewhere in that resolution, that at one point or another there will be no foreign forces, that could be well down the line.
GORANI: Let me ask you about the overall atmosphere here in Lebanon. Because we have seen demonstrations in support of Hezbollah, but I've also heard from other people, who have told me, you know, Hezbollah is really actually endangering the Lebanese nation, central Lebanese government, by exposing us to this type of military aggression. What do you respond to that?
GHORAYEB: Well, I'd like to respond with statistics, not with just, you know, generalizations. I was involved in conducting a survey on the 24th and 25th of this month, before the Qana massacre and 87 percent of Lebanese said they supported Hezbollah's resistance against Israel. There was also another survey done by another think tank, which came out with similar results as well.
So, I think, yes, of course, you're going to find voices here and there which complain about Hezbollah's rocket attacks against Israel, but the majority of Lebanese are united over this response.
GORANI: Let me tell you, it's not just random voices here and there. I spoke to a high-level cabinet official that told me everybody knows Hezbollah is a subcontractor with Iran. This is basically a war between Israel and Iran, fought through Hezbollah.
GHORAYEB: That's an interesting perspective, because, first of all, Hezbollah is not an Iranian instrument. Yes, Hezbollah enjoys a very close relationship with Iran's clerical and political establishment.
GORANI: And military establishment.
GHORAYEB: And military, OK.
GORANI: I mean, it gets its arms from Iran, doesn't it?
GHORAYEB: Hezbollah has an organic relationship with Iran, much as Israel has an organic relationship to the United States. But it at the same time, this does not reduce Hezbollah to a tool. In fact, the main actor, who has transformed this war into a regional war, you know, posing one strategic axis against the other is the United States. It has transformed what was essentially a local conflict, between Lebanon and Israel, into a wider regional war, with its calls for a new Middle East.
GORANI: Let's talk about within Lebanon's borders. Is it possible to have in the future of this country an armed militia in the southern part of this country and a weak central government, is it possible for this country to survive under these conditions? What would it take for Hezbollah to lay down its arms?
GHORAYEB: You asked me that question (INAUDIBLE). Basically I think the question we should pose here, is how do we resolve, as I said previously, how do we resolve the very causes which led to the existence of Hezbollah undoing. And I think that doesn't take all that much, in fact.
All Israel has to do is to adhere to the government's seven-point plan, to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms, to end it's violations of Lebanese sovereignty and what have you. And I'm that in itself -- I'm not saying that will guarantee a disarmament of Hezbollah. Because no one, in fact, in Lebanon is calling for the implementation of 1559. At least that would guarantee that the Lebanese army would be deployed to the south as would United Nations forces.
GORANI: Is Hezbollah seriously willing to be absorbed by the national state here in Lebanon and become just a political force? There is no trust, not only from Israel, but from elements within Lebanon, who say that Hezbollah wants to keep its arms and wants to keep its authority, its political and military authority on a large portion of this country.
GHORAYEB: I seriously doubt that if all of Lebanon's demands -- I'm not going to say all of Hezbollah demands -- if all of Lebanon's demands were met, if Israel no longer posed a threat to Lebanon, I really don't see how Hezbollah could retain any justification for retaining arms. I think it would be fairly easy to say, a formula could be worked out very easily with the Lebanese government, which would somehow -- I'm not going to say integrate Hezbollah into the army necessarily, but which would appease both sides. GORANI: All right. Amai, thanks very much.
GORANI: All right, the view from political analyst Amai Said Ghorayeb, explaining much of Hezbollah's position and the reasons why it rejected that draft U.N. Security Council resolution.
All right we have a lot more on what happened militarily in this country as we mentioned earlier, and as we've been hearing from Fionnuala Sweeney in Haifa there, a rocket barrage on that coastal city, that port city, killing three and wounding dozens.
On this side of the border, Israeli air strikes in the southern part of the Lebanese capital, leveling a building; 11 killed across the country. Southern parts of Lebanon as well, targeted in the Bekaa Valley, on the eastern flank of Lebanon, as well, taking some Israeli military hits. Essentially and in many cases isolating that region of Lebanon from many parts of the Syrian border.
So military activity on both sides, as the tolls, the dead, the injured, the number of the dead, and the number of the injured continue to climb, both in Lebanon and in Israel. As that draft U.N. Security Council resolution has been rejected by the Lebanese government and others.
We'll have a lot more on the continuing crisis in the Middle East. You're with CNN, don't go away.
No, we're going to go to Fionnuala Sweeney who is in Haifa, for the latest from there.
SWEENEY: Indeed, Hala. Just a quick final update for those viewers who are just joining us; two hours ago, six rockets landing in Haifa, 100 people wounded, all evacuated to hospital now. Three people killed, one rocket landing on a house and it collapsed. You can see pictures there, a woman inside was killed instantly. And, indeed, for a time some people were trapped in the rubble as police and rescue services tried to get to them.
This is a very serious day for Haifa, it has been the target of number sustained attacks over the last 25 days, or so of this conflict. This particular barrage of rocket attacks happening just after sunset, which is quite unusual for a Hezbollah tactics. Usually they prefer if to fire rockets during the day. And while the air raid sirens had wailed over Haifa a number of times during this day, and indeed, rockets had landed in open spaces, this attack before just 8 o'clock this evening has certainly rattled residents of this city. Here in Haifa, I'm Fionnuala Sweeney.
GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN.
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