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Israeli Strikes Targets in Gaza and Lebanon After Rocket Attacks; Lebanon Says Israeli Strikes Hit Southern Areas Used by Militias; Russia Regains Momentum in Bakhmut; Ukrainian Soldiers on High Alert in Northern Kharkiv; Emmanuel Macron Travels to China; Two Israeli Women Killed in West Bank Shooting; Interview with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah BouHabib. Aired 10-10:47a ET

Aired April 07, 2023 - 10:00:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi where the time is 6:00 in the evening. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

There is concern that the situation could escalate further. Those are the words of a Lebanese security source talking to CNN, as Israel orders the

mobilization of some of its reserves after it launched airstrikes into Southern Lebanon and Gaza.

Israeli forces said they struck targets belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. They blame Hamas for a barrage of rockets launched

into Israel on Thursday. Lebanon says it will complain to the U.N. Security Council calling Israel's action a, quote, "flagrant violation of Lebanon's


Well, this all comes just days after Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem where fresh protest took place earlier.

Well, our CNN correspondents covering every angle of this story. Hadas Gold has been reporting on the escalating tensions for weeks. Tonight she's near

the Israeli border with Lebanon. Fred Pleitgen standing by for us at the Israel-Gaza border, and Scott McLean is in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Let's start with the very latest from northern Israel on that border with Lebanon with Hadas Gold.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here near the border with Lebanon and you can see on the hill behind me there has been a tense quiet over the last

few hours ever since those early morning Israel airstrikes in Southern Lebanon the Israeli military said was striking Palestinian militant

targets. Now from what we see from images posted online as well as from a Lebanese security source speaking to CNN these strikes hit mostly open

areas including places where militants were or storing weapons.

And as far as we understand no injuries were reported and there was no response of any sort of rocket fire launched from Lebanon towards after it

these striking. And we're hearing words from the Lebanese government as well as from the Israeli military that neither side has any interest in any

sort of escalation, but the airspace here is still closed to civilian aircrafts. So that still goes to show you that there is some sort of

concern that something could still develop.

Most of the action, though, has been down south in Gaza where the Israeli military overnight striking several what it called Hamas and militant

targets including tunnels and weapons manufacturing sites. Militants there responding with more than 40 rockets towards Israeli targets. Again no

injuries reported on neither side, although there have been damages to buildings, residential homes on the Israeli side as well as damage to a

pediatric hospital in Gaza.

Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, two Israeli women were shot and killed, a third critically wounded in what Israeli police are calling a

Palestinian terror attack on an Israeli car that was driving in the occupied West Bank. So many fronts ongoing all at the same time. The

Israeli military calling up air force reservist but right now it seems to be more of a precautionary measure.

There are lots of calls in the international community to try and calm the situation down. It has been calm but eyes are still open to see if things

will develop further.

Hadas Gold, CNN, in northern Israel.


ANDERSON: Well, Fred Pleitgen is in Israel at the border with Gaza.

And, Fred, you've been speaking to the IDF. What have they been telling you?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Becky. Well, I certainly have, and they are saying that things certainly are

extremely tense and volatile at this point in time. I can you show you just how close we actually are to the border with Gaza. In fact we pan over

there, you can see that behind some of these fortifications back there in the background, that is Gaza that we are looking into. And that's of course

where some of those rockets have been coming from.

One of the things that Hadas said is obviously completely correct. It was a very kinetic night, I would say here, with over 40 rockets being fired but

also the Israelis conducting some airstrikes of their own. Now I did speak to the spokesman of the Israeli Defense Forces and he told me that the

situation here remains very, very tense on the ground, but neither side is looking for escalation. Here's what he said.


LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: There's been a convergence of frontier right now for Israel. For the regions. An even that

started off in Jerusalem, got expanded to Gaza, Hamas, and into Lebanon. So basically due to the events that happened, and again we're in very volatile



Two nights ago an event in temple might kick off a response from Gaza who trying to escalate with a lot of social networks this region and it started

firing rockets. After that some Palestinians factions in Lebanon predominately Hamas also started firing at Israel. So we have like a multi-

arena with one mean adversary, the Palestinian capabilities.

PLEITGEN: You are saying it's a very volatile time. Obviously we saw that last night. What we're hearing today is that Israel is calling up some

reservists specifically in air defense and also in the air force. Can you tell us how many and why you're making that move now?

HECHT: So I won't go into the numbers but I will tell you that we are ready for any developments. You can understand from the language of how this

event is unfolding that we want to deescalate. I mean there's a very, very sensitive weekend ahead with Passover, Ramadan, and Easter all aligning,

and we're looking for -- hoping for a quiet weekend, although we had another attack right after the prayers in Jerusalem, in the Jordan Valley.

But we're looking to deescalate.

PLEITGEN: Do you feel that on all sides? Do you think there is a chance for de-escalation right now? Or do you see this -- as you say, it's very

volatile. Do you see that there is a potential for this to blow up into something bigger? Especially right now when you're dealing with two fronts.

You're in South Lebanon and here in Gaza as well.

HECHT: So again there's a language here that we spoke. We were very focused on the things that were threatening us specifically. Also these rockets

from the north, and also the rockets from Gaza, and again we are now trying to keep the worship and keep this weekend open because it's a sacred time.

All the crossings from Judea and Somalia open, also from Gaza, there's people coming in. And if it's quiet it will be answered with quiet.


PLEITGEN: The Israeli Defense Forces speaking to me just a little while ago, Becky, and of course the Palestinians for their side are saying that

in those strikes that the Israelis conducted last night on Gaza, that some civilian infrastructure was hit there as well. They speak specifically of a

pediatric hospital that they say sustained some damaged in some of those Israeli strikes. Obviously Hamas warning the Israelis to deescalate as


So as you can see, it is still an extremely tense situation and one of the things that we can hear here flying overhead the entire time is a lot of

drones from the Israelis. So you can see how they are. Keeping an eye on the situation and they obviously understand that right now is a really,

really tense time here at the Gaza-Israel border, but then of course also up in the north where Hadas is as well -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And two Israeli sisters killed in a shooting in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank adding to this sense of real insecurity. What did the IDF

tell you about that incident?

PLEITGEN: Yes, the IDF was deployed there as well. They say that these two -- they were sisters, were killed when their car came under fire. They were

inside their car with their mother when a car came under fire. The car crashed, and apparently the mother was severely wounded in that incident.

The first responders who were on the scene say that they came there. They obviously found the car bullet riddled. They found that the two sister, the

very young sister didn't have any pulse, weren't breathing, and then later we're pronounced dead on the scene.

So obviously the Israel Defense Force is taking that very seriously as well. They've been deployed down there, and again it's one of those things

that just adds to that tension as we are in this very important weekend here in this area -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Absolutely. It's Easter, Passover and of course Ramadan at present. Gaza just behind you. You will have been speaking to sources on

the ground there. Just describe the atmosphere, if you will.

PLEITGEN: Well, it's obviously an atmosphere there that is very tense as well. I mean, one of the things that we did see overnight is that some of

those air strikes that took place, that have been conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces, by the Israeli Air Force, there obviously was a lot of

ordinance that was dropped there in Gaza. The IDF was saying that they were hitting some tunnels. They hit what they called some research and

development facilities.

Obviously the Israelis are saying that Hamas and other organizations there are building those rockets as well. Obviously people there on the ground

are concerned as well. They have seen in the past what some of these escalations can bring specifically for people inside the Gaza Strip. So

certainly it seems as though from our vantage point, and what we're hearing from inside there, it doesn't seem as though any side right now wants an

escalation to happen, but of course you do feel that there is this tension in the air and that things could boil over very, very quickly, and go wrong

very quickly if there is an escalation from either side -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is on the ground. We are reporting from the border with Lebanon and the border there with Gaza. Let's me get you now to Scott

McLean. Thank you, Fred. He's in Beirut for us. And the Lebanese absolutely furious that the Israelis conducted those strikes in South Lebanon



And they have said that they will complain to the United Nations Security Council. Just explain what we have heard and the detail to date from


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so obviously, Becky, this all started when rockets, some three dozen of them almost, were launched from Lebanese

soil towards Israel. Obviously most of them were shot down but some of them did manage to strike places like a gas station, a bank, things like that.

And so there were civilian areas of Israel that were affected. And obviously the Israelis had promised to respond, and they did.

And while overnight last night the targets that they actually hit, when you look at them, they seemed kind of benign almost. We're talking about, you

know, electrical transformer, we're talking about a huge crater in an open field, some buildings, some cars in rural area about 10 miles or so north

of the Lebanese border were affected, but again these don't strike you as targets that are obviously linked to a militia or a military of any kind.

But speaking to a Lebanese security source who spoke to my team here in Beirut earlier today, those were in fact sites linked to Palestinian

militia, militant groups, and that there were weapons there prior, too. That same source said that, look, the Lebanese military is now working to

try to prevent this kind of attacks from being launched from Lebanese soil. And so in some ways this is an internal Lebanese problem to try to not

invite another round of Israeli bombing if they actually can do that.

Of course there's plenty of concern that this could escalate, a view that is shared by the United Nations as well. The Prime Minister Najib Mikati

says that, look, he doesn't want his country to be used as a launching pad for strikes on Israel, and the Lebanese military has already found

launchpads. They have already found rockets that they're now working to dismantle. And yet through all, Becky, no one has actually claimed


Obviously the Israelis have pointed the finger, not of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia group. They have pointed the fingers at these Palestinian

groups that are very active especially in Southern Lebanon, especially around Palestinian refugee camps there, but you have Hamas, didn't confirm,

didn't deny that they had any involvement with this. Their statement earlier said that Palestinians should confront Israeli occupation.

You also had Hezbollah putting out a statement, also not confirming or denying, but a senior figure in that group was quoted earlier today saying

that Zionists' attempts to threaten and frighten people are ineffective. The deterrent power balance remains in place. In other words, Hezbollah is

not a fight that Israeli likely wants to get involved with right now considering that the Israelis are well aware of how much of a real threat

Hezbollah is compared to some of these smaller groups inside of a country.

We have also recently just heard from the Iranian foreign minister who called Israeli strikes overnight a violation of sovereignty and territorial

integrity. Yet through all that Israel says that they're blaming Hezbollah for these strikes but they are saying that they do shoulder some blame even

if they weren't the ones firing the rockets themselves, for allowing them to happen because Hezbollah has such a tight grip on Southern Lebanon that

it is difficult to imagine that they would not have known or perhaps would not have given their tacit approval at least. That's the Israeli view of

this -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Scott is in Beirut. Good to have you on the ground. Scott, thank you.

And a little later in the show, next hour, we'll hear from Lebanon's Foreign Minister Abdallah BouHabib. Do stay with us for that. (INAUDIBLE)

and perspective are extremely important.

Well, between Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and now Lebanon, this is a story which is multi-level. There's an awful lot of (INAUDIBLE) here. You can

find more insight by scanning the bar code that you see on the screen now and signing up for our "Meanwhile in the Middle East" newsletter, published

three times a week and delivered straight to your inbox.

Today's issue will look at why this year's violence in Jerusalem is particularly worrying and what could happen next.

Right. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. We are broadcasting from our Mideast programming hub here in Abu Dhabi where the

time is quarter past 6:00. Well, just shy of.

It is the epicenter of Ukraine's war. Up next, could Russia now be gaining the upper hand in the battle for Bakhmut. Plus, the French president

getting a full red carpet treatment in China as he wraps up a three-day visit there.



ANDERSON: Let's connect you to Ukraine where it seems Russia could be gaining an upper hand in what is a fierce battle for Bakhmut. British

intelligence says that Moscow is regaining some momentum and has likely advanced as far as a town center there. Well, in a report out today, the

U.K. also said that fighters from both the Russian military and that private Wagner Group have paused their ongoing feud and are now cooperating


Well, elsewhere in Ukraine, at least seven people were injured by shelling in the Kherson region. That's according to the military administration


I want to get you to Nick Paton Walsh who is in Kyiv with more on all of these developments.

So let's start if we can with what we understand to be happening in Bakhmut at the moment. I mean this has been a month's long battle. Now sort of

described as sort of epicenter of this war. Just provide us some context if you will and any detail that we have.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Look, I mean, the slim information in this U.K. intelligence report suggests in their assessment,

and these are people are continuing analyzing everything they can lay their hands on, on a NATO level. They believe that Russia are seeing incremental

progress, some sense of momentum.

But you have to remember, Becky, in the broader picture of all of this, this is the task that way back in the beginning of the winter Russia

thought it might be able to achieve in a matter of weeks. And it is still now, that you might argue, six, eight months even continuing this inch-by-

inch bid to get more of Bakhmut in its hands.

Now we have seen images today suggesting that in the Bakhmut market, there was continued fighting with Ukrainian troops. That's pretty much central.

At the same time, too, there are indications all the fightings around the train station, too. So Ukraine still with forces in the west, does appear

the Russians have crossed over the river, and appear to have done what they can to suggest a stronger presence inside of that city.

But it comes at a staggering cost, and of course that is draining resources of Russia which are already significantly depleted. So add to that, too,

another problem for Moscow. And while they've been pretty much throwing everything they can, they're trying to take Bakhmut, that has allowed

Ukraine, possibly elsewhere in the country, a chance to reset, to get ready for any counteroffensive coming as well.

Bakhmut is off-limited strategic value, most assessed. It will unable them, certainty Russia, if they take all of it to have a better vantage for other

parts of Donbass they want to take as well. But they've exhausted so many thousands, it seems, of troops in this particular fight.


And it's dragged on so long that I think any eventual final outcome of this back from which Ukraine is very keen to not let go of, will come at a

substantial cost for Moscow -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nick, the Pentagon investigating what appears to be screenshots of classified U.S. and NATO military information about Ukraine, which is

circulating on social media. I know that we've had that confirmed at least by a Pentagon official. Do we have any more on this?

WALSH: Now I have to level with you, Becky. This whole story is extremely odd. The Pentagon have not publicly said that these are authentic

documents, and there are certainly a lot of people wondering why on earth if this was, as one narrative suggests, confidential information obtained

by Russia, why would they tweak it, as appears to have been the case and then post it up on various social media channels? Completely belie the

point of having that confidential advantage of knowing what your enemy's assessment of your capabilities or Ukraine's capabilities indeed are.

So that's also odd, too. We've heard from Ukrainian officials who were saying this is all part of standard Russian misinformation operation, and

Moscow haven't directly commented on this at all. So it's an odd piece of information to see out there. There are suggestions perhaps some of this

information may have been doctored or maybe old. But it really isn't clear where it originated from.

But it adds to one thing and that's the general sense of anticipation here certainly about when this counteroffensive may begin. We've had so much

misinformation over the past months particularly when it came to the previous Ukrainian counteroffensive back in the summer, suggesting where

they may or may not choose to begin that fight. But I think we should look at these documents whatever they really are in that particular perspective.

And it remains to be seen quite what they genuinely are, but it does add to that broad sense that something is certainly coming. And it's Ukraine's

turn on the battlefield to make a move forward -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Unclear when and what if anything either side knows about the other's preparations for it, given your account there of it being

unclear what it is that is circulating at this point.

Nick, it's good to have you there. Nick Paton Walsh is in Ukraine for you, folks.

Well, in northeastern Ukraine, things are relatively calm in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border. Sill, Ukrainian forces preparing for battle

there. CNN's Ben Wedeman found time to speak to some of the soldiers as they shore up defenses. Have a look at this.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zenya (PH) prepares his 50-caliber machine gun. He didn't fire this time but he

needs to be always on alert. Russian forces are nearby.

This position on the northern edge of the Kharkiv region hasn't seen much action of late, but the men here have seen plenty elsewhere. In January

Zenya was in a frontline foxhole in Donbas. From early in the morning they would shell us with artillery and right afterwards their infantry would try

to take our positions, he recalls. You could see them.

Much of the area south of here saw vicious combat. Last September Ukrainian forces routed the Russians for much of the Kharkiv region. Before

retreating they toppled this Soviet era communications tower, scorched earth their tactic of choice.

This position manned by the 290th battalion of the Ukrainian Army's 113th Brigade is holding steady. Defense not offense is the order of the day.

Oleksi was a nuclear physicist before picking up a gun.

OLEKSI, UKRAINIAN ARMY: We have enough ammunition. We have enough weapons and different armor occupant but it's all for defense. Weapons for the

counter attack it will be better because the sooner free our left.

WEDEMAN: The weapons they have are hardly the latest. The troops showed us a Swedish made recoilless rocket launcher dating back to 1978. They defend

their position with other decades-old methods.

(On-camera): Beyond this razor wire, just on the other side, are landmines. Fortunately this area is relatively quiet.

(Voice-over): Which is a welcome respite for these battle-scarred troops.

It was a nightmare is how Yevgan (PH) describes the battle in the dead of winter in Donbas. I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

Fifty-two-year-old Vitali (PH) served with the Russians in the Soviet army. This war has severed old ties. We ate from the same pot, he says,

reminiscing of his days as a young recruit.


That was then, this is now. After so many battles they prepare for the next.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, in the northern Kharkiv region.


ANDERSON: Well, the French president Emmanuel Macron is now wrapping up what has been a three-day visit to China. He was greeted by huge crowds at

Sun Yat-Sen University on Friday where he spoke to students on the campus. Later, Mr. Macron had a private dinner with President Xi Jinping before

meeting with Chinese investors. On Thursday the two leaders struck a deal on nuclear and wind energy. They also discuss solutions to end the war in

Ukraine. Mr. Macron hoping for a breakthrough and counting on President Xi to reason with Russia.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to the stability. It ended decades of peace in Europe. I know

I can count on you moreover under the two principles I have just mentioned to bring Russia to its senses and everyone to the negotiating table. And we

will come back to this in detail but we need to find a lasting peace.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Marc Stewart has been following President Macron's historic visit to China. He joins us from Tokyo.

And I just wonder what you believe have been the wins for both sides here. Let's start off with President Macron. I mean, he received an unusually

warm and lavish welcome from President Xi. What did he get out of this trip?

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I think if we look back at this visit, we really need to divide it into two categories. There is

diplomacy and then there is deal making. Let's first talk about diplomacy, because all attention has been focused on China's influence in Russia and

the war in Ukraine. We just got some remarks reported by Chinese state media within the last few hours in which President Xi is quoted as saying

the war should not drag on and that there should be a ceasefire.

But as we have witnessed during this visit, both sides, being France and China, really have not wavered from their positions. France really blaming

Russia for this war and China not necessarily condemning Russia for its involvement in this war. So things in many ways are still status quo

despite these remarks. No one really is making any kind of wholesale shift in position. However, according to French diplomatic sources, President Xi

has agreed to take a call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy when the time is right, at the right moment is the wording that we have been reporting.

So that's the diplomatic front. And then another big part of his visit is deal making. The business front. President Macron did not travel to China

by himself. He was with a delegation of about 50 business people. As we saw into these pictures he was in Guangzhou earlier which is a big commercial

center for China. We also have been reporting tonight that they have -- there's been a billion plus dollar deal between France and a Chinese ship


So in that regard that could be seen as a success especially at a time when both economies, the French economy and the Chinese economy, are trying to

reboot, trying to gain their footing after the pandemic.

But, Becky, as far as any wholesale shift in these diplomatic discussions, that just has not happened.

ANDERSON: Yes. It's fascinating, isn't it? We also see images there of Ursula von der Leyen in China at the same time. If the Macron sort of side

of this trip has been successful, there's, you know, much speculation as to quite what sort of success the president of the European Commission is --

has had there. That remains to be seen. We haven't heard from the EC. I'm sure we will, coming up.

All right, thank you, Marc.

Coming up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm going to speak to Lebanon's foreign minister about what is this escalating violence in the region and

how Lebanon hopes to calm tensions. That is coming up after this.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. The time is just after half past 6:00 in the evening. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD,

and you are more than welcome.

Our top story this hour, Israel ordering the mobilization of some of its reserves after it launched strikes into southern Lebanon and Gaza earlier

today. Israeli forces say they struck targets belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. They blamed Hamas for a barrage of rockets launched

into Israel on Thursday.

In a separate incident two Israeli sisters were killed and their mother is now in a serious condition after a shooting in the West Bank.

Hadas Gold is near the Israeli-Lebanese border for you -- Hadas.

GOLD: Yes, Becky, I mean, well, so many fronts going at the same time here. The most recent news, though, is about those two Israeli sisters. They were

on the ages of 16 and 20, shot and killed alongside their mother while they were driving in the occupied West Bank. Israeli police calling this a

Palestinian terror attack. And as far as we know, no suspects have been captured in this shooting attack.

Meanwhile, here along the northern border with Lebanon, things have been relatively quiet, although the air space here is still closed to civilian

aircraft, we've seen no retaliatory rockets after those Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon, I mean, we should be clear that the Israeli military

has taken pains to say they were targeting Hamas and they're targeting Palestinian militants and not Hezbollah.

We heard from the Israeli Defense Force spokesperson Richard Hecht in the last couple of hours saying they don't want an escalation and there is very

much a sense here that they are trying to keep the situation here along the border with Lebanon as calm as possible. Most of the action has been in

Gaza where we saw Israeli military airstrikes overnight. We saw more than 40 rockets fired back towards Israel. No injuries, though, reported on

either side.

And in the last few hours, although there has been one report of mortar shelling from Gaza towards Israel, there has again been no further reports

of Israeli military strikes or rockets being launched. So the question will be, will this calm stay? The Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa, they passed

peacefully for the most part, although there were demonstrations, there were demonstrators who were hoisting things like Hamas flags, but

relatively peaceful compared to the beginning of this week.

So a lot of hopes that hopefully this will lead into a peaceful weekend but still, as you noted, the military calling up its reservists. They say this

is just a cautionary measure but it goes to show you that the situation here is still very tense and could easily turn volatile -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. Hadas Gold is on the border. Thank you.

Well, Lebanon says it is ready to cooperate with the United Nations and take steps to restore calm and stability in the south. Lebanon's Foreign

Ministry put out a statement saying, quote, "Lebanon calls on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop escalation."

And Lebanon's Foreign Minister Abdallah BouHabib joins me now live from Beirut.

You clearly want to see a de-escalation of this at present.


Are you convinced that you will get that? How concerned are you, sir?

ABDALLAH BOUHABIB, LEBANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we have been working since yesterday on the Lebanese side not to escalate. And we talked to the

Americans also to put pressure on Israel, not to escalate. We know that there were incidents, we regret that. It had its reasons, we understand

that, but we don't like it coming from Lebanon, but what's happening in Aqsa, what's happening in Syria, is also -- there are also the reasons for

this which we regret it happened from Lebanon.

But we've been working to stop the escalation and I think so far we have been successful and have no escalation from Lebanon. And Israel also, there

is no escalation from the Israeli side.

ANDERSON: All right. OK. Israeli forces say they struck targets belonging to the Palestinian military group Hamas. Were they responsible for the

barrage of missiles launched earlier. I mean, the sort of attack that we saw from southern Lebanon, we haven't seen the likes of that since 2006. Is

Hamas responsible, to your mind?

BOUHABIB: Well, you know, we have Palestinian camps in south Lebanon. And it's not like we have -- we are policing every Palestinian so they can go

somewhere, in one of the villages, and do whatever they did yesterday because there Palestinian, you know, militias that did that. It could be

Hamas and other organization from the Palestinian side. But we found out that these Palestinians that did it. Not Hezbollah at all. And this is

really good that neither Hezbollah nor Israel is escalating against Hezbollah.

ANDERSON: Although many will say that nothing will happen in that part of southern Lebanon without the tacit approval of Hezbollah. Do you agree with

that, that there is an assumption that Hezbollah will have at least greenlit these attacks, sir?

BOUHABIB: Well, we have no information on that. We try to get some information. We were not able to get it exactly whether Hezbollah proved it

or not. But it is easy for Palestinian organizations to go and operate from south Lebanon. It's not like we are policing each and every Palestinians

that are in camps in south Lebanon. So they have some kind of freedom that they can do it, while we were able to stop that escalation and not to

continue doing it what we're doing.

I think we are successful, and so Hezbollah also has helped in that, that we are successful in stopping any escalation coming from Lebanon.

ANDERSON: The deputy secretary general of Hezbollah has said, and I quote, "The Palestinian Jihadi fighters are on the ground and the entire axis of

resistance is vigilant. The Israelis enemies' defeats have been accumulating. Victory is imminent," he said. "God willing." What do you

make of that? That doesn't sound like the sort of rhetoric that will help deescalate this tension, does it?

BOUHABIB: Well, no, it does not. But we are working together in order to not to have escalation. We know we have a very tough and difficult

situation in South Lebanon. Hezbollah is there and its armed. The Lebanese army and UNIFIL are also there, and working with the others in order to

stop such kind of things, but they're not always successful, of course. And -- but now, I think so far we are successful in stopping the escalation.

ANDERSON: Lebanon has said it will complain to the U.N. Security Council, calling Israel's action a, quote, "flagrant violation of Lebanon's

sovereignty." Just talk us through what happens next as far as you are concerned. You are clearly keenly focused on trying to ensure that things

don't get worse. There is much concern about what might happen this weekend. So just walk us through the process here.

BOUHABIB: Well uh, first, Israel is always violating our skies, our land and the sea even. I mean, this is in the thousands of violations every

month. And we complained to the United Nations on that, but nothing happens. And I think the international community is really what happened in

Aqsa is the reason for what happened from Lebanon yesterday. I'm not justifying it. We don't want any violation of the peaceful situation in

South Lebanon.

I'm not justifying it, but I'm explaining it, that in what happened in Aqsa is very important and it really there is a reaction from the Palestinians

that there is a feeling from the Palestinians that this shouldn't happen. That their brothers in the West Bank and Gaza should be able to go to Al-

Aqsa Mosque without any problem. And also from the Syrian side. I mean, Israel is using our skies in order to hit in Syria. So many times it goes

over Lebanon.


BOUHABIB: So these are violations and there are 1701 of U.N. Security Council resolution, 1701. And we'd like that the United Nations always try,

and the international community, to really stop the violations of 1701.

ANDERSON:. OK, all right. Foreign Minister, it's good to have you with us. Thank you very much indeed. And you are echoing what we have from the

Jordanian foreign minister who said yesterday you really cannot put a line between what happened to Al-Aqsa and also these attacks.

Next hour, we will speak to a member of the Israeli Knesset and how Israel plans to respond to the escalating situation.

Taking a break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: To a tiger that's fighting to make the cut. Tiger Woods to be specific, struggling after the first round of the Masters. The big issue

he's been facing is his right leg, which, of course he injured in a car accident two years ago. He says the pain is constant.

Woods finished his opening round nine shots back of current clubhouse leader Viktor Hovland. That is all coming up on "WORLD SPORT." That is up

after this short break. I'll be back with CONNECT THE WORLD at the top of the hour for you in about 15 minutes' time. Stay with us.