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Paula Zahn Now

Hezbollah Fires Long-Range Rocket Into Israel; Bush and Blair Meet to Discuss Middle East Crisis; Hezbollah's Transformation

Aired July 28, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Glad to have all of you with us tonight. Appreciate your dropping by.
Our "Top Story" tonight: a dangerous escalation in the Middle East conflict, just as peace efforts start picking up. Our in-depth coverage begins with latest war bulletins and bigger rockets. For the first time, Hezbollah makes good on its threat to shoot more powerful rockets further into Israel. They came down near the town of Afula. That is deeper inside Israel than any rocket so far.

Now, this -- on the seventh day of fighting, Israeli ground and air forces are still trying to take control of a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon. Israel bombed at least 110 targets today.

The United Nations emergency relief coordinator wants Israel and Hezbollah to declare a three-day cease-fire, so food and medicine can be brought in for civilians.

At the White House, what appears to be some new flexibility -- during a visit from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush agrees to a long-range peace plan that stations a large international peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

If Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice works out the details during return trips to Israel and Lebanon this weekend, the plan would go to the U.N. some time next week.

Right now, we're bringing in live reports from Beirut, Jerusalem, Washington, and the Israeli-Lebanese border.

And the border is where we start first.

Matthew Chance is there for us live with the latest tonight on the new, more powerful missile in Hezbollah's arsenal -- Matthew.


And it's bigger and more destructive than anything that has been fired into Israel by Hezbollah so far. According to the Israeli authorities, a new type of missile entered this conflict today. The target was the northern Israeli town of Afula, as you mentioned, the farthest south any rocket fired by -- fired by Hezbollah has so far penetrated. To many Israelis, it is a major escalation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHANCE (voice-over): Israeli police say at least one the missiles that struck the outskirts of Afula was more powerful than any of the rockets Hezbollah has fired at Israel before, judging by the fires and the damage, experts say had a much larger warhead than a regular Katyusha rocket.

DOV LUTZKI, AFULA, ISRAEL, CHIEF OF POLICE: what we can tell about it, it's a new thing in the area. We didn't find it before. It's a -- a bigger caliber than we're used to seeing in other areas. I don't know the name of it, but we can estimate that it has a longer range, and it has more explosives in -- inside it.

CHANCE: After the attack, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared on the group's television station to boast, his militia had launched what he called a Khaibar rocket into the Jewish state.

The Israeli air force released a video showing what it described as a strike on the missile's launch site in southern Lebanon -- one reason Hezbollah hasn't fired more big rockets into Israel, maybe their vulnerability at launch to a quick Israeli response.

There has been mounting concern in Israel about Hezbollah's missile arsenal. And Nasrallah has vowed to strike even farther south, at Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest city. And the Israeli army's efforts on the ground in southern Lebanon to crush Hezbollah are meeting stiff resistance.

Military officials say there have been more heavy clashes in Bint Jbail. Helicopter gunships fired at Hezbollah positions. But establishing control over these strongholds near the Lebanon-Israel border is proving difficult. Israeli officials say they are determined to press on.

MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We're determined to go the whole course here. But we're not walking into a trap. Israel is going to do it at our own pace, at our own time, to make sure that, when we go in, we go in carefully, and that we don't walk into their booby traps. We want to stop the rocket fire, but we also want to make sure that Hezbollah will not be there afterwards.

CHANCE: For now, the rocket launches continue from southern Lebanon, more than 100 fired into Israel today. At least one struck a hospital in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. There were no injuries. Most patients are already in underground shelters. On day 17 of the fighting, Hezbollah's ability to strike seems undiminished.


ZAHN: That being the case, Matthew, how is it that Israel plans to prevent these longer-range missiles from being fired into their country?

CHANCE: That's a good question, Paula, because, so far, the strategy that it has adopted hasn't been successful.

They have been pounding Hezbollah positions with artillery and with airstrikes. And they're still able, this militia, to fire these rockets at will. I think what they might have to do -- and what's being considered when we speak to Israeli defense analysts -- is either be prepared to put in more ground forces to occupy southern Lebanon, something Israel does not want to do, it says.

The alternative is to look for some kind diplomatic solution, some kind of political settlement that would see a multinational force deployed there, and perhaps bring some stability to the region. Perhaps that's what Israel is looking to now.

ZAHN: Matthew Chance, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

Now we move on to the Lebanese side of the border, where Hezbollah was celebrating its newest weapon today.

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has this report from Beirut.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In Beirut, Hezbollah is clearly proud of what it calls the Khaibar-1, the missile that has a longer range that any the group has launched so far.

Al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah affiliate station, shows a vapor trail arcing up into the sky. This is not the actual missile. But, underneath the video, a banner proclaims, Hezbollah has a new rocket, evidence of the guerrilla group's ability to carry out its threat to strike deeper into Israel.

As the situation becomes more dangerous, the United Nations peacekeeping force is becoming more cautious, pulling out eight U.N. observers from the last two operational U.N. posts close to the Israeli border.

This comes three days after one post was destroyed by Israeli fire, killing four observers. Another post had already been evacuated the day before, after an Italian U.N. observer was wounded in the Israeli Hezbollah crossfire.

Lebanese civilians are also increasingly caught in the middle. This humanitarian convoy bringing villagers trapped by the fighting to safety was hit by Israeli fire, according to a group of French journalists who were traveling behind.

"We came across refugees who were walking towards us, a pregnant woman and elderly people," says this reporter. "We kept on walking, until we reached the village of Beit Yahoun. At this moment, the Israeli air force started firing just around us."

In the midst of all of the violence, word came from the U.N. for a 72-hour cease-fire, to get humanitarian supplies in, and to get the young, the old, and the wounded out. The initial reaction from members of a group aligned with Hezbollah was simply, they would think about it. (on camera): Later in the day, Lebanese military intelligence sources confirmed that an unmanned Israeli surveillance aircraft crashed into the mountains east of Beirut. They say, half-an-hour later, Israeli fighter jets returned to the site and bombed the sensitive spy equipment on the ground.

Israeli officials say that it crashed due to technical issues, and they destroyed the equipment so it couldn't fall into the hands of Hezbollah -- Paula.


ZAHN: Thanks, Nic -- senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.

So, what do we know about this new Hezbollah missile and just how dangerous it is?

Let's turn to military analyst Don Shepperd, a former Air Force major general.

General, always good to see you.

So, we have heard at the top of the hour that this has a larger warhead, a longer range, more explosives packed into it. What else is important for us to understand?


Let me show you on the map here. It went 45 miles into Israel, into the town of Afula. And let me show you the -- the ranges of the rockets we have been dealing with so far that we have talked about up until now, 12 miles on the Katyusha, 45 miles on the Fajr-3 -- on the Fajr-3 -- and -- 25 miles on the Fajr-3, 45 on the Fajr-5.

This may be a modified Fajr-5 that went 45 miles. It has a 100- kilogram -- that's a 200-pound -- warhead. That's half of a 500-pound bomb. This is considered a very serious escalation by Israel. But here's the one they're really worried about and watching for. And that is the Zelzal rocket, the one with 120 miles. It can get all the way to Tel Aviv. If we see that, Paula, that is a major, serious escalation in this conflict.

ZAHN: And we also know that bigger rockets means bigger launchers. And, apparently, Hezbollah feels vulnerable about being spotted when they fire these things off. How easy are they to take out?

SHEPPERD: Yes, let me show you again on the map here.

Tom Foreman used this earlier. But, basically, it was a fan that showed from Afula all the way into southern Lebanon, about a 45- to 60-mile fan of a modern Fajr-5 or perhaps this new -- this new Khaibar-1 missile. Basically, those have to be fired from trucks. They're large missiles, four tube launchers, if you will. So, it's hard to maneuver them. They're much more vulnerable. So, Hezbollah will be easier to find for the Israelis that are looking for them.

ZAHN: General Shepperd, thanks for making us smarter tonight. Appreciate it.

SHEPPERD: Pleasure.

And our "Top Story" coverage moves now to the White House, where President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood side by side today to outline new diplomatic proposals that seemed to signal a shift in the U.S. position.

White House correspondent Ed Henry now brings us up to date on that development.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush leaning again on his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, this time to deal with the Mideast crisis.

The president is dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back to the Mideast to craft a United Nations resolution.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our goal is a Chapter 7 resolution setting out a clear framework for cessation of hostilities on an urgent basis, and mandating the multinational force.

HENRY: Sounds awfully similar to the cease-fire the U.S. has blocked for two weeks. But president casts this as a larger struggle to disarm Hezbollah and other terrorists.

BUSH: They're violent, cold-blooded killers who are trying to stop the advance of freedom. And this is the calling of the 21st century.

HENRY: That's the Bush doctrine, the freedom agenda, laid out in his second inaugural.


BUSH: There's only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment. And that is the force of human freedom.


HENRY: But this is a president and a doctrine under fire.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: We see Lebanon and the Middle East and the -- Palestine falling into shambles, some of it for good reason, because of the -- Israel's need to defend themselves. But, on the other hand, freedom has taken a back seat to survival. HENRY: The same can be said of Iraq, 100 civilians dying every day, overshadowing the first White House visit of new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, imposing a new challenge to a declaration issued just days after 9/11.


BUSH: Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.


HENRY: That black-and-white doctrine now seems clouted with shades of gray, as Maliki, dubbed a key ally in the war on terror, has refused to denounce Hezbollah.


ZAHN: Well, Ed, one of the things that there are no shades of gray about are the fact that both the prime minister and the president are taking a bunch of political hits now on their respective home fronts. How is that affecting the way they work together?

HENRY: Well, you're absolute -- absolutely right, President Bush and Tony Blair joined at the hip then and now, at beginning of the war, when they were both riding high, and now, when they're both in the dumps, at least in terms of their popularity ratings.

And their aides and advisers say, look, in the long term, they are going to be vindicated. But even their allies admit, that could take years, maybe even decades, that their strategies could be vindicated -- clearly not going to be vindicated by the end of their terms. The president has just over two years in office, Tony Blair probably about the same -- a lot of speculation his days in office are numbered as well -- Paula.

ZAHN: Ed Henry, thanks so much.

And, just a little bit earlier on, I spoke with one of the people you just heard in Ed's report. Wendy Sherman is a former ambassador and adviser to the Clinton administration.

And I asked her about the new flexibility in the president's peace plan.


ZAHN: The president seemed to soften his resistance to an immediate cease-fire by suggesting that the hostilities needed to end on an urgent basis. Do you think he's caving in to international pressure here?

SHERMAN: I think he's recognizing reality, that, in fact, pressure has mounted, that people are very aware of the violence, that Israel has taken enormous losses. And, obviously, the Lebanese people have taken just a staggering loss. So, I think he's recognized reality. But the devil's going to be in the details here, Paula. And Secretary Condoleezza Rice has her work cut out for her. This is really a moment in her term as secretary of state.

ZAHN: You talk about the very tough work she has to accomplish. And, yet, she is not bringing the Syrians to the table or the Iranians, of course, just the Lebanese and the Israelis. Realistically, what is it, then, that she can accomplish?

SHERMAN: I think she can accomplish getting the Lebanese and the Israelis to agree on the conditions for a multinational force, for a stabilization force, for a prisoner release. But I do believe, as many have called for, that she needs to engage in the kind of diplomacy that will get that U.N. resolution not only passed, but enforced.

And that may take a trip to Damascus, or at least sending a U.S. envoy to Damascus. And it may take some behind-the-scenes, I'm sure, discussions with Iran.

ZAHN: Do you think the president has given her this mandate to use some of these back channels to get to a cease-fire?

SHERMAN: If he has not given her the authority to use back channels, then I think her work is nearly impossible.

ZAHN: You talk about, in the near term, this weekend, she might have some success in negotiating what a multinational force might look like, but in terms of public perception, if she walks away with anything short of an immediate cease-fire, does it looks like a failure?

SHERMAN: I think that, with the president and the prime minister's statement today, Secretary Rice has to negotiate an urgent cease-fire out of this weekend's work. There will be many steps ahead and a lot of places where it can fall apart. But she has to put the framework in place to be able to move ahead, so that people can see that there will be an end to the violence.

ZAHN: You have also said that, if the secretary of state doesn't succeed at this mission, it will undermine her credibility and influence. But what would it do to the influence of the United States?

SHERMAN: The United States is already facing some tough challenges around its credibility, because of the way that the U.S. government has waged the Iraq war, because of the way that we have approached many other issues around the world.

And, so, if Condi Rice does not succeed in this very high- profile, high-stakes diplomatic mission, it certainly won't improve the credibility of the United States in this very important part of the world and in other parts of the world as well.

ZAHN: Wendy Sherman, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.

SHERMAN: Thank you.


ZAHN: And still to come, there is much more ahead on our "Top Story" coverage, including the struggle to stay on top of changing methods of terror.


ZAHN (voice-over): Waves of terror: new ways for terrorists to strike, from jet-skis packed with explosives, to innocent looking boaters, and their deadly effects. Amazing military video captures the threat of terror on the scene.

Plus, the new Hezbollah -- better armed, more terrifying, and surprisingly difficult to defeat. How did poorly armed guerrillas become a military force to be reckoned with?

Our "Top Story" coverage of the crisis in the Middle East continues after this.



ZAHN: Busy news night on this Friday night -- I want to give you a quick update on some breaking news out of Seattle, Washington.

One of our local affiliate, KING-TV, is now reporting that one person is dead, four people wounded, at a shooting at a Jewish community center in downtown Seattle. The Associated Press is telling us that three people, including a pregnant woman, have now been rushed to a hospital. We don't know yet what the motive is for the shootings. Reports say a police SWAT team has taken one person into custody. They are still on the scene at this hour. They may be looking for a possible second suspect as we speak.

And we will bring you more information as soon as we get it here.

Now, as we continue to watch what is going on in the Middle East, the favorite weapon of terror has been the rocket. But the danger isn't always from the skies.

My colleague Wolf Blitzer is standing by in Jerusalem, where he has gotten a hold of some exclusive video of actual encounters between Israeli naval forces and terrorists determined on launching attacks from the waters just offshore.

Wolf, explain to us what you have got.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Paula, we went to -- we went to a briefing with a senior Israeli military commander, and left with some amazing images, declassified.


BLITZER (voice-over): Take a close look at this extraordinary video provided to CNN by the Israeli navy. A seemingly innocent jet- skier races toward Israeli shores, ignoring repeated orders to stop. As a result, he's shot and killed. A senior Israeli navy officer says the jet-ski was loaded with explosives.

And check out this video. An Israeli naval vessel intercepts this small boat with two men on board. The same Israeli navy officer says, they are suicide bombers. The Israeli sailors survive, but are seriously injured.

Finally, take a look at this deflated raft the Israeli navy comes upon. Israeli sailors open machine gun fire to make sure there's nothing hidden inside. But, under fire, it explodes.

Here's how it looked from a second Israeli camera on shore.

(on camera): Most people think of the threats facing Israel coming from the north, whether from Lebanon, or from the east from the West Bank, or from the south from Gaza.

But there's another major threat facing Israel, and that's a threat from right behind me, the Mediterranean Sea.

(voice-over): The senior Israeli navy officer tells CNN, there have been 80 maritime terror plots that Israel has detected over the years. Most have been foiled.

Still, Israel has established an elaborate network of early- warning devices to monitor threats from the sea, including the nightmare of a cargo ship loaded with explosives.

And there's now heightened fear involving the Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah has been firing into northern Israel.

RON BEN-YISHAI, ISRAELI DEFENSE ANALYST: The very same rockets that hit, say, Nahariya these days can be launched from the sea as easy, and even easier, than they are launched from -- from the -- the ground. They have a prolonged-range Katyusha rockets, range of about 30 kilometers, that can be launched from very deep in the sea, way beyond the Israeli territorial water.

BLITZER (on camera): We're here in Ashdod, Israel's major port along the Mediterranean. You can see the facilities right behind me -- waiting off the coast here, right off the beach, a few ships. They're waiting to bring some cargo into Ashdod -- Ashdod, all of a sudden, becoming even more important, now that Haifa, the big port up in the north, has been effectively shut down because of the rockets coming in from Lebanon, from Hezbollah.

If you go down a little bit further, down this beach is Ashkelon, another big Israeli town. That tow, earlier today, saw two Israeli kids who were injured as a result of Palestinian Qassam rockets landing in Ashkelon, landing in a park.

Right down the road, only a few miles down from where I -- I am right now, is Gaza.

(voice-over): The bottom line for Israel, the threats come in all sizes and from all directions.


BLITZER: And it helps to explain, Paula, why so much of this country now has a very, very elaborate security system, including closed-circuit cameras. They're seemingly all over the place -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, let's change our focus right now to what you have learned about the ongoing military strategy here in this crisis. You have now got this call-up of reserves, but no plans for deployment any time soon. What's the real reason for that?

BLITZER: I -- I have been told that it really has nothing to do with the immediate struggle against Hezbollah. It has a lot more to do with the potential of this war with Hezbollah escalating to include Syria. If there's a miscalculation, it certainly could go in that direction.

And the Israelis don't want to be caught by surprise. So, as -- as a precaution, fearing it could escalate, hoping it won't, fearing it could escalate with Syria, they decided to mobilize these three divisions.

ZAHN: A lot of talk about this in the papers today in Israel, about why the security cabinet yesterday didn't vote to escalate, further escalate attacks on Lebanon.

BLITZER: I think it's, in part, the result of the international criticism that Israel is now facing, and a fear, a real fear, that the most important address they have to worry about, namely, the United States of America, there could be a turn against Israel if they were simply to go in, in a huge force, and level even more of south Lebanon.

So, they decided, you know, for the time being, they're going to stick to their plan, and not escalate it, fearing an international backlash of even greater proportions.

ZAHN: Wolf Blitzer, thanks for working a 24-hour day for us. I know you're heading home. We will be watching you on "Inside Edition" this week. Thanks so much.

Now that we have looked at what could happen, our "Top Story" coverage zooms in on what exactly is happening right now -- coming up, the relief effort. How will thousands of civilians fleeing Lebanon get food, medicine, and more importantly, shelter?

Plus, an attitude check on the Israeli street -- what do ordinary people actually think about their government's resolve to battle Hezbollah?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Back now to our "Top Story" coverage of the crisis in the Middle East.

The U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator is calling for a 72-hour cease-fire in the Middle East, so food and medicine can get to the people in Israel, Lebanon, and Gaza. He spoke at the U.N. not long after a convoy of civilians trying to get out of the war zone was hit by mortar fire, wounding three people.

We don't know yet which side fired the mortar. We also don't know how many people are left in southern Lebanon. But those who are, are trying desperately to stay alive.

Ben Wedeman has their story tonight from Tyre.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A red cross on a white bedsheet. Staff at Tyre's Najm Hospital hope Israeli jets will see their flag and spare them.

Just a few minutes away by car, smoke rises from another airstrike. People head north by whatever means possible. No one knows how many people are still hunkered down in their homes in southern Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands have already fled north.

TONY LIPOS, RESIDENT OF SOUTH LEBANON: The situation over there, it is very bad right now. It's -- everything is running out right now. There is nothing there, no food, no electric, no water, no medicine, nothing -- and a lot of old people there, too.

WEDEMAN: Refugees gathered at Tyre's rest house hotel, where local relief workers put them on buses to Beirut. They're exhausted, scared, desperate to move on.

Hanan Assi escaped the south with her family and $300 in her pocket. On a borrowed mobile phone, she assures a relative everyone is safe.

HANAN ASSI, SOUTH LEBANON RESIDENT: Still a lot of people there. Still a lot of people need help. There's people with heart condition. About two people who are blind there. And everybody's just -- it's terrible. They need some help.

WEDEMAN: The danger of travel by road is everywhere to be seen. And fuel is in short supply, because many of the gas stations have been bombed.

(on camera): People who make it this far to the northern edge of Tyre have a good chance of reaching safety, but relief officials are far more concerned about people stuck in remote villages in the far south, who just can't get out.

(voice-over): The United Nations, the Red Cross and other groups are doing what they can. But in the midst of war, their hands are tied. ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, RED CROSS: There are people who have been wounded, who have not been evacuated until now. And one other big issue, there are people who have been killed. There are cars with dead bodies aboard. Nobody's been able to get there to take them out and to give them a decent funeral.

WEDEMAN: So the living take their chances and go.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Tyre, south Lebanon.


ZAHN: Of course in all of this coverage, we can't forget that Israeli citizens are also fleeing, suffering, and mourning the dead. But are they changing their minds about this, almost more than two- week old conflict here? Coming up next here, our top story coverage. See how the fighting continues to affect attitudes.

Plus, an in-depth look at who Israel is fighting. What makes Hezbollah so difficult to defeat? We will examine it for you next.


ZAHN: Welcome back. We're getting some new details about a breaking story in Seattle, Washington right now. The Associated Press is quoting Seattle police as saying, one person dead, at least four others wounded in a shooting rampage at a downtown Jewish community center. It happened a little over an hour ago, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. One person is in custody, and sources tell CNN the man is of Pakistani descent.

Police seem still to be searching for other suspects on the scene. Radio station Cairo is reporting that streets in downtown Seattle have been cordoned off, and police are asking people not to leave other buildings. Police have no word about a possible motive.

But I want to read you part a statement I've just been handed from a Robert Jacobs, who is the regional director of the Anti- Defamation League. And he said he hopes it's not the case that Jews have been targeted here because of the Middle East crisis. But he is asking fellow Jews not to go to -- or to be wary at synagogues tonight, and other Jewish cultural locations, and if anybody who comes to their door. He actually says the FBI had warned his organization about possible attacks several days ago.

And once again, it is highly recommended anybody who goes to a Jewish institution tonight to evacuate and stay away until he learns more. The regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

We will keep you posted on that, as soon as we get more facts in. But once again, downtown Seattle cordoned off at this hour. And we are trying to get a hold of some folks in legal enforcement there, and as soon as we can raise them on the phone, they'll be talking to all of us.

Now, back to the crisis in the Middle East. After more than two weeks of war in Lebanon and close to 1,600 Hezbollah rockets blasting Israel, Israelis on the street are overwhelmingly in favor of one thing: Hitting Hezbollah harder. John King reports tonight from Jerusalem.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pre-Sabbath rush at the (inaudible) market, a staple of Israeli life. Crowded and colorful, full of life. And yet again, talk of war.

ETAN DIMANT, ISRAELI RESERVIST: I think that our war is a justified war. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors.

KING: Etan Dimant reports for duty this weekend, one of thousands of army reservists called up for possible duty. Hezbollah is the enemy, but like many Israelis, Etan sees this as something bigger.

DIMANT: Another Holocaust shouldn't happen, shouldn't appear again to the Jewish people.

KING: Andy Cohen (ph) has two sons in the fight, yet wants a more aggressive ground war, and suggests those accusing Israel of overreacting consider the source of Hezbollah's rockets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see Iran there, I do not see Hezbollah.

KING: An overwhelming 82 percent of Israelis backed the military campaign in a new Yedioth Ahronoth poll. If they have a complaint, it is that their government is being too soft; 72 percent of Israelis favor using more force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the first time for a long time that Israeli really feels that they are frightened for the existence of Israel.

KING: Iran's president has talked of wiping Israel off of the map, and veteran pollster Mina Tesma (ph) says the Iran-Hezbollah relationship overrides, at least for now, traditional concerns about rising casualties or tactical missteps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's a world (inaudible), you cannot -- cannot give up.

KING: Sarit Sphitzer and Manyan Levy (ph) are just back from visiting relatives in bomb shelters in the north.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if they totally destroy Hezbollah, I don't think our problems are going to end.

KING: Eating here is part of their defiance. Three years ago, Cafe Hillel was destroyed by a suicide bomber.

(on camera): You feel safe here? Do you think this is a war in the north, or do you think it could come to Jerusalem?

SARIT SHPITZER, ISRAELI: I think living in Israel, you live this. You know that this is life here. Like, you get used to it.

KING (voice-over): Even in tiny Israel, Jerusalem can seem far from the current fight, but Gila Rockman says Israelis know better.

GILA ROCKMAN, ISRAELI: It could come back. The people who killed -- I knew the doctor and his daughter who were killed here. I knew them very well.

KING: Her son Hillal (ph) was born a week into the fighting. His second name, Aviad (ph), chosen to make a statement.

ROCKMAN: Aviad (ph) was the minister of peace in the biblical times, and that's how we gave him his second name. Aviad (ph). In these times, these hard times, you just want peace in this country, and that's all we want.

KING: And yet even amid the laughter, talk of war is once again part of their routine.


ZAHN: So, John, with the vast majority of Israelis supporting the government to continue to drive further into Lebanon, who's going to exert pressure on Israel besides the international community here?

KING: It's a tough sell for Secretary of State Rice, Paula, when she gets here, because of course, Ehud Olmert knows he has the support of his people. And he also knows this: Because they do want that tough response, he has a tough sell if he has to go on national television next week and explain to the Israeli people that he believes he should accept this deal, that there is a cease-fire in the making. So it gives him some leverage. Secretary Rice has to be able to convince him that this is a serious effort by the international community, that they're not going to have a cease-fire deal and a force that will not make sure Hezbollah doesn't fire their rockets again. But he has strength in these negotiations. At the same time, most believe if Secretary Rice says the United States needs you to do this, he will give it a chance.

ZAHN: John King, thanks so much.

Now, regardless of what Israelis think, there is still of course an awful lot of international pressure for an immediate cease-fire, but would it end up doing any good? We're going to debate that right now with Jed Babbin, a former deputy undersecretary of defense under the first President Bush. He says no to a cease-fire, that Israel needs to take out Hezbollah now.

On the other side, Ibrahim Hooper, of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, who says Israel is committing genocide, and it needs to stop now.

Glad to have both of you with us.

So, Jed, I know you think a cease-fire, an immediate one would be a huge mistake. But you got over 400 civilians killed, close to 750,000 people homeless, and the infrastructure in Beirut all but destroyed. How long would you allow this conflict to go on?

JED BABBIN, FORMER DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Oh, I would not just allow it to continue for a while, Paula. It needs to be pressed harder. The Israeli people are a lot smarter than their government is.

You have to understand that the Lebanese government right now, and the Lebanese people are enslaved by a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. They were terrorized by the Syrians for years. They're now held in thrall to Hezbollah. And until we can shake them up enough, or the Israelis can, to get the Hezbollah people out of Lebanon, and there shouldn't be any thought of a cease-fire before Hezbollah quits firing rockets and releases the hostages. It's just bizarre, to be even talking about it before anything like that even happens.

ZAHN: I know, Ibrahim, you want an immediate cease-fire.


ZAHN: But there are a lot of people who believe that you can't ever successfully disarm Hezbollah, and if you created a cease-fire now, you're asking for the same thing to happen again in a couple of years.

HOOPER: Exactly. You might ask your other guest the question, just how many people is he willing to kill to achieve this?

ZAHN: But that wasn't -- Ibrahim, that wasn't the question I asked you. What about the point if you call in an immediate cease- fire right now...

HOOPER: He can laugh about civilian deaths if he likes...

ZAHN: ... that what you're allowing Hezbollah to do is continue to be armed, and do the same thing all over again a couple of years down the road.

HOOPER: At the end of the day, all Hezbollah has to do is survive. And unless you are -- Israel is willing to kill every man, woman and child in Lebanon...

BABBIN: That is...

HOOPER: ... Hezbollah will survive. Israel announced today that it will treat any human being in southern Lebanon as a terrorist and will be dealt with accordingly. They also announced that any village near the site of a rocket launch will be destroyed.

If any other country on Earth did that, it would be called genocide.

BABBIN: That is so bizarre, for people to be talking -- to apologize, as this other guest is doing, to apologize for the terrorists who have been raining death...

HOOPER: Who is apologizing for Hezbollah?

BABBIN: You are apologizing for them. I am simply saying...

HOOPER: How many Lebanese would you kill...

ZAHN: Ibrahim, let Jed finish -- let Jed finish his thought here. Jed, carry on.

BABBIN: Well, basically what I'm trying to point out here is that the Lebanese government has a responsibility. No nation that pretends to have a legitimate government can use another military force or to allow another military force to attack its neighbor without suffering the consequences. The Israelis have been trying to tell those people to get out of those villages, to get away for over 10 days. Those people who are still there are at risk, absolutely.

HOOPER: How many dead Lebanese are you willing to see?

BABBIN: It is not the Israelis' fault -- I'm willing to kill as many people as it requires to take out Hezbollah. That's the fact.

HOOPER: And what does that mean? What does that mean?

ZAHN: Ibrahim, one of the things it means, and Ibrahim, you have got a quick closing thought. As Jed says, you have got to press this campaign further, and I read he even sees that eventually that could mean a strike on Syria.

Ibrahim, you...

BABBIN: Absolutely.

ZAHN: ... get the closing thought here. About 30 seconds

HOOPER: In other words, the other guest is saying basically bring on the apocalypse, and the last man standing wins.

BABBIN: That's what Mr. Ahmadinejad wants. That's his career goal. I don't think we want that.

ZAHN: All right, gentlemen, we've got to leave it there. Love to have the two of you back. I think we're going to be talking about this, given what the campaign is doing now, for weeks to come. Jed Babbin, Ibrahim Hooper, thank you both.

BABBIN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Coming up next in our top story coverage, an eye-opening look at something that doesn't exist here in the U.S. It is a political party with its own private army. We go inside Hezbollah next.


ZAHN: Back now with our top story coverage. Israel setback in Bint Jbeil earlier this week, made it perfectly clear that Hezbollah is a much stronger force than anyone expected. Eight Israeli soldiers died in Bint Jbeil, the day after Israel said it had control of the city. And as our top story coverage continues right now, we have some new details on why Hezbollah has become such a fierce fighting force from Beirut bureau chief Brent Sadler.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ferocious battles this week for control of the Lebanese border town of Bint Jbeil. As the smoke clears, Hezbollah's military capabilities appear stronger than expected.

AMIR PERETZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): There is a fierce and complicated battle in the town of Bint Jbeil, and this exacted a very dear price.

SADLER: Iran, claim U.S. and Israeli officials, helped train and organize Hezbollah into effective fighting units, a combat force of 3,000 to 5,000, with as many as 50,000 part-time militia. Missile squads, mortar teams, specialized assault units, backed up by effective logistical support.

IBRAHIM MOUSAWI, HEZBOLLAH TV: We're talking about experienced (inaudible) fighters with high experience, with dedication and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cause.

SADLER: A cause led by Iran, backed by neighboring Syria, and fought in Lebanon.

WALID JUMBLATT, LEBANESE DRUZE LEADER: It seems they have been supplied by the Iranians, by modern weapons, modern equipments, infrared night vision, et cetera.

SADLER: Hezbollah can't stop Israeli warplanes blowing bridges and blocking roads to strangle supply lines, but in fierce ground fighting, Hezbollah has delivered shocking and deadly blows.

Their battlefield knowledge evolved over the nearly two decades Hezbollah fighters attacked Israeli troops occupying the tip of south Lebanon. The hilly terrain with natural cover suited hit-and-run guerrilla-style warfare.

Hezbollah mounted well-coordinated attacks with supporting fire against Israeli outposts. And in May 2000, when Israel pulled out, Hezbollah claimed victory.

MOUSAWI: Based on all of the weaknesses, all of this analysis about the Israeli army, we were able to come out with a kind of strategy and tactic on how to defend, how to attack.

SADLER: After the pullout, Hezbollah, not the Lebanese army, took control of the border, digging bunkers, building up stockpiles of weapons.

MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: In this area that we can see behind us, not only a terrorist army, but they're sort of waiting for us to come in. They have booby-trapped the entire area. They want us to walk into those booby traps.

SADLER: Now it seems that Israel plans to combat Hezbollah by carving out a security strip along the border.

JUMBLATT: Even if they have less to revere by the heavy military machine of the Israeli, they have already won the war, mortar speaking and military speaking.

SADLER: And if a battered Hezbollah army survives the Israeli onslaught, it could eventually rearm and regroup to fight another day.

ZAHN: And that was Brent Sadler reporting for us. Thank you very much for that update, Brent. We go on now with our top strategy coverage on the crisis in the Middle East in a few minutes.

But first we're going to take a quick "Biz Break."


ZAHN: Coming up next on our top story coverage, we go back to the breaking news out of Seattle, where one person has been killed, several wounded at a shooting at a Jewish center. Downtown Seattle is in lockdown mode tonight. We'll take you there and explain what the SWAT team's doing right now.


ZAHN: We go back now to that breaking news out of Seattle, Washington. As we speak, one person is dead. At least four others wounded after a shooting rampage at a Jewish community center in downtown Seattle. One person is in custody. And sources tell CNN the man is of Pakistani descent. Police say about two hours ago, they received numerous calls about gunshots and people yelling inside the Jewish federation of greater Seattle. Police, then say a short time later, they received a call from the person who identified himself as the man who had done shooting. Police talked him into coming out. He's in custody now.

And that particular area continues to be cordoned off at this hour. Joining me on the phone with more from more from Seattle is Robert Jacobs of the Anti-Defamation League. Now Robert, I know the police chief is saying he's not aware of any motive at this hour. And yet I know you have stated that the FBI had warned you and the Anti- Defamation League to be concerned about potential attacks related to the crisis in the Middle East. What else can you tell us about that warning from the FBI?

ROBERT JACOBS, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: I want to clarify that. I'm not sure how it was quoted but the FBI did not warn us about it. They warned in general in the United States that there was a potential for sites in the U.S. being targets of activity. That's not much different than they have in the past but we have been notifying institutions in the Pacific Northwest region to be wary, to make sure that they have security guards available and obviously with what's happened today and I want to make sure that I'm completely quoted accurately on this, because there's been a lot of confusion. I have been saying into organizations, Jewish institutions, synagogues and temples in the Pacific Northwest, specifically within the Seattle area, to make sure that they have security and to call the local police and make sure local police are on premises today for services. If they are not able to get security or local police, I have been saying until we know more, not to congregate in one location that might be an obvious site for somebody to go to.

ZAHN: Do you have reason to believe this shooting is related to what's going to in the Middle East?

JACOBS: We don't know now. It's always a possibility. But we would rather be safe than sorry tomorrow and find out that it was related and we didn't do anything.

ZAHN: To your knowledge, was this community center given any kind of threat over the last couple of days?

JACOBS: Not to my knowledge. The federation, I was at lunch with a number of people from the Jewish Federation this afternoon. Nothing in particular came up during that conversation. Had there been some information to that regard, in that regard, they would I am sure said something to me about it.

ZAHN: Robert Jacobs, thanks for trying to clear up some of this confusion surrounding this breaking news. Once again at least five people have been shot, one of them fatally, in Seattle at the Jewish federation of greater Seattle. One person is under arrest tonight. Police still trying to determine a motive, but as you can see from the picture, parts of downtown Seattle still cordoned off at this hour. There's a potential that police are actually looking for a second suspect, as that first suspect is in custody tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. That wraps it up for all of us here. Hope you join us again Monday. We'll be back same time, same place. Have a great weekend. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.