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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Crisis in the Middle East - Day 14; On the Ground; Syria's Role; On the Front; Deadly Heat Wave; Hospitals under Attack

Aired July 25, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, what is the real face of Hezbollah?
And, doctors under fire, risking their own lives to save the lives of others. Tonight, we take you right inside an operating room caught in the crossfire.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 14." Reporting tonight from the Israel-Lebanon border, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us. Day 14 here along the border is done. Day 15 has already begun. It has been a night of heavy shelling.

This Israeli artillery unit behind me has been firing all throughout the night, lobbing shells into south Lebanon. What they're doing is two things.

One, they're trying to target Hezbollah rocket positions in south Lebanon. They're also trying to provide cover for Israeli ground forces.

And according to Israeli Defense Forces, today there have been major developments on the ground in south Lebanon. We have correspondents all around the region covering it. We'll bring you all the latest developments.

In fact, we have just learned that of the two U.N. peacekeepers we've been talking about in this last hour who were killed, according to the U.N., by Israeli shells -- Israel has not confirmed that, they say they're investigating. But we've just learned according to the Shinwa news agency in China the identity -- the nationality of one of those U.N. peacekeepers was Chinese. We're still trying to check on the nationality of the other U.N. peacekeepers. Two of them are confirmed dead, according to the U.N. Two of them are still missing, may be dead, underneath some rubble.

Let's get the latest developments right now in our CNN "War Bulletin."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The casualties of war. Today an Israeli air strike in Lebanon hits a patrol base used by United Nations observers. Two U.N. observers were killed. Two other U.N. workers are feared dead. Israel apologized for what it calls tragic deaths. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan demanded an investigation and accused Israel of apparently deliberate targeting.

Earlier in the day Israel pounded southern Beirut with a barrage of missiles fired into an area controlled by Hezbollah. Along the southern border with Lebanon, Israel says it killed a senior Hezbollah commander.

Israel also said it won a key battle securing control over the village of Bint Jbeil, killing between 20 and 30 Hezbollah militants.

Despite those stated gains, Hezbollah rockets continued to rain down across the north. One hit an apartment building in Haifa. A man at the scene died of a heart attack. Eighteen wounded overall in the city. Another rocket killed a teenage girl.

Day 14 of the crisis ends with Lebanon reporting 392 people dead and more than 1,000 injured. In Israel, the death toll now stands at 41 with at least 388 people wounded.

But Hezbollah's leader survives. Hassan Nasrallah appeared today on the TV station run by Hezbollah to deliver a new threat.

HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): No limitation to our striking, to Haifa. No matter what the reaction of the enemy against us, we will go back, we will go to another stage of -- beyond Haifa.

COOPER: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the Palestinian president and Israel's prime minister in Jerusalem, where the prime minister warned of more punishing attacks against Hezbollah.

While Rice did propose having an international military force in Lebanon, there do not seem to be any nations volunteering. She insists an immediate ceasefire is not the answer.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: A durable solution will be one that strengthens the forces of peace and the forces of democracy in this region. We need always to be cognizant of and looking to what kind of Middle East we are trying to build.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): We have our top correspondents deployed all throughout the region.

Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is live in Beirut. Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Jerusalem. Chief National Correspondent John King is in Rome this evening. And Senior National Correspondent John Roberts is right here with me along the border.

John, let's talk about the action that has been going on in south Lebanon. It's been pretty intense these last hours. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has and I talked with the general who's in charge of the Galilee brigade, which is the one that's involved in all of the heavy fighting. And he described the fighting for Bint Jbeil, the town that they now say that they have control of, the Israeli Defense Forces, as very difficult, house to house fighting.

He said that Hezbollah was well entrenched, well prepared, had infiltrated itself in the community, had the support of the community. He also suggested it might have been taking the community hostage.

That's the Israeli perspective on things, you have to remember, but he did say it was a tough time all around.

We know that they lost two soldiers, eight injured yesterday. As to whether or not there were any other fatalities, we might find that out.

COOPER: This second town they say they have seized -- the first was Maroun al-Ras, now Bint Jbeil. Why is this significant of this town?

ROBERTS: Maroun al-Ras was really just a route to get to Bint Jbeil. Bint Jbeil was the one that they really wanted to get. It holds the high ground in this part -- that part of southern Lebanon. They also believe that it was a major stronghold for Hezbollah. They thought that if they could get a hold of that city, if they could get control of it, they might be able to degrade Hezbollah's command and control abilities.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour in Jerusalem, what happened to we know about what happened to these U.N. observers in south Lebanon?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, only that it's not far from where we were stationed for the last several days in Matula (ph), this base. The U.N. statement said that it was an aerial bomb that dropped on the outpost. They said that it had been about 14 close calls that afternoon alone.

And the secretary general said that his own commanding general, his senior officer there, had been in regular touch with Israeli forces and officers all day about the close calls and the closeness of the bombardment from the air, apparently, and asking them to be careful and to protect that location.

COOPER: And what has Israel said about this?

AMANPOUR: Well, its officers said that it regrets the loss of life. And of course, responding to the secretary general's rather stiff commentary, saying apparently deliberately targeting, the foreign ministry has said, well, that's something that we never do and that we regret the loss of life and there's an investigation.

And as you've had on your own program, the U.N. ambassador, Israel's U.N. ambassador, has been even stronger in his condemnation of the secretary general's comments. COOPER: Yes, I mean, it seems like Israel is saying that, (a), they're still investigating, and they say very well for all they know this could be Hezbollah rockets. They said the investigation is still under way.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, the investigation may be under way. The U.N. reports that it was an aerial bomb. So that pretty much potentially points towards a misfire by the Israelis. But as I said, the investigation is under way. And from here we really don't know -- or at least they're calling for an investigation. I'm sorry to say investigation is under way. They're calling for one. And from here it's really impossible to know. But that's the information that the secretary general of the United Nations got and put out in a statement.

COOPER: All right, Christiane, thanks.

Nic Robertson now joining us in Beirut. Nic, heavy shelling in Beirut today. Probably louder than it's been in several days, correct?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it really shattered what had been sort of a sense of normality that was beginning to spread in the city and some of the areas particularly, sort of east Beirut. There was life, busy street life in many areas. Half the stores opening again. This is something we hadn't really seen.

But those big, loud blasts that came in the southern suburbs, Hezbollah's heartland here, really brought that level of reality back to Beirut, that the war is still only on its doorstep and the strikes have continued again.

Really, the lull did appear to be brought by Secretary of State Rice's visit when she came. The bombs stopped shortly before that. She left the region and probably within a few hours of being completely out of the region, the bombs have started again -- Anderson.

COOPER: John King is in Rome following what Secretary Rice is up to. What does her day hold? What is her hope today?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, her hope, Anderson, is to reach an agreement with the 18 nations and major world organizations gathered here in Rome on some sort of an outline to end the fighting. They want an end to the fighting. They also plan to announce a major humanitarian aid and reconstruction package for Lebanon.

But when it comes to the biggest issue, which is ending the hostilities, there are still significant disagreements. There are many here, including the head of the United Nations, many of the European nations, who say, let's stop the killing let's get the parties to agree to a simple cessation of hostilities for 60 or 90 days, and then negotiate the very difficult issues. But the United States is saying, no, at least for now it will not accept that, Condoleezza Rice saying that for there to be a cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire, that first Hezbollah must agree to disarm.

So that is a major sticking point on the big question of ending the fighting. And after that, if they can get to that, there are disagreements as well about a new international peacekeeping force. How big would it be, what powers would it have to engage Hezbollah, what powers might it have to stop resupplying Hezbollah if that happens across the Syrian border, what nation would be in charge. So a number of questions, Anderson. The talks begin in just a few hours here in Rome. No one wants to walk away with a failure, but there are still significant differences.

COOPER: All right, John Roberts, you've been talking to Israeli military officials in these last 24 hours. How much time do they say they need before -- I mean, at some point this diplomatic effort is going to get under way. The military effort is going to have to scale back. How much time do you think they have?

ROBERTS: General Gal Hirsch was asked that very question this afternoon, and he said, I've got all the time I need.

COOPER: Hmm. Is that -- I mean, is that -- clearly, at some point, though, politics is going to play a role in this.

ROBERTS: Oh, obviously international pressure is going to play a role. There was a belief and it was detailed in the Herrett's (ph) daily newspaper on Sunday, in which they thought that Condoleezza Rice was going to come in on Monday, tell Israel's leaders you've got a week to try to degrade Hezbollah's capabilities as much as you can. I'll be back after the Asean conference in Kuala Lumpur next Sunday. That's when it ends.

But, I don't know if it's going to end, though. All indications are this could continue well into next week.

COOPER: Christiane, you've also been talking to Israeli military officials over this last two weeks or so. There is a big concern about occupying territory. And maybe it's just a matter of semantics. They're not using the term occupying, though, but they do say they have a foothold in Maroun al-Ras. And now they have this other town, Bint Jbeil. Does Israel plan to occupy south Lebanon until some sort of international force comes in?

AMANPOUR: Well, as you say, they always say no. And the military particularly says no. And today, the Defense Secretary Perez talked about, you know, maintaining control. And I've tried to scrutinize the translation of what he said. And it doesn't actually say occupy. And it doesn't actually say hold the ground, at least in the statement that I saw.

It said maintain control by fire. So, you know, continuing to fire into that area, potentially. And it said that anybody who comes in there knows that they will be hurt. So, it's really difficult to read through all these things that different people say. But I think that's what he was saying in that statement.

And they do have those two villages. I think what's really interesting is, I talked to one of the commanding generals up there just opposite Maroun al-Ras. And he said that -- I asked him, do you respect your enemy? And he said, absolutely. He said the Hezbollah are trained and capable fighters. They've dug in and they are, you know, a very committed and as I say, a very capable fighters. However, he says that his army is stronger and they're inflicting more casualties.

COOPER: It's interesting you say that. I've also heard the same thing from a lot of troops on the ground here. One of the captains I was talking to today said there's actually been sort of this learning curve and that's going to sort of ramp up over the next days as Israeli troops, many of whom are reserves, many of whom have not fought against Hezbollah in their lifetime, are now learning very rapidly and in very real time how they have to confront this enemy and that's what they're doing right now on the ground.

Christiane, thanks for joining us from Jerusalem; Nic Robertson, joining us from Beirut; John King in Rome and John Roberts here on the border as well. We'll have more from our correspondents throughout the hour.

But first we want to take a look at the evacuations that are going on in Beirut. They may be ramping down. Here's the raw data.

The State Department says that a formal schedule of evacuation ends today. In just a few hours, as a matter of fact. Processing begins at 9:00 a.m. Americans who want to leave are urged to head to the Obaya (ph) processing center in Beirut. An estimated 25,000 Americans were in Lebanon before the crisis. The U.S. embassy says since the fighting began, an estimated 12,600 Americans have been transported out of the country.

And as I've personally seen and wrote about on the blog, yesterday the job of the Marines and of the Navy, sailors and also State Department officials on the ground in Beirut have done is truly extraordinary, moving out so many Americans in such a rapid amount of time.

Early on, of course, there was some criticism, particularly by Democrats of the United States, about the pace of the evacuations. But in these last several days the numbers of Americans that have gotten out and gotten out safely thanks to the Marines, thanks to the sailors, and thanks to the State Department folks, has been truly remarkable.

When we come back we'll have more from the border. The latest on the fighting in the south and what it's like for these artillery units behind me. More from 360, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're looking at some pictures from Beirut. People lining up for bread. Watching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit. Some of the images, according to Lebanese officials, nearly 400 Lebanese have so far been killed in this conflict.

When we come back we'll have a lot more from the region. But first let's check in with Heidi Collins for the day's other top stories -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More U.S. troops may soon be headed to Baghdad. During a White House news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today, President Bush said additional U.S. and Iraqi forces could be sent to the Iraqi capital where the violence continues to rise. Al-Maliki sharply disagreed with Bush on the Mideast conflict by calling for an immediate ceasefire.

In Indiana a teenager under arrest for a series of deadly sniper shootings. Police say 17-year-old Zachariah Blanton confessed to opening fire on two interstates, killing one person and injuring another. Authorities say they recovered a rifle with the same caliber used in the shootings at the suspect's home.

And off the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, a dramatic rescue to save people trapped aboard a sinking cargo ship. Today, helicopters lifted 23 crew members from a 654-foot car carrier. The crew is now safe on land. The Coast Guard, trying to salvage the ship and its cargo of nearly 5,000 vehicles.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Amazing. Heidi, thanks very much for that.

Of course, what is happening here, there are players who are seen and there are players who are unseen. The unseen players, of course, Iran and Syria. There has been hope in diplomatic circles of perhaps driving some sort of a wedge between Syria and Hezbollah, between Syria and Iran. The question is how likely is that really? Especially when the U.S. has no face-to-face meetings with Syria planned anytime soon.

We asked CNN's Tom Foreman to take a look at the Syria connection.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With longstanding ties to both Hezbollah and Lebanon, some diplomats believe Syria is uniquely positioned to help negotiate an end to this crisis. But no one expects President Bashar al-Assad to do it for free.

RICHARD MURPHY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: Syrians are going to be asking, what's in it to for us to lend a hand to solving this problem? What's the United States prepared to do? And they're going to want to hear that directly from the United States.

FOREMAN: What does Syria want?

IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Syria is supporting the position that was proposed by Hezbollah, that an immediate ceasefire should take place. So that the Lebanese civilians will be -- will survive this ordeal. And immediately negotiate an exchange of prisoners.

FOREMAN: But Middle East analysts say Syria would clearly bargain for more. One, a renewed presence in Lebanon.

Last year, Syrian military forces, based in Lebanon for decades, pulled out under pressure following the assassination of Lebanon's anti-Syrian former prime minister.

Two, the Golan Heights. Israeli seized the ground between their country and Syria in war nearly 30 years ago. The Syrians have always wanted it back.

And three, clout. Middle East analysts say Syria is militarily and politically weak compared to Israel and the other big supporter of Hezbollah -- Iran. Playing deal broker now could boost Syria's image throughout the Arab world.

(On camera): It is not certain how much influence Syria can wield over Hezbollah. And all these things that Syrian leaders want are things that Washington does not want them to have.

(Voice-over): But there is growing talk that talks between Syria and the United States may be inevitable.

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: If there is going to be a long-term solution in the Middle East, whether it's in southern Lebanon, whether it's in the territories, eventually you're going to have to deal with Syria.

FOREMAN: And right now, Syria is holding a lot of wild cards.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Of course, the biggest wild card of all is Hezbollah. What will they do? What are their intentions? When we come back, we'll look at that with CNN's Michael Ware. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hezbollah is a fascinating organization when you look at it from afar. In Lebanon, it has social services. It provides hospitals for the poor. And that's why -- I mean, one of the reasons it's gained so much support among the poor, especially in the south suburbs of Beirut.

But in the south of Lebanon it also obviously has military capabilities. It is fighting a guerilla war. The U.S. and Israel says it is a terror organization as well that has the blood of many Americans and Israelis and others on its hands.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look at the real Hezbollah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN: On the surface, Hezbollah is easily defined. A terrorist group, according to the United States and others, based in Lebanon along the Israeli border, supported by Iran and Syria. Hezbollah is led by the charismatic Hassan Nasrallah. And since forming almost 25 years ago, it has fought for a popular idea among Arabs -- the destruction of Israel.

CAL TEMPLE, TERRORISM RESEARCH CENTER: It is a powerful pool. It's an organizing tool for Hezbollah and its cadres and recruits and it's an organizing tool when Hezbollah interacts with other Arab actors who feel the same way in the Middle East.

FOREMAN: Hezbollah's military is estimated at about 3,000 men who rely on rockets for major assaults. The group is best known for the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 241 people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hezbollah is doing all the things for the people.

FOREMAN: But among the economically struggling Shiite Muslims in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah's community programs, hospitals, schools, social services, have bred loyalty.

ALEXANDRA AVAKIAN, PHOTOJOURNALIST: They have taken the place of the Lebanese government in huge swathes of the country.

FOREMAN: Photojournalist Alexandra Avakian spent eight weeks inside Hezbollah for "TIME" magazine and "National Geographic," capturing these images. Boys pledging to die for Hezbollah. Young men getting haircuts under their leader's portrait. Fighters showing their skills. Hezbollah bakeries, mosques, and so much more. Pictures of a nation within the nation of Lebanon, albeit a secretive one.

AVAKIAN: Throughout Hezbollah, everybody understands relationships with outsiders. It's really not possible.

FOREMAN: Intelligence analysts say Hezbollah is strong and disciplined because only true believers are allowed inside, to ascend to power. But its firm connection with Lebanon makes it different from other terror groups.

TEMPLE: It has kind of a homeland and it wants to live there and improve that and improve a lot of its people. And that can be attacked, exactly.

FOREMAN: Still, Hezbollah has been pounded by Israel for nearly two weeks. And the group is as defiant as ever.

(On camera): Do they think they can win?

AVAKIAN: They're tenacious. If nothing else, incredibly disciplined. And I think, yes -- I think they do. I don't think that they can ever be counted out.

FOREMAN: And Hezbollah appears to be counting on that.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Hezbollah is also counting on their leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who today said he plans to take the battle beyond Haifa.

CNN's Michael Ware joins me now from Beirut. Michael, what do you think he meant by that?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I suspect that he means geographical expansion of the range of their attacks. So I decided whilst it may involve some kind of escalation in terms of tactics and operations, I think immediately it could mean that they plan on using perhaps longer-range weapons or weapons to greater effect within Israel.

COOPER: There's also of course this propaganda war being waged. Israeli Defense Forces saying they've captured more than 100 Hezbollah rockets. They say they've captured a significant Hezbollah leader in the last 24 hours in south Lebanon. We're also hearing from Hezbollah really a completely different story. They're contradicting virtually all the things the Israeli Defense Forces are saying.

WARE: Yes, absolutely, Anderson. And from spending time with Lebanese -- senior Lebanese army officials, generals, from talking to Hezbollah representatives, and defense analysts and academics here in Lebanon, one thing is very, very clear. This war with Hezbollah has only just begun. They barely scratched the surface of this organization.

And in terms of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force operations in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese here are saying that these do not have the significance that the IDF would like the world to believe.

These townships that they are assaulting or have captured, they say have a strategic advantage in terms of terrain. But in terms of Hezbollah and its command structure and its arsenal, they are minimal at best. They're saying that this is very much overblown.

And what they argue is what we'll see now is Hezbollah trying to draw the Israeli forces deeper into Lebanon. Stretch their supply lines. And then attack them where they're weakest.

COOPER: Every Israeli officer I talked to seems to have, I don't know if respect is the right word, but an understanding of the strengths of Hezbollah. These guys have been in this territory for a long period of time. They have entrenched positions. What about the Lebanese military? Do they have any capabilities if they wanted to, either to battle Hezbollah, if things turn that way, or if they joined with Hezbollah, as some Lebanese have threatened they would, what would that mean?

WARE: Well, Anderson, I think it's very, very clear, even at this point, that given those choices, the Lebanese army see a very clear path. It would not be to battle Hezbollah, but it would be to join them.

You look at the Lebanese army official Web site, and it refers to Hezbollah as Lebanese resistance. In fact, the way it was painted to me by Hezbollah and Lebanese army officials is that, essentially, the defense of Lebanon cannot possibly be hoped to be left to the Lebanese army.

So in essence, for a long time now, it has been contracted out to Hezbollah. If the Lebanese army stood toe to toe with the Israeli Defense Forces, one Hezbollah official said they wouldn't last a day. One Lebanese general said they wouldn't last an hour. The only way to defend Lebanon, they say, is guerilla warfare, insurgency warfare, of the very kind that Hezbollah is so adept at. And the Lebanese army is just not equipped for.

COOPER: And of course, that's why so many governments, including the U.S, are saying some sort of international force would be needed to essentially occupy south Lebanon. And at the same time, trying to build up that Lebanese military.

Michael Ware, appreciate your reporting from Beirut for us.

When we come back, more about what it's like here on the front lines for Israeli artillery crews, continually day and night firing shells into south Lebanon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live on Israel's border with Lebanon reporting on the latest developments. At least two U.N. workers, two U.N. observers, were killed today in south Lebanon.

Let's bring you up to date with the latest information in our CNN "War Bulletin."

At least two U.N. observers were killed following an Israeli air raid. Two others are feared dead. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was shocked by what he called the quote, "apparently deliberate targeting of the U.N. post." Israeli officials are calling on Annan to apologize for what they call his outrageous comments. Israel says it will investigate what caused the deaths.

Israel ground forces fought their way to Bint Jbeil today. About three miles inside Lebanon's border. It's considered a key Hezbollah stronghold. Israeli officials say between 20 and 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed in fighting there.

And Hezbollah is vowing to broaden its attacks on Israel. Today its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said his fighters would begin firing rockets deeper inside Israel, beyond Haifa.

That's the latest in our "War Bulletin."

Bint Jbeil, by the way, is the name of the town, the second town, major town, that Israel says they now have gained control over. The fighting intense in Bint Jbeil. House by house in some cases very close-up fighting. But Israeli forces say they now have the upper hand. And that town, they say, gives them a bird's eye view of the battlefield in south Lebanon, looking all the way back into Israel.

As I've been mentioning we've been standing in front of this Israeli artillery unit. We've been visiting them on and off over the last two weeks or so as they continue to fire shells into south Lebanon. Their mission, twofold right now. Let's take a look. When we first met them and now. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In the dead of night an Israeli artillery unit prepares to fire shells into south Lebanon.

When we first visited this unit and talked with its Commander, Captain Boaz, the current crisis was just three days old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a long three days.

COOPER: Large numbers of Israeli ground troops had not entered south Lebanon. And Captain Boaz was targeting Katyusha rocket positions.

CAPTAIN BOAZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: And every time that Hezbollah engages fire, we have to respond. So they give us like a target point.

COOPER (on camera): So your command sees where the Hezbollah rocket comes from and then you try to respond on that spot?

BOAZ: Exactly.

COOPER: The shelling went on all night long. Captain Boaz just received a call moments ago to fire on a position in Lebanon. They're now trying to get the exact coordinates. They're plotting it on their map. And then they'll give the command here to actually fire.

BOAZ: I just want to see our guys come home. Three kidnapped soldiers, one in the Gaza strip, two in the north. We just want to see them come back home. And, I mean, nobody wants war. We just want to live in peace and quiet.

COOPER (voice-over): Today, exactly two weeks into the crisis, there's anything but peace and quiet. Captain Boaz and his men are in the exact same spot, though their mission has only gotten more complicated.

(On camera): They've been firing shells pretty consistently now for the last hour. What they're trying to do is not only target Hezbollah rocket positions on the ground in south Lebanon, but they're also trying to provide air cover for Israeli troops fighting Hezbollah.

As the fighting continues to intensify on the ground in south Lebanon, so does the work for these Israeli artillery crews. (Voice-over): In between the shelling Captain Boaz checks on his men. There are always more shells to arm, artillery pieces to clean. Some soldiers sneak in a smoke, a few minutes of talk, and there are more targets to attack.

(On camera): The commander knows. He passes the order down to them. The whole process just takes a matter of moments.

(Voice-over): Each soldier in this unit is very aware of the difficult battle being fought just a few miles from here. Each soldier is aware they'll not be going home anytime soon.

After two weeks of fighting, Captain Boaz is realistic, but more determined than ever to win.

BOAZ: It would be stupid and presumptuous to say that it's going easy and we're doing great and everything's cool, because it's not. And Hezbollah is a really tough enemy. But we're a strong army. And we're going to do whatever it takes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): And whatever it takes, day and night, this Israeli artillery unit says that they are willing to do. The shelling continues. Of course, the fighting does as well.

When we come back, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been visiting hospitals in Haifa. Today a bloody day in Haifa -- 18 people wounded, one man died. And elsewhere in northern Israel, a 15-year-old girl was killed by a Katyusha rocket.

Sanjay has the fight to save lives, coming up next.

COOPER: Also the action -- we focus on California wildfires there, now threatening some big mansions in Beverly Hills. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That was the scene in Haifa today. Air raid sirens sounding several times today. Eighteen people wounded there. One man died at the scene of an attack of a heart attack. Elsewhere in northern Israel a 15-year-old girl was killed.

Behind me you can hear Israeli artillery units firing shells into south Lebanon. This has been going on now around the clock, of course, for these last two weeks, but certainly tonight we had a very active night here over the last several hours.

Those are American-made 109 artillery pieces, and they're lobbing 155 millimeter shells into the battlefield in south Lebanon, really trying to do two things. Trying to knock out Hezbollah rocket positions in south Lebanon, and also trying to provide cover for Israeli ground forces who have been working a very intensive action over the last 24 hours. And those shells -- that shelling will no doubt continue all throughout this morning. We're going to have more from this front line right here. But first let's check in with Heidi Collins with the day's other top stories -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Hi there, Anderson.

We are going to switch gears for a moment. A turnaround for tech stocks helped Wall Street gain some ground today. That along with an unexpected jump in consumer confidence and a drop in oil prices helped boost the Dow more than 52 points, closed at 11103. The NASDAQ climbed 12 points. S&P up almost 8.

A victory for the U.S. government in its domestic war on terror. A federal judge in Chicago threw out a lawsuit aimed at blocking AT&T from handing over its telephone records to the government. The suit was filed by the ACLU and Author Studs Terkel. It's one of a number of lawsuits that have been filed around the country now in the wake of reports that AT&T and other phone companies have turned their records over to the National Security Administration.

A construction worker in Ireland stumbled upon an ancient book of Psalms. Experts say the book dates back somewhere between the years 800 and 1,000. Researchers likely will study the book for years before it can go on public display.

The first major storm of the hurricane season now downgraded to a tropical storm. Daniel is about 850 miles east of Hawaii. It could make landfall by Friday morning. And forecasters say it could bring as much as 10 inches of rain and winds up to 60 miles an hour. Emergency workers are advising residents to update their emergency supplies and go over family disaster plans just in case.

Up next, more from the Middle East. Medical workers right in the line of fire. But first, a deadly heat wave continues in California. For the first time in 57 years, northern and southern California have experienced extended heat waves at the same time.

CNN's Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been making its way downhill...

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wildfires near Beverly Hills Tuesday put some mansions at risk and took out a trailer near Monterey. And making it harder to fight those fires, a record heat wave. The kind that kills.

Authorities say at least 29 people may have died due to the heat. Including one man at this nursing home in Stockton after the air conditioner gave way. Others there treated by paramedics. Utility failures around California have put residents in the dark and the heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one transformer after another. SIMON: In fact, more than 2,000 transformers have failed. With power usage up, more than anyone expected, state officials are pleading with the public to turn thermostats up to 78 or higher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're comfortable with 80, 82, please go and do that. Because the more, the better.

SIMON: 1.5 million customers have had outages, including the popular teen Web site myspace.com. It's gone offline twice now. But some people here have had more pressing concerns, like their food going bad.

SONYA REYNOLDS, HEAT SUFFERER: I've never been -- never in my life ever, ever, ever had to go through something like this. And I just want it to go away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just say all these areas are out, sorry, we're terribly sorry, we apologize, sorry for the inconvenience. Well, it's more than an inconvenience. It's a health issue. It really is a health issue.

SIMON: Fresno came up with a novel idea. It's using 14 city buses as portable cooling centers in places with power outages.

ALAN AUTRY, FRESNO MAYOR: I want to get these buses out there in strategic spots.

SIMON: Other parts of the country also under a solar attack. In St. Louis, more than 500,000 lost power at some point after storms or equipment failures. And the temperatures there remain high.

Same goes for a New York City neighborhood where some have gone more than eight days without electricity.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK MAYOR: The city's response I think has been as good as we can. Our main objectives are to provide safety.

SIMON: Back on the West Coast in Oregon, 35 greyhounds died at a kennel after the air conditioner failed. Energy Specialist Tim Duane can't remember a time when so many parts of the country at once have been without power. He fears this may be a preview of times to come, especially with demand rising so quickly.

TIM DUANE, PH.D., U.C. BERKELEY ENERGY EXPERT: We're having bigger and bigger houses. The average house -- new house built today is literally three times the size of the new house 50 years ago. And those new houses today have a lot of appliances, have a lot of electronics.

SIMON (on camera): The National Weather Service warns that California temperatures could remain sky high for a few more days. It's advising people to stay in air conditioned rooms which could mean more outages.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Air conditioned rooms if you can find them.

That is the very latest from here. Anderson, now back to you.

COOPER: Heidi, thanks very much. Time for the shot. The most compelling piece of video of the day. We think the shot right now is the shots that are going on right behind us for the last couple of minutes. Two Israeli M-109 American-made artillery pieces have been lobbing shells now pretty consistently over the last five minutes into south Lebanon. They're firing about 100 155-millimeter shells, accurate range of about 20 kilometers or so.

And really, their mission is twofold, trying to provide ground cover for Israeli forces fighting Hezbollah on the ground and the fighting in the last 24 hours or so, in some cases according to Israeli Defense Forces, has been house by house.

They're also trying to aim for those Hezbollah rocket positions. And those Hezbollah rockets continue to land in northern Israel -- 100 in the last 24 hours, according to Israeli Defense Forces, causing some 18 casualties, 18 wounded people in Haifa.

Coming up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at the fight to save their lives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It is worth remembering that Israel is fighting on two fronts. Not just here along the Israel-Lebanon border, but also further south in Gaza, in Palestinian territory.

(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)

According to Reuters, it just crossed on the international wire, one Palestinian was killed, a number of others wounded when Israeli tank shell landed into a crowd in northern Gaza. That story just coming across the wires right now.

(END BREAKING NEWS)

CNN's Sanjay Gupta has spent today in Haifa. It has been a very busy and a bloody day in Haifa -- 18 people wounded by Hezbollah rockets which were fired throughout the day into Haifa. Dr. Gupta was at the hospital when the rockets started to hit. Here's his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rambam Hospital, the largest hospital in northern Israel. Now, for the first time ever, in the target zone. Doctors under fire.

(On camera): We're in the operating room suite at Rambam Hospital. I want to show you something that has really not been seen before. Doctors who are actually operating under situations of conflict. While under attack themselves, they're responsible for saving others' lives.

(Voice-over): There is a calmness here as Dr. Tony Karam operates. A few floors above, gurneys and ambulances waiting. Today they will all get used.

A loud thud and an explosion. Close. Too close. And then an increasingly familiar routine.

(On camera): You really get a sense of what's happen now here. You saw the ambulances take off after that thud, not even 100 meters away probably here. It is total pandemonium here, but everyone is getting ready. They're getting their gloves on, they're getting their garb on. They're waiting for any traumas that might actually come into the hospital. This is where they'll come from this particular area.

(Voice-over): Within minutes, patients come pouring in, all of them civilians. Hard to say how badly wounded, but bloodied, banged up and certainly terrorized. Suddenly all those sirens and thuds come to life.

(On camera): Just to give you a sense here, you get the sense that there's been a lot of shrapnel injury here, probably some glass injury as well. Obviously a lot of bleeding here from the shrapnel.

(Voice-over): Many of the injuries come from these vicious ball bearings packed into the rockets. I saw them firsthand.

(On camera): Take a look at these pellets. The rockets we've been talking so much about are filled with thousands, tens of thousands of these pellets. I want to give you an idea of how much damage they can do. Take a look at this car. This is close to the blast site. Look at these pelts have gone straight through the body of the car, shattered out all these windows, through the car seat as well. This car has been completely devastated by these ball bearings. Imagine what they do to the human body.

(Voice-over): Today, no one dies from the missile strike. Quickly, breathing tubes are placed and the blood is replenished. Patients stabilized.

Rambam is one of the finest trauma centers anywhere in the world. Still, I saw it in Beirut and now here in Haifa. Hospitals are not immune in this war.

(On camera): We used to think that hospitals and ambulances and health care workers should be given some immunity from the war. But it doesn't appear the case this time around.

DR. TONY KARAM, VASCULAR SURGEON, RAMBAM HOSPITAL: Actually, it doesn't. You know, my daughter asked me some days ago when she was crying when the sirens went on, she asked me why did I continue to go to work. I told her that it was accepted usually in the whole world that no one sends rockets to hospitals. So I will be safe here, even safer than any other places. But it seems it's not the case anymore.

GUPTA: And as the operation continues, this is just another day in the life of Rambam Hospital.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You know, Sanjay, when these Katyusha rockets hit, even if they don't make a direct hit, they often injure people or cause a lot of property damage all around. Why is that?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it is so remarkable because these are seemingly random in terms of where these rockets, these missiles actually hit. But they're filled with all the shrapnel. And I actually got a sense of this yesterday. Those ball bearings, Anderson, they can do a lot of damage.

We saw some images at Rambam Hospital. One single ball bearing actually going through somebody's chest, straight into the sac of lining fluid around their heart, causing significant damage. That person actually thought he was fine. Then he goes to the hospital and finds out he has this very significant injury. So, people, even if they're several hundred feet away, have to worry about that.

COOPER: Sanjay, you've been to hospitals in Beirut, and you've now been to these hospitals in northern Israel. How do they compare?

GUPTA: Well, I have to say, you know, you go to Rambam Hospital, and you're talking about a world class trauma center. Now, Beirut has some very good trauma centers as well. But the problem as you saw as well, Anderson, is that the roads in so many places have been so devastated that a lot of the casualties end up going to smaller hospitals. American university, for example, in Beirut, a very good hospital. But you just have a very hard time getting patients there because the roads are in bad shape. So it's a little bit of an access issue, if you will. The thing that struck me the most is that in both places, hospitals, ambulances, health care institutions, are in this target zone. So that's very hard to avoid.

COOPER: It certainly is. Sanjay, appreciate that report. A busy day for you.

The shelling here has just begun again. We'll have more from the front lines in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" Soledad O'Brien talks to a Louisiana woman who has not heard from her son and husband in days as they try to get out of Lebanon as the last of the evacuation of Americans winds down. That's on "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow, starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern. Miles O'Brien is also in Haifa.

That's it for us on 360. We?ll be back here tomorrow.

"LARRY KING" is next.

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