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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Mideast on Alert; Making the Same Mistakes?; Israel's Perspective; Mr. Maliki goes to Washington; Bush Foreign Policy; Caught in the Crossfire; Victims of Violence; Who is Nasrallah?; Who is Olmert?

Aired July 26, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are coming to you from an Israeli artillery unit's position. You can see some of the M-109 artillery pieces behind me. They have been lobbing shells into south Lebanon intermittently throughout the evening and, of course, over these last 15 days of the conflict.
It is now day 16 here. It is morning. No telling what the next few hours will bring. The last 24 hours have been tough for Israel. They have taken casualties. There have been fatalities as well. Israeli commanders now saying this fight in south Lebanon may go on for several more weeks than previously thought.

Israel's prime minister also saying what they are attempting to do is to create a buffer zone. But he says the buffer zone is only about a mile and a quarter or so inside south Lebanon. That, of course, a smaller zone than had been previously discussed.

We'll be examining all of that the next hour.

First, let's get you up to date. The latest information in our CNN "War Bulletin."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Day 15. The deadliest day of fighting yet for Israel. Israeli Defense Forces report eight Israeli soldiers were killed and 22 wounded in the battle for Bint Jbeil. Israel is also reporting heavy Hezbollah casualties.

Yesterday, Israel claimed it had taken control of the southern Lebanon village. Entire Israeli war planes struck the heart of the city. Massive explosions ripped through its center. The attack in Tyre comes a day after four U.N. observers were killed in their southern Lebanon outpost.

Lebanese security forces say their deaths were caused by three precision bombs fired by Israel. The U.N. is investigating reports that the observers repeatedly warned Israel that its bombs were dropping close to their location.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called it apparently deliberate Israeli targeting. Israel's ambassador to the U.N. gave CNN an angry response to Annan's statement. DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think that the statement made by the secretary general was very unworthy of such a seasoned diplomat. I think it was premature, hasty, deplorable and irresponsible.

COOPER: Across northern Israel, Hezbollah continued its onslaught, launching more than 100 rockets today, at least 32 people were injured.

And in Rome, more talk of peace, but little chance of it happening anytime soon. A meeting to resolve the conflict ended with no agreement, except the possibility of sending in an international force.

While many diplomats on hand were asking for a cease-fire, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was said to be under siege at the talks, refused to give in.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are all agreed that we want most urgently to end the violence on a basis that this time will be sustainable. Because unfortunately, this is a region that has had too many broken cease-fires. Too many spasms of violence followed then by other spasms of violence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): A lot to talk about. We've asked our top correspondents deployed throughout the region to join us right now for a roundtable.

In Jerusalem right now, Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour. In Beirut, Beirut Bureau Chief Brent Sadler joins me. Here along the border in another location is Senior National Correspondent John Roberts. And in Rome is Chief National Correspondent John King, covering diplomatic efforts.

Brent, let's start off with you. No movement really on the diplomatic front. Certainly no cease-fire. What do the Lebanese people, what do the Lebanese government, think right now about U.S. efforts? The U.S. refusing to call for an immediate cease-fire, wanting something sort of a more sustainable cease-fire in their words?

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the country is obviously wanting to see their government win an immediate cease-fire because the country is -- certainly in the south of the country, being steadily torn apart. There's a tremendous and building situation of humanitarian crisis building. There's still no establishment of a firm humanitarian corridor that can be relied on to get people, Lebanese, out of the south. And most if not all Americans who want to be evacuated have now been evacuated. So Lebanon really wants to see a cease-fire.

But there are certainly many parts of Lebanon who are not in the Hezbollah camp politically, who at the same time as wanting to see an end to the bloodshed, they also want to see the disarmament of Hezbollah as soon as possible.

COOPER: Christiane, we heard from the prime minister of Israel in the last 24 hours talking about this buffer zone, only about a mile and a quarter he was talking about in south Lebanon. Do we know really at this point what Israel has planned for south Lebanon?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, and it does keep changing. The sort of goal posts have been changing ever since this began. We've heard all sorts of different scenarios about how big a buffer zone, how long, how long they're going to continue the offensive, what it's going to take. And things actually keep changing because of the situation on the ground.

So this buffer zone that was meant to be wider than what he's now saying has now suddenly shrunk. But the thing is what is going to maintain that buffer zone? Most people think it should be an international force which allows the Lebanese government to deploy its forces. But as diplomats in Rome are saying, and one said to me, it's going to take days because everybody knows there's not going to be a cease-fire for a while until there's a political solution that everybody agrees to.

COOPER: And of course, as long as there are rockets, a mile and a quarter buffer zone would not stop Katyusha rockets from being able to fall into northern Israel. That, of course, had been one of their stated goals early on.

John Roberts, the fighting on the ground, what we know about it, and as you pointed out in the last hour, we can't actually even see -- we don't have embedded correspondents with Israeli forces.

According to Israeli forces, though, it sounds as if it is just getting more and more intense. Even in places where they said 24 hours ago that they were in control.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you're seeing here, Anderson, is the problems with what the military likes to call asymmetrical warfare. That's where you have a traditional military with armor, tanks, people in uniform, against a militia group that can blend into the background, can disappear into the community. One second they're not there, the next second they are.

It's not like you've got brigades or divisions lined up against each other and you shoot it out for dominance. What happens is that you've got an army that's coming into a place, everybody looks like a civilian. And until they pick up those AK-47s and those RPGs. So it's very difficult for them to discern where they are.

And don't forget, because Israel has been out of south Lebanon for six years, Hezbollah has had an awful lot of time to prepare for just such an eventuality. So they can disappear into the community. They can strike with lightning as they did this morning. And it's a real problem for the Israeli army.

COOPER: John King, in the last hour you described Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in some of these diplomatic talks that have been going on, especially in the last 24 hours, as being under siege by other leaders. Did the U.S. really expect anything concrete to come out of these immediate talks?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, expect, they say no. But had they hoped behind the scenes, had they hoped privately for some grand bargain, the answer to that is yes. But they didn't get it here, Anderson. Essentially, Condoleezza Rice said I can deliver Israel if you will work with me on making the difficult choices about disarming Hezbollah. That didn't happen.

So now you have what happens from here, everyone says, is waiting to see who will blink first. The two parties who are fighting, Israel and Hezbollah, not represented here at the talks today -- 18 other nations and international organizations, but not Israel and not Hezbollah.

Neither one of those two right now, according to everyone involved, has any inclination to stop the fighting. Israel says it will continue, Hezbollah says it will continue, and actually expand the violence. Will the casualties turn Israeli public opinion? Will the damage eventually have Hezbollah seeking a solution? That is the key question right now because the effort to broker a grand bargain here in Rome, Anderson, fell apart.

COOPER: Christiane, you've talked to a lot of military leaders, Israeli military leaders and officials over the last two weeks or so. Is it your sense that they're basically just trying to position themselves as much as possible, gain as much on the ground as possible, before some sort of political discussion has to begin? I mean, do they all acknowledge that ultimately, this has to be solved politically?

AMANPOUR: Yes, they do acknowledge that. And everybody said that from the very beginning. You know, to try and do as much damage to Hezbollah on the ground so that they are weakened and they somehow, through their interlocutors, decide just to step back. But it doesn't seem to be working like that at the moment.

Although the Israeli military commanders still say that they are causing damage, they admit that they're taking casualties. But they still say that they are causing much heavier casualties on the Hezbollah side.

And just a couple of days ago, one of the chief commanders I was talking to said they had managed to push quite a few of them back, so that their rocket fire was less accurate, less deep into Israel. But of course, the amount of rockets are, you know, coming just as fast and furious.

COOPER: Brent Sadler, you know, you and I were in Beirut last March for the so-called Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah had a large demonstration, then about a million Lebanese poured out into the streets on, I think it was March 14th, calling for Syria to get out. A much larger demonstration than the Hezbollah demonstration.

Has this current crisis bolstered Hezbollah? Has it made them more powerful?

SADLER: It certainly made them quite clearly a force for Israel to be reckoned with. Certainly, Hezbollah supporters in the southern suburbs and in the south of the country will see that Hezbollah has been able to stop the might of Israel's army, that seemed on the verge, poised to launch an all-out push up to a much deeper position inside Israel.

But you know, analysts I speak to here, military experts, think that the Israelis are putting out conflicting signals to try to confuse their enemy. Whether or not the Israelis will stick close to this thin security strip along the border or will push out. The best information I have from this side of the firing line is that Israel can control more or less the whole of the strip with its long-range artillery pushing, or rather keeping their heads down of the Hezbollah to the best of their ability. Hezbollah still able to fire those rockets.

But many analysts still believe that Israel is holding on to the possibility of the wider scale military option that would see a much heavier drive into southern Lebanon. Because realistically speaking, the deployment of an international force in such a narrow strip of land, a couple, two or three miles between the border and where the most advanced Israeli troops are now, there's no space to put an international force in there.

Israel has its supply lines close to the border. They have the longer-range artillery. The question is, will they go ahead and really gamble a much wider ground offensive -- Anderson.

COOPER: And a big gamble it would be.

Brent Sadler, Christiane Amanpour, John Roberts and John King, appreciate that all.

When we come back, a lot more from this region. But first let's take a look at the casualties so far. Here's the raw data. Here are the latest numbers that we have.

In Israel -- well, actually, let's start off in Lebanon. Lebanese security forces say that 398 people in Lebanon have been killed, another 1,486 injured. In Israel, at least 50 Israelis have died, and more than 382 people have been wounded.

Let's check in with CNN's Heidi Collins for the day's other top stories that we're following on in New York -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson.

We take you to Iraq first. Saddam Hussein tells the court how he'd like to die. In his last appearance before the Iraqi tribunal is about to cast its verdict on his fate. The former Iraqi leader said if he's found guilty and sentenced to death, he would rather be executed by firing squad than quote, "hang like a common criminal." The prosecution has asked for the death penalty for the former Iraqi dictator for his role in the death of Shiite Muslims. A Houston jury found Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity for drowning her children in a bathtub five years ago. Yates will be committed to a mental institution. In 2002 a jury rejected Yates' insanity defense and sentenced her to life in prison, but a state appeals court overturned that conviction.

In Washington the FBI has created a unit to study threats from weapons of mass destruction. Director Robert Mueller said it was part of a new effort to transform the FBI so it can help prevent WMDs from being used against the United States.

And firefighters battling huge flames near San Diego got a break today from the weather. Fire crews said slightly cooler temperatures have helped prevent the blaze from spreading. The fire has turned through 16,500 acres of Cleveland National Forest in the last four days.

Anderson, back now to you.

COOPER: Heidi, thanks very much for the update.

When we come back, we'll have the latest from the fighting inside south Lebanon. A major explosion in the city of Tyre, collapsing a 10-story building. We'll have the latest on that. And we'll talk to the "New York Times" Nick Kristof and Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, when 360, live from the border continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're looking at a Hezbollah training video.

We are coming to you live form the Israeli-Lebanon border. Spending this morning and this evening with an Israeli artillery crew here. The guns have been going off a little bit this morning, not as much as yesterday morning. I'm not sure if we can read anything into that, but it has been a long 15 days for these Israeli artillery crews. They have been working literally around the clock.

One of the things we try to do on 360 is bring you as many different perspectives on a story as possible. I wanted to talk to two people now with very different perspectives.

First, I'm joined by "New York Times" Columnist Nick Kristof, who is in Portland, Oregon, tonight.

Nick, thanks for being with us. You've been writing a lot from your perspective about what you think is happening here on the ground. I want to read something from your latest column I got on my Blackberry. I have to read it.

You wrote, "For now Israeli's Lebanon adventure is playing out a bit like America's Iraq adventure. It is bolstering hard-liners (like Bashar al-Assad of Syria) and undermining moderates (like King Abdullah of Jordan), while handing propaganda victories to Iran and Shiite militants." How so?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: Well, I mean I think that Israelis were understandably frustrated by the attack on them, just as we were enormously frustrated by 9/11. And in each case we underestimated nationalism. We didn't realize that when we kill terrorists, we often end up creating more. And that the force of nationalism is such that in the Middle East right now, the winner is somebody like Bashar Assad, who had been very weak and now, because he is seen as sort of standing up to Israel and supporting Hezbollah, he's had a new lease on life. Which of course is the last thing we want.

COOPER: But there's some who would argue, look, people in this region don't need some new reason to hate Israel, there are plenty of reasons in the past why they would say that they hate Israel. Doesn't Israel have a right to defend itself if attacked?

KRISTOF: Yes, but I think that, you know, the fundamental problem is that Israel is hurting its own interests and that's why previous prime ministers, like Ariel Sharon, like Ehud Barak, had not responded with this degree of violence on Lebanon.

And, you know, in the past, Israel has been able to work out agreements and they haven't worked out very well, but that process of peace, you know, is something that can work out rather better than war.

And I'm afraid that this is going to be -- just as the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was meant to improve Israel's security, it ended up harming it tremendously and creating the birth of Hezbollah. I'm afraid that this may be an echo of that.

COOPER: What do you think Israel should have done in response to Hezbollah kidnapping of two of their soldiers and continuing to fire rockets into northern Israel?

KRISTOF: You know, I mean, I wish I had some good solutions. But I think the basic answer of that provided by both Prime Minister Barak and Prime Minister Sharon, of you know, a very modest response. And you know, that might have involved striking one or two Hezbollah sites. But not launching this huge bombardment of Lebanon that I think is unlikely to succeed militarily, and it may end up really empowering radical Shiaism all across the region.

COOPER: If this does, though, end up with some sort of international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon or a stronger Lebanese military, if the bottom line after all of this is said and done is Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon, wouldn't that be a good thing for Israel?

KRISTOF: Oh, absolutely. And you know, look, Middle East expert is an oxymoron. Things can go in all kinds of different ways. And I wouldn't rule out the possibility that things would work out in that way. But I'm very skeptical that it will. It seems to me hard to imagine that there is going to be a lot of military success. And I think that's why the Israeli military has found it more difficult than it expected. And I think it's going to be incredibly difficult to find international troops who would actually patrol the border area.

COOPER: That certainly does seem to be a problem of finding countries who would be willing to actually send their troops onto the ground. Certainly the U.S. will not be doing that, according to their statements thus far.

Nick Kristof, we appreciate your perspective, and thank you for being on the program.

KRISTOF: My pleasure.

COOPER: We're joined now by Ambassador Dan Gillerman.

Thanks Nick.

We're joined by Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. What about it, Ambassador? You heard Nick's perspective. What do you think?

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I have great respect for Nick Kristof. But I think in this particular case he's wrong. I think he's wrong and I certainly hope he's wrong.

First of all I think the comparison with Iraq is wrong because while not getting into the pros and cons of the invasion of Iraq and the war in Iraq, Iraq is thousands of miles away from the United States. We are actually fighting for our home. We're fighting for our lives against a brutal enemy who is right in our backyard. Right on our doorstep.

Our response shouldn't be measured by the act which the Hezbollah took against us, which was a blatant violation of any U.N. resolutions and from an area which, as you know, Israel has withdrawn from fully six years ago. It should be measured against the threat.

And when you see the enormous magnitude of the lethal arsenal which the Hezbollah has amassed over the years, when you witness the thousands of rockets and missiles which are being fired at Israeli towns and cities with a range that could eventually reach Tel Aviv, you realize that this could not be allowed to fester in the cesspool of terror, and to allow Iran and Syria to terrorize the whole region. This has to be dealt with.

COOPER: But Ambassador Gillerman, in there's not militarily a solution to all of this, I mean, if, I mean it seems that even as Israeli military officials kind of seem to recognize that ultimately some sort of political solution is going to have to decide this. If that is the case, isn't the danger of building up a Hassan Nasrallah of emboldening Hezbollah, making them more powerful, isn't that a great concern? GILLERMAN: It is a concern. But I think that the military solution is on its way. And I think also that without this military action, there would never be talk of the political solution which is being discussed today. If we succeed -- sorry?

COOPER: Sorry, it's only through -- you think it's only through military strength, by having a strong posture on the ground, that some sort of diplomatic or political solution basically allows you to bargain from a position of strength? Is that what you're saying?

GILLERMAN: Yes, it is what I'm saying. Because for years, the United Nations and Security Resolution 1559 and others, and the International Community, have demanded from Lebanon to exert its power and sovereignty over the whole of Lebanon, to deploy its forces in the south. They never did it.

And only Israel's action, while degrading and significantly weakening, and maybe eliminating the Hezbollah, will eventually lead to a political solution where the Hezbollah is no longer capable of being that terrorizing threat, both to Lebanon, to Israel, and to the region. So if any political solution comes out of it, it will be a direct result of the action which Israel took.

Otherwise the Hezbollah would continue to grow, would continue to amass those weapons, and who knows, in a year or two they could have biological weapons. In a few years' time with the courtesy of Iran they could have nuclear weapons. So this threat had to be removed.

And as to Mr. Kristof's concern about creating more anti-Israeli feelings, we do not feel that the Middle East and especially southern Lebanon and some of our neighboring countries need any encouragement from us. These are societies which don explosive belts on women in order to blow themselves up and use young children as suicide bombers.

And I believe that, you know, as Goldamire (ph) said, there will not be peace in our region until the Arabs learn to love their children more than they hate us. At the moment, with the culture of incitement and hatred, we really don't feel that by doing the right thing, we are contributing to any more violence or any more anti- Israeli feeling. There's enough as it is. And this is I think a way of putting an end to it and encouraging Lebanon to regain its freedom and to become the prosperous and vibrant country that it once was.

COOPER: Ambassador Gillman, we appreciate your time tonight as well. Thank you very much.

GILLERMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

COOPER: When we come back, the view from Washington. How all of this is being dealt with by the White House and how some conservative supporters are seeing what is going on here and their criticism of the Bush administration. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There is of course another war being fought in Iraq, as well as the war here. Both wars collided today in Washington of all places.

CNN's Dana Bash reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The prime minister came before an increasingly skeptical Congress and cast the battle in Iraq as a war for the heart of Islam.

NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror.

BASH: That was intended to show he stands against all terror groups. But Nouri al-Maliki did not specifically condemn Hezbollah, which many lawmakers wanted to hear.

Senator Chuck Schumer was among a handful of Democrats who boycotted the speech, furious that al-Maliki last week denounced Israeli aggression, but not Hezbollah's.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: That's not the kind of person you consider an ally.

BASH: But other senior Democrats demanding al-Maliki publicly clarify his stance on Hezbollah backed off, saying Iraqi leaders reassured them in private.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: The prime minister is with the program. Understanding that terrorism in the region, whether within Iraq or by Hezbollah, in Lebanon, is unacceptable.

BASH: Al-Maliki implored Americans to stick with Iraq, appealing for more money from a Congress that spent some $300 billion in his country.

AL-MALIKI (through translator): Much of the budget you had allocated for Iraq's reconstruction ended up paying for security firms and foreign companies.

BASH: Just as the prime minister was hailing democratic transformation in Iraq, an antiwar protester interrupted and was rushed out. Some said the prime minister was overly optimistic about Iraq's progress, and failed to address the key question on Americans' minds.

SEN. DICK DURIN (D), ILLINOIS: We want to know when the time will come and how soon it will come that American troops can come home. That is the real test of our success in Iraq.

BASH (on camera): In an election year overshadowed by Iraq, those perhaps most interested in his speech were Republicans in trouble.

(Voice-over): Congressman Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania says Prime Minister Maliki did not address concerns he hears on the campaign trail. REP. JIM GERLACH (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This Iraqi government's got to move forward. It can't feel it has a blank check in American lives and American tax dollars from now until the end of time.

BASH: So for the prime minister, a rare honor, but also a taste of the politics of Iraq in America.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And David Gergen joins me now. David has advised numerous presidents, both Republicans and Democrats. He's also at the Harvard School of Government and also roving editor for "U.S. News and World Report."

David, thanks for being with us. How surprised were you by the reception, I guess mixed reception, that Iraq's prime minister got in Washington?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I think it's not surprising it was mixed because he infuriated many in Washington with his comments a few days ago, condemning Israel with regard to the Hezbollah. Many thought that was a one-sided comment.

And you know, Democrats in particular said, how is it we have created a democratic government in Iraq, and a moment of truth seems to be on the side of Iran, not the side of the United States and its friend Israel in this conflict?

COOPER: I guess that's the thing about democratic governments is you never know exactly what they're going to say. It's hard to tell, at least from here, and I'd be interested in hearing your perspective, how much of what he was saying was sort of posturing for the Arab world, and to show his independence, and how much was deeply held belief?

GERGEN: It's a very good question, Anderson. And the perception here is that he was talking partly to the Arab world. He thanked the United States, but he -- it was to a remarkable degree a speech in which he appealed to Americans, did appeal to Americans and Arabs on the basis of, this is a war against terrorism and Iraq is the lynchpin in the war against terrorism. If we lose here, we lose the war. And that, obviously, is aimed at an American audience as well as an Arab audience.

He kept on making a point, basically, the people who kill Shiites are essentially terrorists. The people who kill Sunnis are, well, they're killing terrorists. And he had very little condemnation for the militias who are Shiites, who are killing the other side. I mean, he didn't recognize the civil war nature of this. He really put it on as a war against terrorism in which democracy is up against -- the fragile forces of democracy up against terrible terrorists.

COOPER: How is all of this playing for President Bush? I mean, I've seen some recent polls. There was a new "New York Times" poll. It seems like his approval numbers are up somewhat. Yet clearly Americans are very wary about what's happening in Iraq and what's happening over here.

GERGEN: Well, you're right. I think all of us have been waiting to see how Americans would respond to this. And the "New York Times" does have a significant survey out tonight which says that about 45 percent of the public approves of the way President Bush is handling Israel and Hezbollah.

But very importantly, Anderson, there's no significant overall improvement in the president's numbers. Up a little tiny bit. But very significantly, rather a strong isolationist streak showing up in this poll. With people saying, we basically would like to see Israel and Hezbollah settle this, we're mostly on the side of Israel, but more than anything else we want to stay the hell out of it. We don't want American troops on the ground there. We'd be happy if Americans weren't too involved with this.

And also Anderson, an uptick, I think a significant increase in the number of people who are now saying they would like to see a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. Now, you know, that's been -- on that issue, the public has been evenly divided, given all the troubles that have occurred there. But Americans seem to be saying is, we're stretched too thin to go in and solve all of this. Let's stand back a little bit. Let them settle it themselves. And maybe we ought to be thinking more seriously about pulling back from Iraq sooner, rather than later.

Very much in the face of the just yesterday, the president saying instead of withdrawing, we're going to move more troops into Baghdad.

COOPER: David Gergen, appreciate your time.

GERGEN: Okay. Thank you very much, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks very much for that interesting perspective.

The shelling has begun anew here this morning, just in the last several minutes. The two artillery batteries behind me have started throwing some rounds over these mountains across into southern Lebanon.

When we come back from this break, we'll have more of what is happening inside southern Lebanon. In particular, the fighting, the explosions going on in Tyre. A 10-story building collapsing. People searching through the rubble. We'll have the latest from the battle zone next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live on the Israel-Lebanon border with an Israeli artillery tank crew. These American-made M-109 artillery pieces behind me have just in the last several minutes started to open up fire. Let's get you up to date on the latest action with the CNN "War Bulletin."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Israeli air strikes hit the port city of Tyre, about 15 miles (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the Israeli border. A 10- story building was destroyed. No details immediately available explaining why that building was a target, but Israeli military officials say Hezbollah rocket launchers are in the area.

Israel sent more troops to Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: As you can see, a couple of problems there out in the field with Anderson. We will, of course, get back to him just as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the southern Lebanon town of Tyre was the target of an Israeli air strike today. Calm turned to chaos in just an instant.

Here's CNN's Karl Penhaul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smoke billows seconds after an Israeli air strike. It's a scramble to get the wounded out of the bomb zone.

Anyone over there? Everything OK? This Red Cross volunteer shouts. Amid the confusion, this woman and her son are reunited with her husband.

Something fell on us, we went downstairs to the neighbors, she tries to explain. God destroy Israel, she adds with rage.

This is the spot where the war planes struck. Rubble and fire where homes stood just moments before.

(On camera): This is all that's left of a 10-story building. Residents say two Israeli rockets slammed into the roof, causing an immediate collapse.

(Voice-over): It was not immediately clear whether any victims were buried in the ruins. Nor was it clear what the Israeli jets may have been targeting. Neighbors say this was an apartment building and civilians lived here.

These survivors of this Israeli air strike are dragged bleeding to a waiting ambulance. Where is she, where is she, this woman screams. She gets her answer seconds later as a younger woman, like her, coated in cement dust, is pulled from an alleyway and placed on a stretcher.

Flames lick through the rubble. Firefighters clamber to douse them.

And in the chaos of dust and smoke, an act of faith. This man has rescued his holy book, the Koran.

We can hear the wails of the ambulances, the crackle of flames, and the sobs of the survivors.

And then, another sound. Raw anger. God will strike Israel, death to Israel, they scream. And with raised fists, their chants of no surrender. With our blood and our souls, we will sacrifice ourselves for Hezbollah.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Tyre, southern Lebanon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A very dramatic day in Tyre. We continue to follow developments here along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Yesterday in the last 24 hours, there were some 100, more than 100 rockets, Hezbollah rockets, falling in Haifa and all throughout northern Israel. More than 12 Israelis were injured in those attacks.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta has been traveling around northern Israel, especially in Haifa. And right now he focuses on one woman, recently wounded in a rocket attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Galena Zilmamenroe (ph) is 43. Russian and divorced. She immigrated to Israel to start a new life just two weeks ago. Her timing couldn't have been worse.

After only 10 days, she became a casualty of one of those randomly fired Katyusha rockets.

She tells me she remembers nothing of the explosion. Shrapnel bit through her leg. Doctors tried to save it, but could not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it wasn't a salvageable injury that we can take care and do a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) transplantation.

GUPTA: I made rounds with her doctor, Hany Bahouth. He's an Arab working at northern Israel's largest hospital.

DR. HANY BAHOUTH, RAMBAM HOSPITAL: I am an Arab, yes. I am an Arab.

GUPTA: There's a war going on.

BAHOUTH: It's a war going on. And I'm a surgeon. I'm a doctor. I'm above all these things, that I'm an Arab or a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim or a Drews (ph). We have here a lot of ethnicities. And as a doctor, I am above all these things, especially when we are taking care of wounded patients.

GUPTA: At Rambam Hospital, Arabs and Jews work together to take care of all patients, no matter where they're from. Jolina (ph) belongs to Haifa's growing community of Russian immigrants.

(On camera): And it is Russians that are probably the hardest hit. They are one of the most impoverished communities in Haifa. And they are also scared. This is a bomb shelter. And several Russian families have actually decided to move down here, actually live down here, for the last two weeks. Let's take a look.

You can actually see that this is a shelter down here. This is to try and protect people. The most remarkable thing is that the children have been living down here for two weeks. Their parents actually make these quick runs out of the shelter to a store to buy some food and water, bring it back down. They have no idea how long they're going to be down here. They have no resources. They're very frightened. And nor now, this is their home.

(Voice-over): Galena never made it to a shelter.

Now, if there is a positive side to her story at all, it is this -- because she lost her leg in a terrorist military act, she qualifies, even as a brand new immigrant, for the highest category of the tua luimee (ph), which is a sort of national social security. As with victims of suicide bombings, the government of Israel will cover all of her medical costs, including prosthesis, give her a lifelong stipend, even pay for her burial.

In some ways, financially certainly, she's better off than she was when she came here two weeks ago. But her new life in Israel will be different in ways she could never have imagined.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, it's interesting. I hadn't realized that if someone is injured in a rocket attack, they really get complete health coverage?

GUPTA (on camera): Yes, it's really remarkable. Terrorist attack, military attack. Anderson, you can probably sort of guess where this evolved. I mean, you have so many suicide bombings and so many acts of terrorism, so different in so many ways than the United States.

This system of health care insurance sort of evolved into that where the government of Israel says, if you are injured in such a way, we'll pay for prosthesis, all your medical costs, all your health care costs, even your burial. They even get a small stipend as well.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, what's the latest on humanitarian aid going to south Lebanon in the region?

GUPTA: You know, the Undersecretary Eglund was here today in Haifa. And he made a lot of comments about this. He talked a lot about the danger still in actually getting the convoys down into south Lebanon. It was interesting to actually hear some of his comments, talking about the crossfire, worried about the convoys coming under attack, as well.

But to put in a scale of reference, a convoy of 10 trucks, a convoy of 10 trucks could actually feed about 21,000 people for 10 days. So it could take some time, you know, for that to actually get there. So humanitarian efforts still underway south Lebanon, but it could take some time, given all the fighting, cross-fighting that's still going on down there.

We'll have a lot more on that, a lot more on AC 360 after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): What is needed today is to be patient, to be steadfast, and to continue. And therefore the situation will not remain as it is now. We will be victorious. And we will be victorious in this battle as we have made victory in the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That, of course, the man at the center of all of this, Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah.

I want to take a look at really what we know about him as a leader. What his objectives are, what his strategies are. We asked CNN's Tom Foreman to investigate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Look at some of the most influential religious and political leaders in the Middle East, especially those who have militantly opposed the west. And Hassan Nasrallah stands out. With his round face and big smile, he is by all accounts charismatic, does not easily fit the image of a militant, and yet Hezbollah revolves around him.

We will be victorious in this battle, he is telling his followers now. We will not accept any humiliating condition to our country or our people.

Cal Temple of the Terrorism Research Center, says Hezbollah is a tightly controlled, almost corporate organization.

CAL TEMPLE, TERRORISM RESEARCH CENTER: It really sets the tone and the pace for the organization. And the midlevel managers and the foot soldiers fall into line.

FOREMAN: Nasrallah was born in Lebanon, the eldest of nine, and is 46 years old.

He always wanted to be a religious leader and through a religious school got caught up in resistance fighting when Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1982. The resistance became Hezbollah. Nasrallah's hatred of Israel hardened and in 1992, he became its leader. Opponents of Hezbollah's tactics have haunted him ever since.

JEFFREY FELTMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON: Certainly, it's a matter of great speculation, where is Hassan Nasrallah today?

FOREMAN: Nasrallah owes much of his power to Syria and Iran, both major supporters of Hezbollah. But Middle East watchers say Nasrallah's relationship with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is what troubles some moderate Arabs, the idea that Hezbollah is a spear point for Iran's dreams of greater influence in the region.

WALID SHOEBAT, FORMER PLO MEMBER: They're fearing Ahmadinejad. They're not fearing Nasrallah. They know that Israel can neutralize Nasrallah no problem. But they're feeding Ahmadinejad in Iran.

FOREMAN (on camera): Despite many threats, Nasrallah has so far shown relatively little inclination to carry Hezbollah's fight far from Lebanon, to attack America, for example. And his group openly opposes al Qaeda.

(Voice-over): But military and political analysts say Nasrallah's magnetic personality has inspired dedicated fighters who will likely strike wherever he points them.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, when we come back, the other leader in the region you need to know about, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, next, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's one of the artillery batteries behind me, just lobbing a shell into south Lebanon. They have a range of about 20 kilometers, pretty accurate up to that distance.

We've been looking at the various leaders in this region. We just showed you a profile of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah.

Now Israel's prime minister. Israel has a tradition of electing warrior leaders. The current prime minister, however, Ehud Olmert, does not come from that tradition. In fact, despite years of political ambition, he's actually something of an accidental prime minister.

Here's CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: The Shia ferocity of Israel's response surprised Hezbollah. Its leader said when they captured two Israeli soldiers, they expected a predictable and limited response. That may be because they underestimated Israel's relatively new prime minister. Unlike his predecessors, Sharon and Barak, both powerful generals, Ehud Olmert is not a warrior. He had never been tested that way because he had been a career politician.

JON ALTERMAN, DIRECTOR, CSIS MIDDLE EAST PROGRAM: Ehud Olmert is a career politician, but he doesn't come out of the Israeli security establishment. He didn't fight in wars. He wasn't a decorated soldier. He's a political guy from a political family.

AMANPOUR: Olmert has held the prime minister's post for less than seven months. He became acting prime minister after Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke. But he was elected to the job in March. And in his acceptance speech, he preached peace and reconciliation.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Before we can bring about peace in our relations with our neighbors, it has come -- the time has come for us to bring about peace in our own house.

AMANPOUR: Olmert was born in 1945, before Israel existed. The land then was part of British-controlled Palestine. In 1973, as a member of the hard-lined Likud Party, he was elected to the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

ALTERMAN: Ehud Olmert wasn't only a right-winger, he was the son of right-wingers, he had pedigree on the right side of the Likud Party.

AMANPOUR: In 1993, he was elected mayor of Jerusalem, a job he held for 10 years, at a time when dozens of Israelis were killed by Palestinian suicide bombers in buses in 1996 and a cafe in 2002.

OLMERT (through translator): I warned and I warn again today that it is not over.

AMANPOUR: Olmert has remained a staunch supporter of his predecessor's policies. But some Middle East experts wonder if Ehud Olmert is the right man to lead his country into this intense and protracted battle against its enemies.

ALTERMAN: It seems to me that there was something inevitable about Ehud Olmert showing he was tough. What I worry about is that there may not be a broader strategic plan where he's going to use his toughness to go do something else.

AMANPOUR: Christiane Amanpour, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll have more of 360, live from the war zone, in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," they're looking at Americans fighting here in the conflict in the Middle East. You're going to meet a New Yorker who has answered the call, honoring a family tradition of serving in the Israeli army. That's at 6:00 a.m., tomorrow, starting 6:00 a.m., Eastern Time, on "AMERICAN MORNING."

Miles O'Brien is up here in northern Israel, and Soledad O'Brien as well, in New York. Again, 6:00 a.m., Eastern Time.

Thanks very much for watching 360, live from the border. We'll be back tomorrow.

"LARRY KING" is next.

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