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New Threat; 24 Hours Under Attack

Aired August 3, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Morning in Haifa. Efforts to stop the war picking up, but so is the fighting and the dying.
ANNOUNCER: Haifa horror. In the deadliest day yet for Israel, Hezbollah steps up its rocket attack. And Israeli forces respond with a massive barrage in Beirut.

New threat. Hezbollah's leader surfaces with a chilling warning to Israel that if it doesn't stop the bombing, Tel Aviv will pay the price.

And from the most combat to the dead of night. The fighting as it unfolds hour by hour, blast by blast.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 23." Reporting tonight from Haifa, here's Anderson Cooper.


COOPER: And thanks for joining us. We're standing in Haifa after a deadly day on the brink. More than likely of more of the same and possibly worse.

There is a new threat in the air against Tel Aviv, a threat already answered just a short time ago by airstrikes on Beirut and there are preparations underway for a much greater push into southern Lebanon. A lot to get to.

All of the angles tonight from John Roberts on the border. John King following the late diplomatic moves in Washington and Michael Ware in Beirut.

Michael, what is happening there now?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it appears that in the last 10 to 15 minutes after something of a respite, the Israeli Air Force has resumed its air attacks on the capital of Lebanon, Beirut.

Just behind me you can see perhaps smoke plumes, a thick black cloud rising. As we came into position here, Anderson, there was two large explosions. Now this comes on the back of an evening of intense bombardment. We started to lose count. It would have to be over 30 bombs have hit Beirut, southern fringes this evening alone. It has been an intense morning, Anderson. That's coupled with attacks in Baalbeck, in the Bekaa Valley, on the northeast fringe of the country and there's also reports of further aerial bombardments in Syria.

The question now is, Anderson, with all of this going on, could this be a sign of things to come?


WARE (voice-over): War returned to Beirut. Hours ago, Hezbollah issued a warning.

HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): If you hit our capital, we will hit the capital of your entity. If you hit Beirut, the Islamic resistance will hit Tel Aviv and is able to do that with God's help.

WARE: That threat came on a day of frightening escalation in the war. With battles raging in southern Lebanon as Israel threw 10,000 troops into the attack, pressing deeper onto Lebanese soil over a wider front, maintaining a grip on one border village and striking out to 20 more.

Despite the intensity of the fighting, Hezbollah gave no sign of withering. A spokesman warning not one Israeli soldier could be left in Lebanon under any cease-fire. As if to make their point, the guerrillas batteries launched more than 200 rockets across the border, a reminder to Israel they can still inflict casualties.

Lebanon is also paying a high price. And in much of the country, life has been completely disrupted. Gas lines continue to grow and some medicines remain scarce.

The prime minister says a quarter of his nation's 3 million plus population are displaced and the war is turning his government to ruins.

FOUAD SINIORA, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: It is taking an enormous toll on the human life and infrastructure and has totally ravaged our country and shattered our economy.

WARE: That economy remains threatened. The Israelis refusing to let much needed fuel tankers pass through their naval blockade and contemplating the expansion of airstrikes.

In the wake of Nasrallah's statement, the Israeli's immediately countered. Should rockets fall on Tel Aviv, they will target even more of Lebanon's infrastructure. An exchange of threats that could take this war down a much more ominous turn.


COOPER: Michael, I want to bring in John Roberts now. He's on the border between Lebanon and Israel, and CNN's John King who's watching diplomatic efforts in Washington. John King, let's start of with you. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared earlier on "LARRY KING." I want to play something she said about diplomatic efforts and a timetable and let's talk about that. Let's play this right now.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're moving, Larry, toward being able to do this in phases that will permit first and/or a stop to the hostilities and based on the establishment of some very important principles for how we move forward.


COOPER: What does that mean, John?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What that means, Anderson, is that the administration that said it wanted all this done in one big package is comprising. We are told from a number of sources involved in the negotiations, those sources telling CNN the administration said today in negotiations with the French it would accept two resolutions.

It's not an unconditional cease-fire. The White House has not signed on to that. But it has accepted a first resolution that calls for a cessation of hostilities immediately and then lays out some of the political principles, including getting -- first using the U.N. force that's already in Lebanon, expanding that and using it and then ultimately getting to a second resolution that would give you a stabilization force and a lot of other things in there that both the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel would be expected to do but so the administration is compromising, Anderson, hoping to get this language approved tomorrow, Monday at the latest. Still some hang-ups, though.

COOPER: So what does that mean? They get this language approved, they get this resolution, whether it's tomorrow or over the weekend or Monday, whenever it is. And then what happens next? I mean, how long before they actually get troops mobilized, how long before the fighting actually stops? I mean, it seems like there's sort of a lot of moving parts to this.

KING: Well, the resolution says the fighting stops immediately when this is passed by the security council. Of course, The answer to that question, the answer to that principle lies with Hezbollah and the Israeli government.

The Israeli government, we are told by U.S. sources, has assured the United States it will comply if it believes the deal is going well. Meaning if Hezbollah stops shooting. The Lebanese army is about to deploy into southern Lebanon. There's a big question, though. John Roberts pointed out in the last hour, Israel doesn't trust the existing U.N. force that is in Lebanon. And that would be a largely a symbolic force. It's only about 2,000 people. There are some plans to add several hundred troops to it. But essentially, it would be a symbolic force that was in southern Lebanon. The message to Hezbollah would be, if you attack us, you're attacking the world.

There are questions as to whether it will work. But now all parties believe it is the best you can get, a first resolution, cessation of hostilities, lay out the political principles and a second resolution, send in that force. That will take weeks, Anderson, probably more than a month.

COOPER: John Roberts, you've been traveling along this border now for much of this conflict. It seems like Israel's entire strategy militarily is based on the motion that ultimately they're going to hand this over to some sort of force. Is that correct?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In fact they are insisting that they hand it over to some kind of force. They're using whatever time they have between now and the implementation or at least the passage of a U.N. resolution to try to do as much damage as they can to Hezbollah.

If I can get Alex our photographer to pan off just a little bit here. Just behind me is Lebanon and on the top of this hill that you see over there is the al-Khayyam prison. It's a very infamous prison from the days of the Israel occupation here in Lebanon.

On Wednesday night there was an intense artillery barrage on than position. We saw blasts all night long. Bizarre sort of wartime fireworks display.

Last night we saw a lot of grenade fire from those M-16 grenades, also rocket propelled grenade fire going in there, what looked like pretty close quarters combat, a fairly intense fight. Obviously, the Israeli army has pinpointed some Hezbollah positions on the top of that hill. They were going after them last night.

And that's what we're seeing from up here in Metullah all the way west to the Mediterranean Sea as more and more Israeli army forces move in to try to capture as much territory as possible in whatever time they have left.

Amir Peretz, the defense minister, said yesterday to get the army ready for an incursion that is going to go all the way to the Litani River to suppress those rocket launchers, to move Hezbollah back. That has not yet been approved by the Israeli Security Cabinet. We expected that maybe we would have heard about that late last night, Israel time. Perhaps we're going to hear about it sometime during the day today because time is growing very short if that resolution is introduced Friday in New York, which would be later in the day, Friday here, and then perhaps passed or voted on at least on Monday. That wouldn't give them a whole lot of time to get done what they want to get done.

COOPER: You know, John, though, it's interesting. You bring up this point, you talk about that town that you can see and the fighting that you can see. What does it tell you, though, about the nature of this combat that three plus weeks into this thing, Israeli forces are still battling Hezbollah fighters within sight of the border? I mean, that cannot be a good development for Israel. ROBERTS: Yes, within sight of the border, inside of our base of operations here. What it really speaks to is the criticism here in Israel there was a much too slow ramp up in the ground operations.

Hardliners wanted Israel to go in with everything they had right at the very beginning, not this slow pinpoint operations as they had been engaging in for last couple of weeks.

Now we see the reserve forces being called up. They're being put into training. Some are arriving at the front. But we still don't see those big numbers of reserve forces. They've called up three divisions. That's probably around 15,000 perhaps at the largest number; 30,000 troops.

They haven't arrived up to the border yet, but we have seen over the last 24 hours a lot more activity all along the border between Israel and Lebanon. More and more tanks, troops and armor, artillery being moved into forward positions. So certainly, Anderson, something is in the air and something big may happen over the next 24 hours.

COOPER: It is tough, tough fighting and no doubt not going to end anytime soon at least in the next couple of days.

Michael Ware in Beirut, we continue to watch this plume of smoke over the city.

Hassan Nasrallah spoke on television several hours ago. What did he say -- what was most significant about what he said?

WARE: Well, Anderson, what captured the headlines obviously was his vow that if Israeli aerial bombardment struck the center of Beirut, Hezbollah would respond in kind by sending rockets to Tel Aviv. As he said, the capital of the regime in Israel.

However there was two other interesting facets. One thing he said is you're attacking our villages, we're attacking yours. If you stop, we'll stop. The other interesting thing he said was he basically put an offer on the table, very politically savvy. He said we are prepared to restrict this conflict, in so many words. He said we can make it soldier against soldier. Basically he's saying let's leave the civilians out of this. That was a remarkable thing. Very savvy political maneuvering.

And honestly, we have to ask if this conflict ends tomorrow, on the weekend, next week, three weeks from now, what has been achieved? Hezbollah will continue to exist. It's a legitimate political force. It's only committed the troops to this battle, is prepared to lose, its military infrastructure shall remain. One wonders what's the point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Indeed. Michael Ware, appreciate you joining us from Beirut. Stay safe.

John Roberts as well, along the border.

And John King in Washington. The Israeli consulate estimates that 330,000 Israelis have been displaced by the fighting. In Lebanon, the number is even greater. Here's the raw data.

An estimated 550,000 Lebanese who have been displaced are living with families; 130,000 are living in shelters in Lebanon. Mainly in schools and about 200,000 Lebanese civilians have sought shelter in Syria.


Coming up, a new 360 special, an inside look at what happened in this region in this war from the fighting on the ground to the struggle to save those caught in the middle.

24 hours under attack, when 360 continues.



COOPER: Welcome to this special edition of 360, "24 Hours Under Attack." A look at what is happening here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The fighting, the dying, the struggle to survive. What we're about to show you are events that have happened around the clock. They didn't necessarily happen all on the same day, but they have taken place here in the war zone over the last three weeks.

On the ground and in the air, intense fighting has reduced cities and villages to rubble and killed hundreds of people. Most of them Lebanese civilians.

The attacks and counterattacks have also turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees now trying to survive whatever comes next. Relief agencies are struggling to help the trapped and displaced. The fighting continues. But delivering aid in a battle zone is not just extremely dangerous work, it's often impossible.

It's a cycle seen in every war. First come the bombs and the bullets. And then come the refugees, people struggling just to get by, struggling to survive. It all begins on the battlefield.

We begin this hour around midnight. Israel has launched airstrikes against what they say are Hezbollah positions in a town called Qana. Here's what the world saw the next morning.

(Voice-over): The bombs started falling just after midnight on Sunday, rocking the mountain side town of Qana in southern Lebanon. They leveled this four story residential building where several dozen civilians were seeking shelter from the Israeli air attacks. Their makeshift bunker became their tomb.

When dawn broke, the scope of the tragedy became clear. At least 28 dead in the rubble, many of them children still in their pajamas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were all kids. They didn't have bread. They were hungry without food for five days. Look at them. They were kids. They were all killed in their homes.

COOPER: Israel swiftly apologized for the assault, casting it as a tragic mistake.

MIRI EISIN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Israel deeply is sorrowful, is saddened by what happened. This is definitely a mistake. We did not target this building.

COOPER: Israeli officials say they had dropped leaflets in the area and broadcast radio messages urging residents to leave Qana. But tragedy, they contend, is inevitable when a terrorist militia blends into a civilian population.

And Qana, they say, has long been a hotbed of Hezbollah activity. Qana is an ancient village of olive groves, the place where Jesus is said to have turned water into wine. Its recent history, however, bears the deep scars of the Hezbollah/Israeli conflict.

Ten years ago a similar tragedy played out when Israeli shells flattened a U.N. base in the village just a short distance from Sunday's attack. More than 100 people were killed in that assault, known locally as the Qana massacre.

Today bulldozers in Qana are once again plowing through the debris of an Israeli attack, as residents again prepare to bury their dead.

(On camera): Part of Qana was reduced to rubble by those airstrikes. But Israeli forces know they cannot win this war against Hezbollah by airstrikes alone. They need boots on the ground, soldiers battling street by street, house by house, sometimes even battling Hezbollah face to face.

It is now 3:00 a.m. and Israel is about to launch a ground operation into south Lebanon. Here is John Roberts.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Dressed in desert brush camouflage, their faces blackened to blend into the night, Israeli soldiers prepare to open up a new front in the ground war. In Hebrew this soldier says, Mom, I love you, before heading into battle.

They are near the resort town of Metullah, high up in the Israeli northeast. Their presumed targets, Hezbollah outposts in Shiite villages just beyond the Lebanese border.

In other sectors, the fighting has been vicious, often in close quarters. This combat engineering battalion has just returned from the front in Maroun al-Ras, in the central part of the border.

Amnon Jizlin told me what it was like going up against Hezbollah fighters.

AMNON JIZLIN, ISRAELI SOLDIER: You always need to think like the enemy thinks. You need to look in everything suspicious, to -- even if you did the same thing yesterday, you need to do it differently. Always thinking, always keeping guard. ROBERTS (on camera): The army has pulled most of its troops back from Bint Jbiel, a Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese south. Fierce battles there killed eight Israeli soldiers. The loss of two friends there has only heightened Stefan Silver's motivation to win.

STEFAN SILVER, ISRAELI SOLDIER: Balances your morale higher, makes you want to go in there and eventually make sure they didn't die in vain.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Support for the war remains high in Israel. But there are critics who say a slow ramp up in troop deployments has bogged the ground campaign down. The army is eager to show success. In a slide show, displaying photos of captured Hezbollah weapons, anti-tank rockets, guns and ammunition, body armor, communications, even sophisticated American tow missiles.

The northern command's General Shuki Shachar says among the troops, morale is high.

SHUKI SHACHAR, ISRAELI ARMY'S NORTHERN COMMAND: There are soldiers fighting six and seven days without resting, without eating normal food, without taking bath, nothing. And they continue and ask what is the new mission, what we will do tomorrow morning. That's the spirit of the forces.

ROBERTS: But with the diplomatic effort to end the fighting becoming more urgent, Israel may have little time left for new missions, new battles.

John Roberts, CNN, along the Israel/Lebanon border.

COOPER: Israel certainly has the greatest number and most powerful weapons in this fight, both in the air and on the ground. They're also able to move large numbers of troops rapidly. Hezbollah, however, is fighting back hard.

(Voice-over): It is now 9:00 a.m. in our timeline, and along the border, the fighting is intensifying.

Hezbollah rockets firing from a position in south Lebanon. By now we've all have become used to seeing the results. Civilian casualties, widespread fear.

When rockets fall on big cities like Haifa, it makes news. But in border towns like Kiryat Shemona, most incoming rockets never make headlines. We happened upon this spot where a Katyusha had recently fallen. There were no casualties and no emergency crews on hand. It was simply a site burning along the side of the road.

(On camera): You can tell it's still smoking over here. We're looking for the actual rocket. We can't see it. It's likely buried somewhere in this direction.

(Voice-over): It only took us a few minutes to actually find the rocket. You can see it is still sticking out of the ground. (On camera): Here at the police station in Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel, they have a collection of Katyusha rockets that they've encountered over the years.

This is the smallest version that they have. It's a 107- millimeter Katyusha rocket. What's interesting about this is you actually see the launching system. You can see just how primitive it is. It's basically this tube with some screws to set it up. They set it up to 45 degree angle and then they can just launch it. It's highly mobile. They can break it down quickly and move on to another location.

This is the Katyusha rocket that's been landing in Israel so often these past two weeks. It's a 122-millimeter Katyusha. Obviously, it's much longer than the 107-millimeter. It needs an entirely different kind of launch system. Still relatively primitive, but more sophisticated than the 107-millimeter. It is, of course, inaccurate. Again, it's basically a point and shoot. There's no way to really target, so there's no way for Hezbollah to tell exactly where it's going to land.

(Voice-over): The Katyushas may be relatively primitive weapons, but they're designed to create maximum bloodshed.

(On camera): Some of the Katyushas are designed to bury deep into the ground and have a delayed explosion after several seconds. What's inside the warhead though, that's what does sometimes the most damage. These are basically a sheet of what will become a shrapnel. You see it's got grooves in it. Once the Katyusha explodes, this will blow apart along these lines. Each of these little diamonds will become potentially deadly pieces of shrapnel flying through the air. There are also ball bearings which are put inside the Katyusha. You see the ball bearings right there. Obviously, that can do a lot of damage to a person if it hits them.

(Voice-over): Here, in Kiryat Shemona, the sound of shelling, outgoing or incoming, is constant. So is the smell of smoke.

We followed a team of firefighters up a steep slope to where another Hezbollah rocket had fallen.

(On camera): Even Katyushas don't hit population centers, cause big problems for Israeli authorities. A Katyusha rocket hit here along the side of a mountain and started a forest fire. Israel authorities have finally arrived on the scene, they're trying to put out the flames, but new flames keep erupting.

Another fire has just started over there. They're trying to get to those, but they only have one hose here. There are so many Katyushas falling, so many forest fires starting, that Israeli authorities simply can't get to all of them at once.

(Voice-over): It is hard work in tough terrain, but firefighters were finally able to extinguish this blaze. There are other fires, however, nearby that still need to be put out. It is a daily and sometimes deadly routine in Kiryat Shemona that shows no sign of letting up.

(On camera): In southern Lebanon, thousands of people literally caught in the crossfire. Civilians desperate to get out of the line of fire and facing a terrible choice. Should they stay or should they go? Their stories when "24 Hours under Attack" continues.


COOPER: We see it in all the wars we cover. Men, women, children, caught in the crossfire. Israel has told civilians to get out of the killing zone in south Lebanon, but that is not an easy journey. It is expensive, much of the infrastructure, many of the roads are destroyed. Some people are simply too scared to leave. It is now 12:00 o'clock in our timeline.

And CNN's Ben Wedeman in south Lebanon shows us the efforts made by some to get out of the area.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A red cross on a white bed sheet. Staff at Tyre's Nejam (ph) Hospital hope Israeli jets will see their flag and spare them.

Just a few minute 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, SOUTH LEBANON RESIDENT: The situation over there, it's very bad right now. 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 gather 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: There are still a lot of people there. There are still a lot of people who need help. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and everybody -- it'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 SPOKESMAN: There are people who have been wounded 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 has been able to get there to take them out and to give theme a decent funeral.

WEDEMAN: So the living take their chances and go.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Tyre, south Lebanon.

COOPER: Coming up in this special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack," it is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. They walk into war zones with no weapons and no guarantees. When we return, the desperate struggle to get aid to those most in need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We send maps with publishings of old villages we want to stop at and we have -- with this information passed on to the Lebanese side and to the Israeli side. And by the next morning, we normally have either a green light or a red light.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye in New York. This special edition 360, "24 Hours under Attack," continues in a moment.

First, a 360 "War Bulletin." Tonight, Israel launched a new round of airstrikes in southern Beirut. CNN's Michael Ware is in the capital city. He said warplanes also unleashed a barrage of bombs close to the airport. The area targeted by Israel is believed to be a stronghold for Hezbollah militants.

Day 23 of the crisis was also the deadliest for Israel. More than 200 Hezbollah rockets fell in the north. At least eight Israeli civilians were killed. And in southern Lebanon, clashes with militants left four Israeli soldiers dead.

There is a new threat from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. He's warning Israel that if Beirut is attacked, Tel Aviv will be targeted. Also Hezbollah said a cease-fire will not bring an end to the conflict. But world leaders continue to push for a peace plan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is hopeful that a cease-fire can be reached soon.

And British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes an agreement could be struck within the next few days. That's the latest "War Bulletin."

I'm Randi Kaye. The special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack," continues right after the break.


COOPER: Of course not everyone who wants to leave south Lebanon can. Some are too sick or too frail or simply too scared to leave. Millions of dollars in international aid has been pledged to help them and humanitarian groups are struggling to get that aid to those most in need.

For aid workers, this is the easy part. Once they dock, the difficulties and dangers begin.

It's now 1:00 p.m. in our day in the war zone.

CNN's Karl Penhaul reports.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A welcome sight for a war torn city. Two hundred tons of international aid sails into Tyre Harbor. The ship's hull is emblazoned with freshly painted Red Cross insignias, the guarantee of safe passage past the Israeli warships blockading Lebanon's coast. Today it's bringing basic food supplies and cooking kits.

(On camera): It has taken the Georgios Kay (ph) for about eight hours to sail from Cyprus here to the port of Tyre. But now as they begin loading some of this aid, it seems that things are going to be far from straightforward.

(Voice-over): A dockside Lebanese customs officer tells an international Red Cross worker he cannot unload 5,000 gallons of diesel needed to run water pumps in far flung villages. Even in desperate times, there is red tape.

Before heading into the countryside with these supplies, aid officials must get a pledge from the warring parties not to attack their aid convoys.

HUGUENIN: We send maps with PGS positions of all the villages we want to stop at. And we have -- with this information passed on to the Lebanese side and the Israeli side. And by the next morning we normally have either a green light or a red light.

PENHAUL: For now it is too dangerous for the doctors without border charity to venture outside Tyre, so they're distributing washing kits along with diapers and powdered baby milk to around 400 refugees at this school in town.

Relief Worker Hakim Khaldi says the risks are keeping many other aid organizations away.

HAKIM KHALDI, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: It is difficult because there is no so many international organization, but mainly we found -- mainly Lebanese organization who have been doing a very, very huge job.

PENHAUL: Many of the refugees are impatient after three weeks of Israeli air and artillery bombardments. This man tries to fight one aid worker as he grows frustrated with the long wait. Others drag him out of punching range.

Back at the port, dockers work fast to unload the Georgios Kay (ph). The crew wants to up anchors by late afternoon. They feel they have already spent long enough in harm's way.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Tyre, south Lebanon.

COOPER: You can see what a daunting task it is just to get relief supplies into the country. The next step is trying to get it to those most in need.

It's now 3:00 p.m. in our timeline. And CNN's Brent Sadler is with volunteers on a dangerous mission.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The road to southern Lebanon and the war front is strewn with bomb craters. Some deep enough to swallow a small truck. Cars abandoned everywhere, hit by Israeli bombers, streaking above.

As Israel plans its next military action, desperate Lebanese calculate the odds of helping their families, but not getting hit themselves. These people, all volunteers, plan to drop vital supplies in a village trapped by the fighting.

This man knows it is a high risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my family over there. I have a lot of people over there stay over there.

SADLER (on camera): Tell me what you're bringing, can you? Just show me what you're carrying on board here. So, rice. Aren't you afraid that the Israelis might think you are Hezbollah fighters?


SADLER (voice-over): With what seems like a lull in airstrikes, it's now or never.

An urgent call tells them to hurry.

(On camera): United Nations officials are saying that the Israelis have given a shell warning, which means an imminent expectation of some more strikes in this area.

(Voice-over): But soon there's word again of a temporary all clear, and the journey resumes. It's impossible to assess how many mothers, fathers and children are trapped by the fighting. They are not at war with anyone and do not want to leave their homes.

In fact, this man comes from a Christian village further up the road. The people there don't support Hezbollah, he says, but they do resist the possibility of a new Israeli occupation.

MILAD EID, LEBANESE VILLAGER: We want our own land. If we go from here, maybe we'll not come back. Every day they say there's a solution, there is something good. But we don't think so.

SADLER: Moments later, more danger. The war shifting back again, near his village of Alma al-Shaab.

(On camera): That's the unnerving sound of outgoing Israeli cannon and artillery fire. Yet, amid all this noise, 150 Lebanese civilians refuse to leave this frontline village.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's dangerous. If I said it's not dangerous, I lie. But it's very hard to leave what you worked for all of your life.

SADLER (voice-over): The artillery now too close, the risk too high. The convoy of supplies will go no further.

Instead, the rice and other goods will be shared among Christians and Shia Muslims from nearby. All, so far, refusing to flee. All wondering if they can survive whatever comes next.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Alma al-Shaab, south Lebanon.

COOPER: For relief workers it seems the job is only getting harder. The same can be said for soldiers fighting now on the ground in south Lebanon. Israeli soldiers, coming up when this special edition of 360 continues. We'll show you what the fighting is like.

This is an armored engineering unit about to cross into south Lebanon. At this space there is constant activity. New troops moving across the border. And troops weary from battle coming back here for a few hours rest.


COOPER: There is of course a blizzard of diplomatic activity happening around the clock. But until that succeeds, the fighting on the ground continues and is in fact intensifying.

It's now 7:00 p.m., and CNN's John Roberts is once again near the front lines.

ROBERTS (voice-over): From a hilltop on the Lebanese border, we watched the Israeli military pound positions in a town they say is a Hezbollah base.

It is just two miles from where two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped on July 12th, the incident that touched off this war.

(On camera): This is where the heaviest of the fighting is right now. This is Aita al-Shaab. You can see that the Israeli air force dropped what appears to be a 500 pound bomb on this village. It has been shelled all day and there is heavy fighting in the city streets.

The Israeli army is in there with a lot of ground forces, there was close quarters fighting, very, very heavy combat.

(Voice-over): We stay on the hilltop, watching the battle until soldiers arrive and tell us there are snipers in the village and it is far too dangerous to be here. We move to another location along the border route, pockmarked with Katyusha rocket hits and evidence that Hezbollah mortar rounds found vehicles they were looking for.

On the road to an Israeli military outpost, we see a powerful Merkava tank being towed back from the battle in Aita al-Shaab, still smoking from a direct hit by a high explosive Hezbollah round.

And the fighting is only expected to intensify. As diplomats seek a way to end the hostilities, Israel is expanding its ground campaign, now intent on pushing Hezbollah 14 miles north to Lebanon's Litani River, determined to hold onto a broad safe zone until an international force can arrive.

(On camera): This is just one of many areas in northern Israel where the Israeli army is staging for what increasingly appears to be a major ground operation. And sources tell us that all the way along the border from Metullah, almost all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, there are scenes similar to this, as tanks and armor are brought to the frontline in preparation to go over the border into southern Lebanon.

(Voice-over): Despite the deaths in Aita al-Shaab, among the troops, morale is high.

As dusk settles in, a young tank commander gives a saluted bravado, preparing to head into battle.

Farther up the border, infantry forces put on black camouflage makeup and gear up for what will be an intense fight in the battlefield. The end of this day, only just the beginning of a long night ahead.

John Roberts, CNN, on the Israel/Lebanon border.

COOPER: In a guerrilla war, a hospital can be a hospital or it can be an enemy's hideout. When we come back, the dramatic raid that reset the battle lines, when this special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack," continues.

WARE: There's clear signs of the firefighter. With shell casings scattered about the car park. And fresh bullet holes in the walls of this compound and the service station.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack." It is now 11:00 p.m. in our timeline and Israeli helicopters are in the sky, heading north, about to undertake a dramatic raid. Their target, a hospital that they say is being used by Hezbollah as a headquarters.

CNN's Michael Ware has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WARE: The nearest front in Israel's ground war. Israeli Defense Forces released video of their raid on Hezbollah far to the north of the battle lines. This time with Israeli boots on the ground, 70 miles from their own border, sweeping in at night from the air, a classic Israeli commando raid.

The target, a hospital in the town of Baalbeck, an E.R. clinic. But to Israel's generals, it's much more than that. Claiming they had intelligence that it was a Hezbollah logistics base, a possible safe house for a senior leader, and perhaps where two captive Israeli soldiers were treated.

The hospital sits here in the Bekaa Valley, a narrow basin stretching along Lebanon's eastern border. It's Hezbollah country. And with Syria just 12 miles away, over these mountains riddled with smuggling routes.

Western intelligence says it is a staging base and gateway for men and weapons. The deep strike raid was a covert success. The sound of helicopters descending shortly before 11:00 at night, the only alert.

Hospital staff say this male nurse was there. His identity and his story like all others, impossible to verify.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The troops came onto the ground and started shooting at us while we were trying to run away. I got shot.

WARE: Locals say Israel commandos dropped onto the roof of the hospital from where they entered the building and began their search.

(On camera): While as many as 10 helicopters circled overhead. There's clear signs of the firefight, with shell casings scattered about the car park. And fresh bullet holes in the walls of this compound and the service station. A brushfire was also started during the engagement. And you can see the shell of two burned out vehicles. Behind them a four-story building that also bears the scars of the battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As the terrorists are firing here, this is their headquarters, the entrance to the hospital.

WARE: In all, Lebanese authorities say as many as 16 people were killed. In Baalbeck, residents claim the dead were civilians, cut down in airstrikes as the battle unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There were seven martyr, a whole family. Most of them were children and a pregnant woman. One of them was a 3-year-old.

WARE: The Israeli military says it killed 10 people, all Hezbollah fighters. Israel says its videotape shows weapons and other evidence of a stronghold. It says it seized five men and took them back to Israel. Hezbollah's fighters, as the Israelis claim, or just men in the wrong place at the wrong time? Michael Ware, CNN, Baalbeck, Lebanon.

COOPER: 24 hours in a war zone can overload the senses. The sights, the sounds, the uncertainties. When "24 Hours under Attack," continues, my "Reporters Notebook," behind the scenes reporting this war.


COOPER: Welcome back for this special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack." When you're trying to cover a war, you quickly learn that each piece of the war you're looking at looks different. In 24 hours, you can cover a lot of ground, but you can't cover it all.

This has been a day of -- activity. Every place we have gone to report this story has a different feel to it.

Now another siren just gone off.

(Voice-over): In Haifa, the war still seems far away. I mean, you hear the sirens, see the rockets land, people die. But you don't see where the shells are coming from. They just seem to fall out of the sky.

Here in the very north of Israel it feels much more like a frontline. You can actually see where the troops are crossing the border. When the soldiers come back, some smile, they wave Lebanese flags they picked up, or the yellow flag of Hezbollah. Not all the soldiers return so triumphant, of course. The fighting is tough and the casualties are mounting.

(On camera): After a while you don't even notice the sound of shelling. When this war began, I couldn't tell the difference between incoming and outgoing fire. Now it seems so obvious. It has been firing shells pretty consistently now for the last...

Standing next to these artillery pieces when they fire, the power of it is overwhelming. A percussive blast washes over you. A shock wave of heat and dust, smoke and steel, grease and gunpowder. If you're not wearing earplugs it's deafening.

Everywhere you look these days, it seems like there's smoke. Small fires constantly burning. A Katyusha hit here along the side of a road. We just happened to drive by. That's the rocket still sticking out from the ground.

(Voice-over): The mountains are on fire as well. The Katyushas ignite forest fires that are hard to fight. It's a tough hike up these steep slopes.

When you actually see the Katyushas, they're sickeningly simple. They're filled with scrap metal and ball bearings, designed simply to maim or kill.

Today, during the afternoon, more than a dozen rockets fell around the town of Kiryat Shemona. A warehouse was hit. We got there just as the first rescue workers did. There were no tears, no bloodshed, just flames and water, men, Israelis working together, trying to save what they could. It's the daily struggle here.

As we stood there watching the building burn, one man pointed to the flames and shrugged. Makes us want to fight harder, he said to me softly. It makes us more determined to win.

(On camera): And the war here in the Middle East continues, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Thanks very much for watching this special edition of 360, "24 Hours under Attack."


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