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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mideast on Alert; Foreign Troops not Welcome; Hezbollah's Reach; Tehran's Shadow; Funeral Hit by War; Left to Mourn; One War, Two Views; War Support Drops
Aired August 9, 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: And it has been a very interesting night, to say the least. It is just 6:00 a.m. here. Behind me you can see smoke rising from the battlefield. Some fires that have already started. We can't tell if that's from incoming Hezbollah rockets, or from Israeli shells or Israeli fire that have started fires on this side of the mountains.
It has been a very active night. Take a look at what some of the video we shot just a few hours ago. Tracer fire lighting up the night sky. Artillery shells, howitzer shells, heavy machine gunfire, intense combat all throughout the evening.
And this war, it seems, is only about to get more intense, as Israel's war cabinet has voted to allow more Israeli troops into south Lebanon to push all the way to Litani River.
Let's get you up to the minute information, up to date with the "360 War Bulletin."
COOPER (voice-over): Tank after tank after tank rumbling at the border. A gathering force of steel and determination, waiting to bust through into southern Lebanon.
These troops may soon get the order, many others already have. Today the Israeli cabinet voting to expand the country's military campaign, pushing it all the way to Lebanon's Litani River.
ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI TOURISM MINISTER: The short-range, missiles have been launched in a barrage on northern Israel every day, in the last few days. And of course, it is our duty and obligation, as a government, and as an army that defends its people, to make sure that this activity will stop.
COOPER: Hezbollah has no intention of stopping. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, appearing today on television and threatening Israeli troops.
HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): You will not stay in our land. If you enter through it, we will force you out by force. We will liberate our dear southern land. We will transfer it as a graveyard to the Zionists.
COOPER: The fighting on the ground has been fierce. The Israeli military today suffering its deadliest day since the fighting began. At least 15 soldiers killed. Israel sent hundreds more of its troops into southern Lebanon, part of the current military campaign, not the major expansion still awaited.
From the air, Israeli warplanes pounded the region, destroying roadways and bridges and leveling a three-story building. It is hell for those caught in the crossfire.
Entire Lebanon, the streets today are empty, except for emergency vehicles. The sidewalks filled with fear. People run across the street looking towards the sky, afraid they may be hit by another Israeli air strike after Israel warned that anybody driving on the road could be a target.
In northern Israel, there's no warning from Hezbollah. Rockets fall from the sky at any time, and no place appears safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no idea when the bombs are coming. Maybe at night, maybe in the evening. So, it's not safe here.
COOPER: The bombs did come today. Israeli police say more than 160 Hezbollah rockets rained from the sky into northern Israel. And after Nasrallah's threats, more rockets are sure to come.
COOPER (on camera): We want to focus on what the strategy and tactics are on both sides, from Israel and Hezbollah, happening inside southern Lebanon right now. Earlier I talked to Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks.
COOPER: General Marks, we've been watching this basically firefight behind us all night long. Tracer fire going into Khiyam. There's been intense fighting in a lot of places in south Lebanon. Where is it the most intense right now?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKES, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, right now, the focus is on a town of Khiyam, which is to the east, kind of the north and east from the border with Israel.
Let's focus in on that, and we can demonstrate how close that is to the border and the type of fighting that's going on. Now, this is the location, Anderson, where the U.N. compound was hit and some U.N. soldiers tragically were killed about two weeks ago.
But the reason it's important is that Hezbollah has tremendous command of the terrain from this hilltop on Khiyam, and can see unobstructed into Israel, as well as into the Golan Heights. So it's got the proximity of the Golan Heights and that dominance of the terrain.
COOPER: And the terrain is tough. I mean, I learned this on the embed I was on. It was supposed to be a three-hour drive, and it ended up being 14 hours. The roads are booby trapped. It's mountainous. They got to basically build new roads. As Israeli forces push the Litani River, what kind of terrain are they going to be facing and does it work against them?
MARKS: Well again, this is the type of fight that Israel has gotten into and why Hezbollah has put up such a strong resistance.
Let's back out and we can see the Litani River. First of all, there are about 100 villages, as you can see here, that dominate from the border with Israel all the way up to the Litani. And these villages are a couple hundred folks, maybe to 30,000 as is the case in Tyre.
Let's go down to the village of Batouliye. This is simply representative of the type of terrain that you were on today and that just dominates all of this area north of Israel. This is a small village, probably no more than a few hundred folks. But these outlying buildings, each one of those individually would have to be cleared as the I.D.F. comes in and tries to secure and hold that piece of terrain, and then deny that to Hezbollah.
Complainant: And that's the thing, I mean, they don't want to be holding a lot of terrain, they would prefer to just build a perimeter and move on. They're not going to be able to do that. How do they stop Hezbollah from just coming back into towns where they've already been?
MARKS: That is the question. And it's what really is the primary issue that Israel has to face, and is facing right now. Again, let's pull out, get a view of the Litani River. Let's look at first the U.N. compound that exists within this area.
Each one of those is occupied now by the UNIFIL, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Additionally, these 13 locations are mixed in with those 100 villages that we'll show you right now.
And then overlaying on top of that, Anderson, you put the road network, and you can see what's difficult. The I.D.F. must control each one of these villages. It's got a very robust road network that has now been pockmarked as a result of 29 days of an air campaign. And this is the kind of terrain that Israel is going to have to control and they're going to have to do that with soldiers on the ground.
COOPER: You know, we don't know the effect all this has had on Hezbollah's capabilities. The rockets keep on coming. But the fact that they are still, that Israel is still having to fight along this border, villages that they thought they had fought in weeks ago, and thought they had taken, that they're still taking casualties in. Fifteen Israeli soldiers killed in the last 24 hours right near this border. What does that tell you? I mean, it doesn't, from this perspective, it doesn't seem like Israeli forces are doing that well.
MARKS: It really demonstrates two things. First of all, I.D.F. has to get up to the Litani River and hold and secure the Litani River, both from the north and the south. And then from here, they have to clear this area, and push and control Hezbollah as they do. And the best thing they can do in each one of those villages is they've got to hold onto it and deny it to Hezbollah. They don't want to have to sit in that terrain. But that is the definition of a security force in this buffer zone, if you will. They've got to be able to hold those villages and deny them to Hezbollah.
COOPER: Let's talk about what's happening on the diplomatic front now. The White House cautioning both sides to have some restraint in the days ahead. There had been a lot of optimistic talk about some sort of U.N. resolution by Thursday. All that talk now seems to be on hold.
CNN's John King has the latest developments from Washington.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Israel's new plan to intensify its ground assault provoked rare criticism from a Bush administration worried rising tensions are complicating its already difficult diplomacy.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want an end to violence and we do not want escalations.
KING: The western White House was hardly alone in trying to shape the evolving cease-fire negotiations.
Israel's foreign minister said its military will press on until the diplomats find a way to contain Hezbollah.
TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: It is also important for a resolution to be passed which will create an arms embargo on anyone who transfers weapons to the Hezbollah.
KING: French President Jacques Chirac interrupted his vacation to say if talks with the United States don't produce agreements soon, France might offer its own proposal.
JACQUES CHIRAC, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I don't want to imagine, but there might not be a solution. Because that would mean that would be the most immoral of solutions.
KING: And Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah's new message added yet another twist to the diplomacy.
NASRALLAH (through translator): We want the aggression to stop, all of the aggression. But if there's a ground war, we'll come into the ground war.
KING: Nasrallah embraced the idea of deploying 15,000 Lebanese army troops to areas in the south now controlled by Hezbollah, but made clear international peacekeepers are not welcome.
NASRALLAH (through translator): The one who will be at the borders will be a national army and not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) forces or mercenary forces or forces that will adhere to the enemies. The national army will operate by the orders of the government.
KING: The size and scope of any international force is one of the major sticking points at the United Nations.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We're moving as fast as we can. They're just going from one meeting to another.
KING: Plans for a security council vote Thursday collapsed with France's demand that Arab concerns be given greater weight. The biggest obstacles? Arab calls for an immediate troop withdrawal and major differences over how much help the Lebanese army needs from international peacekeepers.
U.S. Envoy David Welch was dispatched to see Lebanon's prime minister in Beirut. Sources tell CNN his talks focused on benchmarks tying Israeli troop withdrawal to progress deploying the Lebanese army and international peacekeepers.
Lebanon wants only a modest United Nations force involved. The White House says that isn't enough to prevent Hezbollah from rearming.
SNOW: The Lebanese army, while an absolutely essential part of any solution, is not itself independently capable of dealing with the problem. At least not yet.
KING: One reason the United States and Israel are insisting on a more robust peacekeeping force is noncommittal answers like this when leading Arabs are asked if Hezbollah must be disarmed.
AMR MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY GENERAL: The cessation of hostilities is the first point for an action to reach a normal situation in Lebanon. Inside Lebanon and in the outer Lebanon.
COOPER: John King joins me now in Washington, and John Roberts here with me along the Israel/Lebanon border.
John King, Hassan Nasrallah, as you said in your piece, has said that foreign troops are not welcome in south Lebanon. Does that include French troops, which may lead whatever the peacekeeping effort is?
KING (on camera): Well, Anderson, many are taking this as just an effort by him to influence the diplomacy, much as many are taking the Israeli plans to expand the ground offense as efforts to influence the diplomacy.
Hassan Nasrallah in that speech today said no foreign troops or no troops to take their orders from foreign governments. However, his ministers in the Lebanese government did sign on to the prime minister's plan which does allow for the small UNIFIL forces it's called, the modest U.N. force. That is one of the big subjects of disagreement. The United States thinks it needs to be much more robust and a much better armed force than the Lebanese government wants. But what Nasrallah said or at least suggested in his speech today is inconsistent with what his ministers have approved in talks with the prime minister. So many think we have positioning back and forth as the diplomacy continues.
COOPER: John Roberts, you've been covering the military now here in Israel for weeks, talking to a lot of the military leadership. How do they explain the fact that they are still battling in some of these border towns that they had been fighting in weeks ago, and still taking casualties?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say that it's part of the strategy, Anderson, that they don't want to go into the towns. They want to control the area around the towns. But yet, at the same time they launch these probes into the towns and villages that they have already sort of cordoned off. And that's when they take the casualties.
However, in the town of Debal today, which is sort of in the area, the central area of southern Lebanon, in around Aita al-Shaab, which has been the scene of intense fighting, and Bint Jbeil. There was a group of elite reserves. There was hold-up in a house. They took an observation post position there, defensive position, and it was attacked by Hezbollah fighters with these anti-tank rockets, these sager missiles that just do a devastating amount of damage.
And so what happens is, Hezbollah figures out where they are and they go in there and counterattack, they ambush them. And that's why they're taking such casualties. And there's a concern here in Israel that while there is great support for an expansion of the ground war, that if they start going into new towns, new villages in the type of infiltrations that they have been doing in towns like Debal and Aita al-Shaab, that they're going to continue to take more casualties.
By the way, Anderson, update on the helicopters I mentioned last hour. We got a pretty good look at them as the sun came up. Looked like apache attack helicopters firing hell-fire missiles. But they are a new addition to this battlefield. So far we've only seen tanks and artillery and ground forces. The helicopters, one additional piece of apparatus that the Israelis are bringing to bear on this battlefield.
COOPER: Another sign that perhaps the battle is intensifying in many ways.
John King, so, what should people be looking for to happen tomorrow? I mean, there had been a lot of talk, a lot of optimistic talk about a U.N. resolution happening on Thursday. Of course, there was a lot of optimistic talk from Condoleezza Rice last week that there would be some sort of solution last Friday. Anything to expect on Thursday now?
KING: Well, this is the third delay now, Anderson. And it has not only those involved in the negotiations frustrated, the parties involved in the conflict frustrated, it has pretty much the entire international community frustrated that they can't figure this out.
Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, is scheduled to go up to the United Nations tentatively late tomorrow. The foreign ministers were hoping to all be together for that big vote, to vote to end the cessation of hostilities. We could be at the point now where it takes the foreign ministers going into the room to finish the negotiations.
The Ambassador from the United States John Bolton said today they were still far apart. But sometimes that happens in diplomacy, you get apart, things appear to be collapsing, and then they come together.
But there are still, Anderson, significant differences on those two critical points, how fast do you get the Israeli troops out and what is the composition of that international force that goes in.
COOPER: A lot of questions. John King, John Roberts, thanks.
A lot of people in Lebanon have been turned into refugees here in Israel. There are a lot of now displaced people. People who have moved further south. In Lebanon, the numbers are great. Let's take a look at the raw data.
According to the U.N.'s refugee agency, UNHCR, the conflict has now displaced an estimated 930,000 Lebanese; 160,000 of those are now in Syria; 100,000 on the Beirut area. Getting shelter in overcrowded schools, public buildings and even some public parks.
When we come back we'll have a lot more from the region. In particular, looking at Iran. What is their role in all of this? Is Hezbollah simply a proxy for Iran? And how worried should we in the U.S. be? Next, on 360.
COOPER: Looking at the aftermath, Hezbollah rockets hitting the Israel town of Zahrit (ph), here on northern Israel. So many rockets. More than well over 100, I think we're at 160 or so in the last 24 hours hitting northern Israel.
We wanted to take a look at Iran for the next couple of minutes, and particular, what role they are playing in all of this. Are they really the ones pulling the strings behind what Hezbollah is doing?
If you go to Iran now, as our CNN's Aneesh Raman did, you'll find that the streets are teaming with posters and pictures of Hassan Nasrallah. The question is, is Iran trying to influence events here as a way to divert attention away from its own nuclear program and away from the possibility of U.N. sanctions?
CNN's Aneesh Raman reports.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This in the air, they chant praise for Hassan Nasrallah. They chant as well death to the United States, death to Israel, as smoke rises from burned American and Israeli flags. This is the scene almost daily in Tehran.
And while the numbers vary from a few hundred to thousands, support for Hezbollah does not. The hero status of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has risen to the point that he shares posters with Iran's current and past supreme leader. And analysts say he is inspiring a new generation.
SADEQ ZIBAKALAM, PROFESSOR, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: There are thousands of Iranians, who if the Islamic regime let them, would dwell in fear and rush to Lebanon to support Hezbollah against Israelis.
RAMAN: Iran calls Hezbollah an offspring of its own Shia Islamic revolution and has maintained close ties with Nasrallah repeatedly visiting Tehran.
But how close? In a recent newspaper interview, Iran's former envoy to Syria said that in 1982 Iran was involved in 30 Hezbollah training courses, each with some 300 fighters.
Iran denies that today it is still training or supplying Hezbollah, as is widely alleged. Instead, Iran says it wants to be a broker of peace. So that in turn, it can be acknowledged as the major power in the region. It's the same reason Iran has sought engagement with the U.S. on the issue of nuclear development. With Iran facing a deadline by the end of this month on possible U.N. sanction.
Some suggested Iran engineered this latest Mideast crisis as a way to distract attention from the nuclear standoff. Tehran denies that's the case.
COOPER: Aneesh, Israeli television is reporting several Iranians were found amongst Hezbollah fighters, fighting alongside them. Any reaction from Iran on that?
RAMAN (on camera): None yet, Anderson. The day just beginning here. We did hear already from Hezbollah TV, Manar TV, denying the report. If we hear anything from the Iranians, they will likely follow suit. They had stayed with that line, that they are not providing any support beyond spiritual support. That is quite progressively stronger. Israel suggestions that they are intimately involved in the fights there -- Anderson?
COOPER: We'll have more on Iran's growing influence in the region coming up.
But first let's check in with Tom Foreman for the day's other top stories in our "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Anderson, there have been some more arrests in that case of those students who came in from Egypt that disappeared for quite a period of time. Those students have now been picked up. At least a few of them have been so far. The FBI has looked into that a little bit further.
As we move on, the White House says Joe Lieberman's loss in the Senate primary yesterday in Connecticut is proof that the Democrats are walking away from the conflict in Iraq and raising a white flag there. White House Spokesman Tony Snow says a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is a sign of weakness and unreliability. Lieberman announced last night that he would run as an independent.
Here is our first look at one of those three wayward Egyptian students -- well, not here obviously. That's the president and Mr. Lieberman -- There he is. He was picked up for violating immigration rules. Mohamed El-Dessouki, there on the right, he was arrested in Minneapolis. A relative says he was there for a family visit. Two others turned themselves in elsewhere. Eight more are still at large. All 11 went AWOL on the way to a college in Montana.
In New Orleans, after much debate, Mayor Ray Nagin says the city will hold a somber one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina later this month. There will be no fireworks as once suggested. One thing that will take place is a jazz funeral style parade synonymous with New Orleans' culture and long-held traditions -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Sorry I surprised you with that "360 Bulletin". I actually got that wrong.
FOREMAN: That's the news business.
COOPER: It is, and my mistake. It's been a long night, to say the least.
FOREMAN: I appreciate the surprises there.
COOPER: Thanks for covering for my mistake. You did well. When we come back, we will have more on Iran. Tom has a report as well as we have a guest talking about the Iranian influence in this region, a growing influence. The question is how concerned should the U.S. be about that. Next, on 360.
COOPER: We've been talking about Iran's influence in the Middle East. And there's a lot of concern in this region about the growing power of Iran, concern even held by many Muslim countries, many Arab governments in this region, worried about what Iran may have in store for them, and for a wider conflict.
We asked CNN's Tom Foreman to take a look.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Everything to gain, almost nothing to lose. That is how some Middle East analysts size up Iran in the deepening battle over Lebanon. They say with every passing day, Iran is gaining political, cultural and maybe military power, increasingly dominating the region.
Ray Takeyh is with the Council on Foreign Relations.
RAY TAKEYH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Yes, it's hard to see how Iran comes out of this particular situation a loser.
FOREMAN: A month ago, Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program was a front-page world concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush today demanded Iran suspend all its uranium enrichment activities.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are concerned about the forward progress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Constitutes a classic threat to international peace and security.
FOREMAN: Now, with all the fighting in Iraq and Lebanon, even with the U.N. still threatening sanctions, it is not clear whether leading world powers will have the stomach to face down Iran.
TAKEYH: Once everyone focuses back on Iran's nuclear activities, the question that everyone has to ask themselves is, do they want a third crisis in the Middle East.
FOREMAN: Western intelligence agencies have always said Iran is the major supplier and trainer of Hezbollah, even though Iran denies it. So, if Hezbollah is seen as victorious, Iran will get credit. Or if Iran helps broker a peace deal, Iran will also get credit. Either way, Iran seems to be consolidating power in the Middle East at the expense of its Arab neighbors.
JON WOLFSTHAL, SECURITY FELLOW/CSIS: If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon and it adds that to its oil capabilities, its growing population and just its geographic position, it would readily fit itself into the superpower of the region.
FOREMAN: Iraq used to be Iran's closest big foe. And Iraq has its hands full at home now. And with Iran's stepchild, Hezbollah, confounding the legendary Israelis, the worldview of Iran's power is clear.
WOLFSTHAL: If Iran was a stock, everybody would be buying it. It probably would have doubled and split by now.
FOREMAN: Iran's shadow on the Middle East, analysts say, is stretching far beyond its borders. And the sun has not yet set on the fighting.
COOPER: Tom, Iran's stock may be rising, but there are a lot of countries in this region in particular which are concerned about Iran, right?
FOREMAN (on camera): Yes. Middle East analysts say that really the division here in many cases is between the leadership of those countries and the people of those countries, particularly the Shiites. The leadership, in many cases, if you talk to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, places like that, there are people who are very concerned about this. They don't want Iran to start dominating entire region, to speak about everything, to be the leading voice there and become a world power in that sort of way.
But many of the people out there have a different view. It's sort of how you view the Arab world. Do you view it as a bunch of independent nations, or as some Arabs might wish to see it, do you see it an Arab movement, a movement of all Arab people joined together behind the strongest leader.
And at the moment, Iran is emerging as one of the very strong leaders, sitting on the sidelines in many ways, watching this fight.
COOPER: Fascinating. Tom, thanks very much for that. Of course, one of the other leaders emerging from all this, Hassan Nasrallah. We wanted to take a look at the Iran/Hezbollah connection. In particular, how much is Iran pulling the strings of Hezbollah.
Some perspective now from Vali Nasr, who's with the Council of Foreign Relations. I spoke to him earlier.
COOPER: While the Israeli television is reporting that several Iranian fighters have been found among Hezbollah fighters by Israeli troops. Would that surprise you?
VALI NASR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it surprises me that are being found in a scene of battle. But the fact that Iran helps Hezbollah, has helped Hezbollah train, has supplied it with sophisticated weaponry, and might be helping Hezbollah fighters use those weapons, is not surprising.
COOPER: But you don't think they're on the ground actually doing the fighting with Hezbollah fighters?
NASR: It is possible. It's somewhat surprising because I don't think at this stage of the game Iran would have wanted to show its presence in the conflict and to be directly drawn into the conflict.
COOPER: How close is Iran tied to Hezbollah?
NASR: It's very closely tied. It's tied militarily, it's tied financially, it's tied politically. Iran helped create Hezbollah, helped arm it, helped make it the military force that it has become, and a lot of Iran's prestige and importance in the region relies on Hezbollah's power and presence.
COOPER: I want to play something that Hezbollah's Leader Hassan Nasrallah said at a rally last year. You know, we all know that Iran's president had recently said that the only way to really solve the situation in this region is to basically wipe out the state of Israel. I want to play something that the Hezbollah's Leader Hassan Nasrallah said last year. Let's play it. NASRALLAH (through translator): Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal and illegitimate entity which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our blood and in our motto, "Death to Israel."
COOPER: How does one negotiate with a group whose stated aim is the destruction of this country?
NASR: Well, it won't be easy. But a lot of this is also posturing. Both Iran and Hezbollah are trying to play to the Arab street. They want to redefine the Arab/Israeli conflict, to take it back to the pre-Oslo days. But it's very clear that they're not going to be able to destroy Israel. And at some level, the political posturing aside, they would have to deal with that reality.
COOPER: So, I mean, do you think they know that as a reality, though? I mean, do you think they see this as just politics?
NASR: Well, taking this hard line rejectionist view of saying they would never negotiate with Israel, they will never accept Israel, is -- it creates popularity for them on the street when there is frustration with the Arab/Israeli peace process. And therefore, it is a power play by them, and they appeal to anti-Semitism and anti- Israeli feeling on the street in the Arab world.
COOPER: How widespread do you think that anti-Semitism is? I mean, is Hassan Nasrallah an anti-Semite?
NASR: Well, the level of anti-Semitism in the Middle East has been growing, and part of it has to do with the frustration with the peace process and with Israel's overwhelming power in the region. I don't know Nasrallah personally to know whether he is an anti-Semite or not, but his rhetoric is clearly anti-Semitic, and they are trying to push the debate to putting Israel's presence in the region itself on trial rather than merely the peace process.
COOPER: Appreciate your perspective. Thank you.
NASR: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, we're going to take a look at the toll that this war is taking on civilians. Twelve members of one family killed in an attack in Lebanon. A funeral interrupted by fighting. But who really is to blame? Two sides square off, next.
COOPER: The scene in Kiryat Shemona, people running from incoming Hezbollah rockets. Kiryat Shemona has probably been hit harder than just about any town in northern Israel. That's where we've been staying for the last couple weeks. And the barrage is just intense, especially this past week. So many people in Kiryat Shemona have already left. In a moment, we're going to take a look at the civilian casualties, in particular civilian casualties in Lebanon. Who do you blame for them? Do you blame Hezbollah or do you blame Israel? There are two different sides to it. Two people see it in different ways. We'll hear some different perspectives in a moment.
But first, let's get you up to date information on our "360 War Bulletin." Here's what we know right now.
Hours after the Israeli cabinet gave the go-ahead to expand the ground offensive against Hezbollah, hundreds of Israeli troops moved to the southern border and into southern Lebanon. However, the Israelis said the move was not, I repeat not part of the expansion, but aimed at seizing Katyusha rockets.
In a rare television appearance, Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah says he supports Lebanon's proposal to send 15,000 troops to the region. Nasrallah also criticized the draft U.N. peace plan for saying it gives the Israelis more than they asked for.
The White House has warned both sides not to ramp up the conflict. White House Spokesman Tony Snow said senior administration officials were working hard to try to hammer out a peace deal. But he says it is unlikely the U.N. resolution will be voted on tomorrow.
The civilian casualties in Lebanon have been extremely high, much higher than the military casualties in Lebanon. More than 700 Lebanese civilians have so far lost their lives in this conflict. The numbers of soldiers are actually just a couple of dozen. A number of members of one family were killed when an apartment block collapsed and their funeral was just yesterday.
CNN's Jim Clancy reports.
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Special care was taken as the bodies were laid out on the floor. Children and infants next to their mothers. The funeral shrouds were simple, the victims were poor. But the tears and anger overflowed.
I ask you, and Americans and Bush and Rice and all the people, these children that you videotaped and saw, age two weeks, a year, 2 and 5 years, what is their blame? Tell me, what did they do?
Abbas Webbe (ph) was holding back his anger as he prepared to lay 12 family members, a brother and sister-in-law and their three children, two grown nephews and a niece with four children of their own, in graves nearby. All now symbols of civilian suffering in Lebanon, along with 29 others, they died Monday when an Israeli missile struck this apartment building.
This is Abbas (ph) at the scene of the blast, holding up the body of his 10-day-old niece. The searing image on the front page of Lebanese newspapers Wednesday. My brother had nothing to do with Hezbollah or Amo (ph) or anyone. He was just a self-employed driver, he said. And his children, what blame is for them?
Like so many in the Arab world, Abbas (ph) can never forgive Israel for killing innocents who had nothing to do with the fight between Israel and Hezbollah.
Inside the funeral hall, predictable anger. Death to Israel and death to America were repeated over and over again. The rising tide of civilian casualties is growing Hezbollah's support in southern Beirut. But before this funeral would end, the war would add insult to injury. As bodies were lowered into the ground, barely 300 yards away, a massive bomb crashed on its target. Young men raised their arms in defiance, and shouted, God is great.
Then, a second explosion shook the ground. As for Abbas Webbe (ph) and his great loss, he now fears for the rest of his family.
My son, who was 7 years old, Muhammad (ph), he said, father, when I grow up and Israel is still here, I'm going to get a gun and fight it. It's not us, vowed Abbas. I never told him, my son Muhammad (ph), to carry a gun. Now he's telling me he's carrying a gun. And then he asked, who is planting the seeds of hatred, us or them?
Jim Clancy, CNN, Beirut.
COOPER: There have been funerals on both sides of this border, so many funerals, so much loss of life. Israeli and Lebanese civilians dying in this conflict.
ITN's Martin Geissler filed this report last week from Acre in Israel.
MARTIN GEISSLER, ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: On both sides of this border, civilians are paying a heavy price. Six were laid to rest today in northern Israel, all victims of Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets less than 24 hours before.
Grief at the grave sites, but also a determination among these people that some good must come out of the losses they're suffering.
If the war is won, the deaths won't be in vain.
(On camera): Now well into its fourth week, this is the longest war Israel has ever fought. They're counting the costs, but public opinion here remains resolutely behind the government. The vast majority of Israelis believe that if Hezbollah is not disarmed now, they'll suffer this pain again.
(Voice-over): The mourners believe their country's future is more important than their loss. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to continue until the Hezbollah cannot fire those rockets to Israel again.
GEISSLER (on camera): Even if you have to suffer more days like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if we have to suffer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope this will be the last war. But we have to continue, for sure, yes.
GEISSLER: Some, though, go far further than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if want people will die in Israel, in Lebanon must die 1,000 or 10,000 people.
GEISSLER (voice-over): The daily barrage of short-range Katyusha rockets has stoked that kind of anger. As the fighting continues, so, too, the funerals. There will be more grieving to come before this war is over.
Martin Geissler, ITV News, northern Israel.
COOPER: Well, there's no doubt about that. When you see those pictures of bodies being pulled from the rubble in south Lebanon, who do you blame for that? Do you blame Israel for bombing, or do you blame Hezbollah for positioning themselves in civilian populations? Two different and very passionate points of view, when we return.
COOPER: The aftermath of Israeli air strikes in the Bekaa Valley. Who do you blame for these kind of civilian casualties? We asked that question to two distinguished guests, Mort Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of "U.S. News and World Report" and a former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American-Jewish Organizations; and Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute.
I started off by asking Mort Zuckerman how many casualties is too many?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I guess one is too many. I mean, nobody likes to think about civilian casualties. But as the cliche goes, war is hell, and that civilian casualties are inevitable, particularly when you're in a situation as Israel is, where the entire country is under threat of extinction when you have somebody like Nasrallah who says I'm glad that the Jews are gathered in Israel because it saves us the trouble of going after them around the world. So they feel their homes are -- it's not an issue of territory. They pull back behind U.N. sanctioned border six years ago, and those six years were spent by Hezbollah to build up a military force to attack them. So they feel their home is at risk and they feel they have no choice.
COOPER: Jim, who do you blame for civilian casualties?
JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, I have to blame the person who commits the crime. And I think in this instance it's Israel. Almost all of those civilian casualties have been Lebanese civilian casualties, and a third of them are children under the age of 13.
COOPER: Mort, is Israel to blame for those civilian casualties in Lebanon or is it Hezbollah?
ZUCKERMAN: No, I think everybody knows that Hezbollah has been hiding their armaments in and around civilians, in the basements of civilians, to who they pay rent for taking the space for their launchers.
COOPER: Jim, do you deny that Hezbollah uses civilians or at least, you know, works among and/or hides among women and children?
ZOGBY: The resistance movement in south Lebanon, I haven't supported the tactics that they've used in the bombings that they've participated in. I cannot see the Israelis attempting to justify the carpet bombing of many areas of Lebanon as continuing to say that they're simply targeting Hezbollah.
There was a funeral march in Tyre the other day. It got bombed. It was not a Hezbollah target. They bombed a motorcade of Red Cross materials coming in from Jordan that was supplied by the United Arab Emirates. They knew what it was. They were told what it was. They bombed a U.N. post. They were told 10 times...
COOPER: Jim, though, I mean, does Hezbollah bear any of the responsibility for any of the civilian casualties?
ZOGBY: I've said from the beginning that their behavior was reckless and provocative. But Israel bears the responsibility. It's like saying what Mort is saying and what those who want to make that case is saying, the girl who wore the short skirt deserved to get raped...
ZUCKERMAN: Oh, that -- that's an outrage.
ZOGBY: She didn't. And Israel cannot continue to bomb places, kill innocent people and say, oops, it was a mistake. Because at some point you have to own up to the responsibility that what you're doing is you're wantonly and carelessly using massive armaments against civilian populations. It didn't have to happen and it should stop.
ZUCKERMAN: I have to comment on that, if I may. This isn't something that the Israelis have sought. They didn't seek this war in the first place. Hezbollah has been a terrorist organization that has targeted innocent civilians since its inception. That is what it is about. They are using rockets to fire on civilians indiscriminately. Those rockets contain pellets to maximize human damage and human killing. This is something which they started. They are a completely immoral organization. They have killed Americans as well as Israelis. And you know it, and I know it. And this is why Israel is trying to respond, not only to protect themselves today, but to protect themselves against a future threat...
ZOGBY: By using immoral means and using their own form of terror tactics against innocent civilians in Lebanon and against the Lebanese state. They said, we will target the Lebanese state and they have. They have destroyed the infrastructure of the country, they have destroyed enormous areas of civilian populations. And they've killed hundreds and hundreds of innocent people.
I think we have to be able to just admit it, Mort. I will condemn tactics used on the Arab side that are wrong, but I look for those leadership elements in the Jewish community who can say the same about what Israel's doing.
This madness must end and the first place to end it is by not being an apologist for immoral tactics used by the Lebanese government.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I...
COOPER: Mort, I want to give you the final thought.
ZUCKERMAN: OK. Let me just say this, we are in a situation here which is called war. War which is instigated by a terrorist organization called the Hezbollah, which attacked innocent people. They had pulled -- the Israelis had withdrawn from a U.N. sanctioned border. It was started by Hezbollah, which has it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to attack Israel and to destroy Israel.
Israel is doing this as a matter of self-defense against people who hide among women and children deliberately.
ZOGBY: After 22 years of occupation of the south, a lot of bitterness, a lot of wounds. They're not going to go away overnight. And Israel has not been an innocent bystander all this time, even in the last six years, Mort.
ZUCKERMAN: OK, nobody...
COOPER: Gentlemen, we're going to have to end it. I'm sorry, we're going to have to end it there. Well spoken on both sides, though. Mort Zuckerman, Jim Zogby, thank you.
ZOGBY: Thank you.
COOPER: A lot more to talk about here in the Middle East. But when we come back, we'll also talk about the defeat for Senator Joe Lieberman in the primary in Connecticut. He says he's still going to run as an independent. Now that decision may even be in question. The question tonight is, does this have implications for other politicians on both sides of the aisles who have supported the war in Iraq? New poll numbers on Iraq when we return.
COOPER: Joe Lieberman accepting defeat last night in a Democratic primary. The voters sending a message about the opposition to the war in Iraq. It is a message, however, that may not just be sent to Democrats, maybe Republicans as well. New poll numbers are out.
CNN's Bill Schneider has that.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's what Joe Lieberman says about what happened to him in Connecticut.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It was clear to me all along that this -- that if I had an opponent who had money, as this one did, they could make this, or would try to make it into a referendum on George Bush and the Iraq war.
SCHNEIDER: 86 percent of Democrats oppose the war in Iraq; 60 percent of all Americans say they oppose the war, the highest level yet of anti-war sentiment.
The candidate who beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary says his campaign has a larger message.
NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE: I think we won because the people of Connecticut want to bring real change to Washington, D.C.
SCHNEIDER: Americans do seem to want change. Most voters say they are anti-incumbent, meaning inclined to vote for challengers, rather than reelect people already in office. Translation? Throw the bums out. Republicans are seizing on the Lamont victory to paint Democrats as the party of weakness.
KEN MEHLMAN, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: As a party that once stood for strength, now too often stands for retreat and defeat.
SCHNEIDER: Lamont's response?
LAMONT: As your Senator, I'm going to make sure we have the strongest Army on the face of this earth. But I also know that America's strongest when we work in concert with our allies, when we stay true to our values and we deal with the rest of the world with respect!
SCHNEIDER: Most Connecticut Democratic voters interviewed Tuesday said they thought Senator Lieberman is doing a good job. They gave him a 56 percent job approval rating. Then why did they reject him? Because nearly 60 percent said Lieberman is too close to President Bush.
The primary wasn't just about Joe Lieberman, it was also about George W. Bush.
Bill Schneider, CNN.
COOPER: Politics just gets more interesting. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Thanks for watching this edition of 360.
Tomorrow, "AMERICAN MORNING" will have the latest news from the war zone. That's starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern Time.
Coming up right now is "LARRY KING LIVE." He'll also have more on the crisis in the Middle East.
See you tomorrow.
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