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Hezbollah Fires Long-Range Rocket Deep Into Israeli Territory; Bush and Blair Call For International Force in Lebanon

Aired July 28, 2006 - 22:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
We're spending another night along the Israeli-Lebanon border, where fierce fighting continues. You're looking behind me at some of the reinforcements that are being brought up to the front. This is a combat engineering battalion that will soon be going across the border to see action in southern Lebanon.

With pressure building on Israel to either win the war, stop the war, or change the way it's waging the war, Hezbollah sends a message deep into Israeli territory.


ANNOUNCER: Bolt from the blue -- Hezbollah's latest weapon, longer-range, deadlier. And, most important, more than two weeks into the war, Hezbollah still survives to fire them.

Tough talk from Bush and Blair -- cease-fire, yes, but no truce with terrorists.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this is the calling of the 21st century. And now's the time to confront the problem.

ANNOUNCER: Doping doubts -- the Tour de France steroid puzzle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's -- there's too many parts we don't have answers to here. Something -- something doesn't add up.

ANNOUNCER: The numbers don't lie. Or do they? Floyd Landis defends his victory. We put his story and the science to the test.

Plus, how hot is it? You can ask a weatherman or a coroner. Yes, it's that bad out West.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 17."

Reporting tonight from the Israel-Lebanon border, here's John Roberts.

ROBERTS: With artillery going out and Katyusha rockets coming in, it's hard to obsess about anything other than the immediate. But this war is raising broader questions about how Israel is waging it and whether or not Hezbollah is having a chance to play David against Israel's Goliath. We are going to have more on that in just a moment.

But, first, tonight, a "War Bulletin." President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair say they will pursue a U.N. resolution next week aimed at ending hostilities. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due back in the region later today, Mideast time.

U.N. officials, meantime, are pleading for a 72-hour cease-fire, so relief workers can get emergency supplies into Lebanon, Israel and Gaza, and get people stuck in the crossfire out.

And Israel's top military commander may not be feeling very well, but he does have a clean bill of health. General Dan Halutz underwent testing at a hospital in Tel Aviv, after complaining of stomach pains and exhaustion today. Doctors say they found nothing wrong.

The general clearly has a lot to deal with, not the least of which are all those incoming Katyusha rockets. One hundred and eleven fell today. And, again, Hezbollah made good on its promise to hit points farther south.


ROBERTS (voice-over): Hezbollah vowed to take the war beyond Haifa. Today, it made good on that promise. About 30 miles south of Haifa, three rockets left their mark near the town of Afula, Hezbollah's deepest strike yet. Hezbollah says they are Khaibar-1 missiles, a powerful new weapon at its disposal, each missile packed with more than 200 pounds of explosives and with a range of 60 miles.

The Khaibar-1 brings the front lines closer to home for most Israelis, although there are questions tonight if the Khaibar-1 is not actually new, but a souped-up version of an already existing weapon.

In Nahariya, the Katyusha rockets rained down again, destroying a car, damaging a hospital. In all, Israel says more than 110 Hezbollah missiles struck inside the border today, injuring at least 34 people. As the attacks continued, Israeli forces were on the move again.

(on camera): I'm standing on the border between Israel and Lebanon. These are some of the reinforcements that have been brought in to join the fight. And the Israeli government has authorized the call-up of three more divisions of reserve forces. It's clear, from looking at this action here, that the military campaign on the ground in southern Lebanon is expanding. But how much it expands is a matter of intense debate here.

(voice-over): Across the border, in Lebanon, another day of intense fighting in and around Bint Jbail -- the battle for control of the area has led to heavy casualties on both sides. The Israeli army, reports 26 Hezbollah militants were killed there today.

The Israeli Defense Forces say it carried out more than 180 aerial attacks on Lebanon over the past 24 hours, destroying 57 Hezbollah structures, six missile launchers, and a communications facility. And Israel is again dropping leaflets, telling people living in southern Lebanon to move north, warning, if they do not, they are putting their lives at risk.


ROBERTS: More now on the people caught in the middle and the ones who started it all. Innocent, evil, everyone in between, they are all living and dying in Lebanon.

Here's CNN's Nic Robertson in Beirut.


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

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

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

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

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

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

In the midst of all of the violence, word came from the U.N. for a 72-hour cease-fire, to get humanitarian supplies in, and to get the young, the old, and the wounded out. The initial reaction from members of a group aligned with Hezbollah was simply, they would think about it.

(on camera): Lebanese military intelligence sources confirm that an unmanned Israeli surveillance aircraft crashed into the mountains east of Beirut. They say, half-an-hour later, Israeli fighter jets returned to the site and bombed the sensitive spy equipment on the ground. Israeli officials say the surveillance aircraft crashed due to technical issues, and they bomb the site to stop Hezbollah getting the equipment.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Beirut.


ROBERTS: We touched on this at the top of the program, that, the longer this goes on, the better Hezbollah looks in the eyes of the Arab world. Israeli Defense Forces are claiming success against Hezbollah, but fighting a guerrilla force on its home turf is not easy.

CNN's Brent Sadler has that story.


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

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

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

IBRAHIM MOUSAWI, CHIEF FOREIGN NEWS EDITOR, AL-MANAR TELEVISION: We're talking about experienced, dedicated fighters, with high experience, with dedications and with the willingness to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cause.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUMBLATT: Even if (INAUDIBLE) by the, well, heavy military machine of the Israelis, they are -- have already won, won the war, morally speaking and -- and military speaking.

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


ROBERTS: Brent Sadler, how much control does Hassan Nasrallah have over the militia that is fighting in southern Lebanon? If -- if he said stop, would they stop?

SADLER: Indeed they would, John.

Nasrallah calls all the strategic big shots. He also coordinates closely with the Syrians and with Iran. Nasrallah has a secretive chain of command-and-control structures that stretch all the way from Beirut's southern suburbs, to the border fighting in the south, and eastwards towards Syria, in the Bekaa Valley.

And, finally John, as for those graphic battle zone pictures you just saw, well, they were shot by Hezbollah's own combat cameramen. And those pictures were used in an attempt to undermine Israeli morale during that near 20 years of fighting -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, Brent, at -- at least we're get some battle pictures from -- from one side of the story here. And -- and, hopefully, the Israelis will -- will see that, and they will -- they will take it to heart, and maybe take us over into the battle as well.

But, when it comes to Hassan Nasrallah, the longer this goes on, the more he stands up to Israel, does he look better in the eyes of the Arab street?

SADLER: Oh, absolutely.

Arab press reports say that there is a widespread support for Hezbollah. They claim credit for throwing out Israel, as it were, back in 2006, May. And now building on the fact that Hezbollah still is raining rockets with even greater range, and perhaps even more rockets with yet still greater range, will just simply enhance Hezbollah's stature and that of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in the eyes of many in this region -- John.

ROBERTS: CNN's Brent Sadler for us in Beirut.

As the fighting escalates, so does the -- the push to try to end the fighting, to bring an end to these hostilities -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair talking tough at the White House. We will have that part of the story when 360 continues from the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Pictures from Iran today of protests there, demonstrations in support of Hezbollah -- and why wouldn't they? Tehran funds Hezbollah, to the tune of $100 million a year.

Just after 5:00 in the morning here along the border between Israel and Lebanon, and the fighting continues. We can hear machine gun fire in the background and that outgoing artillery, and it landing very close by. It shows that the fighting is still fairly close- contact here, as the Israeli Defense Forces try to push Hezbollah back. But Hezbollah resists that.

Seventeen days of fighting now, and the diplomatic push to end this crisis continues. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to be in the region tomorrow for more talks with Israeli leaders, as well as those in Lebanon.

And, today at the White House, President Bush with a new push to end this crisis.

CNN's Ed Henry reports.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Tony Blair at his side, President Bush revealed he's dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back to the Mideast, to hammer out a United Nations deal.

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

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

BUSH: They're violent, cold-blooded killers who are trying to stop the advance of freedom. And this is the calling of the 21st century. HENRY: That's the Bush doctrine, the freedom agenda, laid out in his second inaugural.


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


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

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: We see Lebanon and the Middle East and the -- Palestine falling into shambles, some of it for good reason, because of the -- Israel's need to defend themselves. But, on the other hand, freedom has taken a back seat to survival.

HENRY: The same can be said of Iraq, 100 civilians dying every day, overshadowing the first White House visit of new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, imposing a new challenge to a declaration issued just days after 9/11.


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


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

BUSH: I hear this amazing kind of editorial thought that says, all of a sudden, Hezbollah has become violent because we're promoting democracy. They have been violent for a long period of time.

HENRY: And the president got some cover from his stalwart friend.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It will be a long struggle, I'm afraid. But there's no alternative but to stay the course with it. And we will.

HENRY (on camera): These two leaders are under heavy international pressure to embrace a cease-fire. But they say it has to be a lasting peace, not a short-term fix that gets the horrific images off the TV screens, only to collapse within days.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


ROBERTS: If an international force comes into southern Lebanon, it's just going to be one of many places in the world where international forces are trying to keep two warring sides apart. Here's the "Raw Data" for you tonight. According to the United Nations, there are currently 15 peacekeeping operations under way throughout the world, including Kosovo, the Sudan, and Haiti, with nearly nearly 73,000 uniformed personnel in service, and 109 countries contributing to the multinational force.

Let's go to our reporters in the region right now. Michael Ware in Beirut. And John King in Jerusalem.

Michael Ware, Hezbollah claims to have fired a new rocket today. They call it the Khaibar-1. It landed in Afula, which is south of Haifa, but still north of Tel Aviv. It's the second time that a rocket has hit near the -- the area of Afula. The last time was on July the 16th.

What do you know about this new rocket, if it is a new rocket?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, most likely, it's an Iranian-made and potentially Iranian-supplied Fajr rocket, but -- possibly a Fajr-5 rocket.

This clearly is that Hassan Nasrallah living up to his promise of 48 hours ago to extend the battle beyond Haifa. These rockets have a much greater range than those which have been deployed so far. However, it may not be the top missile in Hezbollah's arsenal. We have seen lots of intelligence reporting and some physical evidence that there may indeed be one more rocket in the range to go, with the potential to even strike Tel Aviv.

ROBERTS: John King in Jerusalem, Condoleezza Rice is due back in the region tomorrow -- actually, today here in Israel. What are we expecting this time around? We didn't get much the last time.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we didn't get much progress last time.

They are hoping now to pressure both sides to agree to accept this plan, essentially laid out by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. But, John, consider the moment. We often talk back in Washington about playing to your base.

Eighty-two percent of Israelis, in a new poll out today, support the effort, the military campaign. And, in fact, 70 percent say the government should be tougher against Hezbollah. Brent and Michael have been speaking all week long about how popular Hezbollah is growing in the -- on the Arab street.

So, you have two groups right now, the two combatants in this war, that, if you look simply at political standing, don't necessarily have a reason to stop it. So, it's a tough diplomatic challenge for Condoleezza Rice. She is hoping to play to the Israelis' strategic calculation, that they will finally have a commitment from the international community to try to disarm Hezbollah, a monumental challenge.

ROBERTS: Mike, Michael Ware, there's obviously going to be a -- a lot of dialogue, a lot of people talking to each other, to try to bring a solution to this crisis.

We have heard some reports that there may be back-channel communications between Israel and Hezbollah, possibly setting up negotiations for a prisoner exchange. What do you know about that?

WARE: Well, obviously there's conflicting reports. And it's impossible to nail anything down. That's the very nature of these back channels. However, we do know that such dialogues do occur. So, anything's entirely possible through intermediaries. I mean, we know that the United States communicates with Hezbollah through the speaker of parliament here in -- in Lebanon, among others.

So, these kinds of communications are part and parcel of these conflicts and mediating different kinds of diplomatic solutions to these dilemmas.

ROBERTS: And -- and, of course, Hezbollah is a part of the official Lebanese government, including two Cabinet members.

John King, does Hezbollah have to be a part of any solution, and -- and does Syria as well?

KING: Well, there's two layers to that, short-term and a bit longer-term.

The Hezbollah part -- Hezbollah part is fascinating. As Michael notes, the conversation with Hezbollah will be done through the government, through the political arm of Hezbollah, not the military arm. They -- and they keep saying this international force, which hasn't been assembled yet. We should make that clear. There are still disagreements about that.

But, assuming that force comes together, they don't want it to have to shoot its way in. So, Hezbollah would have to accept it, which is still a giant question mark here.

As for Syria, the calculation is, deal with Hezbollah first. Try to get it to accept a cease-fire, and, then, hopefully, from the U.S. perspective, the British perspective, the mandate of that force is robust enough that it can patrol the Syrian border, prevent the resupply of Hezbollah.

And, at that point, you try to take what then would be a diplomatic conversation to the next level, and try to engage Syria then, John -- but, first the cease-fire. First deal with Hezbollah, then Syria.

ROBERTS: John King, the White House's refusal to call for a cease-fire is seen as giving Israel a green light to continue its campaign in the air and on the ground. How much longer can the White House give them a green light before world public opinion starts to -- to sweep it up in it as well?

KING: Well, clearly, the international pressure, the world public opinion, as you put it, was part of the president's calculation today in coming out and saying, he, too, like Tony Blair, wants this U.N. resolution.

There's not really a shift in U.S. policy there, because the elements they want to get as part of that package are the elements they said they wanted in Rome when they blocked the calls for an immediate cease-fire. The calls in Rome did not include the force right away. That hadn't been negotiated yet.

What they wanted in Rome was, cease-fire now, negotiate everything else later, plan everything else later. But the president is under enormous pressure. The tough calculation for President Bush is going to be, if either the Israelis or, more -- more likely, U.S. officials say, the Lebanese government says it doesn't have the political strength to do this right now, what does the president do then?

ROBERTS: World public opinion growingly negative about this whole campaign, but, still, here in Israel, public opinion overwhelmingly in support of it.

John King in Jerusalem, Michael Ware in Baghdad, thanks very much.

Of course, this conflict here between Israel and Lebanon, and particularly what's going on in Beirut, brings back memories of a dark day in October of 1983, the Marine barracks bombing, in which 241 American servicemen were killed.

On "CNN PRESENTS" this weekend, I'm going to take an in-depth look at the Marine barracks bombing, what went wrong, what have we learned from it -- a "CNN PRESENTS" special, 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

So, we know that there is a lot of support for Hezbollah in the Arab street. Is it growing? Or, because Lebanon is slowly being destroyed, will it start to turn against Hassan Nasrallah? We will take a look at that.

A special edition of 360, from the border between Israel and Lebanon, continues right after this.


ROBERTS: Is Israel's bombardment of southern Lebanon and Beirut helping Hezbollah win favor with its enemies?

That story when 360 returns -- next.


ROBERTS: Seventeen days of fighting now between Israel and Hezbollah -- the casualties continue to mount, and the fighting shows no sign of slowing down, let alone stopping.

Outgoing artillery blasts, we -- we hear the -- the artillery shells hit on the other side, machine gun fire in the air, and F-16 bombers ripping over top of us, even as we speak. Here's the latest "War Bulletin" for you.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, meeting at the White House today, said that they will press for a U.N. resolution next week to end the fighting. But both leaders stress that it must also address the long-term problems in the region.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is heading back to the Middle East this weekend. She is going to discuss the proposed U.N. resolution with Lebanese and Israeli leaders.

And the United Nations wants a 72-hour time-out in the fighting to deliver humanitarian aid to Lebanon, Gaza and Israel. The emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations says humanitarian supplies are desperately needed and the dead and wounded have to be evacuated.

It was a bit of a surprise at the beginning of this conflict that many Arab nations, many big Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, were highly critical of Hezbollah -- not supportive of Israel, but critical of Hezbollah -- for starting this thing in the first place. But is the tide beginning to turn as this conflict drags on?

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look at that.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the fighting began, leaders in parts of the Arab world found themselves in the unusual position of criticizing Hezbollah for attacking Israel, suggesting the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, the event that started all this latest bloodshed, was ill conceived, risky, and wrong.

At that time, outside of Southern Lebanon, some of the loudest complaints about Israel's response were coming from Syria and Iran, countries that have backed Hezbollah for years.

(on camera) But look at what a difference a couple of weeks can make. Now, Middle East watchers say throughout this region, public complaints about Israel's actions are growing, in some cases eclipsing the earlier complaints by Arab leaders.

Where's it happening? All over. Obviously in Iraq. But also in Jordan, down in Saudi Arabia, and over in Egypt. Why is this all happening? Take a look.

(voice-over) Arabs, like the rest of the world, have been watching a steady stream of horrible images, of Lebanese citizens being killed and wounded, fleeing the Israeli army. They're seeing pictures of heavily bombed Hezbollah neighborhoods. And Middle East analysts say, since Arabs have always disliked Israel, that has allowed Hezbollah's charismatic leader to exploit the situation with loud calls for Arab unity.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: There's a lot of anger. Most people who are angry are not going to be recruiting to militancy. People are angry, but they're not going to join militant groups. But enough will. Enough will to feed a longer-term struggle.

FOREMAN: Even al Qaeda, an enemy of Hezbollah, is praising this fight against Israel, while U.S. efforts to broker a long-term peace deal are being mocked. Of course, it may be easier for Arabs outside Lebanon to cheer on this struggle against an old enemy. Some Arabs in Northern Lebanon, places not controlled by Hezbollah, don't share that feeling.

SALAMEH NEMATT, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "AL-HAYAT": They feel that Hezbollah by its own unilateral actions has undermined the whole state. Destroyed the country by inviting the Israeli retaliation and response to the operation. So while Hezbollah is, by and large, very popular now in the Arab world, it has lost a lot at home.

FOREMAN: Many Arabs, analysts say, remain opposed to much of Hezbollah's beliefs. But they are looking hard at Israel right now. And evidently remembering that old Arab saying: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: Of course, this conflict has brought to us all kinds of disturbing images. Many of them have come from the Lebanese side of the border as innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire.

But there have been many disturbing images on the Israeli side of the border, as well, and other images that we are finding out about that speak to the broader war on terror.

Here's one that surprised us most. It's "The Shot of the Day". This comes from the Israeli defense forces. Video released solely to CNN. Take a look at this. This comes to us from the Israeli Defense Forces, video released solely to CNN.

Take a look at this. This shows the threat at sea. First appears to be a boat in need of rescue near the Israeli port of Ash Daad (ph). Take a look. Those men in the smaller boat apparently are suicide bombers.

The Israeli soldiers on board survived the blast when they detonated the explosives. The IDF released this to emphasize the threat at sea, just one of the many threats that Israel has faced over the years and will continue to face in the future.

ROBERTS: Coming up next, we're going to speak with an Arab journalist about reaction to Hezbollah on the Arab street. Does Hassan Nasrallah still curry favor with the Arab world? Is it beginning to turn against him or is he continuing to grow stronger?

A special edition of 360 continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: You're looking at pictures of evacuees being brought to Tyre in southern Lebanon, evacuated from towns and villages across the entire border region between Israel and Lebanon.

More than 750,000 people have been displaced, with Israel saying people have to get out of the zone, to get out of harm's way. Still, many, many civilians caught in the crossfire.

We want to talk more about the reaction from the Arab street to the operations here. Salameh Nematt is the Washington bureau chief of the "Al Hayat" newspaper, based in London.

Salameh, what's the opinion right now in Hezbollah and what they did two weeks ago in kidnapping those Israeli soldiers? Do people in Lebanon still support them? Are they still angry at them for thrusting Lebanon into this crisis? How are they feeling?

NEMATT: I think that most of the Shiites now have no choice but to back Hezbollah. They feel that Hezbollah has been a protector of their sect, where the other minorities, basically don't have an overwhelming of any sect in Lebanon.

The Christians, Jews and the Sunni Muslims are very angry with Hezbollah for basically inviting this Israeli retaliation with an action that was not properly calculated. It was a war that no Lebanese wanted except Hezbollah, which is considered a puppet of the Iranians and the Syrians.

So I think that Hezbollah, while it has a core support among the Shiites, it is very much isolated politically among the other sects of Lebanon. And this, of course, threatens a further split and fears that this tension could turn violent at one point.

ROBERTS: Salameh, we were saying earlier in the program that at the beginning of this conflict, several large Arab nations, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, were very critical of Hezbollah for touching off this conflict. We hear now more criticism of Israel from those countries.

Is that just for public consumption behind the scenes? Do they still want to see Hezbollah degraded?

NEMATT: They certainly want to see it degraded. None of the Arab regimes would like to see a militia emerging in their midst, basically setting the agenda of war or peace with their neighbors.

The Arab regimes, of course, they have to condemn Hezbollah, because we shouldn't forget there is a Lebanese government that was elected by the people. Hezbollah was part of the elections. Lebanese parliament.

And these -- you know, these democratically elected governments do not want to go to war with the super power of the region, Israel being that super power.

And as a result we see that an entire nation is destroyed. And many Lebanese are asking, was it worth it for -- in return for these two soldiers that Nasrallah has kidnapped, the whole country has been destroyed, not to mention hundreds of people killed, hundreds of thousands displaced.

ROBERTS: And even now the bombardment continues. You can hear it in the background.

At the White House today, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that any U.N. resolution to end the fighting has to address the longer-term and the larger picture, the root of the problems, he says, here in the Middle East. Is the United Nations resolution the proper forum in which to do that, a resolution to stop the fighting here?

NEMATT: Everybody knows that a resolution doesn't mean anything if there are no super powers behind it, basically, to put their money where their mouth is. In the sense that if the U.S. does not back -- the U.S. and the major powers do not back a resolution by sending actual troops on the ground to implement that resolution, it doesn't mean anything.

There are dozens of international resolutions that sit there, unimplemented, related to the Arab/Israeli conflict. And you know, Arab public opinion and most of the cases and governments does not mean anything. Because these regimes are not democratic.

And so what matters at the end of the day is whether you will find the troops to send to Lebanon, that the governments concerned will commit to taking this risk of Hezbollah, basically, which is acting on behalf of the Iranians and the Syrians, if it decides to put up a fight. And then you end up involving other parties with the -- of course, with the Syrians and Iranians there in the shadows, especially if the Israelis decide to expand also the confrontation.

ROBERTS: As you said, Salameh, a lot of unimplemented United Nations resolutions. One of those being Resolution 1559, passed last year, which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah.

Salameh Nematt, the Washington bureau chief of "Al Hayat" newspaper, thanks very much.

Coming up at the top of the hour, we're going to take you on an inside look at this Middle East conflict. A 360 special, "24 Hours Under Attack". That's coming up at 11.

First, let's go to Gary Tuchman with some of the business news of the day in New York -- Gary.


We start with the shooting in Seattle. It happened just a few hours ago. Police have arrested a man accused of opening fire at the Jewish Federation office in downtown Seattle, killing at least one person. The shooter is said to be a Pakistani descent.

Five women were wounded and were taken to a local hospital; three are in critical condition. Authorities say they think the suspect acted alone.

Actor Mel Gibson was arrested in Malibu, California, today, suspected of driving under the influence. The Oscar-winning director was pulled over early this morning while driving at high speeds along the Pacific Coast Highway. He was given a blood-alcohol test and released on $5,000 bond.

Meanwhile, in New London, Connecticut, a senior citizen accused of driving his car into a crowd posted $10,000 in bond. Eighty-five- year-old Robert Lane was arrested yesterday and charged with reckless driving. Authorities say Lane told them his gas pedal became stuck, causing him to plow into the crowd at new London's Sailfest celebration earlier this month, injuring 28 people. Lane is due in court on August 10.

And the week ends with a rally on Wall Street, the Dow Jones racking up 119 points to end at 11,219. The S&P rose 15 points, and the NASDAQ closed 39 points higher. Share prices got an early boost from a report showing the economy slowing, making interest rate hikes less likely.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right, Gary, thanks very much. The Dow goes up, the Dow goes down, the Dow goes back up again.

A killer heat wave in California, more than 100 people dead. Is there any end in sight? It's not the only weird weather in the United States right now. We'll have that story on 360 next.


ROBERTS: Misery across the Midwest. You're looking at some of the massive flooding in Ohio. And the weather across the rest of the nation has been less than pleasant.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Temperatures were cooling off today after more than a week of death in California, more than 125 fatalities in the blistering heat; record-breaking electricity used.

And people weren't the only ones in trouble. In Sacramento, the heat had even started killing off the bat population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really got to be a problem there, especially on Sunday, when it was 111.

JOHNS: In wine country, the grapes started willing on the vine. Livestock was dying. Even the fruit flies were, well, dropping like flies.

But that may have been the only tangible benefit in what is on track to become a record-breaking summer nationwide, according to government meteorologist Dennis Feltgen (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unusual. And it's been excessively hot in many states across the country. In fact, there hasn't been a single state this summer that hasn't been affected one way or another with the heat.

JOHNS (on camera): Hottest year on record?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, for the first six months of 2006, the hottest ever recorded in the United States with records going back to 1895.

JOHNS (voice-over): In the Midwest this week, there was double trouble. At first, a thunderstorm knocked out electricity in St. Louis. And then thousands and thousands of people waited and waited in the sweltering temperatures before power was finally restored.

There was more rain in Ohio. East of Cleveland in Lake County, a state of emergency was declared after 10 inches of rain fell and flooding caused some evacuations.

(on camera) While people in the West Coast were sweltering in dangerously high temperatures this week, people in places like the Washington, D.C., area got a pleasant break this afternoon. But don't get too comfortable, because it looks like the heat wave is headed back east.

(voice-over) And if you're thinking next month has to be better, don't bank on it. Government scientists say this long, hot summer is a long way from done.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: So record heat in some parts of the country. Record rainfall in other parts. What's worse, hell or high water? Here's Rob Marciano -- Rob.


The warm temperatures certainly have been, if not a hassle and deadly out in the west, a little bit of relief out there now with cool ocean breezes.

But still, tomorrow's forecast highs, a lot of red on the map still. Temperatures in the 90s in places like Denver, places like Dallas, as far north as Minneapolis. They've been stuck in it. And 97 degrees expected in Chicago.

The weather map pretty much bringing a lot of arrows from the south, bringing in that warm air. The arrows bringing in cool air are staying well to the north in Canada.

And this hot, dry air right here in the nation's heartland kind of feeds on itself. When you bake that ground and evaporate all that moisture, when there's no moisture left, the ground heats up even more. So it's kind of a cycle that kind of repeats itself.

All right. The Climate Prediction Center from NOAA is saying the next three months likely going to be above average, temperature-wise, across much of the country and really above average across much of the desert southwest.

The next five days, though, in places like New York City and the I-95 corridor, looking at temperatures that are going to be well into the 90s. So heat wave coming back for New York, for D.C., for Chicago, for Philly, and St. Louis and Dallas. Everybody will be in the 90s.

And if it feels like it's warmer than normal, John, June was the second-warmest June on record. And the last couple of weeks in July have certainly been record breaking. So it has and it is hotter this summer than it has been in the past -- John.

ROBERT: Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center, thanks very much.

You can still hear the artillery firing over my head, the early- morning wakeup call for Hezbollah from the Israeli side of the border.

The American Tour De France winner responds to allegations that he cheated his way to victory. Floyd Landis proclaims that he is innocent. So how did he fail a doping test? 360 next.



FLOYD LANDIS, TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: Again, I was tested six times before that and two times afterwards. I don't receive the results when they're negative. So I don't know exactly what the numbers were. But all of them were within normal ranges.


ROBERTS: That's American Tour De France winner Floyd Landis. Exclusive interview on Larry King, denying allegations that he used testosterone or other performance-enhancing drugs for his Tour De France victory. He did test for high levels of testosterone. If he is found to be guilty of doping, he could lose the yellow jersey and his Tour De France win.

CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen now with more on the science behind the scandal.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So did Floyd Landis win the Tour De France on his own strength? Or did he win it on the strength of steroids?

LANDIS: I would like to leave it absolutely clear that I am not in any doping process. COHEN: But a urine test showed he had unusually high levels of testosterone which can indicate steroid use. So is Landis lying or is the test wrong?


COHEN: Dr. Gary Wadler is a leading expert in the field of performance-enhancing drugs. He says the test results just don't sound right. The positive test result came towards the end of the race, but it wouldn't really help to start taking steroids at that point.

WADLER: It will not add speed and strength. It might get some enhancement only to the extent it might improve his recovery time from the prior days of the event.

COHEN: Steroids only work when taken for months before a competition. And as Landis told Larry King, those earlier test results were clean.

LANDIS: I don't know exactly what the numbers were, but all of them were within normal ranges.

COHEN: So how does Landis explain his test results? He says he just has naturally high levels of testosterone.

LANDIS: I will proceed to undergo all of these tests to accredit the levels I have had during the tour and all my career are absolutely natural and produced by my own organisms (sic).

COHEN: The experts we talked to said some men do have naturally high testosterone levels.

WADLER: That's the way their biology is. When you see a sudden deviation from that, there has to be an explanation.

COHEN: Wadler said there could be a number of reasons test results don't seem right, ranging from a bad test to sabotage of the sample.

But there are ways to solve this mystery. For example, there's a more sophisticated test that would show if the testosterone in Landis' body was natural or came from drug use.

LANDIS: I'm going to do my best to defend my dignity and my -- my innocence.

COHEN: Experts say this second test should solve the mystery whether this was an athlete gone wrong or a test with the wrong result.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


ROBERTS: A Cinderella story on shaky ground at the moment.

That's it from the Middle East for now. I'm John Roberts. Thanks very much for joining us for this special edition of 360. But more on the Middle East coming up in a special with Anderson Cooper, "A Day at War: 24 Hours Under attack", 360 next.


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