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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Crisis in the Middle East: Day 22; Ground War Growing; Hezbollah Hideout?; Strategy Session; Bush & Israel; Changing Tactics; Deadly Heatwave; On the Front Line

Aired August 2, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: Battle barrage. Both sides expand the fighting, with Israel moving farther into Lebanon and Hezbollah unleashing a record number of rockets. Tonight, exclusive video from the front lines.
Failed diplomacy? Twenty-two days into the Mideast crisis and President Bush still hasn't called the Israeli prime minister. Why is he refusing to step in and broker a cease-fire?

And sizzling summer. Imagine 100 degrees in the shade. Records broken. Lives taken. And the worst may not be over. Tonight, the latest on the deadly heat wave.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 22." Reporting tonight from northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we'll have more on the heat wave affecting the United States later on in the program.

But first, the battle that is happening all around us. We are live from the Lebanon/Israel border. Here artillery units have begun opening fire over the last hour.

Again, another day, another deadly barrage. The ground fighting, intense. These artillery units are not only trying to knock out Hezbollah rocket positions, they're also trying to provide cover for ground troops operating right now inside Lebanon. And there are an awful lot of ground troops operating. Some 6,000, according to Israeli media reports. No official statistics from the Israeli government. They're simply not saying. They're holding that very close to the vest.

But we know that the fighting is intense. We have seen it for ourselves. A lot to talk about tonight with our correspondents, John Roberts who's along this border, Michael Ware who's in Beirut, and John King who's covering diplomatic efforts in Washington.

We begin with the fighting and John Roberts.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS) ROBERTS (voice-over): It was another intense day in the Lebanese town of Aita al-Shaab, just a couple of miles from where two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped back on July 12th.

Israeli guns pounded Hezbollah bunkers on the western side of the town, sending columns of thick smoke pouring across the hillsides.

The sounds of a fierce gun battle rolled up from the valley, while Hezbollah took aim at Israeli positions on the high ground.

(On camera): This is probably one of the most dangerous places on the Israeli side of the border right now. We're at an outpost, a tank bunker overlooking the town of Aita al-Shaab. You can hear in the background there is still artillery hits. We hear the artillery flying very close overhead.

This was the scene of a very fierce battle yesterday between Israeli military and Hezbollah guerrillas. The Israeli army lost three soldiers, more than 20 wounded. It's clear from what we're hearing here today that the vicious fighting is still going on.

(Voice-over): In other areas, the Israeli army is holding ground in preparation for an international stabilization force. An Israeli army video obtained exclusively by CNN, an armored personnel carrier fires fuel bombs to clear a Hezbollah outpost of possible booby traps. A bulldozer knocks over another Hezbollah watchtower, while ground troops clear the remaining buildings.

Israeli soldiers show off a missile launcher next to a mosque, evidence they say that Hezbollah is using religious sites as cover.

Another video obtained by CNN shows the bodies of what the Israeli military says are Hezbollah fighters. Israel claims it has killed more than 300 Hezbollah guerrillas in this three-week campaign. Hezbollah denies that figure, but hasn't said how many fighters it has lost. Israel says 36 of its soldiers have died.

As diplomatic pressure mounts to bring an end to the hostilities, the question, how long will the combat last? Major General Bennie Gantz was the last Israeli soldier to leave Lebanon in the year 2000.

MAJOR GENERAL BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI ARMY: It can take awhile. It can either be done in a few days, it can be done in a few weeks. As everybody knows, we aren't going anywhere. So, as long as we are here, we are willing to fight. And we're not going anywhere.

ROBERTS: After a two-day lull, Hezbollah today proved it still has plenty of rockets and the capability to fire them. More than 230 Katyushas landed in northern Israel, a new record by a wide margin. And Hezbollah struck deeper than it ever has before, with one long range rocket that made it all the way to the West Bank.

More fuel for critics here in Israel who complain the military waited far too long to go into Lebanon with a major invasion.

GANTZ: Those criticisms, we need to be talk later on. I think that for the moment, we have a war to win. We are doing it. And we'll discuss all those issues, you know, as we are saying, as there is an expression, 6:00 after the war, 6:00 o'clock after the war. We'll have tea and then discuss those criticisms.

ROBERTS: With the ground war now expanding dramatically, many more Israeli forces will join the fight. There is a nonstop flow of tanks, troops and armored personnel carriers toward the battlefield. And an ever-intensifying effort, day and night, to drive Hezbollah back from the border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (on camera): Dawn just breaking now here in northern Israel and it looks like it's going to be another action-packed day. We've got the morning wake-up call with Israeli artillery firing shells over the border into Lebanon. And, Anderson, just a couple of minutes ago we watched a Katyusha rocket fly over our heads. It landed a couple of miles away in that direction. Looks like somebody on the Hezbollah side is awake this morning as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it's interesting, John. I mean, the last two days, Monday and Tuesday, we really didn't see that many rockets, relatively speaking, falling in the area that we are now, and falling all throughout northern Israel. Then just yesterday, the massive 215 or more rockets than any single one day. What are Israeli soldiers telling you why about why the rockets keep coming?

ROBERTS: Well, they say they've had success in hitting those larger mobile launchers, but the bigger rockets, the ones like they fired into Afula, this Khyber (ph) 1 rocket that Hezbollah claims to have. They're not sure what the basis for that rocket is. They say it's not an Iranian Fager, it's not a Zelzal.

But those are on fairly substantial truck beds, they're pretty easy to see and hit from the air. It's the smaller Katyusha rockets, about that tall, just about the same height as me. You know, you can put them in the back of a van, you can carry them around in a pickup truck, you can hide them in your garage, you can put them under a tarpaulin in the backyard, pull them out and within a few minutes set them up and fire them over, then run away.

So, it's really hard to hit those short-range missiles, much harder than the big ones, which is why we keep seeing them coming over. And if they fired one already -- they usually don't start firing them until at least 9:00 o'clock in the morning -- it could mean that this is going to be another day of intense action -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it certainly was yesterday. John Roberts, thanks for that report. We'll check in with you shortly.

Let's move up now to Beirut. What has been happening inside and further up north inside Lebanon. New air strikes in south Beirut. Those Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut.

Also want to talk about what happened along the Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley, that daring nighttime raid by Israeli commandos, they say seizing what they said were five militants, killing what they said were 10 Hezbollah fighters.

A lot to talk about. CNN's Michael Ware is covering the action from Beirut.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The newest front in Israel's ground war. The 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's 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 Israeli commandos dropped onto the roof of the hospital from where they entered the building and began their search, while as many as 10 helicopters circled overhead.

(On camera): There's clear signs of the fire fight with shell casings scattered about the car park and fresh bullet holes in the walls of this compound and this service station. A brush fire 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 the headquarters. The entrance to the hospital.

WARE (voice-over): In all, Lebanese authorities say as many as 16 people were killed. In Baalbeck, residents claim the dead were civilians, cut down in air strikes as the battle unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There were seven martyrs, 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?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That of course is the question. Michael Ware joins us now from Beirut. John Roberts joins us from along the border here in Israel. And John King joins us from Washington. A lot to talk about with our top correspondents.

Michael Ware, let's begin with you. Dawn now in Beirut. There was shelling over the last several hours. What do we know about it?

WARE (on camera): Well, what we know is that the Israeli air campaign has recommenced, Anderson. We've had a respite for several days now. And we saw the partial suspension of air activity, certainly in the south, for 48 hours.

Even though aid convoys were not able to get in as was hoped, it was still something of a breather.

However, early this morning, just a few hours ago, we saw it come back with vigor. We had a massive explosion, soon followed by three more in the Hezbollah-dominated suburbs of southern Beirut -- Anderson.

COOPER: Michael, does anyone know where Hassan Nasrallah is right now?

WARE: Look, there's a lot of speculation about that, Anderson. And it's quite a parlor game. There's been a lot written about this in some of the Arab media.

There's a lot of people who are betting that he's actually out of the country. And in fact, that makes the most sense. There's plenty of places he can go. There's been some speculation that he's in Syria. Further speculation that he's in the Iranian embassy, either here or in Damascus. And even more speculation that he's in Iran itself.

So given the nature of this insurgency, they will be looking to protect Hassan Nasrallah. They will have him in one of the places that the Israelis would least expect to find him. It would not be in a known haunt. So, to get him out of the country would potentially make a lot of sense.

COOPER: Hassan Nasrallah, obviously a major target for Israeli forces. And given that raid in Baalbeck, they've certainly shown they're able to snatch people that at least they believe are Hezbollah militants.

John Roberts, covering the action along the border here. What should we anticipate in the next day, in these daylight hours? There are several thousand Israeli troops now on the ground in south Lebanon. A major offensive underway. What does the offensive look like overall?

ROBERTS: Anderson, it looks like today they're going to start bringing up those reserve troops in greater numbers. There are a few reserve units that have been operating in this area. Some operate artillery batteries. Some have begun to go over the border. But they called up three divisions, about 5,000 to 8,000 men per division. So we could see anywhere between 15,000 and 24,000 troops if they think they need that many coming up here.

We have seen a constant stream over the last 24 hours of heavy artillery, tanks and other armor coming out of the bases on those tank transport trucks, up to the border, staging in areas high up in the mountains in preparation to go over and join the fight.

So I think what it's going to look like over the next couple of days is just an increasing amount of armor going across the border from the south, going across the border in the northeastern most tip, around Metullah, and cutting west trying to bottle up Hezbollah, trying to control as much ground as they possibly can until that U.N. resolution gets crafted in New York, and an international stabilization force is struck and begins the process of coming in here.

But it's very clear at this point, Anderson, that the Israeli military is going to be in Lebanon for at least a number of weeks, even if the fighting ends soon.

COOPER: No doubt about that.

John King in Washington, how long does the U.S. think it might take to actually rouse some sort of international force if and when they get a resolution to do it?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there was some impetus late this afternoon, some thought that maybe they would actually move a little bit quickly. So we'll see what happens as the next day plays out here in Washington and New York. But most are saying probably early next week, some are saying a possibility of passing a resolution late this week. Even if you do that, if they use the existing U.N. force and ramp it up a little bit, you're still talking days to get several hundred troops in, weeks to get any significant number of troops in.

The question is what else do they say in the resolution? Do they put demands for the Lebanese government and Israeli government to honor the deal once they pass a resolution?

And U.S. officials say they have ironclad assurances from Prime Minister Olmert that once a deal is adopted by the United Nations, he will accept it and honor it.

That's one reason U.S. officials think that all these troops are going in, that the pace of the Israeli campaign has accelerated, just in case. Perhaps it will go on for weeks. But if there's a deal within days, they say the Israelis are doing what they can do within that period of time. Punish, punish, and punish, so that if a cease- fire comes, they can inflict as much damage as possible.

COOPER: John Roberts, no doubt you can hear from where you are oh the border of what we are hearing right here on the border, those Israeli drones, those unmanned drones moving overhead. Those eyes in the sky, trying to track any movement -- Hezbollah movement, also track Israeli troop movements on the ground. It has become a very common sound here.

Are they trying to push to the Litani River and basically just hold all the territory between here and the Litani River right now?

ROBERTS: It looks like some units are at least going up toward the Litani River, cutting westward toward the center of Lebanon. It doesn't look like they're going to try to draw a line clear across Lebanon at this point. It may go sort of within about 15 miles of the coast and then come southward or troops from the south could actually go to meet troops at the north. But it's pretty clear, Anderson, that they're trying to bottle them up in sort of maybe an oblong type of shape in between Israel and the central part of southern Lebanon. They want to make sure that Hezbollah doesn't disappear back into the community. They want to make sure they can hold that ground in hopes that that international stabilization force is going to come in.

But even if there is a cessation of hostilities, you've got to know that Hezbollah is going to continue to try to strike at the Israeli troops. So, a cease-fire, if and when it comes, that the mandate of the United Nations, may be at least for a number of weeks in name only because there will continue so be skirmishes there.

COOPER: No doubt about that.

John Roberts, Thanks.

John King and Michael Ware, as well. Stay safe.

When we come back, a lot more to talk about. But first, let's take a look at some numbers, some of the raw data. This war, this conflict has forced many people to move -- internally displaced people. Some have become refugees. A lot of people, hundreds of thousands on the move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Let's take a look at the raw data. Three weeks into the fighting, 800,000 Lebanese refugees have fled their homes and country seeking safety; 300,000 Israelis internally displaced by the fighting and by the continued falling of rockets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): We've seen some 200 rockets falling in this area around northern Israel in the last 24 hours. The most number of rockets in any one day. When we come back, we'll have more on the diplomatic efforts underway here.

And also the plight of civilians in the war zone. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: CNN's Ed Henry reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush made a surprise visit to the ratty old White House briefing room, before it gets nine months of massive renovations.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is like the end of an old era. And let me just say we felt your pain.

HENRY: Plenty of laughs, but the president took no questions. Leaving Press Secretary Tony Snow to face a barrage of queries about why the U.S. has not stepped in to end the Mideast crisis.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I've said many times, we would love a cease-fire yesterday. We want an end to violence. We think what has happened is a tragedy, not merely for the people of Lebanon, but the people of Israel.

HENRY: But Snow acknowledged three weeks into the war, the president has still not called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, leading critics to charge the U.S. has given Olmert tacit approval to obliterate Hezbollah. Regardless of the toll it's taking on innocent victims in Lebanon and Israel.

SNOW: we don't have a green light. I mean, the idea that the United States government is saying go, go, go, I think is a disservice both to the Israeli government, which operates independently, and to this government.

HENRY: After a White House meeting Wednesday, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres did show independence by saying the campaign will continue for weeks, not days, the opposite of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's prediction.

But Peres also highlighted Israel's close ties to the administration, when asked if the White House is privately urging him to stop the bombing.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI VICE PRIME MINISTER: I don't feel any pressure. I think there's a real and sincere dialogue. And we appreciate very much the words of the president who says Israel has the right to defend ourselves.

HENRY: Some Republicans raising questions about whether the relationship is too cozy.

SEN CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: The United States and Israel must understand that it is not in their long-term interests to allow themselves to become isolated in the Middle East and the world.

HENRY: This stands in stark contrast to the president's father, who appeared to be more neutral on Arab-Israeli conflicts.

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER MIDEAST NEGOTIATOR: The priorities that he has set in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, and preventing another attack on the continental United States by a terrorist group in the wake of 9/11. Automatically by definition pushes the United States into a posture where it's going to be extremely supportive of Israel.

HENRY (on camera): Officials here deny that the White House's staunch support of Israel is hampering the diplomatic effort to bring peace to the Mideast, and say they're still hopeful of passing a U.N. resolution to halt the violence, as early as this week.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.

COOPER: A lot more to talk about what's going on here.

But first let's get a quick check of the day's other stories from CNN's Randi Kaye with the "360 Bulletin," -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson. Two bombs exploded at a soccer field in western Baghdad today, killing 11 people.

Two American soldiers were among the 42 other people killed across Iraq. Sectarian violence is increasing in Baghdad and the U.S. command is sending nearly 4,000 extra soldiers from Mosul in an attempt to try and reclaim the capital streets.

The Pentagon says initial reports support allegations that American Marines shot 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha late last year. Marine Corps and Navy prosecutors are considering criminal charges, but say they don't know when the investigation will be completed.

On Capitol Hill with Cuba's President Fidel Castro temporarily ceding power to his brother, U.S. lawmakers rushed to drop legislation that will give millions of dollars to his opponents that would fight for Democratic change. The White House and Congress were surprised by Castro's illness. White House Spokesman Tony Snow said it was difficult to assess the situation, but he urged Cubans and expatriates not to rush to judgment.

The eastern half of the country continues to suffer under a punishing heat wave. Temperatures in the east and parts of the Midwest soared above 100 degrees in parts and are straining energy supplies. New York's Con Edison reported its second record in two straight days for electricity usage.

Anderson, back to you in the Middle East.

COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.

We're not forgetting the fighting that continues to rage throughout Iraq. New violence, in fact, and new efforts to quell the violence. One officer is trying some new tactics. We'll see how they are working, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It seems to me that it is not a classic civil war at this stage. It is a -- certainly isn't like our civil war. It isn't like the civil war in a number of other countries. Is it a high level of sectarian violence? Yes, it is. And are people being killed? Yes. And is it unfortunate? Yes. And is the government doing basically the right things? I think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Donald Rumsfeld still not willing to say that there is a civil war going on in Iraq. A belief not held by many other observers watching the situation on the ground in Iraq.

There, of course, the violence continues to morph. Insurgents and sectarian violence continues to not only claim large numbers of lives, but the tactics being used continue to morph and change.

One U.S. officer is trying to change some tactics as well on the U.S. side. CNN's Nic Robertson filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Fisher is in a hurry. Americans are under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans are taking small arms fire. Contractors. And up by checkpoint 106. We're the closest thing in the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're going to go north on Detroit. It's at the 6602.

ROBERTSON: Fisher races to help. It's the road he just traveled.

LT. COL. THOMAS FISHER: Do you have any injured? I've got a medic.

ROBERTSON: As he arrives, details emerge. An IED, roadside bomb, hit a private security convoy, killing one contractor.

(On camera): The bomb appears to have been triggered by a pressure switch. We've just been to look in the hole, and there seems to be another explosive device in there. We've all pulled back.

(Voice-over): What we didn't know then is that insurgents hiding in bushes close to the road videotaped their attack. The tape showed up in Baghdad later in the day.

Some of Fisher's team believe they were the intended target. That could have been you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I like to think that we're a little better trained. It wasn't, but it's just kind of the nature of the business out here.

ROBERTSON: Changing that violent nature of business is Fisher's priority. And he's trying new tactics to achieve it. Getting to know tribal and political leaders of all stripes to better understand what drives the violence. His area in Diyala Province, is a microcosm of Iraq's complex, ethnic, sectarian insurgent and militia problems.

FISHER: There's a tendency to try to oversimplify a lot of the issues that we face. And if you rush in without having all the facts or understanding really what the dynamics are that are driving a lot of the violence, you tend to -- well, as General Casey would say, rush to failure.

ROBERTSON: In October last year, U.S. officers toured (UNINTELLIGIBLE) town, not far from the IED that just missed Fisher.

Back then, they chased out insurgents, made the area safe, they said, by shelling local farms. They concede that peace didn't last. Fisher now says he understands why.

FISHER: Innocent people get hurt, which drives more men to anger, which is natural, which then they want to take up arms to seek revenge. And then you get into this vicious spiral.

If there are terrorists who are hiding on land that you own, we want you to tell us about it. Don't be scared.

ROBERTSON: In a dusty town in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, one of Fisher's officers, Captain Chris Turner, is putting his commander's gentler tactics into action. He wants information, not new enemies.

CAPTAIN CHRIS TURNER: I want to know what you got arrested for. You've already served your prison time so tell me what you got arrested for.

ROBERTSON: Instead of knocking down doors in heavy-handed raids, he's knocking on doors, willing to forgive former enemies.

TURNER: Offering them that carrot, that, you know, no matter what happened the last couple of years, we understand you saw us as an occupying force, and you did what you thought was right.

Are you responsible for this too?

ROBERTSON: It is soft diplomacy. But with his carrot, Turner carries a very large stick. He is as ready to fight, he says, as he is to forgive.

TURNER: We're going to go through this village with a fine-tooth comb over the next couple of days. If I find bad guys and you're lying to me, I'm going to arrest you.

ROBERTSON: When fisher checks with Turner, results are mixed.

FISHER: What are the atmospherics of the town?

TURNER: Same as always. All the bad guys are not from my town.

ROBERTSON: Good advance intelligence landed several weapons caches. But the al Qaeda insurgents they were hunting appear to have fled.

Across the rest of his area, Fisher says his tactics are working. Attacks are down. Public perception of security is up. They've even headed off sectarian conflict by talking and getting others talking.

FISHER: We find ourselves more and more in a facilitator role because I'm not a Sunni, I'm not a Shia. I can listen to both sides. We approach all problems objectively. We go exactly with the facts that we have.

ROBERTSON: Facilitator or not, Fisher's troops are clearly still targets. On the dusty lanes, Turner's convoy drives over another IED. Wired wrong, this one doesn't go off, leaving these infantry to explode it safely.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Diyala Province, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When we come back, the latest from the war zone here. These Israeli artillery units who we've been broadcasting from, we'll show you what life is like for them. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The fighting in the Middle East now enters its fourth week. Here's the latest update in the 360 "War Bulletin."

New air strikes on southern Beirut in the past hours. Well, today Hezbollah has fired more than 230 rockets into northern Israel, the most in a single day.

A London-based human rights group says the Israeli strike on Qana earlier this week killed 28 people and 13 are still missing. That's a smaller number than previously reported. Lebanese official figures still stand at at least 54, possibly as high as 60 deaths. The human rights watch says more than 20 people were able to escape the rubble.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continue to defuse the crisis. The British ambassador to the United Nations says the security council could consider resolution on Lebanon by Thursday.

And here at this Israeli artillery unit where we've been broadcasting from, the guns have begun to open up fire. As you can see it is just after sunrise here. Off in the distance, I don't know if you can see that on those cots, there are a number of Israeli soldiers who are just trying to sleep. Sleep is a very precious commodity, obviously, in this war zone.

These operations are going on literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They've been going nonstop since this began, now entering its fourth week. So they try to sleep whenever they can. And if you can imagine sleeping when all of the shelling continues to go on. So, the shelling is going on day and night. They're able to sleep through it. And frankly, so are we after a certain amount of time. The first day here, we didn't think we'd be able to. But after a while, frankly, you can get used to just about anything.

These are some of the shells that they prepare. It's obviously they constantly need new shells. These shells don't last them very long.

The tall shells right over here with the yellow tops, those are 155 millimeter shells about three feet tall. They're accurate to about a range of about 15 or 20 kilometers. And they're fired by that gun. It looks like a tank. It's actually not a tank, it's an American-made M-109 artillery piece. It's obviously mobile. But it's in a dug-in position here. And it can lob shells over these mountains.

You don't actually see from this position where the shells land. The commanders know. But the guys who are actually firing the shells don't actually even know often what they're firing at. They're just given the coordinates by their commander and within a matter of moments they can put shells into south Lebanon. It is just one unit.

There are many spread out all along the border and the shelling just goes on day and night. It is something you just get used to after a while.

We'll have a lot more from what's happening here in the Middle East.

We're also when we come back, going to take a look at the deadly heat in the United States. We'll have the latest on that. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Two views of New York. On the left, the skyline as it normally is. On the right-hand side, the skyline as it is now. A lot of lights turned off as people try to conserve energy in this heat crisis. Tomorrow may be even worse, forecasters are saying.

CNN's Rob Marciano takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): If it feels hotter than ever, it is.

DENNIS FELTGEN, NATOINAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: 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.

MARCIANO: Probably didn't need an expert to tell you that. But you may not know the first seven months of 2006 have been the hottest on record ever. That's right. The hottest ever.

This unusually intense heat wave started in California last week, where at least 160 people died. Then it moved through the Midwest. Overburdened air conditioners left thousands without power. And finally, it hit the Northeast.

At 10:00 a.m. today it was already 97 in Nashua, New Hampshire. In Boston, where the mercury climbed to 98, city pools were kept open late.

Further south, the fish died in an overheated New Jersey lake.

And in New York City, they dimmed the lights in the Empire State Building to send a message -- use less electricity. But in nearby in Queens, the power still went out.

And if you thought this was just one bad summer, you're wrong.

DR. JAMES HANSEN, DIRECTOR, NASA GODDARD INSTITUTE: We're in for a couple of hot seasons. It's going to continue on average to get warmer.

MARCIANO: James Hansen has been studying climate change for 30 years. He says global warming is at least partly to blame for the high temperatures.

HANSEN: The climate dice are now loaded because of the greenhouse gases that humans have added to the atmosphere.

MARCIANO (on camera): And don't forget the temperature is measured in the shade. Combine it with the humidity and the heat index or what it feels like can be 10 to 20 degrees higher.

(Voice-over): There's at least one more day of scorching temperatures before things finally start to cool off on Friday.

Rob Marciano, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, thank goodness for Friday. I'm joined by 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta to talk about the heat and its effect on people.

Sanjay, thanks for being with us. How does someone die from the heat?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Well, you know, what happens, basically, is that your body gets to a certain point, usually about 103, 104 degrees, the actual core temperature of the body, it can no longer cool itself. I mean, the body is pretty good at cooling itself up to a certain point. But after that, it just shuts down. Several different organ systems actually come into play here, Anderson.

If you talk about the heat as it gets hotter, first of all, the brain, for example, you know, that's the place that actually regulating your body temperature. Once that starts to shut down, you stop sweating, you stop being able to -- you get dehydrated, you're not thirsty anymore, everything starts to shut down.

Kidneys also, kidneys are a problem. That's a place that actually detoxifies your body. When they start to shut down, your body starts to accumulate toxins. That can be a problem as well.

Perhaps the most significant place where this is felt and could actually -- answering your question, could actually lead to death, is the heart.

Your body gets quite dehydrated, you're building up these toxins, and all of a sudden, the heart may go into these abnormal rhythms, Anderson. Sometimes they can be fatal rhythms as well. But these are just some of the things that are going on.

Your lungs start to build up with fluid, your liver starts to fail, and you're unable to clot your blood as well. So several things can happen. And this can all happen just as a result of simply being too hot.

COOPER: What's the difference between the heat stroke and heat exhaustion?

GUPTA: Well, they are two things sort of along the same spectrum. But heat stroke is the bad one, is the really bad one.

A couple of simple ways to keep in mind the difference. With regard to heat stroke, your body's regulation of temperature really shuts down. The best way to tell is that you no longer sweat. So you know when someone's really hot, typically you see their skin very wet, they're sweating a lot. If someone's very hot and they're no longer sweating, that's a really bad sign. That's one of the first signs that they might actually develop heat stroke because they're no longer able to regulate the body temperature.

Heat exhaustion is just one step lower than that.

COOPER: Let's give some practical advice. Besides staying indoors, staying cool, and drinking a lot of liquids, what can people do to stay safe?

GUPTA: Well, you know, when it comes to liquids -- and this may be a no brainer, but people forget this a lot. You cleary want to stay away from alcoholic beverages for sure, but also caffeinated beverages. And people talk about this a lot, but caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you because they can actually act as what is called a diuretic. They can make you actually lose water at the same time that you're taking it in. So that's a concern.

Also, you want to keep your entire body covered. And again, this might seem a little bit counter intuitive. But shorts, maybe not the best idea. But longer pants, light colored, light weight clothing might be a better idea.

Also, air conditioning, obviously a good idea. But just a fan in a hot room may not be that good idea. So you want to try to get to someplace that has air conditioning, for example a mall if you don't have air conditioning in your apartment.

If you can't get to that, stay on lower floors as much as possible, and out of direct sunlight. Again, some just practical tips there, Anderson.

COOPER: Good tips indeed. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: When we come back, a lot more from the Middle East. But first let's check in the day's other top stories.

Randi Kaye with the "360 Bulletin."

KAYE: Hi Anderson.

Did Pentagon officials knowingly deceive the 9/11 commission? Tim Roamer (ph), who served on the commission, says he and the panel were growing frustrated with what he calls the military's false testimony. Roamer (ph) says, the members almost asked for a criminal investigation. At issue was the timeline of the events of September 11th.

In Iraq, putting the country's security in the hands of its own people. Today the Iraqi president vowed to give Iraqi troops control over the nation's security by the end of this year, with coalition forces taking a supporting role. But the U.S. commander said any handover must come after Iraqi forces are trained and equipped.

And jail time for a polygamist in Colorado city, Arizona. Kelly Fischer was given 45 days behind bars for having sex with a 16-year- old girl. Fischer is a member of the polygamist church led by fugitive Warren Jeffs. Several more polygamists will stand trial in the coming weeks.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll have what is happening here along the border. Major troop movements, a major offensive underway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: This is an armored engineering unit about to cross into south Lebanon. New troops moving across the border and troops weary from battle coming back here for a few hours' rest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A dangerous rescue mission underway, next on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some Israeli troops trying to catch a couple hours of sleep after returning from the fighting in south Lebanon. Not much sleep to be had these days. Often, just a couple hours and then they head back over the border.

Along the border, as we witnessed yesterday, there was a constant hum of activity. Troops coming back and forth. And we saw yesterday a rescue mission underway. Israeli soldiers trying to get back some of their own. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): On a forward base on the Lebanese border, Israeli troops prepare to join a battle already underway. They check their maps, their ammunition before rolling to the front.

(On camera): This is an armored engineering unit about to cross into south Lebanon. At this space, there's constant activity. New troops moving across the border and troops weary from battle coming back here for a few hours' rest.

(Voice-over): With a major Israeli offensive already underway, however, there is little time for sleep. On a nearby hillside, Israeli units are hunting down Hezbollah and trying to bring back five Israeli soldiers wounded in combat.

You can see smoke rising from the Lebanese village of Aita al- Shaab. That is south Lebanon right over there.

(On camera): There's a military operation going on in that town right now. Israel is firing shells into the village, essentially to create smoke and provide cover for Israeli ground troops operating there right now.

(Voice-over): We watch with Israeli soldiers as a tank moves toward the village. In the distance, a large cloud fills the sky. The fighting in Aita al-Shaab has been going on for three days now and shows no sign of letting up.

(On camera): What's the fighting been like?

ADAM DRASNAN (ph), RETURNED FROM BATTLE: What's the fighting been like? It's tough. It's hard. But it's something you've got to do.

COOPER (voice-over): Adam Drasnan (ph) just returned from battle four hours ago.

Are you confident?

DRASNAN (ph): Confident? Of course I'm confident. Because I fight for something I believe in. And we'll go all the way unto the death.

COOPER: Confidence may be high, but all these soldiers know the days ahead will be difficult.

Doran Spielman (ph) is a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces.

(On camera): Overall, big picture, what does the operation look like?

DORAN SPIELMAN (ph), SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: We're basically pushing Hezbollah out of the northern border with Israel, out of southern Lebanon. We don't want a ground assault that simply takes over southern Lebanon. We don't want to be there. So we're focusing on their high intensity areas. We remove them from the picture and we move on.

COOPER: It may sound simple, but it's anything but. After weeks of air strikes and artillery fire, the battle has widened. A determined army faces a determined enemy. And the fighting only grows more intense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Well, that's sort of the barrage of rockets hitting northern Israel. More rockets hit in the last 24 hours than have hit on any single one day of this conflict. We'll take a look at that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In Kiryat Shemona, the hills are on fire. After two days of relative quiet across northern Israel, today Hezbollah rockets and mortars rained down in force.

(On camera): It's around only 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon and already, according to Israeli authorities, about 110 incoming rockets have been fired into northern Israel; 45 people have been ruined so far.

We don't know if this was started by a Katyusha or an incoming mortar. Frankly, it doesn't much matter. This entire area is burning out of control.

(Voice-over): The flames spread quickly. Firefighters on the ground struggle to put out one blaze and have to move on to the next.

(On camera): You get a real sense of the damage that can be caused just from one incoming rocket or projectile. The fire is not only burning over here, but this entire field has already burned. And there are numerous fires still burning. There's one up there right on the hillside. There are several more.

(Voice-over): By the end of Wednesday, Israeli Defense Forces said at least 215 rockets had landed in Israel. One person was killed. It was the largest number of rockets to hit northern Israel in one day since the conflict began. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): And John Roberts telling us just a short time ago he saw one Katyusha rocket or heard one Katyusha rocket incoming already this morning. It is just almost 7:00 a.m., and as you can hear behind me, these Israeli artillery units have begun to open up fire. Relatively quiet night from this battery. Though, elsewhere along the border we heard intense shelling going on. Some new kinds of sounds that we haven't heard before. I'm not sure what they were, perhaps even explosives being dropped by plane. But we don't know. What we do know is certainly this artillery unit behind me has now opened up fire, joining the fight.

The fighting in south Lebanon continues. According to Israeli military, some 6,000 troops on the ground. Another intense day expected here. We, of course, will continue to cover it.

You can watch our coverage also on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern Time. They'll have all the developments from the Middle East, and also the latest on the heat waves.

That's it for us right now this morning.

CNN's "LARRY KING" is next. Stay tuned to CNN on the air and on line for the latest coverage of the Middle East.

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