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Crisis in the Middle East: Day 24

Aired August 4, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: New explosions in Beirut, new fighting in Tyre, all of it following a day that saw Israel clobber Lebanon from one end to another and Hezbollah rockets strike deep into the heart of Israel.
ANNOUNCER: Israeli airstrikes. Then the grim sign civilians are again caught in the crossfire. Tonight why the town was targeted and whether Hezbollah is really hiding among civilians.

Casualties of war. First came the strikes, then the sirens. As the war shows signs of escalating, a town on the border of Syria takes a direct hit.

Rockets reach. Hezbollah missiles reach further into Israel than ever before and fears rise that Hassan Nasrallah is about to make good on his threat to strike Tel Aviv.

And from close combat to the dead of night, the fighting as it unfolds hour by hour, blast by blast. This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 24." Reporting tonight from Haifa, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us. We are in Haifa. We begin this morning with breaking news. The action unfolding on multiple fronts. In the port city of Tyre, in southern Lebanon, CNN's Ben Wedeman is there. In Beirut, CNN's Michael Ware has some new explosions. And CNN's Matthew Chance is along the Israel/Lebanon border, where there is stepped up military activity.

We begin with Ben Wedeman in Tyre.

Ben, what's happening?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. Now it's quiet. I've taken off my flack jacket. We're not hearing any firing, bombing, shooting of any kind. That ended about 50 minutes ago. But for about two hours there was intense activity over Tyre. We could hear many helicopters. We could hear jets flying very low, bombing areas not far from where we are.

Now, Arabic satellite news channels are reporting that there was an attempted landing by Israeli forces to the north of Tyre. They say those forces were repulsed, forced to leave.

Now, we're hearing from security sources in Beirut that they have no information about a potential landing by Israeli troops. Hezbollah is claiming that they were able in this fighting in Tyre to kill one Israeli soldier and wound two others. We have yet to be able to independently confirm those claims -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben, how common is this kind of action in Tyre, at this point in the morning, you know, you've been there for some two-plus weeks.

WEDEMAN: Yes, this is usually really. We've never seen this -- we've never heard this much gunfire, this much out -- rather incoming. In fact, I was woken up at about 3:30 by these loud bang, bang, bangs, which apparently is a cannon being fired from a helicopter. And this went on and on, and got fairly more and more intense as time went by.

Usually the bombing starts. There's a bit of bombing at night, but it starts in the morning with strikes in the surrounding areas. This was more intense than we've seen yet so far -- Anderson.

COOPER: And is there still a heavy Hezbollah presence in Tyre? Do you still see rockets being fired from there?

WEDEMAN: We have no -- I saw some, one rocket being fired yesterday, and I heard in the distance what sounded like another outgoing volley. That's really the extent to which you actually see Hezbollah on the ground.

In Tyre, it's hard, of course, to distinguish, but it's only -- I've really run into them more in the outlying areas in the villages closer to the border, where, for instance, we saw two truck-mounted anti-aircraft batteries that were basically parked in garages in civilian areas.

In other areas, we saw ammunition stacked up in basically an unused store front. But in Tyre itself, you rarely see anyone you could identify as being a member of Hezbollah -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, it has been a busy morning for you, Ben Wedeman. Thank you for joining us.

Let's go now to Beirut, where there has also been a busy morning. More bombs falling there as well, this after a punishing 24 hours for Hezbollah and Lebanese civilians alike. Michael ware is live in Beirut -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. The bombs are back in Beirut for the third night in a row. The city has felt the shutters of explosions. Over the past two hours, there's been at least six detonations here in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

All of this as the Israeli air campaign puts a stranglehold on the country, isolating it from its neighbors and starving it of much needed humanitarian aid, fuel and even medicines.

And as we saw this morning, the people of Lebanon awoke to destruction from the barrage the evening before.


WARE (voice-over): Bodies lying side by side, bombed, burned, some beyond recognition. The aftermath of an airstrike, lifted away to waiting ambulances. To the Lebanese, another massacre of innocence. More than 20 dead.

To the Israelis a just strike on a Hezbollah weapons store in the small village of Qaa. The Syrians, said to be fruit pickers, camouflaged for an arsenal in the guerilla's Bekaa Valley stronghold.

This is the face of war in Lebanon. Ghost-like Hezbollah fighters. Israeli claims civilians used as human shields and hospitals as supply bases. A population under siege. The full fury of the Israeli air campaign has resumed and continues.

Of its 120 airstrikes across the country today, a quarter hit in Beirut within less than half a square mile. A concentration of firepower not seen since the war's first days. This is a result of the intense Israeli bombardment of the southern district of Usai (ph).

It seems to fit an emerging pattern of the air campaign, targeting routes in and out of Lebanon. From the roads and bridges to the north leading, to Syria, to this humble fishing fleet.

Beyond those boats, the last main road, the artery, once seen as safe, leading out of the country, its back now broken, four key bridges obliterated, leaving Lebanon isolated, strangled. No escape or help.

MARK SCHNELLBAECHER, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: It's a huge setback. But one of the major supply routes for both commercial shipments for the supermarkets, for example, but also for relief assistance was that highway.

WARE: Fuel tankers critical to keeping hospitals functioning, cars running, lights on, still shut out by Israel's naval blockade.

Israel says it is stopping Syria from rearming Lebanon, but the strategy is also to bring this country to its knees. It's working.

But still, Hezbollah keeps fighting, sending more than 200 rockets south into Israel today. So on the 24th day of this conflict, Lebanese officials say the human toll is now 675 dead, a ghastly count by anyone's measure.


COOPER: You know, Michael, despite all of these airstrikes by Israel, Hassan Nasrallah still keeps appearance on television making pronouncements. Does anybody know where he is, actually?

WARE: Anderson, as a matter of fact, I suspect that it's only a handful of people who would know where Hassan Nasrallah is. The security around him, the secrecy that would be clothing his movements would be intense, much as we see with Osama bin Laden and we saw before in Iraq with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He'd be moving light and fast, and they'd be trusting no one. So the circle of those who would be aware of his movements would know how to reach him, would be very, very small -- Anderson.

COOPER: Obviously Israel would like to find out his whereabouts. Obviously that would be high on their list of priorities.

Michael Ware, thanks for joining us.

We're in the city that Hezbollah targeted early on in Haifa. To demonstrate just how deep inside Israel could strike back then. That's why they hit Haifa. Now with diplomacy going full tilt and Israeli warplanes hammering Lebanon like never before, Hezbollah is showing that it can reach even deep into this country.

Reporting for us from the Lebanese border tonight, CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The attacks on Hadera was captured on a cell phone camera. Police say two or three rockets landed there and though there were no casualties, the strike may be the most dangerous yet.

It's the furthest any Hezbollah rocket has traveled into Israel, only 25 miles from the densely populated area around Israel's major city, Tel Aviv.

Across the country, more than 200 Hezbollah rockets struck, killing at least three people. The militia's ability to strike seems relentless.

From Israel, a ferocious artillery barrage of southern Lebanon. Officials say they'll keep pounding Hezbollah positions to stop the rockets and end the threat from Hezbollah.

But the battle is proving tougher than expected, as Israeli forces push back Hezbollah, there's been heavy fighting. The militia is well-armed and dug in.

Israeli military has released pictures of troops with what it says are captured militia fighters. The Israelis are taking casualties, too. In one incident at least three soldiers were killed in an antitank missile attack. Israel has at least 10,000 troops in southern Lebanon fighting at close quarters with Hezbollah guerillas. Morale and expectations seem high.

"We'll beat Hezbollah," says this soldier. And we'll get Nasrallah too.

But the cost of this war is increasing for Israel. More than 70 soldiers and civilians have been killed. It's only a fraction of the number of Lebanese who've died. But it is still painful here. Painful enough for demonstrators for and against the war to face off in the Israeli city of Haifa. The military says it's reduced the number of Hezbollah rockets striking here, but the methods have proved divisive.

ORR HORREV, ANTI-WAR PROTESTOR: We are here to protest against what we se as unjustified and disproportionate aggression against civilians and against our neighbors.

DAVID HEKSNER, PRO-WAR DEMONSTRATOR: This is a terrorist organization that is aiming to kill women and children and I want to show my support for the IDF and for the Israeli army and the government and the fight against the Hezbollah.

CHANCE: And with Hezbollah now fulfilling its threat to strike deeper into Israel, the majority Israeli opinion remains broadly in support of the war.

After more than three weeks of bitter fighting, there remains a grim determination to press on.


COOPER: And pressing on they are this morning.

Matthew, what is the objective now for Israeli ground troops in south Lebanon? How far are they trying to go, and how much are -- how long do they plan to hold on to the territory?

CHANCE: Well, it's not altogether clear what the extent of this operation will be, but some military analysts are talking about pushing several miles north from the Israeli border, as far as the Litani River.

The initial objective is to establish a broad strip of control for the Israeli forces north of the Israeli border which they call a Hezbollah-free zone, which they can control from the air and from the ground, prevent Hezbollah fighters infiltrating Israeli soil and abducting soldiers like they did in the past.

What they're going to do is hold onto it, control it until such time as a multinational force can be agreed and then deployed on the ground to take over from them. But they won't agree to any multinational force or to any cease-fire unless they're absolutely sure that the gains of this war in the Israeli eyes won't be lost. In other words, that the multinational force can protect that Israeli border, stop infiltration from Hezbollah, and police the Syrian border as well, to stop Hezbollah being re-armed across that border. Unless that happens, the fighting will continue -- Anderson.

COOPER: Matthew Chance reporting from the border. Thanks, Matthew.

The relief agency UNHCR says that Israel's campaign has destroyed key roads that it needs to deliver aid to civilians in southern Lebanon. The agency is also facing another problem -- not enough money.

Here's the raw data. Last month the UNHCR appealed for almost $19 million to fund the Lebanon operation for an initial three-month period. So far, it has received just over $9 million.

A note now on where the diplomatic effort stands at this moment. President Bush took a few moments away from his vacation in Crawford, Texas, to speak with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The two talking about ongoing efforts to hammer out a U.N. cease-fire resolution and about the resolution senior officials at the state department tell us that the U.S. and France have made progress, and may have a draft ready to bring to the security council sometime this weekend.

Unless you're here, you really can't know what it's like to be in the middle of this war zone.

Coming up, we're going to try to show you what it's really like 24 hours a day, seven days a week on both sides.

Our special 360 report, "24 Hours under Attack" begins when we return.



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

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

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

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

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

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

When dawn broke, the scope of the tragedy became clear. At least 28 dead in the rubble, many of them children, still in their pajamas. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were all kids. They didn't have bread. They were hungry without food for five days. Look at them. They were kids. They were all killed in their homes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dressed in desert brush camouflage, their faces blackened to blend into the night, Israeli soldiers prepare to open up a new front in the ground war.

In Hebrew this soldier says, Mom, I love you, before heading into battle.

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

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

Amnon Jizlin told me what it was like going up against Hezbollah fighters. AMNON JIZLIN, ISRAELI SOLDIER: You always need to think like the enemy thinks. You need to look in everything suspicious, to -- even if you did the same thing yesterday, you need to do it differently. Always thinking, always keeping guard.

ROBERTS (on camera): The army has pulled most of its troops back from Bint Jbiel, a Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese south. Fierce battles there killed eight Israeli soldiers. The loss of two friends there has only heightened Stefan Silver's motivation to win.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(voice-over): It only took us a few minutes to actually find the rocket. You can see it's still sticking out of the ground.

(on camera): Here at the police station in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel, they have a collection of Katyusha rockets that they've encountered over the years.

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

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

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

(on camera): Some of the Katyushas are designed to bury deep into the ground and have a delayed explosion after several seconds. What's inside the warhead though, that's what does sometimes the most damage. These are basically a sheet of what will become shrapnel. You can see it's got grooves in it.

Once the Katyusha explodes, this will blow apart along these lines. Each of these little diamonds will become potentially deadly pieces of shrapnel flying through the air. There are also ball bearings which are put inside the Katyusha. You can see the ball bearings right there. Obviously, that can do a lot of damage to a person if it hits them.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

Just a few minute away by car, smoke rises from another airstrike. People head north by whatever means possible.

No one knows how many people are still hunkered down in their homes in southern Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands have already fled north.

TONY LIPOS, SOUTH LEBANON RESIDENT: The situation over there, it's very bad right now. Everything is running out right now. There is nothing there.

No food, no electric, no water, no medicine. Nothing. And a lot of old people there, too.

WEDEMAN: Refugees gather at Tyre's Rest House hotel, where local relief workers put them on buses to Beirut. They're exhausted, scared, desperate to move on.

Hanan Assi escaped the south with her family and $300 in her pocket. On a borrowed mobile phone, she assures a relative everyone is safe.

HANAN ASSI, SOUTH LEBANON RESIDENT: There are still a lot of people there. There are still a lot of people who need help. There are people with heart conditions. I've got two people who are blind there. And everybody -- it's just -- it's terrible. They need some help.

WEDEMAN: The danger of travel by road is everywhere to be seen, and fuel is in short supply because many of the gas stations have been bombed.

(on camera): People who make it this far to the northern edge of Tyre have a good chance of reaching safety, but relief officials are far more concerned about people stuck in remote villages in the far south who just can't get out.

(voice-over): The United Nations, the Red Cross and other groups are doing what they can, but in the midst of war, their hands are tied.

ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, RED CROSS SPOKESMAN: There are people who have been wounded have not been evacuated until now. And one other big issue, there are people who have been killed. There are cars with dead bodies aboard. Nobody has been able to get there to take them out and to give theme a decent funeral.

WEDEMAN: So the living take their chances and go.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Tyre, south Lebanon.


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


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



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye. Back to "24 Hours under Attack," in a moment.

First, a 360 "War Bulletin." Stepped up action in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre within the hour. Israeli choppers strafing targets on the ground. Small arms fire heard as well.

Arab television reporting that an attempted landing by Israeli troops was turned back. No independent confirmation of that claim.

A new round of airstrikes now underway on Beirut. At least half a dozen large explosions heard in the southern Hezbollah dominated section of town. They follow a punishing wave of bombing from one end of Lebanon to another. Designed, say Israeli commanders, to cut Hezbollah off from Syrian supply lines.

And President Bush spoke by phone today with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The two talking about ongoing efforts to hammer out a U.N. cease-fire resolution. American and French sources say a draft may be ready to bring to the security council sometime this weekend.

That's the 360 "War Bulletin."

Straight ahead, more of our special report, "24 Hours under Attack."


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

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

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

CNN's Karl Penhaul reports.


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

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

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

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

HUGUENIN: We send maps with GPS positions of all the villages we want to stop at. And we have -- with this information passed on to the Lebanese side and the Israeli side. And by the next morning we normally have either a green light or a red light. PENHAUL: For now it is too dangerous for the doctors without border charity to venture outside Tyre, so they're distributing washing kits along with diapers and powdered baby milk to around 400 refugees at this school in town.

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

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

PENHAUL: Many of the refugees are impatient after three weeks of Israeli air and artillery bombardments.

This man tries to fight one aid worker as he grows frustrated with the long wait. Others drag him out of punching range.

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

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Tyre, south Lebanon.


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

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


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

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

This man knows it is a high risk.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. SADLER (voice-over): With what seems like a lull in airstrikes, it's now or never.

An urgent call tells them to hurry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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

CNN's Michael Ware has the story.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WARE (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 airstrikes as the battle unfolded.

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

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

Michael Ware, CNN, Baalbeck, Lebanon.


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


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


COOPER: This has been a day of -- activity.

(voice-over): Every place we have gone to report this story has a different feel to it.

COOPER: Now another siren just gone off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


COOPER: And the war here in the Middle East continues, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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


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