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Israel Threatens to Expand Ground Offensive; Interview With Israeli Ambassador to United Nations Dan Gillerman

Aired August 7, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
And, to our viewers watching on CNN International, thanks for watching.

The battle lines are hardening. The fighting intensifies. And the rockets continue to rain down.


ANNOUNCER: Deadline from Israel: Bring us a cease-fire soon, or get ready for more, much more, of this, this, and this.

Highway to hell.

COOPER: This is an armored engineering unit about to cross into south Lebanon.

ANNOUNCER: Fourteen hours of land mines, snipers, and booby traps -- on patrol in southern Lebanon.

And deep inside Hezbollah country, a corner of the war you don't always see, and you will only see here.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 27."

Reporting tonight from northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks very much for joining us. We're coming to you tonight from the border town of Metulla.

And, throughout this next two hours, you -- no doubt, you will hear the sounds of what it's like to live in this border, rockets, shelling, a non-stop cacophony, day and night, day and night, repeating over and over again.

Israel's prime minister visited the front lines today. And he said -- quote -- "Enough." If a cease-fire doesn't happen soon, the gloves will come off.

It's hard to imagine how much worse it can get. This weekend and today saw more rockets firing, more rockets landing across northern Israel. The pictures are from Haifa from this past weekend -- today alone, some 140 Hezbollah rockets slamming into Israel territory, bloodshed on both sides of the border -- a lot to talk about with our correspondents.

John Roberts is also here along the border. He has been embedded with a unit from the IDF, as I was this weekend. We will talk to him about that. CNN's Michael Ware is in Beirut. He has been spending time traveling in Hezbollah-controlled territory. And John King is -- is covering the diplomatic efforts out of Washington tonight.

But, first, let's get you up to date, the latest developments from today and over the weekend, in case you missed it, in the latest 360 "War Bulletin."


COOPER (voice-over): Scrambling to rescue survivors, crowds of Lebanese frantically dig through the ruins of a building that collapsed tonight, after Israeli airstrikes pummeled the southern Beirut suburb of Shiah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of a sudden was a boom. And then everything came down on us. We didn't have a chance or anything.

COOPER: Day 27 coming to a close with the same ferocity with which it began -- Israeli forces started the day with airstrikes throughout Beirut's suburbs and southern Lebanon, commando forces on the ground battling Hezbollah fighters.

Lebanon's prime minister, before the Arab League today, blasted one particular airstrike in Houla, calling it a horrific massacre. Initially, 40 people were thought to have been killed, but, later, it turned out that 65 people trapped in the attack survived. Only one person is now believed to have died, according to Lebanese authorities.

Hezbollah also struck hard today, launching at least 140 rockets into northern Israel, many of them exploding inside cities. Several people were injured. Yesterday, Hezbollah rocket strikes killed three Israeli civilians in Haifa, the worst strike there in a week. And closer to the border, a rocket attack killed 12 army reservists. It was the deadliest day for Israelis since the fighting began.

CAPTAIN GUY SPIGELMAN, SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: We're seeing today the reasons why Israel is forced to be in this action in the first place: the Hezbollah, a ruthless terrorist organization.

COOPER: This weekend, Israeli forces claimed they had captured one of the militants responsible for abducting two Israeli soldiers last month, a kidnapping that led to the current warfare. Hezbollah denies the claim, but Israel still hopes it may be able to use the capture to get its soldiers back.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI VICE PREMIER: We don't feel that we have to compensate the Hezbollah because they took hostage two of our soldiers. But if, then, Lebanon would like to talk about exchange of prisoners, we are also -- we are always ready to.

COOPER: An exchange might help end the fighting. So may a U.N. resolution being debated now. But, in the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people are caught in the crossfire, and getting little relief -- the International Red Cross today saying that Israeli forces were blocking relief efforts.

The IDF denies that, saying it has allowed some convoys in to help the needy, but it had to stop others because of the fighting. For those trapped here, aid can't come fast enough, and neither can peace, which, right now, seems a long way off.


COOPER: Well, it certainly does.

As I said at the top of the program, the battle lines are hardening. And, again, the sounds you're going to be hearing over the next two hours are the sounds of shelling, mostly outgoing, we hope, perhaps, occasionally, some incoming.

This just gives you a sense. Basically, we're just on a street in Metulla. This gives you a sense of -- of the sounds that someone living here along the border has to get used to, and -- and has gotten used to over the last three-plus weeks.

That is the sound of outgoing shelling from a nearby artillery battery. You won't be able to see the battery. We can't see it. The residents here can't see it. But they know the sound distinctly. It is a boom. And then you actually hear the shell passing overhead. The border is just a -- a few -- well, actually, just a few clicks down -- down the road right there.

We were going to actually base our camera on the border, but it's simply not safe to have a light shining on the border. So, we're actually just on a street in Metulla. But, again, these sounds are all around. The difference, of course, between outgoing shelling and incoming shelling is very easy to -- to understand. Outgoing, you hear a boom, and then a whoosh, as the shell passes overhead. Incoming, you hear the whoosh and then the boom. That is a sound you certainly do not want to hear.

As I said, the battle lines are hardening, but there's a lot to talk to about the diplomatic front, a lot of different pieces in play. The Arab League is now in play -- action at the U.N., and also for President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Suzanne Malveaux is covering it all.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a president on vacation, the suit and tie tried to convey the seriousness and urgency that critics say was lacking during the first three weeks of the Middle East crisis.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everyone wants the violence to stop.

MALVEAUX: At a rare formal press conference at his ranch, President Bush explained his plan: two U.N. Security Council resolutions. The first, drafted with the French over the weekend, calls for a halt to the fighting.

BUSH: Hezbollah will be required to immediately stop all attacks. Israel will be required to immediately stop all offensive military operations.

MALVEAUX: It is not a formal cease-fire, as the Lebanese and key Arab allies have been calling for, but, rather, a so-called cessation of hostilities, which allows Israel to continue to fight in self- defense.

HISHAM MELHEM, LEBANESE JOURNALIST: Cessation of hostilities is a loose term. It means that Israelis have the right -- quote, unquote -- "to defend themselves." A cease-fire is probably more implementable and -- and more serious.

MALVEAUX: And harder to achieve -- the Lebanese government and Hezbollah also object to the fact that there's no call for Israeli troops to immediately withdraw. Mr. Bush says, the fear is, if they pull out before the international force arrives, Hezbollah will be able to regain strength and rearm.

BUSH: Whatever happens in the U.N., we must not create a vacuum, into which Hezbollah and its sponsors are able to move more weapons.

MALVEAUX: To bridge the gap, Lebanon has pledged to send 15,000 of its own troops to the south, to join the small United Nations monitoring force already in the area. So, the idea is, as Lebanese troops come in, Israeli troops pull out.

The U.S. envisions a second resolution, which the Bush administration says will allow for a permanent cease-fire, including deployment of a bigger international force to the south.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's the Lebanese army, with support from an international force that can actually prevent that vacuum from -- from obtaining again in the south, so that we're not right back here three or four, five months from -- from now, in the same situation.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Secretary Rice is back in Washington now. The plan is to travel to New York after there's a final draft of the first resolution, perhaps as early as Wednesday. But the bottom line is, these U.N. resolutions may make little difference, if the principals in this conflict, Hezbollah and Israel, do not cooperate.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


COOPER: A lot to cover with our roundtable of correspondents. John King is in Washington, monitoring diplomatic efforts. John Roberts is here along the border, after being embedded this weekend with the IDF inside south Lebanon, a very dangerous assignment. And Michael Ware has been traveling Hezbollah territory. He joins me now from Beirut.

John King, where do the diplomatic efforts stand right now? There are so many pieces in place, so -- different moving parts. What do we need to know? Where is it -- where is it all standing?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they will listen at the U.N. tomorrow, Anderson, to the representatives from the Arab League -- the -- the Bush administration saying it welcomes the Arab League making its case. That's the line publicly.

Privately, they are very troubled, because now you have the Arab nations essentially publicly taking Hezbollah's position, saying that maybe there shouldn't be a big international force; the Israeli troops should withdraw immediately upon the cessation of hostilities.

Those are the terms Hezbollah wants, and the Bush administration -- and Lebanon trying to say today that it is committing 15,000 troops to come into the south, as if that is a grand new gesture. What the Bush administration is saying privately is, they were supposed to do that two years ago. We wouldn't be in this mess if the Lebanese government had deployed their troops, consistent with what the United Nations called for back in Resolution 1559.

So, they are going to listen to the Arab League tomorrow. There will be some compromise in the language about how quickly the Israeli troops should get out. But the Bush administration privately is saying, it can't give much more, or else you will have a resolution that Israel won't accept -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, that gets me to Michael Ware in Beirut.

Michael, I mean, is the Lebanese government -- they say they're -- they're -- they're willing to send 15,000 troops. Are those troops able and/or willing to disarm Hezbollah?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Lebanese government is even calling up its reserve forces.

But it's -- it's common knowledge, it's openly stated, even by the Lebanese army's own generals, that they can't possibly hope to stand toe to toe with Hezbollah. Hezbollah, if it can withstand the offensive so far from the Israeli Defense Forces, what hope does it have for the Lebanese army? -- Anderson.

COOPER: John Roberts, fighting intensified. You spent the weekend embedded. Is -- is -- is the fighting being driven by diplomatic efforts, ironically enough?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, the -- certainly, the timetable for the fighting is. And that's why you hear the artillery shelling here. We're so close to the border here. We're probably about a -- a Tiger Woods five iron away from the -- the border with Lebanon.

But, as we saw over the past 48 hours, it's intensifying on both sides, and it could be that -- that both sides are trying to inflict as much damage as possible on the other before this cessation of hostilities goes into place, because, toward the end of a conflict, you always see quite a sharp ramp-up, as both sides try to gain position for negotiation.

So, while Israel is pushing deeper into Lebanon, trying to inflict more casualties on Hezbollah, we see more and more of these rockets coming over into northern Israel. We saw more rockets landing on northern Israel on our way back from the embed than we actually saw fired at Israeli army troops while we were in Lebanon, Anderson, so, a -- a clear indication that Hezbollah ramping up its operations, at the same time the Israeli army is.

COOPER: Those -- those operations are ramping up, John, as you yourself have seen.

But -- but, I mean, the problem is, you know, they move into towns. They -- they -- they battle in those towns, and, then, finally, they withdraw, and Hezbollah seems to move back in. I mean, they're still fighting in Bint Jbail. They're still fighting all along this border, the -- these small Lebanese villages, which still are not taken.

ROBERTS: Well, a clear example, Anderson, is that the hilltop behind me, where you hear the outgoing artillery fire landing, they have been fighting there for the past week.

We hear, way off in the distance, the -- the clank and the heaving of Israeli armor, as it's going up on top of that hill. But what have they been doing for the past week, if they're still attacking that position? It's -- it's obvious that they haven't routed out everything that's there.

It -- it's somewhat difficult, really, to get a handle on the strategy of what the Israeli military is trying to do. Are they actually trying to take and hold positions, or are they just trying to -- to keep Hezbollah's head down, while the diplomatic process takes place? It's -- it's unclear and very difficult to read.

COOPER: Michael Ware in Beirut, does anyone know what Hassan Nasrallah's intentions are? I mean, one of the things people say about Hassan Nasrallah is, well, he says what he means, and -- and -- and he means what he says. Is he willing to disarm?

WARE: Well, I think disarm is a bit beyond developments at the moment, Anderson.

But what Hassan Nasrallah most recently said is that, if you stop, we will stop. Alternatively, what he said is, if you want to keep this on the battlefield, we will make this soldier to soldier. If that's what you want, that's what we will do.

However, he says, if you keep going at the pace that you're going now, if you keep the direction you're taking now, then we will keep our -- our foot on the accelerator.

And, Anderson, from being in the Bekaa Valley, I can tell you, Hezbollah remains intact. Its supply lines are still running full steam, despite the Israeli bombardment campaign.

So, I think Israel -- again, like John, it's hard to tell what the defense forces are up to, but they're going to have to settle for some limited outcomes. The original plan to cripple Hezbollah simply is not working.

So, perhaps just taking the terrain to deny Hezbollah the Katyusha launch sites is the best they can hope for -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and, just very briefly, let's be clear, Michael Ware -- those supply lines, you're saying, coming right from Syria?

WARE: Well, that's hard to tell. But I can -- I can tell you this much. The border with Syria remains very open, very porous, riddled with supply routes, smuggling roads, all manner of things.

COOPER: All right, Michael Ware, appreciate that, John Roberts, as well.

And, John King, we will check with you again shortly.

The death toll, of course, continues to rise on both sides of this border. Let's just take a look at the numbers. Here's the "Raw Data" for you.

Here's the latest. Israeli military sources say, since the fighting began, 97 people have been killed in Israel, 35 of them civilians. More than 700 people have been wounded. According to Lebanese sources, 715 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them civilians, 27 Lebanese soldiers, more than 2,700 people. There are 2,700 have been wounded so far.

A lot of the ground fighting there is intensifying. I was actually embedded over the last 24 hours, for about 14 hours, with Israeli forces on a mission to take out a Hezbollah stronghold, a Hezbollah command center. We will show you what it's like, fighting on the ground, tough fighting, indeed, inside south Lebanon.

Stay tuned.


COOPER: They have already formed a perimeter around the outpost. Tonight, they plan to move in, kill anyone who's there, or take them captive, if they can, and then rig the place with explosives and blow it up.


COOPER: Those were -- video from the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, taking out what they say are Hezbollah rocket positions.

It's rare that you actually get a -- a close-up look at the fighting on the ground inside south Lebanon. It's pictures like that, seen from on high or from distant hilltops.

This weekend, we had the rare chance to actually be embedded with an Israeli army unit of -- of -- of combat engineers on a mission inside south Lebanon.

Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): As night falls, an Israeli army unit prepares for a secret mission -- more than a ton of C-4 explosives lined up on the side of the road.

(on camera): The mission for this combat engineering unit is to reach a Hezbollah outpost called Karkum (ph). They have received some sniper fire from there. They think there still may be Hezbollah fighters inside.

Tonight, they plan to move in, kill anyone who's there, or take them captive, if they can, and then rig the place with explosives and blow it up.

(voice-over): Karkum (ph) is only about a mile inside south Lebanon, but getting there isn't easy. We ride in a Puma, an armored vehicle packed with weapons and soldiers -- no lights allowed, so this video was shot with a night-vision camera. Even though the puma is armored, that's no guarantee of safety.

(on camera): For these soldiers, the real concern, besides the booby traps on the roads, are RPGs, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank weapons. Hezbollah has been very effective with them. In fact, most of the casualties of -- on the part of Israeli forces have been from these types of weapons.

(voice-over): The journey is supposed to take us an hour or two. But, after six hours, we have yet to arrive, yet to get out of the Puma.

Major Ido (ph), the unit commander, can see the bunkers of Karkum (ph), but isn't taking any chances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're doing now, we're shooting some rockets to the -- to the area to clean it. Then, we will go by -- by ourself to -- to do the job.

COOPER: A small bunker next to a communications antenna has been hit, but it's not until some three hours later that Major Ido (ph) orders his men out of the Puma to advance on foot toward several concrete buildings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the object that we are going toward, this one, the close one, and over there.

COOPER: While one unit takes up positions, another group of soldiers begins rigging up the explosives.

(on camera): One of the interesting things about Karkum (ph) is that the Israeli Defense Forces actually occupied this position when Israel occupied Lebanon. They pulled out of -- of here in 2000. And they actually blew up all their fortifications on the top of this mountain.

After they left, Hezbollah came, rebuilt the fortifications. And, once again, Israel is here, and they plan to blow it up, so that Hezbollah can never use it again.

(voice-over): Under cover of fog, the engineers quickly rig the explosives to a number of buildings and a communications antenna.

(on camera): Are you concerned about the fog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's very good for us.

COOPER: It's good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's good, because the enemy cannot see us with this. And we hope it -- it stays something like 20 minutes...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can go out without see us.

COOPER (voice-over): Nearby, the soldiers notice an IED on the main road, rigged to explode by Hezbollah. They also discover a cache of Hezbollah anti-tank weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are three TOW missiles ready to launch inside their cases. This is the tripod and the launcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost everything is ready. And I think, in something like 15 minutes, we will be outside, ready for the bombing.

COOPER: Major Ido (ph) orders everyone into their armored vehicles for the final explosion, an explosion that could be seen from miles away.


COOPER: When the smoke clears, two Israeli soldiers raise their nation's flag on Karkum (ph), a small symbol, a mark of pride. They will soon depart, however, and Karkum (ph) will be abandoned once again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Want to thank Sergeant Dan Gordon with the -- the IDF for helping us get that embed. And I know, his kids in America are watching, and they're concerned about him. And he wanted us to say he's doing just fine.

When we come back, we're going to talk to Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Dan Gillerman, about the latest diplomatic moves.

But, first, let's check in with CNN's Tom Foreman for a 360 bulletin.

Tom, what's going on?


At a military hearing, an investigator testified today that one of the U.S. soldiers charged with raping and murdering an Iraqi girl and her family admitted that he held the girl down while she was raped by another soldier. He also allegedly confessed that he attempted to rape the girl himself, and poured kerosene on her bullet-riddled body after the killings. The hearing will determine whether there's enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial.

One of the suspects in the serial shooter case in Phoenix said today he had nothing to do with the string of shootings that left six people dead and 18 wounded. Dale Hausner was arrested last week, along with Samuel John Dieteman. Hausner made the comments at a news conference, before a public defender finally stopped him.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that a desktop computer -- another one -- containing data on about 38,000 veterans is missing. It was taken from the offices of a subcontractor hired to aid in insurance collections for two medical centers in Pennsylvania. The announcement comes just two days after authorities announced an arrest in the previous case of a stolen laptop computer containing information on more than 26 million veterans.

In an interview on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," Tour de France champion Floyd Landis today denied once again using performance- enhancing drugs before his big victory. He also said the test results showing synthetic testosterone in a urine sample may have been caused by -- quote -- "some other agenda by the people doing the test" -- end quote -- suggesting that it would not be the first time that the French lab has -- quote -- "tried to bring down an American athlete." That's what he said.

Cycling officials announced Saturday that a second urine sample taken from Landis during the race had tested positive. He's saying no. A lot of cyclists are suggesting it's an uphill battle for him once again -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks very much. We will check in with you a little bit later on.

When we come back, Lebanon has -- says -- the Lebanese government has said they will move 15,000 of their troops down to the border, and -- and -- in -- in place of Hezbollah. We're going to talk to the U.N.'s Israel ambassador to find out what he thinks of that proposal.

Stay tuned.


COOPER: Well, the battle lines are hardening, as Israel and -- and Hezbollah continue to pound away at each other's positions. Let's get you up to the minute with the 360 "War Bulletin."

An Israeli strike on southern Beirut killed 10 people, wounded 65. It happened as the Lebanese government was making the unanimous decision to send 15,000 troops to its southern borders, if and when Israel withdraws.

The United Nations is working on a peace plan to end the month- old conflict, but Arab nations have complained the draft resolution makes no mention of disarming Hezbollah or of an Israeli withdrawal. Members of the Arab League are going to the U.N. for an open debate and request changes before any vote. And Qatar's ambassador says suggestions from China and Russia are also under consideration.

We wanted to find out the Israeli perspective about what is going on inside the U.N., in particular in relation to Lebanon's proposal of sending 15,000 Lebanese forces down to south -- southern Lebanon territory -- southern Lebanese territory, I should say.

Earlier, I spoke to Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Dan Gillerman.


COOPER: Ambassador Gillerman, the Lebanese government now says that they will be willing to send 15,000 Lebanese troops into the south, all the way up to the border, if Israel is willing to -- to withdraw its forces right before. Is that acceptable to Israel?

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Well, I must say that this is very, very good news, except I'm very skeptical about the Lebanese government actually implementing it.

They could have done it six years ago. They could have done it when Resolution 1559 demanded that they do it. They didn't do it when they had the power and the authority. And it seems inconceivable to me that they would be able to do it now, when they have actually relinquished their sovereignty to the Hezbollah and let themselves become hostage to the Hezbollah. So, I -- I'm very skeptical about that. And I don't think that...

COOPER: Do -- do you think they could have done it before? I mean, you -- you said that they had the power, the authority.

Those -- there are those who say, look, it's a weak government, at best, and -- and -- and, with all the Syrian influence, they just haven't been able to. There are those who say, well, maybe now, even though Hezbollah certainly has -- has risen within Lebanon in the last several weeks, perhaps this will allow the Lebanese government to -- to finally gain some control over itself.

GILLERMAN: Well, I very much hope so, both for the sake of the Lebanese people and for the sake of the stability which we all seek. But I think it would be very irresponsible to expect Israel to leave a void there, which so easily can be refilled by the Hezbollah, who can easily regroup and rearm.

As we know, the Hezbollah is really just a proxy of Iran and Syria. This is not just about this horrible terror organization in the south. It's about Iran and Syria, who are financing it and using it in order to destabilize the region. So I very much appreciate the declaration made by the Lebanese government. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We'll have to see if they're indeed able to implement it, and if they are this, you know, may be a very positive development.

COOPER: Do you think Hezbollah would be willing to just become a political force, a social force? I mean, they're currently a political force and a social force inside Lebanon. Do you think that would ever be enough for them, that they'd be willing to give up their military role, their terror role?

GILLERMAN: I don't think it would ever be enough for them. Their long-term declared strategy is the destruction of Israel. And their tactics along the way are killing as many Israeli women and children and innocents as possible, specifically targeting civilians with the most vicious and brutal weaponry which they've amassed over all these years with the generous help of Iran and through Syria.

But I don't think that they will ever disarm or give up their military arms voluntarily. That is why they have to be made to do so, they have to be made to do so by the international community, by the United Nations and by an international force which will be there to make sure that they never are able, ever, to raise their ugly head again and return to what they have been doing for so many years and what they're continuing to do right at this very minute.

COOPER: It continues to be an incredibly complex situation that changes every day. Ambassador Gillerman, we appreciate giving your government's perspective. Thank you.

GILLERMAN: Thank you very much, Anderson.

COOPER: One of the things Israel of course is trying to do is cut off the supply lines to Hezbollah but Hezbollah is fighting back in some surprising ways, as CNN's Michael Ware found out. We'll have that report when we come back.


COOPER: Looking at pictures of some international aid arriving in the Lebanese town of Sidon. Of course one of the problems has been distributing that aid to points south and north where people are in need, some 800,000 or so people inside Lebanon internally displaced people. Very tough situation for them. It certainly is needed. A lot to talk about militarily on the ground about what is going on inside south Lebanon. In particular Hezbollah and their strength. There are those who say that Israel underestimated the strength of Hezbollah. Whether or not that is the case, the fighting has been intense and Hezbollah's resistance strong. We have CNN's Tom Foreman to look at where Hezbollah gets their military strength.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hezbollah may seem like many guerrilla armies, but military analysts say Hezbollah is much better prepared than most for open warfare. And its main strengths can be listed.

Hezbollah is well trained and supplied by the Iranian military. Much has been made of its rockets, but the fighting has shown that Hezbollah also has plenty of quality rifles, anti-tank rockets, bomb guidance systems, night vision, and communications gear, and its fighters know how to use them.

DAN BYMAN, GEORGETOWN CENTER FOR PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES: Hezbollah's forces are brave. They know how to find cover. They know how to use their weapons effectively. Most guerrilla groups don't. They fight poorly. They run away in the face of danger.

FOREMAN: Hezbollah is disciplined like an army. Unlike Hamas, which analysts say is only now developing that sort of organization, Hezbollah has a well-established command structure. Intelligence analysts say that 3,000 or so full-time fighters are directed by field commanders who have studied countless attacks on the Israeli military.

(on camera): Another thing Hezbollah has going for it is shear geography. Their homeland here in southern Lebanon is full of mountains and trails and little villages, and they have had almost 25 years to dig in, to build tunnels and weapons caches and secret caves from which they can pop out and strike and then once again disappear.

MIRI EISEN, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: They've booby-trapped the entire area. They want us to talk into those booby traps.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And Hezbollah has help. Decades of running social programs, hospitals, and schools for Shiite Muslims have produced allies willing to provide a haven for Hezbollah.

BYMAN: When Israel goes en masse to find Hezbollah, Hezbollah disappears among the Lebanese, as we see right now.

FOREMAN: And that is just the kind of tactic, just the kind of fight for which the army of Hezbollah has trained for many years.


COOPER: You know, Tom, it's fascinating. I mean, they're fighting a guerrilla war yet in many ways Hezbollah acts as though they are a government within a government. FOREMAN (on camera): You're right, Anderson. Really what they've got is kind of a hybrid here. They have all the advantages of being guerrillas. They can move quickly. They can use small numbers. They can be proactive in what they do.

But they are in many ways acting like a government in this region. And that's no accident. And one of the bits of evidence are these very pictures. Hezbollah has grown much better at manipulating its public image. It wants to look like a real army for a real nation even though they are not, fighting against another real army, and they want to look like the underdogs who are standing up against it. This has been very carefully manipulated by Hezbollah, and at this point in this battle it seems to be manipulated much to their advantage. Anderson?

COOPER: And of course can the real army of south Lebanon ultimately take over for Hezbollah and ultimately disarm Hezbollah? That remains to be seen.

FOREMAN: Big question.

COOPER: That is certainly the hope of many.

Tom Foreman, appreciate that report. When we come back, CNN's Michael Ware traveling in Hezbollah territory in the Bekaa Valley. It's one of the things that even after all these weeks of Israeli bombardment, Hezbollah still firmly in control in the areas that they've been controlling for the last several years. Stay tuned.


COOPER: Israeli shelling in a Christian Lebanese town. One of the things that Israel of course is trying to do is cut the supply lines to Hezbollah, supply lines out of Syria and from other points as well. But Hezbollah is able to keep those lines open with some surprising help from some civilians. Take a look.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tons of Israeli bombs have scarred this place, the Bekaa Valley, far to the north of the fighting in southern Lebanon. It is a haven for Hezbollah. But now Israel is bent on destroying the guerrillas' supply route.

At a submerged restaurant just upstream this construction worker says the first strikes only punched a small hole, barely shaking the bridge, but the warplanes returned the next day and the day after that, killing one, local officials claim, and wounding up to seven others, mostly children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After a while they bombed again and the bridge fell, and again and they demolished the wounding two or three people, civilians.

WARE (on camera): By destroying this bridge in waves of air strikes the Israeli Defense Force aims to sever the link between Hezbollah's northern power base here in Hermil from its troops in the southern battlefield. By traveling the length and breadth of the Bekaa Valley you can see that the movement of fighters and material continues. Although impeded, supplies to the front are still finding their way.

(voice-over): In some spots makeshift river crossings are thrown into place. Hezbollah officials crediting the work to diligent villagers. Roads gouged open one day can be smoothed over the next. Or with the dust still settling detours are quickly fashioned. And with gas scarce and lines long in Beirut, fuel here in Hezbollah- controlled Bekaa still flows.

Traveling the 95-mile valley from top to bottom, it's clear the militant supply lines can still deliver to its fighters at the front. In Hermil Hezbollah's TV station is now a flattened mess, yet somehow its programming defiantly continues. This truck, struck on the city's outskirts. According to local officials it carried only propane gas cylinders.

And yet this direct hit proved little deterrent. Vehicles were soon back on the same roads. Further south in the valley more damage to Hezbollah areas. A Volkswagen and a crater on the road leading to Syria. With air strikes on potential rat lines, the secret supply routes weaving over mountains into Syria.

But Israeli air strikes did not target predominantly Christian villages. Here buildings stand untouched. You can follow the trail of craters to Hezbollah turfs. And what the well-organized Hezbollah defenders call the militarized zone. Like here in the village of Soma (ph). The beginning of the fighters' rear supply lines, abandoned and controlled by the guerrillas. No one passes from here without their permission. Visitors are immediately approached by polite but firm men at arms, a hint of what lies beyond.

Conservative estimates put the militants' strength at 5,000 fighters, but in the field its members boasted double that figure, with one Hezbollah military official warning it has not yet called up its reserves. In the Bekaa it's clear their support remains strong. Banners and posters are everywhere. And the bustle of activity here calls into question the success of the Israeli offensive. One thing is clear. Any hope of breaking Hezbollah's spirits seem to be backfiring. Hezbollah arranged our interview with this man. He lost his home in an Israeli bombing attack. He says on camera what others would only say in private.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are with the resistance, for now and with 100 years. If one of us is with the resistance, then me, my children, and women, all are with the resistance.


COOPER: Michael Ware joins us now from Beirut. Michael, how centrally controlled is Hezbollah? I mean, are these fighters on the ground in south Lebanon, are they in daily contact with Hezbollah leaders? Or are they sort of acting independently, like independent cells?

WARE (on camera): Well, there's certainly great communication across the board, Anderson. And the broad strategic overlay from what I can tell has been made clear. However, I gleaned that essentially Hezbollah is broken up into certain domains, certain areas of command, and even within those junior ranking commanders are given a fair degree of autonomy. So basically, commanders are given their responsibilities, and by and large it's left to them to determine how to fulfill those responsibilities. Anderson?

COOPER: And the fighting has just been incredibly intense. Probably caught some people by surprise at least. Michael Ware, appreciate you joining us from Beirut again. We'll talk to you in the next hour.

When we come back, we'll look at the prospects for peace. The agonizing steps that have to be taken and will likely be taken in the next several days. Stay tuned.


COOPER: At the scene in Kiryat Shmona, people running from a Katyusha rocket attack here at Shmona, one of the hardest-hit towns in northern Israel. The death toll there has risen. Just a daily barrage of rockets, some 140 rockets hitting northern Israel today alone.

There is no such thing, really, as normal life in Kiryat Shmona today. A lot to talk about with my next guest, Reza Aslan, he is a frequent guest on my program. He is the author of the book "No God But God." Research associate at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Reza, always good to have you on the program.

You heard Ambassador Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the U.N. earlier on the program, talking about Lebanon's ability to disarm Hezbollah, to move into the south and effectively control that area. He basically said, you know, they had the opportunity over the last several years to do that, they failed to do it, he was doubtful of their ability to do it now. What do you make of that?

REZA ASLAN, USC CENTER ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: Well, I think with all due respect to ambassador Gillerman I think it's a hard -- we're hard pressed to say that Lebanon could have if it wanted to disarm Hezbollah, particularly without any kind of international support.

I think Israel should know better than anyone else how difficult it is to comply with U.N. resolutions. And 1559, which called for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, was something that was just thrust upon this very unstable Lebanese government. And I think that the difference between pre-conflict and now is that with the entire international community focusing on Lebanon, focusing on Hezbollah, the Lebanese army may have an opportunity to do now what it did not have the tools, the means to do before, and that is ...

COOPER: Reza, you -- sorry. You yourself point out, though, that all -- I mean there, were so many militias inside Lebanon after that resolution, they all disarmed except Hezbollah. If the other militias could have been disarmed, why couldn't Hezbollah have been disarmed?

ASLAN: Well, you know, Israel, the United States, Lebanon, the E.U., the U.N. has been trying to disarm Hezbollah for 20 years now, Anderson, and they haven't been able to do it. So it's sort of -- it's kind of ridiculous to think that the Lebanese government would have been able to do it. Now, and again, we're not necessarily talking about a lack of will here. I think that a force that includes the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeepers who are already there can do a temporary job of maintaining stability on the border until we can figure out a way to get some permanent peacekeepers in the region.

That's going to take a couple of months.

COOPER: As you look at the peace prospects right now and the peace maneuvers, I mean, there are so many moving parts to it, it's very easy to become -- sort of throw up one's hands and say look, this thing is never going to work out. Are you optimistic, and if so, what gives you optimism?

ASLAN: Well, I think what we need to do is come one a resolution that will allow both sides to declare some form of victory. Allowing Israeli troops to maintain their positions in southern Lebanon is a no starter as far as Lebanon is concerned.

And also I think that there needs to be some kind of exchange of prisoners. But I think the first step is there. The first step is to stop the bloodshed, stop the fighting. Both Hezbollah and Israel have indicated their willingness to do so. And I think that if the ceasefire can be followed immediately with the release of Hezbollah's prisoners, with the understanding that there will be a future release of prisoners by Israel, something that it has done many, many times in the past, and as we mentioned, a force that would include UNIFIL and the Lebanese army taking over those areas that the Israeli army has taken over, and then an opportunity for the international community to send a robust peacekeeping force in the region, it may sound like we're talking about going back to the status quo, but basically where we were before the bombs started falling, but that's not exactly the case.

I think that in order for Hezbollah to be disarmed it's going to need the help of Israel. Israel has done a masterful job over the last two decades of defeating its enemies. It needs to start doing a better job of making friends. And one way of doing that is to not just support the Lebanese government but to give it whatever it needs in order to stabilize it, to strengthen it, to make sure that it can make a stand and it has a friend to the north instead of an enemy.

COOPER: Certainly a stable Lebanese government is something that all sides can agree on, that they need. Reza, appreciate you joining us with your perspective. Thank you very much.

ASLAN: Great to see you, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: When we come back -- Good to see you again. A lot more from the Middle East but first let's check in with Tom Foreman with the "360 Bulletin," some of the day's other top stories. Tom?

FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson. A tough start to the week on Wall Street. Stocks fell as investors worried about high oil prices and tomorrow's meeting of the Federal Reserve Board, which will discuss interest rates. The Dow lost nearly 21 points. The NASDAQ fell 12. And the S&P dropped three points. As for oil, prices at the pump spiked and futures soared after news the largest oil field in the U.S. is being shut down. B.P. says it found a leak in a pipeline at its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska and will cut production by 400,000 barrels a day. That's a lot. And it will replace 16 miles of pipeline. It won't say how long it will take to get that facility back online.

And Martha Stewart is writing out a big check as part of her settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She's agreed to pay a $195,000 fine. She also can't serve as the director of a public company for five years. The deal settles civil insider trading charges related to her sale of Imclone Systems stock back in 2001. But I think she can cover the check. Anderson?

COOPER: I have no doubt about that. Tom, thanks very much. We'll check in with you a little bit later on in the next hour.

When we come back, a lot to cover. Senator Lieberman's prospects for reelection not looking very good right now. He may be the first casualty, political casualty of the war in Iraq. And a Democrat to boot. We'll have that story.

Also the latest on the fighting on the ground here in south Lebanon and all across northern Israel. Stay tuned for more. Coming up next.


COOPER: Another grim and busy morning here on the border. Outgoing, incoming shelling. They might be busy at the United Nations but they're even busier here on the battlefield.

ANNOUNCER: Aftermath. A bloody Sunday. The deadliest day yet and today more bloodshed. As diplomacy drags on, both sides dig in.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Everyone wants the violence to stop.


ANNOUNCER: Behind Hezbollah lines on a mission to destroy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been walking for a couple of miles now.


ANNOUNCER: Up close and personal on the battlefield.


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