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Who Is Hassan Nasrallah?; Judgment Day Arrives For Senator Joe Lieberman; Israel Ponders Escalation; France Seeks Changes to U.N. Resolution

Aired August 8, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin tonight with a peace plan in jeopardy, troops massing on the Israeli border, and the Israeli government considering them -- considering sending them deeper into Lebanon, a major escalation of the war -- next.

ANNOUNCER: A cease-fire losing steam -- no peace, not even for the dead -- funerals under fire, Katyushas raining down. Will Israel now decide to take a bigger bite out of Lebanon?

He made his name killing Americans and building schools. Now he's fighting Israel and bidding to lead the Muslim world. Who is Hassan Nasrallah?

And why is this man smiling?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: My thanks to each and every one of you.

ANNOUNCER: Judgment day for Senator Joe Lieberman -- his fellow Democrats trying to make him the first political casualty of the war in Iraq.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 28."

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

COOPER: And thanks very much for joining us. We are coming to you tonight from an Israeli artillery position. And all night long, so far, the guns have been pounding. And you may hear that in the next two hours -- a lot to talk about tonight, troops massing here along the border, talk of a major escalation in the conflict, the Israeli government supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss sending troops deeper into Lebanon than any time in the past four weeks -- this, tonight, as new word that the peace plan now may be in jeopardy, as France is looking for new language in the document -- a lot talk about.

But, first, let's get you up to date, the latest information in our 360 "War Bulletin." For the first time, Israeli choppers struck a Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon. That's the largest such camp in the country. Sources say the attack killed at least one person, wounded at least six. The Israeli Defense Forces say it was targeting the home of a Hezbollah militant inside that camp.

Delegates from the Arab League were at the U.N., trying to reconcile a draft U.N.-French cease-fire resolution with proposals from Lebanon. They and Lebanon object to language permitting Israeli forces to remain for a time in south Lebanon. The Lebanese government is offering to send 15,000 troops to help secure the area. Today, Israel's prime minister expressed interest in the notion -- a lot more on that in a moment.

And a shakeup in Israel -- the military chief added another general to oversee the operation in Lebanon, while proclaiming his confidence in the man in charge right now.

CNN's John Roberts has been monitoring developments right here along the -- the Israeli-Lebanon border. He joins us now at another location.

John, what's happening?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, that's the big news tonight, Anderson, the shakeup in the upper levels of the Israeli military leadership.

General Udi Adam has been in charge of the northern command. He has been the man who is responsible for the prosecution of the war. But, tonight, the Israeli army chief of staff, General Dan Halutz, appointed his second in command, Moshe Kaplinksi, to oversee and coordinate the operation here.

That's an indication -- at least, that's the way it's being taken here in Israel -- that he's not happy with the way things are going. Perhaps, he has -- even though he has expressed confidence in Adam -- lost some trust that Adam is taking the right course of action here.

So, he's sending his guy in. I mean, this is -- almost seems like what happened after Hurricane Katrina, when President Bush said to -- to Michael Brown, "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie," and then had him out the door a week later.

We're also seeing what appears to be a major push in the northern tip of the Galilee Peninsula tonight, not far from our base of operations, a few miles from where we are tonight. We saw troops and tanks and armor going across the border, an intense battle, lots of gunfire, RPG, rocket-propelled grenade, fire, and the tanks shooting against suspected Hezbollah positions.

We have been watching and waiting for this for a week, as we have seen the movements of tanks and troops on the Israeli side of the border, but now well over the border, into Lebanon, as this -- this ground campaign shows every signs it is going to escalate -- and the Israeli security cabinet making a decision tomorrow on -- on whether or not to initiate an expansion of this ground campaign, which could add as -- as much as a third more troops to the ones already in Lebanon.


ROBERTS (voice-over): An intense round of gunfire in this Israeli army video, obtained exclusively by CNN, demonstrates what the military describes as the difficult fight to dislodge Hezbollah from towns and villages in southern Lebanon.

In this battle, the army claims success, planting the Israeli flag on a Hezbollah outpost in Salov (ph). The flag-raising is merely an act of bravado. But it is a symbol of a deeper issue that threatens diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the fighting. Lebanese officials reject any agreement that leaves Israeli troops on Lebanese soil. Israel won't withdraw unless its security is guaranteed.

Lebanon's prime minister is attempting to bridge that divide, offering to send the Lebanese army to the south to take control.

His Israeli counterpart today said, the offer is worth considering.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think that it will be fair to say that we study this. It -- it looks interesting. And we will examine it closely. And we will take counsel with other parties that are interested in the situation and that are working towards the resolution of the United Nations. And we will make up our mind about it.

ROBERTS: But there is little faith, at either the political or military level in Israel, that the Lebanese army is up to the job. Leaders of the elite reserve unit I spent 48 hours on the front lines with don't want to stay in southern Lebanon, but don't want to leave, unless Hezbollah is fully contained.

MAJOR NADAV, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: If the resolution won't be in -- in such proportion that will keep this area safe, this -- then, this whole venture was just for nothing.

ROBERTS: In case diplomacy fails, the Israeli military is preparing to expand the ground campaign. Sources tell CNN, a division of reserves, 5,000 or more soldiers, may be brought to the front in the next 48 hours. In addition, say sources, the IDF may intensify its air attacks, while special forces, like the group that raided a Hezbollah hospital in Baalbeck, launch more tactical strikes.

Each day of this campaign grows more costly for Israel. Another three soldiers died in battle today. Many more were wounded. One hundred and forty-five rockets rained down on northern Israel today. No one was injured. But the nonstop attacks have left the north virtually deserted, the local economies in tatters.

But, if they don't take and hold ground in Lebanon, Israeli military leaders fear, Hezbollah will take advantage and regroup. And, almost to a man, it seems, that's not a price they are willing to pay.

CAPTAIN RICHARD, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES (through translator): What we want to do is live in peace in our country behind a secure border. We want to move these terrorists away from the border area, so that we can get on with our lives.


COOPER: John, what does -- what -- how does the Israeli Defense Forces define victory at this point?

ROBERTS: Well, that's the interesting thing, Anderson, is, I -- I interviewed General Shuki Shachar, who is the deputy from the northern command, today. And he didn't use the word victory.

In fact, he said: We're not seeking victory here. What we're seeking is success.

And how they're going to measure success is, is how well they can degrade Hezbollah positions, how -- how much they can do to stop those rockets from falling on northern Israel. But, as you know all too well, you know, the area right behind me there was hit by Katyusha rockets in the last couple of days, Anderson. You can see the hillside is burned away where I'm standing.

The acrid residue from -- from those brushfires is actually choking a little bit. They haven't done much to degrade Hezbollah's capabilities of firing those rockets. So, many people in Israel tonight are beginning to ask, what is this all about? What is the strategy?

And that's probably why we're seeing the shakeup at the very highest levels of the army.

COOPER: John, we will talk to you again shortly, when we -- we convene our roundtable of correspondents.

First, we want to talk about what is happening, though, in -- inside southern Lebanon.

For that, I talked to CNN's Ben Wedeman a short time ago about the situation -- and a dire situation, it is -- in the southern city of Tyre.


COOPER: So, Ben, what is the latest situation in Tyre? I mean, the city seems virtually cut off.


Basically, the only way out, Anderson, is over the Litani River, where, basically, you crawl or -- or you walk across a log that's covering the river. Otherwise, you wade right through. Essentially, anybody trying to get in has to walk to the Litani River, because, at the moment, anybody out on the road in a car, or a donkey cart, or a horse cart, is considered a legitimate target by the Israelis, who believe that vehicles are being used to transport ammunition and Hezbollah personnel.

So, they're going to hit anything on the road. So, it's getting rather difficult.

COOPER: On -- on the one hand, Israelis have been telling people to get out, move further north. Now there's this ruling that, if you drive in a car, you're a target. How can people get out now? I mean, I guess there's no way; is that correct?

WEDEMAN: Well, there is a way. You just take your life in your hands and you jump in a car and drive away.

People are driving around, but everybody who does so realizes that there's a very high probability that your car will be hit. So, essentially, those who remain in southern Lebanon -- and we heard from the head of the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, that they believe there's still about 100,000 people in southern Lebanon, out of a normal population of about 400,000 -- the ones who are remaining, many of them Palestinian refugees, who feel they really have nowhere else to go, and those who simply don't have the money.

It now costs anywhere between $400 and $600 to take the drive from Tyre to Beirut in a taxi. And most people who are still behind, left behind here, just don't have that kind of money.

COOPER: What about supplies, I mean, food, gas, for the people who are living there, and also humanitarian aid? Are they able to distribute it?

WEDEMAN: Well, that's the problem.

The humanitarian aid is a real problem, because we saw that, for instance, the Doctors Without Borders basically created a human chain across the Litani River to move some supplies in. Now, supplies have been stockpiled. Nobody is starving in southern Lebanon, at least here in Tyre.

But what we have is a situation where prices are going way up. Petrol is -- gasoline is now triple its normal price, and in short supply. And, so, basically people have, as I said, stockpiled. But prices are going up, and it's really getting hard to find certain basic commodities.

COOPER: Ben Wedeman, appreciate it. Thank you.


COOPER: A lot to talk about on the diplomatic front, though -- some late-wreaking developments, France perhaps changing their position or -- and/or wanting some changes in the wording of the -- the U.N. resolution. It is still being negotiated.

CNN's John King is monitoring developments from Washington. And he joins us now. John, what's the latest?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, troubling, from the Bush administration's standpoint tonight, is this French insistence that the draft now on the table be rewritten to take into account some of the concerns raised today.

It was an extraordinary day at the Security Council -- a special Arab delegation coming to press Lebanon's plan for a cease-fire. That plan is unacceptable to the United States. It is unacceptable to the Israelis as written -- but France emerging from meetings tonight, saying at least some of those concerns should be taken into account.

France wants to rewrite the resolution, including on the point of just when the Israeli troops would leave Lebanon. The Arab states, of course, want an immediate withdrawal.

So, as they work on this, again, on this draft, the goal was a vote by Tuesday -- U.S. officials saying tonight that they are very concerned about this. They're willing to listen to the Arab concerns, but they're worried, any major changes would tip what one U.S. official called a very delicate consensus.


KING (voice-over): At the United Nations Security Council, the special Arab delegation warned of dire consequences if a cease-fire plan allows Israeli troops to stay in Lebanon.

HAMAD BIN JASSEM AL THANI, QATARI FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): What is happening will sow the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area, and provide a pretext for those who feel that the international community is taking sides and lacks fairness as regards to this dispute.

KING: The session featured a long list of complaints about Israel, but not one criticism of Hezbollah by the Arab League representative or by Lebanon, a point not lost on the Israeli ambassador.

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think that there should be at least some mention of the true root cause for this horrible conflict, which is the fact that Hezbollah has taken Lebanon, including Tyre, hostage.

KING: After the public session, more private negotiations, and the French ambassador said, some of the Arab concerns must be taken into account, especially Lebanon's promise to deploy 15,000 troops to areas currently under Hezbollah control.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: It's an important development. And I think it should be taken into account in our text.

KING: The Arab delegation backs Lebanon's call for an immediate cease-fire, an immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops, and using the existing U.N. monitoring force in Lebanon to assist the Lebanese army in policing the cease-fire.

TAREK MITRI, LEBANESE SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It allows a true, effective cessation of hostilities. It leads to a durable cease-fire.

KING: But Israel and the United States say, the Lebanese plan is what Hezbollah wants. In Washington's view, the Israeli troops should be allowed to stay, until a larger international force is authorized and deployed.

GILLERMAN: Israel will withdraw the minute there is a political solution and the minute there is a viable force in place.

KING: The goal is a vote on a cease-fire plan by Thursday, assuming negotiations on language changes go well. What was perhaps most remarkable about Tuesday's session was the public display of how the conflict has shifted Arab politics.

In the early days of the fighting, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were sharply critical of Hezbollah, and orchestrated an Arab League statement blaming the crisis on Hezbollah's "unexpected, inappropriate, and irresponsible acts."

But, now, Jordan blames Israeli aggression. Saudi Arabia criticizes Israeli military brutality. And the Arab League backs the cease-fire plan favored by Hezbollah.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI, ANWAR SADAT PROFESSOR FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Most Arabs believe that, the longer that this goes on, the more Hezbollah has the upper hand. They have a sense that Hezbollah is winning and Israel is losing.


KING: And, as the negotiations intensify, now that the French have said they want major changes, Anderson, there's the focus on the details of the draft, and also that remarkable dynamic among the Arabs.

In talking to several Arab diplomats today, they say their true goal is a tough international force and that Hezbollah be disarmed. They say they don't want Hezbollah to be strong in the region, but they also say, Anderson, given what has happened in the last few weeks, they're not willing to say that publicly anymore.

COOPER: Interesting how that change -- how that tune has changed so rapidly.

John King, thanks for that. We will talk to you again shortly in our roundtable of correspondents.

But, first, let's take a look at the numbers. The -- the two countries which are leading the charge on the diplomatic front are -- are also the leading donors to the U.N. agency who are trying to deal with the refugee crisis. Here's the "Raw Data." Let's take a look at the numbers. As of the past Friday, the United States is the top donor to the UNHCR, giving two million -- million dollars -- France tied with the European Commission for second place, each contributing about $1.3 million. Sweden is third with $1.1 million. Canada and Denmark round out the top five, each giving more than $800,000.

And, when we come back, we will talk to our roundtable of correspondents, covering the story like no one else, all points, all angles from the region.

Stay tuned.


COOPER: Looking at bomb damage there in south Beirut, the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike.

We have asked our correspondents in the region to join together for a roundtable to just talk about the latest of what's happening right now.

Joining us here along the border is John Roberts. Also joining us in Beirut is Michael Ware. And in Washington is John King.

John King, let's start off with you.

On the diplomatic front, what happens now? I mean, you were just talking about France wanting some new language, after talking to the Arab League. What is the timetable now that we're looking at?

KING: Well, the timetable -- the planned timetable -- was a vote on Thursday.

Secretary of State Rice is going to the United Nations. Her counterparts, the other foreign secretaries, if you will, the diplomats wanted to be there for what they hoped would be a diplomatic achievement, voting on a resolution that calls for a cessation of hostilities.

That is in some doubt tonight, Anderson, because the French say they want to make changes. The question is -- and we won't be able to answer this question until tomorrow -- is this a hiccup, a little detour, or will this be a ditch, another ditch, in the way of diplomacy?

Remember, the administration initially wanted a vote last Friday on this. If the French want big changes when it comes to the Israeli withdrawal, when it comes to a more specific promise for Israel to give up disputed territories, Israeli officials are saying, no deal; they won't accept that deal.

The Israelis also are very concerned that, in the end, the French want to push now for an international force that the Israelis -- and the United States, for that matter -- think is not strong enough, not robust enough, will not be able to contain Hezbollah, or to stop any shipments to resupply Hezbollah -- so, more questions than answers tonight, because they had such a fragile plan in place.

But the Arabs convinced the French, Anderson, that, if you pass the current plan and let the Israeli troops stay, their message to the United Nations was, there will be a civil war in Lebanon, the government might even fall, if you let those Israeli troops stay indefinitely.

COOPER: Michael Ware, it's an interesting situation, because, earlier on, I mean, what we were hearing from -- from the Arab world was, there has to be a cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire. That was the -- the be-all and end-all, the -- the most immediate thing pressing.

Now it seems like the Arab League, I mean, there was -- there was an offer of a cease-fire, or basically a path to it, in this U.N. resolution. Now it seems like the -- the Arab League is saying, well, the cease-fire is not the most important thing. It has got to be a cease-fire on the terms that Lebanon wants.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I think that's with a view cast forward, Anderson.

I mean, if there's to be any real hope of -- of this cease-fire, should it come about, sustaining, then, there needs to be a -- an eye towards at least a -- medium-, if not long-term, solutions required here.

I mean, we have seen Hezbollah say that they will accept the terms of a cease-fire, provided that there is not a single Israeli soldier still on Lebanese soil. Now, this is also the wish of the Lebanese government. And, to be frank, it seems clear that, by and large, this is also the heartfelt desire of the Lebanese people.

So, in many ways, this is a reflection of a popular mandate -- Anderson.

COOPER: John Roberts, Israel now is talking -- it's interesting, what happened today. I mean, basically, we heard two things: one, the Israeli prime minister saying, it's interesting, the Lebanese proposal to send 15,000 troops, saying, essentially, they would study it more.

At the same time, there's going to be this meeting from the Israeli cabinet tomorrow about whether or not to actually escalate the conflict, send troops, Israeli troops, even deeper into Lebanon.

What is their strategy right now?

ROBERTS: Well, it really seems to be that this -- this whole conflict is at a tipping point, Anderson.

It could tip one way, toward the diplomatic side, or it could tip the other, toward all-out war and a major ground invasion.

Here is what the Israeli officials are concerned about. And I got this today from talking with Israeli army generals, as well, that the fact that Hezbollah agreed so readily to this Lebanese plan gives them a great degree of discomfort.

They said, if Hezbollah had been against the plan, not liked it, but, yet, the Lebanese government was pushing this, despite that fact, then, they would have seen that, perhaps, this is something that -- that potentially could mean something, with the Lebanese army really taking control of the southern region.

But the fact that Hezbollah agreed so readily to it could be an indication that this is something that could favorable to Hezbollah. Don't forget, there are many people in Israel who believe that the Lebanese army is subservient to and, in some cases, supportive of Hezbollah. Many of its members are Hezbollah supporters.

And the concern in Israel is that, if they deploy the Lebanese army along the southern border, and it is complicit with Hezbollah, that this could just create even greater problems for Israel than it has experienced for the last six years.

So, that's why Israel is so firm on this idea that there has to be a guaranteed security buffer zone, preferably with an international force, but, if not an international force, perhaps an expanded U.N. force, in conjunction with the Lebanese army, that really will seek to disarm Hezbollah.

But, so far, there is no indication coming from Lebanon that disarming Hezbollah is part of that plan. And that's why Israeli officials remain so skeptical about this whole idea.

COOPER: John Roberts, appreciate that.

John King, also, reporting, and Michael Ware, reporting from -- from Beirut, thank you very much.

We will talk to you guys a little bit later on.

Let's check in with Tom Foreman for a quick look at the day's other top stories "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.


The FBI and immigration agents are looking for 11 Egyptian students who have failed to show up for college in Montana. The men were part of a group of exchange students who flew into New York City at the end of July. The FBI says they're not known to have any links with terrorists, but they should be approached with caution.

At least 19 people were killed in four roadside bombings in Baghdad today. The most severe blast killed at least 10 people and wounded nearly 70 others. Another bomb was aimed at the police. And a third killed nine people at the city's busiest bus station. The United States, of course, has increased the number of troops to try and stop the sectarian violence from increasing anymore.

This year's hurricane season should be slightly less stormy than originally predicted. Government forecasters say we should expect up to 15 named storms, and up to nine hurricanes. The original prediction was 16 named storms, 10 hurricanes.

Republican Tom DeLay will not run for reelection, even though his name is on the ballot in Texas. Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denied a Texas GOP request to block a lower court ruling that keeps DeLay's name on the ballot. But DeLay, who is facing a money-laundering indictment, says, it doesn't matter. He has moved to Virginia, and he won't seek the Texas seat anyway.

The Republican Party now plans to support a write-in candidate for that November election. So, we will see what happens down there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.

Politics of a different sort make up "The Shot" today. Take a look at "The Shot." This happened down at a talk show in Tampa, Florida, called "The Bleepin Truth." And two political pundits, Joe Redner, a liberal who is running for local office, and Republican show host Tony Katz -- the debate gets heated. Katz walks off, and then throws a chair at Redner. Redner says he had some minor bruising, but he is not going to press charges.

My, my.

When we come back, all the latest from the region -- also, we are going to take a look at politics in America. Joe Lieberman, in a very tight runoff tonight in the primary, could he be the first Democrat -- the first political casualty of the war in Iraq? We will have the late results. We are monitoring this situation very closely. And we will give you an update when we come back.


COOPER: We're going to talk about domestic politics in the United States for a moment.

But, first, let's get you up to date, the latest information coming out of this region, in our 360 "War Bulletin" at the half-hour.

Israeli helicopter gunships today attacked the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. It's in the town of Sidon. Sources there say at least one person is dead, at least six others wounded. The Israeli Defense Forces say they were targeting a Hezbollah militant's house in the camp.

At the U.N., the Lebanese special envoy insists that any measure aimed at ending the fighting has to include the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. Israel's ambassador, in turn, maintained that the Lebanese should work with Israel to disarm Hezbollah. A vote on the draft resolution could possibly take place tomorrow.

And Lebanese officials say the death toll from the Israeli attack last night on the southern Beirut suburb of Chiah has risen to 30. Israeli officials say 15 have died. Sixty-four people were injured.

Politics in the United States is taking a very interesting turn this evening. Democratic primary in Connecticut, Ned Lamont versus Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman, of course, was once a vice presidential candidate, a well-known Democrat. Now he is -- his position is deeply in jeopardy.

CNN's Candy Crowley is following developments.

Candy, what's the latest?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, all night long, we have been watching these numbers come in. It's a little difficult, it being a race where there are no exit polls, so we're not sure which precincts are reporting, which ones are not.

But we do know that the Associated Press says that, as of about 15 minutes ago, with 74 percent of the votes counted, Ned Lamont, the challenger, is at 52 percent of the vote. John -- Joe Lieberman at 48 percent. So Lieberman trailing Lamont, but not by as much as he was earlier in the evening.

What we expect over the next couple of hours is sometime before 11 p.m., we expect to see Joe Lieberman down here at his campaign night headquarters, to thank his supporters.

We also expect, according to everyone that's been in touch with senator Lieberman, over the past several hours, that he will indeed, at some point, perhaps not tonight, but he does intend to go forward with a third party race.

That is, even if he loses this primary tonight, he will, in fact, put himself on the ballot and be on the ballot this fall. So this is not over until it's over.

The Democratic part of it, we should know probably before midnight. So far, Lieberman, as I say, has been trailing all night, but he intends to go on, win or lose -- Anderson.

COOPER: Candy, who is Ned Lamont?

CROWLEY: Well, that was a question even people at the polls today, who were voting for him, couldn't tell us anything about him. It's been so much about not voting for Joe Lieberman. People are furious with Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party for being so supportive, they believe, of the president and this war.

Ned Lamont is a businessman. He is a multimillionaire. He has self-funded much of this particular campaign. He is the neophyte, but he has been very supported by the liberal blogs.

In fact, one leading liberal blogger appeared in a commercial for Ned Lamont, so he has really had their support. They have buoyed him through the tough times when nobody knew his name.

But in terms of defining him, of where he stands on a lot of different issues, it basically has been that he's not Joe Lieberman and that Joe Lieberman has been too close to George Bush. So Ned Lamont has a long way to go before even the people of Connecticut know him, but tonight his name will be better known than it has been before.

COOPER: Yes, it sure will. Candy, you said you're anticipating something before 11 p.m.?

CROWLEY: Well, we were told to expect the senator sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. Eastern Time to come down here and say something. As you know, on these election nights they tends to be a tiny bit crazy, and everybody doesn't always stick to a schedule. But that's what we've been told.

COOPER: OK. We'll bring that to you when it happens. Candy, appreciate that. We'll be talking to you again shortly.

When we come back, the man behind Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah. What really do we know about him, and what really does he want to happen to the state of Israel? His tough talk, when we come back.


COOPER: A wounded Israeli soldier being brought to a hospital in Israel. One of the casualties of the intense combat that has been taking place for the last several weeks.

The man who, of course, would like to see wounded Israeli soldiers is Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. It's interesting when you see him speaking now on television. He appears not only in front of the Hezbollah flag, yellow flag with an AK-47 on it but also in front of the Lebanese flag, making a play to become the face of Lebanon, a very different face than the face of Lebanon we've seen over the last year, year and a half since the Cedar Revolution.

We thought it important to take a look at what Hassan Nasrallah truly believes in, however, and what he truly wants to accomplish here in this region.

CNN's Joe Johns investigates.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is called the Israeli leadership stupid, arrogant, ignorant, called the Israeli army gigantic and blind, capable only of killing old men, women and children.

Though his speeches can be as subtle as they are direct, the supporters of Israel charge that Hassan Nasrallah's harsh view of Israel is part and parcel of a larger hatred of Jews.

David Makovski of the Washington Institute for Near East Politics sees a man who scapegoats the Jews for almost every catastrophe.

DAVID MAKOVSKY, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EASTERN POLITICS: There's no doubt that Nasrallah's discourse is -- is replete with virulent anti-Semitism. He dehumanizes Jews.

JOHNS: What's impossible to dispute is that one of the aims and goals of Hezbollah is destruction of the Jewish state. Why? Hezbollah would call it the return of the land to its rightful owners, the Palestinians.

Seth Jones is an analyst for the Rand Corporation, who says it can be explained as a fight against Zionism.

SETH JONES, ANALYST, RAND CORPORATION: It's less that Jews should exist and, more, that they should not exist on that territory that is what we call Israel. So it's really a fundamental opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state, where it is located, less so to, I think, Jews in general.

JOHNS: Which is why it's so difficult for many analysts to see a clean diplomatic solution when Israel says it's fighting for peaceful co-existence and the other side refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist in the first place.

But how could a man like Nasrallah, who is thought as part pragmatist, part ideologue and pure politician actually believe this stuff?

Probably not, says Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations.

STEVEN COOK, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Does he believe that he can wipe Israel off the face of the map? It's unlikely that he does believe that he can actually do it. Would he want to do that? Certainly. That's the case with many views of these types of organizations throughout the Middle East. They are anti-Zionist, anti-Israel to the core.

JOHNS: Meanwhile, there's another dynamic at work. In some ways it's as simple and complex as grassroots politics. The tougher Nasrallah sounds, the more he bolsters his own case among the people who matter most, especially when there's been collateral damage.

JONES: This has worked to Hezbollah's favor, so by going on the record to argue for the destruction of the state of Israel, I think that has -- Hezbollah believes it has supported its message rather than anything else.

JOHNS: But how all of that gets unraveled into a livable peace in the Middle East remains for the analysts an open question.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: We have -- of course, we've seen a lot of the damage in South Lebanon and even North Lebanon and the suburbs of Beirut. But now, some new pictures, before and after, puts a real sense of just how bad and how extensive the damage may be. Next on 360.


COOPER: So there have been 28 days of air strikes now all throughout Lebanon. The question tonight is how much damage has actually been done? We asked CNN's Tom Foreman to investigate.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fighting has forced nearly a million Lebanese citizens from their homes and jobs. That is the latest estimate from the United Nations. Lebanese officials are adding up billions of dollars worth of damage to roads, bridges, businesses, and public utilities.

FOUAD SINIORA, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: The Lebanese are being bombarded every day, with tons and tons of explosives, and the whole country is being destroyed.

FOREMAN (on camera): The damage is clearly and obviously extensive in some places, such as this neighborhood in southern Beirut, which the Israelis say was home to many Hezbollah fighters and their supporters.

This is what it looked like before all the bombing began. This is what it looks like now: block after block after block of utter devastation. No one is going to be living here any time soon.

Electricity, food, housing, communication, and highways have been bombed out in large sections of Southern Lebanon, according to aid workers. The World Health Organization says, unless roads can be re- opened for medical supplies, more than half of the country's hospitals will be closed within a week.

And even when refugees make it to larger towns or cities, such as Tyre, aid workers say they are finding themselves trapped, with no safe roads leading out, no supplies coming in.

ROLAND HUGUENIN-BENJAMIN, ICRC SPOKESMAN: The water is the first and foremost concern, where people were forced to drink dirty water because there just was nothing else.

FOREMAN (voice-over) However, the U.S.-based intelligence consulting company Stratford (ph) says precise bombing by Israel has kept the damage from being much worse.

When Beirut's airport was hit, for example, the Israelis chose relatively simple bombs that would disable runways with craters but would allow quick repairs later, the same for bridges and overpasses.

Stratford (ph) analysts point out in many cases only the center spans are being destroyed, not the ends, and again, they say those centers will be much cheaper and easier to repair.

Of course, no one expects anything big to be repaired until the fighting stops, and the true toll of all the damage can be taken.


COOPER: It's interesting, Tom, that the damage could have been worse, had different weapons been selected. I hadn't really considered that. But, you know, the damage that has been done is certainly horrific. We've looked at the physical damage. What other kind of damage are you seeing long-term?

FOREMAN: It's a good question, Anderson. Because what you're talking about here is, look, roads can be replaced. Bridges can be replaced, but this was a fledgling government. This was an economy that was trying to grow. This was trying to build up tourism. And all these things that matter when you're a smaller country.

All of that is absolutely in tatters right now. And I'm telling you, when the bombing stops and everybody gets calmed down, however they get there, rebuilding all of that is going to take much longer than just replacing the infrastructure.

That's really one of the giant concerns for Lebanon right now, and world leaders, who would like to see this country, one way or the other, find a way back on its feet, that's going to take a long time, Anderson.

COOPER: Investor confidence, I mean, so much -- billions have been poured into Beirut and Lebanon in the last couple of years. It really seems to be coming back, and especially after that pro- democracy Cedar Revolution back in March of last year.

FOREMAN: Who is going to write a check now? Nobody right now.

COOPER: I know. Yes, it is -- well, let's hope. Tom, appreciate that. Thanks very much.

And when we come back, what it's like reporting the story in words and in pictures, behind the scenes, next.


COOPER: Some of the empty streets in Tyre because of the curfew in that South Lebanese village, Arab town, I should say.

For the last several weeks we've had photographers from Getty Images traveling with us, kind of getting a behind the scenes look what it's like reporting the story. We get a lot of viewers e-mailing us, asking us what it's like being here. So periodically, we've been putting together these reporter's notebooks.

Tonight the pictures are from Uri Lieberman (ph) of Getty Images and two photos from Farrah Nash (ph), as well. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It's been three weeks now, three weeks and counting, fighting and dying, shelling and running. So much of it seems so long ago; only the pictures are a reminder you were ever there.

War is like that. Each day is the first. The past is dead, forgotten. In war, there's only now, only this, a smoke shared by buddies, a few hours' rest. The minutes pass. So do the memories.

At first, the shelling. The rockets. That's what you see. That's what you hear. Incoming, outgoing, sirens and screams. All of it quickly fades, however, and becomes like your pulse, always there, a throb in your ear, a beat you barely notice.

From a distance, there's a beauty to it. Brilliant flames, a flash of light, a brief boom that echoes in the hills. Up close, there's nothing beautiful about it. The ground rumbles. Your spine shakes. The heat and dirt scald your skin.

So much of this war we don't even see. We stare at distant hills that smoke and smolder. The ground is dead. We see tanks move, soldiers come and go. But you don't see the fight up close and that's where we all want to be.

We try to get close, as close as you can. You want to feel the heat, the fury, swallow the embers. You watch firefighters put out the flames, but it's never enough. You want to see more.

We followed the action wherever it's led: Beirut, Cyprus, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, three weeks now, three weeks and counting. Sometimes I'm not even sure what I've seen.

I used to stare at the holes made by the rockets, hoping to see, to learn something. The truth is, there's nothing inside. It's steel and shrapnel, shattered concrete. There's nothing to learn.

You only learn from what you don't want to look at, what you least want to see: the blood on the ground, the sacrifices made. In Israel, they pick up the pieces, flesh and bone, heart and brain; all must be buried, all must be saved.

There's so much blood on both sides of this border, so much loss already endured. We see this war fought in the distance, but when death descends, it happens up close.

Three weeks and counting. The pictures are painful. Three weeks and counting. So is the truth.


COOPER: Those pictures by Uri Lieberman (ph) of Getty Images. And we appreciate all of the work he's been doing with us here in Israel and all of the photographers that have been traveling with us in Beirut, as well.

When we come back, a lot more about the Lebanese army. Will they really be capable of disarming Hezbollah, as they say they will? We'll look at that.

First a check with Tom Foreman for the day's other top stories and "360 Bulleting".

FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson. The Federal Reserve says enough is enough, at least for now, when it comes to interest rate hikes. Today, it decided not to raise interest rates for the first time in more than two years. The key federal rate remains at 5.25 percent. The Fed says, however, that the risk of inflation also remains.

All the markets closed down on Wall Street, after the decision. We'll have to see what they think in the morning.

In Boston at midnight a ramp in the Big Dig tunnel system will reopen. It was shut down last month after a woman was killed and her husband injured when their car was crushed by a massive ceiling panel. The ramp leads to the Ted Williams Tunnel and Boston's Logan International Airport.

Crawford, Texas, the decision stands. There's no camping allowed near President Bush's ranch. A federal judge said the ban put in place last fall because of the large number of war protesters is constitutional, but the ruling is not stopping protesters this year. Cindy Sheehan bought a five-acre lot in Crawford last month, and she was outside the president's ranch today.

And finally, to Hong Kong, where Krispy Kreme has opened its first shop in China. With profits falling in U.S., the doughnut maker hopes Hong Kong residents will open their wallets for a sweet taste of the west. Check that out, Anderson. Going to Hong Kong? Getting some doughnuts -- Anderson.

COOPER: Mm-mmm. Mmmm, doughnuts. Tom, yes, there's a lot of people around here, including some Israeli soldiers who would like some doughnuts right now. Tom, thanks very much.

FOREMAN: We'll bring some over.

COOPER: Yes, exactly.

When we come back, we're going to take a look at the latest on the Joe Lieberman race. It is very late in the race, and we may have results when we return. We'll be right back.


COOPER: When we come back, live from the war zone. Inside the army that could be the wildcard in all of this. The Lebanese army, can it rise to the rescue? 360 live from the war zone, next.


COOPER: The diplomatic track may be in trouble and thousands more Israeli troops massing on the border for what could be an escalation of the conflict. We'll have the latest, next on 360.

ANNOUNCER: A plan for peace. But does Lebanon's army have the muscles to pull it off? And what about the fighters who really count?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is whether or not Hezbollah is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ANNOUNCER: The other war. On another bloody day, Iraq's prime minister attacks American troops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Sadr City, I was so angry.

ANNOUNCER: A key primary race with Iraq at its center, as Senator Joe Lieberman pays the ultimate price at the ballot box.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 28". Reporting tonight from Northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks very much for joining us. We are coming to you tonight from an artillery position very close to the Lebanese border. It is just 6 a.m. here. The sun has just started to come up.

All light long there has been heavy shelling from the positions around here over this mountain into Lebanese territory. The soldiers here are just starting to wake up here at 6 a.m. The gun behind me had been silent. No telling what will happen over the course of this next hour.


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