Thursday, July 20, 2006
The value of a pistol in an Israeli border town
The town of Metula on the Israel-Lebanon border -- this is where we are staying to cover Israel's northern battlefront. It's a ghost town, deserted except for a few journalists.

The proprietor of our small hotel always has her pistol at hand, just in case, she says. But there's a heavy artillery unit just nearby and there are tanks firing against a guerrilla army which has Katyusha rockets and mortars. How was a pistol going to help?

We found out last night amid a sudden flurry of soldiers racing towards the border fence, machine guns firing, and a helicopter firing overhead -- a massive and sustained barrage of artillery hitting Hezbollah positions and buildings on the hills opposite the town.

They had heard that Hezbollah guerrillas had infiltrated this small town. Imagining being taken prisoner, held hostage or worse, we realized what the pistol was for. Though it must be said we still don't know whether anyone actually did slip through the border fence.

But the incident highlighted the problem here: A first world army set against a militia whose military is a moveable feast. All the expensive F16s, the one ton bombs and the brilliant fighter pilots cannot take out a man with a rocket launcher on his back.

Israel may be pounding south Beirut, but the real goal seems to be the creation of a Hezbollah-free buffer zone at the border. Fighter pilots at Ramat David Air Force Base told us the military would be part of the solution, but the rest of it would have to be political in nature. So it's not just a buffer zone Israel is after, it's a completely different relationship with Lebanon.

Israel wants to share a border, not a front.
Posted By Christiane Amanpour, CNN Senior Correspondent: 9:51 PM ET
  31 Comments
Hi Christiane,
Thank you for your reporting, it's always first rate..excellent..I still believe, that peace will only come when those that live there will agree to live side by side without anger and hate..I know many people, even Americans, who do not agree with me..That's ok..It's just my opinion that in the long run, a bomb will never solve what words can achieve..I hope for the best for them all..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 10:36 PM ET
Christiane -

Great writing and thank you as well for the wonderful reporting... ...we all pray for the day - your talents will be put to a happier use.

Bless you & do be careful, dear friend.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Rancho Mirage, CA. : 10:55 PM ET
Christiane,

You are an amazing journalist, probably one of the best in the world... Keep the great work.

At what time you and the crew sleep? where? in hotels or private homes?

Fernando
Posted By Anonymous Fernando, Atlanta, GA : 11:30 PM ET
Be careful out there, Christiane, and, as always, thank you for the honest reporting.
Posted By Anonymous Jodi, McKinleyville California : 11:39 PM ET
Lets just put it this way. If I were ever to visit or stay in Israel for any reason, I would have a gun or three handy.

The natives are not friendly.

The surrounding neighbors are pissed.

Guns are in order.

From my cold............
Posted By Anonymous slm new york ny : 11:53 PM ET
Hi Christiane, I admire your courage in being in the Middle East to report the day-to-day events there. The civilians caught in the crossfire certainly have to protect and defend themselves. I am now listening to Anderson's interview with Gary Bernstein, former CIA operative, who makes a distinction between the military and terrorist components of Hezbollah. With everything that's happening, I understand Israel's desire to take out Hezbollah from its border, and maybe this is what needs to happen to come to some sort of resolution, but we all know it's more complicated than that. Please stay safe, and I hope you, Anderson, Nick, Sanjay, Paula, Soledad, and everyone else on the CNN team there (I don't know all their names) come home very, very soon.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Edmonds, WA : 12:00 AM ET
Christiane,
What type of protection do journalists like yourself have in Israel and Lebanon? It is frightening to think that you are basically on your own! We really appreciate the fabulous reporting all of you (including the crews) are doing! It may seem glamorous, but it is a job not many of us would have the courage to do. It is just too unpredictable. I cannot imagine what your families back home must be going through. Don't let your guard down, wear your safety gear. We won't think any less of you if you do. Take care.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio : 12:04 AM ET
Christiane,
You and your comrades are doing an amazing job. I particularly appreciate your impartial reporting, although I know your personal opinions must be quite passionate. I look forward to your pieces, knowing they will be concise, clear and accurate reporting. Keep up the great work. Praying for your safety in Palm Springs.
Posted By Anonymous Carole Mendelsohn, Palm Springs, California : 12:22 AM ET
This is a thank you from an international viewer to all reporters @ CNN who put their lives on the line to report to the rest of us and give us a better understanding of the conflicts around the world!
You keep it "fair and balanced" when other networks don't ;-) Someone in marketing: please help FOX NEWS out with a new slogan bc the current is an insult on my intelligence.
Thank you to ALL REPORTERS for your hard work and bravery.

CNN: "less sensationalism - just truth"
Posted By Anonymous Dani, Baltimore, US : 1:32 AM ET
Yes, I would hope that Israel is after a different relationship with Lebanon. Perhaps this relationship could be a joint effort to erradicate this monstrous terrorist faction. But it is time for a cease-fire. Lebanon is being destroyed. There are humanitarian issues at play now. Innocent people are the most affected. Can world leaders put aside differences for mankind? I'm not sure the answer is "yes." Kudos on your reporting; it is always enlightening. Stay safe, brave lady.
Posted By Anonymous Bob H.; San Antonio TX : 1:56 AM ET
Christiane, thank you for constantly reporting from the hot zones around the globe and making us all a little smarter.You are very brave and I admire you a great deal.

I hate to be pessimistic, but at this point, I don't see an end to this conflict.
What good will a buffer zone do? Where there is a will , there is a way; and violent minds are a creative force to be reckoned with.
The Israelis are certainly not making friends in the arab world by killing hundreds of innocent people . More resentment and hatred is created with every bomb that falls.
Don't know how this is going to end.

Please stay safe!
Thank you for your good work.
Posted By Anonymous Minou, Los Angeles,CA : 1:57 AM ET
Christian,

We all watched this conflict for the past 10 days escalating. As expected the result is damage and hurt on both sides. When is the diplomatic effort going to start? Why are the leaders of the world sitting on the side line? What are they waiting for?


I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent reporting. You are on of my favorite correspondents. I am always fascinated by your eloquent analysis.

As a news junky, I chose CNN to be my primary source of daily news because of journalists like you who really are focus on reporting the story and has extensive experience covering stories through out the world.

You do make all women proud and I have great deal of respect for you.

Take care
Posted By Anonymous Hanna San Francisco, CA : 3:00 AM ET
Israel has to attack Lebanon.

The Lebanese, almost all of whom are innocent bystanders, get the short end of the stick.

In many ways, Israel pummeling Lebanon helps Hizbollah more than it does Israel.

What is Israel to do? It can't let forces based in a foreign country invade it's territory, kill it's soldiers, take hostages, and rocket it's towns. Diplomacy is not the answer. Hizbollah has made no attempt to bargain with Israel. - I dismiss the prisoner swaps as appeasement. They will only embolden Hizbollah in the long run.

Israel has 3 choices:
1) Do nothing - and be humiliated and attacked again and again.
2) Make a deal with Hizbollah - and have Hizbollah crow about their victory for years to come, using the concessions as a recruiting tool as well as justification for future attacks.
3) The remaining choice is an armed response. It may create and solidify enemies of Israel. It has obvious high costs in blood and gold. But it is the only choice that Israel can hope will stop the violence. The Israelis, along with the world, now have the horrible task of deciding how much is enough.
Posted By Anonymous Natasha Anthony, Allen TX : 3:04 AM ET
Food for thought Ms. Amanpour. In reading how the Lebanese do not support the Hezbollah movement, then when you describe the lone man in the militia that has a rocket launcher on his back.... Hmmm.... If the Lebanese are true to their word in that they do not support the Hezbollah militia, then why are they not taking oput the lone militia man one by one (What is the worth of that pistol)? Or maybe even signaling the Israeli Soldier where they can locate the militant? The sooner that Lebanon can rid themselves of the Hezbollah, the sooner that peace may become a reality..... Israel, you are doing the right thing. Shoot straight, strike hard!!
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Las Cruces, New Mexico : 4:08 AM ET
Hey AC,
Good to hear from you again from Beirut..i have been following this middle-east crisis very closely for the past few days on CNN and BBC.

It is really weird how this whole thing has developed into..both country are bombing one another,killing innocent and unarmed civilians along the way while leaving many others displaced with little help.

Ceasefire has been ordered but it seems like this will not happen anytime soon due to both the Hezbollah and Israel not wanting to negotiate. Many more lifes will be lost if an immediate solution is not found quickly.

Hezbollah seems to be the problem here..they seems to me to be acting on their own instead of in the country's interest.PM of Lebanon even mentioned that Hezbollah do not represent Lebanon in this crisis.

SO,is Hezbollah really the problem here???
Posted By Anonymous Jing Koon, Kuala Lumpur : 4:14 AM ET
Makes good sense. Citizens of Israel are *encouraged* to carry arms to protect themselves. Law abiding citizens should be able to protect themselves, especially where kidnappings and other violent crimes may happen. The IDF (or Police in general for that matter) cannot be there to protect every citizen of the country from attacks/kidnapping from Hezbollah, terrorists, or criminals in general. What a horror to be a citizen, not involved in this action and to be kidnapped. I do hope that this situation resolves itself peacefully, and very soon, and continue to pray for the citizens of Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous John W. Memphis, TN : 4:19 AM ET
"The value of a pistol in an Israeli border town" - a very good article. Very rare for ideology of CNN, very true to reality. And I hope the line "Israel wants to share a border, not a front" will change the way people percept Israel even in light (or darkness) of recent events.
Posted By Anonymous Evgeniy, NYC, NY : 4:31 AM ET
Christiane,

I admire your courage and well researched and articulate reports, especially from the Middle East. I am in awe of your ability to be in such volatile parts of the world with no fear or hesitation. Please stay safe and thank you for what you provide to the public.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy S., Seattle, WA : 4:56 AM ET
Wow. You and Anderson help renew my beleagured confidence in journalism.
Posted By Anonymous Andy, DeKalb, IL : 5:34 AM ET
I knew that lady! I was posted at the Metulla border crossing in my soldier days. My wife came up to visit one weekend, and we spent the night at her hotel. She gave us her worst room and refused to give us the included breakfast in the morning! And she's got a gun? Oy Vay.
Posted By Anonymous Yehoshua Ben David Los Angeles, CA : 5:37 AM ET
Christiane, as always, excellent reporting and getting to the heart of any story.

I pray that you and your crew to "watch your backs" and keep up the excellent work. God Speed!
Posted By Anonymous Michelle R, Memphis, TN : 7:41 AM ET
Please give equal airtime to Lebanese or Lebanese-Americans who want to voice their outrage with Hezbollah's stronghold on their society. Surely there are many.

The Lebanese civilians are not being attacked by Israel, although CNN would portray it that way. The Hezbollah are cowardly and shadowy, HIDING behind civilians - USING them as shields, so that they can falsely accuse Israel of harming civilians. By showing mock outrage at civilan casualties, they make Israel out to be the bad guys. That's wrong and CNN must show it.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 10:38 AM ET
The source of the problem is being avoided. iran and syria. These 2 need to be hurt so that they will never threaten anyone.

Sooner or later this will have to happen.

Why not do it now and be finished with the problem?
Posted By Anonymous AMS, Newark, NJ : 11:06 AM ET
Hi Christiane,
I'm discovering through this conflict what a great reporter you are.
If it is a border they want to share with Lebanon, It is going to take a lot of talking to established a relationship with people who you have destroy their country a few times now.
It can be done, it has to be done. But so muche hurt has been inflicted on the citizens of Lebanon. It will take a lot, and Israel is going to have to prove to Lebanon and the rest of the world that their gold is only to go after Hizbollah.

Take care
Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 11:20 AM ET
Dear CHristiane,

You are a very brave woman to roam in war territory.
I have a suspicion that the Islamic leaders from the Islamic Nations are in a process in tightening up their alliances with each other and they see Lebanon and Israel as eyesores/obstacles in doing this process. And I believe that Israel and Lebanon have been played out against each other by Syria through Hezbollah, to destroy each other�s nations in population and infrastructure.
How do you think about that?
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 11:34 AM ET
Hello Christiane. I hope you are doing well and staying safe. I worry about you CNN reporters and would hate to see anything happen to any of you, but I guess that's just part of your job. I am so discouraged by the news I watch on CNN faithfully every night. What's it going to take to end this war in the Middle East? Or is it ever going to end? Keep up the good reporting work. Take care.
Posted By Anonymous Julie, Sacramento, CA : 11:55 AM ET
Christiane,

Thank you so much for all your great reporting. I have followed your reporting for years and truly look up to you. You are my hero and my eyes and ears in places that I can not be at, and sometimes do no want to be at...Are you or your team allowed to carry any guns? Please be safe.
Posted By Anonymous Adri, Harleysville, PA : 3:46 PM ET
I am having a hard time sympathizing with Lebanon. If we had a militia group in the US who were comiting terrorist acts across the boarder into Mexico I don't believe that we could tell the Mexican government that we have no control over what those guys are doing, and besides they do nice things for us like building schools and hospitals. Perhaps the price for those nice things is higher than Lebanon would care to pay.
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Lubbock TX : 4:10 PM ET
Thank you all at CNN for your excellent reporting, stay light.
I feel that Israel should defend themselves and prevent future attacks on their soil, at this point it seems that a small invasion on the border is the only avenue to take since Libanese officials are sympathizing with the terrorist group. In the end we are better off without them, we would take much more extreme measures if we were being attacked in the U.S., I know I would.
Posted By Anonymous Luis, Phoenix, AZ. : 7:50 PM ET
Christiane -

You summed it up. Israel wants a border, not a front.

That's all it ever wanted since 1948. That is the dream of the founders of the modern State of Israel.

I wish the rest of the world could see that ... not just the United States.
Posted By Anonymous BST, Atlanta, GA : 12:50 PM ET
Christianne, If Israel really wants a border not a front, the solution is really really easy. Stop Crossing the blue line (Air, land & Sea), give us back our prisonners, and the shebaa farms. After that, no one on either side of the border (not the front) would even think of carrying a gun.
Posted By Anonymous Ramzi, Beirut Lebanon : 5:41 AM ET
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