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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Lieberman's Defeat and the Democratic Party; Hezbollah Leader Defiant; Israeli Soldiers Get Green Light For New Offensive Against Hezbollah; Hezbollah Remains Secretive Organization; American Killed Fighting for Israel
Aired August 9, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: tracers in the air, tanks and troops on the move, diplomacy at a standstill. It is a growing war out there tonight -- the only question, how much bigger is it going to get?
ANNOUNCER: Israeli troops get the green light for a major new push. When will they go? Where will they go? And is time running out for diplomacy?
Inside Hezbollah's message machine -- what you don't know about how it works and how it sees the world.
And, Joe, say it ain't so. Senator Joe Lieberman's party lines up to disown him -- what his primary defeat says about Democratic chances come November.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 29."
Reporting tonight from northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Thanks very much for joining.
And those watching around the world on CNN International, thanks for watching as well.
Tonight, the sounds of war are unmistakable all around us, howitzers firing, shells landing, tanks rolling, troops on the move.
COOPER: You can hear the shelling behind me. This has been going on all night long. We have been watching tracer fire light up the night sky, hitting nearby mountainsides, battles under way, the fighting intensify.
Events are moving quickly. Safe to say, some of it is cloaked, not just in darkness, but secrecy as well. There's much we know, much we don't know, as well.
Let's get you up with the latest in the 360 "War Bulletin.'
Stepped-up action tonight all along the border and deeper into Lebanon -- according to Israeli sources, however, this is not -- I repeat, not -- the wider push that Israel's war cabinet approved today. That appears to be on hold. For diplomacy or other reasons, we simply don't yet know.
Meantime, Hezbollah rocket launches again numbered at least 160. Up to four landed in the West Bank. Three people suffered minor injuries out on the battlefield. Fifteen IDF soldiers died in action, for Israel, the worst single day of the war.
And the White House today side -- said neither side should escalate the fighting. Meantime, senior administration officials are calling a vote tomorrow on a U.N. cease-fire resolution -- they are saying that, in their words, a vote tomorrow would be unlikely.
And, as we said, the battle seems to be raging behind me on this hill. All throughout this next two hours, no doubt, you will be able to watch the tracer fire going, that shelling from giant howitzer tanks, which have been -- or artillery pieces, I should say, which have been firing, lobbing those .155-millimeter shells, which we have been watching now for several hours.
You can also hear the sounds of heavy automatic fire, heavy machine gun fire. We do not know exactly the status of the battle, but it -- it has been going fast and furious now for several hours. It sure has.
John Roberts reporting elsewhere from the border on the day's action.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The intensity of the ground war kicked up another notch today, as Israeli forces battled for control of territory just north of the town of Metulla.
It is the eastern-most front of the war, an area dotted with Arab villages, where the Israeli army says Hezbollah is well dug in. Tank, artillery, and rocket fire rain down ahead of the advancing force. Israeli troops move along the ridgelines, taking the high ground, while heavy armor rolls in to provide covering fire.
(on camera): We have been watching this valley and the surrounding hills for the past week now. We have seen a lot of artillery softening up Hezbollah positions, and some small cross- border incursions. But, in just the past 24 hours, there has been a significant increase in the amount of activity here -- hundreds of Israeli troops streaming across the border, backed by tanks and armor.
And now that the Israeli political leadership has approved an expansion of the ground campaign, this may be just a small part of what's ahead in the coming days. OLIVIER RAFOWICZ, SPOKESPERSON, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: The Israeli army is ready for any eventuality. We're continuing to fight Hezbollah and to make the job, because we need to protect our population. We need to protect our people. We need to protect our state.
ROBERTS (voice-over): The amount of armor on the border has risen dramatically, an almost nonstop flow of tanks and troop carriers to the front lines. Much of it is massed in the eastern and northern sectors, an indication the Israeli army may be preparing for a drive to Lebanon's Litani River, which, this far north, is only three miles away.
There is broad support among the Israeli people for an expansion of the ground war, an operation that would take on Hezbollah face to face and, they hope, avoid the grim images of civilian casualties in Lebanon produced by the air campaign.
Privately, some army officers admit, it was a mistake to rely too much on airpower in the early going, and that a massive ground campaign should have been launched from the beginning.
Military sources say, fighting on the ground may also be a better way to root out those short-range Katyusha rocket launch sites. More than 170 fell in northern Israel today, including this hit, about a half-a-mile from where a rocket killed 12 soldiers on Sunday.
There were no deaths today, but the number of Katyusha strikes remains terrifyingly high. An expansion of the ground war would also likely mean more casualties for the Israeli army. It was the military's deadliest day yet. Fifteen soldiers died today in fierce clashes with guerrillas in places the army has been pounding for days.
Hezbollah has shown it will not run in the face of Israeli armor. And, as troops march deeper into Lebanon, each new advance will present grave new risks.
COOPER: John, as we continue to watch this battle rage behind me, and -- and the sounds of -- of the shelling echoing throughout the night, what happens next? I mean, we -- we have seen troops massing along the border. The war cabinet says they can go to the Litani River. Is that -- is that going to happen?
ROBERTS: Oddly enough, what we see going on behind both you and I, and what we have been watching here for the -- almost the last 36 hours, is being described by Israeli officials as one of those pinpoint operations, that this is not the major expansion in the ground campaign that the security cabinet voted on.
For the next 48 to 72 hours, the Israelis say that they're going to let the diplomatic track proceed. What they're using this as right now is a lever, a stick, if you will, against Lebanon's elected government, to say: You have seen what we're doing so far. Imagine what will happen if we expand the ground campaign. So, it's in your interests to reach a negotiated settlement to end the hostilities.
But I will -- I will tell you, Anderson, by what we have seen in the last night, if they do expand this ground campaign, it's going to be hellfire all over southern Lebanon.
COOPER: It -- it certainly sounds that way.
John Roberts, we will talk to you again shortly.
We want to move now further north, into Lebanon, talk about what is happening there.
As we know, the fighting has been intense, Hezbollah putting up a strong fight, indeed. They have had years to prepare their positions. Their fighters are well-trained and well-armed. And they're certainly fighting back in many ways.
CNN's Michael Ware has been covering the action. He got a unique angle on it from the Bekaa Valley, where he reports tonight.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On these ridges, amid these rocks, a wealth of natural defensive positions.
Blood flows on this well-chosen ground, where Hezbollah is making a stand, and where the Israelis attack and attack, unleashing endless airstrikes, driving hardened troops into these hills and valleys, punching into Hezbollah's fortified villages, but, so far, rarely staying.
With the assault on southern Lebanon widening, there may be a move for a more lasting Israeli presence, a possible shift to a strategy of seize-and-hold. And, from this little-seen view of the battle along the eastern border, witnessed from the Lebanese side, it's easier to grasp how rugged and unforgiving this fight must be.
(on camera): For 18 years, this hilltop was an Israeli army outpost, full of troops, ladened with bunkers, protected by armor, the scene of many battles.
And it's from here you can see the ground being fought over now. A few miles in that direction are the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. Just down this valley is Khayyam. And over that ridgeline, past a U.N. observer position, is Marjayoun, both held by Hezbollah, now under Israeli attack and heavy bombardment.
(voice-over): Under his shirt, this taxi driver from southern Lebanon is marked by wounds from conflicts past.
ABU RAAD, LEBANESE TAXI DRIVER (through translator): They closed the road between Bekaa and south of Lebanon. No one can travel to the Bekaa.
WARE: Memories revived by the war he's living through now.
RAAD (through translator): At first, attacks targeted the road itself. Now they're after any sort of car.
WARE: This terrain and the six years since the end of the occupation hand Hezbollah the defensive advantage in what's clearly an uphill battle for the Israelis.
COOPER: And -- and, Michael, you are still in the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah territory. Have you seen any -- any Lebanese troops there?
WARE: Yes, Anderson.
Throughout the Bekaa, there are contingents of Lebanese army. And, today, when we were in southern Lebanon, literally just a few miles from the Israeli border, the scene of some of these intense attacks on places such as Marjayoun, there is a very, very strong Lebanese army presence.
They have created a perimeter around the battle space. And they appear to be there in depth. We also signs -- we also saw several signs of troop mobilization, so that, should the Israeli -- the Lebanese government feel the need to follow through on its offer to push 15,000 troops into southern Lebanon, into the combat zone, it appears that they are preparing those forces, in case they do -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Michael Ware, stay safe. Thanks very much, Michael.
We head from Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, today. The thing, of course, is, no one knows where exactly he is, although, these days, the only place he appears is suddenly on television.
Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): Sitting before the flags of Hezbollah and Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel, saying, his fighters will not give up.
HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): As long as there's a bullet, as long as there's a grenade, as long as there's a rocket, as long as there's ability to fight, they are still fighting.
COOPER: Nasrallah vowed to turn southern Lebanon into a graveyard for Israeli soldiers. And he gave a warning to Arabs living in the northern Israeli town of Haifa, which has been bombarded by rockets.
NASRALLAH (through translator): We are saddened, and we're still sad for your martyrs and your wounded ones. And I call on you to leave this city.
COOPER: Nasrallah also criticized diplomatic efforts by the U.S. and France to end the fighting, saying, the draft resolution currently being debated at the U.N. gives Israel an unfair advantage. But he said he wants what he calls the Israeli aggression to stop, and backed the Lebanese government's proposal to send 15,000 of their own troops to the border.
NASRALLAH (through translator): If everybody sees that having the army in the south would help. That would create a political solution. it will be a national army, and not invasion forces or mercenary forces or forces that will adhere to the enemy, the national army will operate by the orders of the government, and this meaning we accept this.
COOPER: Well, as we mentioned, today was the deadliest day yet for the Israeli military, 15 Israeli soldiers killed in fighting. That is not the only somber land -- landmark that was reached today.
Here's a quick look at the "Raw Data."
More than -- today, for the first time since the crisis began, the Israeli military reported that the number of Israelis killed is above 100. In fact, it has reached 120. Thirty-eight of those are civilians. More than 700 Israelis have been wounded. Lebanese internal security forces report today that at least 827 Lebanese have been (AUDIO GAP) again, most of those civilians. And more than 3,200 Lebanese have been wounded.
And, as the fighting continues to rage tonight, we will cover what's happening on the ground in south Lebanon as well. And we will get our -- our reporters from the region in a roundtable, covering the latest from all the angles.
COOPER: Just some of the intensive fighting we have been watching all night long. And, as dawn is starting to break, the shelling continues. So does that tracer fire and the sound of tanks moving in the -- the early-morning light.
We want to convene our roundtable of the correspondents in the region to get the latest from all the angles.
John King is covering diplomatic efforts out of Washington. John Roberts is here along the border with me. And Michael Ware is in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Thanks, all, for joining us.
John King, let's start off with you, as we often do every night.
The latest on the diplomatic efforts -- where do things stand?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it appears the parties were getting further apart, not closer together today.
The key significant difference is, what about that international force, and if an international force goes in, and the Lebanese army comes out, when would the Israelis withdraw? The French have now signed on, essentially, with the Arab countries, saying that, if Lebanon will deploy its army south, then the Israelis should leave as that army moves south.
The United States is saying, no way. It does not think the Lebanese army is -- either can or is willing to disarm, contain Hezbollah. So, it says the international force has to be in place before the Israelis pull out, or as part of the Israeli pullout. So, it's a key difference between the United States and France -- Ambassador Bolton, at the U.N., saying tonight, they worked out a difficult issue before, and found the first compromise. Maybe they can get it done again, Anderson.
But we talked last night. There will be no vote Thursday. Now, they're hoping for a vote Friday -- but the force, the Israeli withdrawal, still significant differences. And they -- as of late tonight, they don't appear to be close to resolving them.
COOPER: So, John King, in -- in essence, the -- the Lebanese forces don't want to be mixing with Israeli forces. They want Israel to hand over the reins, the power, the keys, to UNIFIL, to the U.N., and then U.N. to south Leb -- to Lebanese forces; is that correct?
KING: That's a key part of it.
And there was a U.S. envoy in Beirut today talking about this with the Lebanese prime minister, essentially saying, no, the United States would not support a full Israeli withdrawal, when the United Nations votes to have a cessation of hostility, but, perhaps, they can come up with some triggers: As the Lebanese army reaches point A, the Israelis pull back to point B, and so on and so forth, until they're gone.
But there's -- there's that to be worked out with the Lebanese. But there's also a big issue to be worked out with the French. And we're beginning to hear from U.S. officials their belief that France, which had said it would agree to lead this force, perhaps is trying to limit the exposure of its troops, saying that it thinks you could get away with a smaller U.N. force. It doesn't think that force needs such a robust mandate.
And the United States is saying: Absolutely not. That force has to be in on the ground for the -- before the Israelis can pull out.
And, Anderson, they're saying that even more loudly tonight, after that speech by Nasrallah that you reported on earlier, because, in that speech, he said he agreed the Lebanese army should go south, but he also had very harsh words for any international troops, saying he didn't want -- didn't want any army taking orders from foreign countries in Lebanon.
COOPER: John Roberts, despite the -- the intense fighting we have been watching along this border tonight, Israel says this is not the -- the new number of troops that they have authorized to move into south Lebanon.
Do we know when those troops will move in and/or what would cause them to move in? When will that and how will that decision be made?
ROBERTS: Unclear at this point, Anderson.
I -- I talked with Miri Eisin, who is the Israeli government spokesperson, earlier this evening. And she said, look, there -- there may not be a need for an expanded ground campaign, if the diplomatic track is successful.
I said: Well, how long will you wait to see if the diplomatic track successful? And -- and she just -- she wouldn't even go there.
But it would seem that, if there isn't something on the table within the next few days, let's say maybe Sunday or Monday of next week, then, Israel could decide that this isn't working; it's got to go in and do it on its own terms.
But, for the moment, at least, it wants the diplomatic track to move forward. It wants to use the threat of a broadened ground invasion, which would increase the number of boots on the ground by about 50 percent, to 15,000, wants to use that as a -- as a lever, as pressure on the Siniora government to say: This is what is in store for you, if you don't come to the table and negotiate an end to hostilities. So, you have got a -- a short window of time to decide what to do.
And, you know, I think that the Israelis are trying to encourage him to say: Look it, an end to hostilities is in everybody's interest.
And -- and don't forget, Anderson, it's very costly, this war, for Israel, as well. A lot of people have died here. They lost 15 soldiers today. The economy in the northern part of Israel is really under stress. And it's in their interests to end it quickly, too.
But there seems to be a real resolve here in Israel that they want to make sure that the situation on the ground changes.
Hearing helicopters in the air now, which is unusual. Usually, helicopters are only used for two things, either evacuating the wounded or in -- inserting special forces. So, don't quite know what that is all about, but that's a different sound than we have heard for the last 30 hours -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, it certainly is.
Michael, one of the other sounds we heard earlier tonight was Hassan Nasrallah on television, talking, defiant, also filled with resolve. How was his speech received where you were in Lebanon?
WARE: Well, Anderson, obviously, the -- this is an area where Hassan Nasrallah has enormous support. So, anything that he says is warmly received. And the resolve of the Hezbollah fighters and the Hezbollah support base throughout the Bekaa, and particularly in southern Lebanon, where we were today, remains resolute.
This afternoon, we were on the battlefield, just literally a few miles from where John Roberts is now standing, except on the Lebanese side of the border.
So, the -- the fire -- this firepower that was being unleashed from John's end was coming down on ours. And there wasn't any faltering among the fighters, nor the supporters, here in southern Lebanon for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah -- Anderson.
COOPER: What was the battlefield like? I mean, what -- what were the fighters like? How was their -- you -- you said they were standing and fighting. Was -- was that across the board?
WARE: Well, certainly, Anderson, it's very, very difficult to get to the battlefield, particularly from the Lebanese side.
You need to run the gauntlet of the Israeli airpower, going -- taking the risk of -- of being hit by an Israeli airstrike. There's -- most of southern Lebanon has been declared a free-fire zone.
But, from where we were, on the outskirts of Marjayoun, we were prevented only by a last-gasp Lebanese army checkpoint from entering the town. And what we could tell there is that the fighting was raging. As the Israeli fire rained down, Hezbollah maintained its positions. We could tell that they are dug in and that they are prepared to -- to further this battle -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right.
Michael Ware, John Roberts, John King, we will check in with you in the next hour, as well.
When we come back, we will have a lot more from this region, also on the political front in the United States -- a defeat for Senator Joseph Lieberman. Last night, we brought that to you. Now his decision to run as an independent, what does that mean for the Democratic Party, and what does that mean for Joe Lieberman?
COOPER: Well, turnout for yesterday's Democratic primary in Connecticut was 43 percent. That's the highest in -- in -- in history for a Democratic primary in Connecticut. Of course, Joe Lieberman lost last night. He had said he would run as an independent. Now, that seems to be in question.
CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Connecticut Democrats gathered for a family portrait Wednesday, unity, minus one.
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Joe Lieberman has been a good senator. He has served our state well over the years. And I'm confident that he can find tremendous results and -- and success in whatever else he chooses to do.
CROWLEY: It may not be your definition of a good friend, but, when voters come out in record numbers to vote against the war, defeat a powerful incumbent, and replace him with a guy out of nowhere, it is the definition of a good politician to go with it.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I will be sending a contribution to Mr. Lamont today. I have called to offer whatever support he needs.
CROWLEY: It's enough to make a guy rethink the whole thing.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I -- I will respectfully say, no, no, no. I am in this race to the end.
CROWLEY: He has loyalists, like fellow moderate Senator Ben Nelson, who support his choice.
But most Democrats lined up like dominoes behind Lamont, with a heavy contingent of '08ers, Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Bayh, etcetera.
Mr. Lamont is all the rage, and his blogging friends enjoy some new shine, empowered and elevated by their first major scalp.
CAROL GARR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: They're going to be more active. And the -- the politicians in Washington, you know, who aren't listening, who aren't in touch with the rest of the country, you know, they're about to meet this online tidal wave.
CROWLEY: They're flexing their keyboards, from liberal blogs to the Web site of left-wing activist Michael Moore, who had a specific warning for Hillary Clinton.
"You and Joe," he wrote, "have been Bush's biggest Democratic supporters of the war. Last night's voter revolt took place just a few miles from your home in Chappaqua. Did you hear the noise? Can you read the writing on the wall?"
It is just the kind of rhetoric, just the sort of people Republicans can make something of.
KEN MEHLMAN, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Today's Democratic Party too often has become the "Defeatocrat Party." And people like Joe Lieberman aren't welcome. Who is? Ned Lamont, a man whose entire campaign is based on retreating from the terrorists in Iraq. CROWLEY: The vice president, known for upping the ante, suggested to reporters, the troubling thing about Lieberman's defeat is what it signals to al Qaeda, who he says is betting it can break the will of the American people.
Lieberman supporters warned early on that Republicans would use his defeat to their advantage. It is certain now they will at least try.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, a lot to talk about with our good friend David Gergen, adviser to presidents, both Democrat and Republican. And he joins me from Boston tonight.
David, thanks for being with us.
I -- I guess not a great surprise, but does Joe Lieberman actually think he can win as -- as an independent? Do you think he's going to follow through on it?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, he thinks he can win, Anderson.
But, tonight, he's very angry, still. And there are many Democrats who believe that, as he cools down, he may take a second look. There are a couple of things that they are pointing to that he will want to look at. One is what the polls will say about a three- way race.
There was one poll a few weeks ago that said he would easily win a three-way race. There was another poll about a few days ago that said it would be 40/40 with Lamont. So, it's not obvious he would win. If you see a poll, and the exit polls just out of the Democratic Party said 61 percent of Democrats didn't want him to run again in Connecticut.
So, if you see polls in the next week or so that say he's behind Lamont in a three-way, that will also then have a big ripple effect on the -- the financial backers that he needs. He can't self-finance a campaign. Lamont can.
So, Joe Lieberman is going to need outside financing. If the polls are bad, and the financing is bad, and his head cools down, there are a lot of Democrats who believe he may still withdrawal.
COOPER: Just an amazing turn of events.
COOPER: You -- you were talking about the ripples. Where -- where do the ripples of this go, in terms of the Democratic Party, U.S. foreign policy? Where is it most noticeable?
GERGEN: Well, I think it is going to have an immediate impact upon pressures on -- on the president, on the Bush White House, from politicians.
I think you are going to see a lot of pressure now from the Democrats. They will step up the pressure to end this war in some way.
I think it's probably going to express itself now more in; Mr. President, what's your plan B in Iraq? What is your backup plan?
There's no obvious backup plan. And you ask a lot of people, and they say, we don't have a backup plan.
But, you know, if something is not working, you have got to have a backup plan. I think there is going to be a lot of pressure on him to do that. I do think this is going to be a milestone, a -- a turning point, away from adventurism in foreign policy. There will be a lot of politicians who will come from an opposing party who will not be as anxious to rush in and help a president for future adventures like Iraq. I think that's very, very clear.
Anderson, there -- the smart money says in terms of Democratic politics it's going to send a shock wave through the party. You're going to see people like John Edwards, you know, moving even further away from the president. He embraced Lamont today.
The smart money says it may really in the end help Al Gore. Interestingly enough, Al Gore...
COOPER: Al Gore?
GERGEN: Because Hillary is now caught in this crossfire, Hillary Clinton is caught in this crossfire with the bloggers versus the more established figures around her, and it's going to be awkward for her.
Al Gore is the one figure who is strong, a heavyweight who came out early against the war in Iraq, has been consistently against it, has a lot of other things that can take advantage of this blogging tidal wave as it was described by somebody earlier in your program. And, you know, he -- it's not clear.
He's been very ambivalent about whether he would do it or not, but the smart money says that Al Gore is more closely allied with the MoveOn.org groups, the leftist liberal groups. And he's been a bit of a hawk. As you know, he voted for the first Persian Gulf War, so he could have it in both ways, in effect, as a candidate. He just got this popular movie out. So I would not be surprised if we hear more from Al Gore and more about Al Gore in the next few weeks.
COOPER: Fascinating. David Gergen, thanks for joining us. A lot more to talk about -- a lot more to talk about here going on in the Middle East.
As you can see, tracer fire still lighting up this morning's sky. The battle still continues to rage. And, frankly, only seems to be getting more intense and only likely to get more intense in the next couple days.
Israeli troops massing along the border, and they have the go ahead when Israel decides to push all the way to the Litani River.
A lot more to cover here. But first let's check in with the day's other top stories. Tom Foreman with a 360 bulletin -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson.
Three of 11 students who went AWOL after arriving in the U.S. are in federal custody tonight. The students who were supposed to be at school in Montana are being held for violating immigration rules. Two turned themselves in in New Jersey. The third was arrested in Minnesota. The FBI is looking for the remaining eight.
Four Iraqi men have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll. A military spokesman says the arrest happened in May in several raids between Fallujah and Baghdad. She was working for the "Christian Science Monitor", was kidnapped in Baghdad in early January and released nearly three months later.
Here's what she said about the ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL CARROLL, FORMER HOSTAGE: They said they were going to move me to this other house. I thought maybe -- that it was a lie to keep me calm because they were just going to drive me off somewhere and shoot me in the head because they thought I'd brought these soldiers near the house. It was my fault this had happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: The Statue of Liberty's crown is to remain closed to tourists. Lady Liberty's head gear has been off limits since the September 11 attacks. Some lawmakers want it reopened, but the National Park Service says fears of terrorism and a fire make it too risky.
And finally, a senior British tabloid editor is one of two men charged with tapping phone messages left for Prince Charles' staff. A third man has also been arrested in connection with that case. London's antiterrorist police say they have not ruled out the fact that others may also have been bugged. The men, meanwhile, had been released on bail for the time being -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Tom, thanks very much. We'll check in with you again shortly.
As you can tell, behind me, dawn is now approaching rapidly. We continue to see tracer fire, but you can also see just over my shoulder some fires which are now burning on the side of the hill. You can also hear birds chirping, signaling that the sun is coming. This is a common sight. Every morning when the sun first comes up, you kind of scan the hillsides and look to see how many fires have started. No way to tell if those are from incoming Hezbollah rockets, as if often the case here in Northern Israel or if that's from Israeli fire on other positions in Lebanon.
When we come back, why is it so difficult to talk to Hezbollah? We heard from Hassan Nasrallah tonight. That is a rarity. We'll take a look at the secretive organization next on 360.
COOPER: A hundred more Israeli troops moved across the border with Lebanon earlier tonight. They were backed by tanks and heavy -- heavy artillery fire, as well. Let's get you up to the minute information in our 360 war bulletin. Here's what we know.
The Israeli security cabinet gave the go ahead to widen the ground offense against Hezbollah. Today, Israel launched a heavy barrage of fire to Southern Lebanon, but denies a large scale operation is underway.
Moves toward a diplomatic solution, they are dragging on. U.S. officials say it's now unlikely that a vote on a draft proposal will go ahead tomorrow as hoped.
A sticking point, Israel's immediate withdrawal from Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke about that today. He spoke out saying he wants the Israeli aggression, as he called it, to stop. But warned if it continues, he'll turn the region into a graveyard for Israeli soldiers.
Already in the last 24 hours, 15 Israeli soldiers were killed in combat. That is the worst single day -- worst single amount of fatalities in one day for Israeli forces so far. And that was fighting very close along this border.
We've been looking at how both sides deal with the media throughout this coverage. Heard, as we mentioned -- tonight we heard from Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah. No one really knows exactly where he is. He sort of pops up on television, makes his fiery speeches and then is silent and disappears.
Hezbollah is very secretive in how they deal with the military. Access is extremely limited. We asked CNN's Randi Kaye to look into why.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are two sides to every story. But for journalists covering the war in the Middle East, getting Hezbollah's side may depend on where you're standing.
VALI NASR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Being physically in Israel, reporting with Israel, that means you have connections there and that means that you are with them. Therefore, you will not be unbiased, and there is no point in talking with you.
KAYE: That's apparently how Hezbollah sees it. Talking to an Israeli is, by law, an act of treason in Lebanon. In 1993 Miss Lebanon was charged with treason for posing in a picture with Miss Israel.
But Hezbollah takes it one step further, by sometimes refusing to talk with western journalists reporting from Israel. Like CNN's Anderson Cooper, who has had requests denied. Was it because he was standing on Israeli soil?
BEN WEDEMAN, CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Hezbollah has a very tight security system that they don't want to put these out -- these people out into public and be seen as talking to anybody in Israel.
KAYE (on camera): This network makes daily requests to interview members of Hezbollah. Rarely are those interviews granted. And if they are, it may be because the show is not being broadcast from Israel but from CNN studios, like this one in the United States.
Israel, on the other hand, rarely turns down an interview request. But keep in mind, Israel is an established nation with a strong U.N. representation. Hezbollah is not a recognized government. It's a militia with few representatives who can talk to the media.
(voice-over) Arab television networks tell CNN Hezbollah is rarely granting them interviews during this conflict. Why the silence?
WEDEMAN: They are afraid of being killed. They don't want to give away any of their operational matters.
KAYE: Only when our correspondents travel to Lebanon, to Hezbollah's turf, will the group talk. But even then, Hezbollah's show and tells are well stage-managed. Take a look at Anderson Cooper's guided tour in Beirut.
COOPER (voice-over): We'd come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings. Once, when they thought we'd videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape.
KAYE: We didn't.
Hezbollah's suspicions date back to the Lebanese civil war when spies posing as journalists were used to collect information and launch attacks. Today Hezbollah is more interested in protecting itself than being interviewed on American television.
NASR: Its P.R. machine is not directed at scoring points with the west. It is directed at scoring points at home. And in fact, it sees any kind of attempt to win over the western mind as -- as a sign of weakness.
WEDEMAN: Really, Hezbollah is focused on an Arab/Islamic audience, because they realize that they are riding a wave of popularity. They've done something that no Arab army has ever been able to do, which is take Israel on, and, in a sense, fight them to a standstill.
KAYE: We tried to interview someone, anyone from Hezbollah for this story. No luck. So for those of you wondering why we don't have more interviews from Hezbollah, the answer is, we will keep trying.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: As always we have an open invitation from Hezbollah representatives to talk with us on this program.
When we come back, an American is being remembered tonight. There are many Americans here fighting on the side of Israel. One tonight in particular, an American is being remembered, 22-year-old, who Michael Levin died in combat here. And his parents say he died doing what he wanted to do. His story when we return.
COOPER: The aftermath of rockets being fired by Hezbollah into the northern region.
There are many Americans fighting for Israel in this conflict. You may not have known that. Some of them have already paid the ultimate cost. Some of them have already died in combat.
One young man, Michael Levin, was just 22 years old. He died last week in combat under Hezbollah rocket fire. We wanted you to hear his story and hear from his parents and those who knew him. One American, Michael Levin.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During war, there are always soldiers who stand out for their commitment. Michael Levin's parents call their son one of those soldiers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was not due to go to Lebanon. He argued to go to Lebanon.
CARROLL: Levin grew up here in suburban Philadelphia, but he always wanted to join the Israeli Defense Forces. Three years ago he signed up at age 19 and talked about it in a documentary.
MICHAEL LEVIN, KILLED IN LEBANON: It's a dream come true. Something I've wanted since I was a little kid. It's just -- there are no words to describe what it means to me.
CARROLL: Levin was home on leave when the conflict with Hezbollah broke out. His mother kissed him goodbye again, somehow feeling it would be the last time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really was, I guess, mother's intuition, that I really knew in my heart that I would not see him again.
CARROLL: Then three weeks ago Michael became one of the first American soldiers killed in action in Southern Lebanon, a victim of Hezbollah rocket fire.
MARK LEVIN, FATHER: Devastated would be an understatement. When we heard he was killed in Lebanon.
KEVIN WALOFF, FRIEND: I looked up to you so much and you were truly my hero.
CARROLL: Michael's best friend since childhood says he knew Michael felt a special calling for Israel.
WALOFF: No matter what anybody said, any of his friends said, he was going to go and there was no stopping him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is during the same period.
CARROLL: In trying to understand what led him to fight for Israel, look at this family. His grandfather was a World War II veteran. His other grandparents survived the Holocaust at Auschwitz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he knew how important that was, that had Israel existed then, there would have been a place for Jews to go and how important that is now.
CARROLL: Levin had no illusions that serving in the Israeli military would be easy.
MICHAEL LEVIN: That's the truth. No pain, no gain. You don't take the pain, you're not going to go into the best unit.
CARROLL: More than 2,000 showed up for his memorial service back in Pennsylvania. Hundreds also attended his funeral in Jerusalem. One of the Levins' toughest decisions was to lay their son to rest in the holy city.
MARK LEVIN: We thought it was important to grant Michael his final wish, which was to be buried in the city of a country that he loved so dealer and that he gave his life for.
CARROLL: A legacy for the Israeli soldier from Pennsylvania.
Jason Carroll, CNN, Holland, Pennsylvania.
COOPER: When we come back, we'll talk to one of Michael's friends, another American serving right now in the Israeli army. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Pictures of 22-year-old Michael Levin, an American who died fighting for the state of Israel. There are many Americans here who joined up with Israel.
One of them is with me now, who is also a friend of Michael Levin. She's 24. Why did you want to join the Israeli army?
DAVITA KUTSCHER, IDF RESERVIST: It was something I always knew I would do. I was born in Israel and I moved away at the age of seven. And...
COOPER: You grew up really in Long Island in New York, so you have dual citizenship.
KUTSCHER: I do.
KUTSCHER: I was born with dual citizenship. My mother was American. My father was Israeli. And from the day I left my family, I always said that I promised I'd come back and serve the army. It was never a doubt.
COOPER: There are some people who would say, why not serve the American armed forces?
KUTSCHER: I would have been equally proud to serve in the American army, but with Israel there's -- there's a beauty and an obligation to protect your own people, and here are battlefronts.
So if I travel half an hour from the border to my home, it really gives you a sense of who you're protecting, what you're protecting, not only the values and ideals, but the people. It's your family. It's your friends, your home.
There's also something about the Israeli army and you develop these relationships, you've been in these situations, then you understand a lot of the mentality of Israel in this society, the humor and the fear and the aggression. And I felt that, without serving the army, I wouldn't be as much a part of Israel.
COOPER: Absolutely. What was Michael like? I mean, you knew him. You met him in camp.
KUTSCHER: Yes. Michael was fantastic. He was vivacious. He was always excited, always smiling. And even after 48 hours of not sleeping, I never saw him frown. I never saw him lose momentum. He was always engaging people, total strangers, friends, making connections between friends. And everybody loved him and everybody appreciated him for all those qualities.
COOPER: Are you scared? I mean, being in the army, being here now?
KUTSCHER: No, I'm not scared. I think that if something was to happen, it will happen, and I'll just have to do my job and stay focused.
COOPER: What it's like being in the army for you? KUTSCHER: For me it was a very rewarding experience. I came here in order to join the spokesperson's unit. I wanted to apply my skills and education to protecting my country, and this was the best way I could do it.
I met great people. I learned about the army. I learned about the entire country. And I came away feeling that I had done everything I possibly could.
COOPER: Well, we appreciate you joining us, Davita Kutscher. Thank you very much. It's nice to meet you. All right.
When we come back, we'll have a lot more of the fighting in South Lebanon. Also the Iran connection, just how much does Iran pull the strings for Hezbollah? Stay tuned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're interested in slashing your mortgage, utility bills, and house work, you may want to give Jay Shafer a buzz. Claustrophobics, however, need not call.
In 1999, Shafer built himself a 100-square-foot house. That's smaller than a one-car garage. A year later he turned his passion for a greener, simpler life to a business.
JAY SHAFER, OWNER, TUMBLEWEED-TINY HOUSE CO.: It's the tiny house company, set out to design and build houses that meet people's needs without exceeding their needs.
Let's go inside and I'll show you around. There are three types of buyers that I get. Those people who want a free-standing edition behind their home. People who want a second home. And people who really want to live in these things full time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The former university art professor has built only 10 houses with munchkin measurements but he's sold 50 plans.
SHAFER: The biggest challenge so far has been just getting the word out that bigger is not necessarily better. Sometimes I still wonder if it's still worth the risk. It's a lot of work for not much monetary reward, but it's very rewarding to know I'm doing something I love. And in the future I'm hoping to build neighborhoods of small houses.
COOPER: Morning again on the edge of a battlefield, on the brink of growing deadly.
ANNOUNCER: On the move. Hundreds of Israeli tanks and troops. Concerns tonight the ground offensive could be getting bigger.
From Hezbollah's leader, a mixed message. He wants the Israeli aggression to stop. That's a peace effort, but he also says he's in (ph) a ground war to a make a graveyard for the enemy.
Then, while on the streets, people run for their lives. The young and old caught in the crossfire. Is it ever justified? This is a special edition of ANDERSON 360, "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 29."
Reporting tonight from Northern Israel, here's Anderson Cooper.
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