updated 7/20/2006 3:05:44 PM ET 2006-07-20T19:05:44

Guests: Benjamin Netanyahu, Lizzie Cohlmia, Rafael Frankel, Sarah Ahmadia

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘re missing our family.  We don‘t know what‘s going to happen.

ANNOUNCER:  Chaos, conflict and crisis.  Thousands continue to flee Lebanon as the border clash between Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas worsens. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a very sad situation. 

ANNOUNCER:  And world leaders seem powerless to stop the death and destruction. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The world must deal with Hezbollah. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We ought to be doing something to stop what Israel is doing. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is not acceptable!  This is Lebanon!  We are human beings! 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  Now, live from Haifa, Israel, Tucker Carlson. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

We‘re joining you tonight from Haifa, Israel‘s largest port, which has been, if you can look over my right shoulder here, all but shut down tonight and all this week by rockets fired not 20 miles away by Hezbollah over the border with Lebanon.  Tonight, just a few minutes ago, we heard the thump, thump, thump of those rockets coming into our area.  They set off car alarms not five minutes ago right here we‘re standing here at our camera position. 

But the big news in our area today was Nazareth, where rockets rained down. 

Mark Potter from NBC is on the scene in Nazareth.  He joins us by phone with an update from what‘s going on there. 

Mark, are you there?

MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, I‘m here.  And just a short while ago, Tucker, we witnessed a very sad and somber scene in this historic city as hundreds of people gathered at a hillside mosque for the funeral of the two Israeli Arab children who were killed in the rocket attack this afternoon.  The people had come to pay their respects, and those who couldn‘t fit inside the mosque sat quietly outside or leaned on their cars as they listened to the service broadcast on loud speakers. 

Neighbors tell us that the two brothers, Mahmoud (ph) and Ravia Talusi (ph), ages 4 and 8, were visiting their uncle and were playing along a steep and narrow street between two small apartment buildings when the rockets fell, killing them.  Many others were injured. 

When we visited the area a short time ago, we saw that the crater from the rocket blast was there on the side of the road, windows were blown out, and the apartments were—the walls of the apartments were pocked by the shrapnel.  Lots of people still milling about the area, some were collecting the tiny ball bearings that they say came from the rocket blast.

But the irony, of course, is obvious here.  This is a Hezbollah rocket, one of four to hit this area today.  And the victims are Arab children. 

It can be expected the residents are angry, but those we talked to directed their anger at the Israeli government for not providing bomb shelters or working air raid sirens.  Some also blame Israel for starting and ratcheting up the conflict with Hezbollah. 

Clearly, that conflict continues, with 140 rockets falling on northern Israel today, the biggest ever since the attacks began back and forth, began last week.  But tonight here in Nazareth, those numbers took on a very human face.  Two of them, two small children on a narrow street—

Tucker.

CARLSON:  Mark, Nazareth, of course, famous throughout the Christian world as the birthplace of Jesus, but it‘s also home to many Christian Arabs.  Were the victims Christian Arabs?  And do we have any idea whether this city was targeted by Hezbollah because of its Christian population? 

POTTER:  It‘s hard to tell.  So many cities, as you know well, have been targeted in this bombing—in this rocketing campaign.  It‘s hard to figure out how any particular one might be targeted. 

And a lot of people are talking about the fact that this is the largest Israeli-Arab community, the largest Arab community in the country, and they think it‘s strange that the rockets would fall there.  It‘s really hard to tell. 

I mean, you know that they have fallen in Haifa, all through that area.  Many communities have been hit.  And sometimes it‘s just hard to say where the rockets were intended to go, because they often seem to veer off path, they‘re hard to guide, and the random nature of this violence is, I think, something that strikes all of us.  And certainly that‘s the case today. 

Why this street?  Why these children?  Why this day and this event? 

CARLSON:  Mark Potter, from Nazareth. 

Thanks, Mark. 

Hezbollah not only bad ideas, terrible marksmanship. 

Well, of course, the other half of this story is unfolding in Lebanon, in and around Beirut, Lebanon.  And that‘s where we find our next guest.  He is “Newsweek” reporter Babak Dehghanpisheh, and he joins us now by phone from Beirut. 

Babak, are you there? 

BABAK DEHGHANPISHEH, “NEWSWEEK”:  Yes, I am.  Hi.  How are you? 

CARLSON:  I‘m fine. 

Can you give us an account of what is going on in Lebanon?  We just heard accounts of explosions.  What is happening right now? 

DEHGHANPISHEH:  Well, there have been a series of explosions this evening in the past couple of hours.  Three or four very large explosions, I guess about a couple of hours ago.  And, you know, the bombings—the Israeli military strikes just continue throughout the country.  There are reports of strikes in the south, in and around Beirut, and also to the east, in the Bekaa Valley, near the Damascus-Beirut highway. 

CARLSON:  What is being bombed?  Is it infrastructure, bridges, roads? 

Is it military installations?  Do you have any idea what‘s being hit? 

DEHGHANPISHEH:  Well, a lot of the infrastructure has been targeted.  There are practically—there are very few bridges or undamaged roads that are left south of Beirut going into southern Lebanon.  But also, there are civilians that are being hit. 

I was in the town of Sudong (ph), about halfway between Beirut and here this afternoon, and, you know, there is a mounting civilian casualty toll.  And there are also a lot of displaced people. 

There are—according to the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, he said there‘s about a half a million people who have been displaced, and there‘s certainly signs of that on the roads.  In the Shuf Mountains, east of Beirut, there are tons of refugees internally displaced, and the same heading south. 

CARLSON:  So, if there are half a million refugees in Lebanon right now by some estimates, those—those are a lot of hungry mouths.  Who‘s feeding these people?  Who‘s taking care of them?  Are there international relief agencies there? 

DEHGHANPISHEH:  Well, this is part of the problem.  A lot of the local authorities that I‘ve spoken to in the past couple of days are complaining about that, that there really hasn‘t been a coordinated international effort. 

The Lebanese government itself has not really stepped up.  And in the vacuum, you‘re really seeing political parties step if and help out. 

In parts of Beirut, there are shelters where Hezbollah is actually

coming in helping people find shelter, giving them mattresses, and then

blankets, and food, and so on.  Another Shia party, Amal (ph), is also

helping out.  In the Shuf Mountains, which, you know, a lot of it is Druze

the Druze minority occupies it—there‘s a Druze party that is helping out with the internally displaced. 

CARLSON:  So, irony of ironies, Hezbollah may actually turn out to be helped in a PR campaign internally because of this. 

Are you getting the sense that all Americans who want to leave Beirut have been able to, or there‘s still Americans stranded, do you know? 

DEHGHANPISHEH:  Well, you know, they do seem to be finally getting some attention.  In the past couple of days, some of—there‘s one American family that I spoke to who was very frustrated who is an American citizen whose wife—husband was a Lebanese citizen, and they had four children.  And they‘ve been calling since, I believe, last Thursday, maybe last Friday, and basically felt that they hadn‘t been receiving attention.

But as you‘ve seen, there has been this ship that was organized yesterday where a few hundred Americans left.  There have been helicopters taking people out.  And also today, this Orient Queen, this cruise ship that took approximately a thousand Americans out. 

CARLSON:  Well, thanks very much.

From “Newsweek” magazine, Babak Dehghanpisheh joining us from Beirut. 

Thank you. 

There is, of course, no real comparison between the condition of refugees in Lebanon right now and the state of Israel.  Israel is the superpower in the region, Lebanon is not.  But there have been rockets falling in this area, as we said just a moment ago.  We heard the thump, thump, thump of rockets coming over from Lebanon, setting off car alarms. 

We spent the day traveling in Haifa and north of Haifa, and we began by going right to the border with Lebanon, about 20 miles north of here. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  This is the Israeli border with Lebanon, right there.  If you can see the fence behind me, right behind that big red and white tower, which marks the frontier separating Israel and Lebanon, the western edge of Israel, the Mediterranean right there to our left, to our west.  Israeli warships anchored right off there. 

As we pulled up here a couple minutes ago, we heard rifle fire, three rifle shots.  It sounded like M-16s ring out.  You can see there‘s a detachment of Israeli soldiers directly behind us.  At least one tank, a couple armored personnel carriers.  Not clear who they were shooting out.

That‘s the direction from which the rockets have been coming all day, 30 of them at least today, and they fly basically right over our heads.  We‘re safe here because the trajectory of the rockets makes it pretty much impossible to hit us. 

We‘re right next to Lebanon, but a few miles down to the south of us, about 30 have landed today.  This is basically all deserted.  From here to Haifa, 20 miles down, essentially no one there. 

We drove—we drove up a few minutes ago.  We were the only people on the road.  Isolated army units, but basically we were the only civilians.  Everyone pretty much has evacuated. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  You‘re looking now at a house that we visited today in Nahariya that was hit by rockets earlier in the week.  It caught fire, as did the house next door.  I don‘t know if we have it on tape.

There was a rocking horse in the front yard charred.  As we were looking at it we heart the telltale “thump, thump thump” of rockets landing again.  Off in the distance, not too far, you can see there‘s the smoke plume from rockets that hit in the town.

Interestingly, we heard no sirens to response to them.  Of course, we heard no warning sirens.  There are no air raid sirens functioning in Nahariya.  At least there weren‘t today.

But we heard nobody responding.  No fire engines, no ambulances.  The implication, from our point of view, seemed to be nobody is there.

The streets entirely empty.  That‘s driving down the main drag in Nahariya, which is a lovely little beach port town, very much like the Pacific Coast Highway in California.  Right along the beach, apartment complexes, resorts, playgrounds, a little amusement park.  Every bit of it abandoned.  Almost nobody in town at all.

At every site of a rocket attack, there was an IDF soldier, an Israeli soldier—there‘s the rocking horse—guarding the bombed-out property, but other than that, there was virtually no one.  Just stray cats. 

The entire population seems to have moved south to Haifa, or farther south, or maybe is underground.  We didn‘t know, but there‘s no question they were not there when we were there. 

So that‘s the condition. 

Well, Israeli troops did venture across the border today, by reports, into Lebanon.  This after assurances from the Israeli government yesterday that there would be no ground war in Lebanon. 

What happened and why?  We‘ll ask that question to the opposition leader here in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. 

And then, amazing tales.  Americans stranded in Lebanon trying to get to Cyprus tonight.  Some succeeding, some not.  And we‘ll talk to one of them.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We‘re joining you from Haifa, Israel‘s third largest city, a port city all but shut down from rocket attacks by Hezbollah, 20 miles to the north. 

Well, according to a front page story in this morning‘s “New York Times,” Israel and the White House have reached a consensus of sorts.  It allows Israel about a week more to bomb Hezbollah and Lebanon before the U.S. calls for a cease-fire and Condoleezza Rice goes to the region.

So, is this account true?  Is there some sort of deal between the U.S.  and Israel about this war? 

Joining us now, the opposition leader here in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of the country.  He joins us from Jerusalem. 

Mr. Netanyahu, thanks for coming on. 

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FMR. ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Is this report accurate?  Is there an agreement between the United States and Israel that essentially allows Israel another week of bombing in Lebanon before the U.S. calls for a cease-fire? 

NETANYAHU:  I don‘t know of a timetable, and I think a cease-fire by itself doesn‘t serve any purpose, because Hezbollah will remain with its missile arsenal intact, and will live to fire it another day. 

You know, 45 years ago, President John F. Kennedy, faced with missiles in a neighboring country to the United States that could target American cities, blockaded Cuba, went to the brink of nuclear war, and demanded one thing: get those missiles out.  And I think Israel, that has already been rocketed by these missiles, should do no less.  We should end this operation with that missile threat is removed from our cities and from our people. 

CARLSON:  Well, during—during the Cuban missile crisis, of course, the U.S. government recognized that it was not Cuba that we might be going to war with, of course, but the Soviet Union, its sponsor state.  And then I wonder if the analogy doesn‘t apply in this case.  You say—you said the other day on this show that really, Hezbollah is funded by, supplied by Iran and Syria. 

Why isn‘t Israel bombing Syria? 

NETANYAHU:  I think there ought to be, if you will, a division of labor.  Israel has to remove the immediate threat to its population.  And that comes from Hezbollah.  But I think the international community, led by the United States, should put terrific pressure on both Iran and Syria to cease and desist their—their manipulation and use of these terror groups, both Hamas and Hezbollah, that are basically Iranian appendages. 

I do—I do think it‘s peculiar that some in the international community are condemning Israel for trying to basically enforce a U.N.  resolution.  Israel left Lebanon unilaterally, every square inch of it, but it was promised that Hezbollah would be disarmed, dismantled, and that the Lebanese army would fan in the south. 

None of that happened.  We did our part, they didn‘t do their part. 

Effectively, we‘re doing our part in Lebanon.  We‘re doing it.  I think the international community should support us and press Iran and Syria. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course, a lot of the criticisms aimed at Israel are from people who just don‘t like Israel, but some of the criticisms are more reasonable, it seems to me, and one of them is this, that Lebanon is the most promising, or one of the most proming countries in the Middle East.  It‘s affluent—there are a lot of Christians there, for instance, a lot of people who might be sympathetic to Israel.  And all of them, the good and the bad, are being punished by this latest incursion into the country.

Moreover, this incursion might weaken the government to the point where it collapses.  All of which would be bad for everybody.

Do you take that seriously? 

NETANYAHU:  Yes I do, but I think—but I take it with a grain of salt.  First of all, there was no Lebanese sovereignty, because Hezbollah built a state within a state, an Iranian-Syrian state inside Lebanon.  They used Lebanon soil to attack us.  And, by the way, they rocketed—talk about Christians—they rocketed Nazareth right now, a mixed town.  It has Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

And these rockets, or these pellets—I don‘t know if you can see these pellets.  I got them in Rambam (ph) hospital in Haifa yesterday.  There are 50 kilos of these pellets in a small—in a small rocket, in a middle-sized rocket.  And they tore into two Arab brothers, one 3-year-old and one a 7-year-old, and just annihilated them. 

So I think there‘s criminal action, war crimes taking place on the soil of Lebanon.  The Lebanese government is impotent and unwilling to do anything about it.  And, in fact, Israel has no choice but to take immediate action to stop the firing and also remove the missiles.  But the international community should definitely put pressure on the—if you will, on the godfathers of this Mafia. 

CARLSON:  Well, who is going to clean it up?  Who is going to pay for the reconstruction of Lebanon? 

Let‘s just say the Christian areas, which I think we all agree are not anti-Israel, pose no threat to Israel.  Who is going to—who is going to pay for the cleanup of the infrastructure there that was damaged by Israel?

The Lebanese government, as you know, is suggesting today that Israel pay for that cleanup.  Do you think that‘s going to happen? 

NETANYAHU:  I think that Hezbollah and its patrons are the ones that are responsible both for the civilian casualties on the Israeli side and the civilian casualties on the Lebanese side because they place themselves in crowded neighborhoods.  They want civilian casualties on both sides. 

They want you to ask me these questions.  That‘s why they don‘t care if we—if they rocket from crowded neighborhoods, because they know that we have no choice.  No government has any choice but to take action to defend its citizens.  And if you have to take out a rocket placement in a crowded neighborhood, you‘ll do it.  You have no choice. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister, now opposition leader, thanks for joining us. 

NETANYAHU:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Israeli troops entered Lebanon today for the second time.  With a week left to go reportedly in this war, will they enter again in greater numbers?  That‘s the question. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I never heard bombing and rockets before, and it‘s a new bad feeling. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back from Haifa tonight.

Earlier this week we told you about an American student trapped in Lebanon.  We talked to her on the phone.  Today she made her way out of that besieged city. 

Lizzie Colhmia is on the phone with us now to talk about what happened and how she made it. 

Lizzie, welcome.  Where are you? 

LIZZIE COHLMIA, AMERICAN EVACUEE:  Hi.  I‘m actually in a cab right now on my way to the airport in Cyprus. 

CARLSON:  How did you get there? 

COHLMIA:  Well, it was quite a boat ride, but I took a boat from Beirut, Lebanon, to Cyprus, for about 11 hours. 

CARLSON:  Whose ship was it?  How did you get on?  Was it all Americans, or was it different refugees? 

COHLMIA:  Well, we actually went into it kind of blind.  It was—I go to the American University of Beirut, and they‘re basically taking care of us.  And we got there thinking that it was an American evacuation, but about an hour into it, it became clear that it was a Norwegian evacuation.

And we just got lucky and got stuck on it.  But lucky, I‘ll use that term lightly. 

The ship, unlike everybody else‘s, was a cargo ship.  And its actual purpose was to take cars to Saudi Arabia.  But it was in the area, so it came and got us.  And it definitely made for a difficult trip back. 

CARLSON:  What were the conditions like on board the cargo ship?  Were you in the hold of the ship? 

COHLMIA:  Yes.  On the 11th deck, it wasn‘t completely full of cars, but they had that open for us.  And people were literally lying on life jackets and pieces of cardboard trying to sleep, but it was quite warm in there, and there was a very serious problem with flies.  They were up on the deck, and some people were on the boat from 8:00  that morning, and we didn‘t even leave until 6:00 p.m. that night. 

I asked one the crew members throughout the course of the night how many people were on the boat, and he said somewhere between 1,000 to 1,200 people, and there were only 10 toilets on the entire boat.  So, this ship was not meant for people, and it was obvious that, you know, this was going to be quite a night, and it was. 

We‘re all very thankful that we got out of there.  It was very difficult.  And when the morning was over, everybody was tired and just strained physically and emotionally.  But the people on crew, even though they were not staff or trained for a mission like this, they still were amazing, you know, despite circumstances. 

CARLSON:  Were the people—were you, for instance, allowed to bring your belongings with you?  Or did you have to leave everything behind in Beirut? 

COHLMIA:  No, we were informed through I guess - actually, I‘m not sure if it was the embassy through our university, or our university, but we were told we could only have a carry-on bag.  It could not roll, and it had to be 15-kilos, which is about 30 pounds.  It could be no more than that, which when you‘re packing to be in Lebanon for a month, two months, three months, it‘s way more stuff than that.

So, basically, everybody had to leave, you know, a large amount of their—of their possessions.  And then you get on to this boat and it‘s not—you know, there are no chairs.  And you basically have to sit outside unless you want to be hot and covered in flies.

So, it gets cold, and you don‘t have a jacket or a tarp or extra water or food, because another problem, it wasn‘t equipped for all these people.  So they ran out of food.  And twice on the 12-hour journey that was supposed to be seven hours, they had to stop and Americans gave us food.  So it was just—it just seemed like problem after problem. 

CARLSON:  Well, it sounds—it sounds—it sounds quite unpleasant. 

Lizzie Cohlmia, enjoy Cyprus.  I hope you do.  And congratulations on getting out of Beirut.

Thanks, Lizzie.

CARLSON:  Still to come, it‘s day eight of Israel‘s largest military offensive in Lebanon in more than 20 years, and we‘ll have the latest from reporters throughout the region as the battle rages tonight. 

And then Haifa, the city where I‘m standing right now, suddenly finds itself in the middle of Israel and Hezbollah.  We‘re out and about today on the streets.  We‘ll show you what we saw.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Israeli ground troops enter southern Lebanon.  Is this a sign of an escalation in an already escalating conflict?  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, an American school teacher says she and a group of children were prevented from getting on a boat today to leave Beirut, Lebanon.  They‘re still stuck there.  We‘ll talk to her in a second.  But first, here are your headlines. 

(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)

CARLSON:  It‘s well past nightfall here in Haifa, and still there are rockets falling.  We can hear them.  We‘ve heard them three or four times just this hour so far.  Thump, thump, thump in the distance.  Rockets hit a couple of different places in the city of Haifa, Israel‘s third largest city today.  One hit an outdoor cafe on the water.  Another fell harmlessly into the ocean. 

We made our way up earlier today to the border with Lebanon—it‘s a car alarm in the background.  You can hear that may have been set off, in fact, by one of those rockets.  Car alarms going on all day long today.  You can see there are people running.  There‘s a result of the rockets if Haifa.  We‘re going to try to get that car alarm as soon as we can. 

Meanwhile, we went up to the border with Lebanon today where Israeli troops are massed.  We heard gunfire right at the border.  Not clear exactly where it was coming from.  You can see Israeli troops there directing tanks into line.  They seem to be building a barrier between the two countries. 

About eight miles south of there, six miles south of there in the beach town of Nahariya, we toured damage, a number of different civilians home hit by rockets.  As we were looking at one that had been hit on Friday, the familiar womp again, and a rocket not far away. 

You can see there the smoke from that rocket rising into the distance.  As we were wandering Nahariya for a couple of hours today, it seemed many times as we were the only people there. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

We‘re standing on the main beachside thoroughfare, Nahariya.  This is essentially the equivalent of the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California.  it goes right along the Mediterranean, you can see on my right.  We‘ve got a playground, resort, restaurants, apartment buildings. 

And there‘s literally no one here.  It‘s about two hours before sundown.  Typically this area would be crowded, according to the one local we were able to find.  And right now, you could almost literally take a nap in the street.  Not that we‘re going to.

Everyone from this part of town and form most parts of this town left, have either gone south—they‘re in bomb shelters underground—or they are up in the hills to the east of here.  But there are thump, thump, thump in the background day after day of Katyusha rockets coming over from Lebanon, and it just proved too much for the people of this town.  They‘re gone. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Well, many of the leaf refugees American and European who are leaving Beirut now, are being taken by boat, in some cases helicoptered to Cyprus, the island in the Mediterranean almost directly of Lebanon.  NBC‘s Dawn Fratangelo is there. 

Dawn Fratangelo, can you hear me? 

DAWN FRATANGELO, NBC NEWS:  Sorry about that, Tucker?  Yes, I can, Tucker.  We‘re here in Larnaca, the port of Cyprus, where the Orient Queen is expected to arrive in about an hour and a half.  This will be the first wave of Americans evacuated from Lebanon -- 900 people on board this boat. 

Also, tomorrow the U.S. military says that it hopes to be able to evacuate another 3,000 Americans.  It will again use the Orient Queen along with another ferry that can carry 1,400 people.  This is one of the largest operations that the commander has seen here, and another 200 people here in Cyprus were evacuated by helicopter. 

Also, thousands of marines and sailors are part of this operation.  And the U.S. commander, the Brigadier General Carl Jensen told me earlier today that it is the biggest operation to move civilians that he has ever been a part of in his 31-year career. 

He understands the frustration of some of the Americans who believe that this evacuation has gone slower than they would have liked.  But he said that the military wanted to get it done safely. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to do everything possible, and so does the Department of State, believe me, and the Department of Defense and everyone involved in this, to move those American citizens who wish to leave Lebanon to facilitate their departure.  So it can‘t move fast enough.  With regards to—can I understand how an American citizen there would some frustrations in that regard?  Sure.  Absolutely. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANTANGELO:  Once the Americans are here in Cyprus, they will be offered a hotel room, if they want it, but also be offered the chance to board a charter plane.  The State Department says it expects to have that first charter ready tonight if they want to leave. 

Those charters can carry about 300 passengers at a time.  The State Department says its goal is to process folks as they arrive here very quickly so that they can get here to Cyprus and move on to where they want to go as soon as possible—Tucker?

CARLSON:  NBC‘s Dawn Fratangelo in Cyprus.  Dawn, thank you very much. 

Well, the question here in Israel is how long will this conflict continue, and will Israel escalate it?  There were reports yesterday—the Israeli government said point-blank on MSNBC, incidentally, “No, we will not have ground troops enter Lebanon.” 

Lo and behold, merely hours later, Israeli ground troops did enter Lebanon, albeit in a pretty minor way.  What next?  That‘s the question.  For the answer, we go to one of our favorite guests, Rafael Frankel, a correspondent for the “Christian Science Monitor” based here in Israel. 

Rafael, welcome.

RAFAEL FRANKEL, CORRESPONDENT, “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR”:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  So what is next? 

FRANKEL:  Well, what we‘re seeing right now is, you know, we had those ground troops enter today, and I think the reason is the military is saying privately that they‘re dealing Hezbollah some pretty severe blows.  But they need more time. 

And with the timetable that we think we are now getting from the Americans of about one week, that means they need to do as much damage as possible as quickly as possible.  And the only way that they think they can do that is with ground troops.  So, you know, that‘s why we‘re seeing those elite units going in right now and taking out as much as they can before they‘re forced to stop at the military campaign. 

CARLSON:  Will they be forced to?  I mean, we‘ve learned today from many different sources in the mostly American press, but also the British, that there is this kind of tacit agreement between the United States and Israel that this fighting will go on for a week before the U.S. calls for it to end.  Does Israel, though, have plans to go beyond that?  Would Osrael dare defy its friend, the United States, in this? 

FRANKEL:  Right.  Well, when I spoke to U.S. officials today, they didn‘t say it was actually a specific timetable.  What they told me is they‘re in very close consultations with the United States, and when Condoleezza Rice comes out here, it will be at a time when they think it‘s ready to wrap things up.  And that‘s the time when we‘ll probably see the cease-fire. 

In the meantime, no, I don‘t think Israel is going to defy the United States, but I don‘t think it would come to that.  I think they‘re in very close consultations because they both want the same thing here. 

Israel doesn‘t want to give a victory to Hezbollah, and the United States doesn‘t want to give a victory to Iran.  And so for that to happen, the two of them have to be in very close contact, and they have to be on the same page.  And I think that‘s what we‘re seeing right now. 

CARLSON:  So that would be the effect of any split, you believe, between the United States and Israel?  So this is all coordinated at the highest levels? 

FRANKEL:  It‘s coordinated at the highest levels.  You have the highest officials in both countries talking to each other all the time because basically, like we were talking about last night, this is about the future of the Middle East and the power and the power dimensions of the region. 

And the United States is obviously in a struggle right now with Iran over its nuclear program.  Israel is in a struggle with Hezbollah over, you know, its northern border.  And, you know, you‘re seeing that the United States and Israel have vested interests in making this go the right way for them. 

And so when this is all over, there‘s some very important things that have to happen from Israel‘s point.  Whether they get the extra time or not from the United States, when this is all over, Israel wants to see none of those big long-range rockets left in Lebanon.  That‘s very important.

What they also want to see is there deterrents re-established.  For a long time, Hezbollah didn‘t attack them because they thought that, “OK, if we do, then the reprisals we‘re going to experience are going to be too harsh.”  So that‘s what Israel is trying to do. 

And another big, important thing is, whenever this is over, whenever quiet prevails, it‘s very important that Syria and Iran not be able to rearm Hezbollah once a cease-fire takes hold. 

CARLSON:  That‘s the part I don‘t understand.  The United States has said for the last week that Syria and, to some extent, Iran are the countries behind this.  And yet today, the White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “Look, we‘re not talking to Monsieur Assad, the head of Syria.”  Why?  It‘s not clear to me.  My question—and I asked this of Mr.

Netanyahu, who did not give me a straight answer, why not just bomb Syria? 

If they‘re behind this, why not go right to the source? 

FRANKEL:  At the moment, the Israelis are just not interested—as are the Americans—they‘re not interested in a wider confrontation right now.  If you start to bomb Syria, then you risk a lot of different things.  You take it up a notch that‘s much higher than we‘re at right now. 

And you‘re engaging a military that‘s no pushover.  We‘re not talking about Lebanon.  We‘re not even talking about Hezbollah, who‘s a formidable military force in itself.  We‘re talking about a very strong military, obviously not as strong as Israel.  Obviously, it‘s not as strong as the United States.  But it has the power to inflict a lot of damage. 

And then, of course, you‘re moving steadily and steadily east.  And what comes after Syria?  Iran.  Now you‘re only one step away from Iran instead of two steps from Iran.  And the United States is not in a position right now to engage Iran in a military confrontation. 

CARLSON:  So you believe that even if Israel had designs in that direction, even if we‘re interested in attacking Syria, the U.S. would pull it back? 

FRANKEL:  Again, I think that it would be one of those things where the two of them would have to sit at the table together and decide together what‘s best.  And then they‘d go with the course of action. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask you a very quick question.  Right behind us, you can see the port of Haifa.  And you can also see a very large series of petroleum storage facilities.  Let‘s say—and this is not unimaginable, this could happen during this hour—a rocket were to come and hit one of those.  It would cause a massive explosion and loss of life in Haifa.  What would Israel do? 

FRANKEL:  Well, that‘s one of the things that—you know, that‘s what happens with war in the Middle East.  When you play this game of brinkmanship, when you have rockets being lobbed over the border all the time—and you have the same thing could be said of an Israeli warplane.  What if it hit a school in Lebanon and there were 100 children killed? 

The rules of the game instantly change from then on out.  And, yes, if mass casualties was caused here in Haifa or somewhere else in Israel, then you have a completely different scenario, and you could see Syria engaged.  And the same thing could be said if Israel hit something like a school or a hospital in Lebanon accidentally.  Then the whole thing could be over in an instant, and Israel might face dramatic diplomatic consequences for a long time to come. 

CARLSON:  All distinct possibilities.  Rafael Frankel, thanks a lot. 

We will talk to you again soon. 

Next up, an American teacher turned away from an evacuation cruise ship with three children, not her own, in tow.  We‘ll find out how she plans to leave Beirut and get to Cyprus.  We‘ll talk to her.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back from Haifa.  We‘re out of town, but the news coverage goes on back in the USA, and for that we have our faithful friend Willie Geist holding down the fort, watching the press as they work.  Time for our “Beat the Press” segment—Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Well, Tucker.  We‘re going to have to update tomorrow‘s segment with you talking over that car alarm, but we start today first up with CNN.  Last night on “Anderson Cooper 360,” Nic Robertson took viewers with him on a tour of a bombed-out Hezbollah-occupied are of Beirut.

His escort was Hezbollah‘s so-called press officer—whatever that means—a fearless man accompanied by an equally fearless reporter.  Check this out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 

In a reverse of recent policy, Hezbollah took CNN on an exclusive, fast-paced tour of the most sensitive bomb sites. 

(on camera):  You‘re really worried about another strike here right now, yes? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Of course.  Of course. 

ROBERTSON:  How dangerous is it in this area at the moment? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is very, very dangerous.  We are now the most dangerous place.  It‘s the most dangerous moment. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Boy, Nic can really pick them up and put him down, can‘t he?  That cross-training is paying off.  Listen, Nic Robertson is obviously one of the most fearless, courageous, international reporters we have, but when your Hezbollah tour guide tells you that you‘re in the most dangerous place at the most dangerous time, it‘s probably time to get out or at least get yourself a flak jacket. 

Next up, FOX News Channel.  This one actually came to us from a viewer, Michelle Mintin (ph) from Piedmont, South Carolina.  Thanks, Michelle.  On yesterday‘s “Special Report with Brit Hume,” Greg Palkot filed a report from amid the chaos of the Lebanese evacuation.  He started out strong, setting the scene dramatically, but the story began to unravel when he seemed to show a lack of understanding of the crisis while talking to a woman who was trying to get her family to safety.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  A massive exodus of people leaving Lebanon.  It‘s been hit by shelling, artillery, missiles and rockets.  These folks here are leaving the country.  They‘re often having trouble getting out, but they‘re using one of the only passable roads out of the country to leave to Syria to safety. 

It‘s not just Lebanese citizens.  Tens of thousands of foreign nationals are caught in the cross-fire, like Canadian Zubaida Al Tajir, who was visiting her husband‘s family dangerously near an eastern Lebanon Hezbollah hideout. 

ZUBAIDA AL TAJIR, CANADIAN TOURIST:  We‘re trying to get out of Lebanon. 

PALKOT:  Why? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Why?  Why is she trying to get out of Lebanon?  She must just have a weird thing about air strikes in her neighborhood.  Greg, I want you to think about the question that you‘ve just asked and don‘t come back until you‘ve thought of a better one. 

Finally, another one from FOX.  While everyone else was busy covering the Mideast crisis at 4:00 yesterday, with reports from journalists throughout the region, and by talking to Israeli and Lebanese diplomats, FOX uncovered an entirely new angle to the story, one we admittedly neglected on this network.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID ASMAN, FOX NEWS HOST:  Americans evacuating Beirut, as violence in the Mideast continues.  The bombings between Israel and Hezbollah only add to worries for Americans who live under constant terror threats and long-range threats from Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah. 

Bottom line:  It all adds up to a lot of stress in America, and that makes it tougher for my next guest.  He is NFL Hall of Fame—I‘d told you we‘d mix it in here—quarterback Dan Marino, who‘s now a spokesman for NutriSystem and a crusader for a fit America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

GEIST:  I will not “Beat the Press.”  I applaud the press for somehow, somehow connecting Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino to the Mideast crisis.  Admirable.  Amazing. 

See if you can follow it:  Mideast crisis to Iran, to North Korea, kind of like Iran, a little bit crazy, to stress, to fitness, Dan Marino likes fitness, Dan Marino the answer to the problems in the Middle East.  Bravo, FOX.  Well done.

Well, American citizens turned away from evacuation boats in Beirut.  You‘ll meet a school teacher who says she and a group of children were left behind.  That story when we continue from Haifa in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We‘re in Haifa.  The U.S. government estimates at least 5,000 Americans are still trying to get out of besieged Beirut, Lebanon, right now.  A Hawaiian high school teacher named Sarah Ahmadia is one of them, but she says she and three young children in her care were turned away from a ship carrying evacuees to Cyprus. 

Why did that happen?  Let‘s ask her.  Sarah Ahmadia joins us now on the television from Beirut. 

Sarah, are you there? 

SARAH AHMADIA, TRYING TO LEAVE LEBANON:  Yes, I am.  Hi. 

CARLSON:  Hi.  So you have three children, not your own, but they‘re in your custody, and you were turned away from a ship?  Tell us what happened. 

AHMADIA:  All of us, we were told to report to Beirut at 1:00 in the afternoon.  We all did so; we were there.  We were OK.  We were past the security checkpoint, and we were there for a couple of hours, actually just sitting in the sun.

But we had been stamped.  Our bags had been searched, I mean, everything.  We thought that we were OK to go.  And then we ended up—after a couple of hours, they finally told us, “I‘m sorry, but we miscalculated.  We did not expect everyone to show up that we told to show up.” 

They expected 20 percent of the people not to actually come, so they completely miscalculated.  They did basically an overbooking of the flight on the boat, and that left so many people there, about 200 of us that ended up getting turned away.  And they said, “Too bad.  Come back tomorrow.” 

CARLSON:  How old are the children in your care?  And how are you going to get out?  Or are you just going to stay? 

AHMADIA:  Tomorrow we‘re going to get out on helicopters in the morning.  They said that, because it was such a mess today, that they are going to move us to priority status tomorrow, so we‘re going to have a helicopter ride. 

The kids, there‘s a boy.  He‘s 15.  And two girls, one 12 and one 8, and they are wonderful kids, very articulate.  The boy especially is very, very mature.  And his family, they got cut off from their parents when the bombing started.  They were here for vacation for about a month visiting family.  Their parents had to go to a business trip and left for Kuwait on July 8th, before all of the bombing started, so leaving the kids with family in south Lebanon. 

CARLSON:  Oh, that is such a nightmare.  I‘m glad they‘re with you, Sarah, and I hope the federal government, our government, the American government makes certain that you and those children make it to Cyprus and onto the United States.  Thanks a lot for joining us.  Godspeed.

AHMADIA:  I really hope so, too.

CARLSON:  I hope we hear from you again soon. 

AHMADIA:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Sarah.

AHMADIA:  Bye-bye.

CARLSON:  That‘s it for us for now from Haifa.  We‘ll be right here, though.  As long as this story continues, you can count on us to bring it to you. 

Stay tuned now for “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you in a bit.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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