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January 5th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

On the ground near the Gaza border

Program Note: Watch Anderson report LIVE from Israel tonight on AC360° at 10 pm ET.

Anderson Cooper

You see the explosions before you hear them. A giant plume of gray smoke rising in the air, it's not until seconds later that the sound of the impact reaches you, here in Israel about 2 miles from the border.

Of course, it's not like that for those on the ground in Gaza. Those close to the fighting no doubt hear the missiles before they see them, before they even hit. We are stuck on a hill overlooking the border, within sight of the battleground, but a world away.

If we had a choice we'd be on the ground in Gaza, but the Israeli government won't let reporters get any closer.

We are entering the third night of ground combat operations, and its impossible to get a sense of how the battle is going. All sides project confidence. All sides give you numbers:

The Israelis say at least 40 Hamas rockets were fired into Israel Monday and at least 40 airstrikes were launched against Hamas targets.

No Israeli civilians have been killed today, though 4 Israelis have been killed by rockets since the crisis began.

Palestinian medical authorities say well over 500 Palestinians have died so far; and more than 2750 wounded. One Israeli soldier was killed yesterday, the first fatality since ground operations began.

The numbers tell a part of the story, but they don't truly give you a sense of the pain, the fear, the anger.

Positions are hardening. A senior Hamas official today made greater threats, saying Israelis "legitimize the killing of their people all over the world when they killed our people."

Diplomatic efforts are gaining momentum, and outrage over the civilian casualties in Gaza appears to be growing. But most Israelis still strongly support their government's efforts to stop the Hamas rockets, and the fighting shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Crisis in Gaza
soundoff (237 Responses)
  1. Michelle Fonthill,Ont

    Hello Anderson
    Nice to see you in the reporting field once agian .This is terible fighting and innocent lives are being lost.I hope you will stay safe .You are one of the bravest reporters out there aside from your collegues out there with you .Please take care and come home soon .
    Michelle D.

    January 6, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  2. Carole

    Hey Anderson,

    Nice to see you over there covering this, but what happened to you in the last 8 years? After all, Hamas has been shelling innocent Israeli citizens, how is it you didn't bother to go over there then?

    How is it that you didn't bother to report about the 3 month old Israeli baby who was recently injured courtesy of a Hamas rocket attack?

    Care to look into the post traumatic syndrome the Israeli's living in Southern Israel are dealing with and suffering through, because of 8 years of Hamas' shelling their towns and villages?

    I've seen this one sided journalism before, it was during the Holocaust and nobody wanted to do anything about it or report about it in a truthful, factual manner.

    Why won't the Israeli's let you and the other journalists into Gaza? Well gee wiz, there's a war going on! Haven't you heard?

    January 6, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  3. Fahad

    Why Israel prevent press from entering Gaza?
    to keep the human crises done by its soldiers hidden!!

    January 6, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  4. Peter Kessler

    I know that Israel is doing the bombing, and I don't support it. But, there is a Gaza border with Egypt. Why isn't more pressure being put on the Egyptians to let humanitarian aid in through that border, and why is it that you think you can only be denied entry into Gaza by Israel? Last time I checked Egypt is a sovereign nation...?

    January 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  5. Deena

    Christian and Anderson

    Be Safe... this is not your war.... be safe

    January 5, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  6. Gabe

    Anderson -

    Some of the best news is broken by reporters brave enough to do what it takes to get where the action is.

    There are enough news channels using the Israeli government's "don't go there" edict as a valid reason to stay out of the action. You have more resources than most – use them!

    January 5, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  7. kassahun

    Much of the analysis of the current crisis in the middle east focuses on the immediate cause of the problem with complete disregard to the fundamental cause of this long-standing animosity. While I abhor terrorism in any of its forms, I believe a serious analysis of the conflict should answer why Hamas is there in the first place?. And the answer is simple: Israel is occupying their country . No justice , no peace.

    January 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Tom - Oregon

    Mr. Cooper,
    Hamas has been launching rockets into Israel for quite a long time now and has recently increased those activities. If Hamas truly cared about the Palestinian people, why do you think they would locate their operations in the midst of women and children? Those are cowardly acts that only a terrorist organization continues to promote in order to fullfill their extreme political agenda. Hamas will never live peacefully alongside their enemies but want total genocide of the Israeli people.

    January 5, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  9. Levi Sneiderman

    Hey Anderson,
    i'm sorry but this inhumane retaliation is unjust no matter who started. If Israelis want to defend themselves, do so justly. Don't go about demolishing a building to get one culprit. I pray for an end to the massacre of Palestinians.

    January 5, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  10. Christina, Windber, PA

    Hey Anderson

    I was afraid you'd end up over ther eventually. I don't always agree with the Israeli government, but if they are keeping you far away from the danger zone then I'm all for it.

    So many presidents and other world leaders have tried solving the problems of the Middle East, I hope our president-elect and all others involved will finally find a way to improve things. Is there any common ground that will lead to a cease fire and maybe someday to a real and lasting peace? I heard Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is ovef there. I hope he can make some progress.

    God bless you and keep you and your crew safe, and especially the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

    Be careful and come home soon.

    January 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  11. Michele, Douglaston NY

    After seeing the terrify children in the hospital at Gaza, I am wondering, not about the Israel is killing or injuring kids, it is about the militants holding children up in front of themselves to shield themselves.

    It doesn’t look like that both sides sitting down and talking to civilian exchanges in culture and group thinks to find a way to stop the insanity.

    Take care and stay safe, Anderson

    January 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  12. Carlos

    Hi as long US will support Israel war machine, peace will be imposible. There is no way to have peace. Is time for UN or other nation to deal with the peace process, for over 30 years US did this with not other results than war.
    Thanks

    January 5, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  13. Ann

    @Jeff, Israel will not allow reporters into Gaza because they do not want the humanitarian crisis they've created by halting aid at the Egyptian border reported on around the world. Clear and simple. Kind of hard for Israel to sell this war as defending their citizens if the world is seeing pictures of Palestinian children being shot and starved.

    Yes, I completely agree, Hamas is a terrorist faction which must be stopped. But, Israel must remember that they are a part of the United Nations and must allow aid into Gaza. This all needs to end now!

    January 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  14. M. Van Essen

    Andy... This is a far cry from Times Square New Years Eve! Glad to see you back in the field doing what you do best (although as an anchor, as we all know, you're no slouch).

    There is evil on both sides here: Hamas for launching the rockets and placing themselves in and amongst civilian populations, exploiting the suffering for propoganda purposes. By the same token I belive Israel's response is woefully disprportionate.

    Stay safe. Give us the truth and come back (you and your crew) intact!

    MVE

    January 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  15. Matt

    Good luck Anderson. Please be sure and show both sides of this conflict. I know there is tremendous pain on both sides. To those who focus solely on numbers and object to the disproportionate casualties – think about this: the 9/11 attacks only killed a few thousand Americans. Does that mean that the US is justified in only killing an equal number of Al Qaeda? Our 20th century idea of warfare has changed, and terrorist groups like Hamas have changed the rules. Urban warfare is a very ugly thing, but they store/fire rockets in and near mosques, apartments, schools, etc. There is no perfect way to fight this war, but it's clear that Israel makes every effort to minimize civilian deaths while Hamas makes every effort to maximize them.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  16. Rick

    This is for Jeff. AMAN brother. This war is no fault of Israel. Look at everyone of the facts. Just look at "A Clean Break". It gives a detailed explanation of what is happening over there. HAMAS is going down and the Palestinians are right in the middle of it, unfortunately. It is there own faults for letting those terrorists run and operate in there country. I have absolutely no sympathy for stupid and dumb minded people, I have no sympathy at all. I do hope that the Israelies crush HAMAS and every other terrorist organisation over there.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  17. EJ (USA)

    Oh Anderson, Anderson

    How much do you love war zones. Let me count the ways.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  18. Maria Isabel, RJ, Brazil

    Anderson, please show us the real Gaza, in some way, show us some hope.

    Take care!
    May God protect you.
    May God protect all in Gaza!

    January 5, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  19. Vlad

    Does the world not realize what is going on here ??? You have Hamas which is a terrorist group , lunging missles on a daily basis into another country . That country which is israel has EVERY right to defend itself , and it should . These Animals put there own people in harms way and ISRAEL have no choice but to act in these ways . Did the world forget the 6 million jews that were SLAUGHTERED by the Nazi's in WORLD WAR 2 . The Jews have 1 country they call home in the entire world , and that country must be and it WILL be protected at all costS no matter what . LONG LIVE ISRAEL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Jon H

    Great reporting as always. Whether you agree or not I hope you are able to articulate that Hamas' official raison détre is the destruction of Israel and they are financed by Syria and Iran. In order to maintain this funding they are expected to keep fighting and avoid peace.
    Would anyone else in the world be so tolerant as Israel living beside a neighbiour that wants tio destroy and lobs 4000 rockets. Israel left Gaza and kept certain restrcitions on the area as part of a weaning process and were hoping that the Palestinians would act responsibly. The big question is why is Isreal held to a different standard than anyone else on the planet. Could it be that Muslims allow themseles to kill each other but not by Jews. This is a religious war that is getting fiercer each year and the world should wake up to it before its too late. Regardless I feel for all innocents.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  21. NM

    If Israel would have wait, all those Moslem would have killed each other. Hams was intentionally looking forward to this war, in order justify their lack of leadership. I feel sorry for all people. Hope it ends soon which I doubt.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  22. EJ (USA)

    Good Luck Anderson….

    There are a few reasons why Israel is not letting any reporters into Gaza.

    First and foremost they don’t want any of you killed.

    Yes this is true. Plus I'm sure they don't want to be blamed for it. I also do not want to see any reporters killed – especially 2 of CNN's best. However, my view is based entirely on emotion and not any free speech or journalism norms or expectations.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  23. Rich from Ca.

    It would be nice to hear about the connection between this war and biblical predictions about the conflict. I always hear how this conflict is biblical in scope. I wonder if you could investigate and comment on how the Ezekial 37, 38 and 39 Bible proficies relate to current events. Stay safe.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  24. Juliet

    Anderson,

    Thank you, Nick Robertson and all the rest of the crew for being there and giving us the news from where the action is. I am looking forward to your objective and detailed reports from there. But make sure to stay safe, I hope Israel allows you to go into Gaza only after it is safe to do so.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  25. Bruce

    Ethnic cleansing??!! Where are the Jews of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, North Africa? Where was the world outcry when they were cleansed from these countries? Where was the world outcry when the missiles rained down on Sderot?

    First it was the Jews, now they come for the Christians of the Middle East.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  26. Charlotte D

    Anderson–I am glad your boots are on the ground in Israel. I know you will cut through the rhetoric and spin and report both sides. We are planning on traveling to Israel in March and we were sure to buy travel insurance for that trip! I hope we will be able to go as it will mean that peace, however dodgy, would have been restored. Stay safe.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  27. Chad

    For those anti-Isreal fanatics, ask yourself this one question.

    If hundreds of rockets had been launched into the southern states from say, Mexico City, during 2008, how would you want your government to respond??

    January 5, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  28. Uzo, Lagos

    It is a shame those hamas leaders are now hiding like rabbits in holes. They should be galant enough to come out of their hiding and put up a good fight instead of sending many of their country men to their early graves, while hiding inside holes with their families.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  29. Maureen T

    Anderson,
    It was only a matter of time before you ended up back in the field, wasn't it? Looking forward to the show tonight! Please stay safe dear Anderson and AC360 crew!

    January 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  30. Philip From OH

    Coop,

    Dude stay SAFE! My family is carefully watching as this develops. We have lost so many great reporters and can't afford to lose you! Stay safe and THANK YOU!

    January 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  31. Matt

    I read all these comments about genocide of the Palestinians and wonder where these people have been getting information. Hamas was elected by these people. They have since launched thousands of rockets indescriminately into civilian territory. The openly admit to wanting genocide - the extinction of Israel. If the ruling party of Canda launched just ONE rocket into a residence here in the US, what would our reaction be? Even Obama has said he would go to great lengths to stop people shooting rockets at his children.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  32. Glenn P

    How many rockets have been fired into Israel the last 3 years? How many killed, injured, or left homeless? No one bothers to tell that side of the story.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  33. Emily - Waco, Texas

    Anderson,

    We greatly appreciate your consistently unbiased reporting, and we are counting on you to bring us the latest and most accurate account of the crisis between Hamas and Israel.

    Keep your wits about you.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  34. GODZILLA1

    Great work Anderson – splendid battlefront reporting just like Murrow's boys during the war.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  35. Annie Kate

    Hi Anderson

    I know that you will bring a more rounded look at what is happening over in Israel and Gaza and I'm looking forward to seeing it. One of the other commenters made a good point – Hamas wails about the people killed by Israeli weapons but never disclose how many rockets they have fired and how many people in Israel they have been guilty of killing. It is a two way street on casualties and at least Israel is trying to estimate both numbers. One thing I would like to know is the "stated" objectives of both sides – what is it that Hamas and Israel want to do to say that this fighting has accomplished its purpose and can stop? Is there an objective or is it just tit for tat:?

    As always, you and your crew be careful and come home safe.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  36. Mubarak, Nigeria

    Those rockets being fired by Hamas into southern Isreal are aimed at civilians and not the Isreali military. So Isreal should get those terrorists even if all the civilians in Gaza are dead at the end of the day, it does not matter. Those living in glass houses must not throw stones. If the terrorists are firing rockets into civilians in the full glare of their civilian population, Isreal must hunt them down in the presence of those civilians too. it is as simple a that.

    January 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  37. RZ

    there is a difference between a terrorist and some one who is trying to defend his land. palestine is still the only place in the world that is not declared as a country, can someone explain why?
    if you think hammas is a terrorist group then what do you call a group that has killed so far more than 500 including children and women, and injured 2600 in a matter of few days....
    why it is ok to kill arab kids and children...why their lives are so cheap?
    i am against all the actions of killing innocent people.,..but i hope people differentiate between fighting for a land vs killing...just compare the death rates, and open ur eyes to the truth...
    i hope this gets posted !

    January 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
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