Program Note: Watch Anderson report LIVE from Israel tonight on AC360° at 10 pm ET.
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.
Anderson Cooper examines the damage in an Israeli marketplace where a rocket launched by Hamas landed.
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Editor's Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360 at 10PM for all the latest details in this case.
More heart-breaking news to report in the mysterious death of actor John Travolta’s son.
16-year-old Jett Travolta died from a “seizure disorder,” according to the director of the funeral home in the Bahamas.
You’ve probably heard by now that Jett suddenly had a massive seizure on Friday and collapsed in the bathroom while vacationing with his parents and his little sister in the Bahamas. John Travolta’s lawyer said he apparently hit his head on the bathtub in the fall, but the funeral home director says there weren’t any signs of trauma to the boy’s head.
We also learned today that Jett was cremated in the Bahamas and that his ashes will be flown back to Florida with his parents.
And, some comfort for the family if at all possible in a case like this… a friend says John Travolta administered CPR to his son and that Jett “may have died in his dad’s arms.”
The boy’s parents, according to Radar Magazine, were in the ambulance with him on the way to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The actor was reportedly holding his son’s hand, saying “Come on Jett.”
In the autopsy, one forensic pathologist I interviewed said the coroner would be looking closely at the boy’s brain to see if there was bleeding there, which may indicate the fall contributed to his death. The pathologist also said they’ll be trying to determine time of death, and whether or not Jett had any drugs/medicine in his system that may have contributed.
Apparently, according to family friends, Jett has had seizures for years. They tried a seizure drug called Depacote for a few years, which limited the seizures, but eventually they returned and the family decided to stop the medication. There is no indication any medicine could have prevented this tragedy.
Program note: Tune in tonight at 10 pm to hear Anderson's interview with Sami Abdel-Shafi live from Gaza.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/05/gaza.voices/art.gaza.dead.afp.gi.jpg caption="A man weeps over his dead child at a Gaza hospital Monday."]
Yesterday morning, I hurried up to the rooftop of my home to catch a glimpse of the sun rising. Columns of black smoke stretched sideways over Gaza's horizon, eerily symbolising how Israel's ground assault has already inflicted more indiscriminate suffering on ordinary people.
I reflected how the fireball resulting from utter political failure among Palestinians, within Israel and, to an extent, internationally, has landed in the laps of Gaza's civilians. Within seconds, the deep and breathtaking sound of shelling from the sea forced me back downstairs.
By mid-morning on Sunday, about 12 hours into the incursion, Israeli troops were said to have reached the outskirts of Jabalia – a city and a refugee camp with a combined population of 200,000 – with Apache helicopters firing high-calibre rounds into the camp alongside the incoming artillery fire. But Gaza City, where I live, is no safe haven, being only about 8km from Jabalia, and 3km from fighting in the east.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/05/israel.gaza/art.alzahar.hamas.afp.gi.jpg caption="Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar says rocket attacks on Israel will continue."]Maureen Miller
The Israeli military has surrounded Gaza City. The city of about 1.5 million residents, about the same population as Philadelphia, is on edge as both sides show no signs of backing down.
Today Israel conducted 40 airstrikes in the Palestinian territory. Hamas isn't flitching. It has fired at least 40 of its own rockets into southern Israel.
While the battle rages the death toll soars. Palestinian sources say more than 500 people have been killed, including many women and children. Israel reports dozens of Hamas fighters dead or captured and at least one Israeli soldier fatality.
Anderson will be reporting tonight from near the Israel-Gaza border. READ HIS BLOG HERE Thousands of Israeli troops have pushed deep into Gaza, essentially splitting the territory into two – the north and the south.
Anderson will have the latest developments from the region and he'll be talking with a Palestinian civilian in Gaza City. What are the Israeli tanks doing in his city? Does he feel it's safe to stay or should he go?
Both Israel and Hamas face increasing pressure for an immediate cease-fire. Foreign ministers from several Arab nations are in New York – on the eve of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' address to the U.N. Security Council – to work up a draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
Meanwhile, President Bush is defending Israel's actions. Mr. Bush, who leaves office two weeks from tomorrow, said the situation was "caused by Hamas." He said "any cease-fire must have the conditions in it so that Hamas does not use Gaza as a place from which to launch rockets."
What do you think it will take for the fighting to stop? Is a cease-fire possible?
Join us for the latest details starting at 10pm ET.
Program Note: Watch Anderson report LIVE from Israel tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
Gaza is a densely populated Palestinian territory about twice the size of Washington, D.C. About 1.5 million people live within Gaza's 146 square miles.
The United Nations estimated in 2007 that unemployment was close to 50 percent. International sanctions and Israeli restrictions have severely hampered the economy, which is largely based on agriculture. Nearly three-quarters of the flat, dry terrain is under cultivation.
Gaza was occupied by Israeli troops from 1967 until the Oslo Accords in 1993, when most of those forces began to withdraw and limited power was handed over to the Palestinian Authority. But many issues remained unresolved, leading to violence between Israelis and Palestinians and even Palestinians and other Palestinians.
Yes, there really are times when life imitates art. A case in point: the Bernie Madoff scandal, in which the disgraced investor bears a startling resemblance to Zero Mostel's sleazy theater promoter in one of my favorite flicks, "The Producers."
What do the real-life Madoff and Mostel's fictional Max Bialystock have in common? They used the same principles to pull off a big-time financial fraud. These are: If you're going to steal, steal big. If you're going to cook the books, make up numbers of your own – don't try to doctor the real ones. And, finally, if you're going to fleece people, turn down enough potential investors so that those whose money you take feel so honored that they don't do basic homework to find out about you.