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Gaza Ground War Could Be Imminent; Interview with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren; Breaking the Gridlock; Lung Cancer Awareness Month; Gaza Prepares for Possible Ground War

Aired November 17, 2012 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

As you know, it is the middle of the night along Israel's border with Gaza, but this war won't pause for nightfall. Not with 30,000 Israeli troops mobilizing for battle.

The air war is bad enough. Israelis wait to hear this sound. A warning that a rocket is only seconds away.

The Israeli Defense Force is hitting back with technology that Hamas could only dream of. This IDF video shows a missile hitting the home of a Hamas leader. The military says the secondary explosions are proof of explosives stored in the building.

Hamas is claiming its own trophies. The group's military wing says it has shot down a military F-16 and damaged two other Israeli aircraft. Israel denies losing any aircraft.

Egypt is trying to stop this war before it is too late. Cairo's intelligence chief is spearheading talks to end the violence.

But on the border, peace looks like an unlikely prospect.

Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us now between the border between Israel and Gaza.

Ben, ground war -- are we about to witness that?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think immediately, Don. I think there's still time need to get the Israeli military ready for a ground invasion.

Keep in mind that Gaza is an area just twice the size of Washington, D.C., with a population of 1.5 million people. Any military force that goes in there has got to contend with the possibility of a lot of civilian casualties and a fair amount of resistance from Hamas fighters.

Now, what we're seeing here on the border are intense preparations, all night long. We've been watching as big trucks carrying tanks, carrying armored personnel carriers have been going up and down the road, a lot of soldiers in this area.

The Israeli government has yet to say when or if they would finally make a decision regarding a ground invasion into Gaza. And at the same time, as you've mentioned, there are intense efforts underway by the Egyptians, among others, to try to head off a possibility of an escalation of a conflict that already has nerves rattled on both sides of the border -- Don.

LEMON: Ben, when last we spoke to you -- it seems like each time we spoke to you, you heard explosions in the background. Are you still hearing that?

WEDEMAN: Yes, if you'd come to us about two minutes earlier, you would have heard several large explosions. And those have been going on, on a fairly regular basis, all evening long. We see these great big balls of flame coming from Gaza City, which is actually just right behind me.

We're also hearing that Israeli warships off the coast are also bombarding the coastal area, as well. So, yes, I just heard a big blast behind me and another one now. So it's -- there's no respite in this bombardment of Gaza -- Don.

LEMON: Ben Wedeman, stay safe, will you? Thank you very much for your reporting.

Meantime, Israel is mobilizing 30,000 troops. Who will wait for the word to cross the Gaza border and turn this conflict into a ground war? Last time we saw was four years ago, Operation Cast Iron, a grueling three-week campaign. And the numbers from that war are striking, 13 Israelis killed versus 1,400 Palestinians who died.

For now, all the people in Gaza can do is listen for the missiles, watch the border, and hope for the best.

CNN's Sara Sidner is there with them.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today, just like the last few days, we've been hearing a chorus of drones overhead, and a symphony of airstrikes. We've also seen plenty of rocket fire coming out of Gaza, towards Israel. We witnessed several times, several rockets at a time, heading over towards Israel.

Also, we need to tell you about what's going on with the potential cease-fire. We were hearing from the Arab League that they were perhaps in negotiations between Gaza and Israel. But Israeli officials are denying that there is talk of a ceasefire that they're involved in, anyway. We do know that we're expecting a delegation coming over from several countries, out of the meeting that they had in Cairo, to show up here in Gaza, perhaps tomorrow.

We were waiting, also, to hear what is going to happen when it comes to the ground troops, that Israel has amassed on the border.

Now, right now, we're hearing the sounds of planes, and that usually only means one thing, that there will be airstrikes that follow. And it's this time of night and into the wee hours of the morning that usually things get very, very intense, with lots of blasts of airstrikes.

But also we know that there have been some blasts coming from the Israeli ships in the sea. We, ourselves, experienced some of the loud booms and bangs that were coming from the sea. We were right on the water there.

So a lot of concern. The civilians are not in the streets. Most people have hunkered down in their homes. Most of the businesses have been closed. We know that more people have been killed here, including militants and civilians. And many people have been injured today.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Gaza City.


LEMON: All right. Sara, thank you very much.

Israel and Hamas are on the verge of an all-out ground war. Is it too late to turn back now?

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. is Michael Oren and he joins us now from Washington.

Thank you for joining us, Mr. Ambassador.


LEMON: Ambassador, when Hamas says an Israeli airstrike today destroyed the Palestinian cabinet headquarters in Gaza. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Israeli airstrikes also targeted police headquarters, a police headquarters building.

Is Israel trying to topple Gaza's government by destroying its basic physical infrastructure?

OREN: Well, tonight there are about 5.5 million Israelis under rocket fire, Don -- 5.5 million Israelis who are either in bomb shelters or afraid to go more than a 15-second run from the nearest bomb shelter.

Our goal is very simple. It's to restore security, safety, to all of those 5.5 million members of our population. That's almost -- that's well over half of our entire population.

And we are trying to drive home a message to Hamas that they cannot shoot at Israeli civilians, try to kill Israeli civilians with impunity.

LEMON: Listen, I know that you're the Israeli ambassador, but there are also Palestinians, too, who are in danger of being killed as well.

OREN: Well, we deeply regret any loss of civilian life or any injuries incurred by civilians on the Palestinian side. We take super human measures to avoid that to the greatest degree, if possible. We have this computer that makes tens of thousands of phone calls and sends text messages to people in areas that are going to be struck by Israeli warplanes, so they can get out of those areas safely. And we've been able to reduce, to a remarkable extent, the amount of civilian casualties, on their side.

Now, compare that to what Hamas is doing to us. They're trying to maximize the number of Israeli civilians that they kill. That's the difference between a terrorist organization and a democratic country.

We invest in bomb shelters, they invest in bombs. Completely different story on the Gaza side.

LEMON: Mr. Ambassador, last night you told our Piers Morgan that Israel was still allowing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza and even letting Gazans go to Israeli hospitals. Is that still the case?

OREN: It is. In fact, the number of Israelis -- of Gazans who were let out to -- from the Gaza Strip into Israeli hospitals increased significantly today.

LEMON: At this point, can a ground war be avoided for Israel? What is the trigger here, the point at which it's too late to turn back?

OREN: Well, we certainly hope so. But it really is up to Hamas. If Hamas continues to escalate, continues to keep 5.5 million Israelis under rocket fire, that's an intolerable situation for any country, anywhere in the world. And Israel will take all necessary and legitimate measures to defend its citizens, including ground operations.

LEMON: I have to run here, but I think it's a fair question that I want to ask you. I was speaking to our very own Jim Clancy yesterday, who has covered this region since the 1980s.

I don't -- I'm not sure if you're aware of the conversation, but he said, essentially, that the strategy that Israel is using at this point is antiquated, and it just keeps the region spiraling out of control. And that something must be done. Some sort of negotiation.

What do you make of that?

OREN: Well, we're dealing with Hamas here. Hamas is an organization whose covenant calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. It actually calls for the destruction of the Jewish people anywhere in the world, including the United States of America. It's a genocidal organization.

It doesn't accept Israel's legitimacy, it doesn't accept our right to exist, and it's not looking to negotiate with us.

So I would ask Tom, respectively, imagine that he is the prime minister of Israel, he wakes up tomorrow morning, and he's got what we've had in the last few months, 8,000 rockets falling on half the population of the country. What else can we do, other than to take all legitimate and necessary messages to defend ourselves.

We wish it was otherwise. We wish there was a government in Gaza that cared about its civilians the way we care about our civilians, that was investing in education, investing in hospitals, instead of investing in the 12,000 rockets that they have in their arsenal.

We live in a tough neighborhood. And we have to live up to that reality, but you should know that the people in the government, the state of Israel, want peace with their neighbors.

And we're willing to just sit down and negotiate with them, if their willing to sit down and negotiate with us, everything's on the table. We sign on to the two-state solution. We're committed to it. Just stop shooting at us.

LEMON: All right. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

OREN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: What would happen if there is a ground war in Gaza? We'll continue the discussion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

And former NFL linebacker Chris Draft lost his wife to lung cancer. He's going to join us live with the emotional story and a message of hope for others battling the disease.


LEMON: Here are some of the other headlines we're watching for you this weekend.

President Barack Obama should be landing in Thailand in the next few hours. He is on a three-day journey to Asia, where he'll attend the East Asia Summit. The president will also stop in Cambodia and Myanmar. His visit to Myanmar, the former Burma, will be the first- ever stop there for an American president.

The so-called fiscal cliff is just 45 days away. President Obama and Congress must cut a deal, otherwise, massive tax hikes and spending cuts will kick in January 1st. Democrats and Republicans seem more in the mood to compromise after a series of meetings.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know these challenges won't be easy to solve. But we can do it if we work together. That's why on Friday, I sat down with congressional leaders to discuss how we can reduce our deficit in a way that strengthens our economy and protects our middle class. It was a constructive meeting and everyone agreed that while we may have our differences, we need to come together, find solutions, and take action as soon as possible.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: For too long, partisan bickering has paralyzed Washington, preventing members of both parties from reaching across the aisle to find common ground. That must stop.

Washington can't keep ducking the tough decisions. And the fiscal cliff we're headed toward provides an opportunity for both parties to change our country's irresponsible spending path.


LEMON: Both sides may have to give ground to get a deal. The White House and Democrats have pushed for increasing income tax rates on the wealthy. Republicans have preferred to focus on closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions and tax credits.

Coast Guard patrol boats and helicopters still searching a 1,400- square mile section for the Gulf of Mexico for two missing oil workers. They haven't been seen since Friday, when an explosion tore through the oil platform where they were working. Eleven workers were hurt in the blast.

A spokesman for Black Elk Energy, which runs the platform, says the fire is out. Federal authorities are investigating the cause of that.

NFL legend Mike Ditka has suffered what's been called a mild stroke. The former coach and Hall of Fame player told "The Chicago Tribune" he feels good and it's not a big deal. Ditka is currently an ESPN analyst and will not work any NFL shows this weekend, but he's expected to be back on the air soon. To coach, get better.

Israeli troops are massing near the Gaza border. And if they push forward, experts say it could be a bloodbath. We'll explain why after the break.


LEMON: Air raid sirens wailed in Tel Aviv, warning crowds of panicked people to take cover, because a rocket attack might be seconds away.

Families huddled by their cars, bracing for a potential hit. Israel's military says its iron dome missile defense system has blocked rockets headed for the city. Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are poised on the border. Since the attacks began on Wednesday, at least 46 people have been killed in Gaza. Three people have been killed in Israel.

If Israel launches a ground attack in Gaza, experts say the battle could be as bloody as a 2008 invasion that killed 1,400 Palestinians or worse. Since then, Hamas has got been were the weapons and its foot soldiers are better trained.

CNN's Brian Todd explores what a ground war in inner city Gaza might look like.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A precision strike from the air, killing the chief of Hamas' military wing.

But it appears Israel is getting ready to go beyond pinpoint hits like this to contain the Hamas threat.

An Israeli official says the army has already moved nearly a division's worth of troops, as many as 2,000 to the border of Gaza. Israel sealed off the main roads around Gaza.

Will Israel invade on the ground?


TODD: Jeffrey White, a former analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, says an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would be a brutal, bloody grind.

WHITE: There's a pretty high density of population throughout the strip. It's highest in the major areas, Rafah, Khan Yunis, Gaza City, but there are a lot of civilians in other places as well. But the other part of this is that Hamas fights from inside the cities.

TODD: Cities of narrow streets, bazaars, apartment buildings. Translation? A punishing building-to-building slog in a place that's slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.

We used a Google Map with CNN contributor, General James "Spider" Marks.

(on camera): What kind of close combat are we talking about here?

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET): This is called combat in restricted terrain. And clearly what we have here in Gaza City, there are about 500,000 people that live in this city. And you can only imagine the type of combat that's got to take place in this very restricted terrain.

TODD (voice-over): Terrain where Marks says Israeli troops will be exposed to ambush, sniper fire, suicide bombings. If a ground invasion's launched, analysts say it could be eerily similar to a conflict four years ago after a series of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

(on-camera): In late 2008, early 2009, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a short period of airstrikes followed by a longer ground invasion of Gaza. These are some scenes from it. Entire apartment blocks destroyed. Estimates are up to 1,400 Palestinians were killed, many of them civilians.

(voice-over): About a dozen Israelis were killed in that operation. Then the Israelis were able to split up Gaza, cut supply lines. This time, analysts say Hamas could make it tougher.

WHITE: They have some better weapons, no question about it. They've got better -- much better anti-tank capability with -- you know, with the Concourse, Russian ATGM. They have a better SAM capability.

TODD: White says in 2008/2009 Hamas units were not good at close combat with the Israelis. He says they broke and ran, and didn't coordinate well. He says, since then, they made an effort to improve with that with Iran's help.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: When Congress convenes in January, it could be much of the same old, same old, unfortunately. Ahead, we're going to talk with one expert to find out if there's any hope for Congress to make progress on the key issues this time around.


LEMON: The new Congress that gathers in January will look a lot like they do now. A few extra Democrats, though. But we'll still have a Republican-led House and a Democratic-held Senate. That's almost no change to the outgoing Congress that critics have labeled one of the worst and least effective ever.

I talked about it with Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He also wrote the book, "It's Even Worse than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism". He says the nation's capital is extremely polarized and the system of government we have gives political minorities a very strong voice.


THOMAS MANN, SR. FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: In our constitutional system, with separation of powers, checks and balances, bicameral legislature, the possibility of filibusters in the Senate, midterm elections, it makes it very hard for majorities to act. It's a copout to say both parties are extreme and that's the problem.

Democrats went through their period of extreme politics in the '60s and '70s, but now, the Republican Party is the radical insurgency. They've gone far to the right, ideologically, but also procedurally. They're skeptical of any form of compromise. They don't -- they don't respect facts, evidence, or science.

They consider the other side illegitimate, not real Americans, and they engaged in a permanent war against Barack Obama as a route back into power. They lost that gamble and now we're going to see how it plays out. Now, the overriding reality is that the Republicans have really gone off track and it happened before the Tea Party -- although the Tea Party has reinforced it.

And that extremism has become the major source of America's dysfunctional politics. Only when we bring them back into the mainstream, as a problem-solving conservative party, will we deal responsibly with our problems.

LEMON: Well, how come the right doesn't see themselves that way? How come they don't see themselves that way?

MANN: I'll tell you, we have heard from scores of self-identified Republicans, regular citizens, and from many former Republican officials, who agree entirely with what we're saying. They see the change. LEMON: What is a solution to get congress to be more effective and to get a better approval rating and to get things done? What do we need to do?

MANN: The most important thing is, is for one, majorities to be able to work their will.

Let's remember that in the first two years of the Obama administration, the legislative record was historic. It was a very productive period, even though we're in the middle of an economic crisis, and the Republicans were unified in their opposition. It was because Democrats eventually got 60 votes, used cloture to cut off filibusters on every matter, and push some things through.

LEMON: With what you say, especially with Congress, and especially, you say, people who are extremely ideological and have refused to work with this administration, your words -- at this rate, do you think that an agreement can be reached before we go over the so-called fiscal cliff?

MANN: I am confident an agreement will be reached to reduce our deficits over the next 10 years and stabilize our debt. What I can't tell you is, is exactly when and how it will come about.

LEMON: Thomas Mann, thank you.

MANN: Happy to be with you.


LEMON: It is lung cancer awareness month and now more than ever, lung cancer patients have reason to have hope for survival. Ahead, former NFL linebacker Chris Draft shares the heartbreaking story of losing his wife and how he's fighting to give hope to other cancer patients.


LEMON: November is lung cancer awareness month. And here's something that you probably didn't know. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney, and melanoma cancer combined. And you don't have to be a smoker to get lung cancer. No one knows that better than former NFL line backer Chris Draft. His young, healthy wife was taken tragically too soon after a fierce and courageous battle with lung cancer.

ESPN's Jeremy Schaap has the story.


JEREMY SCHAAP, ESPN REPORTER: For as long as he can remember, Chris Draft has cherished what most of us take for granted, that next breath.

CHRIS DRAFT, NFL LINEBACKER: Just gasping, gasping. Looking for the air. SCHAAP: Fighting to breathe is a way of life for Draft, who played linebacker in the NFL for 12 seasons, despite debilitating asthma attacks that often sent him to the hospital.

DRAFT: I look at it as a blessing of sorts, though, is that it makes me have to wake up and really take that breath each day.

SCHAAP: What would you do today if every breath mattered? What decisions would you make if tomorrow wasn't guaranteed? Chris Draft and Keisha Rutledge met in 2006, when he was playing for the Carolina Panthers. There was an immediate connection.

DAVID BERGERON, CHRIS' FRIEND: Chris described Keisha as a beautiful woman, who, you know, walks through a room, brings a ton of personality.

SCHAAP: But life in the NFL for a journeyman linebacker isn't conducive to settling down. Draft bounced from Carolina to St. Louis to Buffalo to Washington, where his career ended in 2010. All the while, Keisha waited.

Reporter (on camera): Was there ever a point in which she said, what's the deal?

DRAFT: There was a couple of times. There definitely was.

SCHAAP: what would you tell her?

DRAFT: I said, we're getting closer. She didn't like to hear that. But, we're getting closer.

SCHAAP: Finally, in 2010, Chris and Keisha were able to be together all the time. But suddenly Keisha, a fit, 37-year-old, a former dancer with the Charlotte Hornets Honeybees, started having trouble breathing. Despite the fact that she'd never smoked, Keisha was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. The average life expectancy in such cases is eight months.

DRAFT: Just one day at a time. But, really, we're going to fight this. We're going to fight this. Fight this.

SCHAAP (voice-over): In the face of late-stage cancer, Chris and Keisha's vision of their shared future might have melted away. But it didn't. In August 2011, eight months after Keisha's initial diagnosis, with her condition worsening, Chris proposed.

DRAFT: You can't guarantee what's tomorrow. You can't do that. Just one more day? I'll take it. Two? I'll take that. You know? But to have that with your wife, the woman that you love, take seconds. 60 more seconds.

SCHAAP: By the time of the wedding, Keisha was mostly confined to a wheelchair. But on that day, nothing could diminish her happiness.

DRAFT: To see her strength. So it's not like you see just your wife coming, but really see everything that's her whole makeup, immediately get up and go, everything about her that makes her just in that moment, everything that makes her my wife.

SCHAAP: Within a few weeks of the wedding, Keisha's organs were failing and her pain was increasing.

DRAFT: We were blessed to be able to have, you know, Christmas back here and have all the family, all the family came down. So she was able to talk to them. But some battles you just don't win.

SCHAAP: When Keisha died on December 27th, Chris was at her side. She was 38. They were married for only five weeks. Far too briefly. But together they had made every breath count.

DRAFT: It always will be a great memory of seeing her walk down the aisle, that consistent fight. Just that, that each day, she's able to refocus. And to see that type of strength, every day. Every day.


LEMON: A big thank you to ESPN for letting us run that story by Jeremy Schaap

LEMON: It's been a year now.

DRAFT: it's almost a year since we were married last year, November.

LEMON: You took her, you know, her passion and you turned it into an organization that helps people with lung cancer. And it's the Team Draft foundation.

DRAFT: We actually did. You know, a lot of people can see the clips of our wedding, but they don't realize is that we actually made two commitments on that day. There was a commitment to each other, but there was also a commitment led by my wife to everyone else. And we have been continuing that with our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer, that we've been doing it not just in memory of her, but really with her, with her spirit. That's what she wanted. She wanted to be an inspiration and she wanted to fight for everybody else.

LEMON: You feel her along the way with this foundation?

DRAFT: Always. Always. She's in everything.

LEMON: Tomorrow, your foundation, NFL, you're doing something very special for lung cancer survivors. Tell us about it.

DRAFT: We're going to have a survivor at every game, represented across the NFL. And the idea is showing hope. You know, lung cancer, when you see the numbers, most people don't understand the numbers or know the numbers. So when you show them those numbers, it's scary.

LEMON: Right.

DRAFT: So it's important for people to understand the state of lung cancer and that there is hope, and that you're not really just fighting against a disease, but you're fighting for people. LEMON: Chris, we keep saying this. You don't have to be a smoker. Your wife was not a smoker. You have a member of your team here who is a lung cancer survivor. She was not a smoker. So you still need to be checked for lung cancer, even if you don't smoke.

DRAFT: Still need to. The problem with it is, early detection device or process is not laid out well enough just yet. But that's why we need research.


DRAFT: You know, the other cancers have laid it out very plain in terms of what's needed for cancer. And that is early detection and better treatments.

LEMON: Stick around. We're going to talk to you a bit more. Chris, you know, you just said it was all about hope. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to talk more about the great strides being made in diagnosing and treating lung cancer.


LEMON: We are back now with former NFL linebacker, Chris Draft. It is lung cancer awareness month, and we are talking about what's being done to diagnose and treat lung cancer, as well as to get patients hope for survival. Dr. Bill Nayfield from Well Star here in Atlanta says doctors are making great strides and are now able to treat lung cancer patients much more quickly.


DR. WILLIAM MAYFIELD, WELLSTAR CANCER CLINIC: If you have an abnormality that we are concerned is lung cancer, we're able to rapidly move you through a very coordinated type care program, where we can move you from abnormality to diagnosis to treatment, your first treatment, within 13 days or so.


LEMON: And one more exciting step that Dr. Mayfield explains is that lung cancer research is now turning more attention and turning towards genetics.


MAYFIELD: Right now, we've identified three major genetic abnormalities or gene abnormalities in lung cancer. You have the mutations, but there are bound to be dozens more. So we're working with companies now to help define what those genetic abnormalities are. But, eventually, we're going to move from abnormal genes and the tumors themselves to genetic markers in patients. If you have a family history of lung cancer, is there a genetic marker that we can pick up in you, that tells us whether or not you're at high risk for lung cancer?

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Let's talk now with Keisha Kirkland. She is the wife of former NFL all pro linebacker Levon Kirkland. She joins us now from our affiliate, WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina, where she is a weather anchor. And you can see why she's on TV, she's beautiful. She's also a lung cancer survivor. You went in for a heart scan, doctors weren't even looking for lung cancer, you didn't smoke. What did you think when you got the news?

KEISHA KIRKLAND, LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR: Actually, I thought they had the wrong scan, initially. Because it can didn't compute. I was like, how is this possible? I've never smoked, I'm healthy, I work out every day, and I was coming to check my heart. So what is this you're speaking of with a tumor in my lung? And it was true.

LEMON: How are you doing?

KIRKLAND: Today's a great day. It really is, I feel great. You know, it's a - every day struggle to get up and be positive and be strong and be courageous, because the fight is not over. And as of right now, there's no cure. But, you know, I'm still here so I'm not complaining and I'm hoping I have several more birthdays.

LEMON: We hope so too. You know, your necklace, I asked you in the break, was it a bow or was it a butterfly. And you said, it was a bow because -

KIRKLAND: Every day is a present to me.

LEMON: You never gave up hope, Keisha. What got you through these painful and difficult treatments?

KIRKLAND: To be honest, my family. Because I have a little girl named Kennedy. She's nine now. And my husband, Lavonne, has been very supportive. My parents, everyone around me has been encouraging and for me, there's no other option. I have nothing but faith, I have nothing but hope, and like I said, we'll keep continue fighting until it's time for me to not fight anymore. But only god knows when that is.

LEMON: Sorry to cut you off. Is that your message that you would like people with lung cancer to hear? What is it?

KIRKLAND: Absolutely. That's part of it. Because, if you read any article or look on the internet or read the prognosis, it's never good, it's always six months, eight months, nine months. And if I had believed that, then I was diagnosed four years ago. Now, the average life expectancy, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, is anywhere from six months to five years.

So I'm right at that knocking on five-year mark. But it's just a number, and I'm going to keep using whatever chemotherapies can help me live a longer quantity and quality of life.

LEMON: Keisha, as you're talking, Chris Draft is sitting here smiling and nodding his head. That's not me going mm-hmm, that's Chris. Chris, you know, you travel the country talking with doctors about research all the time and patient care. What do you - what is most important here moving forward?

DRAFT: I think it's important that people understand that things are happening, that there is hope. And it's a direct - it's directly related to the research that has happened. So just like breast cancer needed research for them to be able to change the five-year mortality rate, lung cancer is the same thing. Look at people like Keisha, look at people like (INAUDIBLE) and know that you're fighting for people. You're fighting for people.

LEMON: Keisha, your attitude is so positive, it's just, you know, it's just really warming to hear that.

KIRKLAND: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, you have the website for more information?

DRAFT: I want them to go to And be able to share the facts. The key right now is to make sure that everyone understands what lung cancer - you know, lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer of men, of women, overall. It kills more, just like you said at the beginning, more than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney, melanoma, combined.

LEMON: And a survivor at every game this weekend.

DRAFT: A survivor at every game. Again, we're fighting for people. We're not just fighting against a disease. Go to and join into this fight. Because it takes a team to tackle cancer.

LEMON: Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Keisha. Keep smiling. You're beautiful.

KIRKLAND: Thank you. Thank you very much.

LEMON: All right. Talk to you soon. And promise you'll come back, and we'll talk to you. Come back in five years, 10 years, 20 years and we'll keep talking. Thank you.

KIRKLAND: Sounds good.

LEMON: Thank you.

We need to move on now because we have a developing story.

Gaza brace for the worst while Israeli soldiers mass on the border. Could we be hours away from a ground war in Gaza? A repeat of the conflict four years ago that left hundreds dead.


LEMON: Israel could be hours away from its second ground war with Hamas in just four years. 30,000 soldiers are mobilizing on the Gaza border, a force capable of storming Gaza and flushing Hamas militants from their hiding places. The goal is to make scenes like this a thing of the past. That was Tel Aviv yesterday. Israelis sprinting for cover as sirens blare, anxious to escape the threat of an air attack. Few regions in the world as as complicated as this one. CNN's Jim Clancy knows the area like few reporters do. Earlier he explained why Israel's strategy may be doomed.


LEMON: So I thought it was interesting this morning when you told me about Israel's tactics, the tactics that they've used in the past - do you think they're viable now.

JIM CLANCY, CNN: They're not working. It's obvious that they're not working. What we have here is a situation where there was a Sharon, Lieberman and now Netanyahu strategy. The strategy was, give the Palestinians Gaza. There's no water there. They get their water from Israel, it's salty in the summertime, hang on to the West Bank. Just move back the guard towers in Gaza and control that area.

At the same time, take negotiations off the table and as we've seen during Mr. Netanyahu's stint as prime minister, Don, zero negotiations, real negotiations. So this is a strategy that - the missiles are proving it's not going to work. I think they can go in again, but it's not going to accomplish anything. It just puts us back there. This is cast-led light if you will right now.

LEMON: Putting the situation back to -

CLANCY: Same place it was four years ago.

LEMON: Let's get the back-story on this region here because there are two areas of Israel. I know you brought some map here to show us, under the control of Palestinian but not in the same group. Hamas is only in control of Gaza. What do you have here?

CLANCY: Well, take a look. We get in here closer, the Gaza strip, really tiny. There's no water there. All the water comes this way, the Israelis tap it before it gets there. This is under the control of Hamas now. It was Palestinian controlled but then Hamas wrestled that control away from Fatah that controls the West Bank.

Surprisingly now they have their own small jihadist groups inside Gaza to find Hamas' authority there. The West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas. There's some Hamas elements here as well, but this is where the Fatah stronghold, they're the ones -- the only way they want to push negotiations is if they get elevated status at the U.N. and that's why we saw Mahmoud Abbas in Europe this week trying to persuade them for support. The U.S. opposes this, everybody says everybody it's through negotiations but the Palestinians say, we're getting nowhere. They just announced another 1,200 homes to be built in East Jerusalem.

LEMON: When we're looking at this, we're talking about rockets going from here -

CLANCY: Sure, all the way to here.

LEMON: All the way to here and when we say it went towards Tel-Aviv but it went in the water, this is why because it's too close.

CLANCY: These are not missiles. In other words, they're not putting a grid and a target on it and firing it within accuracy. They're rockets. They're sent up into a grid.

LEMON: How far are we talking here?

CLANCY: Well, you're talking more than 40 kilometers and they're aiming to increase the range even more. They're getting this technology from the Ukraine and from Russia. They have Palestinians have studied at the universities there. They've taken this technology home. This is widespread grad rocket technology.

LEMON: This becomes a ground war, I asked been the same question, this changes how?

LEMON: Well.

LEMON: It changes in terms of civilian casualties. It's unavoidable if you put that much firepower in there.

LEMON: Jim Clancy, thank you very much. Make sure you stay tuned to CNN for the latest on the violence in the mideast. First, though, we'll tell you what this Star Wars battle has to do with a heart warming story of coming home for the holidays.


LEMON: Troops coming home for the holidays, check this out. Navy Reservist Justin White of Wichita made it just in time for his son's 5th birthday party. Only Aden didn't know it was his dad he just beat in the light saber duel.




LEMON: Aww! More of these heart warming home for the holidays videos. Make sure you go to And then you can click through the welcome home collection.

That little nugget is so cute. Good night, I'll see you at 10:00.