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Israel-Hamas Fighting Continues; President Obama Will Visit Myanmar; Mitt Romney's Excuse for Losing the Election Triggered Outrage

Aired November 18, 2012 - 22:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, I'm Dom Lemon. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The next 48 hours may be critical in determining which direction Israel is going to take in his conflict with Hamas militants. Despite 30,000 troops amass at the Gaza border and tough talk from both sides, there's still a chance for diplomacy. But time is running out.

Today, was the deadliest day yet. Israel saying it lobbed 130 rockets into Gaza and some reports say up to 29 Palestinians were killed today alone, including 10 members of the same family. On the other side of the border, air sirens screamed out in several cities. Israel says it intercepted dozens of the nearly 150 rockets Hamas fired including two targeted at Tel Aviv. The shelling is intense on both sides.

CNN's Anderson Cooper witnessed it firsthand. He's been reporting live from Gaza city. And earlier, I was on the air with Anderson when a massive explosion took place nearby. Watch what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In that blast, we know ten members of one family, also two media centers built -- [ blast ]. Whoa! That was a rather large explosion. That occurred -- just look out here. I can't actually see where the impact of that was. It is actually set off a number of car alarms. But that was probably the largest explosion that we've heard just in the past -- really in the past hour. There have been a number of explosions in the past hour or two. But that one -- that one was pretty loud.

We actually -- the rockets continue to be fired from Gaza toward Israel, about three or four hours ago, there was a quite large rocket fired close to -- very close to this building where we are right now. As you mentioned, a tightly packed city, 1.7 million people and you know, people are living right on top of each other. And so kind of echoes, ricochet off a building, unless you see where it landed, it is hard it get a sense of what part of the city it was headed.

LEMON: Anderson, tell us what people are saying as you speak to them.

COOPER: Look, there's a lot of fear. People are bone tired. You know, this has been going on for days now. There's this constant sound of the drones. It is a -- you know a very eerie feeling. It's a very strange feeling. The city appears very deserted. Or they point out, people have nowhere else to go. So they are still here. Just hiding inside. People rarely are going outside of their apartments except when they absolutely have to try to get food, trying to get cooking oil or any kind of supplies that they need. But shops are shut down. Stores are shut down. You don't see a lot of people walking around on the street. And at night, it is completely deserted. And if people are out driving, they are driving very, very fast through the streets. But it is a very tricky time of the night to be going anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was earlier tonight on CNN. Make sure to join Anderson Monday night at 8:00 eastern and again at 10:00 eastern for a special edition. Ac 360 live from Gaza city.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu says he is prepared to significantly escalate military operations if the rockets coming Gaza don't stop falling. Chief political anchor, Wolf Blitzer has more on the iron defense system now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANCHOR: The iron dome is a really successful program so far. It's only been in business now for a little bit more than a year. But the Israelis have come up with the anti-missile, anti-rocket system where they get word of what is coming in and they launch this iron dome goes into action. And if the rocket or missile is aimed, Don, at a populated area, city or strategic target or significant political target, it can knock down or destroy that missile in midair. Like the patriot missile system as a lot of us were familiar with in U.S. wars over the past couple decades. But this is designed for short range rockets and missiles, if you will.

And Israelis say so far, it is about 90 percent success rate. They have been using it pretty successfully. Problem is, it's been about a thousand rockets and missiles that have come into Israel from Gaza since last Wednesday when this crisis really escalated. Every time, they get word about rocket or missile coming in, the sirens go off in towns and villages and the people have to rush to air raid shelters or bunkers, stair wells, wherever they can go. And it is causing a lot of terror out there and Israelis say they won't tolerate it very much longer.

So, that's the problem right now from the Israeli perspective. They are going after targets in Gaza, but there are plenty of civilians who have been killed in the process in Gaza because it is such a heavily populated a area and some of those rockets and missiles are launched from populated areas. Then you get the tragic results in the process.

LEMON: And we have seen the video of the people fleeing and when they see the sirens running off, just trying anything they can do, Wolf, to get to safety. Everyone wants this not to escalate.

So, let's talk about the possibility of cease-fire and what you are hearing from your sources.

BLITZER: I think that there is intense international efforts under way. The president of the United States is deeply involved in this. He is speak together leaders of Egypt. He is hoping that the government of Qatar, of Turkey, that they can convince them to stop with the rockets and hopefully they can have an effort to achieve a long range solution. That's going to be very, very difficult as all of us know. But the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu , of gentle he says 3 0,000 ground forces have been activated, they are in training exercises, not far from Gaza and they will go in as brutal and ugly as that might, they don't want to do that because it'll cause an enormous amount of pain. Israelis had a poor experience under Gaza four years ago. And again with Hezbollah forces when they don't want to do that but the prime minister feels he has no choice. My own gut tells me, the next 48 hours ,72 hours will be critical and I say there is a 50/50 chance after diplomatic cease-fire.

LEMON: Wolf Blitzer, thank you.

And be sure to join Wolf Blitzer Monday, 4:00 p.m. eastern, for "the SITUATION ROOM," special edition live from Jerusalem

A peace effort under way it stop the violence. Egypt working to reinstate a cease-fire. Deputy general Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Cairo for talks tomorrow. An Arab league foreign minister are set to visit Gaza on Tuesday. But both Israelis and Palestinians say the solution must come from the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: We are trying to drive home a message to Hamas, that they cannot shoot at Israeli civilians, try to kill Israeli civilians with impunity. We have been trying to keep down the amount of civilian deaths on their side. Now ]Compare that to Hamas on us. They are trying to maximize the number of Israeli civilians that they kill. That's the different between a terrorist organization and democratic country.

MAEN AREIKAT, PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO THE U.S.: I think it takes two to tango here. The ambassador knows that it was Israel who provoked Hamas by taking part one of their military commander Wednesday. They knew that Hamas and other fashions would retaliate. So they are also to be blamed for this escalation of the violence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. It's time for the United States, for international community, to force and pressure Israel to lift the siege and that I believe will lead it putting an end to these facilities across the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Meanwhile, Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling an Arab leaders to hold a summit as soon as possible.

President Barack Obama is in Asia at this hour but not everyone is happy about his latest stop. The important political figure he is about to meet, some people are not happy about that as well. Live report straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: All right, you're looking at the first pictures we are getting in. This is courtesy of Reuters. President arriving in Myanmar, Air Force One. The doors will open and the president will get off the airplane and walk down the tarmac to meet with leaders there. President Barack Obama in Myanmar as part of his three-day trip to Asia. Again, these pictures are just coming in. First time a sitting U.S. president visited the pacific rim. Long ruled by a repressive military regime. And you can better believe there's a bit of controversy with this one.

CNN's Dan Lothian traveling with the president, joins us now live form the capital city of Yang don.

So Dan, how is the president responding to criticism over this visit?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, obviously the president pushing back on this criticism saying that, you know, if you were to wait around for this country to have a perfect democracy, you might end up waiting a long time. So to that end, the president will be arriving here and as you pointed out and will be meeting with two important figures in this country on this long road to democracy. First of all, the newly elected president and the Nobel prize winning opposition leader who was free from house arrest to run for parliament.

But this is a very delicate balance here. Not only for the people in this country but also for the U.S. involvement in this process. Because as I pointed out, there is a lot of concern that the presidential visit comes a little too early because there are still human rights concerns here. There is still violence and this country still has a long way to go. But as I pointed out, the president pushed back on that during a press conference last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is not an endorsement of the Burmese government. This is an acknowledgement that there is a process under way inside that country. That even a year and a half, two years ago, nobody foresaw.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Now, President Obama is expected to draw some parallels between the struggles that African-Americans face in the United States and the ongoing struggles in this country. And excerpts for prepared remarks the White House released just a short time ago, the president expected to say quote, I stand before you today as president of the most powerful nation on earth with a heritage that would have once denied me the right to vote. So I believe deeply that this country can transcend its differences - Don.

LEMON: And Dan, as we are looking again -- as you are up here, we are looking at Air Force One at the airport in Myanmar. And they are getting the steps in order so the president can deplane there. I'll ask you a couple questions as we watch this. Does the administration see a real change in Myanmar's government in recent years or is this wishful thinking? LOTHIAN: Well, look, there clearly is change here. They do see change. But as they call it, they're not coming here to celebrate how far they have come on this road to democracy. There are small steps that have been taken and they have rewarded action with action, first of all, when the U.S. announced that secretary Clinton would be coming here to visit, remember she came at the end of last year, some political prisoners were released. You had these elections, parliamentary elections. Another award from the U.S. they opened an embassy, have an ambassador here as well.

So they point out there are these little steps that this country has taken and that the U.S. has rewarded them, but at the same time, there is a long way to go. No one believes this country put behind it some of these struggles of the past. The president saying, that coming here will provide some encouragement on that long road to democracy, Don.

LEMON: And Dan, I'm being informed now that pictures we were looking at were indeed live. We aren't sure because we aren't in charge of the pictures. But again, the president leaving. Just for quickly this is, we look at this. talk to me a little more about the trip. Because (INAUDIBLE), she encourage this trip?

LOTHIAN: She really did and remember, she also went to Washington back in September and met with the president. Very much wanted the president to come here. As you know, there is only one first time that president can come here and that's a very strong signal to the people of this country, of the U.S. seriousness and engagement in this country.

And you know, we were talking earlier off camera with you about the acceptance, embrace that we saw after landing here just a short time ago, thousands of school children lined the roadway leading way from the airport. They were chanting. They were waiting to in-flag.

This country, many in this country see a real opportunity and the United States sees what's happening here as a model for other countries like North Korea. That if they do take steps, they do get engaged in some sort of action that U.S. will get involved as well in doing things like dropping sanctions. We have seen them drop sanctions, easing of on the sanctions. Those are things that North Koreans can experience.

LEMON: Dan, we appreciate your reporting. The president getting off the plane soon there in Myanmar. First trip for the American president to the Myanmar.

Yes, going conflict between Israel and Gaza moving to another dimension. The fighting continues, both sides are turning to cyber space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a good time to buy a home. Mortgage rates dropped to record lows. Average rate on 30-year loan fell to 3.34 percent. The 15 years rate fell to 2.65 percent. Mortgage rates are falling because investors are worried about the economy and are moving money into bonds.

Unemployed Americans might like Facebook's newest move. The social network launched a social jobs app this week that will connect their users with job openings. The app includes listings from services like monster and branch out.

And finally, the economy hasn't stopped Americans from being generous. Red cross raised more than $130 million in the aftermath of super storm Sandy. For more information on how to help hurricane victims, visit CNN.com/impact.

That's this week's getting down to business.

Alison Kosik, CNN. New York:

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Down here at the international desk where the pictures have been coming in nonstop really through this Israel/Hamas conflict including some things from social media.

Josh Levs is here at the international desk with the very latest on that yet. It doesn't stop.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't stop, The social media war that's going on, simultaneously with the fighting, the Israel and Gaza, militants in Gaza has been really incredible. We are seeing new phenomenon. And on social media.

Let's start off with the computer and I will show some videos that coming in. We have been following very closely the latest right here at the international desk coming in from twitter feeds. This is the militant wing of Hamas. This is one of the latest pictures they have put on twitter a few hours back, talking about an Israeli massacre occurring in Gaza today.

And as I spoke, you can see a lot of pictures coming through. Lately a lot of pictures they have put up have been like this one. This is a man we reported on. This one says, his blood will be a curse on Israel's military and political leaders. That's the message they put up along with that one. There is another picture of him.

On the IDF twitter site, lots of posts coming in as well. They keep coming, coming, coming. This is one of the pictures the IDF has tweeted. It is a photo of Israeli children and parents sleeping in a bomb shelter in (INAUDIBLE). And this one of the examples of the places in which people have developed shelters because they have been living under the threat of rocket attacks for so long.

Also in the Israel defense forces using a lot of you tube. And they are seeing them put out lots of videos throughout the day. This is an example of them saying this is a recap of what happened on the fifth day of fighting right there.

I want to take a moment here to show you a couple of videos as well that have been getting a lot of traction with people watching on social media. They take you inside. Let's take the first one first. This takes you inside one of the sites today that was bombed in Gaza. This is one the media centers in Gaza. This video takes us way inside, Don. So, you can see a lot of devastation, a lot of destruction that happened there. Another video from Israel, getting a lot of traffic today is this. Take a look.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)

LEVS: This is channel 2. And What you are seeing is one of the interceptors from Israel's iron dome program, meeting a rocket from Gaza that was fired into an area near Tel Aviv. Something interesting to note, one of the ones that was intercepted it then failed. The interceptor met the record and fell and injured someone in the greater Tel Aviv area. Another case Israel is reporting a lot of success in these efforts.

And if we have a second before we go, I just want to tell what really amazing pictures, slices of life on both sides, in Gaza and Israel. They have got them up here, CNN.com. If our photographer, Dave, will zoom in for a second for me. These photos are really powerful. They are amazing.

This is a woman grieving in Gaza over lost relatives, relatives who were killed. This is a car hit by a rocket in southern Israel today that was fired from Gaza. These are some kids taking shelter or lying down during the air sirens in Israel. And these are kids walking around in an area hit inside Gaza. So kids in the conflict, really powerful images.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. You are talking about that iron dome defense system, it's been working well. But it, too, can be overwhelming. That was bomb human things.

Thank you very much, Josh.

Civilians living in fear as Israeli forces battle Hamas militants. It is across the Israel-Gaza border. Innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Israel says its rockets are aimed at military targets but Gaza is a dense city with almost two million residents. There has been collateral damage, of course. At least 76 Palestinians, 20 of them children, have been killed since Wednesday. More than 600 people wounded. Images of the damage, stunning. You can see it right there.

The video we will show you next is graphic. So be warned. OK, here we go.

These are images of civilians, wounded in airstrikes on Gaza city. You can see children among the injured. Elsewhere in Gaza today, rescuers pulled bodies after baby, two children and an elderly woman from the ruins of a house. At least 10 members of the same family were killed. An Israeli military spokesman says a member in Gaza was the target but it is unknown if he was killed. CNN's Arwa Damon visited the site.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The large slab of concrete and mangled metal finally gives way. Buried beneath it, another lifeless body. The second child we've seen. There was also a baby. Others in the neighborhood say the blast killed all ten people who lived here. Israel says it was targeting (INAUDIBLE) who had a Hamas rocket launch unit. People we spoke would said, they never heard of him. This with the Al-dalu (ph) family home.

People here are telling us that so far those who have been killed in this strike have been women and children. And they have not been able to find any survivors. Just moments ago, from that back corner, they did pull out the body after tiny child. An over here there's another frantic effort under way.

Tempers easily flair as frustration and anger mount.

She's my uncle's wife, this young man shouts. Rage coupled with sorrow etched across his face. This is where she lived. Her elderly body finally dug up and carried away. There are no air raid sirens or bunkers in Gaza. This strike came with no warning.

The rescue efforts are not always so hopeless. Not far from here, just the day before, 11-month-old Amed and his 4-year-old sister, Shahata (ph), both survived a multiple missile strike on their home.

When the roof collapsed, it somehow formed a protective shelter over us. The children's mother Safa (ph) said, for about 45 minutes I thought I would suffocate. My leg was stuck. People could hear us screaming but couldn't do anything, she tells us.

In between cries, fears that her children were dead. This is what her building looks like now. The rubble cleared, piled back into the lot that was their home.

I will never forget what happened, she says. I will die imagining it. I can't believe it. I can't believe these are my children. I tell myself, they are not my children. I can't imagine how they survived. I feel like I'm not myself. I can't believe that I am alive, talking to you, breathing. She tells us, they wants revenge. But more than that, she wants peace. She says, there is no good that comes with war.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Gaza city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And the victims of this conflict aren't just in Gaza.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) LEMON: The constant threat of rockets as people in Israel are on edge. Their stories, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have been talking about casualties inside Gaza. Across the border in Israel, officials say the persistent rocket attacks prompted their offensive against Hamas haven't led up. In Ashkelon, just north of Gaza, Israeli authorities say at least 120 rockets have been aimed at them today.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen had o take cover when he was out on assignment earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN CORRESPONDENT: Crews working on the ground, that seems to be indeed part of the rocket that has landed here. But people here spend most of their days indoors. There's another attack -- there's another alert going on right now. We got to get out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Israel's iron dome missile defense system knocked down scores of rockets but life in Israel is far from normal. Here again, Fred Pleitgen.

PLEITGEN: Don, there was a lot going on in the Ashkelon area today especially a lot of pair alarms going on. in fact, we woke up this morning and the first thing we saw when we looked out our hotel window is a rocket had hit in downtown Ashkelon. It really went exactly the same way since then. We then moved to the scene of the first airstrike. There was another air alarm while we were there. He had to take cover. And it continued exactly that way.

Now, the Israeli government says there were at least 120 rockets fired out of Gaza into this area in Israel throughout the day. Now, of course, one of the things that Israelis have here is the iron dome defense system. And I was on the scene when one of these missiles defense batteries. And it was in action the entire time. You could hear it fire off rockets, see it fire off rockets. There was one instance where we took cover from a possible rocket strike and we could see it intercept seven or eight rocket at once. Only about 200 yards above our heads.

Now of course, all of this is taking a heavy toll on the population that lives in this area here especially in the town of Ashkelon. The people here are very concerned. They are trying to leave their houses, as little as possible. Venture out as little as possible. And also keep their children inside. And it really is also something that is also taking a psychological toll. Of course, especially on the littlest ones. The mayor told me a couple days ago that he believes that commerce here in this town is down by about 80 percent. And can you see that. The streets are absolutely empty here in the evenings. Normally people go out at night. They go to bars. They have their beer in the open. Now of course, that is not having at all. So, the people we are speaking to here say yes, they support the military operation going on but they also hope it will end very soon, Don.

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

Of course, there is always, politics here in the U.S.

Mitt Romney's excuse for losing the election triggered outrage. Romney suggested that President Obama gave huge gifts to African- American, to Hispanics, and to young voters.

Up next, you will hear from CNN contributor who says Romney's gift remark is accurate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: 5:39 in the morning. In Gaza city. You're looking at live pictures now. This is from Palestine TV. Also live pictures you will see in a moment from Reuters. Of a city that probably did not get much sleep, preparing for the week and preparing for another day. It is going to be tough the next 48 hours. It will be critical in this conflict that is going on between Hamas and Israel right now. Live pictures from Gaza city.

On to politics now. What a bizarre gift. Mitt Romney blamed his election loss on gifts. Romney suggested that he lost because President Obama offered gifts to African-Americans, to Hispanics, to young voters. Gifts like health care, like contraception and student loans.

Even Republicans pounce on Romney. Newt Gingrich says Romney's comment is quote "nuts." Governor Bobby Jindal says, a remark insulted voters' intelligence. Romney's quote "gifts" fall out led to verbal fireworks when I talked earlier with CNN contributors Will Cane and Lz Granderson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: When you look at Mitt Romney's comments, first of all, I can say it is not very sportsman like. You just lost, now you are saying the reasons you lost, when it is really --

LEMON: Drinking the hateraid, that's what it is.

CAIN: Right. Right. However though, I say this as well, that what Mitt Romney had to say was also not inaccurate. It wasn't politically advantageous but the Democratic Party has been --

LEMON: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Did you just say it wasn't inaccurate?

LEMON: It wasn't inaccurate? What are you talking about?

CAIN: First of all, I think your guys two reaction says just outstanding. I mean, it was just amazing. Yes, I was saying that --

GRANDERSON: I think your lack of reaction is amazing.

CAIN: All right. I'm a little taken aback by the chorus of surprise. I really am. For both of you guys. Yes his statement is accurate. Democratic party has been crafting policies that are tailor made for various constituencies. Whether it is breaks you up by a gender, age, ethnicity. Absolutely, those policies have been crafted to win over votes and appeal to -- appeal it every demographic.

LEMON: Isn't that the point of an election, Will? I see where you are going with this, but that's the point of the election. That is a winning strategy. If Republicans had done it on their side, that would be a winning strategy.

CAIN: Great. That's an awesome political analysis but I'm talking about governance here and what is a better way to govern. If you want to win election, It is absolutely wonderful to pander to every group you can hope to get to --

LEMON: Hold on, hold on. Lz, I will let you handle this. The thing is that Will --

CAIN: This is astounding.

LEMON: Hold on. Let me finish, Will, let me finish. Governing means governing all of the people no matter what demographic it is. Whether it is the black, white, women, straight, gay, republicans --

CAIN: Excuse me wouldn't that mean --

LEMON: And so, if someone is tailoring their message for one group or another, that's what they should be doing. That's what a leader of the free world should be doing.

CAIN: No. That's amazing contradiction you just said within two sentences of yourself, Don. If you are governing for everyone then, why would you craft policies that only apply to some people.

LEMON: That's not what you said. You said what he said is correct --

GRANDERSON: Will, here is the situation.

CAIN: You're right, I did say that. I think you need to rationalize these things.

GRANDERSON: Listen, Will, President Obama is not handing out gifts. All right. He is being a president. Now the only thing I found really consistent with this is that Romney has been essentially hating on half the country for almost two years. I didn't necessarily find his comments out of line with everything else he has talked about. We have been characterizing them as gaffs. I have been trying to say, this is how he is. He really believes half the country is a bunch of moochers.

Now, I think what is interesting, is that if you strip away all the areas, the urban areas that is predominantly minority, he still lost a whole bunch of white people too. The man is refusing to take personal responsibility, which is the height of irony when you think about what he talked about with the 47 percent much the people not being responsible for their own lives.

Here, he lost an election mostly because of the fact that he was a bad option. The GOP knows he was a bad option. That's why they fought him so hard during primary because he was a bad choice. But they ended up with him. He reluctantly had to get behind him. And you sow what you are seeing is the chickens coming home to roost. That is all that you are seeing.

CAIN: I know you got to run.

LEMON: We got to go. But, I just know,

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I just cannot believe you said what he said was accurate. What he said was a hype of insulting -- it was so insulting and so condescending.

CAIN: Let me make a suggestion.

LEMON: And to say, hold on. And to say that -- it is just insulting to a whole bunch of people. I can can't believe you would even think that way.

CAIN: OK. So, let me make a suggestions. Since you guys happen to know me and you happen know the kind of statement I make, let me explain them. I know you have to run them to the next thing but I can assure you that what I said is highly logical and makes sense.

LEMON: It is highly logical and makes sense to you and -- is this like the numbers and polls all made sense if you are doing some fuzzy math. Is didn't make sense, will. I'm sorry.

CAIN: Now you're lumping me in with people who didn't believe the polls.

LEMON: And it is insulting. Tough love. Thank you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That went on forever. I could not shut them up. All right, thanks, guys.

Coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Sounds of sirens as the fighting between Israel and Gaza intensify with neither side showing any signs of letting up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: But first, this. The fiscal cliff hits at the end of the year and Washington is scrambling to find a solution. In this week's mastering your money, CNN's Ali velshi takes a look at the president's plan and what kind of compromise we can expect to see worked out with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Joining me is Mohammed El-Erian, HE is the CEO at PIMCO, one of the largest investors in global bonds.

Mohammed, welcome back to the show. You say taxes will and should go up for wealthy. You predict Republicans in your words will shout and scream but ultimately they will go along with the tax hike for the sake of avoiding an economic disaster. That's the president, Mohammed, not Republicans, that blinked in 2010. Why do you think the Republicans will back down now?

MOHAMMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: I think it is different this time around. First, nobody wants to go over the fiscal cliff. This implies a recession and implies unemployment going pup and it implies us shooting our self in the foot at a time when the global environment is much more difficult. See what's happening in Europe and Middle East and China.

Second, you just had an election, Ali. And the message, one of the messages of the election was, one of shared responsibility and fair burden sharing and it is a period in which the rich have bun extremely well. Not just on the inside but in terms of being protected on the down side.

Finally, and importantly, the economic arguments against this while they are valid at higher tax rates are not valid here. So, if you look at the hand that president has, it is stronger than the Republican and I think both of them will want it see some sort of compromise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As rockets continue to fly between Israel and Gaza, the human toll is rising.

In Israel officials say the iron dome defense system has knocked down scores of missiles. But at least three people have been killed in 68 wounded. In Gaza no such system exists and air raids sirens are uncommon. There, 76 people have been killed and more than 600 injured. Among the dead, two young Palestinian children. A rocket smashed their home while they slept beside their father.

CNN's Sara Sidner visited the family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the result after blast so powerful, a boulder sized chunk of the road below hurled through the roof of this two-story home. Inside, signs children slept here.

Where was the baby?

The babies were under the rubble here and here. They were sleeping with their father over here. Suddenly the house collapsed. The brother ran to them. He found them under this rock, she says. Relatives say a 2-year-old and 4-year-old were crushed to death. Their father is still alive.

The children's aunt shows us around. There's blood on this boulder and dirt weighs down on everything in the room. Mourning in an apartment below, we find the children's 22-year-old mother.

I am in shock. I don't believe it. My two children. They are priceless to me. My life is now very difficult, she says. She says an airstrike hit just outside her home about 1:30 in the morning.

When we arrive, huge piles of dirt are being moved around by a bulldozer. The neighbors say it is filling the crater left by the strike. A few streets away, in the same neighborhood, it looks like the aftermath of a strong earthquake. But residents say this also was the result of an airstrike.

You look to your left, destruction. People picking out things that anything they can find, and if you look to your right, destruction. The building next to it blown out. And we are standing on what was the roof of a three-story building.

In the street below, the man in green holds his head in astonishment. He says, he had a warning the strike was coming, but felt powerless. The IDF called us. They warned us at first. We didn't believe them. Then they hit us with a small rocket on the roof. Ten minutes after that, they hit the house, he says.

By then, everybody in his house had evacuated with no time to rescue their belongs. Fifteen of his neighbors were wounded. But no one died here. The Israeli military says there were a hundred plus airstrikes in 24-hour period. But could not confirm that it was responsible for either hit. In a neighborhood, it says it known for launching rockets towards Israel.

We ourselves saw rockets blasting from the area, leaving a trail of smoke over the neighborhood mosque. Long after the rockets and bombardment stops, citizens on both sides will be left with the scars of war.

Sara Sidner CNN, Gaza city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Millions of you will travel for thanksgiving, but no one will rack up more miles than Sue Needa Williams did to get home for the holiday. Well tell you about her journey after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The gospel choir had parishioners on their feet, singing, hands raised, waving. An inspirational scene playing out at many black churches on any given Sunday.

But this is Harlem, New York. Take a second look at the congregation and you'll see the black church here, changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very inspiring and definitely I would come back. Yes, why not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No pictures, no video, because you don't want it interrupt anyone's worship.

CARROLL: Tourists, many European, have been packing the pews of Harlem churches in increasing numbers. Michael Henry Adams specializes this in Harlem's history.

MICHAEL HENRY ADAMS, AUTHOR, HISTORIAN: I thought of it initially as something bad, but I say, I realize, it is to be able to know each other better and to learn more about each other. So, there is nothing bad in that.

CARROLL: What is happening in the pews is not just white tourism. It may be a reflection of something greater.

Do you see the identity of Harlem changing or shifting?

REV. MICHAEL WALROND JR., FIRST CORINTHIAN BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, I think demographically you would have to see that there is a change. The Harlem of my youth, when I would come to Harlem, doesn't look the same.

CARROLL: Statistics show Hispanics and whites outpacing the numbers blacks moving into Harlem.

WALROND: You can no longer make the assumption that all persons who were not Americans, who are whites, we are that were whites were tourist. They were persons who live in the community, came to the community and wanted to find a place to have a transformative encounter with God.

CARROLL: The changing face in Harlem, still being moved by the age- old gospel.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Hey, go Harlem. Go Harlem. Our Soledad O'Brien examines provocative questions about skin color, discrimination and race in her new documentary. Who is black in America premieres Sunday, December 9, only on CNN.

Big fan of Harlem.

OK. So, here are another stories we are watching tonight for you. After 127 days in space, astronaut Sunita Williams is back on earth. Williams, along with Astronauts from Japan and Russia, landed tonight in Kazakhstan. The trio spent most of the past four months aboard the international space station. During the trip Williams broke women's record for time spent, space walking in seven visits to space, she caught 50 hours and 40 minutes.

Vice president Joe Biden was in New Jersey today, visiting areas destroyed by super storm Sandy. Biden visited the volunteered fire department in seaside heights, meeting first responders who lost their homes in the storm. He talked about his personal connection to the region and pledged long-term help.

During super storm Sandy, New Jersey governor Chris Christie was firm about the importance of evacuating and unhappy with those who stayed in harm's way. Well, Christie stopped by "Saturday Night Live" last night for a self parody for his hardnosed communication style. He dished out some hard jabs, including to those of us in the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: I also I could not fact to follow. I do not think any of the stupid mayors who ignored my evacuation rules, you're idiots. And when you ignore me, it makes you look like a real Seth Meyers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on.

CHRISTIE: I'm speaking here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

CHRISTIE: I also do not want it thank the reporters that put themselves in danger. You know, by walking into the middle of the hurricane with their cameras. We don't need you to tell us there's a hurricane. We have windows.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: And finally, I do not want to thank the people who are getting in screaming matches at gas stations over the long lines (INAUDIBLE). I get it. Screaming at people at gas station says a New Jersey tradition. But, you don't do it during a crisis. There will be plenty of time for yelling when this is all over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Chris Christie. What do you think? Next president? Could be. Just saying. He has a sense of humor. Always welcome.

I'm Don Lemon, have a great week. Good night.