The following is a firsthand account by Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser, reporting from Gaza. The ceasefire came into effect at 9pm on November 21 November.
The children are playing outside again, despite the torrential rain. They were stuck indoors during eight days of relentless Israeli bombardments.
By the time that ended in excess of 160 people were dead – including more than 30 children and scores of other unarmed civilians.
For the duration of the onslaught they were stuck indoors – at home, seeking refuge with relatives or in schools which the UN refugee agency turned into temporary shelters for thousands of families forced from their houses by the bombings.
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Despite reports of US weapons used in human rights violations in Gaza, another shipment has arrived and been unloaded in Israel. In January, Amnesty International along with other groups in Greece were able to divert and delay this shipment of arms, but on January 12, in the midst of the conflict, the ship disappeared from the radar near Greece. It reappeared March 23, traveling from Israel to the Ukraine. The Pentagon confirmed that on March 22, the cargo ship unloaded 300 containers of munitions to the Israeli port Ashdod. There is not too much to add to the statement of Amnesty’s Brian Wood:
Legally and morally, this U.S. arms shipment should have been halted by the Obama administration given the evidence of war crimes resulting from military equipment and munitions of this kind used by the Israeli forces.
Even still, President Obama has committed to a 10-year contract with a 25% increase in military aid totaling around $30 billion. There must be an immediate cease of arms trade to Israel and all Palestinian armed groups or the risk of serious human rights violations continues. The US government clearly owes us some answers as to why the recent arms shipment was delivered.