BBC: UN appalled by Beirut devastation


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

UN appalled by Beirut devastation

The UN's Jan Egeland has condemned the devastation caused by Israeli air strikes
in Beirut, saying it is a violation of humanitarian law.

Mr Egeland, the UN's emergency relief chief, described the destruction as 
"horrific" as he toured the city.

He arrived hours after another Israeli strike on Beirut. Israel also hit Sidon, 
a port city in the south crammed with refugees, for the first time.

In Haifa, two people died as Hezbollah rockets struck the Israeli city.

Fifteen people were reportedly injured by the volley of rockets, which struck a 
house and an industrial zone.

The BBC News website's Raffi Berg visited the scene of one of the rocket attacks
in northern Haifa.

He says the rocket exploded next to a carriageway, raking passing cars with 
shrapnel and ball bearings and killing a man in a nearby vehicle.

A later barrage of missiles was reported to have injured five people.
'Block after block'

Mr Egeland arrived in southern Beirut on Sunday just hours after Israeli strikes
on the Hezbollah stronghold.

A visibly moved Mr Egeland expressed shock that "block after block" of buildings
had been levelled.

He said the "disproportionate response" by Israel was a "violation of 
international humanitarian law".

He appealed for both sides to halt attacks and said UN supplies of humanitarian 
aid would begin to arrive in the next few days.

"But we need safe access," he said. "So far Israel is not giving us access."

Israel has said it will lift its blockade on Beirut's port to allow aid through,
but with roads, bridges and trucks among Israel's targets, transporting it 
around the country is difficult.

In other developments:

€  UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells is due to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi
Livni. A day after accusing Israel of targeting "the entire Lebanese nation", he
said the British government understood Israel's need to defend itself and 
criticised Hezbollah for hiding weapons in civilian areas.

€  The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to leave for the Middle 
East later on Sunday.

€  Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said Israel supports the idea of an 
international peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, and suggested it should be 
led by Nato. A Nato official said there had been no discussion so far of any 
Nato role.

€  Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel had "pushed the button for 
its own destruction".

€  Syria's information minister said his country would enter the conflict if a 
major Israeli ground invasion of Lebanon threatened the security of Damascus.

€  An unarmed UN observer was seriously wounded during fighting between Israeli 
forces and Hezbollah fighters in the village of Maroun al-Ras, which Israel said
it had taken control of on Saturday.

€  The French and German foreign ministers are also in Israel for talks on the 

Sidon targeted

Israel's bombing campaign continued, with strikes on Beirut and on southern and 
eastern Lebanon in the early hours of Sunday.

Published: 2006/07/23 21:06:02 GMT

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