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.
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 leveled.
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
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel had "pushed the button for its
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
Israel's bombing campaign continued, with strikes on Beirut and on southern and
eastern Lebanon in the early hours of Sunday.
The Associated Press news agency reported at least eight deaths on Sunday - an
eight-year-old boy, a Lebanese photographer, three civilians fleeing in a
minibus, and three Hezbollah fighters.
One target was the southern port of Sidon, a city not previously targeted by
Israel, where 42,000 refugees from the surrounding area have flooded in the hope
The BBC's Roger Hearing in the city reports that a mosque was destroyed in one
strike, which hit less than 500m (550 yards) from a hospital. At least four
people were injured.
While Israel said the mosque was a meeting place for Hezbollah militants, local
doctors insisted it was just "a place for prayers".
The BBC's Jim Muir in the southern city of Tyre reports intense bombardment,
with Hezbollah firing missiles from the area and Israel launching air strikes in
At least 15 civilian vehicles have been hit on the roads, including one taking
injured people to a nearby hospital, he says.
Further east, more Israeli air strikes forced engineers to turn back who were
trying to repair impassable roads so a UN-escorted aid convoy could get through,
our correspondent reports.
He says that bombing has intensified in the region since Israel dropped warning
leaflets on Friday, and the Israelis are now shooting at almost anything on
moving on the roads.
At least 364 Lebanese have been killed in the 12 days of violence, many of them
civilians, and angry protests condemning Israeli attacks have been held in
cities around the world.
At least 36 Israelis have been killed, including 17 civilians killed by rockets
fired by Hezbollah into Israel.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/23 21:06:02 GMT