Israel to open humanitarian aid routes

Israel will allow the opening of safe delivery passages for humanitarian aid, a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said Tuesday.

Israel will allow the opening of safe delivery passages for humanitarian aid, a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said Tuesday.

Israeli and international military experts will meet to determine the routes, Olmert told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to his office.

"The prime minister said that Israel will ensure the opening of humanitarian passages by land inside Lebanon in order to allow for the distribution of humanitarian aid to all parts of the population," according to the statement from Olmert's office.

Olmert met with Rice Tuesday morning as part of her tour through the region, which has seen 14 days of Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli communities.

About 400 people in Lebanon and 37 Israelis have been killed, and 750,000 Lebanese have been displaced.

Aid by Wednesday

United Nations humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, who is in Israel Tuesday, said he believes humanitarian aid could reach parts of Lebanon within 24 hours.

"The UN will be able to set up a first large convoy of 10 trucks on Wednesday, another one Friday morning and then we will be going every second day from there on," said Egeland.

The Norwegian diplomat said he's waiting for final approval from Israel's military to establish a route from Beirut to southern Lebanon.

"There is no more time really, it is long overdue to get to a cessation of hostilities and it's long overdue to get effective aid to some of these most exposed groups."

Egeland has issued an urgent appeal for $150 million in aid to Lebanon, where tens of thousands of refugees are in temporary shelters, supplies of medicine are tight at many hospitals and fuel is slowly running out.

"We need to heal the wound. We as humanitarian workers do not provide the solution," said Egeland. "We can save lives today but they will be equally vulnerable tomorrow if the war continues."

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Tuesday said his country will deliver $1.5 billion to Lebanon to support its economy and for restoration.

With files from the Associated Press.