Beirut bombings violate humanitarian law: UN

UN emergency relief chief Jan Egeland has condemned Israeli air strikes that have devastated much of Beirut, saying the massive bombings violate humanitarian law.

Update ed. Christine

UN emergency relief chief Jan Egeland has condemned Israeli air strikes that have devastated much of Beirut, saying the massive bombings violate humanitarian law.

Egeland, who was on a relief mission to Lebanon, visited the city on Sunday and called for an end to the violence on the twelfth day of Israeli strikes on Lebanon and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel.

"It's terrible. I see a lot of children wounded, homeless, suffering. This is a war where civilians pay a disproportionate price in Lebanon and northern Israel. I hadn't believed it would be block by block leveled to the ground," Egeland told reporters.

"A disproportionate response by Israel is a violation of international humanitarian law."

The crisis started when Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants entered northern Israel on July 12 and attacked an army post, killing eight soldiers and capturing two others. Israel retaliated with days of air strikes and on Saturday, sent troops, tanks and bulldozers across the border.

Hezbollah militants are estimated to have fired more than 1,000 rockets into northern Israel during the conflict —many of them recently acquired missiles that have a much longer range.

Atleast375 people have been killed in Lebanon, including at least eight Canadians who died when Israel bombed a village in southern Lebanon. Israel's death toll stood at 36 on Sunday, with 17 people killed by Hezbollah rockets and 19 soldiers killed in combat.

"If it continues like this, there will be more and more civilian casualties," Egeland warned.

More than $100M in aid needed: Egeland

He estimated it would cost more than $100 million to aid the hundreds of thousands of people who have had to flee their homes to escape the violence.

Egeland called upon the international community for aid.

The number of displaced people has grown to 600,000, according the World Health Organization.

Israel to ease naval blockade

Israel has announced it will ease its naval blockade, allowing aid supply ships to dock in Beirut. Officials also defined a route of safe passage from the capital to the northern city of Tripoli.

But in southern Lebanon, where the Israeli bombardment has been heaviest, officials said supplies of fuel, food and medicine were quickly diminishing.

"There are no supplies reaching us, not from other nations, nor from the Lebanese government," said Abdul-Rahman al-Bizri, the mayor of the port city of Sidon.

The first International Red Cross relief convoy on Friday made a six-hour journey over damaged road from Beirut to the southern city of Tyre. It included 24 tonnes of food and other emergency items, to be distributed to 4,000 civilians in and around the city.

UN warns of 'major humanitarian disaster'

About 200,000 Lebanese have fled to neighbouring Syria — which has also been one of the key backers of Hezbollah over the years, along with Iran.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annanon Saturday warned that delivering aid to the refugees in Syria could be difficult and had the potential to turn into a "major humanitarian disaster"

The Red Crescent aid agency in Syria said it had only been able to help about 10 per cent of the refugees who have arrived in the country.

With files from the Associated Press