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Egeland condemns Israeli, Palestinian violations of humanitarian law in Gaza

[JURIST] United Nations relief coordinator Jan Egeland [official profile; JURIST news archive] said Tuesday that Israel had used "disproportionate" force in its military offensive against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip [JURIST news archive], but he added that both sides had violated international humanitarian law [JURIST report]. Touring Gaza, Egeland expressed dismay over Israel's destruction of Gaza's infrastructure [JURIST report], including a power plant that supplied 70 percent of Gaza's power to its 1.4 million residents, saying that international law clearly prohibits the destruction of civilian infrastructure. "This plant is more important for hospitals, for sewage, and for water of civilians than for any Hamas man," Egeland said.

Egeland also toured south Beirut over the weekend, where he said the damage to civilian areas caused by Israeli airstrikes [JURIST news archive] was worse than he had anticipated while emphasizing that attacking civilians was illegal under international norms [JURIST report]. Israel quickly defended itself [JURIST report], dismissing Egeland's comments as out of line with those made by other international figures, such as Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council. The UN News Centre has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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