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UN humanitarian chief touring Beirut says excessive force violates international law

[JURIST] Touring south Beirut Sunday, United Nations relief coordinator Jan Egeland [official profile; JURIST news archive] said the damage to civilian areas caused by Israeli airstrikes [JURIST news archive] was worse than he had anticipated and reemphasized that attacking civilians was illegal under intrenational norms. "It is horrific. I did not know it was block after block of houses... It seems to be an excessive use of force in an area with so many civilians," said Egeland, described by reporters as "visibly shocked." "It makes it a violation of humanitarian law." He acknowledged, however, that he did not have all the information he might want: "What we do not know, for humanitarians, what was between these buildings, what military targets? But it seems excessive."

Egeland and the UN are attempting to co-ordinate the creation of three humanitarian corridors [Reuters report] over sea to allow aid to come in to the war-torn area. Israeli air attacks on portions of Beirut and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Haifa and other areas in northern Israel continued Sunday. Reuters has more.

During a stopover in Cyprus Saturday Egeland expressed frustration with the general situation: "The whole thing has to stop. It's no natural disaster but a man-made crisis. This is a senseless war. It should never have started. It should never have been carried out like it is now." He said the Hezbollah rocket attacks were "deplorable and despicable," but added that Israel's response had been "disproportionate, when to my thinking one third of the wounded and killed are women and children, then it clearly goes far beyond responding to armed groups." Reuters has more.

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