The UN Development Agency has reported that Lebanon’s 15-year economic and social recovery from civil war was wiped out in the recent Israeli offensive against Hezbollah.  As well, a report by Amnesty International, whose delegates monitored the fighting in both Israel and Lebanon, was released Wednesday. 

It accuses Israel of destroying Lebanon ‘s infrastructure in a policy that was deliberate and calculated.

"The scale of the destruction was just extraordinary," said Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera, who visited both countries during the war and co-authored the Amnesty report.

"There is clear evidence of disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks."

The human rights group said initial evidence, including the pattern and scope of the Israeli attacks, high number of civilian casualties, widespread damage and statements by Israeli officials "indicate that such destruction was deliberate and part of a military strategy, rather than ‘collateral damage."’

The Amnesty report cited "the widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports," which, taken with statements by Israeli officials, "suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hezbullah. Israel’s attacks on water pumping stations and supermarkets may have broken an international prohibition on targeting objects crucial to civilian survival, " it said.

Jean Fabre, a spokesman for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Tuesday stated, "The damage is such that the last 15 years of work on reconstruction and rehabilitation, following the previous problems that Lebanon experienced, are now annihilated".

Lebanon’s relatively healthy progress towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which cover a range of social and economic targets, "have been brought back to zero," he told journalists in a press conference yesterday.

"Fifteen years of work have been wiped out in a month."

Fabre estimated that overall economic losses for from the month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah totalled "at least 15 billion dollars, if not more".

Lebanese authorities estimated last week that direct structural damage inflicted by the offensive reached 3.6 billion dollars, including 15,000 housing units, 80 bridges and 94 roads destroyed or damaged.

About 35,000 homes and businesses were destroyed in the conflict, while a quarter of the country’s road bridges or flyovers were shattered, according to the UNDP’s initial estimate.

Fabre underlined that Lebanon, which had already added to its debt with post-civil war reconstruction, would find it difficult to foot the bill for even more investment.

"The debt of the country was so big already that the capacity to repay it was already insufficient. Now it won’t be able to do that," he explained.

UN agencies said it would take weeks to assess the full extent of the damage in south and southern Beirut.

The most urgent issues are the need for clean water and sanitation and to clear unexploded munitions, relief agencies said Tuesday.

Underground waterpipes and sewers were destroyed in 10 out of 12 war-struck communities visited by the UN Children’s Fund in recent days, and a similar scale of damage was reported elsewhere.

"Everywhere we go… everybody is talking about water and the need for it," said Paul Sherlock, a UNICEF water specialist.

To stave off more immediate needs, 100,000 litres of bottled water will be delivered every week to villages in southern where thousands of people have tried to return to their homes, the agency said.

Meanwhile, temporary water tanks will gradually be set up in Nabatiyeh and villages along the Israeli border until water systems are restored.

"There’s a huge job to be done on the infrastructure," Sherlock said.

"But access to water also runs into the problem with unexploded ordnance, because you have to dig among the rubble to sort pipework out, so it’s a very dangerous game right now," he added.

At least five Lebanese children were killed in recent days when they picked up unexploded munitions, and more than a dozen have been injured, UNICEF said.Amnesty International said it would address Hezbullah’s attacks on separately.

The Israeli Defense Force has said that between that raid and the Aug. 14 U.N.-brokered cease-fire, it launched more than 7,000 air attacks on Lebanese targets and the navy conducted about 2,500 bombardments.

The United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, estimates that some 1,183 people died, mostly civilians and about a third of them children, while the Lebanese Higher Relief Council says 4,054 people were injured and 970,000 displaced. U.N. officials reported that around 15,000 civilian homes were destroyed.

Meanwhile, the government of Lebanon is considering lodging war crimes charges against , and has asked the UN and the International Community to force to lift its sea and air embargo on .