President George W Bush has ordered helicopters and ships to Lebanon to provide humanitarian aid, the White House announced on Monday, but he still opposes the idea of an immediate cease-fire that could give relief from an Israeli bombing campaign in its 13th day.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said there was no reason to believe an immediate cease-fire would stop violence in the Mideast and said instead the world should confront the destabilising force of Hezbollah and its practice of using the Lebanese people as "human shields."
Israel's bombardment has demolished Lebanon's infrastructure and killed hundreds.
"At the order of the president, humanitarian supplies will start arriving in Lebanon tomorrow by helicopter and by ship," Snow announced at the White House.
"We are working with Israel and Lebanon to open up humanitarian corridors."
Snow said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the assistance with officials during a surprise visit to Beirut today and would further discuss the United States' commitment later in the day as she continued on to Israel. Snow did not give any more details about what the United States would send, other than to describe it as "a significant US Commitment."
The announcement comes a day after officials from US ally Saudi Arabia came to the White House to personally request that Bush help press for an immediate end to the violence between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. But Snow said that could be a "fool's errand."