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Israel Withdraws Naval Blockade of Lebanon

  • VOA News

Israel has lifted a two-month sea blockade of Lebanon that it imposed at the start of its war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

An Israeli government spokeswoman confirmed that the blockade ended Friday.

The commander of UN forces in Lebanon, Major General Alain Pellegrini, said the blockade was removed as an international naval force began patrolling the Lebanese coastline. Pellegrini said the blockade seriously undermined the Lebanese economy and needed to be lifted to allow people to get back to their business.

Israel lifted its air blockade of Lebanon on Thursday.

It imposed the blockade to prevent Hezbollah from getting arms supplies from Iran through Syria. A UN-mandated ceasefire ended the war last month.

Israeli officials also said the last Israeli ground troops in southern Lebanon should leave within two weeks as UN peacekeepers deploy to the area.

In other developments, Lebanese security sources say Israeli troops seized five men in the village of Aita al-Chaab, on the border with Israel. The Israeli military says the men were taken in for questioning. It was not clear whether they were armed.

And Israeli media say Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has indicated he would be prepared to discuss the status of the disputed Shebaa Farms region if Lebanon disarms Hezbollah and fulfills its obligations under UN resolutions (1701 and 1559).

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