Israel Ends Naval Blockade of Lebanon

Israelis men fish while an Israeli gunboat patrols off the northern Israeli coast.

Israelis men fish while an Israeli gunboat patrols off the northern Israeli coast, close to the Lebanese border at Rosh Haniqra Friday. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel lifts its nearly two-month naval blockade of Lebanon, turning over the job of stopping any weapons shipments meant for Hezbollah guerrillas to European warships. Israel says it will withdraw the last of its troops from Lebanon in two weeks.

Israel ended its blockade of Lebanon's airspace Thursday.

Following the withdrawal of the naval blockade, Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora appealed to the tens of thousands of Lebanese — and the many foreign tourists — who fled the fighting to return to Lebanon.

Israeli troops still occupy some positions in southern Lebanon. Israel says they'll withdraw as the Lebanese army and the United Nations peacekeeping force complete their deployment in the area.

Lebanon's airport was bombed and its sea ports blocked by Israeli gunships at the start of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Most of Lebanon's main bridges and highways were also bombed, as Israel sought to stop any weapons from reaching Hezbollah fighters.

There are now more than 3,000 U.N. troops on the ground in Lebanon, and more on the way. The Spanish parliament voted Thursday to contribute 1,100 soldiers to the mission. Turkey has also agreed to send troops.



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