ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
We're going to begin this hour in Lebanon, where Israel has lifted its sea blockade. Yesterday Israel ended its aerial blockade and today European warships are patrolling Lebanese waters.
NPR's Jamie Tarabay begins our coverage from Beirut.
JAMIE TARABAY: Israel had put off lifting its sea blockade until an international force was in place. Just after noon on Friday European warships began operating off the Lebanese coast. The patrols are meant to prevent any arms shipments from reaching Hezbollah. Following the lifting of the blockade, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora appealed to the tens of thousands of Lebanese and the many foreign tourists who fled the fighting to return to Lebanon.
Israeli troops are still occupying some positions in southern Lebanon. Israel says they'll withdraw as the Lebanese army and the U.N. peacekeeping force complete their deployment in the area. Israeli officials say a final withdrawal could happen within two weeks.
Lebanon's airport was bombed and its seaports blocked by Israeli gun ships at the start of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Most of Lebanon's main bridges and highways were also bombed in Israel's bid to stop any weapons from reaching Hezbollah fighters.
There are now more than 3,000 U.N. troops on the ground in Lebanon, with more on the way. Turkey has agreed to send troops and yesterday the Spanish Parliament voted to contribute 1,100 soldiers to the mission.
Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Beirut.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.