Israel has said the end of its naval blockade on Lebanon is imminent. The arrival of commercial vessels from Syria at Beirut’s harbour this morning signalled the opening of the country’s maritime borders. France has said it will honour a request by the United Nations to take over control temporarily of Lebanon’s coasts as part of the international peacekeeping mission.
The eight-week blockade has come under strong criticism both at home and abroad: “We have been very affected by the blockade which has cut us off from our livelihood,” said one port worker. “It is a cruel and unacceptable blockade from the enemy Israel.”
Israel says the embargo was aimed at preventing arms from reaching Hizbollah, but many in Lebanon see it as a collective punishment. Beirut has been demanding the 8-week long blockade be lifted to speed up reconstruction in the south which was devastated in the conflict. Flights to and from Beirut resumed on Thursday. Several international and Arab airlines have announced the resumption of normal services.