The Israeli air blockade of Lebanon is over. Just minutes after it came into effect at 6pm local time, a Lebanese aircraft belonging to Middle Eastern Airlines landed at Beirut international airport. It had flown in from Paris with 140 passengers on board. The airport’s runway had been bombed by Israeli warplanes during its offensive against Hizbollah forces. The pilots were clearly proud to be flying back into Beirut. Even though an UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect in mid August, Israel continued to control and seal Lebanon’s borders until this evening.
Only yesterday Israel agreed to allow ships to dock and planes to land in Lebanon after receiving assurances from the United Nations that peacekeeping forces taking up positions in the country would prevent any weapons being smuggled into the country ending up in the hands of Hizbollah fighters. Many international airline companies started taking reservations once again for flights to Beirut yesterday. However Israel says the naval blockade will not be entirely lifted until UN forces are ready to replace them at sea.