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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Israel ends blockade of Lebanon
Israeli naval vessel along the Israel/Lebanon border
Some Israelis have questioned the timing of ending the blockade
Israel has confirmed it has ended its blockade of Lebanon.

A spokeswoman said Israel had turned over control of monitoring the coastline to the UN. The air blockade on the country was lifted on Thursday.

Israel imposed the embargo in July at the start of its conflict with Hezbollah fighters following the capture of two Israeli soldiers.

The blockade hampered Lebanon's recovery from Israel's bombardment during the 34-day conflict.

Relatives of the two Israeli soldiers still being held by Hezbollah had said the blockade should remain until they were released.

Control question

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said: "The Italian-led taskforce will continue to enforce the international embargo against the supply of armaments to Hezbollah."

An Israeli official said the delay in lifting the naval element was because it was not clear who was taking control of the UN force.

A German naval force is expected to take over at a later stage.

About 3,250 international troops are now in Lebanon under the UN banner, and UN officials say that figure could reach 5,000 troops next week.

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah ended on 14 August after the UN passed Resolution 1701 which called for a ceasefire and security arrangements for Israel's northern border.

But Israel kept up the blockade of Lebanese sea and air ports.

Lebanon estimates the country has been losing $30m-50m a day in trade because of the blockade - money desperately needed to help the rebuilding.

Relatives of the two Israeli soldiers have expressed concerns over lifting the blockade.

Shlomo Goldwasser, father of one of the soldiers, said: "The blockade was a way to pressure Hezbollah, but there's no blockade any more. I'm not even angry. It just makes me even more sad."

More than 1,100 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis died in the conflict, sparked by the capture of the two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid.




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