French and Then Germans Trusted to Prevent Arming of Hizbullah
Israel lifted its air blockade of Lebanon at 6 PM Thursday and announced that the sea blockade would be lifted when the French soldiers assigned to patrol the waters deploy.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 9/8/2006, 8:35 AM / Last Update: 9/8/2006, 11:21 AM
The lifting of the naval blockade was postponed by 48 hours due to the fact that international forces were not yet ready to deploy in order to patrol Lebanese waters for arms shipments headed to Hizbullah.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the decision to delay the lifting of the naval blockade was made “in coordination with the commander of the UN troops in the Middle East.”
Olmert added: "I truly hope that the naval forces of Italy, France and Greece, which are going to continue the monitoring of Lebanon’s ports in our place, will organize quickly so that we can pull back when they take up positions."
According to UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan’s plan, the mostly-French military presence will be replaced with a German one down the line. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy promised that France would effectively ensure Hizbullah is not armed further. "We're going to make sure there are no deliveries," he told reporters Thursday.
Meanwhile, the families of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – who are being held by Hizbullah – are furious at the lifting of the blockade. Goldwasser’s father, Shlomo, told Army Radio that the families had not only been promised the war would continue until their children were brought home, but that the blockade would continue until information on the welfare of their children was received. Goldwasser called on the government, which he says has released terrorists from prison for no reason at all in the past, to release prisoners immediately in return for his son.
The Regev family expressed concern that the soldiers will now be smuggled out of Lebanon, to Iran or elsewhere.