Israel lifted its naval siege on Lebanon on Friday after European warships started patrolling to keep out weapons shipments for Hizbullah, the head of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon said.
Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini, the force's French commander, said he was informed by Israeli officials, and by the Italian commander leading the naval task force, that the blockade had ended after nearly two months. The international task force began operating off the Lebanese coast just after noon Friday, officials said, according to the AP.
"The force is now operational and I understand that the (Israeli) naval blockade is lifted," Pellegrini said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said earlier Friday that the blockade would end within hours.
About 3,250 U.N. troops are now in Lebanon. On Thursday, the Spanish parliament voted to contribute 1,100 soldiers to the peacekeeping mission, and the first troops were to set off on Friday.