Posted by: sean | September 7, 2006

Qatar Airways help end Israeli blockade

The Times reports that Israel has decided to end the blockade on Lebanon, which is technically true since Israel did announce the lifting of the blockade. However, what the Times didn’t mention is that several airlines had already decided to break the blockade:

In a sign the embargo may be eroding, British Airways/BMED said it was resuming direct flights to Beirut after the British government had given assurances that it would be safe to do so.

Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines and Royal Jordanian began flying regularly into the capital last month, but have complied with Israel’s insistence that all such flights go via Amman. Qatar Airways resumed direct flights to Beirut on Monday.

In addition to Qatar and British Airways, Gulf Air had also announced that they were resuming flights as of Saturday. It seems that commercial airlines that have flouted the blockade would be newsworthy, but the Times either didn’t know about this or didn’t think that their readers should.

Of course, the good news is that with the air blockade being lifted, this means that the sea embargo will be lifted as well. I never understood why the Israelis bothered with the air and sea embargos, unless it was just to flex Tel Aviv’s muscles and illustrate that Israel can decide who comes and goes. Because the real routes that Israel needs to be worry about as far as arms resupplying goes, are the ground routes. Iranian arms shipments are overland through Syria, and the Lebanese-Syrian border is long, poorly defined and very porous. And this is the one way in and out of the country that they can’t really control. Or rather their control is clumsier and involves the bombing of bridges and roads, like the road to Damascus, which was bombed and shut down, forcing people to flee the country by the northern route.

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