After visiting Lebanon, United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan,
arrived in Israel on Tuesday afternoon, for talks to strengthen the
fragile truce that ended the 34-day war between Israeli and Hezbollah.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Annan intends to meet families of Israeli Soldiers held captive by Palestinian and Hezbollah fighters.
The two Israeli soldiers, identified as Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were abducted by Hezbollah fighters in a cross-border attack on July 12.
In Gaza, Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted by Palestinian fighters on June 25, after the fighters tunnel under a military base on the Gaza-Israel borders; two fighters and two soldiers were killed in the attack.
Annan called on the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party to free the Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon and called on Israel to lift the air and sea blockade it has imposed on Lebanon since the beginning of the conflict.
The blockade has prevented humanitarian aid from arriving to the war-ravaged country, even from the United Nations itself.
"I think the time has come for the siege to be lifted. The Lebanese have shown they're serious about the implementation of [UN resolution] 1701 in all the deployments and efforts they have made”, said Annan, adding that both Lebanon and Israel need to adhere to the stipulations of the resolution, or hostilities are likely to break out again.
Israeli forces have yet to give a timeline on when their total blockade on Lebanon, including blockades of sea passage on international water, a sea blockade which violates international maritime law, and an air blockade that violates Lebanese sovereignty, will be lifted. The officials have previously stated that the blockade will only be lifted when they are satisfied that Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance movement, is disarmed.
In southern Lebanon, where 15,000 UN troops will be deploying in the coming months, Annan visited the base of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura. The UNIFIL base was attacked several times by Israeli forces during the war on Lebanon, killing at least four UNIFIL soldiers stationed there and destroying several buildings.
Annan is expected to travel to Syria and Iran later in the week.