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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fishermen Face Small Catch After End of Israel Blockade

TYRE, Lebanon -- The fishermen in this southern Lebanese port city are back at work now that the Israeli sea embargo has been lifted. But so far their catch has been disappointingly small, and some of them contend their nets have often been filled with bombs and missile parts.

"Our job has always been difficult, but now it's even harder," fisherman Kamal Istambuli said as he took a break this week at one of the rowdy taverns in the old port city.

The estimated 480 fishermen of Tyre scrambled back to work after Israel lifted its coastal blockade of Lebanon last week and vessels from a United Nations peacekeeping mission took over patrolling the Lebanese coast.

Israel had enforced the sea and air embargo on Lebanon since July, at the start of its 34-day war with Hezbollah, saying it needed to prevent the guerrillas from being resupplied with weapons.

For fishermen here, that meant they missed the summer high season, when fish are most abundant in the Mediterranean and when tourists usually flock to the scenic coast, packing seaside restaurants and boosting demand.

Fisherman Rami Assaf said he believed fish had been scarce since the blockade's end. But he was unsure if that was because of an oil spill caused by an Israeli airstrike against a fuel depot farther north, or because of the illegal dynamite he acknowledges that some of his colleagues use to fish.

 Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of warships to the eastern Mediterranean as part of the expanded UN peacekeeping force for Lebanon.

The parliament, which must also approve the deployment, is to vote on it next week.

The ships are supposed to prevent arms shipments from reaching Hezbollah and other militant groups -- a key requirement of the UN cease-fire resolution.