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First Commercial Flight Arrives in Beirut Since July 13

A Middle East Airlines passenger jet flew into Beirut airport from Jordan on Thursday, despite a 36-day Israeli air blockade remaining in effect.

It was the first commercial aircraft to fly to Rafik Hariri International Airport since July 13, when Israeli warplanes and gunboats punched holes in the three runways of the country's only international air facility.

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Two of the runways were damaged and a third has been used by relief flights and special flights.

A Royal Jordanian airliner was expected to fly into Beirut later in the afternoon.

MEA Chairman Mohammed Hout, who was on hand to welcome the plane, said the blockade had been partially lifted against the Beirut airport, allowing flights to and from Amman only for now.

Transportation Minister Mohammed Safadi also confirmed the partial lifting of the siege.

Neither official gave a reason why traffic was allowed only through Amman. However, Jordan, along with Egypt, is the only two Arab countries, which signed peace treaties with Israel and have full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Airport officials said full commercial flights could resume next week.