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Lebanon truce takes hold
by ALJ
Monday Aug 14th, 2006 6:31 AM
Guns fell silent across southern Lebanon on Monday morning as a United Nations ceasefire halting Israel's month-long war against Hezbollah came into effect, Lebanese security forces say.
Half an hour after the cease-fire took hold, Israeli warplanes were absent from skies across Lebanon, including the Bekaa Valley, where airstrikes had hit about one hour before.

"Suddenly, just after 0800 (0500GMT) there was complete quiet in south Lebanon," a Reuters source said shortly after the ceasefire came into effect.

In the southern port city of Tyre, people began to venture out of their homes for the first time since a curfew was imposed on roads there.

In a Beirut park and in camps across the country refugees were seen packing up their belongings and preparing to return to homes they had fled weeks ago. Many do not know if their homes are still standing.

Meanwhile Israeli military officials said the army had begun withdrawing troops from south Lebanon.

However, Israel has said it will continue its blockade around Lebanon, "until a mechanism is put in place to control smuggling of arms [to Hezbollah]."

In Beirut in the hours immediately after the ceasefire came into effect, Jihad Azour, the Lebanese finance Minister, told France 2 television the truce appeared to be holding.

"The situation is stable along the whole border and the zones of hostilities," he said.

by ALJ
Monday Aug 14th, 2006 6:32 AM
Israel and Hezbollah both claimed victory as a UN-brokered truce to end the month-old fighting took effect.

Israel said on Monday that it had won a diplomatic victory over Hezbollah because the UN resolution would put the group under international scrutiny.

"We have the diplomatic advantage as Hezbollah is now under the microscope of the international community," Yigal Palmor, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Hezbollah and its chief, Hassan Nasrallah, "will have to respect resolution 1701", he said, which calls for an embargo on arms and training to fighters in Lebanon.

"This means that there will no longer be a state within a state along our northern border to keep provoking us," he said.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah said that it had scored a "divine victory" in the conflict.

This sentiment was echoed in Beirut where Hassan Fadallah, one of Lebanon's two Hezbollah MPs, championed his movement's success as refugees started to return home.

by BBC (reposted)
Monday Aug 14th, 2006 6:33 AM
Thousands of displaced Lebanese have begun travelling home hours after a UN ceasefire to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah came into force.

Traffic jams formed near the southern town of Sidon, and bulldozers began clearing rubble in southern villages.

Fighting ended at 0500 GMT, although in one later clash, Israeli soldiers fired on a group they said were militants.

Israel has said its troops will remain in Lebanon until an international peacekeeping force can take control.

As the ceasefire came into effect, Israel said it would continue to maintain an air and sea blockade of Lebanon. It also said troops would return fire if they came under attack.

Cars packed with luggage and passengers took the highway south from Beirut and others jammed a road leading out of Sidon, as drivers navigated bomb-cratered roads.

But Israel said its ban on traffic on Lebanese roads south of the Litani River remained in place, and that anyone found on the road risked attack by Israeli forces.

The BBC's Jim Muir in the town of Bint Jbeil, the site of some of the fiercest fighting, described a scene of devastation with few signs of life.

The only local residents he found were one man and his disabled wife who had been sheltering in the hospital.

Few civilians ventured out into the streets of northern Israel, where the residents who have not fled south to escape Hezbollah rocket attacks have spent much of the last month in bomb shelters.

Victory claims

Within hours of the ceasefire, Israeli soldiers shot at a group of Hezbollah fighters in the town of Hadatha in south Lebanon, killing one of them, the army said.


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