Israel-Lebanon cease-fire goes into effect


Richard Moore

    But the military will maintain its air and sea blockade of
    Lebanon to prevent arms from reaching Hezbollah guerrillas,
    a military official said.

This is a cease fire?


Original source URL:
Israel-Lebanon cease-fire goes into effect
By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer
36 minutes ago

Israel halted its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas as a U.N.-imposed 
cease-fire went into effect Monday after a month of warfare that killed more 
than 900 people, devastated much of south Lebanon and forced hundreds of 
thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters.

A half hour after the cease-fire took hold, Israeli warplanes ‹ a regular 
fixture in Lebanese skies during the monthlong war ‹ were absent across huge 
swaths of the country, including the Bekaa Valley, where airstrikes hit about an
hour before.

Thousands of cars packed with luggage and some with mattresses strapped to the 
roof jammed the bombed-out Zahrani highway linking the southern cities of 
Nabatiyeh, Tyre and Sidon, as Lebanese troops scrambled to repair roads in time 
for the deluge of refugees returning home.

Hundreds of refugees camped out in a Beirut park packed up their belongings to 
return to the city's southern suburbs.

There were no immediate reports of Hezbollah rockets being fired into Israel, a 
day after it fired more than 250 rockets, the worst daily barrage since fighting
started July 12.

Some exhausted Israeli forces pulled out of southern Lebanon early Monday, but 
were being replaced by fresh troops, and the army said there will be no 
immediate withdrawal from positions seized in the last few days.

The army said in a statement the military was told not to initiate any action 
after 8 a.m. (1 a.m. EST) Monday, but "the forces will do everything to prevent 
being hit."

In the final hours before the truce, however, Israeli warplanes struck a 
Hezbollah stronghold in eastern Lebanon and a Palestinian refugee camp in the 
south, killing two people, and Israeli artillery pounded targets across the 
border through the night.

The airstrikes continued until 15 minutes before the truce went into force, 
destroying an antenna for Hezbollah's Al-Manar television southeast of Beirut.

The cease-fire was passed by the U.N. Security Council on Friday and approved by
the Israeli and Lebanese governments. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah also 
signaled his acceptance.

But Isaac Herzog, a senior minister in the Israeli Cabinet, said it was unlikely
all fighting would be silenced immediately. "Experience teaches us that after 
that a process begins of phased relaxation," in the fighting, he said.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres also said Israel was uncertain the 
truce would hold. "I believe that it has a chance. I can't say for certain," he 
said moments before it took effect.

Implementation of the hard-won agreement already was in question Sunday night 
when the Lebanese Cabinet indefinitely postponed a crucial meeting dealing with 
plans to send 15,000 soldiers to police Hezbollah's stronghold in southern 

Lebanese media reported that the Cabinet, which approved the cease-fire plan 
unanimously Saturday, was sharply divided over demands that Hezbollah surrender 
its weapons in the south. That disagreement was believed to have led to the 
cancellation of Sunday's meeting.

Lebanese leaders made no public comments.

The deployment of the Lebanese army along Israel's border, with an equal number 
of U.N. peacekeepers, was a cornerstone of the cease-fire resolution passed 
Friday by the U.N. Security Council. The forces are supposed to keep Hezbollah 
fighters out of an 18-mile-wide zone between the border and Lebanon's Litani 

Officials said Israeli troops would begin leaving southern Lebanon as soon as 
the Lebanese army and the international force started to deploy in the area. But
the military will maintain its air and sea blockade of Lebanon to prevent arms 
from reaching Hezbollah guerrillas, a military official said.

France and Italy, along with predominantly Muslim Turkey and Malaysia, signaled 
willingness Saturday to contribute troops to the peacekeeping force, but 
consultations are still needed to hammer out the force's makeup and mandate and 
it was uncertain when it would be in place.

Earlier Monday before the cease-fire, Israeli warplanes attacked a village in 
eastern Lebanon and the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp, leaving two people 
dead and nine wounded, security officials said.

One of the raids hit an office of the pro-Syrian Popular Front for the 
Liberation of Palestine General-Command just outside a refugee camp in the 
southern city of Sidon. One person was killed and three civilians who live near 
the office were wounded, security officials said.

Israeli missiles also slammed into a minibus on the outskirts of the Hezbollah 
stronghold of Baalbek, killing one policeman and wounding six Lebanese soldiers,
security officials said.

The Israeli military also dropped leaflets on central Beirut early Monday, 
warning it would retaliate for any attack launched against it from Lebanon.

One leaflet said Hezbollah serves the interests of its Iranian and Syrian 
patrons and has "brought destruction, Lebanon against the State of Israel." 
Addressed to Lebanon's citizens, it said, "Will you be able to pay this price 

Some of the 30,000 Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon fought fierce battles 
with guerrillas Sunday before the cease-fire went into effect. Israel's army 
said seven soldiers were killed, a day after 24 died in the highest single-day 
death toll for the army since the conflict began.

Hezbollah reported one of its fighters killed, but did not say when.

Israeli jets pounded a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut with at least 23 
missiles, most coming in a two-minute period Sunday.

An Associated Press photographer who reached the area saw the body of a child 
being removed from the wreckage. TV pictures showed heavy damage appearing to 
stretch for several hundred yards in all directions in the neighborhood of 
medium-rise apartment buildings.

Jets also attacked gas stations in the southern port city of Tyre on Sunday, 
killing at least 15 people, Lebanese officials said.

Two Israeli air raids on houses in the eastern village of Brital killed at least
eight people and wounded nearly two dozen, civil defense official Ali Shukur 
said. More people were feared trapped under the rubble, he said.

Hezbollah fired 250 rockets Sunday, killing an Israeli man and wounding 53 
people, rescue officials said. Cars were set afire in the northern city of 

Israeli officials appealed to residents of the north who fled the rockets not to
return before the government determined the situation was safe.

As the fighting persisted, Israel's Cabinet held a stormy debate on the 
cease-fire, with minister Ophir Pines-Paz criticizing the government's decision 
to expand its ground offensive ahead of the truce. The Cabinet eventually 
approved the agreement 24-0, with one abstention.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the cease-fire agreement would ensure that 
"Hezbollah won't continue to exist as a state within a state."

In addition to authorizing the beefed-up international force in southern 
Lebanon, the Security Council resolution calls for the Lebanese government to be
the only armed force in the country, meaning Hezbollah would have to be 

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the agreement, if implemented, "will 
lead to a significant change in the rules of the game in Lebanon."

"I'm not naive. ... I live in the Middle East, and I know that sometimes not 
every decision is implemented. I'm aware of the difficulties. Yet with this I 
say with full confidence that the Security Council decision is good for Israel,"
she said.

Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, said Saturday that his guerrillas would abide by 
the cease-fire resolution, but warned it was "our natural right" to fight any 
Israeli troops remaining in Lebanon.

The fighting erupted July 12 when Hezbollah guerrillas attacked an army patrol 
inside Israel, killing three soldiers and capturing two others. Five more 
Israelis were killed later in the day trying to rescue their comrades.

Israel then launched an air and ground offensive, and 4 1/2 weeks of combat has 
killed at least 789 people in Lebanon ‹ mostly civilians_ and 154 Israelis, 
including 115 soldiers.

Among the dead soldiers this weekend was Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman, the 
20-year-old son of renowned Israeli novelist and peace activist David Grossman. 
He was killed by an anti-tank missile Saturday, the army said Sunday.

Livni said Israel would not stop trying to win the captured soldiers' release, 
but would not accept a link between their freedom and Hezbollah's demands that 
Israel free Lebanese prisoners.


Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman in Jerusalem and Joseph Panossian in 
Beirut, Lebanon, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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