Cease-Fire Is Accepted In Lebanon

Israeli troops advance into Lebanon. Israel was to decide Sunday on a U.N. cease-fire, approved with reservations by Hezbollah and Lebanon's government.
Israeli troops advance into Lebanon. Israel was to decide Sunday on a U.N. cease-fire, approved with reservations by Hezbollah and Lebanon's government. (By Emilio Morenatti -- Associated Press)
By Edward Cody and Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 13, 2006

BEIRUT, Aug. 13 -- Hezbollah and the Lebanese government accepted a U.N.-declared cease-fire with reservations Saturday night, but the war wore on with Israeli airstrikes, Hezbollah rocket attacks and expanded ground fighting.

Nineteen Israeli soldiers were killed Saturday and 70 were wounded, the highest single-day death toll for troops in Lebanon since the conflict started, Israeli military officials said Sunday. An Israeli military spokeswoman also said that a five-member crew of a downed helicopter was missing and feared dead. About 19 Lebanese civilians were killed.

The continued warfare indicated that the month-old conflict was unlikely to stop immediately despite Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an end to Hezbollah attacks on Israel and to Israel's military operations in Lebanon. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced late Saturday that the cease-fire would take effect at 8 a.m. Lebanese time Monday, the Associated Press reported.

The Israeli cabinet was scheduled to make its decision Sunday, with Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres predicting that the U.N. cease-fire would be accepted in Jerusalem as well. But at the same time, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the Israeli chief of staff, said he had dispatched more troops and armor to Lebanon to pursue Israel's goal of driving Hezbollah fighters from a strip of border territory and holding it until an international peacekeeping force can be deployed along the frontier.

Peres, in a telephone interview, said Israeli military forces were expanding operations in southern Lebanon because "the timetable permits it and there's an impression that Hezbollah controls the situation, which is not true." He added that while Hezbollah is continuing to fire rockets, "the best way to stop it is to clear out the area of the rockets."

Peres said that after the expected cabinet approval of the resolution Sunday, he believed that there was "a fair chance" that a cease-fire would be imposed by the end of the week and that the international forces could be in place in "another week or two" afterward.

In an interview with Israel Radio One broadcast Saturday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she expected major hostilities to end within "a day or so." After agreement by both Lebanon and Israel, Annan will work with the parties to establish a timetable. "I would hope that within no more than a day or so of that, that there would be a cessation of the hostilities on the ground."

Rice added: "I do need to warn, there will continue to be, I'm sure, some skirmishes. That always happens in a cessation of hostilities. But hopefully the large-scale violence can stop."

The U.N. resolution also calls for the Lebanese army and a bolstered U.N. force to move into southern Lebanon as Israeli forces withdraw and leaves the disarmament of Hezbollah and a dispute over the Shebaa Farms area to a future settlement.

Hezbollah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, said in a televised announcement that his militia would abide by the cease-fire but only after the timing of Israel's withdrawal was worked out and Israeli troops stopped attacking. Once Israeli military operations cease, Hezbollah fighters will "adhere to it without hesitation," he said.

The Lebanese government announced three hours later that it too unanimously accepted the U.N. resolution, but with the reservations expressed by Hezbollah's cabinet ministers.

"Nothing changed today," Nasrallah said, noting Israel's decision to move reinforcements into Lebanon and its continued airstrikes and ground operations.


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