Monday, August 14, 2006 - Refugees stream back to southern Lebanon - Aug 14, 2006
Olmert: Campaign against Hezbollah will continue

TYRE, Lebanon (CNN) -- Hours after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah took effect Monday morning, thousands of refugees poured back into southern Lebanon.

Video showed one man kissing the ground as he returned home.

Highways were packed with displaced civilians, driving through bomb craters with mattresses piled high on their cars,returning to the area which bore the brunt of the fighting over the past 34 days. (Watch tense cease-fire get under way -- 1:09)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday he took full responsibility for Israel's decision to go to war, and he is not apologizing.

In a speech to the Knesset, Olmert said Israel would continue to go after Hezbollah.

"We will continue to pursue them everywhere and at all times," he said. "We have no intention of asking anyone's permission."

Olmert's comments came as thousands of refugees flooded back to the shattered towns and villages of southern Lebanon.

In one hour alone, some 1,200 cars had crossed the main route from Beirut to Nabatiye, a U.N. team reported. Along the Syrian border, some 4,500 people had crossed back into Lebanon, another U.N. team said.

Some took advantage of a newly repaired bridge over the Litani River, just north of Tyre, which is also speeding up the arrival of humanitarian aid.

The Lebanese army set up checkpoints along the main roads in an effort to control traffic.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reported from Tyre that people who had spent days or weeks in cramped, uncomfortable shelters, with food and water running low, were anxious to get to their homes and find out what had happened to them.

Lebanese security sources told CNN at least 11 returning refugees, including children, had been injured by unexploded ammunition lying around towns and villages in southern Lebanon. The Associated Press reported at least one child was killed and 15 people were wounded by ordnance that exploded as they returned to their homes

Lebanon's Interior Ministry issued a statement urging civilians to stay away from their homes until army engineers could inspect them for unexploded cluster bombs or artillery, The Associated Press reported.

And the Israel Defense Forces continued to warn residents not to travel south of the Litani "until Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces assume responsibility for the area, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701."

Those forces will move in once Hezbollah forces disarm or move out.

"IDF forces are still operating on a defensive basis as Hezbollah terrorists are still in the area," an IDF statement said.

Hours after the cease-fire took effect, senior military representatives from the Lebanese and Israeli armies met separately with the head of U.N. forces in southern Lebanon to discuss how to implement the agreement, according to a U.N. statement.

The meetings with UNIFIL chief Gen. Alain Pellegrini took place at a U.N. position at a southern border crossing near Ras Naqoura around noon (5 a.m. ET), the U.N. said.

The U.N. statement said the talks were "open" and "fruitful."

Israel reports two shootings since cease-fire

Just hours into the cease-fire, the Israeli military reported two shooting incidents between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon.

Israeli forces shot an armed man who approached Israeli troops in the village of Farun, the IDF said.

Earlier, Israeli forces identified an approaching group of gunmen and opened fire, possibly hitting one, the IDF said.

In the meantime, Israel promised to keep a tight rein on the region with military officials saying the army will continue enforcing the air and sea embargo on Lebanon.

Israel said some of its forces were withdrawing from southern Lebanon but gave no details.

"The IDF will respect the cease-fire, but will continue to defend its forces and the citizens of Israel," an Israel Defense Forces statement said.

Attacks continued down to the wire

Israel and Hezbollah continued to trade blows across southern Lebanon and northern Israel as the clock ticked toward the 8 a.m. deadline (1 a.m. ET), trying to inflict as much damage as possible in the final hours of the conflict.

Israel reported that 250 rockets hit its territory, killing at least one person, and five Israeli soldiers died fighting Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. (Watch aftermath of rocket strike on Haifa -- 2:11)

The IDF meanwhile, launched what appeared to be one of the heaviest bombardments on southern Lebanon to date and struck targets in Beirut's southern suburbs. (Watch aftermath of hits on Beirut -- 1:47)

Lebanese civil defense officials also reported eight people dead and 16 wounded in an airstrike on the Bekaa Valley town of Brital, and three killed and seven wounded near the eastern town of Ali al-Nahri, identifying the dead as civilians. Israel has described the locations as being strongholds for the Hezbollah militia.(Watch as fighting continues until last moment -- 2:38)

Israel said at least 114 military personnel and 53 civilians have been been killed, and 865 civilians have been wounded.

The IDF said its troops had killed more than 530 Hezbollah fighters, releasing the names of 180 of them. But Lebanon said most of the 890 people killed before Sunday's bombardments were civilians.

Nearly 4,000 Hezbollah rockets hit northern Israel since July 12, according to Israeli police.

Sticking point over disarming Hezbollah

Monday's cease-fire is part of a peace plan approved by the U.N. Security Council on Friday. It calls for Lebanese government troops and a U.N. peacekeeping mission to move into southern Lebanon as Israeli troops withdraw, taking control of the Israeli-Lebanese border from Hezbollah. (Text of U.N. Resolution 1701)

Two Hezbollah members of the Lebanese Cabinet said Saturday the militia wanted to keep its weapons south of the Litani River -- a zone the U.N. resolution calls for demilitarizing.

Yet the Cabinet unanimously approved the resolution, with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah indicating the two Hezbollah ministers voted for it in a spirit of national unity.

CNN's Ben Wedeman and Brent Sadler contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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