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Cease-Fire Takes Effect, Holding


No major clashes have been reported between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon after a U.N.-mediated ceasefire took hold earlier today to stop more than a month of fighting. However, Israel says its troops shot dead two Hezbollah fighters in separate incidents. Meanwhile, thousands of displaced Lebanese are jamming roads as they begin an emotional voyage home.

After more than a month of air strikes and shelling, there was virtual silence in Beirut at exactly eight o'clock Monday morning local time, the moment a UN-brokered cease-fire took effect.

In northern Israel, soldiers stood watch by their tanks as the clock struck eight.

Some Israeli soldiers withdrawing from southern Lebanon immediately after the cease-fire carried Lebanese and Hezbollah flags, as well as the Israeli flag. However, Israel says that most of its troops will hold positions seized in recent days.

Across Lebanon, waves of people displaced by weeks of fighting finally headed home.

South of Sidon, a line of cars heading south along the Zahrani highway caused a traffic jam more than a kilometer long.

In Beirut, some families who had taken shelter in a public park packed up their belongings to venture back to their homes. In many cases, they found only rubble where houses once stood.

A woman asked, "Where will we go?" She says she and her neighbors all have families with at least seven children.

However, others celebrated the cease-fire as a victory for Lebanon and for Hezbollah.

There was also relief for those who survived weeks of Hezbollah rocket attacks in northern Israel.

Many people in the makeshift tent city in Tel Aviv took time Monday to call family members. At least one young Israeli, however, has no plans to return home immediately.

"I don't trust the Hezbollah to keep the cease-fire,” said a resident of Nahariya.

The United States and other countries are closely watching to see if the cease-fire holds. White House spokesman Tony Snow called the cease-fire a victory for diplomacy.

"At this point, we are hoping that the people of Lebanon will be the ultimate victors because they'll be able to have a government in which the democratic will of the people is expressed through the policies of their government," said Mr. Snow.

In Lebanon, international aid groups redoubled their efforts. For instance, crates of various supplies were unloaded from a Jordanian plane at Beirut International Airport.

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