Blasts, then silence:
Cease-fire begins


April 26, 1996
Web posted at: 10:20 p.m. EDT (0220 GMT)

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Israel and Lebanon officially entered into a cease-fire brokered by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher Friday.

Minutes before the truce between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas began, a Katyusha rocket slammed into a building in northern Israel, witnesses reported. The stairs to the building were blasted into rubble, but there were no injuries. Then, at 4 a.m. local time (0100 GMT), the artillery fell silent.

Charette and Hariri

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres (381K AIFF sound or 381K WAV sound) joined Christopher Friday to announce the cease-fire along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette announced the agreement simultaneously in Beirut. (191K AIFF sound or 191K WAV sound)

"We have achieved the goal of our mission ... to achieve an agreement that will save lives and end the suffering on both sides of the border," Christopher said.

But Christopher, who has spent the last seven days shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem attempting to forge an agreement, said that the cease-fire was not a substitute for a comprehensive peace agreement between Lebanon, Syria and Israel. (318K AIFF sound or 318K WAV sound)

Peres and Christopher

"The leaders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria indicated their commitment to end the crisis and ensure that it not reoccur," Christopher said, calling on the governments of those three countries to begin peace talks immediately.

Christopher outlined the understandings reached during the cease-fire negotiations. "Under no circumstances will civilians be the target of attack" from either side, he said, and further, "civilian population areas and industrial and electrical installations will not be used as launching grounds for attacks."

The U.S., France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel will form a monitoring committee to oversee implementation of the agreement.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told Reuters Friday that the group would abide by the cease-fire agreement.

"When it is announced and the Israeli enemy stops its aggression we will certainly abide and stop firing Katyushas at the (Israeli) settlements," Nasrallah said.

But Israel will not withdraw from its self-declared security zone in southern Lebanon.

If Lebanon were to disarm Hezbollah, Peres said, "...and there are not two armies there, or two strategies, then we have no reason to be there."

"You cannot have a government and a government within a government which is called a resistance movement," Peres said.

Hariri said that Israel's withdrawal from Lebanese territory was vital, but "we will do our best to make sure that (the agreement) will be respected."


"We are committed to peace..." Hariri said, "but it is not only up to us, it is also up to Israel." (320K AIFF sound or 320K WAV sound)

U.S. President Bill Clinton praised the efforts of Christopher, saying that the agreement would give civilians on both sides of the border "greater confidence and greater security than in the past." (179K AIFF sound or 179K WAV sound)

"Now we must turn again to the hard work of building a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East," he said. (254K AIFF sound or 254K WAV sound)

Before the cease-fire announcement, Israel continued air, naval and artillery attacks on southern Lebanon, the 16th day of the blitz, and Hezbollah fired two Katyusha rockets into northern Israel.

The recent attacks have left over 150 dead, mostly Lebanese civilians.

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