- Title: ISRAEL: Northern Israel's refugees return home as shaky ceasefire holds.
- Date: 16th August 2006
- Summary: RESIDENTS OF KIRYAT SHMONA GETTING OFF BUS VARIOUS OF RESIDENTS RETURNING HOME (SOUNDBITE) (English) [UNNAMED] RESIDENT OF KIRYAT SHMONA SAYING "Somebody told me the bomb fell not far from the house, but I don't know if the windows broke or not. But I tell you the truth I don't care about the house I have no sentiment or nothing, I just hope the soldier came back to Israel safe." MORE OF RESIDENTS OF KIRYAT SHMONA AT BUS STOP
- Embargoed: 31st August 2006 13:00
- Location: Israel
- Country: Israel
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA1Y9QUX9DSH3P7P5ZIL7J37MWE
- Story Text: Residents of rocket struck northern Israeli towns returned home on Tuesday (August 15) with hopes that calm will prevail.
Israeli tanks and troops continued to pull back from Lebanon and residents of rocket-battered towns reopened shops on the second day of a fragile ceasefire.
At least one battalion, estimated to contain between 800 and 1,000 troops, pulled out on Monday (August 14) after the truce took effect. More troops were seen leaving on Tuesday.
The pace of the Israeli withdrawal is expected to increase later this week, assuming there is no escalation in fighting.
A Western diplomat briefed by the army said frontline Israeli troops had already started pulling back "on a small scale" from less strategic areas in order to consolidate positions they can more easily defend.
Underscoring the importance Israel places on the make-up and mandate of the expanded U.N. force, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday dispatched his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, to New York to take part in the U.N. deliberations.
Israeli government officials said plans call for the U.N. force, known as UNIFIL, to redeploy on Wednesday or Thursday in some positions currently held by Israeli soldiers.
UNIFIL already has some 2,000 troops on the ground. A U.N.-brokered ceasefire calls for adding as many as 13,000 more U.N. troops in southern Lebanon.
"If the international community takes the right steps in order to send international forces, robust and effective forces to assist the Lebanese army in its deployment to the south part of Lebanon this can be a change. And if the Lebanese government understands that the Hizbollah is not only a threat to Israel but also a threat to the region and to the Lebanese people so we can have a change," Livni told a group of reporters during a visit to the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.
Cars filled with residents returning home to Kiryat Shmona, a popular vacation spot on the Mediterranean, replaced the military vehicles that had rumbled along its tree-lined main street before a ceasefire went into effect on Monday.
In a scene repeated across northern Israel, supermarkets, shops and cafes reopened in Kiryat Shmona, a town that lies on Israel's border with Lebanon.
A steady stream of families returning to the town walked home from the bus station, while others disembarked from taxis.
"Somebody told me the bomb fell not far from the house, but I don't know if the windows broke or not, but I tell you the truth I don't care about the house I have no sentiment or nothing, I just hope the soldier came back to Israel safe," said, a resident of Kiryat Shmona who found refuge in Jerusalem.
Showing support for Israel's northern communities, Israel's Security Affairs and Defence Committee members convened in the rocket hit northern town of Safed. Israeli former defence minister and member of the committee, Silvan Shalom, said Hizbollah has more abilities than anticipated and the current ceasefire is an opportunity for the militia to stock up on supplies provided by Iran and Syria.
"I think that they are just having time out that will help them rebuild infrastructure and to re-arm with thousands of weapons that will come from Iran and Syria", said Shalom.
At least 1,110 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis were killed in the conflict that began after Hizbollah captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. Israel says it killed 530 Hizbollah fighters. Hizbollah puts the toll at 80.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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