ZARIT, Israel — The Israeli army completed its withdrawal from southern Lebanon early today under a United Nations resolution to end a war with Hezbollah guerrillas, Israeli security sources said.
The last forces to leave padlocked the border gate at Zarit, near where Hezbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers July 12 and triggered the war with Israel that sent shockwaves through the Middle East.
Israel sent 10,000 troops into southern Lebanon before a truce took hold Aug. 14. Only a few hundred remained by the weekend, and Israel wanted them out before Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which starts at dusk today.
The headlights of tanks shone through clouds of dust as they crossed back into Israel past coils of barbed wire. Returning soldiers pulled out cellphones to call home.
"The responsibility for Lebanon right now is in the hands of the Lebanese government and, of course, the U.N., so every act of Hezbollah is the responsibility of Lebanon," said Israeli army spokesman Maj. Zvika Golan.
About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the fighting.