Britain was last night looking at ways to step up humanitarian assistance to the Lebanon amid hopes that a ceasefire deal agreed at the United Nations was holding.
Hundreds of Lebanese civilians forced to flee by the month-long fighting were trying to return to their homes as the guns and rockets finally fell silent.
Despite two reported shooting incidents involving Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters, the ceasefire - which began at 8am local time - was reportedly being broadly observed by both sides.
The Foreign Office said that it was encouraged by the start to the cessation of hostilities.
"We are obviously pleased that it seems to be holding," a spokesman said.
The focus will now shift to reinforcing the United Nations force in southern Lebanon, which is intended to ensure that the ceasefire is observed, as well as intensifying the humanitarian effort.
Downing Street said that International Development Secretary Hilary Benn was preparing to visit the region to assess the situation.
Tony Blair, who is on holiday in Barbados, was said to be following events closely.
The Prime Minister signalled at the weekend that he also wanted to visit the region in the coming weeks in an attempt to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Downing Street acknowledged that there would continue to be "difficulties" until the full UN force, backed by 15,000 Lebanese Army troops, is deployed.
The Israelis have said that they will not withdraw from southern Lebanon until the UN force - expected to be led by France and Italy - is in place.
It could mean an uneasy stand-off between the Israelis and Hezbollah fighters who remain in the area while the international troops deploy.
Television coverage of the Israel-Lebanon border showed Israeli tanks with silenced guns in stark contrast to events over the previous weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave the order to halt firing yesterday morning, his spokesman Asaf Shariv said. But he warned: "If someone fires at us, we will fire back."
Earlier, Israeli warplanes attacked a village in eastern Lebanon and the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp, leaving two people dead and nine wounded, security officials said.
The air strikes continued until about 15 minutes before the ceasefire.
Hopes for a swift end to the violence had hung in the balance overnight as fierce fighting raged on just 12 hours before the deadline for an agreed ceasefire.
Israel's cabinet approved the UN peace deal on Sunday, a day after the resolution was backed by their Lebanese c ounterparts and by Hezbollah.
However, doubts had remained over whether the fighting would stop.
Mr Olmert yesterday said he took sole responsibility, as Israel's prime minister, for the offensive against Lebanon.
Olmert was giving a political statement to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for the first time since the early days of the war that broke out on July 12.
In a statement to parliament, he said the UN cease-fire agreement eliminated the "state within a state" run by Hezbollah, and restored Lebanon's sovereignty in the south.
He promised to do everything he could to win the return of Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah on July 12, which triggered the war.
Mr Olmert said the war brought a change in the strategic balance in the region, to Hezbollah's disadvantage.
The militia's vast storehouse of weapons was mostly destroyed, and its self-confidence undermined, he said.
"We will continue to pursue them everywhere and at all times," he said.