Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the Israeli army’s Operation Northern Shield to locate and destroy cross-border tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon was near completion.
The Israeli premier’s remarks, made during a tour to the northern frontier with his security cabinet, come a day after the government decided to hold early elections in April.
“The IDF [Israeli army] briefed us on its actions in neutralizing the tunnels,” Netanyahu said. “This operation is nearly done.”
“There has been exceptional work here to deny Hezbollah the tunnels weapon,” he said in remarks relayed by his office. “It has invested greatly in this and we have destroyed it.”
Since launching Operation Northern Shield on December 4, Israel’s military said it had located four underground passageways infiltrating Israeli territory.
Last, Friday the army announced that it had blown up one cross-border tunnel dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon, the first of four it has uncovered — and pledged to destroy — in recent weeks.
This past Sunday, Netanyahu said that forces sealed another “terror tunnel” with cement. A spokeswoman for the army would not details on the status of the other two tunnels known to the Israeli forces.
Israel and Lebanon last clashed in 2006, with Israeli forces invading the country after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. The conflict, which lasted 34 days and claimed the lives of over 1,300 people, was halted by a UN-brokered ceasefire. Lebanese-Israeli relations have been poor for decades, but tensions have been exacerbated recently amid Israeli suspicions that Hezbollah was being used by Iran as a proxy to wage war on Israel.
Contributed by VOA News