Israel had sent 11 members of the Engineering Corps for special training in Europe to excavate hard rock soil like the one on the Lebanese border a year ago, the news agency Haaretz has reported.  

According to the report the people involved believed that it was routine training as the preparations for Operation Northern Shield, announced on 4 December, were kept secret.

After the Israel Defense Forces recognized the need to deal with the Hezbollah tunnels in 2015, a group of intelligence and army experts suggested a plan to later destroy the tunnels should be prepared. The Engineering Corps determined that the soil at the border with Lebanon was different from the terrain they had to deal with in the areas near the Gaza Strip.

“We realized we had to train people to excavate. We encountered such tunnels in the Second Lebanon War. We called them ‘nature reserves’, which served as underground command centers”, a senior IDF officer said, as cited by Haaretz.

According to the outlet, training in Europe let the Israeli engineers learn from the best experts in the field. The Engineering Corps members who participated in this training are involved in the work at some sites along the border, while in other areas civilians are drilling.

“We trained in the terrain we weren’t accustomed to, working in hard earth and rocky terrain and in tough areas, in order to learn about excavating”, the cited officer said.

This report comes on the heels of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s admission that the country’s officials had been hiding knowledge of the existence of Hezbollah’s underground tunnels for years before the IDF announced they were launching a military operation.

Contributed by Sputnik News