The Israeli Defense Forces has announced that they were launching Operation Northern Shield to “expose and neutralize cross-border” tunnels that Hezbollah used to attack Israel from Lebanese soil.
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the military had discovered Hezbollah tunnels, with one of them being dug from a private home in Kafr Kila in southern Lebanon.
“Some actions will be more precise and some less. At this point we are operating within Israeli territory to seize the tunnels… in the future, these tunnels may be destroyed from other locations”, he told reporters.
According to the spokesman, it took some two years to build the tunnel under the house that stretches about 200 metres, 40 of which are within Israel’s territory.
“Two teams are created: one in the south, which has so far exposed some 17 tunnels, and another on the Northern Command, which operated under the assumption that if there are tunnels in the south, it is likely there are [tunnels] in the north”.
Manelis went on to say that Israel had warned Lebanon and the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon that anyone who approached the area of the operation, was putting himself in peril.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli military has been aware of Hezbollah’s plans to build tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border in order to carry out attacks against the Jewish state since the 2006 Lebanon War and has been trying to map them since 2014.
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren commented that Israel was not pursuing any “hidden agenda” in respect to Lebanon by carrying out the operation.
“The tunnel that was discovered by our army in the north of Israel today infiltrates Israel’s territory by tens of meters. Hezbollah’s goals were clearly aggressive and we could no longer tolerate it. How long the operation will continue, I cannot say. We are searching for the tunnels, I emphasize, on our territory,” Koren said.
In a televised address held at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said he backs the military’s operation to destroy underground cross-border tunnels which he said were dug by Iran-backed Hezbollah militants from Lebanon.
He said that he discussed with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the issue of imposing new sanctions against Hezbollah.
Netanyahu added he was also going to hold talks on Hezbollah with other world leaders and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the next few days.
Contributed by IDF & Sputnik News