Operation Northern Shield: IDF strikes Hezbollah terror tunnels

Operation Northern Shield: IDF strikes Hezbollah terror tunnels

Operation Northern Shield: IDF strikes Hezbollah terror tunnels

The attack tunnels have always been rumored to have been dug from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory by the Iran backed terror group, but Israeli defense officials repeatedly either denied their existence or refused to discuss it.

"In 2012, we identified the "Conquering the Galilee" plan (Hezbollah leader) Nasrallah has been talking about, and it includes a surprising component of offensive tunnels".

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels.

"The digging of the cross-border attack tunnels, which the IDF discovered before they became operational and posed an imminent threat to the safety of Israeli civilians, constitutes a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty", the IDF said in a statement.

Lebanese troops and military intelligence agents, along with United Nations peacekeepers deployed in southern Lebanon, were observing the border Tuesday, a Lebanese military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said Hezbollah is under the direction of Iran. "Hezbollah uses the tunnels for strategic operations, and it's a big difference".

Hours after launching "Operation Northern Shield" on Tuesday morning, the IDF said it was readying to destroy a Hezbollah tunnel burrowed some 40 meters into Israeli territory.

An Israeli military digger works on the Lebanese Israeli border next to a wall that was built by Israel in the southern village of Kafr Kila Lebanon
An Israeli military digger works on the Lebanese Israeli border next to a wall that was built by Israel in the southern village of Kafr Kila Lebanon

Israeli military personnel and a drill are seen as they work next to the border with Lebanon, near Metulla, northern Israel December 4, 2018.

It announced the operation on Twitter on Tuesday, saying that a number of areas close to Lebanon's border, including Metula, had been declared a closed military zone. However, the Israeli operation could heighten tensions between Israel and its Iran-backed foe, which have both been preoccupied with other conflicts since their last conflagration more than a decade ago.

"There is no immediate threat to Israeli citizens", Conricus said of the Lebanese front, noting that while the army has enhanced its presence in the north, it has not summoned reserve soldiers. "The tunnel extended from under a home in southern Lebanon, extending 600 feet through solid rock and penetrating into Israel", the report said.

Since their last fought war in 2006, Hezbollah has strengthened its military capabilities significantly with an estimated arsenal of some 100,000 and 120,000 short-and medium-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred long-range missiles trained on the Jewish State. He took over the defense portfolio from his resigning minister and promised to pursue a hard line against Israel's enemies during what he described as a "complex" security situation.

A Hezbollah official told al-Nahar that Netanyahu was "in crisis" and had manufactured the confrontation in order to distract from his legal and political troubles.

The last major conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

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