Israel Discovers Hezbollah Terror Tunnels, Launches Major Mission

Hannah Rogers
December 5, 2018

Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus claimed that that "a number of tunnels" had penetrated the Israeli-occupied territories.

The Israeli military has launched an operation along Lebanon's border under the pretext of "cutting off" what it claims are tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement near the occupied territories.

The tunnels are concentrated in the area around Metula, a small Israeli town of around 1,000 people nestled against the border with Lebanon.

"This is a defensive operation meant at destroying attack tunnels, crossing into Israeli territory, built by Hezbollah", Yuval Rotem, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, posted on Twitter.

A Lebanese military official told The Associated Press that Lebanese troops and military intelligence agents, along with United Nations peacekeepers deployed in southern Lebanon, were observing the border.

Additional IDF troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists were called up. "Hamas uses the tunnels for tactical operations".

The latest operation comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, where he was reported to have been updated on the anti-tunnel action.

The tunnel stretched some 200 metres (660 feet), at a depth of around 25 metres, Conricus said.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah and its Al-Manar TV did not make any mention of the Israeli operation.

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"Whoever tries to harm Israel's security will pay dearly", Netanyahu said in a statement.

The military said the tunnels were not yet operational, but posed "an imminent threat" to Israeli civilians and constituted "a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty".

The military said in a statement it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios".

Meanwhile, Lebanese president Michel Aoun on Monday morning received US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard to discuss the current developments in southern Lebanon.

Israeli military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the Lebanese government was responsible for the build-up of the tunnels.

It began when Hezbollah militants launched a raid into Israel, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others, who also died.

Israel appears increasingly concerned that Iran is attempting to transfer some of its military influence from Syria, where Russian Federation is the government's top ally, to Lebanon.

Although its attention has been diverted to violent protests along its border with Gaza in recent months, Israel's main security concerns lie to the north, along the border with Lebanon.

Israel and Hezbollah have avoided any major conflict across the Lebanese-Israeli border since their last war in 2006, though Israel has mounted attacks in Syria targeting what it said were advanced weapon deliveries to the Shi'ite Muslim group. With Syria's civil war winding down, Hezbollah is now free to return its focus to Israel.

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