Israel military moves to 'expose and thwart' Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon

Frederick Owens
December 4, 2018

The Israeli military launched a new offensive overnight Monday to "expose and thwart" terror tunnels constructed by Hezbollah that stretch from Lebanon into northern Israel.

Israel released video footage of digging and pile-driving equipment at work in unidentified locations, carrying out what it said were "tactical preparations to expose Hezbollah's offensive cross-border tunnel project".

"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.

The prime minister told the United States diplomat Monday said that the tunnels were "a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty and UN Security Council Resolution 1701", according to a readout provided by Netanyahu's office.

The tunnels also seem to be what Netanyahu was referring to when he announced two-and-a-half weeks ago that he was holding onto the defense portfolio in wake of the resignation of defense minister Avigdor Liberman. It was, and that briefing included talk about the tunnels and the threat they pose to Israeli civilians.

For now, Military Intelligence does not predict that a conflict will erupt with Hezbollah due to the operation and for that reason has instructed residents of the North to continue with their regular routine.

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The tunnels, and the need for an operation to uncover and destroy them, was known to the Security Cabinet when it convened on November 13 and chose to accept a ceasefire with Hamas and not launch a larger offensive against the Gaza Strip following the firing of nearly 500 rockets into Israel. The IDF did not disclose how many tunnels there are or how long the operation would last. Israel has generally refrained from engaging in Syria's civil war, though it has carried out scores of airstrikes against what Israel says were Iranian shipments of advanced weapons bound for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has worked on "a broad expansion of its subterranean terror infrastructure" since the 2006 Lebanon War, the statement read, accusing the group of acting as Iran's proxy.

In 2012, Israel became aware of Hezbollah's "plan to conquer the Galilee", as it was termed by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Israel has also long warned that it believes Hezbollah intends to conduct cross-border raids in any future conflict with Israel, establishing a special forces unit - known as the Radwan Unit - with the specific goal of capturing an Israeli village near the border.

There has been increased attention in Israel in recent days over Israeli officials' concerns regarding Iranian activity in Lebanon.

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