Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels

Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels

The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield on Tuesday morning to expose and neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Israeli officials have long warned the threat posed by Gaza's Hamas rulers pales in comparison to that of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah - a heavily-armed mini-army with valuable combat experience and an arsenal of some 150,000 rockets that can reach almost every part of Israel.

The army went on to say that "In October 2014, a special operational engineering team was established in the Northern Command to expose and identify Hezbollah's offensive tunnels, while at the same time a project began to fortify the border, which included drilling into the ground".

A spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the Israel military was aware of a number of tunnels crossing into Israel from Lebanon to the north, and that the army would only be operating within Israel and not crossing the border.

The IDF Spokesperson also announced that "the digging of tunnels that were located by the IDF in advance, before there was an immediate threat to Israeli citizens, constitutes a blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty".

Additional troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but reservists forces were called up.

Israeli security chiefs were holding security assessments throughout the day in order to predict Iran-backed Hezbollah's reaction to the IDF operation.

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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 on Tuesday.

Hezbollah has not responded to the military operation yet.

A government official said the operation would likely take weeks.

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.

According to the IDF, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group also provided Hezbollah with technical assistance, based on its extensive experience digging attack tunnels from the Strip into southern Israel.

The two fought an inconclusive, month-long war in 2006.

Israel has long voiced concern about Iran's growing military presence along its northern border, warning of an Iranian corridor that could assist in the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah.

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