The military in Israel on Tuesday said it had launched an operation to “expose and thwart” cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon dug by the Iran-backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the military had detected tunnels crossing from Lebanon into northern Israel. He said the Israeli operation to counter the tunnels would be inside Israel and would not cross the border.
Israel released footage of digging and pile-driving equipment at work in unknown locations, carrying out what it said were “tactical preparations to expose Hezbollah’s offensive cross-border tunnel project.” Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.
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 group.
On Monday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels. A source of the Israeli government said the meeting was to update Pompeo of the upcoming tunnel operation. The current focus of operations is near the Israeli border town Metulla, Conricus said, adding that some areas near the border fence had been closed off. An Israeli military source said the operation might take weeks to complete.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said the situation in its area of operation “remains calm” and it is coordinating with relevant parties to maintain this stability.
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.” It said the army had “enhanced its presence and readiness” and was prepared for “various scenarios.”
Article sourced from SABC News