Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels

Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah 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.

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.

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. In recent years, Israel has destroyed dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under their shared border.

An army spokesperson declined to say how many "attack tunnels" had been identified or by what means they would be cut off.

There was no immediate response to the tunnel operation by Lebanon or Hezbollah, and calm appeared to be maintained on both sides of the border.

Malene Jensen, spokeswoman for the United Nations force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL, said the situation in the peacekeepers' "area of operation remains calm" and that they are in touch with all relevant parties to make sure calm and stability is maintained.

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The announcement of the operation comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday night.

Hezbollah has not responded to the military operation yet.

Some areas near the border fence had been closed off.

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 Hezbollah terrorist organization, which is behind the digging of the tunnels, continues to operate with the support and funding of Iran in order to carry out terror activity against Israeli citizens".

In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought out a war in the border region in which more than 1,100 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 159 Israelis, were killed. Israel has spent years attempting to tackle a network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel and has used a variety of methods to destroy tunnels and prevent them from being rebuilt.

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