Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

IDF Launches Northern Shield Operation to Destroy Hezbollah Tunnels Crossing into Israel

IDF Launches Northern Shield Operation to Destroy Hezbollah Tunnels Crossing into Israel

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday issued a stern warning to members of the Hezbollah terror group and the Lebanese army to stay away from any tunnels dug under the Lebanese border and into Israel as the IDF launched a major operation to destroy the passageways.

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.

In a tweet, Israeli military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the Lebanese government is responsible for the build-up of the tunnels, saying they are endangering Lebanese citizens.

The operation in the Meluta area will target an unspecified number of tunnels that were not ready to be used, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"We see the Hezbollah activities as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli authority", told Reuters.

Additional troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists 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.

Israel also faces terror tunnels in the south from the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.

The Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila is seen behind the barrier wall as Israeli army personnel and heavy machinery work on the Israeli side of the border in Israel's northernmost town Metula early morning
Israel launches operation to thwart Hizbollah tunnels from Lebanon

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.

IDF officials estimated the operation would last for a few weeks, but a response from Hezbollah could prolong it further.

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

Israel has significantly stepped up its defenses along the Lebanese border, out of concern that Hezbollah will emerge more battle-hardened from its costly involvement in the civil war in Syria.

Israel and Lebanon have been involved in a series of conflicts over the years and the two remain technically at war.

The IDF added that it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios".

In September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified three locations in Lebanon where, he said, Hezbollah was converting "inaccurate projectiles" into precision-guided missiles.

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