On Tuesday December 4, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced the launch of “Operation Northern Shield” to expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel. At this time, the operation is being conducted entirely inside Israeli territory.
AIJAC On Tuesday morning, the first such tunnel was discovered. It had been dug underneath a home in the Kafr Kila area of south Lebanon. Dug to a depth of 25 metres underground, two metres wide, the tunnel was two metres tall, and 200 metres long, of which a full 40 metres stretched into Israeli territory.
The IDF said it believed the tunnel, which included ventilation and electrical systems had been quarried out of bedrock over the past two years and that an unspecified number of others are thought to exist. Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus stated that the exposed tunnel, which had been built for offensive purposes, was not yet operational and did not pose an immediate threat.
The IDF has claimed the purpose of the tunnel was to cut off the town of Metulla, which lies at the northern tip of the Galilee panhandle, from the rest of Israel.
Footage released by Hezbollah overnight suggests the IDF may have found a second tunnel near Moshav Zar’it, in the central party of the Israel-Lebanon border.
The IDF estimates that there may be ten Hezbollah tunnels in all, according to media reports, and predict that the current operation will last several weeks.
World Israel News In the first major flare-up since Operation Northern Shield began, the IDF fired on three suspected Hezbollah terrorists who approached the border with Lebanon.
The operation on the northern border has been ongoing since last Tuesday. It is intended to destroy cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah that Israel believes were intended to facilitate a full-scale attack on the Galilee region.
Times of Israel The Israeli military on Tuesday evening released footage from a cross-border attack tunnel that it said was dug some 40 meters (120 feet) into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon.
The video showed the 2×2-meter (6×6-foot) tunnel, complete with a ventilation system, electrical wiring, and communication lines. It was dug from under a house in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, across from the Israeli town of Metulla.
The army said the tunnel was approximately 200 meters (650 feet) long and some 25 meters (80 feet) deep, and contained electrical and communication lines as well as ventilation. It was significantly larger than most of the tunnels dug by the Hamas terror group in Gaza.
It said the tunnel was the “first of what are sure to be many” cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, as it launched a new operation dubbed “Northern Shield” to find and destroy the offensive subterranean passages from Lebanon, which the army said are not yet operational and do not present an immediate threat to Israelis. The army said soldiers would conduct “engineering and operational efforts before neutralizing” the tunnel.
Though for now the army’s activities are limited to the Israeli side of the Blue Line — the internationally recognized armistice line that acts as a de facto border between Israel and Lebanon — IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis indicated that other tunnels may be destroyed within Lebanon as well.
“We are prepared for all options, and the operation is only in its first day. The neutralizing of the tunnels will not necessarily take place within our territory,” he said. According to another IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the operation was planned over the past year and a half and its launch was determined weeks ago, before the police recommendations were released.
“Hezbollah has been using industrial equipment in order to dig these tunnels. We are beginning to assess and analyze the findings,” Conricus told reporters. In a tweet in English, the army added that the tunnel was dug “with the intention of harming Israeli civilians.”
“We see Hezbollah’s actions as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” he said. The military said it believed these tunnels were for offensive purposes, unlike the tunnels and underground bunkers used by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which were primarily utilized as defensive measures.
World Israel News It was the third tunnel identified and the second one fully exposed by the Israeli army, who placed explosives inside the tunnel. “Anyone who enters the tunnel does so at their own risk,” says IDG official.
The IDF and the security establishment are continuing to operate in the north with great success. They are systematically and decisively eliminating Hezbollah’s tunnels weapon,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Saturday night.