IDF discovers an additional Hezbollah tunnel entering Israel from Lebanon as part of Operation Northern Shield.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF issued a warning on Sunday to Lebanese citizens to “temporarily leave” homes standing on top of cross-border attack tunnels built by Hezbollah, as troops began operating beyond the border fence.
“Hezbollah built terror tunnels under Kfar Kila and Ramiyeh that infiltrate into Israeli territory, making the area a barrel of explosives,” read a Twitter post by the IDF’s spokesperson for Arabic media, Maj. Avichay Adraee. “We are determined to neutralize these tunnels, and we do not know the outcome of these actions on the relevant buildings on the Lebanese side.
“Is it not time for you to insist that Hezbollah give you clear answers?,” he continued. “Are you living in safety when you know that your houses are located above a barrel of explosives? We recommend that you thoroughly consider temporarily leaving the relevant buildings for your safety.”
Adraee wrote the warning days after Israel found three cross-border attack tunnels built from the Shi’ite villages of Kfar Kila and Ramiyeh in southern Lebanon. The IDF says the tunnels are under its full control, and have been filled with explosives pending their demolitions.
On Sunday, the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar website said that the Lebanese army reinforced units deployed to the border with additional vehicles and artillery, to “prevent the Zionist army from putting demarcation marks on the Blue Line. The Lebanese army rejected the Zionist move during the absence of Lebanon’s topographic units, forcing the enemy troops to plant wedges 10 meters away from the Blue Line off Mays Al-Jabal town,” the report said.
Dozens of Hezbollah tunnels are believed to have been dug along the 130-kilometer border between the two countries, and the IDF said the operation to locate and destroy these tunnels, dubbed “Northern Shield,” would take weeks or months to complete.
On Friday, the IDF fired warning shots at three Hezbollah terrorists dressed in civilian clothing attempting to approach the border area where the IDF was carrying out tunnel excavation work. According to the military, the three men – who fled back to Lebanon after IDF troops opened fire – took advantage of bad weather to steal IDF equipment deployed to uncover the tunnels.
Lebanon said that IDF troops opened fire on a “Lebanese army patrol near the Blue Line in Kroum al-Sharaqi region to the east of Meis al-Jabal village because of heavy fog in the area.”
Later Saturday evening, Lebanon’s NNA reported that 25 Israeli troops had crossed the technical fence separating Israel and Lebanon but not the Blue Line. Lebanese troops and UNIFIL Peacekeepers
were reportedly monitoring the situation from the Lebanese side.
Friday’s incident took place in one of the many enclaves beyond Israel’s security fence with Lebanon, but still inside the Blue Line which marks the demarcation line between the two countries.
These areas, which are not covered by Israel’s fence with Lebanon due to the uneven terrain, have been previously neglected by Israel, and a Hezbollah ambush of an IDF patrol in the area led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Israel has since increased its presence in those areas, fortifying the fence and clearing away brush to allow for clearer observation.
While the IDF said that it only plans to operate against the Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Israeli side of the border, Lebanon fears that Israel will not be bound by that limitation and will also operate against the tunnels in southern Lebanon.
Despite the tensions along the border, UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said no violation of the Blue Line has been recorded, and that the situation remains calm with UN peacekeepers present on the ground to monitor the situation and maintain stability.
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